Mossflower was in mid summer and the air was hot and muggy. Many beasts had the sense of staying indoors and keeping out of the heat, but one old fox was still traveling in the heat, Decca. The vulpine shaman panted as he trekked down the road. Eventually he found and oak to sit under. He took out a flask and drank deeply from it. Decca looked up and down the road, watching for others.

A little hot was something of an annoyance to her but this heat was downright irritating. Nova pricked a mosquito off the tip of her nose as she walked along the path towards Redwall “Lazy toad tossing me out to do his work while he sits around in the abbey all the time being angry for no good reason.”
She rolled her eyes as her mind switched directions as it was prone to ‘he did have a bad leg though, why else would he have asked for the herbs needed to restock the infirmary.’
She reached down into the satchel she was carrying with one claw as she rubbed the mosquito off her other claw. The white vixen pulled one of the odd looking floras out of the satchel and sniffed at it in curiosity; she almost gagged from the stench. Stuffing the thing back into the satchel she wrinkled her snout in disgust as she spoke to herself again “Agh, this stuff makes slaves smell like roses no wonder he’s so nasty, this stuff must soak into his blood!”
Nova went to spit off to her left but paused with lips curled, ‘she knew it wasn’t polite even if nobody was watching but did she really care?’
“Pettoooie” she looked around as she scrapped some of the dry dirt from the path over the spot she had spat at with her hind claws “What they don’t see won’t hurt them. ERGH!”
The vixen swatted another mosquito that had landed on her neck “What’s next; is a bees nest going to magically fall from the sky and land on me?”
Nova snarled and started moving along the path again, albeit at a faster pace foolishly thinking it would keep the mosquitos away.

Dry flies sang the monotone song as the shaman's head bobbed up and down. The summer heat always made him drowsy. His staff began to mimic the old fox's head, bobbing haphazardly into the path. Decca shook himself awake, knowing it is unsafe to sleep near the road. However, the heat was getting to him. Decca fought and fought the urge off as a familiar foul smell hit his nostrals after a light breeze blew into him.
The shaman looked into the direction of the breeze and saw a figure far down the path. "Gahh." He huffed agrivated. "I hate that herb." Decca mumbled to himself.

Nova looked in the direction of the abbey, she knew she was still too far too see it but she was still irritated by its lack of presence. She barred her fangs as she hissed to herself “Bah, how far did I go, it’s been ages! I feel like this is taking ten times longer to walk then when I lef… Errr!”
She swatted another mosquito as it landed on her neck though she swung a little too hard. She closed her eyes as the hit stung her. Sighing with resignation she slowed down and shook her head “If these pests can drive me mad then what the Vulpuz is going to happen when I’m around the dibbuns?”
The vixen started looking back down the path as she continued walking slowly.

Decca grew more agrivated by the smell. He slowly stood up, deciding it was best to walk up the path to escape the smell. The old fox couldn't help wander who would carry something so wrank. Decca hardly used it, mainly because it was used as a insect repelent. Bugs never bothered him so he had no use for it.
It wasn't long until he was coming up on the beast. It was another fox, a white one at that. Decca didn't care. He just couldn't stand the smell. As it grew stronger, he put his cloak over his nose. He also looked with curiosity. She was swatting mosquitos though she had the repelent. Once he was in talking distance he said, "Why haven't you used your herb? It's used as a bug repelent."

A cloud of disturbed dust rose from the path as Nova ground to a halt and whirled her head around to look at the unexpected beast. She felt the satchel with one paw and wrinkled her snout remembering the smell “Repelent, this stuff? What kind of beast would coat themselves with this? I’m taking this lot back to the abbey to be made into potions and salves…”
Nova wanted to comment on the old grouch however opted not to. She tilted her head forward slightly in an aggressively cautious move “Who are you anyway snooping around unannounced like that?”
It was an automatic reaction left over from her time in the Northlands, never converse with the unknown with your guard down. Her time in the Northlands was something she always tried to keep her mind off of even though it was constantly between the front and back of her mind. Some couldn’t break their nature and some could, she seemed somewhere in the middle. Nova gave a slight huff and shook her head to the left a bit half regretting and half cursing herself, this wasn’t the Northlands “Sorry, I’m Nova what’s your name.”

The old fox huffed aggravated. "Snooping? Any beast with half a nose could smell that stuff, and yes, repellent. Keeps the blood suckers, among other things, away." Decca took his cloak from his muzzle. "My names Decca."
Now in the open sun, his cloak began to heat up. He had no choice but to unhood his head. His white fur and scar was clearly visible now. "Blasted heat." He mumbled to himself.
"I could use shelter from the sun, mind if I join your company?" He bluntly asked the vulpine whom he just met. The shaman put his bird skull staff under his arm as he pulled his flask out, drinking the last mouthful of water in it. "Gonna need water and food soon." He mumbled.

OOC: Hope this post is alright.

BIC:
("My names Decca.")
Nova bobbed her head in recognition “Good name for these parts, a lot better sounding than some of the beasts in the Northlands. Bloodclaw, Snapfang, Torchtail…” she shrugged her shoulders upon saying the last name “don’t ask.”
("Blasted heat.")
The vixen’s face went bluntly unimpressed “You think it’s hot, you didn’t spend most of your life in a place where it can snow three out of four seasons if it feels like it.”
("I could use shelter from the sun, mind if I join your company?" ) Nova pondered on the question as she watched Decca relocate his strange staff then drain his flask ("Gonna need water and food soon.")
She starred at the staff with a raised eyebrow for a moment wondering if that was his only weapon. Eventually she gave a minute shrug, not like beasts didn’t come in and out of the abbey with weapons all the time “Sure, I’m heading back to the abbey. Plenty of sustenance there for anybeast who doesn’t come around waving their sword in the yelling yarr.”
She gave a slightly amused huff and twirled once of her claws through the air as she spoke “I mean if they’ll let a two faced vixen like me in I’m sure they’ll let a chap who carries a staff decorated with skulls right in!”
Oddly enough she was being both sarcastic and sincere at the same time.

Mars grumbled through clenched teeth as he squatted in the dark, hot, claustrophobic tunnel he'd just dug. In one paw the red squirrel clutched a stubby shovel near his chest, while in the other he had a small lantern. In front of him, pressed against the tunnel wall was a crude map drawn up for him by Foremole. He grumbled to himself as his one good eye roved over the dirt smeared paper.

"All righty then… twenty paces south, then fifteen east, then six straight down. Another two north... I should be right underneath it! Straight up from here!"

He cursed and growled as he twisted around like a fish in a net, trying to juggle the shovel and lantern while at the same time trying to stuff the map back in his belt. When that was done he placed the lantern a few feet behind him down the tunnel and grinned at the dimly lit ceiling at the end of his winding mini-cavern. "What-ho you dirt! Reveal your prize to me!" With a hearty grunt he started ramming his shovel against the ceiling, causing soil to rain down.

MEANWHILE! (a few feet straight up)

The ground between Decca and Nova began to shift slightly, bulging upward as a faint sound drifted up from below, like a sort of grunting and groaning. It almost sounded like something that was dying… or had recently died and decided not to stay that way! (dun-dun-dunnn!)

The tiny hillock formed cracks and began to quiver, then suddenly broke apart as a soil covered hand punched through the packed dirt road, accompanied by a deep, guttural groan! Oh my God! The dead have risen!

Oh wait. The hand was quickly joined by a squat shovel head which helped to widen the hole just recently created. Once the hole was large enough the hand and shovel retreated to be replaced by the head of a squirrel. The squirrel glanced at Nova's shins, then traveled up to look first at Nova, then at Decca. The action was awkward given Mars' current height of half a foot.

A half a minute of awkward silence passed, with the one-eyed squirrel just staring at the two foxes from down in his improbable hole. Then, sounding for all the world like he was stating an everyday fact he said, "You're not an underground river."

Decca looked down at the squirrel with a disgusted snarl on his face. He took his staff and thumped the squirrel smartly. "Whats the meaning of this!?" Zeroso yelled at Mars. The shaman hated being suprised.

OOC: I suppose he's lucky I didn't pick Belarus with his pitchfork of doom.

BIC: Nova almost jumped out of her skin when the squirrel’s paw came up through the ground but once the one eyed owner showed his face her expression turned to a degree of confusion. The squirrel slowly turned his eyes to look up at her in a way that the vixen found rather aggravating causing her to clench one paw as she gave an annoyed groan “Errr.”
The intruder looked at the two foxes then finally spoke ("You're not an underground river.")
Suddenly Decca thumped the onlooker with his staff ("You're not an underground river.")
Nova stood watching and a grin slowly worked over her face. Once Decca had finished she knelt down by the squirrel’s head and took out one of the foul smelling herbs and held it in front of the one eyed beasts nose “Do tell what you are doing acting like a mole unless of course you’re hungry in which case I have enough of these to stuff you for half a season!”
She swatted the squirrel in the nose with the herb and stood up “And I know I’m not a blasted river I hate large bodies of water.”

Mars grunted, sticking his tongue out involuntarily as he was soundly thumped by the shaman's staff. "Oi! What did I do? This isn't your land… is it? How far did I go again?" He pulled out his map and started rubbing the mud off it, but suddenly wrinkled his nose and tried to jerk backward as a horrid smell assaulted him, "Sweet Sword of Martin! What in the flipping world is that!?"

“Do tell what you are doing acting like a mole unless of course you’re hungry in which case I have enough of these to stuff you for half a season!”

With that Nova swatted Mars' nose with the leaf and stood again. The squirrel shook his head vigorously and pulled his arms up out of the hole. Holding the map in one paw and the shovel in the other he wiped his nose with his forearm, then crossed his arms and rested them on the road in front of his face. He frowned crossly and tilted his head back to meet the eyes of the two foxes again, "Well that's a fine way to say hello! I'll happily say I ate before I started digging so no, I'll have to pass on your generous offer of salad. As to what I'm doing down here, I'm looking for an underground river that's supposed to be around here; Foremole guarantees it." He held up the map as emphasis, "I'm looking for it because I'm building a nice, cozy, above all private shack a little ways off the road, and my garden needs irrigatin' thanks to all this ghastly heat. And I'm not sauntering about, assaulting poor squirmoles as they go about their own business, unlike some vermin I might point out. Blast it all that itches! 'Scuse me a moment."

The squirrel set the map and shovel down and instead moved his paws to his head. One paw flipped up his eyepatch, revealing an eyeless depression in his skull, while the other smacked himself in the back of the head, sending a few bits of dirt and a pebble cascading out. "Aw, that's better."

Flipping the eyepatch back into place and returning his paws to his possessions in a protective manner Mars glanced between the two foxes and grunted, "Name's Mars by the way. What, pray tell, did your mother's name you pair?"

Decca grumbled for a moment before answering Mars. "My names Decca." The shaman said with an aggrivated tone evedent in his voice. "Wouldn't make more sense to find a river first then dig to it?" The old fox walked around to the front of the squirrel.
"So you're from the abbey as well huh? Ya don't look the type. And are you going to get out of that hole, or are you gonna wait til' roots sprout from your feet?" Decca said dryly.

Nova stood with her arms folded as Mars spoke ("Well that's a fine way to say hello! I'll happily say I ate before I started digging so no, I'll have to pass on your generous offer of salad. As to what I'm doing down here, I'm looking for an underground river that's supposed to be around here; Foremole guarantees it… I'm looking for it because I'm building a nice, cozy, above all private shack a little ways off the road, and my garden needs irrigatin' thanks to all this ghastly heat. And I'm not sauntering about, assaulting poor squirmoles as they go about their own business, unlike some vermin I might point out. Blast it all that itches! 'Scuse me a moment.")
The white vixen scowled at the squirrel and shook a clenched claw at him “Hey if I dug a hole and popped up under your nose you’d probably stamp my head flatter than a Saturday scone…” she barred her fangs “And careful how you imply the term vermin because I should remind you my kind’s supposed to eat your kind.”
She gave a shriek as the squirrel lifted his eye patch then smacked the back of his head. Seeing the debris coming out of the empty socket she jumped back and held her left forearm infront of her snout as she shrieked again “Agh, that’s… that’s… just wrong! Yuck, I’m half expecting you to beat your brain out. Ughhh.”
Nova shivered until the squirrel finally put a name to himself ("Name's Mars by the way. What, pray tell, did your mother's name you pair?")
She straightened her stance at first then a frown broke out across her face “I’m not sure I don’t remember my mum. The only thing giving a clue to my name was a copper bracelet I had and that’s long g…” her voice trailed off and she stopped talking suddenly not wanting to delve further into the subject.

"Careful how you imply the term vermin because I should remind you my kind’s supposed to eat your kind.” Mars smirked as he cleaned out his eye, eliciting a shriek of horror from the pale vixen, “Agh, that’s… that’s… just wrong! Yuck, I’m half expecting you to beat your brain out. Ughhh.”

"You are clearly correct miss! I can just feel the predatory ferocity oozing off you. Fearsome, truely." Mars smirked, "And my brain is safe where it is. Haven't knocked it loose in months."

"Wouldn't it make more sense to find a river first then dig to it?"

Mars frowned and held up the map again, "I'll have you know Foremole drew up this map with his own claws… I just got, turned around, is all," He said, his righteous irritation flickering out.

"So you're from the abbey as well huh? Ya don't look the type. And are you going to get out of that hole, or are you gonna wait til' roots sprout from your feet?"

The squirrel squinted his one eye at Decca, "Well Decca, it's not that I've not loved meeting you and your intimidating friend, but as you so quaintly pointed out, I have yet to complete the task I set out to. My garden still needs me, so I think I'll have to stay down here and dig some more. And what do you mean I don't look the type!? They've got squirrels and moles at Redwall. I've just streamlined the package." He glanced again at Nova, noticing She'd trailed off in the middle of answering his question. A tactful beast would have let her be and shut up, but such a beast was not in this particular pit. "Yes, well, that's very sad and all but it doesn't tell me who's hunting me with all the cunning of the ages, now does it?"

(OOC: Just staying in character, please don't kill me.)

Decca thunked Mars again. "Show respect ya dolt. Besides, arn't moles blind for the most part? I'm sure your little patch of dirt could go longer with out water, they've gone this long right? Might as well get your map checked."
The shaman finished. He saw how Nova was and knows the same pain. "Ya don't insult strong vixen like that." He added on.

("Yes, well, that's very sad and all but it doesn't tell me who's hunting me with all the cunning of the ages, now does it?")
She stared off for a minute before Mars’s words registered resulting in an agonizingly slow turn of her head to bring her eyes on the squirrel. She stared blankly at him for a few moments more  as Decca batted the squirrel over the head ("Show respect ya dolt. Besides, arn't moles blind for the most part? I'm sure your little patch of dirt could go longer with out water, they've gone this long right? Might as well get your map checked… Ya don't insult strong vixen like that.”)
She turned to Mars and blinked again her attitude switching to something along the lines of childish curiosity “Hunting you, cunning? Why would somebeast hunt you? Is that why you’re building back in the woods, to get away from the world?”
A better question would have been how close are they she thought to herself.

Mars' head made a comical 'thunk' sound as the staff connected with his skull, causing his eye to roll slightly in its socket for a moment. He shook his head and glared up at Decca, rubbing his head with a paw, "Not that I enjoy admiting it but you might be right. It doesn't happen often but Foremole might; mark me, might; have made a mistake. Guess it's back to Redwall for me. And I didn't insult nobody. She trailed off without answering the question. That's called being rude. Eh, see? Just cause I don't use manners doesn't mean I don't know OF them."

“Hunting you, cunning? Why would somebeast hunt you? Is that why you’re building back in the woods, to get away from the world?”

Mars gave a small smirk and rolled his eye, "Heh, nah missy. Just makin' a jab at the mighty predator standin' before me," He almost leered at her, not quite though, then his eye suddenly went a little wider and his smirk vanished. His mouth pressed into a flat line as he glanced between the foxes, "White," He muttered cryptically, eyeing their fur. He gulped, "You pair aren't from the north by any chance, are ye? I… if you ever met a beast named Corvil he's a filthy liar, and he'll never pay you what he promised. Uh, I have to go now I think!" He gulped again and grabbed his map and shovel to start slowly descending once more, shoving aside piles of dirt beneath him with his feet.

"She is, I'm from the coast. She also told me she's refreshing the supply of medicenal herbs and roots for the abbey. So calm yourself fool, or do you enjoy getting whacked by my staff?" Decca said sternly to Mars, trying to defuse the tension between the group. The shaman ratteled his staff at the squirrel.

("Heh, nah missy. Just makin' a jab at the mighty predator standin' before me,")
Nova gave him a not amused facial expression with whiskers drooping slightly from the way she closed her jaw “Hmmm…”
("White… You pair aren't from the north by any chance, are ye? I… if you ever met a beast named Corvil he's a filthy liar, and he'll never pay you what he promised. Uh, I have to go now I think!")
Nova’s expression changed to a questioning look as she tapped her upper right leg with a claw “Pay for what, to dig a tunnel and drown yourself?” Nova held her paws up to head level and flapped them comically Oh yes an underground river, I think I’ll dig right into it head first, nothing could possibly go wrong like me getting stuck or drowning!”
Seeing Mars digging she wanted to help him by pounding him into the dirt however she refrained from doing so.
("She is, I'm from the coast. She also told me she's refreshing the supply of medicenal herbs and roots for the abbey. So calm yourself fool, or do you enjoy getting whacked by my staff?")
Nova looked up at Decca startled and stuttering “Wha, huh, how, how do you know that, what else do you know?”
Fact was she was a little nervous what this shaman might know.

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