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It was early Spring in Redwall, so early that the Abbot had yet named the season. And old bankvole, his fur gray-white with age, sat in an enormous armchair, snoring lightly inside the dark and cluttered gatehouse. Dust was everywhere which, had it been winter, could almost have been mistaken for snow. An air of scholarly peace pervaded the air, until a leveret poked his head in the door and said, disappointed, “Th’old buffer’s asleep, wot! What’ll we do now?”
- A squirrelmaid pushed her way into the dim room. “We wake ‘im up, silly.” She took a running jump and landed in the old beast’s lap. He awoke with a start.
- “What’re ye doing, wakin’ yore elders in such shocking a manner?” He asked, not seeming particularly put out.
- “Tell us a story! Please? Pleeeeeaaaaaase?” The squirrel looked at the hare. “We’re bored, an’ you do all the funny voices.” She looked up at the vole, clasping her paws together adorably.
- “Ye’ve got me wrapped ‘round yore little paw, missy,” sighed the vole. “Wot kind o’ story d’ye want?”
- The hare clapped. “Oh, a tale of honor, sah! With loads of adventure!”
- “Yes, yes, a tale of honor!” Squeaked the maid.
- "Oh, well, a tale of honor, y’say? Let me see...”
Wind howled through the huge ship’s rigging, sounding akin to the screams of the damned beasts in hellgates. The wind snatched at the deck of the ancient boat, snatching anything that wasn’t tied down and taking it with her. Sand whipped everywhere, scouring the old planks of the ship’s hull. Nestled safely inside, surrounded by parchments, weapons, and the remains of a long-forgotten meal, paced a wildcat. His coat was pure white, shot through with veins of pale, pale gray. His eyes were a shocking blue, not like a summer sky, but the color of arctic ice, miles and miles thick, and deadly cold. His fearsome eyes narrowed in concentration, he thought of revenge and power. Not too long before the father, the doddering old fool, died of a heart attack, or disease, or just old age. He’d waited long for this, but if Chamel didn’t die within a season, an accident would have to be… planned. The cat grinned, the smile making his face look like an icicle, deformed by a blizzard into cruel and twisted shapes.
- ~-: :-~
Snow covered everything, from Redwall’s high, gabled roofs to the iced-over fishpond. A storm was coming, the old beasts said. They could feel it in their bones. Nobeast was outside, not even some hardworking mole or otter. Every single Redwaller, from the smallest dibbun to the most ancient elder, had piled inside. Some were in the kitchens, drowning winter gloom with cookies, pasties and scones, but most were in Cavern Hole, basking in the heat of the roaring fire.
- ”Have I told you the one about the hedgehog?”
- ”’’Yes’’! ‘’And’’ the one about the molemaid who fell in a hole,” grumbled her friend, a mousemaid.
- ”Terrible, all of ‘em, too,” muttered a squirrel.
- ”Oi! Even geniuses like me ‘ave feelings!” protested the hare.
- ”Give it up, toppers, yore not funny in the least.”
- ”Shut up, Corindon!”
- ”ARGH!” roared Corin, the mouse. She fell upon Toppersworth with a pillow. Feathers flew, and Heath, the squirrel, sighed.
“Shhhhhhhhh!” hissed about ten adults, and Heath blushed. “Toppers! Corin! Stoppit!” He tried to pull the mouse off of her friend, and the maids collapsed giggling. The squirrel rolled his eyes long-sufferingly, until he, too, was bashed by a cushion.