The Madness in the Mountain (Redwall RP)

Discussion in 'It's Galley's Turn' started by PotteryWalrus, Jun 9, 2016.

  1. PotteryWalrus

    PotteryWalrus halfway hideous and halfway sweet

    It was a dark and stormy night.

    Which Seth found was entirely appropriate, considering what he had set out to do. Salamandastron might have been difficult to climb for any other beast with her great stone faces slick with rain and mud, had the beast in question not been a squirrel.

    A jet-black, ash-black squirrel with his brush plastered thin and ratlike with water and grim determination in his eyes. He had his bow and quiver dry in a oiled leather case slung across his back, and a pair of long skinning knives sheathed in his belt. He would not rest until the monster than dwelt in the mountain was as much broken flesh and bone as it had made of his tribe.

    It was a long, cold climb even with instinct finding pawholds where there should have been none, and when he reached the top it was only the burning coal of hated in his chest that kept him going. The thunder rumbled overhead and he was glad of it, because the next part of his plan would require all the noise dampening he could get.

    The great vents that kept the now-slumbering forge at the top of the mountain fed with air during the day were easily wide enough for him to fit through if he pushed his weapons before him, but the vent covers clanged as he passed so he had to time his movements to the thunder. It was slow going, but the residual warmth from the day's fire lent him strength, dried his rain-stuck fur and warmed his chilled bones.

    He swung out over the dying embers and dropped into the dim red glow of the place where countless generations of badger lords had forged countless famous and deathless weapons, and let himself breathe for an instant, knelt to string his bow and rebuckle his knife belt.

    Then a loud snuffling snore echoed through the cavern, and he froze, dread for an instant replacing hate. The monster was here.

    Cautiously, quietly, he peered over the anvil and spied the great furry hulk of it sprawled over a workbench, snoring like a bellows. In the dim light, he could just about see the shape of the ears, the great white stripes that marked the monstrous head. Well, he wasn't going to wait for it to wake up.

    With such poor visibility, he had to move from his cover to find a good angle. The eye, he thought. Or the ear.

    The eye was the surest mark for a quick kill at this distance. He could hit a falling apple and pin it to a bullseye in daylight, he wasn't called Longfletch for nothing, but he could not deny his paws shook as he lifted the longbow and drew back.

    In the quiet, focussed instant before he fired, the reddened eye opened.

    With a bellow of rage, the badger lord exploded into motion. The arrow meant for his eye stuck in his jaw, and he snarled, tore it off and came like a freight train for his attacker. Seth leapt straight upwards, aiming for the wrought iron frame than held the hanging forge tools - not high enough not high Seth please get higher higher please please - and grabbed a pair of wickedly pointed tongs in time for the Bloodwrathed badger to grab him by the tail and yank.

    The pain was intense, but he kept his head and swung the tongs at the monster's head, this time hitting true. The creature howled with pain and - more importantly - his grip loosened. Seth regained his feet and leapt for his foe's shoulders, locking his feet around the impossibly thick neck, drawing his skinning knife and plunging it into a grasping paw before it could rip him off.

    He had a moment of grim triumph as it yelled again in pain, then he crashed into the stone wall behind them, crushed between the badger's weight and the bones of the mountain. He felt something in his shoulder give that wasn't his longbow, amazingly still across his back, and through the pain he heard the sound of pounding hare feet, coming up the narrow staircase below them. Desperately, he stabbed again, and the badger lifted away for an instant before crashing backwards once more, this time against fire-hardened wood.

    The shutters of the window held for an instant, then he felt splinters bite deep into his back - the oak is falling the great oak why is he ripping our father to shreds - and he felt rain on his face once more. He was still holding his knife, embedded deep in the monster's shoulder, but he was lolling, stunned by the blow and the pain.

    The badger lord reached for him once more, and cast him off into the abyss.

    Seth was only briefly concious as he hit the sand, the last licks of high tide stinging his cut feet and legs, the bright moon coming like a ghost behind the clouds to light everything in molten silver. His last thought before he closed his eyes was - I'm so sorry I failed.
  2. Southstar(RP)

    Southstar(RP) needs more grog

    Bright, late morning sunlight pours down onto and into the tiny seacaves tucked into the rocks south of the Great Fire Mountain as Creekeet the sparrow swooped down, alighting on a spur of rock, singing his heart out and informing the world that the night's terrible storm had passed, the new day had dawned warm and beautiful and--hey!

    He ducks quickly as a round beach pebble whizzes past his head from inside a cave, followed by loud cursing.

    "Cram it up your gob, ya screech-faced featherbag!"
    "I beg your pardon?!" he chirps indignantly, fluffing his feathers as he peers into the caves.​

    The enormous head of an oversized otter pops out from under an overhang, glaring blearily, its fangs glinting silver-bright a yawn.

    "You 'eard me, specklebottom!" the otter yells, and winces, clutching its head. "Stars an' stones, it's too blinkin' early for that racket."​

    Creekeet glances around, noting the sun well above the horizon line, and decides that there is no time of day worth dealing with cranky waterdogs. He settles his feathers into place and takes off to find someone more appreciative of his talents.

    With the bird gone, the otter plops back down in the sand. Blood and bone, that elderberry wine had been just the thing to keep her warm in the storm last night, but apparently it had invited a young mole to play the drums on the inside of her skull overnight. She stretches carefully, old scars stiff from a cold night on hard rocks, and spits disgustedly to one side, scratching sand out of the fur on one hip. Sleeping on rocks. What she wouldn't give for a good stand of ropeweed to tie herself off in and let the warm southern seas rock her to sleep, soft as a lullaby. No chance of that, now. Bottom's too rocky and seas to rough this far north for it to take root, so she has to go to shore each night to sleep.

    More importantly, supplies are getting low, so she doffs her sash and sword and vest, stuffing the lot into her sleeping hollow and covering the entrance with a few loose pieces of driftwood before she takes a running dive into the surf. She's too tired and sore to hunt much, though the briskly chill water helps, but she'd seen mussel and oyster shells dotting the beach.

    Sure enough, she finds an outcropping of dark stone completely covered in the delicious little beasties not far from her impromptu camp, only a few meters down. She dives and surfaces several times, floating on her back to crack mollusks open with her father's carved breakstone--her dearest possession--and pouring the sweet-salty contents into her mouth one after the other, deliciously raw and slimy. No one appreciated a good oyster shooter in the northlands. Damned shame. She's licking the last squiggly bits of yet another mussel off her claws when she sees it.

    Just above the tideline is a bundle of black feathers--no, fur, the raggedy bit on the end is a bedraggled bushy tail. It's a treejumper. What in the name of clam paste and liddle fishes is a treejumper doing here, miles from any forest? Helluva place to die, this. And since when do they come in black? Whoop, it moved.

    She ducks under the surface, letting the rising tide and her powerful rudder carry her to shore. The treejumper hasn't moved since it had flopped a back paw around when she first saw it. Not that she can blame it, it's a mess. Sand everywhere, one arm clearly out of joint, breathing like it hurts--at least it's breathing, eh?--with cuts and scrapes and a huge bloody knot on its noggin. She cocks her head and prods it unceremoniously--if gently--in the same back paw it had kicked out. Seemed the least injured part of it.

    "Hoy, mate, dunno if you can hear me in there, but you're right fucked and the tide's rising. Gonna haul you someplace safe, yeah?"​

    She gets a garbled, faint groan in response, which she takes as permission to haul the poor ragged thing up and over her shoulders. The very tip of its sand-choked brush drags alongside her thick, heavy rudder as she sets off back for camp. It's a far longer walk than a swim, but it's not like landbeasties are anything heavy, particularly one battered treejumper who lies limp across her broad shoulders like a sack of grain.

    Every now and then it slurs something, its voice quiet and raspy with sand and sorrow.

    "... s'rry... 'm s...sorry..."​

    She's fairly certain it's not apologizing for the inconvenience of being carried.
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  3. Seth Longfletch

    Seth Longfletch Heir of Rage

    Seth woke with a start, the last crashing, splintering remnants of the same nightmare still ringing in his ears as he woke. He smelled smoke and for an instant he was back in the bright early morning of the Coalpelt Dreys, the last moment before the bandits had come with the badger in their wake and everything had been normal. Then he woke the rest of the way and inhaled the salt smell of the sea, something rich and fishy cooking and the sound of someone humming to themselves.

    He remembered the fight - had it been the night before? How long had he been unconcious? - and ground his teeth on the bitter taste of defeat. Still, he was alive, and that meant a second chance to kill the monster, even if his entire body hurt with bruises and cuts and -

    he couldn't move his arm. A brief flash of panic, followed by incredulity as he spied the bright blue cloth wound around his arm in a sling, keeping his shoulder immobile. Still, he had more than one, and he was practiced with both well enough that he could still fight, if it came to it. He rolled on his side and found his remaining knife in his belt and miraculously unbroken longbow leaning in the corner closest to him.

    He sat up and swung his feet out to get up, but couldn't help the half-snarl of pain at the complain of his wrenched tail and shoulder combined. He panted for an instant, then tried to stand up.
  4. Southstar(RP)

    Southstar(RP) needs more grog

    Barnacles. Figures he'd try to move. Oh lovely, and he's going for the knife. May not have been the best idea to leave a strangebeast his weapons, but she knows there's nothing worse than waking up immobile, in pain, and unarmed. Her wrists itch thinking about it.

    She idly contemplates slapping her rudder across his chest and making him stay down, but the fighty bastard would probably just bite her, and then they'd both be injured and cranky.

    Instead she continues dicing the last of the wild spring shallots she'd found near a brackish little stream farther south. She makes no sudden movements, focusing on projecting an aura of "Calm the hell down, you're safe, I'm just cooking, you shifty bugger."

    When his second attempt at standing proves just as painful and fruitless as the first, she sighs and flicks a knobbly scallion root-end at him, pinging it off the side of his head.

    "If you go an' undo all the hard work I put in making your innards look like innards an' not a pile o' fish guts in a broken barrel, I'm gonna be real upset at you, boyo. Didn't drag you up a mile of cold beach just for you to muck it all up again."
    His pupils are odd sizes as he stares dizzily at her, at least what she can see from night-dark eyes in a charcoal face, but his grip on the knife is sure. Most beasts find talking reassuring, and she can provide that at least.

    "I'll be wanting that sash back when I get your arm shipshape again," she says, dumping shallots into the stew. "Blue ain't really your color."
    He shifts and sways, looking around the tiny cave. Good, he's assessing his situation rather than immediately attacking her. She cracks another raw oyster for herself, slurping the contents loudly. No need to be quiet, no need to hide. Got a food and fire, safe as safe.

    "The hell did you do to yourself anyway? Fall down the mountain?"
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  5. Seth Longfletch

    Seth Longfletch Heir of Rage

    "...something like that." Seth rasps after a long moment, still inspecting the cave and his - saviour? captor? He's long past judging beasts by their species - the massacre of his tribe put paid to that - but he's never seen anything like this one before. Thick tawny fur almost like the ravenous wolverines of the far north, and the tall build of an otter bred fatter and stockier than those he's used to.

    Still, he's been asked enough times what are you to weary of asking it of others. No eartufts, taller and broader than an ordinary Mossflower squirrel and with his brush so fine he could almost be mistaken for a rat in the rain - not to mention his coat. Instead, he watches her crack shellfish straight into her mouth and slowly, sheathes his knife. She looks the part of a pirate, but with so many riverdogs as sailors this is hardly remarkable.

    His stomach growls loudly, reminding him of the fact there's been no actual meals for days. He's been on the shoreline long enough to know what's safe to eat and what isn't, but being so close to his goal had made his appetite thin and impatient. Pirates are not typically poisoners, at least not when they have nothing to gain by it.

    He uses his unstrung bow as a crutch and limps up to her, inspecting the food laid out on the counter. "...thankyou, for saving me. I owe you a debt, but I should leave. My staying here will only bring poor fortune on you."

    He leans his bow on the edge of the table and begins to remove the sling, although the pain of movement makes him hiss through his bared teeth, ears flattened.
  6. Southstar(RP)

    Southstar(RP) needs more grog

    She scowls, debates pinging the much-heavier oyster shell off his thick skull, and decides not to make his concussion worse.

    "Ain't been on the Fates' good side for long seasons, mate. 'Sides which, you ain't gettin' far on that empty stomach--yea, I heard you--and you can't fight off those bloody hares with a busted forepaw and staved in ribs."​

    His shocked stare is a bit gratifying, but the fingers edging back towards his knife aren't.

    "I didn't fall off the jolly boat last spring, boyo. You weren't salt-wet when I found you, and you ain't got the marks of a galley slave, so you didn't come from the sea. Those patrols of flop-eared foodbags keep the area well clear of folk like me or worse than me."​

    She fills the oyster shell with soup and holds it out to him instead.

    "So the only thing that could have roughed you up was one of those patrols. So why don't you sit down, shaddap and have some soup before you fall down and then I gotta patch you up all over again. Bet there's a helluva story."​
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  7. Seth Longfletch

    Seth Longfletch Heir of Rage

    He sits back down.

    Before he really knows what he's doing, hunger takes hold and he's grabbing at the shell, gulping down the soup as though it's the last food on earth. It's rich and salty and while seafood isn't quite natural to his diet, squirrels can eat damn near anything with impunity and he finds himself starving. He licks the shell clean for any last droplets, then, shooting a glance at the otter, chews the shell a few times experimentally. His teeth are slightly outgrown for lack of dry unsalted wood and nuts on the shoreline, neglected just like his claws and unbrushed fur.

    Finding the shell decent enough to gnaw on, he settles in to grind his teeth down for a few long moments, watching the seadog watch him with interest. " were a slave? Or kept slaves?"

    There's wariness in his voice, but no judgement. Yet.
  8. Southstar(RP)

    Southstar(RP) needs more grog

    She shrugs her vest off, and turns her back to him. See? Safe. Trust you, won't hurt you, treejumper. Don't need to let you know part of that's because she knows one good whack to your bad shoulder or side will lay you out like a stone, it's trust all the same.

    Her fur had grown back in time over the lashmarks that layered the most of her back, but the brand between her shoulders stood out, naked and ugly. A simple hollow circle, but it meant more to the big searat who put it there--his path around the world, to rule all the seas.

    "Liddle otters make good oarbeasts. Big as any squirrel or rat but too young an' scared to do anything about it. Get yourself a half-grown kit bigger'n any of your crew an' she can pull an oar all on her own. Tell your boys she's worth the trouble, 'cos when she's grown she'll pull two, one in each paw."

    She pulls her vest back on, and ladles herself a shell of soup, grinning ferally. Her silver canines catch the firelight just so.

    "'Course, liddle otters get to be big otters eventually, an' big otters got big tempers. It's hard to crew your ship when the slaves won't row, your crew's too scared to go down an' force 'em and you're headed into a typhoon. Even worse when it turns out the chains have all gone to rust an' won't hold a butterfly."

    Of course, she'd still been hundreds of leagues away from home when she crawled out of the shipwreck. The other survivors had been content to settle where they landed, but she wanted to see home again, somehow.

    "Name's Southstar, for what it's worth."
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2016
  9. Seth Longfletch

    Seth Longfletch Heir of Rage

    "...I'm sorry." for what it's worth. Neither of them need to expand on that, and another moment passes in silence, marked only by the soft scratch of teeth on shell. He watches her eat for a long moment, thinking, then, "The - badger, the lord - it slaughtered my village. My entire tribe."

    He says 'lord' the way most folk say snake or vermin. He stares at the floor for an instant, then laughs. It's a bitter sound. "I had nephews and nieces, too small for fur. I didn't - they were just one mess, once it was through."

    "It wasn't- we didn't do anything wrong, we were just-" another of those ugly laughs, thinking of trying to find his way out of the wreckage of trees and fallen trunks and crushed flesh. He bares his teeth sharp and pointed as any rat's, a flash of mirthless smile. "We were just in the way."

    He looks at his useless paw for a long time. "I tried to kill it. I failed. It threw me off the mountain."
  10. Southstar(RP)

    Southstar(RP) needs more grog

    Suddenly not knowing the fate of her holt seems marginally less awful. Some part of her has always wondered and shuddered at finally, finally coming home and finding nothing but salt and ash and bone, but this... watching it happen and unable to stop it? Knowing everything you've ever loved is gone? She would have gone mad with despair, or... or hunted Kyraza Snakebane to the ends of the earth, though Hellgates and Dark Forest barred the way. She spits a few worthless, grainy seed pearls from between her teeth and picks up another oyster, running her claws along the tightly sealed edges.

    "I'm not exactly from around here, but hang around searats enough an' you hear stories. There's armies what failed to take that mountain. Whether they meant to kill the lord or raze the whole ugly place to the ground or take the whole blighted place for themselves. They broke themselves upon the mountain. It's a near impossible task, friend." Her clawtips find a flaw in the shell's seams, a chip half-repaired by seasons of regrowth but still a weakness. "Between the bloody army of fighting hares and the mad lord and the mountain itself? You're crazy to try."​

    He nods grimly, then stares out of the cave, shamed and defeated.

    "But he took your family, so you'll take his mountain? Or just his life?"
    "Or die trying," comes the reply, through gritted teeth.
    "Yeah, you will," she sighs, and wrenches the shell open with a sharp crack. He starts at the sound and turns as she starts chuckling, staring at the slick contents of the mollusk like it holds the secrets of the stars. "You will, but maybe we won't."​

    He stares as she stands up, scooping the meat up in her claws and tossing the shell aside. She grabs his free paw and slaps the gooey mess into his palm, still chuckling.

    "We won't," she growls, teeth bared in her wild, feral smile as she closes his fingers around the bit of horribly squishy, cold shellfish before releasing him and moving to curl up in the back of the cave.
    "Get some sleep," she mutters, wriggling her shoulders into the fire-warmed sand, seeking comfort. "Anyone who got close had a big damn army, and those take work to drum up. You'll need your rest."​
    She's snoring softly in moments, clearly trusting him to watch her back. He blinks slowly, and opens his sticky claws.

    Resting in his paw, smeared in salt crust and sand and slime, are two perfect, pea-sized black pearls.
  11. Seth Longfletch

    Seth Longfletch Heir of Rage

    Seth stares at the pearls for a long after his host has gone to bed. It had been the first time he had told anyone his reasons for wanting to kill the monst- the badger lord and he hadn't been accursed of being a liar or worse, a psychopath himself. It...doesn't precisely lighten his heart, it's too heavy for that still, but it's strangely good to know that there is now at least one beast firmly on his side.

    He limps down to the rocks that guard Southstar's little camp, and finds a rockpool to wash the sea-gems in. He rolls them between his claws, knowing quality of nacre by touch alone, but needing the brilliant light of the clear fat moon on the ocean to see their iridescence. They're good quality, and an inland princess or warlord would pay a fine price to have them as adornment.

    He is not going to sell them. Instead he finds a thin scrap of fabric in the bottom of one of his beltpouches, and wrapping the pearls tightly, tucks them back down where they cannot fall out.

    He stays there until morning, when the chill of the dawn mists grip his damaged ribs and shoulder in icy claws, and returns to the cavern in time for breakfast. It's agreed that no good will come of staying by the shore where the pickenings for allies are thin and the sand can crawl into his wounds like fever, but the position that they're in, they have to head back towards the mountain before they can cut back into Mossflower woods without needing to scale any rocky ground.

    He insists that he can climb just as well with one arm as with both, and the otter threatens to sit on his head before he promises not to go leaping up rocks and 'undoing all her hard work'. (He'll climb a tree the moment they see a real one again, and no force between here and the Dark Forest can stop him.)

    They walk well for a day or so - he finds a piece of driftwood of a size enough that he can stop using his poor abused bow as a walking stick, and instead slings it half-strung over his shoulders. He needs new arrows. He needs to wax the string. He needs -

    A long patrol, six or seven tall, brawny hares to a beast, round the outcrop of boulders and he sees red.

    He hates hares as much as their master, for those who came around after the terrible thing and started silencing those who would speak of it. He thanks his instincts that had made him hide until they were gone, weaponless and undertrained as he was then, but now there is no hiding and only his mounting fury. He draws his knife and tries to lunge for them, utterly silent, before the great lapines have even noticed his presence.
  12. Southstar(RP)

    Southstar(RP) needs more grog

    Southstar hisses a curse as the treejumper--Seth, his name is Seth--lunges for one of the hares on the outside of the party, a big, burly male with a trio of lances over his shoulder.

    The hare howls in shocked agony as the long skinning knife does its work, Seth coming in low and carving a long slice up the beast's hind leg, neatly hamstringing him. Star goes high, leaping over squirrel and falling hare alike to tackle the next foebeast, driving its head and shoulders into the dirt, lashing out with her rudder to clobber another, stunning it.

    She looks back over her shoulder just in time to watch her new friend yank his hare's head up by long ear and slit his throat. Lethal force it is then. She drops her head, powerful jaws closing on the back of the hare's neck until muscle and bone crumble in her mouth.

    Now the hares are screaming, drawing lances and swords.
    "Thistle! How--"
    "You monster--!"
    "That's the black bloody squirrel!"​

    As if they didn't have enough problems, they know him. She lurches to her feet, drawing her cutlass, and cackles wildly, trying to draw attention off the injured Seth, who really isn't helping matters by tearing into another hare, her favorite blue sash flapping from his shoulder like a banner.

    She rears to her full height and bares bloody teeth to the shocked hares, clearly unused to looking up at anyone but their Lord, and swats away a clumsily thrown lance.

    "Come on then, kits! Let's have a dance!" she howls, and throws herself at a pair of hares, inside the reach of their lances. ​

    They each take out another of the fabled Long Patrol before it starts to go badly. Seth's gets a lucky shot in its death throes, its long legs lashing out to collide into his battered ribs with crushing force.

    Southstar turns at his pained grunt, watching him go down just in time for the hare she's fighting to knock her cutlass aside and thrust his lance through her hip, the point scraping off bone before shoving right through her side.

    She roars in his face, seizing the weapons belt across his shoulders to pull him close as he overbalances--and tears his throat out with metal-tipped fangs, shoving the limp body away into its ally.

    The lance pulls out of her side with a horrible sucking sound, caught in the hare's death-grip as she turns, hauls a choking Seth up under her arm and sprints for the edge of the marsh, blood trails be damned.

    She stops long enough to stuff the hole in her side with sedge grass and thick marsh mud, knowing she'll regret it later but losing too much blood to care. Seth is only semi-conscious, but it's enough for him to snarl insults about the hares' breeding patterns and resultant intertwined genealogy between boughts of disturbingly wet coughing.

    She tries and fails not to laugh, wincing at the pain in her side before she bends to pick him up more securely, tucking him firmly under her arm as she slips off the trail into the water, watching the thick layers of algae and duckweed gently part and reform, hiding their trail.

    She prays there's no hungry fish in the area and heads for the huge hollow trunk of an oak toppled halfway into the marsh, far in the distance. She prays it will be far enough.
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