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Darkfire Stargazer
Song of the Savage - Chapter Nine: Misguiding Light

The moon rose upon the island, but Luna's light could not penetrate the miserable depths of the bamboo forest. Within, Seargeant Tygura the stoat was hopelessly lost. He and a small pawful of corsairs had gotten separated from the main group from the Sayladar during their trek. Where the Sayladar's crew had gone east across the island, Tygura had led his band, calling themselves the Tigerpaws, accidentally south. Seargeant Tygura was a strange stoat, covered from ears to tail in intricate tattoos, including tiger stripes upon his right paw. His favorite weapon was the bagh-nakh, or "Tiger-Claws," which was a strip of metal worn across the knuckles, with claw-like blades protruding. Seargeant Tygura had been the leader of the Tigerpaws gang, and the group still kept their name after joining Morgan's crew. Tygura and his Tigerpaws were fairly tough for a gang of petty Mossflower thugs. Now, however, the fierce reputation of the Tigerpaws meant nothing in the darkness of the unfamiliar forest. They had been moving in circles for at least a few hours, unaware that their comrades were no longer among the bamboo. Tygura was getting desperate, and was having trouble hiding this from his gang. With an inward growl, the stoat swung out his right paw with frustration. His bagh-nahk blades caught several thinner stalks of bamboo, with a leafy thud. Wiping sweat from his brow, Tygura started to move on, then took a step back towards the severed plants. His dark eyes lit up almost visibly in the heavy darkness, speaking as softly as his excitement would allow. "Hey.. You with the torch, Verimm, get that light o'er here.. There's a good beast. Now see here, my 'Paws.. We'll make an arrow showing which direction we've gone, that way if we end up going in a circle, we can see which direction not to take, hmm?" Smirking with newly regained confidence, Seargeant Tygura arranged the sliced bamboo shafts in the shape of an arrow upon the ground, indicating the direction in which they were headed. For some time they trekked through the exhaustingly dense foliage, until the unfortunate torchbearer, Verimm, stopped with a faint wail. "Boss, sir, I found th' arrer.." With a miserable look, the rat held his small torch close to the ground, illuminating the bamboo arrow. As he did so, however, another arrow came into view a short distance away from the first. Various gasps of panic arose from the assembled Tigerpaws. Not only were they horribly lost, but they were being tricked. After some thought, Tygura spoke up gruffly. "Listen.. somebody wants us going in one of these directions.. an' rather than take that fifty-fifty chance, I say we choose another direction, see?" There was a general murmur of agreement from the disheartened Tigerpaws, and they moved on in a new direction. Some time later, as the group was ready to collapse and give themselves up for dead, a cry rose up from a weary ferret. "Light ahead! Torches, an' lots of 'em!" Everybeast paused a moment, then broke into a headlong dash, crashing through the bamboo towards the lightsource. They shouted for their fellow crewbeasts, roaring with relief. However, the torches kept moving, as if not hearing the voices calling out to them. Perplexed but determined, the Tigerpaws ran after the moving torches, not even stopping to realize how astounding it was that so many torches could be lit without somehow catching on the dense bamboo around them. None of that mattered to the stranded gang, only the chance at again seeing the night sky from the safety of the Sayladar. As they kept running, Tygura took note that they were moving uphill gradually. After another few minutes, the stoat Seargeant noticed they were moving back downhill. However, the downhill trek was much steeper and longer than it had been upwards, so they were moving to much lower ground. The bamboo around them grew thinner, and as they moved further, the torchlight grew dimmer. Suddenly, as quickly as they had appeared, the distant torches vanished. Amongst the discouraged groans of the Tigerpaws, a loud shout cut the air. "Eeyagh!! Dusccin! 'E.. 'E was just 'ere and now 'e's not!" The rat Verimm was looking pale with shock in the weak light of his small torch, staring dead-eyed at the ground next to him, which was at the edge of a fairly large clearing. A thin shaft of moonlight fell upon the empty ground upon which Verimm's gaze was fixated. Ogrilkt, a sleepy- looking ferret, placed a paw upon the spot, only to leap back with a squeak as the earth attempted to suck him down into its depths as it had Dusccin. Tygura spoke grimly as he stared at the clearing, which he had just noticed extended almost fully around the group... "Marshland. Mates, we've been tricked right badly. Nobeast move unless you wish to visit our friend Dusccin.. We'll have to figure a way out of this place.." ((To be continued...))