ooc- This is a thread meant to promote a little activity again. This is not an arc. Denya's is still in progress and I will be joining in that soon as well.
    As far as this thread goes, I don't want an immediate villain. For now, let's keep it to NPC vermin that try to inhibit/kill or kidnap the characters.

Bic-
_    Our world is dead…
    Ash falls is a cloud like black mist. Mossflower glows red with the embers of war._
    The beautiful woodlands had vanished. All that remained were trenches, abandoned palisades and the tall, distant shadow of Stythys. The tower of the dead stood like a gravestone over a barren waste.
_    The Lord of the Sky, Zeduran himself, underestimated his foe. I see still the dark ones pervading my thoughts. They flooded from the dungeons of Styths like a plague, destroying all in their path._
    Vermin bathed in black poured up the dungeon steps, snatching everything their could implement as a weapon. Torches, chains, rocks… They toppled the guards off the steps and into the abbys from wich they came. Lines of archers fired down into their ranks, sending a ceasless rain of dark bodies into the pit.
_    Once they were free, their wrath could not be allayed. They tore at everything in their path. Locked away for so long, silently driven mad, they became monsters._
    The army of dark heathens clawed their way through the gaping, broken doors to the great throne room. Blood mingled with crimson royal carpet as they made their way to the throne through raining wooden shafts, an unstoppable, innumerable force. Scores and scores of archers fired into their bodies. and they fell.
    The heaps of bodies built nearer and nearer the the marble dais upon which the King's throne sat, beyond which lay the gates to freedom. The monsters climbed over the bodies of their fallen comrades, heedless of death in their unquenchable wrath.
    One of the huge, savage nightmares rushed beyond the rest and fell to all fours and roared in the face of his first and last foe. The tall figure, standing in chain mail and a steel helm, drew his sword fluidly and ducked to one side and struck out, slaying the beast in a single blow, spilling the beast's blood on the marble steps.
    The warrior looked up into the faces of the others, an impassive figure behind his mask of metal. He twirled his blade idly in his paw as he stepped forward to meet the others. His knights fell in behind his as he picked up speed, screaming their war cries. Then, as he met with the hordes of the prison's denizens, rolling beneath the first and spearing the next on his sword point.
_    It is the end. We have all fallen to the veil of evil which has encompassed our country for millennia. We have found that we are not prey only to the roaming hordes of vermin hidden in the marshes and mountains, but also the vermin's heart found beating in the breast of every beast, good and evil.
    In the end, it was not the denizens of Stythys that destroyed us all._
    The warrior mouse drew off his helm as he stepped out the shattered throne room doors. His armor was stained with blood of enemies and comrades alike. He looked down from his perch into the maze of steps and battlements. Arrows and sharp screams of pain and fury filled the air. The masses of black overrode the many hundreds of beasts stationed to stop them. It was a losing battle.
    "Sire." An injured otter spoke from the mouse's side. "Will we evacuate the living? There are hundreds of women and young ones locked within-"
    The mouse brought up his paw. His companion went silent. The mouse surveyed the massacre for a few moments longer. "No," he replied in a tired voice. "No. We cannot open the gates."
    He turned to the others. "You know what you are supposed to do. If they do not destroy us here, it will be done out there. This war will not end while they breathe. Go."
_    The prison for the dark ones of Mossflower was ancient. The dark ones were driven mindless. They were ruthless, lifeless killers. And to defend our land from their rage, the Champion of Mossflower had to fulfill his last duty, his final measure._
    Aaron, Champion of Mossflower, met the hordes just outside at the bottom of the steps. The streets of Stythys narrowed to a point that only a few could fight at one time, so he and his men filled the gap to hold away the forces.
    Aaron pressed deep into their ranks and fought tooth and claw, pressing his way into a wide plaza, the centerpeice of the towering fortress. He pressed into their midst, slaying the beasts with a madness akin to bloodwrath. They fell one by one to his sword until their fear outweighed their fury and they fell back, circling him on all sides.
    Finally, his comrades were fallen. He was the last.
    The seething dark ones parted and a tall cloaked figure stepped forward, stoic and fearless, somehow the antithesis and still the enbodiment of those the wreathed him and clung to the skirt of his cloak.
    Shagera.
    "Aaron," He called. "The battle is lost. And so, the war. You have spent your last. Let us pass."
    "Shagera." Aaron spoke, closing his eyes briefly to blink away the battle fire. His sword lowered. "There is nothing left for any of us. I once swore that defiance against us would merit you nothing. I may still make good on that promise."
    The cloaked one laughed, shadowed by his black minions. "How? You have nothing left."
    "I will warn you only once." Aaron said calmly, raising his blade. "Renounce this evil or you will never pass. You have one last chance to turn away."
    Shagera stepped forward, drawing his sword. The crimson-stained blade seemed to glow in the black encircling them. "No one is my equal. I will slay you as easily as I breathe and take the throne and the Gates myself. I renounce nothing."
    Arron looked genuinely regretful. "And it is your undoing." Shagera sneered and raised his blade. Aaron ducked into a fighter's stance and grasped his sword in a death-grip.
    Shagera was about to rush forward, but halted as rumbling filled the air. The stones quaked beneath them. He looked up too late as a river of magma poured from the walls on all sides. Monstrous cauldrons of liquid fire were tipped at the top of every tower and flowed like a river through the streets over walls. The monsters looked around the plaza in terror as the deadly-hot liquid poured toward them. In the narrow streets behind, their brethren screamed in pain. The river flowed through of of Stythys, consuming everything. The loest streets were taken first. The the upper. Slowly the cauldrons were tipped one after the other, herding them toward the top.
    In desperation, Shagera rushed forward to fight his way through Aaron, but a waterfall of fire fell from behind the mouse, bathing everything in red.
    "I warned you, Shagera. And now we all die. You will never live to take Mossflower."
    Now fear showed even in Shagera's eyes. The ferret screamed and fought like lightning, now for vengeance rather than power. The two of them fell to the ground and Shagera pinned Aaron ruthlessly. Then he drew his knife.
    "And you die with me, in fire." The traitor seethed.
    Then the plaza began to collapse. Fires from beneath gutted Stythys. Only a shell remained when the destruction had finished.
_    The Champion of Mossflower fell in battle. His men were destroyed. It is probable that nothing survived.
    With no one to rule on high, a pursuit of power ensued. Powers from all around tried to establish their authority. In the end, Mossflower inself was burned as vermin and goodbeasts fought until nothing remained.
    First the woodlands fell. Then the fire-mountain, Salamandastron. With no one to tend it's fires, the mountain burned and spouted fire, as it continues to do so to this day.
    And then, finally, Redwall. Martin's sword was lost, buried in the debris, still clasped in the hands of our Lord, the Champion of Mossflower.
    Most of the vermin races died within Stythys. It is a blessing that those denizens are with us no longer. What remained of them after so many years of confinement was neither rat nor ferret nor weasel. A hideous and terrifying mixture of them all was all that remained.
    They are known to some as the Nameless. Others call them the Denizens of Stythys.
    I call them Demons._

_    We are gone. All of us, perhaps. Yet still I hope that someday a survivor may wrap his paws around this book, the last remnant of the tale of our world. And perhaps the Prince of Stythys may live on and rule this land again.
    To whomever finds my words, revive our homeland. Lead the living on to a better life. And may the clouds of ash cease falling. May control of what is left fall from the paws of vermin and into the paws of better beasts. Return our home to what it once was._
                        Lilia, watervole of Noonvale

Note:
    Last night, only days after the death of my mother, I saw something stir in Stythys. I saw a fire burning in the highest tower. I hope that it was nothing, just a group of bandits that somehow found their way inside.
    But if it is anything different, may the Spirits of Martin and Aaron protect us all.
                        Aaron, last mouse of Noonvale, claimed son of Lilia

ooc- Oh my gosh… I'm sorry this is so long again. Hahaha, I just can't help myself.
    Just remember that in what is left of Mossflower, beasts are rare. If you have a character that runs into someone else, it is a moment for shock and celebration. It is assumed that very few remain and those that do remain are usually loners.
    Everything is dead except what grows underground or in rivers. There is no sun and there is no season. Just an endless rain of ash. Salamandastron is abandoned and, with no one to tend it's fires, has erupted and will not stop for a long time.
    Redwall is also abandoned and all that remains are a half-dead orchard and a burnt abbey that houses small bands of cutthroats and thieves.

OOC: Interesting, post-apocalyptic, I've got ta join ^^

BIC: A dark cloaked figure standing at 5' 10, stumbled through the rocks near Salamandastron. A pair of blue-green eyes glowed beneath its hood. A piece of white rope was loosely wrapped to hold close the bottom of the hood. Its two ends swung with every step and every cold breeze. Beneath its cloak was a dark brown robe, held fast by a brown leather belt. A small glimpse of a pair of black trousers exposed themselves beneath the belt where the folds of the robe split apart. A single-edged claymore was strewn across its back.

The air was scented with sulfur, and the sky was choked with black smoke to the point it was impossible to tell night from day. Appearing like falling snow, an endless rain of ash fell upon the barren land. The ground vibrated as spews of lava poured over the top of the great mountain, emitting an ominous orange glow that nearly lit the skies. One of the fiery paths sunk into the ocean, hissing with rage as hot steam burst into the sky. An empty wind billowed across the land. There was not living soul in sight.

"No…" whispered a female voice is the figure drew to a halt. Salamandastron has fallen. It seemed not a ray of hope remained for the survivors. She entertained the idea that perhaps Redwall still stood...

She turned away and headed north towards the River Moss, planning to follow it through Mossflower and eventually to Redwall. Even from here, she could spot the tips of the leafless black trees that littered Mossflower woods.

After several days surviving off the river and the remains of her rations, she approached the dark depths of the dead trees.

"NOOO!"

Her eyes widened as a scream broke the cold silence. It sounded from somewhere closeby within the woods. She huddled her cloak close as she rushed towards the noise. In the clearing ahead, a fox, a weasel, and a rat were harassing a young otter maid.

"Why... why did you have to kill them!?" sobbed the otter maid as she fell to her knees. The corpses of her dead father and mother lay still nearby, covered in blood.

The fox smiled and laughed, twirling a dagger as the rat raised a scimitar. "Hahaha, well all we wanted was your food and belongings, but daddy just couldn't cooperate, and mommy had to get in the way!"

The weasel licked blood off the tip of his rapier. "He should know better than ta deny vermin!" he growled.

The rat chuckled evilly. "Oh I'm sorry little girly. Don't worry, you'll be seeing the rest of your family very soon!"

The figure shook her head. "STOP IT!" she shouted at the top of her lungs.

"AHHH! Uh..." It was too late. A scream broke the air as the rat ran the otter maid through.

The fox turned and frowned. "Hey ho, what's this? A 'heroine'? Before we start to get nasty, why don't ya clear the hood so we can get a better look at you."

The figure growled angrily as she threw her hood back, revealing herself to be a red wolf. Her muzzle wrinkled as she showed her fangs. "Happy now? I suggest you lower your blades before 'I' get nasty! I will make you pay for what you've done!"

The weasel spat with contempt. "What's with the sour face? Do ya even know these losers?"

"Hey, what's the big deal? You're one of us!" the rat squeaked.

"A female," chuckled the fox. "Our weapons remain pointed at you, miss. May I have your age and your name?" he asked with sudden politeness.

"Humph! I'll never consider myself one of you. I would never stoop so low as to rob and kill the defenseless!" She raised her cloak, revealing a muscular build, bushy white tail, and a short sword hidden behind her back at her waist. Her paw strayed to the hilt as she stood defensively. "I am 20 thank you. The name is Kaala Nightshade, one of the few good beasts left in this forsaken place," she said as she glared at the fox.

The three vermin approached her and started to surround her. "Kaala Nightshade? Quite the dangerous name indeed! Take her down, but I want her alive, ya hear!?" the fox ordered.

Kaala glanced left and right as they closed in. "Charge!" cried the weasel as he lunged at her. She turned and swung the blade full force against the his rapier. As his blade was tossed high into the air, she leaned forward and thrust the sword into his heart. "No-! Urk..." As the weasel fell to his death, the rapier landed headfirst into the ground nearby.

"Agh!" She let out yelp as she was given a hefty kick from behind. She was sent sprawling into the ground, her short sword tossed just beyond her reach. She shuddered in pain for a moment before she attempted a sluggish crawl to regain her blade. The fox kicked the blade away and pointed his dagger down at her.

"Not so hot-headed now, are ya? Hey rat, is he still alive?" he asked as he nosed towards the fallen weasel.

The rat bent down to check his pulse, then shook his head. "No... Sh-she killed him!" he cried in dismay.

"What did you say!?" the fox growled angrily.

Kaala seized the moment, quickly raising herself to her feet as she drew out her primary blade. She growled and charged forward, swinging out at the fox. "Ngh!"

He sidestepped her swing, taking advantage of her slow recovery and knifing her in the shoulder before shoving her towards the rat. "I've had enough of this wench. Kill her!" he shouted.

The startled rat raised his blade to run her through. Kaala growled and smashed down his scimitar. The rat waved his paws and cowered back. "P-please don't hurt me!" he screamed.

Kaala glared at him and raised her blade. "You killed her..." she muttered before striking him down. "Ack!" she let out as she felt a sharp pain pierce her back. She was immediately knocked back down to the floor, a knife still sticking out of her back.

"You've tried my patience..." the fox growled as he slowly approached her with a rapier in hand. He gave her a kick to the head as she began to stir. "When you reach the dark forest, be sure to say hello to my comrades for me," he muttered darkly as he prepared to stab her.

OOC: I'm thinking someone will post to rescue her XD Was trying to introduce the character without resorting to a character profile. I might still have to make one anyway. It's a bit of a long post, but I still hope this picks up.

"Hold!" A newcomer rolled out of the bushes, landing in a crouch, arrow training on the fox's forehead. "Yield, fox. Drop your weapon."
    It was a young mouse, barely more than a dibbun. But war was hard on anyone. This mouse had seen death and killed to defend himself. Looking past the soot-covered fur and into his small grey eyes, he somehow he looked so old and tired that his youth mattered little.
    "I said," The mouse repeated tightly. "Drop your weapon."

OOC: Fox = NPC

BIC: "Egh…" Kaala groaned as she cringed in pain. She sensed that the dagger was still stuck in her back. Her body trembled as she attempted to push herself up. She succeeded in leaning on her elbow to get a look at the newcomer.

Her vision blurred and doubled before her. She couldn't make out who or what the creature was. He seemed highly mature, but his small size and voice spoke otherwise. Her strength gave out and she let herself collapse back to the ground. All that mattered to her was that she still had the off chance of survival.

"Another hero!?" the fox growled angrily as he turned to face the newcomer. His eyes widened with bewilderment. "Oho! What's this, a mere young one!? Ahaha!" He laughed to himself, his chuckles dying quickly as he watched the mouse's eyes.

He stared at him cautiously for a moment before deciding upon a rationality. He raised his paws and the rapier in a shallow shrug. "Ha! Do you expect me to believe a little cretin like you could even keep an arrow straight? Fine, have it your way," he said smugly as he started tossing his blade to the ground.

Before the sword struck the floor, a throwing knife fell out of his sleeve and into his paw. He quickly raised his arm to fling a killing blow. "Think fast!"

Aaron was a brave mouse and a good archer, but not an experienced fighter. His eyes widened as the knife whipped straight toward his face.
    He ducked to one side, but the knife shattered his arrow and sliced his bowstring clean in two. The knife sank deep into his shoulder so hard that he spun around and landed face-first in the dirt, screaming.
    The fox crouched and ground one footpaw into Aaron's back. He sneered at him. "Snivel'n mousy babe. I'll cook you up nice for me an' my crew after I'm done skinning alive, an' not before."
    Yanking on the mouse's ear, he turned his quarry over, slapping him across the cheek. "No one points arrers at this fo-"
    His proclamation was cut short when Aaron kicked him hard in the gut. He gasped for air as the mouse struggled, but he didn't let go. He wrapped both paws around Aaron's throat and began striking his head against the hard soil.
    "No… one... kicks... me..." The fox growled as his voice returned. "Die ya li'l monster." Aaron started to go limp. His head ached and the initial explosions of color in his vision began to fade. In desperation, he let his instincts take over.
    Using one footpaw, he swept the fox's paws off the ground and rolled on top of him. Then, using one paw, he yanked the knife out of his shoulder and pressed it to the fox's throat. "Yield."
    The fox bit his paw and Aaron cried out. The fox kicked him off his belly and the mouse tumbled backward through the leaves, losing the knife. The fox stood and stumbled toward him, snarling furiously.
    Aaron gave up looking for the dagger and picked up the shaft of his bow. Shouting, he swung it like a sword, cracking the fox hard across the jaw.
    "Agh!" The fox reeled back as the mouse struck him again and again, landing each blow just as hard as the last, leaving painful welts on the fox's face. The vermin brought up his paws to protect his head and snout, tail drooping between his legs. "Stop i'! Stop i' ya monster!"
    To his surprise, the pounding stopped and the mouse dropped his bow. The fox slowly uncovered his eyes. He found himself staring down the shaft of his own sword. He swallowed and his throat bobbed right against the tip of the blade. "Wait... juz hold on a minute there." He said nervously. "T'aint right ta steal, ya know..."
    "Drop your belt, vermin." Aaron sounded a lot braver than he felt. He couldn't kill this beast. He hoped the fox wouldn't call his bluff. "Drop your belt and all your other weapons."
    The fox hesitated, but did as he was told. "No mak'n off with it now. That stuff's mine."
    "These are tools of war. They belong at the bottom of the nearest river, fox." THe fox opened his mouth, but Aaron grabbed his shoulder and drew him up until their snouts touched, drawing the sword level with the beast's throat. "Do I hear any arguments?" The fox shook his head.
    Aaron pushed him away. "Get out of here, vermin. Do something clever with your life."
    The fox looked around at the limp bodies of his minions. "But I-"
    Aaron slashed the air in front of his face. "Get out of here or you'll join them!" He shouted. The fox took off running. glancing over his shoulder.
    When he was gone, Aaron relaxed, swaying slightly. He tossed the sword to the earth disdainfully and belt to pick up his bow shaft. Using it as a walking staff, he started away.

Kaala listened to the scuffle with growing interest.

Just a child…?

She wasn't in the position to give it much thought. Just as it seemed to be over, she could hear the mouse walking away. She coughed blood on the ground as she tried to push herself up again. She turned herself to watch the retreating figure, raising a trembling paw after him. "W-wait…" she called out weakly with desperation. "Please, help me..."

She had little hopes her voice would reach him. At this rate, she would be dead for sure.

Aaron could barely hear her voice, but he'd been waiting for it. He knew she was still alive.
    Aaron closed his eyes and sighed as he turned back. "As much as I want to, I don't have the right to kill you, wolf. All the same, I don't have the right to save your life either. I stopped a cold-blooded murder, but I don't have to save you. Not if you're vermin, a murderer, a thief." He turned and started away again. "Fend for yourself if you want to live."

"NO!" she suddenly bellowed with a new found strength as she shook her head. She managed to push herself up to her knees.

"You can't group me with the rest of these vermin! I may be a wolf, and by species I am vermin. But there is a difference! I do not murder and rob! I am NOT vermin!"

After her little speech, she stopped to think. She recalled actions that have long since passed, the dead faces of the wood landers she murdered and robbed. Her claws were covered in innocent blood. She decided upon the path of a good beast, to make up for her misdeeds. However, it's difficult to be accepted among other good beasts in the form of a vermin.

It's also difficult to forget the past. A tear rolled down her face as she was overcome with regret and hopelessness. She slumped back to the ground, the new found strength quickly leaving her. She felt weaker than she was before. Her vision was blurred both by tears and fading consciousness. "If you don't believe, then fine. Leave me here to die… After all, it is what I deserve, isn't it?..." she said in a near whisper as she started to black out.

ooc- I'm assuming she already passed out? Tell me if this is OK.

Bic-
    Aaron watched and listened in stoic silence. Then he watched as she fell back, speaking to him as though he were a stone wall. She sounded like she was giving up, deliberately losing herself to death.
    After all, that's what I deserve, isn't it…? He'd heard words like those before. He heaved a deep, low sigh, shaking his head. You're a fool, Aaron.

There was no moon. All the light that there was came from Aaron's little fire. He prodded the heap of burning wood he had chopped from dead forest of trees.
    Aaron wondered what it was like to see white snow. He wrapped a dead ferret's cloak tighter around his shoulders as he stared out into the blizzard of black flakes. All was a perpetual shadow-winter here. The temperature had dropped since the sun stopped shining.
        He had to drag the here from the clearing. He hid the bodies of the ottermaid and her parents after taking what he could from them, including their food and water. He found medicine the maid's pouch, as well.
    He watched the sleeping figure of the she-wolf, a huddled-up shadow figure at the edge of the fire. Her middle was wrapped tightly in the torn remnants of the vermin's clothing. He had done what he could with his limited knowledge of medicine and filled the wound with ash and water, to draw out the poisons and prevent infection.
    Now he drank steaming water from a crude wooden cup, shivering against the cold, clutching his bow shaft close to his chest.

OOC: That is fine ^^ I'll be back to post when I come back

(( I've been thinking about joining this thread when there was an appropriate opening. Would that be alright?))

ooc- Sure 🙂
    To keep things at a believable pace, though, it might be wise to wait until Aaron and Kaala start moving again the next morning.

OOC: That would be most excellent, Night. But yes, soon as morning comes around! ^^

BIC: The smell of burning sulfur, and the sounds of crackling flame greeted Kaala's senses. She began with bitter thoughts.

I suppose this must be the Dark Forest… Peace at least...

She shuddered as a cold breeze swept by. Her eyes fluttered open, unveiling the somber black sky behind dead branches, and falling particles of white and black ash. The ash reflected an orange fiery glow, the source of which was at the edge of her vision. Perhaps this wasn't the Dark Forest, but it might as well be.

How she'd survived her ordeal was a complete mystery to her. She heard a sipping noise towards the fire. Somebeast was nearby. As soon as the fox crossed her mind, she gasped and sat up with an alarming jolt to find out who was nearby. She cringed and whined in pain as she abruptly upset the wound in her back.

She glanced down curiously to see that her mid-section was covered in healing herbs and make-shift bandages beneath her robe. She could feel her shoulder was also tightly bound. She glanced around, snatching her ash-covered cloak as soon as she spotted it and pulling it around herself. She looked up and was relieved to find a young mouse shivering on the opposite edge of the fire, clutching close a bow shaft with a broken string.

Though he was nearly a dibbun, his emboldened eyes and wise expression interpreted otherwise. It nearly humbled her, as she could only imagine the experiences he must have faced to have turned out this way at such an age. He was indeed a child… but she never realized how the new setting could affect one so young.

She pulled the cloak tighter to keep herself warm. "...Are you the one who saved me?" she finally asked.

((Thanks guys though you needn't tell me as my thoughts were just so. And so , until then, I lurk!- er wait.))

Aaron glanced her way. "Saved you?" He shrugged. "Sure, I guess."

"I see." Kaala re-examined the broken bow in his paws, then briefly remembered the few moments before she blacked out. The voice sounded familiar. Could this be the same child who was fighting the fox?

She looked about the camp site, as if expecting to see at least one other beast around. "You appear to be out here alone. Why is that? Who are you, and where are your parents, young one?" she asked curiously as she returned to the mouse. "And while you're at it, why did you reconsider helping me? I am still a vermin beast, which I am relatively sure your kind does not take kindly to."

Aaron swirled the water absently in his paw. "My name is Aaron of Noonvale. I was the last to leave. My mother, Lilia, died and I had nothing left to stay for, so I buried her and went in search of the living."
    His expression turned dark. "Noonvale stood so close to Stythys that you could see its highest tower, even through the ash. It was the first thing destroyed in the wars after the Nameless escaped."
    He sighed and looked up through the whirl of black snow. "Do you remember stars?"

Kaala sat and listened to his story with great interest. The mouse's serious demeanor no longer seemed quite as odd. It appeared he had some direct connections to the events that changed the world.

The tower of Stythys had always remained a distant mystery to her, having often seen it on the horizon as a landmark, but never realizing its significance. She regrets not investigating it sooner.

The Nameless she only heard once or twice mentioned from other survivors, but despite her curiosity over the term, its meaning also remains discreet to her.

He sighed and looked up through the whirl of black snow. "Do you remember stars?"

Kaala blinked at him for a moment, then followed his gaze up to the darkened sky. "The stars?" she repeated. "Why yes, of course I remember them. Back when there dwell night and day, the days were greeted by the sun, and the night skies were populated with the ivory moon, and the many dispersed twinkling specks of light called stars. This was before the world was covered in what seems an eternal eclipse of smoke and ash, before everything as we knew it was utterly destroyed."

Her gloomy eyes squinted at the falling ash. "I haven't the slightest clue why it had to turn out this way, but over time I've grown to accept it. It's terrifying to let it all go, but already, the past world seems like nothing but a memory."

She shook her head, and looked back to the young mouse. "So tell me, do the stars represent any particular significance to you, Aaron of Noonvale? May I also take this time to ask you what exactly the Nameless were, and the importance of Stythys?"

"Stythys was a prison meant for all the vermin that the Champion of Mossflower could get his paws on. He captured hundreds and put them to work building the great tower. He caught more and put them to work as well.
    "He kept collecting them and shutting them away in the dark until there were hardly any left. They populated in the dungeons, however, and the tower had to continue expanding. After many, many years, verminkind became all but extinct except the unrecognizable demons that crawled through those cells. And so they called them the Nameless Ones.
    "The only way into the City in the Sky, Stythys, was blocked and a great road was built, wrapping around the outside of the city, which as you can see is is shaped like the point of a giant conk shell. The new Gate to the city lay through the throne room."
    "And then the traitor came and freed the monsters." He related the story of the great battle, as his mother had taught it to him. "A few seasons later, the fire-mountain erupted and the clouds turned black. And then I woke up in Noonvale."
    Upon Kaala's question about the stars, Aaron hesitated. "Although Stythys fell not many seasons ago, I have no memory of my days before Salamandastron fell. I often hear people speaking in a longing tone when they mention stars." His eyes had a far-away look in them. "I want to see them again someday. And remember."

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