This story takes place in the time of the Great War which happened in Mossflower between the vermin tribes that joined together and the tribes of otters, mice and the badger lord and his hares who joined forces in protection of all innocent beasts.
One, Aetor Sharpdagger, self-proclaimed "Lord of Mossflower and the Southern Lands". A huge ferret who was the force behind the joining of the vermin tribes. Those tribes that refused either had to flee or were slain.
This is a tale between Barty and I.
Characters added by Lath
Aetor Sharpdagger - Ferret warlord
Lord Flansor Lightningstrike - Badgerlord of Salamandastron
Skipper Dantan Shorebeast - Skipper of Otters
Captain Kurlew Berrydown
Characters added by Barty
Colonel Jayblue Longstride - Long Patrol hare
Black clouds rolled across the grey skies above the mountain fortress of Salamandastron. Lord Flansor Lightningstrike looked out the window of his forge room and sniffed the air. There was something more than a gale coming, that he knew. Something evil was afoot, he could almost smell it in the heavy atmosphere.
Without turning around, he suddenly knew somebeast had entered. That somebeast being a long-time friend and confidant of his, Colonel Jayblue Longstride. He remarked to the Colonel, barely moving his huge frame.
"There's something verminous about, I can just smell it."
He turned slightly to face the blue-grey furred hare. "Has the last patrol returned yet? It's not like Berrydown to take his time and, I admit, I'm getting a bad feeling about all this. Two patrols vanished in five days time. Berry's patrol left almost four days ago, am I right, Colonel?"
The Colonel nodded slowly, worry creasing his weatherbeaten features. "Aye, m'lud. Bothers me too. Blinkin' foul vermin works it looks t'me, wot"
Lord Flansor Lightningstrike snorted and nodded his huge head, his gaze returning to the window.
Without turning, he spoke to the hare. "Colonel, I want another patrol out there. Make sure you take skilled trackers and fighters this time."
Colonel Longstride bowed and turned to leave but Lord Flansor's voice halted him. "One other thing...I want you to lead them. You are the one I trust most. Do not fail me, my friend"
The hare nodded and was gone.
The rain was pouring down by the time Colonel Longstride and his pawpicked few had left the mountain to fade into the darkness behind them. Never faltering, the swift hares leaned into the wind and rain, as they made their way southward over the dunes. Captain Kurlew Berrydown had led a small party southward, after reports of highway robbers had reached the mountain, but it had been several sunrises without a word from either patrol that had been sent before. Colonel Longstride knew that they could simply be holed up somewhere, perhaps staving off an enemy force, and so speed was of the utmost importance.
Whether to rescue or to bolster their ranks, their mission was one of great importance, and so they did not rest until they were far from the shadow of the mountain. It was by a streak of luck that they found the cave. One of the group who was currently at the head stumbled upon a sharp rock, and disappeared with a yelp.
"Lanflor! Are y' alright, wot?" Longstride called out.
The reply was faded, as if having come from a great distance.
"Fell down a bloomin' 'ole, sah! H'apologies, sah!"
Slowing their pace, the others peered through the sheeting rain, to Lanflor's waving paw.
"I'm down 'ere! Give a chap a flippin' paw, wot?"
Reaching for Lanflor's paw, a haremaid called Phyllanthe yelled out, "Looks like a blinkin' cave down there, I say!"
"I suppose it'll do, long as it's dry, wot." said Longstride. "About time for a rest, eh wot?"
Nobeast argued with that.
Hidden behind a shelving of rocks, the cave was sheltered from wind and rain, and was just large enough for their party to fit comfortably, as long as everybeast crouched. Everybeast was sound asleep, but for the Colonel, who sat by the entrance, looking out into the black. Whether raiders of land or sea, whatever was out there wasn't something to be taken lightly, he knew. And so, he kept his silent watch, until the morning. Sit tight, Berry. We'll be there no matter the danger, wot. Don't ye fret a single blinkin' whisker!
With the morning came clear skies, grey as they were, and a new sense of purpose for the band of hares. Leaving the cave behind, they gathered near a set of standing stones. Stretching, Colonel Longstride stood, working the kinks out of his neck. Captain Rillfleet stood beside him.
"Got y' beauty sleep then, eh, Colonel?" she put a comforting paw on his shoulder. "Shoulda woke me up, I'd 'ave taken second watch, sah."
"No need f' worry, old gel. Had a lot on m' mind."
The Colonel gave a slight smile before turning to the rest of the group. Taking a deep breath, he let it out with a bellow.
"Look lively, y'bloomin' daisies! No time f' lolly gaggin' in this beautiful spot all day, wot wot! Packs on y'backs n' move ouuut!"
They obeyed with alacrity, and were again on their way, footpaws tramping in unison at a ground-eating pace.
The landscape around them swiftly changed from the familiar dunes, to darker, softer ground. They were nearing the swamplands, and had to slow down to take more care in where they stepped. Holding up a paw, the Colonel motioned for the hares to crouch in the thick grasses which grew in abundance here. Up ahead, was a travelling cart, tipped over onto its side. Much of the contents were strewn about, clearly picked through for anything of value. There was no sign of life, but the cart had burned partially, and smoke still rose from it.
Two of the hares broke off from the group, stealthily making their way over to the site of the robbery. Checking the cart, they found it empty. However, a set of pawprints could be seen in the marshy ground. The Colonel motioned for the others to join the scouts. The hares' ears flicked in anticipation, their eyes roving warily.
Captain Rillfleet spoke in a whisper.
"It appears that nobeast was slain, either that, or they escaped. See these tracks 'ere? Looks like there could be more'n one beast 'eaded this way. Be wary, may'ap tis survivors, or may'ap tis vermin, wot."
Colonel Longstride nodded.
"Righto, lads 'n' gels, this's wot we're goin' t' do..."