Sparra King A Tale of Redwall
There aren't enough Sparras in Redwall! So I've decided to do some fanfiction, featuring the Sparrows! A Sparra King disappears, and the abbey is under attack. Fiero Nightwing goes in search of him, and tries to discover the secret of the woods. What force is plaguing the abbey?
Menador, a large weasel, ran through the forest. He had to reach Fectasata, Queen of the Wood, before the sun rose! Behind him he could hear something, what was it? Redwallers! He ran faster, hoping to be safe soon. Behind him the sounds were getting closer.
Suddenly, in front of him, he saw a flash of white. Strong claws pinned him to the ground, and he saw the face of a Sparrow, but then the Sparrow raised his beak. Menador would never reach Fectasata, nor see her again. The limp body was buried by the Redwallers, while the Sparrow flew away. From that day on, King Lanceclaw Sparra had never been seen again.
Rambler, a young dibbun, rolled in the grass. Him and the other dibbuns were being watched by a good badger: Mother Clara of Redwall. In the corner of his eye he spied one of his companions toss a strawberry to another. In a trice they were all fighting, throwing strawberries and laughing playfully.
Clara grumbled "Oh, when will they learn," and called out "You've got yourselves dirty, bath time!"
Ignoring the protests of the youngsters, she herded them towards the abbey. Ramble turned, hearing a gasp from the Mother Badger. "What it, Badger Mum?" he asked. Clara had turned pale. Gasping slightly, she collapsed. "Mutha Clana, Muther Clana?" said the group of dibbuns. The badger fell upon the grass. In her back was an arrow. It was made of metal, and into it was carved a flower, of the like which had not been seen before. No one had seen anything like it, even in the oldest records of the abbey. Where had the mysterious arrow come from? And what was that elusive flower? Abbot Simeon, an old, frail mouse, pondered the questions. Nearby, a Sparra was eating some candied chestnuts he had plundered from the kitchen.
The abbot said "Fiero, you know those are considered forbidden dainties, and it is prohibited for any to visit the kitchen, save for the chosen few! Come now, what have you to say for yourself? You great, great grandmother, Warbeak, was a great cook herself. What would she say now? And your uncle, Lanceclaw, would be shocked. What have you to say for yourself?"
"Well," said Fiero, "I gett'um hungry... and doorworm was open, and I goa in. And bagworm of sugarmuts on the counterworm, so I takeum them...."
The Sparra's expression was so comical that Father Simeon couldn't help laughing. "Lanceclaw used to do the same thing. Until he disappeared. Ever since terrible things have happened. Creatures gone missing, some people even shot while within the abbey walls! It is a great mystery, and a terrible plague. But why did it happen after Lanceclaw disappeared, why? That is the question."
"Maybe me findum Lanceclaw? He wasa King of alla Sparra notmuch long ago. Tella Sparra story, Abbotworm, please. Fiero Sparra love'um stories."
"Of course," responded the abbot, "I will tell you of the Quest of Warbeak in search of Matthias."
"Not thata one," said Fiero, "Me here'um that storyworm alla time. Tell'um me 'bout Lanceclaw Sparraking."
"Not long ago, Queen Warbeak was slain in battle. The king who came after her was Windplume. But he had a terrible enemy, named Battlehawk. Battlehawk was envious of Windplume. Windplume had always been higher in Warbeak's esteem, for he had been kinder the Matthias, Warrior of Redwall, who had been a prisoner in the Sparra Kingdom. Soon, Windplume had four eggchicks. They were Steelclaw, Strongwing, Sweetsong and Lanceclaw."
One day Battlehawk decided to get even. He went with Windplume's family to a part of the woods, where a great snake was. It was one of the children of the great serpent Asmodeus, who had stolen a sword from the Sparras long ago. He pretended to help Windplume fight the snake, but made sure he was killed. However, Steelclaw was made King by the wish of Windplume's wife, Greybeak. Steelclaw was killed in a faked fight with crows. By this time, however, Greybeak knew of the plans. She hurried and hid Lanceclaw, and came back for the rest of her young. There she found Battlehawk, who had just killed the last of them, her only female, Sweetsong. Battlehawk killed her, and her last words where 'Lanceclaw.'"
Battlehawk set himself up as King, but an old Sparra nourished Lanceclaw until he was strong and ready to fight. Then some other warriors trained him." "One day, Lanceclaw stepped into the Sparra court. Battlehawk was amazed;he had thought all Windplume's family was dead. The Sparrows fought, and Lanceclaw killed Battlehawk. But one day, he disappeared."
Fiero asked "Whata happen to him?"
Slowly, the abbot responded "No one knows."
A Mouse, one of the Dibbuns, Rambler in fact, ran up and said "Fatha Habbot, Fatha Habbot, Mutha Clama is hart!"
"What?" said the good father.
They all rushed out to the lawn. Fiero was there first. The Badger Mother of Redwall was dead.
It was a shocking sight. Blood was streaming from the Badger's back, and the dibbuns were standing there, terrified. Fiero Nightwing could not believe his eyes. Who had done this? And why?
He faintly heard the Abbot call "Into the Abbey everybeast! No one is allowed outside without special permission!"
Suddenly, Fiero found himself saying "I want to go to see if I can find anything."
The Abbot responded "Very well, I trust you. Make your ancestors proud."
A rat watched from the woodlands. He saw the Sparrow fly over the wall. Springing into action, he called a group of archers, and then went to get the Queen of the Woods.
Fiero did not know it, but forty two arrows were aimed at him. "Fire at will" said the rat commander.
Arrows whizzed upwards. Fiero felt one go under his wing, while another just missed his head. None of the archers hit him, and those that almost did, he as able to dodge. Yes, Fiero was terrified. He had not expected this.
He flew steadily on, worrying about what would happen next. The arrows were thicker now. One of them struck his leg, and he cried out at the sudden pain. He kept flying on, wondering who lead these rats.
Meanwhile, a hare by the name of Balthasar Honeytooth was leaping through the woods, singing
I am the king of the wild
A hunter and trapper so bold.
I lived at Salamandastron,
And I've fought in heat and cold.
The Queen of the wood so evil,
She is no match for me.
I come from Salamandastron,
Fiero was scared. More arrows were coming, several had grazed his feathers. But now a rat had reached the Queen of the Wood. Hidden from the Sparra's sight, an evil creature wearing a crown bent her bow. She took a long, metal arrow, into it was carved a mysterious flower. Never had she missed, and never had anybeast survived the force of that bow.
The mysterious Queen of the Wood, Fectasata, aimed carefully at the Sparrow. Suddenly the bow was kicked from her paws, and there in front of her stood a hare.
"Oh, hello there, mah jolly Queen. D'you know I think you need some practice holding things tightly?"
It was none other than Balthasar Honeytooth from Salamandastron. He looked at the Queen of the Woods carefully. She was covered in a thick cloak, and her face was masked an veiled. It could have been of any shape. No one knew what creature she was, and many had never heard of her.
Yet she was. A greater marksman had never existed, though the flowers on her arrows were still a mystery. She drew out a sword and swung it at the hare, who sidestepped quickly.
"Kill that rabbit!" she screamed.
Soldiers came running in all directions, toppling over each other. None of them were a match for the elusive hare.
<"Rabbit, eh? Steady on, you need some naming lessons, mah dear girl. Look at me, I'm a Hare, wot? A rabbit, now that looks something different. To think you can't tell a difference!"
While Balthasar was busy with the rats, she retrieved her bow and aimed it at the hare's back. The arrow in it left the string, going straight for its target. The hare moved, just by chance, and did not notice the arrow speed past him, as it buried itself in shrubbery.
Then the Queen of the Woods took another arrow, and was about to fire when the arrow was plucked from the bow! Fiero had snatched it just on time. "Well, sparrer, it looks like its you and me," said the creature, pulling out a long, double bladed sword.
Fiero was up to the test. He could barely escape the whirling blades, and was soon on the defensive side. The wound in his leg was hurting, and he was panting for breath. Then he heard the Hare's voice "Go for the abbey, young rip. My dear old chap, I'll be fine, wot wot. See you round!"
Later that night a tired Sparrow flapped into Warbeak Loft, not any closer to understanding the mystery of Lanceclaw or the Woodland Queen.
When he woke up next morning, he was surprised to be greeted by Balthasar Honeytooth. He was having a hot dispute with a tall otter called Nator.
"Well, I say, wot, that a fellas got to eat sometime, and in reasonable quantities," the hare was saying.
Here he was interrupted by Nator: "Off course, matey, allbeasts must eat sometimes, but if Friar Jendill catches you in the kitchen again, I'll have permission to drag you out by your long ears."
With a shocked expression on his face, the hare replied "Longears? Longears? Steady with the name-calling, old boat belly."
"Boat-belly! Really, flop head. I'll cut off your whiskers!"
"And I'll sliver your snout.
They both stopped when Fiero came down. "You have'um good breakfastworm today?" he said.
"Yes. we did," said Nator, "But this gluttonous, long eared, flop-headed hare ate all the pastries! Then to top it off he ate three fourths of oatmeal from the table!"
The two continued arguing, while Fiero wondered what the Queeen of the Wood was.
Balthasar, guessing what the Sparrow was thinking, slid up next to him and said "I can tell you of the Queen of the Woods.
Nator left the room, and Fiero asked "Whata that 'bout?"
The Hare chuckled and said "Oh, he just dared to have an insult competition with Balthasar Longbow Joonlaud Honeytooth of Salamandastron."
"But you want to hear of the Queen of the Woods. No one knows what she is, her face is veiled at all times. But we do know she is very wicked. Also, it is know that she lives somewhere in between Salamandastron and Redwall, on the edge of Mossflower, where she can look across the plains which border it. Nothing will stop her terrible mind when it comes to anything. But where in the forest is here domain? No one knows the answer. None of these are the greatest of the mysteries surrounding this self-appointed Queen, the greatest is the design on her arrows. No one knows what it means."
A few hours later, Fiero Nightwing was strutting through the great hall, hoping to be able to steal some candied chestnuts. He halted in front of the tapestry, and it seemed that he heard this:
Cannot be found here.
But in a long distant bower,
Where the fiery mountain is clear.
The sparra then heard distressed squeaks from the kitchen, and hurried to see whats wrong. "You villainous hare," Friar Jendill was shouting, "You, you, glutton! If I ever catch you in the pies again, I'll whip your ears! I'll cut off your tail! I'll split your nose!"
Balthasar was not short of words. He said "Just testing the cooking, wot? Never do yo serve poor fare, with the abbeybeasts hungry and all."
Fiero, however, wanted Balthasar's attention. He got to Hare to come with him, and told him of the poem. "We will go to the location of her fortress. It is a dark and dangerous place, and none have ever returned, wot wot? Don't even know where it is, just the rough area. Might be dead, anyday, chaps, wot, hehe."
"We go, find'um secret of Wickedqueenworm. We killee her, she not killee us!"
Far from Redwall, across Mossflower, the Badger Lord of Salamandastron, Masalio, stood looking out upon the sea. A ship was approaching quickly, a black ship, feared by all. Synky the Spear, terror of the seas, was coming to Salamandastron. Four ships were behind his, and they were loaded with ferrets. Synky himself was a ferret, tall and strong. His weapon was a spear, from which he had got his name. Salamandastron was his goal, and he intended to fight to the death for it.
Nator was helping gather food from the abbey gardens. However, the was the feeling of war all about. Weapons were being prepared, siege plans made and food brought in early. Balthasar had been driven from the kitchens.
"That bally friar's a nice chap, but he gets powerful angry, just when I's been testing the food, wot. What a nice chap like that thinks 'bout chasing a chap around with spoons and such like is good, I'll be blown."
The hare was becoming a favorite among the Redwallers. He was a valuable addition to the abbey; as well as being a top notch musician he was a great warrior. None among the Redwallers could equal his skill with a sword and he was excellent at shooting from a bow.
Even Friar Jendill, who suffered severe increases in the demand for his food, had a soft spot for the hare. It was kept secret, of course, but that did not prevent him from driving Balthasar from the kitchens with a wooden spoon when he found that the voracious hare had appointed himself as the "official food-tester" or other similar positions.
Abbot Simeon called the Redwallers together that night. "We are in grave danger." he said, "And we must do something about it. A strange creature, who calls herself the Queen of the Woods is threatening our abbey. Balthasar Honeytooth knows the rough location of her domain. Although her place of residence is not known, Balthasar will be an invaluable addition to the quest to discover the territory of our enemy, and if possible, defeat her. Fiero Nightwing will also go. Who else desires to?"
The Otter Nator, a mole called Grimo and a young mouse by the name of Francesco stepped forward. Soon the were preparing to leave.
Food was prepared, weapons, and many other things. That evening, Fiero went back to the Warbeak Loft to sleep. But he could not. He was fighting, ever fighting, with a monster in his dreams. Then a rat came, and held a knife above Nator's head. Arrows sped through the mist at him, and on them were carved flowers of red. Then he saw a Mountain in the distance, and its top was glowing. He heard words, but could not make them out.
Through the darkened abbey halls a rat slipped. He was small, yet strong, and carried six knives. Abbot Simeon turned a corner, and came face to face with the enemy. Before he could utter a cry, the rat stabbed the old and gentle abbot through the throat. He died without a sound.
Soon, the rat had came to the room where Nator was sleeping. Slipping a bunch of herbs under the otter's nose, the rat gently picked up Nator. When he turned round, he was facing Balthasar. "You bally murderer! Stabbing the abbot, wait till I catch you!"
As fast a lightning, the rat whipped out a knife and flung it at the hare's head. Quickly sidestepping the missile, Balthasar rushed at the rat, who pushed Nator out of a window. He, however, followed the otter, but fell dead. The hare's hind leg had kicked him with such force that he had fallen. The alarm was raised, and Balthasar looked onto the lawn.
Fiero came rushing in, and said "Lookee! There be worms dragga otterworm!"
A group of rats was dragging Nator, still unconscious, through a door. They had made it across the ditch when the Sparrows took to the air.
One of the rats, Slavski, said to the leader of the party who was named Vagivald, "Look! How are we gonna get this otter to the Queen?"
"She thought of that. Look to the tall grass!"
Hidden in the grass which hid them from sight, ten score archers had their bows pointed toward the sky. As the Sparrows flew closer, they prepared to fire. The abbey doors opened. Otters, led by Balthasar, rushed out.
Ten score arrows flew upwards. Fiero shifted to avoid one, watching ten of the Sparra fall to the ground. Another stream of arrows took down several more.
Balthasar gave the otters a command: "Fire!"
The stones, hurled from the slings of the otters, passed through the sparrows without harming any. Many of the archers were felled by the deadly missiles, but none went near the group that was dragging the limp body of the otter.
Nator was being dragged deeper into the woods. Even the Sparrows and the Otters together could not keep up this for long; the effect of the arrows was devastating. A silver arrow was notched to a bow. Two strong paws aimed upwards. One veiled face noted the Sparra King, Strongwing, swooping towards Vagivald.
In his vision, Strongwing could see the arrow coming at him. He tried to dodge it, as he had many others, but not this one. With a cry the King of Sparras fell to the earth. That put a stop to the attempt to retrieve Nator. Strongwing was carried back to the abbey, and Fiero was the new king.
Water splashed upon Nator's head. He woke up, spluttering, half expecting to see the infirmary keeper glaring down at him. What he saw instead was the Queen of the Wood.
"I have got you now, waterhound.." she was saying.
Nator interrupted "What do you want with me, vermin, and why do you trouble us?"
"Listen," she replied, "I have you in my power. I also have this mouse we ambushed on a journey to your abbey, Palo or something like that. You will obey me, or this mouse will die, along with Balthasar, who at this moment is being captured by my troops. Now, to business. You will let us into the abbey."
On the leading ship, coming into sight of Salamandastron, Sinky was looking towards the mountain, and his eyes were bright with desire. Masalio was building up the defences, for he knew the mountain was about to face its utmost test.
Balthasar, however, was not being captured by the self appointed Queen's soldiers. He was following them, chuckling as they talked to each other.
"Where has that hare have got himself to?" asked a burly weasel.
"What beats me," responed another, "is how he can have disappeared. I could'v sworn I seen him here!"
He was interrupted by a light tap on his shoulder. Whirling round, he saw the hare.
Balthasar started to speak; "Hello, mah fine fellow. Nice day, wot wot. Y'now, you bally chaps look like you've been drinking some o' that sour queen's buttermilk. Your frowns could curdle butterflies!
The two weasels rushed at him, but they could not catch the elusive Balthasar. He would rush round them, then stand still and just as they thought they had him, they would find he was in another area completely. At the sounds of scuffling and cursing, many more assorted vermin came to help, but could not catch the hare. Balthasar would dance round them, giving them colorful insults coupled with hard kicks. This enraged the vermin, but they could not catch the hare.
Balthasar heard a slight sound behind him. He instantly sidestepped a metal arrow, however, it tore some skin off of his side. Slowly, the hare sank to the ground, and fell asleep. The arrow, which had contained a sleeping potion made of mint and chamomile, with several other wild herbs, had done its work. The Queen of the Wood had three prisoners, and intended to use them to her benefit. Nator, Balthasar and the strange mouse named Palo were helpless.
The woods were dark and drear. Rain was falling as Fiero winged over Mossflower, searching for the missing Redwallers. Below him, Balthasar was working a plan in his fertile mind. A quite chirp came to his attention, and he saw Fiero pecking away at Nator's bounds. Soon Palo and Balthasar were also free.
Sinky landed on the sandy beach facing the great dormant volcanic mountain. Holding up a white flag, he walked towards the great entrance.
"I wish for you to surrender peacefully, Masalio," he said.