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Once upon a time there lived a buisness of ferrets. And among these ferrets there lived a very special one named Tordwen. Now Tordwen was a very unusual ferret in that he had two great big bulging eyes and two shimmering green stripes running down his back.

Being so unusual usually provoked the other ferrets into making fun of him. But Tordwen was usually a happy and bright individual, so he would ignore them and spend his time playing in the Immensely Dark Forest that surrounded the hill upon which the ferret colony lived.

While he was playing one day he came across a very strange hedgehog named Sickly. The reason Sickly seemed so strange to Tordwen was that he was rolling around in the dirt and growling and snorting.

“What’s wrong with you?” asked Tordwen after observing this spectacle for a bit.

“ACHOO!” sneezed the hedgehog in response.

“If you’re sick why are you rolling around in the dirt?” asked Tordwen holding back what could have been an enormous explosion of laughter.

“Well I’ve already tried everything else,” said Sickly rather irritably. “This was the next logical step!”

“Maybe you should try sleeping or something…” suggested Tordwen.

“Yeah, I would if only I could.” Sickly said rather downcast. “By the way, what are you doing out here in the day time. Shouldn’t you be asleep?”

“Well, you see, I have these strange glowing stripes on my back so if I’m out at night then the predators would be able to find me too easily.”

“I suppose that makes sense.” Mused Sickly.

Just then a great mist rose from the ground and the sky grew dark. The earth began to shake around them as if a thousand heavy animals were running past. Sickly couldn’t see anything but Tordwen’s glow allowed him to see at least a few feet ahead of him. He grabbed Sickly and they both crawled under a hollowed log.

“What’s going on?” shouted Sickly above the noise.

“I-I don’t know.” Said Tordwen shakily.

Tordwen’s stripes illuminated the log, as they lay huddled together in the darkness. The ground grew still and both Tordwen and Sickly looked at each other nervously. The mist still swirled outside the log and still nothing could be seen.

“What-what happened?” asked Tordwen.

“I don’t know, maybe we should go check it out…” Sickly began to rise.

Thud.

They stood still.

Thud.

A dark figure became visible in the mist through the opening in the log. A Jackal. They both smelled it. They simultaneously began to back out of the other side of the log as quietly as possible.

The Jackal began to growl and sniff loudly as it paced slowly outside the log, searching for them. They saw the two paws standing right near the opening and then watched in fear as the snout lowered into it. They watched as two evil beady eyes came into view and locked onto them.

Suddenly the Jackal began to bark loudly and claw at the log. The two animals screeched in horror as it began to rock violently and then began to tumble around and around. The log was falling fast down the sloping forest and they saw the world spinning uncontrollably. And then the log broke in half and they were thrown out of it.

More barking bellowed from up the slope they had just come down and they didn’t wait for it to get any closer. The two of them began to run fiercely through bush and weed, over root and rock and finally they found themselves crawling up a tree. The three dark shapes of jackals could be seen running to the foot of the tree and they began to bark ferociously but could not climb up the tree.

The ferret and hedgehog found their way safely into a hollow in the tree.

“Who comes now to disturb me?” said a very deep voice.

It was then that Tordwen noticed two yellow eyes glowing in the darkness. Owl eyes.

Sickly looked around for the source of the voice not seeing the enormous eyes glowering at him. When finally he saw them he squealed and ran behind Tordwen. “We, uh, didn’t mean to disturb you. We were chased here by Jackals!” Tordwen attempted to explain.

“Jackals, and it is strangely dark for this time of day. So it has begun.” Tordwen and Sickly looked up at the Owl in confusion. It then explained that there had been talk of a great evil pack of Jackals that would roam from land to land taking over until they were no longer satisfied with the animals that lived there.

“And there is one that has been prophesied who would bring an end to this evil.” Said the Owl. “One who has a secret magic within him. Have you noticed anything, shall we say, odd about yourself Tordwen?”

He got the hint. “Uh, oh no! No, no, no! I don’t know any magic, I don’t think I can help. You’ll just have to find someone else who can handle the situation better.” Tordwen began to back up looking around nervously.

“It has to be you Tordwen, whether you like it or not, there’s something strange about you. You are our only hope for survival. It is your duty to help. What other choice do you have but to try?” The Owl stepped forward menacingly.

Tordwen nodded his head in acceptance. He saw no other way out. The sky began to drizzle.

“Now you two must stay here,” explained the owl. “I’m going to go find where these Jackals have set up their kingdom. I shall return as quickly as I can.” And with that the Owl flew out of the hollow and disappeared into the night. The drizzle quickly became a hard rain and thunder clapped across the sky in bright flashes.

“What will we do?” Tordwen asked the hedgehog sitting next to him who seemed quite busy keeping his nose from running.

“I think (sniff) you have to save the (sniff) the world Tordwen, I don’t see any ‘we’ in this situation.”

“Hey now, you can’t leave me to do this on my own!” Tordwen yelled.

Just then there was an immensely bright flash and they felt a great shock rise through the tree. It was over as quickly as it began but they both knew that the lightning wasn’t the serious problem at hand. They could smell the smoke from the fresh fire that had started at the base of the tree.

“Oh man, oh man, oh man!” Sickly began to shake his head frantically.

Tordwen looked down the tree and saw the Jackals dancing excitedly around the fire. “Where is that Owl!?” he shouted. The fire was climbing up the tree as if in a rush to eat them up. The temperature inside the hollow began to rise and the ground became too hot to stand on.

They were both ready to jump out of the tree when the Owl arrived. “Quick get on!” The Owl commanded them. They did as they were told without hesitation, jumping onto the Owl’s back and holding tightly as it swooped through the air.

“Where are we going to go?” asked Tordwen, the rain stabbing at his wide eyes.

“To the ferret hill!” said the Owl. “The Jackal’s have taken all the Ferret’s prisoner and have built a small kingdom atop the hill!”

Tordwen held on in silence, absorbing all he had just heard. Suddenly he began to feel the hairs all over his body begin to rise. “LIGHTNING!” he shouted, and in that moment they were all thrown apart by a massive shock of electricity. Tordwen felt the wind rush around him as the ground grew closer and closer. He was falling right into the middle of the Jackal camp.

If only I could fly! Thought Tordwen desperately, and no sooner had he thought it than he began to float slowly to the ground as if he were a feather. He landed just outside the view of the Jackals and his shimmering stripes began to fade as if knowing when not to shine.

He saw that cages filled with all the animals of the forest, including his own ferret family, surrounded the entire hill. He heard their sad cries and in that moment decided he must do something.

“What have we here?” said a despicable sounding voice. “One of the animals trying to escape?” Tordwen stood completely still. “Well I suppose we could begin our feast with a small appetizer.” The jackal chuckled evilly as he grabbed Tordwen harshly by the scruff of his neck and carried him toward the rest of the Jackals.

The Jackal marched right into the center of the camp holding his prize up high for all to see. “Hey boys, look what I found wandering around outside! I think he’s lost!” He said, dropping Tordwen. They all laughed.

“I suppose we must begin supper sometime!” shouted another from the crowd. They all licked their lips.

“I call the first piece!” said the one who had found Tordwen, walking up to him.

“No wait!” said yet another. “He’s too small to feed the lot of us, lets get all the other ferrets out here!”

At that moment a hoarse yell split the sky and a small singed hedgehog flew through the air, landing atop the jackal’s nose and clawing at his face. The rest jumped back in surprise. The jackal threw Sickly away with a jerk of his head, and Sickly again flew through the air, this time landing with a dull thud on the ground.

“Sickly!” Tordwen shouted. His stripes began to glow intensely and his eyes became like two great emeralds shining with a great light. All the jackals were terrified and suddenly began to yelp and howl, gnashing their teeth at each other as if they were going insane.

Again his hair began to rise and he felt the electricity build up all around him. But when the lightning fell upon him he redirected it and it flew outward in the form of a green shock wave. And all Tordwen’s vision went dark.

He awoke to find that the rain had stopped and the sun was shining brightly overhead. When he sat up the cheers of all the animals of the land greeted him. He saw his mother and father crying with tears of joy and for the first time in his life he was truly happy. “Stand up son, you’re a hero!” said the Owl looming over him. Tordwen obeyed, again without hesitation, and as he stood the cheers grew even louder.

Looking around he noticed there was no evidence of there ever being any jackals at all. “But what happened to the bodies?” he asked the Owl.

“I don’t know,” the Owl answered deeply. “After what you did they just vanished, the rain had stopped, the mists lifted, and the cages seemed to melt away.”

“And what about Sickly?” asked Tordwen ashamed that he had forgotten him until now.

“Oh he’s just fine. That little hedgehog can take quite a beating.” Even as he said it, the voice of Sickly the hedgehog could be heard just behind them.

“Well I couldn’t have you save all these folk on your own now could I?” he said merrily. They all laughed.

And from that day forward Tordwen was accepted into his Ferret community and the ferrets found that he wasn’t such a bad person after all. They realized that differences can often be a good thing. And the animals began to prosper.

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