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Summary: A quest for vengeance, the young squirrel Ronnie Macleaf set off on a journey that leads him to Mossflower Woods. After travelled with deadly wounds after the ambush on his family and the massacre, Ronnie finally collapse outside the gates of Redwall Abbey. The Abbybeasts take care of him and he lost his heart for a pretty young squirrelmaid at the same age and then when a evil hord of rats laying besiege at Redwall, Ronnie take on the fight to defend the one he love.
The rain poured down on Ronnie as he ran through the forest landscape. It was dark and the sight was limited. The voices of the rats, who chased him filled his ears. Panic began to grow inside him when he realized, he wasn't going to make it. Without any thoughts about his wounds, Ronnie continued to run blindly. He had no idea what he was going. The only thing he wanted was to shake off his pursuers that constantly come closer.
"Ther' he is, after him. Kill, kill!" the rats shouted. Tears began to flow down on Ronnie's cheeks as he realized that he soon will die. Ronnie suddenly discovered that an arrow had pierced his right leg and the pain forced him to stop. The forest was silent and all traces of the rats were gone.
"Could this be true. Has they given up the hunt?" Ronnie thought as he tried to catch his breath. When Ronnie was limping his way, he remembered his family. Before the ambush, they had been happy but in one sweep had swept away everything and now there were just awful memories left. Ronnie began to sob quietly, and wished more than anything to be able to go back in time.
"If only I had been more attentive ..." These thoughts plagued Ronnie and he felt a great burden that will never disappear, and he know that.
"It was my fault," he thought. "If only I hadn't run away and got my family to look after me, they would still be alive. I am sorry sis, I'm." Suddenly the sounds of the rats reached his ears again and the panic began to grow. Without any clue where he was going, Ronnie just run dead ahead. Suddenly the forest went silent again but this time Ronnie didn't noticed it. He took a look back and ran into something big and solid. He fainted at once.
Garfo Strub, the ancient gatekeeper of Redwall, woke up earlier next morning. Rubbing the sleep of his eyes, Garfo went outside to do his usual hobby. To walk on the wall and see the sun rise was something the old hedgehog never missed. He was an old hedgehog, wearing a typical Redwall cloth. He walked around with a cane as support for his bad back.
"Let it be a goo' one," he spoke to himself and coughed. The feeling of growing old was clearly visible in his face, posture and stamina. Garfo went there in his own thoughts when he suddenly caught sight of something at the gate. It was early morning and the sun had not yet taken a position that gave more light to the world. But that he managed to make out was something small and red-brown-green outside the gate. It was hard to see what it was with all mud and leaves, but he saw a long broom-like tail that was sticking out of the mud fur pile
"It Looks like a beast." he thought and hurried himself down the wall, the pace he could manage without fainting from exhaustion, to get help.
"Wounded beast outside!" he yelled out. The entire abbey awoke and was on the move. The three leaders of Redwall, not included the abbot rushed to the place. Sincie the Badgermum, Skipper (that really is his name) of otters and Foremole Radd, rushed to the place.
"Okay mates, move aside and let Sincie through." Skipper made his way through the audience and opened the gate. He always wore the same clothes, a pair of brown shorts.
"Bai'nt a loikeie one, hurr." Radd said as he bent over the figure. Ragel however, always wore a brownish-red leather tunic.
"It's a child! A young, red squirrel and he's in bad condition. He needs to be intended this instance!" the Badgermum said. "Skipper. go and get a stretcher and help me to carry him inside."
"Right o' way, ma'm." Skipper said and ran away to fetch a stretcher. Everybeast was curious now. Who was this creature and what's his name and is he going to make it? These questions filled the air when the group reached the infirmary.
"He has been through a lot, poor thing!" the infirmary sister Simhila said and began to treat the totally stranger. "But he has been a lucky one, I can tell."
"What do you mean? How can you call this lucky?" Sincie asked and pointed at the unconcsious red squirrel, many nasty wounds were clear.
Simhila began to put some white grease on the wounds and small leaves. Then she put bandages over the wounds and wrapped around the body.
She looked up from her work and stroked her chin. "That'll do. But Isn't it obvious?"
Sincie shook her head and looked seriously at Simhila. "No, it is not!" she said like she had been insulted by the infirmiry keeper's words. Simhila embraced Sincies paw (well, only around a claw) and said "sorry," with a sensitive look.
"I'll explain so that everything becomes crystal clear." she said and then she released her grip of Sincies paw. She began to pick up even more bandages and a grotesque pair of pliers and small tweezers. She pointed with a pliers to a broken arrow that was in the squirrel's right leg. "That must be removed!" Foremole took a single view of the tongs and threw himself under the bed.
"No, no, no, no ... not again!" he said in his deep voice. Foremole was very familiar with those tongs after several incidents that he never mentions.
"Well, to begin with, the arrow in his right leg stopped the blood circulation and delivered him to bleed to death. Otherwise it would have ended even more tragically. Do you understand now?"
The Badgermum nodded. "I see!" she said shortly.
Simhila waved one paw towards the end. "good, because now I need some peace and quiet in here, so please remove yoourself from my infirmary. You know where the exit is I presume."
"Okay, okay don't be upset, sis. We'll be gone before ya say plug mah rudder!" Skipper said and he, with a comical jig, left the room. Sincie and Foremole soon followed and Radd.
Out in the woods, a mystic beast was watching the abbey. The beast was completely covered with a black-green robe and was almost invisible. The beast sat and watched as the badger, with the help of an otter, brought the injured squirrel on a stretcher into the abbey.
"There you are." the beast spoke to itself and laughed in silent, a confident smile in its face. From the wood all around the mysterious beast, the rats came out and standed in bad and messy lines behind it. The beast locked at the leader of the rats.
"I understand that you have failed, right? And that fact you haven't got my medallion back which is very important to me! Explain yourself" the beast said.
The rat nodded cautiously and trying to defend himself. "He was faster than we thought, sir. But we followed him to dat building over there."
The beast was a black fox and he had a giant claymore hanging over his back and two daggers in the belt around the waist.
"We should attack now, chief, while they are unprepared! Hit 'em fast an' hard!" a rat said quite demanding. The fox locked at him with a wide grin.
"Oh, whenever you want." The rat saw honored out and turned around, not aware that the black fox had unsheated his claymore. He was just going to shout the order to begin the attack when he thought he saw the claymore growing out of his stomach. He looked silly in it and fell headlong forward. The fox went to the slain rat and pulled out his weapon, wiped it on the rat's clothes and said.
"Don't ever demand me what to do. Let it be a warning to anybeast who tries to prove superior. There is only one superior beast here and it's me. Understand?" all rats nodded horrified. There is no doubt who the leader is. The Black fox's eyes were everywhere, trying to find more traitors. When he could not find anymore, he spun around and looked at the abbey, a smile began to grow on his lips.
"This will be the last summer you will experience, treemouse. In the end, the medallion wil be mine!"
A weird dream had come over Ronnie when he was in the infirmary. Deep in his unconcsiousness, he saw his parents standing on the other side of a fast floating river, waving happily towards him. Ronnie felt happiness and a newfound joy when he ran towards them but when something was creeping out of the reeds on the riverbank, he stopped. Ronnie could not believe his eyes. It was a black fox with a big sword and he approached the parents quickly. Laughing and cold blooded, he cut them down. Ronnie wanted to scream but his voice failed him. "Now it's your turn, Macleaf. You got something that I want!" he said threateningly and pointed with his sword against Ronnie. Ronnie began to run and hoped that this nightmare would end.
A distant voice came like a breeze and passed his ears. Ronnie recognized the voice. "Be brave my son. Trust your heart and avenge us. We are proud of you. Live Ronnie, live and avenge us. Do what you were made for. Don't let the evil ones lay their paws on the medallion. Don't let them take what we have fought for!"
Ronnie stopped abruptly "Father, Is that you?" but nobeast answered. The fox was gone, instead it was a mouse in shining armor. Ronnie felt somehow secure and safe with this stranger. The mouse started to say something and his voice was as smooth but strong as anything on him.
"Don't worry Ronnie. Something evil comes to Redwall and it's up to you to stop it. It's your quest!"
Ronnie looked doubtful at him and with both paws behind his back, he kicked some loose gravel as he replied. "But I'm not a warrior and not brave nor. How am I to stop this evil?"
The mouse began to shimmer, but a last sentence went straight into Ronnie's heart. "You're a warrior, Ronnie Macleaf, just trust yourself, avenge your family and save Redwall where I can not." then he was gone. Ronnie heard other distant voices coming closer. He opened his eyes slowly and the voices stopped at once. He found himself in a bed, surrounded by foreign beasts and with a pounding headache.
"He has woken up." an beast beside him said.
"Where am I?" Ronnie asked the beast on the chair beside the bed with a weak voice. It was a young pretty squirrelmaid with blue eyes and gray-brown fur. She was wearing a green tunic and a black collar. Ronnie looked into those clear and sparkling eyes and he knew that he was lost. Her eyes were like two shining stars on a clear night sky and her voice was gentler than a spring flower.
"You're in Redwall. Be not afraid, we will not hurt you. You were wounded and unconscious so we brought you here, to recover." Ronnie nodded gently until he felt a sharp pain in his neck and leaned back on the pillow.
"What's your name, child?" a large, but friendly-looking, female badger said on the right side of the bed. Ronnie looked around extra careful this time and saw that there were three beasts combined. A squirrel, an otter and the badger. He relaxed.
"No rats, or a black fox" he thought. He let all his tense muscles relax and it felt like he was about to fall through the bed. The feeling was great. He had no memory of how it was to be in a dry bed, at a warm and safe place that is not meant to be attacked by rats at any time. He felt that the pain, this unbearable pain had disappeared completely. He threw a quick glance to his right leg and saw that the arrow was gone and was changed to white badage. Ronnie wanted to howl with joy, but he felt that his voice failed him when he tried, and instead he remained silent and continued to listen to the strangers. It was then he remembered that the badger had asked for his name and he was not quite sure if he was enable to answer it. But he tried anyway.
"Ron-Ronnie, Ronnie Macleaf." Ronnie manage to say to the badger who nodded in agreement.
The badger smiled and began to introduce herself and everybeast else in the room. "Then, Mister Ronnie Macleaf, welcome to Redwall. I'm Sincie, the badgermum. This is Skipper of otters and this pretty squirrelmaid is Sarah."
Sarah winked in his direction. Ronnie could feel the heat in the body rose. This was a bit embarrassing for him.
"You can stay as long as you want but no stupid manners, in which case you go out at once. I dislike violence in my Redwall. But I don't think you'll be a problem." Ronnie nodded in response but, in fact, he didn't listening because he was lost in Sarah's crystal clear eyes. Sincie and the skipper looked sympathetic and mysterious to each other and nodded. They understood at once
"I think we leave you two alone. Come skipper, we're needed at the kitchen, otherwise sister Herli will be upset. You know how she gets in the mood without any help."
Skipper shuddered and followed Sincie out. "I don't want to know, honestly." he said quietly to Ronnie and Sarah with a woeful glance before he closed the door. When the door gently closed, the whole room fell silent. The only Ronnie and Sarah did was to watch in silence at each other. They felt a sense of them always have known each other. Their eyes sparkled and their noses began to approach each other. Closer and closer their faces drew together until their mouths were almost close now, so close that their lips almost touched each other. Seeing what was happening, Sarah and Ronnie quickly withdrew and both were red in the face. Sarah coughed uncomfortably while Ronnie did not know what to say. When he finally got to something to say he did not get the chance to say it. He managed to smile before he fainted.
Dhoram, the Black Fox, stood outside the gates and inspected the building structure.
"It will be a tough nut to crack. But not impossible" he said to himself and walked away. He was larger than ordinary foxes and his fur was darker than his own shadow. The eyes were green and always mysterious, hypnotic but you could see the death inside waiting for you. He was known to be very smart and always careful before commanding anything. In the shades, he usually observed the enemy's position, strength, tactics, and always use the terrain to his advantage. You could say that he was the master in the art of war. Nobeast could fool Dhoram the Black Fox. There was a phenomenon of the day Dhoram dismissed sharply. When the sun was up, he was down. In the sun's rays, it was easy to spot him and he felt very vulnerable. In the shade of a tree, he sat and observed, in secret of course, his own horde of rats that had taken a break in a forest clearing, seeking any traitors.
"I think the fox is becoming more and more cocky in his mood. What right had he to kill my pal. Greennose had not made a fly offended, yet he got a taste that fox's sword. Eh, it's not right, I say. It's not..." He never finished the sentence. A dagger grew out of the rat's neck and silenced him forever. He fell heavily forward, blood splattered on the rats who were around and everybeast started to dry off vigorously.
"I knew it woul' be so." Another rat who kicked the dead away from him said and spat at the corpse.
"Yes Grutmy. He shoul' understand dat the boss alwais hear an' see everythin'." The rat next to Grutmy said.
"You're so right." a voice from the shade of the tree said and Dhoram stepped forward. He walked over to the dead rat and kicked hard on the flabby body.
"Get the dagger and then line up the troops. We are on the move."
A rat stammered out a question. "Wher', boss?"
Dhoram looked at him with his green eyes and the rat was pale in the face. "Redwall of course. It's time to fetch my medallion."
Three days have past since the discovery of the young squirrel outside the gate. The young squirrel in question had never seen any better place than this. He walked the corridors with the help of sticks that would prevent that he fell over and he really enjoyed the tranquility. He felt fully recovered after been unconscious in three days. He wore a yellow tunic he had received from the nice old infirmary nurse. She had been so kind to him. When he awoke from the coma, it was Simhila he first saw. She just smiled and put a hot towel over his forehead and held his left paw. Comforting and the words that everything would be fine again, madehim feel that there was hope. He remembered how he had shaken uncontrollably and how the muscles in his body had pulled together and gave him a enormous pain experience. It was just that kind, old mouse that had been tenderly on his left paw, and assured him that it would soon stop. It was just a side effect after he had awakened from the coma. She was right. Soon the pain ended and Ronnie felt free again, free to once again stand upright. Once again uing his body at his own command.
There was no sound and no sign of life when Ronnie began to approach the Great Hall. Ronnie still felt a sharp pain in his leg but it disappeared when he noticed something that caused him to become petrified. Opposite him hung a tapestry with a mouse. It was not the tapestry itself that Ronnie's eyes widened, but the mouse on it.
"I... I recognize you." He said to himself and went over to the tapestry. He felt warm but noticed that something under his tunic was cold and he took out a medallion, put together with a silverchain. It was completely made out of gold and had one round red ruby in the middle. It had a small hinge on the side.
"Why's this thing so important? I can't even open it."
The young squirrelmaid Sarah, came out of the kitchen after having helped sister Herli to prepare the tomorrow's breakfast. She was a bit tired after having rolled out the bread dough all day and was longing for a nap. When she heard Ronnie speak for himself, the thought of having a nap were completely gone from her mind. With light step she went up to him and greeted. Ronnie smiled and he quickly hid the medallion under his tunic again before Sarah saw it. He pointed at the tapestry.
"Who's that?" He asked shortly.
Sarah also looked at the tapestry and replied with a soft voice but with a trace of pride. "That's Martin the warrior and he liberated Mossflower from the wildcat Tsarmina Greeneyes and then together with Abbess Germaine, they founded Redwall abbey."
"Cool." He said. "I guess he is a great warrior."
Sarah smiled at that statement. "Was!"
"I beg you pardon?" Ronnie asked with a slight of confusion.
"He was a great warrior. He has been dead for hundred of seasons ago." Ronnie turned his head at the sewed mouse.
"Strange!" he said and scratched his head. "I have seen him before and he spoke to me. Can't really remember when and where. But I do recognize him!" Sarah immediately became curious. She grabbed Ronnie's right arm and pulled him along.
"Take it easy," Ronnie yelled when he both hopping and limping tried to keep his balance as they approached the Cavern Hole. He held desperate his two crutches with the left paw.
"You have to tell what Martin said to you for the abbot. It may be important," she called back and released her grip on Ronnie's arm. Ronnie puffed out and sat down with a relief.
"There is no time to rest now," she said accusingly.
"It's easy for you to say," Ronnie said and held up his right leg where the arrow had been sitting. The bandage had begun to hang over and was soon just a mess of bandages.
"Oops, sorry. I forgot that you were wounded," said Sarah gently.
"Yeah, but now you know!" Ronnie said and laughed while he tried in vain to stand up.
"Yes, but I don't need help to get up," she replied tantalizingly and helped him up.
The abbot was an old mouse with a big white beard that hung down to his knees. He was a bit senile and forgot things easily, but he was well liked among the redwallers who often came to him to talk. They always found him in the abbot's chair in Cavern Hole, engrossed in a book. Beasts had to shout for him to make him perceive that there were some others in the room. He waited eagerly to be the gatekeeper, but that position was already occupied by the hedgehog Garfo Stub who's not in a hurry to release it. It was empty in Cavern Hole, where he sat with his book. Few lights were on, although it was midday, the abbot had difficulties to see. He didn't notice when Sarah and Ronnie walked up to him and repeated "Abbot" close to his ear. The abbot let the book fall on his knee and he looked incredulously at the youths who met his gaze. "I'm not deaf, my children. It is my memory that's bad, remember it".
"I'm sorry father but we have something important to tell you," Sarah apologized. The abbot, or Fath (not fat) Drant as everybeast called him, looked around and looked with incredulity at Sarah. "Have I been sitting all morning with this book which I don't even understand?" he said, laughing. Once again, he took a look around but this time his eyes stopped on Ronnie.
"Well, isn't it our newcomer who were in poor condition. Sorry that I haven't got the time to visit but you were a gonner for three days. But look at you, healthy as a fiddle, huh," Drants belly was bobbing up and down as he chuckled happily. He took Ronnie's paw in his and smiled at him.
"Welcome, I say then, eh what's your name again. Right, Ronnie. Now ... what did you tell me?" Sarah could not keep from laughing. "We have not told you yet, Father." Abbot sighed.
"Okay, but start at some point then. We really haven't got all day on us."
"Ronnie here have seen Martin before and ..." Abbot's eyes widened and he took off his glasses with a trembling paw.
"And I thought it could be something important and therefore we came to you," Sarah continued. "Well, Mister Ronnie, tell us about the meeting with Martin. Did he say anything?" Ronnie nodded and told his dream but didn't mention his parents or the black fox or the mysterious medallion. The Abbot polished his spectacles with a white cloth and nodded firmly when Ronnie was finished with his story. Sarah was pale in the face, she had never been in any danger before and this made her also nervous.
"Are you okay my child?" Drant asked uneasily. Sarah nodded shakily and answered with a trembling voice. "Yes Father, I'm okay, it's just... that I have never been in any wars." The Abbot looked sad on the squirrelmaid. "Who said anything about war, dear you. It may just be one that threatens us, or what do you think Mister Ronnie?"
"Father Abbot is right, Sarah. It's all right." Sarah calmed down and allowed Ronnie to help her to a chair.
"Reversed places, huh," Ronnie said and Sarah laughed.
"Now, after this revealing, I want you to find Skipper and tell him to come here as quickly as possible..." Abbot said to Sarah, who had come back to normalcy.
"And our newcomer may well go down to the kitchen to get acquainted with it."
"Should I take it as something negative," Ronnie thought and walked away and the sound of the sticks who fought against the stones, echoed through the room. Sarah would just go away when the abbot spoke again.
"Not you, my child. Come here," he said, waving a claw. Sarah turned and walked over to the abbot.
"Have our newcomer ... what's his name again, said something about his past? Family?" Sarah shook her head.
"He refused to say anything about it. Every time I try to ask gently, he changes the subject," Sarah didn´t know why but somehow, this made her angry. The abbot took her paw and embraced it.
"Do not upset yourself, dear you. He will reveal when he's ready. In due course my child. In due course," the Abbot's grip on Sarah's paw eased and the abbot went to sleep.
"Same old abbot," Saraht hought and walked away in search after Skipper.
"Yes, Ronnie was it, Ronniiiiezzzzz," she heard the abbot say in his sleep before she left the Cavern Hole.
The redwallers were completely unaware of Dhoram and his horde which was just outside their gates. A rat that was Dhorams master spy, studied carefully the gate and walls. The other rats were completely silent when Dhoram explained his plan to the spy with a whispering voice. Dhoram was completely happy, this plan could not go wrong.
"So, my dear Darkness. What I wan' you to do is to find a way into Redwall, in the cover of the night and find a shiny object, not a piece of cloth hanging on the wall, it's useless. No, it's the medallion I want! That irritating treemouse propably got it inside his cloth or something like that. Don't kill him. That will be my pleasure.” The rat, who was called Darkness stood still and nodded. He was dressed all in black clothing and a black hood. In the black belt, there were long nasty knives that had turned black, a way to stop the reflection. In fact, entire he was black. Dhoram laughed quietly.
"I want my medallion, my shadow. Deliver it to me and you will become richly rewarded," the fox turned around to his army of rats.
"Quiet! Into the ditch quickly and keep your heads down." Dhoram snapped. The rats obeyed without any objections, and soon the path was empty except Dhoram himself. He stood in the shadow of the wall and stared blindly upwards. He blinked when he heard a noise which approached slowly. On the wall was an old hedgehog who came along and fail to notice the fox's presence. The hedgehog stopped and looked out at the woods and along the trail. The day had gone in to more late afternoon and the sun was just over the treetops. Dhoram whistled. "Hey, you up on the wall. Is everybeast blind here huh?" Dhoram cried and step out of the shadow. The old hedgehog noticed now the fox and looked angrily at him and threatening. "Go away vermin. Beasts like you are not welcome here." Dhoram smiled. "This will be easier than I thought," he thought and continued smiling.
"Is this how you welcome a tired, lonely wanderer, eh?". Dhoram's entire face radiated pure wimp, but his eyes showed something completely different. Pure evil. Garfo Strube was not exactly a beast-connoisseur, and he missed the entire evil mass which rested over Dhoram.
"Okay, okay, stay there. I'll just tell the abbot," Strube said and hurried down the ladder which leaned against the wall.
"Damn haste!" he grunted to himself when he continued his way back to the abbey. Dhoram sighed. "I'm not going anywhere, your thick, old, sluggish hedgepig!" The rats in the ditch giggled when they heard their leader cursed the old hedgehog. "Quiet!" he shouted back and the giggled ended abruptly. Dhoram sighed once again. "I should have taken my black horde of foxes instead of these idiots," he thought. ”But these are much cheaper.” Dhoram's confidence increased when the old mouse appeared up on the wall.
"Is this a joke?" he thought with a broad grin. "The medallion is as good as mine." The mouse took up a pair of spectacles with trembling paws and put them on the nose tip. He examined the fox careful. "What do you want?" he asked at last. Dhoram saw how the wall was filled with all kinds of beasts. He was about to respond when a familiar face got his attention. "I see you! The medallion thanks!" he shouted to the familiar beast who quickly ducked and disappeared out of sight. Dhoram laughed. “Got'ya!” Sarah watched in wonder at Ronnie who suddenly had ducked and he looked very nervous. "Everything okay?" she asked. "What is this with a medallion?" Ronnie did not answer. Instead he ran down the wall stairs and towards the orchard. Sarah watched him disappear behind the convent and she sighed and turned her eyes towards the threateningly stranger again.
“Who are you?” The old mouse asked.
"I'm Dhoram the Black Fox. Leader of the Black Hord. Qonqueror of the Northlands.” Dhoram replied with a bow.
"I don't care if you so was the king of the world, say what you want right now before I turn you into a skinned, squashed fox, you wretch." A large adult otter on the wall shouted down.
”This place if I may!" Dhoram replied. "But I content myself with the medallion!"
"Which medallion?" Sarah asked suddenly. All the beasts on the wall turned towards her direction. Dhoram examined her with a broad grin.
"Tell me, my beauty. Do you have such an expectation in the possession or do you know somebeast who might have it ... maybe your new, mysterious friend with a nordic name?”
"What are you talking about?" Sarah wondered. Dhoram didn't got the chance to reply. The otter had throwed down a javelin close to were Dhoram was standing. “Enough!” he had shouted.
“Be gone immidiate or I will kill you where you're standing!” Dhoram snarled. “If I were you I wouldn't be so cocky! Guys!” he shouted back at the otter and the path was filled with rats, armed to the teeth. “In one way or another, I'll have my medallion. You got two days on you to either give me the medallion voluntarily or die!” The redwallers saw when Dhoram and his hord of rats disappeared into the wood. All beasts on the wall sighed.
“I think we know the threat Martin warned us about.” the Abbot said.
Ronnie sat on a bench in the orchard and looked blank forward. A tear ran down his cheek while Sarah was approaching. Ronnie looked up and wiped away the tear quickly.
"Are you okay?" she asked meaningfully and sat down together with Ronnie, who almost automatically moved a few inches. Ronnie shook his head and he trembled violently when he would answer.
"That's him, Sarah. I have brought suffering to you all." Ronnie stood now firmly up. "If I leave now, I would probably get pretty far before they catch me, but then at least this place will be safe." Sarah took his arm and pulled him down on the bench again. She looked serious.
"What is this nonsense about leaving us? After all we have done for you, you run away like a coward." Ronnie tore off the grip and looked angrily at her. "It's just that I am a coward!" He then buried his head in his paws and began to sob. Sarah approached cautiously and put one arm around his shoulders.
"Ronnie, forgive me." She stroked her paw over his back when Ronnie was trembling violently.
"He, he killed my family." Ronnie suddenly said between the tears. Sarah's eyes widened and her mouth opened.
"I'm so sorry." Sarah also began to cry. It took a few minutes to blend in all.
(A discussion is missing here, I see!)
"I heard everything ... what can I say?" the Abbot had heard Ronnie's and Sarah's conversation.
"But what is he after? That black fox, I've never seen anyone who look so evil. And all those rats. We're in for hard times." Sarah nodded.
“I know what he's after!” Ronnie spoked with the sound of a great burden in his heart. Abbot and Sarah turned their heads at Ronnie. “After what?” they asked at the same time.
“Me!” Ronnie asked shortly and walked away. The Abbot shook his head. "Go with him and try to find out what all this is about. Keep him out of trouble." Sarah nodded and ran after Ronnie. She catch up with him at the pond's edge.
"It's just so unreal. I really thought he'd lost track." Ronnie took up a stone and threw it with vigorously over the pond so that it bounced on the water surface. "But that was too good to be true, I guess."
“I can't figure out why this thing is so imoprtant, argh. I have such a huge desire to throw it in the pond, but that's just one way to run from the problems.” Ronnie had taken up the medallion and had bent one arm backward as if he were about to throw it when Sarah grabbed the medallion.
“It's pretty, though.” Sarah mentioned and touched the medallion. Ronnie nodded without thinking.
“but I can't open it. It is quite valuable i think. But it means a lot to me. My father gave it to me, said that I was supposed to hide it.” Sarah examined the medallion before giving it back.
“Then it's a good idea to hid it, mm?”
“What happen to your family exactly?” Sarah continued and asked gently. Ronnie sat down heavily. "Everything happened so fast. I ... I just couldn't..." Sarah knew that Ronnie was completely gone, so she switched to a lesser hurtling issue. "Where you from?"
"North Lands. I come from a powerful clan. I am, or was, a Macleaf. We were respected and feared by the vermins." Ronnie talked more with the voice of a dull voice. Sarah sat down too, and listened intensively. "At last he talks," she thought.
"My great grandfather had also one of those names. Macburl I believe it was, though it isn't like yours, nah." She then suddenly spoked.
"Really?" Ronnie said with a surprised voice. He looked up briefly. "Well ... yes, I remember that name. My father once said that they had been our allies, but ..." Sarah realized that they were now alone out there and the sun started going down.
"They became almost eradicated before I was born, by the Black Fox and his Black Horde. And then ... then it was our turn." Sarah sighed.
"My father hadn't any chance to find out about our family's fate. Both my parents died when I came to this world." Ronnie looked up startled.
"I'm so sorry, Sarah ... Macburl!" Sarah smiled and they took each other's paws as the sun disappeared behind the wall and only the red glow was visible.
A cloudy night made its appearance, and the abbey and the woods around it was quiet. All the beasts were sleeping, except those who had guard duty. Only one was awake. A shape could for a moment be seen at the gateway to Redwall when the moon looked out from behind the clouds and made the wall around the abbey almost spooky when the light reflected the red sandstone. The shape, almost the same as a shadow stalked the surroundings. It was Darkness. With a grappling hook and a rope, he climbed without difficulty up the wall.
"Ever'beast's sleepin', good." He crouched an stuck to the black shadows amongst the wall and approached the abbey's doors. Every step he took was silent and the silence were so intense that you could hear a needle drop. He took out a lockpick and opened the door, here too without difficulty, and stopped the door's movement to lubricate the hinges, prevent any squeaks and entered. Darkness smiled and talked to himself.
"I'm prince of Darkness, the invisible, the undetected, the ghillie in the mist." But his thoughts about loneliness was completely misleading and wrong. Sarah was awake, her curiosity gave her no rest.
"I just have to ..." she thought as she walked down the carved stone stairs to the guest room area. She was dressed in a long white nightgown, and she walked with slow, heavy and tired steps, Her feet paws echoed in the silent, dark stairway. She yawned and opened the door to the dormitory and went to the beast she had been looking for, Ronnie. Sarah didn't know why but she had a dream about Ronnie and the legendary Redwall warrior, Martin. Martin had approached her and with a grave and firm voice made her a responsibility. He had just uttered three words, "Medallion is key," before disappearing again. It was then Sarah had woken up and decided to closely examine that medallion. She found Ronnie in deep sleep. Sarah didn't understand why she always smiled when she saw Ronnie and why her heart began beating faster and harder. Here he looked so calm and unconcerned, so unaware and so defenseless. Sarah didn't understand either why she laid down next to Ronnie and put one ear on his right breast. She found it very peaceful and comfortable and the sound of his slow but strong heartbeats gave her peace she had never before experience. Maybe it was the reason she did it, to feel it. That special feeling of love. Sarah was about to doze off when something shiny sticking out beneath his tunic got her attention. Her eyes were fixed on one thing. Between Ronnie's night tunic he had been given, the medallion glimpsed and she carefully and slowly loosened the chain that went around his neck. She held up the medallion in front of the window, using the moon's light to hit it, making it easier to see, but nothing remarkable happened.
"Why's this so important? It's very pretty and probably valuable but I can't understand why a horde of vermins're after this little thing when they have whole Redwall instead?" She shrugged and walked out, her eyes almost sticking to the medallion. Her head so deep in thoughts that she did not notice a dark shadow that went silently into the dormitory. The two figures missed each other by a whisker, and without knowing that it wasn't where it should be, Darkness continued approaching Ronnie's bed, only one thing in his mind. Finding that medallion. He quickly searched the whole bed and the sleeping squirrel's pockets. He pulled the bed table drawers and he even searched the others in the hall. He turned literally the whole hall upside down. Soon he realized the medallion wasn't here and he almost panicked.
"Where is it, where is it?" he thought. He walked quickly out again and followed the same steps as he came from, downwards. He should just run for it when he saw it. Martin the warrior's sword hanging on the wall above a tapestry, showing a mouse on it. Its blade reflected the moonlight and the sword was incredibly beautiful, yet mysterious. Darkness just could not resist the idea of having such a sword in possession.
"Screw this!" he said to himself, and took down the sword. "Dhoram, dat moro', can go t'hellgates, he and dat curse' medallion. This I keep." Darkness eyes shone as he stroked the edge of the sword with one claw and quickly hid it inside his full black cloak.
"They'll never understan' whad happened, hehe." And with a few rushes over the yard and some climbs over the wall, he was quickly out and began his long journey away from his master and Redwall as possible.
The calm and peaceful sleep Ronnie had, had now turned into a restless sleep when he repeatedly wrestled with the bed. A distant and mournful voice spoke to him.
"They took my sword, Ronnie, my sword. Find it and bring it back, you are Redwall's new warrior. Your quest began now!" Then his voice changed to a more closer and brighter voice. Ronnie felt and sensed that somebeast shook him.
"Ronnie, Ronnie wake up!" There was that voice again. Ronnie didn't understand where it came from. The dream maybe? When the shaking became more violent, he woke with a jolt and found Sarah was leaning over him and with both paws over his shoulders, shaking him vigorously. With sweaty brow, he looked around him.
"Good, you're awake," she said with a whisper. "It's gone." Ronnie was totally exhausted and trying to get the sleep from his eyes by rubbing them frantically when he answered.
"Gone? What do you mean, gone? What's gone?" An instinct put its hold on him and he moved one paw to his chest. Panic gripped him when he discovered the medallion was gone. He looked at Sarah with a confused look.
"No, not the medallion. I ... I have it." she replied hesitantly. Ronnie looked even more confused as Sarah went straight at it. With a strong grip on his arm, she lifted him up on his feet and looked straight into his eyes while the moon once again glimpsed between the clouds.
"Martin the warrior's sword, Ronnie ... it ... it's gone!" Ronnie nodded in reply.
"I know, Sarah. Martin pleaded for my help in my dream I had just before you woke me."
"Nothing more?" Sarah said with a dissapointed voice. Ronnie smiled at her.
"Curiousity, eh? Well, he did say something about me being the new warrior of Redwall, whatever that means?" Sarah couldn't believe her ears.
"It means that you're the new Warrior of Redwall, simple isn't?" Ronnie nodded and replied with a short "Yes."
"What are we waiting for then?" she asked. Ronnie didn't answered.
"Let us have a look on the crime scene." He said instead, quite determined. Sarah agreed. It was too dark to actually see anything, but he supposed that the others were still asleep as he and Sarah walked with light steps out of the dormitory. They hurried down the stairs, careful where they stepped in the dark and arrived at the tapestry gasping. Sarah pointed with one paw on a empty space between two hooks over the tapestry.
"You see? That's where his sword usually should hang but now it isn't there. Somebeast must have sneaked into the abbey and taken it." Ronnie saw something on the floor further away. He went over to it and crouched, his eyes narrowing.
"Yes, and this mysterious intruder hasn't been very diligent, cover his tracks rather carelessly." Sarah walked over to Ronnie and looked at the cloth stripe Ronnie held up.
"Yes, and look there!" Sarah said, pointing. "Pawprints in the dust. Looks like it was a rat! Filthy beasts!" She smiled lightly when she examined closer the pawsteps. "It's lucky for us Sincie, our badgermum, is a fibble."
"Lucky for us, yes." Ronnie stood up again and shrugged. "Now what?"
Sarah looked up. "We shall find that thief and retrieve Martin's sword of course!"
"But we don't know which way and the thief has surely made a distance between himself and Redwall."
"Better to start now, then, isn't it?" Sarah said and started walking towards the kitchen. "And we have the tracks. They will lead us in the right direction." She took down two apple bags and emptied them.
"But what about the Abbot, shouldn't we speak to him first?" Sarah picked up plenty of supplies into the bags. Honey-dipped scones, elderberry juice, apples, cheese, and much more. She threw over a warmer tunic to Ronnie, like the one he got when he came here. Because it was summer, the need of warmer cloth was not obvious or necessary. Sarah herself put on her green tunic with the black hood while she replied.
"Do you think he'll let the two of us, alone, follow one, perhaps a dangerous villain, on a long and perilous journey into a forest that is probably crawling with rats, hmm?" Ronnie thought for a bit and understand the logic of it.
"Nah, when you sound like that, no, you're right, but it'll not be easy."
"Relax. It was Martin who gave you this assignment, wasn't it? He pleaded indeed for your help." Ronnie smiled.
"Your statement is scary accurate. But we'll need weapons to defend ourselves."
"Already thought about, here!" Sarah gave Ronnie a kitchen knife that wasn't quite sharp in the blade. "Well, now I feel completely safe." Ronnie said sarcastically and stood in a warrior's combat position. Sarah looked at him seriously. ”This isn't a holiday trip, Ron, this's serious.”
"I'm sorry!" Ronnie said in his defence and put the knife in his belt.
"It's okay, oh by the way, here!" Sarah replied and put the medallion in his paw. Ronnie looked puzzled and dismayed at her.
"Oh, don't look at me like that, Ron. I didn't took it because I wanted it, no. I took it because Martin told me." Sarah rubbed with her backpaw at the floor. "I took it when you were sleeping ... and maybe, just maybe stood and watched you. And maybe-"
Ronnie became red in the face and he swallowed hard, sweating uncontrollable. "Uh, shouldn't we go?" he asked with a embarrassing appearance. Sarah nodded mutely and they both went out through the open door. Sarah closed it slowly and cautiously, afraid to wake anybeast.
"Did you leave a note?" Ronnie asked. "Oh yeah, I attached it to one of the hooks. They have to see it." She answered somewhere in the dark. The moon had disappeared behind the clouds and without the moon's light, it was pitch black outside.
"It's impossible to see. Even the Wall's gone!" The two squirrels fumbled around in the dark until Ronnie, with bad luck, went straight into the wall. Sarah giggled. "You found it, Good work." Ronnie put his paws on the head.
"The biggest wall finder, you see." He stood up again, his head was pounding as if somebeast had struck a hammer in his head several times.
"Ron, I found the track again! It leads up the wall!" Ronnie looked around in the dark.
"Well, and where are you then?" A "Here" was almost above his head.
"On the Wall. Look what I found!" Ronnie walked cautiously in the dark until he felt the first steps that led to the wall. Ronnie was really sure it was the stairs because he bumped into the first step with his feet paw and swore, danced around in pain and anger. "Not my bad one!"
"Ronnie!" He heard how Sarah called up there. He looked up and saw how she stood and giggled, his dancing was very entertaining for her. She helped him up on the wall where she showed a wad of fur.
"Look there!" Ronnie suddenly exclaimed and pointed vigorously. "A rope. That's the way he came from. We should probably remove it before anybeast else manage to sneak into Redwall. And aren't there anybeast who'as thought of putting up guards on the wall?"
"Really? Check over there!" She answered and wiggled her head while she was preparing the rope. On the other side the wall a lone figure appeared along with a small fireplace, slumped in a deep sleep and covered with a sheet. "Ah ..." Ronnie said shortly when he could here a distant snoring.
"When I'm down you cut the rope off."
"But how am I supposed to climb down?"
"Don't cut it off completely, dummy. Just weaken it a bit. It gives you time to reach the ground before it breaks."
"Good idea. I hope it works!" "Of course it will!" Once down on the ground, Sarah whistled and waved. Ronnie sawed almost through the entire rope, maybe little too much, with his knife before he took a deep breath and climbed down. Everything went splendidly until the inevitable happened. Halfway down, the rope broke and Ronnie fell helpless. Sarah held her mouth with a both paws, stopping the urging to scream. The collision uttered a sound. A sound mixed with the sound of soil and gravel spraying in every direction, bones cracking and a moan from a squirrel. Sarah was quick at the groggy squirrel side.
"Oh, Ron. Are you alright?" She sat down on her knees and helped Ronnie to sit.
"I'm fine. Just a bit dizzy, that's all" Sarah drew a relieved breath.
"Forgive me. It was a terribly foolish idea to weaken the rope. What if it ended even worse? Oh, I would never be able to live with such debt."
"It's okay, Sarah. Everybeast make mistakes. I should have known better too!" Ronnie looked over the horizon and saw the sun began to rise. The sun brightened up the sky and chased the clouds on the run, but its rays could not make the forest less hostile and dark. Ronnie thought he saw rat-like shapes in the forest. After he shook his head and blinked his eyes, the shapes disappeared.
"We probably should continue before everbeast wake up!" Sarah agreed and helped Ronnie up. It was then Ronnie almost cried with pain. Sarah looked frightened at him.
"What is it?" Ronnie put one paw on his chest.
"I think I have broken a rib. It it hurts a lot!"
"Let me see!" Sarah took off his tunic and noticed a large bulge at the ribs. She touched it lightly and Ronnie grimaced in pain. Sarah stopped touching the bulge and instead she took out bandages and wrapped it around Ronnie's chest. Ronnie tried not to cry in pain when she was doing it and when she was done, he put on his tunic again with a relief. Sarah looked sad.
"It's my fault... maybe we should go back-" Ronnie stopped her by shaking his head.
"There's no turning back now. If we stay here and try to get their attention, we might as well get Dhoram's. No, it's too risky, we must continue. I think I'll manage." Sarah nodded and picked up the two bags from the ground.
"I carry these two, you decide the pace." And so, when the sun's first light hit Redwall, the two young squirrels began their long and dangerous journey to retrieve Martin's sword, unaware of the dangers ahead.
Ronnie was not completely crazy when he thought he saw rats in the forest, as he and Sarah were only a few trees away from Dhoram's camp. Several worn-out tents were set at the forest edge. In the middle stood a large tent, and it had much more quality and a nice fire burning inside, distinguished a shape that was not in a good mood. Dhoram sat on his tree designed throne in the tent and looked at a sketch of the abbey on the opposite wall. He thought frantically. Any plan that would take him and his army into the abbey were welcome.
"There must be a way!" He suddenly exclaimed and struck with his paw on the table in front of him.
"Cap'n Porridgeface, get in here immediately!" Rapid footsteps could be heard outside, approaching the tent. A rat with a white, mushy nose entered. He was practically terrified when he saluted.
"Yes, boss?" Dhoram turned around.
"Make all ready for a full assault tomorrow. Medallion or not, Redwall will fall!" Dhoram went to the captain and grabbed his collar.
"Fail me is not an option! Dismiss!" Dhoram practically threw the captain out of the tent. Dhoram turned his eyes to the sketch again. His green eyes shone and a wicked smile began to grow in his face. A plan had grown in his head, an evil and cunning plan.
"Tomorrow Redwall will fall and I'll take the medallion from the little squirrel's cold grip! What'a pleasure it will be!" Dhoram started laughing an evil laugh and all the rats in the camp was shaking in fear.
Abbot Drant too was not in a good mood. He was infact furious but hid it masterfully when Skipper went up to him, greeting.
"Morrn' father, isn't it a lov'y day after a night so cover'd with gloomy clouds?" Drant shook his head.
"How can it be good when two youngsters are missing?" Skipper did not understand.
"What do yee mean?" he asked.
"Look!" Drant replied short and gave Skipper a small piece of paper, hastily written on it. Skipper read it and could not believe his eyes.
Dear Father Abbot, somebeast sneaked into Redwall last night and stole Martin's sword. Ronnie was visited by Martin again and was told that he's the new warrior of Redwall. I'm sorry if we didn't say anything before we went but you would never let us go alone. That's why we had to leave without a word. Hope you understand.
Love you, and don't be afraid. We'll be back and the sword will be in its proper place before the season is over.
Skipper gave the paper back and shook his head.
"Madness, absolut' madness. They probably hav'n't gotso far, I can quickly get togethe' mah crew and bring the youngsters back, o' what do you say father?" Drant grabbed skipper big paws in his and smiled at him.
"I'm sure you would, but right now it's not a good idea when the whole forest swarming with rats. No Skipper, it's better to let them go. Two are harder to detect than fourteen otters." Skipper nodded his head and unwillingly agreed with what the abbot said.
"But ar'n't yee worried about them, Father?" Drant nodded.
"I'm very worried, but I know Martin is watching over them and that's enough for me." Skipper smiled and added hastily one paw over Drant's shoulder before he went.
"Nice to hear, have faith in Martin. They'll com' back in one piece, trust me." He said before he went around the corner and disappeared.
"If only it were that easy." Drant sighed deeply and looked up at the tapestry. Martins confident smile calmed his nerves. "Take care of them, Martin. Let them see more seasons than this one.”