Arrûn the Fair fastened the straps on his polished silver béléthar cuirass and drew a rough, homespun stormy-blue cloak over it before buckling on his sword-belt and grasping the crosshandle on his shield. The silver-furred squirrel took a deep breath as he cast a parting glance around the soft white trees and calm evening shadows of the Ildré woodland.
"As ye know, we have been commissioned by the Magister Éû himself. By three days' passing we should be in Nezérun and getting an answer to all this confusion, if all goes well as it should. Everyone ready to march?"
Arrûn nodded to his company- three silver Ildré squirrels like himself, and the short mole dwarf wielding his hefty old mace -and the fivesome set off along the path through the Ildré Forest at a calm pace, silent and solemn.
Alongside the path the quiet streamlet twinkled and splashed merrily on its way eastward, and above and around them soft rays of sunlight penetrated the verdant leafy canopy above, giving the forest a scintillant, ancient beauty.
The mole especially enjoyed food, and after a half hour of silent marching he broke the silence. "Hmm, sure if the old tum doen't need fillin', maties...ah, these tatercakes should be jist the ticket, by ecky stump," he muttered as he riffled through his rough leather ration pack. He was a talker, and certainly lost no opportunity to talk about his favorite subject as he began munching on his rations.
"Ah sure, an' these old tatercakes have me tongue all a-hungerin' fer a good trifle, or a puddin' already; the tasteless bounders... ah, 'twould be a grand thing, a nice puddin' right now, don't ye wit, Fenz mate?"
"So 'twould," replied Fenzan, the silver squirrel's nut-brown eyes sparkling with newfound excitement at this prospect. He certainly was no stranger to food himself, diving into this fresh conversation topic with gusto. "Puddin'. Hmm, no, I'd take a whacking great walnut and almond pie, with all the trimmings. Hot from the oven. How does that sound, eh?"
"Oh, away wi' ye both," said the squirrel eldrûnir, Isindré. "I'm hungry too, you know!"
Arrûn smiled for a moment, then resumed a serious expression as his thoughts returned to the mission at hand.
The lack of reports from the northeasterly fortress of Nezérun during the past few moonfalls had alarmed the Auré Council and accordingly the High Magister, Éû, who immediately ordered a complete investigation led by a company of only his most trusted elite: Arrûn, Fenzan, Isindré, and Malizan the squirrels and Fwellt the mole, who were at this moment in departure to Nezérun in the north...