The Battle of the Northlands
An Ottermaid's Note
- The tale that is about to be recalled is a true story. It is the story of epic proportions and would require a season to get through it all. But I don't care, and the Dibbuns at Redwall Abbey consider it a great treat. Would you like to come and listen my friend? I'm sure our Abbot would be delighted to see you. Come sit by the fire and learn of a legend. I'm sure you'll enjoy it.
Chapter 1: Poisongaze
- They say that all is bad up in the cold coasts of the North. They say that all manner of vermin live up there and the farther north you get, the nastier things become. This simply wasn't the opinion of one lone mousemaid sitting on the sandy beach. Her dark eyes looked out to the sea, or the briny as her father used to call it. She had yellow and dark brown fur and quick eyes. A long dagger was thrust into the waistband of her white and yellow kilt which earned her the name Gorse. Gorse was born and raised in the cold Northlands and she loved the place dearly. She loved to look at the mountains and watch the falcons as they swooped in the the sky, calling to each other in unique war cries. The grassy knolls were ideal for little ones to play on. She sighed now, rubbing her cold manacled paws as she stared out to sea. A broad ship was coming into view. The maid grasped the dirk tightly. Of course that hated wildcat would come back. How could she have doubted it? She stood from her spot and padded off to warn the other Northlanders who were toiling along the shores.
- "Oi! There's a large ship a-comin' to port! Poisongaze's here!" She called out in her thick brogue. The other enslaved creatures looked at each other. One cheeky ottermaid even smiled grimly.
- "Ah, away with ye lassie maid. There's no' a wildcat in sight." She said. Gorse clutched her dirk.
- "Isn't there? Then why do I hear cat growls my bold otter?" They all looked towards the shore and sure enough, there was Slayda Poisonblade. She was the deadliest of all the vermin in the Northlands with her murderous violet eyes and unusual dark shining fur. She was what the North called a Kalos wildcat. Her strength was second to a fighting badger, but no badgers ever dared to challenge her. She wore a kilt made of the tattered remains of other beast's kilts. Her weapon was a huge claymore that only she could wield. Her cunning and evil was compared to that of Feragho the Assassin, whom all had heard of. The wildcat lady had an entire horde to do her bidding, and all feared and respected her. She ruled them with an iron paw, wanting no slackers and all of her orders carried out immediately. She stopped on the shore of the North and stared at the quaintly garbed enslaved clans with a fierce eye.
- "Which of you bumpkins slew my Captain?" The clans stared at her in fear. The weasel captain was not a beast to be missed. He was a bully and often picked on the smaller beasts clad in chains. Obviously, he had met his match with one creature who he shouldn't have messed with, judging from his cut to ribbons corpse. Slayda stared round a them all."Well?" She hissed. The cheeky ottermaid, who was named Mayool, stared up at the wildcat boldly.
- "None of us touched a hair on yore captain's slimy head, cat. Why do you arsk us?" Slayde fixed her with her trademark murderous stare.
- "Because I have a witness." She growled. A groan of horror sounded from the Northerners. "Bring the prisoner!" A small volemaid was dragged on a rope halter to the scene and plopped rudely in front of the wildcat Cheiftess. "Tell me the name of the one who slew my captain, vole." The cat hissed. The little creature was scared into silence at the sight of the evil cat. The murderous eyes narrowed. "Speak maid! Or come hellgates or high waters I'll eat you!" The frightened little maid merely stared in horror. The sight of the cat had frozen her in fear. Slayda bared her teeth in a snarl.
- "Take this maid away and toss her deep into the Northern Seas!" Gorse couldn't stand the wildcat's evil choice. She strode forwards, bold as brass and she answered the wildcat's challenge.
- "You leave the lass be, ye mangy-tailed cretin! Twas I who slew yore Cap'n!" The cat turned to her, her cruel eyes burning with malevolence.
- "And who are you, my bold maid?" She asked menacingly. Gorse drew her dirk and gave a grim smirk.
- "My name is Gorse." She said glaring at the cat. Mayool stepped forward with her.
- "She didnae act alone, cat! I helped slay the Captain of the Guard with her!" She said clearly. Slayda Poisongaze narrowed her dangerous eyes and snapped her claws.
- "Guard! Take these maids to the ship and bind them tight. When we set sail, have these idiots lined up on the shore so they can watch their friends die a slow, but sure death in the freezing waters!" With a twirl, she was away and a guard rat named Bungleclaws grabbed at both maids. Gorse swung her dirk and drove it deep into his throat. Mayool drew her sling she had secretly bound upon her waist and both maids threw themselves upon the remaining guards shouting for all they were worth. The other vermin stationed at the shores heard the commotion and dragged them maids off the guards, avoiding bites and kicks from both. Mayool was a strong, nearly full grown otter, and it took five big stoats to drag her away from her friend who lay motionless upon the ground, owing to the fact that a fox had crashed a pike over her head. Gorse was dragged off with her and the rest of the Northlanders watched the ship in silent horror.
- "Mark my words mates," a tall male otter spoke softly. "Tis the death sentence for both maids, may the fates be with them while on that hellbound ship."
Chapter Two: Redwall's Dibbun Festival
- Far down south of the cold Northern lands away in the splendor of Mossflower Woods was a large Abbey building on the side of a dusty road. The large red sandstone building was older than any of the trees around and had been founded countless seasons ago by a warrior and a Loamhedge Abbess. Inside the wonderful building were all matter of creatures young and old, living together in harmony, and now, they were preparing for an epic feast.
- Ask any Dibbun what their favorite day is and they'll only be glad to tell you that it's the Redwall Dibbun Day. This was the day that the Abbey young ones, known to most as "Dibbuns" were honored with staying up late, playing in the woods (with an otterguard provided by the Skipper of course), eating pudding instead of salad, and not being forced to bathe all day. The day would be theirs to cherish for all time, and to celebrate it even more throughly, the shrewmum cook Waterlily was preparing a giant cake called the "Good ole Dibbun cake." It was a massive thing made out of strawberries, plums, damsons, peaches, sweet cream, clover honey, meadowcream, cherries and all manner of delicious ingredients that the Dibbuns adored. Along with the cake was raspberry cream pudden, (a great favorite sweet among mole Dibbuns), strawberry tarts, watershrimp n hotroot soup, deeper n' ever turnip 'n tater pie, and all sorts of fare for Redwallers young and old. The drinks were provided by the lanky Cellarkeeper, George Longscut the hare. he provided raspberry cordial, good October ale, mint tea, and all knids of teas, pear cordial, strawberry fizz, damson wine, and many others complementing the famous Redwall fare.
- Abbot Nathanial walked down the stairs his large bushy tail peeking out from under his habit. The squirrel had ruled Redwall for seven seasons now, and there was no place he loved more. He passed the collection of creatures carrying a table between them. Foremole (a lofty position among his kind) tugged his snout respectfully at him, winking and speaking in his rustic molespeech.
- "Hurr Goo' mawnin' Father Habbit. Wurr ee' be orf to, zurr?" Nathanial smiled politely at the mole.
- "Oh, I'm just going to check on the preparations of our Dibbun feast, Foremole. What are you doing with that table?" The good mole smiled at the Abbot as he and a few others trundled past.
- "Liddle Dibbun rarscals wanted us 'uns to mak a boat furr um, zurr Habbit. Oi cudden foind wun zo's we be's given ee' yung 'uns a table." The Abbot chuckled.
- "What fun little rascals our Dibbuns are. Carry on, Foremole." The squirrel passed a great tapestry and paused. Staring at it, he smiled at the brave picture of the mouse in the center. Martin the Warrior smiled back through brave, but kind gray eyes. he was leaning on an impressive sword and wearing full armor. The real sword was displayed on two wall tacks above the great hero's picture. He was on of the founders of Redwall and helped too finish the building of the Abbey. He also helped free the woodlands from an awful wildcat named Tsarmina. His legend was none to all, and his spirit guided the Abbey in times of danger. Nathanial stared at the picture awhile.
- "I'll bet he was a good little Dibbun when he was young, eh Father?" Nathanial turned to see the Mother of Redwall, a slender kindred badgermaid with deep brown eyes. Nathanial smiled at the creature.
- "There you are, Christa. I've been looking for you, as to your observations, yes I'll wager he was very well behaved." Christa allowed the Abbot to lean on her paw as she guided him to Cavern Hole.
- "Perhaps we should keep that explanation in mind whenever our Dibbuns are acting naughty," she said laughing. As the pair walked off to the hustle and bustle of Cavern Hole, the tapestry seemed to move. But not a gust of wind came from outside. Martin stood forever captured in picture, guarding his abbey for an eternity.
- Sister Martina was named after Martin the Warrior, but she was one feisty and tough mousemaid. She had dark almost sable headfur that curled around her ears and down and around the back of her neck. Her eyes were light gray like Martin's, but she was of no relation to him. In fact, her ancestors were traced from the line of Mariel instead of Martin. She was Assistant to the otter Sister Cella who was in charge of the Infirmary, a dreary job for a stubborn maid. She talked and acted tough in front of other creatures, but deep in her heart she was a kindred spirit. She swept out the rooms, her eyes brimming with a bored sheen as she moved around the room. Her nose twitched and she turned to the doorway to meet the eyes of her best pal, Brother Jonathan. He was a quiet young mouse with dark brown fur and curious green-gray eyes. He had been found in the woodlands injured and alone. A group of foxes slew his family and left him buried alive in his home. Miraculously, he managed to get out himself and wander alone. He gestured to her with a paw, smiling at her. Martina padded towards him curiously.
- "Wotcha got for me, mate?" She asked. Brother Jonathan rarely spoke as he was very shy. Sister Martina was the only creature he opened up to as it had been she who found him in the woodlands. Brother Jonathan took her paw and led her down the stairs.
- "I just caught something pretty for you, Marty." He said shyly. Anybeast who knew the pretty, tough mousemaid always addressed her as Marty. Marty couldn't help but smile as Brother Jonathan took her to the attic, his favorite hiding place. He led her to a jar he kept in the corner and n the jar was a beautiful violet and periwinkle butterfly. It beat its wings madly against the glass trying to get out. Marty watched the creature with a tender eye, she loved butterflies but would not admit it to anybeast. She looked up at Jonathan.
- "Jonathan, you need to let that fella go." Marty said softly. Jonathan cocked his head to one side.
- "Why Marty?" Marty shook her head.
- "It ain't nice to put a butterfly in a jar, that's like putting a rainbow in a cage so's only you can see it. The butterfly's like a rainbow mate, all creatures deserve to see one. I'll bet there's some Dibbuns round this Abbey wot hasn't seen one of these beauties." She said tapping the glass. Jonathan's face fell. he was hoping she'd be thrilled at the fact he caught this winged treasure for her, but she looked sad and disappointed in him. He hated making her sad so he opened the jar and let the butterfly out the window. Marty gave him one of her rare smiles.
- "There now, you see? Now everybeast'll see it," she said with a wink. Jonathan nodded and both mice went back to the sickbay. Marty was in for a surprise as when she opened the door, Sister Cella was standing there paws akimbo.
- "Well, well, well, wot 'ave we 'ere?" She said narrowing her eyes. "Sister Marty where in the name o' bulrushes 'ave you been? I sent Christa after you a while ago! I thought you was still cleanin' but no, off you go with that silent mischief maker over yonder." She smiled pleasantly at Jonathan, who hid behind Marty. "There now, me liddle treasure, it ain't you I'm upset with, it's yon mouseymaid yore a-hidin' be'ind." Jonathan looked at Marty who was sheepish. She turned to him.
- "Why don't you go off and help Lily with the cookin'?" The mouse nodded and silently trundled past her without a second glance. Marty sighed deeply.
- "I'm sorry I wandered off like that Sister. Jonathan had somethin' he wanted to show me." The big otter sighed and sat down wearily.
- "I knows it, Miz Marty. I 'pologizes for gettin' upset with you it's just that the Abbot needs yore 'elp with the Dibbun feast an'-" The Sister was cut off.
- "The Abbot? Well why didn't you tell me!" Marty raced down the stairs to help the Abbot, leaving Cella chuckling.
- "Yon maid's faster then some o' the birds about," she said shaking her head.
- Redwall's bells tolled until eleven o'clock at night. The Dibbuns were snoring in their beds having been carried up by Christa and some of the Skipper's otters. Marty helped clear the table of dishes, humming jauntily to herself until she noticed the picture of Martin. She paused and took the time to stare. He was the Warrior she was named after. Her mother had wanted to name her Mary, but her dad decided on a good warrior's name, knowing that his maid would grow up to be tough. He decided on Martina in the good warrior's honor. She couldn't help but notice how brave he looked standing there holding the sword, his eyes brave and resolute, the mighty sword handled with skill and ease. Marty wanted so badly to become a fighter, but she was stuck at Redwall caring for the sick and injured. She didn't mind so much really; she loved the place dearly, but she was a restless spirit. Sitting around twiddling her paws was not the life for her. When she found Jonathan injured and alone, there had been a gang of water rats picking on him and beating him. She had been sent to go searching for herbs, but the sound of the mouse's cries along with the cruel laughter of the rats had her blood boiling. She picked up a hefty yew staff and sent those bullies packing. She smiled to herself when she remembered the rats scattering and Jonathan clinging to her habit. She had practically reared him, and he was like a brother to her. Sighing and shaking her head, she continued to wash the tables until Waterlily came out.
- "Ah miss, ye'd be here scrubbin' until sunrise if ye carry on a that rate." She said kindly. "Why don't you go off to bed and George and i will clear up?" George Logscut polished off a scone in record time as was expected with hares.
- "Capital idea, Lily. Clear off now young Marty wotsyourface. We'll take care o' the rest. Toodle pip now, go catch some beauty sleep, wot wot?" Marty smiled and thanked the two.
- Marty fell asleep quickly that night and dreamed a strange dream. She was in a cold Northern area and creatures like her and many others at Redwall were in chains and being led through ice-cold waters. Marty stared around at them all. They were captives, chained and being whipped at and beaten before her very eyes. Some of them were very young and on top of a grassy knoll, she saw a wildcat with murderous purple eyes and two blades. One was thin and poisoned, the other a hefty claymore. The cat hissed and spat at the captives, her tail waving back and forth. It was the most pitiful sight Marty ever saw. In the distance, three figures shrouded in a golden mist floated towards her. One was Martin the Warrior, the other two she didn't know. There was a big black wildcat with slightly gentler eyes than the other. He was a tough male with tattered ears and a brown and lilac kilt. The other was a slender mousemaid around her age with a dirk and a yellow and white kilt. Marty turned to martin who smiled and gestured at the other two, indicating that Marty should listen to what they had to say. The two unknown figures began to speak as one in an odd Northern accent.
- "Hearken to us, maid of Redwall. Our creatures are in dire need of yore help. Visit the mountain of Salamandastron and arsk the Fire Pirate of the north shores. He'll guide ye to us. Help us, warrior and yore destiny, ye shall know!" Martin smiled and handed her a bundle containing a sword.
- "Take this with you, Martina. It may come in handy for times ahead. Heed not the pleas of a friend. Go to the mountain alone." The figures then disappeared form view and Marty forgot the entire thing.
Chapter Three: In the Rebel's Hideout
Kalos the wildcat sat upon the cushioned chair that marked him a leader. He was big, tough, and a fierce fighter. But there was one thing most didn't know about the tall, powerful wildcat warrior. He was a gentlebeast by nature and he did not wish harm on the innocent unlike his cousin Slayda. He was outlawed by his evil kin and made into a fugitive for saving a family of mice from certain death and/or enslavement. The Northlanders looked to him for wisdom and courage, and he was the very epitome of honor. He sat with his chin resting on his paws, sea-colored eyes fixed on the table. He sighed heavily. The news that Gorse and Mayool had been sentenced to death was unsettling for him. He had looked out for Gorse ever since her kin had been slaughtered by his merciless cousin. He worried about Mayool, the ottermaid as well. Her sister was one of his main leaders in the rebel hideout where they planned hit and run ambushes against the injustice of Slayda and her kind. His eyes flicked to the door as it swung open, revealing a damp and outraged ottermaid.
Felicity had found out the hard way about her sister's position. A couple of gossipy old mousewives had started talking about the slaves who had killed the Captain of the Guard. She learned that the two were to be put to death by freezing in the cold lakes of the North. Her eyes blazed with injustice behind the crystal spectacles she wore. Her paw gripped the pike tightly as she stared hard at Kalos.
- "Felicity, you must calm doon." He said tiredly. Felicity's eyes burned into his as she shouted at him.
- "Calm doon! Hoow am Ah supposed tae calm doon when mah ain sister is goin' tae be droowned not lang afore daylight tomorrow!" She shouted at him. "Mayool es all Ah have left in the world, Kalos! Whit am Ah goin' tae do aboot et? Set here an' mope! Oh nae, Ah'm a-marchin' oot there on the morrow an' Ah'll slay that cat for guid! Ah'm a-goin' tae put an' end tae that beast whit calls herself a queen!" Kalos sighed as he gazed at the furious maid through calm eyes. She had tears streaming down her face at the helplessness she felt.
- "Felicity, think aboot wot yore doin'. Ye'll oanly get yoreself slain, darlin'. Ye need tae think clearly. Ah'll try tae improvise a plan by tonight tae get yore sister back, and i promise in time that wel put an end tae that wicked cousin o' mine." He explained calmly. Felicity sat down on the chair across from him and took several deep breaths.
- "Ah'm goin' wi' ye." She said firmly. "Mah sister's oot there an' by the rocks o' the Highlands Ah'm a-goin' tae save mah sister." Kalos smiled at her fondly.
- "Of course ye are darlin'. Doan't ye worry, ye'll go with me an' a few others. Ah want tae save Gorse as well. We'll hit 'em tonight when they least expect et. Mind though, et could get treacherous, so we must plan carefully, agreed?" He held out a massive paw. Felicity, confidant in her leader's ability, took the paw and shook it, her eyes like brown orbs of ice.
- "Aye, we'll show that cat just whit we Northerners are capable of when ye threaten oor families."