"The prisoners are trying to escape!" The halls of the Gerta Prison For Prisoners of War were filled with chaos. Dozens of vermin guards dashed back and forth, trying to detain the wave of yelling, screaming creatures flailing chains, manacles, and any other weapons that they could get their paws on. The long, heavy pikes of the vermin were no match for the makeshift weapons of the slaves, which could be used effectively in close quarters. Bows and arrows were also useless due to the tight corridors. Many of the guards, not prepared for a prison break of this magnitude, chose to flee rather than fight.
"Come on, ye' cowards!" a stoat yelled. "They're just a bunch 'a slaves! We've got armor 'n weapons!"
"Yeah, we can beat 'em!" The rat who had shouted the latter comment was forcefully knocked down by a young otter who was swinging a length of broken chain. The otter, wearing a ripped dark blue tunic, swung his chain again and killed another guard attempting to flee. The rat, seeing a chance to escape, tried to squirm away. Noticing, the otter turned to him.
"Trying to escape, rat? Well nobody escapes Kurrat Riverrudder!" Snatching two daggers from the nearby corpse of a stoat guard, he aimed at the rat. The rat, noticing this, gave a scream of despair. Kurrat, saying nothing, brought the daggers down with punishing force.
I sat in a tree, thinking about all of the supplies that I had in my pack. Something in the back of my head kept telling me that I had forgotten something. Think. Think. Think. Food, weapons, cloak, medical kit, straw mat, charcoal piece and parchment. I shook my head, sighing. With nothing else to do, I took out my dirk, grabbed a nearby branch, and started carving a javelin. I really didn't need it, as I already had my sword with me, but I was bored of waiting for the Long Patrol messenger. So I carved. And carved. And carved. By the time the messenger arrived, I had twenty javelins ready for use.
"Hello, wot! Galloper Lerte reporting for duty!" The hare grinned and saluted me, and I returned the salute. He handed me a scroll. I opened it, relieved that I could finally receive my orders from Lord Bladestripe.
Your orders are simple, travel to Redwall Abbey and patrol that area for a season or two. Talk to the creatures there, and ask about any vermin raids and activity. Report back to Salamandastron after you have gathered sufficient information about the vermin.
Lerte turned to me and said, "Well, my bally job is done, better return to the jolly ol' fire mountain, eh wot?"
"Yes, Lerte, you are dismissed, but there is something I would like to give you first."
"Yes, of course, sah. What is it? A sword? A medal? Valuable information? Any of those would be very nice, sah."
"Nope! None of those!" I handed him all twenty javelins, trying not to laugh at the look of surprise on his face.
"You are dismissed, Galloper Lerte. Take those javelins back to the patrol. I'm sure you'll get commended for that."
"Of course, sah. I'll get these to the Patrol as soon as possible." He headed off into the woods, huffing and puffing from carrying his load of javelins. As soon as he was out of sight and earshot, I laughed.
I set up camp soon after that, as it was getting dark. As I laid out the mat that would serve as my bed for that night, I stared up at the tree above me. I saw that there was a small notch in the bark, about an inch wide and perfectly circular. Curious, I climbed the tree to inspect it. I put my eye to the hole, and something silver shined inside of it. I got my dirk and pried the bark off, and the object fell out into my outstretched paw.
I examined it closely. It seemed to be a small, thin sword, not unlike a rapier, but at the tip of the sword, there was an axeblade. At first glance it looked like somebeast welded an axeblade to the tip of a sword, but upon closer inspection, there was no small buildup of metal where the axeblade met swordblade. The beast that had crafted this weapon had intended for it to be like this. Interesting, I thought. Four sapphires lined each side of the dark steel hilt. I hefted the weapon, and found that it was a lot more balanced than I expected it to be.
I inspected the hole again, and found a small piece of parchment. It was badly torn, and most of the letters were missing. It read:
I have fin___y fin__hed your we_p_n, a_d my sh_p will b_ lea_in_ soon. I, _e_f O_te_, will not _e ab_e to tr_v_l to yo_ myself, bu_ I am tr_st__g my fir_t mate, Horrus, to gui_e the ship t_ Tyrlea. I am s_ayi_g at Re_wa_l Ab_ey.
Sinc_re_y, Yelf Oltes
Strange, I thought as I lay down on my mat. I would need to find out why this weapon wasn't in "Tyrlea" at the moment, who its owner was, and what became of 'Yelf Oltes' It seemed that I would need to travel to Redwall to investigate more than one thing now. With these thoughts running in my head, I drifted off to sleep.
I woke up wishing that I had not laid my mat over a rock. My back ached badly, so I started to hike to Redwall, hoping to get there soon. I was rewarded with the sight of it after hiking for a few hours, and as soon as I arrived, I collapsed at the gates.
"Hey, he's coming to!"
"Finally, e's been out for hours!"
"Shh, you two!" When I awoke, I found myself looking up into the faces of an otter and two mice. I recognized the Father Abbot of Redwall Abbey, but I could not place the other mouse and otter.
"Ah, welcome back, Kalm. It's been a while since we've had you visit here." Abbot Thel smiled, and noticing that I did not recognize the other two creatures, explained who they were. "The otter is Yelf Oltes." Yelf grinned. "The mouse is Horrus Bladepaw." The mouse flashed a big smile.
"Hello! My name is Horrus, first mate of the Lightbringer, and a master swordbeast!" He wore a bright yellow tunic with a belt. There was an elaborate looking sword in a sheath hanging by his side. He looked a little young to be a "master swordbeast" and the first mate of a ship. He looked like he was only seven seasons old, but I really shouldn't be judging a beast's age, as I was only thirteen seasons old.
Suddenly his name brought a memory of the weapon I had found rushing back. I swiftly leaped off of the infirmary bed, found my pack, and brought out the hybrid weapon. I turned, grasping the weapon tightly. A look of surprise registered on Yelf's face. It then turned into a look of rage. Whipping out a dagger, he tackled me to the ground.
"Thief! THIEF!" he roared. "You've stolen my precious creation!" He raised his dagger to stab me, an insane light shining in his eyes. Suddenly, his eyes rolled up into the back of his head, and he collapsed to the ground in a heap. His dagger fell and embedded itself in the floor next to my head. As I started to back away from his still form, I noticed the hold that Horrus had on the back of Yelf's neck with his paw.
"Phew! Thanks, friend." I said, raising myself to a standing position.
"No problem, matey. He's been acting all jumpy after somebeast stole the weapon that you're currently holding. I assume that you've already found the letter to Yelf's client. By the way, how did you come across it?" he asked, moving Yelf's unconscious form onto the bed that I was sleeping in.
"Well, when I was setting up camp in Mossflower Woods, I found it stashed within a tree, so I put it in my pack and set out to find Yelf. This isn't the 'thanks' that I expected, though." I said, gesturing to Yelf's dagger, embedded in the infirmary floor.
He shrugged. "He's been through a lot. Let me explain. After we were about to leave for the port, he felt well enough to travel, and we set out, ready to sail for Tyrlea. When we set up camp in the night, we were raided. Most if the crew of our ship were killed, and Yelf, two others, and I were lucky to escape with our lives. We left everything behind, including all of the items we brought for trading. Yelf was devastated, and he wouldn't talk to anybeast for eight days." he explained.
"Well then, we need to deliver this weapon to Tyrlea." I said.
"Ugh...what happened?" Yelf had regained consciousness. Suddenly, his eyes snapped open, and they focused on me. Uh oh. "THIEF!!" he roared.
As I was slammed against the infirmary wall by Yelf's gigantic paws, my head hit the sandstone wall hard. The thought running through my head as I was slammed repeatedly against the wall was Not again. After about five blows, I blacked out.
I woke up the next day to find myself with a bandaged head. I really, REALLY don't like Yelf now, I thought. As I swiftly sat up, an agonizing shock of pain ran through my brain. As I sat, I noticed Yelf lying in the bed next to mine. Alarm bells went off inside my head as I jumped out of bed, ignoring the pain. As I started to dash outside the door. I collided with Sister Rell, the infirmary keeper.
"Where do you think you're going, Mister Treeblade?" she asked me sternly. The old hedgehog was holding a bowl of the feared infirmary nettle broth. Uh oh. I tried to slowly inch past her, but she blocked the doorway. "You are in no condition to be up and running about. I've brought you some nettle broth to help you recuperate from your wound."
I gulped. That nettle broth was so foul tasting, even just a spoonful of it would make a hardened searat run in fear. And now I had to drink an entire bowl of it.
"Um, you see, I'm feeling much better," I tried to tell her. "Really, I don't need any nettl-" My sentence was cut off as her paw clamped onto my nose. When I opened my mouth to breathe, she emptied the entire bowl down my throat. I tried not to throw up, as it was very vile-tasting.
"There, much better. You'll feel better in no time," she said, grinning. She then let go of my nose and walked out the door. As soon as she was gone, I rushed to the window and released the contents of my stomach. I'm not sure what else was in there besides nettles, but I wasn't about to seek out Sister Rell to find out. Immediately after I stopped retching and spitting, I tuned to find Yelf starting to wake up. He was murmuring words that I assumed to be something along the lines of 'Thief... Must kill the thief...' I then started to panic, not having a sure escape route.
I looked out the window, looking for a soft place to land, with fleeing out the window being the only option to escape that crazy otter. I spotted a medium-sized mound of dirt that looked soft enough. Without looking back to see if Yelf was fully awake, I jumped out the window.
I shut my eyes, hoping that the mound of dirt was as soft as it looked. It wasn't. I gave a short cry of pain. Luckily, I hadn't landed on my head, just my lower back. I slowly got up, massaging my aching back. I then removed my head bandages, feeling the back of my head with my paw. It felt fine. Hmmm, I thought. I don't seem to have a wound. As I looked around, I saw Horrus loading provisions into two traveling packs. He waved to me.
"Glad you're finally awake, Kalm!" He said, tossing me one of the packs. I barely avoided spilling all of its contents out. "Whoops! Sorry, I forgot about your injury." He smiled sheepishly.
"What's this?" I asked him, looking through the pack. Inside was a coil of rope, an iron grappling hook, a small packet of something, the strange weapon, a cloak, my sword, and a map of Mossflower and a map of a country that I assumed to be Tyrlea. It had an awful lot of mountains, not seeming to have many trees.
"What else?" he said. "It's your pack of provisions for our journey to Tyrlea. Inside the small package is a pack of stew mix. We'll be able to eat that on our way to the docks. It's a special mix of Hotroot'n'Watershrimp soup, made of ingredients imported from Tyrlea. Oh, I almost forgot!" He tossed me a large canteen of water and a medium-sized beaker of something else. "We'll need something to drink, or we'd die of thirst! Good thing I didn't forget!" He laughed.
"When do we leave?" I asked, hoping to leave soon, in fear of being pursued by a certain otter.
"As soon as you're ready," he said.
"Excellent, let's leave right away," I said. We headed out of Redwall's gates after bidding a hasty goodbye to the Abbot and the Brothers and Sisters of Redwall, unaware of the danger that was ahead of us.