From out of the wind and the rain came Vidny Shadow!
The fox with the black fur, Vidny Shadow!
The saviour of everybeast in Redwall Abbey?
Johnny 'Skip' Laium, Thurrn the Ranging Squirrel, and Arvan Swordwielder the hare.
Vidny Shadow had a legend, one of such horror that even a snake would die of fright. Shadow had murdered the most innocent Dibbuns ever, those of the Abbey of Redwall, among them, the Abbot's grandson himself! The disease which Shadow had spread, had killed the Dibbuns, yes, but it had also half murdered the Abbot and Roseye Badgermum, and several adults were delirious with a fever.
"I'll tell ye, matey, I'll be glad when this Bloodsomethin' Fever is over. Honestly, having to tramp around the countryside is bad enough, but doin' it in broad daylight, when there could be any number of vermin watchin' us, 'tis nonsense, mateys, nonsense and suicide," complained John-E loudly,
"Sharrup, Johnny, ye'll waken up the Dibbun," cautioned Thurrn, even though he was in the middle of searching the woods, "and it's Bloodstiller, mate."
"Thurrn's right, Johnny. If ye waken up Frennan Grubsnout, then ye'll answer to me, wot wot!" added Arvan, stifling a giggle as he spotted some clumsy vermin attempting to track them, "Shush! We've got vermin on our tail."
At the mere mention of vermin, John-E sprang into the River Moss, Thurrn leapt up a tree, with the bundle that was Frennan and the supplies, and Arvan drew his sabre, shouting out to the vermin, "Hey! You there! Stop sneaking around and walk out here."
"Bad move, Arvan," Thurrn muttered, jumping down from the tree and drawing his sword, "they outnumber us three to one!"
At Redwall Abbey, nearly everyone had what Brother Pinebark had identified as Bloodstiller Fever, a disease of the mind that would stop the heart after two weeks of deleriousness. All the Dibbuns had succumbed to it, and more, including Abbot Garfo and Roseye Badgermum. Pinebark was doing everything he could to cure those with it, but the Dibbuns were delirious, and a number of them worsening by the second. Along with Sister Rosemary, and Brother Snowfall, he was doing everything he could to save the little ones, but they could not cure them until Johnny, Thurrn and Arvan came back with the botemedel flowers from Send in the north.
"Honestly, Pinebark, I don't see why you're doing this. Until the young 'uns come back with the flowers, then this lot'll die. I can't see why you're wasting your breath on these. Mark my words, if Johnny, Thurrn and Arvan don't come back soon, then the whole Abbey will be overrun," stated Brother Snowfall, "and there's not much chance of that, I mean, Send's further north than Ruingate and Mapleleaf! The Snowy North, honestly, I don't know."
"Well, Snowfall, I do. They're the only ones that know what it looks like, I mean, Thurrn and Johnny came from the Northlands, and the Snowy North is only a bit further. And Arvan, he's a good warrior, very intelligent too. They'll be alright, you see if they won't," commented Sister Rosemary, "and now, let's get back to helping these little ones. Some of them are at the gates of Dark Forest!"
As Pinebark and Rosemary tended to the Dibbuns, Snowfall sat on the window ledge. "Honestly, this is pointless, some of the Dibbuns even think they're water snakes! They're too--"
His voice trailed off as Roseye Badgermum came into the infirmary laughing and 'wotwot'ing like a hare, with the Father Abbot close behind her.
"Oh, seasons of suffering! Roseye's sick too, now, and Garfo too! Look lively chaps, this disease means business!" Snowfall exclaimed, jumping to attention and scurrying around trying to cure them.
"Strange, Snowfall," Rosemary commented shrewdly, "that you don't believe we can cure them, until the Abbot arrives! I mean, anyone would think you only did things if there was something it for you!"
"How dare you cast aspersions on my character!" blustered Snowfall, but thankfully for him, at that moment the other two were distracted by a loud shout that echoed through the window.
"Halloo, the Abbey! Fancy lettin' us in for a bite to eat, wot?"
Pinebark at once let out a great cry of delight, and began shuffling downstairs, but was halted by Sister Rosemary.
"Brother Pinebark, what are you doing, letting those," the Sister stared out of the window, "hares in. If they catch Bloodstiller Fever, and take it back to Salamandastron, who knows what could happen?"
Pinebark at once saw the sense in her words. Beggining to apologise, he was halted by a shout from the window.
"I say! Are you going to let us in or not?"
Clang! Bish! Bang! The battle raged, with six vermin attacking the formidable duo of Thurrn and Arvan. Even though Arvan could easily reduce the numbers temporarily, and Thurrn was a brilliant shot with his longbow, there were more vermin coming, and any attempts seemed futile, the vermin held the upper hand, and they knew it. When Thurrn spotted their leader coming, an imposing ferret who stood a head taller than the rest, then he knew there was only one chance of success. Breaking off from the battle, he made it to the edge of the clearing. Drawing a deep breath into his lungs, he shouted,
"TRIPES AND TATERS! HOLT LAIUM FOR 'OTTER OTTERS"
Instantly, the position of battle changed, as with one good sling throw, that killed many, owing to the stones in the pouch, Johnny launched into the melee. Thinking they were outnumbered, the vermin swiftly retreated, with the tall ferret at their rear, berating them, yet as swift in retreat as any of them.
"Lord Vidny Shadow will hear about this, scum," the ferret shouted, before running into the trees.
"Aye, and tell him we've never heard of him, you scruffy fleabags, wot?" responded Arvan, leaning on his sabre, which he had sheathed, and falling over in the process.
Amid all the laughter, a small head poked out of the sack, saying "Do 'ee moind? Oi was 'avin' a nap there, an' 'ee woked me oop."
Arvan sighed, "Told you you'd wake him up, wot. I say, Frennan, fancy some vittles?"
"Aye, matey, we would!" laughed Johnny, "But seriously, now, I'll only have time for a few vittles, matey. Personally, I'd like to see who this Vidny Shadow is. That ferret spoke his name as if we ought to know him."
"I know that, John, but ye can't go gallivantin' off and leave me with Frennan, Arvan and the supplies. While I was dealing with Frennan, Arvan would scoff the supplies!"
Johnny laughed, "Too true old chap. Tell ye wot, ye'll go and check the vermin out, and I'll look after these two. If they cause any trouble... SSSSWTHICKTHUMP!"
The blade swung into a tree stump and chopped it clean in half. Frennan almost jumped out of his spikes with fright, Arvan cowered in fear, and even Thurrn looked badly shaken.
"I say, Johnny, you didn't have to frighten half the life out of us," reprimanded Arvan, who had recovered quite swiftly, "if you had missed, then who knows what would have happened!"
"Look, anyway, I can't go, Arvan or Frennan would scoff the supplies. Hey, Thurrn, how about you go?"
"Love to, mate," responded Thurrn, who was already into an oak, "I'll take my bow, see how they like some arrows. But seriously, Johnny, what'll you do?"
Johnny answered this by knocking Arvan down, sitting on him, and grabbing Frennan up.
"That answer enough for you?"
"Oh, deary me," muttered Sister Rosemary, "they aren't getting any better. Whatever possessed you to give them some Eitur? They're in a terrible state, and now we'll have to ring the quarantine bells. Snowfall, go and make yourself useful. They need those botemedel flowers."
As Snowfall hurried off, the hares on the path started up a fresh outcry,
"Let us in! There's a horde on our tails, and they've got a wildcat with them!
Giving a visible start, Pinebark shuffled off, to the sounds of an approaching horde, plus all the signs that a wildcat was with them.
"Ah, mateys, this is the life! We've got crayfish, mussels, and even a carp! What more could ye want?"
Thurrn glanced angrily over at John-E.
"An otter that actually shuts...UP!"
With this last sentence, Thurrn threw a rock at John-E, which he only just dodged at the last minute.
"Oi, Thurrn, what do you mean by -- MMMPHHHLLL!" Thurrn threw himself bodily onto John-E's mouth, effectively smothering him.
"Lissen, Johnny, ye see thore woods on the right? Well, them's Flitchaye territory. One wrong word, and we're in the soup and no mistake!"
Graves and Goods