The Compact of Three Dunes
"This is a good land, and it is a fertile land, and we shall call it… This land." ~Wash, Firefly
The silence of the night remained untouched save by two noises: the ever-present music of the ocean and hushed conversation between beasts. The night sky was alight with the countless jewels of afar and one, diminutive sliver of a moon. To the north, a black silhouette on the navy sky, stood the fortress mountain of Salamandastron, though it was several leagues away.
Muramin al-Wyuli raised a paw and signal for silence; a dozen conversations quieted to nothing within a matter of moments. The wildcat used to silence to perk an ear, listening to ambient noises of the night. Beneath the music, further noises stirred in the silence. Shifting sand, she thought to herself, recognizing what meant the difference between life and death in the desert. Her tail flicked slightly in agitation. Without hesitation, Muramin turned on her left hind-paw and moved down the dune upon which she had stood back towards the group. Meeting her half-way was a pine marten, the wildcat stopping to speak in hushed tones.
“Derecho, I want you to inform the Janissaries to keep quiet,” she said quickly and quietly. Again, her tail shifted behind her from apparent agitation.
The marten gave a single nod before replying, “Yes, Ma’am. Is there a problem?”
“We may have company in the area, and I’d just as soon not have the night filled with battle cries.” She paused, and then smiled, adding, “However, do come running if you happen to hear the sounds of a pitched battle.”
Derecho gave another nod. “So you speak, shall it be done, milady,” he answered, turning towards the rest of the beasts. Spreading her command would be simple, as they all knew the paw-signals for silence. Those that failed to learn were long-since dead.
Muramin nodded and turned, quietly moving back up and over the dune. She made no attempt to hide her presence amongst the sands, striding boldly down to the dip betwixt a trio of dunes. In the back of her mind, the wildcat silently hoped that Fate would smile upon her again.
I silent figure watched as the wildcat moved betwixt the dunes. Muramin's foot-paws made a slight shuffling noise as she walked. She was making no efforts to conceal herself. She's trying to draw my attention. the beast thought to himself. Based on the number he had already seen with the wildcat, he'd need to be careful. She was deffinetly in a position of power. None the less, it appeared almost as if the wildcat was waiting for him to emerge.
Moving swiftly across the dunes, being careful not to disturb the sand too much, he made his way directly in front of the walking wildcat. His large body made this somewhat difficult, but he was very agile.
The beast pulled his cloak tightly around himself. Deception is the best weapon. He thought. And so is Mystery.
As the wildcat drew closer, he rose up out of the sand. Cloak still tightly pulled around his large body, he spoke.
"Where goest thou wildcat?" His voice was clear and confident showing no fear. Image is everything.
The tup of Muramin al-Wyuli’s tail curled slightly, and she halted as the figure moved quickly into her path. Her nose sampled the air cautiously, trying to gather the race of this beast by his scent, though she knew that, more often than not, a lack of cleanliness amongst the verminkind made such difficult. The wildcat’s left paw rested idly on the grip of a single blade, though she was certain she could avoid blows until capable of drawing her other. Besides, she knew she had thirty-odd beasts behind her; each one was more than capable in combat, though they had yet to meet an adequate foe.
“I am taking myself to the east,” she said, preferring to allow this unknown beast reveal what he knew before she would surrender such information. Further, she knew that lies and deception were vital to ensure that this one would incorrectly assess her strength. “I have heard tales of a great fortress thusly located, and I have run out of rations for the trail.”
Muramin let the emotion drain from her expression, finding herself unable to determine what, exactly, she was dealing with. “And whom do I have the insurmountable pleasure of speaking to?” she asked, wanting to have something to play with before giving any more information.
"Whom, or What, I am, is none of your business as of yet cat." He spoke rapidly. His body relaxed and he took a slight step forward. "If you truly are seeking this fortress in the east, which is something I highly doubt, then I recommend you go elsewhere. There is no fortress. Only an abbey filled with peaceful creatures." He chuckled, "And don't think you can take it over either, because you can't. Redwall isn't called the Abbey of War for nothing." He took another timid step forward and examined the wildcat. An audible intake of breath was heard as he sniffed the night air. He then took a step back and shook his head. "Southlands. And desert. You don't lie very well my friend. You smell of both sagebrush and rowan. Neither of which grow very prominently up here. What are you really here for? You didn't wander this close to the ocean for no reason when you say you're headed east."
-ooc- Yay fun! A long post RP!!
(( I'm a tad out of practice, I note… And I got my east and west bass-ackwards. ^__^;; ))
Muramin kept herself from raising a brow and the hurried pace of speech. Perhaps I intimidate this beast, she thought to herself. Of course, she also had found him speaking of the same place in two different manners. Her mind worked quickly for the best reply to his inquiries.
"You say there is an abbey of peaceful creatures?" she asked incredulously. "And yet, you also say they are called an abbey of war?" She surmised that the second half of his statement was meant to mislead; peaceful creatures typically knew nothing of true war. It was not like the desert that made her home, where the ability to fight often equated the ability to survive. Further, she wanted to distract him with another question so that her own past may be buried in the sands upon which she had once trod.
"Ah yes," He said, "You do not believe me perhaps? The abbey has been the target of many a vermin horde. The legendary abbey would be a jewel for anyone. And yet, none has fully managed to conquer it. Even the legendary Cluny the Scourge could not keep hold of it for more than a few days." His feet shifted in the sand as he leaned toward the wildcat.
"The abbey is protected by the spirit of an ancient warrior named Martin. Perhaps you have heard of the infamous Badrang, who ruled the southern seas until a mouse named Martin caused his downfall? It is said to be the same Martin."
The mysterious beast coughed for a moment then continued. "When the abbey of Redwall is threatened, the great warrior stirs from the Dark Gates and calls a new warrior to defend the abbey. He lends this warrior strength, and it is said that the chosen warrior is invincible while the spirit of Martin dwells in him."
The beast straightened and then continued, "Now enough stalling. If you desire to know something of me or why I am here, you must first give me something of equal value."
Play on the desire for knowledge and the temptfullness of the unknown. He seemed to recite in his mind.
Muramin drank in the information as a cactus does the rain, finding the tale more than believable. An incarnation of their greatest warrior, she mused, letting a smile slip to her expression. Perhaps, she continued her thought, this warrior avatar might prove to be the challenge I seek. Forcing her mind back to the here and now, Muramin pulled the slight smile back.
"Who is to say what is water and what is sand?" she posed, wanting to see how honest he would decide to be with her before deciding just how much information to allow. "Perhaps I might reveal the truth to find nothing but lies and falsehood in return. That would not be giving items of equal value, would it?"
She did want to know more; she was not from the local area. She had just the rumors of travelers given hospitality and those that tried to assail them. Still, she wanted an assurance that the information was factual, and not some fabrication of some beast for his own gain.
The beast Hissed. "You dare to question my word?" His tense body gradually calmed. "Very well. We shall do it as a bartership. I will give you something of small value, and then you will do so in return. This way no one ever has much more than the other." The beast took a slight step back and then spoke.
"As my part of the deal, I will tell you of what I am." As he spoke these words, he pulled back his cloak to reveal what was underneath. His cloak sat on his right shoulder, hiding his right arm.
Large sinewy arms were covered with thick hard scales. His scales were hard and created a thick armor that completely covered his body. What was unusual however, was that his scales produced an effective weapon as well. The tan colored scale protruded at sharp angles, creating a series of spikes.
"I am a desert lizard cat. From far further south than you have come I'm sure." He spat, "My body has made me an outcast from everyone. I cannot return home from whence I can because of political feuds caused by a war many seasons ago. I retreated north to the more mild climate of Mossflower to live…." Here he paused, "And to get revenge."
The lizard at this point pulled the cloak completely off of himself to reveal his right hand. Or rather, the lack of it. "I have come here to retrieve an item from the one who did this to me." He hissed, "Once I do..." His voice wandered off and was replaced by a heavy hiss emanating from his throat. As suddenly as it had come, it was gone.
"Now, I have shown my trust by giving you valuable information. Will you do the honor of providing me with the same?" He looked sternly at the wildcat. "And no more of your lies. You will discover that I am well aquainted with liars and can tell them from the truth quite easily."
-ooc- I'm aware that this might now be allowed but BJ did put monitors in Redwall, and you get those from a farther of distance than you do horny toads.
Muramin's muscles tensed slightly under her fur as the lizard revealed himself, though it was nothing more than a reaction to the motion. As quickly as the reflex came, it passed again into nothingness. His kind were not unheard of in her former tribe, though she had not personally seen one prior to this night.
"Without a token of honest, I always doubt another's word," she said, hazarding that the lizard would understand. She continued, "Far too often do those with something to gain spin falsehood." Inhaling softly, she decided that she could first confirm a few of his assumptions without giving too much. "My name is Muramin al-Wyuli. As you surmised, I am from south of here; a desert as you suggested. Like you, I cannot return under pain of death. Of this topic, I shall speak no more." She paused, judging which information to give next, seeing as he likely would find some of it useful to his own design, though she could not forsee what quite yet. "Also, as you discerned, I am not yet headed eastward. I am traveling to the north by north-west. I spoke true of a fortress of which I heard, and I seek to view it with my own eyes."
The lizard smiled. "Ah, you seek the legendary mountain of Salamandastron!" He spread his arms wide and chuckled. "You have no further to look dear cat. You have found the mountain already." Turning, he pointed of into the direction of the mountain. "That is Salamandastron. Legendary home to the (almost) fearless Long Patrol." Turning back to the cat his smile faded. "It seems as though we have the same destination in mind." He again extended his arm revealing the lump just past the elbow where his fore-arm should have been.
"My name is Hyrasrax (Her-as-er-ax), I seek a hare from Salamandastron. What his name is I do not know. Only that he has taken something of great value to me and left me for dead. What that item of great value is, is a topic of which 'I shall speak no more.'" he quoted using the wildcat's own words. He smiled sweetly at her.
Muramin allowed his name to repeat itself several times in her mind; she did not want to say it incorrectly and risk offense. Further, there was something about his smile that felt wrong. Still, the lizard did look like more than capable of holding his own in a tense situation, and she could always use another body the distract the foe from her own.
"Perhaps, then, we should venture together, you and I, to this mounain," she finally concluded. "Perchance you can find your valuable and I will be able to survey the fortress."
"Perhap so." spoke Hyrasrax, "But I would first like to know why you so desire to reach Salamandastron." Hyrasrax looked at her questionably. "One does not go the Salamandastron merely to 'survey' it. What is there that you desire?"
Muramin held her paws spread for a moment and smiled broadly. "Sand and water," she said without missing a beat. "All I desire is sand and water."
She cared not if the lizard understood the metaphors used by her tribe. 'Sand' to her people typically meant that of no value, whereas water held the highest importance. By requesting both from another, it was more a request for them to capitulate without a fight than the literal desire for crushed stone and the liquid of life.
Hyrasrax chuckled. "You forget I come from a desert too my friend." He smiled a wide semi-real grin and spoke. "Very well. We shall see what each has to offer too each other." He extended one long spike covered arm toward her. "Don't worry, it doesn't bite unless you grab the other side."
Muramin matched his grin. "I did not forget, I assure you," she said with finality. An afterthought was to her soldiers, and she felt she could volunteer that little piece of information with greater safety. Not taking his arm, as it would deny her full use of her own, and she had no method to guage his own, she turned back towards the way she came.
"I have a few friends waiting for me," she stated. "I think they would like to accompany us, as they all have some issue with this fortress mountain and its inhabitant hares." She looked back towards the lizard. "And," she added, "I know they are all quite capable in the arts of battle."
Retrieving his cloak, he spoke to her without looking. He seemed to busy himself by pulling every single wrinkle out of the cloak as he spoke. "Then I shall meet you at the rock out cropping near Salamandastron tomorrow night so that we can fully inspect the mountain." As he finished fidgeting with his cloak, he turned to leave.
Before he vanished into the night, he turned his head and spoke one last time. "I too have 'friends' with whom will fight." He spread a wide grin. "It appears as though we have no lack of friends, you and I." As he vanished into the nights fog covered sandy dunes, he left these last words dangling in the moist air.
"Where one finds many friends, he must be careful, because it is a sure sign that he also has many enemies."
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Rolvog stood atop a dune near the conversing creatures. Behind the jet black cloak a crooked smile played at his lips. He was interested in Hyrasrax for his own reasons.
A little joke then appeared to him and his evil sense of humor. He too had friends. The smile deepened to a grin. And they were more capable of fightling than anyone could have previously imagined.
He disappeared into the night with his joke and secret. He would speak to Hyrasrax.