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Remember in the Bellmaker how Finnbarr rushes Urgan Nagru with a vengeance? Does he just hate vermin . . .
Or was it personal? Spoilers Bellmaker, Mariel of Redwall, and The Curse of Vulpuz.
I was shivering in the hold, not with cold, with fear and rage. Above me, I could here the sound of battle raging about me. Every time I heard a thump that signified somebeast dead, my heart would stop and then I would hear his voice again, calling his bold battle yell. Why wouldn't he let me fight? WHY?
The door bangs open and a rat comes down with a cutlass in his paw. I grab a stave and go to attack him. He throws his cutlass to the deck and kicks it away, putting his paws in the air. Confused, I stop. "They know you're down here," the rat whispered, "They're going to kill you."
"What do you care?" I spat.
"Do you think I like killing things? What's the point?" His haunted eyes said the rest.
I was suspicious. A good vermin? I'd heard of it before, but only in legend. My father always said, "Never trust vermin, Jon. They want nothin' but gold an' slaves." Something was different about this one, though. I nodded. "OK, then what do you want to do?" I asked.
"Can you snap my cutlass?" he asked.
"No. My father could, but I'm not my father." If he knew what I was doing, he'd have a heart attack.
He grabbed a bottle of red liquid I recognised as Blood Pepper. The pulp of the blood pepper was red as its namesake, and smelled like it too. But it was the hottest pepper in existance- hotter than Firebrand peppers. He smeared it all over his blade and then handed me the bottle. "Splash it on yourself. Chest region." I did.
"Now lie down- yes, like that." The door creaked open and I froze. A searat chuckle. "So ye got 'im, Blackie!"
The rat who helped me-Blackie?- laughed. "Aye. Stupid young 'un."
The first rat left. Blackie knelt by me. "Stay here an' lie still. If'n the searats find out you're still alive, you're dead."
"Why'd you help me?" I whispered.
He shrugged. "I said it before- I hate this killing." He picked up his cutlass and turned to go. Then he spun back and hit me on the head with the pommel of his cutlass.
All went black.
My father always said, "Never trust vermin, Jon. They want nothin' but gold an' slaves."
Book One: Flank
"Mariel, do we HAVE to do this?"
Mariel Gullwhacker rolled her eyes and replied for the hundredth time. "Yes, Dandin, we can't leave this bloody mess or what ever this is caked on the floor." She knew Dandin felt the same way, but preferred complaining. Dandin groaned.
"Why can't we-" Mariel spun her gullwhacker expertly and whacked the wood by Dandin's head. It hit harder than she wanted, and the old wood shatted like glass, revealing a small shelf, previously concealed. Dandin glared at Mariel in mock anger. "Now look what you've done!"
Mariel wasn't listening. She was too busy rummaging through the cupboard's contents. A sheaf of papers. One was a beautifully drawn landscape of a river caring through a swath of green. A firm hand had written "home" in the corner. There were several more by the same person drawing it. The last picture was a clumsily drawn picture of an otter holding what looked like broken sticks, marked in a childish scrawl "Daddy." Tear stains scarred that one.
Dandin saw the book first. A leather bound tome with no marking on the outside. He took it down and opened it to the first page. "Mariel, look at this!"
The diary of Finnbarr Galedeep- what else could it be?- was written in code. The same handwriting that had written "home" on the portrait. "Father will want to see this," Mariel said quietly.
Dandin nodded, eyes not leaving the picture. "We'd better get Egburt on it, too."
"Set a course for Southsward immediatly."
"Dad, no way!"
Harden sighed and tried again to get his daughter to change his mind. "He fancies you, you know. It would be a good match. Roland is a good athlete, an hon-"
"And this affects me why?"
"Why are you so opposed to getting married, Alanna?"
Her voice was tight. "I made a promise, Dad. And by the fire, when Galedeep makes a promise, then sure as darkfire they keep it!"
"You watch your language, young lady!"
"Dad, I'm 17 winters old."
Harden Galedeep sighed, again. "Alanna, what promise did you make?"
"Finnbarr. I promised him that he'd approve anyone I agree to marry before hand."
She did not notice the quick flash of rage in her father's eye, nor the sudden curtness of his tone.
"Well, Finnbarr is not here, now is he?"
She groaned and put her paws up. "Let me think about it."
She had no intention of changing her mind.
"Your dad said I'd find you here."
She sighed and pulled her cloak tighter around her. "Go away, will you Roland?"
"I want to be alone right now."
"Because of Finnbarr, right?"
"Yes. Today's the day he disappeared." She looked out over the cold water towards the east.
She looked at him, annoyance flashing in her eyes. "Yes. Haven't you noticed that he's been gone for the past few seasons?"
"I thought you hated him."
The annoyance shifted to anger. "Hate my own brother? No way. Just go away, Roland."
"He didn't tell you, did he?" Roland's voice was soft. Something about the way he said this made her look up fearfully.
"You noticed that your mother died and Finnbarr runs off in the Pearl Queen the same day?"
"So? He was . . . distraught."
"He murdered her, Alanna. He murdered his- and your- mother."
"I don't believe you! This isn't funny!"
"It's true. We found her body with one of his arrows embedded in it. When we returned, the Swords were gone. Alanna, he's scum."
She was quiet. Then she spoke acidly. "My brother would never do that, Roland."
He shrugged. "Who knows?" She slapped him. She stood up as he stared at her in shock, gingerly touching his cheek. "You . . . slapped me," he said in disbelief.
"I wager I won't be the last, you son of a stoat."
"I'm telling your father!"
She laughed in his face. "Go ahead! I don't care what you do, but I'm going to find my brother and discover what really happened. Sorenora, you jerk."
Then she was gone, with Roland staring after her, shocked into silence.
Great creaks and groans came from the library. Benjy smiled at the image of Figgs, desparatly trying to get a tune out of the ottercordion. Figgs wasn't little anymore. She's hit a growth spurt and was now unusually tall for her age. "You'll never get a tune out that old thing, Figgs."
"Maybe," Benjy muttered doubtfully, "maybe not."
The sweet, clear sound of a bell echoed through the castle. It was the Freedom Bell, the monument Joseph had made for those who fell in battle with Urgan Nagru, signifying lunchtime.
Figgs reverently put down the ottercordian and jumped off the armchair. "I's making p'og'ess!" she announced.
Benjy smiled. "Good job, Figgs! Maybe someday you could play a song for us!"
She nodded. "Da one 'bout the sharkey dat Mista Finnba tot me!"
"Come on, Figgs, or we'll miss lunch."
The ship cut through the stormy seas. Cloak billowing in the wind, Flank the Wicked stood on the prow of his ship. The only creature in the world he loved was mother.
And she was dead. Mercilessly slain in battle, even as she cried for mercy. This was what Griptail had told him, one of the few survivors of an army of over 500 vermin. His silver-tongued mother, and his father. His father was a fool, aloowing himself to be defeated like that.
"How soon til we arrive?" he demanded.
"Not too long- only, say, a week."
"You soft, lazy idiots! I want to be there at midwinter's eve!"
"Three days! I swear, if we are not there in three days, there'll be Darkfire to pay! NOW MOVE!" He turned his gaze in the direction he was headed.
"You took my mother, the most precious thing I had. I will find who it is you hold dear and make sure you watch him or her die a long, slow death."
His red eyes gleamed. "Never will you be safe from my revenge."
Captain Strapp accosted the searat. "Did ye do it, Blackie?"
Blackie handed him a bloody wooden charm dangling from a leather thong. "Aye. This was around 'is neck."
The searat captain smirked. "Well done. Guess you're a true corsair after all. I had my doubts." He spun the charm on his claw with a snicker, then balled it in his hand and threw it at the burly sea otter. It hit him on the back of the head. Before Blackie could decide wheteher of not that was a good idea, the otter turn and saw the bloody wooden charm lying on the deck.
All the blood drained from the otter's face. He raced to the cabin and pulled the door open and stared inside at the prone form of his son, blood pooling around him.
His eyes suffused with the deep red of Bloodwrath.
Lunchtime at Castle Floret was a merry affair. Live entertainment, good food, and general happiness prevailed.
Joesph the Bellmaker sat next to Gael Squirrelking, staring out the window. The great bell boomed thrice and a voice spoek in his mind.
Martin's voice faded. The Foxwolf had a son?
This was bad.
He slowly regained himself. He felt pain in his head where that rat had clocked him over the head. That treacherous . . . . rat!
He was chained to an oar. He tugged at the oars futily. "Save your energy, friend," a mouse chained next to him whispered, You'll need it all merely to stay alive."
Joseph accosted Gael Squirrelking and told him what Martin had said. "I can't make head or tail of most of it, but I think we all understand the line about 'The Foxwolf's son'."
"The first verse says that Martin wants us to fight again. Fight the Foxwolf's son, presumably Flank. And the Wild King's spawn. What's spawn?" Rook asked
"A spawn is a child. 'Son of the Wild King whose death you sought.'"
"Wild King sounds familar . . ." Joesph muttered, staring into the west.
"Gabool the Wild," a voice whispered in Rook's mind, "Tell the Bellmaker that the Wild King is Gabool."
"Finnbarr! That's cheating!" accused another voice.
"Is it Gabool?" blurted Rook the same instant Joseph whispered the searat king's name.
"See? It didn't matter anyways, Martin!"
"Fine, I'll let it slide- just this once."
Either no one heard Rook or they were too busy thinking about the problem. "Gabool the Wild, Self=appointed King of Searats," Joseph muttered angrily, "Storm is Mariel, And Swordcarrier is Dandin. The rest . . . I don't know."
Rab shrugged. "Got me there too, matey. Perhaps we'd better run it by Egburt."
Gael nodded. "You do that, Joseph, Rab, you prepare your crew for war."
Rook was quiet. "Who are you?", he wondered, thinking about the voices.
I'm so sorry, Jon. I tried to protect you from the vermin by removing you from the fight. I thought they'd be to busy trying to kill me to pay any attention to you. I was wrong.
I failed you, like I failed my mother. Now I'll never see you grow up to be the honest, brave warrior I know you would have been. I wanted to be there for everthing in your life. And now, thanks to me, you lost it. I'm sorry. I miss you so much, Jon.
On my honor, you will be avenged. The vermin will PAY.
Flank paced the cabin, snarling in anger. Even three days was too long to wait for revenge. "Uh, boss-"
"What is it, Bugnose?" Flank snarled in rage.
"I want to know how yer gettin' revenge on the woodlander who killed your parents."
A slow smile spread across Flank's face. The smile would have frozen blood had some been on the table. "When I reach Southsward, I will do all in my power to find out who it is my mother's killer loves the best. Then I will take that person from him- wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, father, mother, friend, babe, old one, young one, I don't care! Then I will make sure he watches that person die a long, slow, painful death at my paws."
The young vermin's voice was shrill with glee. "And then I will kill him the way he killed my mother!"
"But who killed your mother?"
The fox's face contorted with rage. "The one who slew my sainted mother Silvamord was Rab Streambattle. She did nothing to him, yet he killed her."
Bugmose fled the cabin in fright, unnerved by the insane light in the fox's eyes. Flank's crazed laughter followed him.
I wandered the tideline, bored. Then I saw it. A boat, floating adrift. I threw my bow down and swim out to it. I pulled it to shore. A fox lay nestled in it. He was a little older than I was, blood running down his head. He was gasping for air and had not drunnk water in days. I hesitated. Vermin were our enemies.
But I had heard of healer foxes before. What if he was a good 'un? I pulled the fox out of the boat onto land. I will help it. Mother always told me to be compassionate to others.
I can't tell anyone. Not even Ali. The others will kill it. And I can't kill it- not now that I've saved his life. I have a feeling I'm going to regret this . . .
Crazed laughter echoed though the stone corridors of Terramort. Xelengar the Invincible, Queen of All Searats paced in her throne room, overseeing the repair of Terramort and reliving fond memories.
She was the only one left in her entire family. Her father Gabool, stupid enough to kill himself with his own scorpion, and her no good brothers, Slipp and Strapp- ha! Good riddance to all three! Her brothers and herself had runaway so they could return with an army and retake the throne- at least, she had. Her brothers were only interested in raiding woodlander ships. She knew thay had gone to far when they raided the Pearl Queen, so she left with all of the slaves.
Good thing too. Her triplet brothers were killed by that Finnbarr Galedeep. If she had stayed, she too would have been killed. Oh well, she hadn't been. She had gathered an army- and found Terramort abandoned save for carcasses. Seemed as if they'd fought among themselves and killed each other off, save one old fool who babbled about a badger and a bell and a bellmaker. Rubbish!
She was unaware of the hostile pair of eyes that stared her way. Two slaves, a young otter about 10 winters and a full grown mousewife named Cera whispered among themslelves as they worked. "I don't think we could disguise ourselves as hordebeasts- where'd we get the uniforms?" Jon whispered.
Cera smirked. "Knock a guard out and send 'im for a little swim in the water. With a rock tied to his footpaw, 'course."
Jon groaned. "They have weapons, Cera. Even then, how are you going to free the others? Where would you hide after you got rid of the hordebeast?"
"Kill Xelengar, if possible. I thought you wanted her dead too."
"I do! But if we don't plan it out, we could be all lost! The last thing we need is to be caught right now. When the time is right- that is when we strike."
"That takes to long! You're scared!"
"And you're careless! Listen, We're the only slaves to even talk about killing Xelengar. Any one of them might sell us out for extra scraps- specially him."
They both looked back at the bankvole who worked alone.
The silence was broken by an old grizzled rat with a bad head wound. He stumbled into the clearing. "My Lady! They're coming back! The Badger! The Bell! It rings!"
The clouded eyes indicated his insanity. "Guards, take him away!" The rat was pulled away, still babbling.
"The Bellmaker! The bells, bells, bells, bells . . . " Cera stiffened, but said nothing.
"What is it?"
She wiped a tear that threatened to fall, her bravado momentarily broken. "My husband, Joseph, was a bellmaker. The best in the world . . ." she sniffed and regained her fire. "No matter, he's dead now, along with Mariel. The vermin will PAY!"
The same sun that witnessed the capture of Mariel shone down on Flank as he stood on the shores of Southsward. His black eyes glittered madly in the sunlight, possessed with one thought. Revenge.
Over the great waves of green leaves, the tip of the topmost tower was barely visible. "Zannan, come here." The hooded warrior obeyed. Flank's eyes never left the top of castle Floret. "Do you duty. You know what I want. Get it."
Zannan nodded, concealed behind the black hood. Then Zannan vanished into the green foilage, steadily making its way to Castle Floret.
Rook was accosted by a pretty female otter, eyes frantic "Do you know where I can find Rab?" she asked desparately.
"Dad's busy. What is it?"
"I thought I saw a vermin lurking around the walls. We'd better check it out."
"Why? It won't be able to find the secret passages and the gates are shut tight. We should tell my father."
"So you're his son?"
"Aye. New on the job?" She nodded, blushing. "Welcome aboard. I'll go check it out, you should tell my father-"
"No!" He looked at her in surprise. She blushed again. "Just come with me. I'll show you."
"Wait here while I get my bow." As he headed to his quarters, he muttered to a nearby guard, "Tell my father that vermin have been sighted outside the walls."
A council of war was being held, with Rab, Gael, and Joseph in attendance. "It leaves out all the important information! Yes, we it told us about Flank and the son iof Gabool, but nothing about any attacks they could make, nothing!"
Rab understood the Bellmaker's frustration. A son of the FoxWolf was bad enough- the very thought of it made Rab want to scream and break something for the heartbreak afflicted on Iris. But Gabool, Joseph's worst enemy ever having a son . . . Joseph rarey spoke of the darkness and hatred he had gone through, but it was Rab's guess that Gabool was responsible for the death of his spouse. Nothing Joesph had said backed this up, but the rage in his eyes when ever somebeast mentioned him was enough indication.
"I believe this means that we should wait until th time is right. To strike too soon could be disastrous."
The Bellmaker sighed. "I know, but still . . ."
"This is where you saw him?"
"Aye." He knelt.
"Footprints. A weasel's. Leading to the passage-"
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw something moving. with a drawn sword. He threw himself aside, dodging the vicious strike aimed at his body. The female who had lured him out here got to her paws and lunged at him again. He blocked the sword, but the dagger came out of nowhere. He howled in pain as it ripped his arm open. "What are you doing?"
She smirked at him. "Go ahead. Go back in. I won't stop you." He got to his paws, unsure what to do. "Oh, by the way, if I return without you, an assassin will kill your father." She laughed cruelly at the horror on his face. "You saw how easily I slipped in. You'll never find him, and when you least expect it . . ." She drew a claw across her throat and made an ugly noise. "Come willingly or else."
He looked at the cold evil in her eyes. There was a chance that she could be lying about the assassin. But that was a chance he had to take.
The fox sat up, groaning. I poured water into a glass and handed it to him. He looked at me suspiciously. "You expect me to drink that?"
"It's water. Believe me, if I wanted to kill you you'd be making excuses to Var'ryn fight now."
His piercing brown eyes met mine and I stared back. Let him see I was not afraid of him. "Why are you keeping me here?"
"My mother always told me to help others."
"And what does she think of the present arrangement, erm . . ."
"Call me Innbarr. Actually . . . they don't know."
"And if they did?"
I squirmed. This vermin knew how to read me far too easily. "Your life be worth nothing."
That sobered him. "Thank you."
I still had a bad feeling about this . . .
Flank saw the pair returning, one simmering with rage, the other triumphant and smiling. "Well done, Zannan."
"Who are you?" spat Rook.
"They call me Flank, son of the FoxWolf. What are you?"
"He is Rab's only child."
"All the better. Tie him to that tree for now."
Rook tensed as they took hold of his paws and led him over to a tree. And then . . .
"AAAAAAAAAHhhhhhh!" He screamed and fell to his knees, blood flowing from a stump where his paw had been. He tried to force the tears of pain back, but it was useless.
"We leave now. Drag that useless carcass on board!"
Rook was dimly aware of Zannan vanishing into the woods, with additional bruises and cuts.
Var'ryn, help him . . .
A/N- Feel free to draw fan art based on this or any of my fan fics! Just post a link on my talk page when you upload it!