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The Forbidden Tale
Thank you for reading 'The Forbidden Tales'. Chapter 11 is now online and ready for your reading pleasure. This is my first ever fanfiction story so please don't hesitate to criticize or correct me. And most of all enjoy the story. I'm trying my best to update the story as often as possible, and hopefully I can output Chapter 12 by next week. Enjoy!
Chapter 12 is already in the works and follows Burge and his Airboat. Check back for the mid-week preview and final post later this week
- --Akash.B 03:54, June 30, 2011 (UTC)
It was a moonless and stormy night in the vast land of Mossflower. Lightning pierced the sky and threatened to strike earth with all its fury. Rain pelted down with a barbaric force, flattening everything in its path. In this chaotic weather, every living thing was forced to take shelter. The creatures of Mossflower reveled deep in slumber, letting their minds roam free in dreamlands far and wide. The entire land seemed to be asleep, unaware of one unexpected guest, who had reached this land by the sea.
Yogroth, as he was called, had a very strange attitude. Some said this creature could see the future, and others even believed he could change it. His every move was precise and every motive unnaturally successful. Yet no one knew what he actually was. His light-hooded cloak always enveloped his lean and tall body. A face mask covered all facial features. Even his paws were covered by full gloves. Mentally he was just as mysterious. Not a single word left his mouth unless completely necessary. If he did talk, his monotone voice betrayed no emotions. Now this peculiar creature was in Mossflower, coming from someplace far away in the seas, and heading to someplace only his mind knew.
He walked in long, confident strides along the coast. His legs moved in perfect timing.
CHEECK CHEECK CHEECK
His long boots sloshed through the wet sand. Producing a bamboo stick from his side, he used it to aid his walking. The rain beat on unmercifully, and the waves got rougher near the coastline. Yogroth however had no intention of stopping. He marched along for about an hour, relentlessly and unchanging. He suddenly stopped when he spotted a fire in the distance. He slowed his pace, and crouched to take a better look. He could mark out three figures sitting around the fire underneath some sort of hut. Moving higher up the coast into dry sand, he stealthily began running into that direction.
Three hares sat in their very own tent which was made of thick branches and torn up haversacks. It was raining hard, yet the tent held up quite well. All three lay near the campfire which was in the center of the tent, dazing off on full stomachs. Scraps of what had been a superfluous dinner lay on the sand. The fire had begun burning low and the hares’ eyes began drooping.
“Think we’ll make it to Salamandastron tomorrow?” asked one hare called Vauz.
“I’m sure we will mate, it’s only about half a days march, wot.” said Haze.
“Will you keep your gobs shut, it’s hard catching a few winks with your gibbering and a bursting tummy to boot!” said the young Norer.
Silence fell, and all closed their eyes. The constant sound of waves soon lulled all hares to sleep.
WOOSH! The campfire was extinguished in a mass of sand. All three hares immediately woke up, Vauz being the first to gain his senses. Looking around, he could hardly make out anything in the dark night. Reaching for a sword, Vauz got up and called out loud, “Who’s there!”
There wasn’t a reply. Vauz frantically rubbed his eyes, trying to gain some view of the scene. A large lighting bolt pierced the sky, illuminating the beach for a second. Vauz stared in terror as he saw a figure in front of him. By now Haze and Norer were up as well, both of whom were frightened. Vauz’s voice was shrill with terror when he shouted, “Who are you!”
There was still no reply, but he could slightly make out the figure in the darkness. It began moving in his direction. Vauz raised his sword and made a feeble attempt to look brave. A sound as dry and gritty as the sand they stood on, spoke out.
“Don’t be afraid Mister Vauz. I’m only here to seek your help.”
“How do you know my name?” Vauz replied, trembling and still clutching the sword in both paws. The figure stood a few feet from the camp.
“That doesn’t matter. What does matter is that I find what I’m looking for. I’m sure you’ve heard of ‘Death Mountain’?” replied the illusive figure.
“You mean Salamandastron?” Norer said, to her own surprise.
“Ah, so you do know. Your help should be critical then, at least for the time being.” Said the figure and produced something from his cloak.
Vauz circled the figure and boldly asked, “You know my name, but what’s yours?”
The figure turned his head and said “My name is Yogroth”
Another, larger lightning bolt pierced the sky. The three hares took a good look at Yogroth. He was a large beast, but they couldn’t discern what he was. His large cloak was deep red, covered in stripes of orange. A belt of iron clenched at his stomach. His paws were sheltered by thick gloves. Yet the most dreadful feature was his mask, half white, half black, with two slits for eyes, and a grill for the mouth. His eyes were most strange, large and red in color. When he stood still, he looked like a lifeless statue. He wielded a wooden stick in his hand, and walked to Haze and Norer. They stood, rigid with horror.
Dumbfounded, Vauz asked “What are you do…”
Both hares fell to the ground, knocked cold. Yogroth turned around and spoke calmly to Vauz.
“Bamboo, silent and strong, works without flaw every time.”
Fear fell on the lone hare, as he looked at the unconscious bodies of his friends. His muddled mind could not take in what had happened. Courageously he shouted “Eulaliaaaaaa!” and lunged for Yogroth.
Sidestepping calmly, Yogroth tripped the charging hare. Jumping on his back, he grabbed Vauz’s arm.
“You’ve asked for this Mister Vauz” Yogroth twisted Vauz’s arm brutally. His cries rang loud, yet no one was there to answer them. Yogroth twisted it further and further, until a painfully loud crack was heard. Vauz dropped the sword on the ground.
He groaned loudly, still trying to wrestle of Yogroth. Yet Yogroth twisted on and on, as muscles and bones gave way. The pain was so intense, that Vauz passed out.
Gently rising from the twisted body, Yogroth fixed his cloak. His face showed no emotion, as he brought together the three hares and tied them together with rope. He sat down near the shore, drenched with rain and waited for morning to arrive, looking into the direction of Salamandastron.
The previous night’s storm had cleared to a wonderful day. The sun was slowly rising, and the ocean was enveloped in a thick fog. The glorious Salamandastron grew right out of the land, a mark of nature’s brilliance. It also symbolized the protection it and its inhabitants provided to the immense land of Mossflower. The peaceful scene was disturbed by two running hares, who sped full speed into the mountain.
The Long Patrol’s scouts had returned from their biannual march around Mossflower. Dorsey and Cyru, the twin sisters, came blazing through the entrance and jumped two steps at a time up the stairs. As soon as they reached the mess hall, they immediately went up to Captain John Whurple Haissez Burge, their commanding officer.
He was a renounced fighter of the Long Patrol, thanks to his cunning wits and unmistakable war tactics. Even the Badger Lord took his advice before setting on a mission. He always wore his war tunic, adorned with medals from his years in command. He was having breakfast when he saw the two approaching.
The captain started, “Cyru and Dorsey, back alread…”
Both immediately started to speak, “We…huh-huh…saw them…huh-huh…in…”
“Catch some air lass’s, you’ve come a long way. Eh, Marcus bring these two some cold water, help wet their gullets.” the captain said, motioning the two to sit down.
As soon as they took a long drink, Dorsey explained,
“We were followin’ our route sah, as usual, mapping out northward.”
“And after finishing up that area, we decided to head to the Redwall abbey, make sure every thing’s ship shape, and of course replenish our supplies and all” Cyru finished. Dorsey gulped down some more water before continuing.
“When were heading down the main road, we heard some noises. At first it wasn’t much and we didn’t care, but as we went further the noises got louder and louder. Me and Cyru decided to camouflage ourselves, went into the tall grass on our stomachs, moving up criss-cross style, wot. And you won’t believe what we saw!”
“There were a thousand vermin or more, sitting right in the middle of the bloomin’ path. They ran up so far in the path, my peepers couldn’t see the entire flippin’ lot!” As Cyru ended, a hush fell over the lunch room. Cpt. Burge looked grim, he asked,
“A thousand…are you sure it wasn’t your mind playing tricks? What kind of vermin were they?”
Cyru replied with a look of yearning on her face,
“I swear on me mummy, I couldn’t believe it at first either. There were all sorts of vermin, weasels stoats, foxes, rats, and the like. It was dreadful!”
Dorsey took Burge’s arm and pleadingly said,
“We’re not lying, and if we don’t act fast, who knows what kind of havoc they will wreck.” Burge looked into Dorsey’s eyes and saw that she wasn’t making up the story. He believed her, but had trouble thinking of a thousand vermin. The most he remembered fighting was in ‘the Battle of the Gorge’, when their fifty hare unit took on the three hundred vermin single handedly. He rose from the table and walked to the door. Turning around, he said out loud to everyone in the room,
“Well lads, we’ve got a situation here. And by the sound of it, it isn’t pretty. I’d finish up breakfast soon, and get ready to march. I’ll go and talk to Lord Seaburn about this. Cyru and Dorsey come with me.”
There was hustle around the room, as it erupted into chatter and whispers. The young and the old conversed loudly about what they had just heard. The youthful were excited and eager, and the older ones were in disbelief and uneasiness. Burge and the sisters exited and went up using the roundabout stairs to Lord Seaburn’s personal quarters.
“Seaburn!” Burge shouted upon reaching the door, “Seaburn, where are you? Our runners got some important information, wot!” The three walked into the room, yet Lord Seaburn was not there. Cyru and Dorsey had never been here before, and looked around Seaburn’s personal room in awe. It was adorned with weapons of different kinds hanging on the walls, including those of previous Badger rulers. The walls were smooth along the edges and supported with oak beams. A massive bed lay in the corner, overlooking a giant window. The three walked to the window and looked at the scene below.
Down on the beach, at the base of the mountain was Lord Seaburn, the Mountain Ruler. He was slightly smaller than most badger lords, but a lot more agile. His smaller frame was packed with bulging muscles and throbbing veins. His silver furred body was outlined in bright red paint, and shining light body armor. He didn’t wear a helmet, so his intense red eyes stood out like an inferno. He held two curved swords, forged meticulously by himself over two years. Produced from the strongest of steel, they were known as the ‘Blades of Bedlam’. The cross-guard hilt was made of silver with an embedded ruby, and polished to perfection. Each blade was attached to a chain, which in turn was wrapped around his massive hand. They caused chaos in close proximity, and even more devastation when he swung them using the chains into a wider arc.
This is how Seaburn liked to go into battle, bright as the sun with blades blazing so the enemy could immediately set eyes on him and tremble in fear; so the name. Yet something was quite strange about this badger lord. He did not suffer from bloodwrath like most of his predecessors did, and was thus able to maintain composure during the heat of battle. Seaburn however saw this as curse rather than a boon, and made up for the loss of raw, ferocious power in bloodwrath by training hard every day to improve his skill and stamina. For two hours in the morning he would train like a madbeast without rest, and it truly paid off. He was as nimble as a bee and quick as eagle, precise and strong. There had never been such a disciplined warrior as the leader of Salamandastron.
The twins stared in amazement from the window at how fast the badger was maneuvering. Slicing and dicing thin air with the speed of lightning. Burge however wasn’t impressed, and climbed out of the window onto the rocky ledge. Running downhill, he made his way to the beach. He strode confidently into the path of Seaburn.
“Seaburn, I’ve got grave news.”
The badger stopped his practice, and spoke,
“Ah, Captain Burge, did they forget to serve your tea with mint again?”
Captain Burge’s spoke loudly in full seriousness,
“Actually it’s more than that.” Burge put his paws behind his back and turned to the sea “They’re releasing you from the mountain, saying you’re too old, and too fat for service. And it’s my job to keep you out from now on.”
Burge whirled around and got into his boxing stance, swinging a few warm-up punches, as he circled Seaburn. The badger smiled viciously, almost like a greedy little dibbun. Removing, his two swords, the he began circling Burge as well, saying nonchalantly
“Just like old times, eh John”
Seaburn let out a roar and pounced at the captain. Burge ran straight at him, and at the last second jumped high. Landing on the surprised badger’s broad shoulders, he put his arm around his neck and began choking Seaburn. The badger let out another roar, which was cut short by Burge’s increasingly tight deadlock. Going rigid, Seaburn dropped on his back, crushing the captain under his own weight. Burge was windless, trying to get up, when he saw the badger swing his sword. The chain it was on arched and the sword breezed by Burge’s chin, cutting half the whiskers off his face. Seaburn let out a roar followed by deep laughter,
“I say John Burge, you look better this way”
With a look of indignity on his face, Burge ran straight for the badger. Seaburn threw his sword again, this time lower aiming at the feet, yet Burge nimbly skipped over it. Grabbing the chain of the sword, the captain pulled hard, but to no avail. Seaburn stood perfectly motionless. He simply pulled his arm back, and Burge came flying forward. It seemed as though time had slowed down. Burge was hurtling toward Seaburn, clasped onto the chain, holding out a clenched fist. Before the badger could protect his face, the captain’s fist rammed into his snout. He was knocked clean off his feet. Burge stood on top of the badger, rubbing his hand from the pain it had just endured,
“Why, you’ve fallen asleep, I thought we we’re just getting started”
The twins looked in surprise at what they were seeing, and began running downhill to the beach. Burge crouched down to check on Seaburn, seeing if he was unconscious. He put his ear next to the badger’s chest, and could hear his thumping heart. Looking at his face, he touched the badger’s forehead.
Seaburn’s eyes opened. Their fiery red flame seemed to quell as they looked into those of Burge. His mighty paws rose and clasped together around the captain’s neck. He turned his body over, and stood on top of Burge, squeezing hard.
“What’s wrong captain, why has your face turned the shade of purple? Have been having too many blackcurrant pies?”
The hare tried to free his paws, but Seaburn was too strong. He desperately needed air, so he thought of a plan. Bringing both his feet close to his stomach, Burge launched them at Seaburn chest. The impact was so strong that it catapulted the badger off Burge. Taking this opportunity, Burge took the Blades of Bedlam and unlinked them from the chains that were wrapped around Seaburn’s paws. The captain took them and attacked his adversary, digging them into the sand where Seaburn was a few moments before. Burge kept cleaving on and on, but he could not touch the badger. In a final attempt, he threw a sword at Seaburn. The mountain ruler jumped in a somersault and seized the sword from midair, landing right in front of Burge,
“Surrender or die!”
Taking a fighting stance, Burge shouted,
Seaburn took the first swing, which was skillfully deflected by Burge. Turning with all his weight, the badger took a second swing, which ricocheted of the steady paws of the captain. They dueled with such ferocity, that the blades sparked each time they met. It seemed neither would win, when both lunged at each other with incredible power. Their collision sent both blades flying, leaving them on the ground. Both looked at each other keenly, and after a second, they began laughing. Just like the old days.
Both lay on the sand looking at the sea, when Burge turned to his companion and said,
“You’ve still got it mate, I just wish I was still as strong as I was in my younger seasons.” Seaburn picked a pebble and threw it in the ocean,
“Would you trade your wisdom in exchange for strength?”
“Not for the world, I wouldn’t! Weren’t for my wisdom, I wouldn’t be alive and so wouldn’t so many others.” replied Burge.
By now Cyru and Dorsey had made it to the beach as well. They were well aware of what had taken place, and were rather amused by watching a Captain and Badger Ruler acting like naughty babes. Bidding hello to the Seaburn, they sat beside him. The group looked at the peaceful day and calm sea, enjoying the tranquility. Burge turned to Seaburn and said,
“Now, for the real reason we’re here. Dorsey, Cyru”
The sisters related what they had seen near Redwall to the Seaburn, and the day wasn’t so jolly anymore.
The twin bells of the abbey, Matthias and Methuselah, rang out loud and clear, as their sound travelled through the woods of Mossflower country. Redwallers woke to this, pristine sound every morning, whose radiance flowed into their ears like sweet, thick honey around the tongue. It reminded them once again, they lived in Redwall, the place of tranquility, happiness, and joy. It was another summer day, a lot calmer than last night. Some creatures opened the windows throughout the abbey, letting in fresh air, since they were closed tightly shut during the storm. Others went to the Great Hall to break fast. Some even went to the lake for a morning walk. Everyone had woken from their long slumber, all except one. Abbot Sandore.
The great Abbot mole was the first of his kind to lead the abbey. He retired from his ‘Foremole’ title when he got too old for digging, and was suggested by many to be the new Father Abbot. He accepted after refusing many times, since there were hardly any other creatures better suited for the job. Since he had taken up the work, he had made an excellent leader after the late Abbot Ravugh. Yet for the past few days he had been very sick, already weak from his old age. To make it worse, his throat was very rash, and mixing that with his mole speech was simply a disaster. He spent the first two days trying to communicate, but all his attempts failed. The third day, he resorted to a piece of chalk and slate to talk to the Infirmary Keeper, known as Sister Daisy, or by her nickname, Lord Vaisy Three-Eyes (Some said her nickname was inspired from a long gone monarch).
She was the most evil, restrictive, and mad mouse healer ever known to Redwall, at least in the Abbot’s opinion. It was as if she could see from the back of her head, what creatures were doing. Once the Abbot had tried to sneak a few candied chestnuts from the nearby cabinet, but the Sister caught him, and rapped his hand like a dibbun’s. When the Abbot objected to this nature, she snapped back,
“You may be the father of Redwall abbey but I’m the one in charge of the Infirmary.”
Another time, the Abbot tried to empty a spoonful of a concoction called by the Sister as, “A mixture of redwood, lake water, grass, chopped ginger, crushed egg shells, and some properly sour wine, called ‘Alleviator’.” onto a nearby potted plant, when she caught him again. She gave double the dose of the vile tasting substance, and stood there watching until Sandore had licked the spoon clean. It was downright blasphemy, according to him.
And now in the peace and quite, the Abbot was rudely awakened by the sound of someone walking up the steps to the room. Each footstep was a sharp jab of pain to the Abbot’s throbbing head. He opened one eye slowly, keeping completely still. The room was brightly lit thanks to the open windows. He heard the bells ring one last time, and sighed. Just another hopeless day, thought Sandore, but at least my throat isn’t feeling so bad. Closing his eyes, he pretended to go to sleep. Daisy entered, and without a second of reconciliation, began shouting.
“Abbot Sandore, have you gone deaf? The bells’ have been ringing for a while now. Someone like your stature should be up and about, not slacking in bed.”
The abbot turned over; rubbing his eyes, he tested his voice,
“Gud monin’ to you too miz”
She placed a plate adorned with breakfast on the shelf next to her patient. There was warm toast, cream cheese, boiled eggs diced into fours, an autumn russet apple, and a glass of cordial. Her voice was as nagging as ever,
“Friar Gustov sends his best wishes along with the rest of the abbey. They hope this’ll cheer you up”
Abbot Sandore took one look at the plate and immediately got up. Setting his blanket aside, he sat off the bedside. His mouth watered at the sight of real food. Stifling a yawn, he rubbed his paws in anticipation,
“Moi moi, a riel miel in so many days, oi be delighted!”
As the abbot reached out to grab the toast, Daisy snapped at Sandore’s wrist and pulled it back,
“Not so fast father!”
The abbot’s face was of surprise and slight anger, “But whoi not?”
“Because of your illness. Most of this food would likely make your condition worse. That is why I can only allow you to have some of this breakfast. Not he cordial, too sweet, the russet apple is too hard for your poor teeth…”
The abbot slid back into his bed, zoning out. Even his gifts were being watered down to nothing. Sliding his bed sheet over his head, he spoke out with great difficulty.
“Oh whoi hasn’t nature ended moi misreble lief, no delicious food for moi ol’ tummy, no cordiol for moi gullet. And now oi sit here weitherin’ away”
Sister Daisy took it seriously, and felt extremely sad. She finally decided to give Sandore a break, “But, since it was so hardly put together by the friar, you can have it all!”
The abbot immediately rose, delight showed on his aged features. He slowly got out of bed and walked toward Sister Daisy, arms outstretched. For a moment, just for a moment, the sister truly smiled. The abbot walked up to her and hugged her, “Thankee sister, thankee a lot”
Daisy was taken a back by her own generous behavior. To make it less awkward for herself, she immediately replied with confident air, “Well, the toast is still very warm. Let me set the plate on the window ledge to cool down. Wait till its cold enough to eat”
As she walked to the window to set the plate down,
DING DING DING
The bells rang out loud and frenzied, quite out of character. This startled Sister Daisy, and she dropped the plate. It fell straight down from the window, and the food on it disappeared with it. Both Daisy and Sandore looked in complete shock, their jaws lying on the floor, unable to grasp what had just happened.
Out on the abbey grounds, Skipper Zorra and her close friend, gatekeeper Sheryl, were walking together on the abbey lawns, enjoying some hot scones from the ovens. The sun provided a warm blanket to everyone outside; even the wind was slow and soft. The pair watched as a group of dibbuns ran into the pond, much to the dislike of their mothers. They playfully shoved each other, and jumped around the muddy bank trying to get as dirty as possible. Zorra shook her head and smiled, “Look at the bunch of villains trying to avoid bathing. When will they grow?”
The young Skipper Zorra was recently appointed the leader of her clan. She was exceptionally strong, and more importantly, intelligent. After all she was the daughter of the great Skipper Dawruv, who left with half his tribe to help out with the Hergho clan up north. She would act on his behalf until his return, which was supposedly in one to two seasons. Her weapon of choice was a bow and arrow she inherited from her grandmother, yet she hadn’t found use of it yet, having never fought with vermin. This didn’t excuse her from practicing, which led to her sharp aim and fast reflex. And since the abbot was sick as well, she had to carry his burden of power on her shoulders for the time being.
Sheryl watched as a molemum dragged her sobbing child from the pond. Sheryl replied to Zorra with her usual, unconcerned attitude, “Not fast enough if you ask me, but who’s asking me? No one”
Sheryl was an orphaned shrew, recued by the roving band of Guosim when she was young. She joined the jolly group, and spent some time sailing the rivers in logboats. She wasn’t very fond of wandering from place to place though. When she visited the abbey countless seasons back, she refused to leave the wondrous place. Abbot Ravugh become a father figure for her, and helped her settle in her new life. Sheryl wanted to be a vital part of the abbey, so she spent her days trying to learn anything she laid her eyes on; cooking, brewing, sewing, caretaking, and the like. However nothing seemed to stick to her, no matter how long or hard she tried. One day, she went to old Descartes the Wise, Redwall’s record keeper, for help. He gladly accepted her as a pupil, and taught her the tools of the trade. She learnt the entire history of Redwall in five seasons, and liked it very much. Soon he taught her how to properly write, and keep records. She got better and better, until she began writing some of the manuscripts herself.
Abbot Ravugh recommended Sheryl to become the recorder of Redwall upon Descartes’ retirement, which she was very excited about. But that day came very unexpectedly. Descartes departed without notice, leaving only the abbot a message. Sheryl was crestfallen and confused at his disappearance, yet hopeful that perhaps someday he would return. She continued to keep records the way she was taught, but felt a nagging absence of her ancient friend. She pestered Ravugh for information about her dear friend, yet his lips remained sealed. On his dying day, the abbot told her that Descartes had gone to settle personal matter, and promised to return one day. Sheryl was heartbroken when Ravugh, her only family, died later that day.
Sheryl’s wait turned from days, to weeks, to seasons with no sign of her companion. She refused to work on records; to her “nothing was of any value to write down”. She felt even lonelier than when she was young. At first she would cry every night, and then her heart turned to stone. She became sour and grew bitter with age. She no longer waited, and her life became empty and meaningless. She spent more and more time in the gatehouse, secluded from the rest. To ease her pain, she imagined herself in the countless ages of the past, the ones she had read and learned about. Now history was her only companion.
That is until Zorra showed up at the abbey, whose blood ties were with the infamous Taggerung line of otters. Sheryl was extremely interested in her family and conversed with her a lot. Redwallers were astonished by the friendly behavior Sheryl portrayed to Zorra, she hadn’t done so since Ravugh’s death. Since then they had grown into good friends. And today, they strolled together through the lawns, enjoying, or ‘living’ according to Sheryl, another great summer day.
DING DING DING
They bells tolled erratically through the air. Zorra whirled around and squinted in the direction of the bell tower. She could discern a small shape beating wildly at the bells. The figure rang on for another few seconds before darting down the staircase four steps a time. As soon as it touched the ground it began running toward Zorra’s direction. Sheryl turned around and took a look, “It’s Moxor, the Redwall warrior”
Moxor, the great Redwall warrior was lunging full pace at the pair. He was anything but awesome. He wore an oversized tunic, different sandals on each foot, and carried a wooden stick supposedly sculpted to be identical to Martin’s Sword. He was tongue lolled out the side of his mouth, and two buck teeth sprouted from his lips. A bushy tail bounced up and down indignantly the young squirrel’s backside. When he finally did reach Zorra and Sheryl, he was panting madly, sucking in huge gulps air.
Skipper Zorra looked at him and said in a serious tone, “Ah, here comes the self-proclaimed Redwall warrior, Moxor the…”
“Impudent little rascal!” finished Sheryl. Zorra looked at her companion, “Oh common Sheryl, so what if he wants to be a warrior like his hero, Mathias”
“Trouble? He’s been caught trying to steal Martin’s sword twice, he won’t receive education, and as for manners he’s worse than weasel”
Moxor’s ears dropped in shame, “I know I have slipped in the past ma’am, but I think I can redeem myself, I saw something important!”
Zorra turned to the young squirrel, “What was it?” “A dozen stoats, down the path heading this way. Their carrying shields and don’t look like the good kind. I spotted them using the monocular Descartes mounted on the bell tower”
Not only was Descartes the Wise the record keeper, but also a brilliant engineer. During his stay at Redwall, he had set up many different kinds of contraptions all throughout the abbey. He had placed monoculars at various locations to provide watch over all directions. He had reinforced all doors, including the Great Hall’s door to be near unbreakable and fireproof, thanks to steel. He had created a pattern of hidden doors leading in and out of the abbey in times of crisis. He had created an oil cavity reserve in the ramparts, so that with a pull of a lever, he drenched the outside walls in flammable fuel. One spark would light the outside abbey walls in fire, creating a wonderful distraction and barrier for anyone trying to scale the walls. He had also fenced up the ditch bed a long way up and down to prevent it being used for cover by vermin. The list went on and on. But perhaps his most clever invention was the mechanical bows he invented and installed into the outer walls. They were powered by someone rotating a crankshaft, which built power into a strong twine of rubber. The user would load it with any projectile they wished. When the user pushed a handle, the bow would fire at an extraordinary speed onto the path. Since the bows were level to the ground, anyone on the path would be instantly slayed. The best part was that they were completely invisible to an enemy outside.
Zorra started walking toward the abbey, “Come on my little warrior, let’s go tell the abbot what you saw”. The three started walking toward the abbey, with the young Moxor skipping in delight, “I knew I would be useful one day, do you think the abbot will…”
The young squirrel was knocked cold by some projectile. Zorra jumped out of the way, and covered her head, “We’re under attack! Let’s find some cover”.
Sheryl simply sighed, and walked to Moxor. Inspecting the projectile, she spoke out loud, “No need to worry Zorra, it’s just a plate full of vittles” she picked up the russet apple tasted it, “And by the looks, it’s the one you all sent to Abbot Sandore this morning.”
Zorra got up, slightly embarrassed, “Why would he throw it out his window?” She peered upward, the remembered Moxor, “Oh my, I forgot about this poor young one, is he badly hurt Sheryl?”
Sheryl looked at Moxor in disgust, “The young wretch will finally learn his lesson”. Zorra looked at her companion puzzled, “But what did the poor fellow do?”
“He’s always at the wrong place at the wrong time” Sheryl said, slightly amused, “Let’s take him to the infirmary, that way we’ll be able to talk to Sandore as well.”
Zorra called out to Friar Gustov, who was walking back to the abbey with an empty trolley, “Friar, do you mind helping us out”.
The friar looked in their direction and said, “Sure ma dear, what’s the problem?” Zorra explained that Moxor needed to be taken to the infirmary, and the trolley could be handy to take him. Gustov was willing but mystified about how he was hurt. Sheryl said nonchalantly, “It seems that I’m not the only one who detests your cooking friar, I believe father abbot has joined the list.
Gustov was taken aback, “What…But…What does this have to do with Moxor?”
Sheryl replied, “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you, I think it’s better if Sandore answered you himself”
Three pairs of willing paws took the unconscious little squirrel up the ramp and into the abbey, all baffled by what was going on.
The sun was high in the sky, and the wind had picked up. Hares filed out of the base of the mountain, each clad in their armor and carrying different weapons. Captain Burge stood with Lord Seaburn; both were fully clad in battle armor. Burge had all his medals sewn to his chest piece and was carrying his signature sword and shield with the emblem ‘S’ written on it. They inspected each hare as they passed out onto the shore. Burge fixed a passing hare’s shield, “This is the biggest assembled force of the Long Patrol going to war. I never thought I’d live to see it, wot”
Seaburn played with his chains, “Eight-hundred hares. You sure like to take have cushion to fall on if things go bad.”
Burge looked in surprise, “You think I’ll be commanding from the back? Tough luck Seaburn, I’ll be the first to wet my sword.”
Seaburn put his hand on the captain’s shoulder, “Now don’t get carried away captain, we want minimal losses on our side, this is not a suicide mission!”
Burge shrugged, “Minimal losses, eh? We’ll get each and everyone of these hares in a single piece back to the mountain by next season. It’ll be the biggest and cleanest slaughter of vermin in history!”
Seaburn smiled and patted Burge’s back, “I knew I could count on you Burge, to keep things under control during my absence”
“You’re not coming with us?” Burge said in surprise, “What will you be doing, taking some of the Long Patrol another route?”
Seaburn turned to the sea and walked slowly across the sand. He raised his head to the sky, and spoke, “I’m staying at the mountain, I have a feeling it’ll need me very soon.”
Burge’s voice was of alarm, “Need you? The enemy is on the flippin’ side of the land, not anywhere near the mountain. Why would the mountain need you?”
Seaburn sighed, “I feel its need Burge, it’s just quite hard to explain. Maybe there will be a sea-vermin raid, or perhaps a new badger ruler is approaching; whatever the case, I don’t know. If I did, you’d be the first to know”
A young hare came forward from the group that was lining up, to the two friends, “Captain Burge, we got a problem sah! Cook refuses to feed me sah! I need some bally tucker before we march out into the land for days without rest or peace to wage wars on a thousand or so vermin who will wait for us to fight to death and or possibly defeat us and yet I will still remain hungry in my grave and my ghost will haunt the kitchens for food…sah!”
Burge and Seaburn looked the young hare, and his extremely fast speech, puzzled. Seaburn broke the silence which followed, “Private…Ruezer, am I correct? Please file back into line; we’re having an important conversation here”
The young hare saluted to his superior, and turned around and started walking back, “Gottit Lord Seaburn sah! I will go back unanswered and hungry sah!”
Burge rubbed his brow in confusion, “Wot’s up with that lad I wonder? Anyway, I was looking forward to serving in the field beside you Seaburn, yet it appears your feelings aren’t quite in order” He started walking to the mountain, “Fine, miss all the action, all the glory, perhaps even a chance to experience bloodwrath. It’s not my decision, it is yours.”
Seaburn took in a huge gulp of air and heaved his chest, “You cannot dissuade me, captain. I know that the mountain is in danger. As for Redwall, I’ll leave its fate in your paws.”
Burge sighed, “Well it’s quite unfortunate you’ll not see the new squads in action. We’ve got twenty-five running our infiltration team. They’re going to disguise themselves as vermin; should easily fit into the thousand or so enemies of ours, and provide information. Then we have two-hundred long range bow-hares and a hundred-and-fifty with medium range bows and slingshots. Fifty hares will be carrying spears and guarding the perimeter just in case our bow-hares are attacked. The remaining three-hundred will be going with me. We’ve got shields and swords, and we’ll take the cold hearted, pathetic vermin to dine at hell-gates with our bare paws, may it be. The rest will either be trackers, scouts, or cooks”
Seaburn surveyed the eight-hundred hares as they stood perfectly filed on the beach, “The teams sound good, but what is the plan captain?”
Burge rubbed his waxed moustache, “First we’ll survey the land, and get the feel of the enemy. Since this isn’t a siege or a long period attack, we’ll simply surround the blighters and slay them all”
Seaburn shook his massive head, “Sounds a little too simple captain. What if there are more vermin that you can handle, what if you’re ambushed, what if Redwall is under attack? A good leader should always have more than one option”
Burge replied coolly, “Well, if there are more than we can handle, we’ll do a false charge from one side, make em’ think we’re more than we really are. We’ll simply herd them to Salamandastron’s direction. Hopefully you’ll be waiting with the rest of the patrol to finish them off.”
He continued, “Ambush is out of the question since I’ll have the teams split into eight groups, each travelling slightly behind each other. If one is attacked, the rest can easily come to their aid. But if Redwall is already under attack, we’ll enter the abbey through the back using one of the trick gates, and then we could easily turn the tables.”
Both watched as the eager hares stood, waiting to start marching. The waves pulled in deep, and the wind whirled even faster. The scene seemed to stick still for a second, broken only by Burge’s voice. “Would you like to talk to the Long Patrol, say a few words of courage?”
Lord Seaburn smiled and rubbed his paws together. Rising to his full height, he spoke out in a loud voice, “Comrades and friends, gentlebeasts and maids, do you know who we are?”
A murmur ran through the group, “The Long Patrol”
Seaburn continued, “When we took an oath to protect the weak and old, to serve for the greater good, and be heroes who would lead the way. What did we enroll for?”
This time the entire group said in a chorus, “The Long Patrol”
Seaburn got louder, and his voice was full of emotion, “In a few days, what will the enemy see surrounding them like a typhoon, and shiver in terror?”
The entire group rang out, “The Long Patrol!”
Seaburn unsheathed both his swords and crouched into his battle position, “And when we drive our swords into their hearts, and our spears into their brains, what will we scream out to the world!”
The entire beach shook as all the hares shouted, “The Long Patrol!! EULALIAAA!!!”
Captain Burge nodded to Seaburn and called out, “Let’s march!!”
The entire group marched away shouting and screaming, full of joy. Lord Seaburn stood on the beach and watched till they were a mere spec in the distance. He then turned his gaze to the mountain, and thought of what was it to come.
Vauz woke, delusional and confused. He spluttered sand from his lips, and gritted his tongue across his teeth. Taking a few breaths, he slowly opened his eyes, which burned from the drying salt on his face. He looked at the growing day, and the restless sea in front of him. Trying to fetch events of the last night, he tried to get up. Immediately a sharp jab of pain made him fall back to the ground. He glanced at his right arm which lay useless by his side. Yogroth he thought, and started recollecting his memory. The blown out campfire…the mysterious figure…the attack on Haze and Norer…and his final assault on Yogroth. His head ached from the realization.
Turning slowly, he looked at his two friends, both of whom seemed to asleep. He pulled his good hand, only to realize it was knotted to a rope, which linked to Haze’s and Norer’s paws as well. “Yogroth!” he shouted from his lungs, “Where are you, you coward!”
The similar voice spoke out behind him, “Mr. Vauz, you are awake. When your friends are as well, we shall get moving”
Vauz was not listening, he was screaming and trying to free himself at the same time, “You cold, slitherin’, piece of fur and bones I wouldn’t even call a foe. Attackin’ poor beasts for no reason! You ‘orrible and wretched Vermin!!”
Yogroth slapped his bamboo stick on the sand, “Vermin, Mr. Vauz? Vermin are those who are addicted to greed; those who cannot stop thinking of plundering, murdering, and power. It’s in their nature, these emotions, anger, hate, and the like. Their motives are driven by these very emotions rather than logic. Where do the emotions come from, Mr. Vauz? Their heart is where. And it is this very heart which also produces…fear. Fear will drive vermin insane; it is what is used to control them. When a leader cannot produce fear, he loses grip of his people. If he can produce fear, he is bathed in a need for power. Emotions are their ultimate weakness of every organic beast, including good ones like you.”
Vauz had turned around and looked into the eyes of Yogroth with hate, who kept talking, “Courage and valor will prompt a ‘goodbeast’ to go against overwhelming odds to do heroic deeds. They have no choice but to obey them without consent. They have no free will; their will is twisted by nature and the environment around them. They never really reach personal redemption, or the goal in their heart.”
Time seemed to sit still for a second, “I have no heart, Mr. Vauz. I do not feel the greed, or more importantly, fear. I am driven by logic, not petty emotion. I have a free will to do what is on my mind. I am not a vermin. I am not a goodbeast. I am Yogroth.”
Vauz felt a chill run down his spine, as he saw the figure before him rise. He walked along the shore, and sat onto a rock, looking out to the sea. Vauz got the courage to reply, “So why did you attack me…us?
Yogroth said calmly, “You were aggressive towards me, when you raised your sword. I could sense rebellion in the other two. So I brought you down, to help me in my progress. You are merely a tool for now, one which I will dispatch when I’m done with. Raise your friends, and let us go soon.”
The wind picked up its pace, and hummed a sweet tone. The clouds moved at a fast pace from the west. In the distance, a ship with five sails approached from the rough seas. Yogroth looked at it, and without further ado started moving up the beach.
Vauz shuffled both his friends with a tear stained face, hoping both would wake from their slumber. He was terrified with what the future held for him.
Creatures huddled around the abbot in the infirmary as stories were exchanged. Sister Daisy tended to the young Moxor, and applied bandages around his head. As soon as he came back to consciousness, he blurted out, “Am I dead?” he looked around the room “Is this what hell-gates looks like? I knew it would look like the Infirmary.”
His gaze turned to Sister Daisy, “Hey look, Sister Vaisy, are you dead too?”
She made a stern face at the cheeky squirrel, “Yes, I am. And now I’ll show you what happens to bad squirrels in this place.” She produced a spoonful of her ‘Alleviator’ and shoved it down Moxor’s throat, despite his protesting.
For the Abbot, more pressing concerns surrounded the moment beyond his spoiled breakfast and bad squirrels. He was in no condition to talk to the approaching vermin, and he would only show a sign of weakness. Ravugh turned to his friends and said, “Gatekeeper Sheryl an’ Skipper Zorra, cud you two take moi place talkin’ to the wermin? Oi’m afraid Oi will only serwe as a sign ov veakness”.
Zorra took the Abbot’s paw and said confidentially, “You can count on us Ravugh, we’ll scare the blighters out of Mossflower when we’re done with them. You stay here and rest, I’m sure the Friar will be more than happy to serve you some more food.”
Friar Gustov nodded at the statement, “Yes Father Abbot, I’ll make you anything you like.”
Zorra and Sheryl took their leave, and left down stairs. Moxor saw his chance to leave as soon as Sister Daisy turned her back, and dashed out of the room. He followed Zorra and Sheryl, feeling a little tipsy.
The stoats walked in a straight line down the path, approaching with caution. Each travelled crouched and their eyes shot back and forth in fear and amazement of the wondrous abbey. It was true; they only possessed shields and didn’t carry a single offense weapon. They had come to negotiate with the Redwallers, rather than attack them.
Zorra and Sheryl walked across the lawns and slowly scaled the ramparts. They crouched, and peered over the walls. The stoats stood out on the path like a badger in a group of field mice. They didn’t even try to use the bush for cover. Zorra called out hesitantly, “Stop right there! Who are you and what is your business here?”
The stoats stopped and raised there shields, one spoke out frantically, “Parley, Parley! We come in peace and do not carry weapons! We have come to negotiate and not fight!”
The cowardly voice made Skipper Zorra confident, “Why have you come here to negotiate? Speak fast, you are intruding our space.”
Another voice from the gang of stoats shot out, “Our leader, Durja the Fox, wants to taste Redwall’s famous vittles. He told us to come here and trade anything for just a single plate of grub.”
Zorra scratched her head in confusion, and she whispered to her friend, “Sheryl, something doesn’t seem right”
Sheryl replied, “Something doesn’t seem right? A dozen stoats have come in peace to our door just for a plate of food, and something doesn’t seem right?”
Zorra replied, “Well maybe they have. I better reply to them.” She got up and shouted out, “We have to talk to our abbot first. Tell us what you have to trade though.”
Sheryl sighed, “You’re a fool to trust vermin, Zorra. I’ll fix this myself.”
Zorra reluctantly kept talking the vermin, thinking her companion would be going to get help from the abbot. Sheryl had no intention to do so, and went down from the ramparts to the lawn. She saw Moxor eavesdropping from the gatehouse. At first she wanted to scold him, but an idea struck her head. “Moxor, come here. I have a plan to teach those vermin. Now this is what we do…”
“No, we don’t want your shields, clothes, or jewelry for trade. If food is all you want, we can give it-”
“Get down Zorra. Let me to talk to them” Sheryl pulled Zorra out of the way and stood on the wall before the vermin, “Now my friends, let’s talk!”
The stoats looked in confusion and slight amusement at the old shrew before them. They were no longer afraid, and stood at ease. Sheryl however caught their attention in a flash.
“You cowardly vermin, do you know where you stand? This is Redwall, the place haunted by the ghost of a warrior. He will devour you before you can blink. He doesn’t like vermin, especially stoats.”
One stoat quietly whispered to the others, “I think I’ve heard of em. I think he’s called Marvin or something”
Sheryl continued, “When Greypatch came from the far away seas, he was blasted back! When Cluny from the South and General Ironbeak from North tried to invade, their attempts were thwarted by him. When the mighty Rapscallion army knocked on our doors, he refused to open. Sawney Rath, Princess Kurda, Ruggan Bor, Ragga Bol, Vizka Longtooth and Gruntan Kurdley, you name them all. The ghost of Redwall has destroyed each and every one. And now, he’s looking at you!”
The group of stoats’ eyes dwindled in fear. They began slowing pacing backwards.
“Watch before your eyes the presence of the Ghost of Redwall!” Sheryl turned around to face Moxor, “Fire!”
Zorra realized what was going to happen and jumped at Moxor to stop him, “NO!”
She was too late. Moxor pulled a lever. All the mechanical bows fired at once. The arrows hit the gang of stoats like a hurricane, creating a sickening sound as they tore into the shields and flesh. They were sent flying across the road. Of the dozen, only two were alive, and of them one lay dying. Sheryl barked at him, “Get out of my sight, and tell your master to eat the corpses of your own dead. You are not fit to eat the vittles of Redwall”
The unharmed stoat ran away shrieking. Zorra shouted at Sheryl, “What was the need? I know they were vermin, but that doesn’t mean we have to act like them too? Why would you do that?”
Sheryl said, “They weren’t here for food Zorra, they were here for something else. I don’t give a crud to the lives of vermin. You’ll thank me one day.”
With that Sheryl walked back to her gatehouse, patting Moxor on the back as she passed by. The young squirrel was shaking, and Zorra was worried. She said, “Are you alright my little warrior? Why did you listen to that old shrew and kill the poor-beasts. I know taking life can be hard.”
Moxor looked up, and a grin crept up on his face. “I’m not shaking because I killed those stoats. I’m shaking because I feel excited from the rush of fighting and war. I feel my blood running Skipper Zorra”
“Don’t talk like that, you’re only a child. I think you have a fever Moxor, go up to the infirmary right now and rest” she said sternly, “Don’t talk about this to anyone, please.”
The quivering squirrel walked off into the direction of the abbey, while Skipper Zorra went out the gate to collect the bodies of the dead stoats. One stoat was still alive, and groaned in pain. Zorra saw him and rushed to his side. She said, “How bad are you hurt? We’ll get you some help.”
The stoat stared dumbly back, “You shot at us. All we wanted was a plate of vittles for Durja”
Zorra replied, “I didn’t, it was my-” The stoat’s eyes clouded over and his neck went limp. Zorra was taken aback, and her opinion on vermin changed forever. Maybe, just maybe, vermin weren’t as bad as history showed them to be.
Dust sprawled off the ancient stones of the sandstone quarry. The sun shined through this sand and created a red fog through the sandstone’s radius, exhibiting an evil past. It stood in the land like a huge bowl, reminiscent of an ancient crater. It was mined in the early days to create the very walls and structure of Redwall. It also provided a shelter for adders in seasons past and present. That is, until the day vermin showed up.
Thousands of creatures filed into the sandstone quarry, like bees returning to their hive. The very ground appeared to move and shake as the presence of vermin clouded the entire area. They filled into the tunnels to forge and kill anything inside. All adders were slain and carried out of the quarry. A foul smell of bittersweet hung in the air as more and more joined the pile of dead. In between this horde, the three leaders of all these vermin huddled in the center of the quarry, using a rock uprising as a makeshift table. They sat around it and discussed their plans; together.
The first was Durja. Nicknamed ‘The Fat Fox’ by his enemies and peers alike, he was in fact very plump. His love for food and lazy attitude during battle was not respected by other leaders, yet he was followed by the most amount of vermin. Over a thousand different beasts loyally devoted themselves to his service, since he never harmed or punished them. Durja believed the primary objective was to gain food for himself and his enormous crew, and violence wasn’t always the answer. Diplomacy was always a faster and easier way to acquire vittles. And what a better place to grow and harvest vittles than Redwall itself.
Many attempts had been made to overthrow his power, yet his loyal followers would immediately put a stop to any rebellion. They knew no other leader would treat them as fairly as Durja had. There were no captains or commanders, he treated every creature equally. In turn, his followers returned it with undying devotion.
The second was Stroxo the Mad. He was an unusual kind of ferret, very strong and rowdy. His face was enveloped in scars and covered by a foulard. He carried a giant scythe to behead any of his four hundred or so followers if they decided to complain even the slightest bit. He always talked in 3rd person, and relied on brute force to convey his message. Although strong, he was a horrible leader during battle. His first and foremost plan was to scare the enemy in hopes of surrender. It hadn’t failed him yet. He hoped taking over Redwall would provide a symbol of his supremacy.
He was however falsely under the impression of having real power. His accomplice Juper, another ferret, was the one who strongly influenced his decisions. Juper boosted Stroxo a lot to gain his loyalty. He secretly met with Stroxo every night to talk over the day’s events, and told the Ferret Lord what to do. Though Stroxo felt Juper was merely a spy on his side, he had actually lost his authority long ago.
Lastly, there was Shruve the Horrible. He and his crew of six hundred were from the northern Black Ice Mountains. They were squirrels. They adopted the vermin ways after the ‘Winter of No Return’, when the young, old, and weak of their clans died from the cold. They had come south to find a place to live, away from all the treacherous and frosty mountain life. Redwall was a tempting place to take. And their territorial behavior was above asking for refuge; giving out a hand displayed a sign of imperfection. And perfection was utmost importance to the Mountain Climbers.
Shruve was the son of the Great Kharehuso, the King of the northern mountains. Everyone respected Karehuso’s power, until he began growing old and Shruve started to get ready to take his place. Shruve promised his father he would earn the right to rule, yet the ‘Winter of No Return’ killed his family. By right, Shruve became the next ruler, yet he felt he was an unworthy successor to his father. He would have to achieve the impossible to be a true leader. Taking Redwall had never been achieved, and a perfect task to prove himself. Either he would succeed and redeem his title, or die trying. Whichever came, Shruve did not care.
“Stroxo would like to begin this meeting of the leaders” Stroxo rang out to silence the crowd, “Let it begin!”
“Aye!” said Shruve and Durja together.
“So are we all clear on the purpose of this meeting?” Stroxo said, “Stroxo has vowed to take Redwall down and offers his paws to those who would like join his motive. Do you two offer your full loyalty to the Great Stroxo?”
Durja replied coolly, “I shall guard your back Stroxo, you have my word”
Shruve replied with arrogance, “I serve only the Mountain Climbers. I agreed to stand on your side while taking Redwall, not after it has fallen.”
Juper jumped in, “How dare you insult Stroxo! He can snap your back like a stick and disperse you in a second.”
Shruve jumped off his feet like a spring and simultaneously unsheathed a dagger from his neckband. He pushed Juper to the ground, and rested the dagger on his chin and pressed on his throat with a knee.
“Drop your lunacy at the door ferret. You need my help, and I need yours. Redwall hasn’t stood by so long for nothing. Idjits like you can’t cooperate with other vermin. You end up fighting each other while the real enemy sits back and enjoys the view.”
At this point every creature in the quarry seemed on their feet with weapons at the ready. Any second a full scale war could break out. Eyes shot back and forth as everything seemed to sit still. Tense moments past with no sign of change, and the tension mounted to an unbearable level.
“Hahahaha” The silence was broken by the laughter of Durja. He bit into a green apple and let out another laugh. “The young squirrel’s right. We better work together.” This broke the magical spell that was keeping everyone still.
Durja’s follower’s backed off and sat back down. Slowly the others followed the example. Shruve got off Juper and came back to his former position. He spoke out loud, “Now, does anyone have ideas of how we tackle Redwall?”
Although Stroxo was deeply embarrassed, he put away his feelings aside. He silently promised himself to avenge the moment, but now was not the time. “Stroxo says we scare them with numbers”
“No” Shruve said, “They could pick us off easily. Numbers would work if we were trying to defend ourselves.”
“It has worked for Stroxo always. Stroxo says we do it!” said Stroxo.
“No we won’t, it’d be open slaughter” replied Shruve.
Stroxo toyed with his scythe and narrowed his eyes. Shruve did the same with his dagger. Durja interrupted them both again, “How about we wait for Rabni? He’s got a lot more numbers on his side”
“Remind Stroxo who he is again” said Stroxo
“Ah, good ol’ Rabni” said Durja fondly, “He’s a good pal of mine. He sails the seas with an entire fleet; seven ships. Good leader, I sent a message to him, he should be on his way pretty soon.”
“We don’t have time!” Shruve said, “We need to start the siege, Rabni can join us later. As for the plan, I recommend we build a bridge to let us scale the walls. We can then pour in like a flood and invade the place in a flash”
“No before we get too far” Durja said, “We must keep them alive. We need some of them to prepare the food for us, don’t we?”
“Stroxo wants to know where your scouts are” Stroxo said
“I sent up a while back, they should be back soon, with a plate full of vittles between them.” Durja replied with a grin.
Shruve looked puzzled, “Wait, you sent them for a plate of vittles? Didn’t you tell them to scout the area, or find out something about the enemy?”
Durja seemed undisturbed, “No, I didn’t. No sense running around when we already know everything that needs to be known. It’s a fort, with warriors for sure, and has a large store of food to keep them alive for a few seasons. As for Redwall grub, I though it would simply…motivate us further.”
Shruve let out a groan, “You ignorant old buffoon, you’ve given away our most precious weapon! Surprise!”
Durja let out a large and friendly smile as he replied, “Calm down, I only sent twelve. They will think we aren’t a big force. In the time we build the bridge you were talking about, they’ll drop their guard.”
Shruve let out a sigh, “Maybe your right. While your scouts return, my squirrels and I will forge the forest for a big tree. Better get ready to build the bridge, eh?”
“Yes, we shall” Durja replied.
With this, the Mountain Squirrels left the quarry and dispersed into the trees. Stroxo and Durja walked back to their beasts to discuss what was to happen. Plans were made, and dreams of a different tomorrow rose.
The wind had seriously picked up speed by midmorning. Torrents of unrelenting dust clouds scrounged the land of Mossflower. The worst of this hit the dunes near Salamandastron, the very route chosen by Cpt. Burge to travel. Sight was shortened to just a few feet, and direction seemed lost. The howling wind cut of all sound.
The Long Patrol marched towards of the direction of the abbey. They had marched for most of the morning, yet still were making slow progress due to the wind. They had followed Cpt. Burge’s original plan of splitting into eight groups, but that had caused a lot of communication and travel problems. Messages sent between the groups took a long time to be exchanged. If one group stopped, all others had to stop to let them catch up. Another problem was the constant break of discipline in the groups of younger hares. Cpt. Burge decided to finally assemble the entire force near River Moss. He sent messengers to tell all the groups to rendezvous at the bank of the river. It wasn’t until a few hours before everyone was stationed at the river.
“All Commanders report to me now!” Captain Burge said, “As for the rest, make camp.”
The groups broke out of formation and mingled in a hustle, mostly young hares looking or their friends. The seven Commanders of the different groups came forth out of the crowd to Captain Burge. He motioned them to follow him further up the bank, out of earshot of the crowd. As they walked, Burge said in a grave voice, “Good job with keeping everything under control Commanders. The storm was unexpected, yet we made good progress. But it’s not enough! You all know that Redwall is far, and at this pace, it’ll take us a forever to get there, wot!”
One Commander spoke out, “Well, I would say it’ll take a fortnight to reach Redwall, and that is if we go at full speed.”
Burge struck a pebble near the bank with his footpaw, “It’s too long! We need to get their faster. If only we had the Guosim or Otters to help us.”
Another Commander replied, “Even they know not to come out during this season. There’s no way they’ll be roving in the waters, wot.”
Burge looked out on the river, secretly hoping the shrews would magically appear. Yet even he knew his wish held not a sliver of hope. He replied, “Well then we must build ourselves boats. That’ll be faster than walking ourselves to Redwall in this weather.”
The Commanders went silent. The noise of rushing water and the crowd of hares was all that passed for a few moments. One Commander said quietly, “Burge, that’s…that’s impossible. We are fighters, not builders. And building one big enough for eight hundred is more than impossible.”
Burge smacked his foot on the ground in frustration. “Walking through this wind would be impossible! I need to get to Redwall fast, and if building a boat is what it takes, then so be it!”
The Commanders looked at each other in despair. They knew convincing Burge would be no easy task. They stood quietly, waiting for their Captain to say something. A few turned their backs to walk back to the camp when suddenly a young Commander named Walsh spoke up, “We build an airship!”
All eyes fell on the young Walsh, followed by laughter. One Commander shook his head, “This isn’t a time for joking Walsh”
Commander Walsh replied with anger, “This isn’t a joke! I….I think it is possible.”
Another Commander said, “Walsh, I can already tell the Captain doesn’t appreciate your humorous attitude.”
The Commanders turned to Captain Burge, yet he didn’t appear angry or amused. There was a twinkle in his eyes. His lips turned to a grin and his eyebrow rose. “Tell me, Walsh, tell me how.”
Each Commander gasped at Burge’s words, and one spoke out, “Don’t tell me you’re serious!”
Burge replied, “I am serious, and we will build an airship! Walsh, tell me what you’re thinking of.”
Walsh spoke out a little hesitantly, “Well, the wind is so bloody strong a ship could become airborne. But, if we build something lighter and larger, it’ll sail the breeze like a free bird!”
Burge stepped forward and grabbed Walsh by his shoulders and said, “How would we build this airship? How long would it take?”
Walsh replied with surprise, “Uh, it could be done within a day, Captain.”
Burge’s attitude became very exuberant, and he shook with excitement. He shouted, “Commanders, get your groups ready! We need to build this airship straight away, wot. Walsh, tell me what we’ll need.”
Walsh said, “Well, we need lots of wood, cloth, and vines. Perhaps-”
Burge cut him mid-sentence, “Commanders, go and start a search in these woodlands. Meet back here in an hour. Dismissed!”
Burge ran out full speed to his group, leaving the somewhat uncertain Commanders in disbelief. They slowly followed him to start the search in the woodlands.
An hour had passed, and now the sun was started its decent back into the horizon. The commanders had returned back to the original camp site, all seven except Burge. They had found almost nothing of value. As they waited for him to arrive, they talked about his radical idea.
“An airship, would you think of that ol’ scout! I think he’s going cuckoo in the head” one said.
“I heard Burge was pretty outlandish in his war tactics, but it never struck me he’d go this far” another one spoke out.
“And now he’s abandoned us on this river, while we could have made progress marching for Redwall” said one.
“I bet he hasn’t found anything useful yet. He’s probably ashamed to even show up here, eh?”
The Commanders had a short laugh, and continued talking with slight mutiny. All this while, Commander Walsh sat apart from the group, cursing himself repeatedly for telling such a wild idea. He too, had found nothing useful to make the ‘airship’. All he could do now was to wait, for his Captain Burge to arrive.
The wait stretched on further and further, until most of the campsite was asleep. Walsh was still awake, silently waiting. As his eyes drooped down with a heavy weight upon them, he heard a rumble in the distance. He opened an eye, but soon he passed it up for his imagination. Another followed, and this time it was much more distinct. Walsh shot upright and stared down the river. Another rumble followed, much louder than the previous ones. He could discern shapes coming along the banks far away, but he couldn’t tell if it was Burge or the enemy.
Walsh ran into the middle of the camp and shouted, “Everyone get up! There’s a large and unknown group approaching!”
His ratchet got everyone on their footpaws, including the Commanders. They followed Walsh to the bank, where he pointed to the approaching mass of figures. The rumble grew louder and louder as they approached. One hare with good eyes shouted, “Its Burge an’ his group!”
One commander said, “Look at that, he has no…no-”
Every hare’s jaw dropped on the ground. They stared in awe before them. The Commanders were in disbelief, and Walsh was in tremendous relief.
It was a massive ship. Burge stood on top of the tallest mast. He sung without pretense with his group a marching song. Some hares struck the vessel with spears to make a rumbling noise.
“Oh! My paws are sore,
My feet are cold,
Can’t walk no more, no more, no more!
Yet I’d been scold,
To walk on all fours,
They say it’s a chore, a chore, a chore!
Let me sit down to eat,
Not long of a feat,
Just some fresh meat, fresh meat, fresh meat!
Captain says, I’ll grow fat,
And won’t make it back,
So I get some hard tac, hard tac, hard tac!
Please just a small bite,
Won’t make a difference, right?
I can’t make it all night, all night, all night!
So I sneak away,
A nicely baked,
Shrimp and fish steak, fish steak, fish steak!"
Burge’s group had found this moored and broken vessel far up the river. It had five masts, and four decks. It was enormous. They decided to tie it to strong lines, and were hauling it back to the camp on foot. As they approached, the hares from the camp exploded with enthusiasm and ran up to help their friends. When it reached the camp, all eight hundred hares heaved the mighty ship out of the water and onto the bank.
Burge came down from the mast with ease and a grin on his face. He said, “I think this will do, wot?”
The Commanders looked in shame when they saw what Burge had done. Walsh on the other hand beamed with delight. He though that, maybe, there was a chance this ‘airship’ could be built.
The storm raged on. The waves rose high again, and spread onto the shore. The dust had cleared, but the wind still raged. This vast expanse of sand was completely deserted, or it seemed. Four figures made their way forward. Yogroth walked with unyielding pace. The hares limped behind him in fear. The horizon on the ocean was clear, and six ships could be outlined in the distance.
Vauz quietly said to Haze and Norer, “Don’t worry mates, we’ll make it out of this. The first chance we get, run straight for Salamandastron.”
The youngest, Norer, replied with a sob “We won’t make it nowhere. He’ll kill us all, I tell ya”
Haze was slightly more optimistic, “Don’t you cry Norer, we’re Salamandastron’s hares, and we can do anything. That includes getting free from this, monster.”
Yogroth didn’t say a word and kept moving. It had been a while when Salamandastron could be seen in the distance. Yogroth stopped immediately. The hares stopped as well. Vauz quietly said to the others, “You two get ready to make a run for it. I’ll try to stop him”
Norer broke out into a new sob, “He’ll kill us all!”
Yogroth approached the group, and stared at them for a moment. As he proceeded, Vauz shouted, “You won’t dare put a paw on us again you filthy animal!”
Yogroth made no reply, but simply put his paw on the knot holding their paws together. Giving it a sharp tug, he released it. Their paws were free. The hares immediately fell to the sand and rubbed their numb paws, letting blood surge life back into them. Haze and Norer were relieved, but Vauz was ever so suspicious. He watched as Yogroth turned his back and walk toward the ocean. By now, the six ships were very close.
They were gigantic ships, each one many times bigger than a single corsair vessel. Each was designed to look fierce and dangerous. But the leading one was bigger and more unusual than anything known in the history of Mossflower. 20 vermin ships wouldn’t put together to form it. The hull alone spanned up forty meters, and the mast’s rose three times higher. Each of the twelve sails was black and lined with red silk; it shimmered beautifully in the waters. It almost seemed hypnotizing, if weren’t for its vermin crew, and captain. Rabni.
Rabni stood on the bowsprit, holding out his broadsword, waving his vermin to make for land. His face was adorned with many earrings and paint, yet his outfit was sleek and simple. He was a warrior type, and jewelry would only hold him back. The most distinguished feature was his large eyes. They would put an owl to shame. But this was actually why he was the captain. He could supposedly see the future.
Rabni called to his first mate, “Eh, Hurret, what be that on the beach?”
Hurret pinched his eyes and replied, “Uh, three hares an’ some large beast, captain”
Rabni let out a howl of laughter, “HAHAHA! Let’s take them all”
Yogroth stood on the tip of the beach, right ahead of Rabni’s boat. As the ship scraped against the low water, Rabni jumped off the bowsprit and landed right in front of Yogroth. As his crew followed him to the beach, Rabni pointed his sword at Yogroth and asked, “Didn’t expect this did ya? HAHAHA! Now, tell me who you are”
Yogroth placed a paw on his mask and took it off. Rabni’s large eyes grew larger. His crew took a few steps back. Rabni lowered his sword in an instant and bowed, “Yogroth...you are Yogroth.”
Rabni signaled his crew to bow, and then he said “Yogroth, I am Rabni, Rabni Cajseuq. These creatures behind me be my crew. My ancestors worked for your ancestors. I owe your kind the power I have today. Your will is mine. I’m yours to command”
“Your ancestors didn’t work with my ancestors. They worked with my parents. Now, tell your crew to get ready to sail. We are going to Salamandastron. I’m not wasting time.”
“You heard him, load up crew!” said Rabni
Yogroth looked past Rabni and said, “I see six ships. Where is the seventh?”
Rabni replied, “Well, I was on my way to the quarry to meet with a few pals ov mine. I sent one ship up River Moss to scout the area and come back to us. It’s been three days, they should be coming back.”
“We’re not waiting, we sail now. Leave one of your crew behind to let the scouts know where we are going.”
Rabni turned around and called an unfortunate rat down, “You there, come down here. You’re gonna stay here and wait for our scouts. Got it?”
The rat said, “Yes, captain!”
Rabni shuffled his feet, then slowly turned his gaze to Yogroth, and said “Why have you come here? I thought you weren’t supposed to be within sight of Mossflower. You were driven out, weren’t you?”
Yogroth replied, “Yes, but logic has driven me back. I’ve been…taught to do things that I must. And I will.”
Rabni’s eyes grew large again, Yogroth immediately understood. Whipping around in a flash he caught the charging Vauz with a single hand. He lifted him high into the air from his neck. He said, “Why forsake the freedom I gave you. Now you hinder my progress and must die for it.” Vauz knew he was in serious trouble. Giving all his might he kicked at Yogroth, yet his attempts were futile. Yogroth said, “Your ignorance baffles me. Why are you hell-bent to take revenge right now? Why not wait till you grow more powerful?”
Yogroth eased the grip on Vauz’s neck. Taking a deep gulp of air, Vauz immediately shouted, “I am a Salamandastron hare! SALAMANDASTRON!! SALAMANDASTRON!! SALA-”
Vauz looked at Yogroth’s face for the first time. His words stopped dead in his throat. His face…wasn’t unusual at all. It was smooth and almost friendly. His eyes looked like they had seen many seasons. His cheeks were round. It almost reminded him of-
Yogroth’s hand crushed his throat in a snap. Vauz could no longer breathe. He tried to shout again but he couldn’t even feel his body below the neck. His eyes bulged out of their sockets. His tongue flailed uselessly out of his lips. He was dying. Fast.
Yogroth said, “No one but you is blamed for this death”, yet Vauz couldn’t hear him. He kept repeating the word ‘Salamandastron’ in his mind. Yogroth finally let loose the hare. Vauz fell into the shallow water with a thud. He uncontrollably gasped for air like a fish out of water, but it wouldn’t reach his lungs. Rabni, out of a spark of sympathy, ran his blade into Vauz’s heart. He was dead.
Haze stood further up on the bank and witnessed it all. She fell on her knees in disbelief. Tears rolled down her eyes unchecked. Norer was already sobbing, and he began making his way to Yogroth. Haze immediately got up to stop him and said through sobs, “Norer please don’t. Vauz wanted us to go to Salamandastron. Don’t make the mistake he did.”
The young Norer replied, “Vauz is still alive, I know it. I’m going to ask Yogroth nicely to give him back.”
Haze let out another sob and said, “Norer please don’t. Don’t be a fool. We need to go, now.”
Norer said, “Vauz is alive, I feel it. Please let me go and ask him back. Vauz is…he’s alive. I know. He wouldn’t leave his brother, he promised me.”
Haze wiped her tears and hugged Norer, “Norer let it out. I’m…sorry”
Norer shook his head as he replied, “No, no, no, no, no, no! You’re wrong! I’m going to Vauz right now”
Haze watched the little hare start to walk, and the she screamed, “Vauz is DEAD!”
Norer turned around with hatred in his eyes and shouted back, “Then I wanna be dead!”
Haze said, “Then go, do your brother proud by getting yourself killed. I’m sure he would’ve wanted that”
Norer walked a few more steps before he stopped. His knees gave way and he fell down onto the sand and wept hysterically. Haze went up to Norer and comforted him. She then picked him up on her shoulders. She started walking away from the scene and towards Salamandastron.
Yogroth stood on the main deck. Strong winds fluttered through his cloak. The ships were coursing through the waters at a brilliant speed. They would be at Salamandastron within an hour. He could then begin his work.
Rabni was in his cabin with his first mate Hurret. He was quite shocked with the appearance of Yogroth, more so than his confused crew. Hurret was especially curious of the creature that even his Captain feared. He asked, “So captain, who is this Yogroth. An’ what is he? He almost looks like a-”
Rabni cut him short, “Yea I know. He looks like a mole. To be more specific, he’s a Weremole!”
Vermin stood in the quarry, miserable from the wind whipping around the red sand. It swirled as if an angry ghost had possessed it. Everyone’s eyes lay on the nearby forest for the squirrels. Slowly at first, the mountain climbers broke through the leaves and branches. Each squirrel nimbly skipped down to the quarry. They weren’t alone. Between them there were a hundred and fifty rats. They were herded roughly down the quarry. The vermin in the quarry looked with curiosity at this spectacle. When Shruve finally emerged and arrived at the quarry, he called out loudly, “Durja and Stroxo, I’ve returned!”
He stood in the center, waiting. Durja emerged out from his gang, “I see that young one. And I also see that you’ve brought a few friends.”
Shruve smiled and replied, “They aint mine. They’re yours.”
One of the rats spoke out, “We’re Rabni’s scouts!”
Durja smiled and nodded to Shruve, “You can leave them to me, Shruve”
Shruve signaled his crew to walk away from the slightly terrified rats. They were all scouts and being in hostile territory with more than a thousand other vermin surround them, frankly just unnerved them. Most shuffled their feet and averted their eyes.
Durja stepped forward with a disarming smile, and said, “Don’t you worry. Rabni’s a good ol’ pal ov mine. I’d treat his crew like mine any day. Now, which one of you is the leader?”
A short and well built rat came forth. He wore an eye-patch, and a single short sword hung from his side. His smock was adorned with green and silver paint, making him invisible in the forest, but not quite in the solid red quarry. One of his canines was longer than the other, and protruded through his dry lips. His blood drawn eyes looked like they could see far beyond. The poor rat tried his best to sound confident, “I am. My name is Poiuyt (Poi-et)”
Durja came to Poiuyt and stepped behind him. The fox placed his hand on the rat’s shoulders and massaged them gently, “Tell me what happened”
Poiuyt audibly gulped and let Rabni rub his shoulders, “Me an’ my crew are Rabni’s scouts and were sent to find ya’. But on our travel here from the river, our boat hit a rock in the shallow waters.”
Durja’s grip got stronger as he replied, “Then what?”
Poiuyt’s heart beat crazily in his chest, yet he replied, “We had to leave it, and walked. That’s when them squirrels came out the trees like angry bees. They brought us here, to you”
Durja continued to massage his shoulders, “So how’s my pal Rabni? Still jumping in with his head first?” he laughed.
Poiuyt was visibly uncomfortable; he was sweating and slightly shaking. It seemed that the entire quarry was looking at him now. His dry face flushed as blood rushed through it, and it almost blended with the red background. He stammered a bit this time, “I…yes he’s doing well. He still rushes into things headstrong like…”
Poiuyt felt Durja’s fingers slowly slid from his shoulders to his thin neck. He gulped again and took short breaths. He continued with surprising composure even though his mind was racing, “…like once he fought one ov those big rabbits. He…he…”
Poiuyt closed his eyes as he felt Durja’s grip get stronger. His mind was running in slow motion. He thought ‘Why am I not fighting back. It’s my life, I should fight back. But then all the vermin would attack me. Should I act innocent? Will my crew jump in to save me? What should I do?’ He was thinking so fast he didn’t even hear Durja laughing.
Durja stepped back and let out another howl of laughter. “HAHAHA, you thought I was gonna choke you, didn’t you? HAHAHA”
The quarry burst into laughter, even some of the scouts. Durja wiped tears from his eyes, “You should’ve seen the look on your face. Worse than a frog who’s stuck in a quicksand!”
Poiuyt whirled around with a face of hurt dignity and relief. He took a good look at Durja and then spoke suddenly in surprise, “You must be the Fat Fox! Rabni spoke of you”
A gasp rose within Durja’s ranks. Durja’s expression of humor turned to into anger. Poiuyt took a pace backward and covered his snout with a paw. Durja stepped forward and clutched Poiuyt’s smock and jerked him towards himself. Poiuyt bit his tongue till it bled and cursed himself inwardly. Poiuyt said aloud, “Please don’t kill me sir. I meant to call you Durja, sir. I’m sorry…”
Durja’s eyes narrowed and he raised his hand to strike the misfortunate rat. In mock severity he said, “Aye, that’s what they calls me. Look at this massive arm of mine.” He shook his buoyant arm to a good measure, “Look at me, the Fat Fox!”
Poiuyt was in utter confusion. What is this Rabni? Is he serious? Hoots of laughter followed. Durja let go of his captive. He brushed Poiuyt’s smock and shook his hand. He said, “I’m sorry matey. Just having some fun”
Durja’s gang laughed at the confused rats. Durja directed Rabni’s scouts away from the center of the quarry. They walked to a shady sandstone outcropping. There Durja sat on a large rock and spread his arms, “Welcome Rabni’s scouts. You’ve seen what kind of force we’ve assembled. Rabni can really help us out. We’re taking on Redwall Abbey!”
Poiuyt, afraid of saying much, quietly whispered, “We should get back to him, sir. We promised to return soon. We’ll give him your message.”
Durja smiled and patted Poiuyt’s back. Now that’s what I like to hear. Now, off with ya”
Durja was walking back to the quarry, when he noticed loud noises in the distance. Quickening his pace, he saw what the problem was. Stroxo and Shruve were at it again.
“Stroxo says we wait for Rabni. If his scouts have reached us, he mustn’t be far behind.” said Stroxo.
Shruve replied in anger, “We’ve already discussed this. We go to the abbey tomorrow!”
Stroxo said, “Maybe if you found trees to build a bridge. Stroxo sees that you can’t even find a tree in a forest. You probably couldn’t find water in the middle of the ocean either.”
Shruve took his dagger and practiced his aim, “How about I kill you? There’s a lot of people I don’t like and I need to kill one. Might as well start with you. Would Stroxo like that?”
Stroxo took his scythe out and motioned at Shruve, “How dare you insult Stroxo’s speech!”
Durja got there in the nick of time. Jumping in between the two he shouted, “You can kill each other after you’ve taken down Redwall. I swear I won’t interfere then”
Shruve shouted, “I can kill you both. I don’t need Redwall, and I don’t need your help either”
Durja turned to the young squirrel, “I know you don’t mean that young one”
Shruve snorted, “I didn’t mean to be a vermin either”
Durja smiled, “You know it’s more fun. We play the game the way we want. You’ll see in time, it’s more enjoyable to be a vermin”
Shruve let out a mock laugh, “I’m sure we’ll see. But that doesn’t help us in the fact that there’s still a Mad ferret wanting to stay here”
Stroxo said, “Durja and Stroxo should kick this buffoon out of this plan. His tree climbers are weak and their motives weaker. He even said he won’t support us after we take over Redwall”
Durja said, “The young one’s got a sense of humor, get used to it. Besides, I’ve got a brilliant plan that’ll satisfy you both”
Shruve tucked away his dagger and Stroxo did the same with his scythe. The three leaders huddled close together and talked in whispers. Vermin in the quarry tried to listen, but it was impossible due to the wind. In a few minutes it was settled. The three leaders stepped back. They had a plan!
Friar Gustov strolled with his young daughter, Ruera, on the ramparts. Between them they shared some scones filed with hot spinach cheese and lined with butter. Ruera sat on her father’s shoulders and spread her paws like a bird. She said, “Lookee me daddy, Imma birdee. Weee Weee!”
Friar Gustov ran, ducking and weaving. Ruera giggled and let the wind course through her ears. She shouted, “Fasser daddy, fasser!”
Gustov took Ruera in his paws and threw her into the air. She chuckled wildly and flapped he arms wildly. Gustov threw her into the air again, this time she called out, “Imma in the sky, an’ I see creatures on da path!”
Gustov caught his jovial daughter and looked at her quizzically. He brushed her nose, “Whachya say m’dear?”
Ruera’s tiny face frowned, “I wanna fly”
Gustov dismissed his thought and continued his run down the rampart, when he saw the creatures. He immediately set his daughter down and said in a worried voice, “Go get Skipper Zorra, now!”
Ruera protested, ‘No daddy, I wanna fly”
Gustov’s voice became stern, “I said go now!”
“No need” a loud voice beamed from below.
Gustov looked into the orchard and saw someone approaching.
Shruve led his mountain climbers on the beaten old path. He felt uneasy in strange territory. Since climbing through the trees would be suspicious, he was forced to walk. He felt like the six hundred squirrels behind were nonexistent. Redwall towered over anything in his imagination. His stomach flipped on itself in anticipation. Now, he was forced to be something he wasn’t.
For the first time since he had come to Mossflower, he regretted his decision. It was awkward, standing in front of the giant wooden doors; forced to knock on them.
His cold knuckles hit the ancient wood. The sound reverberated through his body, sending a signal through his soul. His entire life seemed at a pause at this point of time. He held his breath and wiped sweat from his brow. Immediately a head popped from above. It was an old shrew. Her face was cold in rage. Her voice boomed from her tiny body, “How dare you knock on our door. I’ll send you to hell-gates like the rest of them!”
Cpt. Burge stood beneath a shady tree, watching as the hares went to strip the huge ship bare. He took a thin stick from the ground and picked his teeth with it. He was very proud of himself, since such a discovery would give the Long Patrol a near unlimited advantage; if it worked. He threw the stick into the river and said to Walsh, “What do you think, Walsh? Will your crazy idea work?”
Commander Walsh smiled as he brushed a bumbling bee from his nose, “We’ll need a lot of crazy for sure, but I think we have more than we bargained for.”
Burge tore the grass with his paws and anticipation, “Nah, there aint no thing as too much crazy.”
Walsh chuckled, “Yes there is! You, the Great Captain Burge, wot!”
Both Captain and Commander giggled inwardly at the thought of the surreal task at hand. It all felt like a big game of pretend they used to play when they were just dibbuns. Burge slid his fingers across his muscular legs and rested them on an injury on his knee. He felt the scab and remembered his mock battle with his Lord. He turned to Walsh and said, “Can’t wait to see what Seaburn will think of all of this”
“That’s if we make it back. I don’t know if we’ll even-” said Walsh but was cut short by Burge,
“Don’t you dare talk like that! I say no one left behind, and I mean it!”
Walsh looked in surprise as Burge got up and walked away. The young commander was astonished by his captain’s flash of anger. As he sat underneath the tree, pondering his thoughts, Burge jumped aboard the moored vessel to see the progress. He climbed a wooden rope with nimble skill of a squirrel. He jumped over the railing onto the deck and looked around. All of his soldiers were working here and there. He pulled the shoulder of a passing hare and asked him, “Found anything useful?”
The hare showed a wooden box in between his paws, “Aye sah, we found boxes full ov vittles. They’re fresh too. Vermin must’ve left the ship only recently”
Burge lifted the lid and took a look inside. Taking what he thought was a biscuit, he took a bite. At first it was plain, but then suddenly the vulgar taste of sea-salt shot through his tongue and watered his eyes. Burge immediately spit it over the rail and said, “Bollocks! That tasted worse than the buttocks of a bullfrog. This is unbelievable!”
The hare shook his head, “It is sah, it is. And these biscuits aren’t even the worst bit”
Burge’s face recoiled in disgust, “How do these vermin eat this rubbish. ‘You are what you eat’ has never been truer”
Burge patted him on the back, “Anyway, carry on”
The hare saluted and continued down the deck. Burge watched him walk away, before walking away himself. He traced his paw along the metal rails till he got the captain’s cabin, distinguished by the circular door.
Turning the rusty old wooden knob, he pushed against creaky hinges. A strong smell of sea grog clogged his nose. Burge walked in, and looked around the room. Surprisingly, it was very clean. There was a wooden table in the center, spilled with maps and navigational instruments. Around ten chairs surrounded it. The floor was painted soft white to emit a ghastly glow. Yet the most eccentric thing was the walls.
They were crowded with paintings of Mossflower. Yet they looked quite strange; very ancient. But something else was different too. Most of them centered around Salamandastron, which looked nothing like its original self. Lava flowed spewed out the top like a mystic fountain. Cracks in the hard, grey rock spread across the width of the mountain like veins. The clouds in the background were dark and misty. The scene produced in revulsion in Burge’s mind.
Other pictures included underground caverns lit brightly by artificial light, stormy seas with monstrous waves, and large patches of undisturbed forests. One picture in particular caught Burge’s attention. It was outlined with a golden border, signifying importance. The figure centered in the frame was…different. Burge had never seen anything like it before, but it looked familiar. Its frame stood hunched on tremendous weight. Eyes and velvety fur shimmered in the pale moonlight. It held nothing in its brawny paws. The darkness magically quelled toward this illusive figure. A fine print below the painting read – ‘Yatharth’. That name didn’t flow of his tongue.
Redwall, thought Burge, the Tapestry, Martin the Warrior, Mossflower. These paintings were an exact opposite of today. Martin was the opposite of this, Yatharth. Mossflower wasn’t so overgrown and lush anymore. Redwall existed. When were these paintings made?
Burge’s eyes shot between the paintings. He realized that this was a very old vessel. It was probable they should salvage it. Taking one last look, he went out the door. He climbed onto a nearby mast and shouted, “Commanders, meet me top deck; Now!”
In the minutes that followed, the Commanders filed in a straight line in front of their Captain. Burge said, “Commanders, give me a rundown of the ship”
One commander stepped forward and said, “Well, there are four decks on this ship. The first is the main deck, and has the captain’s cabin, crow’s nest, and a large clear area for the crew to rally. The deck below is the crew’s quarters, it’s mainly a place for the crew to sleep or hide come the need. The third one is a food store” At this the Commander made a wry face, “There’s enough vittles to feed an army for a couple seasons, not that I would want to though”
Cpt. Burge could still taste the gritty salt on his cheeks. He swallowed hard and said, “Yes, I know exactly what you mean, wot”
The Commander continued, “Then there’s the bottom deck. It is lined with benches connected to paddles. We figure that it connects to some sort of rudder at the back of the ship, helping it move along when wind isn’t available.”
Burge thoughtfully stroked his beard, “Hmm…anything else?”
Another Commander said, “There are no cannons or weapons Captain. That most likely means it was a scouting ship. The wooden structure holding the skeleton of this ship was cross-beamed for lighter weight and extra strength. That also means we can separate each level of ship without destroying its construction. And the benches that he just mentioned could have been made for slaves”
Burge said, “Any slaves found?”
The Commander said, “None, Captain”
Burge walked to the railing and peered over. He ran his plan through his mind one final time. Then he turned around and said, “All right, this is what we’ll do. We’ll remove the bottom two sections from the ship. We will then remove all non critical material from the crew’s quarters. We will also cut down the masts, and directly attach the sails to the railing. That should save us weight and make it possible to fly. Does anyone have any questions?”
The Commanders shook their heads. Burge smiled and said, “Then what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!”
All hares were called on deck and the plan was taken in action. The lower deck was removed skillfully, and the third deck followed. Clothes, utensils, chairs, and all were thrown out of the crew quarters. Burge didn’t allow anyone to touch the Captain’s Cabin however. The frontline hares with swords hacked away at the massive masts to cut them down. Within an hour, they stood on a completely different ship.
Then they began working on the sails. They were carefully unstitched from the masts and brought on board. As they worked to incorporate them into the rails, one hare shouted over the wind, “Captain Burge, huge wave ov air approachin’!”
Burge looked at the sky in the distance. He could clearly see distance a strong wave of air approaching. It was in fact so strong that even the clouds were sent flying forward. Burge shouted to his soldiers with the authority of command. “Go my hares! We must tie the sails down now! We only have a minute before we lose our chance forever!”
The Long Patrol was in full swing now. Everyone worked with ferocity. Four sails down, two to go. The wave was getting closer. They tied another down, careful not to be too tight or loose. One more sail to go. Burge could feel the wind on his face. As they worked on the last corner, the rope snapped in half. Panicking, the hare pulled hard on the rope to extend it down to the rail. This ripped part of the sail. Burge jumped in and pushed the hare out of the way. Taking the broken ends of the rope he pulled them together to tie them. He could now hear a rumble in the distance. His sweaty paws kept slipping through the ropes. All eight hundred hares stood behind Burge, watching. Birds flew from their nests in the distance, as the wave of air swept through the forest. Burge tied one knot, another, and another, and another. The immensely strong wave bent trees. As soon as Burge made the final knot an outlining air began pushing the ship. The ropes creaked as the ship slowly pulled of the muddy river bank. The wave approached, closer and closer. Burge stepped back as the sound of the wave was the only thing left. It hit the ship head on.
The light flickered in the captain’s cabin. Hurret stood stock still and looked quizzically at Cpt. Rabni in the low light. He was deciding between acting serious, or letting out a laugh. He chose his words carefully and said, “So…Yogroth is a weremole?”
Rabni nodded with his huge eyes gleaming, “Aye. He’s as much a weremole as you’re a rat.”
Hurret stroked one of his earrings, “How come I’ve never heard of em. He can’t really be a weremole, can he? He might just be a giant-”
Rabni narrowed his eyelids and smacked his foot on the wood. The resounding echo made Hurret’s ears twitch. Rabni was getting impatient, “If you wanna be smart, get this in your thick head. That beast is a weremole!”
Hurret replied, “I’m sorry Cap’in, I didn’t mean to-
“He wasn’t the only one either” interrupted Rabni, “But he is the last”
Hurret was more confused than ever, “What are you trying to say, Cap’in?”
Rabni massaged his head, as if intensely thinking over the subject. Then he looked up with a longing and said, “This aint easy, but I’ve gotta tell someone”
Rabni rose and walked to the door. Pulling away a curtain, he looked to make sure no one was close by. He turned around and with a dramatic stance he began, “You know why I’m here? How did I get my power? My father, who got it from his father, who got it from his father; it goes back a long time. It must start somewhere, right?” Hurret nodded dumbly back.
Rabni continued, “Thousands and thousands of seasons ago, Mossflower was a different place. That mountain…Samanstron, or whatever it’s called, wasn’t so peaceful and quite. It was a volcano! A very door to the hellgates…” his voice trailed off.
Hurret’s heart was pounding. He wasn’t sure what all this meant, but it made him feel important. He looked with utmost attention, taking every word. Rabni started again, “In those days, Mossflower showered with fire at night and flooded with rain in the morning. It was a living nightmare. Only very large trees survived, and besides them no living creature could stand this. Except…the weremoles”
Hurret gulped, still hypnotically listening. Rabni seemed lost in his own words as he said, “Aye, there were hundreds of them. They settled in Mossflower, they…tamed nature itself. Somehow they tunneled into Samanstron and got it from erupting ever again. But that wasn’t where they stopped. They tunneled straight below the volcano and through Mossflower and made a network, some even tunneled below the ocean!” Rabni’s eyes were out of focus, as if reliving a memory.
“But that doesn’t concern me” said Rabni, “What concerns me is that one of ancestors came to this Mossflower. His name was Uvenk. By the time he arrived in his measly liddle boat, the weremoles had completely calmed most of Mossflower. How? I don’t know. Not sure I want to know. They are magical creatures indeed”
Hurret was slightly impatient and blurted out, “But Cap’in, what does this have to do with you?”
Rabni continued, undeterred by the disruption, “My ancestor, Uvenk walked the plank, after being mutinied by his own crew. Left to rot and die on a floating piece of wood. But he didn’t fall, he was Uvenk Cajseuq after all. For days, he drifted on the sea without a crumb of food or a drop of water. His makeshift raft reached Mossflower by accident. That’s were he found the weremoles; or the weremoles found him, I should say.”
Both Rabni and Hurret jumped in their skin. Rabni motioned Hurret to seal his lips, and then walked to the door. Grabbing the handle, he opened it. Yogroth. He stood at the entrance like a giant statue. Rabni’s heart jumped to his throat and he had trouble speaking, “Yog…Yogroth, what brings you hear, matey?” Rabni made a half smile.
Yogroth said, “The wind is strong, your crew is not. They cannot keep the ship in a straight line”
Rabni replied, “I’ll go fix that lot, don’t worry”
Yogroth turned and left without a word. Rabni watched him walk down the deck stairs before turning to Hurret, “Make yourself useful Hurret, we’ll continue the story later”
Rabni appeared from the top deck railing to see the ship’s progress. The winds were very strong and the ship was struggling to keep pace against it. The sails were countering the crew’s work of keeping in line with coast. He shouted, “Wrap the sails you scallywags, don’t you see the wind’s too strong. Get out the oars, we’ll row this boat to the mountain!”
The crew looked up in protest at Rabni but did as they were bid. Rabni continued shouting orders, “Don’t just stand they’re, help that Stoat unload the rope. You, yes you! Carry the oars in both paws. And you, don’t wrap in a circle, the wind’ll will unfurl the sail and break the rope" As he was shouting, he was constantly looking for Yogroth but couldn’t find him.
“Why aren’t you helping your crew?” came Yogroth’s voice behind him. Rabni jumped again.
Regaining his composure, he said with a smile, “I’m the captain. Those thickheads need someone to lead them”
“You can lead better while working with them. Standing here and shouting is simply illogical” said Yogroth. Rabni knew it was foolish to deny him, so he tried one last attempt.
“So won’t it be…illogical if you don’t help the crew too?”
“Yes it would” said Yogroth, and walked to the railing. Rabni opened his mouth to speak, but before the words escaped his dry lips, Yogroth had jumped off the railing. Rabni ran forward immediatly and looked down the railing. Yogroth had land on the bottom deck, kneeling over one knee. The entire crew stopped working and starred at Yogroth, some in awe, while others in fear. The Weremole quietly got up and walked to a nearby rat. Gently removing the oar from his shaking hands, Yogroth sat on the bench, ready to row.
The twin sister scouts from Salamandastron, Dorsey and Cyru, were walking on the stormy beach, which was stripped bare due to the strong winds. The two Hares were having trouble walking, yet they lumbered on. To pass the time, they had started an argument, which was now spiraling out of control.
"I swear on our Aunt Peron's dusty ol' grave that this wind is supernatural. Someone is making this wind! I've never seen anything like this hurricane" said Dorsey as she picked up a shell from the ground"
"What? Aunt Person isn't dead yet, we just met her a few days ago!" said Cyru while trying to wipe her eye of sand.
Dorsey was fiddling with the shell as she replied, "Oh, right. But that still doesn't explain the wind does it?"
Cyru said, "Its not even a stupid hurricane, it's called a typhoon, wot!"
A crab had popped out of the shell, making Dorsey drop it back on the sand. She simply shrugged and walked on, "Whatever it's called, it isn't natural. Just feel the wind, I can't even walk"
A frantic cry sliced the rough air like a blade clanging against steel. Dorsey and Cyru stopped in their tracks and looked at each other. They silently nodded and swiftly ran in the direction of the sound. A short distance away laid two hares, collapsed in the sand. Cyru ran up to the pair and kneeled next to them. She placed her hand on their necks to check the pulse, and let out a sigh of relief. "They've both got strong pulses, thank goodness!"
Dorsey inspected the hares' faces and recoiled in surprise, "Its Haze and Norer!"
Cyru was taken aback and said, "The runaways! Wasn't there a third one, what was his name?"
"Vauz! Maybe he's nearby", said Dorsey instantly.
Cyru picked up Norer's feeble arm and shook it. She shook her head pitifully and said, "These poor creatures must've been starving for days, we better get them back to Salamandastron soon. We'll come back as soon as these two are safe and look for Vauz"
Dorsey nodded and said, "Sounds like a plan, wot"
Dorsey picked up Haze, while Cyru picked up Norer. They strung them on their backs and started their march back. Dorsey gripped tightly to her passenger and said, "Wonder what kind if mess these little ones got into"
Cyru smiled and said, "Certainly not as bad as when they return to Lord Seaburn. They'll sure be in a deep pot of stew when they talk to him, wot"
Dorsey licked her lips, "Speakin' of stew, I haven't had any good vittles since this morning. Wonder what we'll be having in Salamandastron"
Cyru severly replied, "We're carrying half dead hares on our backs and all you can think abut is measly ol' grub?
The two walked on, arguing as ever. They seemed mere specks when seen through the eye of a bird in the sky. Perhaps they couldn't quite fathom the events approaching them and the entire land of Mossflower.
Chapter 1 - 10 Synopsis
We are through Ten Chapters of the Forbidden Tales, and it's been an absoloute pleasure writing them! As much as we like to try, we can't remember every detail from all the different fanfics that we read. So I'm writing this synopsis to help readers remember the story, or any character and event. I've also made this in preparation for Chapter 11. I'd like to add a special thanks to Brockkers and Skipper Rorc, two members who have inspired me the most to keep writing. Thanks so much! By the way, I've been way too late updating my material but that's about to change. Chapter 11 is certainly going to be up tomorrow. And Chapter 12 in exactly a week. Hope you're awaiting Chapter 11. Enjoy!
The Prologue begins at nightime with a storm sweeping through Mossflower. We are informed of an illusive figure known by the name of 'Yogroth' who has reached Mossflower by the sea. It is unknown what kind of creature he is. His motives are hidden and he begins walking along the beach. After some time he is greeted with the sight of a camp. At the camp are three hares, Vauz, Haze, and Norer. They are settling down to sleep after a gracious meal, when suddenly their campfire is blown out by sand. Yogroth walks from the shadows confronts the three hares and asks them if they know of 'Death Mountain' (Salamandastron). When it is clear they do know where it is, he knocks Haze and Norer unconscious with a bamboo stick. Vauz, who resists with a sword, has his arm brutally twisted beyond recognition, and he passes out as well. Yogroth sits on a rock and awaits the morning.
Chapter 1 begins over Salamandastron, and two scouting hares, Cyru and Dorsey, are seen running full speed to the mountain. They rush into the mess hall and immediately go to Cpt.Burge, a renowned war hero and second in command of the Long Patrol. They tell him that they had seen over a thousand vermin on the path to Redwall. Burge is initially hesitant of believing them, but gives in and asks the two hares to follow him to the Badger Lord's personal chamber. Upon reaching the room, the company discovers the Badger Lord missing. Looking out the window, we are introduced to the Badger himself, Lord Seaburn. He is a relatively young Badger with a lust for strength. Unlike previous rulers, he experiences no Bloodwrath, much to his dismay. To make up for brutal strength found in Bloodwrath, Seaburn trains himself everyday. He had forged two swords linked to him with chains (Much like Kratos from God of War) and covers himself in red war paint. He also does not wear a helmet so his fiery red eyes remain forever visible. He believes that his extravagant experience will produce fear in his enemies. Burge in the meantime comes out the window and confronts Seaburn on the beach. A comical mock battle breaks out between the Captain and the Badger Lord. We find out that they are very close friends. In the end, the two scouts (Dorsey and Cyru) approach the two friends on the beach and sit with them. Cpt. Burge then explains the real reason of his visit (the vermin near Redwall).
Chapter 2 begins in Redwall after a stormy night. We learn of Abbot Sandore, the first mole to ever lead the abbey. He is very sick at the moment, and held in the infirmary. He is being tended to by Sister Daisy, a ruthless infirmary keeper that even Sandore can't boss around. She comes into the room and wakens the abbot to a pallet of delicious food sent from some concerned Redwallers. Initially she doesn't want Sandore to eat the food, but gives in. Before she let's the abbot have his food, she goes to the window-sill to let the toast cool down. At this point the twin bells of Redwall ring out frantically, scaring Sister Daisy, who in turn drops the plate of food from the window. The abbot and infirmary keeper are speechless. The story now shifts to to the Redwall lawns. Here Skipper Zorra and Sheryl are strolling together enjoying some nice breakfast. We learn of Zorra's past; her father left to help out another clan, and put Zorra in charge of the otters at Redwall. Since Abbot Sandore was sick, Zorra was also the temporary leader of Redwall (a huge task for someone as young as Zorra). Sheryl on the other hand was an orphaned shrew rescued by the guosim, and left voluntarily at Redwall. She was raised by an Abbot who led before Sandore. Sheryl soon realized her talent with history and worked closely with the gatekeeper Descartes the Wise. She lived a wondrous life until Descartes left without notice one day (later we see that he told the Abbot that he would return). To make mater worse, the Abbot (the father figure of Sheryl) died a few seasons later. Sheryl slowly drew into a life of seclusion in the gatehouse. She however refuses to write as the gatekeeper, feeling that nothing is worth writing down. Sheryl's interest (and later friendship) is sparked in Skipper Zorra because of her ancestor ties with the famous line of Taggerungs. History aside, we see the two friends walking along the lawns. They are startled from the bells that ring out. Upon further inspection, they see that Moxor (young squirrel who's wants to be like Mathias, wield the sword of Martin, thinks he is a warrior...you know) is the culprit behind the ringing. When asked why, he explains that he spotted vermin up the path using the monocular mounted by Descartes. (We find out that Descartes the Wise upgraded some of of Redwall's defences during his time there. These included a reinforced front door, mechanically mounted crossbows, unscalable outer walls, covered ditch opposite the path, etc.). Zorra, Sheryl, and Moxor head to the Abbey to report the vermin threat to Abbot Sandore. Moxor is giddy with excitement when suddenly a plate of vittles knocks him out (yup). Zorra and Sheryl take Moxor to the infirmary.
Chapter 3 resumes at Salamandastron, with hares filing out of the mountain. Cpt. Burge and Lord Seaburn are standing together, discussing their plans of marching eight hundred Long Patrol hares to Redwall. In their conversation Seaburn reveals that he will not be joining Burge, rather staying at the mountain (an instinctual feeling). Burge is somewhat unhappy, but is still focused at the mission at hand. He has a plan, and is ready to roll out. He asks if Seaburn would like to give a few words to the awaiting hares. Seaburn rouses the crowd with an inspirational speech and starts them off to a energized march. The story now shifts to the three hares and Yogroth in the morning. Vauz is the first to wake, and is a bit confused. After slowly recollecting the events from last night, he angrily shouts to the creature that crippled his arm and knocked his companions unconscious, calling it a vermin. Yogroth replies coldly with a speech. He explains that feelings are weaknesses found in both vermin and good beasts. He says it limits all creatures and keeps them from gaining a better perspective. He then reveals that he has no heart (not literal sense) and that his thought process is driven by logic alone. "I'm not a vermin. I'm not a goodbeast. I'm Yogroth". He also explains that his attack in the previous night was because Vauz rebelled with a sword. After this he tells Vauz to wake the other two hares and start walking him to the direction of Salamandastron.
Chapter 4 begins in the Redwall infirmary, with Moxor being tended to by Sister Daisy. Sheryl and Skipper Zorra have told the Abbot of the current situation. He asks if Sheryl and Zorra can handle the situation since he isn't feeling well. Zorra assures Abbot Sandore that they'll take care of the vermin and leaves with Sheryl. Moxor sneaks out behind them as well. The scene shifts to the ramparts, where Zorra and Sheryl have reached and spy a dozen stouts approaching from the path. The stoats look at Redwall like one would look at the Greek Sirens (Both extreme fascination and fear). Zorra puts on a brave face and faces the stoats. She notes that the vermin carry only shields (as opposed to offensive weapons) and ask for their business. They reply that they were sent by their master, Durja the Fox, to acquire/trade some famous food of Redwall. Zorra is hesitant and confused at the same time, and asks Sheryl for advice. The old shrew merely leaves the ramparts, leaving Zorra to fend for herself. The Skipper continues talking, when suddenly the front mechanical bows (aforementioned as one of Descartes' upgrades) fires at the stoats on the path. All but two are dead, and only one who is uninjured (he runs away). Zorra is outraged at Sheryl for shooting, and even more so that she used Moxor (the wanna be warrior squirrel) as the tool to do it. Sheryl is undisturbed as ever, and tells Zorra that she will be thanked for her actions one day. Moxor is shaking, and Skipper Zorra assumes it because he took a life for the first time. Much to her surprise (and horror) he is actually shaking from adrenaline of blood and war. Zorra sends the young squirrel to the infirmary, and herself goes out to the path to clean the bodies of the dead. She discovers a dying stoat, who asks her why they would shoot at unarmed creatures. Although the stoat dies, he leaves an impression on Skipper Zorra that perhaps vermin are better than history portrays them.
Chapter 5 begins above the sandstone quarry. We see thousands of vermin filling into this former slaughter house of adders (all of whom are killed by the vermin). In the center of the quarry are three leaders sitting together discussing plans to conquer Redwall (it gets more interesting). The first is Durja (conveniently named The Fat Fox) who has a lust for good food, and diplomacy rather fighting. He is good natured (to other vermin) and followed by over a thousand different creatures. The second is Stroxo the Mad, a brute ferret who talks in third person, carries a scythe ready to behead anyone, and followed by about four hundred vermin. Lastly their is Shruve, a squirrel. He and his company (known as the Mountain Climbers) came from the Black Ice Mountains. They weren't naturally bad, just territorial. Since they lost their home (along with the young, old, and weak in a winter storm) they were looking for a new home further south. They could easily ask to stay at Redwall, but it would be a sign of imperfection. And perfection is of utmost importance to the Mountain Climbers. Shruve (the leader) wanted to take Redwall for a personal cause; to prove himself a worthy successor to his father (who died in the winter). Taking Redwall was a daunting and impossible task, a perfect undertaking for Shruve. The scene now unfolds with the leaders exchanging ideas. Tension arises between Shruve and Stroxo multiple times, with Durja calming them both each time. Shruve says to build a bridge to enter Redwall, Stroxo says to scare with numbers, and Durja says they should wait for his friend Rabni (a corsair commanding an entire fleet). It is agreed that they should simply wait till the Rabni arrives, and let the Mountain Climbers build a bridge. Durja also reveals that his scouts were sent to try to get Redwall food and not, well, scout the area. Although others object, Durja is confident that he hasn't compromised their situation.
Chapter 6 resumes on the sand dunes near Salamandastron. Cpt. Burge is having trouble organizing the eight hundred hares and keeping them in line (initial excitement has died down). And with the increasing wind, he decides better to put up camp. He chooses River Moss as the spot for rest. At the camp, he calls all the commanders for a brief meeting. Burge tells them that the Long Patrol must reach Redwall soon in one way or the other. The commanders tell him that walking in the current weather would take two weeks and they couldn't hitch a ride with a Guosim (shrews wouldn't rove in this time of the season). Cpt. Burge proposes to build a boat, which is immediately deemed impossible (especially one that could fit eight hundred hares). When all seems lost, a young Commander called Walsh says "We build an airship". The other commanders meet this comment with laughter, but not Burge. The Captain surprises everyone by saying they should build it. Walsh says that if a ship can become airborne in such wind, they could easily make something larger and lighter, and fly to Redwall. Cpt. Burge calls for an immediate start of the project (by collecting materials) and leaves the other commanders to scout with their groups. A few hours later everyone but Burge's group is back at the camp. It is obvious that no one has found any useful materials. The commanders (except Walsh) talk treacherous words about their Captain, saying that he is going crazy with desperation. Just a short while later, Burge is seen in the distance. He and his group have found a giant moored vessel, and are towing it back to the camp. Cpt. Burge informs the rest that they will continue with the plan of building an airship, using the moored vessel as a base.
Chapter 7 starts on the beach with Yogroth and the three hares (Vauz, Norer, and Haze). They are bound together and follow Yogroth (involuntary) in the direction of Salamandastron. We are told of six ships in the distance. The group on the beach keeps walking until Salamandastron is sighted and stop. Yogroth releases the hares of their bounds (much to their surprise and Vauz's suspicion). Yogroth walks away from the hares and to the water. By now the ships are close to making landfall and headed straight for the beach. It is revealed that the fleet is in fact being leaded by Captain Rabni Cajseuq. He is described particularly for his large eyes (putting those of an owl's to shame). His ship is unbelievably big, "...even 20 vermin vessels would join to form it...". When the boat touches sand, Rabni extravagantly jumps from the keel and right in front of Yogroth. He demands to know who he is addressing. Yogroth replies by removing his mask. This sends a shock through Rabni and his crew. They bow down, and the Captain acknowledges Yogroth as his master. It is disclosed that Rabni's ancestors worked and gained their power from Yogroth's parents (also telling us that Yogroth is very, very old). Rabni is curious to why Yogroth returned to Mossflower after he was sent out. He replies by saying that he trained to return, and then refuses to comment more. He tells Rabni that they must sail for Salamandastron immediately. Rabni asks if they could sail to the Quarry first (to meet with the other vermin leaders). Yogroth denies his request. Suddenly, Vauz jumps into the fray, only to be caught by his throat by Yogroth. He asks the young hare why "he is so hell-bent on revenge". He receives no answer, so decides to crush Vauz's throat. Yogroth drops the hare, who lies on the sand unable to breath. Rabni runs his blade through him (out of sympathy). Vauz is finally dead. Haze witnesses the entire event, and is shocked and struck with grief. Norer (who is Vauz's younger brother) cannot believe what he has seen. In a sad scene that follows, Haze convinces the younger hare to let go of his brother. She puts him on her back and starts heading to Salamandastron. The story yet again shifts to the Yogroth and he is seen on the boat. Rabni talks to his mate in hushed tones and reveals Yogroth’s identity. He is a weremole!
Chapter 8 starts in the quarry, where Shruve and his squirrels are returning. Between them they have a large group of rats. They are Rabni’s scouts who had abandoned ship (the one that Burge and his hares found moored beside the river) just to reach the other vermin leaders on their Captain’s behalf. Durja tells them to return to their Captain Rabni and tell him to come here (the Quarry). After this, tension arises between Stroxo and Shruve again. Durja calms them and says he has a plan. Story shifts to Redwall and some time passes. The Friar Gustov is walking on the ramparts with his daughter, when out of the blue he notices creatures up the path. He tries to call Skipper Zorra but is greeted with the hot headed Sheryl. The story shifts again to Shruve. He and his squirrels are walking down the path (not climbing through tress since it would be suspicious). When Shruve reaches the door and knocks on it, he is instantly greeted by Sheryl, who screams “How dare you knock on our door, I’ll send you to the hell-gates like the rest of them”
Chapters 9 and 10 have too many details in them to really compress and their pretty recent. Since their short, you can read over them if you have forgotten them (they are quite short). I'll write their synopsis's later.
Shruve, the squirrel leader of the mountain climbers, looked up the towering wall of Redwall into the face of the old shrew. Her eyes were narrowed with anger and stared down in an expression of abhor. Shruve's mind was racing and he wasn't sure how to handle the situation.
He said coolly, "Is this the place youse calls Redwall?"
Sheryl the shrew replied, "Is that the sky above you?"
Shruve did his best impersonation of a friendly smile and said, "I'm Shruve and we are the mountain climbers. We were...", he hesitated for a second, "forced to move from our home because some vermin threatened to kill us all. We want...", he silently cursed himself as he said, "your help for some time"
Sheryl replied mockingly, "I see, a force like yours couldn't take on 'some vermin'. Does sound like you need help"
Shruve was beginning to lose his temper, "Is this how you treat your guests? I'd heard you creatures were generous and kind"
Sheryl said, "And I heard the mountain climbers were born fighters ready to do anything to prove their strength. Not one's who could succumb to some vermin" Shruve was taken aback. How does she know about us, he thought.
Sheryl continued, "Surprised, little tree walloper? You're talking to a shrew who knows her history very well" She laughed.
Shruve snapped back, "And you're talking to the leader of the Mountain Climbers. The son of the Great Kharehuso. I...I..." He bit his tounge in frustration, nothing was going according to plan. He tried one last time.
"Where's the abbot?"
"Not here" Sheryl replied with amusement at Shruve's anger, "And he won't be available anytime soon. I say you turn your bushy little tail around and start walking back to-"
"Sheryl, what are you doing?" Skipper Zorra emerged onto the ramparts, "Friar Gustov said there were-"
Her words were left caught in her throat. She looked out onto the path and stared at the six hundred warrior like squirrels on the path, all of who stared back. Their eyes pierced through her body far worse than any battle could. Blood rushed to Zorra young face as she whispered to her companion, "Sheryl, what's going on. Who are these creatures?"
"Some bloodthirsty, warrior squirrels" Sheryl said with indifference, and left Zorra on her own.
Down below Shruve took his chance, "Are you the Abess of this place, ma'am?"
Zoora replied uneasily, "No, I'm...wait a minute, who are you? All of you? What are you doing here?"
Shruve put away his feelings and was trying his best to gain entrance. Even if it meant slight embarrassment. He said in a sad voice, "I am Shruve, and we are poor squirrels without home or shelter, we were forced here by vermin who killed most of our clan"
Skipper Zorra was shocked but said nonetheless, "You and your friends are in luck. This is Redwall, a place for one and all. A place for you to live without fear of vermin. A place-"
Shruve's impatience caught with him again as he said, "We know about Redwall. That is why we came here."
Zorra was taken aback, yet climbed down to open the gates anyway. She undid the bolt securing the door and gave a mighty heave. It opened, letting the mountain climbers rush in like a river through a dam. Shruve was the last to come in, and his bewilderment was easily discerned. As he walked in, his senses were flooded with nostalgia. He inhaled the scent of freshly baked scones. He saw little dibbuns and elders walking together on the huge lawn. He heard the giant bells lazily ring in the distance. A memory flashed back into Shruve's mind.
Smell of spring in the morning. The sound of larks echoing through the mountains. Our family's personal cave on the face of the mountain. Mom and Dad, with smiling faces looking at me with pride. Walking out to see the melting snow and emerging roses. Calling out to mom, asking what's for breakfast. No reply. Shouting it again. No reply. Whipping around and going back into the den. Looking for Mother. Shouting and calling for her repeatedly. Finding her staring out the doorway. Her face frozen, without expression. Going in front of her, asking her what's wrong. Still no reply. Dad, where are you, saying it crying. Nowhere to be seen. Enveloping snow, yet it isn't as cold as the feeling of a lost home. A lost family. A lost cause...
"Shruve" said Zorra, "Are you all right? You don't seem so well"
Shruve brushed away a tear and silently shook his head. He tried to block his mind of the horrible memories of his past. Nothing should affect his right of passage, he thought.
"Yes I'm fine" he said quietly and moved to his group.
Zorra channeled the squirrels through the lawn and toward the main building. It was hard to keep them all in order. "Ooohs" and "Aaahs" followed after every corner. The Redwallers had stopped their work too, and welcomed the guests warmly. The Mountain Climbers seemed to return to their homely attitude, extremely contrary to the feelings they were expected to keep. Shruve told himself that a day or two of hospitality shouldn't hurt.
"Follow us inside"
As she opened the door, a figure stood in the very center. The light reflected of the floor and made her look like a silhouette. She stood stock still, and even Zorra thought it might've been a statue. Then the familiar voice came like chain lightning, "You have an awful habbit of disobeying your elders, Zorra"
Zorra replied with calmness, "Sheryl don't make me tell you the founding rules of the abbey. Always reach your hand out to others in their time of need"
Sheryl laughed mockingly and said, "If you want that hand cut off, sure, go ahead. But this time I'll have to assert control. You are too young to know some things from experience"
Shruve realized immediately that things were about to turn around. He lost his cool and shouted, "Attack! Now!" and all hell broke loose.
The Mountain Climbers unsheathed their weapons in flash, quelling with an aggressive attitude. They crowded round the terrified Redwallers, of whom there were not any warriors except Zorra. Mothers held their babes close by, shielding their eyes and ears. Shruve unsheathed his own sword and walked up to Sheryl.
"Listen old one, we mean you no harm. We only bring you news that Redwall will be under attack."
Sheryl walked up to Shruve nonchalantly and replied, "It seems it's already is under attack."
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