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Prologue


The little shack bordering the Southern Sea belied the violence that went on within its ramshackle walls, looking just as calm and peaceful as the softly-crashing waves that lapped upon the glittering shores. 
Darker the searat was always in a foul mood. He was a large, powerfully-built beast, with evil green eyes and dark, knotted gray fur, growing around his many scars in ugly clumps.
He had began to drink as he always did during the warm, clammy nights in the Crumalese Jungle. For he was desperate to forget the evils of his pirating life and the heat as well, but tonight was no normal night.
Little did he know, but the evils were just beginning.
His son, Feeran, was tired of the monotomy and the misery the searat gave him.
The younger rat was often forced to do heavy, laborous tasks for his lazing father; such as repairing the shack, or chopping and hauling wood from the jungle to the nearby Poruuga seaport to sell. Feeran always did this alone with muscles straining, to return with little reward but scraps from the uncaring, unloving Darker. If he complained, he was beaten, or worse.
But selling wood was not all Feeran did in Poruuga.
He often talked with the wavescum there, corsairs and sea rats who were all too happy to recount of how they had murdered or robbed their friends and family blind before beginning their lives at sea. One, Captain Ironfang, while in the middle of telling one of his bloody stories had even promised the eager young searat a place in his crew if he returned with his father's precious emerald-pommeled dagger.
The overworked young laborer was happy to oblige.
It was when the rat was sorting through his father's battered sea chest, pausing on occasion to pick the chest's peeled paint from his claws, that Darker stumped in. It didn't take him long to realize what Feeran was looking for.
The searat slowly drew the dagger from his belt, enjoying the hiss it made as it slid out of its sheath. "Ye lookin' fer this, rotface?"
The rat turned and looked at the hulking rat standing in the doorway, then at the blade in his paw. "Aye, that I be, drunkard."
Darker wasn't sure which scared him more- that there was no fear in his son's wild green eyes, which mirrored his own so perfectly, or the cold, jeering tone of his son's words.
This was not the same servile beast he was used to.
The young rat calmly stood up, taking the handle of the woodcutter's axe in his sash and pulling it out. A ferocious snarl was on his face, the face that was still crusted with blood from where Darker had punched him last.
"Try swingin' y'r meaty fist at me agin, yer worfless scumfilf!"
Darker charged without hesitation at the insult, and the younger rat ducked the widely-swung dagger before throwing himself at the big searat's legs and sending them both crashing to the floor, axe savagely hacking.
The dagger was dropped as Darker raked his claws against his opponent's head, tearing off a chunk of ear. Feeran yowled, dropping his own weapon as well as he grabbed at his father's face, claws sinking into Darker's eyes with a spray of hot, sticky blood.
Screaming, the bigger rat grabbed for Feeran's paws, and the rat bit into the first one to come into reach. Darker gave another agonized cry, releasing the quicker rat, who leaped away from the blinded brute and retrieved his woodcutter's axe.
He raised it high above his head in both paws, panting heavily.
His hulking father was writhing on the ground, clasping his ruined face and moaning his son's name. "Yeaaarghh, Feeran, Feeran, mate, I can't see! Where be ye, me liddle mate, me son? I beg ye fer forgiveness! Lissen ter yore fadder, pleeease!"

The younger rat's axe lowered. "Wot did yer call me?"

Darker was confused, pausing in his anguished words. "F... Feeran..?"
The young rat's venomous words cut into him like a knife. "Dat ain't no name I go by, wretch. I! Be! Cluny!"
He howled the name of the old abandoned fortress he had remembered Ironfang speaking of. Cluny! It felt so dark and exciting. It was his name now, not whatever spit his father had named him!
Cluny!
Cluny!
The axe swung down swiftly, splitting Darker's skull like a walnut and painting his paws and forearms in deliciously crimson blood.
HE WAS CLLLUUUUUNNNYYYY!



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