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My dancing jiggly-puff
OOC - So both of us need to leave here alive. Preferably, both beaten pretty out of shape. Enough for me to risk my name getting out but not willing to die, and you enough that you exact revenge by putting a price on my head and name. Sound good?
"I 'ad no quarrel with you marten." Snagtooth wiped the blood stained blade on his fur. It didn't help much as the blood of the innocent hare had already splattered a red sheen across this coat. "But I claim no glory in war nor plunder, and as such, my name cannot be left on any crimes. You have witnessed both mah' crime, and mah' name. For that, I cannot let you live."
With his eyes focused on his new problem, he stepped backward into the hovel and grabbed an unlit torch from the sconce on the wall. He lit it in the fire and stepped back outside.
"Since you enjoy watching me at work," Snagtooth began as he closed the hovel's doors, "Behold my coup de grace!"
Snagtooth slipped the bloodied sword into the handles of the entrance and the used the torch to light the hares' home on fire.
As the tongues of the flame licked up the wooden side of the burrow, snagtooth pulled a second blade and a knife from their scabbards. "Come now, it's time I showed you the way to Hell's gates!"
OOC - Perhaps you could save the hares inside and let that be why we both get away alive.
What do you think?
"Well then, you won't have to worry about this at all then." Snagtooth swung the sword and it connected with the elder beast. The sword's iron bit deep into the shoulder of the hare, bringing him to his knees. It was a death blow and Snagtooth knew it. Without even removing the blade from the beast, he brought his snout cruelly close to the hare's face. "Tell the devil that Snagtooth sent ya!" He chided and watched as the eyes of hare clouded and then rolled back.
The dibbuns were crying, not entirely sure of what just happened, the mother screaming, and behind him, close to the door, he heard a gasp.
He whirled around. Why was he so stupid? Throwing his name out like that to a dying beast. Raids and thievery are normal in Mossflower and hard to punish. They can put a price on a name and a face though. Whoever this witness to his crime was, he had to silence them. He rushed toward the door.
"A deserter?" Snagtooth laughed. He had encountered a select few hares of Salamandastron in his day. They had been fearless, dedicated fighters. Snagtooth had altered his plans for the day on more than one occasion because of a Salamandastron hare. This would not be one of those time. The idea of a Long Patrol hare being cowardly enough to desert and then ignorant enough to admit to it was truly funny to Snagtooth. "And I thought that the hares of Salamandastron knew no fear!" He mocked.
"'Sah' is it? You a hare of the Long Patrol are you?" Snitching a greenbean from the colander, he nibbled away at the tip of it as he circled his prey, inspected it for weakness. Sure enough, the back and arms of the hare showed the paperthin scars of an experienced fighter. No doubt water rats, corsairs, were responsible. They were always plundering the coastline with their ships. They'd kill here and there until some badgerlord would get annoyed and go to war with them. Snagtooth despised the corsairs. No, firm ground was where he belonged and he had no intention of even trying to sail. Turning his attention back to the beast before him, he continued his inspection.
Undoubtedly, this hare had seen his fair share of water rats, corsairs, and sea battles. He'd come out alive too. Snagtooth excepted that it wasn't for bravery he was still alive though.
A thin tongue licked out clearing Snagtooth's snout of the delectable crumbs from the scone. He eyed the hare.
He wasn't too old but the seasons had gotten the best of him to be sure. He could tell that the hare was trying his best to stand straight up and show no fear but the rat could smell it on him. In his age, standing straight up meant curving so far forward that Snagtooth was astounded that he wasn't using a cane to support himself.
"'Ow ol' are you hare?" Snagtooth queried.
"Oh I certainly hope there is more where that came from, marm."
Snagtooth stepped into the light. The cooking fire played wicked shadows across his face. As villianous as he was, in this light, he appeared downright demonic.
He looked into the startled faces of his onlookers. He reached out and selected a particularly plump scone. It was still hot in his paws and as he bit into it the steam curled up and about his snout.
"Because I am absolutely famished!"
OOC- Hey, I'd love help recreating the events surrounding this post here
Snagtooth definitely preferred traveling by night. Not only did it give him the element of surprise should he encounter any unwary souls camped for the night, but it also cloaked him in a comfortable feeling of solitude.
Snagtooth prefered traveling alone too. There's nothing worse than a stupid varmint for company. He didn't have to share food or weapons with anyone and he never had to worry about someone cutting his throat while he slept.
He also preferred having enemies over friends. You can always count on an enemy to act against you but a friend's betrayal could get you killed.
Snagtooth adjusted the pack on his back and glanced up at the stars.
He was a good navigator. Few beasts cared to learn the skills of astronomy or map reading but as a younger vermin, he learned that knowing where you are and what's ahead of you is the key to both survival and hunting your prey. Snagtooth liked hunting too.
"Just a lil' further ahead" he told himself. Over the next rise would be a river. The sun would be coming up soon and he'd make camp for the day, fish for a bit maybe and then sleep off the wine he stole the day before from some wandering bards. Stealing was easier at night as well he noted.
As the crest of the hill broke, he emerged from the wood line to find something very unexpected.
"Well what do we have here?" He asked aloud.
The hare's burrow certainly hadn't been there last season when he'd traveled this way. The warm glow from a fire illuminated the entrance to an underground tunnel. A small garden had been planted nearby and even a watermill erected to grind wheat and barley for food. It was a very comfortable looking home.
"Guess it's my birthday." He whispered to himself. Come to think of it, Snagtooth had no idea when his birthday was. Perhaps it really was…
Snagtooth passed through the garden and plucked a few ripe greenbeans from their stalk as he crept like a ghost to the entrance of the hovel.
Inside he could hear voices conversing.
Room for one right now. We may expand that as the story advances. Any takers?
He couldn't think why he'd done it. It just seemed so natural to him. Sure, the old hare hadn't particularly done anything to deserve it and he hadn't had any particular reason for it, but killing was in his nature and he was rather good at it. For some reason though, the image of a weeping mother clinging to her dibbuns haunted him. Her voice rang louder in his ears than the frigged cold of the northerland winds howling around him as he trudged through snow. Yet it had been four seasons since he'd killed the hare or seen his family. In all that time he never once thought back on them or given a second's remorse for his actions that night.
"Why in Devil's Gates am I thinkin' 'bout this now?" Snagtooth wondered, "I've got bigger fish to fry than think about some dumb hare an' 'is family."
Indeed he did. The rat was three days lost in the pine ridden wasteland and his lack of food was taking its toll on him. His footpaw still bled from his encounter with the fox that led him to this predicament. The fur around his paw would have been soaked in blood but the cold and snow had frozen all the fur and red daggers of ice hung limply around the wound as Snagtooth trudged on.
Try as he might though, his thoughts kept returning to that fateful moment. He could smell the ash in the air from the family's cooking fire. The burrow was slightly damp and the earthen smell of treeroots clung to everything like an insistant dibbun. The sounds were distored as if he was underwater.
"There's nothing here sah! Please. We are a poor family but you may take the food. Just please, do not hurt my family." The older hare was slightly bent over with age. He supported his front half with a cane and coughed occasionally. Probably due to the darned damp. Though Snagtooth.
Reality kicked back in for a moment as he stumbled and faceplanted into the snow. Snag gave a cough of his own lifting his muzzle from the freezing damp and looking ahead of him. More cursed trees, as far as the eye could see. He was excellent with directions and Snagtooth knew he was traveling south. For some reason though, for as far as he traveled, the snow and cold traveled with him like a cloud of judgement. He pulled himself up off the ground and as he continued pushing himself onward, he was transported back to the warmer underground hollow, a testament of his crimes there.
His sword was already out, and Snagtooth was nibbling on a greenbean as his inspected the old hare. "'Ow ol' are you hare?"
"Fifty seasons this year sah'." Even bent over the hare stood respectfully enough to command an aire of respect. Snagtooth didn't notice though.
"'Sah' is it? You a hare of the Long Patrol are you?" Snagtooth noticed the long thin scars across the back and arms of the beast and grinned wickedly.
"No sah. Not anymore" The hare looked uneasy, or was it ashamed, as he added "I left my patrol sah many seasons ago. I was tired of the fightin' and scared I may never see the day that my younguns grow up and have their own families."
"A deserter?" Snagtooth laughed. "And I thought that the hares of Salamandastron knew no fear!" He mocked.
"I fear no death sah. I fear for mah family sah." The old hare stared glumly at the floor.
"Well then, you won't have to worry about this at all then." Snagtooth swung the sword and it connected with the elder beast.
Snagtooth felt his paw break as he slipped against the icy rock and crashed to the earth only a couple of meter from where he had been trekking forward. Even with the broken paw, he didn't seem to notice the pain. It was twisted awkwardly beneath him and he realized that he was bleeding again. It felt painfully warm against his frozen skin and gave a brief repreive from the bitter cold.
Staring up above him Snag watched entranced as the snowflakes fell lightly around him. For the first time in four days, he was calm. For the first time in a season, he stopped and considered the beauty around him. For the first time in his life, he felt the cold throb of fear inside him.
He wasn't scared of death. He was all too well aquainted with it. He himself had escorted scores of beasts to the Devil's Gates and was proud to be such a skilled vermin. He knew he was going to die here and he accepted that now.
No, he was scared of what may come next and what judgment may awair. Each snowflake as it tumbled its lazy way to the ground seemed to take on the faces of those he killed. Some were evil vermin who deserved no less. Some were killed out of hunger or lust. Far too many, the rat had killed out of the simple thrilling rush of ending another beast's life. Many were elderly and defenseless. Others had been extraordinarily young. None the less, he'd never felt any guilt in the killing. 'Till now.
As the cascade of snowflakes, faces and memories continued, Snagtooth felt a twinge of painful guilt. It was a new feeling to him. He realized that the hare he had killed, (no, murdered), was far more lucky than him.
In the hare's death, he was surrounded by those who would remember him and love him even after he was gone. In the hare's dying moment, he heard the voices of those who loved him and was pled with to live and survive.
Snagtooth was surrounded by the memories of those who hated him. The wind and snow howled around him in erie beauty and beckoned his death. None were there to miss him and none would carry his name forward.
As his life ebbed away, in one glorious moment, Snagtooth experienced something new and exciting. In his entire life, he never once felt this. He'd seen it with the countless others he'd killed or hurt but he had never experienced it for himself.
His eyes were already closing never to open again as a single crystal clear teardrop bled from his eye. A single teardrop he shed for all his crimes and folly. He knew it did not absolve him of his sins but to Snagtooth, it gave him mortality in his dying moments. That single emotion of loss, fear, and loneliness wrapped in one gave life to him even as it ebbed out and stained the snow he lay on.
Thus ended the life of Snagtooth the water rat. Thirty five seasons old and yet, only just having discovered the beauty of mortality, he closed his eyes for good and his pain ended.
Somewhere in the distance a fox still tracked his now dead prey.