Writing Contest (Eight Days)

I suggest you don't vote yet, lol. Wait until voting opens. I'll put up a notification when that happens.
    Everyone has until Tuesday of next week (the 28th) to write and submit their piece here. Voting will then close on the night f the 31st.

Guidelines:
    For this contest at least, you must stick to a Redwall-themed environment. Other than that, just have at it whatever way you wish.
    Also, this is a very small word-count. Don't waste a single word.

Word Minimum: 500
    Word Max: 2,000

After this month, we will make an effort to post the contests a little bit earlier.

He couldn't think why he'd done it. It just seemed so natural to him. Sure, the old hare hadn't particularly done anything to deserve it and he hadn't had any particular reason for it, but killing was in his nature and he was rather good at it. For some reason though, the image of a weeping mother clinging to her dibbuns haunted him. Her voice rang louder in his ears than the frigged cold of the northerland winds howling around him as he trudged through snow. Yet it had been four seasons since he'd killed the hare or seen his family. In all that time he never once thought back on them or given a second's remorse for his actions that night.
"Why in Devil's Gates am I thinkin' 'bout this now?" Snagtooth wondered, "I've got bigger fish to fry than think about some dumb hare an' 'is family."
Indeed he did. The rat was three days lost in the pine ridden wasteland and his lack of food was taking its toll on him. His footpaw still bled from his encounter with the fox that led him to this predicament. The fur around his paw would have been soaked in blood but the cold and snow had frozen all the fur and red daggers of ice hung limply around the wound as Snagtooth trudged on.
Try as he might though, his thoughts kept returning to that fateful moment. He could smell the ash in the air from the family's cooking fire. The burrow was slightly damp and the earthen smell of treeroots clung to everything like an insistant dibbun. The sounds were distored as if he was underwater.
"There's nothing here sah! Please. We are a poor family but you may take the food. Just please, do not hurt my family." The older hare was slightly bent over with age. He supported his front half with a cane and coughed occasionally. Probably due to the darned damp. Though Snagtooth.
Reality kicked back in for a moment as he stumbled and faceplanted into the snow. Snag gave a cough of his own lifting his muzzle from the freezing damp and looking ahead of him. More cursed trees, as far as the eye could see. He was excellent with directions and Snagtooth knew he was traveling south. For some reason though, for as far as he traveled, the snow and cold traveled with him like a cloud of judgement. He pulled himself up off the ground and as he continued pushing himself onward, he was transported back to the warmer underground hollow, a testament of his crimes there.
His sword was already out, and Snagtooth was nibbling on a greenbean as his inspected the old hare. "'Ow ol' are you hare?"
"Fifty seasons this year sah'." Even bent over the hare stood respectfully enough to command an aire of respect. Snagtooth didn't notice though.
"'Sah' is it? You a hare of the Long Patrol are you?" Snagtooth noticed the long thin scars across the back and arms of the beast and grinned wickedly.
"No sah. Not anymore" The hare looked uneasy, or was it ashamed, as he added "I left my patrol sah many seasons ago. I was tired of the fightin' and scared I may never see the day that my younguns grow up and have their own families."
"A deserter?" Snagtooth laughed. "And I thought that the hares of Salamandastron knew no fear!" He mocked.
"I fear no death sah. I fear for mah family sah." The old hare stared glumly at the floor.
"Well then, you won't have to worry about this at all then." Snagtooth swung the sword and it connected with the elder beast.
Snagtooth felt his paw break as he slipped against the icy rock and crashed to the earth only a couple of meter from where he had been trekking forward. Even with the broken paw, he didn't seem to notice the pain. It was twisted awkwardly beneath him and he realized that he was bleeding again. It felt painfully warm against his frozen skin and gave a brief repreive from the bitter cold.
Staring up above him Snag watched entranced as the snowflakes fell lightly around him. For the first time in four days, he was calm. For the first time in a season, he stopped and considered the beauty around him. For the first time in his life, he felt the cold throb of fear inside him.
He wasn't scared of death. He was all too well aquainted with it. He himself had escorted scores of beasts to the Devil's Gates and was proud to be such a skilled vermin. He knew he was going to die here and he accepted that now.
No, he was scared of what may come next and what judgment may awair. Each snowflake as it tumbled its lazy way to the ground seemed to take on the faces of those he killed. Some were evil vermin who deserved no less. Some were killed out of hunger or lust. Far too many, the rat had killed out of the simple thrilling rush of ending another beast's life. Many were elderly and defenseless. Others had been extraordinarily young. None the less, he'd never felt any guilt in the killing. 'Till now.
As the cascade of snowflakes, faces and memories continued, Snagtooth felt a twinge of painful guilt. It was a new feeling to him. He realized that the hare he had killed, (no, murdered), was far more lucky than him.
In the hare's death, he was surrounded by those who would remember him and love him even after he was gone. In the hare's dying moment, he heard the voices of those who loved him and was pled with to live and survive.
Snagtooth was surrounded by the memories of those who hated him. The wind and snow howled around him in erie beauty and beckoned his death. None were there to miss him and none would carry his name forward.
As his life ebbed away, in one glorious moment, Snagtooth experienced something new and exciting. In his entire life, he never once felt this. He'd seen it with the countless others he'd killed or hurt but he had never experienced it for himself.
His eyes were already closing never to open again as a single crystal clear teardrop bled from his eye. A single teardrop he shed for all his crimes and folly. He knew it did not absolve him of his sins but to Snagtooth, it gave him mortality in his dying moments. That single emotion of loss, fear, and loneliness wrapped in one gave life to him even as it ebbed out and stained the snow he lay on.
Thus ended the life of Snagtooth the water rat. Thirty five seasons old and yet, only just having discovered the beauty of mortality, he closed his eyes for good and his pain ended.
Somewhere in the distance a fox still tracked his now dead prey.

Snagtooooooth! Dang, it's been forever. I remember my very first RP was with you in Floret. Welcome back.
Also, awesome short. I'd hate to follow that, lol.

Fevron licked his plate clean.
  A meal of this calaber hadn't raided his belly in more seasons than you could count on all his paws. Of course, he had been wandering most of them, but such places he had dined like Salamandestron, Redwall Abbey! Grand castles, Great Halls, none more surprising than this. Humble hoves like this usually offered a meal likewise. This… Was quite the exception.
  "Very good, mar'm! Plump puddin' hit jus' tha spot!"
  The young squirrel looked quaintly at him from her seat opposite. "Plump... puddin'?"
  Fevron leaned back and rudely stuck his hind paws on the table and crossed them semi-gracefully, watching the squirrel maid from between them. He watched, mainly for a reaction, but saw none and continued. "Tummy tucka's, belly jelly, a fill-er-up-a, common grub!" Still nothing.... "Food, mar'm! That's some of the best I've feasted on in ages! If'n you don't mind me sayin' so, that's worthy of a badga' lood himself! Wouldn't have anymore, would ya?"
  His host answered by leading his gaze to the empty dishes scattered across the table top.
  Long ears sagged for a moment, tragically, but perked back up in an instant. Hind paws beat back to the dirt floor and chair legs did likewise in a loud BANG! "Say, I have a small samplin' that you need, mar'm! I greatly thanks ya for the hospa-talitay and grub, so I have adventa's to share. Insight on a vast new world outside ya doorstep, mar'm!" He licked his lips with anticipation. "And in exchange, ya teach me some'a yours tummy-flippin' cookin'!"
  The squirrel was visibly startled. Ah, a reaction Fevron grinned insided.
  "I've never had a guest really ask abo–-"
  "Oh nonsense! T'will be great fun! Oh, Uh, mar'm..."
  The squirrel leaned forward challengingly. "You're crazy."
  Her guest smiled. "I'm a March Hare."

*          *          *

An hour found him garbed in a very stained smock that served as an apron, completely bleached ear-tip to toes with flour. He churned the cooking spoon with determination and bit his lip thoughtfully to soak in his progress. "THIS time it will work. I know it!"
    The squirrel inspected the contents of the bowl and shook her head disapprovingly. "It has lumps in it."
    Fevron beat the spoon down into a unstirred section with dissatisfaction and sent a cloud of white into his face. He wheezed twice and dropped the spoon and frustration got the better of him. "You are makin' this too complicated, Mar'm! How am I suppose'd ta get this right with all dis proddin'?!" A stern expression silenced any further complaint and he turned back to his bowl, more than a little put out.
  "This is torture," He muttered, under his breath.
  The squirrel heard and laughed.
  "No. It's great fun!"

Yeah, not much plot. Just a little something to be fun.  😶

ooc- I'll have this be the background material for a new chara I'll be posting with.

Bic-
    As Lorn Jutscaw tip-toed through the dark halls Salamadastron, he paused briefly. The grey stones of the Main Hall towered impossibly high above him, and torchless corridors crawled endlessly in all directions.
    I am going to miss this place, the old corporal thought. This was my paradise… and my prison... and my heart will ache after it forever. In some ways, he feared the fortress would be suddenly dead and empty without him, like he were part of the mountain's heart. Another part of him scoffed at the wishful thinking.
    No one here will miss me… He continued on his way.
    All too soon, and far to late, Lorn found himself before the heavy doors of Salamandastron. They were thick and ominous, with cast irons ring for handles and etched with guardian badger lords.
    Lorn pulled hard on one of cast iron rings, heaving the door open.
    A breeze swept through his fur and brushed his skin. Crickets chirrupped like a symphny. Despite the nighttime air, and the cool metal ring in his paws, he felt warm with excitement. In leaving, he was tearing out a piece of his heart. Now it will filling with hope that had been missing for a long time.
    A deep voice shattered the calm.
    "Adventures are fa' younga scallywags, sah…"
    Lorn whirled to face the voice, body tense with both surprise and guilt.
    Nearby, General Miggory leaned against a dusty tapestry. In the dark, the General's expression was impossible to read. "You're too quiet a beast to be caught wanderin' the halls. Ah figured ah'd notice if'n ah watched the door, of course."
    Lorn let his paw drop from the iron ring, door half-open. He could hear crickets chirruping outside. "How did you know I was leaving?"
    "Ah've 'ad a guard posted at tha end of ya hall, keepin' peepers on ya door. Ya've been acting strange, sah. Res'less, wot?"
    Lorn smiled sadly. "If 'restless' is a strange behavior for me, then it's been too long since I was myself."
    The General stepped closer and reached out a paw to close the heavy doors. Lorn obstinately grabbed the door and held it fast.
    General Miggory's thin mustache twitched slightly. "You, sah, are treadin' in perlious waters. Ah've a mind to have ya tried for desertion."
    "I already penned a letter of resignation. It's waiting on your desk."
    "Well, Ah hav'nae approved it yet!" Again, the General's mustache bristled indignantly. "You, sah, are the single best trainin' instructor ah've eva seen. You, sah, were the single finest cadet ah've ever trained. Polished ya sabre to a bloomin' shine evra time dust smudged 'er fine edge. Ya trained like a warrior an' ya' fought like an artist. You, sah, were tha third-youngest Corporal in the History of the Mountain!
    "An' now ya' desertin'? At risk of hangin'? What bally well makes ya want ta' give all that up?"
    "I already lost it, sah..." Lorn stared out into the blue of the moonlit coast and woodlands. "Today I was training a few new recruits. They were born under the mountain, like me. Proud creatures, the mountain-born are. They think they know everything..."
    Miggory smiled lightly. "Ah once wagged my tongue to the badger-lord about you, sah. Ah told him the same thing. Bloomin' trouble was, you were always right."
    Lorn didn't smile in return. He only looked sad. "General Miggory... at the end of my lecture, one of the recruits criticized my handling of the sabre. I corrected his misconceptions, but I made the mistake of using a battle-scale combat example to prove my point. The young hare countered that I'd never been in battle before, so how could I know such a thing?
    "Sah," Lorn continued quickly, before the General could bristle his mustache again. "I straightened the young pip quick as a tic. Trouble was, like you said, that he was right. I was respected and looked up to as the finest of the Long Patrol hares... but when I began heading out on patrols... nothing ever happened. Even old Ardy got himself metal eventually. Not me, though. Eventually I was stripped of my rank-"
    "Promoted!" Miggory countered. "You bally well-"
    "Please, sah," Lorn interrupted. "I was stripped of my rank. I was made a drill instructor because no beast wanted an inexperienced hare in the lines of duty. I was old, over-ranked and had no single battle-scar or tale to my name. And after all those years of praise, my pride is hungry. I can't stay where I'm not respected."
    The General sighed. For a long time, he said nothing. "You sah... are desertin'. No Long Patrol hare has eva' been hanged. That's one record ah don' want ta help ya with, laddie buck..."
    "Accept my resignation."
    The General's ears and whiskers drooped low. "Where will ya be headed, sah?"
    Lorn opened the doors. He breathed the air deeply, and then sighed. "I'm headed the way of old warriors, General Miggory."
    "And which way is that exac'ly? East?"
    "Not sure, really," Lorn admitted. He stepped out onto the path, feeling the dust beneath his paws again and savoring it. He turned to face his General. "I'm old. My life is half-over. I may be making a terrible decision, waltzing out my front door... but I can't sit and wait for a miracle."
    "What miracle, sah?" General Miggory asked.
    "I don't really know..." Lorn faced the long road ahead. "Suppose I go and find it?"

Oooo, a contest! How fun!

///

Two heavy knocks roused Trane the gatekeeper from his evening nap. He coughed quickly to disguise the remnants of his snoring and rose to his footpaws, wiping at his eyes and hoisting his spear. "Who's there?" he called past the gate.

"Burr, 'tis ee turrible colden noight, Maister! May'n 'umbler trav'ler beg a bowl'ee zoup 'n' cruster 'ee bready?"

Trane slid the narrow view slot open and spotted a hunched figure buried in tattered cloth, carrying a haversack and crooked staff with a lit lantern fixed at its top. A gust of wind whipped through the slot and sent a shiver down Trane's back.

"Aye," the squirrel said, closing the slot and opening the gate for the traveler. "Redwall Abbey welcomes you to stay with us for the night." He scratched at the top of his head as the odd traveler hobbled inside the abbey's walls. "Though I can't imagine why a mole would be out in such cold weather?"

"Me neither," the traveler said, raising his neck through the layers of assorted cloth. Trane blinked and gawked.

It wasn't a mole–it was a mouse!

"Hey, you're not a mole!" Trane cried, stamping his spear on the ground.

"Never said I was!" the traveler called over his shoulder. "Eyes upwards!"

Trane looked up in time to juggle a large, green apple headed for his nose. He finally caught it in time to hear the traveler's giggles disappear towards Cavern Hole.

///

"You sure I cannae get you anythin' more?" Deckerdon frowned at the meager display of food on the table and twitched his left ear--the one that tended to droop. The hare sniffed and turned his attention to the elder mouse who sat down at the table.

"I see cheeses, I see fruits, I see steamed vegetables...even fresh fish from Thalon and his mates." The mouse tucked a napkin into the front of his habit and smiled at Deckerdon. "Perhaps a glass of iced lavender tea, to wash this all down?"

"Och, the drinks!" Deckerdon smacked himself between the eyes with a potato-laden spoon and hurried off for the kitchen. "Dinnae eat before I pour you a glass, Master Martin!"

Martin chuckled at the hare's display and reached for a celery stalk--

--and blinked when he heard someone bite into it next to him.

"Grand display," the traveler said, noisily chewing his bite of celery in the seat next to Martin's. "Though you need more desserts!"

"Not before the main meal," Martin chided, cutting a slice from a warm loaf of bread. He slapped a generous amount of strawberry butter across the top and handed it to the traveler. "Besides...Deckerdon would have me wash the kettles if I had dessert before dinner!"

The traveler accepted the bread and bowed to his host. "Thankee." He swallowed the bread in two bites.

Deckerdon returned with several pitchers of drinks and halted at the table. "Och, I dinnae know you were expecting..."

"An unexpected friend," Martin finished, smiling at the traveler. "I'm sorry we didn't tell you."

"No troubles, Master Martin!" Deckerdon said with a smile, setting the tray of drinks on the table. "What can I bring for your friend?"

The traveler sat back in his chair and began counting on his paws. "Leg of fowl, pies of chocolate and cherry variety, lemon custards, shortbread...anything with shortbread, actually,...and, ah--oop!" His chair began to fall and he reached out and caught the table.

"Just some soup for my friend," Martin answered, raising an eyebrow at the traveler. "He can share what I have here, too."

"Very good, Master Martin." Deckerdon nodded and disappeared into the kitchen again.

"What'cha do that for?" the traveler growled, pouring himself a goblet of October ale. "You nearly broke my neck, upsetting my chair like that."

"Don't be greedy, Gonff," Martin said. "You can eat well, but from the looks of you Columbine's already got a place reserved for you to be displayed."

"Oh, blatherskite!" Gonff waved off Martin's jab with a pawful of cheese. "My wife feeds me like I'm starving, bless her!" Gonff gobbled the cheese and then leaned forward towards the graying warrior. "But I have other matters for you, you old rogue."

"Beg pardon?" Martin asked, between sips of his tea.

Gonff wiggled his paws, and suddenly produced a stained piece of parchment. "I was told to give this to you--and you alone."

"What is it?" Martin asked, his eyes searching the document as Gonff unfolded it on the table.

Gonff smirked. "I don't know what it means, but I figured you would..."

Martin's eyes scanned the short lines written at one of the parchment's corners:

'Those who are asleep
Will wake anew again.
I–Rim Ant,
Return to where you began.
Follow the winding, crooked path
And enter into Great Hall.
I--Rim Ant,
Your fate lies within Redwall.
Nine they are who shall return
Yet seven must remain;
Seek the one who crawls alone...
They you shall retain.
Nine they are who shall return
But one shall leave with me...
I--Rim Ant,
Your sword still wields for thee!'

Martin looked up at Gonff and smiled.

"A riddle!" they cried in unison. They both began to cackle and slap each other on the shoulders until Gonff sat up at a shout coming from the hallway.

"Eeeep, that would be my signal to leave."

"Oh Gonff, what did you do now?" Martin asked with a groan.

"Nothing terrible!" Gonff said, raising his paws in defense. "Only…perhaps...maybe...impersonating a mole to gain entrance to said abbey?"

Martin sighed and shook his head. "You old rogue," he said with a smile.

"Before I go," Gonff said, reaching into his haversack. He pulled out a medium-sized package and handed it gently to Martin. "A gift...from the missus and me."

Martin carefully unwrapped the ribbon and pulled away the paper, revealing a vibrant rose as bloody as a peaceful sun-kissed sky, planted in a small green vase.

"A laterose," Martin whispered.

"Until we meet again, Warrior Mouse!" Gonff cried from the hallway.

Martin smiled and brushed a stray tear away. "Bless you, Gonff," he whispered. He cleared his throat and turned his attention back to the parchment. "Well, my dear puzzle...what clues do you have for me?"

"Master Martin!" Deckerdon cried, dropping a dish of custard. "You ate ALL the food?"

Martin blinked and turned to the table, and only then noticed it was absent of all food. He snickered and then suddenly turned very serious.

"Yes," he said somberly, rubbing his stomach. "And I believe I need to retire to my bed for the night."

Deckerdon nodded slowly. "I hope you at least tasted some of it?" he said with a moan.

"It was wonderful," Martin said, rising to his footpaws. He folded the parchment and tucked it into one of his pockets, lifted the rose carefully and gave Deckerdon a pat on the shoulder. As he began climbing the stairs to the dormitory, he thought he could hear Gonff's giggle echoing somewhere deep in the abbey, and he smiled to himself again.

A tale from the young life of one of my characters.

THE DUEL

The hot southern sun gave no mercy as it beat down on the court yard and surrounding facilities. The hot air wavered as it rose off the simmering masonry, the ancient stone hot to the touch. Worse off were the occupants of the land, soldiers tramping about in full armour, mail jingling and weapons clanging. Sweat drenched their fur and stung their eyes, but not one made a noise in complain. Sergeants, as brutal and ceaseless as the burning sun, cursed and screamed them on, not showing the faintest sign of fatigue.

For the guards stationed inside the mighty palace it was more tolerable. They were not training, they only wore summer uniforms. But even in that they suffered, and they could only pray for relief from duty or for clouds to come and deliver them. But they stayed silent, for that was how they were. From the outside of the courtyard suddenly bloodcurdling screaming ensued, followed swiftly by the echoing clangs of steel. Not a soul moved, for this was the way of the wildcats.

Sounds of battle soon faded away, and through the gate came a noble, wiping vermillion stains from his sword. Two guards silently rotated on their feet and headed out the gate to clean up. The noble went on his way through the courtyard and into the palace itself. Not a soul spoke. The great oak doors opened and shut with a mighty thud. The coppery tang of blood began to drift into the courtyard, amplified by the sweltering heat. For this, this was the land of the wildcats.

Lord Caje-Rawg of the Blooded Fur had seen it all before. Of course he had. He was The Patriarch of the Southern Isle, the Sovereign of all cats. He had seen many foreign ambassadors in his court, and he had seen their horrified reactions at such violence. He dismissed it of course, they knew nothing. This was the land of the wildcats, and warfare was imbedded in their very marrow. This was a land where honour lead to war, where one noble insulted another and whole armies clashed. It was a land of strife and conflict, where the Patriarch had to defend himself at every turn, for any cat who could outfight the Patriarch deserved the right to rule.

In his lifetime, he had witnessed no less then nine rebellions against the the royal house. He had personally dealt with five of them, and three cases duelling the leaders himself. On the large scale things were quiet, and had been so for nearly a decade; now the biggest sources of conflict were petty squabbles amongst the nobility like which had just occurred outside the courtyard. Of course the peace wouldn't last long, massive warfare was bound to happen soon. The population would increase, feuds would rise, and eventually it would boil over.

But of course that was a matter for later, and the Patriarch tended to deal with conflict when it happened, not before. What was of current interest was the scene playing out below in the courtyard. A side door had just opened, and from within came two smaller wildcats, both wearing the small crimson left-shoulder capes that signified royalty. And as they progressed across the courtyard and the Patriarch listened in, his interest grew and grew.

"…take it then! Take it as your kind does, let your back only face then will you?" The hissing voice curled Phineas's ears, and it took all his willpower to ignore the dangerous words slide. He had an appointment for combat instruction with Churr-Major, and the tough old veteran would take it out on his hide -crown prince or not- if he was late. And in any case, Phineas was an oddity among wildcats. He displayed a bit more logic than his brethren, not screaming and leaping at every insult like many would. It was why he'd stayed alive more in his younger years while his older siblings had killed each other.

"Coward!" The voice cut all thought in his brain down to utter silence. The air stilled, and he stopped dead in his tracks. Silence followed, and then the voice came to life again, loud and arrogant. "Yes, I tag you coward! As yellow and mouse as the lowliest slave! I challenge you to look me in the eye, plant-eating dung!" The voice died off, echoing around the courtyard. Time seemed to have come to a standstill as not even the guards dared breathe. All eyes were upon the young prince, watching him waiting for his reaction. Slowly, silently, he turned around and stared his mocker in the eye. The silence was deafening.

"Sword!" He yelled at his attendant, and a young otter ran up, sheathed sword in hand. Fury was pouring through Phineas's mind as he grabbed the weapon and winged it from its sheath with a metallic ring. Wielding it in one paw, he marched forward in strong, angry steps until he was but fifteen feet from his brother. "Mouse! Draw steel or be slain as a vermin!" He screamed fiercely. An eager metallic ring was his reply as the lower prince whipped out his sword and took a stance, eyes burning. Phineas tensed just as the attack began.

The courtyard echoed with the sky-splitting screams of fury from the two wildcats as they closed the distance in a moments flash, leaping at each other in bloodlust. Sparks flew and metal shrieked as the two blades clashed, mixing with the animal-like snarls and growls from the two combatants.

The site was terrifying and enthralling simultaneously. No event in existence could match the absolute ferocity and brutality of wildcats battling. Their swords, great longswords over half their height with great wide blades would have taken any other creature much effort and strain to wield effectively, but here they moved in blurred movements, striking thrice every passing second, humming as the rent through the air which seemed to stand still around them.

Phineas moved slowly in a circularly pattern, considering his options with one part of his mind while dealing with the blows of his brother. As the initial surge of rage boiled down with each blow, both fighters slowed down their strikes, conserving stamina and becoming more tactful with their engagement.

Phineas slowly gave ground, retreating gradually towards the east courtyard wall. They neared, and Phineas began to feint weariness, slowing down his fighting and appearing more and more fatigued. His brother increased in speed only, attacking more quickly and brutally. His back was now fifteen feet from the wall, and Phineas began to change.

He circled, slowly rotating around. His brother stepped back and suddenly swung broadly. Phineas ducked beneath it and immediately charged forward, swinging his blade across at his brothers neck. Steel screamed as, quick as light, his brothers sword crossed his, their faces just inches apart. Growling, Phineas suddenly screamed out, a nightmarish mixture of pure fury and hatred incarnated in one noise, and shoved forward with his blade.

Unfazed, his brother yelled back, the sound deafening to Phineas's sensitive ears. Bracing himself against his brothers return shoves, he forces back, locking into a brutal battle of strength. Ears back and fangs bared, his brother snapped at Phineas face, missing by inches. Then, as the battle of strength reached its peek, Phineas kicked him in the leg.

His brother shrieked in agony as his shin cracked. His strength broke and he stumbled back into the wall, swinging wildly in wide arcs at Phineas, the tip of his blade neatly opening a wide line across the princes cheek. Ignoring the flare of pain, Phineas stomped forward and caught his brothers flailing blade with his own, pinning it against the wall. His brother lunged forward, jaws open, aiming for Phineas neck. Phineas jerked aside and slammed the pommel of his hilt right with all his might, colliding with his brothers outreached jaw with a sickening crack. His brothers head whipped right and smacked into the stone, stunning him. With a quick wrench of his sword, Phineas knocked his foes blade from his paw and, with his left paw, grabbed his brother neck and hurled him forward onto the ground, where he proceeded to kick him brutally in the hindquarters.

The cool point of Phineas's sword rested gently between his brother shoulder blades. His brother didn't move asides from the faint noise that constituted his breathing. But then, slowly, his head rotated on the baking stone to face Phineas, right eye glaring venomous hatred. No words came forth. And so Phineas gripped his sword with both hands, held it high above his head, and swung down with every ounce of his strength.

The report of steel biting into stone punctured the air. Kicking away the head of his brother, Phineas looked up and around the courtyard, then strode off towards his lesson without a word. The otter hurried over, a blank look on his face as he took the sword retreated off to clean the messy blade. Wordlessly, two guards peeled off from their posts and silently headed for the dead royals body. They did not move it, but just draped a vermillion cloth over the entirety of the corpse. The head they left exposed.

As Phineas passed through the courtyard gate towards his lesson, he noticed the posture of the two guards straighten more, and they dipped their heads slightly. The prince gave no notice of them, and strode out the gates and towards his teacher.

From his balcony, Lord Caje nodded with approval. Phineas had fought well against Prince Aleen. He had two brothers now, both his younger by at least four years. It may well be that one day one of them would challenge and slay the crown prince, but that was in the future. And to the Patriarch of the wildcats, it would simply be dealt with when it came upon them. He turned around and retreated back into the cool air of the palace. Outside a party of squirrel and otter slaves gathered and carefully lifted the body and head onto the stretcher and made sure they were covered. Then the quietly lifted it onto their shoulders and left. No one came to clean the blood. It would remain until the walls of the castle crumbled down around it.

For this, this was the land of the wildcats.

Sorry this is a little late (lol), but I've put up the options in the poll.
    I didn't expect to have five submission! I've bumped up the max number of votes per person to 2.
    Voting closes tomorrow night, since no one has had time to vote yet.

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