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Castles


by nimras23

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It had snowed over the night, Brenden saw with glee. The pristine snow glittered as it covered the castle courtyard like a dense, white blanket. Best of all, no one had touched it yet; the sky to the east was just beginning to turn the pink of dawn while the moon and stars still shone in the sky above as the rest of the castle slumbered. Brenden grinned, his blue ears twitching in anticipation. It was Saturday, and the whole day was open for building an indestructible snow fort for snowball fights with the other castle children. Best of all, he'd have the choice of spots to build his castle if he started right now.

     The young blue Lupe hastily dressed as quietly as possible. His sister's room was right next to his bedroom, and he didn't want to wake her up. He loved his younger sister dearly, but Gwen would be more of a hindrance than a help in building the ultimate snow fort.

     Slipping out into the main living area of his family's quarters, Brenden picked up the small shovel and the handle-less water pail he'd placed by his bedroom door the night before. He then snuck a peek into his parents' bedroom, just to make sure they were fast asleep and wouldn't be sending Gwen out with him anytime soon. Father nearly obscured Brenden's view of Mother simply by wrapping his arms around her, being nearly twice the size of her small, steel grey pirate form, but they both looked like they would sleep a bit longer. Smiling with glee, Brenden slipped out into the main castle complex, and ran down the halls to the courtyard.

     Giving the courtyard a good look, Brenden decided that the best spot to build his castle was on the hill on the eastern side. The castle wall behind him would keep anyone from throwing snowballs from that direction, and the hill meant he could see higher, not that it made much of a difference in a courtyard of this one's size. Flattening the snow at the top of the hill of snow with his shovel, Brenden then started to pack his bucket with snow to create blocks. He then placed his snow blocks out to for the base of the walls and started building his fort, carefully caulking the spaces between the blocks with loose snow.

     Jaeny and Valen, the lord Sheriff's twins, soon joined Brenden out in the court yard. They choose to make their fort closer to the center of the court yard, easily within range of Brenden's fort. The shadow Wocky and the blue Cybunny's extra pair of paws let them work faster; Brenden would have to hurry, or else the twins would be pelting him with snowballs before his own fort was finished.

     The sun rose up further into the sky, chasing the stars and moon away, and other castle children came to the court yard, building forts of their own. Soon the courtyard started to resemble a small arctic city made of snow. Brenden was so engrossed in his work; he didn't notice anyone come up behind him until his visitor spoke. "Very impressive."

     Brenden jumped, and then turned to his father. "It would be even more impressive if you'd let me make a roof out of some of the shields from the armory," he countered hopefully.

     Father crossed his arms and leaned up against the courtyards stone wall. "Sure; as long as you spend the rest of the year polishing the rust off them."

     The thought of how much work polishing that many shields would entail made Brenden wince. "Maybe not," he amended.

     Father chuckled. "Wise decision."

     A small royal colored Lupess head poked out from behind Father's leg. "Swow?" she lisped curiously. Her rose colored fur was covered by a warm grey fleece coat, which gave her a roly-poly appearance. Plopping down on the floor of Brenden's fort, Gwen started making snowballs, carefully making sure each one was perfectly round. "Swow!" she said excitedly, holding one of her snowballs out to Brenden.

     Brenden grinned, an idea sprouting in the back of his mind. "You make as many snowballs as you can for me, okay Gwen?"

     "O-tay," she warbled happily, grabbing another handful of snow.

     Father grinned. "Are you two going to be okay out here for awhile? Skarl wants your mother and me to have breakfast with him before your Aunt and King Rolan gets here."

     "We'll be fine," Brenden assured Father quickly; the last thing he wanted was to be dragged into a breakfast with King Skarl, having to answer to the name "Brandon" and listen to Skarl drone endlessly about politics.

     "When you two want breakfast, go see Grandma Anna. And don't let Gwen get too cold," Father added, "or your Mother will skin both of us alive."

     Brenden nodded emphatically, one of the main unspoken rules of the castle was "Don't cross Lady Mareian"; Mother was infamous for her sharp tongue and short temper. Brenden thought it was funny how visitors to the castle often worried about angering Father, yet Mother was far more dangerous. They usually learned better very quickly.

     Gwen's pile of snowballs grew larger as his fort grew taller. Using his bucket, Brenden scurried down to a patch of unclaimed snow and carried as many pailfuls as he could back up inside his own fort. You needed a fresh supply of snow to make new snowballs.

     Brenden froze as a snowball hit his fort on one of his trips back for fresh snow. The lumpy projectile nearly brushed the tips of his ears before it hit the frozen wall. Twin laugher rang out from Jaeny and Valen's fort. With the first snowball thrown, the war was officially started.

     Ducking inside his fort, Brenden grabbed a pair of snowballs, then carefully peeked to find a good target. Spotting an unguarded back, Brenden grinned and let loose his fire.

     Brenden felt sorry for the cubs who'd gotten a late start; the rules of the game in the castle meant that once your fort fell, you were out. Usually he gave them time to scramble and finish their forts while he concentrated on the cubs who were ready to play, but today the courtyard was so full that it was impossible. Soon it was just down to his fort, and the Sheriff's twin's fort. Four paws versus his two.

     Jaeny and Valen grinned and stepped out of their fort, they knew they had the advantage now. Brenden was a good shot, but little Gwen wasn't much help at all. Gathering up as many snowballs as they could, they brazenly walked out of their fort and started towards Brenden's.

     "Uh oh," Brenden muttered. "How many snowballs do we have left, Gwen?"

     There was no reply. Turning back to where he'd last seen his sister, Brenden saw only a pile of perfectly round snowballs, and not a single royal Lupess in sight. The blue Lupe rolled his eyes, "Of course she'll stay when I'm winning..."

     Grabbing the snowballs Gwen had made, Brenden threw them at the twins, though he knew he was only delaying the inevitable. His fort would be knocked over and Jaeny and Valen would win.

     Suddenly, half of the twins' castle fell over, for no reason that Brenden could see. Hearing the falling wall, the Wocky and the Cybunny stopped, and turned to stare at their fort in confusion. The other part of the wall fell, to the sound of a young girl giggling ecstatically. There, in the middle of Jaeny and Valen's former castle, stood Gwen. "All down!" she chanted happily, clapping her hands. "Benden win!"

     "That's not fair," Valen squeaked. "She wasn't even playing."

     Gwen scowled, putting her small hands on her fists. "An too. Swow-alls."

     "She made the snowballs," Brenden clarified, "while I built the fort." He cocked his head at the twins and grinned, "After all, there's no rule saying two can't play together."

     The twins looked at each other sheepishly, then at the royal Lupess who was now making their former fort into a pile of snowballs. Jaeny grinned at Brenden. "Next time, she's on our team."

     Playing in the snow was nice, Brenden decided, but coming into a nice warm kitchen warmed by big fireplaces was even better. Especially when it meant cocoa.

     "So how did the fight go this morning?" Grandmother asked, helping Gwen out of her coat.

     "Fun!" Gwen declared, trying to climb onto a chair much too big for her.

     "Who won?" the red Zafara asked.

     Brenden gave his little sister a proud smile. "Gwen did."

The End

 
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