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Young Dinny brandished a dagger, he was decked out in a many-colored fringed silk sash and brass sea
rat earrings.
 Haharr, we m a roight drefful rabble an ready furr foighten owt.
Bella returned the salute as she tried to hide a smile.
In the for ard cabin of Wuddshipp, Martin spoke secretly with five strong, experienced otters. When he
emerged, the banks were thronged with a horde waiting upon his word. Every eye was upon him as he
sprang from the side of the vessel and waded ashore through the shallows. Timballisto had found his old
battle armor in the sea rat lockers. He came forward and buckled it on his friend in silence. Setting the
round war helmet firmly on Martin s head, he strapped the breastplate on and buckled the greaves about
the warrior s paws. Bella and the hares presented Martin with a scabbard and swordbelt which matched his
sword to perfection.
Martin turned to his army.
 Let us go and settle the score with Kotir!
Brogg cursed in the half-light before dawn as he tripped upon a coil of rope lying in the main hallway. The
place was a jumble of snaring equipment. The weasel Captain rubbed a bruised paw and wished he had not
been so enthusiastic on the previous day. Picking up the rope, he hurled it at Chinwart, as the rat was
settling down for a quick nap in the corner.
 Come on, dozychops. On your paws. I thought you were supposed to be helping me sort this mess
 What about the others? the rat yawned.  Why aren t they all awake and helping?
Brogg paused, letting go of the net he was dragging to the doorway.  Good idea. Why should I have to
do it all myself? Chinwart, go and kick them out of their billets, say that anyone who isn t ready to parade
smartly will be reported to the Queen.
The threat worked. A few moments later the hall was filled with sleepy soldiers; but seeing Tsarmina
was not about they offered no help. They lounged about, sitting on the stairs.
Brogg remembered Tsarmina s advice.
 Attention, he called.  First one out on the parade ground carrying a trap gets double supper this
evening. Anybody who lies about will be sentenced to half bread and water.
Chinwart grabbed three stakes and scuttled outside. The rest began half-heartedly picking up nets.
Chinwart came hurtling back inside.
 Cap n, they re out there! he said wildly.
 What are you yammering on about now, rat? Who s out there?
 Woodlanders! Go and see for yourself!
Recalling the last woodlander raid, Brogg acted with caution. He poked his head around the doorway
nervously, ready to pull back swiftly in case of arrows.
The main gates had been flung agape. Standing in the open with the dawn mist evaporating in the sun
around them were a number of creatures: a badger, a mouse in armor, and that brawny otter. Brogg did not
linger to see if there were others.
 Chinwart, go and rouse the Queen, quickly! he ordered.
Tsarmina came bounding down wide awake, she peered round the doorway with Brogg.
 So, at last they re showing themselves. Maybe we might not need the snares, Brogg. Perhaps they ve
walked straight into a trap.
 But, Milady, they re carrying a white flag. Doesn t that make them peaceable? Brogg protested.
 Don t believe all you see, Brogg. You re carrying a sword, but that doesn t make you a soldier. Let s
hear what they have to say.
As she stepped boldly out into the open, Tsarmina whispered out the side of her mouth at Brogg,  Get
the archers. Wait for my signal.
None of the deputation was armed, except the mouse who carried a sword to his side. Tsarmina
recognized him immediately, also the cheeky mousethief standing behind him. She curled her lip in scorn.
 Escaped prisoners and woodland rebels, what do you want?
 We are the leaders of the Corim come to deliver an ultimatum. The warrior mouse s voice was hard
and clear.
Tsarmina s mind was racing. All the leaders here in one place; they must not be allowed to escape alive.
Had Brogg organized those archers?
 Well, here I am, speak your piece. The wildcat Queen kept her voice deceptively calm. [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]


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