A candle lay sideways, its wax dripping between a gap in the planks of a scorched table. A small, grizzled mouse clad in a dusty green robe,stumped in the doorway, past the heeling door, relieved of it's hinges, and across the small cabin that somebeast before had called home. Shaking his head, the old one worked a gleaming knife free of the bedside table, now minus a leg. Speaking to a small, frail mouse lying on the bed, he said,

"Abbess Marlee, who did this to yore family? And another question, why ain't you at Redwall?" Instead of answering his questions, the old Abbess lifted a blanket with effort, revealing a tiny mousebabe, barely a season old.

"Please take..." she gasped,"my grandson. Do not... Take him to... The Abbey. He would not be happy.... There." Her breath rasping in her throat, she continued.

"Take him to live with you. If you do so, I will be... Forever indebted... To you, though my time is soon. The knife..." She raised her paw slowly to point at the knife.

"The knife must be kept from him... Until he is ready to face his past. His name, you shall choose." Her breathing growing fainter, she turned to face the old mouse.

"Will you do this for me, old friend, Orklon?" Orklon, the old mouse, bowed.

"I served ye in the past, an' now I serve ye again. I will try my best, Mother Abbess." The Abbess leaned back.

"I thank ye with all my heart. There are bad times ahead for Mossflower," she whispered, "The time of Nox the Ferocious has come!" With that, her eyes clouded over and she let out her final breath. Tears pouring down his face, the old mouse brushed his lips against her cold, bony paw, in silent remembrance of the pretty, cheerful young mouse who had become the Mother Abbess of Redwall all those seasons ago.

Zzzzzzzzzthunk! The knife whizzed through the air, to rest in the driftwood log that served as a target.

"Well thrown, young 'un!" Orklon exclaimed as the young mouse bent to retrieve the knife. Twirling it in his paw until it became a blurring circle of light, Marcus executed a neat turn and the knife shot out of his paw, and lodged itself up to it's handle in the wood.

"Hah, I'm getting better every day, Ork. Though I doubt I'll be as good as you anytime soon." The old mouse shrugged.

"Nonsense! I wasn't nearly as good as you when I was twice yore age, young mouse." Together they strode back to the old cabin. While they walked, Marcus questioned the aged mouse.

"Tell me, when do I get to go to Redwall?"

"You'll go when yore ready, young un, and not a moment sooner." Orklon grunted. He had been told that for as long as he could remember. Before now, he had not questioned the old mouse, but this time he persisted.

"Ork, I thought that Redwall was a place of peace. Why is it so dangerous for me to go there now?" Orklon pondered this for a moment.

"Aye, Marcus, I s'pose yore right. It is a place of peace. There's jus' so many bad memories there, I'm afraid you might not be able t' cope wid it. I've told ye all this before, why is it so important that ye go to Redwall?"

"I don't know, I just keep having these dreams." The old mouse seemed startled.

"Wot dreams?" he asked urgently. Marcus didn't seem too concerned.

"Oh nothing, really. Just some mouse in armour that keeps saying Go ye to Redwall. he jumped as Orklon grabbed his paw and urged him to go faster.

"Huh? Did I say somethin' wrong? Where are we going?"

"No time to talk, Marcus, we're goin' to Redwall! That mouse that ye saw was Martin the Warrior, an' if he told ye to go, then I won't be the one to stop ye. Come now, 'tis not far." Together they ran through Mossflower Woods, bound for the legendary Redwall Abbey.

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