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The seas were raging. It was a stormy night. Kalmar Treebounder was sailing to Southsward, his brother was dying. He had left his young daughter and wife back at Redwall so they would be safe from the long, dangerous journey over the stormy seas. Kalmar was a tall, muscular squirrel with the bushiest tail you had ever seen. His wife, Lily, was the best treewhiffler since Fwirl, and the most beautiful. His daughter, Tayla, though very young, was already as good as her mother at treewhiffling and had the most beautiful voice anybeast in the Abbey had ever heard. It was still raining, it didn't look like this storm would ever let up. This gave Zeela the Deadly the chance of a perfect target. A small boat was heading toward Southsward. And the crafty vixen knew why. She knew she could not let that boat land safely at the docks or she would lose the advantage she had gained. She would take Southsward for her own! Her hoards were unstoppable! She fell upon the unsuspecting ship like a spider preying upon a fly. The battle was quick, her crew boarded the smaller ship. They slaughtered all; then crushed the ship to splinters! All the while Kalmar was swimming toward shore, in what he knew was his only chance of survival.
Sixteen Seasons Later
The Dibbuns went squealing through Great Hall, before being stopped by Redwall's badgermum, Reesa Longstripe. "Where do you think you are going?" She asked the Dibbuns. "We's is goin' to paggle in d'pond an' get all wetsis." Replied a little mousebabe named Duff. "Oh, really?" Replied Reesa, "Without an elder abbeybeast there with you? I don't think so." She saw Skipper and the young squirrelmaid Tayla coming out of the kitchen with Redwall's resident hare, Currie Longblade Woodruff. "Skipper, Tayla would you please escort the Dibbuns out to the pond for a paddle; I'll have Friar Gorral send out some snacks later." "Of course we will Reesa, come on you Dibbuns!" Tayla replied. As they walked out of the door Currie walked up with a half-eaten scone in his hand, and meadowcream all over his whiskers. "Blinkin' bounders rotton cads! To think that they won't even let me near the kitchens!" Reesa looked at the hare and rolled her eyes, "Well it serves you right you great scoffbag! Trying to steal before anyone else has had breakfast!" "Stealing marm! I was only trying to get a light snack to keep fur and bone together!" "A light snack!" Reesa exclaimed. "It seems to me that you've stolen half the meadowcream and nearly half the scones!" "I only had about three or four." Reesa was furious at the hare. "Go sit in the corner of the orchard and think of what you've done, then go apologize to the good friar!" The dejected hare went out seething and muttering under his breath. "Blinkin' bounders, ungrateful cads! Imagine me, the most hardworking chap in the place getting told off because of a few measly scones. They'll be sorry when they find only the bones of my handsome self in the orchard when they start missing me."
The Dibbuns were headed towards the pond to skip pebbles. Tayla was leading the boisterous group of Dibbuns and trying to keep them from running off. "Come back here at once, Keeble, you nasty little maggot!" The little otterbabe was trying to evade Tayla's grasp. "You no catch mees Taywa, Hehehehehe!" Skipper scooped up the babe and ran towards the pond. "You'll never catch either of us mate!" "No fair Skip!" Tayla called out.(She always called Skipper 'Skip' because he and his mate had practically raised her after her mother had died). As Tayla herded the Dibbuns toward the pond Abbess Katira, a sweet sensible old hedgehog, and Reesa Badgermum watched her closely as Skipper's mate, Fayr, walked up. "What a sweet sensible maid that Tayla is", Said Abbess Katira, "She always seems to know exactly how to deal with Skipper and the Dibbuns." "She should considering she spent most of her life figuring Skip out" said Fayr. "Aye, ever since her poor mother died and ever since her father left it seems as though she's not quite as immature as the other young ones her age" Reesa pointed out. "Why is Currie over there in the corner of the orchard, Reesa?" The Abbess asked. "Oh, him, I almost forgot about him. I put him over there earlier for stealing from the kitchens. You can tell him he can come out now." Currie bounded over "Really marm? Oh you won't regret it. I'll be the most helped bloke in this Abbey, I think I'll go ask Friar Gorral if he needs any help there." "I think you can start out by helping Tayla with the Dibbuns, I don't know why I asked Skipper to help; he does more harm than good." "Righto, marm! Belay there you Dibbun chaps, I...OOF!" Currie never got to finish his sentence because he slipped on a apple core that had fallen from his grasp when he bounded over to Reesa. "That hare will kill himself before long" said Abbess Katira. "Imagine the food we'd save" replied Fayr. Then they heard a voice. "Ahoy the Abbey!"
Zeela was watching the vain attempts of the small rebellion at her window. The sleek, silver-furred, cold gray-silver eyed vixen knew that her captain choptail was coming up the stairs to report. The weasel had lost his tail many seasons before to a young squirrel who was the rightful king of Southsward after the death of the previous king. Zeela recalled that fateful day he lost his tail, it was the day Zeela took Southsward from the dying ruler. Zeela had ended the king with one swift swing of her scythe, after that it was easy to overcome the whole of Southsward. Zeela knew there was only one little rebel band that stood in her way of total domination. Halftail came in and brought her out of her reverie "Lady Zeela, we've driven the resistance force away." Halftail said puffing out his chest triumphantly. Zeela's voice was cold and terrible "How many were lost?" "A score and a half my lady." "And the enemy's causalities?" Halftail replied trembling "N-n-none My Lady" Zeela replied without changing her tone "So the enemy ambushed you on our own land slew a score and a half of your men and got off without a single casualty? Now what were you doing while all this was happening?" "M-m-my L-l-lady I-I-I" She stopped him in mid-sentence then drove her razor-sharp claws into his shoulder "What am I going to do with you Halftail?" Tears of agony were streaming down Halftail's face as he replied whimpering "P-p-please don't k-k-k-kill me My Lady!" She let go suddenly and Halftail fell to the floor whimpering, she turned her back to the weasel and said "I will not kill you, but only because I do not have time to train new captains; now get out my sight you whimpering idiot!" Halftail scurried out as fast as his paws could carry him. Two squirrels dropped out of the trees to make their report to a strong, capable-looking squirrel who was their king. "The diversion worked Your Majesty, we were able to successfully rescue some slaves from Floret." The king looked at them and said "Good work, now report to Captain Telbar Streambattle immediately." The king watched them going and sighed, His little girl would be about their age right now, he sighed and thought of the daughter he barely knew.
The badger-lord Oakpaw gazed out his forge room window across the darkening sea, a sudden knock on the door pulled him out of his revelries. "Come in." A hare came into the room with a laden trolley, "Sorry to disturb you sah, but you missed dinner again and the cook sent me up with this sco-, I mean food." The badger lord heaved a sigh and sat back. "Captain Ivy Illyer Swiftpaw, you're going to spoil me rotten one of these days, you're just like your mother." Oakpaw said chuckling. "Can't just let you starve now can I sah?" Oakpaw sighed and looked at her, "I've been having strange dreams of late." "Dreams sah?" "Yes, war is coming there has been peace for far to long." The hare left the room and Oakpaw began thinking of his family, his parents who had been killed, and his sister that had disappeared seasons ago. The ancient badger lords had told him who was responsible for the death of his parents. And now, he wouldn't rest until they had been avenged! Back at Redwall, Tayla was tossing and turning in her sleep, all of a sudden she lay still and saw before her Martin the Warrior and her mother. Her mother spoke, "Listen to Martin, he will tell you where to find your father." Tayla looked at Martin and he spoke in a comforting voice "Go to Salamandastron and the badger-lord will aid you in finding your father." The rest of the night Tayla tossed and turned with a restless energy.