Salutations, fellow Martinians! It is I, Snowstripe the Fierce. Before you say anything (I'm looking at you, Ox XD), I have an announcement to make.
I am discontinuing every single fanfiction before this one. This is something I needed to address a long time ago, but I never wanted to admit the truth. The truth is, all of those fanfictions were made so close together and I made them on a whim (except the Spearmaid, that one took planning).
This one is different. I'm older now, I'm used to Wikia editing, have re-read all of the Redwall books, and I've taken some inspiration from them and other writers who probably know that I'm talking about them. This one I've had in my head for a while, and after months of inactivity, I believe it's time for me to get back to writing. This may be the last Redwall fanfiction I write on this Wiki, but it may not be. Whatever it may be, I'm sure that you'll enjoy it.
This fanfiction will fit into the Redwall timeline, and should take place about forty seasons after the events of The Rogue Crew. It doesn't explain anything, because I've noticed that it takes more effort to create more information instead of adding onto what already has been established. Not to say that prequels are bad, but sequels I've come to realize are easier, at least for me.
That being said, let's get on with the fic!
The Kingdom of Night: a frightening sight,
to those ill-prepared it would seem.
But a welcomed friend to no end
by those who love to dream.
Come journey through sunny meadows,
or churning seas in storm.
No need to dread, it's all in your head;
such things have become our norm.
In this Land of Visions,
what curious beast might you find?
'Twill be I, the Champion of Feathers,
and the Warrior of Mind!
Herein is an entry from the writings of Absalom, Father Brock of Redwall Abbey, Mossflower Country.
Curious, isn't it? After all these seasons, and all of this greying of fur, and weakening of joints, my forepaws still work perfectly fine. Not even a single bit of pain. Oh well. I suppose the seasons want me to keep writing.
The harvest has been going quite well so far. The fruits and vegetables have come in and ripened quite nicely, especially the cauliflower. Never had much of a taste for it myself, but I suppose I better learn to like it, as it'll be something thing to eat come wintertime.
It gets chillier and chillier outside everyday now. The fire they keep roaring in Cavern Hole is scarcely enough for the beasts older than me, if you could believe such a beast existed. It's tempting to go down there, but I've got writing to do, and the spluttering fire in here's going to have to do.
Abbot Tadd's early morning walks around the lawns are getting shorter now, due to the cold. He's from southern Mossflower, so the winters we have here are colder than what he's used to. He's already considering naming this season "Autumn of the Shorter Walks". I don't think that's a very good name for an autumn, but then again, I'm not Father Abbot, seasons forbid I would. I've already got enough on my paws.
I better cut this entry short. The fire down in Cavern Hole is just too tempting, and I need the company of another badger. I promise I'll write more soon.
~ Absalom, Gatekeeper Recorder, Redwall Abbey, Mossflower Country.
Book One: From the Parapets of Darkhelm
On any other place, the sight of a fortress, a castle, or any sort of building after a long journey would seem a relief to any weary traveler. They would rejoice that that they could finally sleep in a comfortable bed, eat real food, and be treated as royalty. Sadly, this was not any other place. This place was an isle of the realm called Verdaine, and the castle was the dark sentinel known as Darkhelm. Made of a black stone hailing from foreign lands, it was a memory from a distant nightmare that you could never forget. In the center, keeping eternal watch, was the central tower, from which the King of Verdaine, the conqueror Marrin Blackspear, kept watch over his realm.
Marrin Blackspear was once a handsome beast, or at least as handsome as a weasel hailing from a long line of conquerors could be. His light brown fur was now more than flecked with gray hairs, and he had ceased to grow a beard long ago. But one thing remained, the same thing that had given him his name: his sharp black pupils, like spears, burned into you when his wrath was kindled. Many a beast had seen those spears, and many a beast had never seen again.
However, all was not as good in the King's realm as would be expected. He had made far too many enemies, had far too many wives, far too many heirs, and far too many that had grown impatient for usurpation.
Marrin Blackspear looked outside the window of his watchtower, watching the rain turn the dust to dirt to mud to squelch. That was the cycle of rain, and he had spent many hours simply watching the rain take its course. That was all he could do now. He wasn't the young warlord he used to be. He remained mostly in the shadows, to prevent anybeast from seeing his true age and attempting to take advantage of it. Luckily, he had somebeast to rule in his name.
But that helper wasn't going to help now. Tonight's affair requires the King and him alone. It had been so long, and his mind had gotten so used to having his helper do things for him that it seemed a surprise that he had to deal with tonight's affair himself. But he'll get through. Blackspears tend to do that.
Tonight's affair was rebellion, and Marrin had forgotten that he as King was to judge the defendant. He had only been briefed on it once, earlier today, by a messenger. He heard a rough pound on the door to the room, when two soldiers, a fox and stoat, came dragging in two squirrels, a male and female, the latter who was carrying two babes.
"Your Majesty." The stoat said, lowering his head, bowing on one knee, and rising. Marrin turned, only leaving the shadows slightly, to mask most of his body. He eyed the two squirrels. They were quivering. Their already-torn and tattered garments were stained with mud. The female had a darkened bruise underneath her eye. Must have put a fight.
The fox stepped forward, roughly pulling the squirrel mother with him. "Your Grace, these two squirrels are th' supposed ringleaders of an attempted rebellion. They were servants in Count Ornish's house. We didn't mean t' bring in th' babes, but the mother wouldn't let go of 'em. If you'd like, we c'd take-"
For one of the first times today, the King spoke. "No. Bring them closer."
The fox and stoat looked at each other, and heaved the prisoners forward. Marrin stepped closer to them, brining himself even further out of the shadows. "So, you tried to start a rebellion against me, eh?" he asked. The male nodded slightly, but tears were all that left the female.
"You do know why I made you servants in my brother's home, correct? Why? Because you were skilled at what you did. You could cook, clean, and could be trusted in the home of the brother to the King. But I suppose I was wrong in thinking you could be trusted. After all, you did try to stir up some rebellion." the King said. The male was staring at the object on the sheath on his belt. It was his broadsword, some ancient blade that was abandoned long ago. He had found it during his conquests. It had a golden guard and pommel, with a jetstone as its pommelstone. Dark brown leather made up the grip. He hadn't used it some seasons, though it probably still was as shiny as it was when he last shined it, whenever that was.
Marrin Blackspear turned to the male squirrel. "You'd be right in thinking that I'm going to use this on ye. Believe me, Verdaine'll have lost a good worker, but I'm afraid it's what I've got to do." he unsheathed his word, the blade reflecting the light of the lanterns overhead. He stepped forward, the male squirrel breathing in deeply.
Marrin shook his head slightly, blinking slowly. In a flash, the blade had run through the squirrel, his body leaning upon the blade. He withdrew it from the corpse, and it fell forward, the stoat having let go of it in disgust.
The female squirrel began to sob. This woke the babes, who began to stir. Marrin spoke harshly to her.
"Quit yer blubbering. Tears are contagious. Ye'll get the babes crying 'fore long. And I don't like killing babes."
The female squirrel pulled the babes to her chest, and she breathed in deeply to try and stop the tears.
"I'm not going to kill ye, nor the babes. You're going to be exiled, an' the babes are going to a new home." he looked down at the corpse of the male squirrel. "Hopefully, this time, one that won't stir rebellion."
The stoat scooped up the squirrelbabes, and the fox dragged away the female squirrel, mother and babes separated.
From behind King Marrin Blackspear, a figure appeared from the shadows, clothed in long dark robes. The beast beneath them was actually an old black rat, with a red scar on his nose. This beast was a welcome sight to Marrin; for he was Scytha, the Oracle of the Voices and the Nameless.
"Many Voices are pleased with your decision, Your Grace." he spoke, his voice raspy.
"They always seem pleased with my decisions, Oracle." the weasel replied, wiping blood off his sword with a rag.
"Your Grace, I said many. Some, I'm afraid, aren't pleased with a past decision of yours." the ancient beast said, sitting down on a chair.
"And who might they be?"
"Your Grace, many of them are Nameless, and -"
The King pointed his sword at the rat. "Many. What are the ones you can name?"
Scytha pushed the sword away from his throat. "Cluni, Portuu, and Baalish, to name a few."
"So, a creature from a babe's nightmare, the namesake of an island, and a trickster all are against me?" he smiled, shaking his head.
"Your Grace, they are in rea -"
"If I hear you calling me 'Your Grace' once more, you'll be a headless Oracle." the King growled. "Any more visions from the Voices, Scytha? Seeing as though a trickster, an island and a nightmare are against me, I doubt any omen could hurt me."
The rat rolled his eyes. "The Voices and Nameless have given me an omen, and thrice I have heard it in a vision."
Marrin stood waiting. "Well, are you going to tell me what ye heard, or keep it all to yerself?!"
Scytha breathed in and spoke.
"Two lords will try to slay you,
Realms crumble from within.
Forest comes to meet the sea,
Mountain's throne barren.
the armoured not alone,
By spear he lost his throne."
Marrin Blackspear shoved his broadsword back into its sheath. "I want every single one of my lords, save my brother, slain. If they're going to kill me, then I'll kill them first. Burn the forest parts that come near the coast of every island. Every one. And as for that Beast that lives on the central island, if anybeast sees 'im, kill 'em."
Scytha bowed. "Of course, Your Grace."
It was a sunny day in Mossflower Woods, with shafts of light from the sun beaming through the thick foliage. In the woodland's northwestern reaches, a small fire was burning, a group of young hares around it, waiting for their meager luncheon to be ready.
"Well, ol' Snapp, ye've done it. Y' got us lost, good 'n proper. An' y' call y'self a Salamandastron hare. Pshaw!" said one in a dark brown tunic to one across the fire in a scarlet corsair's jacket.
This sorry band of young hares were on an echelon march heading towards Redwall Abbey, and had become separated from their group of around sixscore hares.
The beast the brown-clad hare was speaking to was called Snapp Greytail, and the beast who had berated him was known as Gander Hickory. They were accompanied by their friends Colour Sergeant Heathra Wiggins, Private Milton Marney, his twin brother Private Mugsberry Marney, and Lance Corporal Saradoc.
"Why, y' blinkin' poltroon! I'll have y' know that I outrank you! I'm th' leader, an' y' have t' do what I say!" Snapp retorted.
Gander stood up. "If anythin', ol' chap, ye're th' blinkin' poltroon here! Who led us into wherever bally falootin' place we are, and takes all th' credit? You!"
Heathra stood up, showing she was taller than both bickering males. "Oh, shut it, both o' ye! F' our pore ears' sakes! I don't want t' hear any word out o' both o' y' if it's gonna be rude!" she barked, pushing both of her companions back down into sitting position on their respective rock and log.
After a few relatively peaceful minutes of silence, save huffing and spluttering, Snapp turned to Milton, the cook of the group. "Is our scoff ready yet?"
The sandy-colored hare shook his head. "'Fraid not, ol' bean. Got t' get th' juices out of th' shrumps first. Otherwise, ye'd burn y' tongue bitin' into 'em."
"I thought y' had wild h'onions in there, too." Mugsberry, his brother, inquired.
"H'I do, or I thought I did. They seem t' be jus' buds, an' th' juices in 'em are too sour yet. I'm still gettin' it in m' eyes." the shorter twin replied, looking down at the pan.
Gander groaned. "But it's way past lunchtime! My stomach's gonna turn sour on m' insides."
Milton brushed away his companion's complaints. "H'it's only a quarter past noon, an' if y' really need th' scoff y'll have t' wait for it."
"Waiting, waiting, waiting! Is that h'all Salamandastron hares do nowadays? First 'twas waitin' t' be accepted int' this blinkin' patrol, then 'twas waitin' f' a new Lord, an' now it's waitin' f' some basic scoff! What has this world come to?! Madness?!" Gander spat, getting up from his rock.
Lance Corporal Saradoc, or Silent Saradoc, as his friends called him, glanced up from sharpening his dagger. His eyes rolled.
"'Tis 'ardly madness. You're the stark-raver here. I wouldn't be surprised h'if'n th' echelon found h'us, with all th' racket ye're makin'."
Snapp stuck his tongue out at Gander, nodding self-righteously.
"That goes for you too, h'I'd imagine." Heathra said, slapping Snapp between the ears.
"'Ey! I'm the one who was screamin' that th' blinkin' world 'ad gone mad a moment ago!" the Lieutenant objected, standing back up.
"H'as a matter of fact, I was simply tryin' to calm the lot of y' down a mite or two. Y' know how loud y' can be."
A rustling was heard from the trees. Heathra pushed Snapp back down into a sitting position, to much silenced protest.
"Quiet! Don't y' hear somethin'?" she whispered.
The hares rose, drawing their weapons silently as they could.
A stoat, half-dressed, half-terrified, ran from the bushes and trees, screaming at the top of his lungs. He tripped and fell. A fox also came, tripping and falling. A ferret and rat, both near-naked respectively, jumped from another spot in the bushes, screeching to a halt at the sight of the Long Patrol hares.
Snapp, being the highest ranking officer there, started barking out orders to the vermin. "Alright, scum! Get up off y' rears an' hand over y' weapons! All of 'em!"
The order seemed pointless, seeing as though none of them were armed, and they had hardly any clothes on. Still, the vermin would not rise. They simply stared, often casting a terrified glance backward, as if something was pursuing them.
And lo, there was. A badger, brandishing a single-bladed axe, stormed through the hedges. The hares were silenced. It seemed as though the three parties were at a standstill.
"My... prayer-stone... now." the badger rasped, nearly out of breath.
The rat, who apparently had it in his hand, had the necklace ripped out of his hand. He gulped nervously.
Snapp, woken from his trance, sheathed his cutlass. "Greetins, marm. I presume these vermin have some unfinished business wi' ye?"
"Finished business now. I tracked down this merry band of thieves after they stole my prayer-stone when I slept. I caught them taking baths in the river. You can do what you want with 'em." the badgermaid said.
Snapp nodded. "Ah, duly noted. I think we best get these chaps some clothes on 'fore we send 'em packin', eh wot?"
Heathra opened her haversack. She threw a tunic and cloak to the ferret. "Put these on, marm. They'll be better'n y' rags. Mugs, Mil, close y' jaws, open y' bags, an' get these beasts somethin' better to wear."
The twins did as ordered. Soon, the half-clean vermin were looking better than they had probably intended that day. Once they were dressed, Heathra sent them on their way. ><><><><
Later, that evening, the hares and the badger ate what little they could find and scavenge from one another's bags. It could be scarcely called a meal, but they ate nonetheless.
"What'd y' say y' name was again, marm?" Snapp inquired of the badger.
"Whatever it is, it certainly isn't Marm." she replied.
"Terribly sorry. I forgot t' introduce ourselves. We're hares from Salamandastron. T'would prob'ly explain our accents."
"Doesn't explain the fact that you talk funny." she said, sipping ale out of a flask.
"I said, we're Salamandastron hares. We're Junior Officers in th' Long Patrol."
"I suppose that's meant to explain why you're strangely-dressed rabbits too."
"Oh, f' seasons o' 'arvest, Snapp!" Heathra butted in, rolling her eyes. "Not every beast 'as 'eard o' th' Long Patrol!"
"Oh. Well then." Snapp stuttered, embarrassed.
"What he's wonderin' is what y' name is." Heathra explained.
"Merabel of Stormgate."