Fandom

Redwall Wiki

Comments223

The Storm

Martin2 February 13, 2009 User blog:Martin2

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.


This is a fan fiction story by Martin2. It is not considered canon, nor is it a policy or guideline.

A note: I agree with Shieldmaiden. NO AUTHOR KILLING! WHATSOEVER!!!!! This Fan Fiction is dedicated to my Third Grade teacher, who taught me that it's fun to write! For those confused, a score is twenty and a season is one fourth a year.


This is on Redwall Fan Fiction wiki too. I will try to update on both, but most likely that will be the most recent. [[1]] I will still read comments on here, of course and still inform about updates.

Never mind. Ignore that I ever said that. That version is waaaaaaaay behind. Actually, this one is also rather behind what I've finished. But suspense is my ally. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!


The storm


Prologue

The ancient mouse slowly stood up and approached the gathered Dibbuns. “Well that’s the end of that story, young uns.” He intoned. The Dibbuns groaned collectively. “Wanta’ nother’ story Brother Savus’!!!” A mousebabe cried. Salvus the Elder grinned and reached for a tome on the Gatehouse shelf. “This story is an old favorite of mine.” He said. The dust flew as he opened the dusty old volume. He began to read.

Book 1: The Storm Descends

Chapter 1

Coll fell down over the dormitory stairs onto the sandstone floor. “Oarrin, you….! I’ll pay you back for that!” Oarrin, who had pushed Coll down the steps, ran away laughing. Coll rose to his paws and glanced at the empty holders driven into the wall for the Sword of Martin the Warrior. For what must have been the millionth he wished the legendary weapon was still at the Abbey. It had been stolen some seasons ago when the previous Abbey Warrior was overwhelmed by a vermin horde. Though the Long Patrol had arrived in time to defeat the band, the sword was never recovered. He stood there, lost in thought until Mary the Badgermum bumped into him. She was in charge of the Abbey in the absence of either an or since old Abbot Mahrk many seasons ago. “Coll, idle paws never did anybeast good!” she scolded. Coll backed away, muttering apologies. “Go to the kitchens and help the Friar out, young man!” Mary ordered. “Yes, ma’am.” Said Coll. “You should be more like Oarrin, now there’s a respectable mouse!” she yelled after him. If only she knew, thought Coll. He knew from bitter experience that Oarrin could do no wrong in the eyes of the elders. Anything Coll told them was just trying to blot the mouse’s good record. He gazed longingly at the empty sword hanger, then hurried off to the kitchen’s before Mary got after him again.

***

A pair of yellow eyes stared out from the darkness of the night in Mossflower. Elledis, the Warlord of the southern coasts, was alive! They had all thought her to be dead when she was carried off by the hawk, but no, nobeast alive could defeat her! She had lost her marvelous blade during the fall, but she would reclaim that later. The only thought in her mind now was revenge! Revenge on those Abbey bumpkins and those despicable hares! She would lay a blade to them all!

***

Lord Thunderstripe of Salamandastron gazed out towards the distant eastern woods. Although he could not see it, he knew exactly where Redwall Abbey was in his line of vision. He turned back to his forge and loaded coal into it. He began to pound at the steel he had selected and it was soon an elegant rapier. He was troubled by the battle at Redwall Abbey some six seasons back. He could not believe that a Warlord like Elledis could have been killed by a mere fall. No, she would return, and with no warrior to protect them, Redwall Abbey would be at her mercy.

Chapter 2

The wandering bands of ferrets were camped in Mossflower woods, completely lost. Splitfang, their pathfinder, had led them to these woods from the flatlands, but there they could not find anything. Their leader, Choptooth, was berating the pathfinder mercilessly. “Ya think you can jus go and getta us lost?!!” he shouted at him as he beat him with the flat of his rusty blade. “Not entirely lost...” said a female voice from somewhere. Choptooth stopped beating Splitfang and looked up. “oose’ there?” he asked. “Only me.” Again, the voice came from nowhere. “Show yerself!” demanded Choptooth. “Very Well.” Replied the voice. There was a swishing noise and a cloaked and hooded figure stepped forth from the undergrowth. “You’re actually quite near the largest building you’ve ever seen.” The figure said. “With treasure and food aplenty.” Choptooth was surprised “What, out ere’ in dis forest?” he asked. “Less than a day’s march North of here.” The figure said. “Jus’ one ting’. Who are you?” Choptooth asked. The figure seemed to twitch, and then the blade was at Choptooth’s throat. He fell to the ground with a surprised gurgle. “I’m your leader. Everybeast, follow me!” the figure shouted, and then turned and walked North.The ferrets hurried after her.

***

Coll trudged into the kitchens. Friar Dan looked up. “Coll, there’s some pots and pans need scrubbing here.” He said. Coll grudgingly obliged the Friar and began scrubbing. It was many hours before the lot of them had been scrubbed clean. Friar Dan looked at the rows of cooking ware. “Good work, young un’. Go on, you’re finished here.” Coll nodded and speedily exited the kitchens. He strolled out into Great Hall and gazed the tapestry of Martin the Warrior. As always the eyes seemed to be looking directly at him. The sun was hot and Coll was tired. He slowly drifted off to sleep. Coll sat bolt upright. He was in the Great Hall, but a sword was on the holder above the tapestry. It was a magnificent blade. With a cross hilt and a blood channel, it gleamed with the fire of the stars themselves. It indeed had a deadly beauty. Coll just then noticed the figure, standing directly in front of Martin on the tapestry. It was Martin the Warrior. A thrill of exhilaration ran through Coll. Martin spoke.

“My sword shall be held by a liar, a knave.

Who vermin warlord shall send to his grave.

The fit one to wield it, a warrior so brave,

Will come forth to take it, the Abbey to save.” Coll woke. He had no memory of his dream.

***

Lord Thunderstripe of Salamandastron sat at the head of the table in the regimental mess hall. He looked at all the seated hares and said “Hares of Salamandastron! I believe the threat to our friends at Redwall has not ended. Therefore, I am sending a score of Long Patrol fighters to Redwall to help defend them. Brigadier Fleectspaw will select the best fighters. I bid them make haste!” he boomed. Thunderstripe turned and marched out of the room. Fleectspaw turned on the hares and began his selection. Soon a score of hares were armed and ready to march for Redwall Abbey.

***

Elledis marched at the head of the mangy band of vermin she had recruited. Some stoats, ferrets, a few weasels like herself, although she preferred her underlings not to know her species. The long cloak hid most of her body from view, and, coupled with the hood, the only part of her visible was her paws and her yellow eyes, staring from the blackness under the hood. She was marching in a confusing pattern all over Mossflower, recruiting any beast she came across. She had a hoard of just over fivescore beasts. This should be enough to take the Abbey, she thought. Her revenge would come soon. The Abbey would be her fortress!

Chapter 3

The Jackdaw circled the large red building. He landed on the top to sleep. It was then he saw the shiny object on the lower rooftop. He flew down to investigate. A sword! It was very shiny. The Jackdaw pulled it from the roof and began to fly to his nest in the forest.

***

Elledis spotted a Jackdaw. It was carrying something. It was her sword, the one she had taken from that Abbey fool! She grabbed a bow and aimed. A sudden gust of wind drew her arrow off course and hit the Jackdaw in the wing. With a cry, the bird dropped the sword and tried to fly further. The weasel’s next shot did not miss. The Jackdaw plummeted to Earth.

***

Coll wandered out onto the Abbey grounds. It was dark, but he could make out the falling object above. He ran to one side and hid by the wall. The falling object struck the ground and buried itself in the dirt. It was a sword. Not just any sword, but the greatest blade ever forged. It was the Sword of Martin the Warrior! “Mary! Everybeast! Come and see this!” Coll yelled. Oarrin watched from the dormitory window.

***

Elledis had established herself as “The Hooded One” among her horde, now containing over tenscore soldiers. She brandished the steel blade she had found for herself, swishing through the air. Her bow, made of the hardest woods and the best string, was slung over her back. “Hordebeasts!” she cried “Tonight we march on the great Red Abbey! We will conquer and destroy! None shall defeat the armies of the Hooded One!” Corporal Denspaw of the Long Patrol listened to the speech of the Horde leader. “The blinking ole’ hoody one’s got them all in a tizzy, wot wot!” he said to himself, before hurrying off to report to the Brigadier.

***

Oarrin came downstairs the following morning and went straight to the Badgermum Mary. “I had a dream last night.” He said. “Martin the Warrior was there!” Mary suddenly became quite interested. “What did he say?” she inquired. “He had his sword with him! He pointed at me and said ‘You are the one to wield my blade’. What does that mean?” Mary was elated. “Don’t you see? That means you are to be the next Abbey Warrior! I knew a good one like you would be!” Mary exited with Oarrin in tow. This was going to be easier than he thought.

***

Coll heard Oarrin describing his “dream” to Mary and saw the conspiratorial smile on Oarrin’s face. Suddenly the memory of his dream rushed back to him. “My sword shall be held by a liar, a knave,” Oarrin was the biggest liar Coll knew. But what about the second line, “Who vermin warlord shall send to his grave?” Coll didn’t want that fate on anybeast, even Oarrin. He would have to talk to Oarrin and convince him to stop masquerading as Martin’s chosen warrior. However, there was still a possibility that Oarrin had been chosen by Martin, and the liar and knave could be some vermin that could try to steal it, and, when said vermin failed, it could be killed by its warlord. Coll grudgingly accepted that Oarrin was probably chosen and he was just jealous. However, Coll could not get rid of the nagging doubt that something was not quite right with the whole episode.

***

Brigadier Fleectspaw listened carefully to Denspaw’s report. “And their leader, the Hoody One or whatnot, said they’d march on the bloomin’ Abbey tonight, wot wot!” the Corporal finished. The experienced Brigadier made an instant decision. “Then we’ll bally well get there first, wot wot!” he yelled. In less than two minutes the score of hares were on the march.

***

Elledis, The Hooded One, was on the move with her tenscore beasts behind her. All that dared to oppose her would die!

Chapter 4

Coll sat gazing at the tapestry in the fading light. Once again he found himself nodding off. Martin stood in front of him. Coll was surprised. Why would Martin come to him, a common Abbey dweller? Martin looked angry, but not wrathful. “Coll,” he boomed “The Abbey is falling. Go now, go-“ Coll woke up. Oarrin was poking him. “Hey, Coll.” He sneered, “Look at this!” Oarrin was carrying the sword of Martin. He twirled it somewhat clumsily. “Oh can’t you do any better than that?” Coll asked, disgusted. “I’m the Abbey Warrior now. Be more respectful!” Oarrin said. He prodded Coll with the sword. “I can do better than that, let me see it.” Coll said. “You aren’t the Abbey Warrior, so you can’t wield the sword!” said Oarrin. “Are you just afraid I’ll show you up?” asked Coll, jeering, although something in his mind told him he shouldn’t. “Not at all.” Oarrin said. “Here, take it.” Coll grasped the legendary sword firmly in his paws and felt that thrill of exhilaration he had felt when he had first seen the blade in his dream. He twirled it a few times and extinguished a candle with an expert swipe. He halved a cake on the table and then an apple. He finished with a twirl and finally throwing the sword, embedding it in a stone column. It was only then he realized he had not even known he was using the blade. He saw Martin in his mind, striding forward. It was then he knew. He was the rightful Abbey Warrior and Oarrin was a lying coward. He was so gleeful in this triumphant thought he didn’t notice Oarrin had tugged the sword free and was pointing it at him. “Leave the Abbey.” He said. Coll was puzzled, and then he realized that Oarrin would not want anybeast to know Coll had bested him with the sword. Coll also realized there was no way he could stop Oarrin from killing him if he didn’t comply. “You wouldn’t kill another Abbeybeast.” Coll said. “Try me.” Oarrin replied coolly. Suddenly Coll was filled with bitter resentment. “Fine.” He said “I wouldn’t want to remain in an Abbey with a coward like you, anyway.” Coll opened the Main Gate and stepped onto the path.

Book 2: The Journey

Chapter 5

Friar Dan stood on the walltop enjoying an evening snack. He could make out columns of dust billowing out across the road in the distance. “Somebeast’s coming!” he yelled down the stairs. Mary ran up to the walltop with Oarrin. “Your eyes are better than mine, young, un’, What do you see?” she said. Oarrin looked out at the road. “Umm… Some hares, about a score. It’s the Long Patrol!” Mary ran back down the steps again. “Open the gates!” she yelled. She stopped and turned to the Friar. “Friar, you should prepare some extra food tonight. Those hares are stomachs on legs.” The Friar followed her down muttering something about being eaten out of house and home. Oarrin smiled. Mary hadn’t even thought to question him, so Coll had left and hadn’t told anyone about the occurrence. His power over the Abbey was absolute. No, he thought. He didn’t want power, just respect. But everyone respected you before you wrongfully became warrior and threatened another mouse, said a voice in his head. He shook his head. The last thing he wanted was a troubled conscience.

***

Coll settled down to sleep by the remains of his little fire. The dying embers cast eerie shadows around the clearing he had chosen to camp in. It had turned out that his dream was just a dream, after all. Why else didn’t Martin tell everybeast about Oarrin’s lies? Martin was just a picture on the old tapestry in Great Hall. Coll slept.

***

Coll was once again sitting in Great Hall. Martin was standing there. He once again looked very angry. “You have given in to lies. Go back to the Abbey!” he thundered, and then he drew his sword, striking Coll in the footpaw. Coll screamed out in pain. The stoat’s sword struck at the sleeping mouse’s footpaw. The mouse screamed out in pain. Coll awoke with a start. “Old’ it right there, mousy! You’re our prisoner now!

***

Elledis heard a report of a mouse being captured not far from the camp. She instantly addressed her troops. “We shall not march tonight!” she said. “We have captured a beast from the Abbey we are to invade. We will question it and then launch our attack once we have the information I desire.” She quickly took twoscore of her soldiers and went to the area.

***

Coll woke at the sharp pain and saw that he had been stabbed in the footpaw by a stoat. He glanced around at the band of five vermin, all stoats. They had surrounded him while he slept. Coll cursed himself for not setting some king of trap. He moved slightly and the sword their leader carried was suddenly on the ground. Coll grabbed the sword and stabbed upwards. “Redddwaalllllllllllll!” He cried. He could feel power coursing through his veins and a red mist clouded his eyes. By the time he had regained control of himself, all five stoats had been laid low. He looked up and saw two glowing eyes in the bushes. A cloaked figure steeped out and drew a sword. “So, you’re from Redwall Abbey?” she asked. Coll met her gaze. “Not anymore.” He said coolly. “A deserter, eh? Well, how’d you like to tell me all about their warriors, defenses and such?” She replied, in a businesslike tone. Coll chuckled somewhat. “Warriors? What warriors? All they’ve got is-“He stopped as he saw an armored figure striding from the bush. It was Martin! “A traitor deserves no life, Coll!” he said. Coll backed away. “I’d sooner die!” he said to the figure. “So be it.” The figure said. twoscore vermin surrounded Coll. “Tie him up without food or water!” she told them. “And if you don’t talk,” she said to Coll, “Tell the gatekeeper of Dark Forest that Elledis the Hooded One sent you!”

***

Mary had been right to ask Friar Dan to cook extra. The Long Patrol hares guzzled and put away food like no other beasts. Many of the Dibbuns looked on in awe at the amazing scoffing abilities of the hares. “Mfff… Good show, putting all this absoballylutley scrumptious scoff out for us, wot wot? I say, pass some of that… mfff.. pudding! Capitol stuff, wot wot!” Mary stood up and called for silence. “Something tells me you have not come just to say hello, Brigadier. What is it?” Fleectspaw stood up. “Well, Mary me ole’ gel, it’s really quite simple. Our Thunderstripe sent us to jolly well defend you. Some Vermin lord called the bloomin’ Hoody one or something like that, wot wot!” Mary was alarmed. “Hooded One? What? A vermin lord?” Sergeant Cormstanp glowered at Oarrin. “Good show you’ve got a blooming warrior, wot wot?”

***

Oarrin had suspected the Sergeant didn’t like him the whole time, but that sarcastic remark had confirmed it. The tension was growing. “I say, that’s quite right ole chap!” Oarrin said in a passable imitation of a hare. The tension in the room immediately slackened and there was even laughter. Cormstanp was still obviously distrusting but held his tongue from then on.

Chapter 6

Martin the Warrior sighed. In his realm somewhere between Dark Forest and life he walked with others destined to help the living, he had thought that Coll was the right choice to become Abbey Warrior. But had he been wrong for the first time?

***

Coll was tied to a post in the center of the Warlord’s camp. His struggles had come to no avail. He was trapped there completely. Many times vermin had prodded or poked him, but he had not uttered a word to anybeast since he had been capture, afraid his tongue would slip and he would give away something he hadn’t already blabbed to the enemy. Maybe now he should tell them exactly who to kill for him? He was such an idiot! He needed a plan. The Abbey must be warned.

***

Kalda Stormdog watched the vermin camp from within the trees. He turned to his companion, a squirrel, and nodded silently. The squirrel was gone in the blink of an eye, of among the trees. Kalda drew his sword and waited for the signal.

***

Coll was once again in the Great Hall of Redwall Abbey staring at Martin the warrior. “I failed Martin. Now I’m going to die, just like I deserve.” Coll said. Martin looked at him, and then began to speak. “Trust in the rouges,

They know the way.

Do not trust the serpents,

No truth do they say.

Continue to mountain of fire and stone,

Bring help to your Abbey, then you shall atone.”

Martin stopped and looked at Coll. “Remember my words, Coll. Your time has not yet come.”

***

Treeslinger the squirrel jumped from branch to branch in Mossflower woods. Finally coming to rest in a sturdy Oak, he surveyed the scene. There were assorted vermin camped all around the clearing. He studied the mouse tied up in the center intently. He was wearing some sort of robe, what were they called? Habits, that was it! So this mouse was from some sort of Abbey, probably Redwall if he was captured in this area. He unpacked his sling and stone bag and dropped two guards with efficiency. Good, nobeast had noticed. He gave the call of a chickadee, the signal to his partner Kalda. The otter crashed through the bracken carrying his sword aloft. Did he know the meaning of stealth? Treeslinger leapt from the tree and started towards the mouse.

***

The Long Patrol hares were enjoying a festive luncheon. The vermin had missed their date of attack by almost three days. All were enjoying the food until Ferdul the squirrel ran in and shouted “Coll, where’s Coll?” Mary looked at him in surprise “What are you talking about? I saw Coll only-” Realization dawned on her. “Has anybeast seen Coll recently?” she asked. Nobeast answered. “Lost one of your lot , wot wot?” Colonel Saberd asked. “We’ll have to jolly well go and find im’ then!” said the Brigidiar.

***

Oarrin watched from the top stairs and heard all. He was alarmed. If the Long Patrol found Coll then- No, he would not allow that. “No need.” He said, coming down the stairs. “I’ll go and find him.” Oarrin had a plan. He would find Coll and chase him so far out of Mossflower nobeast would ever find him. If he resisted, well Oarrin would do what he had to.

Chapter 7

Coll woke from his dream. Trust in the rouges? What could it mean? “Hello.” Said someone. Coll turned his head. A squirrel was standing there. “Need a bit of help?” he asked. Coll nodded weakly. He felt he should trust him for some reason. The squirrel began to cut the ropes. “My name’s Treeslinger. What’s yours?” he asked as he sawed away at the ropes. “Coll.” He said weakly. The ropes soon were cut. “Come on.” Treeslinger said. He pulled Coll away and into the woods. Coll fell unconscious again.

***

Kalda saw Treeslinger escaping with the prisoner and knew it was time to go. He dealt with the vermin nearest to him and ran for his life. He stumbled as an arrow hit him in the arm. He continued running and escaped into the trees of Mossflower. He vanished from sight in minutes.

***

Treeslinger watched as Kalda walk into the clearing with one arm hanging limply by his side. Treeslinger walked over to him. “Let me help you with that.” He said. In a few deft movements the arrow was on the ground. Kalda gritted his teeth as Treeslinger quickly applied a poultice of dock leaves. “Ohh…..” said the mouse as he awoke. Kalda and Treeslinger walked over to him. The mouse was awake. Treeslinger produced a flagon of water. “Here, drink this.” Treeslinger told him. Coll looked up. “What happened?” he asked.

***

Oarrin walked through Mossflower woods looking for Coll. He hacked away at the bracken and bush with Martin’s sword, leaving a trail a Dibbun could follow with ease. He stopped at the edge of a small clearing. There was a fire going and three shapes around a campfire. One was a squirrel, another an otter, and the last was a mouse. He studied the mouse’s face; sure he had seen it somewhere. It was Coll! Rather thinner but the still same mouse! It looked like all three were asleep. Oarrin crept up behind Coll. He knew what he had to do. Oarrin raised Martin’s sword above his head and struck!

***

Kalda spotted the mouse creeping up instantly. In seconds his sling was unwound and twirling. A quick shot hit Oarrin on the paw and with a cry he dropped Martin’s Sword. Coll came awake and rolled away as Treeslinger jumped up and grabbed Oarrin. “Who are you? What are you doing attacking us? Answer me!” he cried. “I know those answers.” Said Coll, “He is the scum of the earth and he is trying to remove evidence of his treachery.” Coll picked up Martin’s Sword. “And this is mine by right.” He added. “Don’t kill me! I didn’t do anything wrong!” Oarrin whined. “Oh, shut up you whining brat!” Coll yelled. Oarrin whimpered. “What are we going to do with him, matey?” asked Kalda. “We could tie him up and leave him here.” Treeslinger said. “Or we could just kill him.” Coll ventured, enthusiastically. Oarrin started to speak again. “Oh please don’t-” Coll looked at him in disgust. “We aren’t going to kill you.” He said. “I guess we’ll just take you back to the Abbey and let them deal with you there.”

***

“Brigadier, I’d like a word with you.” It was Sergeant Cormstanp. “What is it Cormstanp?” Fleectspaw asked. “It’s that Abbey Warrior, Oarrin. He was snooping around on the top stairs when that squirrel chap came on in. He was scared out of his fur when you volunteered to go look for him. I think he had something to do with that young fella’s disappearance, wot wot.” Fleectspaw became seriuous. “I know, old bean. There’s something about that one, mark my words. I say, why don’t we jolly well go out and find im’, wot wot?” Cormstanp’s eyes gleamed. “Capitol idea, wot wot!” he said.

**

Coll was walking with Treeslinger and Kalda to Redwall. Oarrin was walking in tow. “Do you think he’ll be able to escape?” Coll asked them. “No evil beast ever escaped the Rouges of Mossflower!” Kalda said. Coll stopped. “You’re- You- The rouges?” he asked, shocked. “Of Mossflower, why?” Treeslinger replied. “Trust in the rouges, they know the way!” Coll shouted. “What are you talking about, mate?” said Kalda “I can explain everything.” Coll said.

***

Cormstanp and Fleectspaw were tracking Oarrin through Mossflower woods. It was a lot easier than it should have been. “I say, this chap doesn’t know how to bally well disguise his trail, wot wot!” the Brigadier put in. “Doesn’t seem to be much of a jolly old warrior to me, wot wot.” Cormstanp replied. “Halt!” Fleectspaw commanded. “Take a look over there.” Three figures were sitting down on a hillside near Redwall. They had Oarrin with them! “Probably advanced vermin scouts.” He muttered. “I don’t like Oarrin, but we should still help him, wot wot.” Cormstanp muttered back. “Ready weapons, and let’s give em’ jolly old blood and vinegar!” the Brigadier commanded. “Eulaaaaaaalllliiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! S’death! Euuuulaliaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” they cried as they charged the figures.

***

“Eulaaaaaaalllliiiiaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! S’death! Euuuulaliaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!” cried the two charging hares. Coll drew Martin’s sword as he was struck by an arrow from the second’s bow. He fell to the ground and Oarrin saw his chance. Oarrin grabbed the sword and tried to stab Coll. Treeslinger tackled Oarrin. Coll kicked out at the nearest of the two hares. He fought fiercely, but so did Coll. Soon Coll had got the better of one and knocked him to the ground. “Retreat!” yelled the other hare. The first hare grabbed Coll and pulled him off his comrade. They both escaped with Oarrin. “Bring that traitor back here!” Coll yelled, but they couldn’t hear him. “Is everybeast all right?” he asked. He only heard faint sobbing.

***

Treeslinger flew through the air and tackled Oarrin just as he was about to stab Coll. Oarrin brought the sword upward and managed to stab Treeslinger once before he was on the ground. Martin’s Sword was hurled aside and they rolled in the dirt three times. Treeslinger collapsed, blood seeping out of his body onto the ground. Oarrin grabbed Martin’s Sword and ran.

***

“You can’t die on me, matey.” Kalda said to Treeslinger. “You can’t!” Coll rushed over. “No!” he shouted. “The poem said the rouges! Not the rouge!” Coll stopped yelling and began to weep. “He’s still alive!” said Kalda. “We need a healer. We need to get him to Redwall.” Kalda shook his head. “No. We would be killed as soon as they saw us. We’ll have to figure this one out ourselves.”

Chapter 8

Heather the mouse walked through the woodlands with old Borage the Healer. As they emerged from the forest edge, she spotted a figure lying on the ground. “Ma’am! There’s somebeast hurt!” she yelled. “Slow down, young one.” Borage replied. “You must learn patience.” The old healer shuffled slowly to the three figures on the hillside. Heather was already there, questioning them. “How did this happen? Is there an arrow in him? How long as he been there?” Coll stared, openmouthed at the pretty young mouse. “He-Um-I-Uh-” he stammered. Kalda interrupted. “He was stabbed in the chest. He’s only been here a few minutes. Are you a healer?” Heather took some bandages and herbs out of her bag and began to work. “Well, sort of. I’m training you see.” Kalda looked unsure. “I’m not sure I want-” Borage, who had now arrived, interrupted him. “She’s as good a healer as anybeast. You can trust her.” The ancient mouse said. Coll found his voice “I’m Co-” he began, but Heather cut him off. “Quiet, can’t you see I’m saving your friend’s life? Now shut up and let me work!”

***

Coll sat with rapt attention as the healer apprentice worked on Treeslinger. After a while, he realized he was paying more attention to the mousemaid than he was to her actual work. It seemed like no time at all until she stood up. “There. Your friend will live.” She said. “Oh! How rude of me! I didn’t even introduce myself! I am Heather, and this is my mentor, Borage.” “Pleased to meet you!” said Kalda. “Young Coll especially, I’m sure.” Coll blushed. “Uh-oh-er-” he stammered. Borage glared at him. “If you’ve got something to say just say it!” she berated him. Coll fell silent. “Humph! I thought so!” Borage continued. “Pay no attention to her. She’s as prickly as her name suggests.” Heather whispered. “Hurry up young ones!” Borage shouted. “We need to move the injured one to somewhere safe!” she yelled.

***

Fleectspaw and Cormstanp fled from the hill and back into Mossflower, with Oarrin close behind. “You know, old chap,” Cormstanp remarked, “I was bally well sure I heard one of the blighters yelling ‘Redwall!’” Oarrin was frightened. “Are you sure? They certainty weren’t from Redwall.” He said. “Must have bally well been my imagination then, eh?” the sergeant asked, slowly. “Yes, it must have been.” Oarrin said hurriedly. “Come on chaps!” yelled Fleectspaw, “Let’s get moving!” Cormstanp shot Oarrin one final glare before they tramped off into Mossflower.

***

Treeslinger awoke a few hours later. Heather instantly rushed to his side. “Don’t sit up!” she ordered. “Drink this.” Treeslinger groaned. “What happened to that little murderer?” he asked. “He got away.” Coll said grimly. “We had them outnumbered, though. Well, capable warriors at least.” Treeslinger said. “Oarrin was lucky; he managed to accidently stab you. Once they had Oarrin, the others ran.” “Yes not very blinking honorable of us, wot?” said a voice. Coll started. “Who’s there?” he demanded.

***

“Brigadier.” Hissed Cormstanp, when they were out of hearing of Oarrin. “Something was wrong about that encounter. I want to try and find those beasts and figure out what jolly well is going on!” “I agree.” Fleectspaw told him. “Permission granted.” The sergeant ran off back to the hill. As he suspected they were gone. However, it’s hard to cover one’s tracks when you are dragging an injured beast. Cormstanp didn’t think vermin cared for the hurt like that. Something was definitely wrong.

***

“Where’s the sergeant?” asked Oarrin when he caught up to the Brigadier. “He’s taking a different route to make sure we aren’t being followed.” Fleectspaw said, coldly. Oarrin asked no further questions. There was a noise of an army marching through undergrowth. Fleectspaw was gone and back in a few seconds. “There’s a blinkin army on the way to Redwall.” He hissed. “We need to get back now.”

***

Cormstanp stepped into the clearing. Coll turned to face him. “Who are you?” he asked. “Sergeant Bescuttle Cormstanp of the Long Patrol, wot!” the hare announced. “What are you doing here?” Coll inquired. Cormstanp began to relate his story.

***

Oarrin and Fleectspaw arrived at Redwall in a few minutes. Mary was the first to spot them. “Open the gates!” she yelled. She hurried to the Main Gate. “What happened? Did you find Coll?” Oarrin shook his head. “I think he’s been killed.” He said, exhausted. Fleectspaw gave him an icy glare. “The question is, by who?” he said. “Probably those scum that captured me.” Oarrin said, in a flat tone. “We’ll see.” The Brigadier said, simply, then stalked off. “What happened?” Mary left Oarrin and sat down in Great Hall. She was soon asleep.

***

Mary looked around her. She was still in Great Hall, but there was someone else there. It was Martin the Warrior. He looked at her. “Wake, the liar enters!” he said. Mary awoke. Who was “the liar”? What was going on?

***

Oarrin walked down the steps of the dormitory into Great Hall. Mary was sitting on a bench facing the Tapestry of Martin the Warrior. She turned to Oarrin. “Oarrin, are you sure of what happened to Coll?” she asked. Oarrin was taken aback, but he kept a straight face. “Absolutely.” Mary looked very uneasy. She grabbed Oarrin by the shoulders. “Did you actually have that dream!?” she thundered. “Yes!” Oarrin shouted back. Mary suddenly let him go. “Oh, look at us.” She said. “Only a few days ago we were friends. I apologize.” She left the room. Oarrin felt worse than ever. He hadn’t considered Mary would doubt him. How long could he keep up this charade?

***

Lord Thunderstripe selected a spear from his armory, and then put it back in favor of another. He was worried about the score of hares he had sent to Redwall. He needed to know what to do. The huge Badger Lord walked to one end of the Forge Room, placing his paw in a crack in the wall. He began to push the slab to the side. Soon a room lay open before him. He tramped into the room and sat down.

***

Coll climbed over the top of the ditch. Redwall Abbey was surrounded by vermin. “There’s no chance we can get back in now.” He hissed to the group behind him. “We’ll have to get reinforcements.” Heather climbed up. “Look at the size of that army!” she said. Kalda and Cormstanp followed. “I count over fiftyscore on this side.” Cormstanp said. “I think there’s at least that many on all sides. If we’re lucky that’s all they have and there aren’t others hiding in Mossflower. This is bad, mateys.” He said. “We need help. Probably more than we will be able to get.” Coll thought aloud. “We should start by finding the rest of the Long Patrol.” Cormstanp offered. “Good idea.” Said Coll. They ran back to their camp in Mossflower.

Chapter 9

Oarrin and Mary stood on the walltop, looking down on the horde of vermin. A mangy stoat walked out in front and yelled, “Hail the Great Elledis, The Hooded One!” he proclaimed. He turned around and kneeled as a cloaked figure seemed to glide out from the ranks of the vermin. “You at the Abbey of the Red Walls, you have invoked the wrath of the Great Hooded One!” the figure yelled. “And you must die!” it continued. Oarrin stood rooted to the spot. He was petrified. “Go and boil your stinking head!” shouted Mary. “Reeeeeddddddddddddddwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllll!” she bellowed. “All who resist will die!” the figure yelled.

***

Treeslinger and Borage sat waiting for the others to return. “Young Coll seems rather smitten with your apprentice, eh?” he asked. Borage stopped sorting through her bag of herbs long enough to say “Humph.”, Then returned to her work. “Not very talkative, are you?” Treeslinger said. This time she didn’t even stop. Coll and Kalda came into camp, flowed by Heather. Cormstanp came not much later. “Nobeast is going to be following our tracks, wot!” he exclaimed. “Wiped em’ clean out!” he continued. Borage suddenly stood up. “Heather, what herb would you use for fever?” she demanded. “Feverfew, ma’am.” Heather replied. “Bleeding?” Borage continued. “Yarrow, ma’am.” Heather stated. “Excessive pain?” the old mouse drilled. “Poppies, ma’am.” Heather replied. “Dryditch fever?” Borage asked. “Flowers of Icetor boiled in water, ma’am.” “Very good.” Borage congratulated.

***

Elledis stalked away from the Abbey. She lifted her left paw into the air. Those Abbey Bumpkins would pay dearly for what they did to her. She almost laughed aloud. Nobeast in that Abbey would be alive by tomorrow.

***

Oarrin sat on his bed in the dormitory. Not only was Redwall Abbey devoid of any real warriors, it was being assaulted by vermin. If Coll were here, we would have a warrior, Oarrin thought. But of course, he had to go and force him from the Abbey. Oarrin lay down to sleep, his conscience troubling him.

***

Oarrin was in Mossflower woods. Coll was there, fighting some horribly disfigured weasel, and clearly losing. “Coll!” Oarrin shouted. Coll took no heed of him. The weasel had disarmed Coll, and now had him on the ground. The weasel’s sword swung in a glittering arc, then Oarrin realized that it was the Sword of Martin! The keen blade struck home, twice, three times. Coll struggled to his feet, then collapsed and let out a soft gurgle. Oarrin ran over to him. “No! Coll! I’m sorry, I’m sorry! It’s my fault I never should have done all this!” Oarrin collapsed on the ground and wept. “This is what may happen.” Said a voice. Oarrin started and turned. “You can prevent this.” Said Martin the Warrior. “How?” Oarrin asked, desperately. “End these lies, and when the time comes, you can help him.” The warrior mouse said. Oarrin woke, the vivid images burned into his mind.

***

Lord Thunderstripe awoke from his dream. He picked up a chisel and began to carve symbols into the wall of the chamber. He had almost finished when the rock underneath his paw moved. He began to pull the slab out of the wall of the room. Finally it lay before him. It said “Put here by Boar the Fighter”. He looked in the space behind the slab. Inside was some sort of metal, the like of which Thunderstripe had never seen before. It looked like the metal a star could be made of, he thought.

***

Mary dove beneath the walltop as another hail of arrows soared over her head. The Long patrol hares were returning shaft for shaft with deadly accuracy. “I say, there’s just too many of the bally vermin, wot wot!” Fleectspaw announced, ducking another arrow. “I agree, brigadier, but there isn’t much we can do!” Mary replied. “Burr, aye! Oi’d murch rarther be’s in a gurt tunnel, yes zur!” exclaimed Foremole. Fleectspaw had an idea. “I think that can be jolly well arranged, wot wot!” he exclaimed. “What are you talking about?” asked Mary. “I’ve got an idea! Let’s get back to the Abbey!”

***

Despite the battle, Oarrin had not come out of the dormitories for the whole day. He sat on one of the beds inside, a moral conflict raging inside him like a storm. He looked at the Sword of Martin. He didn’t even know if the proper beast to wield it was still alive. He tried to summon up the courage to confront Mary about what he had done. He looked down at the blade again. Instead of his own reflection, he saw one he instantly recognized, that of Martin the Warrior. Oarrin knew he had to tell the truth.

***

Mary, Fleectspaw, and Foremole ran into the main Abbey building. As they hurried to Great Hall, Mary ran directly into Oarrin. “Oarrin, where have you been?” Mary asked as she stood up again. Oarrin also stood up and dusted himself off. “Mary, I have something to tell you.” He said.

***

Coll was awoken by Cormstanp, who had taken the last watch. “I say, ole chaps! Are you jolly well going to doze the bally day away or are we going to be getting some tucker, wot wot?” Coll stretched. “All very well, but where do you suggest we find food?” he asked. Treeslinger stood up. “It’s called foraging. There’s plenty to eat from Mother Nature’s table. I’ll go get us some grub.” “You most certainly will not!” Heather said. “You were wounded, you need to rest.” “Nonsense, I’m fine.” Treeslinger protested. Heather did not concede. “No, you are not! You will rest and that is final!” she commanded. Treeslinger lay down again. “Fine, fine.” He conceded. Coll and Cormstanp left the camp to search for food instead. “Rather bossy, wot wot?” Cormstanp remarked once they were out of hearing.

***

Mary stood as if rooted to the floor. “You mean to say…” she began. “You have been lying to us this whole time?” she asked, incredulously. Oarrin simply nodded. Mary glared down at him. “Give me the sword.” Oarrin stared unblinkingly at her. “No. The only beast I will give this sword to is its rightful owner.” He said, coolly. Mary raised her paw. “Oarrin,” she said, with contained rage. “Give me the sword.” Oarrin did not speak, only shook his head. “Give me that sword you lying traitor!” yelled Mary, as she leapt at Oarrin. He offered little resistance. He had several wounds on his hands from Mary’s blunt claws as he tried to deflect her from the Sword of Martin. He didn’t even flinch. “Stop!” In a flash somebeast was on Mary, trying to pull her away from Oarrin as Foremole dragged Oarrin away. There was no need, as now that nobeast was trying to take the sword, Oarrin did not offer resistance. Mary, however, was almost blind with rage. She pulled away from her restrainer and ran towards Oarrin.

***

Ferdul the squirrelmaid gasped as Mary tore away from her grasp. She quickly ran in front of Mary and yelled “Stop! Please stop!” again. Mary’s paw lashed out, and Ferdul’s vision burst with stars. She collapsed, limply, on the floor.

Chapter 10

Oblivious of Oarrin’s admission and the turmoil at Redwall Abbey, Coll and Cormstanp were foraging for food in Mossflower. Cormstanp was instructing Coll, and he was definitely a fast learner. In a matter of minutes they returned to the camp with more than enough food. However, Coll realized as they ate, with a hare at the table, it was barely enough. “When will I be allowed to move again?” Treeslinger complained loudly. “By tomorrow.” Heather replied. “Although if you keep complaining I might have to keep you there for another few days.” Treeslinger grew silent, swiftly.

***

It took several Redwallers to restrain Mary. After almost an hour, she began to calm down. She paced in the locked cellar cupboard, fuming. What had she done to deserve being locked in here? That Oarrin was a dirty lying coward! Of course it was mostly her fault for being so blind to the obvious lies. How could she have been so stupid? Why wouldn’t Oarrin give the sword up? The door to the cupboard opened. “Mary, Ferdul’s awake.” Said Friar Dan. “And I think she wants to speak with you.”

***

Ferdul lay on one of the beds in the infirmary with a large bandage secured around her head. Mary trudged in with her head down. “Mary,” began Ferdul, “I would like to know why you were attacking Oarrin.” She said, calmly. Mary seemed slightly surprised. “He refused to give up the sword of Martin-” Mary began, but Ferdul interpreted her. “Mary! If he will not give up the sword that is his problem to deal with! There is no need for such childish behavior!” Ferdul stopped suddenly. “And there is no need for raised voices. I apologize, Mary. I hope that there will be no more violence between our Abbeymembers in the future.” Mary left the room, slowly. “You sounded like an Abbes then, Ferdul.” Remarked Friar Dan.

***

Grimtooth the stoat and five other soldiers cursed as they struggled through the thick foliage. Grimtooth brandished his sword, trying to cut himself free of the tangle of vines. “Dis stooped woods givink me a eadache!” he exclaimed. “When we gets de to be in da big abbeyplace?” he asked. There was a rustle of plants, then two figure exploded out of the undergrowth. They barely got a glimpse of the mouse and hare that ended their wicked lives.

***

Coll bent down and took the sword from the stoat’s corpse. “I suppose this will have to do till’ I get Martin’s sword back.” He said. “Anyway, I think Treeslinger will be ready soon, so it won’t be long until we set out for Salamandastron.” “I say! It’ll be jolly good to be back at the bally fire mountain, wot wot!” Coll froze. “Would you say that Salamandastron could be referred to as ‘mountain of fire and stone’?” he asked, slowly. “ I suppose so, why do you ask?” replied Cormstanp. “Just an idea.” Coll said.

***

Stumptail was investigating the small wicker door on the west side of the big stone building. He prodded the door with his sword a few times and then sat down next to it. The door flew open and a huge striped paw clamped across his mouth and dragged him in.

***

Elledis observed the wretched creature in front of her. “So, you captured this one out on the flatlands?” she inquired. “Yes Ma’am.” Said a soldier from behind the emaciated mouse. Elledis examined him. “Hmmm… Perhaps we could use him as a ransom.” She thought aloud. Then she stopped. She backed away from the mouse as if she had been struck. “Do you feel feverish?” she demanded. “Answer her worshipfulness!” cried the guard, hitting the mouse with the butt of his spear. “Y-y—y-es!” the mouse stammered. “Get a chain on him, make sure you stay well away from him at all times.” She commanded. “Yes m’lady.” The guard replied.

***

Oarrin prepared to leave. He had to get the sword to Coll. There was no other way. He had stolen some supplies in the night, and was out the main gate in minutes. Then the shaft came. Oarrin staggered backwards and gave a gurgling cry as his life slipped away.

***

Elledis selected another white fletched feather from her quiver. These woodlanders were easy targets!

***

Mary stood on the walltop looking down at the advancing vermin party. They had a white flag with them. “The Great Hooded One would parley with you!” a guard announced. “Very well!” Mary conceded. There was no point in not allowing them to talk. A mouse was dragged out in front of the ranks of vermin. “We know you have one of us in there!” the guard yelled. “If yous don’t bring im’ out righ now, we’ll cut this un’s throat!” Mary sighed. “Very well. Bring the mouse forward and we’ll bring out your vermin.” She said.

***

Stumptail couldn’t believe his luck. He was being rescued! Obviously he was more important than he thought. He stood on the grass in front of the Abbey, staring straight ahead as a mouse was marched past him. The large female badger prodded him. Stumptail walked slowly forward. He was lead away from the building. Elledis turned on him. “Idiot! Allowing yourself to get captured like that!” she yelled. She drew her sword and slew him with a single thrust.

***

“Is he ready to travel?” Coll inquired. “Yes. I think we should leave now.” Replied Heather. Treeslinger groaned and stood up. “Finally.” He moaned. In minutes they were striking out due west across the flatlands. They had to run for the whole day to escape before the vermin saw them.

***

The mouse stumbled past the main Abbey gate. Mary took a closer look at him. To her horror, his body was covered with gaping sores. He obviously was deathly ill. “Oh my! I s there anything we can do for him?” she exclaimed. “We can only try.” Replied Friar Dan.

Chapter 11

Lord Thunderstripe looked the metal over. So there was some left from when boar the Fighter had made the Sword of Martin. What use did he have for it? He picked it up and replaced it in the wall of the room. Someday one who needed it might find it there.

***

The dust rose as the six companions marched across the flatlands. Deeming they were now out of earshot of any vermin, Cormstanp had begun singing an old Long Patrol marching song. It was centered, like most hare songs, on food. He had finished the first three verses, professing the merits of salad, when a slingstone hit him. “Logalogalogaloglogalog!” someone yelled. A group of spiky furred mice like creatures ran from beneath the water, twirling slings and drawing rapiers. “Belay there mates, tis’ only us!” Kalda shouted. They stopped. Kalda turned to the others. “These are the Guisom shrews.” He told the travelers. “Guisom?” inquired Coll. “Yep. Guerilla Union Of Shrews In Mossflower! First letter of each word, ya see?” The tallest shrew stepped forward. “I’m Log-a-Log. The leader of the Guisom. If you’re friends of Kalda’s your friends of mine.” He said. “Come’n. You must be tired. Stay with us tonight.”

***

Cormstanp had taken an instant liking to the now amiable shrews. While he was trying to outscoff the others, Coll explained the nature of the journey. “Well, if Redwall’s in danger then we’ll help too. But there ain’t no sense in going over to fight these vermin an’ getting’ ourselves killed. So’s as I sees it, we’ll just be following you up to Salamandastron and back. Then when you’ve got the Long patrol and anyone else you can find, we’ll come to Redwall with you.” Coll shook his paw. “Sounds like a plan!”

***

Mary reflected on how fast everything had happened. The first one to show signs of illness had been Corporal Denspaw. Now almost everybeast in the Abbey, including herself, was afflicted with this mysterious disease. The mouse they had taken in was dead, despite their efforts. Corporal Denspaw was dead; half of the Long Patrol was with him. Friar Dan had died just that morning. Mary put her head in her paws. It was all too much. What could they possibly do?

***

The Guosim were escorting the travelers to Salamandastron by way of the broadstream. The total number of logboats was around a score. The Guosim’s numbers were large. “Up ahead we have to turn quick or we’ll be sucked into slipstream, and if we plan on going thataway, you won’t be seeing Redwall again.” Log-a-Log intoned. Coll grasped the tiller of the logboat he was on more steadily. He soon saw the wisdom of Log-a-Log’s words. The slipstream pulled mightily at the boats. Coll Held on the tiller steadily. He heard a scream. He saw a boat turning into the powerful current of the slipstream. Heather was in that boat! “Take the tiller!” he ordered one of the Guosim. Coll leapt from the boat and swam to the side. He ran towards the slipstream. “Heather!”

***

Tubbat the Guosim shrew had tried to keep the tiller steady. He heard a sound like wood snapping. He lost all control of the boat. The mousemaid in front of him screamed as the current pulled them into the slipstream.

***

Kalda cursed. Coll was such a young fool! He grabbed a vine rope, handed over the tiller to Log-a-Log, and ran after him.

***

Coll tore through the undergrowth in a frantic dash. He had to find her! He tripped over a root. Somebeast helped him up. “C’mon matey!” is all Kalda said as they rushed off again. The forest was a blur as Coll raced ahead, one thought racing through his mind. I have to find her! Coll heard a roaring sound up ahead. The slipstream led to a waterfall. Coll collapsed on his knees. “No…. No!”

***

Heather crawled from the wrecked logboat. She reached into her bag of herbs and began applying a poultice to her wounds. She almost finished, but she collapsed and passed out.

***

Kalda examined the ravine that the waterfall plunged into. He ha known this would happen when he heard the rudder on that logboat snap. He could make out some smashed wood at the bottom of the ravine. Coll was in no state to help him; he was almost paralyzed with shock. Kalda carefully tied the rope he was carrying to a tree and began the descent. Paw over paw, he climbed into the ravine. Now that he could clearly see the smashed remains of the logboat, he could visualize the fall. He winced at the thought of it. He began digging through the timber for any survivors. There were none. Kalda stood up and sighed. He turned and began walking back towards the rope when he heard something. He hurried over to the source and found, hidden by the grass, that Heather was collapsed underneath it. She was alive! She was too hurt to move. He picked up her bag of herbs. “You saved me mates life. This is least I can do for ya.”

***

Coll was trying to get a hold of himself. His mind raced with panic, he was unable to think clearly. He could only think what had happened to Heather. He took several deep breths and calmed himself. He climbed down the rope after Kalda. He saw Kalda in an instant and rushed over to him. “How bad is it?” he asked. Kalda shook his head. “I don’t know matey, I’m no healer. What we need is someone who is just as good as Heather was-- is.”

***

Borage was awoken by a loud screaming noise. She slowly sat up and did not notice the boat going into the slipstream. Once she had finally fallen asleep, she was once again awakened by somebeast. “What is it?” she asked, cranky that sleep seemed impossible to obtain. “It’s me, marm. We need your help as a healer.” Borage slowly sat up again. “Get young Heather to do it.” “It’s Heather that’s hurt marm.” Coll said, quietly. Borage climbed out of the logboat. “Well, why didn’t you tell me? Never mind, I should hurry. It must be serious if she can’t fix it herself."

***

Borage and Coll arrived at the scene after a long while, due to the fact that Borage refused to be helped in any way to move faster. The descent to the ravine had taken a particularly long time. Borage said nothing as she hurried over to Heather’s prone form and began to work. It took almost an hour before Borage pronounced her stable. Even then Borage was adamant that Heather not be moved- She must be left to heal properly, Borage claimed.

***

Medical emergencies were now the primary worry of Redwall Abbey, with many more having fallen victim to whatever wretched disease had attacked the Abbey. Many were in comas, among them was Ferdul. Mary was one of the last ones able to move about. The Long Patrol had separated itself in order to stay healthy enough to defend the Abbey, but the disease was still slowly spreading. Mary examined the records in the Gatehouse for any information on the mysterious disease. She only found a small entry in The Infirmary Keeper’s Guide, and old and dusty volume.

The Shadowslayers

A mysterious disease, known only by a few symptoms, most notably open sores on the patient’s body. It induces coma, and there is no known cure. Note: This disease is thought to have destroyed Loamhedge Abbey.

A cold dread crept over Mary as she turned and walked back to the main Abbey building.

Chapter 12

Heather awoke with her head swimming. “Are you awake?” somebeast asked quietly. Heather blinked and nodded. “Good. Drink this.” Something was pressed into her paws. She drank from the flask of water slowly. Then she sat up and looked around. She was in a ravine, where a water fall poured into a river nearby. She touched the bandage on her forehead. So this was why Log-a-Log had ordered them to keep their tillers steady.

***

Far away in the mud outside Redwall, another creature stirred. Oarrin pulled himself out of the mud as the rain poured down. He had survived! Against all odds, he was alive! He crawled to the ditch and examined his wounds. Not that bad, the arrow had only hit him in the chest, missing all vital organs. He could make it through this. Oarrin knew he had to catch up to Coll and get the sword to him.

***

Elledis was patient. She could wait as long as it took for sickness to claim the Abbey. It couldn’t be long now. She knew that sickness, it could wipe out entire villages in days. Yes oh yes, she could wait, but she wouldn’t have to for long. But Elledis was wrong. She would have to wait a long time, because she neglected one thing. Redwallers are naturally resilient to all forms of illnesses, because of the sicknesses that have struck over time. They would last more than a few days. But still, she was right about one thing. It was just a matter of time.

***

Mary had not spoken to anybeast for days. She had to do something! She could not allow this to happen and the beasts responsible to go free! Mary unbarred the front gate and broke into a headlong run for the forest. She crashed through the brush and the woodlands, roaring aloud. “Reddddwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllll!” she bellowed.

***

Halftooth watched as one of the other vermin on his patrol flew a remarkable distance after being struck by the mad badger. He knew that he was safe in his hiding place. Well, apparently not. The badger lifted him by the throat, and threw him to the ground before leaving. Halftooth was perplexed, but returned to camp with a story of how he had defeated the badger. “So I took a branch and trew it at er’, milady, and she didn’t do nothing bout it, so I takes some slingstones an’ starts a slingin’, an she ran away!” Elledis stared at the vermin fiercely. “And she didn’t touch you?” “No, milady.” He replied. “Very well, you are dismissed.” Elledis gestured that he leave. Halftooth exhaled as soon as he left the tent. He had gotten of lucky! Little did he know that he had brought something else back to camp other than false stories? Redwall would have its revenge. Halftooth move over swiftly to the barracks tent. Behind it he encountered a gathering of the soldiers, with one leading the discussion. “An’ Stumptail was me matey! How many of you ave ad friends killed by that crazy beast! She’s even afraid to be seen by the likes of us! We shouldn’t be takin this! We’re respectable! All dos promises of booty and plunder were empty! We aven’t seen hide nor hair of anyting! Dis Redwall Abbey, we avn’t conqurered it, we’ve just sat here, shootin arrers at bunny rabbits! We’re the fun in that, eh?” The vermin heartily agreed with him. Most of the vermin in the camp were with him, and when the rest returned they would be swayed by this mysterious weasel. Flatchett smiled to himself. He had to deal with the only vermin he knew that could oppose him, Elledis. His yellow eyes glinted as he launched into another speech. He gave much the same treatment to the soldiers that returned after coming off duty. Finally practicly everyone in the army was on his side. He departed into the woodlands. “It went well, sister.” He said to the other weasel. “Good. Soon that fool will pay for what she has done for us!” she replied. “She should know better than to expect us to just leave her alone.”

***

Heather was well enough to move, and the procession of logboats was moving again within the hour. She fell asleep on the ride and was gently awoken when they reached the end. “We camp here for the night. We’ll have to go over land from here to reach Salamandastron.” Heather rubbed her eyes as she sat up. “Great seasons! How long did I sleep?” Coll chuckled. “Almost a full three days. C’mon, let’s get you out of there. Nice and easy now, stand up slowly.” Heather chided him as she sttepped out of the boat. “I’m not an infant, I can handle myself. Whoooa!” she cried as she slipped into the water. Coll caught her. “No, but your injured, so you can’t. So there.”

***

Mary had returned to Redwall. The Long Patrol was still mostly safe isolated next to the walltop. She drifted off into sleep, unable to prevent it any longer. Fleectspaw maintained a jovial outward appearance in the face of disaster. “C’mon, chin up and never say boo to a goose, wot! Tis’ not a problem, chaps! We’ll be okay and so will the Redwallers!” One of the hares piped up. “Somebeast told me there’s no cure for wot killed ole Denspaw. Is that true?” The brigadier’s ears stood straight up. “Who told you that?! It most certainly is not!” The hare gestured toward the infected area of the Abbey. “Their Infirmary Keeper, whatshername.” Fleectspaw knew that morale was falling even faster than health was. This situation was not good.

***

The Guosim stayed with the boats as the travelers trekked westward. Gradually the ground grew wetter until they were faced with a huge expanse of swamp. “This place goes on forever!” exclaimed Coll. Heather sighed. “We’ll never make it past!” “It’s just a load of mucky swamp land! Have some backbone!” Borage exclaimed. “I say, bally depressing, wot wot?” Cormstanp observed. Kalda shrugged. “Tis nothing. I’ve seen worse.” Treeslinger disagreed. “Give me solid ground any day!” Coll lay down on the ground. “Let’s stay the night here and tackle that lot on the morrow.”

***

Oarrin could walk! He struggled to his feet and after a few experimental steps heaved himself out of the ditch. He began a slow walk westward. He stumbled a bit at first, then was able to walk more easily. Soon his confidence grew and he increased his pace to a brisk march. “Who goes there?!” a voice rang out. Oarrin drew Martin’s Sword and pointed it in the direction of the voice. A large, burly male otter appeared from nowhere. “I’m the Skipper of All Otters! Who are you?” he demanded. Oarrin put away the sword. “I’m Oarrin of Redwall.” Skipper being more relaxed. “I haven’t heard from Redwall in seasons!” exclaimed. Skipper. “What’s a Redwaller doing out ere?” he asked. “I’m taking the sword of Martin to someone named Coll. Have you seen him? Last I remember he was with a squirrel named Treeslinger and an otter named Kalda.” Oarrin replied. Skipper laughed. “Well, strike me rudder! The rouges o’ Mossflower! Listen, I know a route me an the ottercrew can take you. I bet that we’ll find your matey on the way!” Oarrin grimaced. “He might not be happy to see me.”

***

The next morning was a dull grey. Coll looked at the sky. “Looks like rain today.” He stated. Cormstanp stretched. “I’m absoballylutley famished! What’s for brekkers?” the irrepressible hare asked. Heather glanced up from the fire she was starting. “Not much, I’m afraid. The supplies we gathered in Mossflower are nearly gone, now. I wished we had asked the Guosim for some.” Heather sighed. “Oh well. This will have to do to until we cross the swamp.” Kalda gazed out across the expanse of bog. “That place goes on forever!” he remarked. Borage was still adamant. “I’ve been through worse than that!” she exclaimed. “You young un’s don’t know the difference tween a swamp and a stroll!” Coll sighed again, “I spose we should get on with it.” Heather was correct; the meager breakfast was not much. Some salad and a few stale oatcakes was the fare spread before them. Afterwards, the companions began their careful march through the swamp, unaware of the unblinking reptilian eyes that watched their progress. The travelers, having no knowledge of the swamp, were soon lost once solid land was no longer visible. Cormstanp displayed a sense of false bravado. “C’mon! Can’t be that hard, we just go west by the sun! Err... where is the bally sun, anyway?” At this remark, the others became alarmed. They could not locate the sun! “This is the strangest place I’ve ever been. It does seem to be getting darker.” Kalda observed. Treeslinger moaned aloud. “That’s it! We’re all going to get lost in the swamp and die. I knew we should have gone around!” Heather was unnerved. “What kind of place has no sun?” she asked. Even Borage admitted their current position was not ideal. “Well, this is... strange.” She said. Suddenly a score of lizards climbed onto the path. “Hsssss... Slarvis know the ways... yis yissss...” hissed a large crested lizard. Coll was suspicious, but willing to believe them. “Will you show us the way?” he asked. The lizard gestured to their food packs. “Give the Slarvis foods, good foods, then we show you the wayss...” the lizard replied. Coll consulted the others. “Well?” Cormstanp was in favor of the plan. “If they want to show us the jolly old way then let em!” The others were in agreement. “Show us the way first, then we give you the food.” Coll replied. “No! Give us good foods now or we killsa alla beastsss!” the lizard demanded. Heather stepped forward. “You great big bully! We’ll give you the food when we’re good and ready!” she yelled. The lizard was taken aback. “Fines. We show the ways and you give us foods then.” Without further ado, the lizards left on a path in the swamp. Coll was wary. Something was not right. Suddenly the words rang in his head. “Do not trust the serpents, no truth do they say!” Coll leaped forward drew his sword and grabbed the crested lizard. The lizards panicked, running off every which way. Coll held the sword against the lizard’s throat. Heather walked forward then gasped. The path dropped sharply into the swamp, but in the darkness they did not notice. “Now, you’re going to show us the real way, you understand. I wouldn’t mind ending the life of scum like you!” Coll said. The lizard nodded. “Okay. Showa da way now. Be good to alla goodbeasts.” The lizard was cooperative after that, leading them out of the swamp quickly. The companions were glad to be out of the enormous quagmire. Coll released the lizard. The crested reptile quickly scampered back into the swamp. “I hope no other beast comes to harm by them.” Muttered Kalda.

***

Oarrin had been speedily escorted by the ottercrew westward. After parting company with them he made good time, and by evening had arrived at a gigantic swamp. Not wanting, to stop, he pressed onward, finding himself thoroughly lost within a matter of minutes. He had given up hope when a score of lizards appeared as if from nowhere. “Hsssss... Slarvis know the ways... yis yissss...”

***

Elledis knew there was trouble. Her soldiers were no longer listening to her, and on top of that, sickness had broken out in camp, claiming the lives of almost a hundred of her vermin. She had picked the stragglers off with her bow to make sure the sickness stopped there. With that problem resolved, she had to face this mysterious figure who was riling up the camp against her. Something was familiar about him. She knew him somehow. Elledis shook her head. It didn’t matter. She knew that if she could defeat him in battle the vermin would once again respect her. No self respecting vermin could refuse to dual. She stalked out of her tent, ready to fight. The weasel was delivering another speech. Elledis interrupted him. “Mayhaps you’d like to be leader, eh? Then fight me you scumbag!” Elledis brandished her sword. The weasel shook his head. “That’s not the proper way to resolve these things. The soldiers should decide. I’ll give them my side, then you give them yours, and they vote. Noh how bout that?” Clever, Elledis thought. She knew that that weasel had a silver tongue and could easily when over the simple vermin. “Very well.” Replied Elledis. “What’s your name?” The smile froze on the weasel’s face. “Flatchett.” he spat.


Elledis reeled. Flatchett? Could it be? Elledis steadied herself. “You?” she asked. Pure hatred gleamed in Flatchett’s eyes. “Come on now; is that the way to greet your son?” Flatchett asked, disarmingly.

Chapter 13

Oarrin gasped as he fell into the swamp. The muck swirled all around him as he sunk into the deep swamp. “Help!” he cried. The crested lizard stood on the bank. “Hs hs hs hs! You dies now! Hs hs hssss!” Oarrin knew there was no way he could get back onto the path with the lizards guarding it. He closed his eyes as he resigned himself to his fate. His eyes snapped back open. He had Martin’s Sword. He had to live. “Redwaaaaaaaaaaalll!” he yelled. “Is anybeast there? Redwaaaaaaaaaaall”

Skrald the Goshawk was circling over the large dark swamp. “Redwaaaaaaaaaaalll!” somebeast yelled. “Is anybeast there? Redwaaaaaaaaaaall” Skrald dove with suprsing speed to land on land in the swamp. “Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” he called. Everywhere beneath him lizards scattered.A mouse gasped for breth as the great bird pulled him onto the bank. “Kreeeek! You from big redstone house?” the bird inquired. The mouse nodded. “Thank you.” He gasped. “Redstone mice fix my wing. Help them alla the time.” The mouse nodded. “Oh yes, you’re Skrald aren’t you?” “Kreee! Yis, I Skrald Redwing. You remember me?” The mouse slowly stood up. “No, Mother Mary told me about you though. Oh, I’m Oarrin. Do you know the way out of the swamp.” The Goshawk took off with a flap of its great wings “Kreeee! Know da skywhy, not land way. Must fly. Keep me overhead.” Oarrin did not have time to reply as the bird soared skyward.

***

The travelers camped there for the night. “I’ll be glad to see the last of those swamps!” Treeslinger exclaimed. “All very well,” Heather observed, “But how will we get back if not by the swamps?” silence reigned. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.” Coll said firmly. Cormstanp agreed. “Right now I’m just jolly well glad to be back on the old terra firma, wot wot!” The others nodded. “Let’s hope we make it back to Salamandastron by tomorrow, or we’ll be clean out of food!” Borage observed.

The travelers settled down to sleep, so worn our by their ordeal in the swamp that they did not keep watch. Nor did they notice the band of vermin that silently approached.

***

Lord Thunderstripe looked out across the dunes. He wondered how Fleectspaw was faring at Redwall. Because of the strange intuition possessed by the badger lords, he knew that all was not well at Redwall. His thoughts were interrupted by a loud screech. “Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” The Goshawk soared in through the forge room window. “Skrald!” exclaimed Thunderstripe. The bird nodded. “No time to speak. Redstone creatures coming to your, mountain, they need help. Other Redstone Mouse following. Make your long ears ready.” With these few word, the Goshawk leaped out the window and sailed off into the distance, toward the swamps. Skrald took a slightly longer route, coming to the edge of the swamp. With his keen eyes he saw creatures below. Vermin were there. Always partial to a snack and willing to help any goodbeasts, he dove with a cry. “Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

***

“Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Coll and the others awoke from their slumber to the loud cry. A huge Goshawk was plummeting towards the earth, talons outstretched. Coll drew his sword. Then he noticed the vermin approaching. One of them threw a knife with deadly precision. The hunting cry turned to one of pain as the sharp blade hit the bird’s forehead. Coll leapt at the vermin, attacking them quickly. The others came soon, and the vermin ran for their lives. Heather’s first priority in any crisis was to tend to wounded, and she rushed over to the fallen bird, opening her bag. The bird gave a quiet, groaning cry. “Kreee... longears on da way... gotta help the Redstone mouse in swamps. Help him now... Gotta help...” The Goshawk’s eyes closed forever. Tears came to Heather’s eyes. “He was trying to save us. He died for total strangers...” she wept openly. Coll tried to comfort her. “He died for good.” Was all he could say. “What was that about a ‘redstone mouse’? Sounds like a Redwaller’s stuck in the swamps. Me an Treeslinger will go get em.” The two lifelong friends departed for the swamps to fetch whoever had needed saving.

***

The Goshawk had told Oarrin to wait and flown off. Oarrin had lost all his supplies in the swamp, but managed to find some weeds that were edible. He chewed on them, but it was a far cry from the meals he knew from his Redwall home. He thought of pasties with gravy, strawberry fizz, October ale, and all the other wonderful dishes he knew from home. He could almost taste the- A lancepoint was at his throat. “You!” Oarrin sighed. They weren’t happy to see him.

***

Elledis was not very happy to see familiar face either. This could only get worse with someone as clever as her against her. She had experience, however, and she knew that she could handle Flatchett. The weasel finished his speech, then beckoned for Elledis to come. She remained where she was and began her speech. “You think all our efforts are for naught. But I tell you this is not true! As we speak the Redwallers are growing weaker and weaker from a deadly sickness. They will soon be too weak to fight, then will burn the gates and march into an abbey full of deadbeasts! We must have patience.” Flatchett knew this as well. He could not deal with Elledis now, although it would be easy to stab her. The vermin had foolish ideas of independence and would not accept another leader like Elledis so soon.

***

Kalda grabbed Oarrin roughly and lifted him up. “Why are you following us?” he asked. Oarrin did not panic. “I need to see Coll.” Treeslinger almost laughed. “What, so you can backstab him? I don’t think so, traitor!” Oarrin sighed. Again. “Then just take the sword, to him, I don’t care! It’s his by right!” Oarrin drew the sword and threw it down. Kalda lowered him to the ground, growling. “I think coll might want to see you himself.”

***

Mary was holding up rather well to the disease. She believed that she would last many more weeks before, she too, succumbed to the coma. She knew of only one hope for her Abbey. She slowly made her way to the Long Patrol warriors in Great Hall. They were in a bad state. Many were now in comas, and all were obviously infected. Fleectspaw slowly and painfully raised his head. “What is ole gel?” he asked slowly. “Before, you said you had an idea. What was it?” The hare slowly got to his feet. “Only want to explain it once. Any of those mole chaps still around?” Mary nodded. “I’d say most of them. There doing the best.” “Good. Tell them to come out here. Spose we’ve got nothing to lose, wot wot?”

***

Foremole was only slightly hampered by the illness. He and the remainders of the molecrew made good time downstairs, where Brigadier Fleectspaw outlined the plan. The moles heartily agreed, still knowing that even if this brilliant plan defeated the vermin the shadow of death would still loom over the Abbey. After some hasty calculations, Foremole decided on the spot to dig. “Burr aye, dis spot’ll do, yes zurr!” The molecrew went to it with a will.

***

Eledis was hunting for woodpigeons. No vermin would do her bidding now. She drew the bowstring taught while simultaneously fitting an arrow to the bow. She released the string and was rewarded by an alarmed cry from her prey. She grabbed the woodpigeon carcass and began the trek back to camp. She decided she was hungry and started a small fire to roast the bird. She had just finished the last morsels when she heard a strange rumbling sound. She hurried back to the camp. The entire camp was gone! Even the ground was gone. Where once had been a forest clearing there was now a huge pit. Barely a hundred vermin had survived the collapse. A twitch of a smile came to Elledis’s obscured face. Flatchett was defiantly dead.

Another saw that Flatchett was dead. Oh well, he had been a useful tool for his eloquent speech, but really was as dense as rock. Klara turned away and retreated to the woods.

***

Coll stared into the small fire he had made. Who was following them from Redwall and why? He would have his answers when The Rouges returned. He heard a voice. “Let me go!” Coll sat upright, drew his sword and turned around. “Oarrin!” he shouted. “He had this with him.” Kalda said, throwing the Sword of Martin point down into the sand. Col picked it up. “Why were you following us?” he asked. Oarrin swallowed hard as Kalda’s javelin pressed at his throat. “Answer him!” the otter demanded. Oarrin tried to sit as straight as he could. “It is yours to wield by right. I brought it to you. You have to come back to Redwall! We need you there!” Coll turned. “I know. There’s no point in getting killed, though. We’re out to meet the Long Patrol. We have the Guosim on our side too.” Oarrin nodded. “Good. The Skipper of Otters and his crew are with us as well.” “What made you decide to help us all of a sudden?” Oarrin “I had a dream...”

***

Cheesesnout was not pleased with the turn of events. His gang was moody at there defeat by the bird. He knew the only way to restore faith was to kill one of those travelers. He prepared his knife with poison.

***

Oarrin’s explanation was interrupted by a harsh cry. A knife came whizzing through the air towards Coll. Borage sat up moodily. “What’s going on here?” The knife struck. Heather screamed. Oarrin pulled himself loose, grabbed Martin’s Sword from where it had fallen and leapt over the mouse’s body on the ground. “Redwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal!” he cried as he brought the sword down on the head of a murderer.

***

The moles were joyous at the success of Fleectspaw’s plan. They cheered as the rumbling of Earth sliding was heard. They had dug out the ground underneath the camp, leaving several columns of earth standing. They had then collapsed some of the nearest columns to the exit, and ran for their lives as a chain reaction began. Column after column collapsed, leaving a giant hole in the ground where a camp of vermin used to be. “Burr aye, those vermints weres roight surmprised, yes zurr!” Mary smiled for the first time in days. “There’s a problem eliminated.” Fleectspaw tried to be chipper. “Yes sah! By my count maybe a hundred of the blighters survived, they can’t take Redwall with those numbers, wot wot!” Unbeknownst to them, the Shadowslayers brought another beast to Dark Forest.

***

Coll was on the ground, completely unconscious. He had seen the blade and tried to leap out of the way. He felt something sharp hit him on the forehead and it all went black. Martin stepped out of the mist of dreams. “The deadbeast will save the Abbey.” Was all that he said. Coll once again receded into senseless sleep.

***

Karksa flew above the woodlands for the third time, searching for her mate. Skrald had left the nest days earlier and never returned. She soared over the swamp in an earnest search. She spotted the body of her mate and creatures next to it. One was wounded. Her mind summed up what had happened. They had killed Skrald and her mate had fought back, hurting one. She dived at them as red mist clouded her eyes. Kill. Kill! Kill them all! “Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!”

Chapter 14

Coll awoke from his slumber. “What happened?” he asked. Treeslinger explained. He had tried to leap out of the way of a blade and had hit his head hard on a sharp branch. He had been knocked unconscious. “Then why wasn’t I hit by the blade?” Coll asked. Treeslinger nodded to the mouse on the ground. “She took it for you.” “Who?”

***

Mary was once again desperately searching for something to cure the Shadowslayers. She had found many more entries. They all carried the same foreboding message. No cure. Comas, followed by death. Destroyed Loamhedge. She left the Gatehouse and returned to the infirmary. She could almost feel the sickness in the air like a tangible force. Someone stirred. “Ohh...” Ferdul was awake. “Mary.... help! So thirsty, so thirsty... They need help. Oh, somebeast help them!” she fell asleep again, still softly whispering. “The hawk... somebeast help them....”

***

Before anybeast could say another word, an earsplitting cry rent the air. “Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” A Goshawk was diving! Kalda hauled the injured mouse away as the others ran for cover on the trees. The hawk landed. Her eyes were blood red. “You killa Skrald, I kila you! Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek! Killa alla vermints! Die!” Thhe injured beast groaned. Coll had the Sword of Martin in his grip in a flash. He dashed forward, brandishing the sword. “We did not kill him! He was killed by-” The Goshawk did not listen as she hurled herself at Coll. “Kreeeeeeeeeeeeee! Skraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaald!”

***

Borage tried to sit up. The blade in her chest was too much of an obstacle to her movement. “Ma’am, stay down!” Heather ordered. The Goshawk came crashing into the trees. “Skraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaald!” Coll leapt onto a branch. He hurled himself down at the charging bird and grabbed her neck, pounding on the head with the pommel stone of the sword. The bird was knocked unconscious. Coll jumped down. “We better go look for some rope. I think she won’t be too happy when she wakes up.”

With the threat of the Goshawk gone they could attend to Borage. Heather checked her bag of herbs. “I’m out of comfrey. Treeslinger, Kalda, go and look for plants with broad leaves. They have white bell shaped flowers. Hurry!” Heather tired to do the best she could with her meager supplies. “I lost most of my herbs when the logboat went over the waterfall.” Borage’s lips moved. “This is an interesting situation. What’s your method of operation?” Heather replied automatically. “Remove the knife, try not to damage any organs, apply a poultice of comfrey and- Ma’am, you really shouldn’t be talking right now! Save your strength.” “It doesn’t matter anyway. Now, if the wound is infected-” “Ma’am, you need to stop talking now.” Borage stopped talking. She closed her eyes and slowly drifted to sleep. She did not open them again. Kalda and Treeslinger returned too late for the herbs to do any good. Heather remained silent.

***

Klara hid in the woods. Her conscience was bothering her. She had sacrificed her brother’s life! She also knew that she could not allow herself to feel pain over that. Her brother was nothing to her! Nothing! He had been useful, but he was a tool! She could not convince herself.

***

Karksa struggled against the ropes that bound her. “Kreeeeeeeeeeee! You killa Skrald, I slay you! Kreeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” Coll brandished the sword. “We did not kill Skrald. He was killed by some worthless vermin. We are woodlanders, we mean you no harm.” “All earthcrawlers enemies, kila alla dem!” Heather’s bottled up rage and sadness from her mentor’s death exploded from her. “You great bully! Can’t you get it into your thick feather brained skull that we weren’t the ones that killed Skrald! He died saving us from a bunch of motley vermin! They were the ones that killed him, not us!” The bird grew quiet. “Oh my! I’m sorry!” said Heather. The bird chuckled. “Why you not tella me?” she asked. “We tried to-” Coll started. “If I hadda known earlier would notta attacked you. You from the Redstone House?” Coll nodded. “I am. The rest of us are all goodbeasts, woodlanders.” “Redstone mice fixa Skrald’s wing. I Karska Redwing, mate of Skrald.” Kalda interrupted them. “I see dust rising. Looks like the Long Patrol’s here.” At the head of a great many Long Patrol warriors was Lord Thnuderstripe, carrying his great Battlesword. It was not long before the column of hares reached them. “Hoy there!” cried Kalda. Lord Thunderstripe halted his troops. “I was told Redwallers needed help. Is Elledis back?” Coll nodded. “With more than twice as many as before.” Thunderstripe turned to Cormstanp. “Sergeant, why are you here?” The hare saluted. “Was investigating a suspicious event, sah! Vermin surrounded the abbey while I was gone, sah! Figured getting the Long Patrol to help us was the best idea, sah! End of report, sah!” Thunderstripe recalled the carving on the wall back at Salamandastron. It depicted a warrior mouse, leading a group. The group had one hare with it, a squirrel and otter and two other mice as well. Another mouse had been apart from the rest, carrying a sword. He made another head count. “There was another, an older mouse with you, was there not?” Heather stiffened. “Borage... is dead.” Treeslinger untied Karska. The badger lord then spotted Oarrin, hanging back from the rest of the group. “and you are?” “Oarrin, sir.”

***

The remaining vermin were intensely loyal to Elledis, who blamed the death of their compatriots on Flatchett. She knew she couldn’t conquer the Abbey with only fivescore vermin. She needed help. Someone she could bend to her will. She marched her soldiers westward to seek help from whoever she could.

***

Gruxel Karn Juskakarn! A name feared by all beasts northwest of Mossflower. In his clan, his grandfather had been the legendary Taggerung! Gruxel lived on his ancestor’s reputation and brute strength. Among leaders of other Juska tribes, his intelligence was often compared to that of inanimate objects. They dared not defy him, as a large number of the Juska were under his command. None of the Juska were ever clever enough to manipulate him of course, Elledis knew. They claimed they were so sly, but they could not accomplish the simplest of tasks. Her vermin waited as she strode boldly into the camp. “Where is your leader?” Gruxel exited his tent. Elledis noticed he was getting rather chubby. “who are you?” “I am the great Elledis, the Hooded One!” “What do you want?” Elledis’s head bowed, ever so slightly. “I wish to come to an agreement with your lordship.” Flattered, the ferret allowed Elledis to enter hit tent. Mistake number one, thought Elledis.


The ferret was prepared to talk terms with Elledis. “What is it you want?” he asked. Elledis remained almost submissive, but not so much as to appear weak. “Only to join with your great and mighty hoard, O great one!” The ferret acted as if he was considering this, not wanting to appear too eager. “I see... You bring how many with you?” “Only fivescore, a mere drop in the mighty flood of your warriors, O mighty lord!” The ferret paused, then nodded. “You will join the mighty Juskakarn!” he proclaimed. Elledis produced a flask of wine and a chalice from her cloak. “I drink to your health!” she said, offering the cup to Gruxel. He laughed. “Already you try to betray me? Surely you are cleverer than that! A poisoned chalice. Ha! Swartt Sixclaw was lucky to have stupid victims. Drink from the cup.” Elledis’s paw stretched forth, quivering with fear as she drank from the cup. Gruxel drank from the flagon, savoring the taste. “This is excellent wine, Elledis. I really thought you would do better than a poisoned chalice. Elledis thumped the cup on the wooden table. “I did. Enjoy that wine while you still can.” Gruxel gasped as the poison took effect. He was slain. Elledis stepped coolly away, removing the poisoned wine and chalice from the table. She had a new hoard. A simple trick, preformed with some poisoned wine and a chalice that’s rim had been smeared with antidote! The Juskakarn were disbanded. Now they followed Elledis, the Hooded One. Elledis summoned the four soldiers that remained loyal to her despite Flatchett’s interference. “Mingehide, Cladfang, Deadtail, and Fourclaw. You four never betrayed me. There’s enough treasure in that abbey for five to share well, don’t you think? You shall be my new captains!” The vermin bowed gratefully and left. Elledis estimated three days until only one was still alive.

***

The Long Patrol cheered as their leader delivered the good news: Elledis had turned tail and run! The Redwallers celebrated with them. But still, the shadow of death hung over the Abbey. Three Dibbuns had passed on to the Dark Forest that morning, following in the footsteps of many of their playmates. Salvus was the only one still alive, and he was deep in a coma. Even so, one creature had made a miraculous recovery. Ferdul the squirrelmaid was up and about, helping everybeast when she had been bedridden only days previously. Mary wondered how much longer Redwall Abbey would be home to living creatures.

***

Back at Salamandastron, Coll and Lord Thunderstripe were discussing the best route back to Redwall. Thunderstripe offered an idea. “We have an old ship, the Eulalia anchored here. It could take most of the Long Patrol.” Coll nodded. “The rest should go with Kalda, Treeslinger, and Oarrin through the swamps. Oarrin will go get Skipper and his ottercrew, Kalda will get the Guosim, and Treeslinger will contact any fighting squirrels in the area. Heather and I will go on the ship. I’ll stay with the Long Patrol for the main attack, and Heather will go ahead to warn the Redwallers. Simple, eh?” The provisions were made ready, and they prepared to leave for Redwall the following morning.

Chapter 15

The ship Eulalia was loaded and prepared to sail down the River Moss. More than twelvescore fighting hares were on deck. Fully armed and provisioned with food, the once corsair vessel embarked with its crew. Coll was learning how to steer the boat from one of the more experienced sea faring hares. “There’s no left and right on a nautical vessel, no sah! You’ve got port on what you call the left, an lardboard on the right! See here, to turn the jolly vessel lardboard, you give the ole tiller a spin to port, an so on! Here, give her a spin!” Coll turned the wheel experimentally. The ship responded quickly, turning greater than Coll had anticipated. “Touchy ole girl isn’t she?” the hare asked. Coll stepped away from the tiller. “I’ll just fight if that’s okay with you!” The Colonel laughed. “You go ahead. Steering is for us nautical chaps, wot!” Coll practiced with the sword for a short while. There was nothing else to do. The good ship Eulalia sailed on into the night.

***

About tenscore hares were traveling through the swamps with Karksa as their guide. Oarrin, Kalda, and Treeslinger were with them as well. With a guide through the swamp progress was much faster, and soon they arrived at the swamps edge. Kalda outlined the plan for them. “Here we part ways. The Long Patrol is to march fro Redwall and wait on the flatlands. Oarrin will get Skipper and the Ottercrew, I’ll go get the Guosim, and Treeslinger will round up any fighters in Mossflower. We’ll all go to the flatlands and wait on Coll’s signal.” They each went their separate ways.

Oarrin traveled south, where he had last seen the otters. He soon started seeing signs of their passage. A burnt out fire, some provisions on the ground. It looked like they had broken camp quickly. Oarrin wondered why.

Kalda found the Guosim weren’t where he thought they were, either. They had broken camp in a hurry. There were signs of fighting. He found one body. It was Log-a-Log!

Treeslinger decided to visit the former kingdom of Araltum. He knew some squirrel mercenaries that often were there. The sight that greeted his eyes was that of a burned out, pillaged, place. Somebeast would pay for that!

Sunrise dawned on Redwall Abbey, but no birdsong greeted the new day. The silence of death reigned in Mossflower, as if every insect and bird knew that death loomed over the Abbey. Many were dead.

The Eulalia berthed not far from Redwall. Soon, the time would come.

Elledis marched her troops relentlessly towards the Abbey. Revenge would be hers!

The dark ship lay abandoned, its crew gone to pillage and murder. At their head was a huge beast, the like of which no woodlander had seen before. He gave an unearthly cry as they hunted their prey.

Book 3: Thunder and Lighting

Heather departed from the ‘’Eulalia’’ later that day. She had been given a days worth of provisions, bringing both her bag and the late Borage’s. Redwall was not far off.

***

Mary struggled to rise. She could hardly move. She saw stars dancing before her as the room grew hot, then cold. She tried to stay awake, but the black mist of a coma closed over her eyes. Ferdul ran over and kneeled at her side. “Mary! Wake up; I need you to help me! Mary, wake up, oh please wake up!” The last standing beast in all of Redwall wept bitterly.

***

Heather found the wallgate she had been told to find. It was made of thatch, located in the center of the North wall. She knocked on it. “Somebeast open the door! I’m a friend!” silence, then a scuttle as somebeast came to the wallgate. It opened slowly. Heather was shocked at the sight before her. A young, emaciated squirrelmaid, who obviously needed sleep. “Who... are you?” she said, and then collapsed. Heather examined her. She knew those sores. She felt a chill. The Shadowslayers. Nobeast survived that. She could only do her bust. She dragged the squirrel inside and set to work on her. There were many victims inside the abbey. She tried to treat their symptoms with feverfew. She soon ran out. She opened Borage’s bag to search for more. She found some leaves with notes scrawled on them. She picked the m up one by one to see if any herbs were underneath. She stopped dead when she saw the writing on the last leaf.

“The Shadowslayers

Recently I have found a cure to that mysterious disease, the Shadowslayers. Using some common herbs, a poultice can be made. Apply the poultice to the sores on the patient. Those treated never catch the disease again. The instructions to make the poultice: “ And instructions on how to make the poultice. It was simple. A mix of a few common herbs. Unbelievable! Heather grabbed the necessary herbs and began making it.

***

The Long Patrol from Eulalia arrived at the flatlands by midday. The rest of the Patrol was already there. Coll scanned the horizon. “Where are the others? I can’t see them.” Corporal Hollyfoot volunteered to look for them. “I’m the best runner the Long Patrol’s jolly well got, Brig! Can I go?” Brigadier Vorpond shook his head severely. “Absoballylutley not, me gel! You will stay here h’until such a time as h’I see fit, wot!” his waxed moustache quivered.

***

Valariss the monitor lizard observed his crew carefully. The huge green lizard towered above the rest of his crew. He was set apart from other lizards by his keen intelligence. He had conquered his natural accent, preferring a dignified manner of speech instead. He happily remembered slaughtering the squirrels at Araltum’s Grove, and moving on to attack those shrews. His crew had bungled the attack and given them time to escape. He had killed their leader, though. The shrews must have warned others because they had seen signs of some beasts hurriedly breaking camp. He stood before his crew, chastising them. “All you had to do was not make any noise, but no! You great fools had to go and broadcast your presence to everybeast from here to Castle Floret!” He turned on an unfortunate rat “And you! Where were you when we attacked?!” The rat shuddered at the lizard’s horrifying gaze. “I was- gathering- driftwood- like you- you asked, cap’n!” “Gathering driftwood? Scuttlebutt! I never asked you to do that!” The fearsome reptile drew his curved scimitar and slew the rat with a single thrust. “Anybeast want to follow him? Cowards and fools, the lot of ya!” He sheathed his sword and selected another rat. “You! I want you to track those beasts! I’ll slay every one of them when we catch up!” The rat only nodded, and tried to find tracks. The monitor lizard retreated to a shady spot. It was not long before he heard a shout. “Cap’n, I found tracks!” The lizard hurried over. Tracks led from the camp to some swamplands west of there. “Good work! I appoint you head tracker! Lead the way!” Rascon, the former head tracker fox, muttered under his breath. “He couldn’t track a dancing crab over fresh snow! Any fool could see he’s following the wrong tracks!” The ferret, Kraklyn, elbowed him, “Yea, and any fool could tell the capn’s folloring him! If the captain hears you talking mutiny your in for it!”

***

Kalda easily followed the tracks left by the Guosim into Mossflower. They were gathered around a campfire mourning the loss of their leader. “Who goes there?” rang out the voice of Fallum the shrew, loud and clear. “Tis I, Kalda Stormdog!” the otter cried. Fallum sheathed his rapier. “You saw what they did to him, didn’t you?” Kalda nodded. “They got him in the back like cowards!” Fallum proclaimed with barely controlled rage. “I swear I’ll get him!” Kalda agreed. “I believe you mate! The scum that did this is a walking deadbeast! But right now, you’re needed at Redwall. Log-a-Log made a promise. Once we deal with Elledis, I’ll be with you hunting down that scum every step of the day, on me affidavit I will! But Log-a-Log would have wanted you to help.” Fallum nodded. “The tribe already agrees, I know. We’re with you Stormdog!”

***

Oarrin hid in the grass watching the corsairs follow the wrong trail. It was the trail they had made coming out of the swamps. He almost pitied them. Oarrain waited for them to go, then began following the real trail. It wasn’t too hard to follow. The otters were heading for the flatlands, so they would soon arrive with the Long Patrol. He wondered how Kalda and Treeslinger fared.

***

Treeslinger wandered further east into Mossflower, searching for anybeast who could fight. So far his search had had little result. He decided that soon he would have to go back to the flatlands. He stopped dead at the sight below him. Two stoats were walking through the underbrush, discussing recent events. “She must’a been a powerful beast to kill ole Gruxel!” The other sniggered. “I heard she used poisoned wine. Never too smart, was Gruxel.” “Aye dumb, as a dead rock!” “Silly, owe can a rock be dead?” “You never know!” “I know Gruxel was smarter than you by a good while!” “Why you gabbling gibsnout!” “Oh, gabbling gibsnout is it? Well youre a barrelbottemed frogfotted grog swiller, so there!” “well you’re a-a-a…” The sound of their argument faded into the woodlands. Treeslinger knew who “she” was. This was bad.

***

“Otters on the horizon!” The cry came from Hollyfoot. Vorpond hurried up. “I say, good show, ole gel!” The otters approached quickly. “Ahoy there, matey!” Skipper cried. “What happened?” Coll asked. “The Guosim were attacked. They warned us, and so we left for Redwall.” “Good thing. This is where we’re gathering for the attack. Kalda’s is going to find the shrews and Oarrin was sent to get you.” Hollyfoot put a paw to her brow as she gazed southward. “I think I see the ole chap now, wot!” Oarrin was indeed not far off, having marched all through the night to get there. He collapsed. “As soon... as I saw... the tracks... I set off...” He panted. Coll helped him up. “Go get some rest, mate.” Oarrin needed no second bidding.

Chapter 17

Heather was pleased at the outcome of the treatment. Nobeast had died save those dead before she had come to the Abbey. Many were still recovering though. Mary spent most of her time in bed. Ferdul, however, despite Heather’s warnings, was as active as ever, keeping things organized to the best of her ability. As Heather contemplated this, the squirrelmaid dashed past, carrying a tray of food for those still in bed. She tripped and collapsed. “Ferdul, I keep telling you to slow down! You were hit hardest by the Shadowslayers!” Ferdul stood up and brushed herself off. “Nonsense! I’m as fit as anybeast!” Heather remained adamant. “I am ordering you to get some rest!” Mary sat up. “Met somebeast just as stubborn as you, eh?” Heather hurried over to Mary. “Lie down! You need to rest! Oh, this is impossible!”

***

By mid afternoon the next day the Guosim had arrived. Coll hurried to Kalda. “What is it, mate?” “Log-a-Log. He’s-” Kalda choked on his words, holding back tears. “They killed him.” Coll stopped dead. “Who?” “Some dirty corsairs. They stabbed him in the back, the lot of cowards.” Coll nodded silently. Fallum stepped forward, carrying a rapier. “This was his. He- he gave it to me.” Fallum composed himself. “But I won’t use it until I avenge the scum that killed him!”

***

The “scum” was at that moment in the swamp. His crew was now lost. He himself had no idea where to go, but he didn’t admit it. He heard a hissing noise. A huge mass of reptiles suddenly appeared on the bank. Valariss took the imitative, falling back into his nautral form of speech. “I am Valriss, zlord of these warmbloodz! Who are you?” A large, crested, lizard replied. “We are the Slarvis. You know of ze great Slarvis snake from north zea? Ve are those who follow in hiz trackz.” The lizards were simpletons. It was easy to strike a deal with them. Soon Valariss had almost fourscore reptiles of all types under his command.

***

Treeslinger ran. His footpaws pounding up dust, the world swam before his eyes as he ran harder and further than he ever had before. He had to warn the others. He ran all day with no rest, until he collapsed in the dust. He could move no further. He saw creatures standing over him. He gasoed out his message. “Army… Elledis… huge…” He passed out. The squirrels stood above him. “Is he all right?” one asked. Their leader, Giles Laudlin, turned towards the speaker. “I don’t know. Get two ash staves and some belts. We’ll carry him North to the flatlands.” Unknowingly, the warrior squirrels had passed right in front of those that had murdered their families and comrades. Valariss was on his way to Mossflower.

***

A young squirrel lay on the ground, crying for her parents. There was fire everywhere. Where were her parents? Her brother was crying. She crawled out from behind the log. Vermin! Her brother started wailing. She attempted to stop him, but it was too late. A large rat glanced in their direction. He lumbered over, rusty cutlass drawn. “Well, wot do we ave ere?” He asked. The squirrelbabe whimpered and placed herself in front of her brother. The searat prepared to swing his cutlass. Then suddenly, in midswing, the rat cried out in pain. A tall, hooded figure stepped out from behind. “You idiot! I want them alive!” The creature took of its hood. Valariss the monitor lizard had come to Mossflower.

***

A group of squirrels approached the camp, composed of assorted fighters. The otter on lookout spotted them arrive just before dawn. Kalda was already there by the time Coll left his tent. The leader of the squirrels nodded. “I’m Giles Laudlin, leader of this group.” Treeslinger was awake. “It’s Elledis! She’s got control of a horde larger than ever before!” “Slow down, matey! What’s going on?” Treeslinger took a deep breath and explained. “I was in southern Mossflower when I saw two vermin discussing what had just happened. Elledis has taken control of the Juskakarn.” Most of those present gasped. Coll was puzzled. “Who are the Juskakarn?” Kalda explained “They’re a group of vermin, following the leader Gruxel Karn. Or they used to. They’re must be tens of thousands of them. If Eledis is their leader, it means nothing good for Redwall. Or us, for that matter.” Coll sat down. “I can only see one option here. We have to get into Redwall now, so we can be in a position to defend ourselves. By my guess they’ve already surrounded, so we’ll have to make a concentrated effort to break their line. Once we’re in the abbey we can set up defenses. They’re should be enough food to lat for about six seasons. Hopefully it won’t take that long. “Quite the tactician, eh? I agree” Thunderstripe said. Our numbers our roughly five thousand. She outnumbers us two to one, but I think every fighter here can take their weight in vermin.” Giles stepped forward. “We’ll help ye if you can tell us where to find Valariss, the lizard captain.” “He’s heading where we’re going.” Oarrin stated. “It won’t be long before Elledis and he have a little meeting. I just hope they don’t get to Redwall first.” Coll looked around. “We’ll charge them at dawn.”

***

Klara watched, hidden from sight in the scrub and brush near the camp. She fingered the bow and arrows she carried as the others discussed their plan. They would not move alone.

***

The lifeless body of Cladfang, the only remaining captain, slumped to the ground. Elledis removed the blade and cleaned it furiously on the ground. Someone had taken her best bow and three quivers of arrows! There was a traitor in the camp.

Chapter 18

A patrol of fourscore vermin, led by the new captain Ringtail, was patrolling near the flatlands just before dawn. There was a muffled scream. “Wot was dat?” Ringtail queried. A voice sounded out from the back ranks. “Ole Filley’s been… aaaaaaaaaa!” The whole patrol panicked, running about into one another. Ringtail fled back to the camp. The screams of his patrol sounded behind him.

***

Coll wiped of the Sword of Martin on the ground. “That was easier than I thought. Just one patrol!” Thunderstripe growled. “It’s too easy. There’ll be more of them. Let’s go, quickly!”

***

Elledis raged. “Take all the troops! Block them off! Don’t let them through!” She shouted. Ringtail ran off at the head of thousands of troops towards the flatlands. “Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge!”

***

Coll felt the enemies approach before he heard it. The thousands of footpaws pounding the ground sent vibrations through the earth. “Retreat! Fall back to the ditch!” He yelled. The fighters loosed a volley of slingstones and arrows at the oncoming horde, and then ran full tilt to the ditch. They dove in and prepared for the enemy. The first wave broke upon their defenses like water on a dike. Most of the frontrunners were skewered on the pikes, and those that did make it through were chopped down by swords. So came the second wave, the third wave, each one breaking on their defenses and whittling away a little more of their troops. Finally, the eighth wave broke through the line of pikes and met the swordbeasts head on. The wave was repelled with much effort. They reformed the line before the ninth wave struck. This time the line held, but only just. The tenth wave came, and broke the line again. They were once again repelled, but the eleventh wave came too soon, while they tried to reform the line. Their defense fell completely. “Retreat!” Thunderstripe bellowed. “Retreat to the flat lands!” “Get out of arrow range!” Coll instructed. Brigadier Vorpond emerged bloody from the fighting. “Reform the line out on the flatlands laddies! Go!” The enemy soldiers did not pursue them out of the ditch. Thunderstripe growled. “So it’s a waiting game, eh? Let’s see who lasts longest!”

***

A blood red sun rose that morning. The corpses of dead on both sides were put into harsh relief by the early morning life. Ringtail looked at his troops, shivering in the chill of the morning. “Look at you cringing lot. On yer paws, up! Let’s go get em! Chaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarge!” The captain leapt up with his sword aloft. The troops, roused by his “speech” drew their weapons and prepared to attack. An arrow slew their captain in mid-leap. The vermin quickly threw themselves to the ground, afraid to poke their heads above the ditch.

***

Coll smiled. “Well aimed!” “That wasn’t one of us.” Kalda replied. “We’re well out of range.” “Then who?” Coll wondered aloud. Thunderstripe stepped forward. “It doesn’t matter. Our best chance to get through is now. Ready some wood planks. I have an idea.”

***

They charged. As soon as the front lines reached the ditch the dropped the boards over it and ran across. The vermin beneath were too confused to move as the army charged over them. The army escaped over the ditch and continued at full pace to the Abbey. The vermin climbed out of the ditch and chased after them.

***

The abbeybeasts crowded on the wall top as the soldiers came running towards them. “Open the gates!” Margret yelled. “Let them in!” As the troops thundered in, the gates thudded close with a monumental clang. The bar fell across the gates with moments to spare. The horde smashed up against the gates. “Torch them!” Elledis screeched. “Burn the gates!” She threw a lighted torch at the gates. It had no effect on the old oak gates. It sizzled and burned itself out. “Bring oil! Bring grass! Bring wood! Burn! Burn everything!” Her eyes held a dangerous glint, and no creature dared disobey her. She turned her gaze on the abbey and yelled. “Tomorrow we shall return! Look for our coming! Tomorrow your gates will burn!” She turned on her heel and stalked away. Thunderstripe, now on the battlements, grunted. “Bring rubble. We must prepare.”

***

Valariss the monitor lizard, captain of the ‘’Coldblood’’, smiled at his luck. Two prisoners. Albeit they were but mere babes, but he knew woodlanders. They were soft. They could not stand by while innocents were harmed. Since he had two prisoners, he had every intention of showing them what he was willing to do. There was a possibly they would not trade with him then, but that was a calculated risk. This would be simple.

***

The sun sank over the horizon. Coll and the other guards stood on the battlements, alert for any movement in the surrounding land. It had been quiet so far, but Coll did not trust Elledis to wait until morning for her assault. Such a statement, seemingly an accident, could have put the Redwallers off their guard. “Movement to South!” hissed a voice in his ear. Coll started. A Long Patrol Hare was standing next to him, peeping out at the Southern front. Coll hid behind the walls before whoever was there could see him. He watched as the bush parted to reveal the approaching beast.

Chapter 19

The Long Patrol hare hurtled down the stairs. Moles ran past him as they brought rubble for the coming assault. He dodged a passing team carrying a particularly heavy load. The hare burst into great hall with all possible speed. “You need to see this!” he panted. Heather and Mary raced up the stairs past him to the walltop. Valariss, the monitor lizard, stood with his blade pressed against the neck of a squirrelbabe. “you will do as I say.” He hissed, “Or I will kill this creature and its kin!” He nodded. Some of his crewbeasts came forward and brought the other squirrel, the female, out of a sack. She was kicking and screaming, and eventually they had to force her back into the sack to subdue her. Heather was mortified. “What do you want?” she asked. Valariss smiled, a horrible grin that looked entirely sickening on his reptilian face. “Well, what do you have? You know what I want. Treasure, loot, booty, spoils, plunder! Anything valuable. Grand place like this must have loads of treasure! So come on now, pony up!” Mary began to grow angry. “We are peaceable creatures! We have nothing of value here!” Valariss continued smiling. “What about that sword mousey-boy is carrying, eh? Looks a sight richer than “nothing of value”.” Coll was shocked. “We will never give you the Sword of Martin the Warrior!” Valariss looked mock sad. “Shame. A right shame. Guess I’ll just have to kill this little one.” His sword began to cut the squirelbabe’s neck. Suddenly Coll was a blur. There was a whirring sound, and the Sword of Martin struck Valariss’s scimitar, clanging and hurting the lizards paw. Valariss dropped the ringing blade. “Take it!” Coll yelled. “But leave the babes here! If you double cross us, you shall die.” The gate opened and threescore Long Patrol Hares rushed out. “Very well. It was pleasant doing business with you.” Valariss replied. He nodded again. His crewbeasts dropped the sack and left. The Long Patrol hares quickly grabbed both babes and brought them inside. The two squirrelbabes were quickly put in the care of Mary. Coll gritted his teeth. Heather put a paw on his shoulder. “It had to be done.” “Still, I lost Martin’s Sword.” Brigadier Fleectspaw appeared from nowhere. “Not for long, laddo. I have a feeling those vermin chaps will be coming our way again.”

***

Valariss led his crew away crowing over his new trophy. It was a fine blade, to be sure. “Well, we just need to find some more helpess babes and we’ll have it made!” he yelled. His crew laughed uproarisly. “An’,” one of them interjected, “We could dress up one of our own as a babe, an trade dem!” the crew laughed again. Valariss stayed his paw. He was in a good mood.

***

Elledis watched them from the bushes. She raised he bow and signaled to her archers. Twoscore arrows thudded into the lizard captain’s chest. She walked over and retrived the sword. “I assume that you will now join my hoarde.” She gestured around. “If you have other plans, I suggest you run. It won’t do muh good though.” The archers revealed themselves. She smiled to herself. She finally had her sword once more. She left the lizard’s formor crewbeasts with the archers and began walking back to the hoarde’s campsite. Suddenly, a form dropped from a tree limb, landing directly in front of Elledis. “Hello, mother.” Klara said. Elledis brandished the sword, assuming a fighter’s stance. Klara drew her sword as well. “This ends now. What you are doing is wrong.” Elledis laughed. “Fighting with the little woodlanders now? I expected more of my daughter.” Klara charged. Elledis sidestepped neatly and struck at her back. Klara whirled around and parried, reeling from the onslaught. Elledis pressed her advantage, then swung the glittering blade in a high arc, shattering Klara’s blade. Klara fell back onto the ground as Elledis laughed. Elledis lashed out viscously, striking her daughter cringing on the ground. She left as Klara howled in pain.

***

Coll and Sergeant Cormstanp led a small scouting patrol into Mossflower. They were following the tracks of Valariss and his crew. “Stop!” hissed Cormstanp. Valariss lay dead, with his crew surrounded by Elledis’s soldiers. The sword was gone. “Everything leads back to the bally weasel, eh?” Cormstanp whispered. “We need to find her. Wherever she is, right know I bet she’s alone.” Cormstanp nodded to a pair of tracks leading away from the clearing. “And we know how to find her. On your feet, chaps.” The patrol deftly circled the clearing, picking up Elledis’s tracks. Not ten minutes later, the sounds of battle reached their ears. The sounds stopped abruptly. Then a scream ripped through the forest. All semblance of stealth was lost as the party raced forward towards the source of the sound. In a small clearing, laying huddled on the ground, was a female weasel. Cormstanp slowly walked over to her. “She’s unconscious. We should leave her here.” Coll shook his head. “She’s a tactical advantage to us. If she is with Elledis then she has information of value to us. Besides,” he added “I’ve got a feeling about her.”

***

Heaher stood over the unconscious Klara, inspecting her wounds. “She’s suffered heavy scarring along the side and a minor concussion to the head. In a few hours she should be awake.” She said. Klara moaned. “Honestly, what were you thinking bringing a weasel here?” Coll shrugged. “I don’t know.”

***

Klara awoke. She was lying on a cot with mint green colored sheets in a dark room. She glanced about and pain lanced through her side. A female, young mouse stood over her. She blinked rapidly to clear away the haze around her vision, and then tried to sit up. The mouse forced her back down, saying “Don’t sit up.” The mouse walked away from Klara’s bed. She surveyed the room. On the other side of the room stood a group of hares, with another mouse, this one male, talking to them. There were several other cots in the room, but they were empty. Klara attempted to examine her own wounds. As far as she could tell she had multiple wounds on her shoulders and a slice running down her right side. If these woodlander hadn’t shown up, she thought, I would have bled to death in the forest. Glancing around once more, she discovered the male mouse was walking towards her. “Who are you?” the mouse asked. Klara barley managed to whisper her name. “What?” the mouse asked, leaning in closer to hear. Klara summoned her strength and said “Klara Yelloweyes.” The mouse drew back. “Yelloweyes? As in…” Klara could only nod. She attempted to speak once more, but failed. The female mouse stalked back over to the cot. “She probably can’t speak right now.” The female mouse, probably some kind of nurse, turned to Klara once more. “Just rest right now.” The male mouse led the other away and began talking to her. Klara, unable to pick out any words, drifted back to sleep.

“Her name is Klara Yelloweyes. A relation of Elledis, apparently.” Coll said as soon as he and Heather exited the infirmary. Heather seemed oddly unfazed by this information. “I guessed as much. She looks very much like Elledis. If I had to guess I’d say Elledis was her mother.” Coll spoke again. “This makes her far more valuable.” Heather shook her head. “Remember, Elledis tried to kill her. She’s not likely to bargain for her.” “She might have valuable information.” Again Heather disagreed. “If Klara is anything like her mother then she would have posed a serious threat to Elledis’s power. No, I believe Elledis tried to kill her only as soon as she tried to join her.” Coll thought for a moment. “We should see what information she has before we decide anything.” A Long Patrol hare walked towards Coll. “Look at this.” He said. Coll examined the proffered bow and set of arrows. He removed one arrow and studied it. It was made of some kind of white wood with white gull feathers for fletching. “Very distinctive. But what does it mean?” Coll asked. The hare smiled. “Where have you seen that before?” Coll suddenly remembered the last time he saw an arrow like this. It had been shot into the throat of a vermin captain from the woodland verge. “Where did this come from?” Coll demanded. The hare grinned. “We found it on the weasel, sirah.”


Klara awoke once more. She felt much better. She attempted to move. At once pain seared through her. She collapsed back into her bed. Perhaps she didn’t feel so good after all. The female mouse returned to her cot. “You probably shouldn’t be moving just yet.” She said briskly. “I think I figured that out.” Klara replied. “We know you were the one that helped us earlier.” The female mouse replied. “Just you are you anyway?” Klara asked. “I’m Heather. The other mouse, the one that was talking to you earlier is Coll.” Klara almost nodded but realized this would be unwise given her current circumstances. Instead she merely said “I see.” “Anyway,” Heather said, “You will be bed-ridden for another few days at least. You should rest as much as possible.” “I’ll do my best.” Klara said, half jokingly. Apparently Heather failed to see the intended humor. “Good.” She turned and left. Klara began to slowly turn her head to more fully take in her surroundings. The room was brighter now, and more woodlanders were present. She guessed it had been early morning when she last awoke. After trying, and subsequently failing, to fall asleep, Klara decided to try sitting up once more. She instantly regretted this decision as the pain became great enough for her to fall unconscious once more.


Heather moved on to the other occupied beds in the infirmary. The two squirelbabes that had been rescued were still suffering from shock. All that Mary had been able to learn from them was that they were twins, brother and sister. The squirellmaid was named Erila and her brother was Canton. They were both finally sleeping. Heather was nearly finished examining them when she heard a Long Patrol hare cry “Attack! They’re trying to burn the gates!”


Please check out the poll for this on my user page. It contains spoilers if you have not yet read Chapter 14. user:Martin2#The Storm

If you want updates on this story, leave a signature on my User Page here!

Also on Fandom

Random Wiki