The Story of Fírinne Searc
By Justin McNabb
"Fírinne, do not forget the wood!" my mother calls as I head out to the woods. Our house on the southern shore of the Land of Ice and Snow is a peaceful place, despite the fact it is on an island noted for its many evil inhabitants. My family, though, is not evil at all. Me, my brother, mother, uncle, and father, all have lived here for at least 27 seasons, my older brother, Farwin, is six seasons older than me, I am nineteen. For a long while now he has been acting... strange. My Father, Rayden, is the best father one could ask for, same with my mother, May. Oh, and Uncle Josiah! He is very comical and jolly. He taught me to play the pan flute. I love to listen to their stories by the fire, but Farwin is very rude to them, he mocks their stories and them. Then he points a claw at me and says that I am Father’s favorite. That is not true, Father does not take favorites. He loves us all equally. Mother cries and leaves the room whenever Farwin starts arguing with Father. I just want everybeast to settle down and be a family again.
"I will not, Mom!" I reply, resting the ax on my shoulder, after Father trained me in the ways of the sword, shield, and the true ways of the warrior, Farwin has been looking at me strangely, and I cannot put my claw on it. Oh well, that fire is not going start without wood.
Why? That is all I can ask as I sail away from my homeland, watching as the smoldering remains of my former home grow smaller. Why? Why would Farwin want to kill Mother and Father? After all they have done for us? I look away as I try to control the tears that stream down my cheek.
"I should have listened." the words come out as a choke; he was paid by Grishak to track down the "traitors of the throne", what throne? Grishak is no king, he is a tyrant. Now I am an outcast because of my brother's own selfish ambitions! So, maybe this was what he was wanting all those seasons ago.
"FARWIN," I shout to the winds, "HUNT ME ALL YOU DESIRE, BUT KNOW THIS," I draw my sword and point it towards the sky, no longer crying and in a voice like thunder, I roar the loudest I have ever before with my declaration, "FOR WHAT YOU HAVE DONE, YOU ARE NO LONGER MY BROTHER!" My eyes are beginning to cloud red, but I come back to sense and clear my thoughts. No, I must not let my anger guide me. I think to myself. I sigh, I need to forgive my brother, he is lost, and it is now left to me to guide him back to The Path. I look up at the sky, dark clouds are forming.
Father, what did I do wrong?
Chapter one: New friends, new foes
They followed me. I am shipwrecked on unknown shores. I hear fighting, but I am disoriented from last night’s terrifying experience. I struggle to my foot-paws, picking up my sword but leaving the splintered remains of my shield. Then I hear it again, the sound of steel against steel. I run up the bank to find a sight which takes my breath from my lungs. I take in the situation as I rush towards the scene. A wolverine and a badger, both with large weapons and heavy metal armor, are fighting. The badger is about a full two heads taller than me, I am six feet and four inches tall, and wields a great sword and is covered in armor; excluding his thighs and upper arms. The wolverine is one head taller than the badger and wields a battle axe nearly as tall as me, his armor is much more scattered, adding a barbaric look; there is a pauldrons on his and a gauntlet on his left arm, steel greaves on his legs, a chain mail and leather loincloth around his waist, and the front side only of a breast plate leaving his back and stomach exposed. The badger is losing, I rush in to help, angry. I remember that fateful night, blood, screams, blades. I can't let the badger die. Maybe he won't kill me, hopefully.
"LEAVE HIM ALONE!"
The wolverine turns to me, I slash at its chest, denting its armor... and only enraging it. It swipes a heavy, gauntleted paw at my arm.
My arm is dislocated, but still attached. I switch my sword to my left and stab at its chin, it parries the blow with his gauntlet and attacks with his ax. I parry it, but the curving edge snags the back of my ruined, seawater soaked tunic and cuts my back. I grunt, trying to ignore the pain, then, with a sweeping kick, dislocates both my legs and sends me away with a back hand from his right paw, my back hits something hard, I try to control my rage, he is almost on me, he has removed the dented chest-plate, I have a chance! I lift my sword, point forward.
So this is how it ends I think to myself, I close my eyes, waiting for death. But something catches on the blade, and death does not come. I open my eyes, and start, as I stare into the eyes of the beast I have slain.
"You have saved my life, ermine," I turn to the badger; he is coming my way, sword sheathed in a scabbard across his back plate, "why?"
I push the corpse away and drop my sword, too weak to hold it any more, "My Father told me, that there are those who are evil by nature, and those who chose that path," I look back to him, "I chose that I want to be good, but my price is... that... now... I'm an outcast."
The badger lowers a friendly, gauntleted paw, smiling "you chose right, my friend." now tears form in my eyes, the word echoes in my mind, friend. My heart leaps with joy; I grasp his paw, “What is your name?"
"I am Garrow the Brave"
I am in a bed by a fire, in what looks to be a forge. I am in some sort of mountain stronghold, Garrow calls it Salamandastron. My legs and arm were put back in socket, but they still ache, so I lie here and look around at my surroundings. There are weapons of many different types scattered across the walls on racks; swords, hammers, pikes, javelins, spears, halberds, axes, and many, many others that I have never seen before. Many of them, though, looked battle ready and fit for many a warrior; some even looked fit for kings! My eyes wander back to Garrow, who is at an anvil, beating at a lump of what appears to be steel.
What is he making? I wonder. Then a funny-looking creature I have never seen before enters the room. It has long ears and a tail that, to me, resembles a ball of white yarn mother would use for knitting. I soon realize it is a hare. I have always been told by my father that they are perilous beasts, but also have an, unusual, appetite.
"Sergeant Peridock! What a surprise!" He is also apparently a friend to Garrow.
He turns to me and his eyes grow wide, he draws his rapier, "Wot in the blazes!? A vermin, I'll sound the-"
"That won't be necessary old friend, this is Fírinne, he saved my life... from a wolverine."
He puts away his weapon and nods, a little confused, "Bally biscuits, I think the fire has gotten to your 'ead, Sah! Are you sure?"
Garrow just chuckles, obviously amused, "No, no, heavens, no, I just brought him here a minute ago so he could heal. His arm and legs were dislocated in the fight. He also had a nasty slash on his back the length of my arm, He's lucky it did not cut into his spine. He went through a mountain of pain to save my life."
The hare turns towards me and bows, "At ye service-"
"No," I interrupt, "no, I am at your service actually, if were not for Garrow, I would still be out there, waiting for death to claim me. I am, in fact, in the debt of Garrow the Brave... and brave indeed to clash blades with such a foe as a wolverine. Where I hail from, there is a tyrant wolverine named Grishak. He forced me into exile and killed my family, but it was my brother who spun the tale against his own blood."
He droops his ears, “A sad ol’ tale m’lad.”
Garrow turns from his work, “Indeed.”
Peridock perks an ear, “What’s this drooping about now? If we keep on like this it’ll soon be raining all over Mossflower!”
I cock my head in confusion, "Mossflower?"
Garrow interrupts further questions, "Let our guest rest. He still has a while to fully recover." With a curt bow, the hare leaves the forge. Then Garrow returns to his work and tells me over his shoulder, "your shield and armor will be ready in a few weeks, now rest, my friend, your journey has only just begun."
I am able to walk now. I stroll through the mountain fortress of Salamandastron. A passing female hare greets me, “Morning to you, Fírinne.”
“Good morning, Petal.”
“Brekkers is almost ready, wanna come to the mess? You could play us ditty on your flute.”
I smile, I have made many friends here the past few days I have been here. “Sure, why not. I’m starved.” In the main hall, hundreds of hares were at the long dining tables. In this hall, I am able to see the full of their peculiar appetite… and the way they communicate with each other. It was not a disaster area, but it was filled with many sounds of feasting, and I was able to see a few leverets, or younger hares, chatting away, females would sometimes bat their eyelashes at males, some would turn away embarrassed, or return the gesture. The whole scene was quite odd to me. I walked in and sat next to one leveret, a fine looking male who was currently being “assaulted” by one female’s attempts to get his attention. He kept his eyes trained on his plate, but did not look very hungry at the moment.
“What is the matter?” I ask.
“She,” he points with an ear at the female leveret, “won’t leave me alone, always batting her eyes and making weird faces and twitchin’ her nose at me. Have you ever had this problem?”
I chuckle, “Not exactly.”
He looks to me, “Wot do you mean?”
I lean back a little in the chair, reminiscing on the one time I fell in love for the first time, “It was a long time ago, I was probably around your age at the time. You see there was this one maiden…” I realized quickly that others were listening, eyes were turned on me with interest, mainly because they were about to learn a little bit more about the strange ermine who is now in their mountain.
I was nineteen seasons old at the time. I am at the market, supposed to be doing an errand I was supposed to do days ago. The market is bustling with activity. Many are here on errands of their own. I walk over to the smithy. A large rat, bristling with muscles, turns to me.
“Watcha need?” he asks.
“I came to get that broadsword my father asked for.” I reply.
“Twenty gold.” he states bluntly.
My eyes go wide; I do not have that kind of coin! “I only have ten gold and four silver.” He shrugs, “Well ye better find a way to make it or this sword will be bought by somebeast else.”
I sigh, “Please, sir. If I give the coin I have now, I will find a way to earn the rest to pay you back.”
“Fine, you’ll have t’ run some errands fer me tomorrow.” I give him the coin and take the sheathed sword, “Thank you.”
Then I hear it, a beautiful voice like an angel had come to this land, I turn towards the voice, but I cannot see who was singing, “What is that?” I ask, my mind filled with the melody of the angelic voice.
I hear the smith sigh, then say, “That voice belongs to tha’ ermine maid, she is abou’ yer age, but don’t go gittin’ ideas, lad. She’s a slave to one of the king’s court!”
I snap out of it, then turn to the smith, and hand him the sword, “Can you hold onto this for a moment?”
He looks a little confused as he takes the sword, “Why?”
I smirk as I reply, “Because I have a maiden to release from slavery.”
He is wide-eyed, “Yer insane, bucko! Ye’ll git killed!”
I did not hear him, for I was already walking away, towards the voice. I push my way through the crowd; everybeast seems hypnotized by the voice. I finally get the voice… and am struck in awe as I see her, she is beautiful, no, better, I cannot explain it, but she seems just as beautiful as her voice, if not more. She appears to enjoy singing. Then I see a sight that makes righteous anger rise in me, she is chained, and a rat is holding the other end of the chain, his other hand with a whip.
She stops singing and he whips at her, it misses, “Keep singing, ermine!”
She jumps away, straining the chain, she looks afraid, “But I do not know any more songs!”
He snarls and brandishes the whip, intent on whipping her until she sang. He lashes out and I jump out of the crowd and onto the platform. I catch the whip strings in my paw and yank on them, pulling the whip handle out of the rat’s grasp. “ENOUGH!” I roar, Righteous anger welling up inside me.
The court-rat stands there for a moment, shocked that somebeast would defy him.
I turn to the female ermine I am planning to rescue; she is giving me a look that said, Are you crazy!?
The court-rat snarls as he draws a dagger, “Impudent beggar! I’ll slay ye fer that!”
I am looking him in the eyes, “I am no beggar.”
He charges, “You will beg fer mercy when I’m done with ye!”
I do a quick shuffling hop to the left, dodging his attack as he stabs forward, then I bring my right leg back, and then launch it around knee first into his back, knocking him down to all fours. I then follow it up with a punch, coming over my head and slamming into his neck, paralyzing him. I then take his dagger and search him for the key, I find it, and then use it to unlock the shackles around the female’s paws. The court-rat groans, and starts to get back up. He glares at me, and then starts to run towards me. I stow the dagger in my jerkin, I am not going to slay him, only teach him a lesson. I run to him, the go off to the right a little, I reach out my arm and make it as stiff and straight as I can. My arm right above my wrist slams into his neck. He clutches his neck, and then topples over, unconscious.