The Builder's Journey Back Home
Thump Thump Thwack Thwack !!!
The sound of a large stone mallet pounding against nails into wood echoed through the woods. The sounds could have been mistaken for the loud thunder that boomed with lightning ripping through the sky. The Woodworker, a large figure; tall and thick with muscle, broad shoulders and wide back, toiling away with his work. The heavy rain did not bother him as large overhanging brush and foliage to kept his area fairly dry. He knew this while his thick and powerful tail swished slowly from side to side as he continued on.
Dallas Irontail, Mossflower's famous Woodworker, is the name of the creature. He's of monstrous size for a River Otter, regularly mistaken for a small badger at times when looking at him from afar. There was a deadline for his current project, as it was a large ship repair for his Sea Otter friends, who were currently staying further north for the time being.
Dallas smiled as he put down his mallet and scratched his beard stubble with a free paw, proud of the work he had accomplished. "She's finished!" He excitedly exclaimed. He took a piece of parchment paper and wrote a quick note on it. He had a small bird friend whom he'd feed in exchange for delivering his notes to his clients, so they would know when to pick up their finished product. "'Ere ya go, Cheep, take this note t' me Sea Otter friends up North. 'Ere's rations fer th' trip an' I'll pay ye in more vittles when ye git back." He patted the birds head affectionately and sent him off.
The river otter took off his button down shirt, hopping into the cold river to cool himself. He was a strong swimmer, and he enjoyed being in the water more than most. He popped his head out, speaking out loud, even though he was by himself. "Ahh, nothin' like a refreshin' dip in th' River. Now I should feed meself! Grog t' drink an' fish fer dinner."
He jumped out of the water and continued onto the fire pit he made in front of his home. After messing with some kindling and getting a few logs lit ablaze, he sat in one of his wooden chairs he created and started to take gulps of the strong Grog. Dallas skewered a bunch of fishes and let them rest above the fire to cook. With his middle sword and mallet by his side, he kicked his footpaws up, basking in the warmth of the fire.
"Even on rainy days, it doesn' git any better than this!" He said, downing more Grog down his gullet.
It wasn't long before he realized what day it was. "Th' yearly feast is 'appenin' tomorrer!" He thought to himself, raising an alarm. His sudden outburst caused him to pick up his pace. "I'll just pack me pouch with rations an' git meself ready fer th' trip. I'll leave at night."
Unbeknownst to the giant River Otter, his quick dinner would be put on hold. Multiple beasts were watching from different directions. One of them who would cause mayhem for any creature in their path.
Night fell rather quickly; the rain slowed, the thunder subsided, and everything seemed like it was good for travel on the river. Dallas had made sure his rations were packed inside of his riverboat, his sword tied around his waist, and his readiness to be home once more. The giant otter was thrilled to be back at Redwall, day dreaming about all the fine vittles and drinks and to be reunited with his friends and family once more.
Dallas wrote off a little note on parchment paper for his sea otter mates.
Dear Blackpaw, I 'ave finished yer ship, now git yer big ol' hunk o' wood outta my river. Kidding! As we agreed, leave me two barrels o' yer finest seaweed grog, so my ol' self can git drunk in peace. Kidding again, but not 'bout th' drunk part. Yers truly, Dallas Irontail.
Dallas posted it onto his front door, before buttoning up his tunic top to about his chest fur. He had a flask full of the best grog he swiped from some vermin on his last voyage, taking a big swig of it before putting out the flames to his fire.
"I know yer out there, I kin sense ye." He said, looking like a loony beast talking to himself.
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Leon sighed. His report may have satisfied Ansurr, but now that meant another week or two of absolutely nothing but waiting.
The weasel tossed a stone up in the air and caught it, his spear in his other paw as he trudged back through the forest, to do a final recon mission for the day -- clear out anything remaining of the Guosim shrews from the waterways and the river before the second tribe arrived. Behind him followed Hyra and Gellen, his Second Captains, each with a paw resting on their swords. The rest of his troop from the day had needed to rest up and get food in their bodies before going back out, so the three of them had taken off to finish the job alone.
Suddenly, Leon's ears perked up, and he sniffed the air. His paw shot up. "Wait." Hyra immediately dropped into a crouch, a dagger flashing in her paw, while her fox companion drew his sword with a whisper of slithering steel.
"Smoke." Hyra dropped to all fours and disappeared into the underbrush. Gellen followed, and Leon dropped his spear to do the same.
". . . I kin sense ye," Leon heard. He came to a halt, shadows playing over his greyish fur, as he listened carefully, looking out into the evening light from his place on the forest floor. A spiral of smoke curled up from nearby, the remains of a dead fire. His gaze shifted to the massive otter standing beside it, and he had to keep from gasping at the sight. The creature was enormous, with muscles to rival those of a fully grown wolf.
Dallas, while not having extreme senses like certain creatures, knew this side of Mossflower like the back of his paw. His experiences, knowledge, and instincts gave him enough awareness to know when he was being watched, especially next to his home. His gut told him there were multiple beasts, more than three; a giant presence even closer to him than the three that were hiding.
The giant otter pawed the hilt of his middle sword still tied to his waist. "I'm not lookin' t' fight ye see! I 'ave more important things t' attend. I know there's a few o' ye out there." He was fearless in his speech, but he knew when he was outnumbered. It would take a lot for him to get out of this one alive, and he wasn't just prepared for that risk. He looked down the dirt path to where his boat was docked in the river. If he wanted to escape, he had to be swift; he had to make a break for it.
But it was too late.
His neckfur stood high as he witnessed an ugly giant of a creature pounding dirt from under them in their quaking sprint. It was thunderous with every step. "It'sss time ta eat!!! I'm ssstarvin fer sssome otter, an' yer on th' menu!!!" Dallas knew this beast from the past, one he crossed swords with before. Kino-Attero Motunga Redtail, slayer of many, and well known cannibal of Mossflower.
The giant monitor lizard was twice as wide and two heads taller than Dallas. Kino's skin was scaly and durable, with plates embedded onto his chest and hind-legs. He had a big heavy blade that was holed in the middle jagged at it's edges. His face, head, and body were scarred up which only added to his murderous appearance.
Kino gripped both claws around his giant blade, raising it high above his head and swinging it downward onto the river otter. At the last second, Dallas unsheathed his blade and had both paws on it, blocking the heavy slash. Immediately, he felt his joints creak, his bones quake, and his hind legs quiver. He was wide eyed at the strength of his foe. "Kino!!! I shoulda known ye'd be 'round 'ere, sneakin' up on a pore ol' river dog eh?!" He growled out before slipping away from him, swapping blade with one paw and throwing a hard punch with his free paw into the creatures gut. Kino gasped for a second before grinning wickedly, swinging his tail into the giant otter. He tried to block it, but it only lessened the impact slightly. The blow sent him flying into the air before skidding across the dirt path.
Oliver traveled into the night, swiftly through the trees after a brief break. "I thought it would take me more than a day t' get there, but I'm already almost at 'is place. Tree swingin' is way faster!" He thought to himself as he grinned with excitement. The wrestler squirrel had also remembered a shortcut through the woods that cut a lot of time to get to Dallas' place.
After a few more hours he knew he was just about there. Oliver stopped short, noticing some rustling in the brush and the sounds of sword clashing.
He observed for a second, noticing three creatures about fifty meters from him hiding. He wasn't sure what they were up to, but he wasn't going to stick around to find out; three to one odds weren't really in the squirrels favor. That's when he noticed who was fighting just beyond the three.
"Dallas.. an' Kino?!" He said, again in his thoughts. He grit his teeth and climbed down the tree. Springing into action.
Dallas coughed a bit before slowly standing back up. He held tight onto his sword, but he felt sore all over. That last blow really took it out of him. Blood was trickling down his lip and forehead; all he could do was smile through it.
Something zipped by him at an alarming speed, he didn't notice it until he realized, with stunned look on his face.
The large squirrel closed in on his opponent, running low, as he used his quick reflexes to side step a second tail strike. He threw a hard haymaker as he used his full momentum from his sprint. A direct hit!
Kinos eyes turned white momentarily as the hard punch connected, rocking his jaw. He regained his composure quickly, spitting out a tooth, and smiling evily yet again. No words were exchanged, and Kino wasn't as slow as he looked. He swiped with his claw, knowing it would be dodged, then flicked his tail into the warriors chest. Oliver felt the full force of the strike and was sent flying similarly as Dallas.
He got up slowly, gasping hard for air. Stars exploded in his vision from the strike, and he immediately felt all the pain. Luckily nothing was broken, but he was scratched up and a bit bloodly.
"Yew creaturesss ken not beat me!! Accept yer fatesss an' I'll eat ye both quickly. Both o' yew 'ave been painsss in my sssides fer way too many ssseasonss. I will kill yew an' I will finally sssucceed into gettin' into that Abbey. I'll sssend yew all t' th' hellgatesss!"
Dallas growled low, looking over to his friend, trying to formulate an escape route at the same time. He spoke low enough so that the ugly lizard couldn't hear. "Ollie, mate, I'm glad t' see ye, but we need t' escape. We don't 'ave time fer this, we need t' git back t' th' Abbey."
Oliver got up, seething with rage; he listened to his friend loud and clear, but something took over him. "No.. I'll kill 'im!!"
Before Dallas could realize what happened, the squirrel took off like a rocket toward the hulking Kino. Dallas' eyes widened.
Oliver slipped into the lizard's guard before he could even react and started to throw a flurry of punches. He looked like a complete blur with each precise strike, landing harder strikes on the foes body and face. "Ugnnnn" Kino felt a hard kick at the end of the flurry, causing himself to slide a few feet backwards. Oliver stood there, breathing hard, with firey red eyes and angry scowl to match.