Backstory: Kyra (Memories Left Behind)



  • Rats were scattered to the floor and almost thrown through the air as Kierrana bolted through the castle and towards the exterior ramparts. She scrambled out and pushed a rat to the floor in a panic as she turned and brought her eyes to watch the distant waters. The fur on the back of her neck stood up as she saw the six distinctive ships crossing the sea, one of them shining blindingly with light as if carrying a sun on its deck. She pointed at the ‘star ship’ and barked worriedly at the guards “Who does that vessel belong to!”
    The rats looked at each other and answered her in a jumble of uncertain replies “Uhhh no clue overseer.”
    “They haven’t gotten close enough for us to see their flag overseer.”
    “I’ve never seen such a ship afore overseer.”
    “No idea overseer.”
    The jumble of confused answers combined with her fright stirred up a dangerous growl of frustration “Well find out before I toss you all over so you can swim over and ask!”
    Her words effectively cleared that section of wall top leaving her to watch the vessels grow larger at an agonizingly slow pace, ‘surely they weren’t that slow’.
    Markas howled as he ran through the castle grounds below and towards the castle gate “We’ll sink ‘em before they ever lay eyes on the inside of our mighty fortress! Kill em all!”
    Kierrana darted to the wall steps and almost tripped on several occasions as she leapt down multiple steps at a time. The gate guards opened the gate allowing dozens of bow rats to pour out onto the cliff pathway as Kierrana chased after her brother “What are you thinking! We can’t just charge down at them! They’ll cut us down before they even bother setting a paw on the docks!”
    Markas looked at his young sister with a ferocious grin “You do know we have a catapult for a reason right? We’ll pound them to splinters and shark bait before they even get in bow range; they just get to pick off any survivors that try to swim for shore! Hah ha!”
    Arkan howled from the castle’s seaside watchtower “The sea’ll turn red wid blood tonight! I can’t wait to see the looks the slaves have when we show them this!”
    Tarkis came out into the castle grounds rushing after his eldest brother “Father says TAKE NO PRISONERS!”
    Arkan looked down into the castle grounds from his position in the watchtower “Hah, hah, time for blood tide!”

    -x-

    The sun had dropped down about a quarter of the way in the sky when the half score of otters scrambled up the side netting of the ‘Vigilance’ and saluted Shorebreaker. The otter captain saluted them back with a stone face “Report.”
    The leader of the scouts stepped forward and nodded towards Palerock “Buzzing like a beehive with activity skipper. Together we placed about six score scrambling down towards the docks, all guards no slaves. It’s likely they took all the slaves to wherever they’re holding them the moment the ships were spotted.”
    Shorebreaker gave put a paw on the scout’s shoulder “Good then at least they’re safe from the fighting. Did you see any weaknesses in their defenses? How many entrances are there?”
    The scout took a deep breath before answering the skipper “It looks like there’s no gate until you get up to the castle which leaves their defenses on the cliff open for a rush but the castle itself… There are only two entrances that we’ve seen, the gate at the top of the cliff and the gate on the shore side, both of ‘em are built to be impregnable skipper. The only ways we’re getting in is if we have a ram or they have another entrance we couldn’t see.”
    Shorebreaker rubbed at his chin in deep thought as he considered the situation “If’n most of their guards are down at the docks it’ll make those gates a world easier to crack. Hmmm, Fallstrider!”
    The Imperial Commander came clanking over causing a couple of the scouts to turn their heads slightly to reduce the glare hitting their eyes “Captain?”
    Shorebreaker pointed to the castle at the top of the cliff as he addressed his counterpart “Scouts say the only gates are up at the castle itself. The things are nearly impregnable but the hotheaded pupsnatchers have run down to the docks to meet us. Imma figuring it’s either one of two things. Either A it’s a trap and they’re trying to lure into range of their archers from up in the castle or B they really are thickheaded slobs.”
    Brows furrowed as Fallstrider listened to Shorebreaker’s information and points on the situation. Fallstrider tilted his head forward a little so that the upper edges of his helmet met with the top of the topmost part of the castle “Good defensibility building on top of a cliff but not a god idea for protecting the docks. If you were to use fire archers t sink enemy ships you risk burning your own, logically you’d want to sink a ship with one big weapon Even still you’d want quick access to the docks of course if you put a barracks on the docks and the castle’s attacked from the other side by the time your defenders get to the castle they’re too tired to fight. Running down from the castle would take too long as well… perhaps… perhaps… Sergeant Rugero!”
    The Athairian border sergeant came rushing across the deck to stand beside Shorebreaker and gave Fallstrider an odd right paw to the left shoulder salute “Yes Imperial Commander?”
    Fallstrider’s right upper lip twitched slightly wanting to bash the Athairian over the head for the out of tradition salute however he restrained himself to a simple snort “Castle specs… in my paws… now.”
    Rugero the weasel sergeant gave the meerkat leader a look of uncertainty “Uhh, where are they Commander?”
    Fallstrider blinked and when his eyes opened they were slightly wider than before with surprise “Where are they? Where are they? What kind of blasted S…. Alright who’s blinking castle was that before the blooming foxes took it! HMMM, WHO!”
    The Nayan score leader was already stepping away from two of his subordinates and towards the group of leaders with a large scroll rolled up around an arrow in his quiver “Last kingdom that had control of it was Strelka which fell when its final fortress of Evermist Keep was taken by Lunderhedge. They built the castle… most of it but there are some parts that are much, much older”
    The ferret score leader, Kannaston pulled the obsidian tipped arrow from his quiver and held it out for Fallstrider to take. The Imperial stood looking at the odd method of presenting the document for a moment before grunting as he took the arrow and unraveled the scroll from around it. Holding the scroll so everyone could see its contents Fallstrider inspected the multiple drawing that made up each floor which had caused everything to be rather condensed so that all the information fit on the scroll. The group of leaders squinted as they went over each level looking for another way inside the castle. Shorebreaker pointed to the lower levels with a rather annoyed huff “Look, it doesn’t even have the fortifications on the cliff path. There’s no telling ‘ow old this thing is!”
    Kannaston inspected the otter captain’s indication and almost jumped out of his skin when he noted the small corridor right next to his paw “Look that entrance, right beside your paw!”
    Eye’s bolted to the otter’s paw as well as the marking around it allowing each set to steadily focus in on the thin pair of lines that connected to the castle’s basement. Fallstrider furrowed his eyebrows as he checked each level of the basement “Hmmm small, maybe too small. They could easily lay a trap if any of their guard are left but if we could get a small group in through there they could open the gates for the rest of the force.”
    Sergeant Rugero studied the route and gave a slight nod “That would be a much more speedy approach than trying to bring down the gates. I can lead my troops into the lower levels and hold the chokepoints leading out of this main room.”
    Rugero pointed at the barracks room as he continued “However my beasts don’t have speed for rushing to the gates from the castle interior.”
    Shorebreaker barked energetically “We’ll get those gats open, if’n we can swim to the horizon an’ back then no stairs are going to stop us from getting our families back!”
    Fallstrider’s eyes burned as he looked at Shorebreaker, not in anger but seriousness “We’ll be at the gates, you ‘better’ get there and open them or I’ll drag our weapons up there and put a hole in the wall.”
    Shorebreaker gave a stone faced nod “We’ll be there, neither blood nor arrows are gonna stop us from doing that.”
    Fallstrider looked at the rising form of Palerock “We’re almost in range, those fools on the docks don’t realize who they’ve got looking for them…. SIEGE WEAPONS!”



  • Kierrana bolted down the cliff pathway after her brother Markas who was barreling through rats by the handfuls as he sped for the castle’s sea facing catapult. It was about two thirds of the way down on an extension platform of the ramparts that the slaves had constructed. Motioning to a few rats with his paws he laughed with delight about what he believed to be the likely outcome “Haha, I can’t wait to let the slaves know about this! And just before we kill them too, so very close and yet so very far! Haha, hurry up and load the stones I want to rain death on those fools!”
    Kierrana stopped a few paces up the path and looked at her brother over the ramparts “What if they have siege weapons as well? There are too many ships for one weapon to sink.”
    Markas flapped a paw at his sister in dismissal “Bah, no weapon could fire this high and this far from those ships…”
    One of the rats had started peering at the ships as he loaded a stone into the catapult’s bucket “Huh, how many colors do they sail under!”
    Markas jumped to the ramparts and looked down at the ships as the rats went about their task. He squinted at the center mast of each ship and mumbled to himself as he inspected each banner, that is until he finished “Whaa, fellow vermin attacking us… with woodlanders! What has the world come to; fools and cowards? So afraid to face the woodlanders they are that they turn on their own! Bah, if there was still work to be done I’d capture them all and turn them into bait for the fishing ships! Hmmm, what’s with all the lights on that one?”
    Kierrana cringed at the mention “Si, si, sink that one first!”
    Markas rotated his head to look at his sister “Huh, what’s your problem it’s the lead ship. OF COURSE THAT’S THE ONE I’M GONNA SINK FIRST!”
    Markas jumped to the catapult lever with a grin as the rats backed away “And now, it’s time ta…”
    He was cut off by an archer below “INCOMING!”
    Markas laughed as he grabbed the lever “Fools, why even bother trying nothing can get up….”
    He was interrupted again but this time by a boulder that sent shards of stone and splinters of wood scattering across the cliff path. The two surviving rats and their vixen overseer twitched as what was left of the platform collapsed, falling down and crushing half a dozen archers on the cliff pathway below. Kierrana  stepped back from the ramparts ‘they could fire that high up’.
    Her initial reaction turned to panic as she jumped back towards the ramparts and shouted down to the docks “GET TO THE CASTLE! RUN!!! DRAKAS!”
    Clusters of stones from catapults and ballistae pelted the docks sinking the three ships and sending the wooden piers to the bottom as archers fired in a panic, all their arrows fell short at just a quarter the distance to the ships. Down at the docks Drakas stood at the first turn in the cliff pathway where no other beast stood. He had chosen to move the instant the platform was hit and had picked his present location as it drew itself no attention, besides they’d need the path to get to the castle. He watched unmoved as rats were mowed down in front of him, it was all part of what they had been told. He sighed as a rock shattered the ramparts slightly up the pathway from him taking out about four archers and causing another to jump over in panic. He watched the rat fall towards the sea, he almost made it but just not quite far enough to avoid the rocks being lapped at by the water. He looked back to the ships, they might have been able to use the slaves as shields and forced the invaders to fight them up close but in the end the results would undoubtedly be the same. Of course that was assuming they were her for the slave but then again what else was here that could warrant an attack by multiple flags?



  • Kierrana bolted up the wall paths and towards the castle as she constantly looked over her shoulder as if frightened that a stone from the weapons of the invaders was about to crush her. Instead of seeing a stone chasing her she saw the two rats disappear as a large rock plowed into the cliff face a pawful of paces behind her. The ships steadily turned their fire upwards along the cliff leaving the broken and wasted docks clear for their arrival. Her eyes widened as she glanced at the docks, not so much as one rat stood and those on the ramparts were not disappearing amidst the shards and dust of pulverized rock. A thunderous crash against the cliff below caused the vixen to jump and trip over herself in a panic. Kierrana leapt to her hindpaws and glanced over the ramparts, a few of the ships were getting ready to dock.
    The tall vixen rushed up the cliff pathway and to the castle gates “They’re making landfall! Ready everything for a siege!”
    The gate opened but just enough the vixen could roll under it before the rats let it drop closed. Arkan came bolting out of the castle waving his sword through the air “What happened! Where’s Markas?”
    Kierrana slumped against the wall as she caught her breath not even bothering to make eye contact with her brother “Gone, just like every other beast down at the docks… All of them gone!”
    Arkan took a step forward, startled by her explanation “Gone, what do you mean gone? Surely he isn’t dead? It can’t be!”
    Kierrana stared at Arkan as she stood back up to her full height “I’m serious Arkan. Markas, Drakas, and at least four score of the guards have all been beaten to a pulp by those attacking us. If we don’t do something we’re going with them!”
    Arkan snarled ferociously at the idea “No, we’re sending them to be tortured by those they’ve cowardly slain from out of our reach. Death to them all then, not slow but quick and to the point. Get down to the under hold and find Tarkis. Get his useless hide up here so we can defend the walls. If we’re good we can take them out before they make it halfway up the pathway.”
    Arkan rushed to the wall steps not even looking to see if his younger sister was doing as she was bid. Kierrana stood with jaw half open having been about to say something until he sped off. Standing there in uncertainty of what to do for a moment she wondered just how to avoid the coming death. If she ran she’d get shot in the back by her own but if she stayed the suns would slay her, perhaps there was no way to avoid death? Shaking her head of the thought she ran into the castle and descended the stairs leading to the under hold where Tarkis was supposedly coordinating the last of the guards on the cliff pathway.



  • Fallstrider half closed his eyes as he looked at the arrow that had buried itself in the deck beside him “Archers, I hate archers when they’re up high. Crossbows on the double! Hold the blinking siege weapons or you’ll bring the cliff down on us!”
    The siege weapons ceased pelting the broken cliff with boulders and stones revealing the lower levels to be mostly silent save for a few lucky rats that had hidden in the quarry tunnels during the barrage; that is hid without getting trapped by a cave in. Kannaston looked at his score of ferrets and barked at them as more arrows rained down from above “Take cover and ready bows on the double! We aren’t going to just let them toss pointy sticks at us without reprisal!”
    At the same time Shorebreaker was pulling two stretchers piled heavy with javelins out onto the deck “Grab everything you can mates and make ‘em pay for what they’ve done!”
    Fallstrider watched the otters and other woodland beasts ready all sorts of bows, javelins, and even slings at least he watched until a stone tipped arrow ricochet off his cuirass “Huh, dent me armor will you! FIRE! AT WILL!”
    Tower shield clanged against the deck and the other armed meerkats setup their shields to hide behind as they unslung their odd crossbows. The odd devices were aimed, bolts unleashed, and all their users did was pull back the string and another bolt automatically popped into the railing ready to be fired increasing their rate of fire by a rather noticeable amount. Clouds of arrows rained back and forth pelting deck, shield, and armor as those without either of the last two fled below deck. Fallstrider stared at the docks and squinted as a lone beast walked to edge of what was left of the stone dock platform “Ehh, either that’s one brainless fool or he’s plain crazy! Don’t shoot that beast on the docks; I want to find out what he’s doing. Who knows maybe he has something to sa…”
    He was interrupted by a wooden stick that bounced off his helm causing him to grunt “Hmph, SOMEBODY SHOOT THAT BLIGHTER ALREADY!”
    One of the ballistae pointed at its maximum elevation and launched a stone despite having already been told not to. When the mid-sized hurling ball of stone impacted the wall pathways all the arrows raining back down from the cliff ceased. Fallstrider sighed as he turned his face to the ballistae operator “Didn’t I say not to fire…” multiple large shards of cliff stone crashed into the sea as he continued “not to fire the siege weapons?”
    The meerkat at the medium ballista held up his paws “They stopped firing didn’t they Commander?”
    The answer came in the form of an unimpressed and rather bland grunt from Fallstrider as he turned back to the cliff “Probably running back up to the castle in preparation for the attack… We’ll bring up the light ram so we can get into the castle basement. They won’t be expecting us to know which tunnel it is… of course that’s assuming ‘WE DIDN’T CAVE IT IN’!”
    Shorebreaker shrugged as he stepped to the edge of the deck and looked down into the water “Well only one way to find out. See you on the shore… come on mates!”
    Fallstrider sneered as a score of otters jumped off his ship and swam towards the docks “Great now I’m not going to get to hear what that blinking fool on the docks has to say.”



  • Shorebreaker slipped from the water and silent as a still night crept up onto the dock platform with his fellow otters at his side. He looked at the east standing at the edge of the dock with his back turned to them. A small tooth revealing snarl appeared on the Shorebreaker’s lips as he looked at the fox “Think you can slaughter us like the defenseless beasts of Pinegrove? Try me you great pile of swamp muck!”
    Drakas turned to the score of otters that stood scowling at him and grinned “No, I don’t think I could even if I wanted to…”
    Half a score more otters slipped from the waves and onto the docks as the ships neared. The first one of the new group shook himself and then nodded to Shorebreaker “The leader of the sand beasts wants to question him skipper. And he doesn’t want time wasted on vengance when we could be taking the castle. We’re to stay here to secure the docks and the brushtail until the ships dock.”
    Shorebreaker scowled at the fox and grunted “Hmph vermin telling me what to do, nothings different! Fine, come on mates we’re taking that castle if it means making a rope out of rat tails and a grapple out of fox teeth!”
    Drakas rolled his eyes as the score of otters ran up the cliff pathway while keeping against the rock face to avoid any archers still above “You’re swimmers not climbers but if you want a tip there are some air shafts in the under hold you might prefer over the stairs. Nobody’ll be expecting it.”
    Shorebreaker looked back in shock “Betraying your own in an attempt to surviv…”
    Words were cut short by the shaking of Drakas’s head “No, if I wanted to survive why would I be standing right out in the open in front of a fleet of invading ships?”
    Shorebreaker furrowed his eyebrows in frustration not quite understanding the fox however he was still able to turn his thoughts back to the task and continue up the cliff pathway. Not long after the splashing of anchors rang at the docks as the dock guards were tossed mooring lines to secure the ships. Fallstrider waved his arms and cursed as a group of his men rushed to lower the ramp that clacked against the stone dock foundation rather loudly creating a slight echo. The commander was one of the first on the dock from the ships and rushed over to where two of the otters stood with javelins pointed at Drakas. Fallstrider scowled under his helm as he stood only a paw step away from the odd fox. Inspecting the beast for a moment he huffed then waved a paw at the two otters to go up the cliff pathway. Fallstrider shouted to get his voice above the sound of beasts pouring from the ships and rushing up the cliff “Why did you stay here even after we defeated your guard? Also I suppose I better ask who you are.”
    Drakas looked down at the shiny steel clad beast and grinned broadly “I am called Drakas. And the reason I stayed here even after the carnage you inflicted was to meet you myself sunbeast.”
    Fallstrider’s eyes widened, he had never been called sunbeast “Meet me, why?”
    Drakas recited the words of the dead speaker of the world “A hundred living suns rise on the sea never to leave the ground only to bring the night to those who spread darkness to those around them! Crimson will flow like the rivers of the land and like a pond in a desert it will last only a moment. Darkness will be purged by light to bring a new night leaving the next day to never end for those that survive from dusk to dawn…” Drakas paused and got on his knees “I have spread darkness to those who didn’t deserve it. I have seen rivers of crimson flow, rivers created by my own paw. I want to sleep in the night, to repent by joining those I’ve sent before me.”
    Fallstrider grew confused by the words, oddly it made a degree of sense to him but he wasn’t quite sure how “There were plenty of otters why didn’t you ask them?”
    Drakas tilted his head back as he answered “Justice is not vengeance, I don’t want them to be like us because of what we’ve done… You better aim for the throat for I have no heart to bleed.”
    Fallstrider drew his blade and pointed it at Drakas’s throat with a stone face expression on his features “I wouldn’t be so sure brushtail. A heartless beast wouldn’t know what they’ve done.”
    Drakas’s mind froze with the words of the seer mouse as a steel blade ran through his chest ‘Do not be so sure. You will know all in the end’.
    A tear sprouted from each eye in pain and joy, his pain and the pain he had spread was over. Fallstrider pulled out his blade and sighed “Why do we all learn too late the things we do wrong?”
    Kannaston’s voice snapped him back to the world as the ferret leader pointed up the cliff “Commander, we still have a battle to win and your troops need your attitude to fuel their flame!”
    Fallstrider furrowed his eyebrows and narrowed his eyes as he marched in a self-imagining larger than life way “Flame, we’d burn the blasted place to the ground if that was the case!”



  • Kierrana almost tumbled into the under hold she had been sprinting down the stairs so fast. Tarkis glared over at his sister drawing his attention away from the rat he had just been shouting at “Wha, what are you doing fooling around! We just got pelted out there and you’re jumping stairs like a bobtail!”
    Kierrana growled as she walked back towards the stairs “Arkan says to get up to the castle this instant. Now unless you want to get stuck down here I suggest you stop cracking insults and follow me!”
    The statement was answered with a scowl from Arkan as he stepped towards the stairs “Hmph, I suppose it’s better than sitting down here…” Tarkis turned to the rat and snorted in discontent “Hold them back as long as you can so we can prepare the castle. If you run, well it won’t go well for you.”
    The two foxes left the startled rat to command his troops while they climbed the stairway up to the castle. Tarkis darted out into the castle grounds and looked up at the walls for his brother “Arkan!”
    His more muscular brother looked back into the castle ground as he growled “Get your rumps up here and grab a weapon! We’ve got… things running up the cliff!”
    Kierrana let her brother go up first and followed close behind him. The three foxes stood on the wall top looking down at the mass of beasts scrambling up the cliff pathway towards them. It looked like a nest of angry bees as they rushed towards the exit the only difference being they were rushing to get in. Kierrana squinted at the crowd as the ascended the slopes “I don’t see any rams, actually I don’t see any siege weapons with them. How’d they plan on getting in?”
    Arkan turned around and shouted over at the sanatorium “Wayren… WAYREN!”
    The vixen poked her head out through one of the sanatorium windows and looked at Arkan “What is it you great loud mouth of a fool!”
    Arkan snorted at the insult before answering with a growl that sent spittle through the air “Get downstairs and lock the under hold door, on the double!”
    Wayren gave her brother an unimpressed look then pat at the castle grounds below “Fine, since you’re too lazy to do it yourself!”
    Wayren disappeared back into the sanatorium leaving Arkan to turn around as he growled “Fool doesn’t even realize the situation. Be more thorough if we just dropped the walls on them but we never designed the walls to be collapsed. Shame we don’t have any boulders.”
    Tarkis gave a brutal grin as he looked at his brother “Ahhh yes, just one rolling clear down to the docks would cut their numbers down by more than just a bit.”
    Kierrana grabbed a sling and fitted it with a stone then looked down at their opponents ‘how was a little stone supposed to harm THAT’!



  • Shorebreaker growled as he ran a rat through with his javelin “Bahh, wrong tunnel again! These brigands had more holes cut into this mountain than caves in all of Summerdale!”
    A brief shout from one of his companions further up the path grabbed his attention as his fellow otter backed from another tunnel “Skipper, got something here! Rats, and they aren’t too happy!”
    Shorebreaker began charging up the hill unable to get in striking distance as three rats came barreling out of the tunnel to strike at the other otter. Shorebreaker held his javelin up in a striking stance and threw it at the lead vermin. Shorebreaker didn’t stop as the rat dropped drawing the attention of one of the other rats to Shorebreaker. The captain of the otters drew out his rapier and the four beasts tangled with each other while the rest of the otters sped up with the rest of the force still near the bottom. Shorebreaker grunted as he felt the rat’s triangular dagger put a rather sizeable stab hole in his shoulder “Agh, that’s your free shot ‘vermin’.”
    With a swift swing, and the dagger still in his shoulder, Shorebreaker put his blade into the rat’s abdomen as the other was dropped with a hack to the ribcage. Shorebreaker cringed as the corpse fell, taking the dagger with it and leaving a large wound which bled a little too fast for comfort. Ripping a piece of cloth from the rat’s mixed uniform he stuffed his wound with the material and darted up to the tunnel his companion was at as the rest of his score of beasts caught up “You said you got something mate?”
    His companion leaned on his reddened javelin as he caught his breath “Aye, looked like a barracks in there skipper. I didn’t get very far in when about half a score of them saw me. Only these three gave chase so I’m guessing the others took up positions inside.”
    Shorebreaker gritted his teeth “Great walking into a close range ambush. Javelins won’t be much use so we’ll have to rely on our rapiers.”
    The other otter gave a slight nod and let his javelin fall as he drew his blade “Aye… huh you’re wounded!”
    Shorebreaker stepped into the darkened entrance of the tunnel “Yes but it can wait until we’re done here. Come on, all of you!”
    The score of otters pushed into the tunnel two at a time side by side, it was all the wider the tunnel was making maneuvering difficult. Shorebreaker stopped as his eyes came into contact with two torches lit at the far end of the barracks giving just enough illumination for him to be able to tell that he was only a few pawsteps from the doorway. Shorebreaker tapped the otter behind him on the shoulder and brought his head closer so he could whisper “Me thinking there’s one to the left and one to the right of the doorway expecting us to charge in. Let’s give them a right old surprise.”
    He was answered with a single tap on his own shoulder signifying agreement leaving Shorebreaker to turn around and crouch slightly as he moved towards the doorway. Three down seven to go if he was right Shorebreaker thought as he tensed up getting ready to jump around the corner and stab. He felt the next otter put the back of his heel against his own indicating readiness as they looked in the opposing directions to the sides of the doorway. In synchronization both of them leapt out into the room and tackled at where they expected the rats to be. Shorebreaker felt his sword go through something that went immediately limp however he also heard a whirr then his partner drop to the floor Shorebreaker dove across the room and slid behind a bunk as the rest of his otters charged in ‘archers at this range, they’ve totally lost their minds’. He heard two more of his otters drop to arrows as he looked for the source hiding in the poorly lit room which had many shadows cast by bunks and wardrobes. His eyes caught the flash of an iron arrowhead as it was pulled from its quiver exposing it to the torchlight for an instant. The captain of the otters grabbed his sling and hurled a stone at the darkness to be rewarded by a yelp and the clattering of a bow against the floor. He grinned and loaded another stone as he spoke to himself “Take that you agh!”
    Shorebreaker fell backwards as an arrow impaled itself in the wooden frame of the bunk he was hiding behind causing him to shout to his subordinates “Their eyes are more used to the dark than ours, take cover!”
    Another arrow hit the frame as he chucked another stone though it clattered uselessly against the floor. Shorebreaker blinked his eyes as one of his fellow otters rushed into the room with a torch he had taken from the sconces in the tunnel and lit. Grinning the torch wielding beast charged at the rats as he waved his rapiers “Harhar, hit me if you can see ya filth!”
    The rest of the otters charged in after him with their eyes now able to see the six rats hiding in the far corners of the room. Shorebreaker let loose stones as quickly as he could on the rats in the right corner as his followers cut down the four in the left corner. Soon only two of the rats remained and in a panic they both dashed into the stairway leading to the castle. The otter captain barked as he jumped through bunk after bunk “Get them, don’t let them warn the castle guards!”
    Three of his otters gave chase only to be stopped by a heavy oak door that slammed closed at the last moment. One of the otters grabbed at the handle but stopped when he heard the click of the door’s lock “Cursed vermin!”
    Shorebreaker ran up to the door and was going to ram his shoulder against it however opted against it when he looked at the reddened shred off cloth stuffed into his shoulder “Hmph, see if any of those rats has a key!”
    As the other otters started searching the slain rats for a key to the door Shorebreaker remembered his little conversation at the docks causing his head to tilt upwards “Hmmm, crazy but I don’t see any other way…”
    Shroebreaker looked at his otters as the one with the torch began lighting the unlit torches that sat in their sconces “Which of you are the best climbers?”
    What was left of his otters, about sixteen turned to him in confusion uncertain as to why he was raising such a question. Four otters raised their paws and Shroebreaker nodded as he pointed at the square hole in the ceiling “Move one of the bunks to that hole there, we’re going to have to take the long way up. The rest of you keep looking for that key!”



  • Shorebreaker grumbled to himself as he put his paws against the stone grating that kept them from getting out of the air shaft and pushed upwards. He felt it start to budge but the echo of pawsteps caused him to silently cease his work. He listened as a beast walked through the hallway until it stopped and revealed itself to be a female as it questioned another male beast “What are you doing there? You look like you’ve seen father when he’s angry!”
    The male replied shakily with almost a shout “They’re in the under hold! Too many, used a torch to blind us! They’re coming up the stairs this very moment!”
    Shorebreaker realized it must have been one of the rats they had fought below. Despite knowing who it was Shorebreaker was still uncertain about whether the new that his otters were coming up the stairs was true or not. Shorebreaker almost fell in a heap as the rat or a different rat stepped on the stone grating forcing the otter captain to release his grip. The five otters stared up at the shadow of the rat standing above them as it spoke, it was a different rat as its voice was not the same as the previous speaker’s “Must’ve been about a score of ‘em… Streamdogs! We cut some of them down but there are still quite a few down there!”
    The female grunted then growled revealing she was a vixen “Fools! I’ll lock the door; you two go get some guards to keep watch on this entrance. If you aren’t back here by the time those slime reach the cliff gate I’ll have your skulls turned into goblets and your bodies turned into fertilizer for the crops!”
    The two rats darted off without another word leaving the vixen to stick her key in the lock of the iron door the two rats had closed behind them when they had reached the top of the stairs. The vixen sounded a bit like she was rushing as the key clattered against metal several times causing her to snort “Come on you useless piece of scrap metal! Slaves aren’t even this stubborn!”
    As she was messing with the key Shorebreaker and two of the otter otters squeezed together and picked the stone grate up off the floor. Shore breaker let one of the others go first who then helped him out of the air shaft as he continued to hang onto the stone grate. Shorebreaker gritted his teeth and held the grate over his head as the other otters helped each other out of the air shaft. The otter captain snuck his way closer to the vixen as the key clicked the lock into its closed position. The key slid from the lock with the sound of metal rubbing against metal as Shorebreaker took another step closer bringing himself within only a few steps of the vixen. Wayren stuffed the key into one of belt pouches and wrinkled her snout as she watched the door and the ghostly shape that was displayed on it “You know I’m not blind right…” after she finished her first sentence her voice steadily grew louder with each word “You’re not in front of me but you still have a shadow!”
    Shorebreaker growled as he threw the heavy stone grate at the vixen knocking her against the door with sword half drawn “Aye and it’ll be the last thing you see brushtail!”
    Wayren cringed as she stood up straight and brought herself out of the stunning blow. She growled as she drew her sword and tried to hold it in both paws only to find herself unable to use her left paw very well. Trying to tighten her grip she growled again and at that point Shorebreaker realized she wasn’t furious but rather suffering pain. A quick glance at her difficulty and he figured out that the grate had dislocated her shoulder leaving her at a disadvantage Shorebreaker would have been likely to have shown some degree of pity for the vermin common to the region however these ‘foxes’ were a category of their own.  Wayren looked at the otter with a fixed stare and spoke not angrily but oddly, for her family, spoke with a normal tone. As Shorebreaker listened to her he realized that she knew the situation she was in, what scared him was that she was calm about it “I suppose this is the part where you try and charge me blade first?”
    Shorebreaker’s mind flickered over the situation and suddenly his posture stiffened “Huh, trying to slow us down so your ratty friends can help you? Hah, you’re not worth my bla…”
    Shorebreaker fell to the side as a javelin brushed his whiskers and snapped against the door beside Wayren, she didn’t move a hair. The otter captain took a brief glance over his shoulder before looking at the vixen and taking a step backwards “Leave ‘er, we have a mission ta accomplish!”
    The five otters started rushing towards the hallway that led back to the cliff gate leaving behind the degraded vixen. Wayren took a step after them and stopped as all five of the otters spun to face her with swords. Shorebreaker pointed the tip of his rapier at her snout as he scowled “Try to follow us and I’ll shorten your snout so you’re not so nosey!”
    He could see it in her eyes that Wayren’s mind was running through the situation and in a moment she seemed to relax as she lowered her blade “Don’t expect me to wait for your return.”
    Shorebreaker felt the fur on his neck stand up ‘she’s going to let us go about inside the castle not even knowing what we’re doing, what’s she up to’.  Shorebreaker took a step back from the vixen and quickly found himself being jerked along by his fellow warriors. ‘She was stalling them without actually fighting them, clever.’



  • Wayren watched the otters bolt down the hallway and out of sight with a rather bored look on her face ‘chasing them was suicide besides if they killed all her siblings that would leave just her to take control once they left’.
    Her sinister bright side to the encounter was interrupted by half a score of rats as they came to defend the door. Wayren sheathed her sword and held her good paw against her left ribs which felt like they’d been busted to splinters “They got up through the air shaft, now they’re heading for the cliff gate. GET THEM!”
    Wayren watched blankly as all the rats darted down the hallway after the otters leaving her alone again at the doorway “Hmph well somebody stay and watch the door… No? Well I guess I’ll just have to make sure I don’t notice.”
    Wayren melted into the shadows and made her way in the opposite direction towards the other gate.
    Arkan snorted as he turned away from the ramparts “Hmph, I’m starting to wonder if this is a distraction. They’ve stopped just above the halfway point like they’re waiting for something. Kierrana come on we’re checking the other gate!”
    Kierrana stood with eyes glued to the shining suits of steel below at least she did until Arkan batted her ear “Hey you overgrown buffoon I said come on! We aren’t killing anything here anyways!”
    The two of them rushed along the wall tops eventually winding around to where the landside gate was. Arkan squinted as he saw something standing at the first gate crank “Huh, wha, how’d they get it!”
    Focusing in on the form as they approached Kierran could make out the outline of who it was causing her eyes to widen “Wayren!”
    Arkan’s pace almost doubled as he shouted aloud for eveybeast to hear “WHAT, WAYREN WHAT ARE YOU DOIN!”
    Wayren froze as the thundering voice echoed in her ears causing her eyes to turn upwards to see the origin of the voice. Straightening herself up with a cringe Wayren held her left arm as she answered the angry call “Making sure the gate is secure… It’s a little to secure if you ask me.”
    Arkan scowled at her sister with distaste “Too secure, how can it be too secure?”
    Wayren gave a feeble attempt to shrug her dislocated left shoulder “I think this speaks well enough for me.”
    Arkan drew his sword and waved it in his sister’s face “If I find out that you’ve let even one of them in I’ll… I’ll… I’ll make you wish father had caught you!”
    Wayren squinted her eyes unimpressed by his attempt to scare her “You mean you’ll sing that poem again? The only thing that’s good for is for putting on show for all the slaves to hear so they bleed to death from their ears.”
    Arkan swung the flat of his blade and it connected with Wayren’s jaw “Quit bein smart, can’t you tell we’re under attack!”
    Wayren pointed to the otters climbing the wall steps on the opposite side of the castle “I think that makes it obvious enough.”
    Arkan and Kierrana looked over at the five otters as the pushed through bow rats who were caught off guard without sword drawn. Arkan howled and jumped from footpaw to footpaw “ARGH, somebeast kill them ‘NOW’!!!”
    Kierrana’s jaw dropped open as she started sprinting back across the wall “They’re going to open the gate! That’s what they’ve been waiting for!”
    Arkan bolted after his youngest sister leaving Wayren to look at the gate crank puzzled as to how to open it in her condition “Hmmm. Be easier to jump over the cliff… though I’d prefer not getting stoned to death.”



  • “ARGH, somebeast kill them ‘NOW’!!!”
    Shorebreaker looked at the wall tops opposite of them and noted the three foxes looking at them “Uh oh, looks like we better pick up the pace!”
    The five otters ploughed through the bowrats knocking more than a few over the edge and unleashing screams of fright as the beasts fell. Shorebreaker spotted the two cranks that opened the gate and nodded to them as he fell another rat with his rapier “Quick there’re the cranks, we have to get the gates open afore they slaughter us and everyone else!”
    Bowrats started to turn towards them now however down below the rest of the attack force must have noticed the drop in the number of arrows raining down as now a cluster of arrows came hurling up taking out some of the rats that stood closer to the ramparts. Shorebreaker ducked down and almost rolled forward as a cluster of arrows flew overhead felling one of his companions. The captain of the otters cursed to himself as he knocked two rats off the wall by extending his arms out to his sides “Come on!”
    Tarkis looked over as two of the otters began turning the cranks with great strain “Huh… they’re opening the gate? THEY’RE OPENING THE GATE!”
    Fallstrider looked up from where he stood on the cliff pathway as he listened to Tarkis’s rather foolish outburst “They’re opening the gates, CHARGE!”
    The Nayan ferrets lowered their bows and followed the Imperials as they rushed up the pathway with lightning speed having been able to rest under the slight overhang of stone that protruded from the cliff face. Shorebreaker fell rat after rat as he and another protected the two opening the gate however it seemed obvious they weren’t going to last long enough. Four rats had appeared to have decided to charge Shorebreaker all at once as each one came at him with short spears all at the same time. Shorebreaker stepped back so he could see the situation, the other guarding otter had just fallen ‘not my day is it’.
    As if rejecting his thought a pair of javelins dropped two of the rats in front of him and he knew that could only mean the rest of his score had broken through the door. Sling stones started pelting the wall top defenders including Tarkis who halted momentarily as a sling stone sparked against his iron breastplate “Argh, I’ll gut each and every one of you then use your ribs as toothpicks!”
    He barreled at Shorebreaker and roared causing a bit of saliva to stream from the corner of his mouth. The otter captain barred his teeth in disgust “Ugh, I bet your corpse’ll smell better than your breath!”
    Tarkis swung and cut through air as Shorebreaker dropped to all fours then head-butted the fox in the stomach. A cloud of spittle burst from Tarkis’s mouth as the air was knocked from him causing him to stumble backwards. Leaping and spinning back to his footpaws Shorebreaker slashed at Tarkis cutting a gash across the fox’s face. Putting a paw to his face then lowering it to look at the crimson staining his paw Tarkis felt his fur stand up in awareness ‘death was possible’. Taking a step towards the Shorebreaker again he growled in anger that was half real half fake “I’ll have your head for that.”
    The gate jerked as ten of the Athairian rats placed two oak blocks under the iron bars preventing the gate from falling back into place. It created an opening for the attack party to come through even if it was a little low to the ground forcing everybeast to duck as they charged. Tarkis was distracted for a moment by the sudden shifting of the gate as the two otters at the cranks left go leaving the oak blocks to support the iron blockades. Shorebreaker took the half a second to strike and by the time Tarkis’s eyes came back to Shorebreaker his blade was already most of the way to its target. Tarkis jerked back and howled as the blade pierced into his right lung narrowly missing his heart. Taking a step back he spat blood and swung his blade clipping Shorebreaker on the shoulder and knocking the rapier from his paws. Shorebreaker jumped back as the fox swung again with a wicked, bleeding grin “If I’m going so are you streamdog!”
    Two otters charged past Shorebreaker and swung at Tarkis however to their dismay he wasn’t as weakened as one would have expected. He fell the first offender with a stroke of his blade to the otters neck then sprang forward at a crouch ducking the second’s rapier and allowing his own blade to spear through the unfortunate beast’s lower ribcage. Tarkis grunted as a steel arrow stuck in his armor, the very tip puncturing his skin and cutting with every movement. Growling as he pulled the arrow from his back side Tarkis turned his attention back to Shorebreaker “Fools have no respect for one on one!”
    Shorebreaker scowled as he tensed himself to pounce and fight paw to paw “You’re right you don’t, especially when it comes to raiding village filled with unarmed beasts!”
    Tarkis grinned until he coughed crimson fluid “Lowly beasts like you don’t deserve respect.”
    Tarkis jumped at the otter captain with blade swinging downwards towards the spot between Shorebreaker’s eyes. Steel met steel halting Tarkis’s blade just a few paw widths away from the otter captain’s face. Kannaston silently drew back his blade in unison with Tarkis as the fox growled “Huh, you helpin him? You’re worse than a woodlander, you’re a traitor!”
    Kannaston tossed Shorebreaker’s rapier back to him “You’ve raided our merchant ships and made yourself a common enemy between us. That is reason enough for me to fight you, you are the true traitor. Now let the taste of justice mix with that of your own blood foul dog.”
    Shorebreaker brought his sword to point at Tarkis and stood beside the ferret scoreleader with  a furrowed brow “Thanks mate, wasn’t sure I’d be able to swim my way out of that one.”
    Kannaston’s eyes showed neither hate nor enjoyment but rather determination, he was doing his job after all “I’d do it for anybeast that can call themselves an ally of the homeland. Now let us rid the world of this beast.”
    The two leaders steadily stepped towards Tarkis, now he was the one backing up with the odds even more against him the before. Shorebreaker held his rapier in a defensive position as Tarkis stopped with his back against the ramparts “I aim high you hit low right?”
    Kannaston’s head kept still facing the fox as he answered in a rather regular tone “Indeed.”
    The captain of the otters faked a forward lunge causing Tarkis to swing at the air giving the ferret the opportunity to swing at the fox’s exposed area. The steel blade carved a trench clear down to Tarkis’s hip bone causing him to growl painfully and cough up a clot of blood. Taking advantage of the moment Shroebreaker crashed his rapier into Tarkis as if it was a wooden steak going into the heart of a vampire. The only difference besides the fact it was a sword was that the otter had aimed for the base of the neck and angled the blade upwards slightly. (!Missing Text!) Shorebreaker looked down at the beasts rushing into the castle grounds then to Kannaston as his objectives changed now that they were inside the castle with help “Where are the slaves being held? We need to help them escape or these foxes might use them as hostages.”
    Kannaston nodded in agreement however he knew he had been ordered to disagree with such a plan “I will show you where they are but the sandwalker stated that helping them escape before the battle was a bad idea. If we help them escape now while we still fight they may try and help us something they are likely not in the condition to do. Also consider if they die helping us fight then what was our reason for coming here?”
    Shorebreaker grunted as he closed his eyes slightly “I guess that’s a point but I’d still ike to post guards to protect them until we do release them.”
    The ferret score leader nodded with understanding and began to run along the wall tops “Pick your guards in a hurry and follow me. They should be this way if the castle specs were correct.”



  • Arkan watched his brother slide down onto the floor of the wall tops as enemy beasts rushed into the castle grounds leaving him both enraged and shocked about the never imagined event. Growling Arkan grabbed Kierrana by the shoulder and stopped both her and himself as three mice came running along the wall tops and towards them “Come on, we have to get up into the castle keep before we get swarmed. There’s only one way for them to get up there.”
    Kierrana gulped as she was half pulled along by her brother “And one way down for us.”
    Snorting at the remark Arkan jolted his sister so hard she had to crouch slightly to keep him from lifting himself off the ground because of his hold “We won’t need to come down until they’re all dead so quit whining and ‘move’!”
    As the two of them ran away from the open cliff gate Arkan looked towards the landside gate and noted that Wayren wasn’t there anymore. Furrowing his eyebrows he jolted Kierrana again and jumped in surprise when he lifted himself off the ground “Agh! You tall freak, why’d I have to get stuck with your tail instead of Markas’s, even Wayren isn’t so problematic!”
    Kierrana looked back at the mice closing on them and noted that Arkan’s hold was slowing them both down. With a rather reluctant snort she grabbed Arkan by the collar of his cuirass and took off at a sprint lifting her brother’s footpaws off the ground as she went. Releasing his hold on her shoulder Arkan started swatting at his sister in anger “Hey, you think this is funny you fool! I’ll skin you for this!”
    Kierrana wheezed words between breaths “You… are… too… slow…halfwit.”



  • Wayren poked her head around the corner and gazed at the open iron door ‘no guards just her luck’.
    Looking behind her and down the hallway the vixen made sure nobeast was in sight before sneaking towards the doorway trying her best to stick to what shadows there were. Taking one last glance in each direction Wayren made sure nobeast would see her when she made her move. The vixen jumped into the doorway and fell backwards on her tail as her snout smacked hard against something in the staircase. She blinked once to clear her eyes then continued blinking but it was now out of surprise. Three very angry looking ermine from Ohmridge stood glaring at her with beady eyes. She gave a small nervous laugh and raised one paw “Ehhh heh, don’t eat me? Ehhh please?”
    The ermine looked at each other as they laughed and they continued laughing as they turned back to face Wayren, it made her rather uncomfortable. The three ermine stepped from the doorway and surrounded the perfectly still vixen. She rubbed at her shoulder and cringed as she forced it back into place causing the ermine to stop and look at her in confusion.  One of them point his mace / short spear weapon at her “Whut did ya just do?”
    Wayren grinned as she put her paws in her lap “Just figuring out how to prepare.”
    The ermine scowled and prodded at her with the tip of his odd weapon “Preparin furr whut?”
    Wayren shrugged slight and cringed, it still hurt a tad “To kill you.”
    Swinging her left leg she pressed her forepaws into the floor and kicked the legs out from underneath the ermine to her right as she rolled to dodge the spear point of the first ermine’s weapon. The second swung his mace and put a large crack in the floor as the vixen sprung to her footpaws and kicked the first one in the paw disarming him of his weapon. With a quick draw of her blade she blocked the next swing from the second ermine as his partner went to grab his weapon off the floor. He knelt down exposing his back for a swift kick that sent him forwards against the wall knocking him out cold. Wayren let the final ermine back her against the wall beside the door as she blocked his attacks. She turned slightly encouraging the ermine to step to his left to try and take advantage of the weak point in her defense. She grinned as she spoke while the ermine pulled his mace back to strike “Sorry time to kick the door.”
    She slammed her right footpaw against the door and it swung slamming the ermine in the face before closing leaving all three of the rather vicious beasts out of the fight. Wayren smiled to herself and opened the door back up before taking one last look at the ermine “Ta ta.”



  • Arkan kicked his sister in the shin forcing her to drop him as they stood in the main hall outside of their father’s throne room. Snorting at his sister Arkan pointed over his shoulder and at the stairwell “Only one can come up at a time and we can kill them as easily as a fish in a barrel. Now are you going to stop whining or do I need to cut your tongue out and feed it to you?”
    Kierrana’s eyebrows furrowed and she opened her mouth to speak but was interrupted by the double oak doors as they creaked open. Arkan and his sister looked over as their father strolled out of the throne room with eyes practically burning with anger “Get down to the previous level, we must not allow them to make it up here. We must keep access to the keep’s armory.”
    Arkan cursed to himself then bowed his head “As you wish Father King.”
    Arkan looked at his sister and they both ran to the next level down as Maldicar gathered the remaining score of guards for defense of the castle keep. There were two staircases leading up to this floor which made up the upper roof of the main castle with a pool of water on the lower castle roof four floors down. Arkan spat as he looked at the doorways to each staircase “Hmph, I suppose I’ll have to cover both entrances; can’t trust you to watch my back, whelp.”
    Kierrana snorted and began twirling her flail in the air “Shut your foolish gob. I just don’t fancy dying today.”
    She had to concentrate to keep herself from shaking visibly but it only got more difficult to do so as the sounds of their opponents coming up the stairs grew louder. Three rats came at Arkan none of whom stood a chance. With a quick flutter of his blade Arkan dropped two of the rats with slashes to their abdomens leaving Arkan to finish off the last rat with a clean cut through his spine. Kierrana turned her head to see an otter coming at her and she froze stiff. ‘Killing was death but at the same time doing nothing was death as well’ she swung low and heard ribs shattering as the spiked sphere of her flail cracked the woodland beast in the torso. She flinched as the beast fell in a heap and wheezed with every breath. Kierrana starred down into his eyes with a look a panic and shock until another beast came out of the stairwell but unlike the others he didn’t charge, in fact it seemed that he was marching.
    Fallstrider put his tower shield down and stood holding his long sword in both paws as he pointed the tip at from one fox to the other “Either of you have the guts to face me one on one? I doubt it since you can’t even control your slaves one to one.”
    Arkan spun and slashed angrily at the air “I’ll have your head, and the heads of every other beast who thinks they can kill me! Get back, I want his blood for myself!”
    Kierrana didn’t need to be told twice as she backed out onto the roof and away from the two angry combatants. Arkan swung downwards with his full weight and had to regain his balance when his attack was deflected by Fallstrider’s blade. Shorter as he was Fallstrider still had a formidable amount of strength as he was able to counter every attack Arkan threw at him including jabs. Arkan backed out onto the roof as he huffed allowing some distance between him and his opponent. Fallstrider took the time to take off his helm allowing Arkan to look into his burning eyes that were surrounded by his scowl “Stop delaying and face the outcome. We are in your home and have killed your siblings; your fate is no different.”
    Arkan growled and stepped towards Fallstrider “No, your fate however, your fate will be written by my blade as has the fate of many others!”
    The two clashed again as other beasts poured out onto the roof. Kierrana looked at the variety of beasts gathering around as she took a few more steps back. ‘Would they all rush her when Arkan fell? What if Arkan defeated the sunbeast?’
    As if entertaining the thought had triggered fate Kierrana heard Arkan grunt as the commander’s blade pierced the iron of Arkan’s cuirass and buried deep into his ribcage. Fallstrider jerked his bade out of Arkan allowing the fox to touch the wound with a paw and then bring it up to his face to see the crimson liquid soaked into his fur. Arkan  stumbled slightly in shock then looked at Fallstrider “Kierrana, help.”
    Fallstrider’s scowl deepened to disgust “No honor, you die like the barbarian you are.”
    The commander swung his blade in an upwards arc cutting Arkan from the stomach to the middle of his neck bathing Fallstrider’s blade in crimson. Arkan dropped to his knees wide eyed whether dead or alive was uncertain but nonetheless Fallstrider swung again, not at the neck but rather just below the ear removing the fox’s skullcap. Kierrana felt her blood freeze as her brother fell to the floor letting his thoughts spill from his head. Fallstrider looked at her as she back to the edge of the roof while her voice stuttered “N, n, no, no, I sur, surrender, don’t kill me!”
    Fallstrider stopped a few paces away from her stone faced “No, no surrender for your kind. There’s only one way out of here for you.”
    Kierrana froze stiff in fear not even able to lift her flail as Fallstrider stabbed at her. Pain shot through her abdomen as the tip of the blade shattered the chainmail and cut into her leaving her to yelp. Fallstrider withdrew his blade and watched Kierrana fall over the edge leaving him rather unsatisfied “You get a death better than you deserve, I would have spilled your mind like your brother, coward.”
    He clenched his jaw on the last word, he was ordered not to allow them to surrender but he still felt a trial for at least one of them would have permitted those they had enslaved to enact some kind of justice themselves. Fallstrider turned around and looked at the castle keep “Not far to go and it will be over, and we can be from this dreadful place… Get me my shield, get me my helm, it’s time to bring an end to this place’s dread.”



  • Everything was muffled, everything ached, and above all there was no air to breath as Kierrana sank. She flailed about in the water panicking as her armor weighed her down making it virtually impossible for the injured vixen to swim to the surface. She scrapped at the sides of her cuirass until her paws hurt but after what seemed an eternity she managed to unfasten one side allowing her to cast it off to the bottom of the pool which by now wasn’t much farther down. The pool was actually intended to collect rain to be used to quench fires and while it had rarely occurred it was also used for certain kitchen tasks, Kierrana knew this and so knew the kitchens, a viable place to hide, were nearby. She yanked off her boots hurting her footpaws then swam to the surface. Her head broke through the surface of the water and she coughed out a stream of water from her lungs. She blinked a few times as she grabbed the edge of the pool, her vision was really dark making her wonder if she was close to passing out. The injured vixen looked around as best she could before slowly pulling herself out of the water so as not to cause herself to pass out. She laid there for a while, long enough for a mouse to come running by and mistaken her for a dead beast. Once the cautious discoverer had left she rolled over and went to stand up. She went to her full height and immediately hunched over and grabbed at her abdomen. The wound felt like it was on fire and it was bleeding a little more than Kierrana liked, no wonder the mouse had thought she was dead. Looking rather awkward with the way she moved Kierrana moved as quickly as she could through the nearest doorway which led into a long hallway with only one doorway along either side before stopping at an intersection. She could hear voices somewhere down the next hallway, ferrets maybe, but she couldn’t tell how close they were. If she went back outside she could be spotted from above and if the ferrets saw her well the wound she had right now would be the least of her issues. She half limped, half ran down the hall and stumbled into the closer right doorway. When she tried to bolt into the room she lost her balance and went stumbling into a large vat that she fell and rolled into. They had to have heard the noise but in the tailoring room there was nowhere to hide, almost. Kierrana looked at where she was and found herself sitting in a blue dye that came up to her mid torso making her wound sting. The sound of clanking boots echoed from the hall outside and she shivered then closed her eyes and held her nose before sliding completely beneath the dye. Two ferrets came waltzing into the room with swords out, one of them being so aggressive, or cautious, that he swung at thin air as he came around the corner expecting somebeast to be there. The boots of the two ferrets clattered as they walked around triple checking every corner one of them going so far as to stare into the vat. Fortunately for Kierrana unlike the clear water in the pool outside the dye was opaque so the opponent couldn’t see in but then again all she could rely on was the sound of their boots through the liquid and all she could discern from that was that one was close and the other ‘really’ close. On the roof above Shorebreaker blew a horn which to Kierrana’s benefit signaled the ferrets to move upstairs. The two armor clad Nayans rushed out of the room in a hurry and it was a good thing, Kierrana was almost out of air ‘again’.
    The vixen sat upright and inhaled as much as she could as silently as she could and took her time to get her breath back. She looked at her paws and narrowed her eyes in thought, they knew she was tall and she was injured maybe if she could keep herself shortened and cover up her wound they wouldn’t recognize her with the dye covering her fur. One thing was certain though she’d have to wait until the dye dried before going out and about.



  • Maldicar sat in his marble throne and listened to the carnage going on outside the barred double oak doors as the last score of his guards were slaughtered by the invaders of his castle. Normally the sounds of screaming in pain and agony would have made Maldicar feel pleased but on this day it was different, instead he felt anger. He mumbled to himself in the empty throne room as the screams died out and were overtaken by the sounds of banging on the double doors of his throne room “Failure, my own blood has failed me…” as he continued his mumbling turned to an enraged shout “Am I the only one fit for life, death to all other beasts whether they call themselves servants to me or not!”
    Maldicar bolted up from his throne and walked into the center of the room between his throne and the doors drawing his steel long blade from its scabbard as he tore the crimson cloak from his armor. He stood with blade raised and a gnarled scowl on his face as the bronze door bar bent more and more with every strike. Finally the door burst open and the iron ram the invaders had borrowed from the castle armor fell to the floor. Maldicar growled at the mixed horde of beasts as an otter, ferret, weasel, and a meerkat stepped into the open doorway. Fallstrider inspected Maldicar closely for a moment before wrinkling his face in disgust “Imperium armor fragments, fitting for a tyrant like you!  No the time has come to shatter you like that accursed armor you wear!”
    Shorebreaker shifted his arms, his injuries were getting the better of him but at least everything would be over soon “Aye, your darkness has come to an end brushtail. The only screams you’ll hear now are your own.”
    Kannaston stood staring silently at Maldicar however in one corner of his mind he was wondering just who was Fallstrider talking about when he spoke of an Imperium? The Nayan score leader shook his head for a brief moment and focused solely on Maldicar. The King of Palerock roared out in hatred as he charged at the four beasts that had stepped forward to confront him “Death to all who stand before Maldicar King of Palerock!”
    Fallstrider charged forward and speared his sword at Maldicar the tip of his blade striking a section of black steel and sliding off to the side leaving only a small dent in the section of armor plating. Maldicar swung down hard cutting a gash in the commander’s helm leaving a shallow but long cut above his right eye. Shorebreaker watched as Rugero’s blade practically bounced off the fox’s armor plating giving the villan the opportunity to swipe at the weasel with his free arm sending him crashing backwards through the open doorway. The King of Palerock turned his attention to Kannaston who stood with sword angled out in front of him ready to move even as he studied his opponent more closely. The Nayan score leader tilted his head forward slightly “Like every set of armor a beast has his weak points, you are no different.”
    Maldicar snorted in response to the ferret’s statement “If I had a weakness you would have exploited it already! You are nothing but a blind fool no more worthy of living than the weak woodland beasts I have slain in my time!”
    Maldicar took to the offense first this time and swung at the ferret only to have blade meet blade leaving Kannaston to squint at the fox “I am exploiting it right now, foul one.”
    Fallstrider leapt up and rammed his shield against Maldicar knocking both of them backwards away from each other. Kannaston jumped forward and was knocked away by an upward sideways slash from Maldicar slicing the ferret’s cuirass open and leaving a shallow gash across his abdomen. Shorebreaker took the opportunity to leap forward as Maldicar drew his blade back and thrust his javelin downwards piercing the crude steel between two of the black plates. The King of Palerock howled and clipped the javelin in half with his blade as he kicked the otter captain sending him rolling backwards. Maldicar stood up with the javeling tip still embedded in his heart and growled “Death to you, all of you.”
    He stumbled forward as Shorereaker sprang back to his footpaws and shouted “Hit him between those great metal plates of his! Our weapons can pierce the armor there!”
    Kannaston stabbed his blade into the fox’s back as both Shorebreaker and Fallstrider rammed their sword blades into the fox’s chest. Maldicar fell limp to the floor almost pulling the three of them down with him having caught them off guard as they had been pushing their blades with all their strength. The beasts outside of the room stared in shock at the fact it had taken so much to kill the mad Maldicar but they were even more so shocked y the fact it was all over. Shorebreaker looked at the onlookers and took in a deep breath “It’s done, the slaves free them.”
    Fallstrider wiped the crimson from his eye and nodded “Aye, let’s get them out of here and set this dreaded place ablaze.”



  • Kierrana shivered as she sifted around the tailoring room looked for something to wear. Most of the clothes were new guard uniforms or clothes for her family, nothing for the slaves and that was what she needed if she DIDN’T want to be a target. She heard steps in the hallway outside again and began panicking as she looked for a place to hide. She ducked on the other side of a loom which didn’t do much to hide her giant now blue form but it would be enough to keep her from being noticed with a brief glance. She watched as four rats went racing through the hallway talking to each other “What do we do everyone else is dead!”
    “They’re here for one thing and one thing only, the slaves! We hold some of ‘em hostage and make a run fer it!”
    “What if the slaves resist?”
    “If they don’t wanna ‘elp us then we kill them until some of ‘em change their minds. The fewer we leave alive the greater the value of the ones we take with us.”
    “But won’t they follow us?”
    “We could take one of der ships an’ keep da slaves to ourselves!”
    “Four of us command a ship, what kind of fool are you?”
    “Dat’s whut the slave are ferr!”
    “Fine, we’ll take some of da slaves an’ head ferr da docks!”
    Kierrana listened as the voices faded into the distance and sighed as she looked around. She’d have to use the clothes she had on that had been dyed blue with her fur as everything else either made her look like a guard or was too small. She stood up with a cringe and stuffed her wound with a piece of cloth from a new infirmary worker’s shirt before following the rats. When she got down near the gate leading into the slave pen she hugged the wall and looked around the corner at the rats. Two of them were menacing the slaves with their blades as the other two tried to open the gate, that was when she noticed the four otters slain on the ground around them. She shivered slightly even if she told them who she was and blew her chance of sneaking away as a slave they were probably so worked up now they’d kill her anyways. She snorted in resignation to herself at the three options, kill, be killed, or let be killed. She shook her head slightly for a moment and decided to act before thinking, stepping around the corner and openly approaching the rats. One of the rats trying to operate the gate crank noticed her and drew his sword “Wha, who in the name of Maldicar are you? Hey, I asked you a question.”
    Kierrana felt her mind twisting and pulling in ten different directions as she answered the rat with a stutter “S, st, stop what you’re doing and be from this place right now.”
    The rest of the rats turned to her as the one that initially confronted her snarled “I asked who you are. And why should we listen to you?”
    The blue dyed vixen growled half fake half for real at the rat “The longer you ask questions and the longer you take trying to get slaves to hold hostage the longer the invaders have to get back down here and burn your hide that’s why! Now get!”
    The rat spat at Kierrana’s footpaws and stepped towards her “I don’t like yurr attitude, an’ we aren’t just leavin ‘ere empty pawed we’re takin us a ship!”
    The four rats dashed at the unarmed vixen unaware of what they were dealing with. Kierrana stood to her full height a kicked one of the rats in the face shattering his snout as the other three stopped in their tracks. One of the surviving rats began to try and stutter her name as she picked up the slain ones sword which she then used to silence him with using a quick spearing to the throat. She grabbed the other blade and had what seemed like a dagger in each paw as she jumped at the two remaining rats opening her previous wound. The two rats turned and ran however their considerably shorter legs caused them to lose the distance battle due to Kierrana’s enormous stride. She dropped the daggers and grabbed the two rats by the scruffs of their necks as she caught them just outside the cliff gate. She lifted the up so they were level with her and growled “You should have done that when I told you too.”
    She tossed them over the cliff parapets then turned around and headed back towards the slave pens. She stopped at the gate crank and looked down at the reddened cloth that was stuffed into her wound, it was starting to make her dizzy and she was a tad worried that opening the gate could make it worse. She looked back up and almost jumped out of her skin when she saw the lumbering form of Strongaxe standing with his head against the gate. He gave a slight growl as he gripped the gate “What are you doing here fox?”
    Kierrana stood stiff for a moment uncertain as to just how tall she was standing, fortunately at least in her mind it was, the pain and dizziness were making her slouch slightly so that she was shorter than she actually was. She blinked to clear her mind and grabbed the gate crank “Getting you out of there, there are ships down at the dock belonging to the beasts that raided the castle. It might be best if we head for them now in case anymore guards try to take advantage of your presence.”
    Strongaxe backed away from the gate as the blue vixen painfully turned the crank, her voice sounded familiar to him but fortunately for Kierrana her difference in tone and emotion was effecting how her voice sounded. Kierrana groaned and rested herself against the crank as she looked at Strongaxe “I, I can’t do this anymore, ugh.”
    Strongaxe looked at the narrow gap between the ground and the bottom of the gate, it was just enough for him to crawl under but what if the vixen was trying to trick him and she let the gate fall on him as he tried to get out. He watched for a moment as the blue vixen touched the wound in her abdomen and looked at the crimson soaked into her paw. At that point he felt that whether it was meant to be a trick or not this was his best chance to get out now and he dropped down to the ground and began crawling along the ground and under the gate. He kept his eyes bolted to the vixen as she cringed and coughed then he felt the gate shift and lower slightly onto the back of his legs. Urthgar gave a slight growl as he found himself stuck “You better raise that gate back up or you’ll find that I can be very unpleasant to be around when I’m cross.”
    He blinked in surprise when the vixen barely even registered his growl though he was even more surprised by her response “I already know that.”
    She twisted around and held the crank as she stood on her footpaws so that she could continue operating the device. The vixen gave a blood curling scream as she pulled the crank raising the gate slightly. Strongaxe bent his legs and rolled away from the gate before it slammed to the ground as the vixen fell down shuddering in pain. Shorereaker came rushing down from the castle and slid to a halt by the vixen and the crank as Strongaxe stood up leaving the otter captain looking between his fallen guards, the vixen, and Urthgar “What ‘appened here!”
    Strongaxe ran over to the gate crank as he nodded to the vixen “Rats jumped your guards and were talking about taking some of us and stealing a ship. Then that one shows up out of nowhere and slaughters them, looks like something’s hurt her though. I’ll get the gate, you tend to her.”
    Shorebreaker surveyed the blue Kierrana and the crimson that was spreading across the ground “She’s a giant and I’m not doing so good either! You take her and we’ll get the gate, our mates down at the docks should be able ta help!”
    Strongaxe looked at Shorbreaker and his shoulder wounds then the vixen and snorted in frustration “Fine, just don’t knock yourself out.”
    Shorebreaker took hold of the gate crank as Strongaxe scooped the vixen up and ran towards the cliff gate while the rest of the invading force came barreling down from the castle having heard the scream.


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