>> Monday, January 18, 2010
Picture by 1-Renaissance
A foreboding of great evil lay over the land and sea. But nobeast knew the cause of it.
"Hey ho away we go./Row, me hearties. Row row row!"
"Fools!Do they think they can scare us with their battle cries?" Ungatt Trunn did not even deign to look at the shrunken fox. "No, they don't mean to scare us, but they're letting us know that they aren't scared either. That's called courage, Groddil, but you wouldn't understand it. If those hares were enough in numbers to match us one to one, then I'd be scared."
A kick from the hare's footpaw sent the plate flying. His eyes were like stone, his voice dripping contempt. "I don't eat with cowards!" Jukka sprang up, a loaded sling automatically in her paw. "Nobeast calls Jukka the Sling a coward!" The old hare tore his tunic open, exposing his scrawny chest. "Then kill me! One old hare shouldn't be too difficult for a warrior like you, wot? Slay me an' see how long you an' your band can hide out this pine grove until Ungatt Trunn's Blue Horde's find you all. Then you'll wish you'd helped t'fight against him an' save Salamandastron!"
"War is a business. I do it for profit, for all the weapons my tribe may plunder if victory is ours!"
"Down goes the paw an' up rises dust,/Keep thy courage, hold thy trust,/Come to our journey's end we must,/Marching the high road together./Tramp tramp tramp! Can we make camp?/Not whilst there's light, not 'til tonight!/One two! One two! Beneath a sky o' blue,/Sing out, comrades, Tramp tramp tramp! /On goes the trail, for ever more,/Weary of limb, and sore of paw,/Keep on moving, that's our law,/Marching the high road together./Tramp tramp tramp! Can we make camp?/I'll tell ye when, don't stop 'til then!/One two! One two! Daylight hours growing few,/Sing out, comrades, Tramp tramp tramp!"
"Well, I'm sick an' fed up o' bein' called longears, see! I'll call you Jukka, you call me Fleetscut, I'll call your blinkin' lot squirrels, an' you call my flippin' lot hares, wot, wot?" Jukka feigned an air of indifference. "As thou pleasest."
"You can bet your jolly life I pleasest!"
"How'd she like it if I called her Sling the Jukka? I say, that's a good idea, why don't we sling her?"
"Take them away and lock them up!" Before any of the Horde could lay paws on the captives, Torleep, a fine upright old hare, rapped out some orders. "Form twelve ranks five deep, you lot! look lively now, dress off to y'right! Ten...shun! Straighten up at the back theyah, laddie buck, show these vermin how it's done! Chin in, head back, shoulders straight, eyes forward, ears stiff! That's the stuff! Now, by the right, quick march! One two, one two! Right markers, keep those lines straight!" Off tho their prison cave they marched, surrounded by bewildered vermin, who could not comprehend how a defeated band of ancient hares could sing in captivity, although sing thy did, loud, long and courageously.
"One...two...waylaheykoom!" Everybeast bent to the paddles, roaring back at Kubba, "Shrum! Shrumm!" Kubba called the stroke on every third beat: "Waylaheykoom!" Dotti and her friends joined the Guosim's answer: "Shrumm! Shrumm!"
"Oh the river is deep an' swift an' wide." "Waylaheykoom!" "An' there's my matey at my side!" "Shrumm! Shrumm!" "With the sunlight beamin' through the trees."
"Waylaheykoom!" "We'll all remember days like these." "Shrumm! Shrumm!"
"Oh oh waylaheykoom shrumm shrum shrew, I won't forget a friend like you!"
"Full marks, miss. You was magnificent! Dotti kept the pose, simpering and fluttering her lids. "Why thank you, my good fellow. Did it earn one perhaps a smidgen of that woodland trifle which Gurth made, wot?" The otter shook his head firmly. "'Fraid not, miss." "Yah, go an' boil your beastly head, y'great slabsided boat-nosed planktailed excuse for a worthless waterwalloper!"
"Lissen, if'n we wants the 'aremaid to win we've got to make sacriphones!" Fleetscut chuckled. "Aye, an' some sacrifices, too, marm." Mirklewort nodded sagely. "Them, too!"
"We'll teach 'em the art o' war, mate!"
"Aye, an' 'twill be the 'ardest lesson they ever learned!"
"Stiff, wot makes anybeast foller a master like that?" Stiffener doodled sand patterns with his paw. "Who knows, Brog? Fear, wantin' to be on the side of a conqueror who always wins. Maybe the vermin joins 'is ranks 'cos deep down they're as bad 'n' evil as Trunn hisself."
"Ah promise not tae hit ye too hard." Dotti moved a little closer to him. "Thankee, sah, an' I promise not t' let you hit me at all!"
Jukka made as if to stroll away, but one of the rats barred her way with his spear haft. "I ain't seen you afore." Jukka sneered back at him. "An' I ain't seen you, or I'd remember yer ugly face. Now get that spear out o' me way!"
"My blade like winter's cold doth bite,/Come guide me, Badger Lord,/For truth and justice we must fight,/Wield me, your Battle Sword!/Defend the weak, protect the meek,/Take thy good comrades' part,/My point like lightning, send to seek/The foebeast's evil heart!"
"Now I see your face, Ungatt Trunn. Look upon me!" Trunn finally looked into the eyes of his tormentor, but this time it was no vision-the terrifying nemesis of his dreams had at last become flesh and blood. One word escaped the wildcat's lips and echoed around the silent, crowded shore. "Mercy!" The next thing everybeast heard was the bone-jarring snap of Ungatt Trunn's spine as Brocktree caught him in a swift, deadly embrace.
"Now, ye set still there an' ah'll tell yer a sad auld tale, aboot a puir young hare, whit wis left for dead by a wicked auld fox who beat him wi' a sword blade." Bucko's chuckle was neither pleasant nor friendly. "Weel now, ah see ye reckernize me at last. Tell me, mah friend, how does it feel t'be wi'out yer great horde o' vermin tae help ye out?" Whup! Karangool screamed in pain as the flat of Bucko's sword struck him smartly across his shoulder. The mountain hare bellowed in his face. "Tell me!"
"These are the days of Ungatt Trunn the Fearsome Best! O Mighty One, he who makes the stars fall! Conqueror, Earth Shaker, son of King Mortspear, brother to Verdauga! Lord of all the Blue Hordes, who are as many as the leaves of autum! O All Powerful Ungatt Trunn!" Turning his back upon the sea, the crippled fox limped away and was never seen in those lands again.
The ten ships sailed off into the golden afternoon, with the farewell war cry gladdening the hearts of all.