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Sadness filled the great stone abbey of Redwall, though it was a beautiful late summer day. It was present in the eyes of every creature dwelling there. Redwall's beloved warrior mouse was breathing his last....
Gonff kneeled next to the bed of the dying mouse. Once a beast of great vitality and strength, Martin now seemed small and gray.
" My dear Columbine, how is my matey? He will be fine, won't he? He will. A passing illness can't defeat a strong chap like our Martin."
Columbine turned to her graying Mousethief, her gentle expression giving him a sad reply. A tear fell from Gonff's eye. "Don't cry for me , o pincher of pies" Martin gave him a feeble smile. " I'll cry for whatever I choose, old serious whiskers!" Gonff chuckled sadly. " How long will it be Columbine?" Columbine was crying now, " I don't know, Martin" The Warrior smiled, " Send everyone in please." "of, course matey."
Martin looked up weakly at his friends. He smiled. " I love you all. You are my family. I will watch over Redwall." For Martin time seemed to slow. His vision was clouding the faces of his friends. He was no longer laying in the bed. The mouse warrior was on a beach. Martin was watching himself, young and small, raising a battered old sword, saluting his father. His father's ship vanished into the distance , off to avenge the deaths of a mother and tribe members he had never known. Martin felt his own loneliness, watching Luke the Warrior sail away, never to return. Martin was watching himself again , this time a young, strong mouse. The young Martin carried stones, oppressed by the cruel slavery of Badrang the stoat. Anger welled up in the old Warrior. But before he could think , he found his younger self staring into the eyes of a gentle mouse maid. Martin's breath caught in his throat. Rose. Oh how he had longed to watch this scene . He wanted to linger in scenes of holding Rose's paw, joking with Grumm the mole,talking with Pallum the hedgehog, enjoying the company of Boldred, laughing at the Warden, eating the feast in Noonvale. But this was not to be. Old Martin's heart sank. Marshank was filled with the sounds of battle. Young Martin saw Rose hit the wall. The young warrior howled in anguish. The bloodwrath veiled his eyes. Young Martin slew the Tyrant and collapsing by the body of his beloved Laterose of Noonvale. Old Martin's heart broke, as it did every time he mentally relived the fateful day at Marshank. Martin saw himself wandering through the forest alone and heartbroken, carrying his father's sword. He relived the anger at the Wildcat, who broke his sword and oppressed the woodlanders. He felt the happinesss and healing power of friendship, which came in the form of a fat thief named Gonff and a mole called Dinny. He felt pride as he watched young Martin take up his new sword. He felt the sadness at the death of a Badger lord. From then on old Martin watched the satisfaction of building Redwall, the pride in hearing the story of his father, the joy of laying down his sword, never to kill with it again. The mist slowly dissipated, unveiling a sunlit, warm forest.
The Redwallers stood around the now still body of Martin. The old badger Bella gently scooped up the little body in one paw, and followed by a procession of silent woodland creatures, began the descent to below the Abbey. Ever quiet and tearful, they set about burying Martin. The Warrior looked up at the trees. He could not tell what species they were, but decided that they were the most beautiful trees he had ever laid eyes on. A gentle stream ran through the forest, surrounded by moss and colorful flowers. The Dark Forest was not at all dark, despite his expectations. Martin walked over to the stream, taking a drink of the delicious water. The mouse warrior looked down at his paws, and gave a surprised squeak. The paws were free of their characteristic scars and wrinkles. Martin studied his reflection in the clear water. He was young again.
Martin pranced around the forest, testing his new found strength and vitality. He decided to follow the stream. Martin felt as if a quiet by powerful presence were guiding him. The mouse warrior was not afraid; somehow he realized that this presence cared for him deeply. He heard the chirping of birds. Martin wondered if he knew any of the bird souls who sang merrily in this eternal place. His thoughts were cut short by the sound of a voice. "Martin" it said. Tears welled up in the Warrior's eyes as he laid eyes on the mouse whom had spoken. " Father!! he yelled. The two mice ran to embrace one another. Luke the Warrior was strong and youthful. He soon introduced Martin to his long-lost mother, a gentle woodmouse with soft chestnut fur.
" I've missed you so my son!"
" Oh mother and father how i've longed to see you!" " Come with me, my son, there is more for you to see" shouted Luke, who was already halfway up a mossy hill. Martin laughed with delight and took after his father. After a while they came to a little garden, full of fruit and neatly tended. A mole looked up from planting a raspberry bush. " Marthen e Wurrier, be that really you?"