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The land of Mossflower shimmered in the midmorning sun. The trees were dyed a transparent green and the sky was as blue and pink as a harebell and speedwell flower. The beauty of the woods were lost on one creature who was half-dead in exhaustion. The haremaid fell to the ground and struggled to pick herself up again. Her eyes were cloudy and unfocused, great wounds traveled down her back. Her name was Belle of Salamandastron.
Meanwhile, in Redwall Abbey, the creatures were just beginning to stir. Old Abbot Cornelius, the oldest resident in Redwall since Cregga Rose Eyes and Methuselah ambled slowly down the red stone steps of his beloved Abbey. He was a kindly creature with light golden fur and milky blue eyes. He had lost his vision due to a battle and in his youth he was referred to as “Bright Eyes the Warrior.” Alas, that was a long time ago and he was now the thin, old Father Abbot of Redwall. He wandered into the kitchens for breakfast. The chubby otter cook, Mother Babblebrook, smiled and welcomed him.
“’Ello Father Abbot, yore lookin’ well today,” the good ottermum said with a cheerful smile. Cornelius smiled back warmly.
“Good morning Mother Babblebrook.”
“Oney oatmeal an’ mint tea for brekkist today, Father.” She said serving the Father Abbot his breakfast. He smiled at the otter lady in gratitude.
“Thank you Mother. Oh and if you see Starlight, tell her I need to see her.” He said taking his bowl and spoon to he Great Hall. Mother Babblebrook nodded.
“Aye, I’ll do just that.” The ottermum got back to her cooking.
Starlight was a young mousemaid with dark fur and unusual bright eyes. She wore a simple yellow Abbey dress and was usually found singing to herself. She paused at the Abbey pond and stared into the beautiful blue clear water. She dipped her footpaws in and sighed quietly. Suddenly she heard a noise. She giggled and could tell who the creature was before he could approach.
“I see you Andre, that’s not funny.” She said out loud. Andre the squirrel sighed in exasperation. He sat down next to his friend and cooled his footpaws in the cool water. Star smiled at him as he splashed her with water.
“Nobeast could ever sneak up on you, eh Star?” He said in his thick brogue. Star nodded.
“I guess not. What are you doing out here?” She asked him swishing her paws in the water. The large lean squirrel shrugged.
“Went oot in the woodlands today. Ah ran into Log-a-Log and his shrews. They reckon they’ve foond somethin’ in the woods. It don’t look too guid.” Star watched her friend look up as the Matthias and Methuselah bells tolled out the visitor warning. Andre winked at his friend. “See wot ah mean, lassie?” He grinned cheekily and took off like a rocket. Star chased after her Highland friend.
“Wait up, you great Dibbun or I’ll sick Mother Brawnrose on you!” Both creatures stood at the wall overlooking Mossflower Woods. Andre peered down at the marching band of shrews. Log-a-Log stood in front carrying a wounded beast. Star too, noticed the bloodied bundle and ran to get Mother Brawnrose and Abbot Cornelius. Andre stood at the walltop and greeted the shrew.
“ Hey Log-a-Log! Bringin’ in guests ah see, well hold yore horses laddie, we’ll send somebeast doon in a minute. Hoi, Archie! Let the creature in! He’s got an injured beast!” Archie the Gatekeeper was a young and shy fieldmouse. He only let Log-a-Log into the stone sanctuary while his regiment waited outside. Mother Brawnrose the Badger Mother and Father Abbot Cornelius let the shrew chieftain into the sickbay where the shrew lay down his bundle. It was a pretty haremaid covered in wounds and dried blood. She was barely breathing. Quickly, the Father Abbot got the Infirmary Brother Arik Streamflow into the room. Arik was a middle seasoned otter that was kindly and wise. He was also rather strong, but he was gentle and wouldn’t harm anybeast. He looked over the unconscious haremaid. His gentle paws washed all the dried blood away from the snow-white hare. He turned to the Abbot.
“This maid is going to be needing rest. Leave this to me Father Abbot, I’ll get her well again.” The good Brother said in his gentle voice. Starlight came to the good Father Abbot and tried to look into the room.
“Will she be alright?” Star asked the old mouse.
“Of course she will, pretty one. Brother Arik is taking care of her right now. Thank the seasons she didn’t perish. That was a very grown up thing for you to do.” He said kindly. Mother Brawnrose nodded.
“Yes, my dear you did a good job coming to us first. Excuse me one moment. Erry and Terry! Where are you going with those berries?” The baby twin mice giggled and stored the berries behind their backs.
“We not going anywhere wif nufink Muvva Ba rose.” Terry said winking at his twin. Erry had to cover his mouth to keep himself from laughing. Mother Brawnrose hid a smile as the two-troublemaking mice stared solemnly up at her. The Badgermum shooed the babes outside. A large burly otter entered the sickbay. He stifled laughs from the sight of the terrible twins walking paw in paw outside. Mother Brawnrose and Abbot Cornelius made him welcome.
“Ah, Skipper. It’s good to see you again.” The Abbot said shaking the otter’s paw. The large otter hid his surprise at Cornelius’s immediate recognition of him.
“Good morning Father Abbot.” He said tiredly. The good Abbot turned to Meg Rosie Sorrel, Arik’s pretty niece and his ward.
“Will you go and ask Mother Babblebrook for some cool mint tea please?” The ottermaid nodded and walked down to the kitchens. The Abbot turned to Skipper.
“Any news on the woodlands, Skip?” He asked. The otter shook his head.
“Nothing but water rats roam the lands these days. Other then that, nothing much.” Meg’s knock interrupted their conversation. “Come in,” the Skipper said. The shy maid entered the room with beakers of tea and a steaming bowl of soup.
“Watershrimp and hotroot soup for you Skip.” She said smiling shyly. Skipper took the bowl with a smile and a wink.
“Thanks beauty, yore doin’ me a favor there.” He sipped the soup slowly as the Abbot turned to the unconscious haremaid lying on the sickbed.
“We should try to take good care of our anonymous maid here. Arik, tell me when she awakes. We should all start our chores now.” They all left the hare and the two otters to deal with each other.
Far away from Mossflower, perched the Mighty Alitta the Strong. He was a huge muscular black panther with glowing dark amber eyes. His coat was all black from tail to nosetip. He wore a ripped kilt made from his brother’s orange and black fur with the skulls of many aspiring warlords hanging by spider web silk. He was the fiercest warrior in the whole lands. He had a horde of wildcats, ferrets, rats, stoats, ermine, and twin foxes at his back. He and his mighty horde, the Deathsong had come for slaves and plunder. Alitta’s green eyes blazed as he pawed the keen edge of his mighty broadsword. One of the fox twins, a small fine-featured female approached the silent warlord. His eyes flicked to the fox.
“Yes?” He said in a deep and silky voice. The fox bowed low.
“Mighty Alitta, I bring news from our spies. There is a place up ahead one called Redwall. There are creatures there that cannot fight as well as us. It is located just north of this woodland.” The panther nodded and smiled. His milk white fangs rested on the top of his bottom lip.
“Very good, my strong right paw. We will land in two hours time. Ready the prisoner.” The vixen bowed and alerted the rat captains. Before she could they noticed a ship in the horizon. An eagle call sounded. The panther drew his sword. He glared at the horizon. “Ready the horde!” He roared.
The young badger was tied to the galley. His eyes blazed as he tried to rip away from the bonds that held him to the ship. He snapped at the rats that prodded him and jeered at him. It was torture to the badger. Just then, the rats were called up the stairs. A raid was happening on deck! The rats scrambled up to the deck. A wild eagle call sounded and the badger struggled to get free. A rat ran by him and the badger’s paw shot out and he growled into the rat’s face.
“What’s going on up there?” He said baring his teeth. The rat looked terrified as he explained the situation.
“The pirates are here! The Wildcalls are here!” The badger squeezed the rat tightly.
“Who are they?” He growled. A slingstone silenced the rat as a dashing figure of a captain arrived. His eyes were arm and kind; he approached the badger and chopped the bonds on his wrists.
“Did a lot of damage to ye, didn’t they? Well don’t worry, I’ve got you now.” The creature appeared to be a squirrel of some sorts. He winked at the badger. “My name’s Captain Marek of the Wildcalls!”
Marek's Sea Farin' Adventure
The badger stared blankly at the imposing captain. He was a tall willowy squirrel with furry skin flaps under his arms. His eyes were dark brown, cheerful and friendly. He was dark brown, nearly black, and wore a long overcoat with a cap and eagle feather. He opened the door and ran straight into the falling bodies of vermin yelling “Wildcaaaaaaaaaaaalls!” He pulled out his dual slings and thwacked left and right. The badger rushed into the midst of the fighting and took out most of the stoats. He ripped and tore, his vision failed as the frightening Bloodwrath took over the young badger. The squirrel captain let out his war cry and ran headfirst at Alitta. The panther glared daggers at his hated enemy. He charged at the squirrel pirate but a raging badger rammed him. The young creature bit at the warlord savagely. The panther hacked away at the badger’s scarred hide, but found him to be far too powerful. Captain Marek turned to his new friend and pulled him off the warlord. He took a running jump and glided towards a circling eagle.
"Krrrrrrrreeeeeeeeearrrrrrrrkkkk!" She yelled. The Captain grabbed hold of her lethal talons and held onto the young badger's powerful torso as all three headed towards the captain's ship, Fearless Avian. By the time the valiant captain's footpaws hit the ship deck, the badger was out cold. He woke to the sight of a large female eagle with savage olive green eyes. She was black with white chest plumage along with a cruel hooked black beak and black feet with curved talons. She stared down the young badger until the squirrel captain reappeared.
"Glad to see yore alive matey. I wouldn't want to have ye tossed out o' me ship without so much as a by yore leave!" He said with a chuckle. The young badger managed a rare smile.
"My thanks to you, Captain Marek. I owe my life to you and that fine bird of yours." The Captain looked at the bird.
"Oh aye, this is me shipmate Eva Longbeak from Salamandastron." The young badger jolted up.
"You mean the mountain home of the Badger Lords and the Long Patrol? Great seasons of slaughter, I'd give anything to see that mountain fortress." He said sitting down heavily. The eagle shook her head.
"Nay, we must journey to the Abbey of red walls, you are an injured beast. Soon shall you see the great rock, but not now." The badger's dark eyes lit up. The Abbey of Redwall was always a good place to go.
"By the way, my name is Snowpeak." He said to both squirrel and eagle. The captain winked at him.
"Thanks for tellin' me. I'll alert ye when we're close to the Mossflower region." Without another word, the brave squirrel warrior left.
The Long Patrol's Journey
Far from the Great Sea and Mossflower Woodlands was the giant mountain of Salamandastron home to the Badger Lords and the Long Patrol Hares. The hares were gathered in the mess for supper.
"Oh I say, cookie old thing! This is absoballylutely the best summer salad I've tasted in a long time!"
"Rather! Absolute prime tucker, wot wot?"
"Call me cookie again and I'll serve your scuts for tea! I say! Private Ripscut! Kindly stop tossin' the scoff around or I'll make Private soup out of ye and send some to yore mamma!" Far above the always rowdy mess was the forge room. Inside the forge room was a tall solid badger lord. He was black and white around the muzzle, back, and chest with a gray stripe running down his back. His name was Lord Whitemask the Fearless. His large paws worked with the large broadsword "Ghost." He stepped away from the hot coals and stared out the window as he was bound to do after forging a weapon. His light brown eyes rested on the sea below him. He smiled slightly. His Runner was making her tenth run around the paths. He jumped slightly as a knock came at the door. A fine military voice sounded at the door.
"Permission to enter milud?" The feminine voice sounded. Lord Whitemask stood and let the hare in. She was a tall maid with a saber swinging at her side.
"Ah, Sergeant Glensabre Columbine Basil Agnes Stag Hare, what news do you bring for me?" The pretty hare was the spitting image of her great, great, great, great, great, great grandsire Basil Stag Hare. She came to a smart salute.
"Spotted some sea vermin on the coasts a few days back milord. The platoon took care of 'em though. Nothing to worry about." The Badger Lord stared back at her.
"Any news concerning the Deathsong?" He asked turning back to the sea. The Sergeant shook her head.
"Not a bally whiskah of the vermin, Lord. Mighty Alitta hasn't shown his ugly mug in a few seasons." The Badger Lord growled at the mention of the warlord's name.
"He's biding his time, I know him." The badger growled. Glensabre cleared her throat nervously.
"Perhaps I could send a Patrol down to Redwall Abbey and protect it. If any vermin were to raid, they would try there first." She said offering some of her logic. The Badger Lord turned to her and smiled.
"That is a brilliant idea. First light tomorrow, you and and your patrol march to Rewall Abbey!" The Sergeant saluted and exited the forge. The Badger Lord closed his eyes and fell asleep. In his dreams a mouse in armor came to see him. His kind eyes radiated safety and strength.
"Watch for a mountain, he who comes with the Gliding One. Only when he quests for red, the battle shall be won."
Whitemask had no account of his dream the next day.
Sergeant Glensabre and her patrol were led by Brig Wontoo. He was a large boxing hare and the brother of Wonwill. He turned to the regiment. Fresh faces looked back at him at full attention.
"So me blushin' beauties, we are bound for the Abbey of Rewall! I want yore paws hittin' the dust double time and no whinin' the rest of ye beautiful dreamers have a brisk bally walk! Now, we head for the Abbey! Forward the Buffs, wot? MARCH!" The hares stepped out and marched quickly to drumbeats. Seventeen lusty voices sang out in a marching song. The Patrol had moved out!
The Maid's Tale
Belle awoke to Erry and Terry the twin mice were peering down at her. She smiled tiredly.
"So little ones, what can I do for you?" She asked sitting up. The two babes grinned identically at her.
"Moring marm!" They chorused.
"So! What are you little terrors called?" She asked with a wink.
"I'm Terry and this here is my brother Erry. We're twins!" Terry explained to the maid.
"It's nice to meet you, I'm Belle. I come from Salamandastron." The twins looked at her in confusion.
"It's a large mountain where hares and badgers live. The Long Patrol reign there along with a Badger Lord named Lord Whitemask." The two mice were intrigued.
"Wot 'appened to you marm?" Erry asked. Belle sighed.
"That, young 'un, is a very long story." The mice jumped up onto the sickbed to listen to the maid's tale.
"I was patrolling with my platoon as a medic. We were patrolling the shores of the Squirrelking and Drayqueen groves and we were ambushed. A whole horde of vermin. One of them was called Alitta. He was a huge cat with blazing eyes. He attacked our platoon. We gave it all we got, but he got...he got Captain Clayblade. She died right in front of me. I rushed at him, and he must have injured me. I only remember passing out and waking up here." The maid's eyes grew sad and haunted. She shuddered slightly. The twins sat on either side of Belle and rested against her sides.
"Don' worry marm, you'll be safe here! No one's gonna get you."
"Yeah, marm, we'll protect you." The maid smiled at the babes as they soothed her fears. They were good little babes. Arik the medic came into the room to see the maid siting up with the twins. He smiled at her warmly.
"Welcome to Redwall Abbey miss. Can I get you anything?" The hare nodded.
"A cup of tea would be lovely, and possibly some candied chestnuts for the babes." The twins grinned up at the kind hare. Arik nodded and scampered off to the kitchens. He arrived moments later with Cornelius, Mother Brawnrose, Starlight, Andre, and the Redwall Recorder Old Blackspike. He was an old large, portly, hedgehog with black headspikes. He took a quill in paw as Belle recited her story to the Elders. The Father Abbot felt a heavy sadness as the maid tried to fight her tears when telling her story. When her tale was finished, the Father Abbot gave her a level stare.
"What is this Alitta beast? He wouldn't come to Redwall would he?" Belle nodded severely.
"He would. Mighty Alitta the Strong is a black panther from the far North. He would kill any creature out of spite. I think he is headed for your Abbey. I can feel it." Starlight the mousemaid spoke out.
"Then we will do as we always have done in time of trouble. We will fight back and resist the evil that is this warlord." The Father Abbot looked in wonder at the mousemaid's determined eyes.
"Thank you Starlight, that's exactly what we'll do." When the gathering in the sickbay was finished, Star walked into the Great Hall. She fixed her stare on the pride and joy of Redwall, the tapestry. Her eyes rested on a heroic figure woven in the threads. A mouse in full armor leaned on a beautiful, but deadly sword. His face was fearless and handsome with kind but brave dark green eyes.
"Oh Martin, please don't let that warlord come here. Please help us." Was it her imagination, or did Martin just nod and smile at her? Star walked slowly up the stairs and into her dorm. She had a strange dream. Martin had come to her. She stared wordlessly into the kind eyes.
"Starlight, you mustn't worry about the panther. Just rest here and stay with me for a while." The voice was strong and clear like a bell's silver tongue hitting the side of the golden brass in a soothing rhythm. She slept better than any of the babes that night.
A New Enemy
The high sun shone down like a golden doubloon on a bed of blue silk. A vast ship with a large red wolf at the helm cut through the waters. His name was Ossur the Merciless. He was the largest creature that any in Mossflower had encountered called a bloodwolf. Rumor had it that he used to be white, but he dyed his fur red in his enemies' blood thus adding to his nickname, Bloodcoat. His neon green eyes blazed as he scanned the shores. He had a small horde at his back, though he needed none of them. He was as powerful as Gulo the Savage and more cunning then Cluny the Scourge. His paw gripped a large pike that four badgers couldn't carry. He wore a long tattered black cloak with a blackened skull for a helmet. It was the head of Adelb the Tiger, Alitta's brother. He squinted at the shore, a new territory to be conquered! The warlord's eyes blazed with anticipation. He would soon be at the shores and change Redwall forever.
Far away from where Ossur docked, Marek jumped off his ship and gestured for Snowpeak and Eva to follow. The trio walked through the woodlands until they heard the shouts of vermin. Marek bared his teeth and ran off into the fighting shouting his war cry.
"Wildcaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalls!" He charged into the horde of vermin and took out most of the vermin. One ferret, obviously the leader, had a smaller built squirrel by the scruff of his neck. He snapped at his bully and pulled out his stave. he thwacked the bully a good one between the tattered ears. The vermin fell heavily to the ground. The Captain took the ferret bully by his ears and hauled him up.
"Listen to me. You'll get out o' this woodlands or I'll gut ye, so I will. I'm going to give ye til three to get yore sorry tail out o' me sight! One...two...THREE!" He kicked the ferret in the bottom and the bully ran back as fast as he could. Marek turned to Snowpeak and Eva who only arrived just in time to see Marek threaten the ferret. He smiled warmly. "Well mateys, I'd have to say that's a grand start to an adventure." He stared at the victim of the bullying ferret. His fur was scraggly and long. Silver scars traced his lean sinewy body. The squirrel smiled at Marek and made paw gestures to communicate. Snowpeak realized he was mute and explained this to the Captain.
"He can't speak. I'll translate for you so we can learn about him." The trio looked at the rough and rugged squirrel who started explaining.
I'm called Beo Leafblade. I am an outlaw who escaped from Ossur the Merciless and his small horde. Don't let the size of the horde fool you. The Bloodcoat is very dangerous himself. He's slain three Badger Lords in one swipe. All that aside, I am here to warn the Abbey of Redwall that he's coming. Mighty Alitta the Strong is also on his way, and we must act in haste! Please, can you direct me to the Abbey. I am certain they would help us slay both panther and bloodwolf.
Both sailors looked at each other. Marek turned back to Leafblade.
"Why are you so keen on destroying them?" He asked. The squirrel's dark eyes grew hard and cold like twin orbs of ice.
They killed my mate Selma and our little one. I'd give anything on seeing those two vermin dead for killing my family. See, the bloodwolf is a traitor. He used to serve the family of King Uar the Bloodied. The king was not as ruthless as his two sons Alitta and Adelb. The wolf wanted to rule the kingdom and killed old King Uar. Alitta in turn, slew his brother, so he could rule the kingdom, the two fought over it ever since and set about conquering the most land. They've taken everything back. Sampetra, Holt Lutra, Green Isle, Malkariss, Southsward, Peace Isle, Riftguard, even Fort Bladegirt. They are currantly fighting over Redwall and Salamandastron, though I think that with your help, they won't conquer anything , but Dark Forest!
Marek, Eva, and Snowpeak nodded severely.
"Well 'tis yore lucky day Beo Leafblade. We're bound for Redwall ourselves!" The squirrel's eyes got a steely glint.
Good, then we travel as friends. Woe betide to any vermin who dare attack the Abbey!
In case you haven't noticed, Beo's dialogue is written in italics because he's mute and using sign language. Snowpeak is translating for us. Good old Snowpeak.
Down in the river waters the seavermin arrived via Bloodwolf's ship. They docked and came ashore, beady eyes scoured the lands where good plunder and slaves awaited them. They didn't see two pairs of eyes watching them. Two otters watched in the shelter of the waters. Quiyn and Creed watched the vermin as they noisily made camp. The two otter friends looked at each other. Quiyn was a smallish otter with blue eyes and reddish brown fur. He was small in build and used a dagger for sighting. Creed was more compact than his companion. He was strong and tall with a friendly face and a light easy going manner. He carried a bow and a sling. He had dark brown almost black fur. His cheerful light gray-blue eyes scanned the shores while the vermin let their leader come ashore. Both otters were astounded at the size of the huge wolf.
"Wot do ye make of it Creed?" The smaller otter asked the taller one. Creed's normally handsome and friendly features darkened with a scowl.
"He's a cruel one, Quiyn. We shuid get back to the holt." He said in a thick brogue. It was unusual for an otter to grow up in the far North shores, but Creed did and had the accent to prove it. Both otters left noiselessly as the Bloodwolf patrolled the lands. Quiyn and Creed both were Skippers of the a clan of otters. The little ones dashed to Creed (who was a favorite among the babes) and tackled him. Quiyn's wife Alec scolded the little ones as they wrestled with Creed.
"Now you babes leave Mister Creed alone. He is tired and needs his rest."
"I'm no' tired marm, I doan't mind if they climb on me." he said grinning cheekily up at her. Alexas shook her paw at him.
"These babes need their rest Creed. Okay little ones! Time for bed!" Alexas shooed the little ones to bed. Quiyn took Creed aside and whispered:
"Look mate, I'm going to go keep an eye on the vermin for a while. I'm countin' on ye to protect the holt, okay Creed?" The sinewy otter smiled cheerfully.
"Aye mate, ye go an' do wotever it is ye need tae do. I'll stay right here!" _______
Quiyn watched the vermin all night. Was it just his imagination, or were there fewer vermin, and where was the wolf? He sat for a long while until his eyelids drooped. A mouse in armor appeared to him.
Quiyn, your friends are in danger! Go to them! Quiyn leaped to his footpaws and ran like a bat out of hell to his holt. He was too late. The bodies of young creatures and his own wife littered the cave floor. All the little 'uns were gone...dead. Where was Creedy? Quiyn ran past the bodies of slain otters and found his friend lying face down. Quiyn nearly sputtered with anger.
"CREED, I TOLD YOU TO WATCH THE HOLT!" He screamed. He pulled Creed onto his back and he was met with a gaping wound in the otter's chest. Quiyn cradled his friend's head in his paws. "Creed I'm so sorry mate. Ye did all ye could matey, I'm so sorry." Creed then took a shaky breath.
"Quiyn...get some herbs...I doan't have very much time left.." He said slowly. Quiyn ran into the cave and pulled out as many herbs as he could find. He bound up his friend as best as he could and pulled a blanket over his body. Creed slept through the night leaving his friend to grieve and bury the rest of the holt.
Creed woke the next day, feeling much better. He sat up and blinked sleep from his eyes. e stretched.
"I tell ye mate. Yore a better otter fixer than Rukkey Garge herself." He said standing up and putting on a false bravado. He tried to be cheerful, but he was hurting just like Quiyn, both physically and mentally. Both beasts built a monument to the holt and left. "Where we goin' now mate?" Creed asked his friend. Quiyn stared at his paws.
"Redwall Abbey, where else?"
The Wounded Regiment
When in doubt, trust an eagle was the first lesson of traveling Snowpeak learned from Captain Marek. Eva's fierce eyes and uncanny sense of direction let the four creatures avoid a swamp, some local River Rats were not so lucky.
"Ew, that's a dead 'un all right there matey," Marek said poking the drowned rat carcass with a long stick. Snowpeak studied the smelly bloated carcass intently.
"Aye, he's dead sure enough, thanks for helping us avoid this spot Eva." Snowpeak said to the bird. She clacked her beak approvingly and shot into the sky. Beo Leafblade hurried along the path.
Hurry friends, i think I see River Moss up ahead! He was right and along that river were the Guosim shrews as well. The usually angry little fiends were strangely quiet. They all gazed downriver as if in some sort of trance. The badger, eagle and both squirrels hurried to see what they were looking at. They all paused in horror. A whole troop of seventeen hares were lying in the water meadows up ahead. Marek took of his tricorn hat mournfully.
"Oh those poor hares!" Hurriedly, the Guosim paddled quickly to the scene with the friends on the bank chasing them. Only one of the hares was alive. She looked tired and blood ran down her blue tunic.
"Watch...for...the Red One..." She murmured softly. Snowpeak lifted her to his back and the Guosim looked back to their Log-a-Log.
"Search for survivors and if anybeast sights the Bloodcoat, call out the warcry." He said impassively. He turned to see the four beasts on the bank in shock of what they had found. "Not a pretty sight, ain't it mates?" He said sadly. Snowpeak elected himself spokesbeast for the others.
"Aye, so the Bloodwolf did this?" He asked. The shrew nodded.
"Seems like it, and it looks as if he's headed the same was as Alitta. We just came from the Abbey after delivering another wounded hare to the gates. Wonder wot they'll say when we bring another 'un in!"
"Sweet Dreams Are Made Of These"
The Dibbuns of Redwall Abbey were confronted with a problem. Where in the name of fur and scut were the candied chestnuts? Brother Arik usually kept a healthy jar full for the little terrors. A squirrelmaid named Frell turned to her companions Erry and Terry the twin mouse pestilence.
"Where are the candies?" The wee maid thought aloud. The twins shrugged and sat on the bed.
"Ouch!" They had accidently sat on Belle of Salamandastron. "Hello again you two, well you're a new face, what's your name little one?" Belle said, holding out her paw to the small squirrelmaid. Frell gave a huge grin and shook the hare's paw.
"Hello ma'am! I'm little Frell. My mama and papa used to live at the Abbey, but they had no time for babies so I was raised by a nice squirrel named Andre." The little pretty squirrel said. The hare stroked Frell's velvety ears.
"I'm very sorry to hear that, Frell," the haremaid said kindly. She stood up and walked with the Dibbun band down to Great Hall. They sat at the table as the Abbot looked at them in welcome.
"Well, good morning my little Dibbuns and you too, Belle. Are you feeling any better today?" He said as he spooned oatmeal with the quiet dignity of a Father Abbot. Belle nodded sagely at the blind mouse.
"Much better thank you Father. Do you need any help with chores? I'm rather good at helping." The maid offered. The good Father Abbot thought awhile.
"Perhaps you could help me by helping out Starlight and Andre keep a look out for that panther you mentioned." The hare nodded and went to the battlements with the Dibbuns following in pursuit of the charismatic haremaiden. Mother Brawnrose caught them up in her huge paws.
"Oho, not you three terrors. Come on, I'll let you help me bake a raspberry pudding." The wee babes whooped for joy.
"Raspberry cream pudden! Hooray! Redwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaall!" They all charged down to the kitchens with Mother Brawnrose in hot pursuit.
"Slow down you three terrors, don't run over Skipper's niece!" The Abbot laughed as he heard the squeaking and laughter of the elders and Dibbuns in the kitchens.
"Sometimes I think the sweetest dreams were made for days like these." He chuckled warmly.
Alitta and Bloodwolf
Alitta sat on the banks, feasting on the remains of a vole family. He sighed peacefully. The place he had landed at was a place of plenty and warmth. They were far different than his hot and muggy home back in the jungles of far away and long ago. His thoughts were interrupted by the fine-featured vixen, he had spoken to earlier.
"Ah, my strong right paw, how are you foraging so far? Have you found me another tender young family like this one?" He asked in a secretive whisper, licking his bloodied chops. The vixen shook her head. She was named Rosebrush the Healer. She was a beautiful red fox with unusual pearl-gray eyes. They were never bright when she looked at the panther. Her delicate features masked her smoldering hatred for the bloodthirsty Warlord. She was a vixen, but she was raised to be a gentle healer that others looked to for guidance and wisdom. Her family was slaughtered by the awful panther, and he had blackmailed her and her brother into joining his horde. She'd never get used to it. She hated watching otherbeasts suffer for her sake and her brother's, but there was nothing she could do. She replied to him in her hated fawning voice.
"I have not, great one. But my sources tell me that we are close to the Abbey of Redwall. I am certain that if we rest here for the night, we may make it there by morning. I also bring bad news." Alitta stared at her in confusion.
"Very well, what is the bad news?" Rosebrush tried hard to keep the fear out of her voice.
"I am afraid that the Bloodwolf has followed us here. My surces tell me that he too, is questing for the Abbey. He also plans to capture Salamadastron." Alitta's wild eyes glittered with such malice that even Gulo the Savage would have winced and shuddered.
"Ossur is here is he? Well, all the better for me. Mark me fox, ever since that blood-crazed atrocity came to my lands he's been naught but a bother to me. When we meet up with him I will challenge him to the death and take what is mine!" Rosebrush nodded and slinked away, careful to avoid the panther when his mood swings occurred. She sighed to herself as she laid down among an elm. How could she, of all creatures betray the greatest place ever that ever existed among the world to this horrible panther? Ever since she was a little cub, she heard tales of the place. She longed to be a healer and join the Order, but she had to cast those thoughts away. She was a fox. They did not trust her kind, not that she blamed them. Foxes were traitorous and treacherous creatures when they were the nasty type her brother was turning out to be. But would her kind heart allow her to sacrifice the Abbey to save her own skin? Not if she could help it! But what was she to do? If she deserted, she would be killed for sure, but on the other paw she would save innocent lives. Would the woodlanders believe her if she told them a cat bigger than Tsarmina herself was on the prowl in their precious woods? She doubted it. Her mind soon grew hazy and she closed her weary eyes.
She was met with a strange sight. A mouse clad in armor and bearing a beautiful sword was standing in front of her, wreathed in a golden light. He drew his weapon and handed it, red pommel stone first to her. Rosebrush reached for the weapon and pushed it back into his paws. He looked at her, his brave eyes astonished at her deed. She bowed her head low.
"Great warrior, it is not the trade of a healer to carry a weapon, wonderous as your swoord may be. I cannot break the code of healer foxes." Suddenly, the mouse smiled at her.
"Rosebrush, you have a kind heart. Do not fear the wrath of the panther. His time will come one day, but not now. Listen to me, I am Martin the Warrior, the guiding spirit of Redwall. If you wish to help my Abbey in this time of danger, you must go to the mountain of Salamandastron. Once there, you will encounter two creatures who are questing for the Abbey as well. Explain to them that I have visited you and tell them to be weary of the panther. They will take you to the Abbey. I cannot tell you what will happen." Here, he winked at her. "Be careful, my friend and good fortune be with you." Rose brush nodded and she awoke to darkness. She knew her true calling now. Buckling on her herbs, she drew her dagger that was given to her by her mother. She flung it into the swamp.
"Now the panther will not bother to look for me," she thought aloud. She was about to leave when a hefty paw grabbed her shoulder.
"Goin' somewheres, sister?" Her brother's voice hissed. Rosebrush turned to face him. Her eyes looked into his and she nodded.
"Aye, brother. I am leaving the horde." He narrowed his eyes at her.
"I allus said you was soft. So you think ye can just leave me 'ere, eh? Well think again. You leave and the panther will kill me. Ye don't want yore own brother's blood on yore paws, do ye?" Rosebrush sighed. He was right, if she faked her death, her brother would be punished for not stopping her. She looked up at him, eyes earnest and kind.
"Come with me." She whispered. Her brother stiffened.
"Come with me. Leave the horde, brother. Do what's right for once in your life. make your own choices! Alitta cannot harm you if you journey with me." Her brother's eyes ast down and he shuffled his paws awkwardly.
"I carn't do that. He'd find out, track me, and kill me. I made my choice when he killed our family. It's time for ye to make yores!" Rosebrush sighed long and sad.
"I have, brother. I am leaving and you cannot stop me." She turned to go, but her brother drew a knife.
"You don't leave this horde til yore dead!" He swung his dagger at her, but being a healer had it's advantages. Rosebrush grabbed the dagger from him and thrust it into her brother. he coughed once, his eyes clouded and he fell heavily. Her eyes filled with tears as she closed them.
"I wish you hadn't made me do that, my brother." She dragged him to the swamp and deposited him there along with his dagger. She sighed shakily, wiped her eyes and left. Tearful, but determined, she left the horde without a backward glance.