>> Wednesday, March 31, 2010
One day when our hearts were young,/we went roving with right good will,/side by side two comrades/to find what lay o'er the hill./Our spirits never wearied then,/in those high old times gone by./What friends we made, what perils we faced,/together you and I./Now eyes grow dim, and paws feel stiff,/even vittles don't taste the same./You wake one day, with your whiskers grey,/what price then, medals an' fame?/Alas, all we have are memories,/to take out, dust off, and share./But, oh, my friend, the pride we feel,/just to know that we were there!/We travelled an' fought an' feasted,/we triumphed, we marched and songs were sung,/we faced death, saw life and adventure!/One day when our hearts were young.
"Rebellious, disobedient rascal!" Buckler grinned. "Just like me, I s'pose." Lord Brang paused, then his attitude softened. "Aye, just like you."
"Travel is an adventure!"
"Don't be shy. You're amongst friends."
She scowled at him. "Yore nosier'n yer pal, you are. Lissen, yew attend to yore bizness, an' I'll see t'mine, alright?" Buckler turned away from her. "Suit y'self, miss."
"What ho what ho, 'tis true y'know,/no creature can compare,/to a dashin' singin' harum-scarum,/Salamandastron hare...wot wot!"
The last sound Grullba heard was the battleaxe singing his deathsong with one whistling swish.
"An' when my stream of life runs out,/don't weep for me or mope about,/just lay me in some ole logboat,/an' to the sea of dreams I'll float."A rum tum tum, a rum tum tum,/Oh, pass me a paddle, matey!"
"Jango, what's going on? Anything wrong?" The Shrew Chieftain's lips barely moved as he murmured, "Keep yore wits about ye, mate. We might 'ave a chance t'see how good ye are wid that long blade o' yores."
"Well, he did promise to serve me until his death. How long do you think that'll be?" Dirva cackled. "Not long, my Quean, not long at all!"
Buckler restored order, bawling out in fine paradeground manner, "Silence, you horrible lot! Next beast to make a sound gets slain forthwith. Now shut up!"
The old rat hobbled off, cackling hoarsely, "So now the game begins!"
"I swear that Zwilt the Shade and his Ravagers-aye, and the one they call the Sable Quean-will die by my paw. Nor will I rest until the babes are safely back with their mother, the wife of my brother Clerun. I will wear the Coin of the Blademaster and pass on my brother's broadsword to his son. I take this oath upon the honour of the Kordyne family. This is my word!"
Dirva pointed to the closest three creatures. "They'll do-take 'em!" Flandor the young otter grabbed a stoat who was shoving the Dibbun squirrelmaid, Tassy, into a big sack. "Leave her alone, you dirty villain!" He dealt the stoat a good punch to the right eye. That was where the resistance ended. Flandor was set upon by guards and beaten senseless with spearbutts. Thwip was cracking his lash, snarling, "Get back! Back, I say, all of ye!"
Buckler was waiting as Zwilt came striding over the flatland, brandishing the broadsword. "I've been given orders not to slay you, longears. What is it that you want? Speak!" Buckler did his best to provoke Zwilt to fight. "You rotten, stinkin', murderin' coward! That sword you hold is my brother's blade. How did ye kill him, yellow guts? By stabbin' him in the back?" Buckler drew his long rapier; Zwilt took a pace backward. He opened his cloak to reveal the medallion hanging about his neck. Showing his teeth in a malevolent smile, he replied, "Your brother, was he? Stupid, clodhoppin' soil plougher! No need to stab that one in the back-I cut him to ribbons with one paw behind my back. I took his pretty medal, too. D'ye like it, longears?" The young hare's steel made the air thrum as he came at the tall sable. "Put up that blade or the young ones die!" Vilaya had dropped to the rear of her her Ravagers. Her eyes glittered with menace as she hissed, "I warn ye, do you want their blood on your head?" Buckler sheathed his rapier back over his shoulder. The Sable Quean called to her commander, "Leave him, Zwilt. Don't waste your time with the fool. Come on." Buckler was quivering from ears to tailscut. He had trouble keeping his voice level. "We'll meet again, vermin, and when we do, 'twill be your death day. I swear on my oath!" Zwilt sneered. "Big words for a rabbet with a skinny blade. When we meet again, I'll do to you what I did for your big clumsy brother, but I'll do it slower so you'll suffer longer. Now, run back and hide behind those walls with your friends." Turning his back upon the hare warrior, Zwilt strode off to join the horde.