The Saga of Fae Bow Song
Book One: Bowsong and Redwall
The woodlands during a storm were not a place for a squirrelmaid to be, as Fae Bowsong found out while scurrying through the damp clumps of leaves in the swirling wind. She leaped gracefully from bough to bough, searching for a place to land up and stay for the night. Her keen pale blue eyes soon picked out a hiding space in the hollow of a nearby elm. Sliding in, she lay upon the dry leaves packed inside and peeked out, watching for the bird of prey who was chasing her. The frustrated screech of a falcon greeted her long ears as she ducked down and attached an arrow to the bow she carried. The big bird landed right outside the hollow, gripping the sturdy branch and his wild eyes searched through the rain for his wily and agile prey.
- "Krrrraaark! Where treemouse be hiding? I not see her anywhere! Find her I will, and slay her! She will make a fine lunch for mate and eggchicks!" He clacked his beak and kept muttering to himself about feeding his family and how tasty the squirrelmaid would be if he could find her again. Standing up clearly in view the maid got the hunter's attention.
- "Over here featherbum!" The hawk turned and took an arrow to the breast feathers. He fell heavily to the ground and Fae blew up sharply. "That'll teach you to frighten me like that! Imagine if I wanted to catch you for my lunch, fur forbid the day." Fae went back into her hollow and sat with her back against the wood. She shook herself free of water, her slightly curled headfur long and dark brown almost black, not like the lighter fur that covered her body. She wrung water out of her headfur and bound it out of her way with a woven band she made. She straightened out her yellow tunic and adjusted the bow and arrows she carried. Her eyes sparkled as she examined the weapons. They had belonged to her ancestor Samkim the Warrior. Her family had passed them down for generations to come and she was the one to own them and use them. She was always a wild one, her father often said with a fond smile on his whiskered face. Fae was wild even as a Dibbun. Her late nights out and reckless behavior caused a rift with her and her mother, but not so her father. He admired her tenacity and boldness and taught her the ways of archery much to her mother's dismay.
- "Don't encourage her, Ashtwine. She's trouble enough unarmed!" Fae laughed a bit then she felt sad. It wasn't fair that she was the one who had to leave. After her father had taught her archery, he died in a great war between her creatures and a crew of sea vermin led by a villainous fox they called Zyro the Masked One. She shuddered as she thought about that terrible name. He was renowned as cruel and pitiless. He was a great foe in her lands. Things between the vermin and the squirrels had gotten so bad that most of their young ones had to leave. Fae sighed irately. She had wanted to stay and fight, but her mother had told her she was far too young and sent her off to Mossflower Woods. The maid had left in anger at her helpless situation, but after a while she cooled down. She remembered that there was an Abbey somewhere in Mossflower, an Abbey called Redwall. She heard great tales of the place and the creatures who lived there, so she made the Abbey her first stop in her travels. That was before the falcon found her of course. Fae watched the rain gloomily and shut her eyes. On the morrow, she'd go to the Abbey, but now she needed rest. Taking out falcons was rather tiresome if one didn't do it often enough.
Seatide the otter was out gathering his daily herbs and plants for the Abbey of Redwall. The sea otter got out a lot more often than the river otter elders did and he was a rock of good sense, so naturally, he got to explore the woods quite often. He checked his list and basket as he made his rounds in the woods.
- "Hmm, let me see now...wot else did the Sister want...spleenwort, wintergreen, angelica shoots, some green moss, bluebells...wonder wot ye can cure with bluebells? Ah well, she requested it, so I suppose it's my duty to get it. Mebbe I kin pick up some 'otroot on the way." The sea otter searched along the sides of the path for bluebell flowers. He didn't spot any to his disappointment. "No signs o' bluebells. Must not be growin' time for the liddle blossoms." He made his way down the path when the carcass of a falcon caught his quick eye. He was cautious around the bird and he reached for a stave he brought with him and poked it.
- "That's one dead bird," the otter thought as he examined the body. He removed the arrow skillfully and examined that too. "Wot creature shot this'n?" he wondered aloud. Just then, he thought he saw the brush of a squirrel. "Hello?" He called out. No answer. He spread his paws and tried again. "Look I don't mean any, harm. I'm just an otter from Redwall, if ye be a friend come on down." He lowered his voice to a mean growl. "But if ye be a vermin in that tree, I'll knock ye flat." He felt a nut hit his head and he looked up to see a very pretty squirrelmaid standing on the bough. She smiled at him and spoke in mock bad temper.
- "Can't a body get a bit of peace and quiet around these woods? First a big falcon tries to feed me to his family, and now some waterhound wearing a daft robe and carrying a basket of herbs comes calling. Whatever next, a bunch rats in bonnets coming for tea?" She tossed her tail. He smiled up at her.
- "Good morrow to ye marm! Be this yore arra? Twas a good shot, seems ye killed the thing with a single shaft." The squirrel agilely climbed out of her hollow and shook paws with the friendly otter.
- "Aye, it is my arra. My name's Fae Bowsong, formally of Dreymoore. What's yours?"