On an island surrounded by raven guards, a squirrel raced up the stairs of the Castle to the king. Kneeling before the dark hedgehog, the squirrel gave his report.

"Your Majesty, the ravens are ready. They will do anything to avenge the Silver Prince, just as you predicted."

"Good, good." The hedgehog king said, nodding slowly. The ebony crown on his head glinted darkly.

An otter entered the room. "Your Majesty, the ships are ready. We have loaded them with supplies, and chambers have been prepared for when the ravens need to rest. There are also chambers for the riders, and plenty of food and drink."

"Excellent, Char." The king purrs. "And Birch, order the smaller animals to mount the ravens and the larger ones to board the ships."

The squirrel darts away, shouting to prepare to leave. Char looks at the king.

"What shall I do, Your Majesty?"

"You will board a ship and sharpen your sword." The hedgehog tells him. Char runs down to the shore to get a spot on one of the best boats. Another otter arrives at the king's chamber.

"Your boat's ready, Your Majesty. Chief Bolak's in it, and he's set the course. Lord Shike and Lady Shaya are there too, with Lord Hrashk and Lady Craila. Lady Craila, she's a mess because Koplut had to go in another boat. We've got nice chambers in another boat for Prince Joln and Princess Kilna, don't worry about them. That son of yours has more bodyguards than can fit in one boat. On your boat, there's a nice chamber set up for you and the queen, and an out of the way chamber for Archraven Raken and the Lady Raveness when they land. Sable's in that chamber now, taking care of little Poy, and-"

The hedgehog king siezed the otter's throat. "Stop your babbling, Troy, and take me to that boat!"

Troy gasped for breath as the king dropped him. "Right away, Your Majesty." He said, leading the king to a large ship, where a tall male squirrel and a female squirrel who was rubbing her eyes were waiting.

"Hrashk, Craila." The king greeted them. " Take me to my chamber and signal the otters to launch the ships."

"Of course, Your Majesty." The tall squirrel said, putting his arm around Craila. "This way, Your Majesty."

The kind followed the squirrels to a large, well-furnished chamber where a pretty female hedgehog was sitting on a silk bed, smoothing her spines.

"Your Majesties, if you need anything, there are guards just outside the door." Hrashk said, bowing as he took Craila's paw. "Hush, our son will be fine." He told her quietly, leading her from the room. The door swung shut behind the squirrels.

"Aria, have you been here long?" the king asks the queen.

"No, Zephier. I only just got here. And Bolak has been most kind, arranging for good food to be sent as soon as you arrived."

"We will have all the food we can eat when we invade Mistmantle. That beautiful island, all mine! All who oppose Conquer Isle will be crushed. All those gems..." Zephier says. "Yes, Mistmantle will be mine!"