Time to transfer five stories to...blogs? Let's see how it goes...
Moriel And Treil
What better story to write, be it a variation of a point in your life? Hope you enjoy it.
- Moriel and Treil,
- the mouse and the squirrel,
- what will we do with you?
- May take the company of others,
- Always with each other,
- but is it set for doom...?
--Brattagories Scaut Windinshire
- "Come on, gel!"
Matchlin Fandortail the hare banged on the door of his best friend Moriel Ghiluwa. She had a habit of running late, but Matchlin would not go withought her. "Master Rodal will have our fur--" BANG! A tall mouse huddled her old green cloak more firmly around her, and in her rush to get out the door, she bumped her head on the mantle. "Well, it's cold, you and mah parents don't understand that," she mumbled, rubbing her head furiously. It was usually extremely cold in their mountain community--called Mountdown--that or extremely hot. Match had taken off running, feet pounding the snow, "You're out, now c'mon!". Moriel sighed and ran after him.
"Well, see who's late again today, class."
Master Rodal, a stern faced hedgehog, was the school teacher for the young ones, old ones, or anyone who just felt like they wanted to learn. "What happened this time?"
Matchlin stared at the floor and scuffled his feet; Leave it to me, then. thought Moriel, then started. "Well, sir, it's very cold, as y'know, I'm sure, and so when I woke this morning, the bathwater had frozen! Yes, yes it did! and," she had gotten interested in this tale herself, "The door hinges were frozen stiff! Imagine what the pond must be like right now!" She scratched her neck, "Well, since we're here, we've still got the rest of the day to learn, right?"
Before Rodal could reprimand her, the door banged open again and the students groaned at not only the cold air but at who came in the door.
Trelland Horuis the squirrel was covered in snow and shivering. Rodal gave a rather almighty little laugh and said, "Well, you come here too, Treil." as he shuffled in front of the class. He shook and whispered a "Hi, Moriel," before Rodal continued the interrogations, "Matchlin, hold your tale for just a minute. Now, what happened to you, Mr. Horius?"
Trelland--or Treil, as everyone usually called him--stood a head taller than Moriel and quite taller than Matchlin, the snow all over him making him look like some intimidating stringy villain. Like some sort of bat, for that's how big his ears looked. "Well, sir," he started, I-I woke up lake."
"Like we couldn't figure that one out!" shouted a voice from the crowd of students, though quickly stifled by a few voices murmuring "Quiet now," and "Just shut up!"
"So," Treil continued, "I ran here, right through an ambush."
"An ambush!" said Rodal, eyebrows raising with his tone of sarcastic surprise, "Well, please continue!"
"It was the younger kids, y'know, young enough to go out alone but not old enough to come here and try to tolerate you," he said, then covering his mouth in shock when he realized what he said.
Rodal gave a deep sigh and swaggered up to the three late students and said, "Now, Miss Moriel, I expect a more creative excuse in the future, because I know you're going to be late in the future. Same for you, Treil. Matchlin, I'll assume that your excuse was just as uncreative and tell you three to sit down." When they didn't move, Rodal clapped his paws together loudly, making the students jump "Well? Sit down!"
As they were walking back, Moriel noticed Treil was shaking even harder, nearly making it snow in the classroom as ice fell off his brown fur. "Come here, now," she said kindly, took off her cloak and scrubbed his head, "You'd be dead if it wasn't for me, I swear..." she saw Matchlin roll his eyes when the three sat down and asked in an undertone, "What's wrong with you?"
"I," started Matchlin, "Just don't understand why you think he's so great, let alone why you even bother with him."
Before Moriel could do more than look surprised, Rodal continued his lesson, "Has anyone here been to Southsward?" when he heard a voice ask where it was, he moved to the front of the classroom and unraveled a large map and pinned it on the wall. He pointed, "Down there. It's quite south, but not as south as the Southern Wood and Salamandastron."
Moriel raised her paw, "Sir, what's on the other side? By the Western Plains?"
Rodal turned as though just seeing that the map ended abruptly at the border of the Western Plains, and said sharply, "Huh, good question. There's supposed to be a building or such, I think it's called Redwall Abbey--"
"Where Martin The jolly old Warrior chap came from, am I right, sah?" Matchlin interrupted.
Rodal looked squarely at the hare, "No, sir, he came from the Northern Shores--"
"Is that anywhere near here, sir?" Now Treil interrupted.
"Actually," Rodal continued through gritted teeth, now thoroughly irritated with the three young students, " We're a tad too far inland to be considered the North Coast, in these mountains..."
The lesson continued with talk about the landmarks, the Great Desert, The Inland Lake (Sounds spiffin' to visit, thought Moriel.) and The southern lands.
When the bell rang, Rodal called out, "Remember, the Winter Feast will be taking place in three days! There will be dancing! Please make sure you miscreants learn to dance in that time, will you?" as the last student let the door slam shut behind her.
Chapter 2 (Or, "It's all downhill from here.")
Matchlin was ready to cook! And cooking was his favorite activity, besides eating.
He had his white apron, his large chef's hat, and he also had Dyron the otter to oversee his work.
"What do you plan to make, young Match?" he asked as Matchlin begain to pull things off the shelf haphazardly.
"A trifle! A few chestnuts, some cilantro, bits of cheeses, potatoes, carrots, all the good things that folks and folkesses like to eat! Though perhaps not all together, eh?" he shrugged, "But they'll just have to deal with it, wot!"
Dyron passed him a canister of Hotroot Pepper, "Put a touch of that in there for me, mate," he said, winking. Smells and steams rose from numerous pots and pans. Looking at the students and parents preparing things in his huge kitchen that, for the most part, the entire community of Mountdown used, he noticed something.
"Matchlin, where's your partner in crime? Where's Moriel?"
Match looked up, and gave a little start as though just noticing that his friend was not there, "No idea, really." He headed for the door, "Can't make a trifle if she's not here to make it and I'm here to just eat the ingredients, can I?"
Out on the main path, Match immediately saw two symmetrical lines and light footprints that he could barely see through the new snow that had started falling. When the snow fell in Mountdown, it came down quick and fast most of the time. He followed them with a spring in his step and a ladle in his hand, murmuring darkly, "Leave me traipsing through the snow, won't you, gel. I should make soup out of you. Huh, there's an idea, missing Moriel soup. Or perhaps a cake, I'll put your ears on top of it, so I will."
He managed to reach Moriel just as she was starting to climb up a small hill on the plain to the south of town.
"Oi! Moriel of Mountdown!" when she appeared not to hear him, he roared out, "Oh, no, lassie, you wait right there!" and rushed after her. When he caught up with her, she gave a large smile.
"Oh, hi Match! Care to join me?" She indicated the sled she was dragging at the end of a rope.
Match Brightened; he loved to go sledding ;but he remembered his duties. "Were supposed to be making trifle, remember? Food, grub, scoff, the stuff you eat, we've got to make it for the Winter Ball!"
"Well, that's in another three days, Match." she said. When she saw the doubtful look on the hare's face, she gave a little frown and said, "Why would you make a dish three days early, anyways? It might spoil in that time." "Fair point," Matchlin said, brightening, "Alright, count me in!"
Moriel beamed, "That's the spirit! We all can take turns riding, you and Treil and I."
Matchlin stopped cold and dropped his ladle "Treil?" he seemed shocked and outraged, "Why?"
"Well, why not?" Moriel had stopped trudging up the hill, put her paws on hips, and stared at him, "Why don't you two like each other anyways? If it's about me..."
"Well," Match stammered, "It's like that time when he supposedly 'Didn't see my ears sticking in the stone oven' and burned my ears! Still hurts," he said, picking up a pawfull of snow and putting it on his head.
"Yeah? Yeah?" Moriel was beginning to get angry; Why did everyone always bother Treil? "What about that time where you threw a snowball made of pure ice at his face and broke his nose? Let alone why your ears were near an oven anyways!"
"Well, he's trouble! Everything about the bloomin' cad insists he's trouble!" shouted Matchlin. Then he sighed, "Look, I'm sounding like a schoolmarm."
"Like Rodal," said Moriel, laughing a bit.
"Well, it's just that I'm worried, Moriel. You don't know what he was like before you moved here, and the fact that nobody is willing to tell you should be another hint at how he really is."
There was quiet. Then, "Did he kill somebeast?"
"No no," said Matchlin with a chuckle, "he's just...darker than most, except perhaps the meanest vermin." Match realized that it had gotten even colder, as well as how distraught Moriel looked, and went over to her and giving her a one armed hug, saying quietly "Just watch yourself, mate. Your my best pal, I just don't want you getting hurt, because I swear, on the lives of all the innocent being out there, if he does, I'll get him. I don't know how I will." he said, a bit high-pitched, "You'll probably have to come up with an idea or two, but mind you I'll get my revenge."
"Thank you, Matchlin." said Moriel, returning the hug, "But he wouldn't hurt me for anything in the world, neither of you would. I know it."
It seemed eerily quiet as Moriel let her friend go and continued trudging up the hill. Matchlin still stood there. Eventually, he heard a long cheer and the sound of churning snow as Moriel and Treil zoomed down the other side of the hill. Then; "Ready?"
"Wait, it's your turn. Go on, hop on."
"Righto, then." he heard Moriel's delighted cry.
Then Matchlin couldn't stand to hear it anymore and walked back to the kitchens, feeling alone in the mute, gray mountains of his long time home.
It's the day of the Winter Ball! Animals greet one another, saying "Welcome to Winter!", carrying dishes of food to the feast hall. Young ones throw snowballs at everyone they can, looking the picture of innocence when the victim whirls about, demanding "Who threw that?!". The songs are sung plentiful and fast, blasting mist into the air.
"In the Snow, in the snow, in the snow!;
today it's time to go!
- While we like winter, yes we do,
a icy time to rest,
we'll celebrate the season,
or at least we'll try our best.
- And the ice, and the ice, the ice!;
don't fall now, once or twice!
- Flans and puddings',
Food on fire,
it's what we do!
- It's a Ball, it's a Ball, it's a Ball!
There'll be dancing, after all."
- Moriel and Treil had something under a sheet.
It was a little longer than Moriel's sled, so Treil went behind it and pushed, while Moriel pulled the rope. Other Mountdowners looked on with interest and made the occasional comment.
"Whoa! What is it?"
"Somethin' outrageous, if'n I know those two."
"Perhaps it's an entry?" Nearly everyone competed in the Cook's Contest, to make the tastiest dish for the new season.
"There'll be plenny left over for spring if it is!"
- The pair told their friends who inquired about it, "That you'll see it in due time!"
Matchlin was watching on top of a small hill overlooking the main path. He saw Moriel in front, a giant thing hidden under what looked like one of Searock's sails, and a squirrel-brown tail bobbing along behind it.
Matchlin sighed and locked his arms behind his back, taking a few slow steps around in a circle. Wouldn't hurt to make an effort to be nice to him, would it?. He thought it would, but he went to try anyway.
- Bounding down the hill, he cried out, "Hi, Moriel!". After what looked like a brief and incredibly painful internal struggle, he said, "Hey, Treil."
"Hi, Matchlin," Treil's head popped up to the side of the covered object, "Mind going ahead and warning people to get out of the way? I think we flattened somebody...no no, I'm kidding!" He said quickly to Match's downright terrified look at the ground behind them.
"Would you mind? Look," asked Moriel, giving a slight frown at the gathering crowd in front of their path.
Matchlin gave a big wink and said, "Leave it t'me."
Cupping his paws around he mouth, he shouted out, " Alright, bounders, make way for the biggest thingamabob this side of the world made by m'good companions, Moriel and Treil! Lucky for them I wasn't around to eat the ingredients, this was planned to be much smaller! Okay, folks and folkesses, moooove away! 'Lest ya want t'be flattened! Squashed! put in next season's fancy large dish! Remember that old otter, Nurne? Well, this is him! Got in our way one day, he did. No, no, I'm kidding ya, there he is, right over there see? "
The procession moved along steadily with Matchlin roaring out a number of strange and funny warnings.
" I say, you there, mind moving?"
"Oh, I say! If that there flan is as tasty as it looks, you can stay in the way as much as you want!"
Eventually, the secret dish was ushered into the Feast Hall. Young ones crowded around it, giving a cry of "Yeeek! Vurry cold!" as beats that tried to lift open the cover to see under the cover were rewarded with a smack on the paw with a spoon by one of the three.
After a long while, a passing squirrel said, "Look, here comes Friar Dyron! Good Luck!".
- The crowd parted respectfully to let the Ottercook by. He winked at the trio, "Well, well. I already judged your entry, Matchlin, needs a touch more sweet. Now," he looked at the covered dish, "What's this?"
Moriel looked at Treil, who nodded, and said, "I present to you...Great Mountdown the Dessert!"
- The sheet was pulled off, revealing a miniature Mountdown made out of various baked goods. The buildings were all colored accordingly, some creamy white, others sooty gray, all made with frosting. Gingerbread formed the roofs, with the shingles designed on. There were even little townspeople made out of marshmallow with gumdrop tails and almond ears. The Feast Hall was the biggest building, correctly designed down to the double doors at the entrance surrounded by the windows.
- For a minute, a second even, there was quiet. Then, a small mouse with both paws on the table shouted to the taller crowd, "...Dat's amazin'!"
Folks began to comment about the artistic ability of it all. You could often hear a 'Look, there's my house!' and a few people tried to snatch a gumdrop, only to be reprimanded by their fellows and hastily put it back.
Dyron grinned, "Well, stap me rudder! That looks too real to eat."
"Oh, not really. See?" Moriel took a gumdrop and ate it. "Too bad there's no way to save it, I don't think someone'd make a painting out of it."
"Oh, don't you worry, miss Moriel, master Treil," said a passing shrew, "My brother could whip up a nice sketch or two for our community! Boy,that looks good!"
Matchlin was surprised, "What the--when on earth did you two make that?! Took ages, didn't it? Must've!"
"Started it two days ago," said Treil modestly, "Moriel wanted to make it out of snow, but no one wants to eat snow, right?"
"As I said," said Moriel, pushing him playfully, "If we perhaps put a crushed raspberry on it, someone might!"
"We looked for you, but we couldn't find you. This seemed like something you'd like to do."
Matchlin look surprised for just a second, then said, "It was probably during my imprisonment in the nut house." When they looked surprised, he continued, "Oops! Bad choice of words, am I right? Anyways, I had gotten everything for my trifle, 'cept the nuts. Hazelnuts, candied chestnuts, any kind of nut besides the three of us. Go into the nut room, so I do. Then, I hear somebeast on the other side of the door, "Okay, Vruso, best lock up, no one's here tonight." and Vruso and this other fellow lock the door on me! Oh corks!, I think, I'm here in the dark, with not a thing to eat besides these nuts! Then I just go on and help m'self, next thing I know, I hear "Wot on earth's he doing in here? Oh, look, all the bally nuts are jolly well gone!"
The surrounding animals laughed for a very long time, until the word came round; "Time for feastin'! Everybeast, bring your dishes to the dining tables!"
Once everyone was seated, Dyron gave thanks for the food.
The right amount of rain,
We thank ye for the opportunity
To eat well again."
"Okay!" Everybody began helping themselves to desserts, soups, anything within paws' reach. Folks were encouraging their fellows to try different dishes.
"Peach Bread, matey! Dip it in that meadowcream!"
"Hey, that's tasty! Let me see how meadowcream tastes in leek and onion soup."
Treil and Matchlin were trying to make some outrageous dish.
"Damson, plum--pass that gravy, please? thanks--and. A. CHESTNUT ON TOP! No, I take that back," Treil added a carrot beside the chestnut, "There. It comes out the Ground Cake...ah, does gravy come out the ground?" he added.
"No idea, old bean." Matchlin had scooped the filling out of a pie and was putting berries and caramel in it. "Think it needs a garnish? Probably cilantro. Once you go cilantro, you never go back, y'know!"
After a while, the word got around, "Don't eat too much, time for the bonfire!"
Everybeast in town crowded around the big bonfire, singing songs, roasting chestnuts, and telling stories.
Nobody even knew about the avalanche until it hit them.
Moriel woke up in a haze. Parents...? she wondered where her parents were. Going to the Abbey. what Abbey...?
"Ohh, you're awake!"
A shadow shifted, and Moriel fell a bit more down the huge snow mound. Upside down, he saw her friend's paws working furiously, trying to free some part of her. "I couldn't find Treil, it all happened so fast!"
Moriel wiggled furiously, throwing herself out of the mound and down the hill. She immediately began throwing herself into the nearest mound, and hearing muffling, she dug harder. Matchlin hopped down and helped her dig harder.
Moriel sighed, "Thank goodness, we found you...!"
- You could only see his head and arms, but Treil was conscious. Before Moriel could throw herself into even more digging, he said, "Don't do anything, just listen. Leave me here."
Match gasped, and frowned, "But why?"
"When I was senseless, I saw a mouse warrior. Wow, he had a beautiful sword!"
"So did I!" Matchlin said, but then went, "Go on, tell us what the mouse said."
"Well--he said--"Let them leave you, you'll be saved. They've got to go, leave with haste but explore, for the time it will take to get there, is the time the evil will rise and grow. They're the only ones who can save it, who can save..."
"...my Redwall, my Abbey," finished Matchlin slowly. "The Redstone Legacy."
"What--are you two just going to listen to dreams?!" Moriel's screech rent the air, "What does that all mean, anyways?"
"To be honest, I think it means you and Matchlin have to leave Mountdown."
"Well, what about you?" Moriel sat on the snow pile beside his head, brushing the snow off.
"...Not sure, really. But I'll be fine. It's fate, I think." Treil coughed, "We'll see each other again." When Moriel began to cry, he said, "I promise, Moriel, alright?" he began to sniff, and his nose was running, "This mouse shouldn't be disobeyed, I'm certain of it."
Grinding noises. Then, "Sounds like some moles at work trying to fix this. You'd best go now."
"That still doesn't make any sense." said Moriel, "but I suppose we've got to go..." she stood up, cold and wet.
"Bye, Mountdown..." Matchlin stood up and waved to the giant snow mound that covered his home. "Bye Treil, matey."
Moriel sighed, still brushing Treil's head. Then she gave him the best hug she could under the circumstances, and said, "Bye...see you...one day. At Redwall." She looked at the ground, and back into his eyes.
"I love you." She frowned; it sounded corny, but it was true. "Er, okay."
Treil's vision began to get black around the edges; all he could say was, "Love...Moriel..."
Then he passed out, and Moriel and Matchlin took off down the hill.
Between the frostbitten logs they were jumping over, Matchlin gasped out, "You meant it, didn't you? That you loved him?"
Moriel's tears had frozen on her face, "Sure did. Now, come on."
Any suggestions? Tell me about them.
School Started again, so i'll probably add to the story every other day or so, when I have Communications!
You should probably read Moriel and Treil, or you'll be a tad confused. I understand the first part's a tad boring, I wrote it.
It's also quaintly continued, finished, and most plot holes filled up, in Moriel and Treil : Part Three
Part Two: 7 Seasons Later (or so)
You can remember someone from your past, but can you recognize them in your future...?
Spring had come, though it was still cold in the high mountains.
- Moriel and Matchlin had gone off to travel their world, after painstakingly leaving behind their good friend. Matchlin looked at Moriel, wondering why she didn't seem to think about Treil.
Hiking southward, he decided to ask her one day.
"Morie?" he said, looking down at her. Over the nearly two years of travel they endured, he had grown much taller than her. He strangely found it hard to speak of Treil, considering they had just been about to become good friends when the accident came.
"Yep?" She adjusted her haversack on her back. Good old Trabesty The Hermit, by the River Ice.
"D'you ever think of Treil?"
She stopped suddenly, "What brought that on?" when he didn't answer, she said, "Of course I do, nearly everyday, when we aren't talking or enjoying life with folks who we meet in passing. He said he'd meet us a Redwall Abbey, and he will. I know it. He didn't saw when, but I have a feeling it's a lot closer than we think."
She started walking again, and Matchlin was happy that she wasn't crying her heart out.
"Strange, though," she said, "Remember, that group of vermin, harassing those herons and dormice by the marshes up Northwest? I thought of him then, like that was his doing. But, it couldn't be." They started climbing up a small plateau, covered in new moss, "I can't imagine him evil. Though, I can't imagine him beyond that scruffy, big eared squirrel in Mountdown, either. I still love him."
- They climbed in silence, only broken occasionally by bird call. At the top, they looked all around them.
"There's our mountains," said Match, pointing a paw toward the Northeast. He looked between the mountains to the east and the marshes to the west behind them, "We traversed all that!"
"Yes indeed." Moriel scanned the view ahead of them. There was some forest to the left side of her, some dunes and woodland to the far right, and straight ahead--
"The sea!" Matchlin stopped his scrutinization of the past and turned to the present. There it lay, bigger and more expansive than the land it faced. The setting sun glared off it's surface, causing Moriel to shield her eyes with a paw, "and there's a mountain...?"
When said mountain belched fire, Matchlin jumped up, "That's not just any mountain, gel!" he roared, "That's Salamandastron, home of the fire lizard and the Badger Lords!"
They looked down from the plateau. It was a lot of scrubland, with patches of thin birches here and there.
"About two or three days march," said Moriel. "But I'm so happy just to finally see it, two or three days is no problem to wait and walk."
Matchlin, however, sat down, "After all that moving, d'you mind if we camp here for the night?" Moriel prodded him up and said, "Let's sleep under the plateau. No need inviting trouble."
The two friends headed down where the ground was hard and dry. Setting out their food supplies, they cooked and ate the barley cakes and honey that The Hermit had packed for them. Bedding down, Matchlin said, "G'Night, Moriel."
"Good night, Matchlin."
and together, they said, "Good night, Salamandastron."
- Zatfur the rat was walking peacefully through the woods just north of Salamandastron.
He did not belong to any vermin band. He didn't understand their ways, "Why kill some innocent hardworking beast just because YOU can't farm, or YOU have no one to rule over?" He thought aloud. "The majority of thems always gets killed anyway."
- After long days of walking over hot beach sand, it had been a pleasure to enter the cool wood, although the residents were less than welcoming.
"Pass by quickly, rat!" they had screeched through the trees, until a commanding voice ordered them to stop.
"He looks like he's by himself. Let him be. Go and kill him if he causes trouble."
Zatfur gratefully hurried on. "How did rats become associated with evil, anyway?" He liked talking to himself, by himself. "What if an regular animal, say, a squirrel, with menacing intent, came into these woods--"
WHOOSH! something pinned Zatfur to a nearby tree by his throat, and that something began to speak, slowly and with menace.
- Zatfur clawed at the thing holding him to the tree. It released with alarming alacrity.
- " Scratch my sword, will you?" Zatfur now got a good look at his assailant. Or, maybe not that good.
- It was a figure--in the shadows, he couldn't tell what--that was a smoky deep color of black, like an oily fire burned at midnight. In it's right claw it held a long weapon, a black sword with gold at the edges, ending in two prongs, like a toasting fork. It's eyes were gold, but deeply black in their pupils. It began speaking again, almost kindly.
"Listen, mate, who are you, and what are you doing here?"
"Come on now," The eyes narrowed.
"Zatfur, sir, I'm just from the coast...abandoned my Captain," Zatfur began to feel braver, "Frankly, sir, 'e was a bully!"
- "Oh, how interesting. I'm from up north," Zatfur screamed as the sword slashed his back.
The gold eyes got close to his face, whispering, "Well, you won't abandon me. Or, if you will, I can just kill you. Right now."
Zatfur went crosseyed trying to see the sword's two prongs an inch from between his eyes.
"Now, you can play the role of an innocent, if talkative, traveler. Go and con some others in the area to join me. Don't get any slaves for me just now, slaves are for the lazy."
- Poor Zatfur wondered what he had done to deserve this. He always tried to avoid killing innocent animals....
He felt the blade cut into his tail and scurried off into the nearby underbrush, hearing the gold-eyed figure screaming after him.
"Find me some minions! And tell them Trelland sent you!"
- Treil was unconscious in the snow for a long time. but instead of having his dreams visited by heroes of old, he got exactly the opposite.
A rat with a long tail, several speckly foxes with pale yellow eyes, a raven with something, something on it's head...they said something...
- They all told him, Cluny the Scourge, all 7 Marlfoxes, and Korvus Skurr, that the Redwallers had caused this. That they had taken his friends. That they had taken his Moriel.
- Being so deep into unconsciousness, he couldn't remind himself that it wasn't real. So, for several hours, he had it drilled into his conscious, his subconscious, all while he was unconscious, that they intended to harm Matchlin and Moriel. To kill them.
And the way to get them back, those evil ghosts told him, was to do what no one had done; kill the Redwallers.
- Soon after he woke, Treil left Mountdown. He didn't know where to start, where to look for them. He took a haversack of food and headed west.
- So many weeks...so much rain and snow. Treil was half dead when the badger found him, outside his cave near a frozen lake...covered in more ice than you could imagine.
The spoon clattered inside the empty bowl. Treil huddled himself closer to the wall, the fire elongating his shadow.
"Thank you for the food, sir." the badger nodded.
"I don't get many travelers this far north. Where are you headed, young 'un?"
:At this point, Treil shook, so hard he could hardly see between the shaking and the tears. "Th-they took my best friend. They took her, they took him, they took both of them, I have to get them back, from those terrible Redwallers.
His time encased in ice had forgotten any moment in Mountdown that wasn't in the company of Moriel or Matchlin. The badger had never heard of Redwall. He draped a blanket over the young squirrel.
"So...when you meet these Redwallers, what will you do? Do you have a weapon?"
Treil shook his head. The badger rose from the fire, stretching, "Let me make you a sword, It'll be good practice for me..."
So, after many days, Yulon the badger had made Treil the double pronged, gold and black sword. Mistledown. It seemed winterishly foolish, yet somehow it fit.
Those vermin had better watch out.
- Moriel and Matchlin woke up to fog. You could still see the shrubbery, but as far as Salamandastron...
- "Ugh!" Matchlin kicked at a clump of grass, "How will we know which way to go now?"
- "Just keep walking as forward as we can," said Moriel, "Meaning that we keep this plateau to our backs. The closer we get to the beach, the less foggy it'll be."
- Matchlin sighed, and said "This is dampening my spirits," he tossed an oatcake in the air and caught it, "Let's eat on the move."
- They continued keeping as straight as they could, looking towards the sky, hoping that fire would come out of the mountain. The morning had come and gone (they guessed), and the air was now muggy and hot.
"I could certainly drink a beaker of liquid, right now," Match sighed. "While that'd be nice, perhaps you can deal with drinking some of this nice fog," Moriel made as though to fan some of the cloud near Matchlin's nose with her paw, "Good at keeping away dehydration, y'know."
They kept walking on stoically. Around midafternoon, Moriel called a rest. "Huh! The only thing I can see is you, the ground, and my paws! I think we've got no choice but to stay here. We can't see a lick of anything to point us on our way."
- A little voice from somewhere beside them said, "Oh, good, company!" the ground shifted, a few bushes moved, and a whiskered face showed up from a cleverly concealed hole.
- "I'm Troff. The watervole. Don't ask me what I'm doing so far from the water," he held up a solemn paw, pulling a face, "Just allow me to invite you for supper." The pair introduced themselves and followed Troff inside.
- Inside the cave, Moriel found that it was pleasantly cool. There was a thickly knit rug, a small, squat table, and an oven built into the wall. "How can you breathe in here?" she asked Troff, "Certainly it'd cave in if you had no air holes, and the air outside is stuffy and hot."
- "Take a gander at the walls, miss Moriel. Stone! Nice an' cool. Found 'em by the shore, brought 'em up, made meself a little home."
- "How far away is the shore?" Match, who was peering into the oven, looked up, "We're trying to get to Salamandaston."
- Troff chuckled, "Don't you know it's best not to travel in fog?"
- "We came from up north," said Moriel defensively, "We never had fog up there."
- "Not to worry, you aren't too far. I'll show you when the fog clears." the watervole sniffed the air, "Sounds like the shrimp and leek turnovers are ready!" He meandered over to the oven with two little oven mitts and took out the pan of food. He gestured his guests towards the food.
- "Help y'selves, now! Let me fetch yous something to drink," while he clunked around under the table, his muffled voice carried to above the table, "So, why're you this far from your 'ome?"
- "I know it sound strange, m'lad, but a warrior told us to," said Match, helping himself to a hot turnover, "Ouch, pipin' stuff, sah!" he said after biting into the food.
- "Well, a warrior told you two--" started Moriel, but stopped.
- "In-in our dreams...yeah," Matchlin finished lamely.
- "Ah, weel, dreams are strange things, kids," Troff winked, "As long as this warrior didn't tell you to cook yer mothers or sumthin', it's alright."
- "And how did you end up here, Troff?"
- "Just, left home, came here. I just like the sea," the watervole shrugged, "Close enough to watch it, scavenge from it, but not close enough to be enslaved by sea vermin, or trapped by it's storms. Maybe they'd let me live on that great Salamandastron, but what place has a simple vole like me have up there?" he set out three deep sea shells of clear water,
"Best thing you could ever have. Let me tell you a story, kids, while we eat and wait for this fog to clear..."
- The two youngsters listened to the older animal tell them various happenings of his past, glad to hear something beyond each others voice.
- "Not bad, Zatfur."
- Trelland had sat Mistledown off to the side while he himself stood with his back against a tree. The rat had found a fox, a ferret, and another rat.
- The ferret glared at him, "Well, what d'you want with us?"
- "I just need some help," the gold eyes stared the ferret down until he was forced to look away.
- "Who says that we'll help yous?"
- Trelland laughed, sounded like someone chopping a tree in a deep cave, "Just vengeance. D'you like killing...innocent animals? Insolent animals that take everything you've worked for?"
- Little did he know that he had the ragtag band at 'killing innocent animals'. They nodded.
- "I'm not looking for conquest, I just want what's mine."
- "Wot's that, sir?" the rat raised his hand and asked.
- Trelland thought of taking that sword by his side and running him through, but he stopped himself, "You'll see. Once we get them, you'll be free to take whatever you want off of 'em. No doubt in my mind that they've done it to other animals like us just trying to live."
- The fox spoke up, "Well, y'might need a few score more beasts than this, if'n ya don't mind mah saying."
- "Not at all. Tomorrow, we head to the coast. Take over some pathetic band. Just remember...once thought of abandonment, and you're dead."
- Just then the rat thought of abandoning this dangerous black squirrel. oh no! he thought, then started bawling, "I'm sorry, sir! Pleeeaze don't kill me!"
- Zatfur shook him, "Now, matey, that was just a figure of speech Lord Trelland was saying! Right, m'lord?"
- "...Sure it was. For now." When he only had 4 minions under his command, he couldn't afford to kill any of them. Get a score or five, though...
- The bystanders flinched as Trelland suddenly stabbed Mistledown in a nearby tree all the way to it's hilt.
A dormouse home was burning, Treil didn't know how to save anybody...
He hacked through the flames of the rickety old home with Mistledown. He saw a fat dormouse in the corner, holding one paw over his mouth and nose and one trying to fan the smoke away. He saw Treil and brightened.
- "Save me, sir!" Mistledown rent a hole in the wall, and dragged the mouse out several feet away from the wreckage.
- "Thank you, so--so much," panted the dormouse, "M--my heirlooms, family things, I thought I had them on me..."
Treil didn't need to hear anything else. Dashing headforth back into the burning dwelling, he felt around where he found the mouse. He found a ribbon-bound book, and a grimy mirror, and got himself out a second time.
- "Oh!" the dormouse took the mirror and hastily wiped off the reflective surface. He turned to his savior, saying, "My--oh, my--sir...?"
"What is it now? No one else is in there, right?"
"No, sir, it's just..." he held up the mirror , "It's just you, sir."
Treil was entirely smoke-black. The ashes and soot had gotten onto his fur. He wiped at his arm, with no changes. Panicking, he leaped away from the dormouse into the snow some feet away.
His color was gone. His oaken colored fur was hidden under this shadowy black that he couldn't get off, he couldn't take it away...
and his eyes, his eyes! They were golden, like the flames...sure he had ran through flames, eyes wide, looking all around for whatever he needed to rescue, but he wasn't sure hot they turned golden--even if they were a handsome color, he wanted his dark brown eyes, just like he wanted his color back...
Treil rubbed his now golden eyes and laid down in the snow. It felt good after that fire. He heard the dormouse rush over, and fell asleep.
- "Wake up now, yous two, we've got to get going!" Troff prodded Moriel and Matchlin until they woke up from their respective places on the rug and the table chair.
- Match peered out from the hidden entrance, covered with grass "Why, it looks like it's going to storm!" Now that the fog had dissipated, he could see that the sky was indeed a lit-up grey, and thunder rumbled from somewhere unseen.
- "Nothing funner than a storm!" Moriel had jumped up now, "You're coming with us, Troff?"
- "What kind of adult would I be, letting two young 'uns go playing about when a spring storm was coming? Y'all can't have all the fun!"
- "But you said you didn't like storms,"
- "Not if my home, m'whole life was at it's mercy! But they're fun to play in, run through, on the beach, which is only just over these few dunes!" Troff had packed up some remaining turnovers, "C'mon, now, can't keep Mother Nature waiting!" he held open the grass curtain, and the two raced out in front of him.
- The wind whipped around them. Throught the whirling landscape, Moriel could see Salamandastron to the left of them, bigger than ever. Troff began directing them.
"Cut through these flatlands and aim for the beach! These sands are too loose to run on; the water from the waves make the beach sand much firmer!" Matchlin gave a huge bound over their heads, and in a few moments landed on the briny beach. "Whoa!"
- It looked as though the southern coasts were in for a beautiful spring thunderstorm. The waves had sounded furious more inland, but here they were reaching astounding heights. Lightning flashed far away over the ocean. There was a little ship bobbing around, and Troff edged them on, "Those might be corsairs, or travelers. No point in taking chances."
- Salamandastron was a little less than a league away, but there were vermin even this close to the home of the fighters. Five javelin-toting lizards, green and wet, sprang out of the ground from cleverly hid holes, and quickly surrounded the three.
- "Thisss isss our land." Said the one directly in front of them "Pay up or--"
- Or what, they never heard. Matchlin jumped up and struck the speaker in the stomach with his long feet, "Oof!". He grabbed the javelin and passed it to Moriel, who chopped one in the neck by the wooden end. Troff had kicked on down on it's front and proceeded to alternatively strangle it with the rope of the food sack, and beat it with the sack.
- The other two tried to pin Troff down, until Match and Moriel took javelins from two of the fallen ones, who had run back into the cover of their dunes, and sharply stabbed them. One took a spear in the back of the neck and keeled over, dead. The other one had deserted the site.
- Moriel pulled her spear through the dead lizard's throat, "Huh! I'm not overly fond of killing, no matter whom it may be," she said, shuddering, "But I have to remember that I only aim to kill vermin who are trying to kill others, and I just happen to come across them!"
- "That's the spirit," Match looked out to sea. The boat had gotten much closer, a violet covered ship. He started running, "That ship's snuck up on us when we were dishin' out punishments! It's not too much farther now, come on!"
- They ran down the beach, slashing out with their weapons when inquisitive seagulls got too close. It had started raining heavily--Storm doesn't look so beautiful now, thought Moriel, but perhaps the slaying ruined it all,. After a while, they had arrived at the base of Salamandastron.
- "How do we get in?" Moriel had to yell to hear herself over the harsh wind and rain, "Troff?"
- "No idea, missy. Somebeast, help!" he began to pound the rock, and the others joined him.
- "We're not evil, let us in!"
- "Even if you have nothing to eat, please let a bod in!"
- When they felt that they could call out no longer, they turned back to the ocean to look for the ship. It was closer to shore, but still far down the coast. A great growl stirred them from sitting blearily on the shore. An unseen door, made of the same stone as the mountain, had been revealed to show a great badger, with a reddish-brown stripe from his snout all the way down his back.
- He called out, "Come in!" and the travelers needed no bidding. Cold and tired, once in the warm entry hall, Moriel felt Matchlin fall to the floor--he had blacked out--and she fell into the darkness herself.
"Oh, she's waking up!"
- Moriel stirred and rubbed her eyes. There was a motherly-looking hare looking over her, with a bowl of something, "Here you go, dear." Moriel sat up and felt a heavy weight slide off of her; someone had put a thick blanket around her. Taking the bowl, she sipped a rather tasty, if homely, little broth.
- "Thank 'ee, marm, how long have we been here?" she looked around. She had been moved out of the entrance hall into a small room back into the mountain. A window showed a view, partly of the northerner coast, and partly of the northerner plains and wood.
- "Oh, don't call me marm, makes me feel old! I'm Solariey." Now that Moriel was properly awake, Solariey didn't look even remotely like a haremum now. It was her kindly demeanor and concern about others' well beings that she had looked that way to her. "We found you and your friends last night; you and Matchlin passed out, and Troff told us what happened. It's nearly midday now."
- Moriel jumped to her feet now; hastily setting the bowl down, "Where are they? Where is Matchlin?" she swayed a bit, and Solariey steadied her.
- "Matchlin is in the infirmary--"
- "Wait, why wasn't I in the infirmary--?"
- "You just fainted, Matchlin blacked out, he was hardly breathing, injuries--"
- Moriel sprinted out into the hallway, remembered she didn't know the way around Salamandastron, then turned to Solariey and said, "Show me!"
- Solariey heard the urgency--the worry that she might yet again lose a best friend--in this mousemaid's voice, and hurried down to the left, Moriel following.
"Where is everybody?" She asked; they had yet to encounter anyone else inside the mountain.
- "Off an about their daily errands, whether it be patrolling the area, cooking, cleaning, or teaching our leverets something, there's always a job to be done."
When Solariey spoke of patrolling, it brought to mind the violet ship. "When we were racing to get here, we saw a violet ship far away. After our battle, it was much closer, though still far from the shore, and about two leagues down the coast."
The haremaid frowned, "I'll tell Lord Ronnan about it."
- They went down a flight of stone stairs, and into a spacious room to the right of it. It was filled with beds, and Matchlin was out cold on the nearest one.
- "Matchlin!" Moriel noticed that her friend's silver-and-black tunic, with all it's little decorative buttons, that had withstood marshes, deserts, the various attacks of enemies, was now dirty and badly torn down the torso. A hare nearby finished stirring a poultice.
- "T'aint good, miss, but nothing I can't handle. Friddles, miss, Medick Ophilotop Friddles. Y'can call me Frid." He unbuttoned Match's tunic, "Oh corks..."
There were three deep scratches across his torso; the lizard's claws had reaped serious damage. Moriel did nothing but stare at her friend, bit her lip, and try not to cry.
- "I know, 'tis hard to see," said Solariey, "You two've been through so much, Troff says. He's with our Lord," she said quickly, when Moriel looked up at the watervole's mention, "He's fine. Shaken, but fine."
- Just then, Matchlin began murmuring clearly in his sleep,
"The kid's evil now. That kid's gone evil." and fell silent.
- Moriel didn't pay much attention to it, "He's delirious!" she cried, and sat down next to him and held his shoulder, because that's all she felt she could do for him, "Oh..."
- Just then, the door swung open, and in came Lord Ronnan. The reddish-brown stripe looked much more unusual in the natural sunlight from the window and the small oil lamp on the tableside. Troff was behind him. Wringing his paws, he cried out, "Ooh, miss Morie!" he ran over and gave her a hug, "Yourn' okay! But ould Matchlin..."
- Ronnan looked at Moriel with polite curiosity; to her surprise, he was hardly taller than her, though still slender and strong, "Miss Moriel of Mountdown?"
"Er..." she bowed, "Yes, sir, your Highness." she flushed when Ronnan chuckled and said, "Oh, none of that bowing and scraping to me, miss. It's good to meet you."
- He turned to the unconscious figure on the bed, "This must be Matchlin." he said gravely, "How did this happen?"
- "You mean Troff didn't say?" Moriel was surprised.
- "I figured that you should, missy, seeing as I was being set upon by two lizards, and didn't really see anything," he shrugged, "I don't know what happened m'self!"
- So Moriel told them about the battle, how Match had went all out on them, and how he didn't have any apparent injury when they were running in the rain to Salamandastron.
"We only had their spears and ourselves to fight against them" she stopped and remembered something, "...and there was a violet ship down the coast, about a league or two away." she finished.
- Ronnan stiffened, "Moriel, Solariey, come with me," he rushed out of the room. Solariey stood up, saw that Moriel was still by Matchlin's side, and said, "Come on now, Frid'll take care of your friend!" The two maids raced behind the Badger Lord until they were at the very top of the mountain. An older hare with a blue-and-gold tunic with medals, and a pair of small eyeglasses was by the window in the forge room. He jumped to attention.
- "M'lord, there's a--"
- "A ship, yes," said Ronnan, reaching the window and looking out, "Where is it, Stallien?"
The hare, called Commander Stallien Mojor pointed with his sabre a ways down the coast, to the west. It was quite far away. "Is there a need to send out scouts, Lord?" Stallien asked.
- "Mhm," Ronnan shook his head, "Not yet. Give it until tomorrow afternoon. If it gets within a league today, though, then send out your patrols. Moriel," the Badger Lord introduced her, "This is my old friend, my firm right paw, Commander Mojor. Commander, Moriel of Mountdown."
- Stallien smiled, and bowed, "Just Stallien, lass. Have you had a tour of Salamandastron?"
- "Nah, sir, afraid I haven't. It seems like a city in a mountain!"
- "Ah, well, essentially, it is. There's gardens on the land facing side, and everything you could imagine in here. Let me show you," he held open the door, and Solariey and Moriel walked out.
- Stallien frowned, "Solariey, you already know what we have inside here! Don't you have something to do?"
- "Actually, no," she said coolly, "Lord Ronnan said to take care of Moriel, who's in my care, so it's best that I come along!"
- "Wait, what about Lord Ronnan?" said Moriel; they had left the badger in the forge room.
- "Ah..." Stallien shook his head, "I've a feeling that that old cad's got some thinking to do. Come on, now."
- "Look, a ship, a ship!" Verran the fox pointed at the violet ship that was out to sea; they were nearly two leagues west of Salamandastron, and Trelland really had no interest in it.
- "Shh! You don't want them to hear us!" Tucker the ferret prodded him in the arm.
- "They can't hear us! They're in a ship! Out there!"
- "I'm not talking about that ship, I'm talking about the lizards--"
- "Oh, just shut up! Everybody!" the group of would-be vermin quieted as their leader had screamed a command, "We killed those lizards, there were only a score of them!"
- "Tasted good, too," Sollip the rat said, licking a claw.
- "Yeah, and, y'know, you could share!" Verran said, turning on the short little rat.
- "Shut up, or I will kill you, and let Sollip eat you! You got that?!" Trelland growled, "Now, watch that ship!"
- The violet ship bobbed closer; it wasn't too big, but big enough for about 5 score.
- "I got it, sir, I can pull it in," Verran jumped over the dune and ran to the beach, waving. Somebeast threw out a knotted seafarer's rope, which the fox pulled firmly.
- "Come on!" Trelland prodded the rest of them onto the beach. He grabbed the rope from Verran, "Get up there, climb up, fast. Get your blades ready as soon as you hit that deck."
"What about you, lord?" Zatfur turned around, addressing his lord, looking strangely dark and ragged holding that rope, while Sollip, Tucker, and Verran clawed up the wobbly rope.
- "Huh, I'm a squirrel," He leapt over Zatfur, and landed neatly on the deck, despite the weight of Mistledown. He heaved the rope with the searat clinging to it, "Come on, get your arrows!"
- Verran kicked open a door to the galley, aiming his bow and arrow at various figures. Surprisingly enough, it was full of regular, non seafaring vermin, looking confused, or pulling a face at the grog.
- "Who's ya leader?"
"I am," just as suddenly, there was a stoat behind Verran, with a hook for a left paw, and his right claw wrapped tightly around a whale-bone scimitar, "Terrant the Wayfayer."
- Verran twitched his head behind him, withought showing any fear, "Well, our leader's back there. He'll fight ya. If'n he beats you, he takes your crew. Unless you want to come quietly and help us out?"
Terrant's mind immediately began to scheme; what kind of treasure could be gained, "Help with what, fox?"
- Just then, an angry voice sounded from behind them, "Verran, stop parleying! Seabeasts are always double crossing each other, haven't you heard the stories? Turn around and face me, Wayfayer!"
- Terrant turned around to see a black squirrel with a gold-and-black pronged sword rushing him. He jabbed out with his hook, cutting the squirrel across the arm. His sword arm jerked forward, catching in the Wayfayer's finery. Trelland twisted Mistledown, so that it traveled through the stoat's chest. When he saw what he was doing, he didn't even notice the whale bone scimitar, almost severing his left footpaw, he just drove the sword deeper into the stoat's chest. Terrant gave a strangled gasp and fell dead.
- He saw that the crewbeasts in the galley had come out, only one or two expressing upset that their leader had been killed. Tucker tossed the body overboard. "Lissen to yer new leader," he said.
- "Huh. Nobody's upset that their leader just got--"
- "--are they?" The audience shook their heads; for the most part, they were just vermin for hire.
- "Well,I just happen to be Lord Trelland, and you just happen to be my horde now. For just one job. I can deal more death if you decide to revolt. Who are the captains?"
- No hands rose, Trelland was surprised, "Wow, didn't think too much of you, did he? Well,"
he waved a bloodstained Mistledown at the four who had helped him capture the ship. "These are your Captains,"
- A bump signified that the shore had been reached. There were a few anguished cries from belowdeck, and the new leader said, "Are there slaves?"
- All as one, the crew said, "Aye, Lord,"
- "You--" he prodded a nearby weasel, "Show me."
- Down the stairs, into a smelly hovel, a score of slaves were being kept. The slavedriver had turned to the new arrivals, whip in hand "Who are you?" the rat sneered, until Trelland pinned the claw with the whip to the soft wooden wall.
- "Three guesses, first two don't count."
- The weasel nodded from behind him, "He's our new leader, Lord Trollit, is it, sir?" Trelland clipped his ear "No, it's--"
- "Oh. Hey, Lord, er, what needs doing?" The slavedriver nervously interrupted; he tried to jerk his hand from under the blade with no success.
- "Let these slaves go. Better yet, I'll do it." he dismissed the two vermin. Turning to the slaves, he tried to act as innocent as he once had been. Subconsciously, he tried to be Treil again.
- "I'll let y'all loose, okay? Head back to your homes if'n you got them," he began slicing open the chains of the nearest animal with Mistldown.
"Why're you doing this? Aren't you one of them?" asked an elderly otter.
- Trelland didn't respond immediately; he wasn't even sure. He was certain that the Redwallers were ruthless killers, kidnappers, a whole redstone building full of them. What state could Moriel and Matchlin even be in now? he thought. He was sure that they weren't dead, something would have told him. Would turning like his enemies help him, or them? He shook his head; acting like a goodbeast was giving him a migraine.
- "Because enslaving innocent beasts is wrong, it's for the lazy," by now, he had released the last slave. He walked to the front of the room, "Follow me, my horde won't bother you."
- Abovedeck, the vermin had gone back to drinking grog (and spitting it back onto the deck), and doing ship repair. One such fox hailed him from the crow's nest.
- "Oi! Boss! Why're ye lettin' those slaves go? Who's gonna clean up?"
- "If the ship gets dirty enough, the horde will, won't they?" He led the former slaves to a plank extending to the beach. The slaves cried out in happiness, "Land! Oh, land!" "Oi, lukk, durt, sand, ground!" "Oha, the sea! finally, I'm not rowin' in it, I can swim in it again!"
- "If your heading to Salamandstron," Trelland said, as the animals rolled in the sand, "Watch out for sand lizards."
- An elderly hedgehog looked him straight in the eyes, "There's some decency in yous, kid." he stopped, "Why do I feel like I'm going to see it in action one day? Anyways, thank ya, sire, so much."
- With the setting sun over the ocean, Trelland watched the freed slaves run down the shore to the mountain, as if they were afraid that they'd be caught again.
- Zatfur walked by his captain, "That was nice, sir."
- The squirrel Lord pulled his ears in exhaustion, "Take me to the Captain's Quarters," he said, "It better not be such a mess as the rest of this ship." he flashed Mistledown in the setting sun, "and find something to clean my sword, or I'll clean it with more blood."
- "And there's the armory!" said Stallien, closing a door, "That, my dear, is Salamandastron. it's kitchens, dormitories, classrooms, sewing rooms, lesson rooms, and everything else."
Solariey looked out a nearby window, "That ship you told us about seems to be going back up the coast where it came from."
- "Good," Moriel shook her head, "It's nearly dinnertime, isn't it?"
- Stallien raised his eyebrows, "Y'sure you want to take that chance, hares at dinner?"
- She smiled, "Well, we've all got to eat."
- He chucked and said, "Very well. Come on miss Solariey, time to show Moriel the rest of the hares on this mountain, much younger than I."
- Opening two large double doors, the dining hall was filled with noise and food. Hares put together extravagant dishes while singing ditties, or sharing their day with others. Occasionally, a bit of food flew through the air to land in someone's mouth.
- "Lord Ronnan obviously isn't here, but since you three are guests, you can sit by his chair."
"Wait, 'you three'...?" Then she saw Troff and Matchlin, looking a little tired and stiff, but alive.
- "Good to have you back, friend," said Moriel, sitting across from Matchlin at the table. He smiled.
- "Good t'be back. It hurts if I breathe too deeply, but I c'n manage just fine as long as there's good food."
- Just then, Lord Ronnan entered the hall, and it grew quiet. The hares stood up until Ronnan introduced Moriel and Matchlin, and sat down, then continued eating. Taking a goblet, he said, "There are some beings coming up the coast. Did you three enounter anyone else on your way here?"
When the said no, Ronnan looked thoughtful, "I'll send a runner to meet them, to be sure of their safety." he raised his voice, "Runners!" ten hares jumped up an ran over.
- "There are some animals coming this way. Go out there, find them, help them here. If they're vermin, well, you know what to do."
- "Sure thing, sah."
- "Okay, then." Stallien looked at them furiously, "You do not address a badger lord as such! If it t'were up to me, y'wouldn't even be eating now--"
- "That's why Lord Ronnan's in charge, and you aren't!" They hopped out of the dining hall at top speed. Stallien ran after then, holding a fork menacingly, "Young rips!" he stuttered, "I'd say their parents ain't taught 'em nothing if'n I didn't know better."
- Ronnan now addressed everyone nearby him at this table; Moriel, Matchlin, Troff, Solariey, and Stallien.
"Moriel, I noticed that you and Troff don't really have any weapon to your name, do you?"
Troff took out a long dagger, "Never fear, y'majesty, I managed to hide this even from you!"
- "So you did. How about you, Moriel?" she shook her head,
"I just usually used whatever was nearby in combat situations. It'd be nice to have something reliable."
- "Would you like a sword, a lance, anything like that?"
- "T'be honest, Lord, those all don't seem too right for me. Everybeast has one of those, I'd like something a bit different, a bit more suited for me, if you will."
- To everyone's surprise, he seemed delighted at this, "Good! I was working on something today in the forge I'd think you'd like. If everyone has finished eating, I'll show you."
- "I looked at all these weapons, and not one of them said 'Exploring Mousemaid with her best friend.'" Ronnan waved a paw at the weapons on the wall, and walked over to the great iron anvil in the middle of the room, "So, I made this," he swept the cover away.
- There it was. A metal disk with eight sharp prongs sticking out of it, and a hole in the middle. Blue stripes circled the center of the disk. Ronnan picked it up, and slipped a piece of wood shaped like a sling through it, and closing it, so it was like a thick, bright stick of wood with--
- "A Metal Snowflake on the end," said Moriel, taking the weapon gently. "My Metal Snowflake, The Snowy Death...somethin' like that." she took the wooden bit and swung it, swished it upward, and went through several motions one would do with a sword. It was heavy, but comfortingly so, as though it was always there to protect her.
- "Oh, it's perfect! Thank you, Ronnan!"
"Hey, old cad, where's mine, eh?" Matchlin was over and looking under the anvil in a second.
- "Right here," A stick of wood, hardened and warped by seawater, with a blade on each end, "Oh...!"
- He and Moriel began to fight playfully with their new weapons. Ronnan smiled at the young friends, reminiscing.
- "Ah, remember, Stallien, when we were like that?" he said, leaning on the windowsill.
- "I do indeed, Lord," the hare said, pawing the sabre at his hip, "I honestly think we're still like that."
- Ronnan directed his attention outside, "Nearly time for our friend to come visiting, in her ship, eh? Maybe she'll take those two somewhere."
- "I've a feeling it'll take them a long while before they can call a place home again."
- Something caught the Badger Ruler's attention, "The runners are coming back, seems like they got quite a crowd wrangled up with them."
- "Let's go meet them at the entrance." Stallien said, "Come on, you three, time to end this one-on-one battle, time to meet some hard scarred travelers like yourselves"
The score of animals that arrived were a serious wreck.
- "We ran," said a mouse with a number of scars across his face and arms, "From that ship!"
- "They let us go!" added someone else.
- "Hold on," Solariey raised a hand, "Wait until m'lord gets here, then tell us your story."
A heavy paw rested on her shoulder, "I'm here, Solariey." said Lord Ronnan. The others were behind him. He looked at the group and said, "You look like you could use some rest, all of you." He led everyone to a side chamber with cushions and rugs on the floor. The former slaves cheered and leapt onto the soft finery.
- "I'll find somebeast to bring up food, a little more than a score's worth, I think," said Stallien, and headed out the door.
- "Right, then," said Ronnan, "Tell us what happens. Stallien'll find out later."
The older otter stood up, "Well, m'lord, on behalf of all of us, the Bloodhren's victims, we thank ye for y'hospitality.
- "Not a problem. Salamandastron stands to fight evil. Why fight it if you're going to let innocent animals suffer?"
- He nodded, "Very true. Me, I'm called Walence, and that big ould hedgepig o'er there is Raderite, we're the oldest.
- Raderite nodded, "Call us Rade and Wale. Us, well, we've been together for as long as either one of us could stand to remember. Traveling, minding our own business, helping animals in exchange for a meal, a place to sleep, somethin' like that."
- Moriel and Matchlin looked at each other; it sounded very much like them.
- "Throughtout the seasons, we found Calethine, Meteore, and Patrenome. Orphaned." A squirrel, a rather fiery looking hedgehog, and a sea otter waved their hands in acknowledgment. Well, sir, four or five seasons ago, we had found a boat, the Clamittime. It was pretty small. During a bad storm, a huge boat, the Bloodhren, crashed into us. We were captured, into slavery, by Terrant the Wayfayer."
- "No, we weren't," corrected Wale, "That schemin' adder, Caliss, hypnotised us, and that Wayfater came and captured us. They had a deal, I'm sure of it! On that island in the inland sea!"
- "Anyways, we were slaves, along with the others here," he acknowledged the faces behind them, "Mandel, Corynth, Chowsy, Mcalenth, Telien, Krodestant, and Jaleien. We were the ones that survived. More often than not, Terrant killed anyone who wasn't working when he came in. Includin' some of these young 'uns kin, bless 'em."
- "When we weren't being starved or beaten, we were working to the bone." Jalenien was a rabbit. "Clean the deck, cook the food--"
- "Terrible ingredients--"
- "--scrub the Captain's Quarter's, toss the body overboard whenever a gamble goes wrong. Ugh!" He shuddered, "I'm not from Mossflower, I was capture far, far southeast of here. That's where that bloody son of--"
"Jalenien!" Rade warned.
"...son of a coward got most of his vermin from. Abandoned there by their old leader, I heard." The door opened and Stallien with a cook's assistant brought in large dishes and platters of food.
- "Oh!" there was only the sound of eating for a few minutes as the former slaves dug into the food.
"Anyways, sir, when we weren't being beaten, Rade, Wale, and Jalenien used to teach us," said Meteore. He didn't seem older than 10 season, "And told us stories, of a place called Salamandastron. Is that where we are now?"
- "Sure is son." Ronnan bit into a pear, "So, how did you escape?"
- "The Wayfayer had intruders on deck. One of them slew him, and a squirrel came down to the hold and cut off our chains with this huge sword, and led us off unto the beach." Meteore went back to his food, "That pretty much sums it up!"
- Solariey had her face in a hankercheif for most of the tale, "You poor dears!" she sobbed, "You're free to stay here as long as you like. Can't they, Lord?"
- "Of course," Ronnan rose, "You all take your fill, there's plenty more where that came from. Sleep here, this is the only place that has considerable room, and I doubt that you all want to part. I've got to see to the patrol." he left the room.
"Wait f'me, Lord," Stallien rushed after him.
- Ronnan stopped and placed a paw on the wall, "That explains it." he said shakily.
- "Explains what, Ronnan?" Stallien saw how his friend looked and panicked, "Do you need medical attention? Lord?"
- "No, I'm fine, Stall!" he sighed, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to speak so sharply. It's just that before I forged Moriel's 'Metal Snowflake', as she calls it, I went to the tomb of old Lord Brocktree, where--"
- "Where the prophecies are carved, yes," Stallien's voice was now a whisper, "What did y'see, now, can you tell me?"
"Redwall Abbey. A battle, large, lots of vermin. A squirrel at their head, it'll happen in the future, not too far away...beyond that, nothing. I fell asleep. I can't even recall my dreams, besides one phrase."
- "Lemme guess; something involving our mousemaid and this slave-freeing squirrel? Perhaps," Stall continued, his thoughts running away from him, "She is the reason that he mounts an attack on the Abbey?"
- "Maybe," Ronnan had now let go of the wall and wearily wandered to a large window, breathing the salty air deeply, "But if it's written, she's bound to go."
"What was the phrase you heard? You never mentioned."
"She will love evil. It kills me to say that, Stall, it kills me! How can a being who frees slaves mount an attack on the most peaceful place in Mossflower? What place does Moriel--and most likely, Matchlin--have in this?"
- "Huh, prophecies in dreams certainly are not creative, are they?" Stall muttered, then said at a normal tone, "It's not clear to us now, but it will be, I'm sure. How will they get there?"
- Ronnan put a huge paw over his face, "That's another problem for tomorrow. We'll just have to see."
- Trelland had decided that ships were a major hassle.
Looking at an open map on the old rotting trunk serving as a desk in the Captain's Quarters, he saw that they had to West, then up North to reach Redwall Abbey. But since he was in a boat, he was going to have to go up the River Moss, which probably couldn't accommodate a ship as big as the Bloodhren. He had no idea how to steer one, and he didn't want to rely on the corsairs now under him.
- Besides, there weren't enough corsairs under his command to lead an attack against Redwall; only two score. He'd need a lot more than that to mount an attack on the red sandstone building, and destroy the evil it stood for.
- At the top of the map, the River Moss led past Redwall to what looked like a large lake. But for now, that didn't interest him. What did was the Pine Forest further inland than where they were at now. Not leagues from the Abbey, but reasonably far. He got out of the stiff chair and opened the door.
- "Get in here, you." Zatfur stopped milling about nervously near the entrance and hurried inside. Trelland pointed to the map.
- "Know where those forests are?"
- "Oh, indeed I do, Lord!" He pointed to a small river, that was at the base of a small hill that the Forest rested on, "That liddle river can get us there, though it may be a lot more manageable to just walk there when we get. There are nuisances in that forest, Lord, Painted Ones. Savages! They'd take the bits of fur off a beast and decorate their headpieces!"
- Trelland gave a terrible grin, "Savage Nuisances are just what I need." He stood up and headed again towards the door, "Come on, Zatfur, gather everyone in the galley. Time for them to help me dig up even more reinforcements."
- In a matter of minutes, everyone was in the galley. Their leader stood in front by the kitchen door.
- "How many of you have been in more than one vermin band, raise a claw."
- Many paws went up, with perhaps the exception of 7 or 8. Trelland addressed a weasel, "Where were you before here, mate?"
- The weasel pawed at his face, where old colored tattoos had faded, "The Juskaklize, Lord. Under Cawbrath Klize, Lord."
"Where are they? Do they migrate?"
- "Weel, sir, around this time, they'd be in the woodlands verry close t'the sea. In fact, they aren't far." he pointed a claw vaguely to his left, "They should be down there, more or less. I hope."
- "Anybeast else know of any vermin bands nearby? With any leaders that would be easy to persuade or kill?"
- Everybody began shouting out suggestions. Zatfur raised his captain's blade, "Ahoy there! Stow the gab, one at a time!" he winked at Trelland, "How'd you like my seagoer's lingo, sir? Pretty swag, eh?"
- "Sit down. Now." Zatfur found himself shoved down, with his bottom on the floor.
- "Like our pirate here said," the squirrel took a seat on a barstool, "One at a time."
- Soon afterward, up the coast, the Juskaklize clan were affiliated with the horde. Cawbrath, a huge, tattooed with a red and black target on each cheek , and pieced to the brim weasel, told Trelland up front;
- "You use my tribe, we kill whomeva yer askin' us to, we take the treasure an' go."
- "Of course. Your tribe still listens to your commands, and my horde listens to me."
- "Yessah, no other way." he spat on his paw and held it out.
- "Er," Trelland wrinkled his nose, "We'll call it an oral agreement."
Then Cawbrath Klize walked out of the tent and said, "Juskaklize! We're marchin'! There's blood to be shed, an' we're the ones t'do it. Who knoes, 'ee might even find ourselves a taggerung agin."
- Nobody argued or complained; it meant death no matter who's horde you were in. Trelland turned to the ruler under his command,
"Any other vermin bands round here?"
Cawbrath nodded vigorously, "Oh, ya, other Juska clans, comrades 'o mine... by the river, they'll help us," he took out a wicked knife; it was more blade than handle, "I'm sure of it."
"Good. You walk up there, we'll follow in the boat."
"Wait, why's we got to walk it out?"
"Because you know where it is! and if they don't agree to join us, the river'll be blocked, and we can kill or take 'em hostage if need be. How could that equal double crossing?"
- Cawbrath couldn't see how, but Trelland knew that he could easily rally these newcomers to attack the Justaklize if he wanted them too, "Okay, then,"
"We'll start our....recruitment tomorrow." they each turned to their respective horde.
- "Bed down for the night, clan! Make nice to our new allies o'er here...eh, what are yous called?"
"...the Rampagrants. Lord Trelland's Rampagrants." he turned back to the Juskaclan.
"Okay, then," Zatfur was beside his Lord, who was speaking, like always, "No fighting, all that, work together. Remember, now, desertion equals death," he turned back into the nearby forest and ran up a tree.
- Some of Cawbrath Klize's clan were suspicious; they had no problem teaming up with other vermin to take down a foe, provided they could back stab them later, but--
"Their leader ain't right," said Tenger, a rat who picked at some charred fish over a shared fire.
- "Why do y'say that?" said stoat on the other side, "Seems decent t'me."
- "When's the last time ya saw a squirrel villian, eh?" Zlortra the weasel spat into the fire, "It ain't right!"
- "Well," said a mystical, yet dangerous voice. The three turned to see Visalenth the Seer, a fox with a heavy purple shawl in which numerous pouches were attached to the strings of beads. She was tattoed much more than the other beasts, "It's like my spirits told me, Where you'll find fortune, you'll find death."
- "Who says we're not findin' our own death, eh fox?" Zlortra now looked thoroughly irritated.
- "Well," she said again, and shrugged, "If anything, dere leader's handsome, right?"
- Tenger threw a beaker of wine in her face, "Oh purlease!"
- Over the next week, Trelland and Cawbrath went all around the coast, and slightly inward, finding vermin. Some of them were in ragtag bands trying to assault travelers, while others were more or less than the Rampagrants or the Juskaklize.
- Most of them willingly joined, only because they were smaller groups under the command of Riddley Troul, a large rat with hooks on both paws who encouraged vermin teaming up to loot or pillage innocents. He yelled out to what looked like a huge vermin convention camped by the river.
- "Yar c'n even use my ship, we can't fit everybeast onto yar Bloodhren, that'll make it a salin' deathtrap , but we can ship 'em all betwixt the Bloodhren and the Calamitine." Riddley scratched his head with his left hook, "Er, when 'r we going to start headin' inward?"
- "Tomorrow, ain't that right, Trelland?" Cawbrath looked around for the other commander.
- "Sure is. Don't use too many fires, now, only 9 or 10'll have to do." The voice came from somewhere above, "We've got some more friends that'll join us, in those pine forests."
- Troul looked shocked, "That's a forest o' death! Yer not tellin' me your goin' to get those Painty Ones to travel with this band, are yeh? Oho, oh, noooo yer not!" he shook his head and ran his hooks into the ground.
- "They're willin' to go into battle w'anybeast, mark my words," Cawbrath snorted, "Perhappens maybe Rooklyn's Tribe'll join us."
- Troul shook his head, "I sayin' no!"
- Mistledown was at his throat in no time at all, with it's owner hissing, "You can also yell while you're dying, if y'can't stand those painted rats, if that what you really want,
- I'm sure yore band'll be happy t'see you dead," Cawbrath himself was surprised at how merciless his partner could be to his equals.
- After a long moment of quiet, in which every vermin gathered was watching, Riddly Troul said, "Well, them Painted One's ain't do anything to me, hehheh..." he adopted his trademark scowl, "Alright, mates, into those Pine Forests tomorrer!"
- "That's the spirit," Mistledown went back up into the trees, "Lets see if those Redwaller can stand up to that."
- That same week passed over Salamandastron, turning spring into summer. The former slaves had made fast friends with the otherbeasts, and were being taught in the art of battling.
- "So we won't be taken as slaves again!" Patrenome hacked harshly with a sword at a innocent sack filled with moss.
- "Huh, I wonder what's next for us?" Moriel had enjoyed the long visit at the mountain immensely, but she was ready to go looking for that inland lake she had heard so much about.
- Ronnan adjusted Calethine's fighting stance and announced, "I've got an old friend of mine, comes round here each summer season. I'll see if they'll take you to Redwall."
- "Why Redwall?" Matchlin was in a mock battle with Wale and Rade.
- "Because he said so, that's why!" Stallien hastily said in the middle of an odd silence ; he didn't think it wise to tell them of the prophecy, "Besides, don't you want to see the Redstone Legacy?"
- Matchlin gasped and remembered what the warrior mouse had said, so long ago in his dream:
Let them leave you, you'll be saved. They've got to go, leave with haste but explore, for the time it will take to get there, is the time the evil will rise and grow. They're the only ones who can save it, who can save...My Redwall, my Abbey, The Redstone Legacy."
- "Of...course! Yes, I mean, yeah!" he looked at Moriel, who's eyes grew as though she had forgotten entirely about the dream her friends had until that very moment. Rade twisted the doubled-bladed spear out of his grasp with a shield and sticking up in the floor.
- "Nearly time to go water the garden, eh, Wale?" he set the shield off to the side. Meteore stopped swinging his piece of driftwood overhead and said, "Ooh, wait fer me!"
- Everyone else agreed to go tend to their bit of the gardens facing inland. "Bring your weapons," said Solariey, who had contented herself with sitting on a window seat, watching everyone else spar, "You never know how unruly produce can become."
- "I hear ya!" As opposed to going downward, the group traveled upwards, for the only way to get to the gardens were to go around at the bottom, or go down from the cave at the top.
- The gardens were like little fountains of grass and soil, pawholds used to climb up and down to the respective garden. Everyone found their patch of dirt and checked their food. Moriel hailed Matchlin.
- "Match, look!" She pointed to a spot someways upwards and further down the coast. A cloud of dust was rising, "How many animals d'you see?"
- The hare bit into a radish, "Two or three score, it looks. They're going inland, possibly shrews."
- She nodded and put it out of her mind, "Shrews. That's reasonable." she looked over the edge of their garden, at the squirrels running through the treetops, the others tending to their crops, all below her. "D'you think Treil's at Redwall by now?" she said.
- "T'be honest, Morie, no." He threw his radish top down the mountain and was rewarded with a sharp cry of "HEY!" from Jalenien, "I don't think he'd be content to go there until he's made sure that we--or should I say, you--aren't anywhere else."
- They sat--and ate--in silence for awhile, looking at everyone else' progress. The sun was beginning to set, with it's reddish orange glow cast on everything but shadows, and heard Lord Ronnan's booming voice from the forge at the top of the mountain.
"Welcome to Salamandastron! It's been a while since you showed your face here! Scouts, pull the goodship Radwake in!"
- Stallien stood up above them, wiping his paws on his tunic, "Wouldn't do to dirty up the mountain," he said, "Seems like Corsaria Wavemouse finally showed up."
- "Who?" Patrenome had one paw on the mountain and one trying in vain to gather up some vegetables; most sea otters were not fond of heights.
- "The only maid I know who pirates vermin ships and sinks their vessels, frees the slaves and recruits them to exterminate other seafaring vermin. Oh no, keep picking vegetables for a minute, we're going to need all we can to feed her and that crew."
- When it was getting hard to see, Stallien called a halt to the proceedings, "Put 'em in your baskets and let's head up, crew!"
- Precariously, they made their way up to the top of the mountain, and fell into the small space leading into the rest of the mountain. "Come on down, Stall!" Ronnan's voice managed to carry all the way upwards, "Bring those young ones down here as well."
- They looked at the stairs winding down the mountain, sighed, and made the decent. Quite a
while later, they made it to the dining hall, tired and hungry.
- "Knew we should have eaten these vegetables," Calethine muttered and bit into a carrot, "They'll be no food left between that crew and those hares!"
- "Nonsense, miss," Stallien walked forward with his paw outstretched, "Corsaria, by jove, it's good t'see you again!"
- Corsaria looked the part of a misfit sea vermin. She was a big mouse, hidden under an even bigger red and gold trenchcoat. "Let me take this thing off," she said, throwing the coat over her chair, "'tis only for decoration." She had a red shirt and roughly knitted pants, that looked odd with her white fur, "Commanda' Stallen, about time you showed up!" she pumped his paw up and down, nearly knocking him down in the process, "Who're these barnacles behind ya?"
"Erm, let me see..." he pointed, and they went down the line, shouting their names.
"Calethine, and this little one is Meteore--"
"I c'n intraduce m'self, Calee!"
"Patrenome and Mandel, the mouse, Corynth, the hedgehog, Chowsy, the mole--"
"An Osprey! How'd you take an osprey prisoner, you may ask?"
"Krodestant the shrew, Telien the squirrel--"
"and Moriel and Matchlin."
- "I 'amember you, Solariey," Corsaria gasped, "A long time ago," she rolled up one of her sleeves to show a large scar down her arm, "Fixed me arm up better'n those healer foxes, miss." she looked at Moriel and Matchlin, "You're those two ole Ronnan was tellin' me about. What was it you were saying, Ron?"
- "Er, later." The badger quickly gestured everyone to sit down, "Come, eat, enjoy!"
- Everyone was introduced to the '"Radwake crew, and sat down for food and conversation.
- "Where've you gone?"
- "Everywhere mate." Merenz the first mate, an otter, ate some smoked fish, "Y'don't want to go down south though, oh no, too many watersnakes!"
"What does one look like?" Meteore held his knife and fork stiffly in both paws.
- "Scaly! and large! It could eat ye up--snap!--jus' like that!"
- Further down the table, Corsaria asked Ronnan, "Okay, Lord, what were you saying about sailing those two to Mossflower?"
- "Redwall. I want you to take them to Redwall."
- "D'you know how far that is? Away from the sea? There's only one river big enough to hold a ship like my Radwake, and that means we sail about three leagues to the north and down the canal!"
- "They have to get there somehow! It's...it's written, let's say. They're bound by destiny to get there, why won't you take them?"
- The Sea Maid looked at the Badger Lord for a long time. Then "I'll talk to me crew about it. For now I'm not undertaking any more jobs, just havin' a conversation and good fun in this here mountain."
- "Thank you, Corsaria, I'd knew you'd do it!"
- "I said, I'll talk to me crew! Now, pass me that flan."
- "I'm going to keep it short," After dinner, Lord Ronnan had held back Merenz, Corsaria, Moriel and Matchlin; everyone else had been dismissed.
- "Corsaria, you take these two to Redwall to discover their destiny," he waved his paws in a mock-mystic way, "Feel free to stay to your heart's content while your there, and give my greetings to whoever's ruling there, I think old Abbot Langen."
- "You two, Moriel, Matchlin, be on your best behavior." Match waggled an ear, "Yes, Matchlin?"
- "What about our friends? What about Troff, Solariey, Jalenien, Wale and Rade--"
"If they want to come, they may. You said that your crew was made up of former slaves, right Corsaria?"
- "Sure are," she looked pleased at the arrival of more company--or crew members, "Who knows, they may even find family or friends on board the Radwake."
- "Right, then," Ronnan tapped a claw on the table, "You'll leave day after tomorrow. You've got maps, Wavemouse?"
- "Wouldn't be a decent Corsair if'n I didn't, Ronnie. Okay, folks, diss-missed!"
- While Ronnan made a stern face in the background, Moriel and Match went to the 'Would be Decent Corsair'; "Miss Corsaria?"
- "Yes, kid?"
- "If you've ever been to Mossflower, they say that there's an inland sea--"
- "I've heard the stories. You want to go see it, don't you?" when they nodded, she said, "Good! Because I want to see it as well! We'll find some shrews or otters to direct us, and we'll make that a quick stop on our way to the most famous Abbey that ever was."
- The stream was completely devoid of anything except the two ships and the five score vermin or so pounding on the banks or on the ships. It was hard, humid going in Mossflower's summer forest. Cawbrath and Troul kept their focus on the over large horde, commanding foxes and ferrets to scout ahead, rats and weasels to forage for food, and everyone else to just keep moving.
- Trelland wasn't even paying attention; he had never been in a place where it didn't snow, so he just sat their drinking it all in, the forest, the trees, how you could keep moving upwards in a river with hardly any wind...
- Wait. They weren't moving. He stopped looking at the scenery and headed over to Riddley Troul; "Why aren't we moving? We've got to get to that forest."
- "Ain't moving?" Troul looked over the side of the ship, "Hey, you're right! Leave it t'me." He climbed onto the mast, yelling out, "Hoist out the ropes, ye yellowbellied vermin, All of 'em! Even ya'll, on the Bloodhren! Throw 'em to yer mates on the banks! Hop to it, or you'll feel either my hooks, or the gold-and-black sword! Yes, I'm giving yous a choice!"
- Sliding back down, he winked, "Eh, see, kid, we'll get their in due time. T'be honest, you've still got a while t'go."
- "I'm no kid, Troul." Trelland glared back over into the woodlands, "Shouldn't there be others out there? I don't believe we've scared them away."
- "Not far enough inland. Just calm down, Lord, Riddley Troul will get ye where ya need to go, it'll just take a while." he did not mention that he had told the steersfox to take the long way around, through the swamp above the Pine Forest.
- Content to do nothing else, the black squirrel took out his black sword and kept looking into the woodlands.
- Verran, Sollip, and Tucker seemed miffed that even though they were Captains, they were expected to take commands from Cawbrath and Riddley.
"Why'd Lord Trelland team up wit those two jokers anyways?" Sollip chewed a bit of seaweed and spat it into the forest behind him. He was making sure that everybeast on the side of the river was helping tow the Bloodhren and the Calamitine.
"No idea," Verran was ahead of him, adjusting a knot of rope and rats.
"Think he's gonna betray 'em?"
"Hope so," when Sollip asked how, Verran got angry, "How should I know, eh? Go ask him! Go on!"
- "F-fine. I will." Sollip looked up to the deck of the Bloodhren. "'S soon as we stop for the night."
- Unbeknown to the vermin, a shrew had seen them. He ran back to the camp so unusually away from the river, "You were right, Enprise," the scout reported. "So many vermin, it felt like they were tainting Mossflower and our poor river,"
- Log-a-Log Enprise stood up, holding the customary black stone needed to hold peace during Guosim meetings. "We'll take our boats with us," he yelled, "Everyone pack up! Duffen, Lunir, stay back and cover our tracks."
- "Wait, Enprise!" the scout had stopped his leader before the camp had gotten ready to pack, "Where are we going?"
- "Frean, where do you think?" the shrew cheiftan threw his paws up into the air, "It's like this every time! We see vermin, we pack up, we find Skipper and warn 'em, and then we all go warn Redwall Abbey! Where've ya been, shrew? Everybody, pack up!"
- "Now, pull up on the rope...that's it!" Fresh provisions and the addition of a lot of paws on deck made Moriel's first experience on the Radwake highly enjoyable. Merenz was teaching her how to hoist the sail. "That's right, Moriel, keep at it!" he strode to the helm where Stallien had his back to everything in front of them, "What's the problem, mate?"
- The Commander sighed, "Mate, I've been leagues over land, through bogs, across mountains, everywhere y'can think of. Except the sea, this is makin' me rather ill, all this speed."
- "I understand," Merenze patted the hare on the back, "The sea can be rough for somebeasts, don't worry, the canal t'will be much easier for one who hasn't gotten their sea legs. How 'bout you go see what Solariey and Krodestant are cookin' up for lunch?" Stallien nodded gratefully and worked his way to the back of the ship.
- "Merenz, how many leagues until we find this canal?" Calethine was in the crow's nest, scanning the land to the left of them, "I don't see anything."
- "Look for A large rock and a twisted tree!" He caught sight of a fishing line bobbing in the water, "Match, have ye caught something yet?"
- "Beyond too much bally shrimp, not a thing!" He nodded to several buckets filled with water and shrimp, "Hope we'll have Hootroot and shrimp soup for supper!"
- "We haven't even had lunch!" Moriel tied the rope down the steady the sail, and lowered herself back onto the deck.
- "Look to the future, Morie," Everybeast looked up when Calethine shouted, "Laaand, hoooo! Or, er, rock hooo! Well, the rock and tree is coming up there it is!"
- "Alright, Calethine, that's good," Corsaria had been operating the tiller, "Merenz, tell me when to turn in. Everybody, hold onto something, this is going to be a sharp turn."
- Matchlin pulled up his fishing line and held onto the railing, and Meteore held onto his footpaw, "Perhaps hold onto something steadier, chap." Match adjusted the little hedgehog until he was seated below the railing.
- Calethine ran down the crow's nest and into the galley; "Hold on to something, we're about to turn!"
- "Hold onto the food!" Yelled Match, while Merenz shouted, "Ready, Captain? Turn....now!" The sharp turn to the left rose a huge wave on the right side of the ship. The Radwake tilted back and forth before settling down and going headfirst into the canal, "Someone, get on land and pull 'er up a bit!"
- Stallien ran out of the galley--happy to have a chance to be back on land--and landed on the canal bank, avoiding the large rock, "Toss me a rope, someone get down here, help me!" Jalenien, Wale, and Rade flipped off the other side of the ship and landed heavily on the bank. Ropes followed them, and together, the four strong beasts pulled the craft in.
- Krodestant stumbled out of the galley; "This is why I like logboats..." he muttered, then "Well, what a pretty little spot!"
- There seemed to be an abundance of fruit trees and honeybee hives. When the Radwake was beached, everybody unboarded and looked about, Mcalenth flapped his wings and flew overhead, "Nobeast in sight, I'm thinking it could be an ambush. I'm guessing this, tell them that you're friendly."
- "Hello?" Troff spoke loudly, "We won't hurt ye, we're just traveling through--" A bush by his foot rustled, and a small otter came out. It looked at them, gave a little squeak, and
soon they were surrounded by a number of otters, shrews, and squirrels, weapons drawn.
- "What business do you have here?" an otter with a longbow in front of them spoke sharply. Merenz nodded to his friends, "Leave it to me," he walked up to the otter leader and said, "I don't want your fruit or 'ospitality, but if yer offering it, I guess we'll have to accept!"
- The otter broke down in laughter, "Brahawha! Never heard that one afore!" the large crowd behind him relaxed and went about their business, "My names Tandin Seathrift, and me and this squirrel--oh, left, did he?--Well, me and this shrew--what, he left too? Arh, well, anyways, I'm head of the Orcharders, along with Brushale Nuskern and Troggy Streambank."
- He stuck both paws in his mouth and whistled, "You, you, an' you, pull the ship into the cove! You all can come with me."
- He walked inland, keeping beside the bank where otters could be seen playing, catching fish, and doing other activities, "I apologize for the hostile welcome, but sometimes vermin'll show their ugly mugs around here."
- "Not a problem, old chap. Coming from Salamandastron, I understand!" Stallien said.
- "Oh, you're from that giant mountain a ways down, eh? What brings you up here?" Tandin asked.
- "Later, mate, we'll tell you later," Merenz said, "Now, how did a handful of animals make these grounds such a larder for fruit?"
- Tandin shrugged, "My great-grandmothers' family were nomads, then we found this lovely spot. Eventually, squirrels and shrews came, and we had to plant fruit to accommodate everyone. That's what my pa says." into a thicket of fruit trees they went, "My home is just through these trees, and up the falls."
- A shining pool of water lay before them; the river they had walked beside pooled here, and it continued upward, through more trees as a steep waterfall.
"Time to make the climb!" He ran to the side of the hill in which the waterfall flowed, and easily, he walked up the side of the hill!
- "Whoa!" Meteore ran over to the otter, "Lookit, stairs!" everyone laughed and began to make their way upward.
- "Tandin, does anybeast play in this waterfall?" Corsarria looked around; there didn't seem to be another otter, shrew, or squirrel playing in the shining pool.
- "Only the most experienced of divers, marm; We've even got a diving competition later today," up the hill they continued. At the top, the river branched off into a small pool, where a stone cave was located.
- "Reminds me of home!" said Troff, and he wiped his eyes. An older otter was watching a bubbling pot.
- "Tandin! Who're these folks!" he stepped protectively over the pot.
- "That's me brother Zileal;" He lowered his voice to the party behind him, "He's your best bud until it comes to feedin' time." raising his voice, Tandin said, "Just m'newfound friends, and they're going to eat some of that Salmon Soup, so you can back up right now!"
- Zileal blinked, and went to fetch some bowls, "How many do we need? 1...2...eh, a lot, I guess."
- Tandin insisted that they eat outside, "More space and fresher air!". After everybeast was served, Zileal spoke up, "So, why're you up here, in The Orcharders' land?"
- "Who gets to tell the story this time?" asked Matchlin, pointing at the crew of the Radwake in turn, "Oh, lookit there, Stall, it's your turn!". So Stallien told them how Moriel, Matchlin, and Troff came to Salamandastron, what Lord Ronnan had told them to do...
- "and now, we're just trying to reach Redwall Abbey." he finished, "I feel like we have to get there soon."
- "How so, mate?" Tandin refilled the hare's bowl of soup.
- "I dunno, that Abbey's been in so much danger over the seasons...I've a feeling it's luck has run out." He looked at Meteore floating pinecones in the pool of water and sighed.
- "Y'can't worry about that now, cause you're here with us," Zileal looked at Tandin quickly, "You'll be on your way soon enough, but for now, you're in the company of friends." A clamor was starting down the waterfall, down the river, into the forest where the Radwake was floating. The group could hear shouts on occasion like "Dirty vermin ship," "Where's Tandin?"
and "Hey, this is a nice tiller for a corsair ship!" Merenz stood up quickly, but Tandin said, "That must be Brushale and Troggy. I'll go sort it out, you stay here and rest, we've got a lot to do in a while."
- He stood up and raced down the stairs, "That's what happens when you aren't around when visitors come!"
- Hours later, when the sun had began to set, and the Radwake was spared from looting, every one of the Orcharders had gathered around Tandin's waterfall.
- "Wellllcooomee! I said, welcome to The Orcharders' diving extravaganzaaaa!" Brushale roared out to the assembled crowd at the bottom.
- "The rules are as folloooows! You dive, from heah! Right heah! Whichever dive gets the most applause, cheers, footstamps, whatevar, they win!"
- More cheering. "First up--" he turned to the shrew behind him with an oar in paw, spoke quietly, and said, "Rooklym Shrooney! Have at it, mate, have at it!"
- It went quiet quickly as Rooklym walked further away from the waterfall. Then, he turned around and ran to the falls. Using the oar like a pole vault, he stuck it in the ground and flew over it, "Whoaaaaarrrr!" He flapped his arms like a windmill and fell with a splash into the water.
- "Okay, okay, that was a nice one, 'The Windmill', he says it was called, Rooklym, I think you should call it 'I wagered that I could do it, I did, and now I don't ever want to do it again.'" the onlookers laughed, "Next up, Osphilot Ruddem! Come on, now, you can do it!" the otter rushed by him, did a flip into the air, and landed neatly at the base of the falls below, "Wow, that's a quick one, Okay, neeext...!"
- The showboating, for lack of a better word, continued until lanterns had to be lit all around and up the falls. After the last contestant jumped, Brushale said, "Anyone else want to give it a try? Any of our visitors, perhaps?"
- Matchlin jumped up, pulling up Moriel with him, "We will!" he said. A few onlookers snickered; It was one thing for shrews and otters to 'jump the falls', and maybe even a squirrel who had grown accustomed to water, but a hare and mouse?
- "Let's call the medicks now!" more animals chuckled and looked concerned, even excited.
- Moriel winked, "Let's show these fruit growers what champion divers of the Marsholes' Tribe look like, am I right?"
- "Y'sure are, let's get up there!" they left their friends looking surprised at the bottom of the waterfall.
- At the top, Brushale asked them one more time, "Are ya sure, now? The Orcharders aren't liable for any injuries you might get, now."
- Tandin reassured the squirrel leader, "Calm down, now! They know what they're doin'!" he went back to the crowd and yelled out, "Moriel and Matchlin are going to be divin' now, so just quiet down and hold yer judgment!"
- "Okay you two, have at it." The pair went back to where Rooklyn had started his dive. "I'm on top this time, you hardly ever take the hit," said Moriel.
- "Fine, fine," Matchlin waved a paw airily, "Let's do this!"
- Both of them ran to the edge and jumped. Moriel grabbed Matchlin's footpaws and flung herself up so that she was standing on his back. "Yeaaarrrhhhooo!" the force of them on the water made a huge wave lap onto the shore and envelop the most interested spectators by the water.
- Everyone was quiet, besides the sputtering of the wet. Then the noise burst forward in applause and cheers.
- "Corks, I'm getting a bit broken by doing that so many times," Match dragged himself up onto the bank, nodding as paws slapped his back heartily.
- "That was the best Watercrash we've ever done!" Moriel waded onto the shore, only to be buffeted by Mcalenth's wings.
- "You aren't hurt, I'm thinking? Good, let's see what this Brushale has to say about it."
The squirrel leader was grinning broadly, "Why, that was top hole, kids! You win the prize!"
- "Oh? What's this prize we've won?" said Match, wringing out his tunic of water.
- Zileal interjected, "Braggin' rights and title of Lord and Lady of the Orcharders! For one night, of course. Hop to it, folks, at the double! The Orcharders' rulers won't wait all night for you! Bring yer food right here, it's a party!"
- "Lord? Loorrrrd...."
Sollip had opened the door to the Captian's Quarters on the Bloodhren. "I just had a question...well, you're obvioussy not here, time t'go!" before he could make a move to the outside of the ship, the door closed.
- "Are you blind? I'm right here, dingbat." Sollip couldn't see his leader when he was the same color as the shadow he stepped out from, but he didn't say that.
- "W-Well, then, sir," he looked outside to where the night sky was dotted with stars, "About the others i-in charge--"
"Cawbrath and Riddley?"
The rat nodded, "Uh-huh, sir. Just--just wunnderin, do you plan to kill 'em?". Trelland went to sit on the large moldy trunk that served as a desk/table. He looked at Mistledown hanging from two pegs embedded in the wall behind the desk.
- "Not until I catch word that they're trying to eliminate me. Have you heard anything?"
- Sollip shook his head so hard that he got whiplash, "No, sir," he said, his head facing somewhere in the corner due to his pained neck, "But, if I may say so sir, I noticed that you and Troul are a bit--"
"--At ends? I suppose so. But I'm entrusting you, Verran, Tucker, and Zatfur to spy on 'em for me, you got that?" the Captain's head tried to nod, "Hear anything, anything, you let me know--"
"--just to let you know, Lord, not a thought of 'bandonment crossed my mind, Lord--"
"Okay, I hear you. Go get Cawbrath--"
- "Right away, Lord, of course--" while Sollip hobbled away towards the door, Trelland said to him, "If you're neck is still paining you by tomorrow, just come back here and I'll chop it off for you, eh? Now, go get Cawbrath Klize."
- Sollip left the room with his Lord, the sword, and the crazy laughter.
- Sollip rushed over to the waiting Verran, Tucker, and Zatfur as fast as his injury would allow.
- "He said he'd only kill if they planned to kill him first, and that we were to be 'is spires."
Tucker corrected him, "Uh, spies, mate."
"Whateva. Can't ye see I got an injury?" he pointed at his neck, "Anyways, where's Cawbrath?"
"At the stern," Verran waved a dagger around, "Best go get him. Remember, be...spylike."
"The correct word is spyish, I'm shore!" Zatfur finally tuned into the conversation. Sollip snuffled and headed over to Cawbrath Klize.
He was speaking to Riddley Troul, who was leaning on the edge of the boat. Klize looked quiet uncomfortable. His paw was clasped around a length of rope. Sollip got close enough to eavesdrop but not to be seen.
- "Jus' imagine, it mate, kill the squirrel, take his horde, split it betwixt us, and go!"
Klize looked angry, "I may be a vermin, but I keeps mah word. Lord Trellan'd did nothin' t'me. He promised us a fortune--"
- "Doesn't every corsair!" Troul threw up his hooks, "Where did he say we'd get this loot, eh?"
- "From Redwall Abbey, which I happen to know, exists." Cawbrath's other paw took the other end of the rope and he began to pull it in both paws,jerkily.
- "I ain't sayin' it doesn't, I'm saying it's impossible to breach. So many vermin, corsairs, warlords wanted to conquer the redstone place. Where are they now? Part of 'ems buried unner their gate, wit their bones bleachin' in the sun somewheres. If I were in charge, we'd go an' pillage somethin that's actually possible to loot!" Cawbrath had walked away by now, still jerking the rope, "Whaddaya say to that, Klize?"
- "The only reason Redwall hasn't been conquered by now is because it's only been attempted to by halfwit rulers, much like you." the weasel repiled coldy, "And conquering a real building takes a lot more skill than a coupla nomads yew find wanderin' round."
- Troul looked surprised, and turned back to the water, "Go on, then, ye silly little mink. I'll do it myself, kill the both of you, pair of ya won't look so handsome with your skulls 'olding me grog and the rest of ya sinkin' in the swamp."
- Sollip had been frozen with fear (and discomfort), and twitched to attention when Cawbrath walked by, "Klize, sir, Lord Trelland wants t'see you."
- "Okay den, Captain." he picked up the rat's in his huge paws and cracked his neck back in to place, "My my, how very convienient..."
- Tossing the rat captain back on the deck, he strode off to the Captain's Quarters. Knocking on the door, he said,"Y'rang, Lord--?" the door opened and Trelland motioned for him to sit down.
- "So, Cawbrath...hear any ideas of mutiny?" the Juska leader thought quickly; keep a secret that might, might reap wondrous rewards, or stick with his Lord, who sat in front of him imposingly with the giant gold-and-black sword on the trunk in front of them.
- "Weel, Lord, you won't berlieve the convo'sation I just had..." and proceeded to tell him about Riddley Troul's murder plot.
- "...Of course, Lord, I had no intention of going against you." The words for now crossed his thoughts, but were banished in an instant.
- He expected to see Trelland sigh and think about how to conveniently rid of the rat leader. He did not expect him to grin and laugh.
"Oh--oh, this is absolutely brilliant, Cawbrath, brilliant." he picked up Mistledown and swung it around the chair he sat in, "I can't stand that fool, he thinks that when I go and tell him that he's joining my horde, that he gives the orders? Oho, I can't wait to kill him. I've trained for years with this sword, he thinks he's going to beat me with hooks?" He stopped swinging the sword, placed it on the trunk and smiled at it lovingly,
- Cawbrath personally thought that his Lord couldn't wait to kill anybeast, but he decided not to say that. "What'd do we do about Troul?"
"Since we have to go through the swamps to get to the Pine Forest...huh, he just set himself up!" He stood up and looked out the small porthole window, where Troul was leaning on some fox who was swabbing the deck, his arm insultingly on his head, "The first Captain you find, send them here."
- Cawbrath bowed and made his way out, "I'll keep spying on 'em for ya, Lord."
- "That's right, you'd better," he said, more to himself, still watching Troul, "Because no one can fool me anymore."
- The captains had no need to be alerted by Cawbrath of the rivalry, though, for Sollip had filled them in on all he had overheard between the Clan Leader and hook-handed rat.
"Figures!" Tucker sighed "One horde leader always tries to turn the tables--it never works!"
- "Someone's gonna die, t'ough." said Sollip, still stretching his neck, "There some mad beasts--"
- "Who're ya talking 'bout? Not our Clanleader Klize, are ye?" Tenger, the rat from the Juskaklize clan who had doubted Trelland's plan, had walked by, "I've no problem guttin' ya if'n ya did!"
- "Naw, naw, not at all, sure, Cawbrath's a fine leader. It's Riddley Troul who's causin' all the problems," Zatfur beckoned the clanbeast closer, "Thinks he can usurp Lord Trelland!"
- "Huh, I don't like dat Troul," Tenger nodded, "Too bossy."
- "Well, Troul's trying to kill our Lord," Verran interjected, looking about slyly, "But don't tell a soul besides us, you ain't heard nothing!" Tenger nodded and left the meeting. Zatfur went to the side of the boat and looked out, "Almost time to camp down for der evenin'. We should be at that forest by tomorrer, if not the day after."
"Huh, 'course we should be," Tucker said, looking down into Mossflower's clear river water, "But between those Woodlanders--i've been here, they're killers, I tell ya!--and whatever's in those forests, we're lucky to be alive right now."
- Everyone went off to find some spare part of the ships to sleep on. Only Troul stood at the head, quietly directing the ship, cursing and muttering, all night long.
- The Feast had been like so many that Moriel and Matchlin had attended before, though this one included water splashing onto the table. Everybeast enjoyed the company and food. While waiting for desert, Stallien addressed Tandin.
- "Thanks for y'hospitality, Tandin, but we've got to get a move on tomorrow. If we stay here another day, I've a feelin' something bad'll befall the Orcharders--"
- "You thought that too?" Corsaria broke off her conversation with one of the cooks, "I thought 'twas only me..."
Merenz overheard, and looked downcast, "I really like it here, so I do." Wale and Rade looked a bit upset as well, "Ar, feels like a real home, these Orchards."
"Tell ya what," Tandin stood up and begain ushering them from the table, "You all go to sleep now in my cave, and when you wakes up tomorrow, I'll have a surprise for ya! All of you, go on, even Lord and Lady Orcharder," he said, taking the pasties that they were about to toss to shrews in the water, "Go on, now."
- They went back to the cave, where they could still hear the festivities play out. Meteore huffed, "Sendin' us here like an old muvver 'hog!"
- Solariey laughed, "Well, that's certainly spot on, dear! I wonder what Tandin means by sending us up here."
Zileal was standing by the entrance, seeking refuge from the party below, "If'n I know my brother, he'll probably come wit you. Lucky him, goin' all around the world!"
Mcalenth honked, "Be grateful you have kin. There are formers slaves like us who consider each other family."
Zileal tutted and tended to the fire. Moriel wandered over to it, Stallien following. "One day closer to Redwall!" she paused, "What kind of fall did you imagine befalling our friends here?"
- "Dreams aren't that specific, miss. Hunker down now, we'll be leaving soon as it's light, no matter how little that may be." she slumped against the outside of the cave, soothed to sleep by the waterfall rushing behind her and the fire crackling in front. A pretty, clear voice began to sing out.
- Oh, how long it's been,
- since we've seen each other,
- you've even grown taller,
- though your eyes are still the same...
- I looked up at the moon one night,
- wondered if you could see it too
- and when I see the forest,
- I hope that I'm alongside you...
- Moriel woke up on a deck. The Radwake was hurtling down a river surrounded by hills and trees, "Wowza, what on earth...?"
- "Told you we were leaving, gel!" Stallien said, over Corsaria's commands, "We're two less now; Rale and Wade told us to just leave 'em here, that if we just happen to swing back round to show our faces. Most of the youngers' were a bit torn up over it--"
- "Moooorrriiiieeeel!" something swung by as a blur, and thumped on deck. "Tadaaahhhh!" Matchlin threw his paws out and bowed, "Nice, eh? You've been snoozin' for ages, Tandin's says we're almost there--"
- "Back up," the mousemaid sat up and rubbed her eyes, "Tandin? He's here?"
- "Yes, him and Zileal! They say that we're almost to the inland lake, it's a lot closer than we had first thought, just through some rapids, man, it was amazin'"
- "WHAT?!" Moriel had now jumped up and looked furious, "We went through some rapids and you didn't wake me? What kind of friend is that?" she crossed her arms and looked out the boat--the hills had gone now, only a multitude of trees abounded.
Match patted her on the shoulder, "Don't be too mad at me," a sploosh, and the ship swished quickly onto a sidestream, "We'll be there in a tick."
Hours passed. The sun had just set when the boat floated on calm waters.
"Well, miss," Corsaria looked through her telescope, as though she couldn't see everything fast enough.
"I think we found your inland sea."
- Long weeks of dragging the ships, the vermin, the rising tension through the forests of Mossflower, they headed up the river, for if you go up the River Moss far enough, you'll run into...
- "The Swamp." A bubble popped on the surface of the slime, Verran shuddered, "I can only 'magine how thick it is."
"Don't be too troubled, Ver," Tucker said, pinching his nose, "At least we're promised a challenge fer leadership. We can see one of their 'eads sinkin' in this stink."
"Better not be the head who's side we're on."
- "D'you remember the plan?" asked Riddley Troul. Breekle the stoat had a hook to his throat, all he could stammer was "Y-yes, lord."
- "Tell it to me. Prove you remember!" The plan was a simple one. A rope would be on deck, looped through a pulley, a circle on the ground near the side of the ship. The other half would be weighed down by an anchor. When Trelland and Riddley started to fight, the squirrel would be pushed against the side of the boat. Breekle would be waiting until he heard the sound of Mistledown hitting the deck. Then, he'd pull down the rope with the anchor, so that his lord's enemy would be disarmed and at Troul's mercy. One clean stab with a hook in the temple would end the reign of the bushy-tailed kid.
- After Breekle finished reciting the events, Troul nodded, "Good stoat." he released his 'paw' from the stoat and started pacing, "You don't mess wit Riddley Troul, kid!" he roared, pawing at the rings in his ears, "I'ma 'bout to show you that, ya whelp, and leave yer hide for the rest of the disbelievers."
- Trelland's plan was just as simple; While Troul was standing on deck late at night--for the rat hadn't slept in weeks, bleary and stumbling--sneak up behind him and stab him in the back. It hadn't worked due to Troul always being accompanied by at least one of his vast number, even Cawbrath Klize on occasion. Always maneuvering slowly. Showdown's coming soon, though.. He sat on his desk, the door locked. Troul, Klize, they're vermin, he thought, though as far as Klize goes, he's one of the better ones. But I am as well. That's why he couldn't ask for the help of the Juskaklize, double crossing. Wait a minute. Who-who says they aren't working for the Redwallers? He had found both groups near the coast, a few days hard march from Mossflower and Redwall "...they are!" he stood up pacing, "Klize agreed with me, 'to mount an attack on Redwall', he claimed, but it--it's an ambush, they're in this together! I heard him," he had now started yelling, "Speaking to Troul, It's all going according to plan, he doesn't suspect, keep us movin' slow, gives the killers more time to--" he stopped, shaking violently, then continued, his mind making things up, thinking the worst. The yelling had died down to insane giggling, "I have to kill them both," he said, falling onto his knees, pulling out the fur on his head, "They think they can tell me that they're still alive, that she's still alive, but they're lying, I know it!" Trelland went quiet for a long time. Eventually, he peered over the desk. "They didn't hear me doesn't matter, going to kill, going to avenge, them both!"
- He stood up and walked to the door, slowly. Opening it, he spoke to the guard by the door. "G-get Zatfur, Tucker, all of them!". The guard nodded, saluted, and rushed off. He didn't like the look in his lord's eyes, though he could recognize it. It was insanity.
- "Everybody understand?"
The Captains sat warily around the desk, their leader smiling maniacally, "If you've got it, just nod...there you go..." he crooned. Then he slammed his paw on the trunk, "You better do it right! If you don't I'll die, and I'm coming back to haunt you all, believe me."
Zafur raised a quivering paw, "Lord?"
"When is 'Op'ration: Skinner goin' to take place?" Trelland shook his head; it looked like a jerky and convulsive movement, "I don't know, I don't know! When we're deep in the swamp, probably, just be ready! Go sulk around him, one of you, and report to me."
- When nobody moved, he swiped up Mistledown and aimed it at the group, "Get out, go on, before I stick one o' ya! Maybe I'll even cook you, huh, roasted fox, hahahahaha..." Everyone rushed out the door and they heard it lock behind them. Occasionally they could hear a 'thump' as a piece of furniture hit the wall.
- Troul grinned; he yelled out to the ships behind them, full with vermin. No one could walk through the swamp without sinking in the sludge, "Here we are, hearties, only a mere stretch o'er this boggy bit, and we'll be home free!" he sunk his hooks into the side of the Calmatine, digging them through the hull, "Home free of a lot o' problems." he growled. "Go get Trelland, somebeast!"
- He pulled Breekle from nowhere, "Get in position."
Breekle glanced over the side of the boat, "Ugh! In that? If I pull down the anchor, I'll sink!"
"Good point." Troul tapped a hook on his head, then. "Stand here. Balance the anchor so the heaviest bit is o'er the edge. When his foot is in the circle, just tip it over. Don't fail me." the rat said dangerously, "I ain't got no trouble backstabbin' a comrade like I have no trouble hookin' you to death."
- Trelland strode onto the deck, "Yeah? What've you found?" He looked over the side, "I don't see anything." Troul decided to play along.
- "Look, to yer left, Lord, is some rebuttal, beneath you, murder," he mumbled, "and behind ye, a hook in the back!" he scratched his left hook down Trelland's right paw, making him drop the sword Mistledown.
- "Ha!" The rat launched both his hooks out, but the squirrel had ducked onto all fours. Running right through Troul, he knocked him on his back. His sword arm was in a lot of pain, but he grabbed his sword and fiercely swiped at Troul's shin.
"Haaarrgh!" Riddley Troul jumped back and came back, parrying Mistledown's attacks with a dagger he had hidden. All he had to do was corner him into the roped circle, and the rest would be done.
Trelland was slashing, hacking, and blocking with the sword like a madbeast, tiring quickly. He musn't let Troul force him against the boat. Although flipping over and letting the swamp suffocate him sounded better than letting this rat rip him to bits. No way...I got too far. I've slayed everything that got in my way before, now's another turn to do it again.
- They had backed up to the rope circle, now, stopping a pawstep short of it. Troul could hear the Rampagrants and other crew lingering about, watching. He was jabbing at the kid, now, making him hop dangerously close to the circle. He could see that Trelland had gotten tired from his first offensive. He was about to push him into the trap, for Mistledown had swung away from him, not protecting him, for just a moment.
- Then, with the speed born of desperation, murder by swamp suffocation, and thoughts of Moriel, Trelland picked up Mistledown. Hopping quickly to his left, he put both hands on the hilt, and hit Riddley Troul across the back with the flat of the large blade, hard. The big rat shot forward, dropping his dagger.
Breekle had been more focused on the anchor than the fight. He had placed a paw on it, ready to tip it over. When he heard the rattling clang of a weapon hitting the deck, the upmost thought in his mind was the tip the anchor over. He did so quickly, not realizing the mistake until it was too late.
- "WHOOOOAAAARRR!" Riddley Troul was suspended by the ankle 12 feet above the ground. He scrabbled with his hooks to try and cut the rope, to no avail. "Breeeeeklllle!! Yeh idiot, yeh seascrab, yeh--" He stopped when he saw his adversary approach him slowly, the gold and black sword poised to strike.
"Corks 'n grog, mate. Corks. 'n. grog."
- Nobeast forgot the spectacle made out of Riddley Troul. Let alone he was hung upside down, he was also cut in half. Not the kind of in half you'd expect from a swinging sabre, but stabbed in the torso to the hilt, and dragged down, straight down, until there was a long gash straight through his body, stopping right at the chin.
- "Skull was too hard to split!" Trelland stabbed Mistledown--stained with blood and internal body parts--into the deck.
- "Think you can plot against me now? There are a whole lot of other ways I could kill someone, I can make anyone an example."
All of Troul's vermin now throughly accepted Trelland as their leader. With shouts of "No, Lord, we're yours to command." "We're loyal, sir!" and cries of "Urgh!" everybeast stood on deck, shouting out their allegiance.
- "Leave Troul there," he said, glaring down his nose at the hanging corpse, split down the middle, "He's got some scheme to think of, isn't that right?"
- Cawbrath Klize could see when it was time to stop following a vermin leader; at the point where they all started killing each other. He made up his mind that as soon as they were clear of the swamp, he'd take his horde and go. If he couldn't persuade them to leave their frighting leader, he'd take a trusty few and split; after all, he was more important than any one of his vermin. Even so, now he went to Trelland.
- "The Pine Forest is just past those trees, and on that hill. We could make it there today." Klize said, pointing, "Should I tell the others t'keep rowin'?"
Now that he saw the squirrel up close, he had to catch himself from starting. His face was twisted by the insane smile, and his eyes more sickly yellow than gold, always twisted in a permanently angry expression. There were thin patches of fur on his head, where he had pulled it out, and his tail had bare patches here and there.
"That's right, go on, tell them," he snickered, "Go on, hurry up--" he turned back and looked out the side of the boat, into oncoming fog, "I don't think she can keep it up much longer."
Moriel and Treil
Moriel and Treil : Part Two
Moriel and Treil : Part Four
Part Three: Destination Redwall
Everybody goes there, few ever conquer.
- The lake was much bigger than anyone had previously thought. A smudge indicated the island and what once was Castle Marl. There were high walls of stone to their far right, a mere line, and presumably, behind the island. They were in a giant bowl.
- "Didn't even need directions!" said Matchlin, "Just followin' the mad current!" Tandin bent over the side, to only see dark water, "I don't think we'll be fishin' tonight, too hard to see if your catch can eat you, or you it."
"So," said Troff, shakily moving around, "We just...float for the night? No anchor?"
- "Yeah, I t'ink so, who knows, we might even be closer to the island if we don't drop anchor." Merenz looked at Corsaria, "Right?"
"Perhaps. Let's just put some sentries on duty, rotate every hour. Moriel, you'n I wanted to come here, we'll take first watch."
Accompanied by Troff and Mcalenth, the two mice quietly took their weapons while the others filed off to the cabins. It was pretty, in it's way.
"Didn't know such a bod of water could exist like this," Troff said, hopping from foot to foot waving his dagger, "It's amazin'!"
"I am in wondering, who built that castle." Mcalenth could see better than the others, and had sat on the prow to watch, "It looks like it has been a ruin for a long time."
"I can't wait until we can explore it," said Moriel, "Perchance that giant snake Rale and Wade told us about will be there," she twirled her Metal Snowflake close to the ground, "Trapping and helping corsairs to enslave like that. Makes me sick!"
"Standing to reason," said Mcalenth, "You sound like you've been free all your life."
"I have, and I'll make sure that otherbeasts have a chance to, if that adder is still there."
They said nothing for the duration of their watch.
The morning proved to show the lake and island in the light of a cloudy day. The water was much fiercer than they had originally thought, buffeted around by the high winds. Crows and sparrows flew overhead, occasionally attacking one another if they got in their path of flight. They could see long, dark shapes, flitting underneath the water.
"Pikes!" said Krodestant, "Y'know, I think we need to hurry on over to that island. Anyone know a thing about it?"
"It may be the place where my ancestors lived," Calethine said, eating a crumbly scone, "That castle Mcalenth says is there, they might have lived there, my mother told me."
"What was the family name?" asked Merenz, while he and Matchlin pulled up the sails, "and how come you never told us?"
"Because I always thought there was more than one inland lake!" she shuddered, "Bloodhren took us everywhere. Their surname--well, mine--is Madith. Calethine Madith." she finished proudly.
The sails flapped open, and the Radwake shot forward like a arrow unleashed from it's bow.
"Hold on to somethin'!" Corsaria shouted, "No need for anybeast to become fish food!" she grabbed onto Jalenien's ears as the rabbit slid by on the slippery deck, "Yowtch!" his piece of salmon flew over the edge, and was immediately set upon by several pike, who began to tear at each other, causing more to show.
"Strewth, what a bloodbath." said Match, turning away from the growing noise and reddening water, "Turn away now, young rip, that's not for any decent creature t'enjoy seeing!" he shooed Meteore away.
- Even with the strength of the wind behind them, they couldn't see the island up close until mid afternoon. The first thing they saw were tall, pointed rocks, on top of witch a crumbling ruin of a castle sat. Behind it, though, all they could see was a forest.
"Whoa!" Moriel strained to see around the castle, "How do we get on the island, though?"
"Perhaps they'll be a solution the closer we get," said Stallien, "Merenz, close the big sail, we don't want to crash into those rocks."
While the otter went to comply with the hare's request, the ship floated to the western side of the Island. The ship zipped by the castle, and soon they found a sandy beach, surrounded by trees. "Land Ho!" shouted Moriel, "Hoist the anchor, do all those nautical things to get us on that beach!"
After a while, the ship was beached, and everyone fell out onto the sand. "I don't believe that no one lives here," Solariey picked up a stray bit of driftwood, that showed signs of being burnt, "See?" she showed the wood to Matchlin.
"I'll be scuppered." Moriel hailed Mcalenth, "Think you could fly and tell us if you see anything of interest?"
"You needn't be asking." spraying sand everywhere, the osprey took off into the sky, and flew inward. The others sat on the beach and looked around, until Mcalenth shot back to earth, "A league inward, there's a few small dwellings that earth types like yourself live in, 'round a lake, said their name was Madith."
- "Madith, that's my family!" Calethine jumped up from collecting shells. Mcalenth shook his head, "Couldn't be, miss Cale, these were a hedgehog and a mice, along with a squirrel. Come along!" he honked out.
"You heard the fellow, into that forest, at the double! Time for a history lesson," Stallien lead the way, slashing foliage with his sabre.
After a short trek, they were met by a pond, a cave, and several lean-tos in the near distance. A mouse came out, "Oh, hello, your bird told us you were here,"
Mcalenth gave an angry squawk, saying, "My name is Mcalenth, mouse," The mouse bowed formally, "My apologies, Mcalenth. Drifgraf didn't say. My name is Socien Madith, of the family Madith. Follow me if you care for some refreshment." he turned and scurried through the underbrush.
Zileal said in an undertone to his brother, "Hope they all aren't as loony as him, eh, Tandin?" his sibling hit him with his rudder, "Be polite! If they throw you off this rock, ye can't survive with the pike out t'get ya."
- Socien moved quickly, and only be the sounds of moving foliage could the group follow him. "Drif! Frous! Company!" quickly, a squirrel and a hedgehog came out, in rough tunics. The pond shined brightly, somehow through the cloudy sky, the sun shone.
"I"m Drifgraf Madith, and this is--" the squirrel waved to the hedgehog beside him, who said "Frous Madith." "I've heard a lot of last names," said Moriel, as everyone moved forward to shake paws and greet each other "but I've never heard of Madith."
Drifgraf chuckled bitterly, "Actually, ye probably have. We're a cousinly branch of the family O'Mallin."
"Why don't you live there with 'em?" asked Zileal, "and why are you a hedgehog, a mouse, an' a squirrel with the same family name?" Tandin hit him again with his rudder, "It's just a question, Tan!"
"The House of Madith is--or, was-- mostly consisted of adopted animals, wheras The House of O'Mallin is primarily squirrels and a single badgermum to care for the heir of Southsward. We don't live with 'em because we can't get off this rock. And..." Frous shuddered, "we couldn't leave the ruins of our family home." He gestured everyone to sit down on the bank of the pond.
"What'd you mean 'was'? And that ruin belongs to you three?" Calethine had sat down on a log.
"Well, have you heard the story of Urthwyte the Mighty? No? I don't remember it, I'm afraid, hopefully you hear it one day--anyways, apparently, he left, and we came, the Madith family. Our ancestors built the castle you see over there--or, y'would see it if there weren't so many blasted trees in the way."
- "We Madiths lived peacefully for a number of seasons...until the horde of Fan Fiction:Silth, Queen of Marlfoxes | Marlfoxes came. Us Madiths didn't know a thing about warfare! They wiped most of us out! The ones they didn't kill, they enslaved them. You might have heard of one of their slaves, a squirrel called Pradith? No? Corks, kids..." Frous waved a paw at Drifgraf, who continued the story.
"Well, 'ventually, our dear castle was liberate by some children from Redwall. Everybeast left except for some water rats, includin' our Pradith. She went t'Redwall, married, kept 'er family name, and after a long, long, too long to keep sayin' this, long time, I was borned. Pradith had long since died, an so me father, Kastern Madith, told me this story."
"I went to find this island, where we had once lived in peace. Oh, we liked Redwall, very much so, but even if you've never lived in your family home, you still feel like it's yours, don't you? Along the way, I found Socien and Frous, and inducted them as part of the Madith family. Well, we got here, just barely. No one told us about the pike an' the magpies, attackin' our little raft. We saw the castle, it's quite beyond repair, an we haven't even tried to leave. We'd love to, but...we haven't the means of building a large enough boat to protect us from those fish. We since slew all those murderin' birds, though," he gestured to a small pile of bleached bones, "Make decent fishing rods."
Socien had come back with a clay container of water, "That reminds me, how did all of you get here? I hope none of your number were injured, if'n you all got on a raft..."
- "We came on a ship." said Solariey, "A big one, no need to fear fish or birds--on our way to Redwall. You can come with us, can't they Corsaria?" The three stranded beasts' faces lit up, and looked anxiously at the captain.
- "I was about to say that they're comin' with us wether they like it or not--"Drif, Frous, and Socien cheered, "But you've got to do somethin' for us."
Socien gave a low bow, "Anything, miss, if you'll save us from this rock."
- "You have to take us to the ruins of Madith Castle!" said Moriel, "Who wants to come?" she turned around to the crowd at large, "Raise a paw!"
- Corsaria, Matchlin, and Stallien nodded, "Sounds like fun" "I'm ready, m'gel!" "Sure..." Meteore raised a little paw too, but Solariey said, "No, no, that's too dangerous for a young one..."
"Oh, 'twill only be a quick jaunt, there really isn't much to see." Drif shot a worried look to Frous, "We'll be back afore supper." He picked up a magpie bone, using it as a crutch, said, "All mice, hares, and hedgehogs, follow me."
"Okay, for this particular walk, I'll be in the front. Someone who can watch our back needs to be behind us."
Watch our back? "Er..." None of them were great fighters, save Stallien and Corsaria, "Righto, then." Stallien let the others pass him, and fell back, "But why do we need protection?"
"It may be gone today," Said Drifgraf, not hearing the hare, "sometimes it leaves to hunt...." Moriel reached up and pulled the distracted squirrel to a stop by his collar, saying sternly "What are you talking about?"
"Caliss, miss. The adder." Everybody stopped, and Moriel replied "An adder? You brought us to a place where you know there's an adder?"
"Well, y'said you wanted to see it, and it's a pretty intrestin' ruin when it ain't being plagued by that sickly sweet smell adders have," he shuddered, "If you've got a weapon, take it out now, we're nearly at what was once the dinin' hall."
A large stone room, with mildewed walls and tables, stood quietly before them. The shreds of banners and tapestries hung from the walls, chewed through by insects. The floor had only a thin trace of dirt on its surface, and...
"Old snake skin!" Matchlin prodded one carefully with his staff, "That's a big beast!"
- He noticed a door that usually shows signs of stairs leading up behind it, "Let's go upstairs."
- "Hold on, there are no stairs!" Indeed there wasn't, only more dirt, looking as though some large reptile had slid over it, it was a ramp, "Gee, mate, your ancestors weren't the brightest of coves, were they, no stairs..."
"Hey, The original Madiths built stairs!" said Drifgraf angrily, "Those stupid foxes came and smoothed them out. Weirdos!" He directed them to a side hallway, "There is a ramp back here that's not so steep."
The group climbed up the aforementioned ramp, landing on the second floor. The window had caved in on their immediate right, so their only option was to go left, down the hall, where it forked off to two downward ramps, with a upward one in front of them. "'dey probably got tired of climbin' up tha ramps, no wonder dey were mean," grumbled Meteore, who stuck close to Stallien.
"Straight ahead, are the captain's quarters, an' on the very top," said Drif quietly, "Is the place where the head vermin lurked." They headed forward, up the ramp. On the third floor, everybody stopped to peek in some of the rooms. Most only had a table, a stool, and a cot, some had a few tattered rugs and grimy blankets, "Bet the Marlfox was livin' the good life," snorted Corsaria, "Even her Captains lived in ruin. Probably got terrible food as well." Down the hall, up a small ramp, that only led to a wooden door. "I think there's another floor," said Drifgraf, "But I'd rather not take the chance to find out." Matchlin sliced at the decayed lock with his spear, and the door swung back, off it's hinges.
- "Oh," The huge bed had mold staining the would-be silk covers, and curtains surrounding the bed. Two goblets were in the room, one tarnished gold one standing upright on the bedside table, and a dented silver one fallen, upon the floor. "Madness!" Match went to the closet, and pulled it open. "Whoa..."
There was an untouched robe, though full of holes, in the closet, hanging from the top by a wooden hanger. There was a bright white skeleton in the robe.
"That's crazy! There's a Marlfox in there!" Match slammed the door closed, and stepped back. He felt himself step on something thin and cold, while Moriel pushed past him to see the old King of Marlfoxes.
"What's that?" Meteore had already bent down and picked it up, "It's a locket!" The locket was speckeled like the Marlfoxes were, with a single yellow eye on the front, "'S not ruined like the cups and silkthings..." He dropped it on the hard stone floor, "Oops...I broke it..."
The locket had burst open, to show a little dirty mirror and a small, grimy painting of something they couldn't identify. Matchlin picked it up,closed it, and put it in his pocket. "Eh, we'll keep it with us, y'never know when it may come in handy. Why don't we look for other treasure?"
"Because the other treasures around here, that haven't gotten ruined, are already tainted, by Marlfoxes." said Drif, "Besides, the only ones who call swords and jewels treasures are vermin, when the real treasures are friends, family, and adventrues."
"Fair point," looking out a window, Stallien saw that the sun was beginning to sink, "Drifgraf, I think we'd best head out. If this really is an adder's lair, hanging around at night is not a good idea."
"Good observation, mate. Come on everybody, back down, quick and quiet," they crept through the door and slid silently down the ramps until they arrived back into the large hall. "Snake's not around, hurry up---"
"Not so fast, mate. There's something in the corner...by that steep ramp we didn't go up."
Indeed, there was a fully grown adder, tan and brown, large enough to crush at least three of them at a time. It seemed to smell that there were intruders in it's home, and stationed itself by the ramp to wait for them.
"Caliss!" Drifgraf gave a quiet sigh and placed a paw over his eyes, "Alright, Moriel, take Meteore outside, you too Corsaria--"
"What? No! I told Rade and Wale that I'd kill that snake, that one imprisioned them a long time ago, Meteore too!"
"Well, I'm Long Patrol, miss, I do this stuff all the time." Stallien took out his sabre, "Drif, you take out the young one, Miss Corsaria, go with him, you don't have a weapon. We have a promise to our friends to upkeep."
"What if one of you dies? How do I tell the others?"
"You tell them, old chap," said Matchlin, swining his spear, "That our friends were killed by the giant adder in the castle. Common sense, mate. Go on!"
Moriel spoke quickly, but quietly "By the time they open the door and get out, our cover will have been blown, so get ready to--"
"AMBUUUSSSHHH!" Caliss had heard the door snap shut, and coiling like a spring, launched at the three who were left.
"Finally! There's that blasted forest!"
The swamp had thinned out until the ships were floating on clear water again, with the pine forest a league or two away. A passing crewbeast voiced his opinion.
"There are some real savage killers in there, Lord." the rat pointed to a raven who had came from the tree, flying in their direction, "See, that'un must be part of Rooklyn's tribe."
"What kind of birds is it?" asked Trelland. "Ravens?"
"Mostly. Maybe a magpie. But dere leader's a rook." he got a clip on the ear for his knowledge.
- "Fool! What gave it away, the name Rooklyn? Go drop the anchors, we'll go see those birds tomorrow."
The bird that flew over head heard snatches of the conversation, mainly 'go see those birds', and flew in a wide arc back to the forest.
Landing down on a branch, it made it's way deeper into the trees, until it came to a group of them who's branches were so closely intertwined, it was almost like walking on a floor. He approached the large rook sitting near the middle, "Master," a deep voice came from the scout, who bowed. "I have seen earthcrawlers, they seek an audience with thee. They have just arrived from the swamp, with a decaying...something attached to the front of their two ships. What action would you like us to take?"
Rooklyn was less well-spoken than his underling, but he put on an impressive show nonetheless, "Wait until tomorrow, Mentraz. They may come in piece, but not likely. We just may be able to have a decent dinner if they are enemies, you know that?" the rook erupted in harsh laughter, then, "Tell the others what you have seen, and be prepared." he dismissed his scout-slash-captain with a swipe of his wing, "Tell those painted rats as well, not to attack just yet."
Verran was shoved into the forest first, after they had saw a large flock of birds fly away. "Don't 'urt me, we just wanna talk to Rooklyn, an' whoever's in charge of the Painted Ones!"
A Painted One with an elaborate black and green feathered headpiece fell out of a tree an hit the ground with a thud. Rooklyn flapped down, "Stan' up, Prattagories." the painted rat-thing stood up, grumbling incoherently. "What do you want with us, fox?"
Verran snorted and spat on the ground, "'s for my Lord to tell you." an angry whirring noise sounded, and the Painted One Chieftan said "You ain't the leeada? Chirkchirkchiiirk, tha' shows, where's ya leeda, then?"
"Right there." Trelland had come from inside the forest--how he got there, Verran didn't know--with Mistledown over Prattagories, who had been knocked down again by Rooklyn.
"It's simple," he said. The fallen rat cheiftan whimpered. "Help us, rage a war on Redwall Abbey. Take no prisoners, kill whomever you want, take whatever you want. Because, eventually, we're going to burn that building to the ground."
Rooklyn looked at the figure, half intrested in what it could do, half skeptical about attacking the giant redstone house. "We will think of it," he said slowly. The next thing the bird knew, the pretty gold-and-black sword was pointed right at his plumage.
"There is no thinking about it!" a very harsh cackle, "You're doing it, you're attacking Redwall behind me!"
Rooklyn wished that he hadn't sent his birds away. He tried to call out, "Me-Mentraz--"
"Don't even!" the swordpoint pressed harder. Rooklyn wiggled, and a sigh came from the shadows, "Oh well, you asked for it." the point of Mistledown ran through the bird and twisted, killing him. "And you--" Prattagories was behind held by Verran , "Are you in for this or are you out forever?" The writhing rodent managed to nod his head hard, to the point where the feathers on his headdress bobbled dangerously.
Verran released him with a kick, "Go'n get your tribe! Wait!" he grabbed Prattagories by his thin-furred tail, "Will the birds listen t'you?"
"Vreekk! Yissah, Meentraz'll listen, them magpies'n'crowybird will lissten to him." His tail was freed, and he shot off into the forest. Trelland turned to the fox, "Go get about 4 score of 'em off those ships, some o'mine and Klize's, fast. Now move."
"Where's that rat?" Mentraz had returned to see the murder of Rooklyn. He was talking to the vermin that did it, peacefully, having agreed to attack the redstone house. "My flock--"he gestured with a wing, pleased that he no longer served under a pompous upstart, and that he instead ruled--"are anxious to attack." he beckoned two birds to him, "Brase, Vullier, go into the wood, see what is the holdup." The birds flapped off, only to have flint hammers fly out of the trees and hit them in the beak and chest, killing them.
Prattagories' voice rang out shrilly from the trees, "Attack! Get 'em, get 'em, GET 'EM!"
Caliss got a spear in the nose for his trouble. He hissed, thrashed, and swept his tail under the visitors, knocking them into the wall.
"I have an idea!" shouted Moriel, "You two, distract it, fast!" while her friends stirred and walked slowly back to the exit door, Moriel climbed her way up a ramp. At the top, she saw her friends poke and prod at the beast, who kept trying to strike from the left and right. When she figured the hares couldn't keep it up any longer, she ran down the ramp and, jumping over coils, landed on the snake's back. It felt her, and tried to twist around to bit her.
When she saw that the snake was preparing to wrap itself around her, the mousemaid scratched her way up to the head and quickly, with her Metal Snowflake, stabbed the snake quickly in both eyes with a prong. Caliss gave more of an anguished cry than a hiss, bucked, and threw her roughly against the wall. "Moriel!" Matchlin and Stallien were on the snake in an instant, fighting their way around it to their friend. Slipping over the snake's blood--even though it didn't seem to by dying by a long shot--they found their friend shaking her head and use the wall to put herself in a standing position. "Alright, back out there!" she said. Matchlin ran ahead, but Stallien held her back, "No, miss, Lord Ronnan'd never allow me to let one of my warriors back into battle after they got us such a lead and are close to a serious injury. Leave it to us!" he said, as they heard another anguished hiss.
Matchlin had threw himself at the back of the snake's head, and drove his spear into the base of his neck. Caliss made to rush to the wall and slam this pain off his neck, but went limp before it got there.
"Whoo, there we go!" Match jumped off the reptile's back, "Ouch! What was that?" he lifted his foot and saw a fang. Picking it up carefully, he went over to the other two and dropped it in front of them. "There! A souviner!" he turned to the dead adder near the wall, "Corks, we did that blighter in well, didn't we? I'd leave my spear in there--paints a pretty picture, wot--but I'll probably need it later."
"Bloody eyes, jolted spine--fellow's not having a good day, is he?" asked Moriel, and everyone laughed.
"They're here! They're here!" Meteore saw the returning band first and ran up to give them a hug, "We'm made pies for eveyone!"
Matchlin shivered, "I never noticed how cold it is out here!" even though the day was rather hot.
"What're you talking 'bout, Match? It's really hot!" Meteore poked the hare's foot with a paw. Unexpectedly, he fainted. "Matchlin!" everyone rushed over to him, "Solariey," asked Tandin, "You'rn a healer; can't you do something for him?"
"I don't know what's wrong!" she cried. "He accidentally stepped on one of that adder's fangs, we didn't stop to think there still might be venom in it." replied Stallien.
"I've got something to delay the poison from going all over his body, but no permanent relief, we don't have those nasty snakes around Salamandastron. Someone, get some water," Frous ran off. The haremaid pulled a plant from her satchel, with small, bright orange flowers, "Dresdaiyen" she said, "But he needs a healer! You don't know how to help him?" she asked Socien and Drifgraf.
- "Afraid not, miss, we always try to stay out of the adder's way." he shook his head. Moriel had been very quiet this whole time, thinking. For some reason, her best friend unconcious was not nearly as upsetting as the first 5 times. The adder's poison, however, was.
"This is Mossflower," she said, "So, shouldn't Redwall be close by? Don't they have healers?" realization hit every face. "By the river, the maid is right," said Zileal, "We need to get Matchlin back on the Radwake and get to Redwall as soon as we can!"
"We don't have a map to get there, do we?"
"It's been a while," said Drifgraf slowly, "But I may be able t'direct you. I know when we go back to the mouth of the river that leads into this lake, we take the stream to our right. Beyond that...you may want to search your cabins for a map."
"We're goin' to Redwall! Alright," Corsaria begain giving out orders, "Merenz, get the ship ready to sail, Drif, Frous, Socien, grab your belongings, and whatever food you can find, quickly. Everybeast else, get on deck. We'll take Matchlin to his bunk. We're aiming to reach Redwall by dawn, no later on my watch! Let's move!"
Moriel still held the adder's tooth her unconcious friend had picked up. She wrapped it in a bit of cloth, and picked up Matchlin's spear, "He's going to need it soon," she explained, to no one in particular.
- The trip across the lake was speedier than the first voyage, many people trying to row the boat below deck. Moriel and Calethine sat in the crow's nest.
"Check that map, Moriel. After we take the right river, where do we go?" the mousemaid held fast to the map, which flapped in the wind, "Eventually, we'll come to an otterclan's holt...I hope they can help us."
The ship shook roughly, and they were on the side river. "Careful!" Solariey had Matchlin laying down on a makeshift bed on deck, and hadn't left his side. "He can't be moved too much, the poison'll circulate!"
"Can't help it, that's the risk you take! It's either speed or slow life or...something." Calethine stuck her head over the high point and shouted down, "How about we sing a song?"
"Aye! Sure! Loud enough for the crew to 'ear belowdeck!" "How about 'Pair o' the Masters'?"
There's a pair of kids I know,
go where noone bothers to,
she's the hare, an' he's the 'hog,
With the little wooden 'ouse!
The Pair of Masters, can't you see,
just the same as you'n'me,
but they'll bravely go across the sea,
whereas I wouldn't dare!
O'er the marshes, they said to me
murky, dead, and deep
anybeasts that dares to live there
'll sink there in their sleep
But the Pair o' Masters, 'elieve you me
cleaned that their place up!
swept all the muck away,
and planted fruit for luck!
The top o' the mountain, where the eagles go
to feast on any traveler
these two went, with no fear
to be eated, leaving only a bit o'fuurrrrr....no!
The Pair o' Masters, yes they did
Took that eagle for a riiide...
jumped on his back, gave 'im a whack
an' flew off into the sky!
The group shouted out the shanty several more times, the day turning to evening, until Stallien called out over the edge of the ship, "Ahoy'ern, anybeast out there? We need help, pronto!" he had seen figures flitting just behind the trees that lined the river, and was rewarded with a otter with a bow; a green tattoo circled it's nose, with a line going between his eyes. She raised her bow silently at Stallien.
"Now, hold on there!" said the hare angrily, ducking to avoid the missile, "We come in peace, we have a seriously injured beast on board!"
The otter's eyes grew wide and she called out, "Hitch up your ropes, throw 'em o'erboard!" she put a paw in her mouth and whistled, "Mosslites, tow this ship in!" Soon, Radwake was docked awkwardly besides the bank, and Matchlin lay still on the ground, everybeast in the vicinity surrounding him.
The tattooed otter put a paw over Matchlin's head "An adder's bite, I'm certain," she said, "I c'n feel the heat from this far. You'll need to get him to Redwall." she looked at the sky, "Though their fancy bells might have tolled that it's time to sleep."
The other otters had assembled a stretcher and had lifted Matchlin on it, "Full speed to the Redwall, Mosslites!" the group moved swiftly through the wood, carefully toting their passenger, "Anyways..." she turned to the remaining group, "I'm Coralline of the Mosslites. We help folks 'round Mossflower, while Skipper's tribe is off protecting the rivers or cookin' soup. Hold'n your introductions, and askin' your pardon, we should probably catch up with your sick friend, c'mon!" Everyone raced into the wood after Coralline.
Even running full speed through Mossflower, Moriel could not help to notice the quiet beauty of the forest, Mountdown isn't half as nice as this. she thought, and with a pang, realized that she hadn't thought about Treil in quite some time, I wonder where he is now?.
Trelland was fighting for his life in the Pine Forest, that's where he was.
Hundreds of the Painted Ones rushed out of the forest, taking the Rampagrants and flock of birds by surprise. Their surprise cost them a few soldiers.
The assortment of birds flew towards the band of creatures and attacked, picking them up, dropping them on their fellows from an enormous height, or just tearing them apart. The Rampagrants hit the Painted Ones with their spears and swords. Them being small and fast proved for difficult targets, but they managed to kill quite a few.
Merenz flapped over to Verran, a victim in his claws, "Where is your leader, Captain?". There was an amendable shriek of pain.
Painted Ones, being things of stealth and traps, foolishly left their leader, Prattagories, unguarded when they went to attack. Trelland has rushed through the trees ("Explains why we saw some of them fall out, They'rn usually navigate 'em very well," said Merenz quietly.), and held Mistledown to the back of the Painted leader's neck.
"I should kill you...where's Cawbrath?" the Rampagrants looked sheepish and shrugged.
"Hadn't seen 'im all day. Didn't seem 'im yesterday, neither."
"How on earth do you not see someone for two days? He probably ditched us! Ohh....!" he slammed the painted leader into a tree, hard. "Get on that smaller boat, or your leader dies! GO ON!"
The Painted Ones shrugged and walked slowly to the Bloodhren. Mentraz flew after them, and his birds began to peck at them, "Lord Trelland says to get on that ship, and you will do so today!" amidst screams and caws, the tribe moved much more quickly, and began to fight to get on the boat.
"And you!" Prattagories was still slumped against the tree. He stood up, and fell back down, "What's your problem?" The Cheiftan's right leg had stopped working, he had been slammed hard onto his hip. Glaring resentfully at Trelland, he snapped off a branch and hobbled slowly after the rest of his tribe.
"Look out Redwall. This has been in the making for years, I've come too far, you may have killed her, but I'll kill you!"
"Abbot Langen! Somebeast, open up, please!"
When the crowd reached Redwall, it was nightime, the bells having ran long before to signify the end of the day. Coralline's crew were beating the strong door and bellowing.
"We've a seriously injured beast with us! He needs help, quickly!"
A firm, yet irritated voice sounded on the other side of the wall, "Hold on a moment, please! Neillen, open the gate."
After a moment, the giant wooden door opened to show a large redstone building on an expansive lawn. A big squirrel had opened the door, with a smaller hedgehog behind him.
"Good work, Neil," mumbled the hedgehog, "I am Sister Screeva, this is our young Neillen, the gatekeeper, and the infernal racket you are causing is on the door of Redwall Abbey." she looked at the large crowd, "Where's your injured friend?"
The otters lowered Matchlin to the ground, looking paler than ever. Screeva looked closely at him, "What's his ailment?"
"Adder poison, marm."
Screeva blanched "Where was he struck?" Moriel came forward and showed the sister his footpaw. "You're lucky," she said, "Very. Had it been any higher than the waist, he'd have been dead."
"Brooush, Freel, follow Sister Screeva, she'll take him to a room." the group hurried off. Neillen closed the door, "Come in...whoa! There are no weapons allowed in Redwall!"
"Son, if'n we were vermin, we'd have slain you all before now," said Stallien, "Our weapons' are coming with us."
The young gatekeeper shrugged, "Sure thing, then. Ya'll must be hungry," he started moving briskly to the Great Hall, "After all that running, y'must be. I just woke up an I am, there's a few hours left 'till breakfast, but no one minds if we eat somethin' now."
Across the lawn, into the Great Hall. Neillen made straight for the kitchen, though Moriel was distracted by something, "Neil, what is that?" she said, pointing to the wall.
"Oh." he took a sharp left, through the assembled tables, to the wall, "That's our pride an' joy. That there is Martin the Warrior." The ageless tapestry had Martin on it, sword in hand, looking like a brave friend to them, but in the artwork, looking fearful to the fleeing enemies. "an' that's his sword! Forged from a star!" Neil took the old weapon with the ruby pommel at it's hilt. Then he quickly put it back, "Not supposed t'touch it, though. Don't tell anyone." he whispered, heading back towards the kitchens.
"Moriel, are you coming?" Solariey looked back to see the mousemaid still looking at the tapestry.
"No, go on, I'll just stay here for a minute." she sat under the tapestry, against the wall. She did not want to go into the kitchens with the others. Finally, after so many months and seasons of waiting, she had arrived at Redwall, and now, Moriel had to think and revel in it.
She looked up at the tapestry, "Martin," she whispered, "Let Sister Screeva heal Matchlin, and we'll protect your Abbey in any war, just say the word."
After a moment of thinking, of looking out the window, at the stars, fell asleep.
"Well, Moriel, said a figure in her dreams, "That time is nearer than you think.
And your opponet is closer to you than ever.
I'm holding you to that offer, one warrior to another."
"You and your parents"
Moriel did not remember Martin's visit when she woke up. Figures were bustling in and out of the kitchen with carts and aprons. Someone had laid a blanket over her, and that someone was nearby.
"Ooh!" something shrilled from somewhere to her left, "You were right, she does look like her!"
There was a crowd of young ones, pushing each other and pulling ears and tails in order to see the visitor, "Get Perrieal and Choonel!" and a mole ran off.
Moriel sat up and looked at the crowd, "Well, who're you all?" she asked lightly.
"Nevva mind," said a hogbabe, "You'ms Moriel, we've heard stories avou't you."
"Marm Perriel and Choonel."
"Oh..." she remembered back, way back, when she, Matchlin, and Treil were stuck in that snowdrift. Her parents hadn't been there, they had left to visit..."Redwall! My parents are here?" she stopped and calmed down a bit, "Sounds terrible cliche. But where are they?"
The little mole came back, with two older mice in tow, "Told eem, zurr'n'missus Purreel, this'n your gurl." The two parents hugged their daughter.
"Why, Moriel...how did you get here? You've gotten so much taller...!" Perriel couldn't stop talking.
"You were supposed to be in school," said Choonel sternly, "What happened?"
"That avalanche, remember dear?" Perriel shook her husband's shoulder roughly, "Remember, Haleen flew down--it ruined his nest--and told us what happened?" Haleen had been Mountdown's resident eagle, watching over the village and making sure everything was safe.
"Well, why didn't you come to find me?" asked Moriel in an offended tone, "That's some parenting..."
"We told you we were coming to visit Redwall! We knew you were smart enough to come find us!" Moriel pulled a face--she had forgotten all about her parents coming to Redwall. Her only interest was to find Treil here, "How is Matchlin?"
"Stomach on paws is here?" said Choonel, "Why would there be something wrong with him?" when Moriel told her parents (and the surrounding Dibbuns) of the adder attack on Marlfox Island, her mother gasped and held her tightly.
"I've no idea! Oh, poor Matchlin...come on, we'll go see!" Moriel was dragged by her mother, past the kitchen, up the stairs, with all the little ones following. Choonel shook his head, mumbled about folks not thinking ahead, and went into the kitchens.
"Er...Ma? Shouldn't they be in school, or d'you just let kids wander around here?"
"Abbey school doesn't start until after breakfast, the Dibbuns'll be there soon."
The Dibbuns started to clamor with questions; "Was it a big adda, mis Morel?"
"Quite, young'un. We made sure to--" at a look from her mother, Moriel changed track, "Er, put him to sleep, so he wouldn't eat Dibbuns like yourselves."
Perriel opened a door. Sister Screeva, the infirmary keeper, jumped up.
"Don't you worry, miss Perriel." she looked at the pair of them, "You two look quite alike, y'know...." she spotted the Dibbuns slowly pushing their way into the door, "An' you're in here, why? Go on,now, scoot. Breakfast time!"
"No t'isn't." a little voice piped up from the crowd.
"Well, get out anyway. Go on!" She made as though to run after them with the broom, and the young ones scattered, giggling.
"Anyways..." she gestured to Matchlin on the small bed, "That was rather difficult to treat, but treat it we did!" she gestured to Solariey, who had been staring at plants, her eyes red. "He'll have to rest, lots, but I don't think that poison did much damage."
Moriel found that even after her mother's tirade, she still held on to Matchlin's staff and her Metal Snowflake. She propped them quietly against the wall.
There was a knock at the door, and Choonel came in with a cart of breakfast food, "Nobody thinks the sick are hungry, anymore. Go an' show our girl a real Redwall breakfast, Perriel."
With a look back at the bed, Moriel said "Come on, Solariey. You can't help Match now..." she went over and patted the haremaid on the shoulder, who sniffed.
"You're right, Moriel," she stood up, "We've been through quite some time to get here, haven't we?" Solairey rushed quickly out the door, "Can't catch me!" she called, a brave attempt at being back to her old self.
"No runnin' in the Abbey...!" said Perriel, but her daughter was out the door, "...worse than the Dibbuns!"
Breakfast was never this fun at home, thought Moriel. Dibbuns squished berries and ate them, while parents and elders tried to clean them up. Coralline's otters anad the crew of the Radwake were among them, looking at the unusual breads and oatmeals with intrest. The tables were arranged as a very large rectangle. In the middle of the middlemost table sat a large chair, thronelike. An elderly, white mouse with a green habit was looking around proudly at the animals breaking fast.
"Abbot Langen!" Perriel dragged her offspring again through the Great Hall, to meet the Abbot of Redwall, who had just finished talking with Neillen.
"Miss Perriel, how are you this morning? Please, sit down!" He just took notice of Moriel and Solariey, "And who is this in our company today?" he asked pleasantly.
"This is Solariey, who just came calling late, late yesterday. This is my daughter, Moriel." The Abbot cocked his head and cleaned his glasses, "Didn't know we had that many bodies in our Abbey that I completely miss meeting someone."
After a snort of laughed, Moriel continued "Oh, no sir, I was with Solariey and the others,"
"Ah, yes, the group with the poor fellow in the infirmary, right?" Langen saw how upset Solariey looked, and said quietly, "I see, now. Help yourselves, Moriel, Solariey, before the rest of the Abbey wakes up. We'll be cleanin' for the next day, fall's almost come an gone."
Following breakfast, in which the two maids took their time, talking with everyone at the table and being introduced to many folks, Neil offered to show them around. Moriel asked the question first;
"D'you have a library here?" Neil nodded enthusiastically, "As sure as there's treetops, we do! A place this old can't not have a library! Wait...'can't not'? Oh well! Follow me!" Through a hallway, where the shield of Martin the Warrior stood, emblazoned with a faded 'M', down a pair of steps, did they get to Redwall Abbey's library.
"T'be honest, misses, the Redwallers of old never thought of havin' a library in Redwall, until a readin' maid came."
"A--a 'Reading Maid'? What's that?"
"It was this little hare, who came from the plains, not the ones to our west, but ones far, far east 'o here, she said."
"What was her name?"
"Bryony. Bryony Clockworthy. She came an' said, "Why's all these papers sitting in your gatehouse? Y'could be storin' 'em proper!' and while she was just passing through, she stayed and helped us, even through the Winter of the Great Ghost, to fix up a spare room an' build shelves an' label an' move the books into here. I'm sure you'll read about the Ghost in due time." he finished.
There was a pair of paws lifting and stacking books, their owner behind the pile, "'Scuse'em, Missus Breela?"
"Neillen, If I told you before, I told you once, you will not speak that broken language in my library, boy." a sharp but motherly voice sounded over the books, and a mole came out. "I won't stand it from my own kin an' I won't stand it from you!"
Breela had a blue habit on, dusty from the bookwork, and a small pair of glasses on the top of her head. She stood a bit shorter than Neil, who was average height.
"Sorry--uh--marm." Neil flapped his paws at Solariey and Moriel, "I brought some guests, they're interested in reading the stories."
Breela stared unabashedly at the maids for a long time. Then, "Huh, most young folks around here are only interested in becoming...what is it, warriors? Few of them interested in the good written word, the stories that built Redwall from the ground up." She cleared away a spot on the sofa for them.
"There you are. Help me find the Stories, they'd best start from the beginning, keep them out of the way of this dust. You get tired of reading at all, maids, and I'll tell you what happens next. Nearly every Redwaller knows each of those stories you're holding in your paws, and if you want to be true Redwallers, you'll read them too."
Neillen handed the pair a book, entitled The Summer of Ungatt Trunn, saying "There's also a copy o'--uh, of this up on Salamandastron, if'n you've been there." Solariey smiled, and with Moriel, began the first chapter of Redwall history.
With Breela to help them (and skim over the boring parts,) the reading party got all the way to the legend of the Taggerung.
"Gosh..." Moriel rubbed her eyes, "Redwall sure is historic...what time is it?" Occasionally they had looked up to see Breela stacking a book, or Neil bringing food. Opening the door and going up the stairs, Solariey found that it was evening time, and that the last dishes were being cleared away at the table.
"Oh, well," she said airily, "They got on without us. Come on, Moriel, We have to finish the stories!"
When the ships weren't trudging through the slime of a swamp, the river was quite fast. Cawbrath Klize saw the pair, and could even spot his crew paddling furiously, or pulling small painted rats from off the stern and side of the boat. Using bushes for cover, the weasel looked intently for Trelland, but the ships moved by him too quickly. Luckily, he knew that the river would slow down considerably, since they had to take the right sideriver that was nearest to the Abbey.
He didn't like walking into danger, with no tattooed tribe at his back, but he felt he should go back. By some silly attachment notion, Klize couldn't stand to be wandering by himself. Rescuing his tribe from under the squirrel's tyranny was his first thought, but he would not go the way of Riddley Troul. He thought about arriving at the helm of the Calamitine or Bloodhren immediately, but Cawbrath Klize just needed a good cover story, or Trelland would either ask questions first, or just get to murder. Leaping onto all fours, the Juska cheiftan raced in the direction he knew Redwall to be.
Trelland could still hear the Painted Ones, jumping off the masts, onto crewbeats' heads, even in the small cabin. Getting even more annoyed, he swiped up a piece of wood and bit into it, hard. It calmed him down for a moment, but then he gave a snarl as the Bloodhren shook violently.
"Mentraz? MENTRAZ!" Trelland slammed open the door, hitting somebeast behind it with a thud. Zatfur stumbled out, a tooth missing and a eye blackened, "I'll get 'em, Lord!" he turned around dizzily and ran into the cabin wall.
THUMP! A Painted One flopped limply from the cabin roof. Several jumped off the roof after it, and flung it overboard "Yaaaa, catch'n up wit us, can ya do dat?" They ran off the find another victim.
"Don't go throwing any more of the army offboard!" Mentraz had been flapping overhead when he heard Trelland call, and answered the summons, "Y'rang, Lord?" trying hard not to laugh after witnessing Zatfur's accident.
Trelland glared at him, "D'you know this part of the woods?"
"I do," the raven pointed a wing to the front of them, "Soon, there will be a fork in the river. I've directed the shipsteerer to take the left river. That will take us to an inlet, where the ships can be stored safely. After that, it's only a day's march to the redstone."
"Who told you to direct anybeast anywhere?" he turned away from the bird, who gave him a hatefilled look, "anyways, go tell the other ship." Trelland walked to the galley, pushing several Painted Rats out of the way, "and tell your cretins to shut up!"
By the way, this is also the 2,700th 'article' on the Redwall Wiki!
Moriel and Treil
Moriel and Treil : Part Two
Moriel and Treil : Part Three
Part Four: The Battle of Moriel & Reunion equals Death
"Metal Snowflake, Two-Bladed Staff, Mistledown," become the stuff of a legend.
-- Brattagories Scaut.
Another day passed. Roughly, he remembered, the Bloodhren and Calamitine hit the shore of the inlets. The animals living there started firing, as soon as they realized they were corsair ships.
There were torches, too. The Calamitine was badly destroyed, Bloodhren saved only because Sollip and his Lord managed to pull it off the shore.
He let them loose, told the Painted Ones, Mentraz's Crows, the JuskaKlize, and the Rampagrants to have at it, kill whatever resists, and they didn't let him down. Mistledown even managed, at it's master's paw, to kill nearly a score of resisters.
Hearing the screams and retreats of the squirrels, hedgehogs, otters, and mice, Lord Trelland called the vast army back.
"Let them warn Mossflower. Let them live their lives in the trees, because by next season, Mossflower Woods will have died in fire."
Prattagories hobbled up beside him, "Speech's gettin' annoying, overdone." he hissed. Trelland pushed him back into the water and held him there, looking at the assembly of vermin.
"Anyone hear anything?" he asked innocently, pushing the rat deeper into the mud, "Nah, neither do I."
Trackers were sent to scout out the land, everyone else taking the time to rest. Trelland sat on the sand, staring into the water, not blinking, not moving, with Verran, Tucker, and Zatfur watching his back.
"What're you thinkin' about this evenin', Lord?" asked Zatfur airily.
"Just that I'm sooo close to vengeance."
Tucker gave a silent snicker, mumbling, "Huh, that Pratt character was right, those speeches are gettin' o'erdone."
Someone knocked on the door. Breela sighed and rubbed her eyes, "Don't come in unless you're going to help us!" she called. Abbot Langen opened the door anyways.
"Ah, Breela, seeing as this Abbey is under my care, I think I'll go wherever I please," said Langen, smiling, "You and these maids have been in here for two days! Perriel is having an absolute fit, finally seeing her daughter, and having her shut up in this dusty library. No offense, Breela." he said to the mole librarian's outraged look. "So, ah...what are you reading now?"
"This song, sir," Moriel held up the book, entitled The story of Loamhedge, As told by Recorder Springald. "Do you know how the tune goes?"
"Why, I think I do," Langen took the book, adjusted his glasses, and began to sing in a baritone.
"The sun could not shine brighter
upon this summers' day
my heart could not be lighter,
I've heard our Abbot say,
there'll be a feast this evening,
so listen one and all:
This afternoon we'll run a race
around the Abbey wall!
Come form up in a line, pals,
and listen for your names,
it's ready, steady, set and go,
for Redwall Abbey games!
There's vittles in the kitchen,
good ales and cordials, too,
fine singers and musicians,
to play the evening through.
But first I'll gird my robe up,
so I don't trip or fall,
I'm going to be the first around,
that high old Abbey wall!
Come form up in a line, pals,
and listen for your names,
it's ready, steady, set and go,
for Redwall Abbey games!"
"Did someone say vittles?" a long ear poked it's way into the room, "Good, I'm famished!" Matchlin came into the room, in a wheelchair, to the maid's horror, his injured foot suspended straight in the air. "Huh, some adder, eh? Reptiles may not like me, but they can't keep me down for long!"
"...Isn't your foot better? Why do you have to be in a wheelchair?" Solariey came to him and began investigating his foot.
"It hurts to walk on it, but Sister Screeva says after a tick, it'll be right as new. Has to be waist height or 'bove." he shifted uncomfortably, "So, where's this food?"
"In the kitchens, or the Great Hall, you!" Moriel took one handle, Solariey the other, and together they wheeled Matchlin through the hall, up the ramps, and into the hall. "Slow it down!! Whoa!"
With a screech, they stopped at a table edge where the crew was sitting. Meteore hopped off his chair and walked his way over to Matchlin. "Whassamattar? C'n y'still eat?"
"Huh, nothin' stoppin' that hare from eating," Corsaria looked up from her fourth leek-and-cheese-and-onion pasty, "Besides the possibility of either explodin', or not getting at this food, 'cause o'me, this is really top-hole!"
"Where have you two been?" Stallien had been pacing the table, waving a crust, "Hadn't seen hide nor hair nor scut o' you!"
"Reading the stories of Redwall," Moriel saw the Abbey in an entirely new light now, after knowing what it had been through, "and," she said happily, "We still have another 6 chronicles to go, but Breela can tell us those." she sat herself down. It was late afternoon, nearly dark, and the purple and orange sunset lit up the Great Hall.
- The four scouts made as straight as they could to Redwall Abbey; A Rampagrant, a crow, a Painted one, and a clansbeast.
Brootal poked Yanir, the bird, "Yoo've seen this place afore? You know their 'surity?"
Yanir stared squarely at the rat, "Yes, and it is a terrible place yourn leader has chosen to attack, but he seems determined to do it. Everybeast, split up. You, west, I'll fly above. Gaddez--" the Painted One, "Go on east, and Volthorz, is it? Go north. Quietly, now, check for traps, any loose gates we could use as entrances."
They did not notice the presence of Log-a-Log Enprise, "Just on time, scum! Lunir, Anais, take the east gate, go the long way around, take out the runt first."
Cawbrath Klize had weaseled himself into a tree. Huffing and puffing loudly, he shifted his bulk on the thin branches. The scouts and the shrew had passed right under him, and he heard every bit of each conversation. Let the shrews kill most of 'em.
Gaddez hit the ground on all fours and raced off to Redwall's east side, where the long ditch was. There was no door on this side of the Abbey, he realized. Trying vainly to climb up the wall, he began digging.
Anais held her dirk, ready to throw, "Wait until he digs his grave a bit more." said Lunir quietly.
- When the rat seemed to vanish under the earth, Anais let the weapon fly, catching him in the back. He fell soundlessly. The shrews rushed over, and looking inside.
Brushing a dragonfly away, Lunir tugged the weapon from the body, cleaned it off, and handed it to Anais, "Huh, not much of a digger! How about we just toss'em into the ditch, for the bugs?"
"He won't be a good meal, but that's not our problem!" together, they tossed the scrawny body into the muddy ditch. "Alright, let's find the rat, I think we passed 'em." They continued quickly to the West side, that faced the plains.
Brootal was sniffing the small door, pushing it, trying to push the lock to open with his spear. Lunir and Anais watched him for a moment, peering from behind the wall. After a few grunts, Brootal was rewarded with a click, "Oho!"
"Oh, no." Lunir's first arrow took the rat out through the side, giving Brootal time to shout hoarsely, "Yanir!" The next one quickly silenced him through the neck. "Relock the door," he whispered to Anais, "I'll dispose of this one. By the river, this one's a fat vermin, didn't know they got fed so well!" with a hearty push, Lunir watched the body roll down the hill, and into the thin patch of trees and scrubland, "No time to dispose of 'em improperly."
They heard flapping wings, "Brootal? Rat? What has happened?" Yanir was on the wall right above their heads, watching closely. He flew down to the ground, where Lunir and Anias hid in the shadow, "Have you found something?"
The pair of Guosim shrews jumped out at the bird. Yanir saw them and started to fly away, but Anais grabbed his claw, and Lunir his beak.
"Alright bird," he snarled, "Who's your leader? What are you doing here?" Lunir unclasped Yanir's beak, and the bird remained silent. "Well--?" started Anais, but she was cut off, having seen a scimitar run the bird through from behind, and the sight that did it made her scream.
- Cawbrath Klize blocked the moonlight, dwarfing the shrews so he looked like a celestial monster. Quickly, he stabbed Anais--Yanir still impaled on the blade--and swept it, knocking Lunir into the wall, rendering him unconscious. He heard footsteps and peeked around the wall.
"Ah...Brootal? Yanir? G'ddez?" Volthorz waved his spear around first, then showed himself around the wall, "Wait, who're you-? Ulp!" he found himself held by one of his leader's huge paws, the yellow fur soiled with dirt and blood.
"Well?" he growled, "Don't you have somethin' to say?" he shook the fox, and released him.
"...You're alive!" Volthorz gasped, and grabbed at his throat. Klize gave his hordesbeast a command, "Go back there, tell that boy that the scouts were killed by the Redwallers."
"A-aren't you comin' back, G-Great Leader of t-the Juska-ka-Klize?" Volthorz could hardly get the words out between immense fear and immense pain.
"Not so soon. Do not tell anybeast that I am in Mossflower. If'n we play this game right, I can have my clan again, plus his horde."
"Sir--what? What'd you mean? Lord Trelland'd give you treasure, isn't that enough--" he stumbled backward as Klize aimed a kick at him.
"Fool! That's what they all say, every horde leader! I've only lived this long by killin' our 'allies' leader, my horde has only grown because of the murder of anybeast I can not succumb t'unner me!" he stopped, breathing heavily, "D'you know how much of your clansbeasts have died during this onslaught?"
Volthorz stopped to think--between the mass fights between the Rampagrants and JuskaKlize that Trelland was always encouraging ('Best one lives, now get to fighting.')--not to mention how some of Troul's minions killed vermin from the other groups, just because they had stepped on their tail or hit them with a barstool, he lost count.
"Um, tons, sir." he did not ask why Klize had not put a stop to the many fights.
"Tons? 3 score beasts. We may be fighters, but we're no match for corsairs, unless'n we've had da oppertune for sneak 'ttacks. That boy owes me, an' he owes me big."
Silence. Then, "Well, go on, whatch'er still waitin' around for?" Cawbrath raised the scimitar once more, and Volthorz took off down the path. Leaving the fallen shrews and fowl, Cawbrath Klize stomped back to the underbrush, "He ain't got no chance against them Redwallers, an' the whelp ain't got no chance 'gainst me."
Volthorz ran through Mossflower, never stopping, nor looking back. He arrived back at the inlet, to see vermin floating in the water, or laying about, searching for food. He spotted the black squirrel, being hit hard by the sunrise, and quickly rushed over, "Lord!"
"What? What is it?" Trelland had been lookingg sourly at the lazing vermin, anxious to continue, "Where's the rest of the trackers? Mentraz, get here, bird, you'll want to hear this." his eyes darted towards a nearby tree.
"The others--were--" the fox had to catch his breath, "--killed, those--those Redwallers--would have killed me too!"
"There's one behind you!" Trelland rushed behind Volthorz, who was screaming, and began to hack at the tree with Mistledown, taking great chunks out of the bark.
"You-think-you-can-show-up--" he slashed at the tree with each word, "and get me like you got her-" Vermin nearby stared, and some fled into the forest. "-conniving--son-of-a--"
Just as quickly as the attack started, Trelland turned away and back to Volthorz, "Next time, you watch your back!" he snarled, "Better yet, we're going to be at your back, you take us to Redwall, right now." Mentraz had showed up, looking concerned, "What has happened?"
The leader ignored him, "Pack up! We're marching! Stray behind and I'll kill you with them!"
The sun had risen by the time the Redwallers were up and about. Brother Dundern, a dormouse, was up before nearly everyone else, as was his custom, "Let me go check the gates." he said.
Strolling across the grounds, he waved to a figure by the Abbey Pond, "Mornin' Stram!"
Skipper Stramdell was at the pondside holding one end of a net, "Mornin' Dundern!" the net shook in his hands, "Tandin says his g'mornin' too. We're just trying to catch some minnows, here..."
Dundern nodded and went to the west gate, where the little door stood improperly locked, "Hm," he pushed it open to see the dead body of Anais, a crow corpse on top of her, and a unconscious Lunir slumped against the wall, "Skipper! Tandin! Oh-oh-oh! Hurry!" He saw the two large otters rush over to him.
"What's the problem?" Dundern pointed a shaking paw at the injured animals, Stramdell picked up Yanir's body, and flung it away, turning to the shrews, he said "Nothing we can do for this one, but the other one seems alive. We'll bring them in, you go hurry and raise the alarm, tell the Abbot, get Sister Screeva, or Solariey, one of 'em!"
Everybody was busy with chores, eating breakfast, or just waking up. Dundern let Langen and Solariey know ("It sounds only like a unconsciousness, let the haremaid take care of it." said Screeva dismissively.) With Lunir lying on the soft grass, Solariey occasionally poured some water into his mouth, with Stramdell quietly nudging him in the shoulder, and after a few minutes, Lunir began to move and said groggily, "Eurr...vermin?...Enprise, the vermin...!" he made to get up, but Stram held him back gently.
"Yore among friends, fellow. Wot happened?" after a few minutes, Lunir told them the events that unfolded last night, the removal of Gaddez, Brootal, Yanir, and the encounter with Cawbrath Klize. "So...that big fellow killed Anias, did he? Oh--!" he slammed his fists on the ground, "I've got to report this to Log-a-Log!"
"You can't go out in this condition. If I know Enprise, he'll be back before sundown, knowing you two haven't returned," Langen helped him to his feet, "At least come have breakfast with us, the rest of Redwall needs to know about this threat."
Abbot Langen sat at the tall chair designed for the ruler of Redwall, in thought. When he saw a few beings going off to complete their tasks, he called, "A moment, please. I need everyone's attention. Someone, call the cooks in."
Moriel turned from the table to look at the Abbot, and then back to Solariey, "Is this what you told us about?"
"Uh-huh." she dabbed at her eyes with a napkin, and Matchlin, now advanced from a wheelchair to crutches,handed her his handkerchief, "It's terrible, I never thought there could be vermin at Redwall!"
"You grew up on Salamandastron," asked Match, "Surely old Ronnan taught ya'll that vermain are everywhere?"
"She's only heard stories about how Redwall is this lovely place where goodbeasts can live in harmony, and that vermin are vanquished before they do any serious damage, and then we read the stories about what really happened, and it kinda adds insult to injury, the incident of poor Lunir and Amais, am I right?" Moriel asked.
Solariey didn't expect her to think so deeply into it, but she nodded. "Profound, much?" asked Matchlin, and the three diverted their attentions back to Langen.
"This morning, good Brother Dundurn, Skipper, and our friend Tandin found a scene outside the gate. I won't tell you what it was, they'll tell you if they please, but in short, we discovered that vermin were at our walls last night. None made it in," he added quickly, to cries of shock and outrage, "but it helped to alert us of the danger, unfortunately losing a good friend. I'm calling a council of war in Cavern Hall immediately after breakfast, Skipper will have his guard among the walls, but I urge everybeast to not go outside unless absolutely necessary, considering there was a large crow, among a variety of vermin, found outside the gates."
In the smaller Cavern Hole, this Council was not much diffrent than the others. "We'll see what kind o'vermin come callin, Father, an' we'll enlist Enprise's help if need be." assured Stramdell. He rose to direct his group. Stallien had another idea.
"No vermin are good vermin..." He shook his head, "If such a variety of vermin showed their faces, there must be some large force out there..."
"Stallien's right," Moriel stood against the stone wall, looking at the fireplace, "But for now, we should just check the locks on every gate, and find Log-a-Log."
"What do you know about warfare, miss?"
"That if you've explored as me and Matchlin have, it's pretty hard to miss a war, and we sure haven't missed any."
The horde had pushed, cut, and smoked their way through Mossflower only to see hefty otters walking around the walltops, weapons in hand.
"Er..." Volthorz jumped back as Trelland started screaming at him, "You were seen! Idiot--"
"Well, they may not have seen me!" cried the fox.
"What else could it be, fool--" he was silenced by Mentraz, "Quiet, they'll hear your outburst!" Indeed, some of the guard were looking intently into the forest now. "Take it back, go deeper in..."
The vermin mulled around for a few minutes, until Trelland called to everybeast, "Someone, get a fire going, dry wood only. Others, go find some pinecones. Now, I need a score of very good archers...fire arrows will light up their night."
Cawbrath lurked in the trees nearby; only thought of conquest prevented him from attacking the boy.
The day passed uneventful, with only minor conversation. At sundown, they reported the events' to Stramdell.
"Not a thing, Skipper." said one, "We thought we heard a few screaming, on occasion, some disturbed foliage by one or two, but they didn't mount an attack."
Stramdell sighed, "Okay, cullies. Permission to go in for supper." the large group made their way into Great Hall. Stallien was still looking over the walltops, "It looks like they have a fire going, Stram." he pointed out to a glowing smudge about a league away.
"They won't attack durin' the night, they don't know this country. If'n they did, we would have killed their hides by now." the otter went to go dive in the pond, leaving Stallien standing here, his commander instincts telling him to find help.
Drifgraf meandered along the south walltop--which faced Mossflower as a whole-- with Tandin and Zileal, who were surprised to see the squirrel by himself, "Where's Socien and Frous?"
Drif laughed, "Socien's a coward, Frous' no better than him!" he looked around the top, "Er, we'll have more on the top than just us, right?"
"Nah, I don't think so," Tandin leaned against the wall, idly tapping a spear against it, "Stram didn't see too many vermin today." he said, and the soft peal of the bells began.
On the northern side of Redwall, Trelland was quietly directing his best archers, "Don't hit the building," he whispered, "Just their grounds. Mentraz says that their orchards are over here. If you can't set those on fire, I'll just settle for your killing a score of them."
A raven scout flew overhead and touched down, "All clear, sir, only three on the South wall." she said.
"Arrows lit?" The score of archers checked the pinecones stabbed onto their arrows, and set ablaze, "Alright...aim...FIRE!"
12 of the arrows flew over the walltop, the other 8 clattering harmlessly against the wall and sputtering out against the autumn mud.
Since the belltower is more or less overlooking the West and Southside of Redwall Abbey, the raven scout did not see Neillen beginning to ring the bell. He saw 12 flaming dots fly over the walltop and hit the grounds, lighting the grounds with light reminiscent of day.
"Ah!" he began ringing the bells furiously, "Fire! Fire on the north side! Everybeast, out of bed!"
Drifgraf was promptly startled and crouched down, tugging the otter brothers with him, "Go to that pond!" he shouted.
"We need buckets!" shouted Tandin, while Zileal snarled, "That's where their firing arrows from, fool!" he saw others rush out the door of the Great Hall, "There are the others, so, we don't have to do anything at all! Right--?" the three made their way down the stairs and across the lawn, with Zileal being dragged by Tandin and Drifgraf.
Part of the orchard was burning, as was much of the lawn. Smoke was steaming from the pond: some arrows had fallen in there with a hiss. When the three reached the fire brigade over by the pond, they heard, on the other side of the wall, "FIRE! FIRE AGAIN! KEEP--" a stream of laughter, punctuated by curses, "--FIRING!"
"Duck!" some of the defenders heard the warning too late, and were cut down by the flaming arrows, that lit up their bodies as well as the surrounding yard. Troff jumped out of the way of a spark, "Jump to it again, mates! Get the buckets! We need more help!" A figure streaked off to the building, where many Redwallers were staring openmouthed, unsure of what to do.
"All able bodied beasts, find a container, get some water, take out the fires!" Choonel yelled. Anyone who could grabbed a pot or bucket, and rushed out, Moriel and the crew of the Radwake among them.
"No! Moriel, you come back! You aren't going out there!" Choonel grabbed his daughter by the sleeve of her cloak, "What are you thinking?"
"I'm thinking that all I have to do is dodge the sparks, and douse the fires!" she struggled to go out.
"Young'uns, think they always know what's right! This is real warfare!"
"Is there such thing as fake warfare?" Moriel looked out the door to the flaming grounds, not at her father, "I've fought, I've killed, if only by fluke, for the most part. This is just another enemy!" she broke free from his grasp and ran to the pond. After a moment, Choonel followed after her.
"Cripes!" Matchlin was still in his wheelchair, and rolled to a stain glass window, a Dibbun in his lap, who shouted "Duck an' weeve, miss Morrie, duck'n'weeve!"
The bright sunlight of morning brought with it no more fires. The firefighters were covered in soot and aches. Moriel clearly remembered tossing pan after pan of water out on the grounds, not even bothering to see where they had gone. Her footpaws were numb, having stepped on a number of glowing embers.
"Dead got t'be buried," grunted Choonel, "Where's the molecrew?"
"Inside," Tandin stared sadly at the remains of the orchard; though it was fall, and the harvest collected, the young produce had been burned and blackened, "I hope my ole Orchards don't suffer from this."
"Come on, mates," Jalenien sighed, tugged his drooping ears, "Let's get inside."
"By the by, anybeast see Stallien lately?"
Mentraz had paced the camp anxiously all night, preparing his troops, "I don't know what we will be doing, but we will be doing it soon." he looked at the six score vermin, sharpening blades or lazing about. The underbrush shook, and the archery team came back, "Well?" the bird asked Trelland.
"Definitely killed a ton of 'em," he sat down roughly and bit into a nearby turnip, "Our next task's getting them to surrender, because I heard her!"
Mentraz looked at him curiously, "Heard who, Lord?"
"I heard her name once. Too cowardly to put out their own fires, they send the prisoners out to do it...that's why their suffering from us. but what do we do now?" he threw the turnip stump at a passing weasel.
The underbrush shook again, and a voice said, "It's so obvious, kid." Cawbrath Klize shook himself out of the bush, knife held up, "That little stunt you pulled, kid, you coulda been testing their locks. They've got three little gates besides that big 'un, ja know that?"
He watched the squirrel flush, and say distantly, "Of course, that's why I sent those scouts out--"
"an only one returned, am I right? A stupider bunch you couldna picked." he moved closer, swiping a hidden stone hammer into his left paw.
"Well, what's your plan?" Trelland shot back, "Your sorry hide abandons us, and you come back like they're going to listen to you, like you've got something going for you!"
Klize swiped the stone hammer, and he put up both his left paw and Mistledown to stop it, but the hammer caught his paw and crushed it inwards. Trelland gasped quickly and quietly and clenched it, shaking from the pain from his wrist.
"I sure do, kid. Lucky for you, you don't need that paw to do it, I could have mutilated that prissy little claw...now, this is what we're going to do."
Though he was furious about his injury, he didn't attempt to kill Cawbrath Klize yet--his plan was just too good.
Vermin, though there might be outside Redwall, Abbey School still went on, taught by Brother Kale, a short-eared owl."
"Doosel!" he smacked his wing on the sleeping molechild's desk, simultaniously hitting the floor with his talons. Doosel's head shot up.
"Whot I missered?" he asked, rubbing his face with a digging paw.
"We were speaking, young 'un, of the Rediscovery of Brockhall! Now, which Dibbuns found the ancient badger home?"
"Urrm...Buckkle and Ruggle." he slumped back onto his desk.
"No! it's...it's...oh, corks, well, it's somebeast." a knock on the door , and Perriel entered, and the young one cheered, "Mornin' miss Perrie! Any news about the battle?"
"Well," she said tiredly, "We lost 4 Redwallers, and Stallien is nowhere to be seen. I just came in to tell everyone not to cross the lawns unaccompanied. What are you learning today?" she asked.
"No'm idea, murm." mumbled Doosel, and everyone laughed.
Mojor Stallien decided to find help. He had been to Redwall before, and knew that they were peaceful until angered, and only then did they fight back with the might of the ottercrew and Guosim. Exiting out a side gate, he saw the fire arrows fly over the walltop, and even saw the vermin firing them, something dark and shadowy laughing and slashing out with a beautiful and terrible sword at them, telling them to fire faster, 'for his best friend'.
It was morning now. He had been traipsing the woodlands since last night. Now he took out a scone from a pocket and bit off it. Chewing, he said aloud, "By the coast, how on earth are you supposed to find the Guosim?"
"Call us!" A gruff voice sounded from beside him somewhere.
"Call us, longears!"
"Well, if you're right there, why would I need to? And don't call me longears!" Stallien was getting tired of this.
A sigh, "Okay, I'll do it, just this once." a moment of quiet. Then, "Logalogalogalooooooooooooooog!" the voice bellowed.
"Gah!" Stall jumped back, and was soon surrounded by the shrew tribe, "Streuth, you can really hide when you want to!"
Enprise came to the front of the group, "So, what'd you want with us?"
"Haven't you seen the vermin?" Stallien told them quickly about the night scouting party, and the fire arrow attack. Enprise shook his head.
"Gosh, I remember seein' em, but it was so long ago...beginning of the summer! By the by, I'm Enprise, Log-a-Log of this rough bunch." he laughed.
"I'm Commander Stallien, from Salamandastron. Are you with us or not?"
Enprise looked offended briefly, "Of course! Wouldn't be friends o' Redwall if we didn't. Besides, we need feedin'!"
"They'll be expecting another night attack," Klize had said, in front of the entire horde, "So, we'll attack in the day, at noon. It'll be hot, y'see. Crowbirds, you fly over Redwall, attack who ever is on their grounds. I'll leave that to you. Meanwhile, you, kid--" he threw a smirk at Trelland, who was looking mutinous behind him, "Will climb over the wall. I mean, you're a squirrel, kid, yew probably ain't think of it before, being so bent on yer revenge. Go on the side with the most woods, and unlock the gate. We'll come in, take over, an' we're done!"
"Not so soon, though, are we?" Mentraz asked. He looked around.
"Why would we wait? Their grounds are scorched, their defenders tired...this is perfect!"
"Mentraz! Look at this!" A rook squawked down, interrupting the meeting, "Who're these rats?" The other bird flew up.
"Ugh. Shrews, about..er...more than a score of 'em! They're heading straight for the Abbey! There's not nearly enough time to put our plans into action now!"
"You kidding? D'you know how small shrews are? You can probably pick off two or three at a time!" Klize scratched his claw on a tree, "Though another nighttime attack may be best, seein' as you're black. They can't see yous if'n yer real, real quiet. Get it?" he stomted his foot, and two undersized vermin came out, "Get close enuff to cont their numbers, then report t'me."
Cawbrath Klize turned around behind him, "Where'd that kid go?"
"Open it up! Friends at the gate! Let 'em in!" A snoozing hedgehog named Prindle woke up with a start.
"Okay, okay, I hear you!" He pushed the latches and the large bar holding the gates clased, and the Guosim filed in, "Guosimers, I gotcher Guosim shrews' here, warn the kitchens, now!"
Stallien held back with Enprise until the last shrew entered, and closed the gate. The two had been talking all day.
"How many vermin y'said you spotted, En?"
"Two shiploads full, that's around twoscore each...there was also about threescore more walkin' the banks. A hundred beasts, Stall. We may be good fighters, but we can't handle that. A good bit of my tribe are young un's and old folks, that only leaves twoscore to contend with 'em!"
Stallien's face fell, then, "What about Skipper?"
"A lot of 'em went off to their Hullaballoo on the Eastern Coast, or wherever...dunno when they'll be back."
"Yeah, well, I'm not taking chances. I'm findin' McCalenth, and we're going to get the big help. Now, I may be a commander, but I'm leaving you t'defend this Abbey while I'm gone."
"Don't go gettin' dramatic on me, Stall! Worry about that after ye've had a good meal!" Enprise prodded his friend in the back, and walked across the yard.
Quickly seeking a private audience with the Abbot, Enprise and Stallien gathered all willing defenders in the Great Hall.
"Get your weapons, an' get on the walltops. Stay alert, now, no snoozin', yore life's at stake, as is the future of your home," said Stallien gravely "Alright now, hop to it."
"My lot knows what'll happen to them if they slack off." Enprise glared at the saluting shrews in his presence, "Dismissed!"
The rest of the Redwallers had just sat down to eat lunch, food still being brought out. In the kitchens, it was a mess. Friar Jaspell had an overwhelming amount of help since the new arrivals, and today was no different.
"Food fight! Food Fight!" A mouse threw a tart across the room, and it hit a squirrel in the head.
"Don't throw thing, Freddle!" Jaspell backed against the wall and impaled a sack of flour on his spikes.
"Hold on, Jaspell!" Tandin came over and picked up the mousebabe, "We need some fun 'round here. You, Freddle, you hold on the throwing for just a minute, until ye get into the Great Hall for lunch, eh?"
Few trees grew close to the Abbey walls, and those that did were stoically guarded by the wall guard. This meant that Trelland had to try to climb up the side, on the more deserted eastern wall. The walls were old but smooth, and he soon resorted to climbing up a tree and looking over.
There were two shrew and otter guards on each side. One went east and one went west, then turned around and walked in the opposite direction. Occasionally, one called out "All Clear?" and the others shouted out "Aye!"
Trelland had brought a bow and arrow with him, though he wasn't too sure how to use it; Mistledown could only be helpful in close range, and it was too heavy. Positioning himself in the tree, he notched an arrow to the bow and shot it. It fell off the bow onto the ground beneath him. He cursed and tried again. After a few minutes, he managed to shoot one clumsily over the wall, where it clattered on the wall top.
An otter had seen it fall, "Who's there?" she said. With no reply forthcoming, she raised her voice, "Who's there, I said?" The other wall scouts were making their way over to the spot, talking too quietly from him to hear. For good measure, he shot off another arrow to the best of his ability and took off to the other side of the wall, now deserted.
He steadied himself in the tree and leapt out to the wall. This time, he was able to climb the last few feet to the top of the wall as best as his injured arm would allow. Trelland checked the position of the guards and was angered to see them coming back. Blast! He knew he should have enlisted the help of a decent archer to distract him, but he did not think of it at the time. The only option he would take would be to try and hide in the shadows, at the risk of a tailtip or elbow sticking out.
"Hey!" a shrew had seen him and rushed him with his spear out. The guard slowed down, confused; Was this squirrel a defender? Or an enemy? He had no time to think about the matter, however, because Trelland had taken his spear and stabbed him with it, pushing him over into the grounds. The other animals raced to the spot where their comrade fell, weapons out. Since he couldn't fight all the defenders with only a spear, the black squirrel jumped over the wall, back into the trees.
"Ohh...here he comes."
Most of the horde as a whole looked to Cawbrath Klize as the leader, seeing Trelland as someone so bent on revenge that he didn't think things through enough, though he did kill enemies in an amusing way. Klize had seen the figure sulking through the trees, trying to avoid detection.
- "Nothin' doin'!" Klize grabbed him by the arm and in front of his face, "What got into ye? Where'd ya go? What'd ya do, kid? Did they see you?"
Trelland kicked him in the leg and Cawbrath released him, "They've got guards on the walltops...we better send the birds off now, before it's too late." he left out the part about nearly being attacked.
"Because I managed to kill one of them and push him over the wall, they're all distracted now, aren't they?"
"You've ruined the whole point of the attack, but that jus' means more victims. Mentraz! Get yer fowls into persision!"
Stallien's ideal idea was to enlist the help of the Long Patrol, but Salamandastron was too far away. He was going east through Mossflower when he heard quiet talking."Who's there?" he called out. He pulled away the branches to see a small group of assorted animals, looking ragged and hurt. Withought asking questions, he said, "Come on, mates, you're among a friend of Redwall, let's get you there quick."
They passed under the ravens and magpies in the trees, who were watching them. One bird snapped its beak, "I haven't eaten in long while. Those down there look thin, but better than the roots."
"Nothin's stopping yous from eating Painted Ones like the rest of us, high and mighty!" the bird saw an unseen signal, and began to fly, "Let's go, Mentraz flapped his wings three times, there must be plenty of the Redwallers to attack." In ranks of 3, the birds flew over the wall and plummeted down onto the grounds.
Sister Screeva and a few Dibbuns were helping to pick the crop, while others checked the locks or just walked around. The wallguard watching them and the grounds below. "Don't squash the berries, or Skipper will get you, isn't that right?"
"You kidding, marm? Squashed berries are the best kind!" Stramdell climbed out of the pond and looked at the crop-pickers, and up at the walls. Suddenly, he looked surprised, "Get down!" he threw his arm out to push the Dibbuns into the dirt and grass. "Choonel, Dezark,the sky! Somebody, get the archers!"
Birds rained down in attempts to grab and distract the workers. Skipper threw produce at the birds who came too close to the Sister and the young ones hiding in the grass. The birds caught it in their beaks and gulped it down. "Your fruits are good," cawed one, "but not as good as your flesh!"
More defenders poured out of the Great Hall, waving daggers and knives, which were useless against the birds. "Get some slings, those are useless!" Choonel saw several animals with inadequate weapons be picked up by the next and dropped from high in the sky, "Only those with slings and arrows, get out here! Everyone else, inside!"
In the Great Hall, the animals taking tea were staring out of the stained glass windows. Matchlin's foot had since recovered, though he still walked with a limp, "What's your pa shoutin' about, Moriel?"
"How should I know?" for the first time since the Redwall defending endeavor, Moriel looked frightened as she yelled to the crowd at large, "but we have to find something they can throw at them!"
- Stallien and the group of survivors from the inlet saw the birds hover over the Abbey and drop like stones from their view at the West Gate. Then they saw them pick up bodies and drop them. A few gasps sounded, while young ones either looked away, or asked what was going on. The leader of the group, Mazurn, refused to lead his group in there.
"They'd slaughter us, we have no weapons!"
Going in there was the farthest attempt from Stallien's mind, but there wasn't much else they could do. "You stay here...I'm going to go see where the birds are coming from, and who's leading them." He reached out his scimitar to Mazurn, but the otter refused it.
"One blade won't help us, Mister Stallien. We'll lie low in the grass until you can find something. Don't forget about us, though."
"No, better yet, work on getting this gate open right here," he said, motioning to it, "We may need to get in there in a hurry." with that, Stallien dashed off to the front of the Abbey.
"Look at that one, look at that one!" Trelland was extremly amused from watching the birds drop screaming Redwallers to their death. "It's better than torture! They see their death coming, but they can't do a thing about it!" he laughed.
Mentraz looked at him coldly, exasperated. "Sir, are you done yet? Shall we proceed with trying to unlock the big gate?"
"Fine, have at it. Go on!" the three figured that the Redwallers would expect them to try and force entry through a side door, though the main gate had far too many locks. The wallguard had been eliminated, those who tried to climb up there caught and dropped. "Who's got the torch?"
"What do you mean 'What Torch' We planned the torch, I told you! Set their gate on fire, and go sneak it some other way while the birds are attacking." Reverse reverse psychology.
Zatfur ran from the west side with a blazing torch, and skidded to a halt, "Here, sir!" and saluted. Trelland took the torch and threw it at the gate, and the windy autumn day sparked the wood and started to burn, and smiled.
Zatfur rushed back to tell Mentraz to direct his birds onto the path outside and by the walltops as they left the Redwallers to tackle another problem.
"Fire!" McCalenth had been fighting off the birds to the best of his ability, trying to save Redwallers--but they were too many, a score or more of them on him. They ripped and pecked at him until it was all he could do to stay alive, when he saw the torch hit the gate. "Fire!" he struggled harder to beat the crows and ravens off him. The evil birds saw the fire and rushed to it, taking the osprey with them.
Arrows and javelins shot up into the flock. It was unclear how many birds were killed, but the murder did fall several feet, onto the flames.
"McCalenth!" Moriel and Matchlin raced out across the grounds and made their way up the stairs to the walltop. Matchlin stumbled over a body on the grounds. Moriel slowed down and pulled him up. Onto the walltops, and at the fire. McCalenth had managed to untangle himself, at the cost of serious burns all over him. He coughed, and pointed his beak below them, "What is the weasel and the black thing doing?"
"Who's that streakin' over the grounds like that?" Stramdell had since moved everybeast in the orchard to saftey and had gathered his crew.
Abbot Langen was applying a salve to a burned area of his face, "Moriel and Matchlin...the birds made some sort of movement to our gate, like they were going to try and do something..."
The otter crew rushed by him, out the doors and two the gate, respectfully bypassing Langen on their way. They heard Perriel shout "Get me my daughter, please!"
They stopped staring and she looked around, "Duck, duck, the birds are here, maybe they can't see us!"
"Oh, that's rich, gel." The hare and mousmaid had made it to the top of the wall, avoiding the birds and most glowing embers on the grounds, "Look, see what's happening?" he vaguely waved a paw around, and pulled it back down, quickly.
"But what about McCalenth?" they looked over and saw that the osprey had managed to beat most of the birds off him, but was injured and still being held by vicious talons.
"You leave that to us!" Stramdell pushed Moriel and Matchlin further down, "What possessed the pair of you to come out here?"
Moriel pointed to the bird battle, and said, "But there's something happening right in front of us!"
"Ain't that the prettiest thing y'ever saw, kid?" They were so close to getting into Redwall that Trelland did not even care that Cawbrath was talking down to him.
"Sure...what happens after we get inside, again?"
Klize, from behind, stared at him, dumbfounded, leaning on his blade, "You take what they stole from you and leave the treasure to us!" he tossed his blade aside, and started to move toward Trelland, who was intently watching the flames, "That way, I c'n get rid of two annoying, cowardly, enemies," he picked Trelland up, one paw by the neck, the other claws tearing at his ribs, Mistledown too far away to help him--and threw him hard into the wall right beneath Moriel.
"and take Redwall for meself."
Something hit the wall below them, and the remaining otters looked over the wall. "Pull it up, I think it's one of ours!" said Stramdell, "With the hooked javelins!"
"No, t'isn't, it's that black thing." Moriel had bent over the walltop, "Pull it up anyways. Hostage, I think..." something pulled at her mind.
"That's not how battle works, Moriel, you only hold their leader hostage when he was capable of doing something, and this one obviously ain't up to that challenge."
"Skipper, please," Match looked over to his friend. While battling lizards, storms, and fires, she hadn't shown (much) fear. The adventures before they got to Redwall may have frightened her, but she managed to power through. Here, she looked as those she was trying to remember something and struggle not to cry at the same time. Stramdell looked down at the maid as well, and made a motion for his otter to bring the limp animal up.
Even though he was quickly losing conciseness, blood still ran from the animal's mouth and nose; his head sat unnaturally on his neck. At the top of the wall it looked around. It gave a great gasp as his eyes found Moriel, brightened a bit, and blacked out.
Skipped Stramdell carried Trelland over his shoulder down through the grounds. The crowd packed themselves at the entrance of the Great Hall, and parted to let Skipper through. He sat his burned on the stone floor, and the nearest animals backed away, looking scared.
"Get Sister Screeva." Solairey made to move, but Abbot Langen said, "Hold on, Skipper. Why are we healing the enemey?"
"Aren't you supposed to be a bit more hospitable than that, Father?"
"I would be, if this vermin hadn't attacked my Abbey and killed who knows how many!" he looked furious, "Now, what is going on?"
"The maid on the walltop has an idea--" Perriel ran to Stramdell, grabbing his arm. "She's not hurt, is she? Why isn't she here? Where's Choonel?"
For the first time since the fires, Stramdell smiled slightly and gently shook her off, "She's just liberatin' a bird, haven't seen your husband, I'm afeared..."
"Well, leave him right there until Moriel explains what this is about." said the Abbot, motioning distastefully to the body on the floor. "He'll hold, though he doesn't deserve it."
Skipper's crew had managed to beat the crows, magpies, and ravens off McCalenth. The osprey looked a terrible mess, and unaware of what was going on. He pointed with a wing, so badly injured that the bones were out of place, to the west walltop, "There's--some land-beasts, over there, captive--" he struggled to be heard over the sounds of animals yelling and tossing water and soil on the fire, greatly dimished now.
"That weasel must think those are some of ours. I bet Stallien's out there," Enprise had been helping his shrews and overheard the conversation. "He said he was trying to get more help." He ran the length of the wall to the west wallgate, "Stall! Stall! get to the West gate, we'll let ye in!"
"That weasel seems to have left, if only to regroup..." said an otter, spear on the wall, "You two go inside, see what's happened, we've got this...when you want us to clean up the grounds, we'll be here..."
Langen was hovering around the entrance and pulled the first paw that stepped through the door, "What is this?" he shouted, "What made you think it was wise to bring the vermin in here?!"
"It wasn't my idea!" Match managed to wriggle away from the Abbot's grip, "It was Moriel!"
Langen decided to stop grabbing people, "Well, miss? What's your idea?" he asked, trying to contain his anger.
"First..." she looked at the squirrel on the floor, "We could use him as a hostage. Fix him up, at least a little. We can kill him if they don't stop the attack..."
"Moriel...didn't you see that bigger vermin throw him against the wall? He's obviously not in charge." said Matchlin quietly.
"Then he can tell us what he's doing here, what they're doing here! No one ever bothered to communicate, they just started attacking--"
"Exactly!" shouted the Abbot. Perriel had a handkercheif to her face and her eyes were shining with tears. "But...I'm torn, I am. Between my duty to help any injured or needy creature who steps foot into my abbey, and between common sense." He nodded to Skipper, "Take him to the infirmary, please, Stramdell. He is Moriel's responsibility. Sister Screeva may help cure him if she wishes."
Moriel sat in the infirmary ward, scribbling over parchment. Each question said the same thing as though the answer would come;
Is he something special? Why did Martin tell me to bring him here?
Trelland was lying in a bed. He hadn't moved in three days, nor eaten. Screeva could not help him until he woke up; she didn't know of all his injuries. The inkpot ran out. The Infirmary Sister could not see an empty inkpost when notes could have to be taken at any moment, having already seen the sister's temper. So, quietly, Moriel went down the hall to the Recorder's study.
Treil had not slept in a bed for a very long time, so he was extremely confused as to why he was in a building. He remembered being thrown into a building, but this was much better than that. Maybe it's Redwall. Those thoughts brought back the events of the past few days, and seasons. He didn't feel his sword and decided it was time to leave. He made to get up, but a pain jarred his chest and he fell back on the pillows with a shout.
Something clunked outside the door an a inkpot rolled in. Moriel followed it, crouched down. Picking it up, she stood up and noticed that the squirrel was awake. They looked at each other, and she went and sat on the edge of the bed, "Why did you attack us?"
"...Because of you."
That made Moriel angry, "Do you even know who I am? Because I don't know you!"
Treil couldn't say anything, just hung his mouth open and looked sort of sad. Then he cried, "They said they took you!"
"Who said that?"
"I don't know!" he had really started to cry now, thoughts and feelings he couldn't remember thinking pouring out. "But now I found you and you hate me, you don't even know who I am!"
A random thought just appeared in Moriel's head: You only beat the one you love to the place you love. And very quietly she got up and walked closer to him, "Treil? Is that you?" she whispered. She grabbed his paw, which felt thin and bony. "..."
He smiled, then started coughed violently, "It feels like something's broken inside," and coughed up blood.
Moriel ran out the room and down the stairs, into Neillen, "Find sister Screeva, Solariey--anyone, Neil! Get them to the infirmary! Please!"
"I was looking for you--" but she had ran down the stairs, leaving him to shout for the medics.
Screeva saw the mousemaid run toward her across the great hall, and set her mug of tea on the table, "Now, hold on," said the hedgehog, "What is this about? No running, you should know that--"
"Not now, sister! To the--infirmary-quickly, he's--hurt--"
Screeva chuckled, "But he's the enemy, Moriel, why do you care so much?" Moriel couldn't believe it; she thought Redwallers were supposed to be helpful, no matter what the outcome, "He is not the enemy!" she shouted, then lowered her voice, even though the rest of the occupants had heard everything, "I'll explain later, just please, please go help him, he's coughing up blood."
She took off at once, snapping orders on her way to the stairs. "Moriel?" Solariey and Matchlin came out of the kitchen, "What's going on?"
"Sister Screeva needs you, Sol, the infirmary, quick," she turned to Matchlin, who said, "Is it that hostage? By gosh, why d'you want to save him?" but Moriel was already running to the stairs again, but stopped long enough to say, "Let me just say, we got here first."
The infirmary door was locked, and Screeva would not let Moriel in, "We're doing what we can, he's got some nasty cuts...when will you tell me what this is about?"
"When he's better!" the door closed again, and she was left to sit out in the hall. Perriel saw her and went over to her, "Dear...Matchlin told me that was Treil. Is that true?"
"Uh-huh." She had her face buried in her paws and was staring at the ground. He had looked far different, even his eyes, but they looked just as defeated and beaten like in the snowdrift all those seasons ago.
The door banged open, and Sister Screeva came out. She leaned heavily against the wall, with an arm over her head. She sighed and said quietly, "Can you believe it? You do the crazy job of defending this Abbey, and you get rewarded with a dead squirrel who is supposedly not the enemy."
Cawbrath Klize had retreated the group back to the cover of the woods, Zatfur behind him carrying Mistledown, "Sir, where's Trelland?"
"How should I know? I ain't his muther." he banged his own cutlass against a tree, until all the vermin were gathered in the surrounding forest, so they could at least hear him. "Their gates are nearly done, their defenders dead an' weak! Come noontide, Red'all is ours for the takin'!" he tossed his blade at a stoat nearby, who caught it, at unawares, and fell down.
Mentraz and his birds were in the trees overhead, "Where is Trelland?" he asked. The vermin on the ground just realized as well that the squirrel was not with them.
"He wanted that place so bad, he went and died for it!"Klize then reached over and took Mistledown from Zatfur."He won't even big enough fer this blade!"
"But dead kids ain't tellin' tales 'round here. Tomorrer, we're lootin'!"
Night had come to Mossflower; the majority of Redwallers were too anxious to sleep, wanting to see if their loved ones who had gone to fight the fires and birds were alive. Choonel was found with such a serious injury that left him unable to move his left leg, and a concussion. Stramdell and Enprise had reported that between their forces, that a score and a half had died from the fire, or the birds.
"But I've sill put some shrews on the walltop for the evening, those that haven't been fightin' one thing or another all day." said the Log-a-Log, making sure that his shrews' injuries were attended to before Solariey could attend to his burns.
"So have I," said Stramdell, "By the by, did anybeast see Stallien? He left some time ago."
"Solariey, where's Moriel?" asked Perriel, helping her husband into the wheelchair vacated by Matchlin just a few days ago.
"She was helping us outside, dunno where she is now." answered Stram, as he ate a bowl of hotroot soup. Neilen was astonished.
"Been fighting fires all day and you want some soup?"he asked, and the Skipper winked.
"Just gettin' ready if that mud'n'scum outside try it again. There'll be roast rat and cooked ferret that day!"
The night sky had the remains of oily smoke in the air; the moon cast a red glow on the earth. Moriel say, her back against the building, looking at the pond. She did not know what to feel; she had seen her other best friend again, if only briefly, but he had attacked the most peaceful place on earth...for her? And now he was dead. She hadn't realized that she was crying so much, until she looked down, finding a wet tunic and a handkerchief below her nose. Solariey had put her arm around Moriel and sat next to her.
"Matchlin told me what happened...I'm so sorry, he said you loved him very much...but why did he do that? Attack us, I mean, did he know you were here?" she looked around the scorched, blackened grounds.
"'S a long story, maybe later." she took the kercheif and blew her nose, "Thanks."
"That's fine. I'll just sit here and keep you company." once again, Solariey looked nervously around the grounds, "How long will it take to fix the Abbey?" and Moriel shrugged.
"You know, I can't help being quite mad at Treil," her eyes were now fixed on a spot of grass, "mad to the point of hating him. But he said something about someone telling him that they took me. So, he attacked us in love? I don't get it..."
Solariey looked at the wallgate, replying after a while, "A long time ago, my mother was part of the Long Patrol," she said, "One day, a group of vermin washed up onto the shores of Salamandastron, there was only about a score of them. Some of our hares were scourging the surf, because a storm had just passed, 2 of them. If they had weapons that day, I know they would not have been taken hostage. My mother caught word of it, and went to rescue them, by herself. My father said to wait, hold off until the next day when the Patrol in its entirety could go save the hares, but she just took her sabre and went off."
"I'm not too sure what happened next, besides my mother managed to free one of the hares, until the vermin woke up and saw her slicing the chains and ropes that held the other one down. The captive hare took his chains and used them as weapons, trying to protect her. They were overpowered and somehow, the hare--Elusith, I think--managed to get away, and return with the force. The vermin had deserted, leaving my mother surrounded by several of them, and she was dead." for such a sensitive maid, Moriel thought, Solariey was not crying. "I'm sorry to hear that."
Solariey nodded, and said, "My father was upset too. Seemed to think it was his fault. If he had went with her, she would be alive. So, until his dying day, he swore to always be in the Long Patrol, to protect the weak, and the ones who were too headstrong, like my mother Lunitiy. When I heard what happened, I didn't know my place in the Patrol, but that taught me; to do the opposite of what my parents did, and to heal the ones who would always keep fighting."
Suddenly, pounding sounded out, and hoarse shouts, "Open up! We're friends! The West Gate, please!"
The haremaid stood up, looking worried, "Do you think we should let them in? Or call someone else--?"
"No." Moriel stood up now too, looking worn out, cold, indifferent, "I'll get it." she did not seem to care who would be on the other side, and opened the door.
The group of survivors from the woods flooded in, looking brused and battered. Behind them was Stallien. "Good lord of the mountain!" he exclaimed, as he saw the Redwall grounds in ruins, "What happened here?"
"You didn't hear the fighting?"
"Heard it, yes! Seen it, no!" He examined the nearest burnt area, "Fire arrows..." he winced as he saw the charred remains of a mole, "Ugh, don't tell me..."
"Their birds...picked up those trying to fight the fire, dropped them from way up high." said Moriel, as she latched the gate.
"Mister Stallien!" Mazurn and his crew had been staring at the building with interest, "Should we tell 'em inside what we heard?"
"At once. Come in, you two. That fancy ferret out there is still going to attack!"
The defenders were in the Great Hall, eating and helping the injured who couldn't make it to the infirmary, when the group burst in.
"It's not over yet, folks an' folkesses!" Everybody stopped and listened, "It had gotten quite dark, you see, we could hardly see each other," he indicated the group of survivors around him, "Either we were this close to that Klize fellow, or the woodlands were silent as a tomb, because we heard his plans to attack tomorrow. When, I've no idea."
Abbot Langen had been sitting in his chair, food and drink forgotten as he helped wrap a bandage around a mole's arm. He sighed, "Martin, will you help your Abbey?"
When he opened his eyes, all Treil saw was a forest in front of him. A small path led deeper into it. He looked behind him to see only fog, and was unable to tell wether it was day or night.
He tried to stand up, but fell back down, his arms giving way from under him. He dug his front claws into the dirt and dragged his way closer to the forest. It called to him, said it could get rid of this pain, this pressure around his head, and the feeling that he had only enough energy to breathe and move slowly towards the forest, feeling better with each effort.
Something was moving on the edges towards him, he couldn't see it clearly. The only thing he could say was "Moriel?"
The figure gasped, and said, "Martin, I don't think this one is supposed to be here!" Someone else was coming now...
"You stand back, Rose!" there was some movement, and a shadow fell over Treil and blocked the fog. It was a mouse with bright, angry eyes.
"You should be burning in Hellgates for the damage you've done.", his voice was shaking, "Not just my Abbey, but the surrounding woodlands, you even helped to terrorize the coast! Oh, I wish I was there to use my sword, you would have been killed properly, never to see a glimpse of the Dark Forest!"
"Martin!" Rose had come over now, and grabbed the Warrior's arm, "We both saw what was happening, through both of their dreams. It was a misunderstanding, we could do nothing to stop those villains from entering his mind. You know why he did what he did. You did it for me."
"That was different! Badrang was a Tyrant..." slowly, Martin took note of Rose's words. The pair of them looked at the ground to see Treil was closer to the fringes of Dark Forest.
"You have to stop him. This isn't his time. Go on!" Martin the Warrior walked over to the squirrel, standing in his way.
"She's right. Redwall can still be saved." he said, a bit unconvincingly, "You don't belong here, not yet. You've got to go back."
"Can't!" Treil's scream seemed to break through the fog, make all three of them more aware to the sounds. Voices out of the forest, muffled "Painful...what I...did..." he had since started crying.
Rose had come over now, and put a paw on his head, "Now, see here," she said firmly, "Yes, you did terrible things. But you're a good person, you know that, as do I, and so does Martin." she shot the Warrior a look, who sat on a rock, arms crossed, looking stern, "You have to try, at least. You can't try here, as nice as it may be. Besides," she had bent down, and now spoke so that Martin could not here, "What was the name you said, Moriel? You have to go back to her, you wouldn't want to see her distressed, and because you're here instead of there, she is. If you were to completely come over here right now, what do you think would happen?"
It was very quiet for a long time. Then, a weak voice "How do I get back?"
"Close your eyes...think...will your mind back to the Infirmary of Redwall Abbey, back to where your Moriel is..."
Then it went dark, and Treil could see LateRose of Noonvale and Martin the Warrior no more.
"So...Stallien, Stramdell, Enprise...do you all have a plan?" The Abbot was weary, tired of seeing the animals under his care killed and mutilated.
The three exchanged glances. No defienite plan of action had come from discussions all through the night. Enprise said, "Nothing beyond takin' any defender uninjured and holding Cawbrath Klize for as long as possible."
"If they have a family, they're welcome to stay out of it. Everyone interested, move over here to the windows. Get some breakfast in you, though." Moriel began to shuffle over, snatching her Metal Snowflake from the table.
"Wha--? Moriel!" Matchlin rushed over and grabbed his friends arm, "Morie, d'you think it wise to..." but she just looked at him, pulled her arm away, and kept walking.
Neillen was assisting Sister Screeva in the infirmary, bandaging limbs, and trying to spare the ill from Screeva's Brothalum Remedy Soup.
"That stuff probably makes 'em sick, Marm!" he said, as she caught Neil pour some soup in the herb garden, "Haven't these poor folk been through enough?"
She glared at him and handed the squirrel two trays with two bowls of honeyed oatmeal, "Go give that to Choonel and Frip." she said.
"Wait, marm," he lowered his voice, and nodded towards Treil, "Fellow hasn't eaten in a day, nor had a drop to drink. Shouldn't we help him?"
Screeva cast her eyes out the window, "He's been long dead. I only leave the body for the little mousemaid's sake. For the time. Can't have a corpse in the Infirmary." Neillen took the tray and went to deliver the food.
Frip the shrew moaned and sheilded his eyes from the shaft of sunlight with a paw, "Day time already?"
"Yep," he handed him one of the trays, the other one to Choonel.
"What time is it, d'you know?"
"About midmorning. No sign of the villains, though. I think." He moved towards the window. It looked rather dusty outside, unusual for the beginning of winter. "Probably because of the fires," he thought. After the pair had been fed, Neil sat down in a hard chair. Occasionally, his eyes flicked to the squirrel's body in the bed--
Hold on, thought Neillen, Did it just move? He wiped his eyes with a paw and looked again, Certainly not. He thought he saw the nose twitch.
It had grown very quiet in the Great Hall. The Dibbuns had been escorted to Cavern Hole, or the cellars below, by those who did not wish to fight. Most Redwallers stared at the table, not eating, or at the stained glass windows showing the story of Martin. The shrews, otters, and other defenders were on the grounds. Besides the scrape of a knife of a file, a thwack when a target was hit by a slingstone, and other noises indicating weapons being prepared, no one talked.
Suddenly, the sound of tramping feet was heard. Quietly, quickly, the ones outside made their way to the walltops.
"There's the scum. Right on time, Stall." Enprise looked at his folks on the walltop, "Gosh, Stall, they've got more'n twice our number."
The hare was worried under the surface, but his voice was jovial and excited, "We're good, they're evil," he said, unsheathing his weapon, "If fate allows them to win, I'm not believing in fate anymore."
Moriel and Matchlin had been set to guard the West sidegate. She made a rut in the ruined earth with her Snowflake, while Matchlin kept vigilant. After a while, he sighed, "Oh, come on now. Chin up, weapon out." The hare noticed that his friend did not seem too upset at being kept out of the action, but he thought it ran deeper than that.
When she said nothing, the hare continued, "Morie, a good defender cannot stand around moping. Besides," he paused here, "It's a bit of your fault we're in this mess."
"What?" Moriel had jumped to her feet now, "How is it my fault? By being born? Look, he said someone told him to come here, that Redwallers were murderers and thieves who had taken me."
After a pause, Matchlin apologized, "That was a rather nasty thing to say. I'm sorry."
Moriel had turned her back to him, leaning on the wall, "Think nothing of it," she mumbled.
Cawbrath Klize marched in front of the army, swinging Mistledown in front of him, cutting down greenery. He laughed, "Ahaaar! This sword was far too good for 'im, isn't that right, Zatfur?"
The rat had been enlisted as Klize's personal servant. He felt the new gold earrings in his ears, and mumbled, "Ya, sure, Lord."
"Pity we ain't got the dyes to make ya a proper JuskaKlize." They walked out of the woods, meeting the front side of Redwall Abbey, across the ditch and the path, and it's defenders.
"You know why we're here, streamdog!" yelled the ferret, "If ya just let us in, an' declare me Lord of Redwall Abbey, we won't kill too many of ye!"
Stramdell had his face set into a grimace, javelin at the ready, "We won't be dyin' today, It'll be your fur skinned out all over the plains, you an' your dirty scavengers!"
The trees rustled overhead; That was Mentraz flying back into the forest to tell the archers to take their places and be ready. Klize directed his attention back to the otter, "We tried parleyin', now it's time for your dyin!" He pointed the sword at him and the arrows flew out of the forest.
Neillen had been watching the squirrel discreetly all day. At first he thought it was only a whisker twitch. Then he had seen an ear twitch too, and his claws. Sister Screeva enlisted the help of Solariey, who kept anxiously looking out of the window, down on the grounds where Moriel and Matchlin were. After a while, she heard the sounds of shouting and twanging bowstrings, "It's started!" she cried out.
The bed-ridden patients gave little cries of dismay and shook their heads, "About t'get a whole lot more visitors, miss," said one shrew.
"Neil, what are you doing? Stop looking at the dead and start helping the living!" said Sister Screeva, "Goodness, boy, I don't know where you get off--"
And with a great gasp, the squirrel jolted upright in his bed. He shuddered, and said, "Oh, gosh...has it started?" he made to jump from the bed, but stumbled and fell backwards. Neillen quickly helped him back onto the bed.
"You need some food," shouts from outside grew louder, and the squirrel asked, "What's going on?"
"A battle. I must admit, it doesn't seem like we're winning."
Sister Screeva's voice rang out, "Neilen, who are you talking with? Is it about remedies and herbs? Do you know how many animals we have to help?"
"Marm, I'm just helping this one who came back from the dead!" the Sister looked at Treil, who was just a few minutes ago quite dead, and she sat down on a stool.
"Never before..." she said shakily, "Not in all my years...Brother Eulien never taught me this!" she stood up, and her brisk manner returned, "Well, now that you're back, that girl can stop moping around."
"Where is she? Where's Moriel?"
Neilen shrugged, "No idea. She may be fighting, I wouldn't put it past her--" and before he could finish, the squirrel had jumped out of bed and ran, haphazardly, out of the Infirmary.
The Great Hall was empty, most animals taking refuge in the kitchens or Cavern Hole. Paying little attention to anything except the doors that led outside, Treil stumbled over the stones of the floor, and pushed the doors open. All the running had tired him out, and so he made his way slowly to the right, holding on to the wall. He could see the defenders on the walls, arrows flying over them, stabbing the grounds. It nearly made him sick, almost physically ill, to know that this was his fault. He kept his eyes on the wall, and continued inching forward.
At the end, he stopped to catch his breath, but the sight of Moriel took it away again. She was sitting on the ground with her back to him, rolling something metal that caught the sun in the ground. A hare strutted around, hopping and jabbing out with a pole. Huh. Matchlin's still around.
A bird flew overhead, and landed on the wall. Treil could see it was an osprey. "Coast on this side is clear, Moriel, Match. A few vermin are picked off on the East gate. Keep holding your position." It flew over the wall.
For a very long time, Treil didn't move. He just kept holding the wall, looking around the grounds, at Moriel. When he decided it was time to show himself, something stepped on his paw and whispered, "Oof!"
There was a little water vole with a sword much too big for it. The blade was dirty from being dragged through the dirt and ashes, and the ruby pommel had pawprints over it. The vole smiled up at him.
"Ahah, I can't carry this thing. Was going to try and sneak out, stab that cowardly weasel right where it hurts!" He jabbed his paw around. "Here kid, you take it." he dragged the blade through the ground further and handed the hilt to Treil.
"W-Why me? This is meant for a warrior--"
The vole tutted, "'Cause you wanted t'fight evil, and you brought evil here, and ole Troff told you to. Hop to it now, around here." Troff pushed him away from Moriel, to the East gate, "Miss'll hold on." He unlatched the gate and Treil stepped out.
The gate shut fast behind hiim, "Good Luck!" called Troff, and then quieter, "Like that, Martin?"
"Yes. That's the way."
"I don't think they're going to try anything," said Matchlin. He had grown tired and bored, standing guard at the wall, "How long has it been?"
"Since...I don't kno--Someone's coming!" Moriel pointed upwards at the wall, where the sound of running could be heard. A shrew leaned over the wall, crouching as to not be seen by the Rampagrants and Juskaklize.
"Somethin's amiss. Well, amiss for them." he jerked his head in the sound of the woodlands, where occasional screams emitted. "I dunno, but Skipper thinks they're rebellin' against that weasel, or have just gone mad and are killin' themselves. All quiet here?"
When they both replied yes, the shrew nodded and said, "Go inside now, get a bit of tucker, a nap. I'll set a group up here." He signaled another shrew, and waved the two away.
Moriel and Matchlin ran all the way to the entrance to the Great Hall. Moriel made to open the door, but Match stopped the door's progress with his spear, "Don't tell me you don't want to see what's happening, because I am jolly well sure that you do!"
Treil had only the intention of sneaking around the forest to find Cawbrath Klize, but seeing his former horde attack Redwall with such vigor and spirit made him angry. He came up beside a weasel and said conversationally, "Have we beaten them yet?"
Without looking, the weasel shot an arrow, "Huh, not even close--!" Martin's sword cut throw his bowstring and then his chest. Treil looked at the bloodstained sword and began to shake.
To think I used to be like that...worse than that! He pulled himself together and stood up as tall as he could. "Well, I'm making up for it now." he said aloud, and went along the fringe of woodland.
He continued his extermination of the horde, feeling none of the vengeance that he had when harassing and murdering innocent animals. He felt that every animal he killed today made him feel more like a savior, less like he was damning folks. Twice, he had almost walked into groups of Painted Ones, doing nothing but gabbling and fighting each other. He had slew whom he could, and rushed off.
After dishing out some more vengeance, Treil could very faintly hear a voice. After a moment, he thought to climb a tree and did so, making his way further along.
Overhanging from a branch (and trying to keep Martin's sword for reflecting sunlight), the voice he heard was Zatfur's, complaining. Treil perched himself directly above a fox.
"Why're we attackin' anyways?" he mumbled to Volthorz, who was searching for suitable firewood, "I never heard o'Redwall, but it's obvious we can't get in. They're snug and warm in there, and out here, 'tis nearly winter." he sighed, "Oh, how'd I'd like me a quiet life..."
Suddenly, the trees ruffled, and Treil fell out, haphazardly swinging the sword downwards and slaying Volthorz. Zatfur gave a start and managed to yelp out "Lord--!" before Treil clapped a paw over his mouth.
"Tell me were Klize is. That's it." he let him go, and Zatfur gabbled, "B-but, Lord...Oh!" he nodded, "This is part of a plan, ain't it, sir?" he winked.
"No, it's not. I'm done with this vengeance thing, it's over. All you have to do it tell me where he's at, and you don't have to do anything else for me again."
Zatfur stared at him, "Are you tryin' to put an end to this fighting, sir?"
Treil sighed, "The Redwallers...aren't who we thought they were." he was surprised to see his simple minded, former captain walk over to him.
"Then I'm wid ye through an' through, sir! I never did fancy killin', murderin', all that villany. The weasel has your black blade." he looked at the Sword of Martin, and his eyes widened, "Cripes, sir, but I see you've got another sword!"
"Not quite." The squirrel tilted it until it caught the afternoon sun, "This one belongs to Martin." he then poked Zatfur in the shoulder, "Time for me to finished what I shouldn't have started. Take me to Klize."
Moriel and Matchlin stole across the grounds and hurried up the stairs to the walltop. Moving between shrews and otters, Matchlin found Skipper Stramdell and Tandin, "Ahoy, nautical fellows, what's the business?"
"Check this out, young'uns," Log-A-Log Enprise came from the edge of the wall, vacating a spot. Moriel looked out into the forest. Animals were throwing spears and flinging arrows at the defenders, but a strange thing was happening. A rat who has just put a burning pinecone on a arrow was about to fire, but the next moment, something silver flashed, and the rat was dead, the pinecone smothered in the mud. The same was happening to a weasel, two Painted Ones, and a stoat...
"Someone is helping us! But who is it?" Tandin put a paw to his eyes and scanned the forest fringe, "Can anyone see their leader?"
"No, but..." Moriel was running back down the stairs, and Matchlin yelled after her, "Wha-! What are you doing?"
She jumped off the last three steps and tossed her Metal Snowflake to the locked gate, "Our savior may need our help!"
"Hold it, there!" McCalenth, flying down from his patrol, which mainly consisted of attacking Painted Ones and the assortment of evil birds, "Opening the gate is a mistake, the entirety of the horde could enter if we did!"
For the first time in days, Moriel cracked a smile, "Not if we finally attack them head on ourselves!"
Cawbrath Klize was standing in front of those very gates, watching from the forest fringe. Mentraz was perched on his shoulder, watching their army. The clanbeast stabbed the earth in front of him with Mistledown in anger.
"What'n Hellgates are they all cheerin' fer?" he roared, shaking his shoulder roughly, and Mentraz cawed angrily and flapped up above his head, "You go an' spy on that horde, why ain't somebeast reported to me? Vulpuz help their stupid hides when I gets t'be ruler of Redwall!"
"The walls are on their side," hissed the bird, "If we could get them out on the path--"
"You leave the thinkin' to me, I said go!" Klize lashed out at the bird with the blade, and he flew off threw the trees.
Treil and Zatfur were situated a few paces behind him, in a tree and on the ground, respectively. "There's the villain, right there! Wid your sword too...". Despite all the evil committed with that sword, Treil quite wanted his sword back, even though a small part of his mind reminded him it wasn't really his sword, but Trelland's.
"Sneak an attack, sir? Or should I cause a diversion?" Zatfur looked up at him from the ground, and Treil had to ask, "Why such loyalty to me, Zatfur? After what I've did." the rat chuckled and leaned against the trunk.
"One, sir, because yore trying t'redeem y'self. An' two, I knew you weren't evil, at heart, I've never seen an evil treedweller, pardon t'judgement."
After a moment of awkward shifting in the tree, Treil said "Well, on the count of three, we rush him. One--two--three!"
"CHIRRRRAAAAKAAA!" Painted Ones suddenly appeared in the trees, and Treil hit the ground quickly, Zatfur dragging him along. "Quicklike, Sir!"
Enprise was at the gate in a flash and stepped in front of it. "I'm not against floggin' those rascals with my dagger, but we just got to wait for everyone else to catch up!" He gestured to the walltop defenders racing down the stairs. The screams and screeches of the Painted Ones rang out to the Redwallers, and they hurried their pace.
The Guosim leader now stepped aside, "You take the honor, miss." With Matchlin's help, Moriel unbolted and pushed open the gates, and the group rushed out, shouting warcries, "Redwall!" "Logalogaloooog!" "Mossflowerrrr!"
Moriel and Matchlin were among the group, dashing along the path and into the forest. The vermin on the forest fringe, though caught at unawares, retaliated back quickly, only to be struck down again from behind. "Pincer movement!" Yelled Stallien, with a score of otters and shrews, "Never fails!" Many of the birds flew off in fear, up and away from Redwall Abbey. Those who were too slow to react got a spear in the plumage for their trouble.
"Do you see who it might be? Any sign at all?" Matchlin knew that she was talking about the lone being who was attacking the crew.
A group of Painted Ones ran by, chasing unseen quarry to where Cawbrath Klize was bellowing orders, and slashing his sword in such a rage that several of his own clansbeast were slayed.
"Well, why not head that way," said Matchlin lightly, "To where the mad sword-wielding ferret is?" he put a paw to his belt, "Oh cripes, I think I left my spear on the walltops...fine time for it! You wait here, kill who you can, I'll be back in a pip!" He took off towards the main gate, kicking up dust with his footpaws.
Moriel knew curiosity would get the best of her. She hid clumsily behind trees and in shrubs, making her way to the mad swordbeast.
Moments after Treil and Zatfur had begun their deadly race, the gates of Redwall flew open, and out poured a motley group of Redwall's own warriors, shouting war cries and waving weapons! Though Treil was happy at first to hear them, he thought They may have the skill with those weapons, but I'm sure Klize's groups outnumber them 2 to 1. Even the ones who may have abandoned, or are lazing about, that's still a fair amount. When he voiced these concerns to Zatfur, the rat panted, shrugged, and gasped out "Keep movin'! Follow me!"
He tried to dive off to the left, but several of the savages blocked his way, chittering madly and jabbing at him with their flint-tipped spears. "Yarrahagh, thatta thattaways!". It was the same when trying to flank to the left, spears poking them in a certain direction.
"Is it me, or is there something different about this chase? Like they're trying to take us somewhere?"
Soon, Zatfur had tripped, and they were upon him in a flash, dragging him upward, dragging Treil too when he tried to cut them off. After a few moments, the pair were thrown onto the path, a circle of Painted Ones quickly congregating around them.
When Treil looked around, he saw that Martin's sword had been taken from him. Looking up, he saw it had been taken by Cawbrath Klize.
Moriel hopped and miraculously managed to doge and skirt around vermin dotted here and there; she didn't want to kill them, she didn't want to kill anything ever again. There was a circle of animals in front of her, an assortment of small rats, tattooed clanbeasts, and excited looking vermin of a various degree. She couldn't hear what they were saying, but the big weasel was holding two swords, that much she could see, and one of them looked familiar.
She climbed clumsily into a tree, sticking her Snowflake in the trunk to pull herself up. She crowched on a branch and now saw over the top of the crowd. There was something black and rather defeated-looking laying on the ground, and something beside it, looking grey and grubby, like a Freebooter.
Down on the ground, Cawbrath Klize had began to strut around the fallen pair, poking at them with Martin's Sword. He began to chuckle quietly, then it grew into full fledged maniacal laughter.
"So the boy isn't dead! And he's come back to get some more!"
Treil stood up slowly, and said "I'll give as good as I got."
Klize stopped laughing, and narrowed his eyes, "What're ye on about? Wot's that mean?"
"It means that today...well, you're going to die."
"And yer the one to do it, aren't you, wid no blade?" he waved the two swords in front of him.
"Well," and in spite of the situation, Treil smirked, "You're already cowardly enough, sending out your painted henchbeasts out to do your dirty work. At least I actually fought. You only kill in the dead of night."
Cabrath Klize had stared at him dumbstruck. A deep growl rose from his throat, and he threw Martin's sword at Treil, yelling, "Yer blade is gonna be the last one you see, boy!" and the ferret launched himself at the squirrel.
Moriel suddenly felt angry; she wasn't sure now. She just knew that the black thing needed help, but she wasn't sure how, so she kept watching.
Cawbrath Klize hacked at him with both sword and claw, sword being deflected by Martin's sword, until Treil suddenly twisted it to land a deep cut into his opponent's paw. Klize roared with pain, yet still stalked closer. Mistledown hit the ground with a clatter, and that gave Treil the opportunity to run up a nearby tree.
"Coward!" the ferret began to sniff around the trees, telling his crew to find the birds to flush him out, "I'm doin' the killin' 'round here, just remember!" He stomped a couple of feet away.
Treil held onto Martin's sword. Looking at the ground through all the shadows, he saw the deep cuts made by the Clanbeast's claw in his side.
"Why don't you just throw that sword at them?" asked someone, and he turned around. With some kind of metal sticking into the tree, Moriel was holding onto it and trying to keep steady on the branch. She didn't seem to recognize him, and for the time, he thought that was best; she'd probably do something dangerous to help him.
"The only problem is, if I can't get him the first time, we'll be trapped." Treil said, trying to keep from getting too excited.
"You could use my Snowflake," she said, "I was going to help you. Besides, there's not much else you can do from up here." Moriel wondered why this newcomer didn't ask about a mouse in a tree.
A rough voice from below sounded up through the trees, "Arr, well, if'n we can't find him, let's go back to the redstone house, their defenders are out killin' some of them other idiots, it's ours for the taking!"
Moriel gasped, and said "We've got to do something!" she turned around and wrenched her Snowflake out of the treetrunk, falling out of the tree with the force and onto the path. "Hey! Somethin's just popped outta dat tree!" Quickly, the group of vermin formed again around Moriel on the path.
Klize pushed them to the side and entered the circle, shouting, and pointing Mistledown at her, "Where's the boy? See anythin' in the trees, girl?"
"I didn't see anybody." Moriel said. She was scared, but she tried not to shake, and held her weapon all the harder. "I'm certainly not trying to see you, so if you'd just get your ugly mug out my way, I can go!"
Klize was about to thrust the sword forward when Treil sprang from the trees and hacked down with the sword, landing on Klize's head and the sword sliced through the side of his face and landed on the ground. The squirrel tried to dig out his opponent's eyes, but the ferret lifted him easily and threw him on the ground next to Moriel.
Moriel threw her Snowflake at his leg and it stuck fast. He roared out, but was in no rush to kill them, seeing as neither of them had a weapon and Treil was dazed. He picked up Mistledown and held it over the pair of them, preparing to swing it in an arc through the pair, who had gone through so much to find each other just to be reunited at death's door.
Klize held that pose for a long time. He lurched forward, eyes rolled up in his head, and he fell dead, done in by a double bladed spear to the back of the head! Moriel could see Matchlin jumping up and down on the walltop, shouting "Eulaliiiiaaaaa!". The circled vermin could hear others in the forest returning cries of their own, and they panicked and tried to scatter, only to be apprehended by Redwall's defenders.
Moriel dragged Treil off to the side, as the otterclans and Guosim did their work. Soon, most of the vermin were dead, or had took off too fast for capture. Three score of them were tied and bound.
"Alright, listen you lot," said Skipper, eyes narrowed angrily, jabbing his spear at some, "You wouldn't have the brains nor the courage to hold us as slaves, but yer leader would. We're decent enough to let you scatter off o'er the plains, hills, or whichever way you choose. Mind, if ye ever show your rangey hide around Redwall again, you'll get no mercy from me!"
"Nor me," said Enprise, "What about yourself, Stallien?"
The commander took a step forward and said, "Were we at Salamandastron, Lord Ronnan would have mopped the proverbial floor with you. As y'can see, Redwallers are peaceful until attacked. Come here again, an I shall personally slay ye m'self!"
He cut the ropes with his sabre, and the vermin ran, off towards the plains, tripping up their fellows in the race to get away. Stall saw a rat try to slink off behind a tree, and his paw shot out and grabbed him.
"No, sir, I ain't did a thing!" it was Zatfur, cowering and sobbing, "I was held against me will! I just liked fishin', I was forced t'act--"
"No, sah, I think not--" began Stallien, but Treil was sufficiently recovered enough to say, "No, he's telling the truth. We both were." Maybe I'll tell them the truth about me later, If I'm allowed to stay.
Zatfur was let go of, and checked for weapons, and said, "That's right, thank ye, Treil!"
Moriel looked at him,"Treil," she whispered, "Treil! Oh, I knew it!" She threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly, shaking, "You found us, you found me, you even saved me!"
Zatfur was told by Skipper Stramdell, "Yore on probation at Redwall. One bit of trouble, and we're throwin' you back to the sea!" and Zatfur nodded.
"Yessir. An' I think it's time for us to head home."
The gates were already open, some defenders already there, cheering as the warriors returned home.
"Where's Matchlin?" asked Moriel, who hadn't let go of Treil's arm since realizing his true identity.
"Right over here!" the hare streaked across the grounds and hugged both of them, "Cripes," he said, "I was flippin' out of my mind, thinking the pair of you were going to die."
"That was brilliant, mate. Saved our lives." said Treil, and Matchlin grinned and bowed.
"Let's find the Abbot, tell him it's all over." They crossed the lawn and went into the Great Hall, who had already heard of the fight, and they crowded around Matchlin, cheering him, hailing him as a hero, and promising to make all sorts of food dishes for him.
"I'll have to get around to liberatin' people more often for that kind of respect!" he laughed. He hadn't seen Solariey, until she came up to him, said "You're a hero!" and kissed him on the cheek. He blushed, and stammered, "Well, thanks, Sol. Have you seen the Abbot today?"
"He's in Cavern Hole," and just like old time, the three friends ran the length of the Great Hall and hopped down the steps, throwing open the door.
"Is there a problem?" asked Breela, who had been reading a book to the Dibbuns.
"No, in fact, all the problems are over! The big weasel has been put out of commission by yours truly!" said Matchlin, and took a big bow.
Abbot Langen rose from his chair, "Quite serious, Matchlin? He's gone?" when all three intruders nodded confirmation, the Dibbuns cheered and ran out the door, with Breela running after them, shouting "Hold on now, scamps! We just got started with the lesson, turn your tails around right now!"
Langen was about to assist in the chase when Matchlin said, "Just a minute, your Abbotship, we've got something to tell you."
"I thought as much," he motioned for them to sit down, and looked at Treil, "I was wonder who this young fellow was."
"Well, sir...I'm Treil, and..." so Treil told the story, about the visions, the voices, Mistledown, liberating the ship, upon arriving in Mossflower, killing so many animals, everything until sitting in that very room. When he finished, Abbot Langen said nothing.
He nodded, "It must be nearly suppertime. Excuse me, I've got to give the blessing. I don't think the rest of Redwall needs to see you yet. I'll send some food down here for you." The Abbot left.
"So?" said Treil after a while, "So what?" asked Matchlin.
"So...what I've said! What I've done!" He stood up and paced the floor.
"Honestly, that sounds like a spiffin' adventure." said Moriel, "Besides the killings."
"You were just down the beach from us! We were on Salamandastron!" said Matchlin, throwing his paws into the air.
"I could have saved a lot of lives if I--" the door opened again, and the food had arrived, carried by Langen himself, "I heard what you were saying--Oh, help yourselves." he set the tray down, and the young animals began eating.
"Anyways, I heard what you were saying, Treil, and it's not your fault at all. The visions you had, while unconscious, well, they remind me very much of the visits from our warrior, Martin." He motioned to the sword , propped against the wall.
"Yes. Except you, for whatever reason, was visited by Korvus Skurr, A family of Marlfoxes, and Cluny the Scourge, some of the most infamous visitors to ever visit us. They convinced you Redwallers. had taken your very best friend, as you said. You were manipulated. If those 9 vermin were still alive today, for they were killed long, long ago-- our great-grandparents weren't even born--."
"I'd have killed them," said Treil, "and I wouldn't have to feel bad, because they're vermin, and I'm defending good creatures they could possibly come to harm!"
The Abbot blinked, "Exactly. And so, you've done nothing on your own account. You did not kill willingly. And hopefully, you've killed more bad than good." "Now, Moriel, your parents have gone with the Guosim shrews, to escort some of their injured over there. We've got to get to our chores tomorrow, one being to clean up the lawn, and I expect you up bright and early, Treil." he said, with a nod.
He looked dumbfounded, "You're not kicking me out?", and the Abbot laughed.
"Do you think I could get away with it, with these two here? Besides, you're a good fellow."
"And besides," said Moriel, smiling at Treil, "I love you." and they looked at each other for a long time.
From somewhere to her right, Matchlin gave a little "Aww" from around a mouthful of food, "Evfen if ift don' make schense."
Nearly 10 Seasons Later
That is the story as my father told it to me. My mother was off teaching the upcoming medics of Salamandastron most of the time, but she did pop in on occasion to correct my pa. He said that after Redwall had been restored to it's glory, he had come back to 'Salamandastrom, in the company of Commander Mojor Stallien, my adoptive grandpa, who was happy to see his old friend, Lord Ronnan. Stall's older now, but he's still better on foot patrol than half of the upstartly new recruits! Uncle Troff went with them as well, back to his home in the dunes. They came back, after my parents married, enlisted in the Long Patrol, 2 seasons after I came along, happy to see Abbot Langen and, o'course Moriel and Treil, who were teaching folks an' folkesses older than I an' younger than them to do flips and tricks while ringing the big bells. We didn't get out of Mossflower before running into a vermin band, he says. Why, those blighters had a wee hedgehog an' squirrel tied up. Gramps, he said, knew them as the vermin who had attacked Redwall, an' slew them withought a second thought. "Kept good on my promise." He said. Of course, my mother at the time was too upset, holding me tightly. My father was just upset he didn't get to help defend Mossflower, "You're time's coming," Said Stallien, "You've got seasons and seasons ahead o'you." They took the little mites to Redwall, an' when Moriel opened the door, the little hedgehog ran at her and said, "Mine!" The young squirrel said, "He does that, can we stay with you?" Ever then, Matronik and Trattin have been my cousins. All they knew is that they had each other since forever, until my aunt and (another!) uncle adopted them. My mum says it's time for supper, now, and that we can't keep old Lord Ronnan waiting too long, let alone 300 hungry hares. It's another season until I can join the Long Patrol, and I wonder what there is to do. Be a warrior, like my pa, or a healer, like my ma, eh?" Who says I can't do both, wot wot? I think I'm up for it!
I've got to rewrite this entire thing again, so McCalenth can take one to Redwall!
Brattagories Scaut Windinshire, Daughter of Matchlin and Solariey