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A Beginning's End: Book I "Nox"

Ta-daa! Here it is, book I. If anyone could give me some advice, how to solve the problem, or how to improve the story itself, I would be very thankful.

It is very daring for some beast to say, a day changes his life on a regular basis. If one is a member of the Long Patrol though, it is prone to do so.

This book is preferably read in the following order:

1. Bantar

2. Windplummer

3. Nathan

4. Donathan

5. Tadgh

6. At least after that, you can skim through it all quite easily...



Excerpt from the recordings of Brother Nathan, Recorder of Redwall Abbey,

It is a fairly cool night, but I couldn’t care less, really. My travelling companion, Truddle, is the biggest trouble for now (his name does fit). He recently has engaged the habit to sleep longer, and travelling less, which slows our pace enormously.

It was an especially misty morning, where the warmed ground collided with the cool air. Under a mighty beech, bushes suddenly started to move. A young hare poked out his head, followed by a bankvole.

Ah, but while I’m writing, I would like to thank Friar Liam and Sister Tarma for the excellent provision they have provided for us. I have seldomly tasted better honey-baked pastry (with some cool margarine) in my whole life.

The hare slipped back into the underbrush, and muttered,

“By jove, good idea you called me, Stavo. That was the biggest group that passed through here since a jolly long time. They could hav’ been jolly much trouble for somebeast, wot?”

“Well, what are ye goin’ tae do about them lot? They’ll reach my dwelling by tomorrer!” the bankvole complained.

Though I personally believe, that Truddle could manage with less of that, his own weight ultimately keeps him on the ground. But now for the rest. This is the fifteenth day of our travelling for Salamandastron, and I am glad, that we will have arrived in the next half day or so. I have been up since extra early especially for this occasion, and if we start marching on earlier, we will probably arrive earlier too.

“Anyways, I’ll have to get back to the mountain first. The only ‘uns that are in the area right now is my unit. But we’d still be hopelessly outmatched; there must be nearly 800 of these blighters. What’d they want in the area anyways, huh?” the hare asked”

Salamandastron found itself in a thick mist. It was sticky but still overly cold. The window slots of the mountain castle who weren’t protected by wooden planks, were stuffed by thick, waxed wool blankets, who resembled curtains. In one of the lower levels of Salamandastron, the recruit room lay. In this room, all leverets, who hoped to become recruits in Salamandastron’s Long Patrol, were quartered in temporarily, when they weren’t registered for their own quarter room yet. The room lacked much of the comfort of the other dormitories.

“Now firstly,” Stavo counted up, “Yew won’t be outmatched by that bunch, will yer? You ’eard the stories of Colonel Clary an’ ‘is lot. An’ secondly, I’d bet an oat to an acorn, that they’re movin’ to’ards Redwall. You’ll have tae chase ‘em.”

This has been established like that for three reasons; Firstly, the room was of provisional nature, secondly the hares should be introduced to the mountain’s overall coldness and dampness, and thirdly should the leverets be given one last chance to change their opinion, and to cancel their training, before being registered officially.

I will not let Truddle keep us away from Salamadastron any further. Oh, and I nearly forgot (silly me): Martins Sword is in tip-top condition. It is probably the first time, that this sword has left our beloved Abbey walls for a ceremonial occasion. But the Battle of the Ridge of a Thousand is an event to be remembered. Although most of the participants have passed away over the years, their children and children’s children want to celebrate the event; mournful, naturally. I, as a representative from Redwall, and as an ancestor of Sister Egram, will attend the service, and present the sword to the old Badger Lord. I can’t await to see the mountain myself, in it’s full size. I will better wake Truddle now. I will continue writing. Later.

“So it seems.” The hare agreed “Wait, here, old ‘un. I’m back in a moment.”

“Oy! Windplummer! Where d’ye believe yer goin tae?!” the vole didn’t manage to stop her, but distracted her as she shot out of the undergrowth. Her own momentum carried her forward, and she fell face-first into the irrigation ditch, that formed the border of the former orchard.

Nathan closed his travelling booklet and packed it away. He then stood up, and cautiously approached the provisional tent, where Truddle the shrew lay asleep, subconsciously clenching his stomach.

This night, a four score of hares had established themselves in the room. Everyone with an issued blanket, they slept on a thin layer of hay. One could not doubt, that it became a vital tradition over the years, and even leverets, who were native to the mountain, were dared to sleep there. They were normally drilled from dawn on, and much earlier in winter. But today was the day of the official registration.

It was only dawn, when Bantar the ferret stood up, groaning and stretching his sleek body, nonchalant of his surroundings. It was a fairly silent morning, only disturbed by some sole crickets in the vast fields surrounding the camp.

Nathan, who tried to wake him as passively as possible, began to berate him loudly,

“Truddle, it is needless to say, that you shan’t eat more than 6 of those pastries at the same time. Goodwife Tarma warned you, didn’t she?”

She scrambled up quickly, although she was visibly shattered by her fall, but tried her best to retain her senses again. Nobody of the sleeping hordebeasts had heard her fall.

Grathur, a snake-like fox, though, wasn’t asleep.

Bluish-black darkness dominated the earth, where one could not see what lied in front of him, although the sky above was shining light grey, illuminating every single cloud formation that hung between earth and the horizon.

Truddle came about only slowly, and after some time he understood, that he was being talked to. He slipped out of his sleep and wearily answered,

“ ’oo? Sis’a Tarma? W…whhhhyyyyyyuuuuaaaahhhhhh.” His sentence was cut short by a big yawn, and he turned around to the other side, as if Nathan was but a bad dream.

Beneath this unreal scenery, Treefang’s hordebeasts had the hardest time trying to sleep. The ground they happened to sleep on during the night fortunately was manifested by dense weed, one that could be easily used for stuffing pillows.

The fox had been awake the whole night, and keeping an eye on the camp, while the official night guard did his small slumber. He slowly tilted his head towards the sounds, and eyed the dazed haremaid. His paw silently crept towards his axe, and he waited, until Windplummer would come closer.

Nathan took his walking stick, and tapped Truddle on the head. He lost his busybody-like voice, and changed into a no-nonsense one,

“Up you get, you squealing little excuse for a mouse!”

“Now you rotters, stir your stumps, afore I get nasty!

“Up you get, up you get! Lissen up, you!”

“You don’t hear me talking, but I can hear you snoring! I want this to change! Now!” The gruff voices ricocheted through the chamber, causing in choir of moaning and yawning from the leverets’ side.

Bantar instead concentrated on not running into one of those sole pear trees standing in the orchard-like terrain, and silently worried, where he would sleep next in near future. The thought sprang up quite often recently, mainly because Bantar’s chieftain Treefang had not talked to his horde for a whole of three days now.

“I’ll be looking for a chief’s tent, Stavo. Wait and hide here, will you.” Windplummer ordered.

“Shrew…” Truddle corrected him, yawned once again, and sat up.

The vole though, took out his carving knife, and began covering her advance over the sleeping forms. Her foot paw sled into Grathur’s reach, and so the fox grabbed her and attempted to pull her down.

“Please, make ready, we have to move along!” Nathan begged him.

“Aye mate, ‘ere we go. But you lead, eh?” The shrew scratched his head, and started to collect the lanterns from last night.

“I don’t believe they bally heard me. What do you believe, Tadgh?”

“I believe these gentlebeasts deserve a special treatment. Bucket buck! Gerrin here!”

Stavo blew his cover in that moment, as he dashed over to help Windplummer. She, though, was already on the gound, silently trying to hold off Grathur and his blade. Stavo pounded onto him, and thrust carving knife into his chest.

After the tent was packed away into the small cart as well, both trundled along the dark path, Nathan pulling the small wagon.

The warlord obviously did not want them to know where he directed them to. The only ones he contacted were his captains, every morning at the same time after dawn.

Grathur kicked the small-sized vole away from him, and attempted to stand up, but Windplummer pulled him down, and held his snout shut with her paw. She pressed his head back, and suddenly an unhealthy crack emanated from it. The fox went limp.

Truddle packed out one of the lanterns, and lit it. The light instantly illuminated the road before them, if not very far.

He stopped, quickly, believing to have heard some songbirds fighting in the undergrowth.

The fight had taken place in less than seven seconds, and had not wakened anyone.

Songbirds would always make good dinner, he thought.

But, he could still catch them later.

The coast was closer to the sunrise than any other part of Mossflower. Donathan, one of the senior otter residents of the coastline, was sitting in front of his dozy cove among the white, scallop-infested dunes.

Still, in a moment’s notice, sound cold be heard from the their side of the camp. The pair reacted quickly.

A senior hare charged into the room, yowling, and toting two buckets full of cold water. By the point of time he had entered the room, the whole of the four score of leverets was at least half awake. To speed up the process, he flung the liquid at them. As the two loads of water splashed everywhere, the leverets themselves went jumping around the room, to escape the cold liquid.

He leaned on an old log, which had been rammed lengthwise into the ground by a flood. It presumably belonged to a ship once. It had a sizeable seal carved onto one of it’s sides. Donathan, who had spent his whole life being petty and relying only on most basic needs, recently had found his taste for a little comfort and elegancy that this beautifully-carved log represented, as he noticed how old he was getting over the years, his only son was already grown up, and he himself had some trouble with his flexibility when in water. For a few seasons now, his son took over most of his fathers’ tasks, such as fishing for food. Donathan chuckled. But his son did not ask him for his permission to do so, did he? He will show his son, that he still is strong enough to care for his family, all by himself. Because, when the sun rises, he will teach his bustling offspring a little lesson.

Stavo made a tip-toe dash back to the bushes, and Windplummer, still on the ground, kicked the dead Grathur away from herself, and grabbed a raincoat from a nearby stoat. She thrust it over her face in a moment’s notice.

He stepped over others lying in the moss, such as a rat gagged in a scruffy blanket, two heavily snoring stoats, one with a raincoat pulled over his face, and an oversized serpent-like fox, who lied flat on the ground, with a quite indifferent expression on his face.

The creature, who made the sounds, passed by, not noticing Windplummer and Grathur, as he stepped over both.

As the shouting had died down, ‘Bucket buck’ addressed the recruits in a non-concerning way,

“Tis was just to remind you, that you are addressed by two senior offisahs!” he thrust his head smartly to one of the hares, “Sah!”

“Soo, tha’ un rabbi’ back a few days said, tha’ ‘tis is a dangerous area, roight? Wher’s our guide then, dat otter fella you told me about? I’m getting’ nervous all’a sudden…” Truddle continued. “The otter guide will meet us after sunrise, on Pike Bridge, if you know what bridge I mean.”

He and his son will go to Pike Bridge, and, once there, await for a delegation from Redwall, who are on their way to Salamandastron.

“Oh, aye. Tha’ woodn’ bridge from de legen’ o’ Mariel, eh?”

“She was not a legend, Trud. She really lived, albeit many many seasons ago. The gatehouse recordings are full of her deeds.”

“Aye, you’d know fer sure, moi pal the recordar.”

“Thank you, bucket buck. Oll right, you rotters. We just wanted to remind you, that today is a special occasional day, and therefore any early-morning exercises are cancelled for you all.”

“Are we happy about that?” the other one asked the recruits. The leverets blankly stared at the three creatures standing at the door. Was that it? They had ripped them out of their peaceful sleep and soaked them in cold water, just to inform them, that they were free to sleep longer today? The leader of the three stepped forward, and sniggeringly declared,

“Welcome to Salamandastron, lads.” The three stepped out and closed the door behind them. Then they stood still in the lit corridor for a while, and then heartily burst out laughing.

“Whoohoohoo, oh deary me! Whahahaaha, you really scared them out of under their blankets. ‘Now you rottahs, stirrr your stumps!’ Heeeheehee!”

“Well, whahahaha, I’d always take a compliment from you, ‘bucket buck’, heheheee!”

‘Bucket buck’ made a dignified bow, but burst out laughing once more, staying in his forward bent position. “It get’s more hilarious every year, whooohooo!”

While he will guide the group to the fiery mountain, his son will get the possibility to explore the area a little bit. If Donathan was lucky, his son might even “get lost” for an hour or so, just to deliver him a clear message, that father knows the best way. This should hopefully exorcise his son of such foolish ideas, like running away and creating own Holt. His was still too young, or so at least Donathan thought. He had not the chance to start another one though.

His son poked his head out of the entrance, and then jumped at his father. Donathan knew, that he was coming for him.

After passing about a dozen of groaning, stinking sleepers, he rounded a thick elm tree that bordered the orchard, and suddenly found himself faced by an illuminated figure sitting on an illuminated log, both flickering distinct reddish. Bantar knew he had found the camp fire, and approached it. Suddenly though, he lashed out left, to avoid stepping into the glowing coal pile next to his foot paws.He sat on the log, and nudged the motionless creature next to him, which leaned on a stump spear.He made his way to the fire, and nudged the night guard. The creature flinched visibly and tilted his head towards Bantar.

“Argh, yew agin... Lemme guess, yer de nex’ guard a’ dudy, eh?” Without awaiting an answer from the quizzical ferret, he pressed his spear hand into his paws, and trundled off, nearly avoiding the contents of the fireplace.

By the time they started conversing, Windplummer had turned around silently away from the fire, and started creeping, the raincoat still in her paws, over to Stavo, who was still hiding.

But unfortunately he couldn’t move, his stiffened back prevented him from moving too fast.

“The body is not catching up with my mind, s- Oof!” 

“Well, I don’t know. Perhaps it is a little bit mean, that we taunt them in such a harsh way.” The other two stared hard at the talker, believing he was about to dissent from their annual pranks on the recruits.

“You don’t really mean that, do you?”

“Woahoho... Oh, of course not, it’s the sweetest thing about the welcoming celebration. Whoooohoo!”

“Let’s go, before ole Melanius finds out. Out of some reason, she is against this sort of tradition.”

“I do wonder as well, why she thinks like that.”

“We will never find out, I believe.”

Both otters rolled down the dune, one laughing like a madbeast, the other one desperately grabbing for a halt.

Bantar tried to warn the ferret,

“But I‘m no’ a night guarrd…”

Upon arrival at her destination, she triumphantly turned around, but was immediately petrified, when she saw the night guard wandering into her direction. Then a pair of strong paws tugged her under.

“Ah coon’t care less!” the guard mumbled and wearily sunk to the ground on the next possible spot.

“Are ye orright?” Stavo asked.

Once both reached the foot of the dune, Donathan jumped up, and turned to his son,

“Are you out of your mind?” he shouted “One can kill himself when being jumped by such a big tub of lard like yourself! Wait… why are you up already, anyway?” His son cleaned the sandf rom his eyes and whiskers, and answered briskly,

“Ahoy dere. Well, we wan’ed to catch up with those Redwallers, ‘remember, Dad?” Donathan was surprised, albeit negatively,

“Billan, you remember? Wait a tick, who told you in the first place? T’was a surprise from me for you.”

“Oh dad, mama told me. Y’know there’s no surprises fer me!” Donathan tried hard to contain himself, so he doesn’t appear too exaggerated in front of his rebellious son, and so he referred back to his standard black humour,

“Líssen, ‘ere, shipmate. With tha’ attitude, you’ll get yerself killed out there. If not by me, then by nature ‘erself. You ‘ear me?” Billan laughed out loud, and docilely hugged his father. If his father had used his black humour on anybeast else than his family, it would have been most likely interpreted as a serious threat.

After a while, Truddle flinched all of a sudden, and flung the light onto the left side of the path.

Unsure of how to react, being afraid of waking the whole encampment, he decided to stay quiet, and warm himself by the fire’s remainders.

Before Windplummer could answer, sound of wheels could be heard, and lights of a lantern could be seen, only dozens of yards away from their position, across a great marsh.

He stared hard at the fireplace, as it slowly began to pocket his vision…

Nathan, halting his wagon, asked him,

“What is it?”

Stavo, saw, how the beast at the fire started to drift off slowly. Windplummer noticed the strange sounds and the lantern on the other side, and hastily gesticulated to Stavo,

Don't talk! Whatever happens, keep quiet!

“There’s bushes movin’. I hear it.” He gasped.

“Aye, and there is a fire too, on the other side of that meadow. Right, as we don’t know who those beasts are, keep as silent as possibly possible, alright?”

“Mhm.” Truddle reduced his lantern’s shine immediately, and Nathan severely slowed his pace, for the sound’s sake. After being out of the possible hearing range, Nathan sighed deeply, and grimly stated,

“Aye, Trud, we’d best find the otter, as, fast, as, possible!”

Donathan returned his son’s hug, and patted him encouragingly,

“Well, when the next day dawns, we’ll see who is the more fortunate one!”

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