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by Ember Nickel
Inbar chuckled. "Checking for ghost ships."
"Wassa ghost ship?" Branlea demanded.
"It's just a silly story."
"It's yore holt's!" Inbar interrupted, indignant.
"Branlea's too young to hear it."
"No she ain't. There's war, sure, but friendship, love, sacrifices'n'voyages...All the parts of a good yarn. An don' forget tha betrayal by the little fox prince!"
"I wanna hear!" Branlea demanded.
"Too right y'do. Well, two mice and a hedgehog were sailing across the waters..."
"If you're going to tell it," Grath rolled her eyes, "tell it right. My grandsire's father's grand...ah, summat or other...was buildin' a holt for his clan, when he saw a ship across the waves..."
The First Night's Entertainment: The Queen and the Corsair
Kidour Lutra paused from his work and gazed out to sea. The day was enveloped by a thick white fog, and all around him the otters of his clan were shouting to eachother as they transported materiels and helped to construct a good holt.
"Geyrum, Sekra, c'mere an' look at this," he shouted.
The burly otter and his mate walked over to their cheiftain.
"Yeah, what is it?"
"Look... Out there, to the nor'west a bit, in the mists..."
The two otters looked hard in the direction their cheif had pointed.
"I don't see anythin', Kidour..."
"Wait... Out there, quite faint... It's a ship!"
"Aye, an' a big one, at that."
At the mountain of Salamandastron, the badger lady Melogale the Lithe gazed at the same fog from the wide windows of the observation room. The unusually thin (but still powerful) badger bilnked and stared into the misty air over the sea. There it was, wait, no, there it was. She tried to get a fix on the ghostly pale shape drifting through the fog, heading north.
Several creatures along the coast tried to get a fix on similar shapes, all seeming to head up the coast, northward...
by Balfour, the wiley
Esmeralda, the vixen held her paw to the air, signaling her band of vermin to halt. Moonlight glittered savagely off her elaborate crespine and diadem. Then a harsh, clearly intonated voice issued from the vixen's sharp white teeth "I hear the sound of . . . voices. They are not far off. We must take extreme caution." Had one who had not been used to the sound of that voice heard, he or she would have believed it to have been a voice from beyond the gates of Dark Forest. Esmeralda's second in command, a tawny wildcat called Lord Sylk approched the vixen, using a richly decorated spear to support himself ostentatiously.
"My lady, this is a proper site at which to make camp. Shall I tell the battalions to commence fortifing the area for the night?" asked the wildcat in a smooth bass.
"No. There is not enough time for rest. We must march to conquest! To win against our foes. Once we have conquered, we will be able to rest. I however must rest now to tend to my son." said the vixen. She gave another strange motion with her left paw. Obediantly, four ermines in long tunics appeared behind her. They carried a very sturdy and wide litter armoured well with plates of iron and sliver barbs at the corners. Inside the litter was covered with purple, red and vivid green velvet, for these were the colors of the Queen Esmeralda. In side a fox in the age between maturity and a dibbun sat. He was called Sabrin and was rather unlike with his mother. The vixen gracefully climbed into the litter.
"When will the corsairs arrive, mother?" asked the younger fox.
"Don't speak of those pirates! They are only a means of achieving our retribution on our enemies." said the queen as she drew shut the chain mail curtains of the litter. Then Esmeralda began her son's lesson in herbs, assasination, and family lore; of how the woodlanders had wronged the great aunt, Lady Fortunata of Kotir, and many other lies.
Captain Rasha, the pine martin stood at the helm of THE SHADOW WAVE, navigating the ship to the rounde vouz point. Behind him a fat pack of searats guzzled grog in the thick fog. "Git up, ye good fer nothin' cheese hoardin' heap o' mangy varmints! Thars work ta be done!" cursed the old captain "Brinesop, me matey, may happen some day you'll wake up in yer bunk and ya might have a great poke hole in yer snout if ya don't get ta work! We've got to meet that winsome vixen queen soon, or we won't be paid, you great stinking rabble. Now y'ed better -." Rasha stopped because he saw a nice little settlement through the swirling mist, perfect for raiding. There were woodlanders to plunder, hopefully otters or even badgers, Captain Rasha hated those playful otters and honorable badgers with their Eulalia] or something. "Me maties, how would you loike a treat?" asked Captain Rasha as he steered THE SHADOW WAVE towards the settlement.
Note: I'm horrible at writing the accents of the corsairs and the otters. Could someone correct the spots that don't sound like the creatures?
Unfortunately for Captain Rasha, no badgers were present at the hapless settlement. With quiet creaks and groans, the ship sailed towards the lights giving away the targets position. Captian Rasha turned to face his hideous crew. He smiled inwardly. Murderers, every last one of them. Heartless, cold, brutal murderers. What chance did this settlement stand? "Ready your weapons." he snarled as he turned once more to face the lights on the beach ahead. With several mettallic sounds, cutlasses, scimitars, claymores, rapiers, longswords, and countless other weapons of war were unsheathed held at the ready. Rasha unsheathed his own scimitar. It was a beautiful weapon, with a grip of pure leather and an ice-blue steel blade curving slightly to a sharpened point. Tally marks were carved into the grip itself with grim effiency. Forty-seven and counting.
Preparations were also being made at Holt Lutra. Otters scurried about crazily, carrying all manners of weapons, food, and even children. A burly male otter kissed his wife and hugged his small son before they were led down into the safe tunnels. The little son kept yelling for his daddy, and the otterwife hugged him tightly and tears sprang from her eyes. "Don't worry honey, daddy'll come back." I hope, she thought as she descended the earthy stairs leading to a hollow underground cavern, filled with women and children.
Kidour Lutra grunted as he shoved the last bit of the barricade into place. He stepped back to examine his work. What had been the entrance to the safe tunnels was now covered in wood, leaves and dirt. To the casual eye, it seemed like nothing but a patch of ground. Let's hope this won't be as bad as it looks he thought as he gazed over his shoulder to the sea. That ship was a corsair vessel, that much he was sure of. It was in poor condition and flying a blood-red flag. What's more, Glasseyes had identified armed vermin all over the ship. Glasseyes had the best vision of the whole tribe. If Glasseyes was right, Holt Lutra might soon be turned into a prime example of Hellgates on Earth.
Ironically, Glasseyes vision was currently clouded by sweat pouring down his face. He was laying on his belly in a line of grim-faced otters, each bearing a ranged weapon of sorts. Some had slings, others had bows, many had javelins, and a rare few had slingshots. Glasseyes himself twirled his sling nervously, accidentally slamming his wrist with the loaded end. The pain made the situation all the more worse. The otter line stood overlooking the pebbled beach. A few yards inland from the tideline was wooded. A mound of earth, covered with bushes, stood just above pebbled shore. The line lay on their stomachs among the bushes, camoflouaged with face paint made from ashes and various vegetable matter. With any luck, they would not be seen until it was to late.
THE SHADOW WAVE anchored a few yards from the shore. With silent effiency, the crew leapt overboard into the shallows. The lights of the otter holt had been doused long ago, leaving the corsairs stumbling through the shallows in the inky blackness of night. Captain Rasha leapt from his ship as the last crew member hit the water below. The crew waded towards the shore, but Rasha halted their progress.
"Halt! Blithering idiots, they're expecting us! Do ye want to waltz into an ambush?" Sheepishly, the crew looked at each other. The thought had never even occurred to them. Well, that's why Rasha was Captain.
"Listen, Ragfoot, take Fishtail and Scumblood with ye. Scout ahead, and report back once ye see or hear anything. The rest of you, stay against the ship. I'll gut the idjit who makes a sound loud enough to alert them. Clear?"
The three stoats nodded and waded towards the beach.
Glasseyes nudged the otter next to him. "Uh-oh mate, here come scouts. Now what?" he whispered in panic.
The other otter hissed, "Quiet mate, Kidour has it covered." As if on cue, three distinct slitting noises were heard, followed by dragging. Kidour appeared next to Glasseyes, dragging the body of Ragfoot behind him. He sheathed his bloodied agger.
"The scouts have been dealt with." he said with a grim tone. "Did that alert the others?"
Glasseyes gazed towards the anchored ship. "Let's hope not."
"What's keeping those idiots?" Captian Rasha growled in frustration. Stupid as they were, it shouldn't take over ten minutes for a couple of stoats to scout ahead. Rasha considered sending more scouts, and decided against it. There was a bad aura about this place...
He turned to a weasel standing near him. "Spraytail, take ten others with you and head up to the shore. If something moves and it isn't a searat, spike it. If it screams and yells for help, spike it again. Go!"
Kidour kneeled next to Glasseyes and shook his head. "Those corsairs aren't idiots. Look, they've sent up a minor fighting force now. You two, get ready." With that, the otter chieftain slithered away down the line, whispering as he went. "All of you, get ready mates."
It wasn't the sudden rustle that alerted Spraytail of another creature's presence, nor was it the feeling of a body sneaking up behind him. It was the sudden feel of a dagger across his throat. The otter speedily dragged the lifeless corsair into the bushes and laid low.
"Oye, Spraytail, where do we-" the unlucky speaker, a tall, sinewy weasel, gasped slightly as the speeding javelin buried itself into the side of his neck. The carcass slumped to the ground. Another corsair, Waveclaw, yelled aloud in surprise, but spotted a sleek form creeping back into the shadows. Speedily, the rat grabbed the scruff of the creature's neck and dragged him up to his chest, using him like a shield. It was an otter.
"Oye, mates, look at this, we're all getting slayed by a bunch of spineless waterdogs." Around him, corsairs drew their weapons and gazed about, looking for more. Emboldened, Waveclaw pressed a dagger lightly against the struggling otter's throat. The otter felt the cold steel against him, but all he could think of was his wife and son hiding in the tunnels, praying to the fates they would see him again. Waveclaw yelled out, "Right, Waterdog's, cock your lugs and listen to-" he got no further.
A dagger came zipping out of the darkness, spinning wildly. It's steel blade whizzed over the otter's shoulder and was suddenly stained red as it sliced into Waveclaw's eye, slaying him instantly. The corsair released his grip on the otter and fell to the ground.
The deep voice of Kidour rang out in the night air. "That's it mates, they know we're here! Chaaarrrrge!!"
Corsairs yelled in surprise as several otters ran out of the darkness, the flame of battle alight in their eyes.
News of the raid on the Lutra Holt spread . . .
THE SHADOW WAVE had landed near Holt Lutra. To the young sea otter Swiftshot, it seemed to near. Why would the infamous pine marten Captain Rasha land near the humble and peaceful Holt Lutra? It just didn't add up. And now THE SHADOW WAVE and the rest of Rasha's fleet was docking. He had to warn his Holt Rudderwake quickly. It was days away but Holt Lutra would be safe. So he started to his holt to warn them and get soldiers
Lady Esmeralda emerged shaken from the silken tent. The slightest mention of her family's betrayal was enough to make the vixen snarl with anger. Oh yes, she thought, she would have revenge on those woodlanders. Her thoughts were interrupted by the thumping noises of Lord Sylk as he hobbled up on the ornate spearhaft. Baring his teeth he rasped," Milady, the corsairs have attacked an otter holt." Lady Esmeralda's eyes flashed with rage.
She called for Sabrin to come to her. The fox prince's head appeared between the place where the embroidered scarlet silk was slit to make a door. Sabrin blinked and then sighed "Mother, must I?".
The vixen would have never stood for such insubordination from a soldier, but he was her son. "Come here now, Sabrin or I will call the guards upon you!" she said, adopting a rather crueler manner than even before. The young fox came out of the tent at a leisurly pace, looking above at the stars nearly obscured by the mists. "The rest is over! Lord Sylk regather the troops, we must march faster, we must reach the destination before sunrise. We must dissuade the corsairs from further distractions. ONWARD!" Esmeralda cried. The vermin-queen climbed into her armoured litter again. How dare those corsairs stray from the path she had so carefully wrought! she thought to herself. The delicate strands of gems on her forehead suddenly seemed very heavy. She was becoming drowsy, yet she could not, would not, sleep for anticipation. Her victory drew closer with each nearly silent footstep of her army. It was rather good to be queen, she thought, half dreaming, half awake.
Esmeralda awoke to the sound of Lord Sylk's spear thwacking against the ground. That was really all she could take from her second in command. She signaled for the litterbearers to stop with a lazy hand motion out of the litter curtain. Then the vixen gracefully drew the chainmail curtains open. Esmeralda saw that the sky had turned to a blood red dawn, a color which brought the slightest of smiles to her savage mouth. Lord Sylk turned his rather bushy head towards his queen's litter and saw that she was motioning for him to come. Lord Sylk walked over to the magnificent litter, hoping she had not decided to kill him.
"Come into the litter, Sylk. There is nothing to worry about, at least so far as your life is concerned. I have need of advice, so I have called a council of all my leaders. There is not enough time to set up a proper meeting in my tent so we will have to make due with my litter, you see." said the queen.
"Yes, milady, I quite agree." said Lord Sylk. The old wildcat backed up to get a running start, then he clumsily pounced into the litter. Inside the queen's litter, Lord Sylk saw Saltatrix.
Saltatrix was a female fox. The vixen was nearly exactly Esmeralda's double in appearance and deviousness, only much more flexible and petty. She was known for her stealth and acrobatic maneuvers. Glinting at Saltatrix's side, Lord Sylk saw the two daggers which she always kept with her. Lord Sylk himself knew and feared the skill with which Saltatrix used the daggers, spinning like a top; a dagger in each paw.
"Now, Lord Sylk! We must get to the planning. The corsairs have become distracted raiding the coast, but we must keep victory on our minds." said Lady Esmeralda.
"Yes, milady, it is the object of all our collective breaths." said Lord Sylk.
"Wonderful, Sylk, but what have you contributed recently to the Queen's campaign? You've just been scuttling around and giving orders, you pompous old windbag." said Saltatrix, she really enjoyed seeing the old cat flustered.
"I will have order in my council, even if it be in a litter!" Esmeralda whispered warningly. Both of her councilors stopped and looked at their queen. Lady Esmeralda breathed a sigh of satisfaction to see her power over the two. "Now we must continue the plan I have crafted, but there must be some penalty for the corsairs insubordination. We must not give them this until we have conquered our foes."
"And did she, mama?" asked Branlea.
"Now, wait there a minute, luv. Ther's quite a bit left to tha tale." answered Grath lovingly.
"Too roight, darlin', We 'aven't gotten ta tha good part yet, there's still the battle at Salamandastron." contributed Inbar Trueflight
"Yes, and there is still lot more, but I think that it is time for yore beddy, and you'll hear more tomorrow night, Branlea." said Grath. She picked up Branlea and hugged her. Branlea was glad to be safe with her mother by the small campfire. She pressed her small head into her mother's side and hugged her. Grath carried Branlea to her bed and covered her with a blue quilt she and Inbar had sewn for her. Inbar patted the young otter's forehead and put out the candle beside Branlea's bed.
Here Ends The First Night's Entertainment
Second Night's Entertainment: The Dreams
Branlea sat on a small hand-crafted chair, slurping a bowl of hotroot soup. Inbar,opposite of her, wiped his hand across his mouth as he finished his sixth bowl. He was about to call out for another when Branlea cut in. " I wanna hear more of da storyy." Belching loudly he said, " nay, it's getting late, and im tired." Jumping onto Inbar's lap, she yelled in his ear; "i wanna hear!" Wincing he said, "alright, sweetie, where did we leave off?" Shakimg her head at inbar she said,"ya silly, we left of at da otter battle!" Sitting back in his chair , "oh yes, now let's see... the battle." . . .
Kidour stood, slitting his knife through the throat of a unfortunate rat. A shadow appeared from behind the rock ledge, tapping it's cold steel weapon on his shoulder. Whipping around, he brought his knife up into an arc . . . "Hey, watch your steel, Kidour," Glasseyes whisper/shouted, as he ducked the sharp knife. " Oh tis only you, i thought twas a vermin," he muttered. He turned to face his friend," How go the losses, mate." Shaking his head, he led Kidour to the battle site. Carcasses of vermin and otters littered the ground. Before the pair could let a tear run down their faces, two crude spiked clubs were brought down onto the heads of Kidour and Glasseyes, knocking them out . . . Two grinning rats, turned and marched back to the ship, where a bottle of grog broke out, and the fat greasy cook yelled out that the skilly was ready.
Lady Melogale the Lithe lay slumbering on her bed , until loud knocks awoke her from the realm of dreams. Heaving herself from the moss-padded ledge, she threw on a blue homespun tunic, wrapping her leather saber- belt around her middle. Calling out to the intruder, she tidied some scrolls on her study desk. " Come in." With several grunting noises the head of young Corporal Kellis, peeped around the doorway. " I say, marm; ya have to put this bloomin boulder as a doorway. One day im going to flippin break my back on it, doncha know. Nodding her head, she said in a deep voice, " Get to the point corporal. You came here for something." Rubbing his head he said, " Your bally right. The scout chap,wotsisface...young Pennidale. The lad brought in a vermin, a young fox blighter. " Raising her head in interest, she said, " I'll see to it corporal, but first bring me some breakfast. Perhaps some scones and damson jam. And don't forget the meadowcream and the warm cherry cordial. " Yes marm,"he said dashing of into the mess hall. " Corporal.. oh dash it. I guess i'll just close the door,"she muttered.
Sabrin sat leaning on the deck rail, staring into the endless fog. It was not yet dawn, and he was the only one awake on the ship, or so he thought.Saltatrix padded silently from the upper deck, leaving a slumped Lord Sylk bleeding into his own pool of blood. She then parted the curtains of the litter, grinning evilly at her plans. " Esmeralda's plans have no real sense to it, so im just going to go take over. And when im done, im going after Rasha..." She said no more, for she was inside the litter, her knife slitting the throat of a slumbering Esmeralda. As she slid out of the litter, she was about to let out a cackle. But then she saw Sabrin. Creeping to his side, she knocked the hilt of her dagger on his head, knocking him out. As she tossed him over the side of the ship, she whispered, "Farewell dear whelp . . ."
Esmeralda woke with a ferocious start. She had just had another premonition. These dreams always came true, unless the queen took it upon herself to prevent what she had see. This was why she was called the Mistress of Destiny. She surely would not allow this to become reality, all of her carefully laid plans to be pushed aside with one careless stroke. The vermin-queen looked out of her pavilion and saw the hilltop and surrounding country where the rounde-vouz with the corsairs would take place. It was nearly midday. The corsairs would be arriving soon. The queen already had a plan in mind for dealing with Saltatrix. "Sylk." Esmeralda whispered imperiously.
The wildcat stumbled into the pavilion. "Milady, do you desire my presence?". Lord Sylk peered into his queen's smokey green eyes, trying to glean some information from them.
"Yes, my dear Sylk, I do." answered the Mistress of Destiny. "I have had another premonition. In the coming days you shall be of greatest importance to me. I need to change our strategy only slightly. Lord Sylk, you remember you were planned to follow me in the direct attack on Mossflower, while Saltatrix accompany Captain Rasha on the second prong navel attack, which would first attack the Badger Fortress, to free the river which leads to Mossflower, allowing our attack. I want you now to lead the Corsairs on the invasion. Do not worry, Sylk, your's will be the greater honor. Your little rival, Saltatrix, will be accompaning me on the first direct attack on Mossflower, while you conquer Salamandastron. Now go, Lord Sylk, and tell Saltatrix I need to speak with her about her new situation."
Lord Sylk smugly slunk out of the pavilion as fast as his mildly arthritic limbs would allow. To his right, Saltatrix sat, drawing a map in the sand with one of her daggers. "The queen wishes to speak with you." Lord Sylk chuckled. He smirked slightly pathetically as the confused warrior-vixen carefully entered Esmeralda's pavilion.
The queen waited. This new addition to the plan was foolproof. Saltatrix entered. The queen was nearly overcome with emotion when she saw the other vixen, but she was the world's greatest actress. "Welcome, Saltatrix." said Esmeralda. "Hail, Mistress of Destiny," answered Saltatrix, "Lord Sylk told me that there would be a change in my station, I was afr-"
"There is no need for us to be afraid of anything. We will be victorious. As for your station, I have a special deed for you. I want you to accompany me on the attack on Mossflower. Meanwhile, Sylk will be poking badgers with his spear, surrounded by those vile pirates!"
by Blaggut Category (fan fiction)
Abbot Prislemp of Redwall Abbey, a sturdy young hedgehog, was overseeing the preparations for the Autumn Feast inside the Kitchen. Stepping across the bench, he was confronted by the biggest wild plum pudding he has ever seen. "Heavens sake, this must be baked especially for me! I dearly love plum pudding!" The Redwall kitchen friar Higgles, who was busy berating some moles for making a mess baking the deeper 'n ever pie said, "Aye, 'tis was that young scamp Pomply who requested a wild plum pudding. Said was a present for the abbess as a return for his gift." Abbot Prislemp chuckled. Giving the statue of Martin to Pomply suddenly didn't seem such a bad idea after all. Just then, the kitchen door burst open as two score Dibbuns, led by a stick wielding Pomply, charged into the kitchen jumping into pies, pinching fruit and pastries, and generally making a mess of everything. Charging hot on the Dibbun's tail was Badger mother Kilan, entering the kitchen like a black furred whirlwind. "Any Dibbun who doesn't get out of this kitchen immediately will get a bath and early bed!" "EEEEEEEE," Screamed the Dibbuns as they charged out of the doors. Shepherding a horde of naughty Dibbuns, Badger mother Kilan failed to notice Pomply, who climbed on the shelf just above the plum pudding. "Whheeeeeeeeeeeee!" shouted Pomply as he did a head dive into the black pudding. Splattering Abbot Prislemp with plum pudding, Pomply took for the grounds with Abbot Prislemp hot on his tail, saying "I didn't ask Friar hikkles to make it for you, plum pudding is my favorite pool!" Chasing after the Dibbun, Abbot Prislemp charged off into the abbey grounds.
Meanwhile at Holt Lutra, Geyrum was taking a casualty count. "Hmmm, we lost five otters and got another wounded. Wait! Where are Kidour and Glasseyes? They aren't among the bodies! Glancing around, he groaned. Noooooo... they must have been taken prisoner aboard that ghost ship, whatever it name is… We have to get back to the holt and decide on a plan of action.
As the day grew on into evening, a two masted ship appeared on the horizon opposite Salamanstadrom. Filled with rats and stoats, they were lad by Captain Gringaw, a one eared fox whose strength knows no bounds. One of the many books described him as “Red eyed fox that stands before you, orange coated fur and a strength that rivals that of a badger lord. Put your eye upon him, and you’ll know that soon you'll be packing to hellgates." Sighting the mountain far east, Gringaw saw his goal. Salamandastron! The mountain that was bane of all sea vermin, Gringaw longed to sit in its flaming interior. He longed to conquer the ancient volcano, home of all the badger lords. Salamandastron!
Later saw the leaders of Holt Lutra sitting around the fire inside one of the huts. The two sentries outside fidgeted uncomfortably as the frigid air blasted on their faces. “Friends, fellow beasts,” began Geyrum, who has been elected the unofficial spokesbeast by the otters. “’tis a dark day for us, Holt Lutra. Our families have been sent to shelter, and our warriors killed. Our leader Kidour and otter Glasseyes have been taken by the vermin.” “I vote we plan to rescue them!” shouted out an otter. As everybeast roared its approval, Geyrum calls for order. “Fine. Does anybeast have a plan?” As the otters form a plan to rescue their leaders, the orange sun set long shadows in the rapidly darkening sky.
by Balfour, the Wiley
Meanwhile, far to the north, yet still to close, in Queen Esmeralda's camp there was much going on. The Queen said to Saltatrix" Your honor shall be the greater. If you are able to sucsessfully conquer the woodlanders with me, I shall appoint you to the office of Countess of Mossflower. When I have returned to our homeland, I want you to manage the province from the Abbey the woodlanders call Redwall." said the queen. Saltatrix grinned slightly. She would love to be a countess. But Saltatrix had doubts. "Will I really, Milady?" "Yes, my dearest, I shall now give you proof of my promise. Saltatrix, please take off your paw-ring."
Saltatrix looked shocked. A ring made of a bronze and silver alloy and set with a cluster of garnets was given to each member of Queen Esmeralda's army. To take off the ring was to declare yourself separate from the Queen's army. Saltatrix could not believe what the Queen was asking her to do. Yet the queen made a friendly smile and nodded to urge her on. Saltatrix then realized that it would be acceptable to remove her paw-ring. The Queen reached into a gilded box. She took out a magnificent silver ring set with a ruby, an emerald and the greatest and most beautiful amethest Saltatrix had ever set eyes upon. The Queen handed it to Saltatrix. Saltatrix nearly smiled. "Thank you, my queen." exclaimed Saltatrix. It is a rare and beautiful gift. I again thank you." The two villans then shook left paws and began the ritual oath of the foxes, ending in "Robber foxes have no fears!".
The Queen knew her plan had worked. Apeal to Saltatrix's vanity. Give her a trifle bauble, if only Saltatrix knew that her loyalty and services were worth more than four of those rings. "You are most welcome, Saltatrix. Only you can help me conquer the woodlanders." said Esmeralda
Captain Rasha landed THE SHADOW WAVE near the rounde-vouz point. The time was near. He ordered his filthy crew to unboard with a wave of his scimatar. The pine martin would love the payment, though defeating Salamandastron would be its own reward. All the badgers would fall to his blade. A few more notches on the scimatar. The Corsairs stumbled through the woods to the meeting place. The Queen's army appeared over the horizen. He prepared his army to stand back, while he approached the Mistress of Destiny.
When the Queen saw the corsairs come out of the shadows of the forest, she knew these were the right allies, no matter how unhygenic. Each one of them would kill for a reward. Esmeralda walked toward Captain Rasha. Then they began the parley. "Welcome, Captain Rasha and the crew of THE SHADOW WAVE."
"Welcome yoreself, Queen Esmeralda and the army of The Mistress of Destiny!" replied the pine martin.
As The Flaming wave, the ship commanded by Gringaw, neared the shore of Salamanstadrom, some smart aleck rat named Flecsky came up to Gringaw and suggested in a sneering voice that the Flaming Wave land further north as a precaution against the Salamanstadrom scouts who will undoubtly see the ship at dawn. The rude rat soon got sent away by a good clout in an ear and deck duty for a week when Captain Gringaw saw the good sense in the idea. He called Flecsky back to him. Shivering with fright, Flecsky said, "Yes, captain who rules the waves?" "Ah..." said Gringaw, "I'm glad you remembered my title. I will now promote you." "P-P-P-Promote me?" said Flecsky uncertainly, not sure whether or not this was a trap. "Yes you miserable idiot, promote you!" the captain snapped. "You will be promoted to a strategy general. You show a lot of promise, but it must be exploited." Swelling with newfound pride, Flecsky drew up to his full height. "I will never fail you sire!" said Flescky as the ship unwittingly set a course straight for Holt Lutra.
But not fast enough. Young Pennindale, the same scout who brought in the fox that was now being interrogated by Lady Melogale, saw the Flaming Wave heading northwards. Hurrying back to the mountain, he tried his best to enter Lady Melogale's chamber, but to no avail for the rock that served as a door was powerful and strong. The thought then crossed his mind to call for help and he sped down the passageway, returning a few minutes later with Frashbuck, a veteran hare who was struggling to keep up with young Pennindale. But despite the fact that he was well in in his seasons, the old hare seemingly effortlessly pushed aside the great rock. Looking up from her prisoner, Lady Melogale the looked up from the shivering fox who knelt shivering in a corner, and turned to face the newcomers. " My Lady,..." began Frashbuck but he was rather rudely interrupted by Pennindale, who shouted "Miss, Miss, I saw a great big pirate ship in the distance! It seemed to be headed north! "North," said Frashbuck, "North you say?" They may be headed straight for holt Lutra at this very moment, straight for my best friend Kidour!
At that precise moment, the otter in question awoke, and instantly wished he hadn't. A spike of hot pain stabbed through his head as he tried to sit up, instantly noting that he was lying down on a hard wooden floor. Feeling his head, he felt a great bump on the top of his head, caused by maces, although he wasn't to know that yet. Staring around, he felt an impulse to check on Glasseyes. But he was too late. The once lively eyes of his friend was now steel cold, made by the fact that the mace smashed his skull and killed him. A cry was torn from Kidour as he grieved for his best friend, vowing revenge on Captain Rasha. Revenge!
Unaware of the events that took place on the northern shores, the peaceful Redwallers awoke to the smell of well prepared food. Today the autumn feast will be held, and the season to be named. Abbot Prislemp woke up but continued lying in bed, savoring the good day. But the peace was short lived as his best friend, Abbey cellarkeeper Frigo Stump entered the dormitory. " Wakey wakey everyone!", he shouted at the top of his voice. Hurriedly putting on some clothes, the Abbot glanced out of the window and couldn't supress a smile. There on the Abbey pond was Semaka the squirrel, sitting in a small boat with Dane, trying to catch a pike to grace the Abbey table. But he could see that they have been sitting on the boat for the entire night, as they were lolling to one side, fishing rod barely held in their hands. Suddenly, Dane's rod gave a little twitch, as a pike from the bottom of the pond nudged the line. Shouting at the top of his voice, the abbot woke Dane up, and by accident he flipped over the handle of the fishing rod which got entangled in some rope on the little boat. As the pike took the bait, the fishing rod got pulled into the water, also pulling the rope, which by some coincidence mysteriously tangled in Semaka's habit. Now both fully awake, Dane grabbed hold of Semaka's hand as she nearly flew overboard by the strenght of the pike. The pike was strong, but the otter was not quite ready to lose Semaka yet. He strained to hold on as the boat sped around the Abbey pond, pulled by the huge pike. By that time, other Redwallers were gathered around the edge of the pond shouting encouragement. A few otters slid into the water, but te pike and the boat were moving around too fast for them to do anything about it. Semaka yelled, and strove to hold on to Dane's hands. "Out of the way!" shouted badger mother Kilan, carrying a huge net with some other Redwallers. "Everybody grab on!" she said and immediately the other Redwallers grabbed a rope trailing out from behind the net. "Hold on tight!" advised the badger mother and with a tremendous heave, threw the net at the boat. The weighted ends of the net encompassed the stern of the boat, and the boat stopped momentarily. Then as the pike was startled by the unexpected opposition, Dane pulled Semaka back on board. Both got a good grip on the rope, and not a moment too soon as the pike resumed its swimming. Struggling to pull the net back, the Redwallers were helped by Foremole and his crew. With the combined strenght of all the animals on land, the pike finally conceded defeat, allowing itself to be pulled out of the water by Dane and Semaka. Slaying the pike with two blows from a hammer, Dane cheered with the rest as the Abbot came up to them and congratulated them for the pike.
Somewhere on the fringes of mossflower, Salatrix made preperations to leave with half of Esmeralda's army. Heading south towards Redwall Abbey, she marveled at the luck that got her this far. She will conquer both the rumored Redwall Abbey and Mossflower. Two birds with one stone.With luck, maybe she will be able to find a way to get rid of Esmeralda herself. Then she can be the complete and utter ruler. Twirling her new paw ring, she led the army off into Mossflower, straight for Redwall Abbey.
Esmeralda marveled at the fact that her plan worked well. She was soon startled out of her reverie as a sentryrat spotted the Flaming Wave floating offshore. She smiled to herself. Another pawn to control in this game.
by Balfour, the Wiley
There was a legend told about Captain Rasha in later days. It was whispered of even during this time. It was said that Rasha had a once been smuggling cargo of fine silks and wines to the to his northwestern homeland of Devericha Isle, when he was caught in the most treacherous tempest to strike all the seas of the earth. He was he was trying to navigate Devericha's intricate straits lined with sharp rocks that protruded out of the waters like fangs, when the storm struck, and the shipment was already long overdue. In the foggy and confusingly poisonous air which seems to always shroud Devericha, Captain Rasha's frenzy was at its acme. In his rage and frustration, he Captain Rasha was rumored to have bartered his soul to the Prince of Hellgates for safe passage through the water. Lightning was said to strike one of the stalagmites near The Shadow Wave. Then a dull ruddy light appeared before the ship and guided the ship out of the labrinthine canal and to the port. When The Shadow wave was into port, the eerie scarlet glow drifted up to the mast. This is what the woodlanders and corsairs said had caused the faded crimson hue of The Shadow Wave's Mast and his flag. Captain Rasha never said a word otherwise and the legend was well known in the days of Grath and Inbar.
In Redwall, the Dibbuns prepared for the splendid feast they would soon be eating. Badger mother Kilan had all of them scrub their paws until they were absolutly spotless (knowing that at the feast, most of the little ones would abandon the use of utensils before the second course). The dibbuns were each given little tasks, to clean the abbot's goblet, or to pick flowers for the table. The most popular job was to help Frigo in the cellar, where they would help themselves to strawberry fizz or Cup o' Cheer by slurping it our of their cupped hands. A little female mouse, called Daisy, helped in the kitchen by working marzipan into the shape of various Abbey heroes. When she had just finished the tail of Martin the Warrior, she heard dull, hollow thumping sound when she struck the floor, for she had dropped rolling pin onto it. This had frightened Daisy and she ran to Kilan. "Oh! Mother Kilan, I has just had the most terriblest scare." Sobbed the dibbun.
"Tell me, what frightened you." answered the badger.
"I dropped the rolling on the floor, and the floor is- is-. . . " heaved the little mouse.
"Yes, calm down. What was it, dear?" consoled Badger Mother Kilan.
"The floor is hollow. Ther's somfink there." replied the mouse.
Badger Mother Kilan carfull led Daisy over to where she had dropped the rolling pin. She knelt down to pick up the rolling pin. When she did, the tile it was resting on had crumbled as soon as it touched the badger's paw. There was a hollow space under the tile. And there was something there as well. Kilan gasped.
Kilan could not beleive what she saw. It was a book, and the title was written in loamscript but she didn't know what it was before she translated it. Frigo was in the kitchens giving the Friar elderberry wine when he saw what the Badger mother and the dibbun were doing. As he looked over the badger's shoulder Kilan read, " The personal diary of Abbess Germaine". Abbot Prislemp heard what the ywere saying and called Daisy and the Abbey elders together. Opening to the first page, Prislemp held his breath and then read what the first page said. Sleep and peace be with you, and dreams shall come unto you." They all agreed on what the message meant and knowing that they would be answered, they continued preparations for the feast. In a few short hours the feast started, and the season was to be called the Autumn of the Songbird because of an increase in Mossflowers population of larks. Daisy giggled as Pomply snuck up from his chair and stuck fruits on to the spikes of a young hedgehog dibbun named Violet. Plucking a plum from her headspikes and throwing it at Pomply with suprising acuracy, Violet hit the mole directly on the tip of his snout. Skipper laughed as he said to Violet, "You could be a slinger, liddle one." Kilan got furious at skipper. "Don't encourage her or I'll send you to bed with out supper," she said. The mention of the otter warrior getting sent to bed without supper made Daisy laugh furiously, blissfully unaware that that night she would receive a dream telling her the horrible truth about her abbey's fate.
By Balfour, the Wiley
The crew of THE SHADOW WAVE, reloaded for the voyage to Salamandastron. All of the crew was in high spirits, ready for the excitement of battle, for the plunder, for the chance to kill a few badgers or to be payed by Queen Esmeralda when the deed was done. All the crew, except Lord Sylk. Lord Sylk was confused by the strange corsairs customs, their way of speech alone bewildered him. Their coarse habits shocked him, and Lord Sylk was an old beast and had seen and done much that was evil. Yet this was a different kind of evil.
That evening, when the voyage was already underway, Lord Sylk had been invited to take his dinner with Rasha in the Captain's private cabin. When he entered the cabin, he saw how strangely the room was decorated. The large room was a rather empty one and the furnishing of the room were of the highest quality (though not as good as the splendor of Queen Esmeralda's court), but where very deteriorated and worn, as though their previous owners had not cared much for them, however Rasha had kept the room immaculate. The walls had a few paw-drawn nautical maps hung on them and in the left side of the room was Rasha's bunk. There was a low table surrounded by cushions for sitting on, against the wall a wooden cabinet filled with neatly organized bottles of spirits and a set of beakers. On top of the cabinet was the dinner in covered dishes.
Lord Sylk carefully sat down on one of the cushions around the table. I'm really getting to old for this sort of thing, though the wildcat, as his spine and knees crunched with the pain of the effort. He looked down at the chipped porcelain plate which had just been set before him by one of Rasha’s minions. It held a roast seagull in a clear amber sauce. Further along the table, Captain Rasha, sitting on a threadbare saffron-orange damask cushion, was already picking pieces of the fowl out of the dish and placing it into his mouth. Although Sylk was unused to such cuisine, he hesitantly tried to skewer one of the bits of meat on his claw. In a manner as dignified as he could he quickly popped it into his mouth. He was surprised to taste that the meat had been heavily seasoned with ginger and black pepper. The taste seemed to his tongue. Sylk immediately reached for the beaker and downed its contents. Grog. Was there nothing safe for the consumption of any sane beast? Rasha giggled “What’s tha matta, cat? The food a bit too flavorful fer ye. I see yer fond of tha grog, though, an admirable trait, indeed.” Rasha signaled to the server before Sylk could protest. A weathered searat scuttled over and set a large bottle before each of the diners. Captain Rasha's eyes betrayed his anticipation as he stared first at his drink, then at Lord Sylk. "Well, now, my dear kitty, let's drink up and be glad were not any o' them badgers we'll be slayin' tomorrow."
Lord Sylk nervously eyed the massive bottle. The fluid contained within was so different from the wines and cordials his native land. What was grog even made from? he wondered. Feeling nauseated at the thought of this drink and what it would be like to taste it again, he decided to try to talk his way out of it "Why, I thank you for your offer, Captain, but I believe that I shall have to decline. I have imbibed enough of my beverage ration for this evening, and I would hate to deplete your store of potables."
"Thar's plenty where that came from. Don't worry about it. Now have at it, puss, or would ye like to be insultin' tha hospitality o' Captain Rasha?" answered Rasha, as he slurped a bit out of his bottle. There was a confusing look in the corsair's black eyes as he said this, it was jolly yet contained a glimmer of fury. Jovial as he may sometime be, there was always a hint of anger concealed in the depths of his dark eyes. Sylk could see that no beast could understand Rasha, his mind was as complicated and dangerous as the straits of Devericha where he sold his soul. This evil that seemed to filter through his fierce almond-shaped eyes willed Sylk to drink.
The wildcat knew he could not not follow the Captains unspoken order. He grasped the bottle in his paw and put it to his lips. Just gulp it down in one attempt, Lord Sylk thought. He swallowed the liquid.
Gleefully, Rasha said "Ah, tha neck's on the bottle ta keep it from bein' emptied in one swig!".
Lord Sylk would have laughed at the pine martin's joke, had he not felt like he was going to vomit all over the floor of the cabin. Instead he managed a weak smile. Sylk tried again, and took another gulp. The putrid liquid flooded his mouth. He sipped on, and on until he and the captain had both finished. "Urghhhn. . ." groaned the wildcat, gone was his eloquence.
"Ohh, thar's be tha saddest sight in the world: an empty bottle. I call it a dead beast, ye know why?" said Rasha.
"Why?" asked a very inebriated Lord Sylk, nearly too sick to care.
"I call an empty bottle a dead beast `cause their spirits have left `em!" replied Captain Rasha. The wildcat groaned again to acknowledge the humor of the pun. I wish I were back with the Queen, though Lord Sylk.
Things were going well for Queen Esmeralda. The new additions to the plan meshed perfectly with the old strategy. Saltatrix had not shown one sign of rebellion, in fact, she was much more loyal. As Esmeralda sat in her litter, each moment closer to Mossflower, she heard a snatch of the marching song Saltatrix had just composed for the army to sing:
Hail to The Mistress of Destiny,
True daughter of Vulpez, the Cunning
For your victory, we are running,
To Mossflower, lest we be
Out-sped by the corsairs,
The vile scum of salty airs.
Those pirates who of a badger were afraid.
Onward, to conquest, the courageous vixen cried.
At the tips of our blades, our enemies died.
In malignant heaps they were laid.
We slew each lowly beast, otters and mice.
For the sake of Esmeralda, the thrice
Victorious and never betrayed.
Well, thought Esmeralda, not exactly first rate poetry, but Saltatrix is a warrior, not a minstrel. The Queen could not wait to arrive at her destination. The woodlanders would not suspect a thing. Soon, she would be there. Soon she would see the walls of the Abbey red, indeed. Her plan was fool-proof.
While she sat in her litter, she reviewed all the maps her spies had drawn for her and the strategic points that had been scouted out. As the light was failing she put away her plans, but refused to let the army rest until they reached the ruins of half-forgotten fortress in Mossflower, called Castra Scelesta, for it was here where she would set up her base from which to attack. But Queen Esmeralda could not wait to get to Redwall to conquer it, she had to do it now. From inside her litter, she called for Sabrin.
Sabrin came quickly, after a malicious look from Saltatrix. He carelessly clambered into the litter and settled on a his side. "What do you want, mother?" Sabrin asked.
Esmeralda gave a superficial smile and answered "I am going to play a game with you. You may think of it as a test of the strategy and battle planning skills I have taught you." In Esmeralda's country, there was an ancient game which had been played for more seasons than any beast could remember. The game was a very realistic representation of war, with specialized pieces, raised or depressed spaces representing changes in elevation and the like. The Queen had had a new lavish set made, and with all of the information gathered by her scouts, she had this new version made to exactly represent the scenario of her forces attacking Mossflower. There were figures that were minute doubles in gold of the Queen herself, Saltatrix and all of her commanders. For the woodlanders, there was even an Abbot Primslip and a Kilan and the board was prepared to represent the Mossflower countryside surrounding a model Abbey. "Son, I want you to play the woodlanders, while lead my forces." said Esmeralda.
In the game, the Queen's forces secured Castra Scelesta, but when a stealth mission led by Saltatrix was intercepted by the Kilan piece, the Esmeralda mover led a vicious all out siege upon the Abbey.
"I've got you now." said Sabrin as he moved a group of squirrel archers out of the trees were the were hiding. The archer pieces had surrounded attacking forces. Sabrin removed the Queen's surrounded pieces from the board. All except the Queen. He now realized what this meant. If he took that piece he would win the game. But it would mean he had taken his mother, literally and metaphorically. Sabrin was trying to choose if he should take her and win the game when he heard a yell.
"We have reached Castra Scelesta!" shouted Saltatrix. The vixen set down the Queen's Standard which she had been carring, a purple panel of silk with a strange device of green and red which depicted an arabesque symmetrical tangle of what appeared to be either plant life or gore. Saltatrix gazed at the formidable structure. Out of an artificially constructed hill surrounded by defensive ditches, there stuck a tall stone tower with a tiled roof, with a wing of rooms spreading out from the left and right sides. On top of each wing were a great crenelated parapet. True the grass was a bit overgrown, the original doors had rotted off and the building would not be large enough to hold the barracks (they would have to sleep in their tents in the courtyard), but the place was awe-striking despite this. At the Queen's command, Saltatrix supervised the cleaning and repair of the interior and construction of wooden walls, gate and guard towers around the fort, before settling down for the night. Because the queen would be sleeping in the highest and most beautiful room in Castra Scelesta, Saltatrix was given the honor of using Esmeralda's pavilion for the duration of the armies occupation.
In the hurried around activity around the fort, Sabrin seemed to be lost, forgotten. Nobody had thought of him for a moment, his mother had pushed him out of her mind as she pushed him out of the litter when they first arrived at Castra Scelesta. Sabrin was now somewhere in Mossflower Wood, alone. Why, nobeast, not even Sabrin, understood why or how. However, alone in the forest is the perfect place to make a decision, even if you do not know you are making one.
It was nighttime in Redwall Abbey. Outside, an owl hoots as it pounces on a rabbit in Mossflower woods. Inside the Abbey, peaceful Redwallers lie sleeping, digesting off the delicious feast they ate during the evening. But one of the dormitory's occupants had a restless night. Daisy tossed and turned in her bed as a puzzling dream unfolded in her head. She saw a nearly emptied abbey with a burnt out gate, and warriors and vermin fighting outside the Abbey. A figure of a mousemaid ran into the fray, shouting out the battle cry of the abbey,"Redwallllll!" With a start, she recgonized the mousemaid as herself, bearing a sword and a sheild with an engraving of a mouse on it. The world then suddenly spun around her, and the mountain stronghold of Salamanstadrom came into view. Two gigantic pirate ships sieging the mountain of fire, with brave hares and perilous corsairs fighting against a smoked stained sky. And then a peaceful voice echoed in her head, "Four points over the treetops. Head to the one of the rising sun. Four taillenghts looking from the top, home of the season's name , deserted and hidden in something at plain sight. Look inside and you will see, a treasure that truly belongs to thee." Subconciously, Daisy registered that the voice belonged to Martin the warrior, before sinking back into a peaceful oblivion.
Next morning, Daisy forgot everything that had been said to her in the night. Waking fitfully to the sound of Dibbuns playing downstairs and the sound of sleepy animals still snoring, she head downstairs into the kitchens. There, Frair Higgle and Frigo Stump were arguing about something involving a dish, a drink and a engraving on a cup. Engraving? Something stirred in Daisy's memory. She dismissed it as nothing, and shook it out of her head.Taking a tray of food, she went to the great hall to eat. Kilan and the usual accompaniement of hungry dibbuns were there. Suddenly, Violet spoke up. "Yesserdai, skippa say I be slinga. I go fite inna war!" "No," badger mother Kilan gently admonished, "A war is not a good thing. I have read many things about our beloved Abbey coming under siege. I hope that war will never come here to haunt us again. Too many good creatures have died." War? Siege? Abbey? Again, the dream strove to break through to Daisy's mind. She tried to clear her head, and suceeded. Yet some unease lingered in her. She suddenly felt not hungry anymore, and ddecided to go out for a walk instead. Maybe that will help her clear her mind. The cool autumn breeze felt wonderful to her as she stepped out into the grounds. Here and there, hardworking Abbey beasts were scurrying hither and fro, doing their respective chores and jobs. The sweet sound of larks sounded in the air, and a few adventurous ones have already taken off to the south. Daisy smiled contentedly. This was the way life was meant to be. "Daisy! Daisy," called Norman. Norman was a teenage adventerous squirrel, who helped around the abbey by doing the odd chores and stuff. "Daisy," said Norman as he caught up, panting for breath. "Daisy, would you like to help me and Semaka clean the abbey tapestry?" The Tapestry was woven to depict martin the warrior, one of the co- founders of redwall abbey. "Semaka and I," corrected Daisy. "And sure, I would like to help you. "Good. Meet us at the great hall in five minutes with a brush and a bucket of water.
Five minutes later, Daisy entered the great hall and saw Norman and Semaka at the foot of the tapestry. Looking up, she saw the famous Martin the warrior. As she looked into his eyes, her dream rose to her unbidden. Suddenly, the room started swirling and spinning. The last thing she remembered was Semaka's and Norman's worried exclamations, and then she passed out into the void.
by Balfour, the Wiley
(In this chapter I introduce a dibbun, Constance, who is supposed to be that same Constance of the book Redwall. If this is a chronological impossibility, please substitute some other name. Feel free to correct Mole speech as well, because I am not all that confidant about that bit.)
Sister Angelica, the Recorder, set her quill down. She opened the door of her study and nodded to Pompley. The abbey dibbuns scampered around with delight for the news which had just spread. There was going to be another feast today. There were three causes for this event. Firstly, to celebrate the discovery of Abbess Germaine's diary. Second, Sister Angelica had finished her calculations and discovered that The Great Eclipse would be taking place that night. The third was that so much food had been prepared for the autumn feast, that the dessert course had never even been served because everyone had eaten so much already. Little Constance, a badger, frolicked through the cloisters searching for Pompley. She passed mouse after mouse in the green robes of the order, but she could not find her friend anywhere. She hurried over the floor, her paws pattering on red flagstones. She saw Violet, and the hedgehog followed Constance.
Elsewhere in Redwall, Daisy tottered to the side, her brown eyes rolled into the back of her delicate skull. Semaka dove, catching Daisy in her paws. Semaka took the dibbun’s pulse. She lived, thanks be to Martin. Norman called for help. Skipper ran to the room, and his face fell, seeing the little mouse. The otter carefully lifted Daisy’s tiny frame from the floor. Skipper carried the unconscious mouse up the stairs to the infirmary. He softly set the fragile dibbun on a bed and summoned the abbot. But Daisy dreamed again. She was standing in fog. Then out of the fog formed a figure. It looked just like Abbess Germaine figure from the cake she made. On the cake her long green habit hung down from her shoulders and her hood was loosely draped on half over her eyes. The look on her face was enigmatic,The little abbess held one arm up in the air, a lark resting in her open paw. Clutched under her other arm was a book. But her face was not smiling. Instead there was a look of sadness, one of a serene and intense fear. A sympathetic quavering voice came from the abbess. "Child, look upon The Mistress of Destiny."
Daisy saw Germaine, or was it herself, running away from a fortress of red stone, then a vixen chased her. Was this her life or Germaine's? The past or the future, was the fortress Kotir or Redwall? Then Daisy saw the fox again, no. No, there were two, three, four foxes! It was difficult to tell. She saw a cruel and elegant fox dressed in an exquisite purple gown, holding a bundle of herbs in one paw, her evil green eyes glowing brighter than the emeralds she wore, shining against her red fur. Next to her another vixen, one with two daggers glittering on a belt. The other two were hard to see because they faded in and out, flickering like a flame, the first a big fox with a large blade and a golden earring in his single ear. The final fox was a small one, very young with a torn velvet cloak and a frightened look on his face. Then she saw a quick succession of images, the abbey on fire, a spectral ship, a mountain on fire, a Badger Lady. Then a young male voice that was not Martin’ s, or any other beast she had ever known said “So we of two worlds are lost in another. You have dreamt of me, now, ‘tis I that dream of you.” The young fox’s face flashed through her dream. Daisy must remember that face.
Saltatrix quietly slunk past an oak. She wore a plain and unassuming dark gown and the cowl of her cloak was drawn up high, hiding her face. She scarcely left a pawprint as a hint of her search. Saltatrix was barely breathing. She was feral, stalking her prey. For the Queen had noticed Sabrin's absence; Saltatrix was sent. Saltatrix crept deeper into the woods. The vixen came upon a path. She followed it, not by walking on it, that would leave a trail and she could be seem. She glided through the scrubby bushes and brush that ran along side the path. She gazed out at the misty forest as she walked. She heard a young voice and she turned with impossible speed. A chubby mole babe pointed at Saltatrix and spoke to his mother. “Oi zayz, whutter bee thire, mummer?” asked the little mole.
“Oi canna zee anythin’ a’toll.” answered the mother as she wrapped her apron around her her child to keep out the cold. The baby burbled and the mother continued down the path.
They have seen me, thought Saltatrix, I have two choices. Capture or kill. And two knives! But someone may hear their struggle, or find their corpses. Better they vanish, nobeast must know of the Queen’s arrival. Then the vixen ran, her daggers held at arms length. She remained absolutely silent, and let the mere sight of her frighten the moles. The mother spun around and glared. The mother took the basket she was caring and slammed it into Saltatrix’s face. Her baby clambered onto the ground and scratched the vixen’s paw with one of his digging claws. Saltatrix snarled with pain at the unexpected resistance. These woodlanders were tougher than they looked. Saltatrix slipped one of her daggers back into her belt and snatched up the baby. The mother jabbed her paw into Saltatrix’s eyes. The baby was freed and he yanked the assailant’s tail. The mother picked up a branch and flailed it in front of the vixen. Saltatrix sliced through the stick. As though she was dancing, she kicked the mother onto the ground. She slid off her cloak and and threw it over the baby. The vixen took off her belt and bound the mother. Saltatrix removed the apron and tied the around the mother’s paws, gagged and blindfolded her with it. The vixen took the bundled baby and led the mother. Two prisoners for Castra Scelesta
Saltatrix yanked the belt, pulling the mother along. The vixen's sharp ears pricked up. She had heard a sound. Through the thick mist so unusual at this time of year, thrust a distant peal. A bell rang, low, mournful and ponderous. The vixen's fur stood up and she shuddered. Saltatrix crept swiftly toward this ringing, unable to resist. Through the curtains of mist, a shape emerged. Saltatrix ran outright. Then stood transfixed. The size was what shocked her the most. The wide Abbey courtyard sprawled neatly, the vast cloisters. Smiling, Saltatrix looked down at her ring, then back up at Redwall. Soon, it would be the home of the Countess of Mossflower.
The badger told all the other dibbuns she met during her search of the upcoming feast. Soon Constance found Pompley. He was in Cavern Hole with Kilan and Sister Angelica the Recorder. Constance ran to Pompley. She straightened her pinafore and looked respectfully at the elders. "Hello, Muvva Kilan en Zizter Ankjeliqueh." she addressed in to the elders. Then she turned to Pompley and asked "Where were chou? Oi looked everywhere. Dazee en' me 'ave got -"
"Oh, Constance. I've been here the whole time. But I've got good news, I was here to ask these two old ones 'bout organizing the play for The Eclipse. You know, the one put on after the feast."
"Oh, deerrie. Oi'z awwayz ajoyed that. Oi'll be able ta 'elp, en't oi. 'En Dazee, o'courze, too!" said Constance.
"Yes, it'll be the most muchest fun." agreed Daisy.
"Whas' tha Eklispe? I've never heard of a Eklipeser. . . Is it a cake?" mumbled one of the younger dibbuns, a squirrel called Ludiby.
Sister Angelica gasped in mock horror. "Do you mean to tell me that you don't know about the Eclipse?" asked the Abbey Recorder. The baby squirrel shook his head. "Well than I shall have to educate you dibbuns, shall I? Now then, this story begins like all good ones, once upon a time. Once upon a time, many years ago, right here in Mossflower Wood, there lived a mousemaid. This young mouse was so beautiful and clever that the moon fell in love with her. The moon would linger up in the sky even during daylight, just to watch her. The trouble with this was that the poor mouse did not share the moon's affection. She fled the forest, searching for somewhere that the moon did not shine, but the moon followed her. The mousemaid vowed that she would not stop running until she had found someplace that the moon did not shine, and in these days, vows could not be broken. She ran further than any beast knows, but she could not escape the moon. The moon persuaded a wicked leader of vermin to join him in chasing the mousemaid, because the moon thought that if it could not have her, he would maybe destroy her. The vermin army ran after her, but they could not catch up. One day the mousemaid arrived back in Mossflower Wood, having wandered through the entire world and finding no rest. In Mossflower, as she ran, she passed a Badger Lady. 'Why do you run, mouse?' asked the Badger Lady.
'"I run because the moon pursues me and causes me great sadness. I have vowed to run away from the moon until I have found somewhere that I may be free from the moon!" answered the mouse, breathlessly.
"'I might be able to help you." replied the cunning Badger Lady. The Badger Lady gathered all of the woodlanders together and organized them. The woodlanders built a great castle, which they called Castle Celestia. This castle was built to be strong enough to repel the vermin attack and in the center, there was a very tall tower. This tower had one window at the very top floor. The mousemaid was told to hide in this room, and she did. She sat in a shadowed corner of this room, and rested. At this time the wicked vermin army was at the gates of Castle Celestia. The woodlanders rushed into battle led by the Badger Lady and her war marshall. The woodlanders defeated the vermin horde, but the moon still hung bright in the sky. The sun set, and it became night. The moon hovered in front of the window of the tower, and looked in. The moon realized that the mousemaid was hidden from him. The mouse was in a place where the moon did not shine. Then, in an instant, the moon disappeared from the sky, and the entire world was darkened.
"The mousemaid emerged from the place where she had been hiding and looked out of the window. Except for a few starry points of light, the world was wholly dark. Later that night, the moon reappeared. After this however, the moon had learned its lesson and never bothered the mousemaid again. The mousemaid lived happily ever after, surrounded by friends, until the day she went peacefully to Dark Forest. To this day, the moon still draws close to the tower of Castle Celestia, and disappears from the sky every once in a while, to honor the mousemaid. That, dear Ludiby, is The Eclipse."
Queen Esmeralda stood in the courtyard of Castra Scelesta, overseeing her soldiers and servants whitewash the fort and plaster the wooden walls surrounding the fort. Her soft hide was unused to the coldness of this land and its seasons. She wrapped her transparent silk shawl around her tighter, as though it could keep the cold from her. Queen Esmeralda walked out the courtyard, and into the renovated rooms of Castra Scelesta. One would have not recognized this as the ruin it had once been. The floors had been scrubbed, polished and covered with sumptuous carpets brought from her homeland. New tapestries and and torches warmed the walls of the hall. Esmeralda walked to the end of the hall and sat on a carved wooden seat. She rang the small silver bell that lay on a spindly table beside her. One of her uniformed ermine servants entered. It was her butler, Primoculo, the highest in rank of her servants. Though old Verdauga had a thousand eyes to look for him, thought Esmeralda, those two are more powerful than all he ever commanded combined. Primoculo could notice the movement of a single pine needle, five leagues away. This skill made him valuable in spying, guarding and discovering assassination attempts. But he was useless in combat. The Queen demanded "Carry a torch to light my way and accompany me to my chambers."
"Yes, Milady." replied Primoculo. He took a torch and allowed Esmeralda to proceed up the staircase. He was careful to stay exactly five steps behind her, as was traditional, fearing a beating. The Queen reached her chambers, the highest room of the tower, and he opened the door. He obediently pulled back the thin curtain and the Queen entered. "Milady, is there anything else that you require?" asked Primoculo.
"Yes, my faithful servant," said Queen Esmeralda, "I would like you to stand at the window, there, and tell me all that you see." Then Esmeralda sat at her table inlaid with many expensive woods. She took a roll of fine bark parchment and dipped a peacock feather pen into a pot of ink. She began writing a letter to Lord Sylk, giving further information on the plan of attack upon the Badger Citadel. The vermin-queen looked up and asked "Primoculo, what have you seen?".
The butler peered through the mist out of the one window of the tower and said "The leaves darken and depart from their branches. Small ponds have a film of ice over them. A green robed mouse passed a distant hut several moments ago, stung by bees. An owl has flown westward. And a fox approaches."
The Queen looked up from her work. She picked up a silver lantern and ran down the stairs. Her son was returning! Her paws flew down the steps, and Primoculo followed. Esmeralda ordered her servants to bring to her the most beautiful and luxurious raiment. Esmeralda sat regally on a throne, swathed in delicate silks, her crown shining in the flickering light. The anticipation nearly tore her apart, but she sat still, making her expectancy into a glamour to cast upon the one she awaited. She dramatically waited as a Goddess of Doom.
The fox ran to the gates of Castra Scelesta. The gates were thrown open when the guards recognized who it was that came. The guards saluted a superior. The fox pulled open the newly made double oak doors.
Queen Esmeralda waiting was over, or so she thought. The doors creaked open to reveal. . . Saltatrix. Perhaps she had found her son, thought the Queen. Yes, she could see another shadowy figure walking behind Saltatrix. Her fighting councilor walked into the torch light.
As Saltatrix stood in the hall, she thought My queen is indeed a daughter of Vulpez. “Hail, Mistress of Destiny.” said Saltatrix.
“Welcome Saltatrix.” returned the Queen.
“Milady, I see that my presence was expected.” said Saltatrix.
“I saw you making your way here.” said Primoculo.
“Oh, just because you can see a twig snap half a mile away does not make you any less lame, ermine.” retorted Saltatrix
Esmeralda said “No, Saltatrix, I was not excepting you, but my son. But I see you have an accompaniment?”.
“Two captives,” answered Saltatrix as she forced the mother foreword at knife point, “A mother mole and her child taken from the woods.” Saltatrix removed the mother’s blindfold and, had her mouth not been bound, the vixen was sure she would have screamed with fear. After Saltatrix had looked at the Queen, she would not have blamed her
The Queen’s eyes blazed softly with ire. Behind her, the torches seemed to flame viciously. She said nothing but for a moment seemed to on fire, perhaps disappointed. She instantly recomposed herself and Esmeralda spoke. “Well done. I suspect that there was no way to have avoided this and I am delighted to have prisoners. Go now, Saltatrix, and continue your search. Primoculo, go fetch some proper chains for the mole and her spawn.”
Saltatrix took her belt and cloak off of the moles after they had been chained. The vixen put her belt back on, and as she was tucking her daggers back into her belt when Primoculo looked around and spoke. “I’ll have you know that I am your equal. That I am the first rank of the Queen’s servants and slaves, as you are of the army and spies.” Saltatrix raised a fine eyebrow and scoffed, unimpressed. The warrior-vixen then put on her black cloak and sauntered out of room, leaving Primoculo flabbergasted.
Primoculo returned to the hall. The Queen seemed to be another beast altogether. Queen Esmeralda had some of the other servants soften the lights. Another servant played soft music on a harp. Esmeralda herself looked virtuous, a warm smile on her face. She spread her paws wide as she gracefully descended from luxuriant dais. “You must forgive Saltatrix. That belligerent vixen can be a little forceful and rough around the edges.”
The Queen held the keys in her paw and ordered Primoculo to bring her another chair. The chair was set behind the mother mole. Then Esmeralda unlocked the mole’s chains and handed them to a servant. “You’re my guests, now sit. I am Esmeralda of the Bazagraldi family. I must ask you your name now, for I can’t hold a conversation with someone I don’t know.”
“Bo urr. Oi’m be Goodie Sacke, en’ thizz’er be moi zunn, Diggory.” the mole looked slightly dazed, but she answered.
Lady Esmeralda closed her eyes and nodded warmly. She walked over and picked up a tray of pomegranates, and set it on the dainty table next to the mole and mother. “Well, Goodie, I trust you are citizens of Mossflower Wood. I, myself, am newly arrived in this forest. I have taken it upon my self to renovate this drafty old ruin.” the vixen said conversationally. “It can get rather chilly, but it is pleasant here.” she picked a pomegranate seed and ate it, showing the mole that it was not poisoned but, in fact, a snack for two new acquaintances. “What is your home like?”
Little Diggory nearly answered, but his mother shook her head slightly. The baby yawned instead. Esmeralda poured a glass of wine for Goodie Sacke (a job usually reserved for the butler, but the Queen thought that this made her performance more the role of the hostess, she did it). And because Primoculo was doing something else. While Esmeralda was tending to the mother, he had gotten down to Diggory’s level and quietly asked “Are you tired, little one?” The mole nodded and the butler picked Diggory up and carried him off, just as the Queen had told him. Meanwhile the Queen still was speaking with Goodie, trying to keep her distracted, and to gain more of her confidence. She chattered on about the weather with the mole. Into the mother’s second beaker of refreshment, she furtively added something.
The last drop of a precious elixir prepared from a recipe discovered long ago by the vixens of her country. This was composed mainly of chamomile and other such mild ingredients, but the effect was strong. This colorless mixture caused the one to become very calm and drowsy, their minds made pliable to suggestion, especially when the one suggesting was such a mistress of the subtle arts as Queen Esmeralda was. “Now, Goodie, there is something that I would like to tell me about. There is an Abbey around here called Redwall. Can you tell me any thing about this place?” asked the Queen. Goodie said that she did not know much, but went on to tell the Queen many personal facts about the inhabitants that Esmeralda did not know and that the woodlanders were holding a celebration there, which was why she had been going to Redwall. Next the Queen asked “Goodie, would you be able to get into Redwall tonight? Are you expected by the people at the Abbey to attend?” Goodie replied yes to both. Well, thought Esmeralda, this is even better than I had expected. I used those herbs very well. Now the Queen’s plan had a new facet, one of the countless many in the complex web.
Goodie Sacke’s dose slowly wore off and she looked about the room. “Whur’z moi, zunn. Emmerzelda, canr ye tell me whur Diggory be.”
“I’ll tell you where your son is, if you tell me where mine is.” replied Lady Esmeralda with a hint of playfulness and impatience, enjoying the mother’s confusion. She saw that the mole mother was starting to think more clearly. The Queen felt no stab of empathy as the woodlander’s eyes darted around the decorated hall.
“Oi know nuttin’ fer ye zunn. Oi’ve zeenn no foxez, Bazzagraldi or no. Pleaze, Miz, juzt teller me whur’z Diggory. “ asked the panicked mother.
“Well, Goodie Sacke, I will tell you where Diggory Sacke may be found.” answered Lady Esmeralda. Goodie looked slightly comforted. “He is bound in chains, in a small, locked and windowless chamber in this castle, under guard by armed soldiers.” The comfort drained from Goodie’s face.
“Bo garn. . . Moi zunn iz-” mumbled the anguished mole.
“Yes, Goodie Sacke, he is a prisoner. But he will be returned to you. You, Goodie, have two options, and either way, your son will be returned. You may either choose to perform a task or two for me, and when you have done these I will give Diggory back to you. Or, you may choose to not do these tasks, and Diggory and you will both be sent to the land of my forefather, Vulpez, with a blade. Choose carefully, Goodie. . .” whispered Esmeralda.
Goodie’s sharp digging claws twitched, half ready to strike the vixen’s face. Her eyes darkened with sorrow and she said quietly“Oi’ll do tha job, Miz Emmerzelda.”
“That’s what I was hoping you would say. Goodie, listen carefully, this is what you must do if you want to save your son. You are to go to Redwall this night. Go to the feast, as you are expected. You are to encourage their festivities, reassure them that there is nothing amiss in Mossflower.” said the Queen. ”Stop any talk of war among the woodlanders. You must make sure that Diggory’s absence goes unknown, if you are asked where he is lie. When you can be certain that nobeast will notice, you are to leave the celebration and go to wherever the archives are and take Abbess Germaine’s blue prints.” Esmeralda knew that their disappearances would go unnoticed for a while, but they would be invaluable in the Queen’s conquest, further supplementing her gathered intelligence of the Abbey, knowing every inch of Redwall. With that, the woodlanders would not stand a chance. Soon, she would know all.
The guests from Mossflower began walking in the gates. A mong them was Goodie Sacke. She walked through Cavern Hole. Then she saw Badger Mother Kilan, who had been a friend to her. Kilan hurried up the stairs, hearing from Semaka about Daisy. Goodie Sacke followed, greeting Kilan in the infirmary.
Kilan tiptoed to Daisy’s cot. She laid a paw upon the mouse’s brow. Daisy slumbered a short time under the kind badger’s watch. Then she peacefully awoke. “Ohhh. Badger Mother Kilan! I just had a dream. . . It was so-. . . “
“Ohh, thatter juzt be ur dream.” said Goodie Sacke.
Mother Kilan gave Daisy a complete check up, and pronounced her to be perfectly healthy. Daisy started to speak about the dream, but Goodie Sacke interrupted. Goodie asked about the Eclipse play. Mother Kilan said that the play would be put on this time. Daisy soon was up out of bed. She wanted to have a part. She soon stopped her thoughts of war, distracted by Goodie’s talk of merriment and the play.
THE SHADOW WAVE swiftly cut through the cold steel grey water, its course set for Salamandastron. The fog which had covered the sea had thinned slightly, and the distant peak that grew from the southeastern horizon could be recognized as the Badger stronghold of yore. The mountain fortress was sighted late last night by Sharplooker, the weasel lookout. THE SHADOW WAVE's crew was restless. Each of the corsairs could be seen with a wild glimmer in his or her eyes, each patting it's weapons thoughtfully. There was a glimmer in Lord Sylk's eyes, but this was more the glassy sheen of seasickness than a look of anticipation. The deck swayed and rolled beneath his paws so that the old wildcat could never be quite as balanced as to stand upright. His beautifully decorated spear was of no use supporting him. He stumbled dizzily to and fro. Sylk scrambled to the ship's kitchen on all fours, giving up the pretense of dignity. As soon as the door to the kitchen opened, the wildcat saw the cook. He was a grizzled old searat, nearly as great around as he was tall and his tail was half chopped off. His fur was dirtier than even the most filthy of the other corsairs, he looked as though he had never bathed, or ever had a drop of water touch his skin, for that matter. His thick coat was soaked in grease, fat, and grimy oil, so much so that it dripped slightly into a puddle. His breath was shallow and smelled like rotting cheese. His red eyes blinked a dribble of sweat and grease out of them. Then the cook wheezed in a falsetto staccato "'Allo thar, what duya want? Me name's Fatslick, by tha way." A gob of lard slid off the cook's back and quietly splashed into the puddle beneath him.
Lord Sylk winced with revulsion. "I have come to negotiate the the matter of my rations with you, my oleaginous and rotund chef." began Sylk.
"If'en you mean ya want more, ya can't have any! I ben workin' verra hard ta make ye a meal worf o' the cap'n's table, 'en ifen ye want ta fight me for it, ya can!" the rat wheezed, as he grabbed a rusty cleaver. Grime from the cooks paw drizzled the floor of the room, and the old searat glanced fiercely at Sylk. He raised the large cleaver.
Sylk spoke quickly, with all of his diplomacy available. "No, my friend, I only wanted to ask you if you would allow me a chance to. . . Prepare the Captain a dish from my homeland! You see, I so enjoyed your scrumptious. . . whatever that was, and I came under the impression that it may be to Rasha's pleasure that he would like to taste a new meal from my native territory. I should be ever so obliged if you would just go and treat yourself to a nice relaxing deluge in cleansing water and soap, ablution is a joy for all."
The searat snorted "Nah, fink I'll haf a game o' dice wif Brinesop unda tha deck." Fatslick left the room, his mutilated tail leaving a shining damp trail of grease behind him.
Lord Sylk sighed, and set about with the task he had appointed himself with. He found the spice-rack hanging over the stove. He dumped the cook's entire jar of hotroot powder into the waste bucket to his left, and much of the various peppers followed suit. Sylk then boiled noodles and stewed a vegetable sauce for them. He minced some salted fish he had taken a fancy to and dumped it into the sauce. The stores of the ship's kitchen did not have all of the ingredients with which he would have needed to prepare the dish the proper way, but the effect of the meal was still palatable. He set the spoon he had been mixing the ingredients with down. Then he slipped in the puddle of grease on the floor that Fatslick had left there
Below deck, the eager crew played a game of dice. One of the more foolish members of the crew had snuck into Captain Rasha's cabin and taken a bottle of fine spirits, so this was the prize. One which attracted the attention of many crew members. They had gathered around, watching Fatslick and Brinesop sitting on empty crates, which had once held a smuggled cargo. Fatslick cupped the dice in his paws, and shook them. The dice slid out of his hands, coated in oil. He had rolled the highest. Brinesop howled loudly.
A pine martin stepped from the crowd, and said "Sorry ye lost, eh." It was Rasha. "Well, ta tell truth, ye've all jest lost. How dare ye filthy Hellgates-hated cowardly excuses fer scurvy ill-nurtured vermins. I'd kill ye awll if I could git ta tha bloody Salamandastron, en fight off awll tha badgers meself, but I must abide with ye pribbling urchin-snouted barnacles o' beasts. I tell ye, thar'll be punishmints fer any more o' this idiotic foolishness.
"Cap'n, t'wernt me that stole your lickah, I en't got no stomach fer lickah." said Sharplooker, looking pleadingly at the pine martin.
"No, no me edhier, I'm feirsome loyil ta ya. Never doubble cross ya." said another corsair.
"Shut yer snouts, ye fawnin' lilly-livered rust blades 'n mewlin' idle-headed bootlickers. Treacherous 'n craven cowards are ye?" asked Captain Rasha. "Then fear me!" the captain unsheathed his scimitar. He rapidly raised the cold, sharp curving blade. The brought it down so quickly the only way way to tell it had moved was by the high, deathly whistle of the scimitar slicing through the salty air. And Sharplooker's left paw. The weasel groaned with pain, his paw thunked to the cabin's dingy floor. Blood gushed from the wound and splattered onto the floor, forming a pool of blood that the amputated paw floated in.
"Branlea, darlin', is the story getting a bit too nasty? What with the blood en' everything?" asked Inbar.
Branlea, shivering with a chill of fear "Nah, pa, but could we hear about Redwall more? I'd like that verry much."
The dibbuns each practiced their parts for the celebratory play. Daisy had been given the role of the mousemaid; Constance, the Badger Lady; Pompley, the war marshall and the mousemaid's sweetheart; Violet, the wicked leader. Pompley and Constance playfully practiced a duel with wooden swords and axes. Meanwhile, Mother Kilan dragged out the heavy trunk in which the costumes were stored from the attic, where it was kept. After a moments fumbling with the key, Mother Kilan had unlocked the ancient box. She and Sister Angelica yanked on the rusty lid until the chest creaked open.
Sister Angelica and Daisy sorted through the costumes. A pale aquamarine and buttercup colored kirtle was found for Daisy, much to her delight. For Constance, a little iron breastplate, a white and black harlequin patterned leather dress and a sturdy helm. Pompley's war marshall costume was a complete suit of armor, a flowing cape of green linen lined with rust coloured satin, and a helmet with plumes of russet and jade. When the two battling youngsters saw their costumes they yelped with joy and immediately changed into the apparel. Violet was less enthusiastic. She did not really seem to like her black jumpsuit or the heavy snakeskin boots, belt and waistcoat. "Do I gotta to wear that? It‘s altah’gutha ugly." whined Violet.
"Of course you must. What were you expecting, a satin frock? answered Mother Kilan. "Now please stay still while I finish buttoning." Then inspiration struck Kilan. “Violet, dear, you are to be a naughty warrior. I think you might need to carry a sling, that would not be so bad?’
“Yesser, I am gonna be the most naughtiest, sling-swingin’est, most dangerfullest bad’un evar! You see, Mother Kilan! “ answered Violet as she crammed on her boots and ran to Skipper for a sling and the training she craved.
In the Abbey Kitchen, cooks rushed from one end of the room to another, perfect pandemonium. Dried herbs were crushed in mortars with pestles. Friar Hikkle dashed about swinging a ladle and rifling through a cook book. Kettles stirred by wooden spoons. All of the food that was not served last night was reprepared. Some mice were sent into Mossflower to scavenge for fresh, delicious ingredients. Though it was misty, they had no trouble collecting anything, except honey. The bees were so maddened this season.
Later, the feast began. Abbot Prislemp sat beside Mother Kilan at the high table, talking about the banquet. The great hall had been festooned with ribbons of red, golden yellow, orange, amber and a mellow light brown. Hanging from a great beam, there was a large wooden bird, carved and painted festively by Skipper and Dane. Abbot Primslep ate a morsel of the fish, and turned to Kilan to say "Kilan, this is a day for celebration. Not only the Eclipse feast, but a historic day, the day an important artifact of Redwall history was recovered. You must celebrate some?"
"Occasionally, when I can do nothing to prevent it." answered Kilan very seriously. They both sat in solemn silence for a half a moment and began to laugh simultaneously. Abbot Priselmp said "But Kilan, really, you've got to stop looking so glum." The abbot glanced sideways. He picked up a large spoon and scooped up some raspberry jam onto the spoon. "Now you cheerless little dibbun, you shall have a taste of your medicine."
Kilan raised one eyebrow. "Your more a dibbun than I." the Badger mother replied. "You're what, ten seasons younger than me. But anyway. . . " Kilan took the jam and ate it. "Back to the subject of the diary though. What do you think was meant by that first line?"
"I am not sure, but it seemed rather cryptic. I am sure, though, that soon we will understand it well enough. Ahh, but now I believe it is time for the long awaited Dessert."
At that time, mice and moles carrying platters of food emerged from the kitchen. They were laden down with apples, October ale, sweet nut pies, mulled cider, candied chestnuts and cakes dripping with maple syrup and more for traditional Autumn fare. There were warm yellow cakes flavored with nutmeg and vanilla, flans, damson duff and custards. Piles of shortbread, dried figs with sweet cold meadowcream, raspberry pudding soaked with strawberry fizz and oozing with delicious smells. In fact, the entire Cavern Hole was filled with the delightful smells. Then there was silence as the two most magnificent centerpiece desserts were bought out. The first was the abbot's favorite Plum Pudding, and a large one at that which brightened the room with its crest of flame. Second, was a cake made in the shape of Redwall Abbey. It had been tinted red with cherries and the walls were covered with a network of mint leaves to represent the ivy, and standing throughout the confectionary model were the marzipan figures of the abbey heroes. They had all been colored very expertly by Hikkle and standing in the middle (a place usually reserved for Martin the Warrior) was a figure of Abbess Germaine. Her long green habit hung down from her shoulders and her hood was loosely draped on half over her eyes. The look on her face was enigmatic, but clearly not displeased. The little abbess held one arm up in the air, a songbird resting in her open paw. Clutched under her other arm was a book.
"I made 'er, an' oll ov 'em." Daisy said happily to Pompley and a young badger, called Constance.
Violet, who sat on her other side said "You did not."
"'O'courze che made 'em, didn't chou Dazee?" said little Constance. "Dazee'z tha bezt artizt o' uz all, 'en if oi were you, Violet, oi'd hush up a bit. You en't zuppozed to be makin' fun ov anybeazt. Ahh, look, here comez muvva Kilan. Che don't look too happy 'bout the way chou've been acting."
Violet quickly hopped under the table as she heard Kilan's footsteps. Mother Kilan looked around. She had heard the sound of some disgruntled dibbuns from the high table. She peered around. The only dibbuns she saw were Pompley, Daisy, and the young badger, Constance. Then something prickled one of her paws. There was a spike poking out from under the table cloth. Violet's gotten herself into mischief again, Kilan thought. The badger mother carefully lifted up the table cloth. Underneath Violet was daintily gnawing a dried fig, there was meadow cream splattered not only on her face but on Skipper's, Dane's, Sister Angelica the Recorder's, and a number of other beast's toes. Violet also held a creamy sling. Violet was sent to the dormitories immediately.
While Violet trudged up the stairs to bed, Skipper helped himself to a mound of plum pudding. As he ate he spoke with Kilan, who at this time had sat down beside him while Angelica discussed the diary of Germaine with the Abbot. "Kilan, my friend, that was a sight! All our toes painted up with cream. You know, all o' the scrubbing I'm going ta have to do, along with Dane and the rest of 'em, why, they may have to change the name to The Autumn of the Many Washings!"
"Or the Autumn of the Sweet Paws." answered Kilan.
Pompley and Constance helped themselves to more of the raspberry pudding, which they were delighted to discover that such a quantity of strawberry fizz had been added to it that the pudding bubbled in their mouths. They sat discussing their favorite parts of the legend of the Eclipse. Daisy was on her fourth serving of Hikkle and Daisy's Pride, as the sugary model of the Abbey was dubbed.
At the high table Prislemp and Angelica still talked about the diary, trying various codes and ciphers used in the old days to try to discover the meaning of the first line. "It could be a simple substation, you know, one letter in the place of another." suggested Angelica sipping her cider.
"It might be scrambled, that was fairly common, to rearrange the letters." said the Abbot, taking a drink of his October ale.
Daisy walked by, on her way to get some candied chestnuts "It could just mean what it says, too." she said to the both of them. She snatched some chestnuts and filled a mug with cider. She did not know why Angelica always had to be searching for riddles everywhere. Daisy herself liked riddles and was as good at solving them as any old scholar, but she enjoyed jokes much more. Then in the back of her mind there flickered a shred of remembrance of the dream.
Abbot Prislemp stood up. He was ready to give the closing speech. "Friends of Redwall," he began, "I am overjoyed at the discovery of the diary of Abbess Germaine by Mother Kilan and Daisy, and a translation from the original Loamscript is already started and will be made available to any wishing to read it. I am also very thankful for the enormous fish caught by Dane and company and I thank the Kitchen and all that worked there for preparing such a wonderful meal, two nights in a row, for us all. This season is the season of the Songbird, and like birds, we must flock together. Without each-other we would all perish, but together we can do great things.”
Then the entertainment started. First Semaka performed tricks of prestidigitation and feats of slight of hand. Hazelnuts appeared from Norman's ears to gasps of awe from many. Otters tuned cartwheels, summersault, and balanced, to amazed gasps of surprise from all in the crowd. The dibbuns were obliged to miss this spectacle, because they were getting into costumes for the final segment, the story of The Lunar Eclipse. The dibbuns hurriedly slid into their costumes and collected their props. But they were not the only ones to miss the entertainment. A mother mole surreptitiously exited
The dibbuns walked back into Cavern Hole all prepared. Finally, the performance was ready. Sister Angelica walked onto a platform. She announced "Salutations, Brothers, Sisters and Friends of Redwall. It is traditional to present a play on the Eclipse, one enjoyed by many. I hope you will enjoy the play at least half as much as the dibbuns did working on it. Now get ready for the story of the Eclipse!" Sister Angelica waved, and stepped off the platform. The candles in the back of Cavern Hole were extinguished, leaving the area around the platform light. Mother Kilan began to play a simple melody on a fiddle.
Then a chorus of dibbuns started to sing, conducted by Sister Angelica with flourishes from a wooden spoon:
A great many years before, my dears, More than anybeast can know Long long ago In Mossflower Wood A mousemaid good was born.
Daisy ambled onto the platform, smiling, she said:
I am a mousemaid, good and kind, Also with a sharp mind.
Behind the audience, a round mirror was set in front of a torch and it cast a glowing circle onto the wall, representing the moon. Frigo stood behind the platform, hidden from the spectators, spoke in a ghastly voice:
I'm the moon and I likes what I see, Here luvverly mousemaid come ter me!
Daisy shrieked and dashed around in a stylized manner, the light following her, dancing to music of Badger Mother Kilan's fiddle as the chorus sang:
A great many years before, my dears, More than anybeast can know Long long ago In Mossflower Wood A mousemaid good was pursued.
Daisy said as she frantically danced:
I, a mousemaid, good and kind, Must a place where the moon does not shine find.
The play continued on to the great enjoyment of both the dibbuns and watchers. Finally the play ended, after a choreographed battle, Daisy sang, standing on a bit of scenery made to look like a tower, as one by one, all of the candles were extinguished. Then it was only the circle of light reflected on the wall that illuminated the room. Violet peeped up from behind the platform and took aim. The little hedgehog sent a pebble loose from her sling. The missile shot over the the heads of the audience and struck the mirror. The audience gasped at this unforeseen technical effect ad they saw the light of the moon shatter. Claps rang out from the audience, surpassed and to praise such expert aim from the dibbun. Violet blushed. The Dibbuns all walked onto the platform and bowed.
Meanwhile, Goodie Sacke opened the door to Sister Angelica the Recorder’s study in the gatehouse. She took had to fight back tears as she walked into the room. She climbed a ladder, hating heights but fearing Esmeralda more. She got to the place by the old annals and ancient chronicles were kept. She picked up a scroll and opened it. Just what she was looking for. Goodie tucked it under her apron and shut the door.
Later that night, Constance was organizing her supplies for the an expedition she had been planning ever since she had heard the legend of the Eclipse when she was scarcely four seasons old. She wanted to journey to Castle Celestia to see the Eclipse, to stand in the highest tower in the land and watch the moon. She had since learned the way to the ruins in Mossflower, and knew the paths well. She packed up all of the leftover fish, strawberry pudding, and a large flask of mint tea, an extra habit, a length of rope and a lantern. Constance quietly slipped out of the side door in the Abbey Wall. She saw that it was a dark night, and there was a thick and murky fog, unusual for this season in Mossflower. She held her lantern aloft in the mist, trying to illuminate the gloom, but the weak light could not brighten this dark and forbidden night. Constance knew the way to the old ruins by heart, and sadly, even on this darkest of nights. She thought that because she knew the way, that she would safe, but it was her destination that was the danger. She journeyed through the misty forest, until she came to a clearing near her destination. Her young eyes caught sight of a shiny object, sparkling in the leaves. Constance knelt to pick up a ring.
At the same time, Daisy had just fallen asleep in her bed in the dormitory, despite Violet's, who slept in the bed next to Daisy, attempts to wake her by pretending to snore loudly. Daisy then woke. She noticed that her friend, Constance, was missing.
Sabrin's body lay motionless on the ground of Mossflower Wood, as it had for nearly two days, his cloak covering him like a shroud. His body was still, but his mind ran. He had been in a delirious slumber, half between sleep and waking. In this state he thought and dreamed, pondered and remembered.
I'm at at the palace where I was born. I am sitting on the knee of my nurse. I look up at her face. The old mouse smiles happily at me. She has always been very kind to me. I smile back at her. She pushes her glasses up on her nose. She looks like she is going to cry, but hugs me close. My face is pressed into her apron and I don't know what to do, but I am not bothered by it. She rocks in the chair and I rock with her. She stops and I look up, not at my nurse, but at someone else. A fox in a black gown is summersaulting down from the gallery surrounding the room. It is Saltatrix. She is teasing my nurse, because my nurse is a slave. I stick my tongue out at her. The vixen draws one of her scary daggers. I am afraid. I my nurse holds me closer. I want her to protect me. The vixen draws her other dagger. I want to cry, but my nurse holds me closer and whispers to me. She knows how to defend me. The wildcat is coming into the room now. Sylk tells Saltatrix that she is not allowed to hurt a prince. Saltatrix asks if it would be all right if she hurt him. The wildcat holds his spear ahead of him with both paws. The vixen is beginning to spin. My nurse stands up and hurries behind one of the columns, carrying me. I see Saltatrix whirling around. Sylk stops her daggers. She lunges with a dagger. Sylk knocks her to the other side of the room with the flat end of his spear. Mother enters. She is wearing a long violet dress with a hoop-skirt and her crown with the dangling jewels. She scares me worse than Saltatrix. Mother is asking what the loud disruption is. Saltatrix and Lord Sylk are saying that my nurse caused it. Mother is calling for a servant. Another slave runs to her. He is carrying Mother's whip. She takes it from him. CRACK! Mother hits the slave once on the back with the whip. Sylk runs out of the room, Saltatrix backflips back up onto the gallery above. Mother calls my nurse out from behind the column. Mother whips my nurse. My nurse and I are crying. She strikes again. CRACK! Again. I ask mother to stop hurting her. She whips me.
I am a season or two older. I am with my nurse again, in the gardens. This is both where Mother grows her poisons and where the kitchen grows the vegetables. I pick a cherry for my nurse and give it to her. She says the bright color of the cherry reminds her of a place she had been. Redwall. It was the most beautiful place she had ever seen, she says. She eats the little cherry and picks one for me. She tells me a story about the far away abbey. It sounds wonderful to me. We make up a song about Redwall and as we sing we weed the lettuces. Mother hears our song. She comes to us and tells us that she is very angry to hear me singing about a place so terrible. She says that the those who live in Redwall are our enemies. Mother glares at my nurse. For filling my head with such stories, she shall be punished, says Mother. An ermine grabs my nurse and leads us both to the dungeon. There we were taken to the deepest part of the palace. The ermine carried a torch to light the way down. Mother grabs the nurse from the ermine and throws her against the wall. Ermines are chaining my nurse to the wall. Mother is taking the torch from an ermine, and calls for something. A gilt box is brought to Mother, and she takes out four large pins. They are heated over the torch. Then Mother drives the glowing pins through my nurse's paws. She screams. I try to run, to hide, but an ermine holds me there. I am made to watch. The Queen takes her whip from a slave and brings it high into the air. The whip comes down on my nurse. Her spectacles are shattered, and she is screaming again. My nurse hangs limp in her chains. CRACK! Crimson blood is beginning to trickle from her wounds. CRACK! Tears fall and her terrified screams are unbearable. I need to help my friend. But I can do nothing. CRACK! CRUNSCH! Her leg is broken with the force of the blow, the fragments of bone pierced her skin and her blood is flowing onto the floor of the dungeon. CRACK! The blood is pouring freely from her old body, and my nurse pleads for mercy. Again, and again she is lashed and she screams. I scream too. Mother is motioning to an ermine. The ermine returns with a pitcher of lemon juice. My nurse opens her lips, desperate from thirst and pain. Mother rolls her green eyes and smiles as she takes a sip from the silver pitcher. She takes the pitcher from the ermine. Mother is pouring the lemon juice onto my nurse's wounds. Now Mother grasps her whip again. She swings it at nurse. CRACK! Her pain was terrible, and her screams continue. The light fades from her eyes. CRACK! My nurse's head is falling limp, she sobs. My nurse's breathing now slows. CRACK! She dies. This is what happens to traitors, the Queen said.
In Mossflower wood, I lay. It is night. Few faint stars glimmer and shine with growing intensity. Soon the sky is illuminated with the light of a countless million smokeless candles, each ignited by an unseen paw. The points of light create outlines of pictures I once was taught. Easiest to see is the great swan. Cinders from the thousands of tapers fall slowly and in an arbitrary unison. They drift slowly and shine like silver. They fall so slowly that they seem to form a shimmering mist.
Sunlight penetrates down through the leafy treetop canopy. Everything is washed in a pale and bright golden-green light. Dream of the sandstone abbey nearby. Mice in green robes walk through cloisters. A hedgehog studying an ancient text in an unfamiliar script. Delightful foods I cannot imagine imagine carried on platters. A mousemaid dreams, too. Where am I?
Now the palace. Sharp, high stone towers. The formal gardens I remember, their familiar scent: citrus fruits warmed by the sun, grapes trained through trellises and arbors, sharp thorned beautiful roses that remind me of Mother, simple white lilies remind me of nurse. I smell the warm earth, my paws feel the sun warmed tiles beneath them. I hear the tinkling trickle of a fountain and the call of a raven. This is the only world I have ever known. I stood on the threshold, between both worlds. But not wholly in either. I chose. And stepped.
The fox saw it was nighttime, and but stood up. He took no time to regain his bearings. He knew where he was going. He walked, heading south. He'd be there soon enough.
"What was his decision?" asked Branlea.
"Well, you'll find out soon a'nuff." said Grath. She patted her daughter's head tenderly, and said "But I think ya know what it was."
Then Branlea asked "Jus 'bout all this were in Mossflower, I wanna know what's going ta happen with that captured corsair's crew. And the otters, mamma, the otters! Wher's moi heroic great-great-great big ol' grandpappy?"
Grath began her favorite part of the tale "I guess we've kept ye in suspense long a'nuff, too. The Lutra holt started -
By Blaggut. . . and continued by Balfour, author of parts of the above chapter
In the dark of the night, a splish was heard. The weary lookout aboard the Shadow Wave went crept to investigate. Feeling rather nervous, he cried out, "Halt! Who's there? Tell me ore i'll slit ur gutts for garters....." Those were the last few words he ever said as a otter javelin sliced through the air impaling its target, the eye of the searat. "Heh, my aim is gettin' better!" Geyrum and twelve muscular otters then scaled the side of the Shadow ave with grappling hooks. Silently and stealthily, the made their way down to the belly of the ship, slitting the throats of a few searats and savoring their revenge as they did so. "Hey Geyrum, this ones better than the rest, he's lasted for five seconds!"
"He Satfen, how about..."
Having their whispered conversations,the band of otters entered the hallway with the room where Kidour was held. "Hey mate! It's yore pal Geyrum!"
"Geyrum? Whadda ya doin here?"
"Shhhh. Wake that sleepyhead Glasseyes and lets get outta here!"
The two wept silent tears over their fallen comrade while other otters worked to unlock the door. All was going well but as the door swung open, it struck an otter who promptly started groaning..."Ah my foot, my foot..." Thie woebegone wailing lasted about a minute. None heard, except Lord Sylk. Lying on his bed, he was awakened by the muffled groans. Waiting a few more minutes to make sure of what he heard, he raised the alarm.
"Beasts are prowling in the corridors!"
"Raise the alarm!"
Sylk climbed out of his bunk, hoisting himself up with spear in paw. He shoved open his cabin door, and saw his opponents. These were the only real warriors he had faced in not a few seasons. Fatslick sprang from the galley, waving clevers. Sylk He raised his spear and howled "You shall taste my steal, serruptious ruffians!"
"Yeh!" added Fatslick, wheezingly.
Captain Rasha always slept with his eyes open. Hearing the wildcat's call, the grim corsair lept from his bunk. He ran from the cabin wearing his scimitar belted over his nightshirt, as he always did. The captain did not bother to lock the door behind himself.
Shooting throught the corridors, soon Rasha reached the conflict. Lord Sylk had finally realized that using a spear was not effective aboard a ship on rolling waves, and was jabbing at Kidour with his claws. "I've not yet tasted your steel, cat! Prefer to work with your paws?" taunted Kidour, sticking his tounge out at the indignant wildcat,
Rasha wailed his warcry "A Shadooooooooow's Debt!" as he began thrashing Satfen. The otter parried the blow and swung a club. The captain dodged, then thrust his scimitar. The otter was slain. Rasha bit another notch into the sword's handle.
Meanwhile, Geyrum snunk down the hallway to Rasha's personal cabin, with three other otters. "So this is where the old villain does his living. . ." he said.
"I'm not shure I'd call it that!" said Breezepaw, another. "What sh'uld we do here?"
Someone knocked on the door. "Cap'n it's me, Brinesop 'n Sharplooker! Open the door, thar's otters aboard. Breezepaw quickly bolted the door shut. Sharplooker peered through a small hole in the door. Sharplooker yelled "It ain't Rasha, Otters is in the cabin. . . Let's bust the door offen them hinges."
Geyrum forced a javilen through the hole. Sharplooker sobbed "Thas me second injrey taday!". At the same time, many more vermin, armed to the teeth, scurried to the door, eager to see what Sharplooker had discovered to complain about this time.
Breezepaw readied herself for battle. Geyrum caught sight of Rasha's liquor store. Smashing the glass, he snatched out a seven bottles. "This is no time for that!" Breezepaw shouted, as the door shook on its hinges.
Geyrum grabbed a torch and some cloth from Rasha's bunk and crammed them down the necks of the bottles. Breezepaw caught on, he was making a burning projectile, that should explode on impact. The otters ignited the rags, and the finally fell. The corsairs were shocked.
Added by --The Raven Quin 23:39, February 3, 2010 (UTC)
In Brockhall, three creatures sta next to a fire. One, a large Komodo Dragon rose and walked outside, to stare upwards at the eclipsing sky. The second creature, a raven by the name of Quain, strutted outside, followed shortly by the mongoose Tam.
"Keraaaktaw! When do we leave Dracus? When be the time."
"The dream said 'wait till the middle of the eclipse, head due east to the abbey of redstone. Find the mouse named for a flower. Follow and protect her. Save the abbey of red stone and the badger home. Beware the Destiny Queen'. That's all the armored mouse said. I'd say we have at least five more minutes before we leave."
"I hope we leave soons, I cannont abide to live in this tree any longer. Does the 'armoured mouse' tell ye more, friend Dracus?" Tam said, from where he was sitting on the ground staring up at the eclipse and twirling one of his tweleve dagger.
"Not now, Tam, but he said he would talk to me agin, either through others or directly to me. Come, it's time to leave."
Dracus the Komodo Dragon, Ta the mongoose, and Quain the Raven stole off silently in the night, vanishing like two ghostly shadows.
Melogale the Lithe sat up in her bed, some sixth sense warnning her of danger. She strode to the window and looked out. Here eyes flew open. A vermin was engulfed inflames approaching Salamadastron. She turned and raced through the mountain, roaring out the battle cry of hares and Badgers "EULIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
Captain climbed onto the deck of his ship, his eyes alive with bloodwrath. He had left the wildcat, Lord Sylk, below to finish off the otters who were still down there. He strode along the deck heading towards the fight. An otter lunged him from behind and stabbed him in the side Rasha spun about, a smile on his face.
"That thar tickled, stream dog, but I guess you didn't know that a beast plagued by bloodwrath feels no pain."
The otter gritted his teeth. "I was aware of that vermin, but how can you talk when you are clearly possed by the bloodwrath?"
Captain Rasha laughed. "You see, strean dog, unlike others, I can control my blood wrath. I can'y feel anypain, but I am not blinded by rage, I can think clearly." With that, Rasha ran the otter through. Laughing to himslef he strode towards his next victim.
written by sarinissa, July 14, 2010
Rasha strode bravely on, fearing nobeast, until an otter warrior, Seastream, crept up behind him, and, with her dagger, whizzed it above his head, slicing off his ear.
The pine marten screamed. He flung himself around, screeching in the night, "Show yourself!" The reply was a voice that flowed like honey, with a sting to it like a bee. "Glasseyes is dead. You killed him!"
"No!" Rasha cried, "It was my horde! It was Sylk!"
"It wasn't that wildcat, fleabrain. You were stupid enough to think he was on your side?" Rasha gritted his teeth, on the lookout for the mystery beast.
"Sylk, he was on your-" He stopped short when Seastream stepped out. Her fur was midnight black, eyes as red as embers. "You killed Glasseyes. You killed Ember, my sister. You killed Spark, who will be the last death caused by you. Two little otterbabes won't see their father tonight!"
Rasha had just time for one agonizing scream as Seastream, using her dagger as a broadsword, stabbed his heart.
Thus passed Rasha, who caused the deaths of over thirty otters.
Sylk stopped suddenly as Seastream charged in, shouting to the remaining otters, "Rasha's dead!"
The otters who Sylk had 'slain' jumped up, wiping berry juice off of their 'wounds'.
"He's really dead?" Sylk asked.
"Deader than a doornail." Supplied Seastream.
written by TheTragedyofE
Salamandastron was up and running through the day, the Mountain Domain shaking with preperations. It had been a short while ago, Since Lady Melogale shouted the Battle cry of the mountain, sounding an alarm. Tough hares worked at the forge, sharpening weapons, Large Harewives cooking and training, young leverets collecting pebbles for slings.
Breakfast had been a solemn occasion. The Head Cook of Salamandastron, a Fat hare by the name Bolingbroke, had made an extra large breakfast. It was a simple meal, but a large, large one, for hares where widely known for their appatite. There where loaves of bread, cheeses, summer salads, strawberry trifles, Oat Cakes, Oatmeal, Scones with Meadowcream, Roasted Apples, and Apple Pie. Beverages included Mint Tea, Strawberry Cordial, October Ale, Damson Cordial, and barley and oat water. However, No one seemed to be in the mood to stuff themselves, much to the dismay of Bolingbroke.
Lady Melogale the Lithe slowly chewed on a scone, drinking some Mint Tea Leisuraly. Bolingbroke cautiously sat down next to the Badger Lady, asking slowly.
"M'lady, Is everythin' alright an' jolly. The Hares aren't tucking into the tucker like they usually do."
The Badger Lady wiped her muzzle with a napkin, answering the fat hare. "We're all just tense, Bolingbroke. We saw some vermin near our shores; we're afraid that we're going to be invaded once more by corsairs. Even by that Vixen; Esmerelda."
Bolingbroke shook his chubby head. "Blasted Sea Vermin, Wot? Never givin' the bally chaps and chappesses a break!" Momentarily, the Fat Cook stood on a stool. He waved around a ladle, eyeing the hares at the table.
"Listen up, buckoes. I'll be takin' the bally scoff of the bally table soon enough. Y'better tuck in before it's all gone. Y'hear me?!"
Almost instantaneously, the hares began devouring the contents, eating all they can, filling their beaker, reaching for more.
Lady Melogale had to stiffle a chuckle, as she helped herself to a slice of Apple Pie.
. . .
Your a bally heartbreaker, Lucreatiaaaaaaaaa
And even though i can't seeeeeeeee yaaaaaa
Don't go for that stinkin' blighteeeeeeeeer
Instead, go with me, a fighteeeeeeeeeeer
I'm famished I need some FOOOOOOOOOOOOOhooooooooooooohoooooooooOOD
"I say, Colonel. Wot rhymes with "food"?" Inquired a young, sand colored hare. He was sitting on the floor, next to Colonel Hotleg, along with multiple other hares in the forge. It was rather stuffy and warm inside, but no creature seemed to notice.
The Grey colored Hare, Named Colonel Hotleg, looked at the sandy colored Hare, who was named Termeric.
"Bucko, I dunno wot rhymes with "Food". Ah Suggest ye throw that guitar into ye fire, and get e'workin' in yonder forge! Ahm still waiten for th'sword!"
Termeric sighed, as he put down his Harolina; a family heirloom. The sand colored hare resumed work on a battered sword edge, beating the blade with his hammer, making small talk with the tough Colonel.
"Say, Ol' Hotleg. Wot'r we doin' this for? I don't remember any bally battle with those nasty sea blighters, wot wot."
"Don't call meh "Ol' Hotleg", Lad. Lady Melogaile sunded an alarhm a few nights agoh. Weer preparin' a fight wiv some vermin." Answered the Grey Hare, who was working on his own weapon, a lethal looking battle axe.
Shuddering at the coldness of the colonel, Termeric quickly finished his sword. Hanging it up, he tiptoed out of the hot forge, merely trying to escape the cold eye of Colonel Hotleg. Wiping off the sweat off his brow, he walked outside of the fortress, partly to help the scouts, partly to sit down, and try to relax.
"By my Fat aunt! It's a real scorcher t'day!" He gasped.
"I don't remember such a hot day in all m'blinkin' life, wot!" replied a tinkling, quite voice.
Termeric whirled around, his heart freezing in place. Standing next to him, was the Haremaid, Lucreatia. Gulping, and absolutely humiliated, Termeric turned to his other side, hoping to avoid looking into the eyes of the most beautiful haremaid he had ever laid eyes on.
Alas, Colonel Hotleg stood at his other side.
"Dithering stomach-bucket. Y'Lazy furbag. Y'didn't even finish the sword I teld ye t'do! Ahm reportin' this immedietly!" The Large, Grey Hare berrated Termeric, the young hair feeling the red creep into his face. He could swear he heard Lucreatia giggle. He just stood there. Taking it all in.
"Oh, Hotleg! Give the lad a break. Your the one who's late to the conferance!"
The two hares whirled around, wide eyed. It was none other than Badger Lady Melogale the Lithe. Hotleg bowed his head, the tough hare blushing with embarresment.
"Ahm...Ahm deeply 'orry, M'day!"
Melogale turned to face Termeric, who was staring wide eyed, awe-struck at the great Badger.
Snorting, Melogale said, "Blighter, don't you know it's rude to stare? Anyway, We're having a conferance; Me, and old lads and lasses, like Ol'Hotleg here. Maybe you'd like to wittness it?" Turning over to Lucreatia, the Badger Lady Said, "Lucreatia, Dear. Would you mind going and helping your mother, Nightdew, and Old Bolingbroke make some provisions? You've always been an excelent cook, my dear. No one can make a tart like you!...Don't tell Bolingbroke I said that!"
The Young haremaid nodded. She saluted smartly, and then hopped off to the kitchens.
Amazed, Termeric nodded. His heart beated madly. This was a chance of a lifetime. Rarely anyone other then the high ranking hares and the Badge Lady witnessed this conferance. Nodding, but not saying a word, the young hare obliged.
. . .
The Conference was set in the great hall, where previously the breakfast was held. There, sat all prestige Hares, Along with Lady Melogale the Lithe. There was General Ridley Valleybreak, Commander Sherwood, Captain Valeria Swordshare, Corporal Kellis, Captain Tyr Mirdane, Corporal Lorelai Arroweye, Colonel Hotleg, Colonel Whitefur, Commander Shiftbreak, and of course, Lowly Termeric.
Lady Melogale's booming voice marked the beggining of the meeting.
"Alright, everyone. As we all know, I sounded the Alarm a while ago. What I saw, was a vermin marching toward our Mountain. It was no ordinary vermin. It was a flame! I was frightened back then, but I'm getting much more worried. We know that Vixen Esmerelda is getting closer to our Salamandastron. I suggest we start preparing now, if she ever starts to think of invading. It's better to be prepared."
This notion was met with a loud agreement. However, Commander Sherwood (Being the Pestimistic type) piped up, "Well, Marm. That's a bally good notion, wot, but wot if the stink' Vixen doesn't attack us? Huh? It'll be wasted Energy, We'll be stressed. It isn't a blinkin' good start to start preperations, without knowin' if we're bein' hit or not, Wot wot!"
Captain Valeria nodded, the Red hair saying, "I agree with ol' Sherwood, M'lady. We shoudln't start wastin' our provisions, if we don't know when the Vixen'll pick up a card and strike!"
The Old Commander Shiftbreak raised his weary, bony paw. "How about this, me mates," He proposed. "We should send a scoudron of young'ns to go investigate the bally place, wot. We'll send the young'ns to see when Esmerelda'll strike, along with othor things. It'll give a chance for the cards to proov them'elves Salamandastron Hares, Whoho!"
This proposition was very popular with the crowd, The Captains, Comanders, Generals, Corporals, and Colonels to agree. For a while, a loud Din was rising in the room. The Badger Lady silenced them with a might hit of the table.
She cleared her throat, speaking, "I agree with Commander Shiftbreak. A good proposition. I agree with the idea it is young'ns. A chance to proove themselves. Very clever..."
Valeria Swordshare raised her Sabre high, her eyes darting too and fro.
"I suggest we take two hares from our assembly to aid the young'ns! I nomminate Lorelai Arroweye, and Tyr Mirdane!" Everyone looked over at the two. Lorelai was a dark, skinny hare, who had a savage scar running from the tip of her nose to her temple She was a champion Bowsbeast. Tyr Mirdane, on the other hand, was a rather gluttonous hare, who loved nothing more than a flagon of Buttercup Beer. He laughed to himself, feeling high and might all of a sudden. Lorelai said nothing, brooding in her manner.
Lady Melogale the Lithe looked straight at Termeric, her dark eyes glittering sagely, as she spoke to the young hare.
"Termeric. I am appointing you the Leader of this mission. I am hopeful you will carry your sword with pride-...No. I am Certain you will. We all have put our trust on you, in fact, we have been discussing this for quite a while. We have decided that you where the most trustworthy Hare we could find. You have the natural look of a leader in you, much like others, Like your Ancestors. We advise you choose 4 hares who will assist you. They must be lithe, strong, and willing to prove themselves. Youngsters. Like yourself. Termeric Angurius Woodsorrel. What will you do? Will you accept our notion?"
The young hare thrust himself foreward, standing on his stool, Pride swelling in his chest. Looking at the assembly of honored Hares, He answered Lady Melogale the Lithe with a single, time honored word.
Meanwhile, in the land known as Southsward, in a tent, were two sleeping creatures, one was a badger, strong and bulky, and the other was a red squirrel, who was fast and brave. Both were travelers, warriors who fought for good wherever there wasn't any, and vanquished evil wherever and whenever they could. It was twilight, and the two companions were sleeping soundly. Little did they know they were being watched.
The eyes that watched them were none other than the eyes of the corsair Ferdanca. The weasel captain had been foiled one too many times by these two, and he was not willing to let this happen again. Seeing them in this vulnerable situation was almost too lucky.
"Allright, crew, get 'em. They aren't gonna be as lucky as t' beat ye this time!" he whispered mainiacally, taking out a claymore. His crew pushed out two unlucky volunteers, a searat named Vancho and a ferret named Ultar. The two took out some ropes and cautiously walked toward the sleeping companions, with Vancho gulping a tad too loudly as he approached the badger. That was enough warning the two needed. The badger, known as Alder Stonestripe, jumped up from his slumber and grabbed the rat by the throat. Ultar threw his rope around the badger's neck, pulling as hard as he could, as if to knock him unconcious from lack of air. The squirrel named Dane, took out his hardwood stick and started to club the ferret on the head with it. The ferret kept pulling through the pain, and just as the ferret and the badger were about to pass out, two projectiles zipped through the air, hitting each member of the struggle directly on the neck, knocking them all out. Ferdanca looked up from behind him to see somebeast standing over the entire crew including him, covering the full moon partly. After closer inspection the corsair captain soon recognized this mysterious figure.
"Putor, matey, I thought ye died back on the sink of the Sea Beatle! What brings ye here, me ole messmate?" the weasel said with a smile.
Putor, or Putor the Assassin, was a polecat, and a former cosair. He was a member of the crew of the Sea Beatle, which was the sister ship of the Bullfin, which was Ferdanca's ship. The two had previously been lowly oarbeasts on The Sea Beatle, but when it started to sink, Ferdanca and his current crew abandoned the ship and stole the Bullfin, making it theirs. It had been assumed that Putor hadn't survived the storm, but now here he was.
"I came looking for you." he replied coolly. "You do know you left me and all my friends to die, right? And you now call me friend?!" The polecat's tone was taking on a much more threatening tone, and Ferdanca noticed this. "Well, we can know bury the ole hatchet, right matey? I mean, that was ten or twelve seasons ago at least!" he said nervously. "I mean, ye can be my first mate, jus' like I promised!'
"I didn't come for revenge. Nor did I come to join your pathetic excuse for a crew. I have a new boss now. And she respects me like the intelligent beast I am. The reason I came for you is because I am going to recruit you for her army. You see, my boss' name is Esmeralda. She has a new backstabber like you as her second-in-command of sorts. She needs a beast like you to sow lies and doubt among this second-in-command's forces. That way she can get rid of her and as a deal, you can afterwards be the current one' replacement." he explained.
"But if I'm jus' a backstabber like ye say, why is yer boss allowin' me t' take 'er second-in-command's place? I mean, she should know she'll have ta get rid o' me afterwards." Ferdanca asked confused.
"But that's just the point. You see, if you're a backstabber, just like the beast you're replacing, then you're bound to have influenced your force's behaviour, just like your predecessor. So they'll trust you. And since you were picked specifically by Esmeralda, then they have to trust you." Putor answered.
The weasel captain was now less confused, but was not very much used to taking orders anymore. "An' what if I don't wanna work for yer boss?" he said defiantly.
"Then I have full permission to kill you and find somebeast else. You're not the first beast I've asked, Ferdanca. And if you refuse, you won't be my last." he said with a surprisingly calm voice for somebeast who just made a threat.
"Well, I guess I jus' can't refuse, now can I?" But what will I do with these beasts I captured - I mean, you captured?" Ferdanca asked.
I would suggest chaining them together to the mast on a raft and setting it out to sea. That way, they'll starve to death and you can be sure you won't ever see them again." the polecat suggested.
" 'Ey, good idea, Putor me ole messmate. You always were good at bein' smart."
With that, the crew and the polecat, now accompanied by two captured companions, set out together, with the stars to guide them.