Chapter 1

Dawn clouds streamed the skies as the morning sun peeped over the horizon. The seas shimmered from the reflection cast by the great ball of light. Sands from the shore neighbored the sea. They connected to the grass that was shimmering like the sea, but from the early morning dew. A few meters inland would reveal the gigantic mass of rock that was Salamandastron, the great mountain of fire lizards.

The whole of the extinct volcano was a mountain fortress, a guard to the shores of Mossflower. There were windows here and there and many, many tunnels, corridors, chambers, rooms, staircases, and halls carved their way through the mountain, making it also home to many creatures. A Badger Lord and/or lived there and ruled the mountain, and once he or she passed on in battle or retired from their career, fate would choose another badger or badgers to rule the mountain. But the badgers were not the only creatures that lived here. Their friends and loyal companions, the hares, also lived here and served as guards and infantry to the mountain's defense. But there was also a special squad of hares called the Long Patrol that went on special missions and aided Mossflower in times of need. Most females served as cooks and helped to clean the mountain, but some served in the mountain's defense and were in the Long Patrol, just like the one that starts this story…

A hare named Swiftpaw walked around the outer shell of the extinct volcano on her usual guard route, whistling an old tune of Salamandastron. On her head was a spiked silver helm. She walked around in a velvet green tunic and was carrying a rather large spear. She rested it on her right shoulder, strutting around the mountain without a care in the world. But there was something to care about. Something that was a threat to all Mossflower. Smiling and whistling the song, she walked about, and was thankful when she heard a loud, long drill whistle blow.

"Okay, chaps, great job, I say, but time for brekkers, wot!" said a familiar voice. It was Colonel Whipscuttle Greenrage Ferrimord. All hares on duty immediately stopped what they were doing to go inside the mountain's Mess Hall for breakfast. As Swiftpaw got in line to go inside the gates, she saw Colonel Ferrimord slip her a wink. She just smiled as she passed him. He slipped something into her paws as she passed.

"Give it to Lord Redfury," he whispered, but it was so quiet and sneaky that no one noticed the command but Swiftpaw. She nodded and continued inside.

She walked with the rest of the group through a series of tunnels and rooms, all lit by torches and lamps. As the rest of the hares entered the Mess Hall, she turned left and went down another corridor. She went down, down, and down some more until she finally came to the very center of the mountain itself: the forgery. She rapped loudly on the door and waited for a reply.

"Come in," answered a gruff, raspy voice. She obeyed and opened the door quietly. What she came into was a gigantic room with a forge at the center. Weapons, armor, and other things that had been made by badgers of Salamandastron lined the walls. It was all dark, so Swiftpaw could barely see. The only lights were the flames of the forge.

"What is it?" demanded a voice, but the voice got softer as it spoke again: "Oh, it's you, Swiftpaw, my hard-working guard! So, why have you come to my forge today?"

"Well," answered the female hare nervously, "Colonel Ferrimord wanted me to give this to you." She revealed the piece of rolled up parchment and gave it to the large badger that came out of the shadows. It was Lord Redfury the Brave, the Badger Lord of Salamandastron at that time. He unrolled it and murmured some things to himself, too mixed up and rough for Swiftpaw to hear. Slowly, a frown played onto Redfury's face. He sculpted the piece of parchment into a ball and threw it into one of the shadows of his forge.

"Tell Colonel Ferrimord to assemble the troops along the volcano rim, and then tell him to come down to the forge. I want to have a word with him."

"Yessir," she said quickly. She then bowed and exited the room.