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In the sparkling waters of the Eastern Sea, lay an isle known as Castrophia, where it rained every day for a short period. Castrophia was the jewel of the sea. Tropical breezes blew the warm, shallow water of the coves in soft patterns. The tide ebbed and flowed ceaselessly, waves caressing the white sand beaches. A broken necklace of shells and seaweed littered the shore.
Seagulls, kittiwakes, and gannets wheeled and called. Every once in a while, one would swoop down, snatch a snail from the rocks of the tidepools, wing to a height of their desire, and drop the unfortunate snail on the sharp stones, breaking its shell. Then the bird would eat the snail's flesh. Such was life.
Beyond the sugar-white sands, a rain forest stood tall. Thick vines wound around the trees, scarlet passionflowers and pinkish-red acanthus added beauty to the forest. This was home to many creatures: flying squirrels, tree-climbing mice, hummingbirds, toucans, geckoes, tree frogs, tree snakes, bird-eating spiders, and jaguars. And a huge boa constrictor.
Slarvis was his name. He, and he alone, ruled the island. His massive coils blended in with the scenary. His eyes were pools of evil. He loved slithering up to an unsuspecting victim, crush them, and eat them. Fear of him made the jaguars, tree snakes, tree frogs, spiders, and geckoes join together for protection. The two forces preyed upon the weaker group of flying squirrels, mice, hummingbirds, and toucans.
An atmosphere of terror hung over these creatures. They crept about, not knowing who was next to die.
A small group of squirrels and mice sat in the branches of one of the trees trying to joke and jest with eack other for once. They were starting to actually have a good time.
"Run for your lives!"
At this shout, the group broke up. The mice jumped from branch to branch, the squirrels leaped of the boughs. They did not fall. Extra skin spreand out and they glided from tree to tree. They knew that, dispite the height of the trees, Slarvis could reach them. One squirrelmaid, just a few seasons out of infancy, misjudged the distance she had to go to reach the next tree. She fell to the ground, stunned. Slarvis reached her. The boa constrictor wrapped his coils around the maid, hissing as they tightened. "Be sssstill, sssquirrel. Ssstill. Ssslarviss will ssshow you the way to eternity."
The last thing the maid saw were Slarvis' amber eyes.
A squirrelmum broke down weeping as one of the mice informed her of the death. "Not my little Birdsong! Oooohhhh, Taldim, tell me it isn't true!"
Taldim sighed unhappily. "Gentiam, I wish I could tell you it isn't, but it is."
The squirrels and mice were in a cave facing the sea. This was their hideout. An old mouse picked up a pawful of sand and watched as it trinkled out of his paw. He did not mince his words. "Unless we leave this island, we will all die."
A mousemaid stood up. "No, I'm not leaving, Coudron! There must be something we can do!"
Taldim shrugged. "What can we do against Slarvis? Or that jaguar Blackhide?"
A squeaky voice that did not belong to anybeast in the cave spoke. "Youse fight!"
Taldim picked up a large rock. "Who goes there?" He demanded. A gecko scuttled into the cave. "I Scarlin. I helps you!" "Why should you help us?" Taldim asked, suspiciously. "Slarvis will kill all, eventually. Only if he die will I be free." Taldim lowered the rock slightly. "Fair enough. But how could we possibly hope to defeat Slarvis?" "Don't trust him!" Gentiam cried. "He's one of them." Scarlin glared at her. "Scarlin has much reason to helpas you, but if yous treat Scarlin like dis, he goes otherplace!" Taldim turned on her. "Gentiam, he's trying to help us!" Gentiam snorted. "Help us? More likely he's trying to gain our trust so he can kill us!" Courdon's voice rang out through the cave. "Enough, Gentiam! Let him speak!" Gentiam retreated into silence. Scarlin spoke again "We need muchhelp to fight mightysnake. Manyseasons ago, some corsairs, seavermin, landed here. Dey spoke of greatbig Redplace, with mighty warriors. The Redstone warriors even slew an adder! We find dese warriors, they help us." Taldim eyebrow's shot up. "Redstone warriors? Corsairs? Sounds like fantasy to me." “No.” Said Courdon “He speaks the truth. I remember those corsairs. They spoke of it with fear. Redwall, they called it. Those who live there must be mighty warriors.”
Charin ran into the wall. She rubbed her head and slowly stood up. The mouse glared at the red stone. Why, oh why couldn't she be graceful like her sister? She was always tripping, running into objects, and dropping things. She always got into trouble, while her perfect sister never did a thing wrong. Charin sighed bad-temperedly. Why couldn't she be a warrior like her brothers? Just because she was a girl did not mean she could not handle a sword. The mouse cast one last death-glare at the wall before prowling off to the outside.