I shouldn't be wasting your time with such simple tales, every mouse worth his whiskers knows about Cinderpaws and how she stole the first ember from the Holy Mountain of Fireheart. I should tell you a better story, one of the Cracker Thief, or Featherfoot, the mouse who flew... No? You want to hear about Cinderpaws? Very well then...
In the Kingdom of Mice
Cinderpaws is a tale/NPC that draws from the material presented in the Shrew-Haters, namely the Kingdom of Mus. I hope that you will enjoy this character and tale as much as I will enjoy writing it. Thank you.
Cinderpaws was not like the other mice of her warren. Now don't go asking me what warren she came from. If you ask enough, there is someone to claim that she came from almost any of the warrens, some that hadn't even been dug out during her time. But it is agreed among those of long grey whiskers that she came from one of the highland warrens, not too far from the Gates of the World Above.
In those days, there was not yet a Mus, and the Pax Rodentia had not yet been created. In those days, the warrens stood alone, and their members hunted far and wide, and often warred with other warrens, as well as with the dens of rats and the green skinned Frog Lords who dwell in the sea beyond the Gates of the World above. Cinderpaws lived in one of these warrens, some claim one dug deep into the roots of the great tower Oak. From there, the hunting and gathering parties would dare to venture into the land of the gods.
Yes, Cinderpaws was such a hunter, traveling beyond the gates and risking her life and tail for what treasures could be found there. The gods are fickle, they dole out their gifts to us, but their great stores are protected by their servants, the cats. So long ago did this happen that not even the nigh immortal Cat Lords remember it during their lifetimes.
Yes, I do apologize, I am wandering about instead of telling the story. It is something that happens once your youth leaves you and the white starts creeping from your nose towards your tail. Remember that, when your fur starts to loose it's color.
Cinderpaws ventured many times into the land of the Gods, where the gods dwell in great square moutains. She would seek out the dark places where fire was tamed by the gods and bent to their wills. She would return, her coat would be thick with ash and her paws grimy with soot. Yet she always returned with empty paws. Some called upon her to no longer waste her time in the land of the Gods if she could bring back no treasures. There were better things for a find looking lady to be doing if she could do no better. She did not listen to their cold advice, but continued to seek out holy fire.
It was near her middle days when she made the arduous trek north, to the Holy Mountain of Fireheart, the dwelling place of imperishable flame. She dared challenge the domain of the elder guardian of Fireheart, the now passed into darkness Cat Lord Claws of Iron. She evaded his emerald gaze, and passed his sentry and through great daring and great luck found the hidden passage into Fireheart. There she found a small commune of mice. These mice were unlike us, for they had dwelled only in the presence of the Gods and knew not of war with rats and frog-lords. They knew to hide from the god's servants and seek not audience with the great and mighty gods. The gods are fickle and to them we are low. The wise mystics taught Cinderpaws about Fireheart and the hidden paths in and out of the Holy Mountain. In exchange, she taught them of the warrens below the Gates of the World Above.
The Holy Mountain of Fireheart
Fireheart is the forge of a blacksmith. Rather than letting the fire go out completely, a small flame is kept burning in the forge. The mystics have lived for generations in the blacksmithy and have spent their lives not hunting and fighting, but enjoying warmth year round and constant supplies of food dropped from tables and unattended meals.
The mystics told Cinderpaws where to find a suitable vessel, a dimpled silver chalice, to carry a piece of imperishable flame back to her kindred. Cinderpaws faced no small task. She left Fireheart and followed the Winding Road to perhaps the most dangerous of the Gods. This god, for we are to humble to name a being who we cannot see beyond the mountains of their feet, is the patron of the Cat Lords, and provides them with the white ambrosia and their vast dens in the Land of the Gods. No fewer than six great Furred Lords called this God their own and dwelled within the mountain of the God.
She crept past their guard, her scent hidden by ash and soot. She slunk into the lair of Mallorg Scourge of the Winds and Destroyer of Dragons and whispered into his sleeping ear. The ancient and mighty Cat Lord was roused by her words, thinking them his own thoughts. Mallorg did leave in a great lust and set upon the other Cat Lords for their imagined transgressions. While the Cat Lords did battle among themselves, Cinderpaws found the treasure trove of the God of the Cat Lords, and found long spears of metal, some straight and others wickedly curved like talons. She found strange holy discs of wood and bone, each with holes passed through it. She laid these treasures behind, each enough to make her worthy in the eyes of her warren mates. But she did not challenge the divine for the approval of her peers. She had a passion and a dream. She dug until she found the Silver Chalice.
Cinderpaws fled as if the God of the Cats were fast on her tail, which is precisely who was chasing her. She ran as fast as she could, never releasing the Chalice even as the God smote her with a storm of hard branches, and swept her off out of the Mountain of the God. She escaped, bruised and winded, and scared beyond her wits, but never did she forget her prize.
The Holy Mountain of the God of the Cat-Lords
The God of the Cat-Lords is the resident old Crazy Cat woman. She has many cats, some of questionable health. She makes ends meet by doing a good deal of sewing and needlework. Her knick-knack basket is full of sewing needles, buttons, and Cinderpaws prize, a thimble.
Cinderpaws returned to Fireheart, but so long was she gone that the mystics had given her up for dead. It was their great surprise that she not only returned alive, but that she also returned with the Silver Chalice. The mystics took the vessel and filled it partly with sand so that the flame would not consume the vessel with it's divine power. Then, the eldest of the mystics, Ashmantle took the vessel to the very heart of Fireheart, and with blind eyes directed Cinderpaws on how to gather the flame into the vessel. She was filled with fear, and terrible pain as she gathered the holy flame into the vessel.
The mystics soothed her injuries and it was then that she was truly named Cinderpaws, for she carried flames that had almost turned her shapely paws to blackened cinders. Ashmantle blessed her, marking her cheek with a black pawmark. She was then blessed by the other mystics before setting out for home.
What must be remembered is that even the Gods fear the power of fire, and take great care even when they have tamed it. Fire can never be mastered, it can only be charmed, entertained, tamed. Never mastered. Cinderpaws was face to face with this power, and even looking into the Silver Chalice was dangerous. She did look, and she lost half of her whiskers in the looking. She bore the vessel onward. It is told that during her travel back to the Warren under the Oak the Imperishable Flame spoke secrets unto her, secrets of wrath and destruction, but also secrets of making things and metal and prosperity.
The Elders of the Warren under the Oak were amazed, for they had long decided that Cinderpaws was dead, some claimed she was taken by Night's Deadly Wing, others said she was food in the belly of a Grass Dragon, or the sorry battered plaything and snack for the Cat Lords. She knelt before the Elders and poured out the Silver Chalice. The Imperishable Flame danced and the Elders in turn bowed to Cinderpaws, for she had done what was considered impossible, she had tamed fire and stolen it from the very domain of the gods.
The fire that warms the hearts of our Warrens, from the Valkervold to Galifas, and all of the Thistlebarren Warrens and even the Sepulchre of Soaring Bones spring from that first flame stolen in the Silver Chalice.
Remember when someone tells you that you cannot, that you are not enough for the task at hand, remember that Cinderpaws was also considered a failure until she made our greatest discovery. Now, run along to bed, it's getting late.