A gentle eventide breeze blew gently through Mossflower's flora, billowing about the warm summer air. Evening feel quiet upon the forest, and the receding sun bathed the treetops in a gold hue. Diurnal creatures were retiring for the oncoming night, and the nocturnals gradually stirring; all was quiet save for the occasional birdsong, and the rattling steps of chainmail clanking as its wearer walked on.

While other creatures were apprehensive of nightfall, Serroth lavished in it. His burrowed badger upbringing gave him an aversion to sunlight; he could tolerate it, but darkness was much easier on his eyes. He did not fear traveling at night, nor did he make any attempt to conceal himself as he wandered along a clear path that had been beaten into the forest floor by many a seasons' traveling paws. With each step, the rings of his chainmail clanked together, the plates of his gauntlets and greaves shifted, and his sword swayed in its belted holster. Not only did the mustelid cut an intimidating figure in the diminishing light, but his approach could potentially be confused with that of a ghost, dragging behind it the chains that bound it to the waking world.

Serroth yawned, as he had not been awake for long, and just as his tongue curled out of his mouth at the beginning of his deep inhale, a familiar scent wafted in front of his broad nose. It was the burning wood of a campfire; perhaps somebeast had made camp just up ahead. Occasionally sniffing the air, the badger made his way towards the source of the pleasant smell without hesitation. However, there was nobeast there!

He looked around for the creature that had set this camp, partially thinking thoughts of praise, as it was set up quite well, but he could neither see nor hear another soul around. Perplexed, Serroth sat himself down by the fire and began to tend to it with a nearby stick. Certainly its owner would show up if he simply waited for them. Perhaps they'd even be appreciative of his flame-keeping, as soon night would fall across Mossflower, bringing cold with it.

Eh, this looks good.  Mind if I join?  I'll probably post late this evening, after all my day's duties are done.  Also, I will have to create a new character, because my weasel is already in use and I don't know how two male badgers would get along together.  (Unless you think that two badgers would make things interesting…?  Just let me know what you would prefer, my badger or a new character.)

((It'd be fine, this thread is open to everybody; I don't mind if you use another badger, I don't think Serroth is as competitive and territorial as badger males normally are, though I suppose I've got to get another profile up myself for the purpose of other threads if we can only use one character in one place at a time.

Ah well. I look forward to seeing a post from you.))

Decca was already annoyed.The fish he was going to eat for dinner had escaped him and now he had an uninvited guest.He walked up behind the badger and gave him three hard pokes to the back."Why are you here and what do you want!?"

As there was an outbreak of activity at the fire around a hundred yards away, Wallace stirred restlessly.  The fox had been going on like this all night, and now appeared to have been joined by somebody new, a ghost by the sounds of it.  Lovely.  Not that it was the fox’s fault… How was the creature to know that in constructing his temporal dwelling he was dangerously near a male badger’s concealed encampment?  The badger smiled to himself.  Woodcraft wasn’t everybody’s forte and he wasn’t the one to mark it against them.  Furthermore, as long as he was up, what was wrong with some food and perhaps some friendly conversation?

Rising softly, Wallace drew his cloak around his shoulders and doffed his hood.  While he wasn’t one to take first impressions too heavily, Whitestripe knew that there were those out there who would take advantage of anybeast who wasn’t careful.  Vermin and nonvermin they were, creatures without conscience, possessed of too much self confidence and too little mercy…  Then there were those vermin, all too few and far between, who were possessed of kind hearts and hardy courage…  Like Tristin St. Caens.  Wallace hadn’t seen him in almost a season…  That scalawag of a weasel had likely swept more maids off their feet, killed more malcontents, and consumed more beer in a moon than the average gallant does in a lifetime… Where was he, and what was he about on this calm night?

Coming out of his muse, Widestripe found himself at the edge of the fox’s campground.  He addressed himself to the two animals, who were regarding each other suspiciously.  “It appears that Mr. Fox’s camp has been unwillingly encroached upon, and that he has not had any luck searching for an evening repast, were I to judge by his snarled line and the smell of bruised but absent Loach.”  Wallace smiled disarmingly and removed his hood.  “I could fix all that, you know.”  He unbuckled his claymore and layed it on the ground.  “You both look like decent creatures.  The name would be Wallace, but I am more used to Widestripe.

At first, Serroth looked as though he had neither felt the fox's prodding at the chainmail on his back, nor his disgruntled demand. For a few seconds, he remained calmly sat down next to what he assumed was the vulpine's fire. Taking his time, the badger turned around to face the indignant Decca. He stared down with intense red eyes, regarding the other creature steadily. He did not perceive the white shaman as a threat, but though he didn't consider species an indicator, he nevertheless kept up a bit of a guard with a fox about.

As Serroth's sharp-toothed jaws parted to speak, a rustle nearby came to reveal another male badger, cloaked and wearing a friendly countenance. The armored mustelid had long since shed most of his competitive instinct when it came to other males, and he more than anything regarded his fellow badger lords as allies. Turning away from Decca, the older badger bowed cordially to Wallace.

"I am called Serroth," came the sound of his smooth, deep voice, "And I did not mean to intrude." He looked back towards the fox for his next statement, "I would, however, advise against leaving a fire alone next time."

He cast a glance at the claymore resting on the ground, and again addressed the other badger. "You say you could make some food for us, right? My new friend here seems hungry."

"Hmmm."Decca grumbled.He didn't mind guest but he would much preferred if they'd met him away from his camp."Very well I guess I'll have to get use to you two."He said."I'm Decca Zeroso,and I kept my fire unatended so I could find my way back.As you can see my vision is half of yours."He sat down legs crossed.He moved his sword and staff onto his lap.

Widestripe nodded, pleased that at least the badger was friendly.  The fox was moody, but would likely brighten up with a full stomach.  “I would be more than happy to prepare you a meal.  I am rather hungry myself, having been awakened at this hour by you two travelers.”  The badger produced some dried fish and a small bag of herbed dried rice from his knapsack and addressed the two animals in a mellow baritone as he began to piece together a sort of stew in the small brass kettle that he kept in his pack.  “By way of conversation, what would you two be doing in this region of Mossflower?  I don’t usually find too many good beasts in this part of the forest, due to the abundance of thieving bands of vermin, which I might add, I do my best to liquidate.”  The badger looked up from his work.  “Not that you would have any trouble protecting yourselves…  There just isn’t any real reason that a beast without a quest of some sort would be in these parts.  I sense stories.  Which…” Widestripe removed the kettle from Decca’s fire and tasted the contents, before spooning the thick and fragrant mixture onto three shallow oak bowls, also produced from the canvas satchel.  “…Would go quite well with a simple traveler’s dish of Dace and rice.  I think that you should both like it.  I have often subsisted for weeks on two of these crude meals a day.  Not anything too fancy, but enough to suit my needs.”  Wallace turned his attention to Serroth.  “Now, fellow badger, your business in this all too hostile part of Mossflower.”

The badger blinked at the grumpy fox for a minute, before giving him a short bow of apology. "I'm sorry," rumbled Serroth's voice, "I didn't think of it that way. Perhaps, though, you should find another method, as leaving your fire is a good way to burn the forest down."

As he turned back to said fire, the smell of Widestripe's cooking hit his nose like a brick wall. He had ran low on dried rations a week or so back, and had been sustaining himself on whatever he came across. This was usually the time he relied on others for truly good food. Though Serroth could prepare a decent meal, he was no Redwall cook. So, he readily accepted the bowl the fellow badger held out to him.

Serroth had been so absorbed with his stew that he hardly heard the other mustelid speak. He gave Wallace a good stare for a second as the words assembled themselves within his mind amongst the sensory swirling of fish and rice stew.

"Ah, well, you see…" he stuttered at first, his words slowly regaining composure as he went on, "I'm a traveler. I wander about Mossflower as I please, offering my assistance where it might be needed." He looked up at the darkening night sky, then back down to the campfire in front of him. The soft light of the fire outlined his solid features, and the metal of his chainmail shone golden orange in the firelight where it didn't lie under fabric or leather. "Mostly, it entails going into battle on behalf of those who cannot fight. Mmf, this stew is good. It reminds me, I should probably head to Redwall to refill my supplies."

"It's quite alright.I'm just trying to find a place of my own,maybe Redwall will accept me.Just as long I'm far away from those bickering Juska imbeciles.Thank you for this meal it smells divine.You know…I haven't seen many badgers,at least not male ones,get along quite like you two.Usually they try to rip each others tails off to show who's boss."Decca shifted his cloak around him concealing himself and nodding off."Sorry,I always sleep after a meal."

Widestripe gave a pleased grin at the complements offered his food by the fox and the badger.  “I’m glad you both like it.  I generally harvest the rice when I can find it, and take what I need from the rivers.  As far as seasonings, I put in whatever herb I come across that I think would add desirable variety to the dish.  It’s enough to keep me nourished and happy, at least.”

The badger set aside his bowl and settled his broad back against the trunk of an oak tree.  He drew his long dirk and gazed with one eye down the gleaming length of the pattern welded blade.

“I happen to be a wanderer myself, traveling where my heart desires and giving my services to those who need them, which, like your work generally involves protecting the weak and being a defense to those who have no protection.”  The badger’s brown eyes gleamed red in the firelight and he shook his head.  “The evil I have seen from the hands of vermin bands gives me no other choice.  I think it was when I was around thirteen seasons old, about eleven seasons ago, that I came upon a settlement of mice and squirrels, recently laid waste by a band of vermin.  Juska, as I later found out.  The dead adults, lying where they had fallen, in the light of their burning homes and gardens…  Infants and young ones who had no chance to flee, cast down like fallen sparrows…  I buried the dead and cared for those few left alive as well as I could…  The memory of that dreadful sight is still impressed  upon me, and is the reason that I destroy any vermin I come across who shows open hostility towards me or any goodbeast.  My wrath is twice as great when I come across bands in the act of raiding and pillaging…  I know because of the sights I saw on that bleak day, young and full of innocence as I was.”

Widestripe smiled somewhat sadly.  “Well, you both now know my dark side.  I am normally a friendly creature, as I am sure you know, and a friend to as many good vermin as I can find.  Which, unfortunately, isn’t many.”  Throwing a few logs on the fire, he placed his long sword in his lap and drew his cloak around his shoulders.  “You are perfectly welcome to sleep, Decca.  If you so desire, you can too, Serroth.  I will take the first watch.”

Decca was just about to dose off when he herd a noise quietly approaching his back."Being a Juska shaman dose have it's perks though."He took his staff and gave it a swing over his head,knocking out an inexperienced ferret Juska scout.He fell beside him."Don' worry Widestripe,this young fool  couldn't have done us any harm.He also isn't a Juska who was part of that raid,that was the largest of the clans doing.Bragging goes around fairly quick you know."He placed his staff back on his lap and fell asleep.

OOC: Sorry for the short and choppy post.  Busy, busy…

Widestripe grasped the unconscious ferret scout by the neck and raised the creature to eye level.  “Juska, eh?  You say that you are one of their shamans and that this scout is not a member of the clan who carried out the raid that I witnessed some 12 seasons ago.  How do you know that is so?  And another thing,  Juska never travel alone.  This one was, which makes him likely a scout.  Scouts always travel ahead of a main force…  Which means that there is a band of vermin anywhere from a few hundred yards to several leagues from here.”  The badger stood up and buckled his sword belt over his shoulder before gathering the discarded eating utensils and stowing them in his knapsack.  "I suggest that we vacate this position as soon as possible and move to where we can observe any forthcoming vermin activity without being seen.  However, you know Juska habits very intimately, Decca.  Do you have any advice or predictions to make as to the movements and habits of clans in the forest?"  He made eye contact with Serroth.  "How about you?"

"It all has to do in the patterns and colors."Decca explained."The said raiders had black swirls with yellow waves.See here,"He pointed at the young scout face."green dot and purple circles.This clan is the smallest of the three clans I seered over,a story for another time,he's probably just searching for provisions.He's very inexperience they wouldn't send him searching for me.Then again your not suppose to half blind a shaman who just answered a question.Widestripe we could be in a great deal of trouble.They wasn't particularly happy when I left."He looked to Serroth for some incite."I have two plans each one more dangerous and humiliating than the other for all three of us.So if you have a plan please speak it now."

Serroth had been far too focused on the small dribble of soup that remained in his bowl to even think about the idea of otherbeasts about. Vermin that posed an actual threat, anyhow. He had just finished the thought as he listened to the other two converse: What manner of creature would be so unwise as to attack two badgers and a fox? Apparently, the ferret learned the hard way. The badger's expression was at first quite dumbfounded, and he looked from the limp form of the ferret scout to the other two staring straight at him. He himself hadn't been awake for long, as night was first beginning to spread its dark tendrils across Mossflower Wood. Though there was clearly a growing threat around them, Serroth's countenance remained calm, though he kept his sword and shield close at hand.

The great armored beast heaved a solemn sigh and shook his head. "They simply won't quit, will they? I've been menacing those Juska nomads from dawn til dusk and still they dare show their faces around here. It's quite sad, but what am I to do about it? Imagine  the defeat they'd face if they attacked Redwall." Slowly, and quite lazily, he lifted himself up from his sitting position, groggily stretching his muscles. He casually dusted the dirt from the back of his ornate surcoat and adjusted the chainmail beneath his shoulder pauldrons as he spoke.

"They may already know where we are," came the badger's deep voice as though there was no threat at all, "So I say we head for higher ground, better terrain to fight from if they're all as foolish as this ferret. I haven't a clear plan, I hate to say, other than to keep our wits about us come nightfall."

The presense of another badger boosted Serroth's confidence tenfold, and he came off as almost cocky. The nomadic vermin tribes of Mossflower were quite commonplace to him at this point, and he knew, or at least hoped, that he would have nothing to worry about with the others to help him.

"Ha,the thing about this particular Juska tribe is not only are they foolish but quite cowardly."He stood up and drew his crimson saber,letting gleam all over Widestripe,Serroth,and himself."There about three score strong in total.They've witness the power of one badger lord already.Imagine how they react to two.Especially if they were Sunflash the Mace,"He pointed to Widestripe."and Lord Brocktree."

OOC: Sorry for the ludicrously short post.  Truth is, I couldn't think of much to write… Next one will be better, though.

BIC:  Wallace rose to his feet, and started to make his way into the dusk of the forest.  "I know hillock crowned by a thick yew grove around three leagues from here.  It has served me quite well on numerous occasions when I have been in conflict with vermin, and I would suggest we make our  camp there this evening."  He smiled, particularly at Serroth.  "If nothing happens in the course of the night we can go vermin-hunting on the morrow."

Decca's mood turned slightly sour at Wallace's suggestion."It so happens I'm close friends with many of those so called "Vermin" so,and don't be threaten but,if you kill any of them I'll kill you."He sighed a little."I'm sorry.It's just I don't like needless death.If you were to kill them with out them harming you,you're a vermin.I believe the terms vermin and gentel beast are unjust.If a fox or weasel or rat is kind and friendly they are "Gentel Beast" and if a squirrel,otter,or even a badger like you go around killing another creature just because what they are or the group they're in you are "Vermin",and I wasn't joking when I said I'd kill you.I take vengeance seriously."He put his sword away.He sat down and cried a little."I saw a young fox lose his family to a badger lord just because they were foxes."

Serroth plodded off with the others, musing to the others as he walked. As much fun as 'vermin hunting' sounded to him, he held his enthusiasm in as the fox expressed his disdain. For the most part, he agreed with both his fellow travelers.

"It's not us I'm worried about, really. There are many goodbeasts in Mossflower that have dwellings scattered about, and it's my job to see to it that nobeast ever comes within a paw's length of harming them. If they are as you say they are, Decca, we shouldn't have much trouble cutting them off before they cause any."

He chanced a glance at the fox, who had been overcome by the sudden grief of a bad memory. The armored badger's features softened, and he put a hand on the vulpine's shoulder.

"I don't believe in needless death, and I'm sure Widestripe here doesn't either. As much as I'd like to blame them as blighters from the get-go, I will not raise my blade in anger until I know they mean other beasts harm. However…" He scowled quite fiercely for his next statement, "If you kill my stripehound friend here, I'll have to kill you back. Badger's honor, you see."

Serroth stood, and as he did so he returned to his previous proud countenance, "Worry not, though, my vulpine companion. We're talking to you as an equal, are we not? I only wish otherbeasts could see things the same way. Now, are you going to sit there belly-aching all day or must I carry you along?" What could almost be called a chuckle rumbled forth from the large beast's chest. He turned his striped head to Wallace and gave the command, "Lead the way."

Wallace sighed heavily.  "Thank you for that, Serroth.  Your thoughtful reply stayed my temper and a retort which could have ended a friendship before it had even begun."  He walked on, looking thoughtfully up at the forest canopy, now almost imperceptible in the evening dusk.

"Like Serroth, my concern is for the innocent woodlanders who make their living in this part of Mossflower.  My mistrust of Juska is forever  highlighted by the sight of infants bleeding their lives out on the ground, calling for parents who stared up unseeing at the afternoon sky.  I remember vividly those horrible scenes like it happened yesterday."  The badger looked down at his feet, then at the grieving fox.  "I hope you now understand my overeagerness for Juska-raider blood."

He turned around, his mood lifting.  Taking a deep breath, he strode over to where Serroth and Decca had stopped.   Nodding to Serroth, he addressed the fox.  "You can be sure that I view you as an equal, although if you tried to kill me, I would be forced to not allow it."  He smiled and winked at the fox.  "Badger's honor.  However, all that is immaterial.  What matters is that we are within a stones throw of the Yew thicket…  Follow me, and when we arrive we'll set upon a viable method of dissuading this Juska band from doing any raiding…"  The badger laughed quietly.  "From what you have told us, Decca, they are fearfully lazy.  They'll be sleeping almost certainly, and as such, we'll have plenty of time to rest ourselves without worry of mischief being done in the night without our knowledge."

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