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Captain Tammo

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How we Found the Giant
« on: November 03, 2017, 01:04:57 AM »

I've been steadily working on a new fan fiction for a while. It's split up into 2 acts - each a fair-sized chunk. Act II is still incomplete, but Act I is finished and is more or less a story on its own, so I thought I'd post it in honor of the festivities the forum has going on. Eventually it becomes about a character that's popped up in one of my other fanfics, but it's not something you need context on. Anyway, here's a teaser. I'll keep adding chapters throughout the month. I hope you like it!



Act 1: How we came about the giant.

“…these mountains breed a special kind of evil.” ~Captain Taney Sirgenal, 15th Scouting Unit of the Long Patrol



Chapter 1: Rumors from the North

Lord Barbourn the Brawler did not earn his title for nothing. He was a champion through and through; he never chose to carry a weapon other than the paws he was born with, an unusual decision for a ruler of Salamandastron . Traditionally, the mountain’s rulers had a reputation for wielding the most bizarre weapons as if it were a competition with each successor. But not Barbourn, he was a ruler who had a great appreciation for nature, always claiming that it would have given him swords for paws if he needed them.

   The land of Mossflower had been vacant of warmongers in recent seasons, though the land itself was by no means secure. Thieves and bandits were the real rulers of Mossflower country, and Salamandastron had been locked in a war for control since the dawn of time. Such parties of bandits were the very reason for the formation of the Long Patrol. The scouting patrols covered Mossflower like a spider-web. Whenever there was a disturbance in one link, it could be passed along until it reached the center of the web and the threat could be analyzed.

   Lord Barbourn sat in his chamber, a great forge at the top of the mountain, lounging in the sill of a grand, arched window, carved out of the mountain’s rock walls. He looked out over the sea. Spring had arrived, which was met with a series of updates from the patrols across Mossflower. It was normal to not get them all on the same day, as Spring does not always appear to begin at the same time everywhere. One thing that had Barbourn concerned was the status of Captain Sirgenal’s party, who had neither reported in with a scout nor been seen in over a month. The unit had been sent into the mountains north of Salamandastron in search of a notorious outlaw.

   This outlaw was a rat who went by the name of Orfeo the Contraptionist. He was wanted for designing a series of highly efficient war machines for a now long-defeated warlord. Barbourn had been sending patrols out to capture Orfeo alive for more than ten seasons. He even went so far as to issue a public warrant to all creatures in exchange for a pardoning of past misdeeds and a gold reward. Still, no creature, good or evil, was able to find the elusive criminal and there was no telling if or when the next warlord would rise to power in Mossflower with Orfeo’s designs ready to do their killing.

   The lack of information coming back from Sirgenal’s patrol worried Barbourn a great deal to the point where he himself considered making a venture into the North. But his duty was to the mountain first and he was thus forced to remain where he could allocate tasks most efficiently. If it were not for his doing, the land of Mossflower would undoubtedly fall into chaos. He decided that there could be no room given for the bands of vermin to expand any further than they already had. That would only mean more warlords, which were no easy burden to deal with when one’s force was spread across the land as thin as a table sheet.

   There was, however, some relief over the past season: Leonardo Williams, a mouse whom Lord Barbourn had raised like a son since near birth, had made a return back to the fortress after some twenty seasons of absence. It was a reason for celebration like no other. The proud father-figure listened closely as Leonardo retold events of valiant adventures across the Western Sea. Though he was very clearly worn, and had a pair of ears that were heavily scarred and nearly in tatters from seasons of madness, there was no denying that this was Leonardo, healthy once more.

   Since his return, Leonardo had done a number of small tours at sea in a coastal guard, serving as a commanding officer. At that moment, he was in between tours and resting at the mountain. It was a thrill to have him back. It reminded Barbourn of how old he was starting to become.

   Stopping his thought process with the mention of his age, Barbourn sat up and gave a stretch before chai houg his reflection in a large brass shield and making his way to the door of his chamber. He rapped on it gently. With a grunt of effort from the other side, the heavy door shifted to reveal an attendant in full parade uniform. The hare gave a stiff salute, “Good morning, m’ Lord. What may I do t’ assist ye, sah?”

   “Good morning, corporal, please bring me Captain Tussock.” Sounded the monolith’s quiet voice. He then turned back towards the room and walked once more to the windowsill.

   The attendant produced a list from the inside of his parade jacket and placed a monocle over one eye to read it. After a brief moment, he piped up, “No-can-do, m’ Lord. Captain Tussock is away on tour at sea, wot. He won’t be back for another two weeks, sah.”

   Barbourn paused in his steps and raised his head in realization. “Ah, yes, of course. Then please bring me the next in command, Officer Finneck.”

   “Forgive me, m’ Lord, ‘m afraid that Officer Finneck is currently away on duty in the South, sah. You sent him out to check in on Captain Sharpe’s patrol, sah.”

   “Oh, that’s right. I remember, now. What about Captain Lucious?”

   “She is away on tour, sah. Won’t be back fer ‘nother week, sah.”

   “Surely, Warrant Officer Waly is here. What is his current assignment?”

   “Yes, sah, Warrant Officah Waly is present at the fortress. He is currently training the leverets down on the beach, sah.”

   “Excellent! Have him come up to my chambers. I can have Warrant Officer O’Donnavin take his place.”

   “Impossible, sah! You’ve sent Warrant Officah O’Donnavin out on the second vessel of the naval patrol, sah.

   Barbourn gave a sigh of frustration and rubbed the corners of his eyes. “Is there any capable beast left at this fortress, currently without an assignment or with one that may be reassigned to a lower ranking official?”

   “Yes, m’Lord. There are many creatures left here at the mountain, wot. But capable and without assignment already, sah? Forgive me, m’ Lord, but there are none above or currently at the rank of sergeant, wot.”

   Another sigh escaped Barbourn’s chest. “Would you please tell me who is available, Corporal?”

   The attendant looked through the list, moving his head from side to side and holding the monocle closer and closer to his eye. “Erm, the only one I see on here, sah, is Lance Corporal Bobo. Her current assignment is guarding the armory, but ye could certainly find a private willing to fill her place if she were away, wot!”

   “That name sounds familiar… Why is she guarding the armory?”

   “Says here, m’ Lord, that she’s a top notch candidate fer promotion t’ corporal, and has been commended twice on being an expert at wilderness survival, sah. I’m not sure why we’ve put ‘er on guard fer th’ armory, wot.”

   “Very well, Corporal, send for her quick as you can and I will give her the next assignment.”

        The attendant threw a quick salute before darting down the long corridor to the base of the mountain. “Yes, m’ Lord! Right away, m’ Lord!”

        Lord Barbourn turned his back to his chamber and took a look at a large wooden slab at the end of the room that hung from the ceiling along the wall. The age-old wood was draped over with an enormous map of Mossflower. It was a beautiful product of seasons of patient cartography, and it served as the main hub from which Barbourn could stay updated on the most recent positions and status of his patrols. He shifted his focus towards a single blue pin towards the north of Salamandastron— the last known whereabouts of Captain Sirgenal’s party. Just a few days more and Barnourn would have to mark the patrol as missing in action. He hoped that wherever they were, they were still on their feet and pressing onward. The Western Mountains that served as a wall to Mossflower’s shore were certainly a mysterious region of the world. Peril was no stranger to them, either, especially in the northern parts. Rumors of sudden blizzards, the barbaric Sazaar, avalanches and rugged bandits seemed to crawl around those parts. It was a place where myth and reality seemed to walk hand-in-hand. The most recent news to come out of the mountains was from a wanderer. She spoke of a new potential threat roaming the area: a giant.


« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 07:51:14 PM by Captain Tammo »
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"Cowards die a thousand times, a warrior only dies once. The spirits of all you have slain are watching you, Vilu Daskar, and they will rest in peace now that your time has come. You must die as you have lived, a coward to the last!" -Luke the warrior
 

The Skarzs

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Re: How we Found the Giant [Extravaganza Entry]
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2017, 03:38:14 AM »

Ohhhh, a giant?
Looking forward to reading more!
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Captain Tammo

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Re: How we Found the Giant [Extravaganza Entry]
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 10:42:00 PM »

Thank you sir Skarzs!

Chapter 2: The Only One for the Job

“Carmen O’Foster Bobo, lance corporal of the glor-ious Long Patrol at yer service, Corporal! Seems about right that Lord Barbourn should summon me, wot! Nary a single beast has crossed in front o’ this ‘ere armory without having t’ go through ole Lance Corporal Bobo! M’ duty’s me life an’ m’ life’s me duty, wot wot!” The awkwardly tall Carmen O’Foster Bobo made a swooping bow to the attendant, who brought word that the badger lord wished to see her for an important assignment.

The attendant was less than amused by Carmen’s enthusiasm. Something was not adding up quite right in his mind. “Er, right then, Lance Corporal, follow me, please…”

“Wait, Corporal.” Carmen called to him, “Who will we leave in charge of the armory whilst I’m away? Certainly it can’t be just anybeast.”

“A replacement has already been called for, Lance Corporal, they are on their way— please stop touching my jacket!”

“Apologies, Corporal, sah. I couldn’t ‘elp but notice that you ‘ad a single thread of grey on yer fine military jacket, wot. An’ th’ Long Patrol Code of Conduct clearly states in entry one hundred— one o’ me fav’rite entries if I may add, sah; gives me a chill o’ pride e’ry time I read it, wot! It says that ‘A force t’ be reckoned with must look the part in all ways, shapes and forms. Thus, all patrol units serving under the Badger Lord, or standing general hare, must keep their uniforms in perfect order, keep every hair on their body tamed, keep medals of all forms shined and neatly sewn or stashed and, above all, must maintain a posture that demands both respect and fear from the enemy—”

—Thank you, lance corporal Bobo, I know what the code of conduct states; I was one of many who assisted in the writing of its most recent revision, wot.” The attendant’s back straightened, as if he were about to secure a victory. “If I may correct you, however, the end of entry number one-hundred calls for the posture of all hares to ‘demand respect, fear and capability beyond even their ‘own selves.’ That is, if you cannot beat the enemy, appear as if you can, as it very well may save your hide.” The Corporal’s smile faded as he saw Carmen turn her eyes downward in the corner of his eye, the only sign of disappointment that she must have allowed herself to show. “Eyes up, Lance Corporal.” The attendant added, “An’ cheer up, you’re about to see the Badger Lord for an assignment. Look th’ part, wot.”

Up, up to the very top chamber of the mountain fortress, the great forge room where, for generations, Badger Lords toiled away at making the most legendary armor and weaponry in the land. All Long Patrol hares carried a weapon from that great room, even Carmen and the attendant. It was a great honor, though this was something that Carmen never needed to be reminded of.

The pair would have walked in silence from then on had it not been for the flurry of questions to come from Carmen about the assignment. Equally occasional replies from the attendant were efforts to convince her that did not know what the assignment detailed (“No, I will not guess what I think the blinkin’ assignment is, wot. Please, Lance Corporal, you will find out in but ten minutes!”).

Nearing the end of the maze that carried traffic up and down the complex mountain, the attendant took a hard right and the two ascended a very wide set of spiral stone stairs. It did not go terribly far until the two came to a level platform at the top. Carmen stopped just behind the corporal and stood at what she imagined to be the most rigid attention she had ever accomplished. She shifted only her eyes to look herself up and down, as if to verify that she was still there. Once she had made sure that not a single thread on her uniform was out of place, her two bulging eyes returned to their forward, stiff position. The attendant knocked on the great, arched door and stepped back to wait for Lord Barbourn to answer.

“Relax, Lance Corporal.” Said the attendant. Carmen could feel herself loosen up a bit at this until the attendant added with a wink, “It’s only the most powerful creature this side of Mossfl’wer country, wot.”

She wanted to shout, and very well may have had the great door not glided open at that same moment. Lord Barbourn was a ruler through and through, truly a creature that brought about what many hares called a feeling of ‘respectful terror’. Badgers were a nearly mythical kind of creature in Mossflower, and Carmen was witnessing one face-to-face. To see a badger from afar is often enough to shock, but to stand so close— to feel the coolness of the shadow that their giant frames cast and rattle about when one sounded their base voice— to experience the presence of a giant was to experience a legend.

“Lance Corporal Carmen O’Foster Bobo, thank you for coming on such short notice.” Barbourn did not wait for Lance Corporal Bobo to reply, but he did give a wave to signal ‘at-ease’. “Follow me, please—thank you, Corporal, that will be all for the moment.”

The attendant threw Barbourn a silent salute, spit on his paws, rubbed them together and pulled on the oaken door until it closed with a muffled thud.
Lord Barbourn led Carmen into the forge room. The young hare could not help but stare about the room in wonder. It was the first time Carmen had ever been in the forge room of the badger lord. They passed the wall of weaponry, which did not do much to calm her nerves. The weapons were not wildly shaped nor bizarre in material and consistency, as could be expected. The Long Patrol was a unit which prided itself in tradition and order; it was only natural to use equipment which reflected their views. Barbaric designs like those wielded by corsairs and vermin tended to disgust the valiant mountain hares. On one such occasion, ages prior when Orfeo the Contraptionist first rolled out his hideous battle machines, a hare by the name of General General (yes, a general named ‘General’) was the first one who spotted the enemy on the horizon. Peering through his spyglass, surrounding officials saw his jaw drop and thought they heard him gasp as if to vomit. One captain said he heard General General refer to the kinetic armada as ‘a rancid insult to the very foundation of the civilized world.’ Some went as far to say that General General did not fight that day for the safety of others, but rather to restore a sense of order and uniformity to his world. Now Lance Corporal Bobo was about to learn that her journey would take her straight through Orfeo’s territory.

Lance Corporal Bobo tried to listen carefully to Lord Barbourn give his instructions. As soon as he mentioned Captain Sirgenal’s missing patrol, her mind erupted into a shower of buzzing. Combined with the burning forge, which kept the great room in a sweltering heat, the intimidating stature of the badger lord, and standing at a stiff attention, the weight of the new environment nearly made Carmen faint twice. Remembering to unlock her knees seemed to do the trick and soon the black stars floating around her field of view faded away.

“...and they haven’t been heard from since. We expect them to be somewhere in the northern region of the Western Mountain range, perhaps trapped there by harsh elements or some other unnatural force – those parts are not strangers to the odd and dangerous. I will not waste time on details, as you will have ample opportunity to read up on those on your journey. But if I am to stress any one thing at all, Lance Corporal, it is that time is of the essence. I need Sirgenal back here as soon as possible. I have just received news that an otter clan, situated on a tributary to the River Moss, is on the brink of a civil war. It would not be of any business of the Long Patrol under normal circumstances. But, unfortunately, the situation is by no means normal…

“Please be careful, Lance Corporal. Sirgenal is a strong leader and a seasoned veteran. I can only begin to guess what could possibly be holding up his unit… There’s no time to waste. You are to depart immediately and track them down, or what I fear is left of them. Bring as many as you can back to the mountain, safe and sound. Is that understood, Lance Corporal?”

Carmen was fully back to reality. She saved herself the embarrassment of asking Lord Barbourn to repeat the entire mission statement, as he was handing her a written copy and a sealed letter for any who may attempt to detain her along the way (such a letter would never work among bandits, but for territorial settlements, it could create a bit of trust and get Carmen a meal or a place to stay). “Yes, M’lord! Find Cap’n Sirgenal’s unit an’ bring ‘em back safe, M’lord! Won’t fail ye, M’lord! Quick’s the word an’ sharp’s the action, I’ll hop right to it, M’lord!”

Lord Barbourn smiled, “Thank you, Lance Corporal, you are doing us a great service in taking on this mission. I understand it may be a daunting task to take on alone, however you are the only one here who can take the job. Seasons aid you on your search, you are dismissed.”

The attendant opened the door as Carmen was marching out. She turned to give a stiff nod to the Corporal and then continued on her way to the kitchens. The cooks would have a bag of provisions waiting for her.

The afternoon came and Carmen was now over the beach’s north horizon. Lord Barbourn’s attendant sat at a small writing desk outside of the great forge room, list in paw. He opened his ink jar and reached for a feather quill. Running the pen down list, he checked looked over the running status of each hare at the mountain. Inaudible mumbles sounded from the corporal’s lips, “Let’s see, here. Ah, Lance Corporal Adley, Lance Corporal Bedwin, Lance Corporal… Bobo – yes here we are… What th’ devil?”

The attendant reached for his monocle and held it closely to his eye. Hovering mere inches over the detailed list, he spotted something peculiar in Lance Corporal Bobo’s ‘promotion status’ column. For some reason, it read 'promotion delayed due to incompetence’. The attendant recoiled with confusion. He could have sworn it said ‘promotion overdue, exceptional wilderness survival skills’. Unless that was not actually Carmen’s status he was reading, but the status of the one below her on the chart… which... uh oh. a cold sweat broke on the back of the attendant’s neck,

It appeared that the attendant, had recommended the wrong hare for the job – he had meant to suggest Lance Corporal Crash, who would be returning to the mountain from a patrol that evening. The attendant cursed outwardly. For a few moments, the attendant only stared at the page in disbelief. Perhaps it was only an illusion? Sadly, it was not. “I knew your name was familiar.” He said into the page, “The one who knows the Long Patrol forwards an’ backwards by the books but can’t so much as hit the ground with a sling an’ stone, wot!”

Was it worth telling the badger lord about this? He must have passed some fifteen minutes of thinking, sitting perfectly still in the semi-silence of the mountain. Being with no knowledge of what kind of mission Lance Corporal Bobo was now on seemed to only complicate things… Finally, the attendant reached his conclusion. Using many jagged sweeps of his arms, he checked Lance Corporal Bobo off as ‘away’, dated it, and stuffed the list back into his parade uniform. “She’ll be back soon enough an’ we can deal with it then.” His words were spoken only to comfort his own conscious. Somebeast was going to get demoted, and the attendant was convinced that he had worked too hard to be bumped back down to lance corporal.

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"Cowards die a thousand times, a warrior only dies once. The spirits of all you have slain are watching you, Vilu Daskar, and they will rest in peace now that your time has come. You must die as you have lived, a coward to the last!" -Luke the warrior
 

Captain Tammo

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Re: How we Found the Giant [Extravaganza Entry]
« Reply #3 on: November 13, 2017, 11:26:34 PM »


Chapter 3: Storms in the Mouth of the Wolf

Day and night came and went five times without any incident, and Carmen O’Foster Bobo was beginning to feel considerably bored of her journey. She had yet to fall into a groove with her travelling. She would wander indecisively from the wet sand nearest the water, where there was firm footing and a breeze that was still too cold, to above the beach, where the tall grass tickled her legs too much for comfort. Villagers and the like tended to revere Long Patrol scouts as warriors that saw action day and night. The reality of a scouting life was anything but that. Bandits were plentiful in Mossflower country, but Mossflower country was also an enormous region. One could be out on a month-long loop and only find two hours of what could be passed as ‘action’. Even though those two hours may be heroic in every way, there was no high for the days upon days of uneventful boredom that one could encounter. At the end of it all, the Long Patrol was a service, not a source of entertainment.

Towards the afternoon of the sixth day, Carmen’s indecisive path along the shore led her to Holt Terria, a semi-secluded sea otter settlement that, like most other otter holts along the north coast of Mossflower’s encompassing land, thrived primarily off of fishing. Hoping to get a lead on Sirgenal’s whereabouts, Carmen asked around if anybeast had seem him or any other hares pass through the area. They all shook their heads at her and cut off any hopes of further inquiry by returning to whatever task Carmen had interrupted. This was normal behavior in the northlands. Dangerous climates tended to turn out gruffer creatures, which was one of the main reasons why Mossflower was such a popular destination. Generations earlier, it was promises of ample food and easy living that pulled beasts from the far North and South in to the so-called ‘center of the world’. Naturally, there were more stubborn beasts who were hesitant to let go of their peaceful solitude, and so remained a few holdouts in the more extreme regions. Finding a place to live in the world always had a trade-off: hard regions like the wastelands and mountain ranges had fewer inhabitants but more rugged bandits and thieves; the coasts were wide open and offered opportunities for trade, but also served as a breeding ground for corsairs; and Mossflower woods did not care what kind of creature it was being hospitable to, and so vermin were as fat and plentiful as any other creature in the area.

The chieftain of Holt Terria did not seem impressed by Carmen’s letter from Lord Barbourn asking for free hospitality, mumbling something about ‘not getting the protection the mountain has given in past generations’. But he allowed for Carmen to stay for the night and had her haversack resupplied with fish. Shortly after dawn the next day, Carmen wasted little time in resuming her grand quest; it would not be wise to overstay her welcome when the settlement already seemed frustrated with Barbourn’s strategy for patrolling the known land.

It is worth noting that, with population booms occurring nearly everywhere over the past generation, the world was bustling with more creatures than ever and thus there was bound to be more trouble to follow. Even the numerous, well-trained warriors of Salamandastron were being stretched too thin to do as well a job as the previous generations. This created a mild atmosphere of anxiety in some regions which relied on the Long Patrol’s regular passes for protection. It was not long before ragtag militias came about and, while these units did help lift a burdensome weight off of Lord Barbourn’s shoulders, settlements that were once reclusive began taking to the idea of expansion to the point of declaring war on one another. The old, simpler way of life in Mossflower Country would be on a steep decline into chaos if order was not restored soon enough. And so the responsibility once again fell to Lord Barbourn.

Carmen marked her map on the fly. She calculated that, if she continued her current pace along Captain Sirgenal’s patrol route, one day’s time would have her turning East into the mountain range to the last known whereabouts of the patrol. The mountains had been in Carmen’s sight the whole way up the coast, but at no place in particular they seemed to change from the tranquil mountains she knew and grew up alongside, to a threatening jumble of jagged points surrounded by black clouds, resembling the mouth of a starved wolf curling back its lip in a snarl. Nothing about the sight brought Lance Corporal Bobo any comfort. Unfortunately for her, it did not matter how monster-esque the lay of the land appeared. She had an assignment directly from Badger Lord Barbourn and she was expected to carry it out with all the professionalism of a Long Patrol hare.

By the time that the day came and went, it was time to make the turn East. Carmen sat down to take stock of her supplies before heading into the mountains. She had enough food for one week, which consisted of the fish given to her at Holt Terria (already threatening to spoil if she did not eat it soon) and the classic ‘scout provisions’ from Salamandastron: a mix of nuts and dried fruit that one could march on with just a few pawfuls a day. The pack also contained plenty of water and a small flask with a berry wine inside it – something all scouts were given to celebrate special occasions while away, clean wounds, or serve as a means of purifying water. Lastly, there was a small series of items for Carmen’s journey: a small-ish rope, travel log and quill, flint and striker, a bag with thirty assorted coins inside (which were always useful despite there being no unifying currency in the world of Mossflower), a frying pan, sleeping mat, her mission statement, map and letter from the badger lord. After moving the rope and coins towards the top of the haversack, Carmen slung it across her shoulder and pressed onward into the northern region of the great mountains.

~oOo~

“Blimey, no wonder the Cap’n got lost runnin’ ‘round here. Quite a dark region to wandering about in, wot… ‘S just my luck.” Carmen mumbled to herself. Even still, her enthusiasm was enough to carry her through the first hours in the region. In fact, it may have been what allowed her to spot some of the hidden beauty in the area. Sometimes, along the way, the sun would peek through the clouds just right and patches of the range were lit up like a series of actors on a stage.

Soon after one such occasion, the spotlight columns of light were ushered away in the span of a minute. And, just as suddenly, there sounded a tremendous boom. Carmen stopped dead in her tracks and looked around herself for what she assumed would be somebeast banging a drum or perhaps even a rockslide. Only when she turned around toward the West did she find the source of the noise. An armada of black thunderclouds – as ominous and foreboding as ever – was charging towards her at a breakneck pace. Hurdling over itself, the wall of clouds seemed hardly able to keep up with the wind. They billowed laterally across the range like one would see in the smoke from a wildfire. A heavy thunderstorm had followed Carmen from the sea into the mountains, and it was not much longer after the storm was spotted that it was upon the clumsy traveler.

While not exactly suited for the job ahead of her, Carmen wasted no time in making a bolt for some kind of shelter. It certainly would not be a good idea to sit under a tree when there was thunder, so there was an effort made to find a rocky overhang or something of the sort. To her amazement, Carmen found exactly that and launched herself beneath it with another clap of thunder. The storm came in like a squall and it stayed that way for some time. Wind dashed every which-way, circling about and changing course as quickly as a flock of starlings, blasting rainwater at a near horizontal trajectory. Frigid water came in underneath Carmen’s rocky overhang and pecked her all along her side like little birds. At first, she found some relief in moving to the far end of the shelter, where the rain could not reach her, but then the wind shifted and Carmen was once more given a rude dousing from the weather. Now shivering from the cold and seeing no signs of the storm letting up, Carmen returned to the center of the overhang and pulled her parade uniform up and around her head.

“Ooh c’mon, Carmen, you can power through this ‘un, yer a Bobo after all! What would Grandpa Bose Bobo say, wot? Wouldn’t wanna disappoint ‘im, doncha know...” Her voice was hardly audible over the roar of the wind. The young hare curled up in a ball and placed her haversack in front of her (the inside was already soaked at this point; there was no reason to try keeping it dry anymore) in an effort to keep at least some of the weather out of her makeshift shelter.

The thunderstorm howled and wailed, sometimes so loud that it was enough to startle. Then there was the lightning, which, while Carmen kept her eyes shut and face buried in her jacket and haversack, was still enough to deliver a flash at the corners of her eyelids, the longest of which lasting a full two seconds. In the entire duration of the chaos from that point on, the young hare ventured only two peeks. The first of which was coordinated with a flash of lightning which temporarily blinded her. The second glance, a much longer one, showed her a terrifying sight.

Probably the best description available of the storm in the mountains did not come from Lance Corporal Bobo, but the written eye-witness account of one Long Patrol Lieutenant Rene (pronounced ‘rainy’) Ackerman, who, seasons prior, had ventured through the region as a scout.

It was… the most terrifying experience of my entire life. No band of vermin robbers have ever, nor will ever, take the place of that squall-ish nightmare. Wind blew very hard through the valley between the mountain peaks – so hard that I felt as if the very fabric of the world was being torn apart at the foundation level. [M]ost we could do was sit there in our despicable lean-to of sticks and leaves and mud, cowering before the weather like some kind of pack of creatures seeing the civilized world for the first time. When the violence finally subsided some two hours later, the mountain range emerged heavily scarred. There was no rainbow to greet a weary traveller, but rather a mist that drained all color from the entire region, like a cloud that locals said marked the coming of Sazaar. It was then that it became apparent to me: if this region kept up its resistance to outsiders like us, we may find ourselves leaving with a fewer number than what we came in with.

Carmen woke up some time later. She shifted under a pile of sticks and leaves that had found their way to her in the storm. Aches and pains were all over from being tense, so much so that she had to dedicate a brief moment just to getting motor control back over her body. There was a heavy silence over everything. Carmen looked out and found that the mountains appeared no less ominous than before. Much like Lieutenant Rene had written, all colors seemed to have been washed away and covered in a veil of a mist. Water had filled Carmen’s haversack, so she emptied it out and laid her supplies out to dry. She thought it was very fortunate that her ink bottle had not broken; that would have rendered her map and letter from Lord Barbourn useless.

What was much less fortunate was that the air was saturated, which, as Carmen soon found out, meant that her supplies would not be dry for some time. And having not the slightest desire to stick around in the warzone she had just spent an hour and a half in, the young hare threw her wet supplies back into her haversack, left the top open, and went on her way at double-speed. Captain Sirgenal had to be somewhere in these mountains, and it was very clear that the odds of finding the whole patrol alive were now smaller than ever.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2017, 08:00:50 PM by Captain Tammo »
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"Cowards die a thousand times, a warrior only dies once. The spirits of all you have slain are watching you, Vilu Daskar, and they will rest in peace now that your time has come. You must die as you have lived, a coward to the last!" -Luke the warrior
 

Captain Tammo

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Re: How we Found the Giant
« Reply #4 on: November 19, 2017, 07:55:39 PM »


Chapter 4: The Wunpaw and Carmen's Captive

     Until the early afternoon of that same day, Lance Corporal Carmen O’Foster Bobo’s self-proclaimed ‘grand search for the missing patrol’, which she practiced saying many times to herself with grandeur, should a beast ever stop her and ask what she was doing, had yet to yield a single bit of success. It was so easy in the beginning, but after the rudeness of the otter holt on the north shore, the dangerous squall, and the entirety of her equipment being soaked through and chilling herself to the bone, the very last of young Carmen’s enthusiasm had finally left her. She stumbled on through the trees, muttering to herself, “Well what’d ya expect, Carmen, eh? What? That ye’d find the blinkin’ patrol sitting on logs ‘round a campfire on th’ first day out? Bah – outta me way, bloody tree branch. Take that!”
   Thwack!
   Carmen flopped backwards, flat on her back and with fir tree needles stuck to her face like she had run into the back of a hedgehog. It was too much. Still lying down, she held her head in her paws and gave a long shout of frustration, “You bloody mountains an’ yer filthy, stinkin’ trees! Yer filthy, stinkin’ squalls an’ yer filthy stinkin… rraaaargh!”
   Had the young hare truly known of what kind of environment she was in, she would have kept her mount shut and pressed on in silence. For not long after she picked herself up did a creature find her and begin following closely behind. Two yellowed eyes with brown irises and tiny, black pupils darted every which way, but always settled back onto Carmen from behind the shrubbery. The creature grinned wickedly: this beast was alone! It was one of those mountain hares, tired and unguarded. The creature licked its lips at the thought of its next meal. Setting back into reality, the savage beast moved forward steadily.

~oOo~

   Back at Salamandastron, Lord Barbourn the Brawler sat staring at his great map. The corporal at the door, the same one who had escorted Carmen into the forge room, had just let a messenger inside. He looked down the corridor to be sure that nobeast was watching him and he pressed an ear to the great door of the forge room. Ever since his mistake of mislabeling Carmen as the lance corporal most likely to get promoted, he had decided to begin listening a bit more intently to the details and happenings both on and around the mountain – beyond the series of notes he jotted down on his master list. Long, slender ear standing flush against the door, brow furled and eyes closed in an intense concentration, the attendant tried to tune out all other minute noises and disturbances around him. Carefully taking note of the conversation inside the forge room, this is what he heard:
   “Yes, m’lord, First Class Runner Flint Northock reportin’ in after a two-week loop out t’ the east, wot. Spent two days’ quick directly east, through the mountains an’ Ember Pass. Then took a curve northward up to the River Moss, wot. ‘Passed th’ village o’ Turntokka on me way (no news to report there), an’ carried on for two days more until I was met with th’ River Moss, sah. From there, sah, I turned westward an’ followed the stream back to th’ coast. The waters looked to be fairly high until I came across the tributary of interest, sah. I stuck to the brush an’ followed it upriver an’ what I saw confirmed the recent reports from the surrounding area: a dam ‘as been built by the tribe of river otters known as the Wunpaw an’ it’s blocking most o’ the water from flowing downstream. Two distinct subgroups of the Wunpaw have set up camp on the east and west banks of the tributary. Both two sides are locked in a struggle for the River King’s throne an’ a civil war is likely if action is not soon taken. I spent a day getting a closer look an’ spoke with the locals on each side as an official diplomat from Salamandastron, sah, an’ I respectfully showed my credentials to all who asked. Through my talks with the elders of the tribe, I was able to learn about the Wunpaw tribe’s history and culture, as well as why the situation is so tense.
   “It all started when Sirus Trubac, River King for some forty seasons, suddenly fell ill and died. Most elders on either side of the banks could agree on this, and this alone. However, the cause of River King Sirus’s death remains a controversial topic. While some otters believe that his decline in health was due to head injury from a battle with a pike  many seasons prior – you see, in the Wunpaw culture, when there are no heirs to the throne, the council of elders may elect to hold a pike hunt. All who wish to ascend to the throne and become River King (or queen, though there has never been a queen) set out an hour before dawn, armed to the teeth with spears, daggers, nets and the like, and try to locate and kill a river pike. The rules state that no creature may leave the water, else they lose their shot at the throne, and…”
   “Focus, Runner Northock. Just tell me what must be done in order to fix the problem. There are entire settlements along the River Moss who need that water and are counting on us to provide a solution.” Said Lord Barbourn. He brought the runner to a long table and offered him a seat at one end.
   The runner blushed and bowed low, “My most sincere apologies, sah,” he said taking a seat. “Now where was I? Ah, yes, sah – while some otters believe that River King Sirus’s decline in health was due to a longstanding head injury from battle with a pike many seasons prior, others suspect foul play may have been involved.
   “River King Sirus had two heirs, brothers named Prince Ahote and Prince Ohanko. Where the conflict began, sah, was during the onset of illness for Sirus, as, interestingly enough, Prince Ahote also became terribly ill. Shortly after his father’s death, it was suspected that Prince Ahote would also die. Ohanko then approached the high council and asked if he could ascend to the throne. The council agreed, but on the condition that Ohanko must wait for Ahote’s death. Miraculously, Ahote recovered from his illness, then immediately accused his brother of treason – claiming that Ohanko must have poisoned and killed their father as well as poisoned himself. A divide was made in the community. Some believed that it was suspicious both River King Sirus and Prince Ahote fell ill at the same time, and Prince Ohanko asked for the crown without being the sole heir. Others believed that Ohanko was acting within the best interest of the tribe. One thing, however, was clear – treason was committed. Either Ohanko tried to kill his father and brother, or Ahote lied about the attempt to poison him in order to banish Ohanko and assure his own place on the throne. Anger and tensions grew unhindered until distinct factions beneath each brother were founded. While there has been no violence yet, civil war is imminent if no action is taken, M’Lord.”
   “And what of the dam, Runner Northock? Why was it constructed?”
   “It is dictated in the laws of the Wunpaw culture, sah, that the river can only flow under the rule of a River King. While both sides of the clan vehemently disagree with one another under almost all circumstances, something that the Wunpaw tribe holds very dear to themselves is their founding laws. Until a successor is chosen to become the new River King, both sides agreed that no water would be allowed to flow, so they diverted the river and built a dam.”
   “Where was the river diverted?”
   “I spotted a large cave that runs underground with some easily distinguished channels dug from there to the river. I suspect that it is being used to divert the river.”
   Barbourn thought for a brief moment. Runner Northock watched the giant creature’s paw claws tap rhythmically on the knotted surface. “Did you take any action yourself in this situation? I hope that you explained that by depleting the levels of the River Moss, other settlements under my protection would be put at risk.”
   “M’Lord, I did all that I could, but the Wunpaw are a stubborn lot – even for river otters, wot. My credentials gave me a hearing with the elders, but not a single creature would take instruction from me so long as I was not a – ah, what was it they said? A ‘beast born of the water’ sah.”
   “They don’t want to listen to you because you are not an otter, Runner Northock?”
   “Yes, M’Lord.”
   “What about me? Do they not know that you are an ambassador of Salamandastron?”
   “I’m afraid they would not hear even from you, M’Lord. Their culture has all sorts of twists an’ turns an’ I was only there for a few days. Perhaps they would hear from you if the situation was not so dire for them, sah. They’ve made sure that they are well grounded in their tradition.”
   For nearly half a minute, the runner waited patiently as Lord Barbourn sat in hard concentration. “From what you could gather, how much time do you think we have before a civil war erupts?”
   The runner paused for a moment in thought. He dared not break form in front of the Badger Lord for a more comfortable posture. “It is imminent, sah. It could very well be happening now.”
   Lord Barbourn gave a sigh and grabbed a goblet of wine from a nearby table. He went to sip it, but stopped himself short and set it back down with another sigh. “Well,” he said “then there is no time to lose.” Barbourn traversed the room and whipped open the great oaken door at the end. The attendant on the other side of the door nearly fell forward, having lost the surface he was leaning against. Quickly picking himself up and standing at a stiff attention, the attendant gave a salute.
   “What can I do fer ye, M’Lord?”
   “Corporal, are there any patrols currently available for dispatch?”
   The corporal reached into his coat pocket and pulled out the ever expanding master list. “Ah yes, let’s see, sah,” he murmured “hmm, I’m afraid none are due back for quite a while still, sah. The soonest is Captain Tussock, who is away on tour – he shouldn’t be back for at least a week by these estimates.”
   Barbourn gritted his teeth, “What about cadets and privates?”
   “My Lord, with all due respect, the mountain simply does not have the able-bodied beasts it needs to send another patrol. The cadets need more training, they are not yet prepared for any kind of job that would put them in danger and I must stand by that, sah… er, that is, most humbly, M’Lord.”
   “Thank you, Corporal, that will be all for now. Runner, Northock, you are dismissed! Go down to the kitchens for double-rations. You’ve earned it.” Lord Barbourn watched the runner throw a stiff salute and run off down the corridor like a flash of lightning. Shutting the door, Lord Barbourn returned to his great map at the far end of the forge room. Pins, representing patrol units, hot spots, outlaw sightings and a host of other information, protruded from all angles and locations around the country like it were a pin cushion. The isolated problems throughout the land were numerous, and while at one time his hares were more numerous, seasons of keeping the countryside safe had done a number on Lord Barbourn’s numbers. That dam would create great consequences for the rest of the settlements along the lower River Moss. A Civil War would undoubtedly prolong the drought for too long. No matter what, that dam needed to come down – and peacefully. If Lord Barbourn himself were to march inland and tear away the dam, it would cause unrest among the other settlements and lose the Long Patrol a great deal of honor and trust. As the evening shadows lengthened across the shore of Mossflower, the badger looked to the West. The setting sun behind the Western Mountains gave the impression that the land on the other side was in flames.

~oOo~

   Every time night came in the dangerous north section of the Western Mountains, Carmen could feel a twinge of panic trying to overtake her. Panic not necessarily due to the scenery, but rather the constant threats which the dangerous mountain range possessed. Rumors from this part of the world never seemed friendly: rapidly changing weather (which Carmen had already experienced), bandits, the dreaded Sazaar – a tribe of mountain hares turned dangerous cult and wielders of magic – and, most recently, tales of a mysterious giant roaming the region. Carmen believed that she may have spotted the giant in the mist after the storm. More of a shadow, really, and that could have been made by anything. But it did stand out and it did appear rather giant-like. Perhaps she had avoided it without even knowing.
   The weather was pleasant as the sun set. A round, tangerine sun cast light on a new batch of clouds over Carmen’s shoulder. Red and orange light blended together and contrasted rounded shadows at peculiar angles on the clouds, which gave them their tall, cotton-balled shape. There were no other clouds in the sky aside from the ones on the horizon. Looking about, the full spectrum of colors was present in the sky. Right at horizontal, there was red. Moving upward, the light faded to orange and yellow, then the slightest row of green light – really only distinguishable if one were looking for it – then blue for a great deal of the arc moving up towards vertical. Finally, right as one approached vertical, the sky appeared darker. If one thought about it, really it was like the last two colors of the rainbow: indigo and violet. This seemed to calm Carmen down a bit and the panic left her. However, a few minutes later when the colored sky was gone and night began to descend onto her, it returned.
   At least the pretty clouds did not go away. In fact, they came inland and swept over the mountains just as quickly as the squall that same day. They even brought rain with them; an unbelievably poor stroke of luck. Keeping her head down, Carmen pressed onward through the brush, oblivious to the creature that followed not ten paces behind.

~oOo~

   All kinds of sounds bombarded Lance Corporal Carmen O’Foster Bobo as she bowled headlong deeper into the mountain range. Every bird that startled from its nest was another bandit out to get her. Was that rustle of the leaves from the wind, or was that the Sazaar that had found the lone hare? The ghostly trees stretched their branches out to Carmen’s long ears as she ran by, scratching and swiping in the wind. Carmen ran aimlessly, desperate to find shelter away from the environment, even more desperate than she was to find the missing patrol. This was an entirely new kind of fear, different from that of the squall earlier that day. This time, the young hare could feel herself running away from something. Taking a sudden turn around an oak tree much too fast, Carmen slipped and fell to the ground. She clumsily pulled herself over to the trunk and sat with her back against the bark. While Carmen was not hurt, she knew it would not take long for that to change if she kept up with her erratic pacing. Deep breaths. Remember basic training, remember basic training… she thought to herself, Long Patrol Code of Conduct entry number three: All Long Patrol hares should know that staying calm in a dangerous situation is a critical step on the road to victory. A glimpse at her parade uniform, soaked through and ripped in a few places, reminded Lance Corporal Bobo that this was what she had signed up to do. Working her way up the tree trunk, Carmen stood and pulled out her scouting knife. Though thought again and instead pulled out her iron frying pan. It would not be smart to run around with a blade if she was slipping all over the place. And the frying pan could at least function as a shield from the rain.
   There came another sound. This time it was not nature playing tricks on her – not a tree shaking in the rain, nor the wind howling through the trees. Carmen was certain of it: she had just heard a creature grunt. It sounded close to her ears, and it seemed to come from right where she was standing with her paw on the oak tree’s trunk, clear as anything. It was a short grunt, but undeniably, in every sense of the word, a grunt.
Somebeast was nearby.
What it was, Carmen did not know. She moved away from the tree trunk and held out the frying pan as if it were a broadsword. She scanned the nearby shrubbery for movement: nothing. Side to side, front and back, Carmen looked three-hundred and sixty degrees around herself. There! Some shrubs directly in front of the young hare’s line of sight began to move. Carmen did not take a moment to consider whether or not this was simply the wind picking back up again, but regardless of that, she brought the frying pan up and over her head in preparation to strike at the brush.
The Bobo family is made up of a long line of hares at Salamandastron. All of whom are notable for their levelheadedness, tactfulness, and service, but possibly most notable for their awkward lanky builds and clumsiness. In this exact moment as Carmen was preparing to charge at the shrub in front of her, the frying pan in her paws, wet from the rain, slipped away from her, sailed overhead, and went into the branches of the oak tree.
Ping! Thud!
   A thin rat fell away from one of the lower branches in the oak tree, along with an already growing lump between his ears and Lance Corporal Bobo’s frying pan. To say the very least, young Carmen was surprised. Not because there actually was somebeast nearby, but because it was in the very last place she would have thought to looked: the branches of the oak tree. Keeping caution, Carmen grabbed the rope from the top of her haversack and tied the rat up (or, one may reasonably argue that the more appropriate description would be ‘wrapped the rat up in so much rope that it resembled a cocoon with a bow’), then slung him over her shoulder, picked up her frying pan, and waved it about menacingly at the empty bush blowing in the wind. “If you even think o’ comin’ after me, I’ll thwack you jus’ the same, wot!” She then hurried through the brush in the opposite direction in search of shelter.

Logged
"Cowards die a thousand times, a warrior only dies once. The spirits of all you have slain are watching you, Vilu Daskar, and they will rest in peace now that your time has come. You must die as you have lived, a coward to the last!" -Luke the warrior
 
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