Sint woke slowly, swiveling his ears he tried to figure out where he was, “We’re in a cardboard box” said a little voice helpfully.
“Simon! What happened?” asked Sint anxiously, sitting up carefully he turned his head in the mouse’s direction, “I don’t know” said Simon scooting closer to Sint, “One minute we were talking and the next we were in a box”
Sint sighed, “Kakon isn’t going to be happy” he said, carefully stretching his wings in the cramped space while thinking about how to get them out.
Simon squeaked as Sint accidentally hit him with the tip of his wing, “What are we going to do?” asked the little mouse, trying to sound brave even as he moved closer to Sint.
“I don’t know” admitted Sint, rather reluctantly, “but Kakon and Nora will come looking for me when they discover I’m gone, of course we still need to be ready if a chance to escape comes”
“Okay” replied Simon, “but what if they don’t come and we can’t escape?” he asked.
“They’ll come!” said Sint confidently.
If he had known that, at that moment Kakon and Nora were having serious problems of their own, he might have been a little less sure.
2 hours earlier
“Nora! We don’t have time to play around” said Kakon, with an exasperated sigh.
Nora pouted playfully, “you never let me have any fun” she said, but in such a teasing tone that Kakon was only just able to keep his smile in check.
“You can’t behave like a hooligan” he lectured her, “you will have my responsibilities and more when you are but a little bit older”
Nora sobered up instantly, “I still don’t believe that horrible old prophecy!” she said, “you’ll outlive us all, see if you don’t!”
Kakon shook his head gravely, “if the prophecy is wrong, than you and Sint are little more than pawns in a game that neither of you can control” he said a blank look on his normally expressive face, “if the prophecy is true? Than you will both be far more important than this old cat”
Nora sniffed, whether from sadness or because she disagreed, Kakon didn’t know but since she didn’t comment he left her alone and they walked the rest of the way to their destination in silence.
The Whole harvest tavern was the only respectable tavern for miles around, so of course on a friday night it was practically deserted and Kakon flicked his tail at a table in the back corner for Nora to sit at while he strolled up to a scruffy looking brown dog that was notorious for his rakish smile and for his ability to steal the whiskers from an animal’s snout without them even knowing.
“Captain Christen, how are you?” asked Kakon smiling at the roguish pirate captain.
“What? No “old sea dog” jokes?” asked Christen, grinning at his friend, “you must be really worried about something!” he quaffed the last of his drink and the pair headed back to the table where Nora was absent-mindedly playing with the salt shaker.
“What news?” asked Kakon anxiously.
“Not much” drawled Christen causally, “just thought you would want to know that the Mad Kitty Cat is definitely in town”
“Not really a surprise, but why would Lady Bella come here?” asked Kakon, almost to himself.
“Well, I know that too” said Christen, “she recently bought a certain book that contains secrets that only matter at the Rushing caves” he said rather cryptically but Kakon understood him and the cat’s eyes widened in horror, “She’s trying to raise the Menlin demon” he whispered, fright clear on his face and mirrored on Nora’s gray features as well.
Christen nodded, “I hope you don’t mind if I don’t stick around” he said hopping to his paws and bowing to them both, before leaving through the back door and heading in the direction of the harbor.
Kakon often wondered afterwards if Christen had known what was coming because just seconds after his departure the front door banged open and a band of cats, dogs and assorted forest “critters” came in, in front of them strutted a red fox resplendent in a long silver cape, a large purple hat with a lone black feather sticking up from it and a smirk on his face that was so wide it looked as though his jaw would split, “no such luck!” thought Nora while Kakon sent her a reproving look as though he knew what she was thinking, “Lord Nox, what a pleasure” he said coldly to the fox.
“Not a very nice welcome, was it lads?” asked the fox of his crew before turning his attention back to Kakon, “I only want what is mine” he said.
“The dagger is not your’s, it belongs to the child” said Kakon, nodding at Nora.
“You stole it from me!” huffed Nox, his eyes glittering in triumph when Nora hissed in an angry tone, “it belonged to my grandfather first!”
“Perhaps…. But it was still stolen from me” said Nox in a mock sad voice.
“Only after you had taken it from a helpless kitten” said Kakon sternly, “It’s allegiance is Nora’s and there is nothing you can do to change that”
The fox paused as though thinking, “unless..” he started slowly, “unless, I won it back in a duel”
Kakon shook his head, “no, she is to young for that”
“perhaps you would volunteer instead then?” asked Nox politely, as his men closed in on the table.
Kakon gauged the situation quicker than it takes to tell and knew he had no choice but to agree, albeit reluctantly.
“A duel it is then!!” shouted the fox jumping on the nearest table top and dancing what vaguely resembled a jig, “To the arena!” he shouted, as his men half dragged Kakon and Nora to a large field where even more animals were waiting to watch what would surely be a duel to remember.