(OOC: http://www.redwallslegacy.com/forum/index.php?topic=2615.msg46227#new for information an' stuff)
In the dreary night of the mid-summer, Venkas sat around a whimpering fire which shot out embers into the night sky. Venkas himself knew little of the land he was in, all he knew that he hated it. The release from the cold winter air of the north was not as appeasing as he thought it was, and cooking inside his own armor was not comfortable. Venkas had been warming his hands beside the dim fire light which produced more smoke then it did heat. The rat retracted his hands, slowly undoing his armor of his breastplate which was held by thin string. Upon unbuckling his heavy burdening armor, setting to his side, Venkas painfully arose in tired and lonesomeness and rummaged through the viddles, foraged berries and small edible leaves which had become a strict part of his diet.
Venkas the Rat was a damaged rat, with a eye covered by a dark green cloth and his body riddled with war wounds, half of his tail was missing. The rogue surrounded himself in the most lonesome place north-east of Mossflower forest in the deepest woods where no one could easily bother him, content that the world had stopped in his personal palace of tree roots, poorly pitched tent, and thick bushes. Venkas had never been more bored, but to him this was a easier way of living then his real 'job'. Venkas ate, remembering the first slaving job he had ever did, a difficult task of dragging a mouse farmer for miles to a warlord whom would throw the slave over his walls but moments later for talking back. Venkas was never paid for that job, but he remembered it well, a waste of life for both him and the mouse.
"I wonder whom his name was? Probably not important, but it would be curious to put a name to his face" thought Venkas.
Venkas had done slaving jobs from the tips of the north to the very edges of Salamandastron, avoiding patrols and militias whenever necessary. Venkas was never interested in fame or glory, just a good life he would tell himself in his head, but the seeds of ambition were there. Venkas thought as he ate the perfect position, a captain next to a great leader worthy of his skills, going forth for conquest and he would never want again, never have to taste these rotten foods, or have such ruined armor. Yet, he would always snap back to his reality whenever he ate of some edible leaves, a disgusting taste to him personally but it was cheaper then buying food or even raiding it.
At the moment in Venkas's rest, the sound of some sticks snapped from loud feet. Reacting quickly, Venkas threw his food and quickly grabbed his sword and wielded it, going into a defensive position.
"I heard that! Come out or go away, I don't care which!" Cried out Venkas. There was no response. For a moment, Venkas thought he was just paranoid, lowering his sword a little until he heard another snap of foilage, making him get on his guard. In a moment, another smaller rat had creeped through the bushes.
Venkas charged the rat with his full force and disarmed the wanderer's mere dagger and put his sword to the beast's throat whom looked wide-eyed at Venkas whom did not strike at him.
"Hell's tooth and claws, you should have answered me!" Venkas said more annoyed then angry, but keeping his sword's blade to the rat's throat "Sneaking up on me was your first mistake, speak!"
"P-p-put your sword down, good rat! I am but a courier and I saw your campfire!"
"The hell you want me for then?"
"I have a message to be sent to the nomads and wandering vermin of the woods, Reaven the Slaver is calling for slaves and hordebeasts of any kind to follow him at the camp north-east of here!" The rat focused on Venkas's blade whom lowered it with caution.
"Huh. Really? I will join this slaver, for I am as such as well. How many he got so far?"
"Last I saw, good rat only 80. However he said he wanted '500' "
Venkas raised a eyebrow at this. It wasn't common for a slaver to have any more then ten in a group so that they could profit from their share with a safe amount of defenders and slave watchers. Twenty slavers was in fact odd, but 500? Venkas was curious, but it was better then his lacking jobs right now.
"500? Whats he planning to do? Raid all the countries and all the castles known to the world?"
The courier simply shrugged, but backed away slowly "I know not. He also says to bring slaves. . ."
Venkas thought and waved off the frightened courier "Next time, mate, if a rat says to show himself, ya do it."
"I fear if I do, hostile bandits will kill me." explained the courier
"If you don't do it, they will kill you anyway. Now begone you idiot." The courier quickly ran through the brush and far from Venkas's encampment
In the Mid-morning, Venkas had awoken to his camp fire's death and the smoldering smoke. The rogue had stomped out the fire and packed up his camp, struggling to put on his armor before heading out. Venkas in truth preferred the cold then the heat, but his comforts mattered little then his growling stomach. He believed he could forage on the way to finding this camp, and a warlord seeking '500' or so vermin would have a pretty obvious encampment, especially in the edges of Mossflower Forest. Venkas was lucky, as he had passed by some berry bushes untouched by scavenger hands in his travel as he passed through the woods. Venkas was deep in territory he had never officially become familiar with, and often stayed to the most 'obvious' paths. He saw footprints of some otters and shrews, and even a mole, but had bothered not to track them further. He guessed the hamlets and hermits were mostly going southward to escape the rise of this new warlord.
Venkas yawned and passed his time singing a old northern tune;
Ye ol' vermin bright and true
bring us straight to straight
coast to coast, ye will know
the might of the dragon fly
he flies and wanders marsh to swamp
eternal and beautiful
small and grand
better tasting then a butterfly
As Venkas did not know all the words, he hummed the rest as he traveled over the rocks and heavy grass, climbing over roots and storm-destroyed logs, and slowly by the burden his armor made his way towards the best points of the north-east. "The poor fool of a warlord. Raven or something? Hmph, stupid name if I say so. Mother must of hated him that much?" Venkas thought, wondering on the size of the horde which bothered him. "500? Does that fool think he is going to get away with that? If the Long Patrol don't kill him, then the armies which wander this forest in some way will."
As dawn began to break, a commotion of noise and battle had made Venkas stop as he saw figures in the distance. Slowing his pace and drawing his sword, Venkas went forward toward a clearing and stopped. Venkas despised clearings and slowly went toward the river instead and up towards another edge of the forest where something was happening. As the rat approached, he saw a not-to-common sight. Five typical vermin, all ferrets, were bothering a group of otters. One of the older otters, who's fur was brown and wore a celtic garb was fending off the cautious attackers with a short sword, having chopped down the tips of the ferret's spears.
"You won't take us, vermin foul-brains!"
"Break away his sword you idiots!"
"Use your spears!"
Venkas slowly approached and studied the movements of both parties. One of the ferrets turned to Venkas and waved him off "No! These ones are ours!" Venkas looked at the situation, as the elderly otter was clearly winning with his family huddled near a cart. They were frightened enough and smart enough not to run, as they would only be run down by the ferrets whom were trying to reach around the older otter whom fended them off from the front. "It looks like you don't have them at all. I am Venkas, and you are heading to the new slaver's camp as well?" Venkas guessed, but said his words in a annoyed and aggressive manner.
The ferret paused and nodded. The would be bandits continued to pathetically attacked a far more trained warrior whom knocked aside their spears as Venkas spoke to the ferret whom had turned to greet him. "I am a slaver as well, I will kill this one and we can split the three others and the cart items as payment. Deal?"
The ferret sneered "No way am I going to let you steal my loot!" As he said this however, the older otter had cut through another one of the ferret's spears and cut him across the face. The bandits had never faced such a creature and eventually found themselves at a loss. Venkas looked at this pitiful group before the confronted ferret sneered again "Fine! Take care of him! Half and half!"
The bandits stopped their attack as Venkas strode forward "Spread outward around the cart, make sure those slaves don't escape during the fighting. Do not kill them, you sulking buffoons." spat Venkas as he appeared before the tired warrior. The otter pointed his sword at Venkas "You assume we will be slaves to you, rat! I am Salkit Puddle, and you will know my name!"
Venkas came forward and raised his shield and did not answer back, charging to try to knock the sword from the warrior's paws. The otter, as Venkas predicted, went to the side as Venkas leaped into the otter with shield raised and crashed him into the cart. Venkas dueled the swordsbeast as Salkit called out "Reama! Make a run for it! Now!" cried Salkit, hoping his family was fast enough to outrun the ferrets. They were not, as before they could leap off their cart, the ferrets had swarmed around them and taken the three otters prisoner. The otter tried to slice into Venkas's armor, but only managed to dent the armor. Using the opportunity presented to him, Venkas pulled his own sword into the otter's neck, ending Salkit in a sliding blow. Victorious in his battle, Venkas wiped his blade with Salkit's garbs.
Reama cried out seeing her husband dead upon the ground and went to his body. Horrified, her two youngsters were kept back by the vermin. One of the ferrets, the one Venkas had communicated with, had approached Reama from the back.
"Tie them up, and qu–" Venkas ordered the ferrets, but took notice of the tearful faces of both had become wide-eyed followed by shouts, held back by the ferrets. Venkas recognized this reaction as that of surprise, he had seen it before many times over his years between two insane warlords. Venkas turned and found that the ferret had sliced open the throat of the otter wife, adding to a pile of bloody corpses upon the ground.
"The fires with you, you damnable idiot!" Venkas cried out as the ferret turned with his bloody knife "You had one job, and you foiled it! We could have sold this one as well!" the rat raged.
"It was pitiful otter wife, broke our spear heads. Too old in me books, mate. Would have never made a trip." The ferret mocked. Venkas came forward, and the ferret back off and raised a spear to him.
"Don't do anything foolish, now go rat fool! This loot be ou--" before the ferret could finish his words, the spear was knocked from his hands by the force of a sword whacking against it. The ferret, not wishing to stay to figure out what Venkas had planned to do next to him fled along with the other ferrets whom feared the rat would kill them or worse. Venkas sheathed his sword as the ferrets fled, but caught up to the two younger otters whom had been bound and grabbed to Venkas's side before they could make their escape. The younger otters watched their parents as Venkas chained the older otter's legs and used left over rope to tie them both to the wagon.
This wagon was simple in design, for a farmer more then a merchant, wooden and had no covering. This wagon, the otter's personal use, had served them well up until now. The youngest slave, far to young and little to do anything important, was tied in the wagon while the older one was tied to a pole for pulling the wagon. Venkas got under one of the poles and growled "Pull hard, or you will join them." Venkas nudged his head at otter's parents whom were left unburied. The otter held back both infuriation and sorrow as he nodded. Venkas and the otter pulled the cart towards the north-east toward the camp of Reaven.
The three, after a day and half of trecking and short lived camp, finally reached a large hill, partially cleared by logging crews. The difficult trip of carrying the cart and it's cargo had left Venkas dazed, having nearly lost the cart due to the tired otter whom had been helping him pull the cart uphill. Venkas came across a massive camp, with large palisades surrounding the hillside and guarded by large groups. On the hills as Venkas saw was a large red tent and a wooden structure next to it, as Venkas assumed those were the tents of Reaven right off the bat. When the group appeared before the rat guards, they were stopped. When the cart stopped, the otter fell to the ground in exhaustion. The rat guards snickered as Venkas groaned and untied the otter from his post and pushed into the back of the cart.
"What, mate? Venkas, is that you ol' fool and mud-stained slave maker?" One of the guards said with surprise. Venkas did not regonize the rat at first, but then groaned lighter, as this rat he knew from a slave raiding party in the north.
"I don't know your name, mate. I've come to join this slaver and I bring loot and slaves."
A weasel intervened "Well, you should report to the captain Lugod, he be hand'ln the new recruits of late. You got some fancy armor der, rogue."
Venkas ignored the guard and looked at the rat he knew "Where should I park this lot?"
"I don't know about carts, but there be a large slave pen yonder. Let me introduce you to Lugod first."
The guards called for help to push the cart inside, but lucky for Venkas he did not have to far to meet the captain Lugod. Lugod had deeply gray fur and tribal markings of the lands of Ice and Snow, rare for his kind to go southward according to Venkas but not entirely unknown to him. Lugod was at the very entrance of the camp, writing down in a ledger. Lugod's ledger had the names, professions, and payment codes for all new recruits. When Venkas appeared to the gray rat, the captain looked a bit surprised, a feeling not shared by the strictly faced Venkas.
"Full name, you idiot."
"Venkas Musikat Tail-tolly."
Lugod looked from Venkas to the cart and it's slaves "You look like a successful brute. You have any commanding experience?"
"No. I was in the vanguard for two warlords of the north, neither name is known to you."
"Belkis Longsnout and Tartiv Warscar."
Lugod thought and scratched under his snout "Belkis? Really? I've not heard of a Tartiv, but a vanguard of a warlord can be useful. You a slaver?"
"I am." Venkas said with contempt ushering in his voice from the questions.
"Good, we need folks like you. You will be joining the first groups tomorrow in assignments, in which I will be leading. You look skilled, so you can have that tent over there instead of sleeping in the muck like these younger lot. Those slaves yours?" Lugod pointed to the two otter, as they were helped down, still bound, from the cart.
"I brought them here as slaves, yes. Aren't you looking for slaves?"
"We are. A bit young, the lad will probably do at least 3 years of work till he is killed, not sure about the younger one though. You look skilled with a blade, as said, but if you want to keep them as your servants I wouldn't object."
Venkas thought it over and looked at the two otters. He thought it over and looked back to Lugod "That is fine by me. I suspect this however is not out of the generosity of your heart."
Lugod smiled, but said nothing. "Ambition, bane of hordes. He wants a favor, I am certain." Thought Venkas.
Facing the two slaves and leading them to the tent given to him, Venkas pushed out some unwanted visitors of some sleeping hordebeasts and set himself up. He faced the two otters outside of his tent, and unshackled the older one's leg bindings and cut the rope from their paws.
"You there, name." Venkas pointed to the older one. Twitching his paws, the older creature angrily answered Venkas "Orson Puddle". Venkas noted this immediately and slapped the otter, clawing apart of his nose and followed up by kneeing him in the stomach. "You address me only as 'sir' or 'master', understand whelp? If I hear any aggressive peep out of any of you, I will start cutting paw fingers! Now answer me properly."
"Orson Puddle. . .sir." Answered Orson, coughing up on the ground blood. Smartly, the younger otter had decided to answer Venkas more correctly "Oalt Puddle, sir."
"See, isn't that better? Now. . ." Venkas took the cut bonds and formed loops and placed rope collars about their necks "This is a mark of your bondage to me, just in case you get mixed up with other slaves. Do not take this off. Your duties are simple, you bring me food and get me water and make sure my camp isn't being ransacked while I am gone. If you even think of escaping, I will beat you. If you talk back, I will beat you. If you step in the wrong place. . ."
"You'll beat us, I know." Orson said as he got up. Whether ironically or not, Venkas proceeded to beat the otter viciously. When Oalt tried to intervene on his brother's behalf, he had received his own beating as well. Overpowered and broken, Venkas put the two to work on cleaning his armor and laying straw on the ground of his tent, making some makeshift beds for them. Venkas awaited patiently for his assignment, exploring the camp and getting to know it's vermin inhabitants.