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Hi, everybeast I wrote this little story after reading "Martin the Warrior". The story takes place 2 years after "Pearls of Lutra". If you find a fitting headline for the chapters please message me. Thanks to SalemtheCruel for helping me with the translation.
With a loud crackling the log burst in the fire. The old squirrel lady twitched slightly at the sound. Then she turned back to her little guests: Squirrels, moles, hedgehogs, mice and otter children were gathered around her, munching cookies and drinking tea and waiting that she finally began her story. The old was still listening to the crackling of the fire and the howling of the wind. The winter of storms, what a fitting name for this season!
She sighed and began to dig into her memories’ remembering the winter so many years ago which changed the worldview of so many redwallers and woodlanders. She looked again and sat in front of her audience on a pile of cushions:
"So you would then hear a story? With a radiant hero, evil villains and many adventures?'
"Yessssssss!" Was the call that met her. "Then I must disappoint you. I’ve told you these stories at least three times already."
"Ooooh!" The little ones looked sad-eyed with disappointment.
"But," She continued, and hope began to spread, "but I can tell you a story full of wonder, a story of the biggest battle Redwall ever had!" She looked again at the tense faces around her, leaned back on her pillow and began to talk.
Through Ice and Snow
"Go on, go on, one paw in front of the other!" Over and over again the thought circled in the head of the young mink.
He tried to ignore everything around him: the cold that crept into every bone in his emaciated body, his sodden fur that slowly froze, the wind who bit him in the nose and rang in his ears. The hardest thing to ignore was the slide he carried along with him and every few feet caught in a snowdrift. The mink fell to his knees as the slide broke with a jerk from the drift. And then he heard in the roar of the storm the song again and knew that he was on the right track.
"Brush you come down from there before you break your neck!” "The loud call of Auma made everyone wince. The badger mother looked around briefly. "Sam! Go get your daughter before she’s hurt!"
Brush was sitting on the white, snow-encrusted roof of the bell tower and clung with one paw to the shingles watching with mild interest as her father had it made the bell tower to climb. The squirrelmaid did not understand the fuss.
Four days a snowstorm had been raging through Mossflower, and nothing had been the same since.
And this once she just HAD to climb; had to feel like she was a squirrel. And anyway, her grandmother Jessica was already climbing the Abbey roof, which was much higher than the belltower. Her father Sam had even scaled the great Southern Cliffs then he was as old as she was now.
And she should remain, with everyone else, there on the ground! While Brush sat there and thought about the strange behavior of the adults she let herself look over the snow-covered meadows and snowy forests also roam behind.
Then she noticed a movement on the northern edge of the forest, an animal came stumbled appeared briefly in the direction of the abbey to look, and fell. "Dad, there’s somebeast out near the woods! Do something, quick! I'm coming down."
She slid off the roof, swung herself over the gutter into the interior of the tower and slid down the rope of the Methuselah bell.
Eyegrim looked with narrow eyeslits towards the coast. Larger than most reptiles, with dark brown scales witch were criss-crossed with scars, the ruby-red eyes that seemed always to glow with suppressed anger and the mighty muscles of the lizard offered one awe-inspiring sight.
"My lord, we are expected to reach the coast by nightfall. What are your orders? " Half-tooth the captain of the " Red Adder " Approached him from behind. Eyegrim could smell the fear in the rat and wondered yet again why the captain and the rest of the crew were afraid.
They had done nothing wrong, ignoring commands or being disobedient would get them their just desserts: Punishment.
Eyegrim shook his head with the chains rattled softly around his neck. The chains were made of the teeth and claws of his defeated enemies in battle, and they laid witness to the strength of their owner.
Eyegrim had seven of them. "Sir, what are your commands?" Half tooth was about to faint, he had interpreted the head-shaking as a sign of annoyance.
"Show us a safe bay and signal the" Seasnake "and the" Bloodworm "to follow us. We leave tomorrow at dawn on land!" Eyegrim smiled in a way you could get nightmares from while Half-tooth walked away to carry out his commands. He looked again to the coast. There, waiting was a new country. A new conquest!
"Whot kin o’ creatur is that? I’ve nevor seen something loik it! Foremole expressed what most thought. Having sounded the alarm Brush, Foremole, her father Sam and Auma had gone to the forest and there in front of the wooden sled and found the unconscious mink.
The mink wore a tunic of coarse cloth that went up to the knees. Around his waist he wore a leather belt, a canvas bag, a small knife and a sword hung in a rough leather sheath.
"Hmmm, seems to be a kind of weasel, though its tail is too short for it. Maybe a ferret? No, too small."
"Perhaps an otter?"
"Brush, nonsense! He’s too small and his footpaws aren’t webbed!"
“Then what is it?"
"I have no idea. But we need to bring him to the infirmary, quickly. Brush, tell the Abbess and Brother Julian. Be quick now! They’ll know what to do. Auma lifted up the mink easily in her strong arms and accompanied Brush back to the abbey.
Foremole and Sam, meanwhile, took a look the slide. A great box was tied to it with several ropes. The two took the rope that was used to drag the sled, and began to pull it to the abbey.
"By moi, tunnel thet box is really ‘eavy"
"I agree. What did the poor guy have in that box?” Sam’s question went unanswered as Clecky the hare joined them as they dragged the sledge through the gate. Sam and Foremole told the hare the story.
Clecky examined the case with military interest.
"Let's hope that he recovers to tell us, poor soul. Brr! Are you two brave sled pullers going to join us for breakfast, wot?"
Together they carried the box into the Great Hall and then went down into Cavernhole for breakfast.
Eyegrim gleefully sucked in the cool morning air. How clear the air was here! Clear, cold and pure! Not so hot and stuffy in his home the deep jungles of the south.
"Ship in sight! Pull off on the port side!" The roar from the crow's nest of" Bloodworm " made Eyegrim look in that direction.
"The “Storm Wave". At last! It's about time!" Eyegrim muttered while the huge galley pushed ever closer.
Shortly thereafter, Woodeye the pine marten was in front of him. "Well?" Eyegrim asked, "What do you have to report?"
Woodeye bowed nervously. "My lord, we’re sailing up the northern coasts just like you wanted. We’ve found nothing but sand, rocks and some coastal villages, where we’ve found some loot--"
Woodeye’s report was interrupted by Eyegrim, who grabbed him by the throat and raised him up. “YOU FOUND WHAT?! You stupid imbecile! I told you to go exploring, not looting for your own needs!"
Eyegrim’s eyes seemed to burn. "For your sake I hope none of the villagers survived. If the inhabitants of this country are prepared for our invasion then you'll wish you were never born!" He threw the now slightly tarnished blue marten off the ship’s rail.
In the infirmary, Brother Julian was waiting for his patient. The vole was still young but led his infirmary with skill seldom seen in elder creatures.
But he was quite amazed when Auma rumbled in with her load.
"Well, what do we have here?"
"No idea, but that's beside the point. He was unconscious on the forest floor, and hasn’t moved since I lifted him."
Auma's face showed concern.
"Then let me see." Brother Julian pointed to one of the beds and Auma put the mink on it. Brother Julian quickly moved him out and examined the body from top to bottom.
"Completely malnourished and hypothermic. Weak but has a regular heartbeat, respiration noticeable." Julian looked up from his patient and squirmed at Auma. "Please go into the kitchen and tell Friar Stump to prepare a bath of hot water. We need to warm the poor guy up. Oh, and ask brother Durral to cook a vegetable soup for the poor creature to have later. But remember: VERY LIGHT!”
While Auma ran off, Brother Julian built the fire up and placed blankets over the Mink. "Do not worry little fellow, we will help you.” He assured the patient, who did not hear him.
„The Abbess and Brother Rollo were flipping through an ancient book from the library. It was filled with old, old pen-and-ink sketches of various creatures around the world. Rollo had stopped at a diagram of a creature called the mink. The Abbess stared at him in disbelief.
"And you're sure brother Rollo?”
The bankvole nodded somberly. "Absolutely abbess, he looks just like the creature described by Bella of Brockhall's book."
"A mink in Mossflower! I would never have dreamed of it." A faint noise startled them.
" What is that noise?” Their questions were answered as Brother Julian crossed the infirmary threshold. The Abbess eyed him.
"Hello, Brother Julian. We’ve been expecting you. How is your patient? Nothing new?”
"'Nothing, I’ve been caring for him for two weeks now but no improvement. He’s gained weight and gotten warm again, but he still hasn’t woken up.”
"That creature? He’s still here?" Brush walked in, clad in a simple cream-colored dress with a dark green sash, which set off her pretty hazel eyes.
Brother Julian turned to her. “Brush! Don’t sneak up like that! And of course he's still alive. You can go and see if you want.”
“How old is he, about?"
Brother Julian shrugged. “I would say not much older than you, Brush. But I must go now. Friar Stump needs me to check over the inventories." And with that, the solemn vole departed.
A door slammed and there was silence in the infirmary. The mink was glad.
There were creatures there and they had been talking about him. It was the first sounds he’d heard in a long time of silence. He’d been here for two weeks! So much time had gone and passed him!
He opened his eyes and shut them again because of the brightness of the lamplight glow. "Abbess Tansy, brother Julian, he blinked a second ago. I saw it!”
"Brush! What are you thinking to shout around here like this? '
"I'm sorry Brother Julian."
“Hmmph, I hope so. Now pull the curtains back!"
There was a rustling several times, and the scraping sound of a chair being moved. The mink moaned "Thank you,"
His voice was weak but understandable.
"Where I am and who are you?"
"My son, you're in the Redwall Abbey. I am brother Julian, the abbess is Tansy and this screamer of a squirrelmaid here is called Brush. "
“And what's your name?” Brush spoke more quietly than before.
"North Star is what they called me in my homeland and I’ll keep this name until the end.
"Was that the name you were born with?"
Brush asked, curiously.
"Brush, don’t interrupt him!" Abbess Tansy said firmly, paws on her hips.
"Sorry Mother Abbess "
The mink was grinning cheerfully for the first time. Brush was so surprised at the sight of it she almost fell out of her chair. The mink, North Star, looked up at the solemn little party gathered around him "Okay, please give me a few days then I will tell you my story."
“You see anything yet?" Eyegrim was growing impatient.
"Nothing, your lordship, not even a scrap of sail." Driftwood, the captain of the "Seasnake" was glad that his master was down at the beach now and not with him standing on the cliffs. Who knows what he'd have done to him, were they together.
The ferret was trying hard not to look to the “Red Adder.” From its mast hung the carcasses of four rats and two weasels. Eyegrim had hung them after they had tried to desert.
Driftwood shuddered at the memory of Eyegrim’s pitiless smile as he spoke the verdict. To distract himself from his gloomy thoughts, Driftwood stared back out to sea ... and sighed with relief when he discovered the sails on the horizon.
"They’re coming, your lordship! I think tomorrow at sunrise, they'll be here."
Eyegrim’s mouth twisted into a savage grin. Finally, his fleet was coming! Twenty-five ships, each loaded with about two hundred warriors. Soon the empire that had been originially his father’s would be one country larger.
"And I say we throw him out!' Martin said.
" Martin II, how can you say that? He is alone, he is exhausted, and hardly a threat,"
"Maybe, abbess, but something is wrong with him. For example, this huge box! No matter what we tried it can’t be opened! Who knows what sort of dangerous weapons could be inside? Even Martin's sword has barely scratched the lock!"
The loud quarrel was interrupted as the door of the infirmary opened and North Star came out. He looked from Abbess Tansy to Martin II, who held the great sword of Martin the first in his paws. In a frenzy, North Star threw himself on the Abbey warrior
Martin was so surprised he dropped the sword. The matter probably would have ended badly had Auma and brother Julian not intervened with a bucket of ice water. North Star’s shoulders were gripped in Auma's strong paws. The mink was shivering and dripping wet.
"Look at him abbess, he’s dangerous! He can hardly walk and he tried to kill me!” Martin II sounded happy, despite his chattering teeth.
"Dangerous? I? Impossible!" North Star was truly shocked.
"Fool, you threatened me and the Abbess,"
"And what did I do? Clip her spikes with your toy sword?"
"That's enough! Auma's voice made it clear that everybeast should have been silent.
"Thank you, Auma. Martin, your distrust of outsiders is understandable. What happened two years ago is STILL fresh in my mind. But he is a guest at the Abbey and before we can judge him, we should hear his story."
The abbess had not raised her voice and yet everyone listened. "And you, North Star," now the mink began to shrink back, "We shall settle our differences with words. I will not tolerate violence within these walls.” Martin glared at the Mink then he says to the abbess, "All right, I'll listen to his story. "The Abbess only shook her head: “First change into dry things. We’ll all talk after dinner.”
The large hall was crowded, as are the bellies of the majority present. Clecky just had another "emergency ration" as he called it of the "Turnip 'n Tater 'n Beetroot Deeper'n'ever Pie " that there had been taken for dinner. All quacked confused as the abbess entered with North Star. The young mink looked around nervously, and his gaze lingered on the great tapestry. Suddenly, tears welled in his eyes and he broke down sobbing. Brush sitting near him jumped up and ran, followed closely by brother Julian to the mink to see whether he had hurt himself. She knelt beside the sobbing North Star who kept muttering: "Done, I've actually done it." "What, what have you done" Brush asked curiously?. "The task which has provided me the warrior, for which I would almost froze, which has saved me from myself to jump off the cliff. This task I've done. "" The Warrior? What warrior? "Brother Julian was totally confused. "This warrior!" North Star answered with tears in her voice, pointing to the image of Martin the Warrior.
In Eyegrim's cabin on board the "Red Adder", the Monitor had assembled his captains and officers. The warlord had listened to their reports, and now they were waiting for his orders.
"There is nothing of interest in the North or East for me. In the West there is a fortress, according to Driftwood. But it's too close to the coast. A surprise invasion would not be possible. Otherwise, there are only a few outlying islands but they mean nothing to me. So only a march from here remains inland.” "Death Kiss", the female Fire salamander saluted,
"Tell Blackbeak and his crow's my orders. They should explore the country north three days' march away from here and then return. Until then, the troops gather supplies and get ready. Dismissed!" Eyegrim had spoken!
"This warrior? Martin the Warrior has given you a task?” Martin II was not the only one who seemed surprised.
"Yes, this warrior has given me a task but I'll come to that later."
North Star had meanwhile was recaptured and placed in front of the assembled residents of Redwall on the grounds. He again took a deep breath and began to speak:
“Where I was born, and who my parents were I don’t know. As a baby, a group of otters found me and raised me. They were ferrybeasts on a wide river up north. I wasn’t like them but they treated me like one of their own. My foster mother gave me my name, North Star.”
The Mink lowered his head so that you could see a star-shaped white spot between his ears.
"I grew up among the otters, learned to swim, catch fish, sing sea shanties; all the things otters enjoy. As I grew older I began to explore the area. In one of these trips I found my sword under river water. It seemed to be calling my name almost, but it was very old and covered in seaweed and dirt. But the actual blade was fine. When I came home with my foster father, he asked me to hide the sword because it was cursed. Weapons were not allowed to be carried where I was raised. And two weeks later I met… HER for the first time,"
At this point the mink got teary-eyed again.
"She was an otter, and was called Snow White for her fur, but she wasn’t an albino. I met her at my favorite place, near the village where they lived. When I saw Snow White there among the roses I first heard the song. "
"What song?” Asked Brush.
"Brush shut up!"
“Excuse me, father. " Brush said, head bowing.
The mink looked at the squirrel for a while then he said:
"A beautiful song that I will not sing because my voice can’t do it justice. It was a song that touched me deep inside. And so I fell in love with Snow White and she fell in love with me. We both knew that it was forbidden. I'm a mink and she was an otter. We would never have children. We thought it was a secret even though I always brought her gifts that I found in the river, and wrote love poems for her. She gave them as gifts for her tribemates so her parents wouldn’t be suspicious. And we met secretly each night. The villagers stayed away from us. This fall, I finally asked her father to let us marry. First he laughed because he thought I was joking, but when he realized I was serious he was angry and chased me out of his house. That same evening I met Snow White for the last time I swore to come back the next night to run away with her and take her as my wife. She agreed with me, it was the best moment in my life. The next day I scoured the woods for useful logs so we could build a raft to escape on. When I went home that night, the village was in flames. I ran home, but I was too late.”
The mink swallowed.
“they were dead, all dead. I ran like a madbeast and called for Snow White. I found her outside her father’s house. She’d been run through with a spear."
Many sobbed with him as the mink again burst into tears. Finally he calmed down and continued in a husky voice: "I took Snow White and carried her to the streambank. I buried her there, lay down on her grave and wanted to wait for death. I saw a mouse warrior in my mind, and could hear singing. And the warrior said to me: "I know your pain is like my own, My heart lies buried under flowering stone. Go to the south and do not look back. I'm waiting in my halls of red stone, to be united with my heart"
"Bring me the box, please." Begged the mink in a low voice.
Shortly thereafter came Auma and Clecky back with the box. North Star reached into his bag and pulled out a small bronze key. He opened the lock of the chest and threw back the lid. An exclamation of astonishment ran through the hall. For in the case was a young mousemaid who seemed to be asleep.
"Who is she?"
"The heart under the flowering stone. Do you see the rose bloom on her chest? It was already there when I dug her up. "
" Upon my soul," The Abbess’s spikes stood up in shock, and there was a look of horror on her face.
"Late Rose. This is a bloom of the late rose! Then this poor thing must be Laterose of Noonvale! "
"That's impossible! Everybeast who knows history knows that Laterose was killed in the battle of Marshank. She was then buried in Noonvale. That was hundreds of seasons ago, and nobeast knows where Noonvale lies today!" Rollo said.
"I know where it is." Mumbled North Star. Rollo raised an eyebrow. Martin watched him too.
"Oh yeah? And how do you know? "
" Because I come from there. Noonvale was the village where I grew up, and Snow White. Therefore, I know where it is or rather where it was. So much evil has reached there in the past few centuries,"
Martin II was on his feet, "I know you’re knowledgeable with our history but I don’t trust you, mink!" North Star fixed Martin with a glare and growled:
"So, you call me a liar. You think I’m lying about THIS? "
he did not continue because North Star had pounced on him, eyes tinted scarlet. Auma had to use all her strength to separate Martin and the Mink again.
"Martin, be gone with you!” The Abbess’s normally gracious voice was hard and icy.
"How dare you doubt this poor creature’s story. What would he lie for?”
“But, Mother Abbess I ..."
"Say no more. Go now, please.” The abbess looked over to North Star who was still gasping. "Come, let us bring Late Rose to her lover."
Eyegrim was leaning against a huge oak tree in the clearing. He and his beasts had been marching for hours now, and a rest was welcome.
Blackbeak the raven was one of the oldest companions of the warlord and his best scout.
"My Lord, about a two day’s march we’ve found an oasis on the edge of a great gorge."
"How great?" Eyegrim’s eyes flickered in interest.
"It would take weeks to explore. It is bottomless. We have literally threw a stone, and even after ten minutes we heard nothing."
Eyegrim hissed softly: "And how wide is it?"
"About four times my wingspan, Sire."
"Hmm, well done Blackbeak. Send Woodeye to me and then you can rest!”
Eyegrim saw the raven fly to the tree on which he leaned. Four wingspans? Yes they could get there if they tried.
"You called for me, my Lord?"
"Yes I have Woodeye. Take your crew, and fell this tree. We will need a bridge if we want to move on. "
Martin II sat on the middle step between the Great Hall and Cavern Hole. He had been thinking about his grandfather Matthias and old Methuselah who had found the tomb of Martin the warrior beneath that very step.
The sound of pawsteps him jump. When he saw the abbess and North Star, he stood up.
"North Star, I want to apologize. I had no right to doubt your story."
The mink looked at him puzzled, then he nodded. "Apology accepted. If you had told that story, I may not have believed it either.”
The Abbess sighed with relief. She was glad that there was peace again in their abbey. "All right, everyone out." The Foremole had entered with his crew, and they proceeded to open the vault.
Auma slid aside, carrying Laterose in her arms as they entered the dusty, ancient tomb, where the stone coffin of Martin the Warrior was.
"So what do we do now?” Asked Brush.
“Brush! I thought I told you to stay upstairs!"
“Too late! I’m here now!”
"What have I done to be cursed with such a daughter?"
Everyone was silenced as Abbess Tansy approached Foremole. "Can you lift the lid of the coffin without damaging it?”
“Can the Birds floy? Thots no problem for us moles. Auma, put ‘ee mouseymaid beside ee door. Then you stan’ wi’ ee others at ee edge of yon coffin. Rooter and Digger you lifts the lid and then y’ push It over. You’m clear? Then lets do it! "
Eyegrim was satisfied. By using the tree as a bridge they had reached the ravine crossing and a day later, a forest. There they had met an army of rats armed with bows. Eyegrim had asked for a truce with the leader of the rats, only to have torn him apart with his bare claws seconds later
The rats had been joined to his army. They had taken him to a fleet of rafts as they crossed the river on the other side of the forest.
Lying there in the pine forest, they were attacked by tree rats and his army slaughtered them mercilessly.
Now he was standing on a huge cliff and let his gaze wander over the snow-covered forests of Mossflower. The sight of the glittering white fascinated the Monitor. He had never seen snow before. It would be wonderful to rule over a country that was capable of such wonders. The owl, perched in a nearby spruce and watched him and his army. Eyegrim did not notice.
And the Miracle happened
"Bless me soul, thot con't be!"
"According to the Abbey records, Martin died at an advanced age."
The Abbess shook her head.
The mouse in the coffin seemed to be only sleeping, and looked no older than Martin II. "What now?" Even the usually impudent brush dared to whisper. North Star whispered back:
"We put Laterose beside him, her right paw in his left hand and place the roses on her crossed paws.
Then we close the coffin and go. My task is fulfilled." Auma picked Laterose up and placed her next to Martin and put together their paws. North Star put the roses on their paws ... and winced as the song was heard in the crypt. But not as quiet as usual, so that one could really only imagine the melody, but loudly and clearly:
You will find me at Noonvale, On the side of a hill, When the summer is peaceful and high, There where Streamlet meander the valley is still, 'Neath the blue of a calm cloudless sky.
Look for me at dawn, When the earth is asleep, Till each dew drop is kissed by the day, 'Neath the rowan and alder a vigil I'll keep, Every moment that you are away.
The earth gently turns as the seasons change slowly, All of the flowers and leaves born to wane, Hear my song over the lea, like the wind soft and lowly, And come back to Noonvale again.
Brush had hid behind her father in terror, twitching madly. Sam glanced to her. "Brush, stop moving, I can’t see!"
Brush replied in a terse voice: "But Dad, I looked in the coffin and Martin moved." "It must’ve been the light, now stop moving!" "Well THAT’s not a trick of the light." North Star was pale. And in the coffin to Martin the Warrior and Laterose of Noonvale set up and looked at the stunned faces around them. The news of the miracle that had happened in Redwall spread like wildfire in Mossflower. Of all the forest dwellers came to see the legendary warrior. And it had a great hurry; Eyegrim, whose scouts were now camped in the ruins of St. Ninian’s, reported to him immeadietly.
A place where the dead came back to life! Could there be a better ruler's seat? Would living there make him…. Eyegrim the Immortal? Yes, Eyegrim had to conquer this place at all costs!
"Abbess, Abbess come quickly!" Sister Agnes came running up to Abbess Tansy.
"Easy sister Agnes, what is it?"
The Abbess puts an arm around the still quivering shrew.
"An owl, a giant owl almost ATE ME!"
"An owl?" The Abbess was stunned, "In the daylight? Where were you when the owl came?"
"Outside, in the flower garden I wanted to collect snowdrops for the table decoration, because it’s almost Nameday. And imagine, the late Rose is already in full bloom! We’re barely even in March now! So I get up to look at them blooming, and this huge owl flew out of the sky and attacked me.”
Sister Agnes shook herself.
"Is there a problem?" Martin the Warrior had joined them. "Sister Agnes was almost frightened to death by an owl," answered the abbess,
"Martin would you be so kind as to see what’s going on?" The warrior nodded:
"I'll get only a few helpers and we’ll go see what’s going on here."
Shortly thereafter he, Martin II, and North Star stood in the garden of the abbey at a little owl, which was so thickly-feathered that one wondered that he could fly at all.
He looked at all three thoroughly and then spoke in a solemn voice:
"I see three heroes, one dead, one alive and one coming. Fear the scaled One and flee the quake. Only the painter's tools will defeat it. When the red walls no longer protect you, you will only be safe in the arms of the Iron Lady."
Then the owl blinked, and his previously clouded eyes returned to their normal coloring. "Excuse me, where are my manners? Archimedes is my name and I am here to warn you. A lizard with a huge army of vermin is their way here. They are just three days away from that place we once called the St. Ninian Church. So do not hesitate to prepare yourselves. The storm of the winter is over and the warm breath of spring is at your back. May the seasons be good to you." he said and flew away.
In the next few days, hardly anyone slept in Mossflower. Matthias and Methuselah, the bells rang out their warning cry incessantly in the woods. Sparrows flew in all directions to warn those who lived further away. In the Abbey they prepared for the siege. The gate was reinforced, the walls repaired, and weapons that had not been used since the war against Cluny the Scourge, were tested for their suitability.
It was as hot as if Mother Nature had decided that the summer should begin as early as March. The snow was melting at an alarming pace and transformed the abbey courtyard into a mud pit. The forest dwellers that came to the abbey brought what was left of their winter food.
And so it came to Eyegrim when he came up the road from St. Ninian’s to Redwall three days later, he found a fortress which was ready for war.
"My goodness, what an army. Look at this, rats, ferrets, weasels, and lizards! How shall we defeat them?"
The forest inhabitants were more than distressed when Eyegrim’s army appeared from the the shadows of the trees.
"Oh who cares? Old Martin will get done with the rabble in a minute, wot "
"You know I'd like your optimism Clecky- But this must be thousands. I wouldn’t even have time to swing my sword once, they’d attack me so fast!
Although the statement wasn’t anything pleasant a few defenders had to smile. For Martin the Warrior and Martin II, who responded at the same time. Suddenly North Star started to growl.
"They’re right. They would have killed them. Let me out there and I’ll deal with them."
The mink had drawn his sword and was about to jump off the wall but was stopped by Brush and Sam.
"Let me go. I’ll fight my own battles!"
The voice of mink cracked with anger and got louder with each word.
“Who killed who and how do you know?" Brush said, panting.
"That marten there, the shield he bears, I gave it to Snow White as a seasonday present. She hung in her room to use as a mirror."
“It's just a shield how can you be so sure?"
"Because it was made of bronze and had a wave engraved into it, like the marten’s shield. "
"So you believe that the marten killed Snow White?!"
Brush was dismayed.
"I don’t believe it, I know it!" Then North Star gave up his resistance and began to cry.
Eyegrim growled as he looked over to the abbey. These creatures were very well-prepared. The lizard ran his eyes over the meadow, and then slid along the wall to the gate. Ideal conditions for the defenders. So negotiate first; then strike. The defenders were hopelessly outnumbered, if they had any sense they’d surrender.
These thoughts were going through his head as he walked with Woodeye and Halftooth upon the gate. "Boi moi tunnel luk et ‘ee soize of ee lizord!" Formole gulped loudly as he, with the other defenders, watched as Eyegrim marched to the gate. The monitor seemed to come out of a nightmare. He wore a suit of armor made of black steel that covered him from neck to tail. His helmet was adapted to his head and let out of his nostrils, eyes and lower jaw not free. On his back he had strapped a huge curved sword in his right claw he held a spear with the tip of obsidian shone dully in the sun. The left claw was holding a Round shield with his colors: Two blood-red snakes fighting each other on a black background. "Stop! Who is coming?" Martin II did not show how nervous he was. Eyegrim stopped and stared up at the parapet. The mouse was not short on nerves. Normally, he had the first word because his opponent froze in fear when they saw him.
He nodded to Woodeye who shouted up to the parapet: "You will speak with Eyegrim the conqueror, conqueror of nations and Lord of the south, respect him as he deserves it, for he has come to rule this land. He will not show mercy to anybeast who dares to oppose him aaaaaaaah…" the marten fell down, screaming. North Star had thrown a javelin at him and pierced his left shoulder. He made a grossly disappointed face as he was taken away from the parapet by Sam and Auma. "I will kill him, I swear by the blood of my murdered love, one day I kill him!" With this, the negotiations ended. Eyegrim raged. He dragged Woodeye back to camp and handed him over to the healers. Hopefully he’d survive! The marten was perhaps a little slow in the head but a first class soldier and popular with his crew. If he should die Eyegrim would appoint a new captain but the last thing he needed now were internal power struggles.
A rustle in the tent door made him pause. Dana Nightshade slipped in; the vixen was an extraordinary beauty. With her silky smooth fur, long eyelashes, and the large black green-rimmed eyes, she made in a better-than-good impression on every male she met.
However, very few beasts knew what cruelty was hidden behind those eyes. Dana could inflict the same pain as she could relieve.
And so she was not only a healer but also Eyegrim’s first torturer. "Master," she said with a pleasant slightly smoky voice, "I bring good news. Woodeye will get through; the wound is ugly but not particularly difficult. In at least two weeks, he should again be combat ready again."
Eyegrim groaned slightly and gently scratched the vixen under the chin.
"I'm glad to hear, my love. Now go and rest, You'll have to do much in the near future.”
Too bad that she is not a lizard, Eyegrim thought as Dana left the tent. A queen like her could be useful to me.
"Master, Master," Eyegrim got up from his bed as a weasel named Scarear stormed into his tent. Quick as a flash Eyegrim’s tail wrapped itself around Scarear’s neck like a noose or a tight scarf. "What do you want?" He snapped and did not let the weasel out of sight.
"The animals in the Abbey, my lord, they seem to be preparing a feast." "And you wake me up for that, worm?! Well, wait, I'm going to teach you to show me some respect!"
Eyegrim nearly ripped the soldier apart when he realized the importance of the message. “A festival? How do you know?"
"Well, your invincibility, their brats have been wailing songs since sunrise and Blackbeak saw them hang garlands and stuff in the trees." Scarear swallowed. However Eyegrim laughed quietly to himself. A festival, that was exactly what he needed. He grabbed Scarear’s neck with his own claws and lifted him: "Go and bring me Cliffrunner!" Then he threw the soldier out of the tent.
"And you think that's a good idea, abbess?"
"Yes, Auma, although it was not my idea. It comes from Martin the Warrior and Martin II, both are of the opinion that we deserve a feast after the long hard winter," Auma was not convinced. "And the Monitor? He and his vermin will not be resolved simply because we are celebrating. "
"I’m aware. But I'm not saying that we should ignore the danger. The festival will be held outdoors so the guards will remain at their posts. In addition, Clecky assured me that it could take days to an army as large as the monitors to build up an organized camp. "
Auma still seemed not to be convinced, but relented. And so began the preparations for a centennial celebration. In it there were three occasions and events: First, the nameday (they had agreed to spring of miracles), then the resurrection of Martin and Rose and their wedding.
After fate once prevented them they wanted to have a second chance. In the kitchen, creatures worked in shifts around the clock to prepare a feast for the special occaison. Together the otter skipper and his crew helped North Star to pull a twenty-pound trout ashore from the Abbey pond.
Friar Stump nearly fainted when they showed up dripping wet and grinning with their catch in the kitchen. In the yard the fire pit was dug again, set up tables and decorated, all under the watchful eyes of the abbess and of Blackbeak who was sitting in an elm tree on the north wall, and saw everything.
The day of the festival dawned and it couldn’t have been more beauitful. The Abbey Lawn seemed to be covered with diamonds so the dew glistened in the morning sun, silhouetted against a hazy aquamarine sky dotted with steamy off-white clouds.
All the residents of the Abbey gathered in the Great Hall where Abbess Tansy announced the feast, and then married Martin the Warrior and Laterose of Noonvale. All these events were recorded by Brother Rollo in the Abbey Chronicle. Only then did the festival begin. Friar Stump had made all the food, and the wines were being brought up from the cellars.
The feast underway through a whole lot of games. One of the most viewed was a swimming race between North Star and the otter skipper that went in three laps around the abbey pond, with North Star winning by three lengths.
"Really, dude, I still can’t believe a non-otter could be THAT FAST!" Skipper gasped as they climbed back on land. North Star did not answer, he still struggled for breath. When it was dark a lot of creatures’ belts had loosened, and together they sat and chatted or drank something. No one guessed that the enemy started to move. Steadily.
Cliffrunner hung motionless on the west wall and listened. Nothing to hear; good. The gecko pushed himself slowly up the wall. "Attempt to open a gate or to take a prisoner!" Those had been Eyegrims instructions. Even now the words echoed in his mind. The gecko checked his blowgun and darts while he searched for a victim.
The squirrel and the mouse with the flower garland on their heads! Both seemed to be drunk because they giggled incessantly and leaned against each other to keep from falling. Cliffrunner aimed his blowpipe and fired. Small darts filled with a sleep-inducing liquid struck their backs. Both creatures were unconscious instantly. Cliffrunner chuckled as he left his two prisoners down with a rope at the abbey wall
Wake up! SOUND THE ALARM! SOUND THE ALARM!" Clecky’s shouting made North Star’s head pound. "North Star get up already!" "Don’t cry?! I feel like an anvil was dropped on my head!” But Clecky did not stop. On his morning patrol around the ramparts, he had stumbled on Laterose’s wedding veil and Brush’s champion climber tail-bracelet without a trace of their owners. Near these was a scrap of fabric from one of the monitor’s cloaks. Clecky had rushed to the bell tower and rang an alarm. When Martin II came and asked what was going on, the hare soon had the whole Abbey on their paws, and everyone began to think about what could be done to save the two females in peril.
Laterose and Brush woke up as they heard the bells ring. Both were on a big pile of soft pillows in a tent and they were chained to a long chain on their left leg to the center post. "What happened? Where are we?"
Brush’s voice was thick with sleep. "I don’t know. I just remember we were on the wall and you told me a story about a couple of terribly superstitious crows. Then everything went black."
Even Laterose sounded sleepy but she looked around the tent. It was empty except for a small table in front of the pile of cushions. Then there was a little brass bell and a note: "Ring me"
“S-should we?" Brush sounded more curious than frightened. She looked questioningly at Rose. "We will probably have no choice." Brush rang the bell. Immediately two heavily armed lizards walked in. "You are alive and well. Our lord has commanded to bring you to him."
One of the guards unfastened the chain from the pole and pulled it. "Now come on, his lordship does not like to be kept waiting….."
Shortly after, the four stood in the tent of the warlord. Eyegrim looked at his two prisoners, then he nodded to the guards: "The chains are not necessary. Free them and leave us alone!” The guards saluted, broke the chain and left the tent.
"W-what do you want from us?" Laterose asked nervously. "From you? Actually, nothing. I want your fortress, I want your land! And you two are my way there." Eyegrim spoke in a casual tone, as if he were only talking about the weather. Suddenly Brush’s stomach began growling, which caused the lizard to grin nightmarishly. "Oh, did I hear that someone is hungry? Say, what do two pretty ones like yourselves normally eat for breakfast?" Brush and Late Rose stared at him, puzzled. "Why do you want to know?"
"Like I said, you two are my way to rule this country. If you are dead you are no use for me so I want you to feel well while you're here. So again: what do you eat for breakfast?” Brush’s stomach growled even louder now and she replied hesitantly,
"Well, mostly cheese with fresh walnut bread and tea. Sometimes, acorn muesli with fresh milk or porridge with honey."
The monitor smiled. "There. Then ye shall have it. DRIFTWOOD!"
The ferret came running into the tent: "You called, your Lordship? "" “Bring me and the prisoners some breakfast. But hurry up, otherwise they’ll die of hunger or at least pass out." Driftwood looked at his master as if he had lost his mind. "A breakfast? For you and for the prisoners? " "Yes, you numbskull, for me AND the prisoners. Go now!"
Eyegrim’s gaze stifled any further question.
A short time later, the breakfast was brought to them. Brush and Laterose felt as if they had not eaten seasons. Eyegrim looked at them while they ate. Amazing how such small creatures could cram everything into them! When the two finished eating and Driftwood cleared the dishes Eyegrim spoke again to his "guests":
"So, after we’ve finished; let’s get to the REAL reason why you’re here…."
"Because you have kidnapped us?” Now that her stomach was full, Brush was back to her old self.
"No, because I would like to make the rules clear ." Eyegrim watched his hostages coldly, all kindness gone from him.
"I can kill you both but that would get us nowhere. But if I notice though that you or your friends try to make a fool of me I'll do it anyway. So I'm going to go with you to the fortress and explain the situation to your friends. One wrong move from either of you and you're dead. Understood?"
The two prisoners under his pitiless gaze stood together and nodded frantically. "Well. GUARDS!" The two lizards came back into the tent. "Chain them up again, but so that they can still move."
Martin II, blamed himself. As the warrior of the Abbey, he was responsible for the safety of the residents and now the monitor lizard had managed to kidnap two of his fellow Abbeydwellers right under his nose!
The whole thing was a huge mistake. He sighed and looked over at the enemy camp on the edge of the woods. Where were Brush and Laterose? Were they even still alive?
Since he had been on Sampetra he knew that you could never be too cautious in dealing with lizards. "Look at you. Still being gloomy?" North Star came to him; he was holding a pitcher and two cups in the paws.
"To help fight your sorrow and regret." The mink gave Martin II one of the cups.
“What's in there?"
"Oh, only a rare and deadly poison that only works on mice!" Martin stared at the mink, horrified.
North Star could not resist a grin. "I'm just kidding. Since what happened in my home, my humor has become a bit darker. It’s good Elderberry wine." North Star downed his cup at once. Martin II, however, was still staring into his.
"What is it? I told you it was just a joke. Or you still do not trust me?"
"No it’s not that, North Star. I’m just thinking about what we could do to rescue Laterose and Brush."
At that moment began the Matthias bell to toll and the two looked over the parapet. What they saw they did not like at all.
Eyegrim came with two dozen heavily armed lizards and the prisoners marched to the gate. Brush and Late Rose were chained together and each of them had the blade of a curved sword at their neck. A rescue was impossible.
With a flick of his claw, Eyegrim ordered his guards to halt.
"What do you want?"
Again, this mouse! Eyegrim looked up at Martin II and bared his teeth.
"What do I want? I want an immediate surrender! Otherwise these two will remain my guests.”
“And if we refuse?"
It came from the parapet. Eyegrim again showed his barbarous yellow teeth.
"Then I'll find out how much useless meat that can be gained from them. And believe me I won’t rush."
"YOU MONSTER! If you lay a claw on my daughter, I'll ... " Sam snarled, but Abbess Tansy cut him off.
"Sam, be quiet; that’s useless. Eyegrim! We ask you for a period to reconsider your offer. We will let you know our decision tomorrow morning!”
The voice of the Abbess sounded completely calm.
"No. I await your decision tonight at sunset."
The Abbess sighed with relief; after all they had gained a bit of time.
"And what now? Are we passing the Abbey and let Eyegrim enslave us or defend us and give ..."before brother Julian had ended Sam crashed his fist on the table," Never! I will not let my daughter down or Redwall. We have survived all other crises!"
The abbess put the quivering with rage Sam a paw on the shoulder. "Calm down Sam. Nobody here thinks to give up your daughter or Redwall. Brother Julian has only consolidated the current situation. We find a way to rescue the two, I promise you."
Now Martin the warrior take the word: "Yeah, well I will not lose Rose again. But we have to find out more accurate than our enemy before we can get to forge plans. If something goes wrong, the two are done. Thus, the rescue plan must be well thought out. "
"But how are we supposed to spy on our enemies in such a short time AND then just forge plans yet? The sun sets in ten hours, we never make it! "Threw North star in.
"And when we let the sparrows spy them? "Auma nodded to Skipper. "Good idea, I had not even thought of. So we have a distinct advantage. Because Eyegrim will not expect the fact that we observe them from the air.
"And you will really mangle them?"
"No, Dana that I will not. I've made them just a trap. "Eyegrim chuckled. "They will try everything to save their two friends. But they will act rashly. And then we beat them!"
Dana took a long look at her Lord, then she asked:" And if you wrong? What if they give up their friends in order to save themselves?”
"Good question. Then I'm going to have to think of something else. However, I doubt that this happens. The father of this cheeky girl would have killed me on the spot. No, believe me Dana. They will come. "Eyegrim stroked the vixen tenderly on the head.
"And now go and tell the guards; they should keep their eyes open and tell me of any unusual incident." With a slight bow Dana left the tent.
Eyegrim did not need to wait until Half-tooth got to him into the tent and announced that dozens of sparrows had left the Abbey and distributed over the forest.
"So they want watch me from the air? Not bad but not good enough yet." Eyegrim looked at Half-tooth, a cruel glint in his eye
"It's been a while since I ate fresh meat. Kill the sparrows! "
Laterose and Brush were lying in their tent as they slept and awakened suddenly by a terrible noise. The air was filled with twittering, cawing and the beating of wings. And again the sound of sharp beaks and claws which met and flesh.
Now and then a thud when one of the opponents crashed. "What's going on out there?" Brush was scared to tears. Laterose grabbed the little bell that stood still in their tent and rang it. Immediately one of their guardians, a ferret, walked into the tent. "What do you want? When it comes to food forget it! Lord Eyegrim has ordered you will get food only when he says "
"That's not the point but what’s going on out there? Laterose’s expression made the soldier grin.
"Outside? Blackbeak and his crows just took apart your sparrow friends! Ha, finally meat again!"
When he saw the horrified faces of the prisoners, he laughed out loud. "Oh, is that not good enough even for the ladies? I will give notice that you want nothing of the fowl. It is even better so, leaving more for me and the boys!" Still chuckling, the ferret left the tent.
"Do you hear that?" Orlando looked questioningly at Marta."Yes, sounds like a fight but the noises coming from above!" The moment in which Marta's mouth shut a badly disheveled but alive sparrow fell through the branches above them. The two badger looked up to see where the bird had come. What they saw horrified them. The whole sky was full of crows, the sparrows on mercilessly hunted. Although the sparrows fought bravely but had no real chance against their bigger opponents. Suddenly a huge raven broke from the crowd and came across the fallen sparrow down. The two badger as he did not notice until it was too late. Orlando's ax described a shiny bow and dug into the chest of the ravens, while Martha's blow split the skull of the bird. Blackbeak was dead before he hit the ground. "Take the sparrow and let's get out of here," said Orlando. Then he ran and Martha with their burden towards Redwall them, accompanied by the sparrows are also retreating.