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I've been very bored lately, so I've gone and decided to write this.

The Red Mist

Prologue

EDIT: I don't know why the formatting messed up, so I had to put it here like this. I guess the paragraph indentations don't work as well here.

Outside, the storm relentlessly pounded the earth with a heavy torrent of rain and wind, but none of this seemed to bother Falkin, who sat snugly in his forest cottage, propped up in his armchair by a large pillow and facing the fireplace. The aged squirrel's eyes drooped as he struggled to stay awake and focus on the hot cup of tea in his lap.

A sudden knocking on the door caused him to jolt upright, almost spilling his tea. Fortunately, he was able to set the cup on the nearby table, although he did it rather hastily, spilling a few drops in the process. He shuffled over to the door, putting on a small pair of round spectacles.

Falkin opened the door slightly to see a river otter who was about a head taller than him. The otter, shielding himself against the rain with a faded hood and cloak, flashed a smile at the beleaguered squirrel.

"Sorry 'bout the unexpected visit, but would y' mind if I stayed here for the night? I couldn't make it home, what with this weather 'n all..."

Falkin stood there speechless for a moment before regaining his composure and replying, "No, no problem at all! Come in, come in!"

He ushered the otter into the cottage and managed to shut the door against the wind, forbidding the storm to enter the house. The otter took off his cloak, shaking the rainwater from it before draping it over a nearby coat hanger. He then proceeded to pace the room, examining the various objects and knickknacks that Falkin loved to collect. Meanwhile, Falkin stood by the door, polishing his spectacles with a paw.

"I don't mean to interrupt your 'viewing,'" Falkin said nervously, "but would you like any tea or...?"

The otter nodded his head and replied, "If you 'ave any ale, I would enjoy that."

"I have just the thing."

Falkin bowed his head slightly and walked off into another room. The otter took another step forward on his exploration of the cottage, glancing over a folded and tattered tunic on a shelf. The tunic's normally brown hue had faded into a khaki-like color over time. At first, he paid no attention to it, but then he wondered why a squirrel would be keeping something like this in his household. He picked it up carefully with both paws, staring at it as if trying to make it talk. Falkin walked back into the room, carrying a mug containing a liquid which looked something like caramel. He set it next to his cup of tea on the table. The otter held up the tunic.

"If you don't mind me asking, what is this, exactly?" he enquired.

Falkin looked at the tunic and then back at the otter.

"Oh, that? It belonged to a bygone friend. Well, actually, he was more of an enemy."

The otter raised an eyebrow, setting the tunic back down gently on the shelf.

"So... 'E was both?"

"Exactly," said Falkin. "A frenemy, if you will. That tunic belonged to a sea otter named Jonathan."

"Jonathan? I've 'eard tales about that 'un, but I thought no one was 'is friend. You know, because..."

Falkin nodded and sighed, motioning towards the two armchairs by the fireplace.

"Come, sit. I rarely get visitors here. However, when I do, I get the chance to tell them the story. The storm doesn't seem like it'll be letting up any time soon, so we have the night ahead of us."

Chapter One

Far north, on the western shore, waves and sea spray slammed into the rocks bordering the coast, ever gnawing at the silent guardians that had long stood the test of time. The clear blue skies and pleasant temperature meant nothing to Latho Freygall, who crouched down outside of a cave burrowed into the rocks, his attention focused on an ominous ship anchored further out to sea. The relatively small sea otter had been watching it for a minute or two, motionless and alert, waiting for the ship to make a move. Another otter walked up, keeping his head down.

"Any guesses, mate?"

"Could be anything from a merchant ship to a corsair vessel," Latho replied, "but judging by the black sails and the skull figurehead carved into the front of the ship, it's prob'ly the latter."

"Should we move the holt?"

Latho tensed up and gripped the rocks tightly. His family, combined with Kiltan's and Westbrook's, was the only holt to have come this far. They had just gotten settled down, and the last thing Latho wanted was to have to move again, especially since the arrival of his newborn pup.

"No," he growled. "If they want a fight, we'll give them a fight. Tell Kiltan to gather up the javelins."

The otter nodded and headed back into the cave.

Latho turned his attention back to the sea as he noticed three rowboats being lowered down from the ship into the water. Even from this distance, he could tell that they were filled searats. However, one of them seemed familiar...

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