This story is being rewritten.
This story is dedicated to all of my faithful companions on this wiki (when I first began)- Pinedance Coneslinger, Prard'ras'keloni (and Colonel Procyon), Sambrook the Otter, Zaran Rhulain, Arrowtail, Skipper Rorc, Mauran Axestripe, Ferretmaiden, Laterose of Noonvale, Clockworthy, Martin2 (and Lord Starfire), Fiona Fox, Mariel of Redwall, and especially Shieldmaiden. (most of whom no longer log on, sadly)
PrologueThe sun sank lower and lower below the horizon, with colorful clouds dripping across the sky. A muscular ottermaid sat alone on a rock on the shoreline, hugging her knees. Salamandastron was far, far to the east- barely visible. But the ottermaid... she was beautiful, in a wild, dangerous sort of way. She had brilliant brown eyes and glossy fur, and wore a black tunic. A long blade was strapped on her back, with the strap going over her right shoulder. Her oak shield was in the shape of a diamond, with a spike at the tip of each point; the bottom point had the longest spike. A large "T" was emblazoned on it- T for Thorn, the Shieldmaiden.
Thorn watched seagulls fly past, and remembered, once, standing on another shore and watching the same thing. I was so young. Mom and Dad were still alive, and we were all together. It was the last night before Fellizia Seafox came and murdered my family. Fellizia! I will find her someday, and she will rue the day she killed them.
Thorn was a remarkable young ottermaid. After her parents' murder, she had been forced to learn to protect herself, and she became amazingly good with a shield. In fact, Thorn preferred to fight on the defensive. Her shield was virtually unbreakable, and she would wear down her opponent; once they tired, she would finish them off with her blade. The name of Thorn Shieldmaiden was becoming feared.
Of course, no hero could expect to wreck the desired revenge upon the villain alone. Thorn herself had two partners- Lady Blossom and Lady Dawnsky. They had each come to Thorn in their own ways after their families were killed, and the three had formed a sort of family of their own. Thorn thought back to Dawnsky, a beautiful yet dangerous young badgermaid.
Young Dawnsky looked about her in dismay. The place that she had always called home was totally razed. The little badgermaid didn't understand the corsairs stomping around their seaside chalet. It had been fifteen hours since they'd landed. Mom and Dad. The three words had been imprinted in Dawnsky's brain. Mom and Dad. Where are they? Why haven't they come to help me? Why are these cruel vermin in our house? But no answer came. Dawnsky felt a rush of panic. "Mom! Dad!" she screamed into the darkness. Dawnsky crept to the door and peered out into the blackest midnight she'd ever seen; a lonesome tear plopped onto the ground in front of her. A cold paw suddenly dropped on her shoulder. "Don't ye dare run away, or ye'll join th'same fate as yer parents." The voice sounded like claws on graphite, and Dawnsky bolted. Nothing followed her, but soon she tripped over something furry and landed on something else furry. Dawnsky felt the soft fabric of her parents' tunics, and ran even farther. Her parents were dead. What was the use in staying? Soon, she collapsed, and, when she woke up, she found Thorn kneeling next to her. They had stayed together ever since.
Thorn sighed. Vermin were so cruel, wrecking her friends' and her lives. And poor, poor Blossom.... Thorn sighed again and thought back to the conditions surrounding the murder of Lady Blossom's family.
Blossom's mother had just had a second squirrelbabe, Blossom's sister, when the vermin had marched in. Blossom's father, who's name she could not remember, had been killed in front of her mother as an example to one who resisted their invasion. She had gone insane and handed over Blossom and her other daughter. Blossom attempted to shield her sister, but they had been taken to the vermin camp, her sister was taken from her, and they never saw each other again. Blossom escaped from the vermin later that night and returned home to find a fox standing over her mom. Blossom skulked in the shadows and watched as the fox whispered to the squirrel. "I will soon gain control of my Horde, and I will find your daughters. I am Fellizia, and soon, my name will be the nightmarish creature that will send shivers down the spine even of the bravest warriors. I will be able to fill a lake with the blood I will spill. You, my dear, will be one of the first." A knife plunged into the chest of the squirrelmaid, and a scream zagged through the air. Blossom fainted, which probably saved her life, as Fellizia didn't see her as she swept past. The next morning, Dawnsky and Thorn were waiting for her.
Thorn wiggled her paws to keep them from going numb. It was chilly, but only when a slight breeze would ruffle her fur. Otherwise, it was a beautiful autumn evening. The Autumn of the Icy Moon, Thorn thought. She enjoyed naming the seasons, much like they did at the great Redwall Abbey.
"Aiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!" The wild scream made Thorn smile; the ottermaid wasn't surprised in the slightest. There was a quick flash to her left side, and she reached over her shoulder and whipped out her longsword, swinging it quickly to her right as her shield flicked up on her left. Something cold and metal hit her sword, and it moved nearly of its own accord, Thorn's movements barely being thought-through as she also blocked the attack on her left side as well. Finally, with a quick flick, the attacker who had the blade found themselves disarmed. Thorn switched the blade and the shield, and held the shield up, mostly to get it out of the way now that she had beaten one attacker. With her long blade, she quickly sliced through a number of quick movements, most of them feints. As expected, the dark, long-lashed eyes of the squirrel she was fighting followed the blade, not Thorn's eyes, which never left the squirrel's face. Quickly, Thorn whipped her blade up towards the squirrelmaid's neck, but checked herself right before it cut her. The squirrelmaid understood; in a battle, she would be dead.
"Argh, ye got me, Thorn. N'even wi'Dawnsky, I still can'beat ye." The squirrelmaid sheathed her blade and stuck out a paw. In the moonlight, Thorn recognized Lady Blossom; she was tall and slender, although rounder than Thorn, and, in sunlight, she had light, creamy fur (but in the moonlight it just shone silver). She had dark brown eyes with long lashes, and a dark sort of look to her that faded once one got to know her pretty well. Blossom was wearing a black tunic and a black belt where her sword-sheathe hung.
Thorn grinned and shook the proffered paw. "Blossom, ye know that th'sword isn't yer weapon. Try me wi'arrahs, nex'time."
Blossom shifted her paws and released herself from Thorn's deathgrip. "Yeah, but t'ain't fightin' honorably wi'me usin' a bow."
Thorn blinked in surprise. "Blossom, if yer fightin' fer a cause ye believe in, t'wasn't matter how ye fight. T'what matters is if ye fight. And if'n ye fight well, ye'll be valued fer that, that an'yer attitude. Ye could be th'best Arrowmaiden this side o'the River Moss... but it takes a fightin' attitude."
Blossom nodded, and Thorn was happy to see light return to her eyes.