Icefurr woke to the hushed voices of a pair of otters outside his door.
“You tell ‘im, mate!”
“No, you tell ‘im!” The foxwolf crept to the door, put his mouth to the keyhole, and whispered along with them.
“Tell me what?”
“Oh, tell ‘im that the force we sent out . . .” The otter trailed off. “Oops.” Icefurr slammed the door open.
“What happened to them?”
“They haven’t come back.” Jennter was walking down the hall towards them. “We sent them out two nights ago to help the smaller forces on the border of Eastern Region. We still haven’t heard from them.” The wolf pointed for the otters to leave. They both nodded, their chain mail jingling as they left.
“Have we sent anybeast after them?” Icefurr asked. He was only dressed in a light tunic, so he closed the door as Jennter kept talking through the door.
“No. We’re planning to today,” the wolf said through the door. Icefurr pulled on his mail and surcoat, then slung his shield and sword over his back. Then he added a pair of tough leather boots, a helmet, and strong steel gauntlets to the gear. He opened the door.
“I’m going with them.” The foxwolf brushed past Jennter and walked down to the hall.
“He cares too much,” Jennter muttered. “He is a good leader.”
About two hours later, Icefurr was jogging beside a troop of wolves and otters, the stronger rebels. Above them flew five or six kites and eagles. They were there to watch out for trouble, and stop any if it came too close. “Which way now, Captain?” an otter asked, running up beside the foxwolf.
Icefurr pointed north and east. “The village is that way,” he shouted, and the whole company made a slight turn. The Rogue Captain did some quick mental math in his head, and estimated that they’d arrive in another hour or so.
He was exactly right. Judging by the winter sun’s position, no more than an hour and a quarter had passed by the time they sited small roofs and smoke from chimneys in the distance. “Speed up, and not a sound,” a wolf ordered. He was a lieutenant. Icefurr nodded in confirmation, and the rebels broke into dead run.
When they reached the village, they all skidded to a halt. Nothing was left. The roofs that they’d seen were falling apart, and the smoke was smoke from a huge fire. It had died down, but was still burning. Icefurr looked around at the carnage. Dead bodies of sparrows, lemmings, and mice littered the ground, draped over fences and inside ruins.
The group walked through the evidence of destruction, averting their eyes from the more horrific scenes. Finally, they came to the biggest building in the complex. It was round, and had burned down completely. Icefurr could only distinguish its outline, and what lay inside . . . the foxwolf retched.
The wolf lieutenant, Santena Ironpaw, backed away in terror. “Who would do this? It looks like they were . . . locked inside . . . and burned alive!”
All Icefurr could distinguish in the mess were the shields: all blue and green and silver and white. Piercing one of the shields was an arrow. Icefurr yanked it out and took a closer look. It was silver, fletched with red: one of his own. It matched exactly the arrows in his quiver at his side. Rolled around it was a piece of yellowed parchment.
Santena walked up behind the Rogue Captain, taking deep breaths. He was obviously younger than Icefurr, maybe seventeen, and hadn’t seen much bloodshed. “What is it, Commander?” the wolf asked. He looked at the arrow, then at the quiver at Icefurr’s side. “It’s one of yours!”
The message read thus:
“King” Swiftblade. So, you’re this Rogue Captain. I thought you dead months ago. Oh well, nobeast is correct all the time.
Meet me where you left, at sundown tomorrow . . . alone. If not, then I won’t stop until I kill you and take all of Clandon.
Gulrag Northwind, Warlord of Clandon
Icefurr led his troop back and didn’t tell anycreature else until the next day.
“What?” Jennter was angry. “He expects you to go alone! I can’t let you! You’re too important to Clandoran.”
Icefurr ignored him as he pulled on his mail and clasped his helmet with gauntleted paws. His sword glinted in torchlight at his side, and his shield swung back and forth on his back. Jennter stayed the Rogue Captain’s paw as he reached for his boots. “At least take somebeast with you,” he begged. He was bigger than Icefurr, but knew that he couldn’t stop the foxwolf if he was determined. Icefurr had been raised to fight.
“There’s only one creature that I would agree to have at my side in battle with Gulrag, and he isn’t here. I’m going alone,” Icefurr said, and moved out into the dormitory. The rebels were all talking, but went silent as their commander passed.
“Where’s he going?” O’Malley asked Keefe, who was beside him. Icefurr was out of hearing range, almost out of the cavern, with Jennter behind him.
“I don’t know, but wherever it is, Mc’Kallen’s not to happy about it,” the fox answered.
“Who would you bring?” Jennter asked, now giving up all hope of persuading his commander to stay.
“My final soldier.” With that, Icefurr swept out of the hidden entrance to the cavern, which was screened by bushes. Jennter got a face-full of leaves for his trouble.
I love fiction, fantasy, roleplaying, and reading. Nice to meet you too. All of my tales are little kid-friendly, except perhaps a few stories in the Rogue Captain universe. Those are more geared towards teens. Check with your parents, just in case.