Tales from Salamandastron: The Patrol

Story by Bellicose B on SoFurry

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Hello hello :}

This is something I've been frantically working on for the past few days now... it's a bit of fan-fic smut for Redwall. Though in all honesty, "a bit" might be the wrong term for it. It's the biggest piece I've ever written for SoFurry. Still, I couldn't be more proud of it. Even if you have never read the Redwall series, it should be easy enough to grasp. It's just furries, really.

As much as I want everyone here to enjoy my work, I have to advise those of you who hate gay Bunny-on-Badger action (or those of you who are under 18) to please direct your attention elsewhere. No offense, but there is a lot of that kinda stuff in the following work.

Alright. That's about it. Please drop me a comment or a vote if you like what you see, and I hope you enjoy. Oh, and before I forget, you can skip to the good bits by typing in Ctrl+F and entering "Now come over here". But I wouldn't recommend it. This story is a bit more narrative-based than my others.

Either way, have fun :3


The Spring Season had only just begun to properly settle over the western shores of Mossflower Country, and yet already the fair, salty winds coming in off of the coast had adopted that pleasant sort of warmth which heralded the return of clearer skies and more agreeable temperatures. The harsh waves of the western seas beat a rather more mellow tempo against the sandy beaches at this time of year, and all along the coast could be seen the joyous signs of life returning after a long, brutal Winter.

Nowhere was this revival more obvious than at the great mountain of Salamandastron, fortress-domain of the mighty Long Patrol and their Badger Lord.

An ancient, towering monolith of volcanic rock and shale, the seaside mountain of Salamandastron had long been the home of Mossflower Country's most valiant defenders. For untold ages its inhabitants had endured the elements of wind and ocean storm, standing brave against the countless invasions and raids of the manifold vermin pirate crews which infested the western seas. The hares of the Long Patrol and their Lord- the longstanding guardians of Salamandastron- were seasoned warriors, proud and sure of their strength, and it was only by their great efforts that the shores of Mossflower and all of the vast woodlands beyond remained safe from the perils that loomed beyond the western horizon.

The mountain and its brave residents had endured the cold of the oceanside Winter much the same as they always had, and like the rest of Mossflower Country they too reveled in the return of the dazzling sun and the warm winds which Spring brought along with it. Brilliant, golden gorse flowers and fair, tropical daises quickly sprouted along the lofty sides of the mountain to greet the new Season, adding splashes of cheerful color to the somber, coastal monument, and great flocks of gulls began to form their nests within the newly decorated crevices and nooks. The hares of the Long Patrol were eager to escape from the confines of their old fortress after a long Season spent indoors, and their first patrols along the coast lingered along their circuits as they savored the new air of Spring.

A few short miles from the mountain stronghold, one such patroller halted atop a cropping of mist-sprayed rocks to look out over the calm seas and take in the sight of the glorious, early-Spring revival. Duty compelled him to finish his rounds- Salamandastron hares were rigidly strict in their methods and discipline- but the allure of the briny winds and warm sun proved far too tempting for the young soldier to ignore, and he set aside his lance upon the sand to lean down against the sunbaked rocks and take in their warmth. This was not the first time that he had loitered or dwindled away the duty hours while on patrol- not even close- and so any semblance of guilt the hare might have felt at shirking his responsibilities were far from his mind. Just a quick rest, and nobeast would know any better. A smile graced his whiskers as his light, creamy fur took on the heat of the agreeable sunlight.

Second Lieutenant Charles "Charred" McLane was not a typical Long Patrol hare, and in all truthfulness this might have been because he was not entirely a hare at all. Half rabbit, half hare, Charles had always been the odd-beast-out among his fellows in the Long Patrol, and he had grown to be a far different sort of creature than the rough and tumble rank and file common to the mountain soldiers. His lean, slim body and limbs were thinner and daintier than those of the well-muscled hares he lived and trained besides, and his long, delicate ears hung limp against the side of his head in stiff contrast to the rigid, proudly pointed ears of his comrades. His pale, velvety fur was softer, his whiskers more curled, his voice more gentle... all in all he was almost nothing like a regular, boisterous Salamandastron hare, and he knew it. Every-beast knew it.

Charles's cheerful grin faded a mite as that thought- ever on his mind- returned to him in force. He noted a small, cherry-red flower nestled amongst the rocks, and he reached aside to pluck it from the stem. He gazed upon the pretty little piece of Spring, and soon his thoughts slipped into a sort of poetic melancholy- an air sadly inherited from his rabbit blood.

This flower and I are quite alike, he noted to himself. Fragile, beautiful things that do not belong on this rugged, unfair coast. How the winds of fate have been cruel to deliver ones such as us to a place like this. A soldier's life is no life for me, and you are far too lovely to rest upon such unstable sands. But... home is home, and we are both rooted. Well... me more than you now, at any rate.

He tucked the flower against his limp ear, slipping it gently into place so that the wind would not blow it away. The warmth of the gentle sunlight quickly dashed any sort of further foray into depressing thoughts such as those he had just dwelled upon, and his mind drifted as he dozed on the rocks.

This was why he so enjoyed his patrols and the hours he was able to spend alone along the warm, sandy shores. Here, there was no other creature to judge him- whether over his looks or his more delicate mannerisms- but himself. No bossy commandant, no bullying cadets, no overbearing officers. Just Charles and the warm sands. He smiled at the thought and scratched a black, off-colored patch of fur just to the side of his left ear, being careful not to displace his flower. It was this dark blotch among his otherwise pale fur that had earned him his nickname, "Charred".

A silly sort of name, that. Still, I 'spose it could be worse. Better than "droopy-ears" or "dainty-paws"...

The memories of those old nicknames brought a frown to his muzzle, and he shook his head, reminding himself that he was there to relax. Here, there was no need for such names. Here he could unwind and forget about his rather unfitting occupation and the comrades who had picked on him since Academy. Spring was here- and with it, his patrols- and at last he was free once again. His eyes slowly slid to a close as he was treated to the calming, serene sounds of the ocean breezes and the gentle waves, and before long he fell to slumber there amongst the rocks, confident that he would wake in time to report in on schedule.


His confidence was sadly misplaced.

It wasn't until nearly sun-down that Charles awoke. At first his eyes only blinked against the oncoming sunlight, his long lashes flickering as he slowly came to, and then he awoke with a sudden start, grabbing at his lance as he hastily stood. The sky had gone crimson above him while he had slept, and he hurriedly noted the position of the sun to gauge the time.

I was supposed to check back in just after noon-time! It'll be half-past-bloody midnight by the time I get back now!

"Hellsgates," he cursed under his breath as he dashed back south down the coastline. He tried not to imagine the stern, glowering faces of his superiors, shaking their heads and twitching their whiskers in disappointment, or the strict punishment sure to follow for his inexcusable indolence. With every step he berated himself for his thoughtlessness.

This is the third time that you've gotten yourself into this mess, you bloody fool. Half the bally old platoon's gonna be on your 'ide for this one. By the Seasons, I'm so late!

His estimation of the time was not far off, and indeed the sun had well and truly sunk over the horizon when at last he again saw great Salamandastron in the star-lit distance. He was tired from having run so very far, but he could not slow down, not when the last stretch of the trek was now before him. He hastened home as quickly as he could manage, his long, powerful feet kicking up sand as he loped across the coastal dunes. The mountain loomed ever closer to him as he went, and so caught up was he in his fears of punishment and his focus on his running that he failed to notice the other runner until it was too late.

A great, heavy body slammed into him from behind, catching him in a wicked tackle, and together he and his attacker tumbled down the side of a dune and into the wet sands below. Charles might not have been as strong as his fellow hares, but he had still been trained to defend himself all the same, and with a skilled twist of his torso and a mighty kick from his powerful hind leg he sent his assailant flying off of him and into the shallow waters. He quickly rolled to his feet and clutched at his lance, turning aside to face whomever it was he had tossed into the gentle waves.

Vermin!? So close to Salamandastron?

But his fears were proven false. A familiar face and a large, lanky body quickly surfaced, shaking the water from his soaked, sandy uniform as he rose, and Charles lowered his guard slowly as he realized that his attacker was not a true threat. It was only another of the patrol runners, Bosum Scuttley. The insolent hare grinned cheekily at him from the shallows, cocking his head to the side and sending his wet ears flopping about.

"Well well, little dainty-paws... some-beast's been practicing, wot? H'wasn't a half-bad kick ye dealt me there. Almost hurt."

Charles frowned at the mention of that accursed nickname. It was Bosum who had invented the loathsome moniker back when they were both just cadets, and he alone had made sure that it remained in use, even so many seasons later. He watched the larger hare strut back to dry sands, wringing out his soaked ears as he went.

"I thought you were a vermin, Bosum," Charles said with an attempt at a stern, warning tone. He was in no mood to be hassled with, not when he was already sure to get his fill of misery from the commandant for his inexcusable tardiness.

Bosum smiled, although there was surely no good spirit in the act. He was a rare and exceedingly horrid breed of hare: a pure bully, through and through. The both of them had no reservations about their contempt for each other. Bosum had always been the stronger of the two, Charles the fairer. Charles had always been a more eloquent speaker, Bosum the better fighter. Bosum saw in Charles everything that could make a Salamandastron hare weak, and Charles saw in his long-time bully only the qualities that he most despised about his half-hare heritage. They had been enemies from the first, and no amount of training, drills or discipline could keep them from that truth.

The larger hare casually approached him, stopping just a hairs-breadth from Charles's muzzle. Their whiskers touched, an obscenely offensive breach of personal space, and it took every inch of Charles's restraint not to buckle in the face of the challenge. Bosum had always been bigger, tougher and more powerful than he, and looking up into the hare's eyes it was clear just how well Bosum knew this fact and relished it. They had fought before... Charles didn't delight in the prospect of a rematch. Not now.

"If I h'was a vermin," he said with just a hint of a threat in his deep voice, "ye'd already be dead, little rabbet."

Bosum took another step forward, forcing Charles back a pace. He began to feel pinned, trapped with his hated enemy in front and the tall dunes at his back. Bosum grinned wickedly, seeming to sense his apprehension; he knew just how much Charles disliked fighting. His considerable paw came up and tickled the smaller beast's chin with a claw, chuckling as Charles weakly shoved aside the offensive touch.

"Ye've no need to be so nervous, ye little sop. I've not got the time to bother with the likes of ye tonight. I've my own patrol to run." His smile widened cruelly. "And you've got a date with the Lord and the Major."

"What?"

Any attempts to hide his fear became useless at that point. He'd been reprimanded by Major Tawgs Bradley before- six times, in fact, over the course of his service in the Long Patrol- and by now he and the Major knew each other well. He knew what to expect from Bradley: cleaning details, grueling watch shifts, reduced rations. The usual punishments.

But to meet Lord Cross as well? The Badger Lord had only ever spoken to him once in all the years he had lived and served at Salamandastron, back during his graduation from the Academy, and Charles knew well that the Lord's involvement now could only serve as the highest indicator of his crime's severity. Lord Cross was a busy creature; if he had been called to mete out judgement, it might very well mean corporal punishment... or worse.

Dishonorable discharge and exile from Salamandastron.

Bosum noticed the look of helpless fear that crossed Charles's face. He smirked. "Yes sah. Heard it from Lieutenant Griggory meself, wot wot. You're in for a right proper dressing down now, and no mistake. Serves ye right too. Tis not the first time ye've mucked up a simple patrol."

He gave the smaller beast a shove, pushing him off balance and into the sand. "Now ye run along, little dainty-paws. I'm shah the Major and his Lordship are waiting on ye, heheh."

With that Bosum turned aside and jogged off down the coast, leaving Charles in the sand with nothing but embarrassment at his humiliation and fearful thoughts over his punishment to come. He rose with a sigh, hating himself for his cowardice as he dusted himself off and tried to calm his nerves. His paw gripped tightly at the handle of his lance, his claws scoring the polished wood.

At least none of the others saw that, he thought sullenly. Then I'd have the whole platoon talking about how I had my tail handed to me by Bosum again, on top of the fact that I'm due a reprimand from the bloody Lord himself.

He stabbed his lance into the sand, furious at himself now for more reasons than one, and wrenching it free he began to march back up the face of the dune. Along the way he plucked up the little, crimson flower that had slipped off of his head during the fall. He gingerly replaced it back along the side of his limp, floppy ear as he walked.

Salamandastron- and his punishment- awaited him.


Lord Cross "of the Crimson-Eyes" watched the lone officer approach the mountain fortress from the vantage point of his window high atop Salamandastron. He'd witnessed from afar the confrontation between young Charles and that upstart Bosum Scuttley. It was not the first time that he'd noted their ill-will towards each other, and many times he had overheard his senior officers discussing the troubling matter of their rivalry. It had been the cause of a good deal of admonishments and punishments for them both.

The massive badger Lord sighed gruffly. It distressed him to see two fine young officers caught in such a petty, vicious rivalry.

He turned away from the narrow slit of the window- which was really nothing more than a slim arrow hole cut into the side of the mountain- to face his company, the Major Tawgs Bradley. The morbidly obese little creature had settled into a humble, loudly groaning chair not designed to handle his weight, and currently he had occupied himself with devouring the plate of honey-oat and raspberry scones that had been set out for him. Salamandastron hares were notorious eaters, and old Bradley was a perfect example of what happened to hares who let their appetites overwhelm their discipline. But he was a good soldier- old, experienced and well mannered- and Cross had learned over the many Seasons of his rule to trust in the portly beast's judgement.

"What do you recommend?" he asked the Major conversationally, leaning back against the stony wall as he folded his thick, muscular arms across his broad chest. The Major's mouth was currently stuffed with about half a dozen scones, and so his immediate response was quite unintelligible.

"Durh whakt shah? Ogh... shurrie."

Cross chuckled as the fat, old beast hurriedly chewed the sticky pastries which prevented him from speaking, and with one great gulp he downed all of the scones at once. Even for a hare, that was no small feat. Seizing a dainty napkin from the waist-table, he dabbed at his lips and bushy mustachio, clearing them of crumbs and jam before speaking.

"Ahem. Pardon me, milord. You were saying, sah?"

The burly old badger continued speaking as if nothing had occurred. "The Second Lieutenant, Charles McLane. What do you recommend we do with him, Major?"

Bradley set the now-emptied plate of scones aside on the waist-table, harrumphing. "That young ripscut? Bah, a waste of a good uniform, that un' is. This'll be the third time he's wandered off on patrol without so much as a blinkin' word in to Command. Hellsgates, tis already half-past bloody midnight, and there's still no sign of the little snippet. He's got not a scrap o' respect for Command or discipline. I think it's high and proper time for him to shape up or ship out, sah, and no mistake. He's been warned fah too many times already."

Cross nodded respectfully, although in his heart he wasn't quite as ready to send the young creature into exile. Pitiable though his service record had been, he knew well that it had been hard for young Charles McLane from the beginning. He could not entirely be blamed for his failures. The badger turned aside to peak out of the window, noting that the officer in question had disappeared from the beach. He was likely already inside the mountain and heading up this way.

The poor thing. It cannot be easy for him, staying here like he has.

Charles's mother- a fine soldier and a first rate scout who had served in the Long Patrol for many honorable seasons- had perished whilst bringing the young mix-breed into the world, and he had never even had the chance to meet his father. Born as he was with half the blood of a rabbit, he lacked the natural strength and warrior's spirit that was well-bred into pure Salamandastron hares, and he had suffered for it in his training and upbringing. He was teased by the other hares for his softness and gentility. All of the higher officers knew this, and yet they did not bring a stop to the abuse, afraid as they were to coddle the young soldier. With no father or mother to guide him, and with few friends within the ranks, it was of little surprise to Cross that Charles had difficulties with his duties. It made a great deal of sense that he had stayed out for as long as he had while on patrol... Salamandastron must not have felt very much like home.

Cross understood how that felt better than any-beast.

"Where do you think he would go, Major, if I did send him away from Salamandastron?"

Bradley made a rude noise, his mustache twitching furiously. "I can't very well figure, milord. Probably someplace where he can loaf about all day, I'd wager. Seems to jolly well be all he does round hereabouts, wot wot?"

Cross tried to picture young Charles, out and alone in the harsh wilderness without company or friends. Whether or not he had enjoyed his time here, Salamandastron had been the young soldier's home since he was born. He had little experience in the world outside and all the dangers that it entailed. He had never even been in a proper battle before. The badger's meaty paws dug into the sides of his furry arms anxiously as he imagined the little mix-breed, forced to fight against the vicious vermin raiders that infested Mossflower Country, all alone.

No, he decided. It cannot be borne. I cannot send him from this place when it is all he has ever known. I will have to think of something else.

At that moment a sharp knock sounded at the door to the Lord's chambers, and Cross straightened. He nodded solemnly to Bradley, who struggled to rise from his seat before waddling forward to open the door. As expected, the door swung open to reveal a rather nervous looking and winded Charles McLane, who saluted smartly before his superiors. Cross noted with some amusement the brief, panicked glance that McLane tossed at him, and he remembered that the young creature had never before had a personal audience with him.

"Sirs! Reporting as ordered, fresh from patrol, sirs!

Major Bradley didn't seem at all impressed with the presentation of the young officer, and he gave Charles a cruel glare as he looked him up and down. He frowned at the rumpled uniform and sandy breeches.

"Well, sah. A fine and dandy time of day, is it not, Second Lieutenant? You're a mite early, if I may say so. We hadn't expected ye till next mornin', or perhaps mid-day tea? Get your sorry scut in here, McLane. Move smart, wot wot!"

McLane did as he was ordered, standing at attention in the center of the Lord's chambers. Cross remained silent, content for the moment to simply observe as Bradley meted out the well-warranted scolding. The old campaigner was a professional in the art of lecturing young, inexperienced hares, and Cross struggled to hide a mirthful smirk as he watched the scene unfold.

"Lackadaisical, lazy, lay-about, limp-eared little tot! This's three times too many for ye now, and make no mistake about it, young sah! Were it not for respect of his Lordship, I'd box your sorry ears all over this mountain, aye, and still have more left to teach ye in the mornin'. And look at ye! Your uniform's a disgrace, and... what in the Name of All Seasons is that?"

The portly major snatched his paw out to Charles's head, plucking a small, vividly colored flower from just behind the young beast's ear. Bradley looked at the flower, and then back at the Second Lieutenant, his face a picture of mock astonishment.

"Aha. So that'd be the reason for ye lateness, eh Second Lieteunant? Pickin' bonny flowers from the hillocks like a wee schoolbabe... tch!"

He dropped the flower to the ground, stomping it underfoot. Years of warfare and the necessities of command had forged Cross Crimson-Eyes into a creature of unpatrolled strength and hardness, and yet even he flinched a little after noting the look of immense grief that briefly crossed Charles's face before he managed to hide it from the Major. Bradley went on, unheeding of the younger officer's emotions.

"If you're so fond of moseying about and pickin' flowers, I won't stop ye, young sah. Nay! In fact, I think ye should have plenty o' time to do just that, once ye've packed your bags and ridden us of your lazy hide! Tch. And to think of what ye're poor, old ma would have thought if she-"

"That's quite enough, Major Bradley."

The Major looked back at his Lord, confusion written across his greyed whiskers. His bushy mustache twitched furiously.

"Beggin' your pardon, sah?"

"I think he understands now what he's done. I will see to his punishment myself. You're dismissed."

The Major was clearly baffled at the interruption and his sudden dismissal, but he was a loyal hare, and with a stiff salute he removed himself from the chamber wordlessly, shutting the door behind him as he went. Cross watched him leave, restraining his face from betraying his own emotions. McLane had deserved reprimand for his failure- he was a soldier after all, and to be expected of certain conduct- but to mention his deceased mother in such a fashion was inexcusable. He would have to have a word with the Major about that at a more appropriate time. At the moment, however, he still needed to see to the matter of Second Lieutenant Charles McLane.

The crossbreed still stood smart at attention in the center of his Lord's chambers. After the Major had departed, a solitary tear had escaped from the young officer's eyes, and Cross watched as it descended, glistening, down his nose to fall upon a twitching whisker. He sighed gruffly at the pitiable sight.

By the seasons... Medley... what would you have done?

For a time he and the junior officer stood in silence while the badger Lord allowed young Charles to compose himself. In the meantime, Cross reflected on the teachings of his old hare mentor- now long since departed- and as he did so he watched the rigidly saluting soldier who still stood at attention before him.

He hides it well, but he's clearly in a state of extreme distress, Cross noted. He's trembling. Hellsgates, I think I can even smell the fear on him. Well... it cannot be helped. I must say something now. He has had enough time to prepare himself.

The massive badger removed himself from the wall to pace slowly before the young officer, and as he spoke he put on his most serious tone, mostly for good effect. He had a reputation to maintain, and despite the pity he felt for McLane there was still the serious matter of his waywardness to address.

"Second Lieutenant."

The young officer made a brisk salute at the sound of the badger's bass voice, his watery eyes fixed forward admirably.

"Milord?"

"This is the third time that you have failed to properly report from patrol, correct?"

McLane gave a quick nod, his ears briefly flopping about as he did so. "Sir. Yes sir."

"Hmm. Tell me then... do you understand the requirements of your position, and the reasons we have rules such as the ones you broke?"

"S-Sir. Yes sir. I understand my duties, sir."

"I see... and yet, even knowing our laws and the necessities of your post, you have still willingly proceeded to disregard them?"

This time the younger male hesitated before he answered. There was clear guilt in his voice, and Cross took note of it. Guilt was good; it meant the young officer knew the difference between right and wrong.

"Sir. I have, sir."

Cross stopped and stood before the mix-breed, turning to face him. He quite easily towered over the junior officer, and he was forced to look down his chest to regard him. "And your excuses, Second Lieutenant?"

Charles shuddered briefly below him. "N-None... sir. It was my fault entirely... sir."

The badger made a note of the trembling that had begun to build in the smaller male's paws and knees. It was a strange thing to see one of his hares- creatures normally without even the slightest hint of fear- so very frightened, and by him of all things. His old, hard heart melted at the sight, and as right as it would be to punish McLane, he could not fathom a way to do so which would spare himself guilt. He thought of the Major, crushing the little, delicate flower underpaw. The thought brought a frown to his greying muzzle.

Nevertheless, he carried on.

"No excuses. Hmm... then you are prepared to take full responsibility for these failures, Second Lieutenant?"

The mix-breed swallowed visibly. His voice wavered as he spoke. "S-Sir. Yes sir."

Cross watched the pitiable, young officer quail and shake where he stood, and his eyes softened. He was reminded of a time long since passed.

_ Medley..._

The old memory rang like a clarion bell in the badger's thoughts, and at last Cross knew what had to be done. Uncrossing his beefy arms, he rested his huge paw on Charles's slim shoulder, feeling it tense beneath his grip. He tried not to sound so very threatening, but his deep voice still rumbled menacingly, a simple fact that he could not help due to his great size.

"Are you prepared for your punishment, then?"

Charles looked up at him, his soft, amethyst eyes gleaming with barely restrained tears. He shook beneath the badger's immense paw, and Cross could clearly smell the fear on the crossbreed's sweet sweat. He hesitated to admit that there was a strange allure to the scent.

"Sir... yes sir."

So be it.

He patted the officer's shoulder encouragingly, gave a brief hint of a smile, and then released him.

"Very well. Report to Standard Point at dawn with full patrol gear ready. You and I are going on patrol together... to ensure that you do it properly."

The young creature's jaw went slack for a moment at this bewildering turn of events, before he had the presence of mind to close his gaping mouth. He seemed completely caught off guard by this unexpected order, but he knew better than to question. He was still a soldier, after all. He collected himself and saluted swiftly. Enthusiasm and obvious gratitude- not to mention relief at not having been punished- gave an energy and gusto to his words.

"Sir! Yes sir!"

Cross nodded. "You are dismissed, then."

Charles gave him a brief, innocently gleeful grin before saluting again and exiting the badger's chambers. It was only after the door had been closed behind him that Cross allowed himself his own smile. A very small one.

Young Charles had been so very relieved... Cross suspected that he had likely anticipated a far more severe sort of punishment. He had enjoyed seeing the look of reassurance spread across the crossbreed's muzzle.

No. Exile would not do. Charles is different from the other hares of my mountain. His problems do not stem from a lack of disrespect or aptitude as the Major suspected... I can see as much now that I've had the chance to observe him. Charles is eager to please. He simply needs a mentor, a friend, somebeast to guide him along the path of a Long Patrol officer without looking down on him for his blood or his habits. I can provide that for him.

He thought back on the young officer's mother, dear Abbey McLane, long lost to bygone Seasons. She had been a stalwart soldier and a faithful friend to all at Salamandastron. This was the least he could do for her. The badger Lord retired for the night, a wide smile on his greying muzzle for the first time in many Seasons.

It had been too long since he'd had a nice, brisk hike... not since that distant summer with Medley.


A pleasant dawn rose over the warming shores of Salamandastron, and Second Lieutenant Charles was waiting for it with both neatly combed fur and a sharply brushed and tidy uniform. As Lord Cross had ordered, his patrol gear was all in order, ready for the trails, and he waited for the mighty badger general outside of the mountain-fort's great gates. He idly thumbed the handle of his lance as he watched the morning sun rise.

I can't believe all of this. Just when I think I'm getting the jolly ol' boot, Lord Cross himself offers to take me out along with him for patrol! I can't think of any other hare who's had that kind of honor. Heheh, I can't wait to shove it in Bosum's face.

He didn't have to wait long, for after a short while Lord Cross himself finally emerged from the high, vaulted entrance of Salamandastron, nodding to the door-guard as he passed through. He had eschewed his usual heavy armor in favor of a light, simple green tunic, and to Charles's surprise he was unarmed as well.

All the same, thought Charles with a shrug. Nobeast stands up to a badger, with or without a weapon. He could bloody well tear apart an army with his bare paws. I mean, just look at the size o' those mitts!

Cross seemed to note the mix-breed standing off a bit from the gates, and he lumbered up to the smaller creature, the hint of a slight smile on his grizzled muzzle.

"Good morning, Second Lieutenant. Is all in order?"

Charles saluted briskly. "Sir. Very good morning indeed, sir. Ready for patrol as ordered, sir."

Cross nodded, looking off towards the beaches in the distance. He began stretching his beefy legs to prepare for the trip, and Charles tried not to stare at the badger's immense quads and heavily muscled rear. The Lord might not have been as young as he once was, but his body was in remarkable shape. Compared to his lordship's muscles, even the greatest of Salamandastron's warrior-hares seemed tiny.

"I think we shall patrol inland today, Second Lieutenant," Cross said, snapping the gawking mix-breed back to attention. "Head a bit east into Mossflower proper, see what we can find. How does that sound to you?"

Charles was hardly in any mood to argue, considering the circumstances. Cross could have ordered him to the bloody moon and back again, and he wouldn't have objected.

"Sir. Would you like me to lead the way?"

The badger finished his stretching, popping his mighty back with a great, gruff sigh. "If you please. It's been some time since I've been out. I'm sure things have changed over the seasons."

The pair left the mountain at a steady jog, and Charles tried not to grin as he noticed the look of utter bewilderment on the faces of the door-guard. He'd never even heard of Lord Cross going out on patrol before, and now he had the honor of escorting the great badger himself. They would be the talk of the mess-hall today, no doubt about it.

I don't very well know what kind of good fortune brought me this opportunity, but I'm not gonna bally-well waste it.

He led his commander through the eastern dunes at an easy pace, occasionally pausing so that his Lord could catch up. Cross might have been a mountain of muscle, but he lacked the running abilities that a lean creature like a Long Patrol hare possessed. It showed. A short jog already saw the badger panting- with towering Salamandastron not yet even out of sight- and stopping once more at the top of a dune to wait, Charles couldn't help but feel a bit bad.

"Lord, if I may?"

Cross caught back up to him, puffing a bit as he stopped. His barrel chest heaved beneath his tunic. "Speak freely, Second Lieutenant."

"Sir, if it pleases you... there's a path down a bit south that's a mite easier to manage. There's not so many blasted dunes there, sir, and a bit further along the way there's a glade with a rather nice stream running through it. Very nice, uh, on a day like this... sir."

Cross smirked, looking off in that direction. "Easier to manage, eh? Are you suggesting that I cannot handle your pace, Lieutenant?"

Charles blanched, his pale fur showing red beneath. "Uh, no sir! I-I'm only... that is, sir-"

"At ease, McLane. I only jest."

Charles gave a nervous chuckle. "Oh. Right sir."

The badger gestured south. "Well? Lead the way."

Charles did just that, and together the two warriors set off down the dunes once more. A few hours of brisk jogging saw the mountain vanish behind the dunes, and by midday Charles had found the familiar trails which lead off into the marshes. He skirted around the edges of the wetlands, avoiding the routes which led into the vast, vermin-infested swamps, and instead he led his Lord through a meandering route around the smaller, sandy glades. Despite the risk of running into vermin- always a danger when patrolling inland- he felt quite at ease with the mighty badger at his side. With Cross alongside him, there wasn't a vermin in Mossflower that could scare him.

With such fearsome company setting his mind at ease, Charles set a bold pace through the glades, and it wasn't long before he found what he was looking for. The hidden path was a far sight gentler than the rough slopes of the beach's dunes, and behind him he heard Lord Cross's breathing ease a bit as they turned down into it. A short walk led them through cedar and white maple groves, which sprouted up along the southern side of the marshlands, and leading Cross through the rows of trees he eventually found the stream he had earlier referred to. He stood back as Cross entered the clearing.

"By the Seasons, you weren't kidding, McLane."

The little glade was indeed a pretty picture. Fragrant black cherry and ash trees formed a wide wall around the dell, and through the middle of it all ran a small, gently babbling stream carried down from the wetlands to the north. Warm, pleasant sunlight filtered down through the treetops in speckled, golden rays, casting a scattered tranquil light upon the soft grasses and pale sands and adding an air of natural tranquility to the scene. Charles was well fond of this grove; it had been one of his first sanctuaries, and he often visited it on his inland patrols. Many were the hours he had spent here, dreaming of a better life.

He and Cross admired the scene for a time, before at last the silence was broken by a growl from the badger's stomach.

"Heheh. It is a lovely sight... it's only a pity that we didn't pack any lunch. This would have made for an excellent picnic spot."

Charles brightened at the suggesstion. "Oh, you can always find something about in a place like this, sir. Give me a moment. I'll dig up something or other."

Ten seasons among the Long Patrol had not been entirely wasted on Charles, and he set about scrounging in the bush while Cross went over to test the waters of the river. A short investigation proved fruitful; fresh watercress, elder-berries and arrowroot were plentiful in this part of Mossflower, and he gathered some in his tunic and carried them over to where the badger had settled. It wasn't a feast, but the natural forage tasted fresh and delicious. Their stomachs certainly didn't complain.

"Here you are, milord. It's not much, but it'll take the bite off your tucker, wot."

"Ah. Elder berries. Very resourceful of you, McLane. Thank you. The Academy teaches you lot such useful things, these days."

The two ate in companionable silence, content enough to listen to the sounds of the stream and the gentle wind through the trees above as they broke their fast. Charles watched the badger out of the side of his eyes; he had never before had the opportunity to observe the Long Patrol's commander up close before, and now he had him all to himself. He suddenly became aware of just how rare the opportunity was, and all at once he was filled with a sense of immense gratitude for his Lord.

"Sir?" he put forward meekly, putting down his watercress nuts.

"Hm?"

"I wanted to thank you, sir. For all of this, I mean. I know I messed up again... I fell asleep on shore patrol, and I'm sorry for that. I don't deserve this chance."

The badger scoffed, swallowing the remainder of his lunch with one immense bite. "Nonsense."

Charles blinked in surprise. "Sir?"

"Nonsense. All of that. If you didn't deserve another chance, I wouldn't have given it to you. You're a fine soldier and a wonderful scout, McLane... you've proven that to me today. You only need a little encouragement, something which isn't often spared around here."

Charles blushed at the compliment, turning his face aside as the enormous mustelid looked down at him. Cross's eyes were a fierce shade of red, and all at once they made Charles feel immensely endangered and yet exceptionally protected. His eyes were... uncomfortably intimate... as if he understood Charles at some deep, visceral level. The thought made the lapine officer feel profoundly naked.

"T-Thank you sir."

The badger chuckled and stood, stretching out his mighty arms. "No, thank you. After all, you found my lunch. Now, how about a dip in that stream before we get back on the trail? The water is quite lovely at the moment, and we've still some time."

There was no room for Charles to argue, and before he could even say a word of either acknowledgement or disagreement the badger had begun to strip off his heavy tunic. At that point any sound of opposition he might have uttered was immediately swallowed. As the rise of olive-colored cloth slowly lifted, revealing the badger's bare, muscular body to his innocent, inexperienced eyes, the young hare was left utterly and completely speechless. His eyes were helplessly glued to his Lord's backside as the badger stripped to the fur. When at last he was finally exposed the tunic was tossed down to the sands, and Cross looked back over his shoulder at the younger officer, who had by this point turned wholly crimson beneath his milky fur.

"Well, Lieutenant? Are you coming?"

Charles snapped back into reality, his face suddenly feeling a bit hot beneath his fuzzy coat. There was no way Cross couldn't have noticed that he had been ogling his rear; his eyes had practically been cemented to it.

Bloody fool! Get your head on straight! That's Lord Cross!

"Uh, um... coming, s-sir."

Cross's inquisitive stare lingered on him as he shyly slipped his own tunic off of his slimly muscled body, and Charles felt his face burn in mortification as at last it slid over his thin shoulders. The badger's eyes lingered on him for a moment- devouring him, as it seemed to feel to Charles- before looking away, and together they waded into the water. Charles followed the mustelid Lord from behind, terrified to the point of numbness.

The water provided an immense sort of relief for the younger male as they waded in- for the warm, gently flowing brook covered him nearly to his chest- but to his horror he found that the same was not as true for his Lord. Cross stood a fair bit taller than he, and so the stream only just reached the very bottom of the badger's firm, sizeable rear, leaving it quite exposed to Charles's helpless eyes. Charles tried to keep his eyes glued forward, straight ahead.

Sadly, this proved to be quite impossible, and before the badger had even made it halfway into the stream Charles found his eyes trailing south.

Sprits of All Seasons, why me? No. No, it's fine. All I have to do is relax. Just take a swim, be respectful, and then get out... and try not to stare at his Lordship like a damn pervert in the meanwhile. Simple.

They strode out into the shallow middle-waters of the stream, and even as embarrassed as he was to be in just the fur with Lord Cross, Charles still had to admit that the water was exceptionally pleasant. A pleasurable shiver ran down his slim form as the water ran over his exposed bits, and he saw much the same occur to his Lord. The badger let out a satisfied growl as he felt the water run past him.

"Ahh... it's been too long since I've been able to relax like this."

Charles only nodded politely, desperately keeping his eyes up along the trees and trying not to remember that they were both supposed to be out on patrol. He didn't want to be the one to remind his Lord that this was almost the exact sort of distraction that had gotten him in trouble for loitering. He kept his mouth shut- and his eyes off of places where they didn't belong- and tried his best to enjoy the river like his lordship. This didn't prove too difficult, until Cross spoke again.

"You're being awfully quiet, Second Lieutenant."

Charles started. "Oh. Sorry sir. I'm just... enjoying the water. Sir."

The badger chuckled, looking over his beefy shoulder to regard his younger companion. "At ease, McLane. You needn't be so serious. There's no one out here but the two of us. The Major won't be getting on to you for being impertinent. Just relax."

"I'm sorry sir, uh, I mean, Lord Cross. I'm just not used to... um... speaking with you. It's a bit of a bloody-big deal... begging your pardon."

"Ha. Absurd. I'm not that much different than you, Charles, cept' that I'm a bit bigger. We both love Salamandastron... we both serve to keep Mossflower safe... and we both have difficulties being understood by others..."

The last bit caught Charles off guard. "Sir?"

"I am the only badger in Salamandastron, and in all my lifetime the only other I've ever known was my mother, the former Lady. My rank and position make the hares afraid to speak to me. It's difficult to find friends who understand what that's like... who understand that one can still be alone even while surrounded by others." Cross looked him in the eyes.

"I understand you, Charles. It's why I didn't punish you for your actions the other night, though I had every reason to. Had I not the responsibility to my soldiers and my station... I doubt I would stay here either. Escape such as this... often seems enviable."

He uttered a bass chuckle, granting Charles a brief, fleeting smile.

"But perhaps I have spoken too much. We should be enjoying the river, no? There will be time later to speak of these things. Now come over here."

Charles's eyes went wide, and his face paled. "Sir?"

"Come... over... here, Second Lieutenant."

The muscle-bound badger turned away from him so that Charles could see only his broad, striped back and the top halves of his meaty rear. Charles did as he was told, wading a step or two through the stream until he stood anxiously at his Lord's back. He tried not to think about the fact that Cross's plump tail-end was just a paw's length or so from his rabbithood. He gulped at the thought.

Cross looked over his shoulder once again to address the young officer, perhaps worrying over his silence. "I'm not as young as I used to be. My muscles are a bit worn out from that jog we had. If you'd be so kind, Second Lieutenant, I'd appreciate it if you could give them a nice rub-over. My back in particular is feeling a bit of an ache."

Charles tried not to go slack-jawed at the order. The badger casually looked back ahead as if nothing were out of the ordinary, rolling his shoulders back as he waited.

Poor Charles didn't have a say in the matter.

"Um... yes s-sir."

Lord Cross just gave you an order. Nothing wrong with that. He just opened up to you. YOU, out of every-beast in the Long Patrol. Just put your paws on his back and do your job. This isn't difficult.

To think that was one thing, but to actually put his paws on the badger Lord was another. Still... Lord Cross was waiting, and any further delay might have made the situation awkward. He raised his paws slowly- anxiously- resting them high on the badger's shoulders before carefully starting to work the thick, corded muscles beneath the rugged fur. Cross immediately let out a satisfied groan as the smaller creature's paws worked into his thick fur, and a palpable shudder ran down his colossal form.

"That's it, McLane. A bit harder, if you please."

Charles dug in properly, his face bright crimson beneath his fur as he worked on his superior's muscles. He was infinitely glad that Cross couldn't see his face while all of this occurred, and he tried not to enjoy the pleasure he felt at being able to openly touch such a perfect male. He silently scolded himself for such perverse thoughts.

"Lower."

Charles slid his paws down the badger's shaggy back, massaging the muscles along his mid-riff as best he could. He'd never had any sort of experience with this sort of thing before, but judging by the contented groans and rumbles emanating from the larger beast, he was going at it in the right fashion.

See? This is easy. Just keep at it. He'll be done soon, then we can get going, and it'll all be right.

"Very good, McLane. Lower."

The crossbreed's paws shifted lower still, resting right above the larger male's broad hips. Charles's eyes fastened on the base of the badger's thick tail, and he swallowed. It took every effort not to openly stare at Cross's thick rear, and he tried to completely empty his mind of all improper feelings as he kneaded and massaged the thick muscles of the mustelid's back. Any thoughts that slipped past his concentration were almost invariably the kind that got you sent to Hellsgates.

Cross chuckled, breaking the long silence that had otherwise only been filled by his satisfied rumbles and the sounds of the stream. "You're very good at this, Second Lieutenant. You've skilled paws on you... lower please."

Charles froze, his paws going still on the badger's damp, lower back.

No. By the Seasons, not that. He can't be serious.

But his paws were moving now of their own accord at the command, and Charles could only watch- horrifyingly transfixed- as they slipped down past the point of no return to cup those wondrous, full globes of badger muscle. His heart skipped a beat as he felt the larger beast flex those meaty paw-fulls.

Alright... you're there. Nothing left to do now but... get to work?

As soon as his paws begun to dig in, the badger immediately made his satisfaction known with a low, hearty rumble. His knees buckled ever so slightly, and above the water he shook and trembled. It was a bit bizarre for Charles as he realized that he was the one doing this, that he was the one capable of bringing Lord Cross to this kind of high with just his paws. The hefty, meaty backside was pure heaven to work- hard with muscle and yet all at once soft and easy to knead- and he rather found it too enjoyable. Down below the surface of the water, he felt his little rabbit-hood began to stiffen in its sheath.

Hellsgates! No. Not that!

Just as his own body began to betray him however, Cross finally called for a stop.

"That's enough of that, Lieutenant. That was... certainly agreeable. I don't think the Major would have anything to rebuke you for there."

Respectfully, I think the Major would have a heart attack, Charles thought to himself. His head was spinning as he pulled his paws from Cross's body. It had all felt so very surreal. Only a day ago, he had never even truly known Lord Cross, and now he was massaging the commander's unmentionables while out on patrol? It was like a dream... a very strange, entirely-too wonderful dream.

What came next however, was reality, and Charles didn't know whether that was good or bad.

Lord Cross turned around.

Charles was forced to play witness then to the badger's completely uncovered front, and to his utter dismay his eyes couldn't restrain themselves this time around. Cross's body was nothing like those of the hares he had occasionally glimpsed in the fur before. There was muscle yes, but not at all like that of the lean type found among his own kind. The mustelid's massive, solid pectorals bulged out from beneath his shaggy fur, and his gut was somehow both round and packed with muscle at the same time. Every inch of him was perfect, pure male. Massive. Muscular. Lordly. Charles understood then why it was that badgers ruled Salamandastron. Surely in all of Mossflower there could be no comparison to such raw physical strength and-

"Second Lieutenant... you're staring."

That sudden, deep voice jarred the young mix-breed back into reality, and Charles found that he had in fact been rather openly ogling his Lord's body. He thanked the Seasons that his eyes had not wandered too far below; it was embarrassing enough to have been caught staring at Cross's chest. He blinked, immediately looking away, and all of his excuses tumbled from his mouth at once.

"Sir... sorry sir, I- that is to say... you had something in your fur, er... the water... it... I..."

"You're shaking, Charles."

Charles hadn't noticed, but he had become so flustered by his Lord's body that he was indeed quivering in the water. He had never experienced anything even remotely this intimate before, especially not with a higher rank, and certainly he had never expected anything like this from Lord Cross himself. He felt as though he could faint, and his heartbeat thundered rapidly in his chest. He had no answer, and so he merely shivered and nodded, his eyes glued to some point in the water between them.

I'm such a bloody shame. I can't even speak to him. Is this how I repay my Lord for his mercy, for his understanding? Am I just to stare at him like some befaddled maid and go limp at his every word? What kind of a soldier am I?

A heavy paw cupped his chin, disrupting his thoughts, and his face was pulled up to meet the badger's dark, crimson eyes. He couldn't stand the sight of them- at once so commanding and yet so gentle- and he shamefully looked away. But Cross had no intention of being ignored, and striding forward a step he placed himself directly before the young officer. Charles found that his eyes now settled on the base of a meaty pectoral, and his sensitive nose filled with the rich, earthy musk of a powerful male. Cross's voice was lowered gently: a deep, soothing growl above him.

"What's wrong?"

Charles shuddered, hating himself for having such perverse thoughts when his Lord so clearly cared for him. He remained silent, unable to voice his shame.

"Charles... look at me."

He did as he was ordered, looking up at his Lord with teary eyes. The badger's rugged face cracked into the slightest of warm smiles, and he cupped the young lapine's jaw in the palm of one mighty paw gently.

"I know you are afraid, but you have done nothing wrong."

"I-I... I can't... sir."

Cross took a step forward, and Charles found his whiskers brushing against the rough fur of the badger's chest. Nothing had ever felt so right, and yet he had never felt so ashamed at the pleasure he felt from his Lord's proximity. Cross smiled down at him.

"You needn't say another word, Charles. I understand..."

Charles closed his eyes at the wondrous sensation of having the larger male so close to him. In all of the long Seasons of his training at the Academy and his service with the Patrol, he had never been intimate with any of the other hares. They were rough, insensitive creatures- warriors who had little time or care for his softer nature- and he had endured throughout his service with only himself for true company. To have the Lord of the mountain here with him, holding him like this, was more than he had ever imagined. It was as if...

"You are not alone," Cross rumbled softly, answering the thoughts that had haunted Charles all of his life.

The badger leaned down over him, and Charles's eyes went wide as Cross gave him his first true, guiltless kiss. The instant the Lord's whiskers touched his own and that breath swept across his lips, the younger male's legs gave out from the power of the sensation, and he was grateful that the badger's other paw swept in around his back to pull him up and closer. He found himself pressed against the wall of Cross's furry chest, a set of perfect, full lips against his own, and all at once he surrendered his fears to the complete, all-forgiving love of another.

How long he was held there- his body limp in the gentle embrace of his commander, his merciful Lord- he did not know. It was only some time later that he felt the badger's mouth lift from his own, their whiskers twitching as they pulled apart. Cross smiled warmly at him, and the sight filled Charles with a joy he had never thought to own. That smile was his. It didn't matter that what he just did was in violation of everything that made sense. It didn't matter that he and Lord Cross were out on patrol, and that this was a breach of conduct for them both. None of it mattered. For the first time in his life, he felt as though he belonged. He belonged here, in this moment, with Cross.

"There. That stopped that shaking of yours. It's unseemly for a Long Patrol hare."

Charles smiled weakly, finding his feet in the water so that Cross didn't have to hold him. The badger's paw didn't leave the small of his back, but he wasn't about to complain.

"Cept, I'm not a hare, sir. You know that."

"Ha. That hardly matters. You're an officer of the Long Patrol all the same, and you should take pride in that. All of this shyness doesn't suit your position, McLane."

The crossbreed found that his paw had somehow migrated to Cross's chest in the midst of their kiss, and he struggled to decide whether or not to remove it. The feel of that rugged fur and those powerful muscles beneath his paw-pad was simply too wondrous to just release. He ran his claws along the thick fur, realizing it was the first time any-beast had ever allowed him such intimate contact.

"No sir."

"Still on with that 'sir' business? I'm not that old... I have a name."

"I'm sorry sir- I mean, Lord Cross. This is all just... a bit to take in all at once. No-beast has ever..."

The badger's face took on a knowing look. "No-beast has ever touched you like this?"

"No..."

For a time there was silence again, and then Cross smiled. He placed his paw on the lapine's smaller one and squeezed it.

"Do you trust me, Charles?"

The crossbreed spoke without hesitation. "With my life, sir."

"Then close your eyes."

Charles felt his heart skip a beat.

Trust.

He nodded and closed his eyes, surrendering his senses. He felt the badger grasp him gently, and slowly his paw was guided down the path of the mustelid's thick chest. He took in a sharp breath as he felt the pad of his paw graze a plump nipple where it stuck put from Cross's fur, but the Lord only chuckled at the contact, not stopping there. His paw trailed down lower, grazing over the massive, firm belly and tracing each, solid curve of the badger's abdominals. Charles felt all of his fear and apprehension melt away, so completely floored was he by the gift of his Lord's body. He was no longer afraid.

The warm, gently running water grazed his elbows as he allowed Cross to guide him down further, stopping at last only when his clawtips grazed over the badger's pubic mound. It seemed to Charles that Cross wanted him to make the last step himself. He opened his eyes, locking them into Cross's own.

Then he took a deep breath and lowered his paw.

Badgers like Cross were one of the mightiest creatures in Mossflower, and what lay beneath his paw felt to be every inch of what was expected from a beast of his lordship's size. Fighting past the immense surrealism and strangeness of what he was doing, Charles was stunned by the sheer scope and thickness of the solid sheath that his paw had been led to. The first breathless moments saw him gingerly trace and caress the thick tube of meat, and Cross groaned in pleasure as the smaller beast's paw freely fondled and explored him. Charles wondered how long it had been for Cross; there were no female badgers in the mountain, or anywhere else in Mossflower that he had heard of.

"Ahhh... how does that feel, Second Lieutenant?"

Charles only had one word for it, as ridiculous as it sounded.

"Um... big, milord."

That massive paw slipped back up against his own, forcing him harder against the badger's sheath. He felt a low, steady pulse throb against his paw-pad. Cross leaned down, and to Charles's immense surprise- and distinct pleasure- the badger licked the tip of his nose, sending his whiskers atwitch.

"McLane, if I have overstepped a boundary... or if you feel at all afraid... I want you to speak freely with me."

Charles shook his head vehemently, his long ears flopping about as he did so.

"No sir! I..."

Cross's paw squeezed his own. He felt the massive sheath throb. By the Seasons, it was so thick and heavy.

"Hmm?" he rumbled.

"I... I don't want to stop. I've never felt anything like this before."

The badger chuckled. "Oh? Young McLane, it gets far better than this, I'm afraid."

With that the badger's other paw dipped into the water, and Charles gasped as the massive thing suddenly cupped at his own, far-smaller sheath. Such was the size of Cross's paw that even his tight sack was swallowed whole by the rough, calloused mitt, and he was sent into a fit of shudders and trembling as the badger rumbled and gently fondled the officer's delicate bits.

"Oh... sir..."

He quickly melted once again at the treatment of rough badger paw, and Cross was forced once more to support the smaller beast as the crossbreed was sent into the throes of complete ecstasy. No one had ever touched him there before, and he himself had only occasionally done so, feeling shameful for it each time. It didn't seem proper. But to be touched like this, to feel Cross's massive paw treasuring him and exploring him- simple, unworthy he- was beyond proper and right. His rabbit hood had already begun to stir from the moment Cross had ordered him to massage his rear end, and now it sprung to life beneath the gentle yet powerful caresses of the badger's meaty paw. Soon all five inches of it stood straight at attention like a proper soldier, and each flick and stroke that Cross slid over it sent a wriggling shudder and whimper of pleasure careening out from the young creature's slim body.

Cross chuckled at the sight of the crossbreed, squirming and moaning just from the mere touch of his paw. He gave a light squeeze to the younger creature's tight sack, sending a delicious shudder up Charles's lithe form. Both of Charles's paws gripped the Lord's arm; in the grasp of this new pleasure, he had quite easily forgotten the badger's own sheath.

"I think, Officer McLane, that you're enjoying this little swim a bit too much. If I keep at this, we'll be forced to return home early."

Charles struggled to come back to rational thought, clawing his way through the haze of pleasure to form an answer. "S-Sorry sir. It just... feels soooo..."

Cross rumbled. "I remember that feeling. You needn't explain. You're body has wanted this for so long... it is abominably unfair that it has been denied to you. Come. Let's get out of this water. I want to see all of you."

Charles collected himself enough to try and turn, but to his surprise the badger swiftly leaned down and scooped him up in his arms. He was carried over the water as easily as one would carry a babe, and wrapped as he was in those strong, muscular limbs Charles was content to simply be held.

He pressed his whiskers against Cross's thick chest, inhaling that wonderful scent. Even though they had both gone in the water, Cross had been too tall for any of it to reach above his waist, and all the smell of rich musk and sweat from their earlier jog had seeped deep into his fur. As the intoxicating smell of pure male seeped into his sensitive nose, his lips brushed up against the soft skin of a pert, badger nip. His eyes opened to confirm what it was that he had touched. Then his head moved of its own accord- some strange, unexplored instinct taking root- and his lips went down to sweetly envelope the dark, fleshy bud.

Cross shivered suddenly as the mix-breed's warm, soft lips wrapped around his sensitive gland. Charles heard him inhale raggedly, and that rumble soon shook across the mustelid's thick chest. Charles gave in to the sensations that surrounded him; the warm, thick arms that cradled him, the wondrous aroma of musk and sweat, the taste of his Lordship against his lips and tongue. He was quite lost to it all, and so it was with some surprise that he finally felt himself deposited along the soft, fine sands that bordered the stream. The badger's nip left his mouth with a wet 'pop', and a thin string of saliva connected them for a moment before Cross stood back.

Both of them took a moment to appreciate the other's bodies. Cross's eyes roamed over the crossbreeds prone form, seeing all of the beauty of his rabbit blood- the grace, the feminine loveliness, the soft, velvety ears- alongside the ruggedness of his hare blood- the slender, tight muscles and those powerful hind legs. Cross's ran his paws along his soft, pale fur as he took in the sight of it all. For the first time in his life Charles felt no shame in being in the fur, and he felt no immodesty as his Lord's eyes passed over him.

He himself enjoyed his own share of staring, and now that all risk had been removed he was free to enjoy the sight of Cross's body in a way he was sure no other hare before him had. He had already seen the extent of his Lord's colossal muscles, but now took the time to appreciate his lordship's other, generous features.

Until this point, he had only ever seen his own malehood- and of course there were the subtle peeks back in Academy when he and the other cadets were all curious and silly- but nothing could have prepared him for the absolute majesty of Cross's lordly equipment. The badger's sheath was nearly thrice as long as his own and as thick as his forearm. The thick, dark pubic fur dripped from its exposure to the river, and Charles watched with breathless awe as the trail of a single drop slid down the massive sheath down to the badger's low hanging pair. The loose, musky skin was lightly dusted with salt-and-pepper fur, and two spherical, heavy nuts- each the size of Charles's clenched paw- hung at the bottom, weighing the whole article down. The entire sight made Charles quite embarrassed; Cross outsized him in every aspect, and not by a small amount.

"You're so very beautiful," Cross rumbled in that deep, husky voice. He settled down on his knees, bringing his body over Charles's outstretched form. His heavy sack trailed just over the tip of the mix-breed's throbbing shaft. "I cannot understand why the others see you the way they do."

Charles smiled. "Probably because I'm lazy... and not too good at fighting, sir."

Cross chuckled, bringing his snout down to gently kiss the tip of Charles's twitching bunny nose.

"That can be fixed." He continued down the length of the younger male's face, lavishing him with sweet, gentle kisses as he went until he reached the base of the younger creature's vulnerable neck. There he took a quick nibble, sending a rigid lurch down Charles's body, before continuing his way down. Charles laid back and gave in to the sweet pleasure of badger kisses across his chest and his sensitive, little pink nipples, giggling when Cross kissed his belly.

Then the mustelid's breath was hot between his legs, and nothing could have prepared him for what came next. There was no warning. No preparation. Only sweet, hot, wet bliss, and Charles cried out as his malehood was engulfed by Cross's powerful jaws.


Cross savored the feel of the young beast's desperate shudders and groans, relishing that beautiful moment when he first tasted sweet, virgin bunny-meat on his tongue. His great paws gripped Charles's hips possessively, anticipating the squirms that shot down the young officer's body and holding him there while he gently sucked the slim shaft down to the root of the rabbit's sheath. He rumbled appreciatively as his snout was buried in that wet, lightly-musky pubic mound.

Truth be told, he had not expected this to be the final outcome of their little "patrol". He had thought that the two of them would simply talk, and that he would earn McLane's trust as his mentor had done to him so long ago. He had not lied when he had said that they were alike in so many ways; in all honesty he shared much of the younger creature's loneliness and despair. But in the end comfort had given way to pleasure, and he could no longer ignore the tides of this strange, new instinct. He took in sweet lungfuls of the lapine's scent through his nose as he gingerly suckled and slurped from burgeoning rabbithood, and each breath assured him that what he did was the right thing to do.

He had come here with Charles to guide him. To console him. And that is what he would do... in whatever manner proved most effective... and most desirable.

His meaty paws gripped the crossbreed's thighs tightly to still Charles as the smaller beast squirmed and struggled in the throes of his first oral experience. Cross himself was no expert in the field; he had never done this deed before. It was instinct that led him to this action, and gentleness and a desire not to harm Charles that guided and instructed him. He only wanted McLane to know how much he was valued, to know that he was not alone in Salamandastron, and he closed his eyes as he worked, trying to put all of those thoughts into the act as he slurped.

The taste of sweet bunny-meat was an entirely unexpected delight, and Cross could not deny that he greatly enjoyed the act. His tongue swooped in and out of the tiny sheath, curling easily around Charles's shaft before coming down to slurp at his tight, musky sack. Cross's maw was big enough to encompass and devour the entirety of Charles in this regard, and he put every inch of his muzzle into making his subordinate feel his appreciation. His love.

If the hearty sounds of Charles's body were any indicator, he was succeeding.

He dragged his tongue along the base of the Lieutenant's scrote, feeling the little orbs within twitching at the sensation. Charles suddenly became rigid, and Cross was not so inexperienced that he didn't know what that meant. He pulled his head back quickly- not an easy task considering the delightful allure of McLane's musk and his sweet taste- so as not to send the smaller beast into an early end. Charles was left breathless and panting, his face bright red and his claws clutching at the sand weakly, as Cross pulled away from him.

Cross smiled warmly, licking a bit off delicious, lapine pre from his whiskers. That enchanting scent still lingered on his muzzle, and he found himself regretting never having considered fraternizing in this sense before.

Not since that time have I-

"Cross," Charles called out, his voice ragged from all that panting and shameless moaning. "Why did you stop? That felt amazing... did I do something wrong?"

The badger chuckled, sliding into the sand alongside Charles. He nuzzled the mix-breed's whiskers gently, enjoying the taste of his breath. "No. Only, I didn't want you to go too soon."

Charles's eyes were hazy from pleasure, and he looked back at the badger with an almost-drunken expression. Cross remembered when he had felt that as well; the security of some-beast older and more powerful, and the knowledge that he was not alone. So long ago now...

"What do you mean? Where am I going?"

Cross let his paw settle on Charles's chest. "Oh, no. That's not what I mean. You see, when two creatures give love to each other like this, something very special happens. It is the closest thing we simple soldiers have to magic. Had I continued like that, you would have seen it rather too soon... there is still something I want you to do before you experience that."

Charles blinked, and Cross found himself captivated by the simple movement of those long lashes. Since the moment he had stepped into this glade with the crossbreed, he had fallen in love with those gentle, lilac eyes. He had lived his life among warriors, and the softness and tenderness he found there was so wonderfully unfamiliar, so utterly entrancing.

"What's that, sir?"

The badger rumbled low in his chest. "Do you still trust me, Lieutenant?"

Charles responded with his lips, bringing his head forward to gently press his mouth to Cross's, and for a moment there was only the perfect taste of the other and the sweet caress of breath. When they pulled apart, it was Charles who spoke.

"More than anything."

Cross smiled at the answer, spoken in the gentle, breathless voice of a virgin. He turned around to lie on his back, gently pulling Charles along with him as he went so that the smaller beast lay on his chest and belly. Charles's smaller genitals nestled in the bounteous, steamy area between Cross's sheathe and loose sack, and the badger stifled a pleased murr at the sensation. He noted the look of confusion and apprehension on McLane's face, and once again he cupped the lapine's slim jaw in his paw, looking him straight in the eyes. His voice was rough and deep, but he tried to put as much of his love and affections as he could into it.

"Lie down against me, Charles. Don't be afraid."

The mix-breed nodded, and slowly he allowed himself to sink down against the vast plain of the badger's muscles. His head came to rest just at the level of Cross's meaty pectoral muscles, his nose right in the crux of the badger's scent, and Cross imagined that he must have smelled quite foul after that run. But Charles only nestled in, taking deep breaths as he settled his body deeper into his Lord's fur, leading Cross to the surprising and pleasant conclusion that the young lapine enjoyed the scent of his musk.

He allowed Charles to simply breathe him in for a moment, savoring the feel of the younger creature's body against his own, so soft and yielding. His massive paw slowly traced down the mix-breed's spine, brushing the soft, creamy fur as he went to hold Charles's taut, little rear. He kneaded the round, tense muscles, enjoying the little shudders and small noises that Charles uttered as a result, before firmly grasping the lapine's behind and pushing him forward. The slow, powerful movement drove Charles's small cock right into the badger's thick, wet sheath, coaxing a sweet moan from the officer that was buried beneath Cross's fur. It amused and fascinated Cross to think of that sound; Charles had never before felt the pleasure that came from such a primal source, and he was there to witness it for himself. He felt proud.

"Did you feel that? No, don't be afraid of it. That is your body telling you how right this is. Don't try to fight it... just do what feels good."

Charles's small paws clutched and pulled at Cross's fur as he drove his hips back and sent them forward again, now without the help of the badger's paw. This time the crossbreed's sensitive cock thrust right between the cleft of the badger's sack, grinding into the perineum and sending an unexpected wash of pleasure through the larger male.

"Grr. Yes, that's right. You're doing wonderfully, Charles."

Charles settled into a slow series of clumsy, animal thrusts, sending his small malehood smacking and sliding against the badger's thick sheath and heavy sack with each pound of his slim hips. Cross began to feel his own shaft begin to stir in its holster, something he had not felt in many seasons, and he quickly began to pant against the earnest- if a little inexperienced- assault. Charles was already lost in the newfangled pleasure of the strange, new act, and Cross felt the lapine's rear muscles pump and twitch as he vigorously frotted with his Lord.

Now.

He took his other paw down to his loose sack while his other squeezed down onto Charles's rear. He timed the thrusts, carefully waiting for his opportunity, remembering how Medley had done it for him in that long-past age.

One... two... three... now!

He waited until the younger beast pulled his hips back before swiftly lifting his sack up, and at the same time he pushed down and at an angle on Charles's rear. The thrust that followed sank down below the badger's taint, pushing rigid bunny-meat straight through into Cross's tailhole in one, powerful thrust. The sweet, desperate gasp of pleasure that followed was music to the badger's ears.

Cross kept his paw fast to Charles's bottom, preventing the mix-breed from pulling out to soon and forcing him to fully comprehend what he had just done. He clenched his powerful muscles down upon the small rabbit-cock, earning a delectable shiver from his subordinate. Charles looked up at him with a mix of fear and complete adoration. His eyes asked every question that his speechless lips could not, voiced his every fear and doubt while begging Cross for everything he had ever been denied by others.

By the Seasons... those eyes...

Then the young half-breed's instincts took hold of him again, and there was no time left for anything but the hard rut. Cross held him there, his mighty arms wrapped gingerly around Charles's slim, quivering frame as the young beast gave in fully to the sensations that the badger's body brought to him. His tool was slim and short, just as he was, and Cross had no difficulty in taking the thing. It only made it easier for him to appreciate the finer sensations of the act. He listened to the muted whimpers, ran his paw along the soft fur, felt that tiny heartbeat against his chest. The velvet fur rubbed soft against his chest, sliding pleasurably against his own in time with each thrust as they grinded against each other.

He petted McLane's ears, noting how red they were becoming at the same time that he began to feel an increase in the pace of the young beast's thrusts. Cross knew that Charles was already at the edge when they began. It had been amazing that the inexperienced young male had lasted even this long. He remembered how it had been done for him so long ago, and he did the same for Charles.

He enveloped his paws around the smaller male's body- one paw at the small of his back, another on the slim, heaving shoulders- and held him close. One massive, meaty leg wrapped around the back of the half-breed's knees, locking him in place as his frantic hammering came to a precipice. Every thrust sent a shudder and a whimper through him, and all the while the constant movement of his trim abs grinded against the badger's meaty sheath. Cross's cock had hardened to a greater degree by this point, and already half of the thick meat had slid from its cover. The fat tip drooled pre onto Charles's chest.

Cross knew that Charles's inexperienced efforts would not grant him his own release, but it was enough for the old badger simply to provide it for the younger beast. This was his time.

"Let it out," Cross grunted between puffs of air.

The frantic, hurried thrusts suddenly came with much greater force, almost an aggression, before at long last Charles's body surrendered to its first, true climax. Cross groaned in pleasure- his bass voice overtaking the desperate cry of his smaller mate- as he felt the first, hot splash of half-breed seed splatter inside of him. He made sure to hold Charles tight all the way throughout, through each last, shuddering thrust and each whimper... until at last the young male's hips grinded to a still, and he collapsed against Cross's chest in a heap of delicate flesh and soft fur.


When Charles awoke, he found himself still lying atop Lord Cross. His eyes blinked opened slowly, his mind still dizzy. To his surprise, red sunlight filtered in through the trees around them, and the evening birdsong was well underway. It was already almost sundown.

So late already? Hellsgates! I did it again!

He tried to rise, only to find that a broad paw had settled over his back, pinning him in place. The movement only succeeded in grinding his oversensitive, spent rabbithood against the badger's well-bred rear. Charles winced; his cock had long since retreated back into its sheath, but the tip of his holster still kissed Cross's tailhole, sending a dull, sore kind of pleasure through him.

"Going somewhere, Second Lieutenant?"

Charles looked up across the thick chest he was lying on to see that Cross was watching him. All at once he felt shy again, and he blushed as he remembered the intimate circumstances they had engaged in only hours ago. It seemed like a dream now.

He tried his best to play it off.

"Heheh... we're late, sir."

Cross smiled. "That is the wonderful thing about being the Lord of Salamandastron, McLane. I can stay out for as long as I want, and there's no one above me to tell me I'm late. We can rest a bit longer, if you like."

Charles was grateful for this, and sighing he let his head sink down onto the badger's chest. Once again he took in the scent of that warm musk and the sound of that thunderous heartbeat. He could very well have fallen asleep again... but there were still things he needed to know. So much had happened so quickly. His mind was teeming with questions. Fortunately the most pertinent was also the simplest.

"Why?" he asked bluntly, knowing full well that Cross would understand. He was the Lord of Salamandastron, commander of the greatest fighting force in Mossflower. Why had some-beast like him taken the time out of his busy schedule to babysit a worthless soldier like himself, and then to give this ultimate, intimate honor? Why was he worth any of this?

Cross's rumble soothed him, like a rough, primal lullaby against his long ears.

"Because... I know what it's like to live in that miserable, old mountain, surrounded by others and yet still terribly alone. I knew how you felt the moment I saw you... and I knew what I had to do to help you understand... the same way my teacher helped me to understand."

Teacher?

"What teacher?"

Cross smiled, a distant, nostalgic memory playing behind his eyes.

"You are not old enough to remember my mother, the last Lady of Salamandastron. She passed in battle when I was very young, younger than you are now, leaving me the commander of all the mountain's soldiers before I was ever ready for such a thing. It was... difficult for me. I constantly felt inferior to the task... felt that I could never live up to my mother's example. I felt alone, abandoned... I could not bear to command, or to take her place. I felt worthless."

That mighty paw stroked tenderly down Charles's back.

"My mother's senior advisor was a Long Patrol hare. Major Baxter Medley... may he rest in greener, silent forests. He was the one who recognized the nature of my sorrow, who saw in me all of my potential hidden away under my melancholy and sadness. What the other generals thought was my inability to command, he knew was only the result of my deep and terrible loneliness. One day, he brought me to a place not very different from this... and he showed me my worth. He showed me how special I was, how loved that I was... and that I was not so very alone after all."

The paw came up to cup Charles's chin, bringing his face up so that they could look into each other's eyes once again.

"I will make the same promise to you that he made to me that day... you will never be alone again."

"Sir..."

They passed the night there in that glade, uncaring of the rules or the patrol-curfew. They did not speak about how things would change upon their return or how they would explain their absence. There were no thoughts of Bosum or any of the other hares. Their minds rested at ease as their bodies held onto each other, and for that one night- the first of many such nights- Charles felt that he truly belonged.

So long as Lord Cross was with him, Salamandastron would be his home.

There you have it :}

I hope you enjoyed. Please drop me a comment to let me know what you think. I'd love to hear from you.

Basalt and His Hunt

With his long work at last completed, Dolmen finally stood aside to look over the fruits of his labor. He'd spent the whole evening finishing his repairs on their old, handmade dresser, fixing the damage that Basalt's tail had dealt it back in the...

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Basalt and His Prey

Dolmen looked up from his book as the clean flatland breeze swept over him, and he paused his reading to take a deep, fulfilling lungful of the chilled air. He held the breath in his chest- noting the subtle hint of basilisk musk in the taste- and...

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