To everybeast on this wiki, you've all inspired me to keep writing, and for just being awesome!!! ^^ Also to Cressida Cowell, because she has inspired me so much as well. I'm sure if she was to read this, she would like my Hiccup. XD
I just can't wait any longer, I have to do this! XP Now don't worry, this doesn't mean that I'm abandoning Outlaws of Mossflower at all. I will be working on both at once, which is actually what I have been doing, I just didn't publish any of it until now. ;P
So anyways, this is the first book of my trilogy, A Hero's Journey. So if something doesn't make sense in this story and seems out of place or unresolved, remember it will all come together later. ;) I really hope it will be better than Outlaws, and it should be, as I did not plan Outlaws very well, but I am planning very hard for this one. You can probably expect more illustrations in here than in OoM. I just looove drawing these characters. XD There also might be more songs and poetry. Hopefully. ;)
If you are an HTTYD fan, you will recognize some of the ideas and characters. But don't worry, it's not gonna be like the whole movie but with animals instead of humans, I've tried my best not to do that. XP I'm actually using ideas from both the franchise and the books, and other franchises as well. There's even a part a little inspired by Big Hero 6. XD Please let me know if you want update notifications! :)
One more thing: Here is a link to a map of Torglenn Isle:  :)
So, without further ado...
"I tell the mighty big Blue Whale
His life is over soon,
With one swish of this armored tail,
I put out the sun and moon.
The winds and gales are quivering,
When I begin to roar,
The waves themselves are shivering,
And trembling back to shore.
Once I set the sea alight
With a single fiery breath,
Once I was so mighty that I thought
My name was Death.
Sing out loud until you're eaten,
Song of melancholy bliss,
For the mighty and the middling,
All shall come to this..."
From 'The Supper's Song', by Cressida Cowell ;P
Grunting with exertion, Errol heaved himself up into the tunnel opening. The strong mouse warrior turned and helped his friend, an otter, into the tunnel with him. Stopping to catch their breaths after the long climb, the two looked over the edge down at the small dots moving around on the ground that were the other creatures waiting for them.
"Whew, that was a long climb up the tallest cliff I've ever seen, weren't it? I don't know how I ever made it. Otters weren't made fer climbin' y'know." said the otter, wiping sweat off his brow.
"Aye, lucky those grappling hooks held to the rocks."said Errol, running a paw through his shaggy, windblown headfur. "Anyways, let's hurry up and grab that sword and get back down there, so the others don't start to worry. Remember, go quietly."
The otter and the mouse ventured cautiously and quietly into the blackness, Errol carrying a lit torch. The tunnel seemed to be pretty long. As they walked, Errol began to get a bit anxious, something very rare for him. What if they didn't get the sword? What would Redwall do without it? And what if they needed him while he was gone? Errol didn't normally worry so much, but he didn't really like leaving the Abbey unprotected. He didn't need to worry about his son, however, he had left him in the care of his best friend and adoptive brother, Spikelout.
For a minute, the tough warrior let his concentration to be distracted, thinking about his little son. A lot of beasts couldn't believe that he was the son of the Warrior, and thought he was a little weird, but Errol was sure that by the time he was ten, he would be big and strong like his father, and as good at swordfighting. He was only seven seasons old, anyway, and could have a sudden growth spurt any time. Hopefully.
Thinking of all this made him think of how he had gotten here in the first place. He remembered back to the day when Redwall had suddenly been attacked by fire from the sky. After getting the Dibbuns and oldbeasts in Cavern Hole, Errol and the other warriors had looked up to see a huge creature, flying above the Abbey like a humongous bird of death. It was nothing they had ever seen the like of before, but had only heard stories about. Errol hadn't even thought they were real.There had been a fierce but short battle, which ended in the monster knocking the Sword of Martin out of Errol's paw, grabbing it, and flying off north. Not even an hour after, Errol had set off to chase the beast with a few of Redwall's best able-bodied creatures. The Abbot told him not to go, and surprisingly, Spikelout had refused to go, as he thought it was too crazy, so Errol had left him in charge of his son. He was sure he and Spikelout's own boy would get along great and have fun training together. And someday, Errol would hand his position as Abbey Warrior over to him. But first... he snapped back to the present. He would need to get the sword and bring it back safely to Redwall. That was all. Simple, really, he reassured himself.
The two warriors in the tunnel could hear a rumbling sound, which, as they drew nearer, got louder, and soon they identified it as snoring. They came around a last bend, and suddenly it was a lot brighter, the torch reflecting off all the metal and precious jewels in the cave. They both gasped. The huge cavern was so covered in treasure, they couldn't see the rock floor, and there, in the middle, on top of the pile, lay the monster. Its red scaled chest moved up and down in its sleep, and its head was curled under one enormous wing.
Errol and his otter friend, after recovering from their shock, began picking their way across the treasure pile, careful not to make any noise. Though he pressed himself against the wall and tried to keep his distance from the sleeping creature, once he was in front of its head, he could feel the breeze from when it exhaled. It was truly terrifying, especially when Errol accidentally slipped and clunked a sword against and axe. He froze.
The great reptile's eyelid flickered, and the rumbling quieted for a heart-stopping moment, then continued, though perhaps not as steadily as before. Errol breathed a silent sigh of relief, and continued until he came to the summit of one of the piles. Checking to make sure the monster was still asleep, he looked all around the cave, scanning it carefully, until he spotted what he was looking for. There, on a ledge of rock, reflecting the torchlight grandly, was the Sword of Martin! He went cautiously over to it and picked it up.
Here it was! That was easy! Holding the Sword, Errol felt like the Warrior of Redwall once again. Then he looked around at all the other treasure in the cave, as if he hadn't noticed it before. He put the sword back where it belonged, in its sheath on his back, then made his way back to the tunnel opening.
"Got it!" he whispered to the otter.
"Then let's go!" he said.
"No, wait!" said Errol. "Let's grab as much treasure as we can! The monster will never notice."
"I'm not sure that's a good idea, we just came for what's ours..."
"Sure, but since we're here, and we have the chance, we might as well. Come on, Randy." He began to pick up beautiful daggers, goblets, brooches, and jewels, and soon Randy gave in and did the same. They were so absorbed in stuffing their pockets with precious stones and sticking ornate knives in their belts, they did not notice that the snoring had stopped.
The large yellow eyes snapped open, and slowly, the huge head lifted up. Suddenly, the intruders were startled by an earsplitting roar. They dropped their treasures in fright, and looked up to see the head of the creature just a few yards above them.
"Try to ssssteal my ssword, would you?" it hissed. Errol drew the Sword.
"It is not your sword, it belongs to Redwall!" he said boldly.
The reptile attempted to grab the sword from him, but Errol slashed it across the face. It only left a shallow mark in the thick, tough scale of the lizard's face, however, and bounced back.
"Randy, run!" shouted Errol. "I'll hold him off as long as I can, then I'll follow! Get the other creatures to safety!" The otter obediently ran towards the tunnel, but was stopped abruptly by a large arrow-shaped tail tip which blocked it. The lizard reared its head back, and Errol realized what it was doing just in time, throwing himself out of the way of the fire.
He got back up, looking for another way of escape, but it was plain to see there was none. He sighed, then charged, yelling, "Redwaaaaalll!"
He was prepared to go down fighting.
Book One: Six Must Leave Redwall
Chapter 1: An Unlikely Hero
It's nice out here today, at least, much nicer than being in the kitchen all day. The Friar said he doesn't need me at the moment, but I think it's just because he's tired of me dropping and breaking and spilling stuff. I'm tired of it too. But at least when i'm writing, I don't make too many mistakes. Anyway, back to the nice day. It's sunny and warm, with a slight breeze though. A lot of other creatures are swimming in the pond already, but only the otters and others who are crazy enough. Which would not include me. That water is freezing. I'd much rather sit under this tree and write, thank you. And not get splashed. Tuffpaw just did a cannonball and nearly splashed me. [large ink splatter] Stupid ink. I knew I shouldn't use ink. It always somehow manages to get everywhere. This time it's 'cause Dewrose tripped over me. I'm not the only one who trips on my footpaws around here. Well... yeah, she was tripping on mine... My ears are ringing now. She's a pretty loud yeller, especially when she's angry at me. How can somebeast so pretty be so grumpy and short-tempered all the time? Oh well... Ugh, this time Ruff tried splashing me. Almost got me. Seriously, the last thing I need right now is another ruined notebook. The last one... well, that taught me not to write while sitting in a tree that hangs over the pond. But thi-
Hiccup slammed his journal closed and covered it with his paws just in time, as water came raining down onto him. Two squirrels resurfaced in the pond, high-pawing each other.
"That's what I call teamwork!" yelled one of them.
"Yeah, why haven't we thought of doing it at the same time before?" said the squirrelmaid. "Two of us make one big awesome splash! Did we get ya, Hiccup?"
The young mouse glared at them. "Uh, yeah."
The twins ran off, laughing. Hiccup opened his book again. It had only gotten a couple drops of water on the front, it was fine. He picked up his charcoal pencil this time, and was about to start writing again, when a huge wave cascaded over him, soaking him. He looked up from his soggy book to see a muscly young hedgehog come dripping out of the pond, saying,
"Ha! Gotcha! Time for sword practice, freckles." he walked off.
Hiccup frowned. Great, he thought sarcastically, My favorite time of day. He also didn't exactly like being called 'freckles', though he was of course used to it. He rolled his eyes and looked at his book, which was sopping wet. He got up and walked off, checking to make sure it wasn't too damaged. He was so distracted doing this that he did not look where he was going, and walked right smack into a mole about his age, who screamed and dropped his own book.
"W-woops, sorry, Grublegs!" Hiccup apologized, picking up the book and handing it to him. It was titled Unusual Creatures.
"Burr, et bee's aroight," said Grublegs. "You'm just scared ee heck outa oi, 'cause oi was just readin' 'bout ee floyin' crittur what sukks ee bludd." He buried his snout in his book again and continued on his way.
Hiccup went up to the walltop and spread his wet book out to dry in the sun. Then he went back down, to an area nearby the pond. Waiting there were Snotspike and another older hedgehog who looked much like him.
The latter tossed Hiccup a sword, saying, "There ye are, Hiccup. What took ye so long?" Without waiting for an answer, he said, "Alright, let's see how much ye remember from yesterday's lesson. Ready? Fight!"
Hiccup rolled his eyes a little. Spikelout was a great warrior and everything, but he wasn't much of a teacher. Pretty much all he did was give the two of them swords and tell them to start fighting, giving tips and hints along the way. Besides that, Hiccup didn't really like sword practice, only because he was so clumsy at it. For some reason, the sword just didn't feel right in his paw, no matter what. He knew what he was supposed to do, and how to do it, but somehow he just couldn't.
After about a half hour of Snotspike disarming him again and again, and Spikelout telling Hiccup to do this, hold it that way, over and over, he was fed up.
Snotspike knocked the sword right out of his paw again, with an unbearable smirk. "Oh, come on, spots, can't ya do better than that?"
"I-I-I-I... can't..." frustrated, Hiccup turned and walked off angrily. Miserably, he sat down under an apple tree in the orchard, where there was nobeast near. He buried his face in his paws and sighed. Why did he have to be like this?
To tell the truth, he was not much to look at. He was skinny and way undersized for his age, though nobeast knew why. He had reddish fur, very red headfur, and dark brown freckles on his face that everybeast tended to think looked silly, rather large ears, and was clumsy and bad at pretty much everything. He also had a stammer, so he tried not to speak unless necessary. And to top all this, he was the son of the Abbey Warrior. He would never be able to succeed his father like this, he thought.
After a bit, Hiccup felt a rough paw on his shoulder and looked up. It was Spikelout. He sat down beside the young mouse.
"Hiccup," he said, as kindly as he could, "Do you know why I keep training you in swordfighting?"
Hiccup shrugged. "'C-cause... you think I'll g-get better."
"Because I promised to." Spikelout answered. "Before your father left on that ridiculous quest, I promised him that I would take care of you for him, and train you well in being a warrior. I promised because I love my brother. I've done my best, these eight seasons, and, though you might not have noticed, you are improving."
"Really?" said Hiccup, looking a bit more hopeful.
"A... little." added Spikelout, trying to be nice. He sighed. "But I wonder... if you ever will get to be the Warrior."
Hiccup's face fell again. "W-what do you mean?"
"We still don't have the Sword. We can't really have the Warrior without the Sword of Martin. After all these seasons without it, I have a feeling that danger will come to Redwall soon, and when it does, we're going to need the Sword, and the chosen Warrior to wield it." he looked a bit sad. "Errol still hasn't come back, and sometimes I wonder if he ever will. I told him chasing after that monster with that few creatures was a bad idea, but of course, he never listens to anybeast."
"Of-of course he'll come back." said Hiccup, looking determined. "H-he... has to." For some reason, no matter what anybeast said or thought, he had always felt that his father would return. Even though he was only seven when it had happened, he still felt pretty sure about it.
A bell rang, and Spikelout stood up, slapping Hiccup on the back. "Well, time for lunch. Come on!" He walked off in the direction of the Abbey building, leaving Hiccup still sitting in the shade of the apple tree. The young mouse sighed and followed the hedgehog.
Looking around the table, Hiccup finally found an empty spot and sat down, to find himself right between Grublegs and Ruffpaw. Abbot Edric, a wise old vole, began to speak, and Hiccup nudged Grublegs, who was still reading his book with a nervous expression. The tubby mole squeaked slightly, startled, then closed his book rather reluctantly.
After the Abbot had finished saying grace, Hiccup began to eat a little, but he didn't really feel like it. The problem was, he didn't know what he did feel like doing. Not eating, not sword practice, not drawing, he didn't feel like doing anything right now, and he had no idea why. This just happened sometimes, for no apparent reason at all. He sighed, and set down the blueberry scone he had been nibbling. He suddenly began to feel drowsy. Maybe that was what he felt like doing right now, sleeping. That was really weird though, as he almost never fell asleep in the middle of the day. Whatever. He rested his head in his paws and closed his eyes.
Just a couple of minutes later, Grublegs looked up from his food, (his second favorite thing besides books) to watch as Hiccup got up, and walked over to the tapestry of Martin the Warrior.
"Hurr, whurr ee goin'?" asked the mole. Hiccup did not answer, but went and stood right in front of the picture of Martin. He appeared to be looking up at the brackets above the tapestry, where the sword was supposed to be.
By this time, all the attention in the Hall had been drawn to Hiccup, though he did not seem to mind or even notice. Even the squirrel twins stopped shoving candied fruit up each others' noses to watch as the small mouse began to speak.
"To retrieve something lost,
Six must leave Redwall,
Small and weak, unlikliest,
He will lead them all.
Rose of the morning,
She will go too,
And lover of books,
You know not what he can do.
Also the spiked one,
Strong but unkind,
And the twin paws,
Do not leave one behind.
Travel up north,
To an isle across the sea,
You must find the fire-lizard,
And bring back my sword for me.
Many lessons you will learn,
In becoming a warrior,
And creatures' trust you must earn,
Only then can you be a hero."
As he finished, Tuffpaw whispered loudly, "That's cool! What does it even mean?" Hiccup rubbed his eyes and looked around, bewildered and embarrassed at all the creatures staring at him.
"W-w-w-w... what? What h-happened?!" Suddenly everybeast in the Great Hall broke into chattering.
"It must be a message from Martin the Warrior!"
"Yeah, I've heard of him sending messages through creatures like that."
"But Hiccup? Why would he choose that little..."
"I thought it only happened to famous heroes and warriors."
"Is there danger coming to the Abbey?"
Ruffpaw was yelling, "Yeah, totally!" as a reply to everything, then turned to her brother. "Wait, what's even going on?" Clueless, Tuffpaw shrugged.
Abbot Edric waved his paws in an attempt to restore order. "Please be quiet, everybeast! Friends, please!"
That didn't work, so Spikelout stood up and shouted at the top of his lungs, "Quiet, everybeast!" He had a very loud voice, and soon, the whole room was relatively silent.
"Everybeast, please calm down." said the Abbot, "Continue with the meal." He looked at Hiccup, who was red in the face and had no clue what was going on. "Hiccup, you may sit back down. We will work this all out after lunch."
Still confused, Hiccup sat back down, trying to ignore the curious stares. Snotspike, who was sitting right across from him, stepped on his his footpaw under the table, whispering, "That's gotta be one of the weirdest things you've ever done, carrot-fur."
Hiccup suddenly felt hungry, and ate as Grublegs explained to him what had happened.
After the meal was finished, everybeast stayed, they were all so curious. "Alright, now we will try to figure this out, like sensible beasts." announced the Abbot. "First off, does anybeast even remember what it was Hiccup said?"
They all looked rather blankly at him, then at Hiccup, but then Grublegs saved the moment by holding up a piece of parchment.
"Hurr, oi wroited et daown, oi allwus got parchement 'n' charc'l. Do that 'elp ee?"
"Why thank you, Grublegs, that is very helpful!" said the Abbot, taking the paper the mole offered him. He cleared his throat, adjusted his glasses, then added, "But... I'm afraid I can't... read this very well..."
Grublegs' writing, besides being in mole, was rather sloppy, especially as he had been trying to get it down as quickly as he could. "Is anybeast else able to read this?"
Dewrose, a beautiful young mousemaid with bright blue eyes and a fierce look, took the paper. "I usually can... woah, Grublegs. Does this actually say anything, or were you just randomly scribbling? Sure looks like it was written by a Dibbun. Let's see..."
As she tried to decipher it, Grublegs could be heard saying, "To tell ee truth, sumtoimes oi carn't read moi own wroitin'."
After a little bit, Dewrose managed to read the poem that Hiccup had said. When she had finished, Hiccup was very confused. "I s-s-said all that?"
"Yeah, you did." she said, looking at him like he was crazy. "It was super weird. You didn't even stammer like you always do, and you looked like you were asleep or something. Most bizarre thing I've ever seen, even coming from you." She handed the paper back to Grublegs, muttering, "I always thought there was something wrong with him. Now I know."
"Wait, so what did that poem thingy mean, anyway?" asked Tuffpaw. "I don't get it."
"Good question, Tuffpaw." answered Abbot Edric. "Throughout the history of Redwall, Martin has sent many messages in the form of a riddle. Is anybeast here good at riddles?"
Before anybeast could answer, Spikelout said, "I suggest that anybeast who is good at riddles comes outside with us to solve it, and the rest of you go back to your jobs. If we all sit in here, nothing will ever get done."
"Good idea, Spikelout." said Abbot Edric, then added, "Don't worry, we'll let you all know about what we find. It's just easier if only a few of us work on it, to avoid confusion." Rather disappointed, but obedient, the Redwallers all began to get up and go back to whatever they needed to do, except for the ones picked out by Spikelout and Edric to help solve the riddle.
Chapter 2: Unraveling the Riddle
Far, far away from the Abbey full of puzzled beasts, far across the sea, in a cave in the middle of a mountain, something stirred. It lifted its head, sniffing the air. Some creature was in here, that didn't belong. A rat, in fact. Though it was nearly pitch black in the cave, the scaly beast could see him, pressed against the wall, not daring to breathe, hoping he would go unnoticed. He would not. The unfortunate rat did not even have time to wonder what was happening, as a blast of scorching fire hit him, killing him instantly.
Down below the cave entrance, in the trees, a single pair of curious bright green eyes watched as a monster with a satisfied look flew out of its tunnel, off towards the north. The owner of the eyes shouldered his coil of rope and started for the foot of the cliff, chuckling slightly.
Hiccup, Spikelout, Abbot Edric, Grublegs, and several other Abbeybeasts sat down in the peace and shade of the orchard. Even Ruffpaw and Tuffpaw came, claiming they were good at solving riddles. Nobeast really thought they would be useful, but they let them come mostly to keep them out of trouble, which they were always getting into.
"Alright," said the Abbot, "Anybeast have some ideas...?" There was silence, as they all thought, then Grublegs said, "Hurr, Marthen ee Wurrier wants sumbeast to go get ee sword from ee monster what stoled it severul seasings eego. Eee says to go oop orth, to eee oisland, but oi bain't knowen which one. An' ee say six creaturs, but oi bain't knowen those either. Do that 'elp?"
Snotspike rolled his eyes sarcastically. "Oh yeah, very helpful, Grubby." he turned to Tuffpaw, who was sitting next to him. "Would you quit wiggling around?!"
Tuff was actually laughing and whispering secretively with his sister. "Hey, maybe the twin paws are us! I mean me and Ruff. We both have paw in our name, and we're twins! Get it? Haha! And lover of books could be Grublegs. He's always got his snout glued in a book!" he seemed to think he was pretty funny, but the Abbot was not very amused.
"Tuffpaw, if you don't have anything nice or helpful to say, please just be quiet."
"W-wait," Hiccup finally spoke up. "M-maybe he's right." Tuffpaw stopped laughing to himself.
"See? He knows I'm right!"
"I-I mean, it makes s-sense, right?" said Hiccup.
"Actually, yeah, it kinda does." Spikelout supported the idea. "I don't know about any of the other ones, though."
"I have them all figured out." said Ruffpaw, crossing her arms and trying to look her smartest. "If you wanna hear it. Usually everybeast's just tellin' me to be quiet, though." Edric sighed.
"Well, alright. If you think you've got it, let's hear it." Ruffpaw could tell he didn't really believe her, so she cleared her throat importantly and started, counting them off on her paws.
"Okay! So the six are Dewrose, she's the rose of the morning, Grublegs, he's the lover of books, Snotspike, 'cause he's spiky and strong but not very nice, and the twin paws are me and my brother, of course. Got 'em all! Bam!" she grinned, holding up five claws.
There was a strange moment of silence, then her brother pointed out, "Wait, isn't that... five?" She looked at her paws and counted again.
"Oh, oops! You're right! Who did I miss?" she thought for a minute, then held up a sixth claw. "Oh! 'Small and weak, unlikeliest" is totally Hiccup. There, see? I am good at riddles!"
They were all pretty amazed that Ruffpaw had solved it all, but when she mentioned Hiccup, everybeast stared at him, astounded. Snotspike was disgusted.
"What does the poem mean, 'he will lead them all'?! Hiccup shouldn't even be coming anyway! There must be some mistake!" Spikelout looked at his son sternly.
"Snotspike, give him a break. It's obviously because Hiccup is the heir to the Abbey Warrior, and anyway, Martin knows best. Maybe on this trip you boys will finally work together and become friends."
"Uh, maybe we should go get Dewrose and tell her that she's going." suggested Tuffpaw. "Wonder what she'll say."
"What?!" Dewrose exploded. "Are you sure you got that correct? Him?! No way!" Dewrose was known for having a terrible temper sometimes. She grabbed the squirrel by the front of his tunic roughly. "If this is another one of your pranks, I'll-"
Snotspike and Grublegs joined Ruff, Tuff, and Dewrose, with Hiccup a little ways behind, none of them looking very happy about the whole thing.
"Et not bee's ee prank this toime, Dooroze." said Grublegs. "Coom on, we'm still gotta figgur out ee rest of ee riddul."
A couple of minutes later, Dewrose was calmed down, but still not happy about it. "So we know who's going, but where are we going? Just 'travel up north to an isle across the sea' doesn't help much. Why can't we just get some straight instructions?!"
"Wait, oi amembers sumthin'!" Grublegs grabbed his book, Unusual Creatures. "In this yurr bukk, et says that ee foire lizard lives on ee oisland yurr! See?" Dewrose snatched the book from the mole, reading the paragraph he pointed to aloud.
"It says; "I have never seen this fire-lizard, also called a dragon, myself, but I have heard tales from many a beast about him. They say he is like a huge red lizard, with wings and horns, and he breaths fire from his mouth. He is apparently the last of his kind, and has lived for at least a hundred years. They call him Torwin, meaning "Friend of the Thunder", and he loots treasure from creatures and stows it away in his cave on Torglenn Isle. I do not know if this is true, for I have not seen for myself, and I do not think I will actually believe it unless I see it myself. It seems possible, though." There's not really any more information on the island." finished Dewrose. "But maybe... who's this book by..." she looked in the front. "Maybe Richard Quillrunner, whoever he is, has another book that could tell us about it."
"Oi'll go lukk!" Grublegs got up and ran to the Gatehouse as fast as his short legs could carry him.
About half an hour later, he came out, flipping through a dusty book and sneezing. "Burr, Ah...chooey! Ee dust always makes oi... ah... ah.. chooey! Sneeze." He plopped himself down on the steps. "Well, yurr et bee's. Oislands in ee North Sea, boi ee same guy what wroited ee other one. Hurr, Riftgard... Stromberg... how do ee say thart... yurr et bee! Torglenn oisle!" There was a map, and directions to it as well.
"Yeah! Let's go!" yelled Tuffpaw, who seemed to be the only one the least bit excited about going on the adventure.
"B-b-but how do we get there?" asked Hiccup. "We d-don't have a ship or anything."
"Oh, don't worry about that fer now!" said Spikelout. "Something will turn up. I've been adventuring and questing for years, and it always does. Now let's get you kids ready to leave."
All six young Redwallers rolled their eyes in unison, as if to say, "Yeah, sure. It'll be great." and followed the older hedgehog.
Early the next morning, having packed the provisions and things they would need for the journey, Hiccup and the other five chosen ones stood in the main gateway, saying goodbye.
Dewrose was looking a little irritated, as her parents kept telling her to be careful, and her little brothers were running around with sticks, pretending they were swords and whacking her and each other. Grublegs was getting a bit carried away and started crying a little, which of course did not help the others' moods. Ruffpaw and Tuffpaw had set up some rather destructive pranks inside, and were anxious to get going.
After talking with his son a bit and smacking him on the back encouragingly, Spikelout came over to where Hiccup was standing, waiting for the others to be ready to leave.
"Well, Hiccup." said Spikelout. "Take care of yourself out there, and don't forget that Martin has chosen you as the leader of this group. Make your father proud of you, boy. And... I also hope you find him, if he is still... alive." He slapped the young mouse on the back, a bit more gently than usual.
As Spikelout watched the group walk off down the path, away from the Abbey and everything they had ever known, he wondered if he was doing the right thing, letting Hiccup go. If Errol hadn't succeeded in bringing the sword back, how would this little runt do it? Had he just sent his beloved brother's only son and heir off to his death? He sighed, trying to reassure himself that if everything would not turn out right, Martin would not have sent him.
He took a last look at the backs of the young questors disappearing behind a bend, and turned back into Redwall, closing the gate behind him.
Chapter 3: On the Verge
Stating a little ways behind the rest of the group, Hiccup couldn't help wondering how this was going to work out. How was he supposed to be a leader?! He kicked a stone in the path. They would never listen to him, especially Snotspike and Dewrose.
Each of these two walked on opposite sides of the dusty path, arms crossed and keeping to themselves. Hiccup could tell they were both trying to ignore the fact that they had all been sent out on an important mission together. Grublegs was shuffling along rather slowly, as he was reading at the same time, and paid no attention to his surroundings. The twins were way ahead, messing around as usual, and singing a nonsensical ditty. They certainly did not appear to be very concerned.
"Nuts are nutty,
And so are we,
We are the nuttiest
Him and she!
Cuckoos are cuckoo,
But so are we,
Yeah we are the cuckooest
Her and he!"
It made no sense at all, but they sang it over and over, until Snotspike growled, "Would you guys quit that?!" The twins promptly stopped, with Ruffpaw muttering under her breath, "Sheesh! We're just tryin' to have some fun!" They walked on in cold silence for quite a while, none of them wanting to speak to each other.
Finally Grublegs spoke. "Urr, so... whurr exacktully bee's we'm goen'? Do we'm even got ee plan?" Snotspike stood still for a moment to think, causing Hiccup, who was behind him, to walk right into his spiked back.
"Hey, watch where you're going, clumsypaws!" snapped the young hedgehog. "I thought we had decided to go down the River Moss to the ocean, and then see what happens from there." he said, then added under his breath, "Though this whole idea is just dumb."
"No, I thought we were going across the flatlands." protested Dewrose, pointing a paw west. "Makes much more sense if we want to get to the sea."
"No way, following the river will be way faster." Snotspike argued. "We'll keep going this way." He continued up north on the path. Dewrose crossed her arms, obviously not happy with this.
"Nope. We're going across the flatlands. Come on, guys." she commanded, leaping across the ditch and starting west. Snotspike turned.
"Well, you can go that way if you want, but we're all going this way. So too bad for you." Dewrose was getting angrier by the second, and started to say, "You go stick your head in the river and inhale, you-" but Ruffpaw interrupted.
"Wait, wait, wait, guys. Isn't he supposed to be the leader and make the decisions?" she pointed at Hiccup, who didn't know what to do or say.
Tuffpaw snickered. "He sure isn't doing a good job!" Nobeast paid attention to him though, as all eyes came to rest on the small, freckle-furred mouse.
"So, which way bee's we'm all goen'?" asked Grublegs, trying to be nice. Grublegs was the closest thing to a friend Hiccup had ever had.
"Uh... uh..." poor Hiccup stammered. He swallowed, unsure of what to say. "Th-that way... I... g-guess..." He pointed vaguely toward the flatlands, shrugging a bit. He really didn't know which way would be better.
"Fine with me. Let's go." Dewrose said, marching off briskly in the direction he had indicated. The rest followed, Hiccup trying to ignore the irritated glare of Snotspike.
That night, the questors set up camp nearby a stream on the plains. All around them, as far as they could see, was grass and colorful flowers. They could not even see the distant trees of Mossflower Woods anymore. Most of this beauty was lost on the travelers, however, as in the quickly fading light of dusk, the young Redwallers prepared to hit the proverbial sack.
"I had it first!"
The squirrel twins were fighting over a blanket.
"Here, you guys, one for each of you. Quit that." Dewrose handed Ruff a blanket, breaking up the fight.
"Shut yer traps!" grumbled Snotspike rudely from under his blanket. "I'm tryin' to get to sleep here!"
"Grublegs! Stop eating or we won't have any provisions left!" said Dewrose, snatching the food satchel from the tubby mole.
"But oi still bee's 'ungry!" he complained.
"We already had supper, and that's all you get until tomorrow morning." she told him, hiding the satchel under her pack.
Later in the night, when all the others were asleep, Hiccup wasn't. He lay awake, wondering how he was ever going to survive this trip. It was not going well at all, and this had only been the first day! Why was this happening to him? Why couldn't Martin have picked a better leader, like Dewrose or Snotspike? That sort of thing came naturally to them, but not him, despite him being the son of the Warrior.
He sighed heavily, then froze as he heard a rustling sound. He was afraid to move a muscle, as it could be anything scary in the middle of the night. But he forced his head to move and looked in the direction of the noise.
He breathed a sigh of relief. In the faint glow of the fire, he could see it was only Tuff, twitching his tail in his sleep and mumbling, "Give it back, it's my blanket..."
As Hiccup laid back down and tried once more to get to sleep, he suddenly felt like they had forgotten something. They had eaten, argued, stocked up the fire with wood, done all the things they needed to when camping, so why did he feel that something was missing? He couldn't quite place it. He did not have time to think about this further, though, as his eyes closed and he finally drifted into a deep sleep, worn out by the day's hike.
The next morning, they woke up with the sun, and traveled all that day, and the next. The camping the second night was another awkward, unorganized affair. But on the third day of their journey, they at last spotted hills ahead, which were not covered in plants, so they figured they were sand dunes. They reached them by late afternoon.
"Ho urr!" said Grublegs in amazement. "That bee's ee lot o' sarnd!" Ruff pushed Tuff over, and he went rolling down the side of a dune. At the bottom, he sat up, spitting out 'sarnd'.
"That was great!" he yelled, so his sister rolled herself down the hill as well.
A while later, six exhausted, out of breath creatures emerged from the dunes. The loose, shifting sand was a lot harder to walk through than they had bargained for.
"Let's stop.. here..." Tuff panted, and fell flat on his face. They were all about to take his suggestion, when Dewrose pointed west.
"Look! The ocean!"
At first, Hiccup thought he was seeing just more sky, and couldn't figure out what she was talking about. Then he saw the line of the horizon, almost unnoticeable because both sky and water were the same beautiful blue. It was a lot for six young ones who had never seen the ocean or anything like it to take in. Grublegs was too astounded to say anything, Snotspike and Dewrose both stared but tried to act like they weren't, and even the twins quit throwing sand to look out at the vast blue expanse.
"Well, let's set up camp here." said Dewrose finally. "In the dunes a bit, though, to shelter us from this wind." It was pretty windy, and smelled wonderfully of brine and fish.
Once they had set up their camp behind the dunes, and the others started preparing dinner, Hiccup managed to sneak a little ways off with his books and charcoal. He wrote in his journal some, as he had each night of the journey so far, then began to sketch the landscape surrounding him. He loved drawing, it seemed to be the only thing he loved to do and was good at. No matter how many mistakes he made, he still enjoyed it, and it helped to relieve stress. He liked writing too, but when he drew, he felt like he was drawing all his cares out of his head and onto his papers, where they couldn't bother him for a few minutes, or as long as he was drawing. He could often become so immersed in it that he didn't hear anything around him, as he did now. Until, of course, he was snapped out of it by a pawful of sand in his face.
"Time to eat!" Tuff's voice said. Hiccup spit out some sand and shook it out of his headfur, something he figured he'd be doing for several days to come. He closed his sketchbook and headed back to the campsite.
As they ate, the six discussed their next move.
"But how are we going to get across the ocean?!" Dewrose said, exasperated.
"I don't know!" retorted Snotspike. "I have no idea how to get a ship! We'll just have to wait until something comes along! Y'know, if we had gone the other way, we could have asked the Guosim for a boat or something." he glared at Hiccup.
"Whatever! Too late now!" snapped Dewrose.
"I know!" suggested Tuff. "We could build one!" The glares were turned to him, and he tried to act like he hadn't said anything.
That night, Hiccup had the same feeling that something was missing, but he had no idea what. But he did his best to shake off the feeling, and eventually went to sleep.
Early the next morning though, while it was still mostly dark, Hiccup discovered what it was, the hard way. He was awoken by a net being thrown over him, and the sound of guttural voices. Still blurry-eyed from sleep, he had no idea what was happening, until he saw nets thrown on his companions as well, and they all began to be dragged away by toads. The others were all still sleeping, surprisingly, except for Hiccup, and Dewrose, who fought to get out, but only got herself more entangled. She growled.
"Glokk! Can't get us, furmouse!" laughed an extra ugly toad.
"Oh, just wait until I can!" she ground at them. "Then you'll be sorry you ever messed with me, uglymug!" That was when Hiccup realized what they had been forgetting; a sentry! Of course! They hadn't been posting a guard each night!
How could I have been so stupid? he thought, as the toads continued to drag them across the sand. Well, too late now...
Chapter 4: Dancin' on the Waves
Suddenly the whole fiasco was interrupted by a loud, bloodcurdling yell. "Yahahahaaarrrr!" Turning, the toads saw a tall, muscly, dark furred figure with a drawn sword running towards them, shouting, "Yahahaaarrr! Git out an' leave those beasts alone, ya ugly great globs o' mud!"
The surprised toads croaked in fright and dropped the netted prisoners, stampeding all over one another as they tried to hop away. A bright sword came and slashed through all the nets, freeing the captives. Now that he was closer, Hiccup could see that their rescuer was a strong, youngish sea otter, about in his twenties, with dark brown fur. He wore a blue tunic, boots, a headscarf, and a patch over his right eye.
When all the toads had run away, the otter came over to them, sheathing his sword on his back. He pulled Hiccup to his feet, and helped to get the last of a net off of Grublegs.
"Hey, mateys! Sorry 'bout th' toads. They often bothers travelers in these parts, good thing I were passin' by an' saw it. They're always afeared a me. Ya all okay?"
"Oh, yeah, we're fine, thank you." said Dewrose, brushing sand out of her fur. She turned on Hiccup. "But... I noticed we forgot something. We didn't post a sentry! You are supposed to be the leader, right? So why didn't you think of that?!"
"I-I-I... did, b-but..." he shrank back as she stepped toward him, but the otter held her back.
"Woah, what's goin' on 'ere, mates? Fightin' ain't gonna help nothin'. Come on, let's innerduce ourselves first, an' ya can tell me what's goin' on. Okay?" Dewrose managed to get a hold of her temper, and introduced herself and the others.
"Good ta meetcha, mates!" he said, shaking each of their paws. "Me name's Skut Wavedeep, Terror a the Western Sea. At least, I'm a terror ta the vermin seascum who rob an' kill fer fun."
They told him all about how, seasons before, the sword had been stolen from Redwall, and now they had been sent on this mission and were trying to cross the ocean.
"Well now, think I can help ya wid that." he said cheerily when they had finished explaining. "I got me ship, the Wavedancer, an' I'd be glad ta take ya, I'm always ready fer a new adventure!" he looked at the map and directions they showed him. "Torglenn Isle, eh? I've heard tell a that place, never been there meself, though. So, it's a deal, then?"
They all nodded, and said, "Yeah!" He grinned, and led them to his ship.
"Burr, oi bee's doyin'... Oi'll never see moi mum agin... Urrr..."
They had been sailing for a day now, and Grublegs was in complete misery. He wanted to 'die' in his bunk below decks, but Skut had him sitting out in the bow, saying the fresh air would help the seasickness go away. Tuff had laughed at the poor mole at first, but after hanging his head over the rail for a while, he now sat near him, with an empty stomach.
"Wimps." snorted Snotspike.
"Snotspike, even the most seasoned an' experienced sailors gets seasick sometimes." Skut told him. "I meself have been sailing mosta me life, but I still gets sick once in a while. So don't worry 'bout it, mates." He patted Grublegs gently.
Dewrose was steering. Skut had shown them all the ropes, so to speak, but sailing a ship seemed to come naturally to the pretty mousemaid.
"Ahoy, Dewrose, why don'tcha let Hiccup steer fer a bit? I don't think he's had a turn yet, have ya?"
Hiccup shook his head. Dewrose reluctantly let him take over.
"Fine. But if I know him, we're gonna hit a rock and sink, even if we are out in the middle of the ocean. I'm telling you, something's gonna go wrong with him steering." She was wrong, however, and the next week was fairly uneventful, with a fair wind and beautiful weather.
During that period of time, Grublegs got better, and Skut watched the six young ones closely. He was observing that they all argued a lot, were not nice to Hiccup, and couldn't seem to ever work together. He wondered if there was anything he could do about this, but every time he tried to break up a fight, it didn't seem to help anything.
Finally, one day, as he was at the wheel, he called them all to him.
"Well, mateys, we're almost there, should come in sight of the island soon." He indicated the chart. "What's the plan after that?"
"Uhhh..." they all shrugged, and looked at each other rather cluelessly, except for the twins, who were playing 'strawberries'. Their version of it included them hitting each others' heads, while saying, "Strawberries! Strawberries! In a dish! How many berries! Do! You! Wish!" until they fell to just counting while hitting each other.
Dewrose glared at them, irritated, then said, "Well... we didn't really have a plan at all, just... somehow grab the sword from the fire lizard, then go back home, I guess." Skut was sort of expecting this, but he was still a bit surprised.
"What? Ya wanna steal somethin' from a dragon, an' ya don't even have a plan?! I see ye'll need me help, as well as somethin' else."
"Something else? Like what?" asked Snotspike.
Skut put it to them very straightforwardly. "Teamwork! Ya can't do nothin' widout teamwork. You kids keep fightin' an' arguin' like a buncha grumpy Dibbuns. If ya all put aside yer differences an' aryments, this whole trip will work a lot better, be much easier, an' who knows, ya might even have fun. I'm not trying ta tell ya what ta do, don't get me wrong, I'm just givin' ya some friendly advice, an' sayin' that maybe, if ya work together, it could turn out alright in the end." When he had finished, they were all rather silent, as this speech had made them think a bit.
"Wanna steer fer a bit, Hiccup?" he asked. "An' Tuff, ye can be lookout, we should be sightin' land anytime now."
The squirrel climbed to the top of the mast, and Hiccup took the wheel. As he kept the Wavedancwer on course, he did his best to enjoy the spray in his face and the breeze, which actually a bit chilly, coming from the north, but he felt like he had wiggly worms in his stomach. What would they do when they reached their destination? He knew nothing about getting swordds away from giant fir lizards safely, and he was sure neither did anybeast else on this ship,except for maybe Skut. He shivered. The wind was getting colder now, and stronger.
Then he heard Tuffpaw call from his position at the top of the mast call, "Hey, guys, I see something!"
"Is it land?" Dewrose shouted back up.
"I don't think so!" he answered, "Unless the island we're looking for looks like a big black cloud!"
"I was afraid of this," said Skut. "The wind has been getting stronger. Which direction is it?"
"Um, east, no... south!" he yelled down. "No wait, I think it's west-east... that way!" He pointed north. They all saw it now, a huge dark mass of clouds that they were heading straight towards.
"Yup." said Skut rather grimly. "A big one, too. Alright mates! Let's get the sails hoisted an' get 'er ready fer the storm!" As they began rushing about, doing what he told them, Grublegs asked nervously, "Burr, wot bee's we'm gonna do?"
"We're gonna ride out the storm, matey." said Skut, taking the wheel back over from Hiccup. "Here, I think I should steer fer now, 'kay? Don't worry 'bout a thing, Grublegs. I do this all th' time. Just do what I tell ya, an' we'll all come out of it slicker'n a greased cod."
The waves were getting pretty big now. They got all the sails secured just in time, as the rain hit them and the gale really began to pick up. Soon they were all soaked to the skin.
"I-I-I-I'm... c-c-c-cold..." Hiccup shivered, stammering more than usual.
"Yup, it gets pretty chilly up here in the north." said Skut, clenching his teeth in concentration and wiping water out of his good eye. "I thinks there are a few cloaks in me cabin. I never uses 'em, so ya can take 'em if'n ya want."
Lightning flashed all around them, thunder shook the sky, and the waves were so high now it seemed to Hiccup, who had never been in a storm at sea before, like they would tip over any minute. Trying to cross the slick deck moving up and down was not easy. Hiccup soon slipped and fell flat on his back. As he slid across the deck, he managed to grab the rail, and hung on there, small, soaked and bedraggled. The others held on tightly to whatever they could, waiting to see what would happen next.
Skut centered all his attention on keeping his ship on course, and above the water. Suddenly, in a flash of lightning and through the heavy rain, he saw a dark shape straight in front of them, which he immediately knew to be land. He turned starboard sharply, almost panicking, but it was too late. There was an audible crunch, and he knew from the sound of it that it was a big one, and they would be going down fast.
"'Ellgates!" he exclaimed. "We've hit a rock!"
"What do we do?" yelled Dewrose over a loud crack of thunder. He abandoned the wheel and grabbed some rope.
"We gotta build a raft an' get ta shore! Help me tear up some boards! An' somebeast go find Grublegs!"
As they hurriedly began ripping up the deck, Hiccup got up and made his way to the cabin to look for the mole, as nobeast else was doing it. He opened the door and came in, the wind slamming it behind him. He saw no sign of Grublegs, and was just about to go back out when he heard a sound from one of the bunks. He rushed over and pulled down a blanket to reveal a very frightened and pale young mole.
"We'm bee's sinken'! We'm gonna doy!" cried poor Grublegs.
"C-come on, we've gotta g-g-go!" said Hiccup, pulling him onto the floor in his rush.
"Oi'm too young to drownd! An' oi 'ates water!"
He half-dragged the sobbing mole out of the cabin, to the already finished raft. The Wavedancer was very low in the water now. Skut pushed it into the wild sea, and they all hopped on.
As the waves pulled them, farther away, they all watched as the last of Skut's beautiful vessel, deck disappeared beneath the water. Skut was very sad.
"Me pore beauty Wavedancer..." then he looked at the dark shape in front of them. "If we can just make it to the land..." He picked up a board began trying to paddle. "Almost there..."
Hiccup could make out rocks and trees now, and just as it seemed they would be relatively safe, there was a crack! The makeshift raft broke on a rock, spilling them all into the sea.
The water was so breathtakingly cold, for a few moments Hiccup couldn't breath, and his chest began to hurt. He went under a couple of times, but at last managed to grab a loose board. He pulled himself up onto it as much as he could, gasping for air. He looked around, and saw Snotspike, Tuff, Ruff, and Grublegs, who had all grabbed boards like him, but where were Skut and Dewrose? He saw a shadow under the water, and, glad he could swim, held his breath and dived.
Dewrose had never felt anything so freezing cold, it shocked her so much that her chest ached and her limbs would not move. She knew she was sinking below the waves, but was not able to make her arms move to swim. Then, half-consciously, she felt a paw grasp her arm and swim upwards. Must be Skut... she managed to think, before blackness enveloped her.
Nobeast noticed as Hiccup broke the surface, gasping and dragging an unconscious mousemaid with him. Hiccup knew things always felt lighter underwater, but still, he didn't quite know how he had done it. He hadn't really given it much thought. Just at that moment, Hiccup saw the beach right in front of him, and a couple of seconds later, blacked out as he hit his head on a rock.
Book Two: To Retrieve Something Lost
Chapter 5: A 'Dastardly' Meeting
Splash! Hiccup woke as the freezing cold wave hit him. He sat up to find himself on a pebbly beach, surrounded by his traveling companions. It was dark, but the storm was over, and it was now night time. He tried to stand, but groaned and sat back down, holding his pounding head, and feeling a large lump where he had hit it on the rock.
Soon the others began to wake up. Hiccup wondered how they had all kept together. Dewrose sat up beside him.
"What happened... where are we?"
"Must be Torglenn Isle." Snotspike said, picking some seaweed off his headspikes.
"Well, duh, I knew that." Dewrose looked around. "Where's Skut?" They all peered through the darkness, but there was no sign of the otter.
"W-what should we do?" asked Hiccup, who was shivering violently now. The others were pretty cold too, even Snotspike, who tried not to show it.
"Hey guys, there's a light over there." Ruff motioned toward the tress.
"Quit being such an idiot. Why would there be a light on this island?" Snotspike growled grumpily.
Dewrose looked. "No, wait, she's right! Looks like a campfire!"
"M-maybe it's S-skut?" suggested Hiccup hopefully.
"Let's go check it out!" Tuff said, starting off across the rocky beach. "C'mon!"
Once they entered the trees, Dewrose stopped them.
"Shh! If it's not Skut, and I don't think it is, we need to be careful! We'll sneak up quietly and make sure first. Let's go." They were all too tired and cold to argue, so they followed as quietly as they could.
As they reached the spot where they saw the fire, they stopped just outside the clearing, behind a bush. In the clearing was the fire they had seen, and a whole bunch of weapons, along with some other random junk, all of which was scattered all over the place. They were puzzled. This definitely wasn't Skut's camp, so whose was it?
Snotspike grabbed Hiccup, whispering, "Go find out whose camp that is, hurry up, I'm freezing!" and shoved him right into the clearing. Hiccup squeaked a little, shielding his face with his arms automatically, think something or somebeast might jump on him. Nothing happened. He put his arms down, still rather nervous. There was nobeast in the camp, but the fire was still going. What was going on here? Hiccup was about to turn and say something to the other five hiding in the tree cover, when he heard a rustle from a bush in front of him. He started to back up, but was too late.
A creature sprang on him with a growl and knocked him over on his back, sitting on him and pinning him to the ground. Firelight flashed off of metal as the attacker raised a knife in the air, aiming at his throat. Hiccup squealed in fright, but was helpless with his arms pinned to his sides, so he just closed his eyes tightly, waiting for the blow. It didn't come, though.
A friendly voice said, "Oh, hi! What're you doin' here?" Hiccup looked up to stare into two curious bright green eyes that reminded him of his own. The attacker lowered his knife, sheathing it in a belt across his chest.
"M-mind letting me up?" Hiccup gasped awkwardly.
"Sure, no problem." The creature got up off of Hiccup, who could see now, by the firelight, that it was a fox. He was young, only a few seasons older than Hiccup himself, and looked very handsome and charming. He wore a light purple tunic, with boots, green pants, and some armor, as well as a helmet that partly covered his face.
"Who are ya?" asked the fox. "Whaddya doin' here? I'm Dagru the Dastardly. What's yer name? Might as well tell your friends to come out, I know they're there." The others came out when they heard this, warily.
"I-I-I'm... c-c-cold." was all Hiccup managed to stutter.
"Funny name." said Dagru, then, seeing the others shivering and soaking wet as well, "Oh! I see, you're all wet and cold! Here, sit by the fire an' I'll get ya somethin' to warm up!" He shot off energetically in the direction they had just come from. They all sat by the fire, and tried to get warm. They didn't say anything, but were all thinking the same thing; why was this fox so friendly and nice? They had always been told that foxes were bad, and never to trust one. Soon he came back with some bundles.
"Here's some blankets!" he said, tossing them each one. "I also got some extra clothes. You guys are really gonna need more to wear than just that, here in the north." He plopped himself down by Hiccup, still talking. "What're you doin' here anyway? You still haven't told me. Oh never mind, tell me later. You look pretty tired, you should get some sleep. And warm up. Goodnight!"
They were indeed cold and exhausted, and to much so to think, so they went to sleep, deciding they would deal with this tomorrow.
Rather late the next morning, they all woke to find that Dagru had some breakfast all ready for them. Still rather bewildered, they ate, and discussed their current position.
"First of all, where is Skut?" asked Snotspike. Even he was beginning to get a bit concerned.
"He must be somewhere on this island." said Dewrose. "When we were spilled into the water, he pulled me up to the surface right as I passed out. I have no idea what happened after that, though."
"Uh... a-actually.. that was... m-me." said Hiccup. He flinched, expecting her to do something to him. Dewrose was about to get angry and start berating him, but she stopped herself. She looked like she didn't know what to say, and was quiet for quite a while, so Hiccup relaxed a bit.
"Wait, so what is going on here?" asked Dagru, a little upset. They still hadn't told him anything. They introduced themselves.
"We were shipwrecked here in the storm last night." explained Dewrose. "But we can't find Skut, he's an otter pirate. We're here on a quest."
"Cool! A quest?" Dagru brightened. "I love quests! What're ya lookin' for? Can I help?" Snotspike gave all the others a look that said, don't tell him anything, and answered, "Can't tell ya. it's a secret."
"Oh, fine." said Dagru, looking rather disappointed. "But maybe you guys can help me! There's a big ol' dragon who lives on this island, called Torwin, and has has like TONS of treasure in his cave. A lot of it is stuff that was stolen from my tribe several seasons ago, so I'm trying to get it back. I can never get into the cave, though. It's like waaay up in the side of a super tall cliff, with spiky rocks below. So, wanna help me?" The six glanced at each other.
"I guess we could try." said Dewrose finally. "But if even you don't know how to get up there, how are we gonna help you do it?"
"Um... teamwork, I guess?" Dagru shrugged. "I dunno. I'll be right back, I've gotta go get something really quick." He left, going in the direction of the sea once again.
"There's that word again." muttered Ruff to her brother. "Teamwork."
When they were sure the fox was out of ear shot, Snotspike said, "What? Help him? Why are we helping him? He's a vermin! We don't need help anyway."
"We'll watch him carefully, he probably has valuble information about this island and the dragon, and how to get to it, information that we could really use." said Dewrose. "Anyway, he helped us, so if he is honest, why not return the favor? We'll keep a good eye on that fox, and if he tries anything..." she nodded. "Don't worry about it." Snotspike crossed his arms.
"Alright, whatever. But if he double-crosses us at the last minute, remember; it's not my fault."
"For now, let's just wait until he comes back, then see what happens." said Dewrose, getting the last word in.
While the others sat there and waited, Dewrose grabbed Hiccup by the arm and pulled him behind a tree. What did I do this time? Hiccup wondered, gulping.
"Hiccup... why did you save me in the wreck?" she asked.
Hiccup couldn't tell what she was thinking, but answered, "B-because... I... d-don't really know..."
"That's not a reason." she replied. "Why did you do that for me?" Hiccup was rather confused, not sure if she was angry or what.
"I-I just didn't really... think about it..." he finally said. "I just s... saw you and... I don't know!" Dewrose didn't appear to be angry now, but her face was still unreadable.
"Well, okay. I still don't get why you would do that, though, when..." she looked away. "I've never... done anything for you."
"S-same here..." said Hiccup, relieved she was not mad at him.
There was an awkward silence, then she added, "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I just kinda wanted to say... thanks for that." she gritted her teeth. This was really hard for her to say. "I don't know why, but thanks." She hurriedly went around the tree and sat back down by the fire again, Hiccup following quietly a few minutes later.
They waited there for several more minutes, until Dagru returned, carrying several large coils of rope.
"Here's some more rope!" he said cheerily, dumping them on the ground. "Gonna need a lot to get to that tunnel!"
"It sure took you a long time to get just that." observed Tuffpaw casually.
"Yeah, they're heavy, whadja expect?" Dagru said, snapping a little. "And I had... something else I needed to do, but never mind." His grin returned as quickly as it had disappeared. "So, wanna go out an' get that treasure?"
"Sure! Grab some rope an' let's go!"
They all shrugged, each picking up some rope, and Dagru led them off toward the direction they had come from in the first place.
"What are we doing?" asked Ruffpaw. "I thought the dragon was that way!" She pointed north. "And we just just came from this way!"
"Just wait a minute." said Dagru.
Sure enough, they found that the beach they had been washed onto was in fact a cove, and in it sat a small ship. It was a sleek, flat-bottomed longboat, with a shape like nothing the young Redwallers had seen before. Each side had a row of bright shields along it, and the figurehead was carved to look like a fox, painted in bright colors. A brown sail hung on the single mast, in short, it was a beautiful ship.
"This is the Boneshatter." Dagru said as they got on board. He patted it. "Ain't she a beauty? She was my dad's favorite ship. anyways, instead of crossing the land, 'cause that'd take too long, we'll go around the island to the cliffs. Duhhh!"
"The mouth of this bay looks really narrow." observed Dewrose. "How do you get in and out without hitting any rocks?"
"See that rock on the shore there?" Dagru pointed behind them. "And the tree behind it? When I'm comin' in, I just have to line up the tree and the rock, and if I stay on that course, I'm safe from any rocks. I'll show ya when we're comin' back in."
With Dagru at the tiller of his little ship, they came out the way he had just described, and headed up toward the northern end of Torglenn Isle.
Chapter 6: If at First You Don't Fricassee...
"Well, here we are. The Cliffs of Fire. Cool name, huh?" Dagru said as they went ashore.
They all looked up at the massively high, rocky cliff towering above them. It was so tall that Hiccup almost fell over onto the sharp rocks he was standing on, trying to see the top. Up near the far away top, they could see a black hole, which looked rather small from where they were. That was the tunnel they needed to get to.
"Burr, 'ow bee's any creature gettin' oop thurr?" wondered Grublegs aloud. "Et bee's astamishing! Makes oi dizzy just lookin' at et!"
"There used to be a rope, I think." explained Dagru. "But it's long gone. See, there's a bit right here." He indicated a piece of big, thick, old rope which lay on the ground right under where the tunnel was. It was half covered in sand and weeds, but Hiccup could tell it had been burnt at one point. He suddenly had a bit of a sick feeling in his stomach. What if this was the same piece of rope his father had used? He could imagine Errol climbing up this rope to the tunnel, then the rope being burnt by Torwin and falling, then... He tried to shake the awful thought out of his mind. His father was the Abbey Warrior, of course he would be fine. Just... where was he?
The young mouse's thoughts were interrupted by Snotspike saying sarcastically, "Great! So what do you expect us to do, climb up like a spider on a wall? Or do you think we should fly? Yeah, that might be easier."
"Sure!" returned Dagru. He turned to the twins. "I dunno about flyin', but you guys are squirrels, squirrels are s'posed to be good climbers. So why don't one of you climb up there an' drop a rope down for the rest of us?" The two looked at him like he was totally stupid.
"Uhh, we climb trees, not cliffs. And that is taller than any tree I've ever climbed." replied Ruffpaw.
"Yeah, I don't think my claws would like that rock." added her brother. "So, no."
"Well, then, I guess you're not that good of climbers after all!" humphed Dagru. "Or else you're just scared!"
He expected a reaction from them, but Tuff just said, "Actually, yeah, I am kinda afraid I'll ruin my claws on that stone." Ruff nodded and looked at her paws.
"Yeah, mine are too pretty to be ruined."
"W-wait, Dagru?" Hiccup spoke up. "I-is there... a w-way up on top of the... mountain?"
"Yeah, we could go around the bottom and take the trail up there. Why?"
"W-why don't we just... go to the top of the mountain, and g-go down to the tunnel from there?" Dagru paused, trying to figure out what he meant.
"Oh! You mean, lower ourselves on the rope into the tunnel from the top? Good idea! Why haven't I thought of that before?! Let's go!" The young fox's good mood returned, and he started off briskly into the forest, with the six following, Snotspike saying, "I was just about to say that, y'know. Quit stealing my ideas, string bean."
They made their way along the base of the mountain, through the trees, until Dagru led them off up the side of the mountain.
"Oi thought ee said thurr wurr ee trail." panted Grublegs, who was way behind the rest. "We'm bee's goen' straight up ee soide of ee mounting!"
"What's the matter, tubby, can't take it?" Dagru seemed to be hardly out of breath. "There was a trail, but I guess it kinda disappeared or somethin'."
About halfway up, though, they all needed to catch their breath, and stopped for a minute.
"Wait a sec," said Dewrose. "What about the dragon? Won't he be in his cave? Or did you forget about that?"
"Oh, don't worry about that." said Dagru. "I've watched Torwin closely, and he's always out hunting at this time of day. He shouldn't be back for several more hours, we'll have plenty of time to get out of there and safely away with the loot. Let's keep goin'!"
Once they reached the top, they stopped to rest up again before making their next move. After a minute or two, Dagru stood up and took the coil of rope he had been carrying this whole time to the edge of the cliff, the others following. They looked cautiously over, but turned back from it quickly, all feeling rather dizzy, even the twins. It was a sheer drop, and so high that the Boneshatter, anchored in the sea below, looked like a tiny toy boat.
Grublegs covered his eyes and scrambled away from the cliff, squealing, "Hourr! Et bee's hoigher'n ee wall, oi bain't goen' near et, nay zurr!" Ruff and Tuff recovered from the dizziness quickly, of course.
"Just don't look down, 'fraidy mole!" Tuffpaw laughed.
"That doan't 'elp oi," moaned the mole. "'Cause oi knows what's daown thurr!"
Dagru studied the cliff face. "Hmm, I can't see the tunnel from here, dern it. Well, let's just try this for now." He tied the end of his long rope to a strong rope nearby.
"I wanna go down first!" Tuff grabbed the rope and disappeared over the edge.
"Oh, well, okay." Dagru shrugged. "Do you see the tunnel now?" Tuff kept going down the rope, paw over paw.
"Uhh... yeah! There it is! To my right. I can't reach it though."
"Come back up and we'll move the rope." Dagru called down.
Hiccup couldn't resist holding his breath, it was rather scary watching Tuff climbing on the rope with only his bare paws, no harness or anything, and up so high. But the young squirrel went nimbly back up the rope, as if he was merely climbing a tree in the orchard back home. As soon as he was up, Dagru untied the rope and put it on another rock a little ways over, and Tuff slipped down it once again.
Soon, the rope slackened, and they heard him call up, "'Kay, I'm in the tunnel! There's a bit of a ledge. What next?"
"Just wait there and we'll all join ya." answered Dagru, and descended the cliff face almost as fearlessly as Tuff, with Ruffpaw doing the same.
Hiccup was next. He gripped the thick rope tightly with both paws and went over the edge. He gulped, trying not to look down, as he carefully inched his way down it. It was quite windy up on the mountaintop, which made it even more intense. Suddenly a large gust of wind knocked Hiccup off balance and he spun around, squeaking as his body slammed into the cliff side. His head hit a rock, stunning him a little, and he felt his paws slipping. Then he lost his grip almost all together, but still holding the rope, slid down, and just when he thought he was going to keep right on going to the end of the rope, his footpaws touched the ledge. Dagru pulled him into the tunnel, as he was still rather dazed.
"That was close, ya almost fell there." he remarked, then called up, "Next!"
"Burr nay, oi bain't goen' daown thurr furr nuthin'!" Grublegs did not want to do it.
"Well, you're going down whether you like it or not." said Dewrose, grabbing him by the arm and marching him to the edge of the cliff. "If you don't, Torwin might see you."
"Oi doan't care! Oi bain't goen' near that cliff!" Grublegs tried to get away, but she was too strong for him.
"Well, then, I guess we'll have to do this." Dewrose pulled up the rope and tied the end of it securely around the mole's round middle. "There. At least you're safer now, right? But it will be more comfortable if you hold on to it." She shoved the unwilling Grublegs toward the edge. "Now go. You're wasting time." He moaned, but made himself go over the edge, with one paw tight on the rope, and the other covering his eyes, and the mousemaid lowered him down to the ledge, a bit quicker than he would have liked.
Dewrose and Snotspike followed, with no fuss, and soon they all stood in the tunnel together. Dagru conjured up some torches out of seemingly nowhere, and lit them, handing one to Dewrose and one to Hiccup.
"We've wasted enough time! Let's go find that loot!"
As they ventured into the darkness, Hiccup thought of his father again. Had he gone into this same tunnel? And what had happened after that? Part of him wanted to know, but part of him didn't. He switched his torch to his other paw. They were both stinging from ropeburn.
Meanwhile, Dewrose was beginning to wonder if she was right to trust Dagru with their lives. What if he was leading them into a trap? Walking right into a dragon's cave seemed rather foolish and suspicious, she thought.
She glanced at the young fox, who had started telling about when Torwin had attacked his village in the Northlands several seasons ago, though nobeast appeared to be listening. He seemed quite friendly and honest, but Dewrose had heard plenty of stories about tricky vermin, and was still on a fence about this one. But what would they do if it was a trap? She tried to dismiss the thought and kept walking.
"...So I grabbed my sword, and rushed outside, to see this huginormous red dragon destroying the Mead Hall," continued Dagru as they went, "He tried to shoot me, but I dodged behind a house, which just happened to be Grungnir's, he's a grumpy, mean old rat, and the house like burned to the ground! Serves him right! Too bad he wasn't in his house, though. I was fine of course, so..." he stopped. "Oh, I'll finish tellin' ya later, I think we're here!" They could see a glint ahead, and hurried forward, until they stepped into a huge cave.
The seven young creatures stopped abruptly and stared in awe, as their torches revealed the room to be filled with all kinds of treasure imaginable. Swords, axes, daggers, and helmets, as well as goblets, brooches, unrecognizable things, and more trinkets than could be described, were all piled together as if they were kitchen scraps in a compost heap.
"Woah." exclaimed Tuffpaw. "That's a lot of stuff."
"So where do we start?" asked Ruffpaw, picking up a decorated mace that caught her eye. Dagru had not even seen the hoard until now, and it was honestly a lot more than he had expected.
"Ummm..." He obviously did not want to admit that he didn't know.
"Dagru, we couldn't even take half of this in one go. It's totally not gonna happen." Dewrose said.
"No, no, I didn't mean all of it." said Dagru hurriedly. "Just what Torwin stole from my tribe."
"And how are we going to know exactly which stuff it is he took?" asked Dewrose doubtfully.
"Weelll..." Dagru paused, and for a second, Dewrose thought she saw a slight glint in his green eyes. Then again, maybe it was just the torchlight... "Well I'll recognize it when I see it, of course." said Dagru, a bit overconfidently. "Like this, see?" He picked up a silver brooch set with small jet stones. "This belonged to my cousin Lars." He tossed it aside, grinning. "But I don't think I'll bring it back for him. I've never liked Lars."
There was a sudden gasp from Tuffpaw. All the others' heads turned to see what he was looking at, but saw nothing unusual.
"What?! What is it?!" Dagru's paw automatically strayed to the sword on his back.
"It's... it's... it's..." Tuff could hardly speak.
"What is it?!" Dewrose snapped, unable to stand the suspense.
"It's the most beautiful thing I ever saw!" Arms outstretched, the squirrel ran to the corner he had been staring at, where a few weapons were leaned against the cavern wall.
"It's just some old weapons." said Snotspike, not understanding. None of them were.
"No, I'm talking about... this..." he tenderly picked up a plain mace with a leather-bound handle. "Hey there, Daisy. How 'bout comin' home with me?"
He spoke in a high voice out the side of his mouth. "Oh, yes, Tuffy! That would be so wonderful!" Cradling it in his arms, he kissed it. "Oh, Daisy..."
Snotspike, Dewrose, and Hiccup all smacked their paws onto their faces at the same time, groaning. Dagru just twirled a paw next to his head, mouthing the word, "Cuckoo..."
A thought suddenly entered Hiccup's head. Where was the Sword of Martin? It was what they had come here for in the first place, and now was his chance. He glanced at Dagru, who had started picking up things and looking at them, before slipping them into a satchel that he had brought, but Hiccup hadn't noticed before. He seemed pretty relaxed about this whole thing. The small mouse began to climb over the piles of treasure, searching for a glimpse of the sword. Dagru noticed.
"Hey, whatcha lookin' for, Hiccup?"
Is it that obvious I'm looking for something? wondered Hiccup, who had been trying to be subtle.
"A... a sword..." he answered.
"How 'bout this one?" Dagru grabbed a sword that was leaning against a shield. It was simple, with a green-tinted hilt. "I know it looks plain, but sometimes plain swords are the best." said Dagru, swinging the weapon and feeling it. "Like my Deathkiller, for example. It looks boring, but it's such a great sword, it's been passed down through several generations, to me." he drew the leather-bound hilted sword from his back, running his paw along the flat of the blade lovingly. "Ain't ya, beauty?" he sheathed it again, handing the other sword to Hiccup. "Come on, take this one. It feels nice and light, would prob'ly work well for ya."
Hiccup felt it. It felt heavy to him, but of course the swords he had always practiced with were very light ones, and wouldn't stand up to much in an actual battle. In fact, Snotspike had broken several. He was reminded of a time when he was a Dibbun. His father had handed him Martin's Sword, telling him, "Get used to it, son. Someday, you will wield it." He had felt like a great warrior, until Errol's paw left the hilt, and he was holding it on his own. Then the blade had outweighed him, and he had fallen to the floor, the sword on top of him. His father laughed, kindly though, and picking him up, placed him in his lap and said, "Don't worry, Hiccup. In a few more years, you'll be able to lift it, and I'll train you to be the best warrior Redwall has ever had."
Hiccup sighed, coming back to the present. "I... g-guess." he said, accepting the sword. Then his eye caught the shield it had leaned against. It was metal covered, with a blue, winged, lizard-like creature curled around the center. He picked it up. It was surprisingly light, and the worn leather straps felt soft on his arm, a perfect fit.
"Th-this is cool." he said, mostly to himself. Dagru looked at it.
"Hm. My sister used to have one almost like that. Pretty neat wyrm design there."
"W-wyrm?" Hiccup didn't know what he was talking about.
"Yeah, that's a wyrm, the blue thing." Dagru explained. "It's what a dragon with no legs is called. Kind of a boring looking shield, though, if you ask me. You can have it if you want." he shrugged. Hiccup slung the longer strap over his shoulder, a perfectly convenient way to carry it. While Dagru bused himself with gathering more loot, Hiccup inconspicuously continued searching for the Sword of Martin.
Meanwhile, Dewrose had found herself a weapon of choice as well. There, hung on a rock, was a battleaxe. She grabbed it. It was fairly simple, with some old leather binding on the handle. She ripped that off, as it was falling to pieces, so she could replace it with something better later. The head was solid and rather heavy, but all the better for swinging, she thought.
She had only been trained a bit in sword fighting, but when she felt this axe, she liked it better than any sword she had ever picked up. She only had a vague idea how to use this, but was confident she could figure it out. That was mostly what she did, after all. Both the Father Abbot and her parents did not really approve of the young mousemaid learning to use deadly weapons, so she mainly trained herself in secret. Sometimes, though, she was able to convince Snotspike's father to teach her a bit, though he was rather reluctant. He was always teaching Hiccup, who didn't even want to do it, so why didn't he want to instruct her? she thought. It just wasn't fair. Whatever. She took the axe anyway, then looked up to see what the others were up to.
Snotspike had apparently found himself a war hammer, and was taking some practice swings at a stalagmite, smashing the rock to bits. He stopped, resting the hammer on his shoulder.
"Awesomely destructive! I love this thing! Huh, it says something here on the head." he studied it, scratching his neck spikes. "Mm? My... oll...ner? What in the what is that supposed to mean?!" Dagru looked over his shoulder.
"It says Miolnir. Whoaaa, cool!"
"What, have you seen this before?" Snotspike asked.
"Nope. Never heard of it. But it sounds cool." He saw Dewrose's axe and went to check it out. Snotspike gave him a wierd look.
"Burr, 'ow much toime 'ave we'm gotten?" asked Grublegs nervously. He had only found a small knife that was to his liking. "Oi bain't loiken et in yurr. Et bee's too dark."
"What, I thought moles liked the dark." said Dagru.
"Not this yurr moler." Grublegs gulped.
"Aww, I think we've got plenty a time." Dagru continued. "We've just gotta grab what we've got so far an' get outta here. We'll comeback tomorrow for more. Come on, let's go." He started toward the tunnel, and the rest followed.
Just a little way in, though, there was a noise, and they all halted, listening. There it was again. Coming from in front of them, was a sort of a flapping sound. They all glanced at each other. Dagru's eyes grew wide in alarm. He motioned for them all to move back into the cavern, which they did, quickly.
The noise changed, to a sound like footsteps. But not soft, furry footsteps, more like... Hiccup's heart began to beat faster as it dawned on him. There was a scared whine from Grublegs. Dagru mouthed one word, "Torwin!"
The seven young creatures hid behind some large stalagmites, putting out their torches as they did so. They knew there was no chance of getting out now, but maybe if they waited until the dragon came in, then they could sneak out. They all held their breaths, as the footsteps came closer. They stopped almost right in the cave. There was a snuffling sound, then an unidentifiable noise, followed by a bright burst of fire, and a large stalactite seemed to flame up all on its own.
"Why don't you come on out. Did you really think you could hide from me?" said a sinister voice. Hiccup, peeking out slightly, drew his head back into his hiding place quickly. The voice must have come from the dragon, he thought, but he hadn't even seen his mouth move. They all stayed silent, not stirring a muscle.
Torwin sighed, and laid down on top of all his treasure as if it were a soft bed, shooting fire at the stalactite again to light up the room. "Oh, well, maybe they're not in here."
Dagru rolled his eyes, then motioned for the others to follow him. They slowly, carefully moved out from the cover of the rock formation, toward the tunnel. They walked backwards, keeping all eyes on the apparently sleeping dragon. Just as they reached the tunnel though, and just as they thought they would make it out unnoticed, Hiccup tripped, falling flat on his back. He squeaked slightly, and the others glared at him for making noise, until they saw what had caused him to fall. Their eyes moved up from the scaly tail he had tripped over, to the owner of it, whose eyes were now open.
"There you are. I was wondering when you would come out. If you didn't, you'd probably just sit there forever. Did you really think I wouldn't notice?"
Dagru began to move, but a huge wing covered the tunnel entrance.
"Why don't you just stay a little longer? I haven't had some good fun in a while." Torwin's voice sounded pleasant, but his face showed cruelty. None of them knew what to say.
Then Torwin's eye landed on Hiccup. The small mouse gulped, trying to scramble away, still on the ground, as Torwin moved his own face closer to his. There seemed to be something along the lines of recognition in his yellow eyes.
"The moussse!" he hissed. Hiccup was too terrified to speak, as the dragon raised his head, eye pupils slitting in anger. "The stupid, foolish mouse who tried to take my sword! You look almost just like him!"
Hiccup finally found his voice. "H-he's my father! Where is he?" he looked surprised at himself. He could hardly believe he had just said that. Torwin laughed sadistically.
"Oh is he! Are you sure you want to know?" He didn't wait for an answer. "Well, I suppose I could tell you, but all you have to know is... he's dead." He finished with a snarl. "That is what happens to those who trespass on my property."
Hiccup felt his stomach churn. "W... why should I believe you? I won't, unless I see... p-proof!" He didn't exactly want to see proof, if there was any, but he had to know. Torwin laughed again.
"Well, if you insist..."
He tossed a small object in front of Hiccup. His throat tightened as he saw what it was. His father's belt buckle. He picked it up with a rather shaky paw. It was a simple rectangle shape, with a red and green design on it. Errol had always worn this, almost never taking it off. He had said it was because it was a family heirloom, but Hiccup did not know much else about it. He held the buckle tightly in his small paw, and looked up, tears in his eyes.
"I... still d-don't..." he didn't want to believe it, but deep inside, he knew it must be true.
Then he started, as Torwin added, "But he was not the first I have seen that looks like you..."
"Huh?" Hiccup stared at him, confused.
"Never mind." Torwin waved a claw dismissively. "Now, let's get this over with, shall we?"
Dagru could tell he was preparing to fire. "Yeah, let's!" Drawing one of his daggers, he slashed it deep into the wing that blocked the exit. Torwin roared in pain and drew it back automatically, revealing the tunnel.
"C'mon!" Dagru yanked Hiccup to his feet and they all dashed into the dark tunnel, Torwin roaring behind them.
They had not gone far when they heard him coming after them. Grublegs was running as fast as his stout legs would go, which was surprisingly quick, now that they were in danger. Hiccup was a little behind the others, as he was trying to attach the buckle to his belt as he ran. When he got it on, he sped up, though the sword and shield he was carrying slowed him down quite a bit.
"W-wait... up..." he shouted, though he knew it was useless. Suddenly, his sword caught on something and he tripped, falling on his face. Dagru stopped, and pulled him up quickly.
"Don't stop, what're ya doin'?!"
Hiccup pulled on his sword, which was stuck in a crack in the stone wall of the tunnel. There was a grating sound, and a bit of rock dust fell on him. He pulled again, harder, looked up, and got some in his eye.
"Come on, forget about the sword, Hiccup! Torwin's catching up!" Dagru said urgently, but instead, Hiccup started pushing on the sword. Rock dust began to fall all around them.
"H-help me, Dagru!"
Dagru saw the crack widen a bit, realized what he was doing, and pushed the sword too.
Dewrose stopped briefly to look back, and seeing what they were doing, ran to help. As she did so, Dagru shoved his full weight against the sword, and the blade broke with a loud snap, but the crack opened as well, and they heard a rumbling noise.
Just as Torwin came around the corner, screeching in fury, the noise turned to a crashing, grating, roaring sound, and the roof of the tunnel began to collapse. Hiccup had fallen over when the sword broke, so Dagru pulled him up roughly, half dragging him away from the collapsing tunnel.
Dewrose, right behind them, saw a big rock falling straight at them, threw herself hard against Dagru's back, and the three of them went flying a full three feet. The boulder smashed into the tunnel floor right where they had been seconds before.
As Hiccup landed hard on the rock, for what seemed the hundredth time that day, with Dagru on top of him this time, his right arm somehow got twisted beneath him, and he hit it on a rock, squealing in pain.
The rumbling stopped, and the rocks settled, closing off that section of the tunnel completely. The roars of Torwin could only be heard very faintly from the other side.
Dewrose picked herself up, brushing off her dress. "That should keep the dragon away for now." she said briskly. Dagru sat up.
"That was a great idea, Hiccup, collapsing the tunnel like that! Sounds like something I would come up with! Why didn't I?!"
Hiccup only moaned, holding his hurting arm. Dagru helped him up, more gently this time. "Come on, let's get outta here while we can."
They hurried to the end of the tunnel, still anxious to get out. Blinking in the bright daylight, they all scrambled up the rope, which was surprisingly still there. Even Grublegs was so scared he scuttled right up it. Hiccup, though, had to be hauled up, as his arm hurt too much to climb. They grabbed their rope, and headed down the mountainside.
Chapter 7: Fry, Fry a Wren
While Dewrose took a turn at the tiller of the Boneshatter, Dagru inspected Hiccup's arm. "Nahh, it ain't broke, you can still bend it, so it's fine. Just try not to use it too much and let it rest."
Hiccup sat down against the mast, holding his arm gently. He sneezed. Strangely, his nose had been feeling a bit tickly since last night.
"That was some quick thinking there, Hiccup!" exclaimed Dagru. "How did you know that crack was there and would collapse the tunnel? That was really cool!"
"Yeah, thanks for getting us into the mess in the firt place, freckleface!" snapped Snotspike angrily, interrupting. "We've almost gotten killed several times on this trip, and it's all been your fault!" Hiccup cringed as Snotspike raised a paw to hit him, but the hedgehog was surprised when his fist was caught in midswing by a paw smaller, but stronger than his. Dagru stared him coldly right in the eyes.
"Don't ever do that again." he said, calmly but with menace. Then he gave Snotspike's arm a quick but firm twist, and sat back down by Hiccup as if nothing had happened, wiping his paw on his tunic.
It was just enough that Snotspike's arm hurt badly, but only for a few minutes. He glared at the back of Dagru's head, who was now talking to Hiccup again. He gritted his teeth in anger, but he knew this was not the time or place to start a fight.
As they came in the cove, Dagru demonstrated how to get in safely, by lining up a certain rock on the shore with a bigger one behind it, then going straight on that path.
In the camp once again, they all ate, then decided to rest from the day's exitement. Tuffpaw snored with his back against a tree, while his sister tied him to it with a spare rope. Grublegs was reading as usual, Dewrose started sharpening the axe she had picked up, and Snotspike sat sulkily against a tree on the far side of the camp. Dagru was sitting on a log, polishing his knives, mostly because he had nothing else to do.
Hiccup took the buckle off his belt and studied it sadly. Turning it over to the back he saw something he had never noticed before, as his father had always been wearing it. He let out a slight gasp.
There on the back was a faded but unmistakable blue dragon symbol, just like the one on the shield, and under it, carved into the metal was a name.
How could his name be on it? He also figured it was somehow connected with the shield. His tired mind was in a whirl.
"Something wrong?" asked Dagru, hearing the sound of astonishment.
"N-no..." Hiccup put the buckle back on, then suddenly, without warning, sneezed.
"Well then why do you look like it?" Dagru said, not fooled. "Is it what Torwin said about... your father, was it? If you don't mind me asking, what was that about, anyway?"
"Yeah, I g-guess..." Hiccup answered, staring at the buckle. "I just d-don't know if I believe Torwin or not. Ab-about... that. Do you think he c... could be lying?"
"Welll..." Dagru looked at the fire. "I don't know if there's really any way to tell. I don't see why he wouldn't lie, but then again..." He didn't want to make the young mouse feel worse than he already did by telling him that it was highly unlikely that Torwin was lying. Hiccup smothered another sneeze in his tunic sleeve.
Grublegs piped up from where he was sitting with the few books he had brought with him, and somehow managed to keep safe in the shipwreck. "Oi wunce read ee can tell if'n ee dragon bee's loyin' boi lukkin' at ee eyes. If ee poopils get smaller, ee bee loyin', but if ee stay ee same, ee bee tellin' ee truth." he shrugged. "Doan't know if'n et bee true though." He went back to his book.
"W... well, we could try it." said Hiccup, still unhappy though. Dagru tried to change the subject to a more cheerful one.
"Hey, wanna have a practice swordfight? I have an extra sword or two." He motioned to the piles of emergency weapons near the campfire. Hiccup held up his right arm carefully.
"Uhh, n-not really." It still hurt, especially if he tried to use it.
"Oh, right." said Dagru. "But I can still show ya a few things, right?"
"I g-guess." Hiccup shrugged, and sneezed again. Dagru stood up and began to demonstrate his skills with his throwing knives. He had very good aim, hitting his target spot on almost every time, and even adding in several fancy moves. He walked over to pull his knives out of the tree.
"Showoff." muttered Dewrose. Dagru turned, grinning challengingly.
"Oh, I guess you could do better?"
"Well, I dunno about knives," she answered, "But I've got this axe."
Before Dagru could answer, she had thrown her axe. It flew spinning through the air, and went clang off the tree, clattering to the ground. Dagru shook his head.
"Ya gotta put a little less effort into it, so it spins more slowly." He reached for the axe, but Dewrose grabbed it quickly.
"I know!" she snapped. She threw it again, and once more it bounced off the tree with a ringing noise. She growled, tried again, and it bounced again. Finally she let out an angry yell and sunk the blade deep into the tree trunk with a thunk.
"Is she always like this?" Dagru mumbled to Hiccup, who paused, then nodded slightly.
"Dewrose, couldn't I at least try it out?"
"No!" she stormed. "I don't need some fox telling me how to use my axe! I know how to do it!" Dagru shrugged.
"Fine. But since you saved my life in the cave there, I just feel like I owe ya one, and thought I could repay it by being nice and showing ya a few things."
He started to turn away, but she growled, "Oh, fine, go ahead, if it'll shut you up." She shoved the axe into his paws. He shrugged, then proceeded to show them all some axe tricks he knew.
Ruffpaw, who had finished tying up Tuff by this time, now sat nearby, watching Dagru with a silly grin on her face.
Once when he demonstrated an underpaw throw into a log, a long, "Woaaaahhhhh..." came from the squirrelmaid. Dagru, pulling the axe out, saw her admiring look.
"Uhhh... what're you doing?"
She waved a paw at him. "Keep doin' what you're doin'... keep doin' that..."
Dewrose smacked her paw into her face, at the same time that Hiccup did.
"Ruff!" Dewrose said disgustedly. Dagru looked back and forth between the two girls.
"Wha?" He looked at Hiccup, obviously not getting what she meant, and missed seeing the kiss Ruff blew in his direction. Dewrose groaned, then finally went over and whacked the squirrel on the top of her head with a paw.
"Ruff, would you quit that!"
Ruff smacked her paw away. "Hey, don't hit me. Fine, I'll shut up." She sat against a tree, arms crossed, but still watched Dagru through half-closed eyes.
Dagru shrugged again, and handed Dewrose's axe back to her. "Here ya go. Nice axe." Dewrose took it, started to turn, then stopped.
"Dagru... I shouldn't have yelled at you. Those were some pretty neat tricks. ...Sorry."
"No problem!" Dagru answered, grinning. "I get yelled at all the time. It's normal." He walked back over to the fire. "Anyone else getting' hungry? 'Cause I am." He produced some fish from a pack.
After they had cooked the fish, Dagru passed it out to Hiccup, Dewrose, and Ruff. Tuff stilled snored, tied up to the tree and Snotspike obviously wanted to be left alone. The fox shrugged.
Hiccup had a tickly feeling in his nose and throat again, but he tried to get rid of the sneeze by rubbing his nose and sniffling hard. Then he finally managed to get out the question he had been trying to ask all day. "D-dagru?"
The young fox grinned at him. "Yeah?"
"Why... why have you been so nice to me?" It was spoken quietly, and not quite the words he wanted, but surprisingly, he did not stammer much. Dagru stopped, his pawful of fish half way to his mouth, then let it drop slowly.
"Well..." He looked thoughtful. "'Cause... I..." now he seemed to be stammering too. "When I... saw you, I just thought you looked... like me, I guess? Like that even makes sense." He gave a somewhat awkward laugh, then stuffed some fish in his mouth hurriedly.
Hiccup looked at him. "W-wh-what do you mean?" He couldn't see how this outgoing, talkative young fox was like him.
Dagru pointed at Hiccup's headfur, saying through his mouthful, "Red hair..." He took his helmet off, revealing long, shaggy red headfur just like Hiccup's own. He shoved it back on a moment later. "Orange fur... green eyes... and we nearly had the same name."
Hiccup stared at him. "What? What do you... mean?" Dagru swallowed, then took another bite before speaking again.
"My parents almost named me Hiccup."
"W-why?" Hiccup couldn't imagine why someone would name their child such a silly name, he had no idea why he had it even.
"Isn't it... obvious?" Dagru motioned to himself. "Don't you even know what your name is?" Hiccup shook his head. Dagru sighed. "Well in the Northlands at least, it means a mistake, or a runt. It would have been my name, if my mom hadn't come up with a better one, Dagru." Hiccup was a bit shaken to hear this. Why would his parents give him a name like that, and not even tell him what it meant?!
"You... you mean you're..."
Dagru nodded. "Yeah. I'm a runt too." He looked at the ground. Hiccup wouldn't have known it, he had never seen a fox up close, so he did not realize this one was small for his species. Then he thought of the belt buckle. Could it have something to do with his name? But... how could that be... he shook his head slightly, his mind in a jumbled confusion.
Dagru spoke again. "That's... why I like you, I guess. We seem so much alike." He smiled again, his face lighting back up. "Hey, we should be brothers! Like, blood brothers!" He cheerfully pulled out a knife from his belt. Hiccup shook his head vigorously.
"N-no, I don't think we should do... that..."
Dagru was a bit dissapointed, but he put the knife back. "Oh well, we can still be brothers!" He looked so friendly and happy Hiccup didn't know what to do, he didn't want to say no, but he wasn't really quite comfortable becoming the brother of somebeast he had only known since yesterday. He shrugged, forcing a tiny smile, which ended up looking extremely awkward. Dagru didn't seem to mind. He put his arm around Hiccup's shoulders, belching and taking another bite of fish. Hiccup suddenly broke into multiple sneezes, so fast he could barely breath in between.
When he had stopped and was holding his aching head, Dagru had taken his arm off him and said, "Woah, are you allergic to something?" Hiccup sniffed and looked a bit dazed from so many sneezes in a row.
"I.. I don't know. Must be... s-something on this island. Ohhh, my head."
Dagru thought. "Could it be reptiles? Maybe it was Torwin."
Hiccup shook his head. "It... d-didn't start until just about now, I don't th-think it's dragons." He sneezed again.
"Hmmm." Dagru glanced around. "Must be a plant here that you don't have where ever it is you live. Could it be the Logi trees maybe? Do you have those?" Hiccup shook his head again, sneezing into his tunic once more.
"Huh." Dagru finished the last of his fish. "Weird."
For the rest of the evening, they mostly talked, meaning Dagru did almost all of the talking, which he seemed to love. He told tales from his home, Skarsgard, about giant sea monsters and insanely strong heroes who fought them, most of which Hiccup thought were either not true or greatly exaggerated by the young fox. He also told about things that had happened to himself, even how he had been dared by his cousin to sneak into the garden of an old, mean rat named Grungnir, to steal a cabbage, but been chased off by the scary old man.
"He's really creepy!" Dagru said. "He carries a staff that doesn't look very strong, but it sure hurts." He rubbed his head in memory of it. "He grows like bazillions of cabbages, seriously, you wouldn't think he'd miss one stinkin' little cabbage! And boy, does he stink! Once when I was sneaking across his roof in the middle of the night..."
"Why... were you doing that..." interrupted Hiccup as he paused to take a breath, which he hadn't for quite some time now. Dagru shrugged.
"That's not important right now. Well anywho, I was sneaking across his roof, but I didn't know about the weak spot and fell right through and into his creepy house. He got up to see what the noise was, and found me, but I got out of there like lightning. Seriously, his house stunk like crazy! And I can smell him coming even if I'm in the Hall and he's at the armory!" He seemed to think this was pretty funny, but Hiccup, having been brought up at Redwall, thought it sounded a bit rude to be talking about an old man like that.
It was dark now, but Dagru talked to Hiccup for a while more, until Dewrose said, "'Kay, can you quiet down now? I think we need to get some sleep if we're planning to do anything tomorrow."
"What do ee plan be?" asked Grublegs.
Dewrose shrugged. "I thought Dagru had one."
"Of course I do." said Dagru confidently. "Tomorrow morning we'll go up there again, this time up the mountain, and see if Torwin is still trapped in his cavern, and if it's still blocked. If it's not, we can go in there and see if we can get any of the treasure. If it is... well, I haven't really... thought it out in detail yet, but I will... do that tonight." He grinned a bit sheepishly.
Dewrose looked somewhat unconvinced. "Well, okay... if you're sure."
How come she doesn't seem to mind Dagru being in charge, but she hates me, when I'm supposed to be in charge?! thought Hiccup miserably, as he tried to get comfortable in his blanket by the fire that night. Why would Martin choose him? Nobeast listened to him, and never would. He had not even tried, he just knew it wouldn't work.
Just as he got comfortable, Dagru started talking in what he thought was a whisper to him, and giggling, until Dewrose grumbled from the other side of the camp, "Dagru, if you think that's whispering, I don't want to know what you think is a yell. Just shut it, will you?!"
"Fine." Dagru scowled and laid back down somewhat sulkily, but as he did, he thought he heard something like a kiss from the direction of Ruffpaw. He looked over at her, but the squirrelmaid had quickly rolled over, pretending to be asleep and fake snoring very loudly. Dagru rolled his eyes, wondering what she had been doing, then finally settled down.
The next morning, after they had all eaten and were well awake, they set off through the forest toward the mountain. They were going this way this time, because if Torwin was watching, he would expect them to come around in the ship again. Dagru led the way, slashing underbrush away with his sword. They still weren't completely sure what exactly the plan was, Dagru didn't seem to want to talk about it, and kept changing the subject quickly. Snotspike tried one more time as the fox hacked at a branch.
"Seriously, do you even have a plan?!" He crossed his arms stubbornly. Dagru turned to him.
"Of course!" He viciously chopped down a fern that didn't even seem to be in the way. "Isn't Deathkiller like the coolest sword ever? It looks plain and kinda boring, but it's been through lot and isn't even hardly chipped. See? And I always keep it super sharp." He sliced through a branch as if to demonstrate, and kept on walking. "Apparently, it was taken by one of my ancestors several seasons back, from a mouse who said he was like a king or somethin'. Not much of anythin' if he just let 'im take his sword." He laughed.
His stranger than usual behavior brought back Dewrose's suspicions. She decided to continue watching him closely, even though if had wanted to do anything to them, he would have done it long before, she tried to reason with herself. Still, she couldn't help feeling a bit cautious, he was a fox and a vermin, after all.
Soon the trees grew thinner and they were climbing up hill, until there were not many trees at all around them, and they walked across mostly boulders. They were mostly big ones, so the young creatures had to rock-hop, which was very easy for the twins, and fun for them. Dagru, Dewrose, and Snotspike had no problem with it, Hiccup stumbled quite often, but thankfully did not get seriously hurt, but Grublegs had the worst time of it. The tubby young mole moved slowly from rock to rock, trying to pick out the easiest paths where he didn't have to jump.
"Hoo urr, bee's we getten to ee trail soon?" He decided even the trail was smoother and easier than this.
"It's just up ahead a bit, I think." answered Dagru.
Out of breath, Grublegs called, "Burr, wait up, let oi rest ee bit!" and sat down on a rock. A second later, the other six, hearing a scream, whipped their heads around just in time to see the mole disappear into the rocky ground.
Chapter 8: Broken Trust
"Hoo urrrrrrrr!" after the scream came a thud, then silence. Dagru, Dewrose, and the twins hopped quickly back to where Grublegs had been a moment before, with Hiccup scrambling along behind. They soon saw that the rock Grublegs had chosen as a seat had been on the edge of a wide hole, and had given way when he sat on it. It was so large, they wondered how they had passed right by it. Peering in, they saw a figure laying on the ground.
"You alright, Tublegs?" Dagru called down. The mole sat up.
"Burr, oi bee's aroight, but et bee's dark daown yurr... an' et's Grublegs."
"Sorry." Dagru said, adding to Hiccup, "But I think Tublegs fits better, don't you?" He looked back down the hole. "Hey, Grubby, is that a tunnel in there? Can ya see how far it goes?"
"Burr, I doan't know, et lukks loike ee tunnel to oi, oi doan't care, get oi outta yurr!" The poor mole looked very frightened.
"No way, we're comin' down there!" answered Dagru. "The tunnel is prob'ly a secret back entrance to Torwin's cave! I've heard there's one, but never knew where it was."
"You could have at least mentioned it!" Dewrose frowned. "Why didn't you tell us?!" Dagru shrugged.
"Ya never asked." She rolled her eyes and gave him a withering look. It didn't affect him, as he glanced down the hole once more. "Ehh, not too deep." He slipped off the edge, landing lightly at the bottom. "Ya comin', guys?" he said, but Dewrose had already followed. The twins did the same, then Snotspike, and lastly Hiccup, who didn't have the most graceful landing and ended up on his tail. Dagru pulled out a torch from his pack and lit it.
"Yup, goes right in the direction we're goin'!" He started into the blackness. "C'mon, we'll surprise Torwin if he happens to be there."
"Urr, you means... go in... thurr?" Grublegs pointed at the dark hole hole nervously. "But et's dark..."
Dagru sighed. "Seriously? A mole afraid of the dark? What next?! Well, I guess you'll just have to wait here for us." He shrugged dismissively and they all started into the tunnel.
It was about the same size as the entrance they had previously used, and maybe even darker. Dagru gave a torch to Dewrose and one to Grublegs, to comfort him and keep him quiet. They trudged on through the tunnel, which went on and on, straight through the mountain. There was not much up or down hill, and it was fairly smooth, easy walking.
Dewrose watched a large cave cricket scuttle into a crack and swiped away a spiderweb hanging from the ceiling. "Looks like the dragon hasn't used this tunnel in a long time." she observed, a moment later adding, "Aaand there's why..."
In front of them was a dead end. Some huge boulders had fallen, blocking it.
"Ughh, darn it!" sighed Dagru in frustration, smacking his helmeted head on one of the rocks. "I totally thought this would work!" He sat down against them. "Gahh. Stupid rocks. Well, guess we'll have to use the boring old regular entrance."
The others sat down too, to rest a bit before heading back, as they saw they would have to do. Only the twins didn't. They started climbing around on the rocks, throwing small stones at each other and laughing. Tuffpaw scampered up the rocks blocking the tunnel.
After a bit, Dagru stood up. "Well, let's head back now and try the other way." The rest got up and were about to leave, when they heard Tuff's voice.
"Hey, wait for me, I wanna explore this cool place." They looked around, but didn't see him. "Up here, in this cool hole." They looked up to see the squirrel's face grinning out at them from a hole in the wall of boulders. "It's just big enough to fit through. Cool, huh?"
His sister's face appeared behind his. "We're goin' already? We haven't gotten to explore this much."
Dagru hopped nimbly up onto the boulders, and, climbing to the hole, peered in. "Hey, just enough room to fit through! C'mon!" He slipped through easily.
Dewrose and Snotspike followed, then Hiccup, and Grublegs almost got stuck, but they managed to yank the squealing mole through, nearly losing his pants in the process.
The tunnel continued, until at last they emerged into a smallish room, with an opening at the other end. Going through it, they found themselves surrounded by piles of treasure again. They stood gaping like it was the first time they had seen it, it was still so astounding that all this treasure could be in one place.
Then they remembered the threat of Torwin, but after a cautious look around, they found he was nowhere to be seen.
"Oh goody!" exclaimed Dagru happily. "So if we just grab as much stuff as we can, we can just take it all out through this back exit. Torwin wouldn't be able to fit though it."
The twins ran off and resumed their messing around, playing in the treasure like Dibbuns in the Abbey Pond. Snotspike, Dewrose, and Grublegs went seperate ways to see what interesting things they could find. Dagru started to wander around a bit, picking up things he said looked familiar.
Hiccup followed him a bit, but when he wasn't paying attention, slipped behind a pile by himself. He had to do what he had come here for; find the Sword of Martin. He scanned the walls. Then his eyes were somehow drawn to the floor, but not the treasure... he didn't know what it was, but something made him feel uneasy about being in this cave. His senses were telling him there was something dangerous and bad in the cavern with them, but Torwin was gone, so what? And if he wasn't here, where was he? The small mouse glanced around nervously, his ears and whiskers twitching, but saw nobeast near him, and heard only the twins messing around and the happy squeals of Grublegs, who had found a book or two by the sound of it. He tried to shrug the feeling off, but it stayed on his mind for a while, though he focused on looking for the Sword.
Something caught his eye, something shiny, with a red stone... he started toward it, then squeaked in surprise as he felt himself pulled away backwards from it, and hit the wall abruptly with a clang. At first he thought one of his companions was playing a trick, but he saw only the cave wall behind him. He tried to pull away, and found it was only his shield that was stuck, so he slipped the carrying strap off his shoulder and turned to take a look. He peered behind the shield, but saw only rock. He pulled and pulled on it, until it finally came off with a metallic sound. Now he saw the cause of the problem. Attached to a chain hanging from a snag in the wall, was a paw-sized stone. It was a smooth, shiny black, round, flattish, and had a simple design carved in the front. Studying it closely, Hiccup saw it was stuck on the chain by itself, and with some difficulty he managed to pry it off. He figured it must be some sort of very strong magnet. He knew Grublegs would be very interested, so he shoved it into the pocket of his trousers.
Then he remembered the sword he had seen, and picked it up, heartbeat quickening. He had finally found what he was here for! Then his heart sank as he realized it was not Martin's Sword. It had a simlar red pommelstone, but the crossguard was much fancier and there were nicks in the blade. Definitely not it. He tossed it aside, feeling slightly foolish.
As he continued his search, a sudden loud, "WOW!" came from Dagru. Hiccup raised an eyebrow. He must have found something mildly interesting, he thought sarcastically. Dagru came running through the treasure, over the huge pile Hiccup was behind. He was holding something behind his back.
"Hey, Hiccup! You'll never guess what I found! It's totally epic!" He was grinning from ear to ear.
"Uhh... what?" said Hiccup.
"Oh, you're such a lame guesser." answered Dagru. "Never mind, check it out!" Hiccup gasped as the excited fox drew forth his discovery.
Black leather-bound pawgrip, red pommelstone, unbreakable blade forged from a star by a Badger Lord... this was the sword his father had carried, and countless Warriors before him.
"Wh-wh... h... wh..." was all he could manage to stammer. Dagru flourished the sword, smiling in ecsasty.
"I know, right? I told ya it's totally epic!"
"Wh-wh-where did you... find it?" Hiccup finally got out.
"Oh, right over there." Dagru motioned vaguely in the direction he had been. "It was hidden behind some shields. This thing is even cooler than Deathkiller!" He patted the brown-hilted weapon on his back. "Sorry, Deathkiller. But you're my second best sword now." Hiccup forced himself to calm down. He took a deep breath, but still stuttered badly.
"Y-y-you do know that's... th-the sword of R-r...redwall, right?" Now it was Dagru's turn to be surprised.
"The sword of Redwall? Seriously?!" He stared at the beautiful weapon with new wonder. "I've heard of it! I heard it's magical, but how the Thor did it get here of all places?" he sliced the air with it. "I am so keeping this!"
"It... it was stolen from us by T-torwin!" Hiccup blurted out. Dagru stared at him.
Hiccup gulped. He was about to stutter an answer when suddenly there was a huge burst of flashing gold and jewels from the pile they were standing next to. This was mixed with a roar, and out of it, yellow eyes flashing angrily, came Torwin.
"I knew it!" hissed the dragon. "I knew you were all here to sssteal my sword!" The two boys backed away, but soon found the wall at their backs.
"A trap!" Dagru said slightly shakily. "He knew we were coming in here! How could I not have seen that coming?!" Torwin laughed unpleasantly.
"Yes, of course I knew. Did you really think I would leave all my treasure unguarded with you around?" he was advancing slowly. "You must be very stupid not to know I am much smarter than that, fox. Now put down the sword and I will let you live."
Hiccup, looking closely, saw his eye pupils slit smaller for a second when he said these last few words. Of course, he thought. Even if he did, Torwin would kill us anyway. It must really work... now I have to use that to find out about my father.
While Torwin had been speaking, Dagru had noticed a pile of bolas nearby. He had edged closer to them, slowly, and now he was within reaching distance of them. As the dragon turned his gaze to Hiccup briefly, Dagru, thrusting Martin's sword in his belt, grabbed a bola in each paw and threw them before Torwin could turn. He had plenty of practice with bolas, as with many other types of weapons, and was a good aim. The bolas whipped around Torwin's front legs tightly, and before he knew what was happening, Dagru had thrown two more, snaring his hind legs. The dragon tripped and fell to the floor, roaring in surprise and anger. Dagru quickly threw another, this one wrapping itself around Torwin's snout.
The fox grabbed Hiccup by the arm and pulled him along as he ran, yelling, "Everybeast, into the exit!" He yanked Hiccup into the small room.
Grublegs, very scared and clutching a book tightly, was already there. Dewrose and Snotspike ran in right behind Dagru and Hiccup.
"Ruff! Tuff!" yelled Dewrose. "Ugh, where are those muttonheads?!" She gritted her teeth. Dagru turned to face Hiccup.
"What do you mean, 'us'?" he asked, despite the perilous situation they happened to be in.
"Dagru, this is not the time-" snapped Dewrose, but Hiccup had already spoken.
"R-redwall! The sword belongs to Redwall Abbey! And it-it... it's what we came here for! We need it!"
Dagru's ears flattened back. "You're... from Redwall?!" Hiccup nodded and swallowed, sensing something was wrong with what he had said.
"Well you can't have the sword!" snapped Dagru. "Finders keepers, and I'm the one who found it!" He drew the sword, brandishing it. "I'll fight ya for it if ya want!" He did not give Hiccup a chance to answer, but picked up a stray sword from the floor and tossed it to him, who caught it clumsily.
Torwin roared furiously in the main cavern, free of the bolas by now and trying to find where they had all gone. The twins came darting in just then.
"There you idiots are!" growled Dewrose. "Come on, we don't have much time at all! Torwin will find us here any second!" She ran to the opening at the other end of the room, the others following.
Dagru ignored her advice though, and slashed out at Hiccup. Hiccup barely blocked it, but the blade against blade sent pain shooting up his already hurt arm. He hissed in pain, then parried a second stroke from Dagru. He couldn't use this arm. Dagru knew it, and saw he would win easily. He aimed another slice at the small mouse, who deflected it, but dropped his weapon as the pain was too much. Not thinking very clearly from exitement and anger, Dagru raised Martin's sword for a final blow. As he brought it down, Hiccup grabbed up the sword he had dropped, in his uninjured paw, and though he doubted it would help anything, it was his only chance. He quickly brought it up, and they were both surprised when Martin's sword, instead of cleaving Hiccup, was blocked by the other blade. Hiccup looked briefly at his paw as he readied himself for another attack, and he felt strangely like the sword belonged there, in his left paw. He quickly parried another blow from Dagru.
"Dagru, please, we... we don't have time to do this!" Hiccup surprised himself by speaking so clearly. Dagru ignored it though, and continued to attack him, now very angry. He brought down blow after savage blow on Hiccup, but he surprised himself more at how well he did at avoiding them. Everybeast except these two were now through the hole in the wall.
"Guys, what do you think you're doing?!" shouted Dewrose. "You need to get in here, now!" Her words fell on deaf ears, as Hiccup was occupied defending himself, and Dagru was too angry to listen to anything. He only snapped out of it when Torwin appeared in the doorway, roaring.
"You will not get away with my sword! And you, tiny mouse! I will kill you, just as I killed your father!"
Hiccup's heart lurched, as he saw that Torwin's eyes did not slit any more than they already were when he nearly screamed the last words. Did it mean...? He did not have time to further on this, as he felt the back of his tunic grabbed, and Dewrose dragged him into the tunnel. He dropped his sword as she did so. He lnded on the other side, uncomfortably on his back.
Dagru, at last coming to his senses enough to se the urgency of the situation, jumped for the hole too. But Deathkiller, on his back, caught on the edge of the hole and jerked him back, Martin's sword falling through to the other side and narrowly missing a shocked Hiccup. Dewrose snatched it.
"C'mon, we've gotta get out of here right away!"
The others ran off down the tunnel, their only light one flickering torch. Hiccup hesitated.
Dewrose grabbed his arm roughly. "Come on!" she yelled at him, and he finally followed.
They ran, the furious roars of Torwin giving speed to their footpaws as he realized they had the sword. About halfway there, they had to stop for breath, especially poor Grublegs, who was badly behind. But they soon continued, until at last they came out into the open sunlight of late morning. They all squinted in the brightness. It was easy to climb out of the shallow hole, though Hiccup had to be pulled up due to his arm.
They started back down the mountain after a short breather. The roaring of Torwin could still be heard, as a low rumbling deep inside the mountain. The rock-hopping was a bit easier this time, downhill, even Grublegs was able to keep up, though probably because he was so scared. None of them had any idea what they would do when they got back down, or where they were even going.
Dagru stopped, seeing the opening above him. He quickly found pawholds in the wall, and climbed out. He nearly collapsed at the top, exhausted from his run through the tunnel. He flopped down on a big flat boulder and looked down at the retreating figures, nearly to the foot of the mountain. They were deserting him! And with that sword he wanted, too! They hadn't even stopped to help him. He had thought Hiccup was better than that. He fought back tears that threatened to well up in his eyes. Maybe his father was right. Anger boiled up inside him, at Hiccup taking the sword he had found, and then running off, to let him be eaten by the dragon. How could he?! Dagru furiously kicked a good-sized rock nearby, sending it rolling. He realized what he had done a second later, but it was too late, as it hit another boulder, and another, and soon several huge rocks were clattering down the mountain, picking speed and more rocks along the way. He panicked and tried to stop them, but only succeeded in tripping and banging his knee badly on a sharp stone, setting it bleeding.
Dewrose heard the clattering, which was getting louder by the moment. She looked behind them and gasped. "A rockslide!" They all saw it too, and ran as fast as their already tired legs could take them across the boulders. Hiccup glanced back to see Dagru fall, up where the slide had started.
"Trees!" shouted Dewrose. "We just need to get to the trees!" There were several scraggly pines up ahead, and more beyond them. The avalanche was a rumble now, and was beginning to catch up to them. Finally they approached the trees.
"Get behind the biggest one you can!" yelled Dewrose. Each of the young creatures dodged behind the nearest, largest pine tree. Ruff and Tuff scrambled up theirs, Grublegs found a nice big one and sat behind it, curled up and moaning. Snotspike found himself behind the same one as Hiccup.
"There's not enough room here for both of us, weed!" growled the hedgehog, and knocked him out of the cover of the tree. The rockslide was upon them now, and as Hiccup was shoved by Snotspike, he saw a huge boulder coming straight at him. He covered his face with his arms, as if it would stop it. He thought the next and last thing he would feel was the boulder landing on him, but then felt himself grabbed by strong, rough paws and pulled away in the nick of time. The rock smashed down right where he had been a half-second before, and he was pulled behind the trunk of a good-sized pine tree.
A few minutes later, Hiccup became aware that the rumbling had stopped, and around him he heard the others choking on the dust as it started to settle. He found he was coughing too, the dust filling his nostrils and throat. He heard his companions' surprised voices dimly, then a clearer voice above him said, "Ya alright, liddle mate?" He looked up, surprised to see who it was.
"S-s... Sk..." He gave up trying to speak and weakly hugged the otter pirate. Skut stood and gently set him down, not used to such affection.
Snotspike, Dewrose, and Tuff were standing there, and Grublegs, though he was so scared he was nearly crying.
"Where's Ruff?" asked Skut.
"Ehh, prob'ly got smashed flat by a giant rock." Tuff shrugged, holding a scrape on his arm. "Hey sis!" he called.
"Here!" she dropped from a tree. "I didn't get smashed flat, ya disappointed? Knew it."
They could see Dagru picking his way slowly through the rocks down the mountain. Skut saw him too, and looked alarmed.
"See ya got th' sword, huh? Good. We gotta get outta here, this way." He led them into the forest.
"Where did you-" Snotspike started, but Skut held up a paw.
"Save it. I'll explain later. Right we need t'get off this island."
Chapter 9: Be Your Own Hero
Skut led the six tired, dusty young ones through the forest, to the eastern side of the island. “Stay quiet.” ordered the pirate otter, and they nodded. Soon they heard voices, and stopped behind a large bush. “Foller me, but quietly, and don't let nobeast see ye.” Skut poked his head out of the bush, followed by the others.
Hiccup's eyes grew wide as he saw ships all along the beach, similar to the Boneshatter. He jumped when he noticed the vermin, on and around them. They were quite a frightening lot, all tall, muscular, and scarred, some with armor and some with no shirts, but all tough and intimidating. They were mostly hanging around lazily, as if waiting for something. Many of them were telling crude jokes and laughing uproariously, in their rough Northern accents.
Making sure none of the vermin were looking, Skut darted swiftly across the rocks and onto a ship nearby, motioning for the others to follow. They did, and soon they were safely on the deserted ship, with nobeast having noticed.
“We can't use a sail yet, so start rowin'.” Skut said in a low voice. They each took a seat at an oar, and began pulling. Skut stood watch in the stern, knowing the vermin would notice anytime now. He glanced to see how the rowers were doing, and realized Hiccup was not going to be much help in this case. The otter hopped down and shoved him gently off the bench. “I'll take care a this, mate, ye keep watch.”
Hiccup was glad to be relieved of this, but a bit embarrassed that he couldn't row. The rowers were all badly out of sync, but Skut and Snotspike evened each other out, so the boat was soon nearly out of the harbor.
“Oy, where'a ye goin'?” called out one large bearded ferret who looked like he was in charge. He had obviously not seen the creatures on the ship, only saw it moving. The young Redwallers hesitated, but Skut nodded at them to keep rowing.
“What business is it a yers? Just movin' the ship a bit.” called back the otter in a good imitation of their accent.
The ferret shrugged. “Kay. Just don't go off too far, or the chief might not be too happy.” He added under his breath, “Huh, chief. Scrawny, bratty little...”
“Watch it, Svart.” said a nervous-looking weasel next to him. “If he heard that, he'd toss yer body over board, and yer head in after. 'Member what he did ta Lars?” he chuckled grimly. “Tough little lad, ya gotta admit.” Svart gave him a “shaddup” glare.
Hiccup faintly heard all this, and felt a sense of unknown dread creeping over him. He shivered. A minute later, they were out in the open ocean, and set sail. Hiccup watched the island as they pulled away from it. Everything there had happened so fast, he hadn't had much time to think about it, but now he wasn't sure he wanted to.
“W-what about Dagru?” he looked up at Skut. “We can't just leave him there!”
“Th' fox?” Skut frowned.
“Yes! He... he helped us, we can't just leave him behind.”
“Looked t' me like he was tryin' t' kill ya.” said Skut. “Whaddya mean, he helped ya?”
“He did help us at first.” agreed Dewrose. “When we were shipwrecked, he gave us dry clothes and we stayed at his camp. Then we all went to Torwin's cave and got the sword. I was actually almost starting to trust Dagru, until he stabbed us in the backs and started that avalanche on top of us!” she growled.
“Y'trusted a fox?!” Skut groaned. “Why would ya do that?! Foxes are dirty, rotten liars! Even if they seems friendly at first, they're always gonna go back on ya! I thought ye were smarter'n that.”
“But this one was cool!” put in Tuffpaw.
“And cute...” added Ruffpaw.
“But...” Hiccup didn't want to believe this. Dagru had been so sincere. “What if... he didn't... didn't mean to start the avalanche?”
“Oh yeah?” Snotspike snorted. “Then how 'bout when he attacked you in the cave? Did you see that crazy look on his face? He was totally gonna kill us all.”
Hiccup didn't answer. Maybe Skut was right. He shouldn't have trusted a fox. He didn't look up when Dewrose asked, “Skut, where were you? How did you survive the shipwreck?”
“Good question.” answered Skut. “Well, when we got wrecked, somehow alla ye managed to stay t'gether, but I was separated an' ended up on another part of th' island. I started lookin' for ye, but soon I was too exhausted and fell asleep. The next mornin' I found the Norsebeasts' fleet on that side of th' island, an' swiped some vittles from 'em. Then I kept lookin' for ye, hopin' ya had survived, until I found myself at the base of the mountain when ye all came runnin' down, followed by the rockslide.”
“Speakin' of food, do we'm 'ave any yurr?” Grublegs clutched his stomach as it made a sound like an angry dragon. “Oi bain't eaten since ee mornen.”
Ruffpaw had been looking through the sea chests that doubled as rowing benches. “Here's somethin'!” She held up a bottle.
“Oh good, water!” Tuff grabbed it. “I'm thirsty!” He popped it open, and before Skut could say a word, chugged down a huge gulp of the liquid. “Ahhh...” sighing, he put the bottle down, but a second later his eyes popped and he yelled, “Aaaahhhh! It's poison! Aughaughaugh! Bleehhhhcchhh!” He started spitting over the side and wiping at his tongue. “Why didn't someone tell me that was poison?! I could die in just a second! Bleaahhh!”
“It ain't poison, matey, though it almost is.” Skut assured him. “It's just seaweed grog. Ye'll be fine. Any more in there? Feed it ta th' fishes.” He dumped the rest of the grog overboard. “Disgustin' stuff.”
Ruffpaw dumped the other bottles out into the sea as well. “No wonder vermin are so mean. Yuck.”
There were some rations in some of the other chests however, and the hungry young adventurers ate as though they hadn't for five seasons. All except Hiccup, who still sat in the bow, staring out at the sea. The Sword of Martin leaned against the side of the ship near him. Skut, leaving Snotspike in charge of the tiller, went up and sat by him. “Here, eat somethin', matey.”
Hiccup refused the food. “No... no thanks. I'm not hungry.”
“C'mon, even warriors gotta eat.”
Hiccup said nothing. Skut grew more serious. “Hiccup, wot's wrong now?”
“N-nothing.” Hiccup didn't want to talk to Skut about Dagru, he knew what he would say. But he still felt bad about leaving Dagru behind.
“That ain't true.” the otter put a paw on his shoulder. “Yer obviously upset 'bout somethin'.”
Hiccup glanced at the sword. “We got the sword back, that's what we came for. But... but... my father.”
“Ya never found out what happened to 'im?”
Hiccup nodded. “I didn't find him... or... or anything.”
Skut seemed to take a deep breath. “Hiccup, I think now's as good a time as any ta tell ya this...” Hiccup felt a knot in his stomach. Whatever was coming, he wasn't going to like it. “While I was on Torglenn Isle, I came across... somethin'. Bones.”
“B-b-bones?” Hiccup's insides lurched.
“Aye. Several creatures. An otter, two squirrels, an' a mouse.” Skut didn't want to tell the young mouse this awful news, but he knew he had to. “I'm pretty sure that was yer father an' his friends. I'm sorry, Hiccup.”
Hiccup's insides now seemed to be in his footpaws. “I-I-I know... but I just hoped...” A tear slid down his face. His last faint hopes were gone now. His father really was dead. For some reason though, he found he wasn't as devastated as he would have thought he'd be.
“It's been a rough day, mates.” Skut said to all of them as he stood. “I think ye should all take a little rest. Now we're out here with a fair wind, I'll take over th' tiller and ye can all take it easy, a'right?” He took the tiller from Snotspike, who then slouched on the bottomboards, ready for a nap.
“Do you think Dagru might come after us or anything?” asked Dewrose, looking at the last visible smudge of Torglenn Isle behind them.
“Nahh, I don't see why he would.” Skut said. “I thinks he's done with ya an' ready t'get back home, like us. Kinda wish we could'a stayed an' got rid'a the raidin' scum fer good, but we got what we came fer an' I've gotta get ye back home now.”
Ruff and Tuff both rested balanced on the yardarm, as only squirrels could do. Dewrose sat cleaning her new axe and thinking, while Grublegs had his snout buried in a book, trying to ignore his tummy troubles, until he fell asleep with the book still on his face. Skut was singing softly to himself.
“The yellow sun is sinking
into the big blue sea,
And this has got me thinking,
What will the sun there see?
I wish that I could go there,
beyond the bit that shows,
but what brave beast would dare,
when none know how far it goes?
Is there land across those waves?
Or does it go forever on?
Making itself a place of graves
for those who have tried and gone?
One day maybe I will know,
I will sail over the horizon,
following the sun's bright glow,
as my ship goes ever on and on.”
The song was lost on Hiccup, who was draped on a rowing bench, fast asleep from the excitement and disappointment of the day.
Dagru, on his own ship, was also slouching on a bench, in a sulk. The Norsebeasts were under way by now. They did not know exactly where they where headed, but none dared bother their young chieftain.
He sat facing the sea, his face a mask. Inside though, he was boiling over with conflicting emotions. Those woodlanders had deserted him... left him to be eaten by the dragon! Dad was right, he thought bitterly. Never trust a woodlander. But Hiccup had been so perfect... so much like himself... a perfect friend. All he had wanted was a friend. The fox laid his head down on the bulwark, unsure what he was feeling. Something inside him said that Hiccup hadn't meant to do that... he hadn't meant to desert him. He closed his eyes, fighting back tears. Crying was the last thing on earth he needed to do. The gentle rocking motion of the ship, mixed with the tiring excitement and emotions of the day, made him relax.
He was just drifting off to sleep when a voice next to him said timidly, “Er, Chief... ya alright?”
Dagru shot upright, slapping away the paw that was about to tap him on the shoulder. “Yeah! What is it now?!” he snarled.
The ferret stepped back. “I just... we wondered where we be goin'.”
Dagru sighed. This was a somewhat important piece of information. “I...” he thought a moment. For once, he wasn't sure what to do next.
Hiccup had mentioned Redwall Abbey. He had a vague idea where it was. Somewhere in Mossflower country. He didn't know much about it, except what he had heard in tales, and what beast knew how many of those things were true. Bloodwrath warriors, magic swords, ghosts of warriors long dead, all in all it didn't sound like a very nice place, though it was said to be beautiful. His father had always told him never to go there, it was too dangerous. Hundreds of the greatest warlords and horde leaders had fallen in battle with the creatures of Redwall Abbey. But if that was where Hiccup was, then that was where Dagru was going.
He looked up. “South. Set a course for Mossflower country.”
Svart's eyes widened. “Mossflower? We ain't been there in ages. It's way too danger-”
“I don't care!” Dagru yelled at him. “We're going to Mossflower!”
“Aye, sir!” Svart gave up his efforts of arguing. It was possibly more dangerous than going to Mossflower, he thought.
“Head straight for Mossflower. Don't stop.” continued Dagru. “And DON'T disturb me. I need to think.” He rested his elbows on the bulwarks again as Svart nodded and left to carry out the instructions.