Dampdogg and Splitleg strolled through the woods. They were both stoats, and evil ones at that. They had cutlasses in their teeth, and spears at the ready. They bounded through the woodlands, kicking and chopping at the foliage as they went.
"Ahoy, matey! Oi thinks ah sees the red abbey a'ead!" said Dampdogg.
"Yer right, Dampy! 'Tis tha abbey! We gotta report ter Master Redflank Spits et once!" Said the other stoat, as the two ran off. Then a skinny weasel, with an iron helmet and a hook in his paw, jumped down from a tree, and he landed where the two stoats had been just a moment before. The weasel landed with no sound at all, and he even got to watch the stoats run off. Good thing they never looked back!
"Chief, they's gone! We'd bes' warn the abbey!" Said the weasel, as a few more beasts climbed down. They were all weasels.
"Good scoutin' Wedgenose. Yew'd best be glad them stoats ne'er looked be'ind 'em!" Said Burglebuber, patting his mate on the back. Wedgenose chuckled.
"Thank ye, chief. Now, lets not waste no mer time an' get ter the abbey!" Said the weasel, and with that the band of creatures headed for the abbey. They numbered about a score in total.
Ravenshade the weasel was guarding the army's camp when Splitleg and Dampdogg ran up.
"Wit'r ye doin' 'ere? Did ye scout out the abbey loik Master said ye woul'?" asked the weasel.
"Yah, we scouted 'em out alright! As soon as we saw et we came straight back ter ye!" Said Splitleg. Ravenshade clouted him.
"Yew fool! Ya shoulda climbed the wall an' counted their numbers! Ye coulda done more'n jus' look at et, brainless maggit!" Shouted the weasel. The two stoats cowered.
"Well, Master dedn't tell us ter do that! 'E on'y said ter scout et out!" Said Dampdogg, pleadingly.
"Yah! We's on'y doin' orders!" Said Splitleg, further trying to save the moment.
"Wadda ya think the word 'scout' means? Et means get a good look at the abbey, count their numbers, find out 'ow many er strong an' ablebodied an' count the young an' the ole! But yew fools dedn't know tha' did yew?" said Ravenshade, his face a fraction away from the cowering stoats.
"Y-y-we dedn't... s-s-sir." Said Dampdogg.
"Then yew'll learn!!" Screamed Ravenshade, lashing with his bullwhip. The stoats screamed in pain and agony, as more blows were laid upon them. Other vermin on the horde were drawn to the punishment carried out, and they began to cheer Ravenshade.
"Geddim be'ind the ears, cap'n!" Said a rat.
"Slap 'em on the back!" Shouted a fox.
"Beat 'em, beat 'em 'till they're beggin' fer death!" Shouted a skinny, evil looking weasel.
Abbott Turrio scuttled about, making sure everything in the abbey was neat and tidy. Brother Howell, gatehouse keeper, was baking his famous Strawberry scones with honey, and all the dibbuns loved them. The abbott had sent Brother Jubble and Sister Derria to help Howell with the naughty babes.
"Now, now baby Punger, if'n you go along an' play with your friends you can 'ave scones later!" Said Derria.
"Punga wannem now! Geddem now!" said the squirrelbabe, as Jubble dragged him away from Howell.
"Punger, you can have a beaker o' strawberry cordial if'n ya lets them gentlebeasts cook." Said Eggerberry Higglethorn Trumpers, the resident hare of redwall. All three of the mice looked at him.
"Egg, we ne'er agreed to that!" Said Derria.
"Egger, you know Punger'll drink more'n that!" Said Jubble.
"I say, let Punger drink! He'll leave us in peace!" Said Howell, to the others astonishment. However, the other mice quickly agreed, and Eggerberry led the baby squirrel to Purlow's cellars.
"Yah, baby Punga'll leave yas inner pieces!" Agreed the squirrelbabe. Egg laughed.
"I say, young Punger m'lad, you'd best practice pronouncin' them words right! Somebeast might misunderstand them someday! Wot, wot!" Said the hare, chuckling to himself.
Ravenshade the weasel hordecaptain walked up to Redflank Spit's tent.
"Yer might'ness, sir. I 'ave ter report two dead hordestoats, sah!" Shouted the weasel, standing to attention. He was straight up and down, with his cloak blowing in the wind behind him.
"Then burn their bodies! Wait! Were they the two who scouted my abbey?" asked a very, very deep voice, that sounded evil in every manner.
"Y-yes master. They gave a full report, but all they did was take a glimpse of the abbey. I beat 'em t'death fer bein' shoopid an' not gettin' more infermation!" Said the weasel, a little nervous.
"Which direction is my abbey in?" Asked Gruntfang.
"South, chief. Straight south." Said Ravenshade.
"Then y'can go south wit five udder beast an' do a better job o' scoutin' than them two stoats did!" Said Redflank. Ravenshade gulped, but he obeyed.
"Y-yes master!" Said Ravenshade, picking five weasels to go with him.
"Yew five, come wit me! We've got scoutin' t'do an' we better do better than 'em stoats did!" Said Ravenshade to the weasels. The skinny, evil-looking weasel stood out from the others.
"A'course we're doin' better than the stoats! They was stoats, an' they was idjits 'cause o' that alone! Wes's trained weasels, smartest o' the lot an' the most efficient. Can't imagine why master 'as stoats, foxes, an' rats too!" He said.
"Yew kin shuddup now, Stumplent. Nobeast cares aboot yer opinion, an' yew'd bedder not say tha' infront o' Master! 'E'd 'ave yer guts!" Said Ravenshade.
"Wit Master duzzen' know wont 'arm 'em." Muttered the weasel.
Burglebuber and his gang arrived at redwall on noon. They knocked on the gate, and Sister Hayflower stuck her head over the wall.
"Brother Howell's baking scones, so I'm in charge o' the gatehouse 'till 'e finishes. I'll let ye in." She said. Burglebuber, and the nineteen others strode in quickly.
"I have a report. Where's Abbot Turrio?" Asked Burglebuber.
"Ole Father Abbot? 'E's in great hall, with Foremole and Skipper, discussing why you ain't here sooner!" Said Hayflower, as the gang walked up to the doors of the main abbey building. When Burglebuber entered the hall, the Abbot, Skipper, and Foremole were astonished.
"We though vermin had gotten you!" Said the Abbot.
"Burr ee weezul be a toughun, Oi though yurr'd been loest in ee swampers!" Said Foremole.
"'E don' care wit we thought 'e'd done! 'E's back, so lets ask 'im aboot 'es report, mates!" Said Skipper.
"No need t'ask, I 'ave important news! We saw two stoats nearby, they were scoutin' the abbey, and they mentioned their leader, they said 'e was 'Redflank Spits'. Any'un 'eard o' 'em?" Said Burglebuber, his gang nodding as he spoke.
"Never heard of him, yet this is important news! Skipper, you can and your captains within your crew can lead scouting patrols around the abbey, we can't have vermin about!" Said Abbot Turrio.
"Aye, Abbot, I'll get Streakpaw an' River'ead te lead twinney otters north an' south. Me 'n' Jogglod can go east an' west." Said Skipper, before he went off to gather his otter crew
Ravenshade and his weasels were at the east-gate in the abbey. They'd witnessed about twenty otters leave, into all directions. Ravenshade nudged Stumplent and the other weasels.
"Start climbin' the wall! I'll go last en case them otters see us, I'll be the first t'fight 'em an' ye kin stay up in safety!" Said Ravenshade. All the other weasels thought he was very brave for this, and they were also glad, when in reality, they were being fooled into facing the sentry guarding the wall top. Ravenshade was glad they believed him. The first weasel began climbing, and when he reached the top a spear grew out of his neck and he fell, screaming to his death. Stumplent, who went second leapt onto the wall top and met Tanzo the otter. The weasel snarled, bared his fangs, and made a crude sweep with his sword, easily missing Tanzo. He then lunged again, missing. He shouted and slashed, also missing.
"Yew fool, let me teach ye a bit o' the blade!" Said Tanzo, running Stumplent through. The weasel's face was the picture of shock, as he fell from the walltop. The third weasel lost his grip before he reached the top, and fell. He landed on the fourth weasel. He died from the fall and also crushed the other weasel. Ravenshade and the last weasel fled the scene. They made up a string of lies, to use when they were to report to Redflank.
"There was ten o' 'em master, an' I fought loik a divvil. They attacked from all sides. They killed four o' us but we survived. None o' 'em did. We was on the wall top, an' we counted their numbers!" Said the other weasel.
"Yeah, there was two 'undred an' fivety two o' 'em chief, all farmers an' merchants! They don't stan' a chance aggin us!" Said Ravenshade.
Captain Fullaree Flirkdosey of the Long Patrol strode ahead of the rest. He had been sent with ten score hares to patrol the surrounding area of salamandastron Berula Vilefighter, the current badger-lord, and Violet Widestripe's daughter, has given Fullaree strict orders to defend the lands against vermin. If they found trace of vermin, they were allowed to follow, even if that meant going as far east as Mossflower Woods.
"I say, young laddiebuck, step lively now! Don't want to be left behind for Vilefighter t'scoff ye, wot!" He joked towards Leekpaw, a younger female hare.
"Oh, haha, captain. Ah'll go faster if you want me to, sah!" She said.
"You better do that, missy, wot!" Said Sergeant Hoozer.
"Yes sah! Ah will sah! Will do sah! Anythin' else sah?" Said the young haremaid, saluting smartly.
"How'd ye do it Sergeant? I've been working on that young haremaid for jolly ole months now!" Asked Fullaree.
"Oh, 'twas easy really, wot! Ah said if'n she didn't foller me orders to the word ah'd cut 'er rations short, wot wot!" Said the Sergeant, chuckling.
"Haha, she is a glutton you bloody ole bounder, wot!" Said Fullaree.
Ritch the fox, Skullo the ferret, and Gudjee the stoat were all vermin in the hordes of Redflank Spits. They were just one of the many vermin in the horde, numbering up to five hundred. They came bounding up to the tent of Redflank.
"Sir, ah sighted a bunch o' otters comin' from th'south!" Said Ritch.
"'Ow many?" Asked a very deep voice, that sounded very evil.
"A score et th'most, master!" Said Skullo.
"Send for Ravenshade!" Ordered Redflank. The three hurried to obey. The weasel reported to Redflank.
"Master, why do you send f'me?" He asked.
"Take that smart weasel, Grale, that strong stoat Gudjee, and forty others! Route out the otters! Take one as a prisoner, but slay the rest!" Said the vermin commander.
"Yes, master." Said Ravenshade. He was not happy with his orders. He hated Grale, as the weasel was smarter and better at fighting than himself. He disliked Gudjee for his brashness and stupidity, but the stoat was a good warrior. He kicked Grale.
"Giddup, maggit! Master says yer t'accompany mah!" Said Ravenshade, smirking.
"Aye, that's Redflank's brains f'ye! He sent mah wit yer t'make sure yew make th'right decisions." Said Grale, unwitting stating a true fact. Ravenshade just scoffed, and went for Gudjee.
Streakpaw the otter bounded through the woodlands, with a score of otters behind him. He sighted an ermine ahead of him. He stopped and held up his paw for silence.
"Well mates, looks like there's a vermin a'ead o' us." He whispered to an otter warrior carrying a hatchet.
"Aye! Wan' me t'dispatch o' et?" He asked Streakpaw.
"Nah, we'll see what th'scum wants." Said the burly otter leader.
"Ahoy, vermin, wit'd'ye want, eh?" He asked. Scroffhide was a crafty ermine. Once he heard the otters shouting at him he ducked into the bushes, allowing Grizzle the weasel to stand up.
"Ah wan' ye t'drop them weppins an' foller mah!" Said the weasel, as she ducked. A rat popped up.
"Yah! Git dose weppins on da ground before ah coont ta fwee!" Said the rat. He then ducked allowing Gudjee the stoat to stand up. The otters still hadn't dropped their weapons. The stoat, with no words, threw his spear at Streakpaw, slaying the otter. At that moment two score vermin, armed to the teeth jumped out of the bushes. The otters were surrounded.
"Haha, ye slopgutted maggits! Ye slayed Streaky, but ye won' git mah!" Shouted the otter warrior with the hatchet. Grizzle, Scroffhide, Gudjee, Grale, Ravenshade, and the others then jumped the otters, cruelly slaying with every slash.
"Haha, mah matey Grizzle, luk! Ah slayed a big h'otta!" Said the rat to his friend, the female weasel Grizzle.
"Hoho, Backbrush ye great fool! Ye steel kin't talk right, eh? Tha' rabbet's 'ammer musta 'it ye pretty 'ard!" She said, feeling her scabbard to make sure the large hammer was still there.
"Aye, da 'amma wuzz vurry 'ard. Ah wuz almust slayed!" Said the rat, Bentbrush.
Ravenshade strode back to camp, with Streakpaw's head on his broadsword. Ritch and Skullo were the first to see them, and they rushed back to Redflank's tent. Captain Ribgrin the fox accompanied Redflank when the huge vermin leader came to see Ravenshade and his vermin. Ribgrin was a big, brute of a fox, but not very smart. He was a low ranking officer. Ravenshade was the head captain, and second in command to Redflank.
"Master Redflank wants t'see ya!" Said Ribgrin.
"Aye, o'course 'e does!" Said Grizzle.
"Shuddup, y'fool! Yew weren't spoken ter, so why'd'ye speak, eh?" Said Ravenshade, kicking the female weasel.
"Ah! Stop 'ittin' mah, cap'n! Ah dinno why ah spoke, cap'n!" Wailed the vermin being kicked. Ribgrin stopped Ravenshade.
"Stop kickin' th'weasel an' repert t'Redflank, fool!" He said.
"Master, we slayed all th'otters 'xcept two. They's tied up be'ind mah." Said Ravenshade, saluting after he spoke. He then stepped aside as Scroffhide and Backbrush dragged in the otter warrior with the hatchet and a skinnier, old one.
"Yah! We git slaves now!" Said Ribgrin, doing a little jig in delight. For the first time during the meeting, Redflank did something. He slapped Ribgrin.
"Y'fool! They ain't slaves, idjit! They's goin' t'be givin' us infermation!" Said Redflank. Ribgrin stopped dancing.
"Yah! Good 'dea masta!" He said.
Along the shores of the great western sea, Captain Fullaree and the hares stared sadly out to sea. They'd found Laithwaight MacGingle's corpse on the sea. Laithwaight was a Corporal in the Long Patrol, and a very, very perilous one. He retired as he got older and lived on the shore. He used a huge fighting hammer as a weapon. They'd found his corpse in his home, which was burnt and destroyed. There were dead vermin everywhere. He had slain them whilst defending himself. His wounds were stab wounds and slash wounds, mostly on his back. He was laid out in the burnt wreckage of his home, stiff as a board, with a maimed back. The hares had floated his body out to sea, as a final resting place. Some of the younger recruits sniffed as the body floated farther and farther, into the watery carpet.
"Ah'd always heard stories about ole Laithy, he'd fight one enemy, and out eat the rest, wot!" Said Sergeant Hoover, trying to cheer some of the young hares up.
"Too bad the ole bounder's hammer is nowhere to be seen!" Said Fullaree.
"I say, old chaps. Ah think ah know who'd have stolen a huge hammer like that, wot wot" Said Leekpaw.
"Who da ya tink woulda stoled et, eh? Haha!" Said a huge rat, who stepped out of the bushes. Soon about seven score other rats followed him.
"Vermin! Absolute bounders! Drop them weapons, sah!" Said Hoover.
"They'll be the ones wot stole th'hammer!" Said Fullaree.
"Hamma? Wot hamma he's be talkin' 'bout mates?" Asked the big rat chieftain to his seemingly second in command.
"Aye aye chief. We dunno where's any hammas be!" Said the second in command.
"I say, you rat-bounders! Hand over the hammer an' we'll git goin'!" Said a young galloper, by the name of Fleetbuck.
"Aye! We'll take the hammer, or we'll jolly well give ye blood'n'vinegar an' take it anyways!" Said Hoover.
"Haha, shoopid longears beast! We gotta no hammas! On'y hatchits, swords, daggas, an' club! No hamma you kin search us hah!" Said the rat chieftain. Then a small, runty and old rat stepped out.
"Bogratt horde knowa where d'hamma iz dough!" He said.
"Shukkup, ya shoopid! We norra tellya where Bogratt see da hamma!" Said the rat chieftain.
"Tell us, or we'll give ye jolly ole blood'n'vinegar! Las' chance!" Said Captain Fullaree.
"We norra git jokky ole bludd'n'vinnygarr. We norra tellya where hamma iz, eitha!" Said the rat chieftain, drawing his hatchet. The other rats responded by drawing weapons, snarling and shouting.
"Bogratt! Bogratt! Bogratt killya!" They screamed.
"Streakpaw ain't reported back yet." Said Skipper to Abbot Turrio.
"Yes. I don't know if he's alright, Skipper. Jogglod, Riverhead, and you have retuned fine." Said the Abbot.
"Yeah. Streakpaw was 'eaded north. Per'aps ah'll find him there." Said Skip.
"Aye. Take two-score with you, Skip. Streaky only took one score." Said Turrio.
"Father, there ain't two-score o' us left here, unless I want to leave the abbey completely undefended." Said Skipper.
"Then take a score and go westward towards the rest o' your otters." Said the Abbot.
"Aye, that I'll do." Said Skipper. The burly otter chieftain then left the room, leaving Turrio to his worries.
"I hope that otter'll be alright!" He said to himself.
"Master, we know th'abbey is south from 'ere. Wha don' we march f'et, eh?" Asked Captain Plogger, a large grey rat. He was third in command, behind Ravenshade and Redflank.
"Aye, but we will march fast! No whining at all, d'ye 'ear mah? We take no breaks until ah says! An' et'll be so fast tha' a kin't where me cloak!" Said Redflank. Plogger was astonished! He had never seen Redflank without his large black hooded cloak! He'd asked around before, and all he got was a kick from Ravenshade. Nobeast in the horde had ever seen Redflank uncovered! They didn't know if he was Weasel, Stoat, Ferret, Fox, Rat, or Pine Marten!
"Y-yes master!" He stammered as he left the room quickly. He was excited to tell the rest of the horde.
"Ahoy, Halfeye! D'ye 'ear? Win we march f'red'all, Master'll be witout 'is cloak, or huge leggins' or th'large leather boots!" Said Plogger, excitedly.
"Haha! Will Masta willa be wiggout th'cloak, leggin's, an' bootses? We'll finally gitter see 'im!" Said Halfeye, doing a jig of excitement.
"Soilence in da ranks dar! Quit doin' th'jigs! Ah wuz 'it fer et once, yew fools!" Shouted Ribgrin, who had noticed the weasel and the rat dancing.
"Haha, ole Ribby's 'ere! Yew ain't got no authority o'er us, fox! We're th'igher rankin' cappins aroond at th'moment!" Said Plogger, cuffing the fox.
"Owow! Cappin Ravenshade! Th'scoundrel rat 'it mah!" Said Ribgrin, whining piteously. Ravenshade bounded over. He kicked Plogger.
"Don' 'it a cappin!" He shouted. Then he shoved Ribgrin to the ground.
"Don' lettim 'it ya, see!" He shouted at the fox.
The rats fought viciously! They seemed to have no care for their own lives, mindlessly flinging themselves, tooth and claw at the hares who easily cut and stabbed them. The chieftain was at the back, urging his fighters on.
"Cummon, ya Bogratt fightaz! 'Ttack th'enemy! Killa dem all! Killa dem! Bogratt! Bogratt! Bogratt Killya!!!" He screamed in his high pitched voice. A hare went down with a dagger wound in the thigh. A rat leaped onto the wounded runner to finish him off, but was nimbly slashed off by Hoover.
"Y'alright thar, missybuck?" Asked the sergeant.
"Aye, ah'm alright f'the time bein' sarge!" Said the runner, as she stumbled upwards.
"Ye'd best get to the back o' th'ranks now, wot!" Said the sergeant, as he cut down a rat, and wounded another. The runner limped off. There were only three score vermin left, with only a few wounds to the hares. The vermin were cornered around a tree, with two hundred hares surrounding them.
"Sarge! We need 'em t'tell us infermation! I say, knock 'em out now, wot wot!" Said Fullaree.
"Aye, captain. Mayhaps they know who slew ole Laithy if'n they didn't!" Agreed Hoover, as the hares knocked out rat after rat. In the following morning, most of the rats woke up. They had been bound to the tree, and they had serious headaches. Their weapons were confiscated.
"Wadda ya tie uppa Bogratt Chief for, ya longears!" Asked the indignant rat chief "An' whya da weppins gone, eh?"
"Well sah, rat-bounder! You're vermin, an' use hares don't trust ye with weapons, wot! And also, your tied up so ye don't kill us, sah!" Said Fleetbuck, who was keeping watch.
"Ah'm chief'an. Norra sah, longears! Getta d'ropes offa chief!" Demanded the rat.
The otter warrior and skinny old one where tied to a stake in the ground. Their ropes only went a yard, and the vermin guards where safely out of their reach.