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An autumn sun rose o’er Redwall Abbey, giving the immense sandstone structure a comforting rosy hue. The Abbey Pond shimmered with a facet-like radiance. A dragonfly skimmed over the water, disturbing the placid waters with ripples that sparkled like gems undulating to the shore. Even inside the main abbey building, the far-off star’s light illuminated Great Hall with the stained-glass window’s brilliant colors. The colors themselves found a small, furry presence.
Little Mirch, a squirrel dibbun - which was the Abbey’s name for infants - had woken up just a few minutes before, and was on her way to Friar Trober’s kitchen. Passing under the light, she relished turning into the different pigments that shone on the floor.
Now it’s a well known fact that all dibbuns are mischievous, and Mirch was no exception. Like all her other friends in the Abbey, she desired to have Friar Trober’s special candied chestnuts. But the plump mole had taken a precaution to such things, placing them high up the night before. But Mirch had a small advantage: a well-developed sense of ingenuity, which was uncommon for dibbuns her age. Remembering a smaller window pole in the dormitory, she scurried back up the stairs to get it.
On the way back down, pole in paw, she had to pass the Abbot’s bedroom. The thought of waking up the head of the Abbey when she had her little schemes made her shudder. Her antics might get her on the Abbot’s Report, a list of all the troublemakers in the Abbey. It had been a rumor since it had began, but the thought had lingered throughout the seasons. On her tip-paws, she crept past the door oh-so-carefully. Once on the other side, she ran as quietly as she could. Though since she had already gotten around the corner, she didn’t catch one or two whiskers peeking out of the Abbot’s door!
She was soon back in the kitchen with the pole in her roguish paws. Noticing a small stool by the oven, she pushed it under the shelf that had the chestnuts. Climbing onto the stool, she tried to reach for the bag. Ah! Too far away! Determined as only a sneaky child can be, she leapt onto a counter-top. A few traces of flour had been left the night before. One of her footpaws landed close to some, slipping up her touchdown. She stiffened her bushy tail out to regain her balance, thinking herself lucky to be a squirrel and have that tail. Carefully she edged herself off the ledge and regained her footing.
Surveying the area, she saw she‘d do fine from where she stood. Suddenly an idea began to form in her young head. Leaping back onto the floor, she moved the stool away, and heaved some sacks of flour, which had become lighter with the past day’s labors, in its place under the shelf. Climbing back on the counter, avoiding the floury patch, she began to gauge the distance. Confidently, she tip-pawed to the end of the baker‘s workbench. Summoning what energy she had in her tiny body, she bounded across the table, sticking her pole down before a small dent which had been made some time ago.
Oh how soaring through the air made her feel!. The wind whistling through her fur made her feel invincible. The feeling nearly consumed her mind, even as she came closer to the high-up shelf. Quickly acting, she put the hooked pole in front of her, the hook catching on the loop jutting from the bag of sweet nuts. Like a friendly dog on its leash, the bag obediently followed. The prize was hers! Now there was one thing she worried about: the landing.
In the time it takes to shake a whisker, much happened all at once. Falling almost directly down, Mirch “found” the sacks of flour. A dense cloud of white flour dust filled the room. Early morning light suddenly flooded into the room from the kitchen windows. And finally, Mirch found herself staring into the deep pools of brown that were her Father Abbot’s eyes.
He was younger than most Abbots that were chosen. The young dormouse was at the age where he would have been able to be the Abbey Warrior, had he been chosen. But he had spent more time than most in the Abbey school when he was a young’un. He was, as the saying goes , “An old head on young shoulders“. All those in his charge, including Mirch, knew that they had a wise leader to look up to.
She stared up at him with her mouth agape. She somehow knew she was in trouble. “I’m gonna get anuver baff, I knows it,” she thought. She was surprised, though, when a smile began to make it’s way across Lynad’s features.
“Well now,“ he said, “a little ghost has managed to get the candied chestnuts. And I should go on to say that it got them like an expert. Too bad Mirch isn’t here. She’d be jealous of your talents.”
Rising from the powdered sacks, she shook off the layer of flour. She stood there, a comic little sight. Some of the flour from the impact had smothered itself into her fur. There were splotches of it all over her, with some of the powder “aging” her shaggy tail. Smiling, she squeaked ,“Faver Abbot, I is Mirch!”
In mock surprise, the Abbot put on his best face. “Well lo’ and behold!” he exclaimed, “So you are!”
Mirch began to laugh, but Lynad put a paw to his lips, telling her they should be silent. They crept out of the kitchen and walked to Great Hall.
Once there, they sat under the Tapestry of Martin the Warrior. Martin was one of the founders of Redwall. Though one couldn’t tell because of the sword he leaned on. It was a magnificent weapon. The red stone set into the pommel seemed to glow magnificently, complimenting the sturdy black leather which wrapped around the handle. However, it was the working end of the sword that caught the eye.
The double-edged straight blade was honed to a razor sharp edge. If swung, one could imagine the warrior held a deadly bird in his hand from how keenly the sword whistled.. Old tales said that a great lord forged the blade from a star’s metal, rendering it indestructible. To the astonishment of all who lived in Redwall, that simple, yet miraculous, sword hung above the tapestry on two brackets. Only the Spirit of Martin, who lived on, aiding the Abbey in dark times, could choose the warrior to succeed him as Abbey Champion.
“Please tell me a story, Faver Abbot,“ pleaded the dibbun. She tried as best she could to keep her request quiet, but the sweet chestnuts had taken their toll on her body. She seemed a bundle of energy that needed to burst forth upon the new day. Finally, Father Abbot gave his answer.
“Actually, I’ve been told Sister Phran” - who was the Recorder/Gatehouse Keeper at the time - “was going to tell you a tale tomorrow night, but I had a hand in helping to put it together. I’ll tell it to you, but you have to promise me two things. First, you can’t tell anybeast, and, most importantly, that you won’t sneak the Friar’s candied chestnuts.” “I promise. I promise!” she whispered excitedly. To show she meant it, she crossed her heart. With that, the Abbot began a list of some of Mossflower’s greatest foes.
“Before Gulo the Savage, Cluny the Scourge, even Swartt Sixclaw, there was Nisac Bloodfur: a monstrous wolf from the Land of Ice and Snow. He led a vast horde of murderous vermin towards Mossflower. His empire of terror would have destroyed our beloved wood and all who came to call it home, were it not for the warrior with the badger’s stripe…”