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THE STORY OF BLUESTRIPE THE WILD
It was late in the evening. Orlando the Axe had been out all day, going to find some food and Blue mountain flowers for his daughter, Auma. When he entered his home, he saw Auma sitting on a small armchair that Orlando had made for her. She turned around to look at him when he entered the room. He chuckled to himself. “Why aren’t you asleep yet, Auma?” he asked her. She got up and led him to his own chair, saying “don’t you remember, father? You said that you’d tell me a story when you got home.” Orlando put a paw on his brow, saying “of course I did. I almost forgot! Thank you for reminding me, Auma.”
He walked over to the fireplace and set his great battle axe on the shelf he had built for it. He turned and sat down in his armchair with a small sigh of satisfaction “Aaaahh, that’s better. Now, do you want to hear the story?”
Auma laughed and said “Of course I do!”
“Oh, you do? I didn’t notice!”
Auma whined “Pleeeease?”
Orlando laughed “heheheh, then lets begin. I’m going to tell you a story that I heard from my father, who heard it from his father, and so on. This was before the long patrol was formed, and that abbey, Redwall I think it was called, was built. It begins on a cold winter night, many seasons ago. I call it……”
“THE STORY OF BLUESTRIPE THE WILD”
Far out in Mossflower woodlands, Anzag Brownfang was in pain. He was larger than most foxes, with a leather eye patch, with a green emerald set into it, over his left eye. He was clad in a long red cloak, which covered most of his body. He wore a chain mail tunic, with an adder skin belt holding it up, with a long bone handled Scimitar thrust into it. Yenzan the healer was working on his wounds. The old, grizzled rat told him, in awed tones "ah, you are lucky to be alive, my lord. Most other creatures would have died from these injuries!” The silver fox replied painfully, and with much panting "...I don’t...*gasp* feel lucky....*gasp*....ye useless.....*gasp….pile.....of filth.....Can you hurry up with this?” While the healer covered what was left of his arm in dock leaves and poultices, he reflected on what had happened to him. He had been a fool to attack the badger family. Admittedly, he had killed the two badgers, but at a huge loss. He didn’t care about the loss of his troops, he could always get more. What hurt him most was the loss of his arm. The huge male badger had snapped it in half and ripped the flesh off of it after he killed the badger's wife. Stupid beasts, he thought. If they had just listened to him and showed him the way to the mountain of Salaman....something, they might have lived. Now, he would have to find out some other way. In the mean time, he felt he should try and rest while Yenzan healed his wounds.
The woodlands of east Mossflower were carpeted in deep snow. Icicles made the bear trees shine, and the indistinguishable bushes look like large, frosted cakes.
The beauty of winter was lost to a young male badger, with dark blue, almost navy colored stripes, who was charging through the forest in a rage caused by grief. Tears flowed from his usually Dark brown eyes, yet they were currently a dark crimson, caused by the bloodwrath. It was the sickness that plagued his family, who were the badgers that found and named the mountain on the west coast- Salamandastron, the mountain of the Fire Lizard. His father had always warned him about it. The Bloodwrath had been the cause of his Grandfathers death, who had died trying to defend Salamandastron from a large Wildcat named Ragfang Bladerunner, and his young son, Mortspear. His grandfather, Lord Halthron, had killed Ragfang, but died in the attempt. Mortspear sailed away, like the coward he was. He was too humiliated to ever return, or even mention the mountain.
The badger, Bluestripe, had been following the murder for half a season. It had all started when he had come home that day to find his mother and father slain. The only clue that he had to find out who had killed his family was a fox's severed arm. Bluestripe was hunting a murderer. He had only taken two things when he left the smoldering ruins of his home, his father's great double-headed halberd and his mother’s locket, which was created by his grandfather, in the forge of the mountain that his ancestors had found, far on the west coast of Mossflower.
It was the start of the summer, seven seasons after Bluestripe had found his parents dead and his home wrecked. The many trees in Mossflower were all covered in lush, green Foliage. Most of the woods were shaded, making the forest floor cool, undisturbed by the sun, save for patches of it shining emerald green through the leaves.
To say that Juliza Swiftree’s actions that morning were successful would have been a total miscalculation. The highland squirrelthief had raided more than a score of vermin camps. She was in an ecstatic mood. Even though she was a thief, she had a kind nature. She was young, strong, stubborn, and had the quickest wit of all the creatures in her highland tribe. Her emotions sometimes got the better of her. She had left her home about a season ago, leaving her father and his tribe to explore the southern country, known as Mossflower. She usually followed Vermin groups, sneaking into their camps each evening, and stealing from them. She felt totally justified doing this, and would usually return any valuable trinkets to their rightful Owners.
Juliza had backtracked from the vermin camps, thinking to herself. There weren’t any real valuables in the camp, just food, weapons, and the occasional trinket. She stopped by a big willow tree and buried the sack of items she had taken. When she was finished, she dusted off her long, simple green dress and checked her blades. She had three, which she valued very highly. They were the only things that she had to remember her home. On one side of her belt, she had buckled on a Sgian Dhu, which she called The Sting. On her other side, she had a curved blade, like a small Scimitar with a basket hilt, which she called The Fang. This was her favorite weapon, she had used it often for defense against vermin. Strapped across her back, she had a double hilted Claymore, her most powerful weapon, which she named The Claw. It was almost as long as she was tall, with a green emerald Pommel Stone set into its handle.
Once Juliza had hidden her plunder, she moved back through the forest, leaping through the trees. Suddenly, she stopped. The pretty squirrelthief had glimpsed something gleam in the light. She jumped out of the tree and moved into the clearing where she had seen the gleam. Moving slowly, she saw that a creature had recently camped there. The creature had obviously gone to forage for food, Juliza thought to herself. She picked up the item that was shining in the sunlight. It was a gold locket, with a mountain carved into it by some kind of strong creature. In the light, it gleamed and shone like fire. A sudden voice made her wheel around, drawing her sword, The Fang.
“Put that down if you want to live, Small One”
The speaker moved out of the shade. It was a massive badger, with dark blue stripes on his face, at least five times taller then Juliza. She clutched the locket closer to her, too scared to speak. This badger had the look of a real warrior, striding towards her clutching a huge double-headed Halberd. He repeated what he had said. “I told you to put that locket down, if you value your life, Squirrelmaid.”
Juliza spoke to the badger, her voice scared and high pitched, yet still with her heavy northern accent. “Ah’m sorry, guid sir! Och, I did nae realize yon wee locket was yours. Here, ye can ‘ave it back!”
The badger caught the locket as Juliza tossed it to him. He looked at her quizzically. “There’s no need to look so scared. I won’t hurt you. What are you doing here all alone?”
At once, Juliza’s mood changed. She became bright and cheery as she responded to the badgers question. “Ah’m Juliza Swiftree, eldest daughter of yon Swiftree clan. An’ as for yer second question, Ah’v decided tae roam yon woodlands. An’ how about ye? Och, ye must ‘ave a story, just like Ah do, ye kin?”
The badger laughed. “Hohoho! You’ve got a voice like a river, it’s always flowing out of your pretty little mouth. My name is Bluestripe, though I’ve been called Bluestripe the Wild, or the Wild one, over these past few seasons. Hmmm, my story…. Well it all began on a winter evening seven seasons ago.”
Bluestripe started getting a fire ready, and after a while sat back down.
“I lived in a cottage, far east of this place. I grew up there with my parents. I lived there until I was only about five or six seasons old. One winter, I went out to find some food for my parents. Around that time, a band of vermin were in the area. It didn’t really bother me- I was young and strong, and my father was, even though old, a strong, powerful warrior. My mother was a peaceful creature. When I returned to my home, I found it destroyed, and my parents dead.”
Juliza gasped, and tried to put an arm around Bluestripe’s broad shoulders, but failed due to the badger’s bulk. A tear rolled down her cheek as she said “Ah’m sae sorry! That must ‘ave been an’ ‘orribal thin’ tae witness! Ye must feel sae sad, ye poor creature!”
Bluestripe sighed. ”it was. It was the hardest thing to witness in my entire life. But I made a vow on that day. I would avenge my parents and find the Mountain of Salamandastron. It should have been my father’s duty to rule over it, but he never had time to find it, protecting the area of Mossflower. My grandfather ruled there, though. I will find it, or die trying.” He spoke the last thing as a statement, but Juliza could tell he meant every word of it as an oath.
“Well, I think its time to sleep. If you want to stay, Young one, you may.” Bluestripe said.
Before getting up, Juliza asked the badger something “Och, why does yon Locket mean sae much tae ye?” Bluestripe answered “It was my mother’s most valuable possession. I wouldn’t let another living creature steal it. Good night.”
“Guid night, sir”
Orlando the Axe slowly rose from his chair. “I think this is a good place to stop for tonight, Auma. We can continue the story tomorrow evening, if you remind me.”
Auma pleaded with her father. “Pleeeease, father? Can you tell me more of the story now?”
Orlando spoke sternly. ”No, Auma. You need your sleep. We will continue the story tomorrow evening. Good night.”
“good night, father” said Auma, finally leaving her chair and heading into her bedroom. Orlando chuckled to himself. He remembered when his father had told him the story. He had acted the same way, pleading and asking him to continue the story. Yawning, he moved from his chair, flexed his limbs, and went to bed.
The next evening Orlando the Axe walked through the door. He looked around. It was the same as yesterday. Auma was sitting in her chair, waiting for her father to get home and continue with his story. He chuckled. “Are you ready to hear the rest of my story, Auma?”
“Yes, of course, father!” Auma said. “But there’s something that I want to know”
“What is it, young one?” Orlando asked.
“What happened to the vermin that killed Bluestripe’s parents?” Orlando sighed “well, that is what the next part of the story is about! Now if you stay quiet, I will continue with the story…”
It was late evening. The Horde of Anzag Brownfang, known as the Horde of the Brown Fang (due to lack of creativeness) was spread out, setting up small tents and lighting campfires. If anyone had a view of the encampment from above, it would look like there were stars dotting the landscape below. A lone weasel was leaning against a great, gloomy oak tree. He had black fur and was covered in scars from previous battles. His name was Growlig. He had joined the horde many seasons ago, and had fought his way up the ranks until he was recognized through out the horde as Second in Command. As he was lying there, a pair of vermin passed him, talking to each other. He recognized their voices and thought to himself Aw, hells teeth! Not these guys again! He sank into the shadows and listened to their conversation. One of the vermin, a rat named Scroungy, was complaining to his companion, a stoat who was called Taggom.
“ere, Tag, what in the name of hellgates are we doin’ in a place like this? We ‘avent done anything since we attacked dat place in da Far East!"
Taggom nodded “I know, Scroung! Wwat eare we supposed to be lookin’ for anyway? Wats Anzag been leading us to?”
“now, do ye really want an’ answer to dat question?” said a voice from behind the two vermin. They jumped up, each grabbing their cutlasses, but froze as a Mace and Chain sped up between them. Growlig was standing right in front of them. He spun his mace in his hand. “why do yew two always complain? If Anzag had herd ye, both of ye would ‘ave been executed fer Mutiny. Never do it again, or next time I might not be so merciful.”
“thank you, lord”
“We will, lord”
Growlig watched the two hordebeasts run away. He smirked. Those two idiot’s mouths would someday be the death of them.
It was late evening. Growlig was prowling around the camp, suddenly stopping next to the largest tent. Two Ferret sentries carrying spears stood at its entrance. Growlig walked up to them, showing the two sentries a gold Paw Ring with an emerald set into it. The two Ferrets nodded once and opened the tent flap. He entered the tent. He gulped. There were two creatures sitting there. A grizzled old rat and a cloaked and hooded fox, larger than Growlig, The Rat looked up, but the fox kept its head down. The rat walked over to Growlig and said “what do ye need, Growlig?”
Growlig spoke. “I have some information for the Chief that I think he needs to know”.
The fox stood up, letting his hood fall back. The seasons had not been good for Anzag Brownfang’s appearance. The wounds that he had suffered from the badgers had healed, but left his face scarred. The Emerald in his eyepatch glistened in the light of the candles set around the tent. He beckoned with his paw at Growlig, while saying in a voice that sounded like the wind blowing through autumn leaves. “No, Yenzan, let Growlig step forward. I want to hear what he has to say”
Growlig stepped forward hunched over in a half bow. “My lord, many of your creatures are mutterin’ about th’ lack o’ food. They’re thinkin’ about mutiny. I know it!”
“Tell my troops to ask themselves whether they would rather stay in the eastern lands, where there is nothing but plague and Famine, or travel to the West? And also remind them what happens to Cowards in my Horde” as he said the last part, he drew back the rest of his cloak. It reviled his other arm. It was normal down past the elbow, but then the fur and flesh was torn away. The rest was bone- or what had been bone. Metal covered the rest of the bone; the end jagged and sharp. He used it as a second weapon, stronger than most blades. He laughed pitilessly at Growlig, watching as the weasel backed out of the tent.
That next day, Anzag Brownfang called his horde to him. The all assembled around him. Out of fear, Scroungy and Taggom stood in the back, out of view of their lord, shivering, and thinking that they were going to be executed in front of the horde. Anzag spoke. “My horde, I have called you here for a reason. I have received information that you are wondering where we are going. We are heading to a mountain on the West Coast. Once we arrive, we will conquer it. I will rule the whole of the West Coast, and you will follow me without question. If I here another complaint or question about my authority, the beast who did it will be killed. That is all I have to say”. And Anzag Brownfang turned his back, and strode into his tent, as the great horde of the Brownfang, moved away from the tent.
Orlando the axe got up from his chair and stretched, before looking over at his daughter. She got up and shuddered, saying “I don’t think I like the vermin, Father” Orlando gritted his teeth “I hope you never ever have to meet vermin. They are nasty, cruel, and evil. But don’t worry Auma. I will never, never let you get taken by vermin, or murdered by them. Now, I think a certain little badgermaid needs to go to bed” Auma got up, hugged her father and left the room. Orlando watched her go making a solemn oath that he would always protect her, no matter what.
Orlando once again arrived home, looked around, and saw his daughter in her little chair, waiting for him. He laughed, and put his axe up on the mantle. With out saying anything, Auma lead him to his armchair, and Orlando continued with his story.
It was mid morning. Sunlight was streaming into the clearing. Juliza was awakened by the smell of warm food. She rose from the ground and walked over to the fire. Bluestripe was no where in sight. She then spotted four large scones and a flask of Dandelion Cordial. She realized just how hungry she was, and remembered that she hadn’t eaten a warm, fresh meal in a while. The Squirrelmaid devoured all of the scones, and drank the entire flask of cordial. She leaned back against a tree and watched the clouds drift in the bright blue sky. A while later, Bluestripe walked into the camp and walked over to the fire. He turned towards Juliza and poked her, thinking that she was still asleep. She jumped onto Bluestripe’s back, startling him. She perched on the head and said “Och, Guid Mornin’ ye braw beastie! Did ah scare ye?”
Bluestripe laughed as he replied “Hohoho! That you did, you little prankster.” He then noticed the clear rock, where he had placed the scones and the empty flask. he looked up and asked Juliza “what happened to the scones?
The young thief giggled and said “Ah ate em all. They were delicious! Ah thank ye for leavin’ them for me.”
Bluestripe groaned “All of them?!? Two of those were for me! And I wanted some of that cordial! You seriously ate all of them?” Juliza immediately felt guilty that she had betrayed her new friends trust. She burst into tears, apologizing profusely “WHAAAAAAAAH!!! Am sae sorry! Ah did nae realize that they were for ye! Och, can ye forgive me?”
Bluestripe patted her on the head. “it’s not your fault. Now, try and pull your self together, your getting my head wet!” It took Juliza several minutes to stop crying. When she did, she helped Bluestripe to pack up the camp. they then moved together through the woods until around midday. They then started cooking their meal. They had just began to eat when they heard a commotion nearby. They jumped to their feet, Juliza grabbing her Claymore, The Claw, and Bluestripe grabbing his Halberd. Bursting out into a clearing, they saw the cause of the trouble. A group of vermin were tormenting a mole, which was curled up in fright. Bluestripe roared and ran towards the vermin, which by that point had noticed the two warriors. Juliza was hot on his heels. “EULALIAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA”
The battlecry of Bluestripe’s ancestors roared throughout the clearing. He swung his halberd, cleaving two of the vermin. Juliza dug her blade straight through the third one. They both turned towards the last one, who screamed, throwing his spear away, and fleeing through the woods, still screeching in terror. After wiping off their blades, the badger and the Squirrelmaid turned to the mole. he thanked them, speaking in his rustic molespeech.
“Guid day to ‘e, Zur an’ miz. Oim Burbun ‘e mole. Thanke fur saving oi. If’n ‘e bees needing Oi, oi can ‘elp ‘e.”
Juliza bounded foreword and spoke to the mole. “Och, Ahm Juliza Swiftree, an’ that Grand Ould Beastie over there is called Bluestripe Th’ Wild. We culd use yon ‘elp. We ‘ave tae get tae th’ Western Shore, Ye kin. Can ye ‘elp us?”
Burbun nodded his head, smiling as he replied. “Bur, Oi can ‘elp ‘e, Miz. Oi know a noice beast, ‘e called Zur Log-a-log. Ifn oi can get to a Stream, oi might be able to contact ‘e. Zur Log-a-log camps around ere every zummer.”
Bluestripe kneeled down and spoke to the mole “thank you Burbun. We can use the help. If you can contact this Log-a-log person, we would love to have you join us on our journey.”
Burbun beamed, his eyes crinkling up. “thankee, zur. Oid love to go with ‘e.”
The three friends walked back to their campsite to Finnish lunch, leaving the three vermin corpses in the clearing. The fourth vermin, who had hidden behind a tree after pulling himself together, heard most of the conversation. He trekked of through the woods, back to the camp that he had left. The camp, that belonged to the Horde of The Brown Fang!
It was close to evening. Growlig was once again walking along the edge of the forest. The black weasel heard a branch snap, and quickly turned, drawing his mace. A ferret, the last surviving vermin out of the group, ran up to Growlig.
“Badger…in the Forrest…traveling to the West Coast…finding mountain…” he gasped, and then passed out. Growlig moved the ferret into the camp, and then ran towards Anzag Brownfang’s tent. He entered the tent and told his superior, who ordered Growlig to find the best tracker in the horde. He also requested that his captains come to the tent.
Growlig arrived back to the camp with the Tracker, Badsnout, and the captains, Doomfur, Claweye, and Thaed. Theramsoon, a huge Polecat and Anzag’s personal assassin also came.
Anzag explained his plan to the group. “I have received information that a badger is heading towards the West Coast. I need each of you to pick out a score of your best fighters and put them under the lead of Badsnout. You will go with them, Growlig, you too, Theramsoon. Follow the badger and his group. They will lead us to the mountain. When you arrive there, send back half of the force to lead us there. Well, what are you waiting for? GO!”
He slashed at them with his arm-blade, causing most of the vermin to run out of the tent. The last one remaining was Theramsoon. Anzag beckoned the Assassin towards him. The polecat moved forward, his gray eyes showing now emotion. Anzag leaned forward and whispered to him “if any of them try attacking the badger or his group, or attacks the mountain before I arrive, kill them. They can’t ruin the plan. Now, go.”
And Anzag Brownfang, Scourge of the East Coast, watched his assassin walk out of the tent.
Bluestripe’s party had been walking for a few hours before they finally arrived at the stream. Burbun walked forward and looked around. He turned and spoke to the Badger. “Bur, If Zurr Log-a-log bees ‘ere, Oi ‘ave t’ let ‘im kno that we need ‘im.” Burbun threw back his Velvety little head and shouted in his deep Bass voice “LOGALOGALOGALOGALOOOOOOG!”
A few seconds later, several more voices called back ‘’LOGALOGALOGALOGALOOOOG!”
Several logboats sped down the stream, packed full of shrews wearing bright headbands, broad belts and kilts. Each shrew had a rapier, which they kept thrust in their belts. One shrew, taller than the rest, jumped off the boat onto the shore. He walked up to them and spoke to Burbun.
“I should have known it was you, Bur. Every time we come into this area, you call us. Who are your friends?”
Bluestripe stepped forward. “Hello sir. Im Bluestripe the wild, and the Squirrelmaid is Juliza Swiftree.”
The shrew looked up at Bluestripe. “By the claw! You’re a big beast! Im Log-a-log Stev-han, leader of the Guosim. We can help ya with whatever you need, sir.” Bluestripe explained his story to Log-a-log. The shrew scratched his head.
“Salamanwotsit? I don’t know any mountain with a name like that on the west shore. It might be farther south, though. I know someone who can help ya, though. We can take you to him, if ya want.”
“That will be fine, sir.” Said Bluestripe “and thank you for taking us with you”
Looking over at his logboats, Log-a-log laughed.” My shrews seem pleased that you’re coming, too”
Bluestripe looked up and laughed, too. All the shrews were trying to impress Juliza, who had them entranced with her beauty. She took it in her stride, enjoying all of the attention.
Bluestripe walked over, saying "ok, leave the maid alone! she needs to breathe!"
he got into the logboat, seating himself in the middle. Juliza sat next to him. she waved goodbye to the shrews, who began arguing about who she was waveing at.
Not far away, The Trackers that were picked by Anzag’s Captains were Hiding in the Shrubs. They looked at each other, nodded once, and ran back to the 30 or so assorted Vermin, to report to Growlig, who was in Charge. After hearing the report, Growlig called the Captains over. He relayed the news to them, who in turn told their Charges. The vermin Packed up camp, and started their march.
It was several days after Bluestripe, Juliza, and Burbun had joined up with Log-a-log and his Shrews. Burbun had finally gotten used to traveling by boat, much to the relief of the shrews in front of him on the logboats. The small ships skipped across the River, with the shrews singing an old boating song.
- “Pull, boys, pull!
- O, we’re the sons of the roarin’ shrews
- And a logboat is the home we choose
- O, pull, me bullies, pull!
- Now we can stamp an’ we can fight
- An’ paddle logboats day and night
- Pull, boys, pull!
- I was born in a stream on a stormy day,
- So I jumped in a boat and paddled away.
- O, Pull, me bullies, pull!
- A paddles me son an’ a boats ma wife,
- An’ the open water is my life.
- Pull, boys, pull!
- O, I can scoff an’ outfight you,
- I’m the paddlin’ son of a roarin’ shrew.
- O, Pull, me bullies, pull!”
Bluestripe turned to Juliza. “These shrews are pretty good singers. Who would have thought!”
Juliza smiled. “Och, yer right, but Ah’m thinkin’ that this ‘ere Treejumper kin sing better than yon shrews, ye kin? Bluestripe chuckled. “Then lets see what you’re made of” Juliza cleared her throat, and sang out clearly and quickly. She had a wonderful voice, which caused all the shrews to stop anything that they were doing at the time.
- “Ah once knew ah creature,
- who lived all alone,
- ‘E lived in a farm
- That ‘is father ‘ad grown
- E once had a family,
- One large an’ sae strong,
- But now he’s alone,
- In ‘is household forlorn.
- But, though he is lonely,
- An’ sometimes real sad,
- ‘e ‘as many friends,
- So ‘is life Ain’t that bad.”
As she finished the short song, all the shrews on the logboats cheered and clapped. She stood up in the boat and tried to bow, but became unbalanced and fell off the logboat into the river. Bluestripe reached over the side and pulled her back in. she giggled. “Ah’m guessin’ that Ah should nae sing on yon boat, fer Mah Health’s sake. Ah could drown if ye don’t ‘elp me Oot!”
then, from the front of the logboat, they heard Log-a-log call out “Our destination is up ahead! prepare to go Ashore!”