This story is dedicated to my friend Baliss, my stepdad who got me writing and anyone who likes this story. Hope you like it!
Ralon Deathbringer licked the blood off his cutlass, savoring the triumph of captainship. The ship Slyshadow cut through the waves, the early morning sun glinting of his blade. The corsair raccoon threw back his head and laughed. He had finally done away with his father, the fool who believed all the tales told about Redwall Abbey, magic swords and warrior mice. Well, he thought, here was one raccoon who would not be taken in by all those foolish stories. No longer would they spend their winters in the caves of Tall Rocks. No, now they were after the greatest prize a corsair could dream of. The Abbey of Redwall!
Extract from the writings of Brother Remus, Recorder and Cellarkeeper of Redwall Abbey in Mossflower country. Brrr! Winter is coming fast, I can tell. The birds are beginning to fly south. The air is cold and crisp and just yesterday was the season's first snow, albeit only a brief shower of flakes. My trusted assistant Albey the mole and I have just finished carting in our last load of fruits which we will use to make our cordials and ales for the beloved Abbey. Oh, I almost forgot. Today we are celebrating the appointment of good Abbess Meriam with a feast. Old Abbess Germaine passed on a few weeks ago, seasons rest her soul. If you will excuse me, I must leave for now. Albey and I are serving the drinks. We will be broaching a barrel of a new drink we have invented called allfruit cordial. I do hope it will be a success.
Remus put down his quill pen and looked around his beloved gatehouse. It was a small room, illuminated by a lantern hanging from the ceiling. Directly across from where he was standing was a small bed and an armchair . Curled up in the chair was an old otter, sleeping soundly. On his desk was an inkwell with a quill standing point down in it. A pile of parchment and a heavy stone ledger lay next to the inkwell. Almost every other area of wall was covered with shelves. They were completely stuffed with stray parchment, journals, blueprints and books. They were the work of previous recorders, mainly from the old Abbey, Loamhedge. The young vole pulled a cloak over his habit and headed out the door.
Far from the Abbey, far from the peaceful gatehouse, Jad, the lookout of the Slyshadow, had sighted land. He was sipping a small can of grog and looking around for anyone who could temporarily relieve him of his tedious job. Resigned to the fact that he was stuck in the crow's nest for the night, he continued to scan the horizon. Then, far off in the distance, he saw a thin, dark strip. "Land hooo!" he shouted.
Ralon, who had been absentmindedly tossing and playing with his long curved knife, jumped up and yelled "Land, ye say? Where?""Right there, Cap'n" Jad pointed to the small strip in the distance. Ralon laughed "Yahaar, me beauties, that land you see is Mossflower, the land my nitwit father was scared of. Somewhere over there is the Abbey of Redwall. Let me tell you, mates, that Abbey is so chock full of plunder that half of it would fill the ships hold four times."
The crew cheered. Plunder had been scarce lately. Many said it was because Ralon's father, Somostar, had lost his nerve and stopped raiding. But now Ralon had killed his father and became captain of Slyshadow. Ralon was a reckless beast, and the crew knew he could guide them to victory.
A weasel named Dradd stepped up and faced Ralon. "I heard all of ol' Cap'n Somostar's tales about that Abbey, and I for one am not goin' to raid that place."
Ralon calmly drew his cutlass, decapitated Dradd and kicked his headless carcass over the side of the ship. The crew went silent. Ralon glanced down at Dradd's body floating in the water "So be it. Stay here then. I'm sure the sharks won't mind" He calmly strolled away.
The crew watched him walk back to his cabin. They didn't call Ralon the Deathbringer for nothing.
Remus strolled through the double doors of the main Abbey. As he made his way to his cellars, he heard soft giggling. A voice he recognized as that of Suv the molebabe whispered "Burr, Cruff, do ee be 'ushed naow. Usn's gonna gurtly froighten the ol' voleybeast.
Pretending he had not heard, he walked on, laughing to himself. He had always had a special soft spot for the Abbeybabes, or Dibbuns as they were called.
Suddenly, Suv and a tiny hogbabe named Cruff jumped out from under a small table situated near the Great Hall and yelled gruffly "Boo!". Remus made a mock swoon and fell over, pretending to have fainted. Cruff chuckled and the pair walked away.
Once the two Dibbuns had left, Remus got up laughing fit to burst and proceeded to the cellars.
In the kitchens, preparations for the feast were going well. Pasties of mushroom, potato and cheese were baking, salads were being prepared, soups simmering and a huge pie, the size of several Dibbuns, was underway. The pie was filled with blueberries, loganberries, blackberries, cherries and peach slices.
Friar Zalma was an old female mouse. The good Friar had been working in the kitchens since she could lift a ladle, and the fat old dormouse liked nothing better than cooking. Today she stood in the middle of the kitchens, throwing out orders to her many assistants.
"Bidoff, chuck some hotroot into that mushroom soup, please. The otters love their soup with some hotroot pepper in it."
"Dunfo, be a good hedgehog, grab me some greengage and ginger from that cabinet, there's a good fellow."
Remus walked down the steps to his cellars, the air getting cooler as he descended. The cellars were quite large, completely filled with barrels, casks, firkins and kegs. A young mole was stretched out on the floor, fast asleep. Remus gave the mole a fond look before he began to walk around the cellars, searching for the barrel of allfruit cordial. He found it lodged between two kegs of Redwall's famous October Ale. Grabbbing the smooth wooden barrel, he gave it a tug and it pulled free from the kegs.
"Oi, Albey! Wake up, lazybones, I need your help." The mole yawned and stretched. "Hurr, oi bees a'cummin, 'emus. Just let oi get oop." Albey slowly stood up and walked over to his friend "Bo urr, 'tis the allfruity corjul. Oi do 'opes it bees tarsty." Remus chuckled. " I do too, mate. Come on, let's get this barrel up to Great Hall."
By the time the two friends had rolled the barrel, the tables were being laid for the feast. Abbess Meriam had taken her place at the table. She was completely surrounded by Dibbuns and laughing. Remus watched them and knew that the seasons of Abbess Meriam would be happy and peaceful.
The feast began with gusto. The Dibbuns provided most of the entertainment by performing a play they had made up. Soup, pasties,pie and cordial were the main dishes. The allfruit cordial was proclaimed by all to be a wonderful beverage. Abbess Meriam recieved more congratulations than she cared to count.
The happy Redwallers carried the feast on well into the night, unaware that Ralon Deathbringer and his fifty-odd corsairs had anchored their vessel and were headed straight for Redwall Abbey.
Ralon stood on the deck of his ship, grinning wickedly. The raccoon had not planned on reaching Mossflower before daybreak, but a wind had come up during the night and the Slyshadow had made anchor close to sundown. Ralon had traveled in the Mossflower area before, and he was well prepared to journey through the woodlands in the dark.
"Ready your weapons, mates. We march for Redwall under the cover of darkness. You there!" Ralon pointed to a muscular stoat named Monik."Bring me the Taloman" Monik smiled evilly, nodded and walked down below the decks.
The Taloman was a weapon that Ralon had taken during a battle against a fierce tribe of otters. The huge axe had two sides. At the top of the axe handle was a large double-bladed axehead with two spikes driven through the handle below the axehead. At the end of the handle was another axehead, this one single bladed. Parallel to the single axehead were four more spikes set in the handle. The fearsome weapon had belonged to the otter's leader. Ralon had slew the otter and taken the axe for his own. He kept it in a small room next to his cabin. Monik the stoat removed the axe from the brackets that supported it. Strong as he was, he could barely lift it. He carried the weapon to Ralon, who hefted it and supported it on his shoulders. He swung it and performed several artful flips, causing Monik to gape in awe.
Ralon lifted the Taloman onto his shoulder and yelled "Do you hear me, Father! I am not a fool like you! The Abbey of Redwall will be mine! None can stop the Deathbringer!" He turned to his crew and roared "To Redwall!"
In the Great Hall of Redwall Abbey, the feast had come to an end. Sleepy Dibbuns were carried off to their beds. The remaining food was cleared away and only the elders remained in the Hall. Seated at the Abbess's right side was Martin, the Warrior of Redwall.
Everyone knew Martin was getting on in his seasons, but still an air of energy and freshness lingered around his slim frame. He was a small, friendly-looking mouse, but an air of danger played on his kind features. Laid out before him was the legendary Sword of Redwall. The hilt of the blade had belonged to his father, but the original blade had been snapped. This blade had been crafted from the metal of a falling star in the fires of the mountain fortress Salamandastron by the Badger Lord Boar the Fighter. Double- edged and shining, the sword seemed to give off a blue-white glow. Nothing could stop the sword of Martin the Warrior.
Martin raised his hands and spoke. "My friends, last night I had a dream. I saw a strange-looking creature with an axe in his hand, staring at our Abbey, backed by a horde of vermin. I saw our Abbey in flames, the strange creature standing in the wreckage laughing. I called this meeting because this was no dream. This seemed to be a premonition, warning me of things to come."
A long silence followed Martin's pronouncement. Then Abbess Meriam spoke. "Martin, are you sure? How do you know that this was not simply a dream?"
Martin said "I do not know how or why, I simply feel that this is really going to happen someday soon." Bella the Badger Mother of Redwall stood up. "What do you propose we do, Martin?"
"Every Redwaller should be on the alert for anything suspicious. In the morning I will tell the Abbeydwellers of my dream. I do not think this is something that should be worried about too much, but best be on the safe side." Martin said.
"A sound proposition, Martin. No sense taking chances with our Abbey." The elders left the hall and departed to the dormitories.
The Abbey slept peacefully after their feast, unaware that the forces of Ralon Deathbringer were camped in a clearing only a few yards from the Abbey's east wallgate.
Jad the lookout pointed excitedly toward the sandstone Abbey. "Look, there it is!" he said excitedly. Ralon kicked him. "Shut your trap, Jad." he whispered. "Here, have some grub and try to get some shuteye, mates. We're moving deeper into Mossflower. Let's see if we can rig up some grappling hooks. Stealth's the thing to take this Abbey. Tomorrow night we will slip in. When they wake up, they will find a definite shortage of food in their larder."
The crewbeasts smiled. Ralon's plan was a good one. Slowly they would take away all the Abbey's food sources, from their vegetable garden and orchard to their larder supplies. Then, when the Abbeybeasts were weakened from food loss and unsure of what was happening to their supplies, they would attack.
A stoat aptly named Lardy was preparing a meal. Grog, bread and cheese and small bowls of shrimp n' potato skilly were dished out once they were deeper in the woods. Two nimble twin weasels called Radmi and Grima were fashioning some grappling hooks from some ship's rope and fishing hooks. The rest were sharpening blades and axes, eating and preparing for war. Ralon was overseeing this operation, smiling wickedly. He knew that one day he would sit in the Abbey of Redwall. Soon.
Martin awoke early the next day. He got out of bed and walked down to Great Hall to find Friar Zalma eating an early breakfast before the day's work. She pushed toast with rosehip syrup, a blueberry scone and a beaker of mint tea towards him.
"How was your sleep, Martin?"Zalma said. Martin took a large bite of his scone and spoke."I feel uneasy, friend. You heard of my dream last night. I cannot explain exactly how I feel, but I am feeling uneasy about the coming days. As winter comes, I sense war and struggle."
Zalma patted his hand."Perhaps this is just a dream, Martin." Martin took another bite of his scone and said simply "Perhaps."
The day proceeded normally at Redwall, but Martin knew. Something was bound to happen someday soon. Soon, the first War of Redwall Abbey was going to take place.
A hooked rope flew into the air, sticking into the Abbey's east wall with a light thud. The head of a weasel poked over Redwall's battlement. They were in.
Ralon stood below, watching his crew scale the wall. He had given them the instructions to destroy the orchard, garden and, if possible, get to the Abbey larder and empty it. The cellar stores would also be taken with them, as much as they could take. Ralon suddenly realized that a self sustaining Abbey would have a body of fresh water. At first he was perplexed at how to remove it, but inspiration was not long in coming. Approaching the grappling hook was a hooded figure with a belt of flasks and small containers about him. His name was Mantar the ferret, Ralon's poisoner.
Ralon whispered to him."Mantar, somewhere in that Abbey there is a pond or some sort of body of fresh water. Poison it." Mantar looked up and simply nodded. His pitch black fur had patches of bluish grey on it.