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Thread: The Legacy of Ceteruler

  1. #1
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    The Legacy of Ceteruler

    Yes, the title is a little odd, and this story is in the very earliest stages. I'm not done, but a little constructive criticism goes a long way. Useless flamers shall be impaled on a halberd and thrown to the Coral Snake of Sampetra. Oh, and a bunch of the charries are my own, a few places are, most belong to the Great Jacques, and Ceteruler also belongs to Brian. If you were wondering, my signature is the battle cry of my villain. I'll shut up now.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

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    Prologue

    The merry singing was heard throughout Mossflower Wood, as the sun’s warming rays began to waken the forest’s denizens gently. The singer had a jolly but off-key voice, and his song would have made many a beast chuckle if they heard it.

    “I’m a rough tough old rover, says I,
    But that Abbey o’ Redwall, oh my!
    With crisp baked scones, strawberry cordial, an’ a lovely ould pie!
    Oh, weep, ye traveler friends of mine! Weep about that ould pie!

    I’m a sturdy grizzled fighter, strong beyond doubt!
    Yet when I go to that Abbey and see a baked trout,
    I lose me sturdiness and keel over, though I don’t know what about.
    Oh, weep, ye traveler friends of mine! Weep about that baked trout!”

    The traveler was an aged otter, returning from visiting his friends the Sea Otters of Salamandastron. Garbed in a robe with the hood hanging on his shoulders, the otter walked quietly across the old path from Salamandastron to Redwall Abbey. His brown fur had turned hoary with age, but he still had the strength of his youth, when he had served Urthstripe the Badger Lord by ambushing a few weasels and stoats from the army of Ferahgo the Assassin. As he approached the great red gates of the Abbey, he began to feel the joyful feeling he only got when he visited the haven. Knocking on the gate, he waited for the Gatekeeper to answer.
    “Who is it?” asked a gruff voice from the other side.
    “The Guard of Hellgates, who d’you bloody well think it is?” the otter asked pointedly.
    “You’ve been hanging around those Long Patrol hares too much,” the voice answered. “You’re starting to talk like one.”
    The gates swung open, and behind them was a grinning hedgehog in his autumn seasons. He wasn’t quite as old as the otter, and wasn’t hoary-haired yet, but he was somewhat grizzled. “Bregg, ye old scoundrel, what’re you doin’ at our ‘umble Abbey? H’eatin’ us out of ‘ouse and ‘ome again?”
    “Every Harvest Feast, my friend. And don’t you criticize me about speaking like a hare. You sound more like a bally old mole every season,” he said with a twitch of his rudder. “How’s Abbess Vale?” he asked politely.
    The hedgehog, who was named Dennert, sighed. “She went to Dark Forest last winter. It was a ‘ard one on us all.”
    “I’m sorry, mate. Everybody loved old Vale. Who’s the new Mother or Father of Redwall?”
    Dennert laughed. “Sagatrus, if you can believe it!”
    Bregg’s jaw dropped. “A badger Abbot? Isn’t an Abbot supposed to have self-control?”
    “That’s what Oi said meself, but apparently Sagatrus had some firm teaching from Mother Vale, and is now a peaceable beast with a love for meadowcream and a slowly expanding waistline.” The last comment made Dennert grin and Bregg laugh. “Come in, the feast is about to start!”

    The Feast was a dream in scones, salad, October Ale, meadowcream, and a gargantuan grayling. The Dibbuns happily composed an ode to the grayling, which caused Bregg to nearly choke on his October Ale.

    “We loves the old graylin’, he roasted an’ noice!
    Caught on a ‘ook, gutted and doiced!
    We loves the old graylin’ we says,
    If’n he was nicer we’d give him a kiss!”

    The poem was repeated over and over until the stern Sister Fala, lady of the sick bay, silenced them with a stare. “I think some baths are in order!” she said sharply. The Dibbuns stood stock-still for a moment, then dashed up to their dormitories, squealing and running. Bregg was blue in the face and Dennert was whacking him on the back hard. Finally Father Sagatrus, gazing benevolently at the otter, said, “Last season you said you were compiling a story of one of the great Badger Lords from before the time of Brocktree. Have you finished?”
    “Indeed I have, Father,” Bregg said with a respectful bow. “’Tis the story of Ceteruler the Wise and how he saved the Abbey of Loamhedge and Salamandastron from certain destruction.”
    “May we hear it? The legends of Ceteruler are clouded and scattered across Mossflower Wood, and to hear this tale would be greatly enlightening.”
    “I will, but only if you promise to record it. I’ll most probably lose this story one day, wot!” Bregg replied.
    “Stay away from those hares,” Sagatrus said with a smile. “Rilla, me dear, if ye’d be so kind…” he said, addressing the Recorder of Redwall, a grouchy old squirrelmaid. With a sour grunt she took out a quill and some birch bark parchment. “You can start now,” Sagatrus said to Bregg.
    “Ahem, it all began during a ferocious storm in the far north…”

    Book One: “I have a plan.”
    also entitled
    A Badger Leaves Home.
    Chapter 1
    Fenglaz the Cannibal! The name struck fear into the hearts of the people of the Isles of Alteff Kelda, better known as the Ring of Cold. The monstrous ferrat of the far north was said to have been conceived by the two pirates that were long known for their cruelty and viciousness, Skaggar the Blade and his partner in crime, Vaggra Ironclaw. He was half-ferret and half-rat, and anybeast who called him a half-breed didn’t live to see the sun go down. His tail was somewhat of an oddity, being somewhere between thick and thin, and was patchy, with some parts furry and some bare. He had a short neck and ears, the latter being torn and ripped from years of fighting. His teeth where pointed and, in some places, replaced with metal. His cold eyes were black as pitch, and his fur was a mottled grey-brown-black. His armor was a set of chain mail said to have the power of the wind buried within it. On his head he wore a mail hood that rustled endlessly when he moved. His weapon was a great halberd, a weapon exclusive to the Isles of Alteff Kelda.
    Fenglaz’s followers were known as the Consumers of the Shadows, and they pledged their allegiance to him by promising to eat nothing but the meat of beasts. The regulation weapon of the Consumers was either the halberd or the longbow. Wearing chain mail forged from the black iron of the Ring of Cold, the Consumers were renowned for their arrogance towards the ‘plant-eaters’ and mysteriousness, as they could vanish into thin air. For many seasons they raided the Isles on their famed black ships, and their name became spoken only in fearful whispers.
    It was the weather that finally liberated the Isles. A storm of epic proportions came boiling up from the south, a storm of similar strengths not seen for many hundreds of seasons. The great ships of the Consumers were lashed at while they were returning from a successful raid on the southern parts of the Isles. Some ships were run aground, their cargo drowned. Others were struck by the sky-dancers, the Northern term for lightning. A lucky few were wrecked off the eastern coast of a great landmass to the south, where the people of the Isles were originally said to have come from. Beaten but alive, Fenglaz and the surviving Consumers were washed ashore.
    Fenglaz groaned, and sat up groggily. Squinting into the distance, he could see the wreckage of his beloved black ships. Around him, he saw his Consumers laying on the shore, some still and silent in death, others close to dying, about fourscore still alive. After slowly regaining his strength, Fenglaz stood up and walked unsteadily over to the forms of his followers, kicking them to see if they were still alive. The first person to wake was Fenglaz’s first mate on board the ships, Zadder the Beast, a huge , if somewhat slow, Rhynchok. The Rhynchok were a group of reptiles that resembled lizards, native to the southern Isles of Alteff Kelda. Unlike most reptiles, they could withstand the cold of the far northern summer, and buried themselves in ‘heat-dens’ during the deep freeze of the winter. They naturally ate meat, but greatly preferred the quiet of assassination and plotting to the frenzy of battle and slaughter. The Rhynchok Consumers often were great strategists and creators of schemes.
    “Shagga and Gznagga!” Zadder groaned in a guttural accent, invoking two great Rhynchok heroes. “Whata happened?”
    “A storm. Attention!” Fenglaz shouted.
    Zadder leapt up and touched his blunt nose with the tip of his spiny-ridged tail. “Ait attention, sarr!” he said in the odd Rhynchok dialect.
    “General Zadder, search for survivors! Report to me in a half hour, with as many survivors as you can find!”
    “Yessarr!”
    ------------------
    At the same time, a traveler from the deep south was ambling northwards on the road from the south to the Abbey of Loamhedge. This traveler was a strange beast not seen in the north before, and was known as a honey badger. It, or, more specifically, she, like any honey badger, was jet black except for a gray mantle, separated from the dark fur by a white stripe, this mantle extending from the crown to the base of the tail. Everywhere else the honey badger’s hair was pitch black. The traveler wore leather armor and a hood, which covered the white hair. Sheathed in her belt was a knife with a saw-edge.
    The traveler’s name was Assaggi, better known as the adopted daughter of King Nzunzan, the Serval Lord of the South. After her father’s death, a revolution of the plant-eaters had taken place in the South, forcing many vermin to flee, including Assaggi. Now she was headed to Loamhedge, a place of sunshine and light that did not discriminate against vermin. She stopped to look admiringly at the scenery, rolling green grassland.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  3. #3
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    “Alrighter, missa, put ther knifer en ther grend,” a harsh voice said from behind Assaggi. She immediately identified the speaker as a rat. Making to unsheathe the knife, she whirled around and slashed him on the arm. Howling with pain, the rat screamed, “Ne fairer!” Then, with sickened horror, he looked at the knife. It dripped a translucent red liquid. He tried to scream, but he couldn’t. His face quickly turned blue, and his tongue began to protrude from his mouth in his efforts to breathe. Then, with one last horrified glance at the honey badger’s poisoned knife, he collapsed, never to harm another beast ever again.
    Whistling merrily, Assaggi was soon on her way to Loamhedge again.
    ------------------
    “How many survivors did you find, Undergeneral Zadder?” Fenglaz asked the Rhynchok.
    Zadder looked back at them. “About a scerr an’ a half, though therr may be a mora. Howz many ded ye find, yerr Mightiness?” asked Zadder politely.
    “Two score and a half, and I’m sure that is all there is left,” the ferrat replied with an indifferent flick of his tail.
    “Whata is our nexten objective, sarr?” the Rhynchok asked.
    “I have heard that there is a forest to our west. We may find recruits there.” Then, Fenglaz turned to the assembled survivors. “All right, you hardy ole beasts of mine, if ye want to eat, you’ll follow me! To the west!”
    Unlike most vermin bands or crews, the Consumers were fanatically loyal to their leader and, to a lesser degree, Zadder. As they began to march west, Fenglaz mulled over what to do next: would he build new ships and go north to plunder the Isles of Alteff Kelda again, or would he begin a new era of terror in this land of opportunities? He thought about it for many hours until a great forest was in sight. The scent of squirrels was heavy on the air, and the Consumers began to pant in anticipation of food. As they marched into an open meadow, Fenglaz shouted, “Hunt for your food! Report back here in two hours sharp! Two hours!”
    After this, the assorted vermin drew their bows and halberds and dashed off excitedly in all directions. For some time there was the sound of shouting and slashing. Finally, Fenglaz’s followers returned to the meadow, looking enormously satisfied. “Did we lose anybeast?” the Cannibal asked one of the Consumers, a small lithe weasel named Hammertail, called so due to a deformity at the tip of his tail.
    “Only one, Deadbreath. One of those squirrels launched a rock at ‘im, and he got it ‘twixt the eyes,” the weasel replied.
    “Ah, well, that happens,” Fenglaz replied. Then, he walked up to a rocky knoll in the middle of the meadow. “My friends, fellow meat eaters! We need more fighters, but where will we find them? If anybeast has an idea, shout out!”
    Immediately one grizzled old stoat cried out, “There are many corsairs on the Northwest Coast. We should head there!”
    Fenglaz turned to address the old stoat, who was named Fazhgar. “How do we get to this coast, Fazhgar?” he asked.
    “We should head south through this forest, over the mountains, then go west to a river called the Broadstream, sail on the stream south a ways, and then head west. We’ll eventually reach the Northwest Coast. I should warn ye, though, them corsairs have wills o’ steel,” Fazhgar added.
    “Nonsense. I’ll promise them power, and they’ll take the bait. Set up camp!”
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

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    Chapter 2
    It was a fine Midsummer Eve day at Salamandastron, but there was a deathly hush over the mountain. The current Badger Lord, Haistras the Just, was dying. Not from wounds, like his more famous ancestors, but from age. His two sons, Ceteruler and Flashaxe, waited by the beloved ruler’s bed, their heads bowed in sorrow. Haistras looked at the two brothers, and smiled benevolently. “Do not feel the sting of sadness, my sons, or you will be lost in it forever.”
    “But Father,” Ceteruler asked. “Which one of us shall become the next Badger Lord?”
    “Whichever one succeeds Commander Dumalliun’s task,” the Lord said in a ravaged voice. Dumalliun was the leader of the Hare Guard, a unit of perilous hares dedicated to protecting Salamandastron, and his task would be a difficult one, as it decided the new Lord of the Mountain.
    Flashaxe looked worried. “What if neither of us succeed, Father?” he asked.
    “There are more badgers in the world than you two. Do not forget that,” Haistras said, then his eyes bulged. “Armies at the gate? Unsheathe your swords, me boyos!” The death rattle began to sound in the Lord’s throat. “’Tis going to be a fine one! Chaaaaaaa-”
    ------------------
    Brother Sadrius was Gatekeeper of Loamhedge, and was a stoic, friendly otter from the far west. Seasons of soft living had given him an enlarged belly and a happy nature. Dressed in the habit of Loamhedge, he relished the glorious sun and pure azure sky. It had been a very rainy spring. He was so far up in the clouds while day dreaming that he fell over in his chair in the gatehouse when he heard a knock. Carefully getting up, he hurried over to the gate and opened it.
    The knocker was a creature unlike any Sadrius had ever seen. She was something between a badger and a ferret, and had sharp, vicious teeth. However, she had a wary friendship in her eyes, and Sadrius asked rather politely, “How do ye do, marm?”
    “I’m doing fine,” she said in a smooth, silky voice. “May I come in?”
    “As long as you’re peaceful,” Brother Sadrius replied. When she nodded, he invited her in.
    “Do you have beehives here?” she asked the otter.
    “Indeed. Brother Gavyll is the Abbey Beekeeper. Why do you ask, if’n you don’t mind me sayin’ so?” Sadrius replied.
    “My species is called the honey badger, and for a good reason, though we don’t exclusively eat honey. If you have a problem with worms or termites, I’ll happily deal with them,” she replied.
    “You eat insects?” Sadrius said in an incredulous tone, and was instantly sorry. The honey badger, as she called herself, picked him up by the front of his habit and held him in the air, his feet dangling frantically.
    “Is that a bad thing?” the honey badger hissed through clenched teeth.
    “No, not at all,” squeaked Sadrius. Her face relaxed, and she dropped him on the ground.
    “Take me to your leader,” she said calmly, as if nothing had happened. Sadrius was quick to obey, and he dashed into the Abbey, to the Library, where Abbot Prasutagus was studying an ancient, crumbling tome that spoke of a great empire from beyond the southeast sea.
    Prasutagus’ name was regal, many visitors said, but the Abbot was humble and kind. He was an aged mouse, and his failing eyes were assisted by crystal spectacles. He had once protected the Abbey during the Times of Darkness, when a great army of lizards attacked Loamhedge. They were beaten back by the newly formed Abbey Defenders, and fled from the Great Plateau, across Mossflower Wood, to the Western Shore, where Haistras was waiting for them. Lizards were not seen in Loamhedge for twenty seasons afterwards.
    “What is it, Sadrius?” Prasutagus asked quietly, his eyes still fixed on the crumbling tome.
    “I have a visitor who wishes to speak with you. She calls herself a ‘oney badger, whatever that means.” Sadrius grinned cheekily at the honey badger.
    “You’re worse than a Dibbun,” Prasutagus said with a chuckle. Then he turned his head upwards to look at the honey badger. “Hello, marm. My name is Father Abbot Prasutagus of Loamhedge. You’re welcome to stay here if you wish.”
    “My name is Assaggi,” the honey badger said with a bow. “I’ve heard much of your Abbey, and decided to come to see it for myself. I’ve heard you have great feasts sometimes.”
    “Indeed we do, marm. Today is the Midsummer’s Eve, and that means we’re busily cooking up a feast for tomorrow. Friar Anfeald is very busy, but I see that light in your eyes, and I know you have some suggestions,” he said with a smile.
    The honey badger grinned at him. “Where’s the kitchen?”
    “When you exit this room, take a left, go down the steps, go left again, and there you are!” Prasutagus replied.
    The honey badger was gone by the time he said “Are.”
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

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    Two Consumers of Shadow, named Nergaz and Viss, looked at the sturdy fleet of rafts built to ride the Broadstream southwards. Viss, an educated stoat, sighed. “Why do we have to use our soft-clothes as sails?” he wondered aloud.
    Nergaz, a rather uneducated rat, replied, “’Cause we got nutin’ else to use fer sails, tha’s why.”
    “Thanks ya, Nergaz,” hissed an all-too familiar guttural voice. The two vermin snapped to attention as Zadder carefully studied the two, making sure they weren’t spreading discontent. Finally, the Rhynchok murmured something and slunk off, tail swishing back and forth. Viss let out a sigh of relief.
    “Dat was a close one,” Nergaz remarked indifferently.
    “Stow your gab!” Viss barked, and then began to get rope out of a pack to lash a few logs together.
    Nergaz shrugged, and began to help Viss with tying the rope together. Little did they know two great, unsympathetic eyes were watching them coldly and angrily.

    Chapter 3
    Ceteruler and Flashaxe were on the dunes just north of Salamandastron, where Commander Dumalliun watched them sternly. The sea beat against the beach relentlessly, and the gulls were screeching noisily. “Here are your tasks!” the hare roared. “You’ve never known life beyond this mountain! You’ve never harmed a living creature, just dummies! Now that must change if either of you are to become Lord of the Mountain! Your task, Flashaxe, is to bring me the necklace of the King of Snakes who lives some ways west of Loamhedge. Your task, Ceteruler, is to battle corsairs on the coast north of here. Come back on one of their ships. Oh, and one more thing. These are only the first halves of your tasks. The second halves shall be revealed when you return to me. Understood?”
    The two badger brothers bowed their heads. Dumalliun nodded, then gave them each a pack of traveling food and a pack of things like rope and tinder. Then, he gave each of them their weapon. Flashaxe ran his paw lovingly along the side of his axe’s blade, while Ceteruler swung his gigantic hammer around, testing its speed. Dumalliun roared, “I don’t want to see your faces again unless you’ve got what I asked for. Now get!”
    Flashaxe and Ceteruler looked at each other, shook paws, then set off, Flashaxe headed eastwards to Mossflower Wood, Ceteruler headed north to the Shifting Sands.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  6. #6
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    Midsummer Feast at Loamhedge was a success, as always, but it was even better, due to the fact that some visiting moles had supplied their deeper’n’ever turnip’n’tater’n’beetroot pie, while some sea otters had supplied a dish called kelp’n’roe, which was fish eggs wrapped in seaweed. But the centerpiece was a huge trout that Brother Leof had caught while fishing at the Abbey Pond, which Friar Anfeald had proceeded to bake mercilessly, adding a dash of spice to it.
    Assaggi sipped some well-preserved wine while tucking into some scones filled with honey. She had made a dish herself, fried termites, which was actually quite delicious, made from termites Assaggi had brought herself as well as a few from a colony within Loamhedge. Her other dish, baked worms, was more popular with the Dibbuns, who slurped the worms up happily. The honey badger tried a fruit salad, and found she liked it, to her surprise. She liked it so much that she took the whole bowl and ate its contents in one gulp. After that, she ripped a piece off the trout and ate it. Then she looted the box of candied chestnuts. Finally, the desserts came in, along with cups of strawberry cordial. The desserts were a huge cake, covered in meadowcream and decorated with candied chestnuts, honey pudding (another invention of Assaggi’s) was a success, and another batch of scones, this time filled with meadowcream and strawberry preserves, baked with dates from the deep south in them, were very popular as well.
    Finally, Abbot Prasutagus stood up and announced to the Loamhedgers and visitors, “My goodbeasts, thank you for your kind contributions. My special thanks go to the Sea Otters of Holt Enhydra for supplying us with kelp’n’roe, to the moles of Durr Glade for their famous deeper’n’ever turnip’n’tater’n’beetroot pie, and to a visitor from the far south, who gave us fried termites, baked worms, honey pudding, and those little fruits in the dessert scones- what were they called?”
    “Dates,” Assaggi supplied.
    “Ah, yes. Well, I thank you all. And now, if anyone has a musical selection for us, ‘twould be greatly appreciated,” Prasutagus announced.
    One of the visiting moles stood up from her chair and said, “Burr aye, Oi’ve got a song for ye. H’it’s called a Dance ta Midsummer.” Then the mole nodded at her fellows, one of whom struck up a melody on his fiddle. The molemaid began to sing in a melodious soprano,

    “Banffaglau ddotia 'r yn powlio lechwedd,
    Chysgodau dawnsia am a am,
    Dabyrddau churiad i maes echoes chan caddug,
    Yn chwimio ag 'r bagan blymio.

    'R byrdwn chan Dduwiau yn canu i mewn
    Chynghanedd ag 'r chwibanoglau chan anian,
    Yn canu alaw acha 'r Nos chan Canolhaf.
    Byncio achos Canolhaf!

    Caddug i mewn annwfn byrth bod alltudiedig heddiw,
    Acha 'r dawnsia chan Canolhaf!
    Chlyw 'r cama a chria chan 'r chudyll fel 'n dal,
    Yn dawnsio a dawnsia acha 'r Nos chan Canolhaf!”
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  7. #7
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    The mole received hearty applause for the song, even though nobeast could understand a word she said. The singer mole actually blushed. “Burr, ‘tis no gurt deal,” she said modestly.
    “Any more musical selections?” Prasutagus asked the assembled beasts and sole vermin.
    Assaggi stood up and said in her silky voice, “I have a traditional song from a far-off land that I once visited, which is concerned with an ancient war that destroyed this land’s traditions. Ahem.”

    “‘Sorrow and blood!
    The traitor’s blood, that is what we seek!’
    The sound was heard, and there was a cry,
    ‘We shall topple the meek!’

    We fought in the forests,
    We fought in the hills,
    We fought in the mountains,
    We learned the meaning of the word ‘Kill.’

    The Red Snows drifted down from the sky,
    The Old Gods were cast down and rent apart,
    Our people were eaten by these invaders!
    When we regained our strength, they were gone like a dart!

    Only one name remained to us as we closed our eyes forever.
    Fenglaz!”

    The Loamhedgers looked thoroughly horrified and at the same time stunned with admiration. The song was a horrible tale of death, but the honey badger sang in a beautiful alto that was filled with sorrow and anger. Father Prasutagus bowed his head, sat down, and said, “That song has made me realize how close our Abbey came to being conquered many seasons ago, and it brings back my youth. How can I ever thank you?”
    At that moment, Sister Etain, better known in the Abbey as the Mistress of Books, stood up. “Simply, Father Abbot. I can tell our newcomer that Fenglaz is a real person. He is the one who stole the Blade of Ages from Salamandastron fifteen seasons ago with a crew of dastardly cannibal corsairs. He then set fire to Mossflower Wood about two leagues north and slightly east of the mountain. Don’t you remember?”
    Prasutagus gripped the arms of his chair, and managed a “Yes” through clenched teeth. Then he looked satisfied. “But we sent a score of them to Dark Forest, and I assume Lord Haistras took even more when he pursued them northwards.”
    “Tsk tsk Father Abbot, you’re supposed to be peaceful,” Friar Anfeald scolded jokingly.
    “Fiddledeedee, Anfeald, you were making soups then!” Prasutagus said sharply. Then he sighed, his ears flat against his head. “I’m sorry Anfeald, my fighting spirit didn’t die with my good vision.”
    “’Tis fine, Father Abbot. My soups were, and still are, the envy of the Great Plateau. ‘Tis a pity I didn’t have time to make one for the feast, but that grayling required the utmost attention. You never know when portions of it disappear.” The monk mouse stared sternly at two Abbeybabes: Enno, an innocent-looking young hare, and Renaldo, a not-so-innocent looking mouse.
    Enno smiled innocently and said, “We was just havin a bally snack, wot!”
    Renaldo nodded, his uncontrollable and badly muffled giggles sounding out loudly and giving the pair away instantly.
    Anfeald raised an eyebrow, then began to chuckle. Soon, the entire Feast Hall was laughing in varying degrees of volume.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  8. #8
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    Fenglaz was woken in the night by a solid-sounding thud outside. After poking his head outside of his tent, he saw one of his guards was on the ground, prostrate, with an arrow stuck between his shoulder blades. The other guard was wrestling with a dark figure, trying to get the shaft of his halberd under the figure’s chin. Fenglaz sighed, then went back into his tent and fetched his own halberd. Coolly, he pressed the spike of the axe-spear mix weapon to the back of the figure. The figure froze.
    “Show yerself!” the ferrat muttered. The figure stepped towards a torch, revealing a hooded and robed hedgehog, who had a bow in hand.
    “Drop the bow, ‘edgepig!” spat the guard, a stoat. The hedgehog did so, but before the stoat could issue more commands, his prisoner whirled around, with a sword in hand. The stoat blinked, then looked down at his chest to see red staining his mottled summer coat. The vermin sighed, and collapsed to the ground without another breath. The hedgehog blinked at Fenglaz, then ran away as the cannibalistic vermin lord readied his halberd to thrust its spike through the guts of the plant-eater.
    “Alright you lazy scum, get up!” Fenglaz roared at the camp. “We have to get out of here! We’re under attack!”
    In an instant, the fourscore vermin were up, breaking camp, and Fenglaz, once more, admired their obedience. He did not see Zadder come up next to him. “Are we trula undera attacken’?” the Rhynchok asked quietly.
    “Maybe. I’m not sure. I though it would be safest to get out of here, though. The plant-eaters here are too warlike for my liking.”
    Zadder nodded obediently. “Your opinion is the correct one, sarr.” Then the Rhynchok leaped onto a raft. Fenglaz did likewise, while making sure each of his vermin got onboard. Then, with a wave of his tail, Fenglaz signaled for the vermin to unknot the various ropes holding the rafts to the eastern banks of the Broadstream. The river’s current was strong that night, so they made good time. As the scenery moved by, Fenglaz started to see small houses on the banks of the river. The farther south the rafts went, the plant-eaters living in those houses began to act less suspicious and more friendly. Eventually, they stopped trying to hide from the vermin fleet, and even started waving to them.
    After some time, the river suddenly branched into an inlet that led to a smaller stream. Fazhgar looked at it and said, “We shouldn’t head down that way. Keep going south!”
    Fenglaz watched the stream go by, and settled down to watch the sky. Turning from midnight blue to iron gray, then to brilliant rosy pink, and then on to gold and orange. Finally, it settled into the regular old sky blue. Fenglaz sat up, and saw the river suddenly turned sharply eastwards. He looked to Fazhgar, who roared, “Dock the fleet!”
    After doing so along with his fellow vermin, Fazhgar yelled, “Now we head west!”
    The journey west was pretty boring. After about an hour of marching across open grassland, Fenglaz spotted a small wood. “We stop at that wood!” he said to his vermin band.
    ------------------
    That day, after breakfast, Fenglaz went to bed to catch up on sleep. The cannibal ferrat had a dream of two figures stalking him. One was a gigantic badger, with a hammer in one hand and a shield in the other. The other figure was a strange creature, a she-beast that looked like a cross between a badger and a ferret, with grey hair bordered by a white stripe running down her back from the crown to the tail base, while the rest of the creature’s hair was jet black. The strange creature was armed with a saw edged knife dripping a deadly poison. Fenglaz drew his halberd and roared swears and oaths at the pair, and then charged them. That was when he woke up.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  9. #9
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    Ceteruler yawned and sat up from his little cave. He’d found the place the previous night when trudging through the coastal dunes of the Shifting Sands. It was cool and dry, so the badger had decided to set up camp there. Now he began to eat some cheese and a few scones with honey. Fed, Ceteruler stood up and walked out of the cave. With his hammer at his side, the badger set out northwards across the coastal dunes.
    Eventually, the badger sighted what appeared to be a group of four sleeping, hooded beasts, gathered around a burnt-out fire. Ceteruler decided to ask them if they’d seen any corsair ships recently. He carefully walked over to the campfire, and then yelled, “WAKE UP!”
    The effect was instantaneous. They all bolted upright, and two of them drew swords from the depths of their robes. They stopped, and took their hoods off. One of the warriors was a hare, and the other was an otter. The two who weren’t armed were a shrew and a mousemaid. The hare’s whiskers twitched slightly with indignation, and he said, “Waking up a fellow during his sleep? Bad form, wot!
    The otter gave the hare a clot in the arm. “Still yore tongue, Dorian. We have company.” Then the otter bowed. “Excuse my companion, we didn’t have enough vittles for dinner to meet his gluttonous needs,” the otter said to Ceteruler. “Oh, where are my manners? I’m Daggoon, the hare is Dorian, the shrew is Oakerst, and the mousemaid is Adalia. What’s yore name?”
    “My name is Ceteruler, son of Haistras the Just and brother of Flashaxe,” the badger replied casually.
    The effect was most profound on Dorian. The hare snapped to attention, his ears rigid and his back straight. “Sergeant Dorian of the Hare Guard reporting for duty, sah! Permission to speak?”
    Ceteruler, with an amused light in his eyes, replied in a militant, no-nonsense voice, “Permission granted, Sergeant. At ease.”
    “How is the old fellow, eh, wot!” Dorian asked informally.
    “Dead,” Ceteruler replied in a flat, emotionless voice.
    The hare’s ears drooped, and his eyes were filled with sorrow. “I see, sah. He ruled Salamandastron wisely. Who’s the successor?”
    “We don’t know yet. Whoever succeeds Commander Dumalliun’s task, I suppose.”
    The hare laughed. “My father’s a Salamandastron hare alright, wot wot!”
    Ceteruler was surprised, to put it mildly. “Dumalliun’s son? Oh yes, your father got so tired of you he sent you north to ‘defend the creatures of Mossflower against the corsairs of the north.’ Your brother Stanno got the job which normally would go to you.”
    The hare’s eyes widened dangerously, his ears became absolutely rigid, and his cheeks puffed out. “Lieutenant-Commander?! That two-faced brine-eating leveret! When I get home, I’ll rip his flippin’ guts out with a heated hook! And my father, for lettin’ him, I’ll… I’ll… Hang it all!” the hare ranted.
    Ceteruler smiled, and Adalia was giggling. Daggoon was grinning broadly, and Oakerst was quietly chuckling. The hare threw his paws up in mock despair. “First ye deprive me of vittles, and then ye lack sympathy for my misfortune. I am surrounded by false friends!”
    “Speakin’ o’ vittles, does anybeast have any?” Oakerst asked.
    Daggoon replied, “Oh yes, it’s in the sack near the fi-”
    There was no sack near the fire. Immediately the otter leapt up with a double-pawed sword in hand, as did Dorian. Oakerst drew a rapier, and Adalia had a spear. Ceteruler looked at the quartet quizzically, and asked “What’s the problem?”
    “Those were our last vittles!” Dorian snarled.
    “You do know I have some, don’t you?” the badger replied. “A block of cheese an’ some scones.”
    Adalia looked at the imposing badger. “This is personal. We’ve had a feud with the local corsairs for seasons uncounted, and we’ve even developed rules for our conflict. Starving the enemy is not allowed, under pain of death.”
    Ceteruler blinked. “Did you say ‘corsairs’?”
    “Indeed, led by Hazzdar the Mad,” the mousemaid replied. “He’s the most powerful vermin lord south of the Caves of Holt Ganner, and he shows it. He wears jewel-encrusted brass hoops for earrings, files his teeth down to the point where they’re weapons, and is armed with a nasty little toy. It’s called a crossbow, and it shoots bolts, which are like thick arrows, at immense speed. The bolts go so fast they can pierce mail armor, much less a skull.”
    There was a harsh laugh from behind the group. “That’s right. Now stay still, my playmates, unless you want to become living pincushions. The Emperor of the West Coast has assigned me to escort you to his Majesty’s ship, and is anticipating your visit greatly. Come along now, we mustn’t keep him waiting.”
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  10. #10
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    Chapter 4
    Fenglaz yawned, the memory of his dream gone. The sun was past its zenith, and the Consumers of Shadow were busily stuffing their mouths full of what appeared to be the remains of a vermin band. Smirking knowingly, the ferrat picked up his halberd and used the hook end to rip off a chunk of a fat weasel. After cooking the meat and eating it, Fenglaz stood up to address the assembled vermin.
    “My ferocious Consumers of Shadow, it is time!” he roared. “Today our army shall grow to the limits, and our name will be heard of only in whispers in this southern land! We shall conquer, and we shall slaughter, and feast! From the frozen northshores to the white cliffs of the south coast, from the eastern oceans to the western hills we shall rule!” Then, he roared the ancient vermin battle cry of the Isles of Alteff Kelda, “Áfram Fenglaz Svartur Bryntröll!”
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  11. #11
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    Ok I'm done now. Remember, it's not finished, but constructive criticism is greatly appreciated. I will sic Fenglaz and Zadder on annoying beasts.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  12. #12
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    Hello, everybody. I'm adding more now. So shut up everybody.

    The fourscore vermin roared the battle cry with savage energy, and Fenglaz grinned evilly as they began to chant, “Feng-glaz! Feng-glaz! Feng-glaz!”
    The ferrat turned to face the west, and pointed his halberd in that direction. “Now we shall convert our corsair brothers to the true cause, and they shall share our glory!”
    The vermin quickly broke camp, and were soon marching across the hilly plains, with the scouts running a mile ahead. The grass was tall, up to one’s waist, but the group made good time. As the sun began to sink in the west, the scouts came back, saying the sea would soon be in sight. True enough, as the night began to take over the world, the ocean came in sight. Some ways down the coast a corsair ship lay anchored, and there was a sooty orange glow emanating from the nearby beach, where flickering shadows were definitely cast by corsair vermin. To the distant south, a large pillar of smoke rose up, drifting northwards. Zadder sniffed the smoke, and covered his nose with one claw.
    “Burning otter flesh,” the reptile explained. He had a more sensitive nose than most. There was a gust of wind from the south, and more smoke drifted north. Now even the Consumers of Shadow could smell it, and they began to cough. Unlike the smell of cooked flesh, which they enjoyed, the stench of burned flesh was acidic and harsh. To cover up the smell, they often put dirt on their noses. Though they looked rather ridiculous, the smell of dirt was greatly preferred to burning flesh.
    Fenglaz gestured with his halberd at the camp fire, and said one word. “Stealth.”
    The vermin group immediately fell to the ground, crouching, and they quietly and invisibly stalked their way over to the fire. As Fenglaz approached, he could see the majority, about twoscore, of the vermin were Searats, though there were twin foxes, evident by their similarity in behavior and appearance, and a stoat, who was busily grooming his fur. Nearby, the leader stood on a rock jutting up from the sand. Then, Fenglaz rubbed his eyes vigorously, making sure he wasn’t seeing things wrong. No, there it was.
    The leader rat’s tail wasn’t bare and pink, but brown and furry.
    Why in the world would a mouse lead a group of vermin? They were supposed to be noble beasts, whether they were peace-loving forest mice or the hard-bitten warriors of the northlands. The mouse approached the fire, making his features more evident. He had a tattoo of a snake curled around his left eye, and also had the depiction of a great adder coiled up carved into his chest. He wore a hide shirt with no sleeves and a slit down the middle, allowing it to expose his bare chest, showing the coiled adder. Around his waist he wore a rough length of rope. Around his neck he wore a small chain necklace with a carved piece of bone attached for decoration. The bone was carved into the shape of a great two-handed battle ax, identical to one that was strapped to the rope belt. The mouse also wore leather shin guards, and had a cross-belt on his chest that bore assorted pictures carved into the strip of hide, evidently of battles the corsair group had fought. The mouse also was missing a toe from his left footpaw, as well as a finger from his right forepaw. His brown eyes were filled with cruelty and caution, and his ears stood erect, showing he was alert.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  13. #13
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    Fenglaz nodded to his vermin warriors, who stalked up to the edge of the camp, then roared, “Áfram Fenglaz Svartur Bryntröll!”
    The effect was instantaneous. The Searats drew many assorted weapons, mostly scimitars and axes. The Consumers of Shadow drew their halberds and longbows, and almost immediately the corsairs began melting under arrow after arrow. With a harsh shout from Fenglaz, the arrows stopped, with fifteen vermin lying dead. The rest were being wrestled to the ground by the Consumers of Shadow. The twin foxes and the stoat were alive, as was the leader, all four of whom were being menaced by Zadder and his halberd. Grinning to himself, Fenglaz stepped up, the pike of his halberd almost touching the mouse. Only a few moments ago, he had remembered who the mouse was.
    “You’re overexerting yourself, Ruskfur,” the ferrat said with a laugh. “Like that time I chopped off your captain’s head and stuck it on a pole.”
    The mouse lunged forwards, and Fenglaz whacked him on the arm with the haft of the vermin’s halberd. The mouse retreated backwards, nursing the wound. Then, he jumped again, this time at a weasel Consumer of Shadow. The vermin fighter tried to slash him with his halberd, missed, and struck the rock instead. The weasel, named Bagrax, yelped, and dropped his halberd. As Ruskfur reached for the dropped weapon, Fenglaz bashed the haft against the mouse’s skull. Ruskfur’s eyes glazed over, and he fell to the ground, senseless.
    The prisoner stoat sank to the ground, blubbering things like “mercy” and “surrender.” The twin foxes stared at the stoat contemptuously, and stood rigid, chins up, their ears straight. Fenglaz chuckled.
    “Griss, Zakar, you two weren’t killed by the victim of one of your pranks yet? I would think that polecat was prepared to hang your guts on a thorn bush and call in the eagles,” the cannibal said with a smile.
    The more brazen of the two, Griss, made a rude hand gesture at Fenglaz. The smile died as the Lord of Shadows rushed forward and swung his halberd. The fox leaped to the side, but not before Fenglaz managed to slice off his tail. Griss howled with pain and anger. He was about to attack Fenglaz when Zadder appeared out of nowhere and gave him a sharp strike in the side of the head with a piece of driftwood. Contemptuously, Zadder drew his halberd, and shoved the pike through the fox’s stomach. Zakar looked sickened, but at the same time, immensely satisfied. Though the brothers worked together, they despised each other with unseen zeal.
    The stoat, Zakar, and their senseless leader were tied up together, bound around a wooden pole. The corsair vermin who had served Ruskfur capitulated as a group to the Consumers of Shadow and had their weapons taken away. They were forced to sit down, while Fenglaz got up on the rock that Ruskfur had been standing on. He cleared his throat, and began.
    “My brothers from the sea, why should we be enemies? When I was young, I was taught the ways of the sword, but my teacher, Skaggar the Blade, also taught me that united we stand, separated we fall. I should know. The moment he was separated from his mate, Vaggra Ironclaw, he gave up in despair. An angry group of hares had no trouble with running him through.” An undertone of iron entered the ferrat’s voice. “I will not show that weakness, however! With you at my side, along with my faithful Consumers of Shadow, think what we could do! We’d be able to conquer the land and raze this Mossflower Wood to the ground! Even the might Badger Lord of Salamandastron would be helpless against our might, if you and the other corsairs would join me!”
    One particularly stupid and fat rat remarked loudly, “What a bunch of foolishness! Ruskfur is our sole leader.”
    Fenglaz’s eyes went flat and cold. “Kill him,” he said to Zadder. The Rhynchok hissed happily, and in three great leaps he was next to the weasel. In one great pull and a quick flick, Zadder had drawn his halberd and imbedded the axe blade into the weasel’s lower back. The vermin shuddered and fell. The reptile threw the dead body over his shoulders and approached the fire. With another few slashes, he had removed the head, arms, legs and tail of the vermin from the torso. The Consumers of Shadow began crowding around the carcass, preparing the meat carefully.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  14. #14
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    The Searats watched, some of the softer-hearted averting their eyes or even vomiting in horror. The sturdier ones watched with mild revulsion in their eyes. The ones Fenglaz was really paying attention to, however, were those who weren’t watching with disgust or revulsion. Those would be the best recruits. Their hearts were steeled.
    Fenglaz began to speak again. “My brothers, that is the duty I ask you. To fight for me, you must eat the food of warriors!” Some of the vermin looked apprehensive, but others stepped bravely forward and gingerly took a taste of the weasel. Some gagged, but the more vicious swallowed it down. One rat even took a second helping. Fenglaz decided to keep his eyes on that one. He smiled. The training had begun.
    ------------------
    Back at Loamhedge, Assaggi entertained her hosts with her deadly accuracy at knife throwing. Ten times she struck dead center on the target board. The Loamhedgers were all enormously impressed, and the only person who could really match the honey badger’s skill was Prasutagus, who had fought with a bow in his youth. The two had a mutual respect for each other as warriors, and Prasutagus had provided her with sleeping quarters in the Abbey dormitories. Already Assaggi had begun to identify the Abbeybeasts, assessing their strengths and weaknesses. Prasutagus was courageous and noble, but he had trouble with his temper. Brother Sadrius the gatekeeper was friendly and had a knack for tactics which he had used in mock-battles as a Dibbun, but he was a little foolish. Friar Anfeald was stubborn in a good way and smart with war tactics relating to food, but he was a little over-fond of October Ale.
    Assaggi assumed that this knowledge of war stemmed from the Times of Darkness, also known as the War of the Winter of the Red Snows. The fighting was said to have been epic, concerning skirmishes that stretched all the way from Loamhedge to the great stronghold of Salamandastron. Three great battles had been fought in the War, one on the cliffs at the edge of the Great Plateau, one in a meadow in Mossflower, now known as the Green Grave, and one on the western shores just north of Salamandastron. The enemy, in this case, the reptiles, was driven from Mossflower almost completely.
    As the moon rose high in the sky, Assaggi yawned and slunk off to the dormitories upstairs. Settling down in one cot, she closed her eyes. As she began to sleep, she began to dream.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

  15. #15
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    It was a crossroads, she could tell. It was a crowded place, filled with unborn people. A great hulking badger stood with an immense broadsword in his paws, while a young brave mouse was dozing beneath the single tree growing there. At his side was a sword that was scarred and ancient and beautiful and bright at the same time. Up in the branches was a family of wildcats eating together on one side, while many squirrels were skittering up and down the other side. The only animal that didn’t doze or nap was a great creature that looked somewhere between a mouse, a stoat, and a badger. The creature looked at Assaggi.
    “A dreamer,” the creature remarked in a rolling bass that made the earth shake and a crystal soprano at the same time. “You must be here to see the Pool of Fates. Come.”
    Mystified, she followed the creature from the crossroads down the western path. They walked for what seemed like several hours, and the crossroads was well out of sight. They had reached a pine forest which was disturbingly silent.
    “The local spirits are waiting to see who has come to their wood. Excuse me. Dallahayaaaaaaaruuuuuuk!” The roar made the forest instantly come alive. Dozens of squirrels dropped from the trees, armed with javelins and slings. They chattered nervously. The leader, a huge squirrel with a javelin in one hand and a sword in the other, said rather pointedly to the creature, “I told you not to come here again.”
    The creature laughed, and the trees swayed dangerously. With one motion, it had stepped up to the squirrel and seized his throat, holding him up in the air. “And remember what I told you. I am the Authority here, Raska.” In another motion, the creature had thrown the squirrel into a tree’s trunk. Raska slumped, then leapt up. Drawing his sword, he rushed the creature from behind. Almost absently, it whirled around and drew a bow. Raska looked down at the arrow which seemed to grow from his middle. With a gurgling sigh, he collapsed.
    The creature sighed. “That one was bad from the start. He didn’t appreciate that he’d been granted a second life, and that’s a warning sign. This time he won’t rise again, nor will he ever.” It looked at the squirrels. “Buzz off!” it barked. They scattered.
    “Follow me,” it said pleasantly, as if nothing had happened. It lead her deeper into the forest, until reaching a small, crystal clear pond at the very edge, on a small cliff overlooking a valley. In the valley, there was a small town, wall-less and beautiful in the quiet night.
    “The Village of Those Who Walked Before. Those crossroads you saw are where spirits yet to be born wait, while this forest and that village are where those lucky few who escape Dark Forest are sent.” To Assaggi’s unsaid question, it said, “Yes, there is a road that leads to Dark Forest, the east road. The north road leads to another land entirely, and the south road leads to the Palace of Souls, where the King of Life and Death governs his aspect of reality. An interesting thing about the Crossroads is that only important, earth-shaking figures are there. Less important people are simply reincarnated.”
    Assaggi nodded, and asked, “Why did you bring me to this place? Who brought me to this land of dreams?”
    It threw back its head and laughed. “This is no place of dreams. This is the World of Spirits. The living can only come here in dreams. As for the person who brought you here, you brought yourself. Most living creatures, surprisingly, follow their own destiny. A select few, mostly the Badger Lords of Salamandastron, however, are bound to the destiny we give them. In answer to your first question, I brought you here so you could see what you will need to help shape the history of the land. Look.”
    Assaggi stepped forward and inspected the water. Instead of seeing the moon and stars reflected, she saw faces: a fiery mousemaid, a grinning otter, and a majestic badger. Then it shifted, and she saw a great beast with shining metal teeth among the normal ones, armed with an awesome weapon that was axe, pike, and hook all in one. At his side was a reptile with a spiny-ridged back and tail. Then the pool shifted again, and became normal again. The creature had an apologetic tone in its voice. “The Pool does not work as well for the living as it does for the dead, those who are to be born, or us spirits.” Then it looked startled. The moon was setting.
    “We have to get you back to the living world!” it exclaimed. With a great jump, the creature pounded against the ground. The earth beneath Assaggi shattered, and as she fell into the great pit, she watched the creature wave good-bye. She landed in a great underground lake, and watched the earth above her seal up. The cavern glowed faintly, and she saw it was fed by a river that must enter underground in some cave. The lake went out into a small, fast running stream. Assaggi went along with the stream, and shot down the tunnel. Abruptly it began to get lighter, and the honey badger could see a faint glimmer of life.
    She was shot right out of the tunnel with enormous force, into a quick running river. Swimming quickly, she reached the south bank and began running madly to the southeast. That was where Loamhedge was, she was sure of it. To her left, the light grew stronger. Eventually, she could see the ancient walls of Loamhedge. She easily opened the gate and stepped in. The place was deserted. She ran inside and went up the dormitory stairs. She went to her room, and saw her sleeping self lying there, dreaming. She gently touched her dreaming paw to her life forehead, and woke up.
    "Who'm dig deep'n'make best 'oles?
    Only us'n's, we be moles!"

    Not dead, only dreaming.

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