Dawn was just arriving, and the sun had just begun its upward journey into the sky. It was another glorious spring morning in Mossflower Woods, and creatures of all different sizes and species were crowding out of their dens and burrows.
- Farther along this beautiful landscape, on the western shores, a young rabbit sniffed the cool morning air outside his burrow and slowly hopped about curiously. He grabbed a small flower coming out of the sand and yanked. He went head over paws, having pulled out half a root system. "Cornello, dear, what did I tell ye about -" began his mother, a fine looking rabbit, coming out of the entrance behind him, which was built into a sand dune. Suddenly she screamed, "Get away from there, it's a ferret!"
- "Wot's wrong wid 'er?" asked the ferret, who was actually quite young himself. Cornello looked at him inquisitively.
- "I dunno wuf she'f iv's w'ong wif," answered the little buck, picking a dandelion and nibbling on it, "'cept she'f alwave sayin' not to go near ta -" Suddenly, a large blue pommel stone struck his head, and he collapsed in an untidy heap. Six beasts stepped out behind the mother rabbit and gagged her. "Hohoho, yew did yer part well, Fijrag me 'eart!" said a large weasel patting the young ferret fondly. "Now, t' git these two rabbets up to th' ship...Flooge, Felgrag, Sitgull! Yew take this liddle babby's mum to d' ship, I kin take care o' 'im, eh eh. Riggleye, Groaty, yew keep a-clearin' our tracks."
- The weasel swept the unconscious Cornello up into his arms. "Git some rest now, me liddle 'eart, I'll take care o' yew fer th' Cap'n. Don't yew worry. Everybeast, back to th' ship!" he yelled, then they set off up the coast, the two rabbits in tow.
Fendallio Whirrsling Muffinstuff Canesford III, a young hare in his fifteenth season, pushed fruitlessly at a cart piled high with bright crimson apples, trying to get them over the last sand dune before he would reach Salamandastron, home of the legendary fighting force that he had so long striven to join.
- "Oh papa," asked Fendallio's sister Berrie, who was quite shy, "will there be a giant, angry badger there? Or those huge hares that can knock houses down?"
- Colonel Fendallio Canesford II looked at his daughter warmly. "O' course not! Now, don't go around tellin' everybeast 'bout those hoo-haw stories I used t' tell y' as a lev'ret, mind y'. Those were just f' a bit o' bally flippin -" The Colonel's wife, Celia, cut him off.
- "What did I tell y' 'bout usin' language 'round th' young 'uns, Fendallio Scoffberry Canesford? Why, Berrie is but thirteen seasons old! Shame on ye!"
- "Alright marm, alright! Now, anyways - those stories were but a bit o' fun. Lord Amrian is certainly no angrybeast, why, 'e'd get real sad even if 'e 'ad 'urt a fly!
- "Need some 'elp there, buckoe?"
- The young Fendallio gave a sigh of thanks as he passed the job over to the older hare. At that moment, the group crested the dune, where they all gasped at the beautiful sight that was taken in. From the dune, they could see the great mountain of Salamandastron, from its rocky base to its majestic crater, high above them.
- "There she is, Fenallio: Salamandastron!" said Fendallio the elder to the younger, who gazed longingly at it, transformed.
- "It's beautiful!" sighed Berrie. Suddenly, right beside them stood four hares who looked only slightly younger than the Colonel. "So she is, m' gel; so she is!" said the first hare, answering Berrie, who was still quite surprised.
- "Where'd you come from?" she asked shyly.
- "Th' ol' sneak-up tactic, m' gel," answered the hare, a proud-looking beast with a shining sabre through his belt and a silver medal on his spotless uniform, accompanied by a blush in his cheek and a twinkle in his eye. "Colonel 'ere taught me when I was but a liddle beast, younger 'n y'self. 'Member, sah?"
- "Quite, young Calfrey," answered the Colonel. "Y' were so 'orrible at learnin' it, 'ow could I f'get!"
- "Well, let's get y' t' th' mount, eh, sah," said Calfrey, "'tis almost time f' lunch!"
- Cornello awoke on the churning deck of a large vessel, wondering where he was. He noticed his mother nearby, heavily shackled and bound to the mast. A large, wicked-looking fox stood in front of her, yelling angrily.
- "I don't know what you're talkin' about, Sir, I already said so!" she cried.
- "Oh, yes?" said the fox slyly. "Perhaps you know...this!" His three-roped flail struck her unmercifully, falling in agonizing blows.
- "Now," said the fox, "let's try again. You must know a way into that mountain, rabbit, you must! Or maybe...how many beasts are defending it?"
- "No! Even if I knew - ungh!" she collapsed as a rat, at the fox's signal, knocked her senseless. "That one's pretty tricky, I'd say..." said the fox wickedly. He stopped the rat as it was putting her below-decks, saying, "No, I think she'll do better in the sea." With a chuckle, the rat tossed her limp form overboard, where it was swallowed by the waves. He motioned toward Cornello, who was bound tightly. "Untie him. He's too young to give us any information, but he may last awhile as a galley slave for Lord Glagoz. C'mon, we've got ter git back to the fleet, 'cos Glagoz'll 'ave yer lousy 'eads if we aren't back by nightfall!" The ship, titled Bloodwave, listed to one side as it turned back towards the open ocean, then was lost from sight in the darkness of the sea.
- The thunderstorm that was brewing did not seem to bother the great stone fortress that seemed to jut straight up out of the middle of the great sea. Somewhere on its dreary parapets, a shape materialized from the swirling mists. Waves struck the rocky fortification. A massive, sudden thunder bolt flashed across the sky.
The sound of weeping and groaning could be heard, echoing up from the dark and gloomy depths of the castle as hundreds of slaves were ushered along the grounds. An old vole stumbled and fell. "Release him from the lines, Glargol," said the figure, pulling his blood-red cloak closer to him. "Yes, Master, as you command, Master!" said the rat.
- "He has not meat on his bones, Master," began Glargol as he led the vole toward the barracks, the figure stopping him as he descended the wallsteps of the fortress. "Say no more, my friend..." It took only a small push. The vole hurtled into the waters, where he disappeared with a splash.
Four burly stoats kept the line of slaves going. "This'll be yer new 'ome from now on, me beauties! Ain't dat right, Ilrag?"
- "Yup, that's wot Vlint said," answered the stoat called Ilrag.
- "Ahoi th' garrison, pris'ner 'scapin'!" shouted Gliffle, Ilrag's companion. Ten assorted vermin rushed down the wallstairs and soon caught the beast, a small mousebabe. "What do we do with this one, sire?" they called up the wallstairs to the figure.
- "Put it in the dungeons without food or water a few days, that will clear its thoughts of escape."
- "Aye, Lord!" called the Captain of the patrol. But he was calling to nothing. Lord Glagoz was gone!
- At Redwall Abbey in Mossflower Woods, a full scale feast had been prepared for the celebration of the birth of the Skipper of Otters' new son. The Skipper announced he would reveal the babe's name sometime during the feast, so every Redwaller was beside his or herself with excitement. Rollia the otter was feeding the new arrival on a ladleful of hotroot soup when Skipper Barro entered. There was a toast and a loud "Hooray!" as he sat down at the table in Cavern Hole.
- "Who said I was tellin' y' 'is name now?" asked the river otter with a chuckle. The sigh was evident. They had all thought he would tell them at the start of the feast.
"Just jokin', just jokin'!" laughed Barro. "'Is name will be Rillyon, after 'is ol' granfer."
- "Three cheers for Skipper an' Rillyon, then!" shouted the assembly of Redwallers. A mouse named Nafond stood up. "A toast to the Skipper and 'is fam'ly, may their seasons be long an' fruitful!" she suggested.
- "A toast!" shouted everyone else and, with a clink of mugs, they emptied their beverages wholeheartedly.