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- *I still don't know my true name to this very day. Not my true name in life, neither my reason of living. Everyone calls me Irica; I'm feared by everyone.
I'm still a assassin for the mighty warlord of the underground; they call him Vulpuz. His father named him after the ruler of Hell's Gates.
It not his rule name, but he's a creation by the other Vulpuz; only living to do what he says.
Vulpuz calls me his loyal one; always at his side. He talks to me, and he's always relaxed at my side. I'm like a sister to him I'm not sure why, but Vulpuz has been acting strange lately. Slaves have been escaping, and he doesn't worry about it. The air is cool under the ground, where his kingdom is.
Aah! I must go! He calls me once more.*
- --- *Irica*
Book 1: His Assassin
Irica quickly placed her diary her large chest with a large lock, that was under her bed. She lived her the lower parts of the underground palace. She was close to the dungeons, where the slaves slept at night. Only the ones who have gone insane or are to weak stay there twenty-four hours a day. Retrieving a mini-mirror sized ring from the desk, she used it to hold her blonde hair up in a large pony tail. The large black ring in her head, and dressed in all black, Irica was ready to meet her lord.
The vixen traveled up towards to upper parts of the Palace. Irica passed a window with a balcony, looking over the world she knew as her home. Down below, the captured worked hard to build the place bigger than it already was. A small squirrelmaid looked up at her, and ran in fear at the sight of the assassin. Irica didn't like when they did that; they'll look at her, run off to their parents, saying that she was mean. Her mind had escaped to another place, asking herself. How come I became the assassin? Why not my brother? What does Vulpuz see in me?
The questions stopped as she felt someone breathing down her neck. "I thought I might find you here." She spun around, facing her lord, Vulpuz. "Aha! Sorry my lord, I was lost in my mind." she said, head bowed. Vulpuz laughed, catching her eyes. "I told you Irica. You may call me be my given name; you have my permission." Irica got up, and he asked. "Why do you always come here? I don't see what so special about it." he said, looking for something that maybe interesting to him.
Irica looked up from the slaves. "This is where I think." she said it in a calm, soothing voice; causing a shine in Vulpuz's eyes.
Vulpuz smiled at her, facing her with his orange eyes. "Think about what?" Irica sighed. She walked from the balcony, with him behind.
"I just think about how I came to be here. I always question myself. Why did you choose me over my brother?" she throw her paws in the air, and them landing beside her. "I mean; c'mon! He's stronger, faster, and much better with a bow and arrow. Just; just why me?" Vulpuz lifted her chin. Blue eyes met orange eyes, and said he one thing. "He told me to."
Irica blinked several times, and remembered he called her. "Oh, and you called me. Why?"
Vulpuz straitened his back, and proudly said. "Oh. Yeah, there's something I want to show you." He lead her to one of the highest rooms in the highest parts of the palace. They stopped in front of a large door, and Vulpuz told her to wait. "Stay right there." he ran inside, came out with a blindfold. Vulpuz wrapped it tight around Irica's eyes; they began to walk inside. Irica felt around with her paws, finding something soft and sat on it. "You ready?" she heard him say.
The blindfold began to fall loose, and onto her lap. Opening her eyes slowly, Irica gasped at the beautiful room before her. She was sitting on a large bed, a table at the side with a large mirror. A closet, which was empty. And another closet, that was just over fulled with weapons. "Taa daa!" Vulpuz cheered. "You like it?"
Irica was speechless. She walked around with wander. "What, what is all this?" she stuttered. Vulpuz walked beside her, stretching his arms out in front of him. "It's your new room. I believed that the best of assassins should have to the best of things." he began to leave, his cloak waving in the air. "A servant shall be up soon with your belongings and such." There was where she was left; a huge room, little stuff, and life still unknown to her.
Once again, Irica was in her diary; but in her new room. Like Vulpuz said, a servant came in with all her belongings. She actually felt sorry for the young ferret. He had a long scar across his eye, that was all she could remember before he ran off; not daring to stay in the assassin's presents no more. "...I believe I become more feared everyday. I feel petty for the young one, the long scar across his face. A everlasting mark upon him.." A knock knocked on the large sturdy door. When Irica opened it, no one was there, but a note. She opened it up, sighting the royal sign on it; a red-ink hawk flying upwards. Sitting down on her bed, grabbing a pillow to rest her elbows on, she read it out loud.
Dear Member of the Palace Court,
- You have been given a invitation to The Palace Masquerade Ball tonight in the palace's main rooms; The Grand Hall, High Tops, and The Orchard.
You are requested to wear your most magnificent and glorious outfit that you can ever find! It will be hosted by our most mighty one; Lord Vulpuz. You can't bring a single weapon to this Ball. Hopefully, we'll see you there.
--"The Palace Court Leaders"
Irica smiled with glee and laughter. She hugged the parchment close to her chest, grinning with joy. This was the first time she had been invited to a Ball; the others, she never gotten a invitation. She wandered, Why this time? Forgetting the ever questionable question, she ran to her closet. When it opened Irica sighed with lost of hope. It was empty. Irica slapped her face down onto her bed, sobbing. Finally getting a invite to the awesome Ball, Irica won't be able to go. "Irica? Why ya cryin'?"
She looked up at her friend, a rat maid; named Grinjy. "Oh, n-nothing. Nothing at all." she said with firmness. Grinjy sighed, and looked about the room, spotting her invitation. "Irica! You should b'happy! You got a invitation, and you can where ya most beautiful.." she trailed off, catching her empty closet. The maid actually had the nerve to finish the sentence. "dress.." Irica cried until her face turned red, her cheeks burning. "Doesn't matter, Grinjy. I haven't been invited to the others, so why should I go now." Irica was about to crumble up the parchment and throw it out the window, until Grinjy grabbed it. "Uh huh! Ye not throw 't out! I know t'best place to find a dress!" Gripping the vixen's paw, the rat started a sprint out the room.
Irica was having painful time trying to keep up with the fast running guard maid. "Grinjy! Can you wait a minute!" Turning one last corner, she found her standing outside a door. She gasped at the room she was outside of. "Girl! This was the queen's royal chamber! We can't go in here!"
"O'course we can! She's dead! Cold stone in the ground!" Grinjy said, pointing and stomping at the stone floor. Irica rolled her eyes. "But, still. What does she have in there that I can need?"
"Uh! Maybe, all of her dresses are still in her closet! And she was you're same size when she was alive." Grinjy slammed open the doors. Tip toeing to the closet, the opened it with awe. It was filled the most beautiful dresses they every laid eyes on.
What caught Irica blue eyes was the lovely dress to the side, hanging up, the clothe cold and soft. Lifting it off the hook, she held it up to herself. It had a black torso with a white collar, and long wide sleeves, reaching the beyond the wrist. The skirt part of it was white and out wide; it waved outward with grace when Irica spun around with it held up at her.
Clapping her paws and jumping up and down, Grinjy forced Irica into the dressing room. "Go on in there! Try it on!" continuing to pick one for her, Grinjy was head on in the closet. Irica stepped out in black slippers. The dark fabric was glossy against the light sprouting from the open-curtain window balcony. She twirled slowly as Grinjy whistled. "There we go! Who has a dress now, huh?"
Irica felt around her eyes. "Oh, but I need a mask." she sighed. "Taa daa!" holding out a black mask lined with white gems, the rat maid's eyes poked up. "Hear thut?" jumping into the shadows of the room, two guards made their way in.
"I'm tellin' ye mate! I hear females in here!" said the lean weasel. His partner, a stoat, whacked him on the side of his head. "There ain't no girlies in her'!" they began to fight as Irica and Grinjy slipped their way out. Running as soon as they were out of their ear range, they broke off into a run back to her room. Irica wearing her outfit, and Grinjy having her's in paw, they split up. "I'll see ya t'night Irica. 'cause someone has'a dress." with a finally laugh and hug, Grinjy left.
Irica flopped on her bed, dress laid beside her. Sighing with happiness, she left into her own mind.
Far below in the palace, the fox slave Vanlence threw the parchment down underneath his paws. "Always! My sister has to good life; going to Balls and a part of the Palace Court. Always!" he stomped at the paper, raging. The other fox, Zach, looked at him. "Calm down Van. Who knows; Irina maybe doesn't like going to Royal Balls."
Van growled at him. "Don't try to cheer me up Zach! What you maybe don't know it that she's maybe in there with some maiden; saying. 'What lipstick should I wear? The black one or pink one?' Baa!" he walked to the cell window, and started yelling many horrible words at the guards. Zach covered his ears, and whispered to himself; I know Irina. She's not like that..
Irica walked down to large halls. They were full of guards and people heading to the Ball. Spotting Grinjy at her post, Irica rushed over. "Grinjy aren't you going to the Ball?" The rat rolled her eyes. "O'course! I just gotta wait for al'these peoples t'get t'the Grand Hall, and I can leave me post." Irica nodded, and walked in the Grand Hall. It was lit with many lights, and the floor was clean. No was dancing yet, waiting until Vulpuz came.
Irica was alone, not talking to anyone; but sitting alone next to a window. She remembered happiness before she became part of the Palace Court. Irica saw a ferret maid singing next to instruments. Silently, she sung the lyrics to herself.
- Oh, the waves roll low
- And the waves roll high
- And so it goes.
- Under the bright blue
- Endless Sky
- Waves try to measure
- The days that we treasure
- Wave hello
- And wave goodbye.
Irica hadn't noticed that Grinjy was beside her. "Aww, I didn't know you had a voice! C'mon, sing 'gain!" Nervously, Irica asked the ferret maid if she could have a turn. With encourage from Grinjy, she began.
- I remember
- Under the bright blue
- Endless Sky
- Wait, I remember that
- How I know that song
- I remember sitting in the moonlight
- And that feeling
- What’s that feeling?
- I remember, yes
- How I know that song
- Though it’s been so long
- I remember happiness
- Without a floor or ceiling
- What’s that feeling?
- I remember
- Oh! I remember her
- And how we were
- I remember wanting
- What the evening would be bringing
- I remember singing
- Under the bright blue
- Endless sky
- Waves try to measure the days
- That we treasure
- And I
- I remember
- I remember music
- And I‘m never going back
- To the silent law they wrote
- I will sing in every tempo
- Every last chromatic note
- For I, I remember her
- I remember music
- And I remember
Everyone clapped their paws, little did she know that Vulpuz had walked in. He too clapped, but at the same he whispered something to a weasel; who ran into the crowd. Irica watched him, so did Grinjy.
Stepping away to get to Grinjy, Irica was halfway there when she heard Vulpuz call her. She turned to torso to see behind her, and he was making his way through, everyone bowing as he passed. Once she finally reached her, Grinjy knew what she was going to say. "Don't worry, I'll cova ya till ya come back."
"Thanks Grinjy." just as Irica left her friend, Vulpuz appeared next to her. "Hello, sir. A very nice Ball you have here." Grinjy said, putting on her sweet face. Vulpuz kept looking about, eyes wandering. "Maid, I'm looking for Irica. She was just here." he asked in a hurried tone. "Sorry sir, she ran off." He eyed her, oranges eyes blazing. He snorted; and left. Grinjy sighed a sigh of relief, worried about Irica.
The weasel was sly and quick, and Irica knew him as Halfear. They turned corner after corner, Halfear running quick, Irica in the shadows, trying not to be seen. Halfear stopped in front a large door; Vulpuz's chamber. He went in, forgetting to close the door. Irica hesitated, she has never been inside there. But eager to know what Halfear was up too, she followed.
Irica muffled a gasp;spiderwebs hung from the roof. Red markings allover the walls; blood. She rubbed her paw across a stone table, and it came back with a red powder on it. Dried blood. Irica's chest began to heave up and down fast. No. I gotta get out of here! The air was like a red mist, like blood was be sprayed everywhere. Before she ran out, Irica heard Halfear. "Hayden..My Lord Vulpuz would like to hear from him."
There, in the middle of the floor, was a mousemaid. But something was off about her, and it sent a chill up Irica's spine. When the hood fell off, she was covered in blue, red, and black markings. It stained her tan fur from head to tail. She spoke slowly, as if old, but she was very young. "Tell Vulpuz that he says nothing."
Halfear grunted, and jumped when heard someone. "Dear Hayden, he has to know something.." Vulpuz had walked into the room, and Irica didn't know. Until he practically stood beside her; he in the dim light, she in the shadows beside him. Irica could feel him breathing, the warm air against her face. "Hayden, you're the portal between that world, and this world." he chuckled and continued. "My world."
Hayden's tattoos began to glow. She breathed in; Vulpuz smiling, Halfear shaking. The lights went down, and Hayden said, "He believes that what you do is great. But, you'll be making a horrible mistake if you wed her."
Vulpuz grabbed the maid's hair, and began to pull her head back, making a threat to brake her neck. "You doubt my ideas, maid?! Cause if you do, I'll-"
"I don't disagree! He does. Please," she began to cry. The eight year old's tears flowing. "If you kill me, you won't be able to speak to him. Please my Lord!" Hayden grabbed his paws, trying to keep them from going back further. Vulpuz let go. "I know the best ideas, and he doesn't tell me from right to wrong." Irica leaned in to hear once he started to talk in a low voice, not seeing the pot at her feet. "Aaahh!" Irica yelled as she fell to the floor.
Hayden retreated to Vulpuz's bed and held a pillow to her knees. Vulpuz ran up to Irica, not even knowing who it was. Once he saw the dress and mask, he started shouting. "She lives!! She lives!! Guards!!" Irica ran. Guards close behind.
All the slaves were in the dungeons, sleeping peacefully on empty stomachs. A newborn mouse babe moaned in hunger, and her mother held her close and nursed her. Van and Zach also weren't sleep. Zach laid back onto the ground, while Van sat alone cursing at himself. Zach's little sister, Tacza, crawled to him. "What's the matter with Van, Zach?"
Zach sighed and looked at his friend. Van continued to curse and swear, like he didn't have a care in the world and no one could tell him what to do. "Nothing Tacza. Nothing at all you can stop." Tacza asked her elder brother another question. "Do you miss Irina?" her little brown eyes were fulled with interest and annoyance. Zach kicked a pebble which rolled and stopped a the mouse mother's foot paw. She just looked up at him, smiling, and continuing to care for the little maid. "Um. yeah, I miss her.."
"Do you love her?" yet another question. This caused Zach to laugh. "Love her? You make me laugh all the time Tacza!" he said, looking to the floor. "No, I'm serious Zach." he looked at her, with a blank look on his face. "But at the village, you seemed fawn of her. Always calm; I know you love her."
Instead of protesting the way he would always do, he just grinned. "Yeah, I do.." he left it at that, leaving Tacza to sleep. "I do."
"Saffron, you naughty otter! Where ar' ye?" Skipper of Holt Mossguard barked. His daughter has once again was off when she heard the adult male otters were going on a patrol. "Tsk, tsk; if ya don't come out, you'll miss dinner." Still no answer. Skipper began to worry; Saffron never missed dinner. This time, he started shouting. "Saffron! Joke ova! Get out 'ere!"
A lone giggled sounded from a bush behind him. Skipper rolled his eyes, and turned to the shaking and laughter plant. "Why? This is odd." he said as sat in front of it. "I neva seen a laughing bush before! What's ya name?"
It came back with a kid voice. "Saff!"
Skipper placed a webbed paw at his chin, and thought. "Hmm? Saff; is thut short for somethin'?" he asked. 'Saff the Bush' shook 'no'. Skipper thought as if the joke was over. "Get ova here!" Saffron stumbled back out of the bush, not aware of the tall boulder tottering behind her. It shifted loudly aside, instantly catching Skipper's eye. Saffron kept going back farther, and a scarred and bleeding paw grasped her tunic hem.
"Saffron!" Skipper roared. The young otter gal was tugged back, and he shot out for her paw. Saffron scream, "Skippa!", and another paw struck out, with a large club; it caught Saffron's lower back, sending her sprawling backward. Skipper thrashed his rudder against the club, and it flew into the trunk of a willow. The hem of the tunic began to rip, and Skipper had both paws around his daughter. With a furious growl, the large creature pounced onto Skipper. The other brought the scream Saffron into the hole. Retrieving it's club, and cloaked figure broke it down several time onto Skipper's head. He stopped when he heard a pleasing crack.
Echos bounced off the narrow tunnel, and the figure slid back into it, but the opening sat there open; free to all.
"Hurry! Get'er before she escapes the castle!" a guard shouted. Irica was making her way through the halls. Vulpuz lead the group that was after her, he was furious. He pretty left them and advanced on her. Irice had just looked over her shoulder when the king tackled her hard. The vixen's head smacked the stone floor; Irica looked up into his orange. He spoke with a deadly tone and used his burning and enraged eyes as a weapon. "It's about time I've caught you. Time to pay the price.." Vulpuz pulled a dagger out of his sleeve, but Irica acted quickly.
Clawing upward, she raked his chin and cheeks. Irica saw that chance to escape. Out the main door and hearing Vulpuz's howls of rage not far behind, she didn't waste time to get away. Running into the orchard, she passed a few people who were taking their time only. The trees arched above Irica like a tunnel, and the cries began to die down. Gotta get away, gotta get away.. "Irica! Whut ya doin'?!" looking up, she saw Grinjy calling from above from a window.
The guardmaid saw the scared look in Irica's eyes. She instantly knew what to do. "Don't worry! I'll be right behind ya!" Grinjy left the window sill. Climbing up a stair way that lead up to blackness, a light peeked through the opening up high. Falling onto her knees of lost of breathe, the sun blinded Irica.
Pant, pant. "Irica, you up there?" Grinjy came walking out of the hole in her dress, pike in paw. Irica cradled Skipper's head in her paws. "My, my whut did ya do?"
"I did nothing! I found him like this..." she trailed off when she heard a cry.
"Reeeeeddwalll!!" a squirrel pinned her down, and a large badger rammed Grinjy head into a tree. She fell limp at it's feet, and the squirrel held something above her head. Then blackness...
Irica's head throbbed with a beating pain. It was dark, but she laid on something soft. "Irica, you okay?" she heard Grinjy gasp. "I'm fine. You?" Grinjy showed her the large knot on the side of her head. They chatted a little over the palace events, but stopped when they heard something.
"Stop talking in there! You are underneath Redwall Judgment right now, I suggest you be quite!" the voice was loud and sour.
"Redwall Abbey what? Get me out of here!!" Grinjy shrieked. Irica pulled her from the door as she bagged. "Stop! You heard her, we're underneath judgment. We might as well stay quite if we don't want more against us." The door swung inward, almost catching Irica. The same badger walked in and had them tied in seconds. "Don't say a word.."
Out they went from their cell and into the open. It was a place with red stone walls; it was quite and they doubt if anyone was in there. Until they both enter a large hall. There, beast stood aside as Irica and Grinjy entered. Some 'booed' and other just watched.
The badger brought them to a mouse who sat in a chair. "Thank you Mother Brocla." he looked at the pair, them confused. "You two have horribly injured own otter friend Skipp-"
"Aye! Me'n'Irica here found him like that! So we didn't harm a hair on him!" Grinjy protested. Irica felt stupid; had to be stuck with her, huh?
"Quite! I'm Father Abbot Tobal, and you are?" he said, pointing at Grinjy. "The name is Grinjy." he then pointed to the vixen. Irica was more nice than her friend. "My name is Irica, Father Abbot."
Tobal looked at Irica with kindness. "Huh, your friend Ms. Irica is much nicer Grinjy. I suggest to act like her in this time." Grinjy just smiled. "Ha! Irica ain't no Ms!" she then grinned evilly, "But she might if Vulpuz marries her!" The maid beside the Abbot screamed. "Vulpuz! He lives..?" she gasped. Everyone started to murmur and whisper to each other. Tobal regained silence. "Ms. Irica; I'll like to speak with you only since you seem a orderly girl. Where does this one called Vulpuz lives?"
"Six feet under!" Grinjy said. Irica looked at her coldly. "Forget her; Vulpuz comes from underground. A kingdom." the maid shouted out again. "Ha! The last underground kingdom was The Kingdom of Malkariss!"
"Muriel! You will be quite." Tobal scowled at the young maid, who slumped back into a chair. "Continue, Ms. Irica." The vixen began the tale, getting shouts and protests from Grinjy. Some people gasped and others spoke. When she finished, Tobal look shocked. "Well, everything seems believable. But I can't see who did Skipper that way and took Saffron? Bring Skip out!" The injured otter walked out. He had a bandage around his cracked skull. As soon as he saw the pair bonded up said, "That's not them."
Tobal looked amazed, and everyone else just stood there. "The ones that took Saffron...and who attacked me," he winced in pain, and a nurse came beside him. "they were both male." Tobal looked at Brocla, who broke Irica and Grinjy's bonds. "Thank you, we'll be leaving!" Grinjy said turning to leave. Irica did the same, but looked back.
"How did she escape Halfear?!" Vulpuz screamed, enraged. The weasel ducked as he threw objects his way, a vase just missing his head. Hayden sat on the bed, crying at the day's events. Her tattoos weren't lit up, but her eyes were; with fear. "Tell me you useless weasel! How?!" he yelled.
Halfear crawled under a table, shaking. "Dunno! The guards were on her tail, so were you! She went up," he paused, and continued. "to the upper world.." he trailed of, him fearing of what might come next. But it wasn't what the weasel expected; it was calmness from Vulpuz. The fox sat beside Hayden; who slipped away to the window. She knew what he wanted. "Tell me Hayden; what does he think now?"
Like before she breathed in, markings going bright. Once they died down, she spat out with hatred. "He thinks you are a fool!"
Vulpuz charged at her, and stopped before he ran into her. He placed a claw at her neck, and growled. "What did you say, whelp?"
"Nothing, my lord.." the maid said, feeling the law against her neck. "He still think it's a bad idea to wed her." At that Vulpuz, smiled coldly. He stepped from the small mouse, and said. "Her..I'll send her." He turned to Halfear, who jumped at his glare. "Halfear, go send this message throughout the castle," looking from him, he said the finally part of the sentence with grace. "Find me Irica."
"C'mon lil' one! My lord wants t'see ya!" Saffron tugged and scratched at the rat's arm, who didn't wince. "Stop thut moving!" The otter girl cried, and stopped moving. She let him take her through the cave like hall, and until she saw it. Vulpuz's Kingdom.
"Irica! C'mon, let's get back t'Vulpuz!" Grinjy shouted; but Irica didn't listen. She walked back to Tobal; who was talking with Skipper. "Father Abbot?" she asked, wanting him to look up.
"Yes, Ms. Irica?" he said, turning from Skipper. All commotion stopped, and Muriel looked angry. "Do you mind if Grinjy and I just stay for the night?" Irica forgot about Grinjy words from behind, and was waiting for her answer. Tobal looked about the room; at Brocla, Muriel, at Skipper and all the rest. "Of course." Tobal smiled. Irica felt that wave of relief come over her, but it completely missed Grinjy. Muriel yelled in anger, stomping out the room. Skipper just looked, and Brocla grinned.
The rat maid came up from behind and grabbed her dress collar. She pulled in out of ear shot, and screamed. "What are you doin'?! We gotta get back to the kingdom before Vulpuz finds you're gone."
"But Grinjy; he's after me! Let's wait until we can get out these dresses and we'll go back." she nodded, regretting it. When they came back to the people, Brocla asked. "Is everything okay?"
"Yeah.." said Grinjy through a growl. Irica rolled her eyes, and walked into the crowd. They parted as she passed, uneasy at her appearance. She walked after the Abbot, who stopped. "Father Abbot? Can me and Grinjy find some clothes?" Tobal laughed. "Please Irica; call me Tobal. And I already sent Brocla to do that." just at that, the badger came up with to tunics. "Here you are darling." the vixen nodded as a thank you, and returned to the rat maid.
Grinjy stood in the middle of a small crowd, them whispering around her. Muriel was in the crowd, growling at her. When she saw her friend come to her, she pushed the mouse aside. "Irica! These beast are crazy; and you thought I was weird." she took her tunic; which was light blue with a black belt and no buckle. Her friend was off to change. Irica wanted to wait until changing, and found Muriel staring at her. "Umm..?" she moaned.
"I swear; if you hurt one hair on anyone here; you'll regret it." the mousemaid wandered off, leaving Irica scared out her mind.
"Why did you bring me this river pet?!"Vulpuz barked. The rat held Saffron in front of him; she looking scared, him confused. The rat just stood there, thinking of to saying after bringing her here.
"Weeeeell, ah thought..ya might be happa?" The fox thought for a moment, and chuckled hard.
"Oooh, I get it. What ye was thinking was that if you brought me a slave, I reward you." He grabbed the rat's ear, him pleading out. "Well, you thought wrong! Get out of me sight!" throwing him out, he looked to Saffron.
"Get away from me; now!"Saffron shirked.
Vulpuz just got closer, and bent down to her height. His orange eyes peered out her thoughtfully. "What's your name, little'un? Hm?" Without thinking, she kicked him in the chest; Vulpuz fell back, smacking his head on the stone floor. He screamed out for his guards, who came in a matter of seconds. They dragged Saffron away; and Vulpuz stared as she left.
Opening his tunic, he felt the red stop where she kicked him. It was tight and had a burning feeling; Vulpuz growled, and sat on a nearby chair. "Irica, where are you..?"
Dinner was slow in Great Hall; everyone chattered and laughed. Tobal sat with Muriel; who had her eyes peeled.
"Muriel, what's wrong?" The maid straitened her back, and continued eating a piece of vegetable pie. "Oh, no one. Just, thinking." The Abbot signed, and leaned his head upon his paw. "Muriel; if you are looking for our new friends-"
"Father Abbot; they are not friends! Vermin are vermin; the last times we let vermin inside our walls, two abbey people were killed." she said, arms folded.
Tobal almost stood up out of his chair. "I like how you read your books Muriel; but when Badger Mother Mellus was killed, she was avenged; by a vermin! But, I can't say anything about Brother Hal.." he trailed off, looking over to the stairway where eyes floated to.
Both Irica and Grinjy came down the stairs; Grinjy in her tunic she had gotten early, and Irica in a black tunic with a red belt. At the bottom of the stairs, they stood there, not knowing what to do; until Tobal waved them a paw over. "What are you waiting for! C'mon."
Grinjy was the first to the table, sitting beside a hare. "Greetings; I'm Folron de Droople.; Grinjy, I say?" she jumped up, and started to sound like Folron. "Greetin's sir hare! I'm Ms. Grinjy de Grin!" Everyone laughed at them, even Muriel stopped a chuckle. Irica looked around, no seats left; only one...next to Muriel. Sitting down, she smiled at the mouse, who annoyed her. More laughs went out, and Grinjy was the star of the show.
"I say ol' hare. How many fruit pies can ye eat, eh?" the rat maid said.
"Hmm, about five in'un day!" Folron said proudly. Grinjy made a 'hmph' sound in her throat and walked away to the other side of the large table. Folron watched her, eager. The rat returned with two pies and said. "Okay Forlon, or whatever ya name is; let's have a contest. Whoever eats their pie first, will be the pie eatin' champ!"
With a raised of his fork, Folron shouted, "You are on ratty de rat!" They both begun, trying their best to beat the other. Grinjy was in the lead by three mouth fulls, Folron was getting slower. Irica laughed at them, and everyone either cheered on the hare or the rat.
Tobal stood between them both, watching for the winner. In minutes, he raised a paw to stop. "Our new pie eating champion; Grinjy de Grin!" Everyone cheered to her, her mouth with strawberry stains here and there. "Umm...can someone show me to a trashcan?!" Grinjy ran, and Folron laughed his ears off.
Irica looked back to Muriel, but she was gone. Tobal looked for her also, but shrugged. "Don't feel bad Irica. She's like this sometimes; let her cool off her tember." Dinner ended shortly after, and everyone fell asleep.
Saffron cried alone, every slave watched her; curious. The otter was a tough little one; each guard that came her way either came back with a black eye, or a injured knee. In a corner of the compound she sat; the guards flicking the tongues of their whips at her. With a small growl of anger, Saffron grabbed the tongue of the whip, and pulled the stoat down; he made a hard face plant, crying out in agony. Standing up his feet, he ran off, nose bleeding heavily. "Hey, you okay?" she looked up, and Zach smiled. "G-Get away!" the otter sobbed.
"It okay." Zach comforted Saffron, but the fox in front of her wasn't a easy thing to feel comfort next to her. Everyone turned their heads to him and the otter, she started to inch to her. He held out his arms, and with one finally movement, she jumped right to him. Van look totally confused to the core of his brain, while the rest looked at Zach with faces of deep thoughts.
The same mousemother from before came to him, and said with smooth but weak voice. "I knew there was something different about you.." Zach got up from the cold ground, to get a better look at the maid in the small light. The mother was really young, early twenties. The babe laid up on her shoulder, asleep. But the small one so small; tiny like a loaf of bread. What caught Zach's attention was the scar across her collarbone.
"What happened to your neck?" Zach asked, setting down Saffron down on his small mattress. The scar was whitish, meaning it had long time ago healed. "By the way, your name?"
The mother sat down onto her mattress, and the babe whimpered a bit. "My name's Athila." she felt her neck where the large scar was in printed on her. "This; this came from horrible one's assassin!" one thing floated into Zach's mind; Irica? "A time ago, there was a riot. A single hare and hedgehog broken loose, and we all found the courage to fight back. My husband fought hard against them; only to be shot down with flaming arrows by Vulpuz himself. During all this, many saw this as a chance to escape." some of the younger ones had gathered around the two, and Saffron joined them; in Zach's lap that is.
"Most of us ran back up to the upper world, but with the assassin right after us. I was still with child when all of this had happened, so I wasn't able to keep up with the others." Athila sniffed and blinked away a rising tear. "Sometimes I'll pray that all those that got away end up going to hell; instead of those quite, lovely fields my dear Ajani went to. I tripped up and fell into a ditch; that's where the assassin caught me. Under that dark hood, I saw thought her pretty but unfavorable eyes; blue, a beautiful sky blue."
"I pleaded with her to let me go free; it's easy to get through to a girl than a boy." Athila joked, moving the baby close to her chest. "But sadly..I couldn't. She viciously lashed out at me with her sabre, that's where the scar came from. Tying my paws together with heavy chains; I was dragged away. I cried out with all my little air, I watched as some of the lucky ones come from their hiding places. I still...still wish them all painful deaths.." the mousemother cried, and the fox felt sorry for her.
Zach felt was she felt, he was there, and had almost got away. But was taken back into slavery when a rat thrust a dagger into his side. Saffron was sleeping silently in his lap, and Tacza was laying on her bed. Hoping she wouldn't mind, Zach laid the otter next to her. Saffron felt him let go, and grabbed hold onto his paw. That made the fox grin, he released her hold. Looking to his side, Athila started again nursing the small girl, named Zaniya.
The slaves' minds were filled with that memory-packed riot, and the assassin..
"Please! I'll do anything; just let me go!" the mouse pleaded. Irica go closer, black hoodshielding her eyes from the bright sun. "Please!" The assassin raised her sabre up, and said. "I afraid I can't do that.." She lashed out, the maid screaming loudly.
Irica awoke with a start, feel the sweat all over. Redwall Abbey was cold at night, so her sweat made her even colder. The vixen grabbed the bag from the bottom of her bed; it held the ball dress, which wasn't in a good state. Irica stood up and put on the tunic Brocla had gave her; she walked out the room, leaving a small note on her still messy bed. She didn't go right to Grinjy's room, but wandered the abbey without a word, nor sound. The dream replayed over and over again; Irica remembered when that happened, it was the first time she had been up here for a long time. A voice rung out in her mind, it was strong, but the same time gentle. You traitor..you've earned these beasts' hearts, and you are gonna throw it all away?
The vixen found herself staring at the large and wonderful tapestry. Martin looked directly at her, and spoke harshly. Irica..you are a traitor born; you know it too..
"Irica!" that brought Irica back quickly; it was Grinjy. The rat's blonde hair was falling out all over her head. Irica laughed a bit, and she snorted. "Shut it, girl! I left my note in your room; let's get out of 'ere!"
The pair scrambled out the Great Hall, away from the tall warrior standing before them. Grinjy had easily broken the east gate's lock, and they ran out into the night time sky. Irica's eyes were better in the dark; she spent most of her life in the darkness. The rock slab was like it was, and the rat pretty much jumped in. Irica did the same, and began to slowly slide the rock back in place; when some cupped their paw across her mouth. "I thought I might find you.."
"Did you find them Brother?" Tobal asked, calling across the abbey lawns. The old squirrel came to the abbot; Brother Milwind sighed. "I'm sorry to say Tobal, but those two seemed to have left the abbey."
"And it's a good thing too." Muriel came from behind the elders, arms folded and a hidden smile on her lips. "I wasn't getting surely uncomfortable near those them; and that Irica was one I would put as a suspect if anything had happened here.." the maid ended the statement with a mumble. Tobal just annoyed the disobedient young one, and turned to Skipper. The otter had newly clean bandages and was able to walk without help from others. "They've gone Skipper."
Skipper just walked lamely to them, and padded his crack head. "It'sa darn shame; that Grinjy was a funny'un t'!" he laughed. "First'un t'eva beat ol'Folron in a pie eatin' race."
It was like the whole abbey became a sad and empty place when Irica and Grinjy departed. But Muriel was filled with gratitude when she woke up to Brother Milwind, Brocla, and Abbot Tobal shouting about the Abbey for them.
Happiness came her way; she hoped it will last.
Irica was in a dark room. It gave out a moan of evil and dismal, as if it wanted to cry out in agony. Irica flinched her body, and noticed her feet weren't touching the ground. There absolutely no light to be found, and her eyes couldn't adjust to this type of darkness. They both lived in darkness, but this was ridiculous! Irica coughed a bit, feeling a strange sensitization in her throat. Once it was gone, she choked out. "Grinjy?!" instead of hearing her friends chopping and laughter filled accent, Irica heard a devilish voice just behind her nick. "Wanting some help? Need some friends?!"
A whip slapped her back hard, and a cry of pure pain escape Irica's mouth. The voice had raised the hairs on the back of her necks, but now thy all rose at the sudden shot of pain as it ran up her spine. "Aaahh!" she screamed. Irica kicked out, trying to reach a point on her enemy's body. If it had a body!
"Stop trying to harm me! If you do, I'll just harm to back!" another lashed against the low of her back, and it sorta wrapped around her stomach, and her enemy pulled, so she was in the face of him. "Scared?" he let Irica loose, and she spun in the air for a while. "You should be, assassin!"
This time, something sharp jabbed into the vixen's side; and the feeling of a smooth, thick liquid started to run down her thighs and onto her legs. Suddenly, Irica dropped to the floor, and she gasped at the stone hitting her bones. Irica's eyes blinked several times as the light appeared through the now uncovered windows.
Vulpuz stood there, she at his feet. His vibrant orange eye looked down at her, and they spelled death. "Tell me, did you have a good time away? In the upper world?"
"I-I, I don't know what you mean.." Irica gasped, holding a paw to her bleeding side.
The fox snarled, and pinned her down so her back was against the chilly floor. "Don't lie, Assassin!" Assassin was the name Vulpux gave Irica if her was angry at her. "I was there when you came from up there! Tell me, did you chase after her?"
"I said I don't know!" Irica growl between her teeth.
Vulpuz looked up and smiled at himself. "So, you don't know..hmm. But," he said, giving his head a little shake. "still, you abandoned me when I needed you.."
You never need me! Irica said to herself. "Why did you need me?"
"You are my guard, a guardian of my life. Like that rat Grinjy.." Vulpuz trailed off at the rat's name, and Irica snapped.
"What did you do to her?!" the vixen shirked. "I swear Vulpuz-" Irica stopped herself, covering her mouth. As a member of the Royal Court, and at his loyal one, never say his name. Never. The fox glanced and her, and left, without a word. Irica wept to herself, knowing her horrible mistake. "Help me..someone help me.." she cried, fearing for her life.
Hayden sat her room, instead of Vulpuz's. The little mousemaid sat of her white sheeted bed; the sheets had a gold trim, her favorite color. Behind her, a ferret combed her hair; which was tangled everywhere. In tugged her head back, and she cried. "That hurt!"
As an answer, the ferret yanked down hard, getting a scream from Hayden instead of a small cry. "It won't hur' if ye 'eep is strait!" Snorting, Hayden waved a paw, signaling her to leave. As she did, the maid hopped off her bed. Looking of her balcony, at the slaves working hard. Hayden felt something strange inside her; and saw her marks glowing. She didn't know why, but they did.
Someone ran quickly pass her door, and Hayden ran to it. A blood trail was going up the hall, she saw someone was into another hallway. Very faintly, a shout was heard. "...Grinjy!"
Irica stormed into the rat's room, but she didn't find it empty..."Why in the name of hell's teeth did ya barge in like that?! Scared me out of mah fur!!" Grinjy screamed. Irica seemed completely dumbfounded; Grinjy was okay?! The vixen started to stutter and ask questions.
"How did ya-? When did ya-? How come-?" she said uncontrollably.
"Hold up there vixen, let's first get that wound patched up before before I have a pool of blood on my floor!" Surprisingly, Grinjy had experience when it came to fixing up gashes or scraps. Soon, a bandage was wrapped around Irica's thigh.
"Wow, thanks Grin." Irica, clearly impressed by her friend's work.
"Don't mention it. Now, tell me what happened." Grinjy pulled Irica's down to sit beside her. Irica spelled everything; how she woke up in the room, how Vulpuz gave her a serious beating and how the fox called her assassin. Grinjy didn't interrupt, only nodded her head sometimes or either curse under her breath. When she finished, the rat simple shrugged. "Hard to believe I woke up in my room!"
That toke Irica unexpectedly. "You woke up in your room? Nothing wrong?"
"You didn't hear any screams?"
"And you didn't come searching for me?!"
"Nope." Grinjy said with a proud smile. Some friend she had. Irica simplely walked out the room, but not in anger. Thinking over the questions she asked Grinjy. How come Grinjy didn't hear her? Irica knew she screamed loud enough for anyone in the whole palace to hear. Why didn't Grinjy come after her? Irica just shook her head, walking back to her fancy quarters.
(A/N - Just a quick one. I'll update a longer one next week, plus a update for Layla of Redwall. Bye!)