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Note to Readers
I made this story in the same timeframe as The Runaway so that I didn’t need to make a whole new cast of characters. Call me lazy, but I wrote this in one day so there.
A Redwall Seasonday
Awavian grumbled as he searched among the new green shoots of spring for herbs to bring back to the infirmary. This wasn’t how he had expected to spend his seasonday. He had wanted to spend it roaming around the Abbey with his best friend Arbuc, possibly “rescuing” a few warm scones from the kitchen windows and having strawberry fizz in the cellars. Instead, Brother Egburt had asked him and Arbuc to go into Mossflower and search for wild mint, sage, and wintergreen. Awavian glanced toward Arbuc, who was searching the ground carefully. Huh! Thought Awavian, Some way t’ spend yore seasonday, starin’ at the ground.
Arbuc glanced up at the sun. “That should be enough mate, don’t yew think?”
Awavian glanced at their baskets and agreed. They were nearly full with green shoots and leaves of all shades. “Aye, let’s go.”
They emerged on the path south of Redwall and began walking toward the abbey. Awavian was always amazed at the size of the ancient abbey. The south gable towered above the trees; the weathervane perched atop it, tiny against the bright blue sky. The soft red of the sandstone stood out against the browns and greens of the surrounding woodlands. But the abbey didn’t stand out as an eyesore; instead it seemed to stand out warmly, as if it were welcoming its friends. The light dimmed for a moment, then brightened again. Awavian glanced up. The sun had briefly gone behind a soft white cloud, one of a pawful in the sky.
A movement on the walltops caught his eye. Thorne stood with a paw shading his brow, staring down the path at them. Then he turned and disappeared behind the battlements, presumably to open the gates for them.
As they neared the old oaken gates they swung slowly open. They stepped through the gate and helped Thorne close it. Then they helped the otter heave the bar into place. Grinning, Thorne turned to Awavian. “So ‘ow did th’ gatherin’ go?”
Awavian sighed, “Borin’ though ah think we gathered enough so that Brother Egburt should be happy.” He stared at Thorne’s widening grin. “Why are ye smilin’ like a dibbun that just took the last piece of trifle?”
The grin grew wider, “No reason, I’m jes’ ‘appy t’day.”
Awavian took a step toward the end of the tunnel through the walls. Something was different he realized, he just couldn’t put a paw on it. Then he realized what it was. There were no sounds coming from the abbey grounds. He couldn’t hear a Sister scolding naughty dibbuns, nor any sounds of garden and orchard upkeep. He stepped into the sunlight and became conscious of hundreds of eyes staring at him. The entire abbey had turned out and was standing on the soft green sward, staring at him. Skipper’s ottercrew was there, along with Foremole’s molecrew. Deyna, Pearl, Filorn, and Abbess Mhera all stood in a group, wait; Nimbalo was there too, standing next to Deyna.
“Why-?” Began Awavian, but then a wall of sound hit him like a tidal wave, nearly knocking him over.
“HAPPY SEASONDAY AWAVIAN!”
“Wait, wha? How? When?” Awavian said, a mix of confusion, surprise, pleasure, and astonishment on his face.
Arbuc patted him on the back, laughing. “Yew didn’t think we actually forgot yore seasonday did yew?”
Thorne laughed, “I think ‘e did!”
Suddenly Awavian found himself being hauled along toward the pond by an ecstatic Boorab. “I say young chap hurry up! Friar Broggle and that wonderful otterlady Filorn have been working their bushy tail and rudder off all day makin’ this feast, wot! Th’ flippin’ bounders won’t let me have a single crumb until your there, th’ rotters! Can’t you move any faster? Th’ feast can’t start until you’re there. Hurry, the flippin’ food might be gone b’fore we get there, wot wot!”
Awavian grinned at the hare’s conflicting statements, and then he was shoved into a seat by Boorab as the hare took a seat and began piling an enormous plate with everything in sight. Suddenly a paw descended and grabbed him by the ear. Boorab immediately exploded into protest.
“Yaagh, gerrof you flippin’ rotter! Yer pullin’ me precious lug off!”
Skipper leaned down and growled in Boorab’s ear. “No food until Abbess Mhera is finished speaking. That means filling yore plate too.” Then Skipper released Boorab and moved to find his own spot at the rapidly filling tables.
Arbuc sighed as he slid in next to Awavian. “That was fun, keepin’ yew in th’ dark.”
Awavian looked at Arbuc and narrowed his eyes, “Was that why ye went an’ got our oatmeal for breakfast? Ye didn’t want me t’see the kitchens?” Arbuc nodded. “And the herb gatherin’?”
“Aye.” Arbuc put a paw to his lips. “Now shh! Abbess Mhera’s gonna speak.”
Mhera stood up and a respectful silence fell over the abbeydwellers. Nodding her thanks, she began. “Redwallers, this feast had been prepared for a special occasion.” She smiled, “Now that was hardly necessary was it? Anyway,” she continued, “this feast was prepared for our friend Awavian’s sixteenth seasonday. The few seasons he has spent with us have been ones of great friendship. Now, I see Boorab eyeing a scone so I think I’ll close before he dies and we have to change this into a funeral. Awavian, will you do the honors?”
Awavian stood, pausing to look around, and then announced. “Dig in!” Before anybeast could move a muscle Boorab had already eaten an oatmeal scone.
Awavian stared over the immense spread of food. Friar Broggle had outdone himself. There was something for everyone. There was a deeper’n’ever turnip’n’tater’n’beetroot pie for the moles, watershrimp and hotroot soup for the otters, various typed of nutbreads for the squirrels, and much more. Awavian began filling his plate. He started with a slice of nutbread, choosing next some celery and chestnut bake. Bypassing the steaming pot of watershrimp and hotroot soup, he ladled himself a bowl of spring vegetable soup. Arbuc passed him a plate carrying the last slice of woodland trifle with flaked almonds and meadowcream, which he snagged just as Boorab reached for it.
“Flamin’ treejumpers have no sense of generosity, wot!” He mumbled around a mouthful of raspberry cream turnover.
Awavian merely smiled and bit into the trifle, closing his eyes as the warm sugary taste filled his mouth along with the crunch of almonds. If all the food is this good it’ll be the best feast ever.
Awavian sighed contentedly as he sat down on the wallsteps, the taste of the hazelnut cake still lingering in his mouth. The feast had lasted all afternoon and now the sun was beginning to set. There had been a break in the feast earlier when they had played some games. The otters had sported in the pond while a walltop race had been held. Fwirl had not lost a bit of her speed, if anything it had increased. She had won by a whole two walls. Deyna had not taken part in the race; instead he had swum in the pond with the ottercrew.
Awavian noticed a tight group of otters moving toward him from the pond. Skipper was n the lead, and their pace seemed to be measured to avoid breaking the wall of bodies. Skipper called out as they neared, “We got a present fer yew from the ottercrew, Awavian!”
The jovial otters parted and Thorne stepped forward holding a magnificent bow. The strong yew had been oiled until the sunlight reflected off it; the string was twined tightly and greased with beeswax. Awavian took the weapon carefully, gratitude shining from his face. He tested the strength of the yew, pulling the string back until it touched his chin. Releasing the tension, he plucked the string, listening to it thrum.
“Wow,” he breathed, “this is a great bow.”
“That’s not all,” chuckled Thorne, “look at this.” From behind his back, Thorne brought out a quiver of arrows. Each one had been carefully selected for straightness and fletched with goose feathers. Picking one up, Awavian stared down its length, finding no bends or flaws at all. Awavian was thrilled, “Thanks mates, I’ll be sure to put this to good use.”
The ottercrew broke into smiles at this and they all began talking at once. Suddenly a shout from the pond sent them all running in that direction. Awavian placed the bow and quiver carefully with the other presents he had been given. There was a flask of strawberry cordial from the Cellarhog, Drogg Spearback, and a new coverlet from Fwirl and Broggle.
There was a rustle of fur and cloth as Arbuc sat down next to him. “So, how was yore seasonday Awavian?”
Awavian thought back across the day, the herb gathering, his surprise at his greeting, Boorab anxious to get to the food, and the food itself. All the laughing faces of his Redwall friends flashed before his eyes, their laughter once again filling his ears. He turned to Arbuc and smiled.
“With such great food, and great friends, how could it not be wonderful?”