Icefurr stood, rubbing his back. “Well, that was definitely not what I’d call a good night’s sleep,” he muttered. He’d had strange dreams all night, and kept waking up due to stones beneath his bedroll. The arctic fox bent down to fold said bedroll. Of course, he hadn’t thought to use his tent last night, either, so he and his blanket were covered with a light dusting of snow.
Just your typical wanderer’s night in the frosted lands of Clandon. He’d been walking for a few months now, watching the borders of the Western Region for any of Gulrag’s horde, or any evil-doers. So far, he’d freed one border village from Gulrag’s horde through slight trickery and defeated a small gang of bandits.
The arctic fox shouldered his pack and was about to head off to find somewhere else to stay, when he heard a scream. Icefurr spun around. He heard it again, coming from the south. The fox drew his sword and dropped his pack, footpaws taking him in that direction.
He burst into a clearing between some evergreen trees. A pair of ermine were yanking a tattered sack away from an old snowshoe hare. She screamed again as one hit her paw with the flat of his sword. “Somebeast, help me!” she screeched. Icefurr charged out of the trees, wielding his sword and shield.
“Let her go!” he commanded. The ermine were so stunned, they did exactly that.
One of them peered at him strangely. “Who are yeh?” he asked. “An’ wot kind o’ warrior are yew?”
Icefurr hesitated. Then he made a decision. “I am Icefurr Swiftblade, protector of this land! As to what kind of warrior I am, I am one that could easily put both of ye to flight!” A little boasting never hurt, he reasoned. Both ermine drew rusty swords.
“Oh, yeah? Then try it!” one taunted. They moved in on either side of him. The arctic fox backed up slowly. Suddenly, he lunged with his sword, catching the one on his right off guard and stabbing him through the shoulder. The ermine screeched and dropped his sword.
Icefurr’s shield came up just in time to block the other’s mad swipe. The fox swung his arm around, pinned the blade to the ground, and struck with his curved sword.
The ermine clutched at his stomach. He stared at Icefurr’s sword, then his shield. The ermine’s eyes grew wide. His clouding eyes were fixed on the symbol on Icefurr’s shield: a paw and talon clasped over a straight sword. Icefurr had repainted it in red. “You . . . Rogue Captain!” he gasped out, then collapsed, blood streaming out of his wound. He was dead. Icefurr turned to the other ermine and kicked his sword out of reach.
The ermine lay prostrate on the ground. “You, get out of here. Tell whoever you work for that the Western Clandon Region is not easy to pillage. I know that Gulrag Northwind rules the Northern and Southern Regions, but this land is protected by me. Go!” Icefurr ordered. The ermine scrambled up off the ground and stumbled away into the open snowfields.
Icefurr walked over to the poor hare. She had fainted right away. Quickly, he built a fire to keep her warm. He needed to know what village she was from, before he took her anywhere. Something else was on his mind, though. Why had the ermine called him “Rogue Captain”?
The snowshoe hare finally woke up. The old hare slowly took in the fire, then the creature sitting beside it. She warily sat up. “Who are you?” she asked. “Are you friends with those ermine?” She started backing away.
“No, of course not,” he reassured her. “I stopped them. Where are you from?” She inched back to the fireside.
“I’m from a small town, further away from the border. By the name of O’Halley Township,” she croaked, then coughed some. When she’d regained her breath, she nodded towards him with an air of wisdom. “You’re the Rogue Captain.”
Icefurr started. “That’s what one of the ermine said. I’ve never heard the title,” he said. “What is it for?”
“You managed to leave Gulrag Northwind’s horde. That in itself is an accomplishment. You’re famous along the border, and even somewhat well-known farther into the Western Region of Clandon. Also, you drove off some of his army from the M’Keefe settlement, and defeated birds and bandits. I just spotted your shield: the Northern Resistance symbol in red.” Icefurr looked at his shield. He’d thought that the rebels were just a small-time operation. Obviously, he’d been wrong.
“But I still don’t understand why everycreature would know me! Just those small things wouldn’t make me important!” he argued. The old hare held up a paw.
“I’m not finished. Some say that you are the rightful ruler of the North and South together. So do I. Ancient tales speak of an older land, called Clandoran. ‘Twas a united country. Both North and South were one region. West and East were two others, and were ruled by two kings instead of councils. The kings of Clandoran bore the surname of Swiftblade, for their prowess in battle. Their weapons were embued with celestial power, to assist them in defeating evil. They had always been foxes of white . . . although they were half arctic wolf, making them stronger,” she added. “Gulrag’s father overthrew this kingdom long ago, and the descendants of the kings were scattered. Few retained their history. I believe that you were one of those few. Tell me, young one, where did you come from?”
Icefurr was stunned. “I . . . I don’t know,” he stuttered. “I . . . I think that I was taken in by the army as a babe.”
“Wrong! You are the Rogue Captain, heir to the throne. Once a king, always a king!” The fire exploded into the air. Icefurr shielded his eyes. When he looked back, the snowshoe hare was gone.
He blacked out.
Icefurr sat up and shook his head in confusement. What had happened. He was lying in the middle of a clearing, covered in snow, and clutching his shield close to him.
The events of the day flashed back into his mind. The hare, the ermine, the shield, Swiftblade . . . everything. Once again, he shook his head. He wasn’t a king. Why hadn’t he known about all of it? He’d never heard any of it before. The Rogue Captain?
The arctic fox stood. He’d dropped his pack beyond the trees, so Icefurr walked in that direction. He found it quickly. As he bent over to pick it up, something that the hare had said flashed into his mind. “Half white wolf,” he muttered. He looked at his paws. They were indeed larger than those of other foxes. His muzzle was sharper, and his tail was longer. He was taller, too, than the others. “I guess she wasn’t lying,” he reasoned. He looked at his shield. “But now what?”
“Now you come with us, if you please,” a voice said from behind him. He turned, drawing his curved sword. A group of sea otters and rabbits stood in front of him. “Woah, now, mate!” the one who’d spoken said hurriedly. “We don’t want any trouble. We’re with the resistance!” He pointed to the red shield. Icefurr slowly lowered his sword.
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.