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==THE SEIGE OVER MOSSFLOWER COUNTRY==
By: Alderjack the Treescamp
A warm summer breeze blew through the tall trees of Mossflower Woods as little birds twittered and flittered about. Big, fluffy clouds like giant cottonballs ever so slowly meandered across the brilliant blue sky. Then, there was a split in the trees. A traveler would breach beyond the trees, to suddenly be gazing upon a humongous red sandstone building, an abbey, to be exact. Redwall Abbey was a peaceful and caring place, filled with happiness and friendship. The mice, squirrels, moles, hedgehogs, and otters that lived there always treated any wanderers, visitors, and travelers with hospitality. On this particular gorgeous summer day, the Redwallers were planning a Feast of Jubilee and everyone was working hard, each doing their part. In the kitchens, wondrous dishes were being concocted. All sorts of candied fruits and nuts, round colorful cheeses, soups of all sorts, puddings, trifles, flans, pasties, pies, scones, breads, and even a colossal Abbot Cake planned to be as tall as 2 mice! Friar Blumself, the fat jolly old mouse cook, bustled around the abbey kitchens, stirring, encouraging, tasting, gathering, and all-around cooking. “Whoa there, Tibbles get away from that stove, or you’ll burn your paws! Skipper, is this enough hotroot? Sister Hildra, could you help me find those candied chestnuts?” Out on the orchard, squirrels were climbing up fruit and nut trees, dropping the goodies into the waiting baskets of mice and hedgehogs. Moles were in the garden or digging the fire pit, communicating with their gruff, homely voices. “Hurr, hurr oi goots sum owd scrumpteeush luckin’ karrets ‘n parsnippers fer ee Foremole zur.” Otters were in the pond, hunting for watershrimp for Friar Blumself to make the otters’ favorite dish, shrimp and hotroot soup. “Aye, Slimbrook, me ould girl, we have got to get a boatful of badgers’ worth ‘o watershrimp to make a bowl ‘o hotroot soup big enough for us!” said Skipper of otters to his niece, as he dove into the water. Meanwhile, back in the kitchens, the good Friar received horrible news for any chef. “Hares are coming!?!? Oh- No! They’ll eat us out of house and home! Double time, everyone!” he shouted. Abbot Arstead, the wise old mouse who was leader of Redwall supervised his fellow Redwallers and helped with the organization of the festivities. As the peaceful creatures of Redwall Abbey bustled about, they were totally unaware of the dangers that were so soon to come.
Syzran the Cunning was a fox with a plan. As he stroked his long, bushy, orange tail, he sized up his army. Right now, his large but disorganized army of rats, weasels, stoats, ferrets, and foxes could definitely not be able to complete his grand scheme. Alone, that is. “Okay ye miserable old grannies! Gather ‘round now, I’m about to make us as rich as you lot are stupid. I’ve got a plan…” Syzran began. “Uuuggggghh!” groaned a rat a bit too loudly. “What is it, Warthead?” inquired the fox softly. “I, uh…I have a tummy ache, sir.” Said the rat. “Well, mate, you should always lie down and take a long rest. Liar!!!” The army cringed as Syzran unsheathed his double scimitars and ran Warthead through, slaying him instantly. The crew flinched, nervous. Syzran turned to the remaining vermin, smiling toothily. “Well, where was I? Oh yes, the plan! So, I’m a fox, the smartest creature ‘round, and I say to meself, what if we could live in that great big ‘ol Redwall place? Vittles, slaves, protection, comfort, the lot of it! But every time somebody tries to take over that Redwall place, those peaceable forest bumpkins always have those fightin’ rabbets that come to their rescue.” Said Syzran. “But, sir they can still fight, countless others have tried it. It’s the same results every time someone messes with woodlanders. Ferahgo the Assassin, Swartt Sixclaw, Greypatch…” interrupted Jegru, the fox warlord’s advisor. “Good point, good point. But I’m better than all ‘o ‘em. And by the way, I have a way to get them rabbets and the Redwallers. Listen close me hearties…
Alderjack the squirrel swung through the leafy boughs of Mossflower Woods with as much ease as a mole digs though dirt. His dark golden-blond fur was quite a rarity for his kind. With him was his good friend, Treescamper, or Treescamp for short. “Treescamp kinda rolls off the tongue,” he often said. The two young squirrels were playing tag, bounding through the treetops, laughing and joking. “Haha! C’mon slowpoke! Why can’t you catch me, you old branch bender?” Alderjack cried teasingly at his pursuer. Then, he stopped and climbed down the tree. “Treescamp??” he called. Suddenly, his chaser lunged at him out from the trees. “Aaaaaahh!” the blond squirrel yelped. “Gotcha!” said Treescamp as he started laughing. Alderjack joined in his friend’s merriment. “Heeheehee! You shoulda seen yourself! I could’ve looked down your throat and saw what you had for dinner last night!” Then, a crunch and a series of rough, unfriendly voices ended their noise-making. “Hurry, go up this here oak an’ let’s spy on ‘em.” Muttered Alderjack, serious now. “Ok” said his companion. The crunching became louder and a rat and a weasel emerged. “Uggh. ‘Ese stupid lit’l gnats are driving me nuts. When’d ye think we’re gonna get to dis Redwall place, mate?” asked the rat, Rizzo. “I dunno, mate, but I ‘ope it’s soon. Wit dis Syzran, I think ‘at taking over it ‘ill be easy wit ‘is plan he gots. I ‘ope it has as many vittles as Syzran says. I look forward to ‘avin all those woodlander slaves, the ones we don’t destroy. Haha!” said Bloodtooth the weasel. Once they had passed, Alderjack asked rhetorically, “Did you here all that?” Treescamp nodded. “What are we waiting for? Let’s go!”
Syzran had just finished giving out his grand scheme out on the beach. The fox warlord strode over to one of his horde’s magpies, Karaahk. “Go report to Voskriss, and tell him to bring reinforcements. They may be stupid, but I’ll need those big, brutish lizards to devour any of my rebellious subjects.” Said Syzran. “Karaahk! This bird will get monitors. Karaahk!” The magpie flew off to the oceans.
Meanwhile, at the mountain fortress of Salamandastron, a group of the fighting hares of the Long Patrol were all lined up to march to Redwall’s Jubilee Feast, to present a gift from the ancient badger lord, Urthwyte the Mighty. Horlington Bradshaw Vittlescoff III was definitely the most happy, hoppy hare of the whole Long Patrol. “Oh, absolutely spiffing! C’mon chappies, off to jolly old Redwall, wot! I heard their scoff is tremendously top-hole! On the double, wot!” the ecstatic young hare babbled. “Put a lid on it, young blighter. Stiffen up and all that, wot!” snapped the tough old hare in command, Brigadier Elton Harringworthy. The strict, old-fashioned Long Patroller prowled through the ranks of hares, grimacing sharply at each one. “H’AAtteeennnTION!” he suddenly blurted. “About…FACE! Chaps, steady in the ranks, and onward to Redwall, wot!”
Abbot Arstead was ascending down the stairs into the cellars. “How is it going with the drinks, Josiah?” he queried. “Jus’ fine, Father. I’ve made probably enough October ale to go into next season!” replied the burly hedgehog cellarkeeper, Josiah Longspike. “You can try some, Arstead.” He added “Thank-you, I absolutely love October Ale, even in midsummer!” The friends both laughed. “Wait a minute, I just had a big ‘ol beaker of it…” Then the large hedgehog heard squeaky little giggles from behind a barrel. He peered behind to find Tibbles the mousebabe, Bolo the molebabe, and Slippy the otterbabe, Skipper’s nephew, all sipping from a giant beaker of October ale. “By my spikes, little scallywags in my cellars!” cried Longspike in mock horror. “Wes jus h’infants, Mista ‘Ongspik. We sarry.” said Tibbles. “Nah, it’s OK, dibbuns. Ye can all stay ‘ere if you want to.” Said the cellarkeeper. Arstead said; “Let’s all go up to the lawn to see how everyone else is doing! But first, let’s all enjoy the wonderful drinks that Mr. Longspike has brewed. “Zur, thoit is defernelly yoonaminuss!” chortled Bolo. Arstead scooped up the dibbuns as they all went outside.
Alderjack and Treescamp were silently following the two vermin, trying to gather enough information to help the Redwallers. “Hmmm…They’re silent now. I think we’re near the Abbey.” Whispered Alderjack. “Should we jump ‘em, or keep on following them?” inquired Treescamp. “Na, they’re pretty well armed.” They climbed down stealthily, and began to tiptoe towards another side of Redwall. But, Unfortunately, Alderjack stepped on a twig. CRACK! The normally quiet noise was well audible to the silent soldiers. “Oh, nuts and acorns! Let’s get ready to defend ourselves. Get ready to ambush.” Said Treescamp. “Ye ‘ear that? Probably sum woodlanders spyin’ on us. Get ready to ambush.” Said Rizzo. Alderjack’s golden fur blended in with the yellow flowers and grasses. As the weasel stepped past him, Alderjack pulled his leg, tripping him, and he dug his sharp teeth into the vermin’s leg. Bloodtooth screamed in pain as Rizzo duked it out with Treescamp. They both got to their feet, Bloodtooth brandishing a spear. Alderjack thought quickly, diving aside as the weasel stabbed at him. The squirrel jumped upon the spear shaft and kicked Bloodtooth in the chest. The weasel quickly recovered, and started raking at Alderjack’s face with his sharp claws. Bloodtooth regained his spear. Jabbing at him, the squirrel twisted the spear away and bonked Bloodtooth in the head. Meanwhile, Treescamp was not doing as well. Rizzo had him by the neck! Alderjack seized the spear, and, not intent on killing, knocked out the rat with one swift blow of the spear. “Wow, I had no idea I could fight like that!” said Alderjack. “I didn’t either. Thank goodness you don’t wrestle with me like that!” chuckled Treescamp. “Well, they can’t be the only ones. We have an Abbey to warn!”
Jegru entered Syzran’s tent, saluting. “Sir, shall we initiate part one of your master plan?” The fox answered immediately. “No. The monitor lizards must arrive first. While you’re here, get me a nice, juicy woodpigeon and send Gritsnout the stoat over here. Oh, and one more thing, ferret, start calling me your majesty, because as soon as we stamp out these woodlanders, I will be the king of all Mossflower!!!” “Yes, your majesty.” Replied Jegru, totally overwhelmed. Syzran chuckled. “Huh, Jegru is already sort of my slave, but the more the merrier. Ha!” Syzran ceased talking to himself as Gritsnout, another one of his captains walked through the tent. “You needed me, your majesty?” he asked, nervous. “Oh yes, go throughout Mossflower and defeat other, smaller, vermin bands. We must make my army larger. Get a considerable amount of soldiers to go with you.” Said Syzran lazily. Gritsnout left and Jegru came back with the roasted woodpigeon. “Here you go, your majesty.” Syzran shooed him off and chomped into the bird. This was the life!
A huge ship was coming towards Mossflower. The waves parted as the giant strode its way through the sea. Out on the beach, a fox, a ferret, and a weasel were standing, waiting. As the boat docked, swarms of large green, slithering creatures piled onto the beach. A particularly large lizard named Voskriss clad in a red cape strode up to Syzran. “Greetingzzz, furbeastzzz, we are ready to eat!” The weasel, Scraggle, and Jegru shuddered at the monitors. Scraggle looked at his companion. “I can’t believe ‘e would work with those monsters.” Whispered the weasel. Then, they stood back to attention. “Do you like rabbits?” smiled Syzran. “Yezzz!”
The small faction of the Long Patrol marched through Mossflower. Suddenly, a tall male hare named Sergeant Swiftbuck stopped. “I do say, chaps, what is that blinkin’ crunching noise all about, wot?” He said. Harringworthy stopped the marching hares. “Yes, good ear, young chap, but probably just a blinkin’ bird. My bally old ears went numb ‘bout 7 seasons ago, wot!” The hares continued marching. “Sah! That t’aint any bird. That’s a bally old lizard chappy, wot! Big too,” observed Horlington, pulling out his pike. Although hares sound silly in speech, they could be tough, perilous fighters. Soon, more monitor lizards appeared out of the trees. “We’re surrounded, chaps! Let’s give ‘em blood ‘n vinegar! Eeeuuulllaaallliiiaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!” As the hares charged, the monitor general, Voskriss hissed. “Itzzz been a while sinzzz I’ve had rabbetzzz. Charge!” The two forces clashed in terrible combat, screaming war cries as they fought; tooth and claw verses weapon and paw. “Kill! Kill! Kill!” “Eulalia! Give ‘em blood ‘n vinegar!”
Brother Forhill, the Abbey recorder was out strolling with Abbot Arstead, Josiah Longspike, and the dibbuns. “Well, father, the planning is almost all done. We did it all quite quickly, but it’s still just nice not having to do at the moment.” Said Brother Forhill. “Yes, brother we sure did! Having nothing to do is especially nice when you’re an old mouse like me.” Answered the good Abbot. “Ahoy, mateys ‘oo wansta go ‘mimmin’ wit ma good old Unky Skip, mates?” Slippy the otterbabe asked. “Hurr, this ‘ere moler babby aren’t vurry good oit ‘mimmin’ Slippers. Oi doan’t noow.” Bolo answered bashfully. “Dat ok, matey, ma Unky Skip ‘an Slimbrook can teach ya. C’mon!” The three dibbuns bustled off to the Abbey pond. Arstead chuckled as he watched them go. Suddenly, he heard a shout. “Hey, open up! We have somethin’ to tell you!” Josiah hurried over to the gates. “I’ll see ‘oo it is Father.” The large hedgehog opened up the gates to reveal two squirrels. “Why, hello there, Alderjack, and to you too, Treescamp. What have you two young rouges been doing around?” greeted the old mouse. “Hello, Father, just the usual. You know, spyin’, beatin’ up vermin…” answered Alderjack. “Spying? What vermin?” asked the confused hedgehog cellarkeeper. “That’s what we are gonna tell you. We were just frolicn’ around ‘and then a weasel and a rat just came out of the bushes and started talking about capturing Redwall, a fox named Syzran, master plans, etcetera. Then, we went down on the ground and fight them.” Explained Treescamp. “I’m sure there’s more of ‘em.” The Abbot looked grave. “Thank-you, young squirrels. It appears that we will have to cease with the preparations and gear up for a fight.” Brother Forhill nodded. “I will warn everyone else.” The recorder mouse hurried off. Alderjack turned to Josiah Longspike. “Say, Jo, do ya have any strawberry cordial on you?”
The small but vicious battle between hares and lizards raged on. A monitor soldier slithered for cover behind a bush beside his general. “Zzzir, the rabbetzzz have gotten uzzz pinned down.” He hissed. “Getzzz back out there, coward!” Voskriss said as he pushed the other lizard away. Seconds later, he was silenced by an arrow. “Well, at leazzzt that wazzzn’t me.” Voskriss muttered. Suddenly, all the remaining monitors were rushing past his bush. “Letzzz get out of here!” “G’bye, old chappies, come back to play again tomorrer, wot! Hohoho!” Corporal Fleetwood shouted. Horlington turned to Harringworthy. “Sah, mind if I go scout ‘an see where the blinkin’ blighters went?” Voskriss chuckled. A nice, juicy rabbit all to himself! The big monitor prepared to pounce as the young hare bounded his way. 3…2…1… Pounce! Horlington saw him coming and barely dodged out of the way. He was now out of sight from the rest of the Long Patrol, so help could not come. Like the hare really needed it. “Jolly bad form, me old blighter, hidin’ in bushes and sprinin’ out at a chap. Bad way to make a livin’, wot. If me old mater was here, she’d tell you to get a good job and a reasonable h’education, so she would. Wot, wot!” Horlington yammered as he dodged each hefty swipe from the giant lizard. “I will have rabbetzzz for zzzupper!” roared Voskriss. The hare’s face suddenly was a mask of mock disapproval. “Sah, you gotta stop eating other folks, wot. Wot you need is a good supply of fruits and vegs.” Voskriss was really mad. Suddenly, the hare shot up into the air like a spring. “What???” shrieked the monitor lizard. The irrepressible young hare landed right on the reptile’s head. Once Voskriss was the floor, Horlington continually battered his legs into his chest. Voskriss’s once green and grey scaly body was now blue, purple and lumpy. “Hizzz! Yew rabbetzzz would be too chewy anywayzzz.” He got up and disappeared into the bushes before the hare could finish him off. The tough hare just shrugged. “G’bye, chappy! Good thing it t’aint was old Brig. Elton Harringworthy who dealt with you. He would of shortened yore vittles supply and made you be on blinkin’ night watch for a season, wot!”
Rizzo and Bloodtooth were very nervous. Syzran stalked around his tent, contemplating their life and death. Suddenly, he shot out his paw and dug his overgrown claws into the rat’s and the weasel’s shoulders. The two former “spies” screamed and writhed in agony as blood gushed down their arms while the fox growled in their faces. “Listen here, you stupid mudbrains, if I wuzzn’t so busy today, I’d have yore pelts hanging from my walls, or maybe make you fight them ikkle acorn-crunchers again, morons!” the fox threw them to the ground. “Get out of my sights immediately, blundering imbeciles!” Syzran spat. “I need a real spy. They were only test dummies. I’ll kill them later.” Suddenly, Gritsnout and his troop of vermin stepped inside, along with another, large, conquered, vermin gang. “Good stoat, Gritsnout. Where is their leader?” he inquired almost politely. The captured vermin parted to reveal a huge male stoat named Bonesnap. “Set ‘im free so he can fight me.” Said Syzran. The big stoat chuckled stupidly. “Hurr, hurr, I tink I’ll have some fun.” Syzran smiled as he sized up the stoat. “Give him his weapon back.” “Yes, your majesty.” Said Gritsnout. “Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!” roared the vermin as the two vermin leaders circled around the “ring”. “Aaaaarrrrgggggg!!” Bonesnap charged brutishly at the fox, ax held high. Almost bored, all Syzran did was nimbly step aside and promptly tripped the brute. Unsheathing his double scimitars, the fox strode up to the stoat and beheaded him as he tried to get up. The captured vermin groaned and cringed at the gruesome sight. “Ok, you lot all belong to me now! You hear, vermin?!” he roared. He picked up the headless Bonesnap’s battle ax and examined it, licking the blood off. “Harr, harr, cullies, now that’s how you deal with them big dumb ‘uns.” The newcomers were now scared into Syzran’s loyalty. “Snaketail the rat, get me the Wisp. I mean business now. Syzran continued. “Yes, your majesty.” As the rat turned to do his commander’s bidding, he stood facing a tall cloaked figure. Snaketail jumped back, surprised. The Wisp, the shadowed creature almost glided through the soldiers. When he got to Syzran, he nodded once. The mysterious, deadly Wisp never spoke, and his species was unknown by all, except himself. Syzran leaned over to the shadowy creature. “Ok, here’s wot to do…”
Skipper, Slimbrook, and the three dibbuns were all happily splashing around in the pond. Even Bolo had begun to like the water. “Hurr merster hotter, zur, cood you ploise take oi for ‘nother whoilebook roide?” the molebabe chortled. “’An me too, mista Skip?” added the mousemaid, Tibbles. “Sure, mateys, one whale right here, waitin’ to be ridden.” But before the dibbuns could go for another whaleback ride, Abbot Arstead hurried over. “Skipper of otters, Slimbrook, there are vermin about Mossflower! We must prepare for an invasion.” he announced. “Yes, Father. Sorry dibbuns, you have to get out now, little mateys.” As the otters left, Slippy said: “There is vurrmun reddy too h’invade Redwall, mateys. Let’s get dem!” The three infants toddled out of the gates, unseen by anyone.
Abbot Arstead, Skipper, Foremole, Josiah Longspike, Brother Forhill and Sister Selvia the infirmary keeper all sat around a large oak table, discussing as a council of war. “Me ‘an my otter crew will be the wall guards. What all vermin need is a good rock to their stems.” The muscular otter chief said, clutching his sling. “But where will all the rest of us peaceable Redwallers get weapons? You otters are strong, but you’ll still need help.” Said the squirrel, Sister Selvia. “Erksusse oi, but you’m can all use stavfes, kitthen noiffes, roolerning pins, froin’ pons, anything that coomes to thoi paws as weppins.” Rumbled the mole chief. “Yes, Foremole. But staffs, kitchen, knives, rolling pins and frying pans probably won’t be useful against the weaponry these vermin will have.” Said Brother Forhill. “Then we gotta fight like madbeasts. They might not be actual weaponry, but kitchen utensils will work.” Subjected Josiah. “Hurr, ‘ave any woon ‘ere gortten hittened by yon froin’ pan? Et dearly hurtted oi.” Added the mole. Everyone nodded; you couldn’t deny mole logic. “And in the meantime, mateys, me, my niece, and our squirrel friends will make bows and slings and teach everyone how to use ‘em.” Concluded Skipper. “In fact, I’m gonna get to it right now, mateys.” “Looks like its unanimous, brothers and sister, we Redwallers are peaceable, but have proven worthy opponents in the past. Let’s not be the group to let this fox take over Redwall!” Concluded Abbot Arstead. “RRRREEEEEDDDDWWWAAAAALLLLL!!!”
Disappointed at the cancelling of the Jubilee Feast, everyone was now even busier than ever. Alderjack and Treescamp were teaching the Abbey dwellers how to shoot bows and sling slings. “Ok, mates, slings are not supposed to be very accu- whoa! –Rate weapons, but when you all slin- ack! –Sling at the same ti- not at me! Time, the vermin will not be ab- waa! Able to dodge all those- eek! Rocks.” Treescamp hurriedly explained. He was not in their line of fire, it was just that the slingers-in-training were letting go of their spinning slings too late, accidently flinging the missiles in all directions, including at their instructor. “Uhh… Maybe we should try archery. AJ, are things going well for you?” Treescamp asked tiredly to Alderjack. “Yeah, they’re pretty accurate, but they just can’t shoot that far. Our recruits are getting there, though.” Treescamp dodged a flying pebble. “Ack! But maybe I should teach them to be accurate slingers…”
Slippy, Tibbles, and Bolo were now far into Mossflower Woods, and it was getting late. Tibbles slouched on a large rock. “Sippy, dis notta good idea. I wanna go ‘ome back at Redwall H’abbey.” She squeaked moodily. “Boot mateys, dis oor chance ta beet up dem vermits ‘an save Redwall!” Protested Slippy. “Wot d’you say, Bolo? Bolo?” called out the otter dibbuns. The mousemaid quivered with fright. “Sippy, mebbe da swoomp moonsta ettted ‘im oop! Poor, Poor Bolo. Waaaaaa!” Suddenly, the babes saw a large frightening shadow zoom through the trees. “Wotta dat?” “I don’t noow matey, but I don’t tink itsa swoomp- AAAAAAAAAAA!!!!” said Slippy as the shadow popped out in front of them. He made not a noise, but his pale eyes flashed malevolently. The dibbuns screamed as the shadowy creature pulled a huge black bag over their heads. There, the infants were once again rejoined with Bolo. “Burr, hurr, hurr! Oi do woints ter goot ‘way foom dis boid kreetshurr. Woir is ‘ee takin uzzuns?” The Wisp shot through the dark underbrush, strangely enough, towards… Redwall! But definitely not to bring the abbeybabes back. It was a dark, cloudy night, just the way the Wisp liked it. He slunk over to the Abbey with the captured infants.
The Wisp placed his bag with the dibbuns in a tall tree so they could not escape. He scoured for guards as he stood under a tall oak. Then, he started scaling the walls, catlike until he got onto the walltops. A mouse guard walked over to investigate. Crouched low, the Wisp jumped on him and knocked him out with one swift punch to the chin. More guards gathered over, but by that time, the shadowy intruder was gone! As he searched for an ajar window to enter through, he fingered his weapons to make sure they were still there. The Wisp slid serpentine-like through the opening as soon as the guards had descended the walls. “What was that?” “Brother Partlow?” “Partlow’s been knocked out!” “I thought I saw something over there!” This was easier than the Wisp thought. How come no one else had ever taken over this place? He was quiet to not wake the sleeping squirrel in the bed beside him. He slunk into the Great Hall, and there it was! An amazing double-handed sword placed under a large beautiful tapestry of a mouse. The Wisp rubbed his hands together greedily. Not one, but two treasures for Syzran! The shadowy thief strode boldly over to the Sword of Martin and the Tapestry of Martin. Grabbing the ancient warrior mouse’s sword, the Wisp cut through the tapestry’s bindings. As he began slinking off, the metal pole that had held up the tapestry fell! The Wisp fled as the metal pole crashed against the stone floor. As he dashed around looking for an exit, he suddenly came face to face with the golden squirrel that he snuck past. “Intruder! There’s a vermin inside the abbey!” yelped Alderjack. The Wisp pulled out Martin’s sword and struck at the young squirrel. Only Alderjack’s amazing quickness saved him, and he dove over to the fallen pole. Pole and sword clashed stroke after stroke, but the squirrel’s weapon could not hold together forever. The thief finally cleaved the pole in two, and grinned wolfishly at Alderjack beneath his cloak. Before the Wisp could react, Alderjack punched him in the face and tackled him. Discarding their weapons, they rolled about on the floor and fought like madbeasts. The Wisp came out on top and kicked the young squirrel in the chest, sending him sprawling. The vermin was about to finish him off until a group of guards appeared. The shadowy creature gathered the stolen treasures and dashed off, with the 6 guards in tow. Sister Hildra and Sister Selvia hurried over to him. “Alder, do you feel alright? You’re pretty bruised. Would you like me and Selvia to take you to the infirmary?” twittered the good mouse sister, Hildra. “No! That weasel…or stoat… or rat… or whatever, has got our tapestry and Martin’s sword!!! Thanks for thinking of me, but I must get them. They’re symbols of our abbey, and those rotten vermin are going to use it for evil!” Alderjack fumed. “I’m going out there!” and with that, he broke from the sisters and dashed outside.
The Wisp chuckled snake-like. He had fooled all those stupid bumpkins; the sneaky villain had juked out the guards, and all the creatures were now awake. Even still, they would never catch him. They were out searching on the lawns and woods, but he was on the belltower. His normally desolate eyes finally showed emotion. It was evil joy, but still an emotion. Once he gave the sword to Syzran, he would get promoted, the fox would take over Redwall, Syzran would become king, then he; the Wisp would kill the fox warlord, blame it on the second-in-command, kill the second-in-command, and then become king of all Mossflower. It was the perfect plan! But he first had to get out of the abbey. As he scooted smoothly down the belltower roof, he was abruptly jolted by a sudden tremendous noise. The Wisp started rolling very unspylike down the roof, but he managed to catch himself. As he pulled himself up, he yet again came-to-face with…The squirrel!!! Didn’t this ignorant young scamp ever have enough? “He should be sleeping. I’ll make him sleep forever.” Thought the thief darkly. And with that, the Wisp jumped over the railing, landing behind the squirrel. Alderjack spun around and faced the Wisp. Quick as a flash, Alderjack jumped on the vermin and wrestled the dagger from the thief’s belt. The Wisp kicked him hard, and he squirrel went flying, dazed. But the young squirrel was never out of action for too long. Just as the Wisp was about to make his getaway, Alderjack bit into the Wisp’s cloak, impairing his escape. Even as the squirrel was getting dragged and kicked, he managed to stab the dagger into the Wisp’s leg. The Wisp winced and paused for a moment, but right when Alderjack lunged at him, the Wisp dove over the side of the belltower! The young squirrel couldn’t believe his eyes and could only stand there helplessly. The thief spread out the great tapestry like a parachute, and floated to the ground, like an autumn leaf making its way to the forest floor. Unfortunately, there were no guards out to stop him as he dashed out of the gates. Alderjack’s ears and tail drooped. The tired, beat, young squirrel trudged sadly back to his bed. He had let down Martin the Warrior!
Alderjack was asleep. Then, a cloudy spirit appeared to him. As the spirit came into closer view, Alderjack could see he was a powerful, able, and kind looking mouse in armor. The squirrel knew him by the tapestry in Great Hall. It was Martin the Warrior! The mouse warrior looked at him. “Hello, young squirrel. You are the creature I will trust in saving these ancient treasures of our Abbey. Redwall and I need good, strong beasts like you to keep this abbey alive. Do not let the fox use my sword for evil. While your friends defend the abbey, I need you and a few friends to retrieve not only the sword and tapestry, but the babes that the awful fox has stolen. This will stick with you:
You, a golden warrior, take your best friend
Fellow squirrel that was with you beginning to end
A tough young long-eared glutton comes to aid
A stolen babe’s sister: an otter maid
Embark through the darkest parts of Mossflower Wood
There are so many perils, but survive, I know you could
Vermin, snakes, rapids, toads, big birds and muck
Tough it out, because you are my champion. Good luck!”
Alderjack woke with a jolt and newfound energy. He and Treescamp zipped downstairs to where Friar Blumself was sitting with Slimbrook and Sister Hildra. They all looked forlorn, and Slimbrook was crying. “Have you heard? That evil…thing has gotten Tibbles, Bolo and Slippy, my brother. Waaah!” Sobbed Slimbrook. “Treescamp looked shocked, but Alderjack just sighed sadly. “Yes. Martin the Warrior has visited me in a dream and told me everything. I’m going to get them back if it’s the last thing I do. C’mon!” But the plump mouse cook stopped them. “No. I saw lots of weasels ‘an stoats ‘an the like, swarming around the fringes of Mossflower Woods.” Said Friar Blumself wisely. “Yes, and we must make plans and eat first.” Seconded Sister Hildra mother-like. Alderjack sighed again as Treescamp patted him on the back. At breakfast, the food was delicious, as all Redwall food is, but the whole Great Hall was unusually silent except for a scattering of worrying murmurs. Then, Abbot Arstead, flanked by Skipper and Foremole cleared his throat. Everybeast turned his or her head and listened. “Good creatures of Redwall, I am not a fighter, nor do I wish for war, but in troubled times we must stick up for our abbey and fight the forces of evil. Only when the forces of evil are absent in Mossflower there is peace, and that is what we need. We are not going to ever get our poor dibbuns, or our tapestry, or Martin’s sword back if we just lie about mourning. If I were not so old and creaky, I would be out there, defending the abbey from these awful vermin. Are you with me, fellow children of Redwall?!?” The whole mood of the abbey suddenly flipped. “Hoorah!” “Oi aren’t goona gurve oop Redwall!” “Let’s get our dibbuns back!” “Yeah!” “RRRRREEEEEEDDDDWWWAAAALLLLLL!” The whole Great Hall erupted in cheers with their newfound spirit as all the good creatures bustled about, ready to defend Redwall. “Uurr, Farther Hoobet, zurr oi bets ee that yon harrs that bees coomin’ ‘ere will be a gurt ‘elp.” Suggested Foremole. Alderjack and Treescamp walked over to Arstead and explained Alderjack’s dream. “Aaa, of course… In times of need Martin choses an able creature to protect Redwall and become Abbey Warrior.” Smiled Arstead warmly. “Wow! AJ! Yer Abbey Warrior!” exclaimed Treescamp. Alderjack embraced him and got giddy with excitement. “Waaaahhoooooooo! This is just amazing! Let’s go get those dibbuns!” “Wait young warriors. We must comprise a plan to battle the vermin first, and get you out of the Abbey. The title of Abbey Warrior must be earned.” Subjected Arstead calmly. “Well, what are we waitin’ for, mates. We have a war to win!” said Skipper. “RRRRREEEEEDDDWWWAAAAAALLLLLLLL!”
Scraggle the weasel peeked out from behind a tall birch tree. “Sir! I see the H’abbey!” The huge assaulting faction of Syzran’s horde followed him, led by Gritsnout. “Get ready for a fight, mates. We got this place right in our paws. Those monitors should be coming any minute now…” Announced Gritsnout the stoat. Suddenly, a huge, green, scaly head erupted out of the bushes. “Eeek!” shrilled Snaketail. Gritsnout cuffed him in the chin. “Shaddap, scaredy rat! Its jus’ the lizards!” But he too was a little afraid of those big monitors. “Lizzzen, zoat, I command the azzzualt now.” Hissed Voskriss. “Heh, heh. O’course yew will.” Gritsnout chuckled nervously. “Sir, dey ‘ave wallguards. Can we jus’ charge now?” asked a fat weasel named Gromp. “Whaddya waitin’ for?! Chaaaaarrrgggge!” roared Gritsnout. But just as the vermin where about to charge, Rizzo, who with Bloodtooth, had been demoted five ranks, noticed a small group of about 20 hares dashing towards the Abbey. “Wait! Look, sir! Itsa bunch ‘o them fightin’ rabbets!” he said. “Stop ‘em before they get to the Abbey! Resume the chaaaaarrrggggee!” Although the hares were far more superior in fighting skill, the 600 vermin and monitors charging them would most certainly destroy the little hare band. For just that one time, Brigadier Elton Harrington called a retreat. They gained some protection from Skipper and Brother Partlow from the walltops, slinging stones. Hares are extremely fast creatures and most of the Long Patrol made it to the gates; dodging the stones, arrows, and spears that bombarded them. The first to get there was the wiry hare galloper, Lepwold. “’Ello, Redwall chappies! It’s the Long Patrol at the door, not those blinkin’ vermin!” howled Lepwold as he banged on the doors hurriedly. Foremole quickly trundled over and opened the gates as fast as he could. “’Urry in, zurrs ‘n marms.” The mole chieftain urged. After the last hare had gone inside, they helped Foremole close the gates as soon as a speedy ferret managed to get there. A small group of Redwallers guided the hares into the Great Hall. Abbot Arstead walked over to Harringworthy. “Thank-you for attending our Redwall feast, but if you may have noticed, it was unfortunately canceled due to this siege.” The old mouse said. “Naw, ‘tis ok, Father H’abbot. We hares love a good battle almost as much as a blinkin’ feast, wot!” shrugged the Brigadier. “Wot d’ya mean no feast, sah?” inquired Horlington shakily. Harringworthy cuffed him in the cheek “Quit yore whinin’ young Horlingthingy ‘an be thankful! All Redwall scoff is tophole, even if it t’aint a jolly old feast, wot!” “Sorry, sah.” Apologized Horlington, ashamed. “Its fine, I’m sad too! But we have some vermin to battle first.” Replied Arstead warmly. At the word of battle, the young hare immediately sprang up. “Well, that’s just sooper dooper, wot! Nuttin’ as good as a bally fight then eatin’ vittles while fightin’, wot! I’ve gotta give ‘em all blood ‘n vinegar if my name t’aint Horlington Bradshaw Vittlescoff III! Forward the buffs! Eulalia!” he cried as he bounced off happily. The young Long Patroller soon stopped near Alderjack and Treescamp, who were only a little younger than him. “I do say now, squirrel chappies! Tis’ mighty grand to be in a blinkin’ battle, wot, wot! The name’s Horlington Bradshaw Vittlescoff III. Pleased to meet you!” the hare blurted as he clenched their paws and shook vigorously. Even as they tended to their squeezed paws, the two squirrels took a liking to the hare immediately. “Well, my name is Alderjack, an’ this is my friend Treescamp. Pleased to meet you too, mate.” Smiled the blond squirrel. “Are you two laddie bucks fightin’ to defend your blinkin’ Abbey, wot?” inquired the hare. “Only for a little. Then we’re going to save some stolen Abbeybabes, a price sword, and a tapestry. Those disgusting vermin will think twice about stealing Redwall’s treasures, especially the babies.” Replied Treescamp. Horlington gritted his teeth angrily. “Why those blinkin’ atrocious, slimy, absotootly revoltin’ fiends! I’m coming with you, wot, wot!” As the three friends walked out onto the walltops, Horlington suddenly shoved Treescamp over as an arrow zipped right past him. “Watch out there, chappie. Some flippin’ archer nearly got you there, wot.” Said the Long Patroller “Whoa! That was close. Thank-you so much! But now we have to see what this ugly snot head wants.” Said Treescamp. Voskriss stared up at the walltops. “I don’t want to zee zome zupid zquirrels or a fancy talking rabbit. Where’s the Father Abbot?” he hissed. As if on cue, the wise mouse appeared up on the walltops. “Right here, my child. What do you want with our Abbey? If is not hospitality from the goodbeasts that live here, I cannot give much else. Redwall is a peaceful place, so if you want to make trouble, you might as well give us the babes and leave, or be defeated.” Answered Abbot Arstead. By now, all the fighting beasts had gathered along the walltops, including Alderjack and his friends. “No! You have to earn your zilly infantzzz. We will kill every one of you that fightzzz or doezn’t. Thizzz izzz war! Chaaarrrrrgggggeeee!” the monitor howled. The normally peaceful Abbot shook his head. “I give you no choice. Rrrreeeeedddddwwwwwaaaaalllll!!!”
Syzran was pacing around his tent, chatting with himself. “Woodlanders are so predictable! While my soldiers are fending off the Redwallers they are going to send out a small group of heroes to get their precious babies, catch the bad guy off guard, kill him, end evil in Mossflower, and gain a whole lifetime of peace and eternal happiness until the next cocky leader comes up and tries to take it over. Then the whole process restarts all over again with a different warlord. But I’m not just some other warlord. Ha! I have those stupid bumpkins this time!” the fox suddenly turned to see Foggle staring at him strangely. “Urr…You ok, chief?” questioned the stupid fat ferret. The tall orange fox gritted his teeth and slapped Foggle. “O’ course I am, ferret. Remember, once we slay the rescuers, we move on to Redwall.” Syzran said. “Make yerself useful and gimme Jegru some of that grog that we got from when we killed all those searats. Wonderful stuff, but it was the last time any of those little rats had any! Harhar!” he chuckled. “Yessir!” replied Foggle as he lumbered off towards Jegru’s tent.
The ferret advisor/captain and Foggle returned with the grog. “Ferret, yer excused.” Once the soldier was away, the fox and the ferret had begun reviewing battle plans. “You see, I told the lizard to tell the Abbot mouse that they would have to take their babies back themselves, so when they send out their little heroes, there will be another, smaller army behind them. The rescuers will be trapped and killed, and the woodlanders will not even know, thus letting their guard down. The invaders will pretend to retreat, come back with heavy reinforcements, and then defeat the Abbey.” Grinned Syzran maliciously. The ferret looked impressed. “Wow, chief…” Suddenly, he was whacked across the face. “Call me your majesty, pondscum!”
Dozens of Abbeydwellers and Long Patrollers were out on the walltops, slinging stones, throwing spears and shooting bows, which the Long Patrol hares had obtained. Meanwhile, another group was down outside the walls, Alderjack, Treescamp and Horlington among them, all with supply packs. “Whoooohahaha! Nuttin’ like a blinkin’ battle to get the jolly old blood pumpin’, wot!” yelled Horlington, twirling through enemies like a gale. Alderjack slashed through a weasel, armed with a stolen sabre. “C’mon, mates! I’d really hate to leave the Abbey behind, but we have a job to do.” The three young creatures plowed their way through the vermin, knowing that the soldiers would not realize two squirrels and a hare slip from the bunch. A stoat ran over to intercept them, but Treescamp slew him with one swift thrust of his long dagger. The adventurers dashed into the trees, seen by no one else. Now that they were within the leafy shelter of Mossflower, Treescamp grinned giddily. “Yay! We made it into the woods!” Alderjack shook his head. “Yeah, but there are still many dangers. I already knew there would be, but Martin mentioned vermin bands, toads, rapids, snakes, big birds and muck.” Horlington looked into his pack. “Well, what is there to eat in here for a starvin’ handsome hare, wot?” Treescamp looked Alderjack. “Knowing Friar Blumself, probably really good stuff. If you’re hungry already though, maybe I should hold the food, Mr. Ten-Bellies!” The hare looked offended. “ME? Rats and phooey, old lad. If I had 10 flippin’ bellies, it would ruin my h’absotootly h’exquisite complexion, doncha know! Scoffing’s an important part of the day. All 7 times a day, wot, wot!” Alderjack biffed him slightly with his bushy tail. “You flop-eared glutton! You may have 1 belly, but the other 9 are inside it.” Even so, the golden squirrel pulled out warm oatcakes. “Good ‘ol Blumself. He must have known you were with us, or he wouldn’t have packed so much! Here, friends, there’s more than enough.” Horlington beamed. “Oh, tophole old lad! I knew you would see this famishin’ creature’s point of view!” They dug into the bags and talked as they walked along. “I hope the defenders are doing fine.” Said Treescamp. “Oh, they’ll be fine! Redwall’s tough. The good ‘ol Abbey’s been around since the times of Martin the Warrior.” Replied Alderjack. Horlington looked up at the sky. “Well, chaps, I guess it’s getting time for us to get some jolly old shuteye, wot.” The two squirrels looked at him strangely. “What do you mean? It’s not that late. Horly! Horly?” The hare was fast asleep. Suddenly, Treescamp yawned and promptly fell flat on his face and started snoring. Alderjack sniffed the air. It smelled like lavender and honey, just like in his home in Mossflower. “Go to sleeeeppp, Alderjack. Shut your eyyyyessss.” Said the remaining conscious squirrel’s brain. Alderjack was soon on the floor, hugging his fluffy tail, dreaming like a babe. Four skinny creatures covered with shrubbery and war paint trundled out of their hiding spots. “Heeheehee! Lotsa cappives for da chief Mangarooka. “Flitchaye! Flitchaye! Flitchaye!” the weird little creatures chattered as they bore the friends off to their camp.
“C’mon mates! Redwall!!!” howled Skipper over the fray. “Eulalia!” “Give ‘em blood ‘n vinegar!” The hares and a couple able-bodied Redwallers were out on the ground. The burly otter was tough, but he had a stoat and two weasels all on him at once. Luckily, the hare Blademaster, Sergeant Swiftbuck was there to help. He was an amazing sword fighter and cut down all three vermin. “What ho, laddie buck looks like you were in a spot of trouble, wot!” The otter got up, clutching his javelin. “Thanks, mate. Let’s give ‘em blood ‘n vinegar!” They returned to the fray, roaring warcries. What they made up for small numbers was skill, even though they were getting pushed away.” Up on the walltops, the ground loving mole leader did not like the looks of things. “Hurr, they’m bees gurt foiturs, but they’m bees getten pushed bark h’away froom thee H’abbey, zurr.” Foremole informed the Abbot. Abbot Arstead and his mole friend trundled down from the walls. The old mouse’s face broke into a grin. “Foremole, remember those catapults I the cellars?” Foremole started smiling too. “Yes oi do Farther Hoobit. ‘An oi think oi’m thinkin the sarm thing!”
Brother Partlow, a sturdy young mouse and some of Foremole’s crew dragged out the great weapon onto the Abbey Lawn. “Lookit oot, zurrs! Cattypoolter coomin’ through!” Yelled Foremole. The Redwallers on the walltops ran out of the way. “Ets all yurrs, Roobil!” Roobil the mole took out his knife and sliced the rope! “Push forward, chaps! There’s a load of babies and old ‘uns in that Abbey!” yelled Brigadier Elton Harringworthy. The vermin had ceased attacking the fighters and were now going to the weaker Abbey! But before the defenders could chase them, a barrage of earth clods, rocks and dirt rained upon the vermin force! There was a cheer from inside the Abbey walls as the missiles struck down the vermin like flies in a hurricane. Even though they still vastly outnumbered them, all the soldiers heard Gritsnout shout, “Retreat, horde! Into the woods!” Syzran’s horde was gone for now, but everybeast knew they would be back. “Good show, chaps straighten up and on to jolly old Redwall! Time for a spot ‘o sup, wot, wot!” bellowed the Brigadier.As the hare, Captain Fleetrun was walking back in, he saw a mouse next to him go down, dead. “It’s a trap, chappies! Eulaliaaaa!” The vermin had doubled back and ambushed the defenders! “Wait! There’s some more of those blinkin’ vermin over there!” pointed Lepwold the galloper. “Double up and split up into two blinkin’ groups, wot!” Roared the Brig. The Redwallers and Hares fought at both ends, struggling to keep the vermin out of the Abbey grounds. While some defenders tried to keep the vermin on the walltops at bay, others tried to restrain the waves of rats, weasels, ferrets, stoats, foxes, monitors and magpies at bay. The magpies were quite effective because of the fact they could fly, but the Redwallers were never giving up. “Huh, it would be nice if we had wings like those blinkin’ vermin sah.” Heaved Lepwold as he fought alongside Fleetrun. “Well, we have to make the flippin’ most of the rest of our bally efforts fightin’ young ‘un. I’m not gonna use it on growin’ wings!” The two hares dashed off into the gatehouse. “Leppers, help your jolly good senior with this labor, wot! Close the gates and make it sharpish, wot!” The two hares slammed down the gate as quickly as possible, killing a fox and a stoat. A weasel and a ferret were jeering at them from outside, but Lepwold dispatched them almost lazily. There was now only a couple vermin left inside the walls and they were soon slayed. The Abbeydwellers started to cheer. Even the dibbuns were now outside, late as it was. Their merriment was ended by a prehistoric howl. “Zhhaaarrrgggkkkzzzxxeeeeeee! Yooo zupid furbeastzzz will not defeat I, Vozzzkrizzzzzzz!” Brigadier Harrington stared at him. “All that hissing and the like is just jolly bad for the blinkin’ throat, wot.” The hare observed. The Redwallers and hares roared with laughter as the monitor sulked off. “Laugh now, furbeastzzz. One day I will eat your flesh!” The old hare Brigadier raised his eyebrows. “If you do, make sure you balance it out with some jolly old fruits and vegs, wot! The blinkin’ food pyramid, doncha know!” The fighters returned inside to have an excellent meal of summer woodland salad, bilberry tarts and strawberry cordial. Even the hares were too weary to have thirds. Sister Hildra and Sister Selvia herded the dibbuns upstairs for baths and bed. Only two wallguards were posted that night; they were tired as well. The sleepy Abbey was closed for the night. Unfortunately, Syzran’s Horde wasn’t.
Alderjack woke with a jolt, tied to Horlington and Treescamp. “Eh, wazzat?” he murmured groggily. “Heeheehee! We gotcher!” Cackled a squeaky voice. The young squirrel shook his friends awake. “Ugh, Flitchaye. I shoulda known!” muttered Treescamp grumpily. “Phwaog! Nasty confounded smoke is messing up my bally sinuses, wot!” yelped Horlington. A ridiculously skinny weasel strode over to them. “Two treeratters ‘an one silly rabbit for me, da Chief Mangarooka! Lotsa good eat!” The friends gulped, but Alderjack looked uncertain. “If they were going to eat us, then they would have out pots and have a fire going. They don’t, though.” Four small weasels scurried up with lots of bags of candied chestnuts. “Well, super-duper chaps! These wood-wearing weasel weirdos aren’t scoffing us after all, wot! They’re givin’ us scoff!” Flitchaye were all looking at them through their large barkcloth masks, grinning wolfishly as they chewed chestnuts and started passing them out to everybeast. They even gave the three travelers some! As Horlington dove into the bag Mangarooka had given him, the two squirrels still looked uneasy. “Horly, stop! It might be poison or they’re trying to fatten you up!” Treescamp warned. “We not eatcher.” Said Mangarooka. But all the weasels were still grinning. Alderjack narrowed his eyes, asking suspiciously: “What are you going to do to us?” The weasels answered promptly in single unison: “Saggerfishes Aszurass.” All three friends looked confused. The young hare spoke up. “Well, chappies, mind speakin’ a pip clearer, wot. Didn’t quite get it. A clear, strong voice is monumental in a speech when you want to inform or convince a chap on your ideas and feelings for an emotional or powerful effect. To prepare, just wash your mouth out clearly wi…” Suddenly, Horlington’s mouth went dry as a desert. The Flitchaye were now in the trees, giggling evilly, crunching on chestnuts and chanting: “Aszurass! Aszurass! Aszurass!” As two weasels pulled open a gate revealing before them, a monstrous adder snake, its green scales glistering through the forest leaves. Alderjack, Treescamp and Horlington couldn’t move. They were the “Lotsa good eat!” And “Saggerfishes” were Sacrifices! The adder’s tongue went in and out, stalking, smelling them. The friends gasped in horror as the monster opened its mighty jaws to reveal rows of shiny white teeth. Closer…closer…POW! The snake jerked to one side and bellowed, a stout javelin protruding from its eye! Alderjack felt the ropes that restrained him and his friends fall off. They were free! “’Ey, gerrem, Flitchaye! Steemdoggy ‘an anutter treeratter!” Howled Mangarooka. It was dark now, and the travelers couldn’t see in the dark as good as the Flitchaye. Alderjack wanted to see the rescuers and thank them, but he couldn’t see, as they were in the shadows of the foliage. However, he could definitely see the monstrous reptile heading right for him! The friends scampered over to their weapons. “C’mon, mates, let’s bring ‘im down! Rrreedddddwwwaaaaallllll!!!” The poisonous snake struck at Horlington, but the young hare dove out of the way and stuck his pike into it. As they were dodging and prodding Aszurass and the Flitchaye spears, Alderjack huffed; “Treescamp, buddy, you can charm snakes. Can you charm this one?” Treescamp notched his bow and fired an arrow at the behemoth. “*Gasp* No, I need to be more concentrated.” The otter and the squirrel that saved them were helping too! They launched slingstones and the squirrel had a hefty frying pan and was whacking the adder. “Wait a second…I’d know that old branch-walloper anywhere! I’m coming to save you!” noticed Treescamp. The young squirrel bounded over to the round female squirrel and stabbed the snake with his long dagger just as it was about to devour the squirrelwife. All five woodlanders dove upon the reptile, roaring battlecries and walloping the adder. Aszurass finally had enough of all those beatings, and the great evil snake died. Aszurass would never again devour peaceful travelers! But, there was still the Flitchaye. “Ooooo! Saggerfishes kilt da mitty Aszurass! Gerrem, Flitchaye!” roared Mangarooka squeakily. Hordes of Flitchaye jumped down from the trees and started pursuing them. “Thank-you for saving us.” Panted Alderjack as he dashed besides the shadowed otter maid. “No problem at all, matey!” she panted back. “Up ahead, chaps, a blinkin treehouse, wot!” said Horlington as they rounded the bend. The treehouse was amazingly camouflaged with a rope ladder, but Horlington with his good eyes, could barely make it out. Alderjack and Treescamp looked at each other, grinning from ear to ear. “Man, am I happy to be back here!” smiled Treescamp as the six scampered up the tree trunk, with the Flitchaye in tow. The female squirrel yanked up the ladder just as the ottermaid got in and the Flitchaye tried to get up. Treescamp slammed the door and locked it tight. “Treescamper Nutbrush! What in Mossflower were you doin’ scamperin’ round like this in the middle of the night, leading Alderjack and this nice rabbit astray by getting’ captured by Flitchaye and almost becoming Saggerfishes or whatever! Get over here, you naughty young wretch! I’ll tan your hide, young ‘un! I thought you were pickin’ acorns” Babbled the squirrelwife. Treescamp glided mischievously over to her with a bucket of acorns he managed to collect. “Aw, but we brought some back for you for some ‘o your delicious acorn rhubarb pudding… Mother!”
As Alderjack, Treescamp, and Horlington settled into the treehouse’s large chairs, Alderjack exclaimed: “Thankee, kindly mom ‘an marm!” The round, happy squirrel chuckled as the two younger squirrels embraced her. “No problem! How would you young warriors like some famous Acorn ‘n Rhubarb Pudding?” Four thankful heads bobbed up and down vigorously. “Wait, is that Slimbrook?” asked Treescamp. The ottermaid looked up and nodded, smiling. “Yes, I couldn’t just stay at the Abbey the whole time, crying over my poor brother! I followed you until the Flitchaye arrived and got Ms. Goodwife Nutbrush, here to save you all. I didn’t know you were brothers with Treescamp, though!” The golden squirrel nodded. “Yes, but only by adoption. Goody Nutbrush found me as a dibbun hanging by my backpaws in an alder tree, jackin’ up all tranquility in the whole woods. That’s why my name’s Alderjack!” Goodwife Nutbrush returned with her famous puddings. “Here you go and enjoy, but I’m afraid there’s still Flitchaye a prowlin’ about. Horly and Slimbrook, you’re welcome to stay as guests here in Goodwife Nutbrush’s Treehouse.” Then Alderjack noticed something. “Hey, why are you so quiet now?” The friends turned to see Horlington submerged in a humongous pan of Acorn ‘n Rhubarb Pudding. “Mrrmmfff! First rate nosh, wot! Wish you would’ve found me hangin’ by my blinkin’ backpaws in an alder tree that same day, then I could’ve lived with you eatin’ this pudding all day instead of drillin’ with ole Brig. Elton, wot!” The three squirrels and the otter started laughing at the hare’s gluttonous antics. Suddenly, they heard chanting and a spear flew across the room, directly above Slimbrook’s head. “They’re trying to break in! Weapons at the ready! Forward the buffs, give ‘em blood ‘n vinegar and all that, wot! Eulalia!” yelped Horlington. “Steady in the ranks there, chap.” Mimicked Treescamp. “There’s a lot more of them than us, but I know a weakness of theirs. We’ve dealt with them before, ain’t we, Treescamp?” said Alderjack. “Yup, its fire! The little guys can’t stand or understand the stuff!” answered Treescamp. “We’ll need to get out of this part of the house, though.” Advised the Goodwife. “What do you mean? Isn’t this the only part of the treehouse?” asked Slimbrook, confused. “Well, for a squirrel, there’s much more! There are climbing ropes and the like all leading up to other areas. We’re going to spread out and wave our torches at the Flitchaye to scare them off. You two can hold torches from in here.” Explained Alderjack. All of the creatures agreed, including his adopted mother. “Let’s go!”
“Heeheehee! Yew can hide, but we’ll getcher eggentoovully!” Squeaked Mangarooka. A small weasel started chattering. “Eek, Chief! Itsa fiya! Dey gonna boorn us up!” Five flames danced before Mangarooka’s eyes. He was a small, fearful weasel, but this was like a nightmare for him. “Eek! Fiya! Wat yew want?” he chattered to the flame holders. Alderjack and his friends all climbed down, carrying torches. Horlington stuck his torch close to the cringing vermin leader. “What do we want with you? Why, we want to cook you all into a big weasel soup, wot. There’s nothing on the whole bally earth with taste like a weasel soup. Just take us to this blinkin’ camp of yours and maybe we’ll settle on some plump, juicy stoats tonight, whaddya say, chaps?” Mangarooka nodded his head furiously. When they got there, the little weasels were whimpering more than ever. “Pleez, don’t eat us, nice rabbit!” they cried fearfully. “Aw, the nice rabbit is only playing around. We’re vegetarians, and we want you to be, too! Eat your herbs! Nighty-night little weasels!” Slimbrook chuckled as she sprinkled the herb of the sleeping smoke upon the vermin. The friends dashed back to Goodwife Nutbrush’s Treehouse as fast as they could. When they got home, Alderjack declared that it was now time to get going. Nutbrush was confused what do you mean, going?” she asked. “Mum, there is a vermin horde commanded by a fox surrounding Redwall Abbey and they stole three helpless dibbuns. We’re hunting down the rotten scum! Please don’t be worried.” Answered Treescamp, hugging her. “Worried?!? I’m worrying my head off, but proud is more like it! Saving dibbuns, adventuring… You three are all good capable young beasts, just the kind of creatures Mossflower needs. You’re made for it! Now get out there and show that fox who’s boss.” The Goodwife squeezed the four adventurers tight in an embrace. Alderjack, Treescamp, Horlington, and Slimbrook were now on their way, ready for anything. The motherly squirrel’s cries still rang in their ears as they marched on: “Reeeemmemmberrr to cleeeeeean your teeeeeth!”
Crumtail the ferret and his mates Grimeye stoat and Niptongue rat were lounging about in Syzran’s camp, bored. “Uggh. I don’t see why we just have to stay here while that barrelbellied stoat Gritsnout (No offense, Grimeye) and that creepy lizard get all the fun. We could be fightin’ those bumpkins and getten treasure ‘an vittles right now!” complained Crumtail. Suddenly, he was hoisted off the ground roughly. “Aw, is my little mate Crummy getting’ bored? Don’t worry, I think I might have a game of shove acorn in my tent somewhere…” said Syzran mockingly. “Oh, uh… I’m not bored sir I’m um…” stuttered the poor ferret. “Oooh! Shove acorn! Sounds like fun!” interrupted Niptongue happily. Syzran threw the ferret into his mates, felling them like ninepins. “Shove acorn! Huh, it’ll be fun for me to shove acorns down your skinny throat, rat, now sharpen up or I’ll sharpen my sword on you slackers.” The fox walked over to Jegru. “My favorite fencin’ ferret! Listen up, get a crew of 5 soldiers and bring them to me. I’m going to have a little fun.”
Dilger Lashtail was one tough water rat, a leader of about 2 dozen other water rats. He was the ruler of the banks and streams and let nobeast ever cross his stream without fighting him, as he was good with a cutlass and his whip-like tail, thus the origin of his surname. Dilger spoke out in his primitive accent when he saw some bushes rustling, revealing a tall fox, two rats, a ferret and a weasel. “Whoyer? Whoyer? Gotta beat Dilger Lashtail if yew wanna cross, fosker.” The fox smiled nonchalantly. “Oh, please let us pass. We are only peaceful travelers making our way through Mossflower.” The rat smiled back. “Harr harr. Yew gotta fight me to pass, fosker.” The fox pretended to sigh sadly. “Oh, I’ll try, but I could never beat Dilger Lashtail.” Dilger then reacted quickly, drawing his cutlass and leaping at the fox. The fox calmly pulled out one of his twin scimitars and parried the blow easily. Fox and rat slashed and cut and thrusted and parried at each other; the rat going hard, fox almost enjoyably. “He’s way smaller than that stoat Bonesnap, but a little tougher. Which is still ridiculously easy.” Thought the fox. Then, Dilger Lashtail lashed out at him with his tail, attempting to disarm him. The fox allowed him to, saying in mock despair. “Uh- oh! I’m done for!” The rat smiled at him toothily. “Yes, yew is. I killyer!” Unsheathing his other scimitar, the fox chopped off Dilger’s tail, disarmed him, and chopped off his leg in one swift motion. The formally confident rat screamed shrilly with fear and pain as he laid on the ground with blood gushing out of what was left of his right leg, completely submitting to the big, lean fox. “Waaaaaa! Pleez, keend fosker, yew can do anyding yew wanna wit Dilger! Waaaaaa!” The fox wrinkled his snout. “This stupid little creature thinks he can do stuff on his leg?” he thought. He smiled sweetly at the rat, Dilger’s crew not daring to attack this intruder that handled there chief, the same reaction from Bonesnap’s crew. “Ok, messmate, how about you go pick up some meat and wine from Hellgates for me?” The rat looked relieved. “Dank ya, kind fosker! If only I could walk… How ya even getta to da 'Ellg...” Dilger never finished his sentence because his head wasn’t connected to his throat! Formerly confident and happy to see a fight, the water rats stared dumbly at the fox who was skinning their late leader's headless carcass.The large orange fox got up, waving their leader’s pelt in the air menacingly and snarled evilly at the petrified rats. “Ok, you disgusting overgrown river mice, you don’t have no more sassy, whip-tailed Dilger rat to follow anymore! Do you want to achieve greatness, or go like your leader and have your skin hanging from my walls? There’s only one gang around Mossflower now, with only one leader; me, Syzran the Cunning!”Along with the guards, the rats almost willingly marched after Syzran, scared to see what could happen if they got on his bad side.
Meanwhile, back out at Voskriss’s camp, the vermin were riled up and ready to kill, contrary to the slumbering Abbeybeasts. Little did the Redwallers know, there were already vermin on the abbey grounds. Voskriss and Gritsnout shushed the excited vermin, but they were really just as bloodthirsty and hyped as the others. “Lizen up, troopzzz. Zut your gobzzz and zneak up the Abbey wall quietly azzz you can…” Suddenly, the small young rat, Snaketail, tripped over Gromp’s tail, twisted his ankle, and shrieked out a high-pitched yelp. The scream of shock was just enough to alert the wallguards, Swiftbuck and Skipper. “Ahoy, ‘tis vermin, matey!” murmured Skipper. “Nothing a jolly big ‘ol waterdog and a bally handsome hare can’t handle, wot.” The two warriors gripped sabre and javelin and slunk down to the lawn, where they saw two groups of vermin, one huddling in the shadows inside the walls, with the gates on fire!
Gritsnout turned on the howling Snaketail, grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and shook him like a rag doll. “Shaddap, yew worthless stupid little pile of bilge scraps! Yew jus’ gave ‘way our position!” The stoat flung the young rat to the floor, and forgetting his original plan, led the horde on to Redwall, howling and roaring battlecries. Snaketail sighed sadly and slowly got up, clutching his spear like a cane and hobbled awkwardly towards the great red sandstone Abbey. Skipper of otters and Swiftbuck charged down the wall towards the vermin setting fire to the gates. After a weasel named Dirgepaw spilled oil over the gates, Bloodtooth tossed a blazing torch upon the oily gates, causing the gates to erupt in flames. “Yarr! Its’ jus’ a streamhound and a fighting rabbet! Let’s get ‘em!” yelled Bloodtooth as he drew his cutlass. “Redwall!!” “Eulalia!” Otter and hare threw themselves at the vermin, hacking away at them; spinning like cyclones and causing death to any nearby vermin. But there were beginning to be too many, and the rest of the horde was almost at the gates, prepared to chop them down once they were weak. The gallant Sergeant and the otter chieftain went down under the 13 remaining vermin! Sister Selvia woke with a jolt, to hear screaming. Was it one of her dibbuns? No. She pulled back the curtains of her window and gawked at the sight in horror. Skipper and Swiftbuck, fighting tooth and claw, almost submerged by vermin! The next was even worse; the entire horde of vermin rushing straight towards the Abbey! The sprightly young infirmary keeper leaped from her bed and went yelling down the halls, straight for the bell tower. “Attack! Attack!! Redwall’s under Attaaaaack!!!” Dozy creatures lazily opened their doors, but were soon pumped by the incoming attack; all able-bodied creatures were running out to the grounds. Selvia yanked the ropes of the Matthias and Methuselah bells, their loud, brisk calls echoing around Mossflower. Sister Hildra was chasing the panicking dibbuns around amidst the chaos, the Long Patrol and strong Redwallers rushing out to fight, others forming bucket brigades; it was total chaos.
Brigadier Elton Harringworthy charged down the lawn towards the vermin that were assaulting Skipper and the Sergeant, chopping down vermin with his long rapier. “Forward the buffs, laddie bucks! Eulalia!!” Lepwold and Fleetrun were at his side, plowing through the waves of vermin that had been attempting to get into the Abbey. “We have to cover the firefighters, chaps!” roared the Brigadier as he impaled a stoat. “Sah, how are we going to keep the flippin’ blighters out of Redwall??” Lepwold shouted over the fray. Fleetrun grabbed a burning piece of gate like a torch. “Back ‘em up with fire! Give ‘em a taste of their own medicine! C’mon chaps!” The hares shook the burning sticks at the vermin, and many others followed their example and forced the vermin back, none of them wanting to get burned. The horde parted as Gritsnout stepped in front. “Huh, you can celebrate now, but we’ll be right outside your Abbey until you give it up to us. You can’t defeat us, and we’ll be back!” Brother Partlow, a strong-looking mouse scoffed bravely. “Pfft! Over my dead body, stoat!” Gritsnout gritted his teeth and flung his spear at Partlow. “That won’t be long, mouse!” Then, the horde fled into the woods, with the spear protruding out of Partlow’s stomach. Sister Selvia hurried over, as she was the infirmary keeper. “Oh, Partlow! You must be treated immediately!” Josiah Longspike, who had been out fighting, shouldered his mallet and shook his head sadly. “Selvia, I think he’s already at Sunny Meadows and Quiet Streams.” A group of somber Redwallers carried him off for burial, with the other deceased ones. “But what of Skipper and Sar’nt Swiftbuck?” asked Lepwold carefully. The Redwallers and Long Patrollers walked over to the middle of the lawn to where a huge pile of dead vermin was. They pushed the bodies out of the way to reveal the otter and the hare, covered with cuts, scabs and bruises, still as rocks. Some started crying at the loss of the two warriors, but the pretty healer squirrel suddenly looked up from them after a bit of examining. “We have to get these two to my infirmary. They just might have a fighting chance!” The slightly brightened creatures carried the two heroic fighters off to the Abbey quickly. They were breathing ever so lightly, but you bet Skipper was still thinking about his niece and nephew, somewhere out deep in Mossflower Country.
The four young travelers trotted along, pumped up about their last encounter with the Flitchaye and the evil adder, Aszurass. “Hawhaw! Did you chaps all see the looks on those weasel blighters’ faces when I told them we were goin’ to eat them?” Laughed Horlington. “Or how ‘bout when I was hacking away with my sabre at that snake?” Said Alderjack, examining his blade. “I was pretty awesome, shootin’ arrows at that monster!” Added Treescamp proudly. “Oooh, you all should’ve seen your faces when I saved all you from being Saggerfishes and started kicking major rear!” Slimbrook pointed out triumphantly. “Horlington, who had once again gained possession of the food pack and was tunneling through it, selecting some tasty morsels. “I do say now, chaps, how ‘bout we plant ourselves here an’ dig in to this scrumptious tucker, wot.” Alderjack shook his head. “We can eat on the way. Remember that sneaky cloaked guy took those 3 dibbuns, the Tapestry and the Sword of Martin the Warrior! The prospect of the sword and the Tapestry in possession of Syzran is bad enough, but the dibbuns in his clutches doesn’t even bear thinking about. But I am hungry…” Slimbrook lowered her head. “Aye, my brother is one of those dibbuns! If this Syzran fox lays one filthy claw on ‘em, I’ll pummel him to the earth!” Treescamp agreed. “Yes, let’s do this for Redwall!” Horly looked slightly dejected. “Well, chaps I want to complete this jolly old quest just as much as the rest of you, but does this mean we aren’t goin’ to eat?” Alderjack put an arm around Horlington, chuckling. “No, that doesn’t mean we can’t have fast food. Who’s up for elderberry wine, yellow cheese and blueberry scones?” The friends passed the bag, along each taking his fill, munching happily as they strode along the forest path of Mossflower Woods.Suddenly, they stopped to hear harsh cawing, like that of carrion birds. They soon came across some bushes, and when they looked over, saw a huge flock of crows and ravens assaulting a huge great horned owl. Although he was a great fighter and was worth 15 of the scavengers, they had the owl completely outnumbered, swarming him like flies upon dead meat. “C’mon! Owls are usually goodbeasts. We can’t let those carrion birds kill him!” exclaimed Alderjack, drawing a dagger and his sabre. “Righto chaps. True blue an’ never fail, an’ give ‘em blood ‘n vinegar. Eulalia!!” shouted Horlington. The friends cleared the bushes and charged the birds recklessly, as young warriors often do. “Chaaaaaarrrrrrgggge! Redwall! Eulalia!” The carrion birds switched their attention to the four travelers and flew at them. Alderjack sliced and cut through the black birds, Treescamp thrusted and shot, Horlington kicked and stabbed and Slimbrook charged through, spinning her sling and jabbing the enemy. Suddenly, one of the birds swooped down and scooped up Treescamp by the hindpaws. The friends groaned and yelled as the bird got out of range of their weapons. But then, like a flash the recovered owl zoomed up to meet the bird, sinking his mighty talons into the other bird. The other birds watched fearfully as the dead crow, (who was their leader) fell to the earth. The big owl caught Treescamp and lowered him to the ground once the crow attack had subsided. “Thank ee, lads an’ lassie! I was aboot takin oover before ye arrived. Och, there be too many of yon carrion tae battle aloon. I be the Laird Rockwing, Lord ‘o the Northlands!” The friends nodded respectively. “No, thank you, m’laird! You saved my life!” said Treescamp. “Och, it twas nought problem, laddie. Now shall ah take ee tae mah Mossflower domain?” before the friends could reply, a harsh cawing resounded over their conversation. “Caw! You will pay for saving the owlbird and killing Krakulat, earthcrawlers!” said a bold raven. “Och, shut yae beak, corpse eater, an’ leave!” snapped the Northern bird lord. “Kraw! You will wish you never seen us, mooneyes! And you too, earthcrawlers. We’ll be back. Caw!” The crows, ravens and rooks flew off to their pine groves. “We’d best be goin’ tae ma roost. Ah goot ah braw wife an’ three braw ‘ealthy eggchicks. They may be young, but wait ‘till ye see ‘em fighting! Whooohoo!” The Laird’s Roost was a comfortable living space, carved out inside a huge oak tree, so big it left room for the large birds and the friends. “Och laddies, this be ma roost, an’ this be ma lovely wife, the Lady Rockwing McGraw an’ our fine strong eggchicks.” Alderjack stepped forward. “Well, nice to meet you Milady. I am Alderjack, this other squirrel is my good friend Treescamp, this hare is Horlington; brave Long Patroller and famed glutton and this young ottermaid is Slimbrook, daughter of Skipper of otters. Thanks for letting us stay!” The large fierce owlwife nodded appreciatively. “Ah suppose ye be wantin’ vittles? Sit doawn, mah dears!” The owls and the travelers sat around a round table, sipping at a delicious woodland broth. Horlington was on his 3 helping after 5 minutes of the meal, the rather large owlets crowding around him. “Gosh, mista rabbet you eat lotsa, wut!” Horlington continued to shovel down the broth. “Oh my giddy aunt, this broth’s absolutely scrumptious, marm! I do say now, my little birdy friends, if you want to grow big ‘n strong like ‘m self yew have to eat lots of your mum’s scoff, wot!” The owl family and his friends laughed. “Horly, they’re all about big enough to give you piggy-back rides!” giggled Slimbrook. The young hare wrinkled his nose. “Okay they could jolly ride on ‘em but they’ll never get as blinkin’ strong as ‘m self!” Treescamp shook his head. “They’d have to be as strong as the biggest bird in the world to be able to carry you after eating 8 helpings of broth!”
After the delicious meal, they all went outside to enjoy some fresh air before bed. The owlets frolicked and played with the guests until they all had to go in and go to sleep. Just as Alderjack was about to go to sleep, he jolted to attention at the sound of frightened hoots and harsh squawks!
A crowd of anxious Abbeybeasts were silently huddled around two stretchers, which a hare and an otter laid upon. A young female squirrel examined them, gave them medicine, bandaged them up, and all sorts of other medical actions, attempting to heal the two horribly wounded warriors. Brigadier Elton Harringworthy, the tough old hare fought back tears at the thought of losing his good soldier and comrade, Swiftbuck and the otter leader, Skipper. “C’mon chaps. Give ‘em the old blood ‘n vinegar and all that, wot.” Finally, a blood-caked Skipper feebly raised his head and grunted. The whole room stayed silently hopeful. “Get… otter… crew… Need my crew at Redwall…” then his head drooped. The Abbeycreatures wept and mourned at the loss of the two perilous creatures. But then, Selvia leaned over to them, to check one last time. She examined Skipper and Swiftbuck, the room silent as a tomb. Then, her mouth split into a grin. “There’s hope for them yet! Don’t over celebrate, though. They might be out of action for a while.” proclaimed the squirrel over cheers. “Now go about your businesses’ now, our patients need their rest.” After all the creatures except Selvia left, Swiftbuck cracked a faint smile at his friend. “You still in there, mate, wot?” Skipper smiled back painfully, exhausted but happy. “Yeah mate… never better…”
“Huh, lizard! Looks like yore plan didn’t work. If we’re gonna use yore crazy tactics maybe you shou…” yammered Gritsnout before Voskriss knocked him flat, hissing in his face, “Lizzen, zoat! We have the furbeastzzz if we juzt keep a zteady attack! Zut up ‘an obey me or I will eat you!” Gritsnout cowered under the large reptile and chuckled nervously. “Heh heh, ya yew got it sir!” Snaketail the young rat giggled lightly at his tormenter’s fear, but the stoat heard him and pounced on him. “Oh, shaddap ‘an show me some respect, yew mangy mousy midget!” Snaketail bit back the pain as the stoat captain raked his back with his sharp claws, doubling the pain of his sprained leg. A popular sly-looking fox named Vastucian chortled with his cronies at Gritsnout’s antics. “Huh, Gritty the noble horde captain, terrified of General Dinosaur, but ‘ee thinks he’s all tough when he beats up on liddle kids. Some captain I say!” Gritsnout bared his teeth at him and snarled. “Watch yore tongue, fox! I’m a captain ‘an I outrank you. If this keeps up, I’ll tell Voskriss!” Vastucian snickered. “Yew big baby I’m…” Voskriss jumped into the conversation and crashed their heads together, knocking them silly. “Zut up all you! I have a plan, zo get me zum large branchezzz. Redwallzzz going down!”
Several Redwallers and Long Patrollers were sitting around a table, discussing matters. “Children of Redwall, it looks like Skipper and the Sergeant will be out for a while. But I was paying attention to what Skipper said, something about his crew. Redwall could really need help, especially otters, who are always good fighting beasts. Should we send somebeast out to find them?” proclaimed Abbot Arstead. “Maybe we should see Skipper. He would know where his crew would be.” Said Brother Forhill helpfully. “It would also be helpful to have our badger mother, Mara among us but she and Pikkle have been on a season-long trip to Salamandastron to see Urthstripe.” said Hildra, who was substituting Mara as dibbun guardian.“You want a jolly old runnin’ chap to get the blinkin’ job done? Galloper Lepwold’s as fast as the wind an’ brave as a badger, wot! Just give the word ‘an young Lepper’s on it.” declared Brigadier Elton Harringworthy proudly. Suddenly, Lepwold looked out from behind the door, looking excited. “Oh my giddy aunt’s flippin’ blinkin’ pinnyfore, wot! Ah’d love to get that jolly old ottercrew!” Arstead nodded his head. “Great! Now all we need to get is these otters’ location from Skipper.”
Lepwold and Arstead entered the Infirmary. “Hush! My patients are sleeping!” whispered Sister Selvia, who was watching over Skipper and Swiftbuck. “We just want to ask Skipper one quick question.” whispered the Abbot.
A little while later, Skipper woke up. “I do say now old lad, I’m getting your ottercrew for ya. Where are they?” whispered Lepwold. Skipper cracked a grin and mumbled, “Holt...Mossguard..."
Alderjack bounded out of the Laird’s house, upon hearing the harsh squawks of carrion birds. Two score of the black birds were attacking the three “little” owls, cawing and scratching them with their sharp talons. The large owlets weren’t going down without a fight though, even though they were massively outnumbered. The gold squirrel drew the great blade of Martin and flung himself at the birds, bellowing the time-honored battle cry of badger lords. “EULALIAAAA!” He hacked and sliced through the birds to get at the owlets as his friends dashed outside, with the two great horned owls in tow. Horlington Bradshaw Vittlescoff III lashed out with his powerful hind legs, snapping the neck of a crow that got too close to Alderjack. The Laird Rockwing and his wife, Lady Rockwing McGrawswooped in hooting ferociously as they killed crows left and right, “Whooo! Nae beast haerms mah eggchicks!” Treescamp shot down birds with lightning speed as Slimbrook plowed through the scavengers with her lance. Finally, the remaining few savage crows and ravens flew up, cawing rudely at being defeated. “Ya boo, you blinkin’ savages! No owlets’ are getting hurt on my watch, huh feathery cads, wot!” called Horlington, waving his spear at the retreating birds. “Now, ah shall hunt down every one o’ thae black bairds! Whooo! They have nae reason tae live if thae jus’ plunder oother baists.” Said the Laird. “Now, now m’Laird there ain’t any reason to just kill all of them. They’ll never be back to face the mighty Laird Rockwing, will they? They’re gone for good.” Advised Alderjack to the great horned owl “Och, laddie, you’re right aboot that. Now, if ye must be going, ah will scout froom mah skies an’ ‘elp ye on your quest. It’s the least ah could do, considering ye saved mah babbies.” The friends all looked very proud. “We would be honored to have the Lord of the Sky to join us!” Treescamp declared. The Laird nodded and shot up into the sky. “Whoot are we bae waiting faer? Let us continue on! Goodbye mah darlin’ tatercake, ah’ll be back soon!” the friends walked along the trail, bidding the Lady Rockwing MacGraw and her eggchicks goodbye. “Och, good-bye tae ye! ‘An good luck!” The Wisp slunk through the forest, clutching the Sword of Martin in his right hand, the Tapestry draped across his back, and his bagful of crying dibbuns slung over his shoulder. All odds were in his favor. Far, far away from Mossflower Country, across the mighty Western Sea, there was a great beautiful island; after overcoming the masses of surrounding wet fog, you saw it. The island was like an emerald amongst sapphires as its green jagged coasts rose above the waves. Here, great tribes of otters lived in harmony, led by the noble, just ruler, High Queen Rhulain Wildlough. A longtime friend of the current badger lord, Urthwyte, she was going on an epic voyage to meet him and receive a magnificent set of custom royal armor, fit for an otterqueen. She picked 4 score otters and her younger brother, Corriam to accompany her on the long journey. No vermin ever try to mess with strong, tough otters like them. It would be a relaxing, fun trip.
The Wavebreach departed off the long, rocky harbor, the rest of the otterclans waving Queen Wildlough and her ottercrew on as they disappeared into the ever- present misty shroud around Green Isle.
Lepwold snuck through the underbrush near Voskriss’ camp, trying to be careful not to attract the attention of the soldiers. He achieved this easily, muttering to himself, “Huh, jolly old vermin chaps! The blighters never even saw me, wot!” As if on cue, two vermin, a rat and a weasel came down the small trail. “Whaddya mean, Rigjaw? Ya mean ye couldn’t even snag a nice fat woodpigeon? Huh, take it from me; rats ain’t a fifth the hunter of a weasel! Voskriss said he needs fresh meat from you, or you’ll be the fresh meat. He wasn’t kidding, either!” exclaimed Dirgepaw the weasel. “Huh, ain’t nuthing wrong with good fresh fruit! Why don’t you let me borrow a bird?” whined Rigjaw the rat. “No way! I caught these here 5 pigeons meself, and jus’ cuz yew ain’t a good hunter doesn’t mean you can mooch offa me, unless you can fight me for them!”
Rigjaw was not big enough to beat Dirgepaw, and as the weasel was about to deliver the final punch, he suddenly fell over, right on Rigjaw. “Holy Hellgates! Wot was that?” he murmured as he shoved Dirgepaw’s bulk aside. Rigjaw then felt his paws leaving the ground. He too was then knocked unconscious as the pair of powerful hindlegs kicked him and sent him flying into an oak trunk.
Lepwold discarded Dirgepaw’s dead birds with disgust, and scooped up Rigjaw’s fruit. “Haw haw! Well, there ain’t anything jolly well wrong with fresh fruit! Wot!”
In a shadowy part of Mossflower Woods, Alderjack, Treescamp, Horlington and Slimbrook strode under the dappled leaves of the tall elms above, their owl friend Rockwing patrolling the skies above. Horlington, as always was eating, while Treescamp was playing a small flute he had fashioned from a reed along the stream bank, while Alderjack accompanied him on the leaf kazoo. Slimbrook was just feeding some birds when suddenly they flew away in alarm. Everyone stopped what they were doing when Laird Rockwing made a status report. “Whooo! Thaer be yon braw river joost a faer leagues fraem ere. Ah’m joost going tae scut oot ae bit.” And with that, he took off back into the air. Treescamp bent down and checked the light pawprints of the Wisp, to make sure they were on the right path. “Huh, I do say now chaps I call givin’ the thievin’ blighter a good beatin’ first! Wot!” piped Horlington. “Only if you can outrun my arrows until I turn the scum into a pincushion!” said Treescamp. Slimbrook gripped her javelin savagely. “Aye, mates. He’s got my baby brother an’ ‘is poor little friends. I’ll show ‘em!” Alderjack swung his sword and shouted “Redwallllll! I’m the Abbey Warrior an’ chop ‘em all inter crowmeat to get our dibbuns and stuff back!” Horlington stepped ahead and started walking backwards in front of his friends. “Hoho! Ain’t we a bunch old jolly old savages, wot! I pronounce that we all get to slap that shadowy secreted snooty stuff snatching sicko’s patootie a few jolly old rounds, wot, wot!” “Agreed! Reeedddwaaallllll!”
Slippy managed to poke his head out of the Wisp’s bag a little. “Burr hurr! Oi do be gurtly scurred of ee creetur!” sobbed little Bolo molebabe. “Aw, don’t wurry mates! At leezt we can see out now.” whispered Slippy. Suddenly, The Wisp stopped and changed directions for a ways, only to retrace his steps and slip through the underbrush, with no sign of any evidence he had been there.
Alderjack, who was at the front of their procession, halted abruptly. “Shhh, mates. Do you smell that?” All of them had smelled this scent before. It was sickly and stale smelling but smooth and slick. The first letter of all its adjectives also described its sound, “Ssssssssssss….. Ssssssssssss…..” All four friends read each other’s minds. “Snake!” Before they could assemble a plan, a high pitched squeak blended with the hissing. “Abandon the plan. There’s a baby animal in trouble out there!” Alderjack exclaimed. “Mates, abandon all weapons I got this. Just watch and be at the ready.” Said Treescamp as he hurried towards the snake.
A tiny shrewbabe stood rooted to the spot as the cold reptilian eyes of the predator petrified her. She stood helpless and froze under the hungry glare as the snake slithered closer and closer. Then, it suddenly switched its gaze to something else. A chocolate brown squirrel with a reed flute was playing a soft, peaceful tune, and the grass snake was listening, bobbing its head back and forth. Its eyelids became cloudy, and then the music stopped. Staring straight ahead, the squirrel experimentally paced back and forth to reveal that the snake was hypnotized, just as its small victim before. “Now we whack it! Yaaaaa!” Another squirrel, a hare and an otter charged from the bushed and beat it till the snake was out cold. “Haha! Now that’s how you deal with snakes, buddy! Now, who’s this little guy?” said Alderjack, pointing at the shrewbabe. “I bees Ubble! Mah daddy’s da best shoo chifftun inna alla Mussflurr! Imma Goozim Shoo, logalogalogalogalogalogalog!!!” the small shrewmaid roared. “Who be you bigga beestz?” Ubble jumped onto Slimbrook’s back as she listened to Alderjack. “I’m Alderjack and these are my friends Treescamp, Horlington and Slimbrook.” he said as he pointed out each friend. Ubble scampered up Slimbrook’s head then landed on Treescamp. “Well, thankee fer savin’ me but I donta need none ‘elp. Imma Goozim Shoo fighta! I wuza jus’ trickin’ ‘im till ee gotta ‘oo close da me.” Slimbrook asked the shrewbabe, “Goozim Shoo, huh I should’ve known! Ain’t yore daddy Log-a-Log Glinko of the Guosim shrews?” Ubble nodded vigoursliy. “Guosim shrews! Great! We’ll try to get you to your dad then, he’s my good friend. Why are you out here anyways?” questioned Treescamp. “Well, ah’m out on me luggboat away froom everybeastie else whenna big black scary h’animal scurrs me an’ trysta catcha me anna puttem in ‘is big bag. I hide ‘way from ‘im inna seecrut hidin’ spot cuz ee had a big ole sword anna bag wit udder dibbuns in it. ‘While laata ee goes da udder durrectshun.” All four companions looked at each other in alarm. “Wisp!” Horlington picked up the baby and put her on his shoulders. “Now, now little chap! We’ll get you to your dear old dad in a jiffy, wot! Shrewchaps, eh? Blinkin’ good fighters they are, an’ you’re no exception. Wot, wot!” Ubble giggled. “Wotwotwotwotwot! Jelly old blinken bliter chaps, wotwotwotwotwot! I’m gonna lika you, rabbet!