Terrouge E-zine Archives
BoH: Chapter 1
"Lyra!" The voice echoed out of the riverbank, filling the woodland glade.
"Coming, Mum," called Lyra, getting slowly to her feet and stretching. She was certainly attractive. Few otters possessed her natural beauty. Her long, shining hair was a glossy midnight black. Reaching to her waist, it was bound loosely at her neck by a green cord. She wore an oversized dirty white shirt, once her father's. It was short-sleeved on her father's huge figure, but on her, the baggy sleeves hung down past her elbows. It was V-necked, with the collar torn half-way down the front of the shirt. Her mother had never bothered to mend it when it belonged to Lyra's father, but now it was stitched up most of the way with thick black cording. The shirt was so long that Lyra wore it as a tunic. It came down just past her hips, and was restrained at the waist by a black cord. It was crude, but it couldn't quite conceal her lovely figure. Protruding from underneath her tunic was a pair of baggy green pants, also once belonging to her father. She was tall, the size of most adult otters. She wasn't quite an adult, but certainly no longer a child. She went barefoot, preferring the soft forest floor to the hard, coarse feel of boots.
Clambering nimbly down the bank, she slid into a small hole just above water level. She scrambled through the narrow tunnel and emerged into their small home. It's real name was Holt Jerin, but no one ever bother to call it that. It was too small to be considered a real holt, so everyone just called it 'Kyn's Place'. Kyn was Lyra's fater, and the holt was named after her grandfather, Jerin. It was a small home, but they didn't mind. There was the central room, where Lyra was now standing: it was a combination kitchen/dining room/parlour. A small table was set off to one side with a log bench up against it; this was where they ate their meals. Near it was a long bench covered with her mother's pots, pans, and cooking ingredients. Against the far wall were two chairs, one belonging to her mother, and one to her father. Between these was the simple stone fireplace, which vented up through a hole on the surface. There were two doors, one leading to her parents bedroom, and one leading to hers.
Lyra's mother was standing at her bench, wrapping up some hotcakes in a handkerchief. "Lyra, take these to your father, please. He's out in the north field today. With Kal and Jordan, I daresay. They started the seedin' today, y'know."
Lyra ran up to her mother, retrieved the bundle, deposited a quick kiss on her cheek, and was gone.
Several otter holts along the banks of the River Moss shared a number of pastures. They worked together to grow and harvest the crops, then they split the produce among themselves. It was one such field, situated north of Holt Jerin, that Lyra dashed into, breathless, and skidded to a stop, slightly embarrassed. Her father was there, working at something on the far side of the field. Between him and herself were Kal, her father's close friend, and his son Jordan. Jordan, bare-chested, wearing only his white short-legged pants, was on the cart. He was the same age as she was, born only a few days earlier. He was tossing burlap bags of seed down to Kal, who was dressed in his usual white pants and green shirt, the latter of which was unbuttoned half-way due to the unusual heat of the sunny spring morning. Lyra walked cheerily toward them.
Kal looked up and nodded at her, catching another bag and setting it in a stack. "Mornin' missy," he said. "Rekk brought the seed from Redwall yesterday. Abbott Cedric gave it to 'im easy, only half 'o what we paid last year. Mana's still down there, left yesterday...he's gettin' the seed for the west field. Brought brekkist for your dad, eh?"
"Yes. Mum's special hotcakes."
Jordan looked up and saw her for the first time, and grinned. He looked a little embarrased, she thought. "G'day, Lyra. Hey, how 'bout tossin' me one o' those hotcakes there?" he said, smiling.
Lyra laughed and smiled at him. "You had your own breakfast this mornin', you greedy pig," she said. "If you want more, go complain to your mum."
She smiled cheekily at him as she passed. She approached her father, who was cutting back some bushes from the field with an axe. "Mornin', Da," she said merrily.
Kyn turned around, a big smile on his tired face. He wore the same attire he wore everyday, his big white short-sleeved shirt and black pants, and his hard brown boots. "Lyra!" he beamed. "Glorious sunrise this morn', eh?"
"That it was," she said. "Here's your breakfast...Mum's hotcakes."
Kyn took the bundle from her and quickly untied it. He sat down on a log as he ate. She sat cross-legged in front of him and talked with him about the seeds, and about Kal and Jordan, and about how oddly low for this season the river was of late. Just as he was standing up and wiping the crumbs off his hands, the big otter she knew well as Mana came running quickly into the field, a look of near-panic on his face. Kyn and Jordan came running from the other side of the field.
"Mana, what is it?" asked her father, growing concerned. "Y'look like you've seen a ghost!"
"I...I just came from Redwall," he said breathlessly. "The abbey is under siege!"