Pasadagavra Excerpt 3
At her name, all activity in the room ceased. Even the musician stopped mid-note and turned her eyes to Zuryzel, curiosity brimming in them.
“May I ask what brings you down here?” queried the old fox, with no real surprise that it was Zuryzel who should bear the message.
“Tell them,” hissed Ailur. “The whole story.”
“But—a fox? Tell him our situation?” Zuryzel asked quietly. The old fox snorted, looking a little offended, and Ailur nodded vigorously. Zuryzel decided to start from the beginning and raised her voice to address the tavern. “Have you heard that Oracle Scythe of the Darkwoods foxes has died?” All the creatures nodded. “Almost immediately after Scythe died, the Darkwoods foxes set out to conquer the world. They’ve already overrun the squirrel Bow Tribe camp and have captured the Wraith Mice fortresses of Mirquis and Dombre.” This last was obviously news to some of the creatures, as Zuryzel heard several gasps. The old fox looked grim. “The squirrel tribes and the Wraith Mice have already lost many soldiers to battle, but the majority of our creatures are making their way to Pasadagavra.”
She paused and looked around. “You all know of Pasadagavra, the inland fortress of the squirrel Stone Tribe?” When heads nodded all around, she continued. “It will be attacked next because it blocks the passage through the mountains. The Darkwoods foxes intend to conquer the world, every thing and every place. I come to seek help to stop them before they can control the mountain passage—before they defeat Pasadagavra.”
“But the foxes won’t be able to defeat Pasadagavra—it’s too powerful!”
Zuryzel couldn’t see who made the comment, but it came from her right. “Until recently, this was just a conquest by the foxes of Darkwoods. And if that is all it was, I think you are right—the Ranger Mice have been helping us, too, and I think Pasadagavra could withstand the foxes alone. But about a month ago, many crews of corsairs arrived to aid the foxes, led by Demmons.”
Cries erupted from the corsairs, some of comprehension, some of anger and indignation. Zuryzel held up her paw, hoping that it would silence them. Surprisingly enough, it did.
“King Hokadra has sent me with a message to all I could find: We need help defeating the foxes and corsairs. We will offer, to every captain and crew who helps us, a reasonable”—she cast a look at Ailur—“amount of loot from either the Wraith Mice fortresses, the Darkwoods fortress, or from Pasadagavra. And of course there would be whatever Demmons and his allies have.”
There was silence for a long moment at the end of her speech. Then a ferret spoke up—apparently, he was a captain.
“Ye say that there be other crews aside from Demmons. Which other crews?”
“I do not know all of them,” began Zuryzel. “I only know that Epoi, Riorat, Snillouf, and Redseg are there.”
“Probably Uddio too,” mused the captain. “We ain’t seen ’im in cycles.”
“Horeb also,” piped up the musician. “We ain’t seen ’im in ages!”
A ferret leaped up from where he had been sitting. “On me soul, Princess, I’m comin’ wid yeh after Horeb! Aye, wid my crew, too!” he declared.
“Same goes fer me ’n’ my crew!” added another voice.
As every single captain and crewmember in the tavern yelled his or her agreement, Zuryzel distinctly heard Grayik mutter, “Ach, shovin’ back off, an’ I only got ’ere yesterday!” But Zuryzel sensed he was smiling.