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The Story of Zemmerug Zitspike!

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Chapter 1

The waves lapped against the barnacle covered hull of the Midnight Fury. It was a quiet night and that was the only sound possible to make itself heard on decks. The ferret and stoat watchmen huddled around the mast shivering in the cold. Below decks there was a better lifestyle. It was warmer and brighter for the lanterns and candles were all kept in the crew quarters. The steersman was humming to himself as he made sure the ship didn't drift off course. The lookout was unconscious do to drinking and therefore not doing the world's best job at watching. He had 3 or so empty bottles spread upon his body. Zemmerug Zitspike was in his cabin, under some soft blankets in his bed to keep warm. He had a bear made of old sacks and straw that he enjoyed sleeping with. He called it "George". Below the crew quarters was the Brig and Prison area. It had a few guards dozing in the corner and nobody except livestock inside the cages. Below that was the hold. It was darker than the decks and only one soul was inside. It was a young rat that served as cabin boy and slept on a mat in the hold. The night was cold and dark and silent. Captain Dagg, a superstitious ferret and the First Officer of the ship, was not the least happy about the conditions. He was on the poopdeck with the steersman and they were having a conversation.

"Well 'is uh v'ry 'nlucky night as it looks now" he stated to Kubber, who was the steersferret.

"Nah doubt ye's been cowerin' 'n' 'idin' all day in a fears ah dis!" said Kubber mockingly.

"Now ye jus' shu'p while ya still 'ave ya tongue!" threated an angry Dagg, sword drawn. Kubber, who was one of the crew's smartest, rolled his eyes and got back to steering. Captain Dagg got up and went below decks. He wanted something to eat and he wanted to get warm and rest. The ferret Waggy was guarding the crew's quarters and the galley.

"Oi! You! Lemme past this here quarters and in tah tha galley!" said Dagg, who was very hungry.

"Now sir! You know tha rules! Ole Skullug won't be letten ye 'ave a crumb even during' yer eaten' break! So Skullug won't let ye eat now!" said Waggy. Captain Dagg didn't like the sound of this but he knew that the sailor was right. Skullug was a greedy beast and a daft one and he never fed the crew before it was their break and even then sometimes he ate the rations himself or forgot to serve them.

"I'll go speak to the cap'n 'bout 'is! E'll 'ave sometin' ta say I'm sure ah it!" said Dagg unhappily.

"Nah doubt he will sir, nah doubt he will." said Waggy who was settling down on some sacks of food. Dagg went up the stairs onto the decks. The Captain's Cabin was nearby and Dagg banged on the door.

"CAPTAIN!!! SIR!!!!!" He shouted. There was banging and knocking about heard in the cabin. Then a stern voice was heard.

"WHAT'S IT DISTURBING MAH SLEEP!?!? A CORSAIR CAP'N NEEDS A GOOD 'MOUNT AH REST Y'KNOW!"

"Yes captain ah know but ah 'lso need yar 'elp with sometin'!" replied a nervous Dagg.

"Come 'nside Dagg!"

"Y'sir" then Dagg came inside the Captain's Cabin. Zemmerug was inside sitting on his bed with George on his lap.

"Now! What's it mate?" asked Zemmerug, who in fact was the Captain of this corsair ship.

"Tis ole Skullug it is! 'E's 'oggin' all da rations again!" replied Dagg.

"Skullug alus does 'at. Tis a prob'm when tis time fer rations but when tis not yer time fer rations then WHY ARE YAH HERE!? WHERE YA GONNA TRY 'N' GET 'WAY WIT EARLY RATIONS!?" Yelled the angry weasel.

"Well sir ah jus' thought tha'..."

"YOU DON' THINK! I DO THA THINKIN'! GET BACK TO YER PLACE DAGG BEFAR I CUTS YA OPEN!" Screamed Zemmerug. The terrified stoat ran away quickly and scurried up to the poopdeck with Kubber

"What'd ah say? Yer a cowerin' li'l cur!" said Kubber laughing to himself. Dagg who was thoroughly humiliated said nothing and sat down on a crate.

****

The Cutthroat Falcon sailed extremely quickly and swiftly. It was like a thin blade slicing through water as it rapidly headed on. It was a fast ship to be sure, but the searat Atran the Tryrant's goal at the moment was to be fast. He was headed for a certain place. He wanted to make it there fast. He had a great crew on board and all were working on the sails and rigging. Atran was a able-bodied rat, that wore a long black cape like a vampire and only his head showed at times. He wore a reddish brown vest that you could see the middle of when his cloak was loser and his ankles were also shown at times. He had dark reddish fur. He was armed with a full set of 6 knives hidden in his cloak and a huge broadsword nearly as long as he was tall! He had many slaves on board working. One of whom was a fox named Gnarlspike. He was a young fox and Atran considered him one of the best slaves. He was on the poopdeck of his ship and waving his broadsword and shouting orders. The sun was rising and he wanted to get to his goal on the morning tide.

"Quicken yar pace scum! w'must make it thar o' the mourning' tide!" Shouted the Tyrant Atran.

"Sir wi' all due respects we doin' our best sailin' 'ere!" replied Grimlock, the lieutenant of the army on board.

"IF ANY AH YA WANNA KEEP YAR SKINS FER THA ATTACK THEN YA SURE GOTTA SPEED THIS HERE BOAT UP A KNOT OR TWO!" Yelled Atran at his crew. Rugger, the ship's helmsman, was deeply terrified by this and being a dull beast he actually slowed down! He was panicking and the captain noticed.

"WHICH ONE A YA SCURVY SWABS IS BEEN SLOWIN' US DERN?!" He asked and yelled at the same time. Rugger froze in his spot. He was weeping with horror as Atran slowly made his way toward him. "Mate? Why ain't ya steerin'?" he asked calmly, a dangerous sign.

"We-we-we-well sir..." said Rugger, now face to face with his captain.

"SILENCE!!!!!!!" Yelled Atran, even louder than before. Rugger gulped and he stopped talking.

"I am going to set an example to all ye worthless caracasses!" He said to all of his crew. Rugger knew that this was not good, for he had been a witness to previous examples set by his captain. The captain then held Rugger by the neck with his broadsword drawn. "Tis wit 'appens when ya sler down when yar s'posed to speed up!" He declared as he threw the rat high in the air. He then sliced with his broadsword and the rat hit the ground without the top half of his body connected to the bottom. "Somebeast! Clean up t'is mess and get on thar wheel!" shouted Atran. Then Atran retreated to his quarters for a while. During the time spent when the tyrant was idle the crew as slack. The only work they did was fighting over good sleeping spots and drink. However, the ship was making a slow speed towards shore, but, because the lookout was thoroughly drunk and probably also fighting with his mates, nobody happened to see the other, much larger but also slower, ship waiting for them.

Chapter 2

"Looks like ole Atran's gettin' intah one of 'is rages again mate!" said Gnarlspike the fox to his slave companion Burglebuber.

"Aye. Rugger's the one payin' for it t'is time. Ah hope tis Lieutenant Grimlock next!" replied Burglebuber

"Nah matey! The lieutenant sure'd 'ave to do somepin' bad for 'at to 'appen! Lord Atran wouldn't see't fit t'kill 'is commander!" said Gnarlspike, who had a right to be sure of himself for Atran favored Grimlock highly.

"Yer probably right mate." replied Burglebuber as the two slaves got back to their oar work.

"Shuddup ya two! Lord Atran's gotta place t'get to an' 'e's not wantin' no talkin' nor slowing' dern from yah!" said a guard Rat who's name was Skibby. The two slaves regarded their captors and they quieted down. But as Skibby walked on to see to his work the two slaves began talking again.

"Is tha' a ship dern thar?" asked Gnarlspike looking ahead of them.

"Yep! Sure is a ship! Tis as real as mah fur it is!" said Burglebuber.

"Wonder why tha army 'asn't seen it yet." said Gnarlspike.

"The lookout be drunk and possibly dead due tah fightin' over rum 'n' things." said Burglebuber.

"Aye" said Gnarlspike. But just then another guard rat appeared and threw fit.

"Oi! Din't Skibby tell ye tah shuddup!?" asked the rat. Skibby heard this and said.

"'Course ah did! Wit kinda idjit do yah t'ink ah am Bagtooth?!" said Skibby angrily.

"A big 'un Skibby! A big 'un 'cause these here slaves be keepin' talkin'! Yah din't tell 'em good 'nuff!" said Bagtooth.

"Wat'd ye know 'bout commandin' slaves? Ye's just a fat ole rat wit spends 'is days in a cabin drinkin' rum while us up here earns his share!" said Skibby.

"Wat'd ye know 'bout us dern below?! We're been workin' our rears off cookin'! Wit'd ya t'ink I do?" asked Bagtooth feeling his belt for his cutlass. Skibby, however, was quicker and drew his knife.

"I'll tell ye how tah shuddup wit dis!" said Skibby holding the dagger.

"Put thah scurvy knife away! I gotta sword twice it's size!" said Bagtooth, now holding his sword. Skibby lunged and a fight broke out. Another guard rat blew a whistle and the nearest 6 soldiers pounced into the fight, trying to grab Skibby away from Bagtooth. Then the captain's cabin's doors flew open and Atran stormed out.

"WIT'S THAH MEANIN' AH DIS?" he bellowed. Everybody froze. The 6 soldiers picked themselves up and 3 held Skibby, who's nose had been badly damaged and almost completely cut off, and 3 held Bagtooth, who had lost an ear and a paw.

"GET THA FAT 'UN A HOOK FOR 'IS 'AND 'N' GET THA THIN 'UN OUT OF MY SIGHT!" Yelled Atran. Skibby was kicked onto the decks and Bagtooth was taken, whimpering, into the surgeons office. Just then Atran looked up and saw the sails on the horizon.

"FOOLS!!! WHERE IS THE LOOKOUT!!!! GET READY TO ATTACK THAT OTHER SHIP!!!!" He screamed. The whole crew bustled into action after that. Lieutenant Grimlock was in charge of the oarslaves on the top two decks.

"MOVE YA WORTHLESS LUMPS! LORD ATRAN WANTS YA T'ROW FASTER THAN WIND Y'EAR?!" shouted the Lieutenant. "SKIBBY! MAKE SURE THESE HERE SLAVES KEEP QUIET!" ordered Grimlock. Skibby slowly trudged over to the slaves.

"Right! Master wants yah ta keep quiet! I wanna see ya move fasta! MOVE SLAVES!" said Skibby passing on Grimlocks words to the slaves.

****

The decks of the Midnight Fury were bustling! Captain Dagg, Kubber, and Zitspike were on the poop deck shouting orders or in Kubber's case, just steering. Waggy, Skullug, and Deddclaw were in charge on decks. about 20 other crew beasts were on decks. Some were rowing but most were drawing their weapons. The ships were slowly drawing nearer, and each were waiting until they reached. Zemmerug could see there were slaves aboard the other ship. He dearly wanted those slaves for he hated making his crewmen row their own boat. Atran wanted the Midnight Fury. It was a larger ship than his own and it would make a fine pirating vessel. The ships were very close now. Skinrigg and Cheesebane were archers in Zemmerug's crew. They fired flaming arrows at the Cutthroat Falcon's sails. Skinrigg's missed and landed in the toes of a guard rat but Cheesebane's shot hit and began burning the sails.

"FOOLS! PUT OUT THA FIRES!!!" Shouted Atran in dismay, but just then his attention was turned to the loud smashing noise, for the Midnight Fury had crashed into the Cutthroat Falcon! The crew of the Midnight Fury boarded their enemies.

"WHAH? THEY BE BOARDIN'? EVERYBEAST! ATTACK!" Shouted Atran as his army formed a line and attacked the oncoming pirates. Skibby and Bagtooth were on each side of the line with Grimlock directly behind it giving orders. The corsairs were just swinging on randomly with Captain Dagg leading them. The sails, mast, and rigging were burning now and it was getting dangerous for anybeast on the ship. Of course, the ignorant corsairs and hordes were not paying attention to this. Waggy was ahead of the rest of the corsairs, for he was a talented runner and sprinter. He and Whitepaw were heading towards Skibby. Skibby was not a smart rat and was thoroughly confused by all the fighting. His scuffle with Bagtooth had not helped his brain. Suddenly there was a stoat in front of him with a cutlass ready. The stoat was black and had grey lines on his face. Skibby reached for his dagger to defend himself. He was the only rat not to have moved during the fight, for the line had broken in the chaos. Waggy, who in fact was the stoat confronting Skibby, lunged at Skibby's stomach but was parried by a small dagger. This however, hurt Skibby's wrist and the stupid rat jumped up and down holding his wrist.

"Oi! I never 'urt ya! Wit ya'd do tha for eh!?" asked the dull-minded rat. Then he grunted and fell to the floor, impaled on the end of a cutlass. Waggy looked down at his work, then drew a knife and jumped into the fray. Bagtooth was a witness and was delighted at the sight of Skibby's death, for he had no fondness for the searat. But then Bagtooth realized that the stoat Waggy had cheated him of revenge. Bagtooth was angry now and lunged for Waggy, ready to stab the stoat. Waggy jumped back and out of the way and Bagtooth crashed to the floor. His hook was stuck in a hard wooden deck board. Waggy seized his chance and jumped onto the fat rat. The rat struggled to get his hook free, but to no avail. Terrified he turned to face his captor, but Waggy proved too quick and beheaded the rat before he could even look at Waggy. Waggy then kicked Bagtooth's head overboard and began fighting another rat. Captain Dagg approached a guard rat. He was armed with a cutlass. The rat backed up to the railing. Captain Dagg pursued him and when he could back up no more Dagg drew up his cutlass. He was about to slay the unfortunate rat when there was a loud crack sound heard and the mast of the Cutthroat Falcon fell. It landed on Dagg and the rat, crushing them both. Deddclaw, Skullug, and Whitepaw were collecting bunches of slaves. Among the first of the slaves escorted to the Midnight Fury was Gnarlspike. Burglebuber was lost in the fray and wasn't collected yet. The rats had gained the upper paw and had killed more corsairs than the corsairs had rats, but Atran could see that his ship was lost. He also could see that some of the Corsairs were stealing his slaves. Another matter, this time pointed out by Grimlock, was that there were storm clouds approaching. The corsairs had failed to notice this. Atran had to decide whether the slaves were more important than his own life or not. He, of course, chose his life.

"YAH FOOLS! W'MUST 'IT LAND B'FORE THEM STORM CLERDS GET'S US!" He shouted. Grimlock relayed the order and the damaged ship slowly made its way past the corsair vessel. Out of the previous 100 slaves, only 25 remained, the rest being stolen by the corsair captain. Atran was deeply infuriated but he valued his own worthless carcass more than anything and he made for land.

Chapter 3

Zemmerug Zitspike saw the severely damaged enemy ship leave and he turned to face his officer, Dagg, only Dagg wasn't there! Then Zemmerug turned to the bo'sun Whitepaw and asked "Casualties?" the bo'sun replied:

"Cap'n Dagg yer officer sir! And alser about 20 er so crew beasts"


"Dagg eh? Must be a gettin' a new First Mate then." said Zememrug. But before he could think of any beasts to promote, Waggy shouted towards him.

"CAP'N SIR! THAR BE STORM CLERDS 'EADIN' YAR WAY!"

"WHAT EN BLAZES 'N' FIRES!? WHY WEREN'T YA ALERTIN' MAH B'FORE!?" Asked Zemmerug.

"NONE OF US NOTICED CAP'N!" said Skullug.

"WELL YA DARN WELL NOTICED NOW! BRACE FER IMPACT!!! MAKE SURE GEORGE MAKES IT! IF WE TRY AH'M SURE WE'LL MAKE THAR STERM!" He shouted. The storm was nearly upon them by now and the crew immediately started to work. Whitepaw and Deddclaw were in charge of the 10 beasts that were tying barrels up so they would't roll. Waggy and Skullug were below decks and were tying barrels and making sure other lose objects didn't slide around during the storm. The clouds were nearly upon them now.

"ALL 'ANDS BELER DECKS 'XCEPT KUBBER 'N' SKULLUG! KUBBER TAH STEER 'N' SKULLUG TAH KEEP 'EM SLAVES MOVIN'!" ordered Zitspike as he and his crew made a hasty retreat to the cabins. Skullug and Kubber did not like the sound of this at all, though both of them knew it was no use to argue.

"RIGHT YE MISERABLE LUMPS! THAH CAP'N 'AS PUT MAH EN CHARGE AH YA! WE'RE GONNA ROW THROUGH THIS HERE STERM Y'HEAR!?" He asked with his blade drawn, as Skullug was not the kindest stoat that ever lived. The slaves, knowing they out numbered the stoat seventy-five to one were not as timid and obedient as they might be with a full guard on deck. They were about to say something when lighting was heard. Seventy-seven heads looked up to see what it had hit. Then they all gasped, for the sails were on fire! Skullug just stared up in shock. Then he felt a sharp pain in his elbow. A bottle had hit it.

"WHICH ONE AH YA DID 'AT?" He asked in fury.

"Twas me ya scurvy bilge bucket!" said Gnarlspike.

"Yew!? Twas a liddle foxie!?" asked Skullug chuckling.

"Aye! Twas a liddle foxie! But that liddle foxie 'as an army b'ind 'im! D'you 'ave 'an army b'ind yah?" asked Gnarlspike. Skullug, realizing the danger he was in started to step back.

"Stay back ya 'ere!? Stay back er i'll cut ya noggin off!" threatened Skullug, knife out.

"Yer liddle blade tis no match fer seventy-five beasts all armed!" said Gnarlspike, truthfully. Then the slaves pounced on him as if they were a bomb that had just exploded. The stoat was screaming in pain as more bottles and other things were thrown at him. Then Kubber, the ferret, noticed what was happening and he jumped down to help. The slaves almost immediately buried him too in their bodies. They were both being beaten to pulps when a sudden crash was heard. Kubber, being the steersman, had left the wheel to help Skullug and therefore the storm winds had blown the ship onto some rocks near a shore. The sudden shake of the ship nocked many unconscious including the two corsairs. Then the ship began to turn, for it had the wind on one side and the rocks on the other. The ship, having to much pressure put on it, fell on it's side. That sudden movement knocked everybody out. Including the corsairs that were hiding below decks.


****

Atran had made a hasty retreat from the battle scene. His mast was down and his ship had caught fire. Land was ahead of him and a storm was behind. He had to make for the land in order to survive.

"PUT OUT THAH FLAMES! IF YA WANNUS TAH S'VIVE THAN P'TOUT THA FLAMES!" Shouted Atran in his dismay.

"Tis empossible sire! Thar ain't not no wa'er round 'ere!" said Scumback, a one eyed, evil looking, rat.

"WHAT T'YA T'INK YER IN!? TIS AH SEA S'ROUNDED BAH WA'ER!" Shouted Atran at the none too smart ferret.

"Aye sire but we ain't got no c'ntainers tah gatter tah wa'er." said Scumback. Atran seeing the logic of this just turned away. The land looked a bit closer and Atran decided it was just a matter of time before he reached it.

"Whit 'appened ta me steersrat Rugger!?" asked Atran when he realized that nobody had the wheel.

"Sir ya 'ad 'em killed fer steerin' tah sler!" said Grimlock.

"So ah did! Remind mah tah get's us a new steersrat." said Atran

"Aye cap'n!" replied Grimlock. The ship was near the land now. It was drifting closer.

"Casualties?" asked Atran.

"Skibby and Bagtooth the guard-rats. About 10 or so hordebeasts." said Grimlock.

"Serves tha two guard-rats weel! Got inna fight they did an' I had ta give one o' 'em a hook for 'is missin' paw!" said Atran.

"They alser made off wit most a da slaves." added Grimlock sheepishly. Atran then flew into an indescribable rage! He kicked things and killed many a rat on that ship. Scumback was one of the dead corpses, killed by the furious tyrant. The ship was at the beach now and the soldiers started to get on the land. Atran was the last off the wrecked ship, for he had been busy destroying this in his anger.

"Cap'n where too?" asked Kerdi who was a guard-rat.

"We'll 'ave ta make fer a place tah make a camp an' then we mus' get off tah conquer! Our master steel 'as a mission ahead o' him!" said Grimlock.

"Aye" said Kerdi.

Chapter 4

When Skullug woke up he had a large bump on his head. He moaned and rubbed it. That only made it worse and he yelped. That woke Kubber up.

"Quit yer moanin! D'ye want ta wake them ruthless slaves!?" shouted Kubber at Skullug.

"Yer right ye ole fleabag." said Skullug. Then they heard clanking.

"Tis sure ta wake them now!" said Kubber in dismay. Then the cabin door popped up and Zitspike strolled out.

"So, ye two! D'ye kill all udda slaves?!" asked Zemmerug.

"Nay sir wi' all due respects sir they got knocked out sir!" said Kubber, the smarter of the two.

"How'd 'at 'appen?"

"Well sir ya see they was attackin' us then the ship 'it somethin' an' the..."

"SHUDDUP EMPTYHEAD!!" Bellowed the captain of the ship "IF YA HIT SOMETHIN' THEN YA WASN'T STEERIN!! WHO PUT YA IN CHARGE UDDA SLAVES KUBBER!?"

"Uh-uh-well-I was tryin' tah help see, and then we got knocked out." Then Gnarlspike woke up.

"Yew! Get o'er 'ere!" Said Zemmerug to the slave. The fox walked over to where Skullug and Kubber were sitting.

"Wit's yer name?" asked the Captain.

"Gnarlspike" said the fox.

"BLIMEY! YA DEEED ATTACK MAH CREW WIT A NAME LAKK THA!!!! 'E STOLE ME NAME BUCKOES!!! 'E STOLE ME NAME 'E DID!!!!" Shouted Zemmerug. Then Whitepaw, Deddclaw, and Baggs clambered out of the cabins.

"Wha' twas all tha shoutin' 'bout sir?" they asked.

"This 'ere fox stole me name 'e did!!" said Zemmerug not yelling anymore but not quiet either.

"I didnae steal yer name! Twas bern wit it!" said Gnarlspike annoyed.

"Oh yes ye did steal it! MEN!!! TREAM 'EM ALL EXTRA ROUGHLY THESE DAYS WE'LL BE MARCHIN'!! FER WIT THEY DID TA MA TWO SOLDIERS WE'RE GONNA 'AVE TAH PUNISH 'EM!!! GREATLY!!" Said Zemmerug just as Waggy and three others staggered out of the cabin.

"Yew four!" said Zemmerug turning to Waggy and the three others.

"Aye cap'n?" asked Waggy, who was the highest ranked corsair of the bunch.

"We ain't cersairs ner more! A sterm's wrecked our ship!"

"'Ow dreadful cap'n"

"A'm sure 'tis! We'll 'ave t'be land rovers, conquerors!" said Zemmerug, as he walked towards Whitepaw.

"You, Whitepaw! Yer tha new Officer udda army, after Dagg's foolish death." Declared Zemmerug.

"Why thank yew cap'n!" said Whitepaw gratefully.

"Waggy, Deddclaw, Baggs, Kubber, and Whitepaw! Ye are me officers o' the army! Baggs, an' Kubber, yew two may select ten o' me crew t'be trackers, cause ye'll be me trackers incase slaves escape. Whitepaw's me new first officer. Deddclaw and Waggy, you'll be lower officers an' yew'll 'ave 'igh persitions in the army." said Zemmerug. Baggs and Kubber selected: Brownback, Sliptooth, and eight others.


****


Gnarlspike marched through the dusty plains. He was being marched harder than the other slaves. Skullug was guarding him and whipping him. The stoat was having a grand time getting revenge on the fox. A guard named Hogtoe watched Skullug cruelly beat Gnarlspike and felt very sorry for the fox.

"Yew've no need fer that mate!" said Hogtoe. Skullug turned to Hogtoe. Skullug didn't know Hogtoe, for he never cared to learn the names of the other soldiers. Hogtoe was low ranked sea-scum. All he had was a spear and some armor. Skullug was a cook and was a higher rank than Hogtoe. He was shocked that Hogtoe would dare to try and stop him.

"Yew wan' mah to repert ya ter the cap'n?" asked Skullug.

"Nay! But yew've no need tah hit 'em like that."

"Shuddup sea-scum or ah weel report yer!" Hogtoe walked away. Then the march continued. It was a grueling march and many of the crew was tired. At one point, Waggy ordered some of his band which he selected to carry him. A rat among Waggy's group shouted out at Waggy, because he had been selected to carry him.

"Nay ferret! I ain't carryin' ye nor anybeast!" said the rat defiantly.

"Ye'll carry me, or ye'll carry this here spear, in yer belly!" said Waggy holding a spear. The rat drew a sword and shouted. Waggy lunged with his spear. The rat deflected the blows, then he tried to behead the ferret. Waggy dodged to the left, then the threw his spear. "YEEAAAHHGGHH!!!!" screamed the rat, as he fell, skewered on the tip. He looked up in agonized pain at Waggy, as the ferret kicked dust on his dying carcass.

"Told ya didn't I me bucko!" laughed Waggy. Then he walked away, leaving the rat's corpse on the dirt. The march went on, and Zemmerug ordered a wagon be made, and that he would ride inside it with his captains and the slaves would pull it. Waggy was delighted with the idea, for his group was getting restless about carrying him. As the sun began to set Zemmerug called a halt. A camp was set up and a fire was made. Actually, there was more than one fire. There was a tent for the slaves, one for Zemmerug, and one for the captains. The soldiers guarded the tents and surrounded the fires, cooking food and arguing. Skullug was among those guarding the slave tent. So was Hogtoe. Hogtoe was using some of the cloth of the tent as a pillow, for he was fast asleep. Two stoats were standing near him and Skullug was guarding the door. As night drifted on, all were asleep. And when Skullug fell asleep, he was standing, so he fell and his dagger slipped off him and bounced into the slave tent, right onto Gnarlspike's paw.

Chapter 5

Atran's soldiers were tired. They were marching hard, looking for a good campsite. They didn't know where they were going, and they dared not ask Atran, for he was the only one that knew. Grimlock, however, was expecting to know sooner or later. He formed a small group of other soldiers who wanted to know, and they wanted to know soon. Grimlock appointed himself as leader. Among them was a rat named Nargey and his brother Kerdi. They were spies.

"One of ye'll need tah march dern ter tha chief's tent and roast him alive!" said Grimlock. The others gasped.

"Nay! Just keddin'! Ye'll 'ave tah lissen in on 'em an' tell mah where we're goin'!" said Grimlock with a chuckle. Nargey, who was a very dumb searat and his ears were tattered couldn't hear well.

"Sir, ah can't 'ear weel with these 'ere 'ears!" said Nargey.

"Then take Kerdi with ye! Ah 'ave nay time tah fix up yer liddle problems!" said Grimlock. The two fat, stupid rats, walked off. They made a lot of noise and Atran heard them coming. The tyrant strode out of his tent. The two rats immediately saluted and walked on. Atran shrugged and ducked back into his tent. Later on, during the night, a rat named Ludgey, part of Grimlock's secret spying group, marched up to Atran's tent. The tyrant was fast asleep, so Ludgey went inside. It was a mess! There were battle plans and papers all over the ground. The tyrant's battle-sword lay next to him. Ludgey moved over towards it. He then noticed Atran's war-helmet on the ground. He put on the helmet. He tripped over some papers and fell onto Atran's sleeping body. The tyrant shouted in fright! He grabbed his broad sword and swung, nearly chopping off his own leg! He did however, get Ludgey's head apart from his neck. The dead rat carcass fell on the ground. Atran kicked Ludgey's head out of the tent and it rolled right into one of the fires that the soldiers had started so they might cook. Kerdi and Nargey happened to be using it.

"Tis a sight o' bad fortune an' such!" screamed the superstitious Nargey.

"Nay it ain't! Its a rat's 'ead with Atran's ole war-helmet on!" said the more intelligent Kerdi. Nargey gasped.

"Tis Atran! It's got 'is war-helmet! Sombeast's killed Atran!" shouted Nargey. Atran then walked up to the fire. He was very angry that his helmet ended up in a fire.

"Tis tha ghost o' Atran!" shouted Kerdi and the two rats ran. Atran chuckled. He was smart enough to know what had fooled them. He enjoyed installing fear into his followers, and this counted to him.


****

Skullug snored loudly. He was tired from the march and from beating Gnarlspike. He had no idea that the fox he had spent the day beating now had his dagger. Skullug was sleeping on his belly, so his back was exposed. The fox sniggered with satisfaction. He was enjoying his moment of revenge. He quickly stabbed down at Skullug's back. The stoat-guard died without a sound. Then the fox walked around within the camp. He stole all the spears he could get his paws on. He took a quiver to hold them in. He then walked on, in the direction of the swamps. He hid in a bush, and fell asleep. When dawn broke all the crew-beasts woke. They had been told to get marching at dawn. Hogtoe had been sleeping near Skullug. When he woke he noticed Skullug laying there with a Dagger in his back. Hogtoe raised a shout. Waggy and some nearby guards ran over. Deddclaw and Baggs waked Zemmerug.

"Tis a ghost mates! Ah'm sure 'tis!" said one of the soldiers.

"Ain't no ghost! 'Tis an assassin!" said Waggy, as he kicked the soldier.

"Twas a slave! Prob'ly Gnarl..." said another soldier. But that soldier never finished his sentence because he was skewered on a sword.

"Nobody speaks 'is name 'nless they be speak aboot mah!" said Zemmerug, as he pulled the sword from the rat carcass. Then he turned to the crowd that had gathered around Skullug's corpse.

"Wits this?! Somebeast be dead?" asked Zemmerug. Deddclaw drew from the crowd and reported to Zemmerug.

"Sir, tis Skullug. Yer cook's gone dern wit a dagger in 'is back!"

"Skullug? 'E was beatin' that tough liddle fox yesterday! D'yah think twas 'im what killed Skullug?" asked Zemmerug again.

"'Ow 'bout we count them slaves then!" Suggested Brownback, a rat who had gotten caught up in the fray. The slaves heard this.

"They'm gonna count us!" said Busen, a squirrel. Nalleck von Skashingponn, a hare stood up.

"They've blinkin' never counted us before wot!" He said, suspiciously.

"They'm be a lookin' fer thart foxy Gnarl!" said Groobey, a mole.

"Aye! They must be!" replied Busen. Five soldiers entered the tent.

"Silence yew drippy lot! Cap'n Zemmerug's gonna 'nspect ya ner!" said Kubber, who was one of the Five that had entered.

"Aye! Ah'm gonna do this inna role call kinda fashion!" said Zemmerug.

"Busen?"

"'Ere"

"Nallecks von whatsisname?"

""Ere ye jolly ole binder, wot!"

"Groobey?"

"Oi'm 'ere, burr aye!"

"Mitch an' Blogga?"

"'Ere! 'Ere!"


Chapter 6

When dawn broke everybeast in Atran's army jumped up. Kerdi and Nargey were the last up. All of the soldiers had been told, during the previous night, that they must be up and moving by dawn. They were all ready by the time Atran came outside.

"Well, I see you early birds obeyed my orders! Its a shame there won't be any execution going on this morning." Said Atran. Each rat trembled. The tyrant was in a dangerous mood.

"Grimlock! Get these remaining slaves moving! We're marching today!" Shouted Atran.

"At yer service, Chief!" said the rat, as he and ten others started kicking the slaves about. The day was hot and dry. Many of the rats were slowly trudging along, dragging their baked bodies along the dry sandy dirt. It was a wide plain they trekked across. There was a large forest just in view, on the other side. Atran was the lead rat. He wasn't tired. He wasn't dragging his body like a burden. He was marching casually and therefore was well ahead of the others. It was nearly three hours later, when they spotted smoke.

"Hoi Chief! Tis a campsite over yonder! I can see smoke!" shouted Nightfang, a big burly rat covered in tattoos.

Atran turned his head to the rat. "Well then! Keep moving! They'll hardly be able to put up a fight against us!" The tyrant snarled."If they are peaceable travelers, we enslave them! If they are other vermin, we kill them! If they have slaves, we kill them and steal the slaves! Got et?" ordered Atran. Nightfang, Kerdi, Nargey, and Grimlock nodded. "Good".

****

Zemmerug wasn't happy with the slave count. It had proved that Gnarlspike had escaped! He grumbled and complained to himself.

"Send Kubber and Baggs's band out to find the slave." he said.

"Aye sir!" the two said as they strode off.

"Yew, 'Ogtoe! Get up we're takin' ye along wi' us!" Said Kubber, kicking Hogtoe. Brownback the rat interrupted Kubber.

"Nay mate, that 'Ogtoe's taken a fancy ta the slave that be missin'!" He said.

"Guard duty fer ye then!" said Baggs, who had joined the other two. Hogtoe strode miserably to his guard position.

"Now! Off we go mates!" said Kubber, who was beginning to get rather impatient. The band of crewbeasts went off, tracking the escapee fox through the woods.

"They'll meet us back 'ere at camp when the fox is found. Now, 'Ogtoe! Yer the lookout. Deddclaw! Yer in charge of the guarding squad."

"Aye sir!"

"Ye can count on me, Cap'n!" said the two, as they strode off to do their master's bidding. Zemmerug thought that it was good to have a loyal crew.

****

Furgy and Gurrbagg sat at the roots of a tree. They were just waking up after a nice nap. They had a sack full of stolen items, food, and various things that appealed to them. The two rats were traveling robbers and thieves. They would beg their way into a house, and steal their way out. Gurrbagg was the dumbest of the two, but also the best fighter. Furgy was the opposite, and they often argued. They were just at the edge of Mossflower Woods, and were heading out of it. They had seen a band of ferrets and stoats lead by a weasel in a plain, and were planning to double cross them.

"Gurrbagg, ye come up be'ind 'em an' I'll come up en front! Them varmints'll ne'er 'ave a chance!"

"Thart be easy fer yew t'say matey! Wit 'appens if mah bulk scares the rear guard off! They'll tell that weasel, and mark me werds, that weasel be a cleverbeast!"

"Shuddup yer complainin' Gurrbagg! Who'd use a rear guard?" Furgy lied, for he knew perfectly well that Gurrbagg's complaint was right, and he now had a plan to get rid of the blundering fool.

"Who put yer in charge, Furgy?"

"Tis foolish of ye t'lay down a challenge like that! Ah'll ave ye enside ut before ye can say revenge!"

"Reven..." but a spear cut Gurrbagg's statement short, and he fell dead. Furgy was astonished, for it wasn't he that had killed Gurrbagg! He turned to where the spear had come from and saw Hogtoe, pointing, with the weasel and others. The rat ran like the wind. He unwittingly charged, right into Atran's camp.


Chapter 7

Kubber and Baggs were hopelessly lost in a big swamp. They had been tracking the fox through the swamp, when the trail went cold, and the paw prints had been filled up with mud. Brownback spoke up.

"Why dernt we split up? We'll cuvver double as much ground." He said, impatiently. Kubber grabbed him by the neck.

"Because, you idjit! Because if we do we might never find our way back 'ere!" He shouted at the maroon coloured rat. Brownback began whimpering.

"Sorry sir, I didn't think..." He began, but he was cut short.

"Thart's right! You don't think! We do that! Shuddup er yer a deadbeast, idjit rat!" said Kubber. As soon as he put the pleading rat down, a spear struck him, and he fell dead. Baggs, overcome by terror, began running. He was immediately struck down by a javelin. Confusion broke out in the ranks. Many trackers began running around aimlessly, trying to find where the javelins were coming from. Then another javelin came and struck a stoat dead. Two rats began weeping with terror. Another stoat fell dead. Then a weasel and a rat began sinking. They panicked and they struggled, but to no avail. They disappeared beneath the swamp. Then another javelin came out, it struck a ferret and wounded the weasel behind him. That same weasel started sinking. A rat began to sink. Then a ferret fell, skewered by a javelin. That left Sliptooth and Kubber.

"Fine job yer did! Keepin' this band o' yers my paw!" said Sliptooth. Kubber kicked him. Sliptooth fell with a wail, into the swamp. He was sinking.

"Kubber, ole matey! Come 'elp a friend in need!" he shouted.

"Nay Sliptooth! Ye be quite the slimy scum. 'Ow 'bouts ye join the rest o' the slime and scum? C'mon matey, et won't 'urt." said Kubber, menacingly. Sliptooth began shouting for help and Kubber spat on him. Then the brown stoat began to watch the sinking ferret. The ferret sunk, and he died, right in Kubber's eyes. Then the stoat realized there still was an unknown javelin thrower inside the bushes, and he found out by staring at a javelin, piercing his chest. The stoat made a gurgled sob noise, and fell, dead.

****

Nargey and Kerdi, the two rat brothers, were sitting in the outskirts of Atran's camp, for they were on guard duty. They had seen a grey shadow. It was smaller than Nargey, and bigger than Kerdi. The two rats grabbed their weapons.

"Nargey, ye stay 'ere an' watch that thar shadder. I'll go alert Grimlock. " said Kerdi.

"Belay that kind o' talk! Tis mah what's goin' tah Grimlock. Ye can stay 'ere." Argued Nargey, not wanting to be alone with the shadow. Kerdi knew that Nargey was tougher and dumber than he was. Kerdi also knew that Nargey wouldn't give up on his argument. The rat unhappily, watched Nargey go to tell Grimlock of the shadow. He returned a moment later, with Grimlock tagging along behind him.

"What shader? I dernt see no shader!" Grimlock asked, impatiently.

"Right there sir! Can't ye see it?" said Kerdi, pointing. Grimlock could see it.

"Well, go get it!" he said.

"Aye sir." The two rats answered simultaneously.

Furgy had been crawling and sneaking about. He wanted to get around Atran's camp. He was hiding in some tall grass when he noticed three rats start walking for him. He drew his dagger and stood up.

"It's a rat!" said Nargey.

"Kill it!" ordered Grimlock, and without a sound, a spear came at full speed and it went through Furgy. The rat gurgled, and fell.

"Back to camp! Befer any'un sees us!" said Grimlock, as the three rats loped off, nobody went to pick up the spear.


****


Gnarlspike had ran into a swamp. He was smart and stealthy, and he wasn't making it easy to track him. He could hear clumsy beasts coming behind him, talking and making a lot of noise as they went. They came to a pool of quicksand, and they started arguing. That's when he threw a spear. It struck it's target. One of the ferrets started running, but he didn't stand a chance. The fox picked each creature off, one by one, and there soon was only two beasts left. They argued, and the smaller one fell into the quicksand. Then Gnarlspike himself slew the larger one. He was happy with what he had done, and now he focused on leaving the swamp. The fox traveled all night, until he came across a berry bush. The berries were fresh and ripe. He quickly ate them all, and then he felt a knife go to his throat.

"Good work, Clobb. Get this fox to the slave line!" shouted a large, female wildcat.

"Yes, m'lady." said the rat, named Clobb "Razor! Daggerhood! Thar be a new slave fer ye ta mess wit!" The two other rats sniggered, and licked their blades. Gnarlspike gulped, fearfully.


Chapter 8

"I bets that rat was 'un a Atran's brood. We should go after 'em mates!" said Deddclaw, to Waggy.

"Belay that talk, Deddclaw! If'n ye wants ter, go ask the cap'n!" said the ferret, Waggy. The stoat walked off, to Zemmerug's tent and the ferret watched him go.

"Cap'n, sir! Oi thinks that rat we slain was with Atran. 'Un o' 'em got away, sir! Let's go to tha smoke an' give 'em wit fer!" said Deddclaw, hope shining in his eyes, as he talked to the weasel captain.

"Oi suppose 'tis a good idea, but we'd better be careful. Atran ain't a liddle mouseymaid, 'e's gonna but up a fight!" Warned Zemmerug. The stoat nodded, and said

"I'm with ye cap'n. Let's go!" The corsair crew of Zemmerug Zitspike was up and running as soon as Deddclaw spread the word. They all armed themselves to the teeth, and started bragging about how they would kill more than their mate.

"Hoi! Waggy! I bet I'll kill twin'y five befer yew gets fiften!" said Sourback, a rat.

"Taken, rat. Yew can't kill a grapefruit if'n yew had the biggest sword in tha world an' the grapefruit was right in front o' ya!" said Waggy. The rat's face became the picture of pained shock.

"Why, Waggy! Yew can't insult a messmate like that now can ye?" said the rat. The corsair weasel was walking towards the smoke in the distance.

"C'mon, ye wavedogs! I thought ye wan'ed ter kill ole Atran!" said the weasel "I jus' kill 'em all meself if'n ye don't want ter!" The corsairs immediately started following their captain. Two ferrets were ahead of the rest, even ahead of their captain. They were chattering among themselves about who they'd kill and who they'd torture before killing, when the burlier of the two tripped over a dead rat's carcass. It had a spear sticking out of it.

"WAAAHHHH!!!! MATES!!! 'TIS AN' OMEN OF BAD FATE!! WE'RE ALL BOUND TER DIE!!!" shouted the ferret. The smaller ferret dropped his cutlass in surprise, slaying the bigger ferret, and ran away screaming.

"That dead rat's slain my messmate! 'Tis an' evil rat corpse!" Shouted the dismayed ferret.

"If it's slain dat ole ferret, then why does 'e 'ave yer cutlass inside it?" asked Deddclaw, suspiciously. The ferret thought for a second an gasped.

"Tha' evil rat carcass 'as stolen me sword! The v'ry though o' et!" He said. The other corsairs shook their heads and sighed at the stupidity of the skinny ferret.

****

Atran the Tyrant was chuckling to himself. He could see Zemmerug and his corsairs, stumbling over the rat Kerdi and Nargey had slain. He saw the big ferret get killed by accident by his mate. He nudged Flanjgill.

"Hehe, they'll kill themselves befer we gets at 'em!" He said, menacingly. Flanjgill, who had not been watching, chuckled nervously.

"Yer right chief, they is gonna kill 'emselves" He said, very nervously. Atran let go of the rat, and faced Grimlock.

"Shall we charge 'em? Are the rats ready?" he shot questions at Grimlock.

"Yes chief. We are ready for a charge." Said Grimlock.

"Good. Here's the plan. Flanjgill, you take forty, and go around behind the seascum. Grimlock, you take forty others and charge the left side. I'll take forty and charge the front. Redgor, you take forty and charge the right side. The rest, just charge!" said Atran.

"Aye chief!" said the three rat captains as they charged. The corsairs were taken aback. They had not been paying attention to Atran, instead, they had been burying Furgy, arguing, and bragging. Hookbod and Sourback fell immediately, pierced on spearpoints. Waggy the ferret, and ten others, faced Redgor, and forty rats. With Waggy, was Catsgill, and Rotscale, two capable old stoats. Catsgill lunged at a rat with his saber. The rat died with a moan. Catsgill then thrust her sword at Redgor, who parried and then lunged, missing Catsgill by a hair. The female stoat slashed downward at the rat on the ground. Redgor saw Catsgill slash and he nimbly parried and then Redgor lunged upward, catching Catsgill off guard, and slicing her neck, killing her. The rat jumped up, and Waggy immediately stabbed him. Redgor stumbled backward, and fell, dead. Rotscale jumped into three rats, slaying them all. A rat called Fangchop lunged at Rotscale, bringing the stoat down, but Rotscale managed to stab Fangchop before he died. The rat died a few seconds after and the remaining eight corsairs with Waggy killed the other thirty eight. Flanjgill had managed to kill ten corsairs, the only ones on the back, and charged Zemmerug. The weasel dodged and lunged, stabbing Flanjgill's thigh. The rat screamed and fell to the ground. Zemmerug stood over the rat, holding his corsair cutlass to the rat's neck. Flanjgill whimpered, expecting no pity from Zemmerug.

"Mercy, please! Spare this poor soul, and I'll call off me rats." That was Flanjgill's plea, and also the last thing he said. Zemmerug wasn't always the merciful type.


****


The corsairs were outnumbered. They had fought with all their might, but Grimlock had gotten through the corsairs on the left side. Flanjgill's rats attacked Zemmerug. That meant the weasel was facing twenty five armed rats. The weasel licked his blade, and charged into the rats, slaying five with one swing. He fought through them, and only Atran's and Grimlock's groups were left. Waggy and Deddclaw, fought side by side, with about ten corsairs, slaying rat after rat. Grimlock, and ten rats started to back up.

"Bigwart, get mah to them rocks an' shrubs over thar! Ah need ter be safe frum this loosin' baddle." said Grimlock to a big, tough rat. Bigwart was named for a huge wart on his nose. It was on the dead center. Bigwart lead the party of rats to a small group of boulders. None of the corsairs noticed. All of Grimlock's party, other than the ten that had retreated to the bushes, were slain. The remaining ten corsairs were facing Atran and about a hundred rats.

"Yew! Take three and get outta 'ere! Us six'll fight 'em off!" said Zemmerug to a burly stoat and three ferrets. Scumflank, a rat, heard this and speared the four corsairs. The remaining six corsairs, grabbed the chain of slaves and ran. Ten of Atran's soldiers gave chase, lead by Scumflank. The six corsairs dodged through bushes, trees, and grass. They were running like wild weasels. In fact, one of them was a wild weasel. Scumflank and the rats were slow, and clumsy. The corsairs quickly outran them.

"C'mon, mates! Back ter the camp! Leddem go!" said Scumflank. The ten rats followed him, and they moved back towards camp. Atran wasn't pleased to see them. He had hoped they'd bring six corsairs with them.

"Scumflank? Ye failed me y'know... matey" said Atran, dangerously calm.

"They's too fast chief. They outrunned us. We need ter get fast'r men, chief" said Scumflank, brushing off Atran's warning. The tyrant swiftly beheaded the rat horde soldier.

"Send these snivelnosed scum to hellgates!" Shouted Atran, as Grimlock and Bigwart came out of the rocks, brandishing spears, towards the cowering rats.


Chapter 9

Zemmerug Zitspike, the weasel corsair captain, sat in a cave, with five corsairs in front of him, and a hundred slaves, all chained up. He feared a rebellion, but for now, the slaves were silent.

"Six of us, on'y six! Deddclaw, Whitepaw, Waggy, Stukkworm, Me, an' Hogtoe, that's all 'uts left! Them slaves'll rebel against us, that'll be certain!" said Zemmerug. Hogtoe stood up. "We kin fight the slaves, cap'n. We got our corsair cutlasses."

"Nay, we ain't rebellin' against yew lot." said Nallecks von Skashingponn.

"Wha'? Why not?" asked Whitepaw.

"Cause, we don't need ter. We'll just leave ya wittout a fight." said a young ferret slave.

"Are yew a weasel?" asked Zemmerug to the slave.

"Yes, I am." said he.

"Then 'elcome to mah crew, weasel. Ah don' trus' weasels, but ye'll 'ave t'do. Yer now a wavedog! A sea rogue! An ocean raider!" said the corsair weasel.

"Wit's yer name?" asked Deddclaw.

"Burglebuber. Name's Burglebuber." said the ferret. Hogtoe gave him a rusty dagger, and Waggy unchained him.

"Yer a corsair now, lad." said Zemmerug.

****

Atran was not pleased. He had come across the dead bodies of Flanjgill and Redgor, while searching the dead corsairs. They were his only officers, other than Grimlock. He need new ones.

"Grimlock! Bring the army here, I need to speak with all o' them!" He said. His lieutenant left immediately. Soon after, Grimlock brought four hundred rats to Atran.

"'Tis all we've got left, sir." The lieutenant said.

"You! Bigwart! You two at the back, and you at the front." said Atran, pointing. Bigwart and the three rats camp forward.

"You'll be mah cap'ns an' lieutenants fer now. Ole Redgor an' Flanjgill er dead." said the warlord. The four rats sniggered gleefully. "Wits yer names?" He asked.

"Bigwart." said Bigwart.

"Torndogg." said a rat with a huge scar on his nose.

"Stonetail" said a rat with no tail.

"Ripfur." said the last rat.

"Good. Stonetail, send out a group of thirty rats to capture the wavescum. Slay all but the weasel. Bigwart! You're in charge of weaponry. The rest, you are dismissed." Said Atran, as the rats left.

"C'mon lazyfur! Leds go b'fore ole Atran catches us still here!" said Stonetail to his rats. They grumbled and a small, skinny one stepped forward.

"Atran ne'er said when we 'ought ta be off. Oi says, we stay 'till we's all ready!" said the rat.

"Grudvak, that'll be yer again. Shuddup or ah'll repert ye fer treason." said Stonetail. The skinny rat snarled and lunged, brandishing his javelin. Stonetail was more skilled than Grudvak and quickly laid out the skinny rat.

"Now, what've yer got ter say f'yoreself!" said Stonetail, holding his javelin threateningly. Grudvak whimpered.

"Y-yew win." he said.

****

Zemmerug Zitspike was asleep with his crew in the cave. They had not left a sentry, for they thought the shelter of the cave would be enough, but it wasn't. A huge stoat and two skinny weasels stood over him.

"Flangot, Dogjaw, get them weapons!" said the stoat, as the two weasels scurried away, nervously. Soon after a fox came up.

"Kriggut, what'er wantin' 'em weapons fer?" asked the fox. The stoat turned around and snarled

"None o' yer bizzness, Parrik! 'xcept that oi found a weasel an' his friends in a cave! But they's mine! Now step away fox!" said Kriggut the stoat. Parrik the fox stepped back.

"Now, now, sludgey stoat! No need fer talk loik thar!" said the fox, turning away, then he suddenly turned back, fast as lighting, and threw a spear at Kriggut. The stoat the dodged nimbly and smirked.

"Haharr, shoopid fox, ye t'inks ye can despose o' me? Dogjaw! Flangot! Use 'em weapons!" said Kriggut, as the two weasels, trembling with fear and nervousness, lunged forward brandishing spears and axes. The fox fell, an expression of shocked pain plastered everlastingly on his face. The stoat smirked over Parrik's dead body.

"Tol' ya! Nobeast 'utsmarts ole Kriggut!" said he. Then Kriggut walked off. Flangot collapsed on the floor.

"We killed poor ole Parrik we did, mate!" said the weasel as he began weeping.

"I knows, I was thar! Poor ole Parrik, somedays I think o' desertin' ole stoaty an' this band o' ruffians." said Dogjaw.


Chapter 10

When the corsair weasel woke up he was tied to a tree with three rats prodding him with a spear.

"'E's finally awake, mates!" said the fattest.

"Aye, 'e is. Lets torment 'em s'more!" said the skinniest.

"Shuddup yer idjits! We need 'em un'armed and ready t'be our slaves, fools!" Said the tallest.

"Shuddup all o' yew! D'ye wants ter wake up 'em slaves?" asked Kriggut, as he walked up. The rats gulped. The tall one spoke.

"Sir, theys already awake, but it wasn't me. I just got here! 'Twas them two!" said the rat, pointing to the other two. The other two's faces became injured innocence.

"Hangfang, 'ow could ye saw such lies! We all know 'twas yer who woke 'em up!" said the skinny one.

"No, fools! We all did et! Remember!" said the fat one. The other two glared hatred at him.

"Skarrleg yew fool! Don't lissen ter 'em chief!" said Hangfang, looking up pleadingly at Kriggut. The stoat's face was drained of mercy.

"Dogjaw! Flangot! Chain these three idjits wit 'em slaves!" Said the stoat. The three moaned.

"Be grateful I ain't killed yer!" said Kriggut.


****

Zemmerug unsheathed a hidden knife and put it to Skarrleg's neck.

"Who are yer an' 'ow do I get outta 'ere?" asked the weasel. The rat trembled with fear.

"We's a band o' rats, weasels, an' foxes, unner Kriggut the stoat! I dunno 'ow ye'll escape, ole Hangfang's the smart 'un!" said Skarrleg. Then Hangfang's limp corpse leaned on Skarrleg.

"Wit thar? Hangfang? 'E's dead!" said Skarrleg. Then the skinny rat's corpse leaned up to Hangfang's body. Before Skarrleg had a chance to react two weasels with axes stood over the rat's trembling body.

"Flangot? Dogjaw? What'er yer doin' 'ere?" Said Skarrleg, the evil rat's last words.

"Keep quiet, weasel. We's settin' yer free! We're tired o' Kriggut's evil gang. We's desertin' an' we's ne'er comin' back." Said Dogjaw. Zemmerug didn't trust weasels, because he knew how clever he was, and he didn't invite them to join his crew. The two weasels cut Zemmerug's bonds and fled. Zemmerug cut Whitepaw, Deddclaw, Waggy, Hogtoe, Burglebuber and Stukkworm's bonds and then they ran. They happened across Kriggut, and with a quick motion, Zemmerug slew him. The dagger still lays in the stoat's body today. The weasel and his crew kept running, ignoring the shouts of the vermin behind him. A fox leaped onto Waggy's back. The fox prepared to stab downward with his sword when Deddclaw ran him through and he toppled to the ground. A weasel lunged at Whitepaw, but Hogtoe tripped him and Stukkworm slew him. Then Dogjaw and Flangot were heard shouting, as they bravely charged at the remaining ten vermin. The two weasels were armed with their axes. They slew a fox, and a rat wounded Flangot in the thigh, when Dogjaw stabbed him. The rat fell and the remaining eight vermin fled. Flangot flung his axe at a weasel, and scored a hit.

****

Stonetail and his rats stumbled around, completely lost in the woods. Grudvak has some words for Stonetail, again.

"Now where've ye got us ter, eh? Lost! Completely lost! I shouldn't o' lissened ter ye, I shoulda ne'er come on this trip!" Stonetail turned slowly.

"If'n ye don't loik et 'ere, turn back!" Said Stonetail.

"Nay, oi can't! 'Cause yew've gotten us lost!" Said Grudvak.

"Well, even if'n ye didn't come wit us, yew'd be slain by ole Atran!" said Stonetail.

"That'd be better than bein' lost in the woods with cannibals!" Said Grudvak.

"Cannibals? There ain't no cannibals in these woods, mark me words on it fool!" said Stonetail.

"Well, there ain't no sensible rat cap'n, smart 'nuff ter get us'ns lost!" Said Grudvak, who's facial expression changed suddenly, and a cutlass seemed to grow out of his chest. He gave a sob and a moan, and then fell. A rat, holding two cutlasses, at the head of a hundred more, was standing over Grudvak's body.

"C-C-Cannibals!" screamed Stonetail, as hundreds more surrounded the rats, and the victims began weeping with terror.

"P-please, let us g-g-go. We've done no 'arm, p-p-please spare us." Said Stonetail, to the cannibal leader.

"Yissy, yissy. Bigga-rat wigga no tails getta spared. Spared a livven hik hik hik hik!" said the leader.

"Hik hik hik hik!" laughed the cannibals, as they dragged their prey to a circle made of stones.

****

Atran was annoyed at Ripfur. He was also sorry he'd selected Ripfur as an officer. The rat kept pestering the tyrant with questions.

"Sire, how'd yer know where yer goin'?" I'm High Lord Chief Atran the Tyrant Master of the Cutthroat Falcon's army and I know where I'm headed, fool!" Shouted Atran.

"But how'd yer know if'n et's safe?" asked Ripfur, again.

"Anything is safe! We are an armed horde of for hundred rats! Nothing on this earth could take us on! Of course it's safe!" Said Atran, even louder.

"But chief, where are ye goin' any'ow?" asked Ripfur. Atran turned and stabbed him. Ripfur backed up in surprise, looked at the broadsword protruding from his stomach dumbly, then he looked back up and said,

"B-b-but ch-ch-chief..." Then Ripfur collapsed in a heap, his face the picture of surprise. Atran chuckled at the fools dead corpse.

"Never doubt Atran the Tyrant, idjit" said the rat tyrant to his dead captain.

****

The two weasels chased the seven vermin. Dogjaw flung his axe at a fox, and missed. The axe struck a rat instead, and the rat fell onto the fox, causing him to stumble. Flangot regained his axe and stabbed the fox. The remaining six vermin scattered, and the two weasels, suddenly feeling great fatigue, fell to their knees. They panted, a lot. Then they got up.

"C'mon, matey. Led's make a house unner that tree!" Said Dogjaw, as the two weasels stumbled away, towards the tree Dogjaw had pointed out. Zemmerug Zitspike and his crew started walking towards mossflower.

"C'mon, mates. Let's go ter thart for'st an' see wits aroond." Said the weasel captain as his crew followed.

"Cap'n, thar's a rat inna way." said Stukkworm, pointing. Zemmerug looked, and sure enough, one of the three rats and three weasels that had fled was standing in their way. He wasn't doing it purposely, instead he was sitting on a rock, licking his wounds and sunning himself. He was completely unaware of the corsair cutlass coming at him full speed, thrown from the hand of Zemmerug.


Chapter 11

Stonetail was weeping with terror. He was captured by cannibals, all his allies hated him, and his passing was going to be slow, for the cannibals didn't eat slowly and they liked live prey. Two rats holding spears, the spears that used to belong to Stonetail and his rats, prodded a rat.

"Waygup! Alla higher masta Flangnose gonna eetcha! Hik hik hik!" Said one of the rats, a female. The male then spoke.

"Yah. Dis 'un right. Gonna eetcha very tastygood meat hik hik hik tastygood hik hik!" He said, doing a little dance of joy. Stonetail gave a moan as one of his rats, pleading and crying, was brought to a stake. They tied him to it, and started chanting.

"Eetcha! Eetcha! Hik hik hik! Yer getta spared o' livvin' hik hik!" Then the leader who had made an appearance beforehand stood up.

"Alla da crowrat! Eetta plentyfull an' eetta more! Tastygood! Tastygood! Eetta rats! Hik hik hik hik!" He shouted. The rat screamed in pain as chunks of his body were wolfed down by the barbaric rats. The remaining twenty nine rats hid their faces and cried, knowing they'd be victims soon. A rat cannibal walked by a rat prisoner. The prisoner wanted to kill the cannibal, but he couldn't. Instead he dragged the cannibal down and started to beat him. The cannibal screamed and the others jumped onto the slaves, slaying without mercy with their spears. Flangnose the leader grabbed Stonetail.

"You da leada! You starta alla dis! Inta flamers ya goes hik hik hik!" He said, throwing the terrified Stonetail into the flames of their fire. Stonetail never came out of those flames.

****

Atran's army was now at the edge of mossflower. Two rat lookouts had spotted it first and the rest of the army soon followed. Atran was very happy that he had reached Mossflower country, for his conquest was there. He also guessed that the weasel corsair had gone into Mossflower. Atran called to Torndogg and Bigwart.

"Yew two, yer kin pick fivety o' mah army each t'serve yew. They'll also serve mah o' course. Go!" He shouted, as both rats scurried away. Atran then made sure everybeast was marching towards mossflower. A murderous glint showed in his eye as he laughed an evil murderous laugh. He was secretly hoping it would rain, but this seemed unlikely, for it was a sunny, bright day. His horderats were walking slowly, as if to soak up more sun. He disliked that. Atran wanted his horde to be quick, so they'd reach his conquest sooner.

"Liven up, ye slimy toads! Faster or ah'll leave ye behind, with a spear in yer 'earts! Get movin'!" Shouted the Tyrant. The rats immediately moved faster. They picked up the pace, like they'd pick up jewels from the ground. Atran was happier with them now, they were making better time. He now looked at the sun, for signs of rain. He saw none. He cursed his luck, and continued the journey.

****

Zemmerug retrieved his cutlass from the rat's body. He had Stukkworm polish it. After he retrieved it again, he stood out in front, hacking away at anything guarding his path.

"C'mon, me cullies! We've gotta find a nice liddle birth in Mossflo'er woods ter settle down en, c'mon if'n ye wants to settle down somewhere peaceful-like, with a fine farm an' nobeast botherin' us!" Said Zemmerug, urging his companions onward. Deddclaw, Whitepaw, Waggy, Burglebuber, and Hogtoe were the fastest, and they almost left Stukkworm behind in one occasion. The clumsy stoat kept tripping on tree roots, snapping twigs, and crunching on leaves.

"Will yer try t'be more quiet back thar? We's tryin' t'be stealthy aroond 'ere, d'ye want t'be attacked by gangs o' vermin aroond 'ere?" asked Deddclaw, in his annoyance he forgot to be quiet himself and a huge water rat barred their way.

"Shuddup, shoopid stoat! Prepare t'be slain! Stan' steel an' I'll make et quick! No noises, idjits! Or ye'll all die nice an' slow!" Said the huge water rat. Zemmerug pretended to be terrified.

"Oh please, sir, we're jus' 'elpless travelers, don' slay us!" Said Zemmerug.

"Oops, yew moved, seascum! Prepare t'die nice an' slow!" Said Slinky.

"Y'can't kill our cap'n!" Shouted Hogtoe, drawing his sword.

"Oi kin kill 'em if'n oi wants ter, or me name ain't Slinky the wa'er rat!" Said the big water rat, now known as Slinky. Before he could do anything, in one quick motion, Zemmerug grabbed Slinky and threw him, right into the river moss. The rat shouted with terrified fury.

"Ah'll get ye, one day weasel! Mark me... glub glub... words! Ye shudd sleep wit 'un eye open, matey! Glub glub." Shouted Slinky, as he drifted further down stream.

"I 'opes thats the last we'll see o' that wretched whelp!" Shouted Whitepaw, much to everybeast's agreement.


Chapter 12

Whilst in Mossflower a single water rat had tried to bar the army's path.

"Geddoutta my way, yew liddle fool!" Said Atran, brandishing his broadsword.

"Y-y-ye-es s-s-sir... ah-ah-ah'll m-move!" Stammered Slinky, terrified.

"Good, you worm! Get in the ranks o' my army, a rat loik yew kin be useful, or et kin not! We'll jus' see, eh?" said Atran, menacingly. Slinky obliged, and tried to be the best soldier he could be, for the young water rat was terrified of Atran. However, Slinky was used to living in a small hole next to the river moss. He was also used to plundering travelers, and doing it with few. He was not used to being in an army. However, he was trying to do well, knowing his life depended on it.

"Torndogg! C'mere!" Shouted Atran, as the scarred rat scampered up.

"Ah wants ye t'keep an' eye on tha wa'er rat, Ah doon't trus' 'em!" Whispered Atran, to Torndogg. The rat captain nodded at every other word, and left knowing that if he took his eye off of Slinky, he'd be slain for it. Bigwart, was up ahead, scouting for the area Stonetail had said they'd meet at.

"Sire, Stonetail ain't 'ere!" Said Bigwart, pointing to the clearing with a log in the middle. Atran snorted.

"F'get ole Stonetail. 'Twas an' idjit an' a fool! 'E probably got eaten by the cannibals aroond 'ere." Said Atran.

"C-c-cannibals?" Asked Bigwart.

"Aye, cannibals. All rats, but with a weasel as a leader. They normally haunt the woodlands around the northern areas o' mossflower." Said Atran, smiling cruelly.

"D-d'yew think they'll come after us?" Asked Bigwart, trembling.

"May'ap they will, but they on'y fights wi' javelins, we kin take 'em!" Said Atran.

****

"Luggra! Where be Slinky?" asked a fat water rat.

"'Ow 'my supposed t'know? Yew sent 'em out alone, t'get us food an' weapons! I was t'guard the slaves an' keep watch fer visitors! Don't yew remember, chief?" said Luggra, a skinny, female water rat, holding a dagger standing in front of three voles, two parents and a babe.

"Yew've no need t'watch us, yew kin kill us! Scum! Vermin! If'n oi 'ad these chains as a weapon, yew'd be dead b'now, eh? eh?" Said the male vole.

"Shuddup slave, or ah'll feed yer babe t'ye!" Said Luggra, pointing his dagger.

"Don't 'arm ma liddle 'un! Do wit y'will t'me, but don' 'arm them!" Said the vole, a worried expression on his face.

"Then shuddup!" Shouted the fat water rat, pointing his spear at the vole. The vole sat, submissively.

"Chief, somebeast's comin'!" Said Luggra, who was still keeping watch.

"Es et Dirgla?" Asked the chief.

"Oi thinks so, et's a wa'er rat sure 'nuff." Said Luggra.

"Open the door t'this vole-den' an' let 'em in!" Shouted the chief. Luggra opened the door, and Dirgla hopped in.

"Sir, a weasel an' 'es band! They're comin'! They was talkin' aboot Slinky when I found 'em! Oi thinks they'd slain ole Slinky!" Said Dirgla, in a panicked tone of voice.

"'Ow many, speak up, speak up!" Said the fat chief.

"Seven encludin' the weasel! We've on'y got five, includin' Slinky, an' yew, Uggrad." Said Dirgla.

"That's chief t'yew, Dirgla! Oi'm leader aroond 'ere! Remember wit 'appened t'the last wa'er rat wot called ma Uggrad?" Said the fat chief, now known to be called Uggrad.

"Y-y-yes... ch-ch-chief, ole Rukko dedn't stan' a chance." Said Dirgla, terrified.

"Chief! Et's Sukkra! 'E's comin' back!" Shouted Luggra, who was peering through a crack in the vole's door.

****

Zemmerug Zitspike smiled with satisfaction. He had found two water rats, they called themselves Sukkra and Dirgla. He'd killed Sukkra, for he'd foolishly called Zemmerug a coward, and a fiend.

"Wot d'we do wit the udder 'un?" Asked Hogtoe.

"We kill 'em o' course. Bring 'em 'ere!" Said Zemmerug. Dirgla moaned.

"P-please don't k-kill me!" Said Dirgla.

"Why not, yer not but a vermin! A coward! A bunch o' scum! If'n we weren't armed yew'd a killed us!" Said Deddclaw, pointing a cutlass.

"Spare me! Don't let me visit Sukkra!" Screamed Dirgla, truely terrified. Whilst he was putting on a show of terror, Dirgla was also cutting his bonds with a hidden knife. Deddclaw was just raising the blade when Dirgla charged towards river moss.

"Haharr! Thought y'could catch me, eh? Come an' catch m'now!" He shouted behind himself. Stukkworm cursed the bad fortune, but Whitepaw threw his knife. It wounded Dirgla in the side, but it didn't kill him. However it slowed him down. Then the corsairs heard shouting, the voice of a female water rat, and Dirgla disappeared behind a bush.

"Ne'er gonna catch 'em now, cap'n." Said Waggy, sighing.

****

Slinky was no fool. He knew that Torndogg was spying on him. It didnt make Slinky happy that Torndogg was spying on them, though. Slinky decided to give him the slip. The water rat ducked into a bush.

"Yew! Geddoutta tha brush yew maggot! Stay wurr ah kin see ye, scum! Ye didn't think ye could gimme the slip... AAGH!!" Screamed Torndogg, clutching his face, he fell in a heap. Slinky sniggered.

"Yew fool, lettin' yersel' get knocked col' by a 'maggot' as yew put et, or was et 'scum'? Haharr!" Shouted Slinky as he slipped off. When Torndogg woke up, a while later, he was grasped by terror. Slinky was gone, and the army had almost left him behind, none had noticed his knocked out body laying in a bush. Torndogg melted into the ranks, pulling his helmet over his scar, hoping that nobeast would recognize him and that Atran wouldn't call for him.

"Torndogg! C'mere, ah need yer report!" Shouted Atran. Torndogg crouched lower, hoping that Atran wouldn't see him.

"Torndogg! Get o'er 'ere or ah'll find ye an' slay yer!" Said Atran. Torndogg didn't doubt that Atran would slay him, but he wanted to extent his life, and he therefore stayed hidden.

"Deserter! Ranks, look aroond fer Torndogg, 'e couldn't o' gone far, lazy rotter! When ah gets me paws on 'em 'e'll curse th'day 'twas born!" Shouted Atran.

****

Sukkra knocked on the door of the vole-den. Luggra opened on Uggrad's order, and a sword came shooting through the doorway. Luggra was a nimble water rat, and dodged it.

"Sukkra, yew fool! 'Tis on'y me, Luggra!" Shouted the female rat. Then Sukkra's carcass dropped to the ground and a big weasel jumped down from the roof of the vole den.

"'Im? 'E 'twas on'y a puppet, ah killed 'em! Now, yer next vermin!" Said Zemmerug. Luggra screamed in terror and shut the door. Slinky was watching all this from his hiding place in the bushes. He was glad that the weasel hadn't found the secret way into the vole home. It was a tunnel, dug by moles long ago. The voles used it as a second entrance to their home and Slinky, being fat, could barely fit. He did manage to get in.

"Ah see the weasel 'as found us!" He said. Luggra jumped in surprise.

"Oh, 'tis on'y yew. Ah thought that weasel's gang 'ad found the secret entrance!" The female water rat said, quite relieved.

"Yew! Slinky! 'Elp Dirgla fill en the tunnel, ah don't wan' the weasel findin' 'es way en ter this place!" Shouted Uggrad. Burglebuber and Waggy were banging on the door. Deddclaw and Stukkworm were on the top of the den, trying to break a hole. When a hole finally came, Stukkworm was first down. Luggra clouted him with a club, and Dirgla wounded his side, leaving Stukkworm completely senseless. Deddclaw decided not to jump down. Instead he pretended to be scared.

"Oh no! They've got poor ole Stukky! Wot e'er will ah do?" He said in mock despair. Luggra and Dirgla snickered, and they jumped out of the hole. Deddclaw drew his sword.

"Ah ha! Ah see two o' ya wants ter die now, don' worry t'won't be long!" He said, laughing as the thrust his sword at Dirgla. He missed the rat the first time, but the second time scored a hit. Dirgla screamed, and fell. He was dead.

"D-d-dead! D-dirgla's d-dead!" said Luggra, who promptly jumped back down the hole and filled it with mud.

"Coward! Get out thar 'n' foight, scum!" Shouted Uggrad.

"B-but chief ah can't fight seven stoats, ferrets, an' weasels! Lets all go out thar, we'll be a force t'be reckerned wit if'n ets us all!" Said Luggra, snarling and drawing her sword.

"Let's use this 'un as a 'ostage!" Said Slinky, looking at the bound stoat, Stukkworm.

****

Atran snarled. He hadn't found Torndogg, and neither had his horde. He called Grimlock.

"Yew! Get five rats an' scout the area, if'n yew finds a big red sandstone buildin' then report! Bigwart! Go an' find me some more recruits!" He shouted. Grimlock and Bigwart hastily did his bidding.

"Ah thinks ah finally knows where we're 'eaded!" Whispered Grimlock to his five rats.

"Then tell us, Grimmy, before we all die 'cause o' the suspense!" Said a rat.

"Ah'll tell ye if'n ye shuts yer gob! Ets a 'uge red sandstone buildin' an' we're scoutin' fer et" Said Grimlock.

"Ah wouldn' wanna be us if'n we don't find et, lets git goin'!" Said a sly-faced rat.

"Well, we can't march if'n we's talkin'! Shuddup!" Said Grimlock.

"Oh, look who's talkin' now!" Laughed a fatter, taller rat.

"Shuddup! Shuddup or ah'll report ye, scum!" Screamed Grimlock. The five rats became silent, as they marched, unwittingly, straight for redwall!


Chapter 13

Bregg the Stoat and his gang of fifty or so mottled vermin were camping close to redwall. He had been near the abbey for a long time, and he knew of the danger that would come of attacking it, if he tried. He knew that there were many, many beasts inside that were more than capable of killing him or his band. Chinlugg, a female weasel and Bregg's second in command stormed up to him.

"Wit is et, Chinlugg?" He asked.

"Chief, there's a 'uge rat wit a gang o' tin other rats comin' this way. The leader 'as a 'uge wart on 'es nose, chief." She said, slyly, as every word that came out of her foul mouth sounded that way.

"Ah'll see wit they wants, Chinlugg, foller me!" Said Bregg, standing up. Bigwart stormed into camp.

"My Lord Atran the Tyrant, leader o' the Cutthroat Falcon's army says that ye'll be join' 'em on pain o' death!" He shouted, blundering around the vermin camp.

"Wit'll ah git en reward f'this?" Asked Bregg, his paw straying to his skinning knife.

"Lord Atran promises a high share in th'loot. If'n y'get in 'es favor, ye'll get a bigger share!" Shouted Bigwart.

"Ah, m'gang'll join ye an' yer friends." Said Bregg "But ah wants ter meet y'leader!" He finished.

"Fine, ye kin meet 'em. Et might mean meetin' death fer ye though." Warned Bigwart.

"Ah ain't afraid o' no rat! An' ah ne'er will be!" Bregg bragged.

****

Atran was happy with Bigwart. He liked the stoat, Bregg, and he was happy with the fivety new recruits. He was sure he'd beat the redwallers now. Then Grimlock returned.

"Sire, ets not far south o' 'ere!" He said, excited, his eyes gleaming with the light of battle.

"South ye say? Bigwart! Bregg! Get o'er 'ere, we's plannin' battle!"

"Ah say, me an' mah gang'll slash the east gate down and storm our way en, Chinlugg'll unlock the main gate, if'n yew ain't burned et doon already. After that, we charge in, an' we'll jus' wreck 'avoc on the place!" Bregg announced.

"Ah likes, et, but yer gang'll do all the 'ackin' doon gates! We ain't burnin' no gate doon, yer kin unlock et!" Said Atran. Bregg didn't argue the point, but he was uneasy. Chinlugg had no idea how to unlock gates! Bregg decided that he'd tell Nagger the fox to unlock it, for Atran didn't know Chinlugg, and he wouldn't know that Chinlugg was a female weasel, not a male fox.

****

Formole Howp, and his crew were walking on the east wall-top. He was taking in the fresh air, when he spotted a skinny, female weasel and about forty vermin headed to the wall.

"Yurr! Varmints! Varmints ee comin' zurrs! Brace ee gates, zurrs! 'Tis ee varmints" Shouted Howp. Woggle, a mole in Howp' crew, always carried his spear, a prized weapon. He heard the east gate being easily hacked down, and say Chinlugg walking through first. He threw his javelin down, and it skewered the weasel through the back. Chinlugg, noiselessly, swayed side to side, then fell. Nagger the fox and Swigg the rat were heading the rest and when they saw Chinlugg fall, they jumped back with start. This allowed Skipper, who had heard the moles calls for help, to let loose his sling. It sailed through the air, and hit Nagger in the ear. The stone tore it off, and with a yelp, Nagger continued. Nagger was an old fox, and not too afraid of dying, for he had led a long, long life, slain many, and he thought he was old enough to die, but he wouldn't go looking for chances to be slain. That's why he didn't look behind him when he was unlocking the main gate. Twoggo Cellarhog, stabbed Nagger in the back just after he'd unlocked the gate. The fox fell, and the gate swung open. over four hundred rats stormed inside, and the hedgehog ran away. He wanted to be there to fight and help his abbey-friends, instead of die after only killing one vermin.

****

"Slinky! Go an' git m'brother Gutra! 'Is wa'er rat gang'll 'elp mine." Said Uggrad, nibbling on a root.

"B-b-but chief, Gutra'll k-kill me if'n 'e sees me!" Said Slinky, who was terrified of Gutra.

"Then good riddance, go or ah'll git Luggra t'kill yew!" Said Uggrad, pointing his spear. Slinky scuttled off, though he had to reopen the secret tunnel out. He was afraid to use the main exit. Slinky had left his knife with Luggra and Uggrad, because he didn't want Gutra's gang seeing him armed. The vole father grabbed the knife and cut his bonds. He didn't let his family, or the water rats, know this. Slinky scurried through some undergrouth. He was afraid of being caught by the corsairs, for he was unarmed, and he was deathly afraid of Gutra. Uggrad's brother had a larger gang of water rats, numbering about fifteen. He was also older, bigger, and tougher. Uggrad was fat, lazy, and weaker. Gutra also had some skill with a sword, something none of Uggrad's gang possessed. From his hiding place Slinky heard a huge water rat talking to another.

"Orig, thar be sometin in 'em bushes o'er yonder." Said the smaller one, with an eyepatch. The bigger one with torn ears and a large fang said

"Aye, best tell ole Gutra. Yew go an' tell 'em, ah'll stay 'ere." Said Orig.

"Ahoy! Gutra! 'Tis a beast in some bushes o'er yonder! Ole Burrel saw et." Said Orig, as he lead a huge water rat, taller and lankier than Orig, to the spot. Slinky squealed in fear.

"Oi! I kin 'ear sometin." Said Burrel. A third, skinny and sly-faced, water rat trotted up.

"Hehe, 'tis a scruffy ole mouse ready f'torture!" He squealed with joy.

"Shuddup yew idjit! Wit've ah told ye Gillpaw? Everybeast ain't food, some're slaves an' some'er food! Now, shut yer trap an' corner 'em!" Said Gutra. The skinny old rat obliged, muttering to himself.

"Slaves? Who need slaves? 'Tis a waste o' good vittles!"

****

Four hundred snarling rats poured through Redwall's gates like water! Twoggo was banging on great hall's door and shouting.

"Let me in! Woggo! Foremole! Skipper! Let me in!" The door opened swifty, with Drundey the Gatekeeper holding it opened.

"Come in fast, friend! There's four hundred rats chasin' you!" He said.

"Don't think I haven't noticed." Said Twoggo, after he had gotten safely inside. The doors shut with a slam! Many bangs were heard as vermin slashed with spear, cutlass, and dagger at the door. It wouldn't budge.

"Quit 'ittin' the door y'fools!" Said Bigwart, swaggering about shouting.

"Oi, sir! D'ye fancy us throwin' some spears an' stones a' the abbey? Mayhap th'stone'll break." Said a fat, snarling, old rat. He was named Bolce, and he was bigger and fatter than all other rats in the horde.

"Shuddup fool! It'd take seasons t'break tha' abbey! An' ah thinks the chief wants et f'himself. We ain't breakin' et!" Said Grimlock, slapping the unfortunate rat with the butt of his spear. Bloce moaned and moved back a pace and yowled.

"Ahh! Leave me alone, sir. Ah diden think ye'd figger tha' out by yersel." He moaned, hoping that what he'd said would work as an excuse.

"Ah said shuddup! Or are ye jus' deaf as well as shoopid? Now shuddup or ah'll report ye!" Screeched Grimlock, furious at the idiotic Bolce.


Chapter 14

Waggy and Deddclaw were watching the water rat's base whilst the rest of the crew camped. They saw a terrified Slinky run back into the area. Then they saw about fifteen large water rats chasing him.

"Hey! Ah thinks et's a wa'er rat, like us!" Said Gillpaw.

"Aye, et wuzzen a scruffy mouse y'fool." said Orig

"Well 'ow should ah know wit et was? It was 'idin' in th'bushes. An' et's alser v'ry fat an' outta shape." Said Gillpaw in his defense.

"He was one of my idjit brother Uggrad's brood." Said Gutra. Slinky dashed around. He was trying desperately to find the secret hole into the vole den.

"Chase 'em. 'E'll make good supper." Said Orig. Five of the water rats began chasing Slinky, Orig and his brother Spyg included. The remaining ten water rats just made themselves at home.

"Ahoy, yew three. Go an' try t'find the way inter ole Uggrad's newest dwellin'." Said Gutra to Burrel and two others.

"Aye chief." They said, saluting. Then they trotted off. Slinky had finally found it.

"Ahoy! Thar 'e 'is! Get 'em!" Shouted Spyg. The five water rats began running faster. Slinky, with a scream of dismay, jumped head first for the hole. He had been standing on a tree trunk about a yard and a half away from the hole. Half way through the leap an old corsair cutlass found him. He made it inside, but not alive. The rats caught up to his carcass, with a sword ran through his back. Orig looked up. He saw a two ferrets running across the clearing to the corsair's camp.

"Et's the seascum! Get 'em!" He shouted.

****

Luggra saw Slinky's corpse slide down the hole.

"Chief, et's Slinky!" She said.

"Go an' find oot who killed 'im." Said Uggrad. Luggra, reluctantly obeyed. She poked her head out. She saw two scruffy corsairs running away from five water rats.

"Gutra's 'ere, chief. 'E's chasin' some corsairs. An' Slinky's got a corsair cutlass inside 'im." Said Luggra.

"Go out an' call Gutra to my domain." Ordered Uggrad.

"Aye, chief." She said.

"Ahoy, Chief Gutra! Uggrad's doon 'ere, an' 'e sent fer ye. The cersairs yer chasin' now killed ole Slinky, the rat who sent f'ye." She hailed, waving her paws. Here bracelets jingled as she did.

"Kill 'er. We'll eat 'er affer she's dead." Whispered Gutra to Gillpaw. Gillpaw sniggered, reaching for a spear. Then he threw! Luggra stood no chance. Uggrad heard her grunt of dismay.

"Yew fool, Orig! Stop chasin' the wavescum! We 'ave bigger prob'ems. Let's get at that brother o' mine." Shouted Gutra. Orig came to his chief swiftly.

****

Uggrad heard this. He then realized what a fool he'd been to send for his ruthless brother. His brother would kill him! He then saw a huge water rat, with earrings and a large scimitar enter crawl through the hole.

"Chief, et's on'y yer fat brother wot's inside. Ah think's the one ye killed was the last o' 'is gang." Said Spyg, who had gone in first. Orig, Gutra, Gillpaw, and Burrel soon followed.

"Well, well. If'n et izzen me ole brother, Uggrad." Said Gutra, drawing a skinning knife. Uggrad was speechless with terror. He was a fat coward and a bully, and he'd only fought creatures weaker than himself.

"B-b-brother... G-gutra. 'Ow... are... y-ye." He stammered. He then tried to squirm off his chair and stand, but a thrown blade between the eyes finished him. Gutra smirked.

"Hahar! Ah'm in command now!" He shouted.

****

Stukkworm woke up, in the den. He was being poked by a sly-faced water rat.

"Haha, boys the seascum's awake!" He shouted.

"Aye, an' don't yer dare eat 'im! Gutra wants 'im alive!" Said Orig, kicking the rat.

"Haha, yew know ole Gillpaw. Yew'd best tell Spyg to watch th'stoat." Said Burrel.

"Shuddup, idjit! Ah ne'er asked ye t'speak!" Said Orig, then he cuffed Burrel. Stukkworm thought fast.

"Ah know where t'find lots o' plunder! Ah kin make ye all rich!" Said Stukkworm.

"Gillpaw, get the chief!" Said Orig. Gillpaw ran off.

"Where?" asked Burrel.

"Ah said shuddup!" Shouted Orig, in a complete rage.


Chapter 15

Whitepaw noticed Stukkworm blundering around, trying to find their camp.

"Cap'n! Et's Stukky! 'E's comin'!" Said Whitepaw. Zemmerug's face brightened.

"Keep watchin'! 'E might be follered!"

Orig charged ahead of the water rats.

"Sler down, ye shoopid stoat! Keep up fools!" He shouted. Spyg, Burrel, Gillpaw, and Fligg followed close behind Orig.

"Ah, 'oo put ye in charge?" Asked Burrel, who was very tired after trying to follow Stukkworm from the vole-den to the corsair camp.

"Gutra did, yew scum! Ah'm 'is new second in command, ye idjit!" Said Orig, kicking out at Burrel, who fell down. Orig scoffed at him.

"Yew blubberin' fool! Fall doon will ye? Haha! Would ye like some more kicks, maggot?" He shouted in the terrified Burrel's face. Orig could be very cruel at times. During this argument Stukkworm made it to the corsair camp.

"Fools! We lost th'stoat! Yer all just a bunch o' id... aarrrgggh!!!!" Said Gillpaw. Orig had run him through with a cutlass.

"Yew fool. Ye kin't eat prisoners, ye kin't call yer cappins a fool, an' ye kin't call me a fool!" Screamed Orig at his face, the last thing he heard.

****

Stukkworm motioned to Zemmerug.

"Cap'n, ah promised t'the wa'er rats tha' thar'd be loot in tha' swamp over yonder! We kin lead 'em in an' drown 'em!" Said the stoat, gleefully. Zemmerug nodded. Fligg the water rat sat down.

"Ah, th'stoat tis long gone, mates. Led's sit doon an' rest, an' git some viddles." He complained.

"Shuddup, rothead! Yew kin rest when ah say ye kin, aye?" Said Orig, kicking out at Fligg.

"Ah, stop kickin' mah! 'Twas on'y speakin' reason." Shouted Fligg.

"Reason, eh? Ah'll give ye reason, ah reason t'chop yer 'ead off! Now shuddup er ah will!" Said Orig, beating Fligg twice with the flat off his blade. After a whimper, Fligg became silent. Deddclaw and Whitepaw poked their heads out of the brush close to the rat band.

"O'er 'ere! Ah foond th'loot ole Stukky tole ye aboot." Said Deddclaw. The rats jumped up.

"After 'em! Don' worry, yew seascum, we won' eat ye, haha!" Shouted Orig. The five rats sent out then chased Deddclaw and Whitepaw. Orig drew his sword.

"Idjits! Draw y'weppins. We don' wan' 'em t'git away!" Said the large rat captain. Deddclaw and Whitepaw ran like the wind. When they got near the swamp they ducked into some bushes. The rats ran past them, shouting curses and the evil things they'd do to the corsairs once they'd caught them. The two corsairs crawled into the camp, panting for breath.

****

"Cap'n, the rats, we lost 'em 'eadin' straight inna th'swamp. Ah thinks they's gone, cap'n." Said Whitepaw, who then collapsed, in a heap of tiredness.

"Then you're wrong, stoat!" Said Orig, who jumped out of the bushes. Swinging his cutlass he attempted to chop of Whitepaw's idle head, when Burglebuber jumped up and pushed Orig. He fell back into the bushes allowing Whitepaw to draw his dagger and get up.

"Ain't th'time f'restin' then, eh?" Said Whitepaw as the crew took off towards the vole-den! The rats gave chase. They'd not lost the corsairs, instead they tried to make the corsairs think that the corsairs had lost them, then they'd attack. The corsairs ran right into the clearing, Zemmerug infront and Whitepaw behind. Orig, leaped out of the bushes. He shouted at the top of his lungs.

"Chief! We got yer brekkist, hahar!" He screamed. Gutra and the remaining ten water rats came out. Rivenhide, a big black rat, had a male vole's head on his spear. He had carried out an execution for trying to escape.

"So, wavescum, ye've come t'die by means o' bein' eaten, eh?" Asked Spyg, grinning wickedly. The rats drew their weapons.

"Surround 'em!" Shouted Gutra, as the rats made an unbreakable circle around the two weasels, two ferrets, and three stoats. The corsairs drew cutlasses and daggers. Waggy licked his blade.

"Hahar! We ain't goin' doon witout a fight, an' methinks we ain't goin' doon et all!" He said, and then he wasted no time in running Rivenhide through. The shocked rat just looked up, looked down at the sword, moaned, and fell.

"Yew killed one o' my mates, an' ye won't kill another beast aggin!" Shouted Orig, full of rage.

"Charge!" Shouted Gutra.

****

Torndogg staggered towards the abbey building. He had been selected to give the abbeybeasts the rat's terms. He was full of relief that Atran had not recognized him as Torndogg, but he was still nervous about the abbeybeasts.

"Lord Atran the Tyrant, commands yew t'surrender. He'll let yew live, but ye'll be 'is slaves. If yew do not want to surrender, yew mus' fight an' die!" He declared. A large cauldron filled with bricks silenced him forever.

"Haharr! I think I hit the stinky ole rascal, brother!" Said Skipper. Brother Gooch agreed.

"Aye, matey. That 'uns ne'er gonna speak agin." The good old mouse said.

"Yew two, Bolce an' Bigwart, go an' git tha' ole rat ah sent t'treat wit th'abbeydwellers. Ask 'im wits takin' 'em so long." Ordered Atran, as the two rats complied. A few minutes later, Bolce and Bigwart carried the bruised and limp body of Torndogg. If they hadn't recognized him before (which they hadn't), they certainly wouldn't have now. Almost every bone in his body was broken.

"Sir, ah foond 'im. 'E was unner a pile o' bricks. There was alser a cauldron." Said Bolce.

"Humph. The red'allers killed 'im then, eh? Shoot arrers through th'winders! Use y'spears t'break doon th'door! Ah wan' e'erybeast inside th'abbey." Said Atran.

"Hah! Orderin' m'gang aroond agin, eh? Yew got Nagger, Chinlugg, an' twinnyfive udder gudd foighters killed! Ah'm orderin' me own gang aboot, an' they'll use mah plan!" Stated Bregg, firmly.


Chapter 16

The fourteen remaining rats jumped the seven corsairs. Zemmerug jumped out of the way and into the bushes. Deddclaw stabbed a rat and wounded another. Waggy managed to crawl out of the pile pretty much unharmed, other than scratches. His cutlass was painted in rat blood.

"Hahar, goin' somewhere, ferret?" Said Orig, as he stepped out of the pile, also unharmed. Spyg followed closely.

"Haha, cummon, coward! Attack us!" Taunted Spyg. Waggy lunged Spyg, then quickly ducked while stabbing upward. This cost Spyg a finger.

"Ahh! Finish th'scum, Orig!" He shouted, in pain. Orig swiped and lunged, missing almost every time as Waggy fought him to the bushes. Spyg was following Waggy, pitifully missing every swipe he took. Waggy ducked a sweep from Spyg that disarmed Orig. For the first time in his life, Orig felt the cold claws of fear grisp him, as Waggy slashed downward at him. Ducked the slash, but then he felt a paw grab him from behind. The same happened for Spyg, as both rats, unarmed, were pulled screaming into the bushes. Terrible screams and calls for help were then heard, and then the bushes fell silent and stopped wriggling.

"Hahar, good ole Cap'n Zemmerug!" Said Waggy as he leaped back into the fray. Deddclaw stepped over a slain Burrel as he lunged Fligg. The nimble rat ducked aside, crashing into Stukkworm. Stukkworm was really no use for fighting, and was often posted as lookout on the ship. He wailed pitiously as the rat fell on top of him. Stukkworm then tripped and fell, landing on Fligg! The rat came to, kicking Stukkworm off him.

"Aha! Yer the slimey stoat we was chasin'! Ole Orig'll be moighty glas win ah cum back t'him with yer 'ead on mah blade!" Fligg snarled, swiping at Stukkworm.

"You kin tell Orig tha' yew failed, scum!" Shouted Waggy as he ran Fligg through from behind. The rat managed three words before he died:

"Y-yew killed Orig!" Deddclaw stabbed at a rat, and missed. The rat laughed.

"Takes more'n tha' t'kill Chief Gutra!" Said the rat. He then slashed at Deddclaw, narrowly missing him the sword went crashing into another rat. The rat fell dead, and Gutra scoffed.

"Hah! Weel, ah ne'er loiked 'em any'ow!" He said.

****

Whitepaw was slashing mercilessly at the water rats with his dagger. He opened his eyes to see four dead.

"Hahar! Theres on'y five left, includin' the Gutra 'un!" He said, in delight. Gutra came forward, the four water rats, following fearfully.

"Hahar, yew killed mah gang, did ye? Ye killed Orig, Spyg, Burrel, Rivenhide, Fligg, an' Gillpaw, eh? Yew think we're done, do ya, eh? Well, we're no doon yet, wavescum! Charge!" Shouted Gutra, as he ran into the corsairs, his rats following. Zemmerug leapt from the bushes on to Gutra. Deddclaw, Burglebuber, and Hogtoe between them finished the last four rats. Gutra threw Zemmerug onto the ground and was about to stab him when Burglebuber, the young weasel, leapt onto him, and brandishing his dagger, he stabbed the back of Gutra's head. Gutra screamed in pain and fell, dead.

"Y-yew saved th'cap'ns loif!" said Hogtoe, astonished.

"Yew saved m'life." Said Zemmerug "Wit'd'ye want en return, m'lad, eh?" Asked Zemmerug, trying to be fair.

"Ah wanna be free from this corsair crew. Ah wanna git me own crew, an' thin mebbe ah'll git me own ship, eh?" Said Burglebuber. Zemmerug sighed. He was fond of the weasel and didn't want to let him go.

"Ah, alright, mate. Go on, keep th'dagger. Off wit ye." Said the corsair captain, watching Burglebuber run off into the woods.

****

Brother Bruckle ducked as an arrow flew over his head.

"Looks like they've decided to chuck arrows at us!" He declared. Skipper and Foremole Howp strode into the bedroom.

"Yurr! Oi'm a thinken oi know ee answer to ee varmints shootin ee arrers at us'ns, zurr." Said the Foremole.

"Well, speak up then! I'm eager to hear how to save my abbey!" Said Abbot Sonjo, who had quietly walked into the room whilst Bruckle and Howp were talking.

"Weel, farther h'abbut, oi wuzz thinken we'd chuck ee things back at ee varmints, zurr." Said Howp.

"Yes, but, what'll we throw?" Asked Sonjo.

"Easy 'nuff t'figger that'n out, father. We'll throw anythin' 'ard! Ole Gooch 'n' me threw a cauldron filled up with bricks at an' old 'un. 'E was tryin' to get us to surrender!" Said Skipper. Sonjo nodded.

"Get Twoggo in here, he's a good thrower. He probably has some old barrels we kin throw at the vermin!" Said the Abbot.

****

Atran smiled cunningly.

"Get Grimlock to take six spear-rats an' break doon th'doors! If'n they still stan' affer they's doon wit et, then yew an' six others kin take thar place!" Ordered Atran to Bigwart. He nodded and strode off. He gave the order to Grimlock, who obeyed. The rat lieutenant took the six rats with spears and began stabbing at the door. It was a thick, and strong oaken door, and when the first rat stabbed at it, his spear snapped.

"Argh! We kin't git through! Et's thick as yer 'ead, Grimlock!" Said the rat, and that turned out to be his last words.

"Shuddup, deddbeast! I ain't thick, y'ear mah?" Said Grimlock to the rat, who was laying on the ground, his eyes staring at a sun he'd never see again. Just at that moment a huge barrel fell from the window, knocking all six rats senseless. The barrel kept rolling, and soon found the main gate. Just outside the main gate was Atran's camp. It had several tents in it, large tents. The barrel crashed over one, and Zradj came stumbling out.

"Who threw dat? Methinks ah'll kill d'beast wot threw dat!" He shouted, waving a spear. A nearby rat kicked Zradj.

"Yew idjit! Can't ye tell dat et rolled from th'abbey?" He said. Zradj spat at him.

"Hah! Ah never saw nuthin'! Methinks yer goin' off yer rocka, old one!" Zradj came back.


Chapter 17

Three rats stumbled around the woodlands, unwitting heading for the corsairs. Zradj, the other rat, and a young rat about fifteen seasons old were the rats. They had been sent to forage for food as a punishment for the argument.

"Gah! We ain't findin' no viddles 'ere. Methinks we try d'stream." Said the younger rat. Zradj cuffed him.

"Yah! An' risk gettin' caughts by da rivermousey? Ah'm th'leader o' this foragin' party an' ah says we stay away from da wa'er." Said Zradj.

"Heh. Who elected ye as d'leader, eh?" Asked the other rat, a fat, older one.

"Methinks ah did! Yew want t'challenge et, fat one?" Asked Zradj. The fat rat made mock fear.

"Oh no, Cap'n Zradj. Ah don' want t'challenge yer authority. Weel, may'aps ah do!" He said.

"Hold yer tongue snotnose!" Yelled Zradj. This woke up Zemmerug and the crew.

"Methinks sum beasts are here." Said Stukkworm. Hogtoe agreed.

"Aww, was dat 'ard t'figger out? Go an find out who!" Said Zemmerug, sitting up. A moment later, Hogtoe, Stukkworm, and Waggy brought back Zradj, the young rat, and the old rat. The ferret kicked them to their knees. Zemmerug curled his lip.

"Wot? 'Tis all ye brought? T'ree liddle rats, eh? Cummon, me cullies, stan' up an' lets see ye fight!" Said Zemmerug, scornfully to the rats and Waggy. Waggy was smart enough to know that Zemmerug only wanted to fight the rats. They were terrified at first, but when they realized it was three against one they picked up that vermin attitude.

"Ha! Can't ye swing that cutlass any faster?" Asked Zradj, as he attacked the weasel with his spear. He was cut down swiftly by Zemmerug. The young rat stabbed with a dagger. He was the most nervous of the three, and ducked backwards after his thrust. The fat rat swung wildly with his scimitar. It clipped the weasel's ear, as the younger rat attacked Zemmerug from behind. The weasel ran the fat rat through and turned to face the last. Seeing his two comrades slain, the rat lost his nerve. He broke into a pleading wail.

"Waaah, Cap'n, ye wouldn' 'urt mah, would ye? Please don't 'arm mah, 'twas Zradj an' Bellog wot did et!" He sobbed.

"Shaddap! Methinks Cap'n don't want ter 'ear ye wailin', scringeyface! Now, make y'self useful or ye die slow!" Said Deddclaw, toying with his cutlass. The young rat understood and began blabbing away.

****

A huge, hulking fox and an even larger stoat sat close to Swigg, the rat chieftain of Bregg's former gang. The original leader had been slain during the fight. The gang of ragtag vermin had rebelled against Atran, and now were camped at the southern side of the deserted orchard. Swigg consulted his two bodyguard.

"Wilgg! Git Frazka! Tell 'er t'keep slingers an' archers firin' at th'rat-scum! Keep thar 'eads down!" He ordered. The fox ran off. He turned to the stoat.

"An' yew, Glirj. Git yore mate, Grinclaw, an' figger out a plan t'kill off d'rats an' take ova d'abbey. I ain't no good at makin' plans, on'y fightin'!". The stoat left, with his skinny, old mate. Frazka was an old ratwife, not very good at anything except healing. She ordered three rats, a weasel, and two stoats horsely.

"Yarr, keep shootin' dem arrers. Do et faster! Cummon, that 'uge fox tol' mah to boss ye around, so methinks ah will!". Frazka was disliked by all, and would be long dead if it wasn't for her healing abilities. She could not fend for herself during a fight, so killing her would be easy. However, the band of vermin were afraid of being injured, and she could heal almost any injury she saw. One of the stoats, a hulking beast, kicked at her.

"Yew shaddap yer big fat face! Ah'm slingin' at me own pace, an ah don' want ter be ye if'n yew keep shoutin', bossytooth!" He said. Frazka backed off a few steps and countered.

"Weel, ah don't wanna be ya if'n Cap'n Wilgg finds yew slackin'! Ah'm actin' on orders, scum! Consida me a cap'n!" She said. The stoat just spat and continued. He would never have killed her, he just hoped to scare her. Knowing this tactic had failed, he continued letting loose arrows. Every missile that had been launched missed. The rats soon figured this out. They, under the command of Bigwart, Grimlock, and Atran, charged. The slingers and archers were taken aback, and fled in shock. They scattered, only the big stoat, and an old weaselwife were going in the direction of the camp. Frazka fled at an angle towards the rats. She was old, and slow. Bigwart immediately caught her and killed her. The other slingers and archers perished, leaving the rats following the stoat and the weasel to the camp! Glirj saw them coming.

"Chief, weasel anna big stoat issa comin'." He said. The two vermin thundered in, panting and shouting.

"Rats onna charge! We under attack! Killyem all! Swwiiiggg!" Said the stoat, as he ran into the middle of the gang's camp. Swigg drew a small sword and yelled.

"Cheeeaaarrrgggee! Swwiiiggg! Killyem, Swiiigggg!" Shouted the rat band-leader as his vermin ranks passed him. Glirj, and Wilgg, being close pals, stayed near each other, slaying any rats that got near them. Grinclaw, Glirj's mate, and Zurak, a vixen were stabbing and swinging with their spears. Two ferrets and the big stoat lay slain near them. Tripping over their bodies, Zurak fell and was instantly killed by a rat. Grinclaw avenged her, but she herself was becoming cornered. Bigwart leaped at Glirj, determined to kill the huge stoat. The stoat slashed at Bigwart with his broadsword, killing him. Bigwart's slashed body fell, his face made even uglier with a large gash going across his forehead. Wilgg had taken on five rats, and slew them all. Suddenly, the battle was stopped. By a huge barrel that fell onto Wilgg's head, killing him. This unwitting saved Grinclaw's life.

****

Twoggo had dropped a barrel out the window. Foremole Howp was in the dormitories, where all the warriors were, directing the abbey beasts.

"Yurr, Woggle! Chuck ee spear doon onto ee vurmints! Ee h'otter'll retrieve ee weppin, zurr!" He shouted, as Woggle dropped the spear. It hit a weasel, who screamed and fell. Skipper was down in Cavern Hole, watching the doors shake. The rats and vermin, who had once again teamed up against the abbey, were battering it again. Twoggo Cellarhog swung his bung mallet expertly.

"Ha! I says we fight 'em! Lead a grand ole charge into th'lawns!" He said. The abbot shook his head.

"There's too many, friend. We'd all be slain!" He said, soothingly. Twoggo nodded.

"I guess your right, father." He said quietly. Two squirrel brothers, Favrun and Ferval, were expert archers. They shot down, slaying many a rat.

"Ha! I got two inna row! Beat that, Ferv!" Fav would say.

"That's nothing. I've slain two with one arrow! That makes eight, total." Said the other.

"Eight? Is that the best you can do? I'm at twelve!" And so on. Sonjo marveled at the squirrel's proficiency with the bow.

"You two will be fine warriors, one day!" He'd say.

****

Eight of Bregg's Gang remained. They had seen the battle going against them, and broke off, retreating. Swigg was among them. Atran saw this.

"Git th'ragtag vermin! They's runnin' away!" He ordered. Grimlock and four others charged them. two ferrets and a stoat fell and were killed by the rats. The remaining five escaped. Distracted, more rats joined the chase. However, this looked like a retreat to the abbeybeasts.

"They're running away! Get 'em!" Shouted Skipper. Howp and the otter ran out with full crews, and Twoggo came along. He swung his mallet, ending a rat's life. The rats were in dismay. The otters, moles, and the hedgehog were very tough. Many fell, or were trampled. Swigg, Glirj, Grinclaw, a ferret, and a weasel escaped. Atran and Grimlock, with two hundred rats stormed out of the gates. The rest of them had been slain! Favrun and Ferval were chattering away, debating on how well they had fought.


Chapter 18

Skipper slew a rat with his javelin.

"Close the main gates!" He shouted. Gatekeeper Nitts, a fat male watervole, did this.

"Yurr! Ee vurmints be runnin' aways! Ee h'abbey be's saved!" Shouted a joyful Woggle. Abbot Sonjo nodded. Once the gates were closed, the redwallers began cheering joyfully. A dibbun vole named Ziggle shouted out.

"H'feast! H'feast! Us needza feast!" He shouted. Sonjo turned to Friar Gooch.

"Sounds like a grand idea, friar! Begin work on it at once please" said Sonjo. The friar agreed readily. He bustled into his kitchens, with two mice and a squirrel. They were his assistants.

"Well, get to work my friends! We have a whole abbey to feed!" Gooch was heard to shout. The Abbot laughed.

"He'll work their tails off!" He chuckled.

****

Atran was not pleased with his rats. Only two hundred had escaped. He shoved Grimlock.

"You are useless, Grimlock! You are no longer the valuable jewel, the officer, the warrior you once were! Ye must be gettin' old. Bring Bigwart to me, and go sit with the other rabble!" He said. Grimlock shifted his paws, nervously.

"Er, lord... Bigwart 'twas slain by th'vermin band. That lot unner dead ole Bregg." Said the lieutenant. Atran kicked Grimlock until he was laid out on his back.

"Slain? The only captain I had that was useful, slain? Get your useless paws to work then! Get them rats marching! We are going recruiting, to lay siege to that abbey! We'll starve 'em out." Said Atran, partly in dismay. Grimlock nodded and began working. The rats began marching eastward into mossflower. Grimlock took fifty of the rats, and began turning northward. The rest stayed with Atran.

"Ha! If'n we split up we got more chance o' findin' vermin t'put unner our command! Ah'm nay as useless as ole ratface thinks." Said Grimlock under his breath.

****

Glirj was displeased with Swigg's leadership. He had seen Swigg running away from the abbey, going straight north.

"Yew nothin' but a tiny cowwid! We needs a be'er leader, one wot kin fight!" Said the hulking stoat. Nobeast dared to argue with him, except Swigg.

"Who promoted ye an' yer silly foxy friend t'be cappins?" said Swigg.

"Who got pore Wilgg slayed?"

"D'redwallers, a course!"

"Nah, 'twas yew! Yer useless, rat! Shaddap an' lit me take d'lead o' diss band!" Swigg pretended to be defeated.

"Weel, ah guess yew've got mah. Yer da leader now, Glirj. Spare me!" He said. Glirj let down his guard, however, after seeing this, Swigg drew his broadsword and ran Glirj through. This all happened very quickly, the stoat had not moved since he had dropped his dagger. He gurgled, in horror at Swigg.

"Yew.. slayed.. m...." He said, but he never got to finish. He then fell, the broadsword being plucked from him by Swigg. Grinclaw glared at Swigg.

"Yew nasty ole fool! Murderer! Yew've killed me mate! Yew've jus' gained death, rat! Ah'll kill ye wit yer bare paws, ah will!" She shouted. The rat casually shrugged.

"Wot ever. Yew git near mah, an' ah'll slay ye like yer mate."

****

The abbeybeasts were celebrating, and cheering. Skipper and Favrun each claimbed to have slain the most beasts.

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