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This is a fan fiction story by Mago of the Jolly Octopus. It is not considered canon, nor is it a policy or guideline.

Chapter 1

Mago tramped along in the suffocating heat, he had left his empty travellers sack where he had camped for the night. Now all he had left to sustain him was the last few dregs of dirty water at the bottom of a large gourd that hung around his neck.

He was an unusual otter, extremely tall, some even saying in jest he was as tall as a short badger. Although dominating in appearance he lacked a certain bulk to his muscles so most beasts described him as ‘willowy’ or ‘lanky’ when asked to. Certainly he was strong enough, as most otters are, but at the moment he was weakened for want of decent food and drink.

He stumbled along in a stupor crushing plants and shrubs that got in his way, ignoring the beauty of the forests of Southsward. Until finally his starved limbs gave out; and he crashed to the earth like a mighty tree.

It must’ve been some time before Mago gained consciousness, the sun was fading in the sky, and he was still lying spread-eagled on the baked earth. He enjoyed the coolness of the evening air for a while and licked a small amount of dew that had formed on a blade of grass into his mouth. He gave a start and sprung to his feet in a spectacular leap when he heard a piercing laugh from the canopy above him. “Yikyikyikyikyik! Looksa ‘ere! It’n be a Otterdog yikyik! or should I say Otterpup, you looky like ya barely outta ya kitty season yis!” the voice chuckled to itself for quite some time before Mago gathered himself together and replied in his deep voice, “Aye I be a young’n, but i ain’t afraid of no mere voice! Show yourself stranger!” to show he wasn’t in the mood for any games he pulled a short, broad dagger from his belt and brandished it at the seemingly deserted branches.

To Magos surprise a heavily painted squirrel dropped from the trees smiling disarmingly at him “Big streamdog no need’n to be fear’n Woosha! Yikyikyik Woosha can’t even fight a beetlybug yikyikyik! Although the Otter don’t look to good he don’t!” Mago relaxed slightly but was still cautious of the camouflaged Squirrel incase he tried anything. “I am sorry friend I though you was another vermin trying to steal from me, I’m Mago Webbtide and you’re right, me belly is getting to be good friends with my spine, who might you be?” The squirrel found this last comment rather amusing and laughed a while before he replied, “yeeyikyikyik! Youa be a funny h’otter! Belly friendsi wid ya spine! I be Woosha de Invisibubble, I’ll takeya backta me drey an’ give ya summa de good ol’ vikkles! Come come dis not faraway from dis place! Yis yis!” Mago followed the chatty squirrel feeling rather bemused as he rabbited on constantly through their short journey through the woodlands “Soso Maygoo what yousa be doin’ rounda ‘ere eh? I be not seein’ many h’otters, cept for a few times when dey come froo’ ‘ere ta da big seasea!” Mago struggled to answer through a dry throat, “I wish I could answer you with a big ol’ story, but me mouth’s feeling like a desert” he managed to wheeze out “and ye said something ‘bout Otters coming ‘ere from the Sea?” the Squirrel answered him swiftly, obviously enjoying the conversation with his new friend, “ho yis Skippy ‘n’ ‘is crew allus comin froo ‘ere ta’ see ol’ goldypaws n his lot” he stopped suddenly and pointed up a large, but rather uninteresting, oak, “ dis isa where me ‘ome is!”

After a difficult climb up the tree, assisted by Woosha, Mago slumped across a branch to stop for breath; he looked around him and saw the Squirrels drey, it was a well disguised shelter, since it was actually made out of the tree, it consisted of several whippy branches bent towards each other and tied at the top, with creepers growing in between them to make a wattle style wall. Mago heaved his tired carcass into the cool shade of the nest, the green light playing on his light brown fur. Woosha scuttled about preparing vittles and drink for his guest. He returned to Mago bearing a tray laden with summer salad and nutcheese and in his other hand he held a simple wooden jug filled with elderberry cordial, saying to his friend, “eata theesa vikles alla up ye big lump!”. Mago needed no second bidding and fell upon the food with great gusto; Woosha sat marvelling at his seemingly insatiable appetite.

Once Mago had eaten and drunk his fill, three bowls of salad, several wedges of cheese and two jugs of the sweet elderberry cordial, he sat back, picking crumbs from his whiskers. He finally remembered Woosha mentioning an otter crew and spoke; “Woosha? You said something about Otters passing along here?”

“Yis yis so’a did, tis the sea cap’n Skippy wid ‘is woodenyboat, dey come froo’ ‘ere ta see ol’ Goldypaws”, Mago thought for a minute to try and work out what a ‘Goldypaws’ could be “wha…?” he began, but Woosha cut him off, “Goldypaws, y’know, dat greedy h’otter, allus panning for de sparklygold” Mago realised what the squirrel was talking about, “my ol’ dad, he got the whole holt panning for that wretched metal, I didn’t really see the point of it, so I got treated like an embarrassment to the family, he kept me hidden whenever we had visitors, see? So he wouldn’t have the shame of me on his mind” Mago said bitterly, playing with the hem of his tunic, “that’s why I ran away, got fed up of being treated like dirt, so I stole me some food ‘n’ drink and me knife an’ left ‘im to see the world, now I’m trying to find me uncle so I can go on ‘is ship, I allus liked me uncle, but I didn’t see ‘im much cause I weren’t allowed to see visitors” Woosha sat listening intently to Magos story, “me thinka dat yur unky maybe da ‘hotter dat comes froo’ ‘ere sumtimes” said Woosha, eager to help “Me’sa showya way to’im inda mornim!” Mago chuckled at the Squirrels accent, “aye matey, in the mornim”

The sun broke over the horizon filling the land around it with its radiance, the birds sang louder to celebrate this simple gift and Mago sat near the edge of the drey taking in the wonders of nature. The spell was broken by Woosha waking up and stretching noisily and picking at a gluey eye, “yis tis a pretty sight in’t it? Now stopya gawping at’da treez and stir’ye stumpies, the beachside int faraway from dis place, oh no it ain’t” he lept up and started preparing two haversacks. “whoa friend! I don’t need you to come with me! It could be dangerous, what with all the corsairs and robbers and such.” “Me’sa needig ta seeya de wald befer I get orl auld n grey! Yikyikyik!” Mago shrugged and picked up the bag of food.

After clambering back down the tree Mago followed Woosha, sometimes loosing sight of him due to his body paint, who kept up a constant, if one sided, conversation. “Yip tis ben a whiley sincea bin ta’da seaside, I prefer swimmin’ in’da leaves, yikyikyikyik! Swimmin’ inda leaves? Ya gettit? Yeehehehehehehe!” Mago smiled to himself about this peculiar Squirrel but didn’t answer back, still taking in his surroundings. They set up a brisk pace, striding through the country as the muggy heat beat down from the suns boiling rays, even Woosha had stopped chattering. Occasionally they stopped in the shade to cool off and drink water and cordial from the gourds that Woosha had provided. The whole countryside seemed to be deserted, although Mago reckoned that everybeast was inside, instead of in the oppressive heat.

Finally they reached the coast, but to Magos dismay there was not a ship in sight, this evidently showed as Woosha started up his raucous laughter again. “Yikyikyik! Silly Maygoo we walka uppa de seashore until we see yer unkys bigboat! Yeehee! Silly billy!”

Mago stopped abruptly and flung himself onto Woosha who cried out “heyhey! Me wus ownley foolin’ arard! Ye don’ ‘ave the chuck yerself unta me!” an arrow thudding into the sand next to his head silenced him. “Run!” screamed Mago, but it was to late, vermin came crashing through the undergrowth to meet them. One of the braver, or more stupid, of them, a large weasel, carried on at the same speed towards them, while his friends had slowed down considerably upon seeing the large otter. Seeing his chance, Mago stepped quickly out the way of the weasel and struck a stunning blow to the back of his head while grabbing hold of his sabre. He threw the sword to Woosha and hurled himself upon the enemy with his dagger drawn. Scoring a blow upon a stoat he grabbed his weapon, a very badly balanced scimitar, and started hacking at his assailants. “Run Woosha! I’ll hold them off!” Woosha needed no second bidding and limped off, due to a legwound he had sustained during a tussle with a rat. Mago picked up a ferret and threw him bodily into his companions, and started to sprint away from the angered mob of vermin. “youwaita there fer me!, tis no easery thing taw alky on dis footleg!” screamed a voice ,Mago looked around to see who it was, and could just make out Woosha leaning against a tree, “Woosha!” he bellowed “look out!!” . Woosha turned just in time to see the ferret that Mago had thrown come at him with a pike, Woosha screamed as he plunged the pike deep into his chest. The rest of the horde caught up and took delight in stabbing the open form of Woosha, Mago stood there, his blood boiling; a red hot hand of anger gripped his mind, his eyes seared with the rage that he felt. Loosing all his sense, he charged headlong into the cluster of vermin, yelling “Webtiddeee!!!” he struck hard and fats, slaying any creature that came to close and terrifying those who he snarled and screamed incoherently at. When he reached the body of his dead friend he fought his hardest, this was too much for the vermin and they broke and ran, with Mago in hot pursuit, still yelling out his battle cry. He followed them, waving the scimitar above his head. He gave chase until he found vermin bodies littered on the beach at the feet of several tough looking otters. They rushed towards him before realising he was an otter and caught him before he collapsed on the ground, tears streaming down his cheeks, “they killed him! They killed Woosha!” he sobbed piteously, then broke down into a fresh wave of tears. A battle-scarred, slightly greying, otter came up to him and helped him up, “whose Woosha? Tell me, nephew” Mago sniffed and answered “Woosha was a squirrel, those vermin kil… Wait did you say nephew?” the other otters chuckled, the otter who called him nephew smiled, “aye I did, with that battle yell, how could I doubt it? I’ll send some of my lot to sort out yer friend, Jisco! Addy! Go find that squirrel!” two burley Otters jogged off in the way Mago had come. “Aye ye must be me brothers kin, yeah that’s probably where I seen yer face before, ye probably know me name but I’ll tell yers anyway, I’m Imilcon Webbtide, but people call me skipper usually, what’s yer name again young’n? Mari… or Maka, or summin like that?” Mago looked up and told him his name “aye that’s the one! Mago, so tell me, how did ye manage ter get away from that brother of mine?” Mago wondered how he knew, but told his story briefly and finally asked “I want to travel on your ship as one of your crew, would that be possible?” Skipper laughed in a large, roaring guffaw “why of course ye can! I’ll do anything ter get up ye dads nose!” he clasped his paw “let me be the firs’ ter welcome ye aboard the Jolly Octopus!” Skipper motioned towards the boat that was beached on the shore, it was a smallish vessel with a single mast, crates and barrels surrounded it and were being loaded up by a string of otters, each seizing a crate and carrying it up onto the deck, another group would take them down into the hold to be stored. Mago, accompanied by the Skipper, walked up the gangway and stepped onto the oaken deckplanks.

Skipper gave him a brief tour of the ship, brief because it wasn’t a large vessel, showing him the cabins, hold, galley and armoury. The Skipper also gave him a run down on ship rules and what they do, “Well, we goes up ter Mossflower country, see? With all these rare fruits n vegebiles ‘n the such, we sell ‘em ter the woodlanders and the folks at Redwall fer any err… items of interest, usually good ales n wines n things, and we take them down ter Southsward and sell them, and we’re usually allowed ter use any o’ the produce we get, as long as there’s enough when we make landfall o’ course! And if we happen to chance on any corsairs, all the better, they’re usually stacked with gold ‘n jewels and stuff that we keep fer ourselves fer when we’re to old ter sail the sea”. Mago nodded appreciatively as he picked up a strange yellow fruit and sniffed it. Skipper grinned at the chance of a practical joke, “’ere peel that fruit ye got there, it’s called a lemon by the way, and eat a little bit of it”. Mago nodded and dug his claw into the thick skin and stripped it off the pale yellow segments, selecting one he pulled it away from the rest and popped it into his mouth, much to Skippers apparent surprise he said; “hmmm… It’s good! I like it!” Another Otter laughed as they climbed down the steps into the hold, carrying a crate, “harrharr! Did the ol’ skipp try ter do the lemon ruse on yer? The old rascal did that ter me when I firs’ joined! Me names Jugger, but ye can call me Jugg if ye like!” Skipper smiled as he remembered the incident “aye ye pulled a face that’d turn the sea black ye did, ok that’s the last crate isn’t it? Well no point hangin’ around, lets cast off!” all the otters who had heard his last statement cheered and set up a song that all beasts slowly picked up;

Cast off cast off cast off cast off!

It’s off ter sea we go!

Cast off cast off cast off cast off!

And a helpful wind does blow!

Me ‘n me matey go off to fight!

We’ll battle through day!

And drink through the night!

And when it’s all finished, well stop and say!

Is that the mainland that’s in sight?

Cast off cast off cast off cast off!

Its ter sea we go!

Cast off cast off cast off cast off!

And a helpful wind does blow!

We send vittles ‘n drink ‘n medicine to all!

We’re all really, jolly good souls!

And any vermin that stand in our way, they will surely fall!

We’ll do this job ‘till we're very old!

And until death comes to call!

Cast off cast off cast off cast off!

We’re going far and away!

Cast off cast off cast off cast off!

All beasts shout, HOORAY!!!

Mago joined in the shout at the end with a feeling of belonging welling up inside his chest as Jugg put and arm around his shoulder and they both yelled and screamed along with the other Otters, who were banging their short swords and javelins against anything that would make a loud noise.

Jugg had basically become Magos tutor, Mago just did the duties Jugg was assigned and watched him and lended a paw as often as he could, trying to show he wasn’t reluctant to help. Skipper watched him go about his work, glad that he had found a friend and was a fast learner, and strong too, since his height often helped when lifting anything or climbing rigging. Nodding to Addy, who was steering, he said “that’n will be a fine beast in battle I reckons, with a bit o’ training he’ll be top notch” Addy nodded distractedly, scanning his surroundings, “aye, I ain’t ever seen and otter as big ‘as ‘im, I wish I coulda seen him fightin’ of those vermin, he killed at the very least a score o’ ‘em, and without trainin’ and the such”. Skipper looked out to the horizon, “aye he’ll be a great one, one day”.

Mago lay in his hammock, Jugg lay snoring in the next one along, the intoxicating sense of happiness still swirled around inside the big otter, finally he closed his eyes, and fell into a peaceful slumber.

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