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The Mossflower Patrol

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This is a fan fiction story by User:TheTragedyofE. It is not considered canon, nor is it a policy or guideline

Warning! This Fanfic Contains Spoilers for The Following Canon Redwall Novels: Redwall, Mattimeo, and Pearls of Lutra. If You do not want any of these titles spoiled, do not read the following Fanfic! Continue at your own risk...

Prologue

Fat Snowflakes fell lazily on top of the Great Roof of Redwall Abbey. The windows of the Red Abbey where filled with a soft light; typical of Redwall. While a soft, hazy blanket covered the ground, the Dwellers of the Abbey all lay huddled in Cavern Hole. A story was about to be told, once more.

An Elderly female Squirrel sat in a great chair, food and drink being brought to the Squirrel by noisy dibbuns, pushing each other, in hopes of a story.

A great, old Female Badger shook her great head. As Mother of All Redwall, she was ashamed at the Dibbuns. What awful behavior, in front of a guest!

"Dibbuns! Sit down immdietly! Whoever is naughty during the story will be sent to bed!" She scolded. This statement was met with an outcry, mainly the dibbuns, protesting in vain. However, the elderly squirrel laughed loudly, picking up a small mole babe.

"Heh heh, Rascals! Y'wouldn't want to be sent to bed, whouldn't 'cha?"

The Mole Babe shaked it's fat head. "Oh, Nurr, Marm. Bein' sent to hurr bed iz awfol!"

This response was answered with a loud roar of laughter. Father Abbot Donegal shook his head, laughing at the antics of the Mole babe.

"Oh heehee! A good laughs good, especially during a cold night like this, hmm, Marm?"

The Female Squirrel nodded, pawing a small braclet of acorn caps, which she always held.

"Ah, yes Father. Reminds me of a certain time in me own life. Ah. A tale like that. A tale of Betrayal, Love, Hope, Blood, and Tears. A story of none other than..." She stopped suddenly, looking around the audience.

Sister Valencia stared wide eyed at the Squirrel, Inturpting, "A story of none other than?"

Multiple Redwallers took a guess.

"Redwall?"

"Salamandastron?"

"Brockhall?"

"Some far away land?"

"Mossflowah?"

The one who answered "Mossflowah", a tiny Mouse Babe, stood up, looking triumphently at the Elderly Squirrel, who, in Return, bust out laughing. The Badger mother stood wide eyed, smiling secretly to herself. She new this tale very well.

"Whoahahahoahahoha! My my, Y'old 'uns ought to learn somethin' off this rouge! Yes yes...A tale of Mossflower. Not long after the return of a young mouse Mattimeo, and his father Matthias. Something beautiful was formed. Something deadly. Something that would soon be forgotten, but something, that lives on as a legacy. A legacy of the Mossflower Patrol!"


BOOK 1: THE PATROL

Chapter 1

It was one the very first days of Summer, and it truly did feel like it. Mossflower Country seemed to burst with life. Daisies and Violets bloomed side-by-side, being only surrounded by chicory and Crimson Clovers. Great Oak and Elm reached out to the sky, their neighbors being apple and pear trees, who where abundant in fruit. Tall, sweet Grasses swayed in alternating direction, and short bushes popped up around the trees. Red-currents, Blackberry, Bilberry, Gooseberry, and Strawberry, all growing together. Not a cloud stained the bright blue, ocean like sky.

It was indeed a perfect day.

Rippo and Sinkchop wandered the deep woodland, They're vermin faces showing nothing but confusion and Rage. The two where Sea-rats, seperated from their crew, and somehow made it to this strange place. Wrapped in their poorly stitched cloaks, they pushed away bushes and snapped twigs as they made their way in some unknown direction.

"Stupid! That's wot yew are! Nothin' but stupid! I told yew not to go around an' 'plore, Bumpkin!" Said the Bigger of the two Rats, Sinkchop. Rippo chewed on a sour apple, his face scrunched up in annoyance.

"I'm the Bumpkin, eh?! Well, yore the one who said to get some prime vittles!" He answered, tossing the large rat another apple.

Missing completely, Sinkchop stumbled to pick up the fruit, now bruised. Reluctantly, he took a bite, only to spit it out in a frenzy.

"Bah! Yew call this prime vittles?! Stupid lazychops, when I say Prime vittles, I mean A roasted bird and some wine! Not this moldy ol' peice o' garbage...Avast! Wots that Red castle over there?"

Rippo whirled his head around Exitingly, until he pinpointed the red building. "Ahoy there, me matey! It's a castle!"

Sinkchop chuckled darkly, his twisted mind already making a plan.

"Hee hee! Probably some bumbling mice livin' up there! Probably some goods an' gold in there too! C'mon!" The Big rat already began running towards the building. Rippo was close behind him, giggling like a Naughty Dibbun.

Zip!

The arrow was a hair-breath from Rippo's ear, the arrowhead lodged into an Apple Tree. The Sea Rat slowly turned around, slightly shivering. Sinkchop ran back to Rippo, his face full of annoyance.

"C'mon, Mate! Watcha waiten for?"

"An...An Arrer just came at me an'-"

"Hell's Teeth! You Bli-"

Zip!

This time the Arrow had hit the area right next to Sinkchop's foot. The two Searats began to shudder, as they heard a loud voice echo through the empty forest.

"Leave this Place! Go back from where you came, you scum! Never come back! Consider this a warning..."

Rippo laughed, flecks of spit flying everywhere. "Heheahahaheeheeeheehee! Sinkchops, you really scared o this load o-"

Zip! Zip! Zip!

Three lethal arrows flew out of the thick foliage. The Searats hopped up and down, screaming. They weren't armed in the slightest, and had no armor what-so-ever. Rippo pulled out an arrow, throwing it at the foliage in vain. However, it fell half the distance.

Arrows rained down, as the two cowardly rats ran back the way they came, cursing their pursuers frantically.

"Sam Squirrel! Are they gone?"

"I'm very sure, Ayla. Everyone, we can come down now."

In an instant, a number of creatures descended from the thick foliage. Rubbing their heads, and brushing off the dirt off tunics, they stood there. Eleven tough looking creatures, each one having a small, circular wooden badge, the inside carved to the likeness of an Oak tree.

Leaning agents a tree, the Black Squirrel, Known to Friends as Ayla Pinesnow, scribbled down the events of the day and observations on a barkcloth scroll. It was expected for one to do this. While Ayla was doing this, A young, male otter began pulling all the arrows shot. Laughing Good Naturedly, he commented. "Well not t'be rude, but I think that was a bally waste o' arrows, Wot!"

Sam Squirrel affectionatly punched his good Otter Friend. "Waste of Arrows? I can't belive I'm hearing that from Cheek Stag Otter! After all, you always say, 'Action is the Ticket'!" The young red squirrel struck a pose, similar to the young otter, even speaking in his Manerisim.

Flick, the pretty red squirrel, along with her Father, Jak, looked around the area. Jak spat at the ground, Muttering, "Well, isn't this new! Have you noticed how more of yon Vermin are appearing yonder in Mossflower? Tis unsettling. In all my years, I haven't seen so many appear in here!"

Flick continued where her father left off. "And the fact that they are all wandering closer to Redwall! May'haps we start preparing?"

The Squirrel Elmtail came dashing out of the foliage. In his quick way of talking, he called out, "No more Vermin I see coming! I think it's safe to say that we can all go home today!"

Sam nodded seriously. He had remembered forming the Mossflower Patrol with Elmtail a few seasons ago. Back then, it was only the two squirrels, but, over time, more members joined. Vermin where always jumping out of nowhere, and work was a plenty. However, Sam planned on enjoying the remainder of the day. Especially, for there was a feast to be held tomarrow!

The twin Hedgehogs, Mortle and Bastian, helped Cheek put the arrows back in a satchel. Mortle, the quieter of the two hogs, mumbled, "I can't wait 'till the feast...Oof! Me spikes are turning grey, I swear!"

Bastian roared with laughter, obviously not feeling the same way as his twin brother. "Hahahohoho! Ignore ol' Mortle! He's always tired!" Mortle managed a slight grin, much to the amusement of Bastian.

The Molemaid Fargule chuckled to herself, putting away some poisonous darts, which she often kept with her.

"Hurr Hurr! Ohm, they be funny beasts! If ownly me mum where here! Hurr Hurr Hurr! Maister Sammy, you look gurtly happy!"

Sam nodded cheerfully. Everything had a sort of optimistic aura surrounding it.

"Aye, Fargule! I'm just exited for th'feast!"

"The Feast?! There was a feast?!" Asked Elmtail suddenly, completely oblivious to the hints given.

"Mhm, Laddo. A great feast! Didn'cha here?" Responded Cheek, stroking his whiskers like his mentor. Suddenly, the otter stopped, his eyes wide. Two otters appeared out of the foliage, obviously still learning the art of going up and down on a tree. The Ottermaid was Kidd Nightbank, especially pretty too, and was the subject of all of Cheek's Love Letters. The second otter Was a huge male, dark brown, grim and silent. He was simply called Riverrunner. A most mysterious fellow.

Smoothly, Kidd called, "A feast? My! Is it alright if I come? I've never been to one of Redwall's famous Feasts!"

Before anyone could reply, Cheek shot up next to her like an arrow.

"Of course, of course, m'dear! Your welcome anytime, anywhere! I give you full honor to go to the Feast! The Feast! Oh, you'll love the feast! Of course, come to the Fe-"

The Rambling Otter was silenced by Flick's paw. Sheepishly, the otter ceased to talk, while the two maids struck conversation.

"You'll be going to the Feast too, Flick?"

"Aye! Me an' me dad are both goin'. Ayla's also goin'"

Cheek looked up shyly at Riverrunner, the huge otter sizing him down considerably.

"Uh...Um...Good mornin' Chap!"

Ayla, who hadn't spoken much, finished her writing. Laying the scroll in Fargule's Satchel, she lightly tapped Sam's shoulder, speaking softly. "Sam, I finished. Can we go now."

Sam's face brightened. "Everyone! To Redwall!"

Due to such Merry Occasions, Elmtail began a song which he just made up. Everybody joined in. From Ayla, to Mortle, to even the Gruff Riverunner. After multiple seasons of restless work, the Patrol was finally able to relax and enjoy themselves.


'The Good 'Ol Patrol!'

'The Good 'Ol Mossflower Patrol!'

'Whenever there is evil or a chink'

'We always turn up in a blink of a wink! 'The Good 'Ol Patrol!'

'The Good 'Ol Mossflower Patrol!'

'Fighting bad for truth and good'

'all that we ask is simply good food!'

'The Good 'Ol Patrol!'

'The Good 'Ol Mossflower Patrol!' '

However, The Mossflower Patrol was completely oblivious that they where being watched....


Chapter 2

The Grace of Summer did not always touch all of Mossflower. For ever Rose must have a thorn, and even the most beautiful thing must have a flaw. For Mossflower, that flaw was a strip of land, known only as "The Blemish" to good Woodlanders.

No Creature pure in heart lived in The Blemish. Cold hearted Vermin where the only population. The Blemish was neither a town nor a colony. It was simply a territory. However, a territory must have control; if it didn't, creatures of all kind would be coming and claiming it!

The High Leader of the Blemish was no Other, than Varrock The Silence. A Mysterious Weasel, whom no one knew anything about. He appeared suddenly, and became the Leader of the region. No creature dared to resist Varrock. No sane creature did.

Even though the Rest of Mossflower was far from the Weasel's control, it didn't stop Varrock from occasionally strolling through the wood. Elusive and sly, it was nearly impossible to detect the Weasel, who was dressed in a barkcloth cloak. All he had to do, was stand next to an Oak (which where plentiful), and stay still. No simple creature would be able to find him.

However, as the Weasel walked leisurely, the sound of creatures speaking pierced the calm silence known to Mossflower. Having been overwhelmed by curiosity, the Weasel decided to look around. Pushing away some brush, what he uncovered was invaluable.

At least to him.

"Hmmm...Mossflower Patrol, Y'say? I'll deal with you lot some other time..."

Varrock entered his domain, feeling slightly comforted by the familiar feel of The Blemish. Most creatures would have been horrified of the appearance, but, in some strange, twisted way, the Weasel thought of this place as a sort of home. The ground was completely scraped of any plant or grass, although trees did dot the area, giving shade. It may have harbored life in the beginning, if Varrock hadn't ordered his top Captains to collect all the food in the area, and scare off any potential game. Water was out of the question, since the Great River Moss didn't flow through The Blemish. Varrock knew vermin; They're loyalty was always at stake, but, like all things living, the Vermin did stay loyal to one thing;

Food.

If Varrock controlled the food, then he could control his horde. He kept his Vermin skinny and gaunt, only giving them enough food to live and be able to fight. Of course, Hungry Vermin are due to rebel, but Varrock put that out of his mind. These Vermin where mindless, and wouldn't be able to live off the hidden fat of the land. And so, Varrock ruled.

As the Weasel strode into his tent, a painfully thin Rat tapped Varrock's shoulder, obviously trying to say something. Varrock slowly turned his head, his eyes naught but golden slits. Luckily for The Rat, who was named Darksnout, the Weasel was in a good mood.

"Spit it out, Darksnout. Time is to precious to waste waiting for you to talk."

Gulping Nervously, Darksnout whimpered, "Ugh...ugh...Chief? Chief? There's this Fox who wants to talk to yew..."

Varrock let himself marvel for a second. Not a single fox was under his rule. Pushing Darksnout roughly aside, he made the Rat show him where the Fox was.

Darksnout lied; what was waiting for him was a bit more than a mere fox.

Two Foxes, A savage looking male, and an odd looking Vixen, dressed in a thick fur coat, with multi-color headbands decorating her body. Tattoos covered her from head to paw, while a large blue pendants hung from a rope around her neck. One eye was a brilliant green, another one a putrid shade of yellow.

Behind the foxes, a whole army of Vermin lay at the disposal. It, in truth, almost reached the level of Varrock's own army. But the Weasel didn't let this suprise him. Signaling Darksnout away with a single look. Looking at the two foxes, he said warmly, "Ah, I see you have come to my domain. What is it you want."

The Strange Vixen took a step toward Varrok. "I am Eggtooth; The other Fox is my mate, Fiuris. We and our horde had traveled a long distance. What we ask is simple; a meal, a drink, a place to sleep in peace. We will leave on the morrow, if Fate be so kind."

Varrock could already tell this was a sly Fox, from the way she looked over at Fiuris. He had to be clever know; if he made a wrong move, things could go badly. Very Badly. Looking regally over at the horde once more, he came to a decision. These Foxes where going for more than a day of rest. However, the Vermin of the Horde looked tired, and in even more bad shape then his own subjects. His mind already calculating, he nodded too the two of them.

"You two and your horde are fully welcome in my Domain. Sit, eat, drink your fill." The two foxes looked at each other, as in speaking in secret. Varrock allowed this to pass him, smiling secretly to himself.

He led Eggtooth and Fiuris inside his own tent, allowing their horde some sleep before they where to be fed. Eggtooth marveled at the food the Weasel was serving her and her mate; Roasted Pigeon, draped in spicy hotroot sauce. Baked apples, and fresh plums, not to mention the Elderberry wine in her goblet. Gingerly sipping it, she was surprised Varrock hadn't poisoned it. She watch her mate bite hungrily into the Pigeon, not hurt in the slightest. She turned to face the Weasel, who was daintily eating a plum.

"Your clever. You know that I am a Fox. I would be able to detect the slightest trace of poison. It makes me even more confident about our plan."

"Your plan?" Asked Varrock, as he sipped the rich wine. He had expected something of the sort.

Suddenly, the entrance to his tent was blocked by horde-beasts, the ones in front already preparing to aim arrows at his heart. Eggtooth looked straight at the Weasel, her eyes stone cold, already wielding a dagger dripping in clear liquid.

"Things could either very well, or very bad for you, Weasel. Surrender yourself, your horde, and your land now, if you value your life!"

Varrock raised an eyebrow, leaning towards the two foxes. He then gave his final answer.

"No."


Chapter 3

Extract from the writing of Tim Churchmouse, Recorder of Redwall Abbey

It is the Summer of the Early Blossom!

What wonderful weather! Never in my life have I experienced such sunshine, such blue skies. We at Redwall are all so happy. I do hope it stays this way for a while, although Brother Alax always says that all good must come with a price. As we rejoice for the good in our lives, we remember those who have passed for sunnier pastures. Mrs. Churchmouse (my mother), Sister Agnes, Brother Rufus, and of course, our dear Mother of Redwall, Constance. However, Redwall is not without a Badger! Auma has happily volunteered for the task. Little does she know what's she's gotten herself into...

Now that I recall, I can say that our little ones do grow quickly. It seems like only yesterday Martin II, my nephew, was born. But now he's a full fledged dibbun. His Father and Grandfather do expect him to become a warrior, but for now, the lad seems more interested in pillaging Chestnuts!

At that moment, Little Martin came Dashing into the Recorder's room. "Unca Tim! Unca Tim! Ama is gonna baffa me!"

Tim quickly motioned his nephew under the table, when the Female Badger poked her head into Tim's room.

"Good Afternoon, Mother Auma." Said Tim Calmly.

Brushing her apron, she answered hurriedly, "Oh Good Afternoon, Tim! Can you tell me where that Rascal Marti is? I'm trying to give him a bath..."

"I suggest you look in Cavern Hole. A favorite hiding place of our dibbun."

"Of course!" Auma said, snapping her fingers. "Thank you Tim!" And with that, she ran over to Cavern Hole.

Little Martin popped out from the table. Stroking his chin, Tim whispered, "So tell me, Marti. What have your brought for old Uncle Tim?"

"Strawburrs!" Chuckled Martin, thrusting a juicy strawberry into the air.

"Oh." Said Tim ,his voice tinged with disappointment. "I was hoping for Brother Umer's Meadow Cream Wafers with blackberry sauce..."

While others were preparing for the upcoming feast, old friends gathered under an old willow tree, talking of the past. Jess Squirrel, Cornflower, Basil Stag Hare, and Matthias all sat together, drinking mint tea and cold cider.

"So tell me, Jess. How is your Sam's Mossflower Patrol Goin', Wot?" Asked Basil, swigging a flagon of apple cider.

"Oh, It's wonderful!" The red squirrel answered. "They're really excited, and not to mention, they're getting a lot of training from the patrol." Matthias nodded to this reply, agreeing full heartedly.

"It's go- Oh Mattimeo! You look so dashing in that habit!" Shouted out Cornflower. Mattimeo, Abbot Mordalfus, and Tess Churchmouse where walking toward the group, the Abbot's habit sleeves rolled up, his face dusted in dirt.

"Mother-" Started the Young Warrior, but he couldn't continued. Cornflower was upon him like a lightning bolt, much to the amusement of Tess and Matthias. "Oh, don't you ever brush your fur! Must I do it!? But I must say, that Habit looks marvelous on you, doesn't it, Matthias?"

Matthias nodded, chuckling to himself. "Oh, Cornflower, give the lad a break. We all can't be as perfect as you."

However, Cornflower had already launched into a conversation with Tess on some Topic, perhaps about the cooking. Abbot Mordalfus shook his head, sitting in between Matthias and Basil. "Bless them. Bless them all. On another topic, have you three started to prepare for the upcoming feast?

Jess shook her head. “Nae, Father. I’ve been too pre-occupied with Helping the other squirrels gather acorns. You should see the lot!”


Stroking his whiskers, Basil daintily raised a paw, before replying, “Jess, me ol’ gel! Life is full of silly beasts! You just need to push the blighters away from ye! First thing I taught ol’ Cheek.”


“I thought the first thing you taught him was how to eat fifteen plate full of food without breaking a sweat!” Said Father Mordalfus.

The Retired Fighting hare shook his head sadly. “Doncha know, the chap still can’t get it right! Always turnin’ this nasty shade ‘o green after fourteen plates!”

At that moment, Little Martin came dashing out into the orchard, followed closely by Mother Auma. Even though he was smaller, the dibbun was no match for the large badger, and soon was confined to her arms. Squirming, he shouted, “Grampa! Gramma! Halp!”

“No this time, Rouge!...Good afternoon, all of you! I’m just going to give this little one his bath, you see.” Answered Mother Auma, sweeping him away.

As the group tried hard to hold in their laughter, The Elderly squirrel, Jak, approached them. Rubbing his neck tiredly, he sat down with them all.

“Good Afternoon, Jak. Busy with the Patrol?” Asked Jess.

Jak nodded, enjoying the cool shade of the tree. “Aye. I’m a bit too old for these days....Perhaps I should’ve continued my humble days in Mossflower...but Flick is too restless.”

“Are you going to join the Abbey soon, Jak?” Asked Abbot Mordalfus, hoping the answer would be yes.

“Dunno. Flick likes the place alright.” Responded Jak. “I’m interested in the ‘Tober Ale-”

Immediately, the Old squirrel was cut off by Basil’s enthusiastic speech.

“Listen here! If you're interested in “‘Tober Ale”, I know the place t’be, wot! Ol’ Ambrose Spike’s Cellar! I’ll appoint you join beverage taster, Whohohoahhahoho!”

And with that, the squirrel and the hare went dashing to the cellars.


Chapter 4

It all happened so fast.

The moment Varrock gave his negative answer to the foxes, Eggtooth came upon him like a midwinter storm. Dagger in Paw, she aimed it for the Weasel’s paw. However, Varrock was much for the blade, and dodged it easily, but he was not out of danger yet. Fiuris leaped up in front of the weasel, attempting to crush him.

Varrock might have escaped, if he wasn’t confined in the corner of his tent. And so, Fiuris lept up at him, and pinned the lithe weasel underneath him. The pain was extreme. There was absolutely no way the weasel could stand a chance against the sinewy strength of the Fox.

Seeing a golden opportunity, Eggtooth ran, and stabbed Varrock in the leg, seeing it the only visible part of his body, underneath Fiuris. Surprisingly, the Weasel did not make a sound.

“Bright Glove Poison, only I know the antidote! Your Times ticking, We-”

Zip!

The Vixen’s next words were halted by a flying arrow, it’s path straight and true. Burrowing itself into Eggtooth’s shoulder, Varrock wheezed, “Red Adder Poison, only my healer knows the antidote! Your Time’s ticking, Fox!”

And with that, Fiuris slowly got up, seeing Varrock’s face twisted into some strange grin, like he had this all planned out.

The sun had just begun to set on the Blemish, overlooking quite a scene. Vermin of both hordes scavenged the area, looking for some undug roots; perhaps a rotten apple thrown by some careless beast. They had just received dinner; Some roots, a few fish, some water shrimp, and a basket of rotting pears, along with a small basin of river water. The meagre amounts of food was far from enough to feed the horde beasts. Argoz, a large stoat, toyed with a fishbone, his flat stomach grumbling.

“Varrock’s fault! If ‘ee didn’t let those stinkin’ foxes in ‘ere, we woulda been fat an’ ‘appy with this food!”

Some Horde beast from the Fox’s side overheard this comment. The listener, a savage female pure ferret named Slemba, slowly came up to Argoz, already brandishing a lethal looking throwing knife.

“Mangy scumbag! I’ll have yore head, for speakin’ wrong bout Lord Fiuris and Lady Eggtooth!”

Conveniently, Fiuris came strolling along to the scene. Looking at Slemba, he silenced the Ferret with a single glance, not saying a word. Humiliated, Slemba slunk off to the other side of the camp, muttering curses under her breath.

While this was all happening, Eggtooth and Varrock sat inside the Healer’s tent, along with a heavily veiled female rat, named Naswar. Lying on a soft feather cloak, the weasel watched as Eggtooth applied the antidote to his leg; a putrid smelling concoction, made of crushed onions, moss, and some strange berries.

“So you're from the eastlands, eh?” Snapped Naswar, feeling a berry in her paw.

“Eastlands?” Eggtooth snorted. “What makes you say that, Rat?”

Naswar glared at Eggtooth, obviously detecting that the fox was lying. “I may not be a fox, but I’m no fool. There berries only grow in the eastlands. Your one of them East Foxes.”

Varrock pretended to be asleep, closing his eyes, like he was tired. However, his ears flared up ever so slightly, able to detect any whisper the two said.

Eggtooth laughed. “You got that right, Rat. Whole horde from the Eastlands! Brought all the herbs I needed, poisonous and other. anything else you have to say.”

The Healer rat began cleaning the arrow wound on the foxes back, reaching over to get a small pot, which was sitting in some smoldering coals. Gingerly scooping the content out, she added some flecks of herbs and crushed seeds. With that, Naswar put the concoction into a separate pot. Throwing some berries, roots, and leaves in, Naswar crushed ito with her paw. Slowly and carefully, she began applying the antidote on Eggtooth’s wound.

The fox sharply inhaled, wincing at the sharp burn of the paste. Instinctively, Eggtooth wiped it off her fur, instead smearing the stuff on Naswar’s Veil.

“You trying to Poison me, Rat?!”

“Impulsive Brat.” scolded Naswar calmly. “I am trying to save your life. Do you have a death wish. Fox?”

Rolling her eyes, Eggtooth allowed Naswar to re-coat the wound with the antidote. This time, the pain lessened, and soon, it was virtually gone.

Slowly sitting up, Varrock eyed both Naswar and Eggtooth. He looked towards The Healer Rat. “Naswar. Leave. You are no longer of service.”

With that, Naswar bowed, and exited the tent, her robes flowing behind her like a cape.

“What do you want, Weasel?” Spat Eggtooth, not in the best mood.

“What do you want.” He asked.

“What do I want?” Spat Eggtooth, “What do you think I want?! I want an empire! I want that Big Red place! I want your head mounted on top of my throne!”


Varrock grinned slyly. All Vermin where the same; capture, conquer, kill. It was a life process, perhaps. Get Mossflower, Murder Good beasts, Conquer Redwall. In his youth, The weasel also practiced this “art form”. But he grew wise. Something this fox was surprisingly not. However, if he played right, things could go very well.

“I can help you get that Red Castle.”

“Why would you help me?” Asked The Vixen calmly.

“Those creatures have wronged me in too many ways.” Varrock lied. “Killed my brother, burned my home, attempted to kill me. By all means, it would be a sight, to see their precious building burned to crisps.”

Eggtooth didn’t know whether he was lying or not. This could either go very good, or very bad. She had to play her cards right...But for now, The Weasel couldn’t go anywhere. He wasn’t in any place to wrong her now. If things went wrong, she could just order Fiuris to go kill that Healer Rat, and she could do away with Varrock herself. And so, she agreed.

“Do you want to join forces?” Asked Eggtooth, raising an eyebrow.

Varrock snickered, like a naughty dibbun.

“We’ll start planning at dawn.”


Chapter 5

The Rosy sun peeked over the horizon, the light spreading slowly through the land, like honey being spread on bread. Fresh Dewdrops dotted the landscape, signalling a new life. Soft pink light touched the land softly, a gentle caress. Colors rose and fell in the sky, as grasses blew softly around. Birds began to chirp; some already in full blow.

Morlte, Bastian, and Fargule, clad in their uniforms and equipment, marched around the woods, their eyes peeled, ready for danger. The trio had decided to give the other members a break; besides, the weather was glorious, for dawn.

Rubbing at a plum, Mortle took a bite out of it, chewing thoughtfully. “I find it rather odd that we still hadn’t run into any vermin. Usually, we get two a day, at least!”

To this statement, Bastian hit his brother in the back affectionately, roaring with laughter.

“Hahahahohoho! Isn’t it good to have so little Rats and stoats runnin’ ‘round ‘ere?”

“Um...I guess...:”

Fargule chuckled slightly. “Hurr Hurr! Yoom bee funny beasts, zur! Oim glad oi could assist ee!...Oi hope we don’t miss hur ‘east, ho hurr!”

“Of course we won’t!” Responded Bastian, throwing a paw around the little molemaid. “We’ll make it, with time to spare! There’ll be all the food you can imagine! Oat Scones, cheese dumplings, more bread than you could imagine, berries, fruits, nuts, vegetables...Ale, Cordial, Fizz!”

“Ooh, quit it, Bastian!” Murmured Mortle, holding his stomach. “I forgot to eat breakfast…”

“Shhh!” Scolded Fargule, the molemaid cupping a paw to her ear. “I cun ‘ear zumbeast! Qoit, yew too!” Immediately, the trio fell silent, trying to detect any off-putting sound.

Mortle felt his heart sink into his stomach. The young Hedgehog had never face-on-face fought with a vermin of any kind, preferring to shoot them down with arrows, frankly, he was better with arrows than his brother, who was much better armed with a club of some sort.

The Small Molemaid leaned against a tree, as so did the two hedgehogs. Holding a small dart, Fargule waited for the perfect time to strike.

“Fargule...I don’t see no-”

Whizzz!

“Ouch! ‘ey, which one did it! Yee-agh!”

At that moment, a rather large rat fell out of a nearby bush, Fargule’s Dart piercing his shoulder. Inhaling sharply, Fargule slowly backed away, her heart beating quickly. She could hear somebeast near the trio, a band of vermin, perhaps. Raising a digging claw, she signalled the other two hedgehogs to cease any noise.

“Ah Can’t find Flail. Y’see ‘im, Gedoe?”

”Can’t. Told me he was goin’ to get some vittles. Mabbe ‘em berries?”

“Gedoe! Look!”

That was the signal. Darts and sling stones rained on the vermin band. Shielding themselves with branches and blankets, they ran undercover. Captain Gedoe breathing heavily, already had his sly mind already at work.

“Give ‘em the good Sharktooth Tactic! YEROOOOYAAAAAA!!!”

In response to the sudden attack, the vermin band released an onslaught of javelins and throwing spears; much more powerful than before. One after another, they came, and struck the ground, reloading and throwing mechanically.

Bastian shook his head. “By my spikes, were out numbered! Best to just take this “Flail”, and run back to Redwall. s’a deathwish, t’stay ‘ere!”

Both Mortle and Fargule nodded. Bastian motioned for the two of them to leave, so he could get the vermin they caught. However, Mortle wasn’t so keen on this.

“Bastian! We’re stayin’ with ya!” “Aye! T’the end, bur aye!”

“No! Go to Redwall!” Shouted Bastian, as he sped off to the battlefield. The earth was cut up, from all the sharp points being hurled. Narrowly missing a spear, he approached the body of the rat. His heart beating wildly, her threw the rat over his shoulder, ready to speed off to Redwall.

“I’m comm-Wooph!”

The Javelin came out of nowhere. Grazing his side, the Hedgehog limped to the right, his eyes squinting with pain. Inhaling and exhaling slowly, he lean on a pine, attempting to camouflage with his surroundings. Trying to close his wound, Bastian listened carefully to the vermin, who had at last stopped the rain.

‘Ughh...me back! Oof, t’hurts!”

“Shut up, Slimy gut! Wos a waste o’arrers, that wos!”

“‘Ey ‘Ey! Sit down, will ‘ya!? Uglat, Rathspear, Picklock, pick’up all th’weapons! Meet uz at Blemish!”

“Aye, Aye!”

Scooting over to to another tree, a hazelnut, The Hedgehog tried to rise, but failed, the rat weighing him down. Uglat, Rathspear, and Picklock, Pine Martens, all of them, stooped down, pulling javelins and spears out of the earth. Wiping their paws on their tunics, they sat down, sniffing the air.

“Rathspear, Matey. I smell somethin’ strange.”

“Probably The Red Castle’s Cookin’. I hear they got fine vittles.”

As the trio began rambling about food, Bastian slowly stood up. Using the tree as support, he finnaly made it up. He looked over at his wound. To his relief, it had stopped bleeding, only a bruised red cut. Taking a step, he ceased breathing, paused, exhaled, took another step, stopped breathing, and so forth. It was a hard journey, especially with the rat in his arms. However, the Hedgehog was restless, determined to bring this rat to justice.

Bastian was feeling tired. Awfully tired, in truth. He also didn’t have breakfast, and what meagre engery he did have left was quickly burning up. Ready to lie down, Bastian felt his heavy eyes closing…However, something red caught his eye before he could close them.

Redwall! The Young Hedgehog had never been more happy to see his home. It’s Soft, warm red sandstone walls, it’s homely feeling. Bastian had to smile, as he began running toward Redwall. “Where do ya think yore goin’, ‘edgepig?!”

Bastian’s heart fell deep into his gut. Turning his head slowly, he met eyes with his captor, a skinny pine marten, with a deep red coat. Gulping, Bastian locked eyes with the Marten, his eyes ablaze. Without warning, he left at the pine marten’s face, his paws balled into fists, ready to fight to the death.

“Redwaaaaaaaaaaall!”

It was already Noon at Redwall Abbey; the sun peaking high in the azure sky. All creatures were abuzz with the feast, from mole to Sparra. A certain young Sparra, by the name of Starwing, fluttered down, to where Sam Squirrel and Elmtail where pacing furiously. Sam shook his head, his face masked with utter disbelief.

“I don’t believe it, Elm! It’s unlike Bastian to not be here!”

Elmtail put a hand on Sam’s shoulder. Closing his eyes and shaking his head, he answered, “From what Fargule and Mortle said, Bastian was getting a rat to investigate at th’abbey.”

“Kraah! I see Spike-worm is not among us, yes?”

Elmtail jumped up suddenly, shocked to see the Male Sparra on the ground. Shaking furiously, Sam had to coax him. “It’s alright, Elm. It’s Just a Sparra.”

“Hmph! Just a Sparra! I gonna kill ya, so Sparra! Starwing! And what is you, Brush-worm?”

“Don’t call me worm, Bird!” Shouted Elmtail, suddenly regaining his courage. “My Name is Elmtail! What do you want?! We're in the middle of some important business.”

“Shush, Elmtail!” Snapped Sam, elbowing Elmtail, then facing Starwing. “Yes. One of our group is missing. I fear he is lost in the woods. Maybe you could help us?”

Fluffing up his feathers, the proud bird chirped “Lotta Chesnut! Lotta Chesnut!”

“How Many? Candied Chestnuts?” Asked the confused Sam Squirrel, to which the bird nodded furiously. Eying Elmtail, he asked to Starwing, “Can allow us to be able to ride on you, while we search mossflower?” This was also greeted with a nod from the Sparra.

“C’mon, Elmtail! No time to waste!” Sam tugged on Elmtail’s paw, climbing onto the Sparra’s back.

Elmtail was beginning to turn a shade of green. “Ugh….I hate heights…”

With that, Starwing gracefully took off into the sky, flying smoothly, as a ship sailing on clear waters.

The Only one who saw the trio leave was Rollo. Waving his paw furiously, the Bankvole grumbled under his breath.

“I wanna go! They never let me go!” However, this response fell to deaf ears, as his sister, Cynthia Bankvole, grabbed his paw, saying something about gathering grapes in the vineyard.


Chapter 6

“What in blazes d’you mean the bloody Feast is Cancelled?!”

“Oh no…” Groaned Mother Auma, as she shepherded squirming dibbuns into the dormitory. “Avert your eyes, Dibbuns!”

It had just peeked the end of the afternoon, beginning of evening, some call it. Due to tradition, the feast would begin at the evening, and continue on further. However, Due to “The Ale Fungus”, as Old Ambrose Spike called it, the feast was to be cancelled, and cellars to be inspected. Of course, not all beasts were satisfied with this verdict...Some even calling attention to their thoughts, as Basil Stag Hare was now.

Trying to calm down the commotion, Abbot Mordalfus raised both his paws, looking sternly at the retired veteran. “Basil! Get down from that table immediately! Put down that tankard too; It could have that Fungus Amborse is talking about. You're scaring the little ones, look!”

However, Basil full heartedly ignored the Abbot, instead picking on Jabez Stump, who defyingly also stepped onto the table. “If yore so intent on’ swiggen me Ale, then go down and help with th’search! This could be the last time you take a sip of a tankard of October Ale!”

“Y’sayin’ I can’t flippen take charge o’ me ale! Y’picked the wrong rabbit t’fight, Bucko!” Throwing the ale violently over his shoulder, Basil stag hare began to get into a fighting stance, as so Did Jabez. Luckily, the Tankard of Ale was unharmed, due to the fact that Sister Valencia caught it in the nick of time.

“Blighters, stop it this instant!” Shouted Mother Auma, rolling up her sleeves. Lifting a chair over her massive striped head, she dodged a flying apple core, barricading the Dormitory, in case some Dibbun decided it was a good night to go explore.

“Hey! Where’s Sam and Elmtail?”

All action ceased immediately. Slowly putting down a stool, Basil got off the table. Looking around the Abbey, he cleared his throat, and began talking. “Ahem Hur! Ah, there we go, m’laddo. Anyways, here’s the bally ticket, chaps. There ain’t no Cellar Fungus or wine Mushroom or any o’that nonsense, wot? S’only Sam an’ Elmtail gone! Nothin’ to worry- Wait...Didja say that Sam and Elmtail are gone? Wotthebloodyblazesfrickenballybullfroghellgate’shat?!” Shaking nervously, the hare then proceeded to pull at his ears, whiskers drooping. “Ohmyladdygosh! Myaunt’sstripedpinnedapron! We gotta find them! We gotta...WE GOTTA FIND ‘EM!!!”

“Calm down friend.” Soothed Matthias, giving the hare another cup of October Ale. He then looked at his son, Mattimeo.

Mattimeo looked around the room, raising the sword of martin triumphantly. “Dwellers of Redwall! In case you haven’t noticed, Not Two, but three of our own have gone missing! Sam, Elmtail, and Bastian!” Every beast turned to see Bastian’s brother, Mortle. The poor Hedgehog was now crying, large teardrops popping out of his eyes.

“I say we form a search party! The Rest of the Mossflower Patrol present; Ayla, Flick, Jak, Cheek, Mortle, Kidd, and Fargule, report to the gatehouse! We will split up, and search Mossflower for the trio. The Rest of you, Search every nook and cranny of Redwall! Leave no room unchecked!”

“Aye!”

Cornflower allowed herself to smile. Poking her Husband, she whispered, “He got that leadership trait from you, Matthias! I’m sure of it!”

“Uh hu. And he got his sword fighting skills from you, Cornflower!”

Bastian was in a tight corner right now. Arrow beasts surrounded him; if he moved, he’d be shot to death. If he stayed, he would be executed. Standing up straight, the Fierce hedgehog watched the Weasel and two Foxes in front of him. He was particularly afraid of one of the Foxes; big, muscular fellow, wielding a battleaxe. However, he wore a mask of courage, and listened to what the Weasel had to say.

“Trespassing; attempted Murder. Not to mention you attacked my squad.” Said Varrock, his eyes cold as stones. “I’m not even going to give you a testimony.”

“Of course you won’t!” Spat Bastian. “You Vermin are all the same!”


“I wouldn’t say that if I were you.” Said Eggtooth, her voice surprisingly sweet. She pointed to the Fox Next to her; Fiuris, brandishing the axe. Bastian gulped nervously.

“I’ll say it now. Execution. Public Execution.” Revealed Varrock, speaking calmly. Throwing back his head, he then turned his gaze to Fiuris; speaking to no beast in particular. “However. I will grant you one thing. Your execution will not be immediate. Your death isn’t important to us, Needle Swine. You will be tied to a tree; closely guarded. You try anything, and your beloved Redstone Home won’t have a ...happy ending, so to say?”

Bastian couldn’t believe what he heard. These scum were threatening Redwall?! How dare they! For a moment, Bastian thought about attacking the Vermin. However, his conscience stopped him. If he died, he wouldn’t die in vain. Closing his eyes, he silently hoped Mortle would grow up.

The Hedgehog was led away quietly. Eggtooth giggled maliciously. “Hee hee! At first, I thought using the fat thing as target practice was a great idea!”

“He’s already a pincushion.” barked Fiuris. Varrock was rather amazed the fox even uttered a word. However, Eggtooth just brushed it off.

“If your planning on attacking Redwall;” Began Varrock. “Then you’ll need a much bigger force than you have now. I for one think you have a death wish of some sort. No beast dares defy Redwall. Your Greedy. I find that disgusting.”

Eggtooth fluffed her fur up, wiping her muzzle with her paw daintily. “Hmph! Aren’t they all!”

Sam and Elmtail had been in the air for quite a while now. In truth, Sam actually enjoyed it; the wind in his fur, the view of his home. However, Elmtail wasn’t exactly as joyous as Sam.

“Um...Mister Bird?! Can we come down now?!”

“Name not Bird! Starwing! Tree Worm Wanna fly! Look for Spike Worm, no?” cawed Starwing angrily. Sparra’s were known for their...short patience.

Sam squinted his eyes, as they adjusted to the darkness. He felt an urge to just give up...but he couldn’t. He just couldn’t! As a member of the Mossflower Patrol, he swore he would find his comrade.

Illuminating the trees faintly, an odd yellow light spread around it’s radius; a fire. Sam suddenly became excited.

“Starwing! Can you see that Fire! Maybe you could fly down and let us check?!”

“Corse I can! Imma Sparra! I can do anything!” Boasted Starwing, as he lightly, and slowly, fluttered down to a tree...Suddenly, the bird was falling violently to the ground! Elmtail released a painful moan, as he discovered the source of the bird suddenly falling; and arrow, lodged at the birds side!

Crash!


Luckily for the two squirrels and bird, they landed in the foliage of a tree. Getting off Starwing slowly, Sam examined the wound. It wasn’t that deep; the bird would survive. If only Fargule was here…

“Here.” Said Sam, as he fed some nearby redcurrants to Starwing, who ate greedily. Meanwhile, Elmtail wrapped a long blanket around the wound; which he conveniently brought along with him. Hiding the bird in the trees, the Squirrels bowed in Gratitude, and Silently made their way around Mossflower.

During this time, The Eight members of the Mossflower Patrol patrolled the woods, holding torches to illuminate the way. Fargule denounced, and was helping Sister May at the infirmary. Not able to put away the fact that his brother was missing, Mortle was helping Jube Stump investigate the so called “Ale Fungus”.

Fixing a stone into her sling, Kidd Reported back to Ayla, who was put Second-in-command of Mattimeo. She Showed the black squirrel the relic she discovered.

“Look.” Said the Ottermaid, showing the jagged arrowhead. “Vermin were here. They probably took Bastian, Sam, and Elmtail hostage.”

Ayla nodded, inspecting the arrowhead, then giving it back to Kidd. “Thank you. That helps...at least for a bit.”

“Kidd! Kidd! I found something really important!” Shouted Cheek, running towards the Ottermaind.

“Oh No...Not again.” Groaned Kidd, as she inspected the flower Cheek had just given to her. Rolling her eyes, she threw it away, just when Ayla stopped her. “No! Look at this flower closely.”

Cheek picked it up, examining it. At first he saw nothing. But gradually, he noticed something rather interesting.

“This flower doesn’t grown here in Mossflower; it’s not native. It’s all withered too; which is odd, since Mossflower often does get rain…”

Kidd nodded. “I see...What could that mean?”

At that moment, Jak and Flick came out of the foliage, sweat beading on their foreheads. Breathing deeply, Flick reported, “Footprints! A good score of beasts! Luckily, me an’ dad didn’t step on them! Say we follow them?”


“Wait!” Protested Mattimeo. “What if their a false track?”

“Then I suggest we go in a line; if there's a trap; the first one will be snagged; the rest can help get it out.” Cheek’s tone was surprisingly mature. However this didn't last for long, when he threw a look at Kidd’s direction. “I’ll go first.”

“I say we should go.” Said Flick cheerfully, her Father nodding. Pointing to a small clearance of bushes, Ayla nodded; signalling approval. And with that, the Patrol and Mattimeo bound for the trail; awaiting whatever,


Chapter 7

Darkness clouded Mossflower, it’s grey hands embracing the two squirrels. It had just peeked Night, the sun already gone from view. Although Sam and Elmtail wouldn’t have liked to admit it, they were obviously lost. Perhaps it would’ve been a wise choice to head back to the Abbey. But, the squirrels were determined to bring back Bastian. No matter what the cost.

For the umpteenth time, Sam bumped into Elmtail, which caused both of them to collapse onto the grass. Rubbing his head, Elmtail murmured, “Maybe we should split up, matey. Cover more ground.”

Although he could not see the grey squirrel, Sam nodded. “Alright. You go to the left, I’ll go to the right.” And with that, the two squirrels set off on their assigned path.

Sam reverently regretted saying what he had said. For one thing, The Red Squirrel hated being alone. When he was enslaved by the Fox Slagar the Cruel, however, he had friends with him to watch his back. However, here, he was totally vulnerable. Unable to see anything, Sam reached out his paws, trying to feel his surroundings. Feeling the fur on the back of his neck shooting up, Sam began whispering a small rhyme, a usual favorite of dibbuns.

Mister Big Red Chimney Mouse,

Are you going to climb my house?

Yes you are? That’s such a shame.

But You don’t have me to blame.

I didn’t touch nothing, I swear I swear

If I did, I wouldn’t be there.

So if you're going to climb up my home

You better leave the treasure in the chimney Alone!

This seemed to calm Sam, considering the Squirrel was now full grown. But of course, that didn’t matter..

Oomph!

The First beast collided with The Red Squirrel, knocking them both down violently. Holding his head in his paw, Sam held a stick tightly, ready to use it as a makeshift weapon. Raising his voice slightly, he called out, “Who Goes there?! Show yourselves!”

“Sam! Sam! It’s just me! Watch where you're goin!” cried Elmtail. Rubbing his head fur for the second time today, he looked at Sam Tiredly, stifling a yawn. “Say. Can we just go to Redwall? I’m sick an’ tired an’ hungry…”

Sam sighed. “Nay. Where lost.” He cut himself off, signalling Silence, to which Elmtail obeyed. Standing up, the two squirrels stood back to back, both of them holding short knives, which they brought along.

Suddenly, Elmtail shot towards a nearby bush, slashing furiously. At first, Sam couldn’t make head or tail of what was happening, that is, until the scene was illuminated by torches. Two vermin, one rat and one stoat, Stood facing Sam, their faces grim. Without further ado, Sam leapt at the attackers.

Elmtails attack proved to be futile; he slashed nought but twigs and leaves. However, he was met by a large ferret donning a nose piercing. Elmtail backed away slowly, the fur on his back shooting up. Raising a rapier, the ferret attempted to behead The Grey Squirrel all together. Elmtail was much too fast to let that happen, and neatly dodged the attack. Enraged, the Ferret lept out of the brush, ready to properly dispose of the squirrel. Elmtail received a large cut of his back. Hissing, He Kicked furiously at the stoat.

Sam was doing slightly better, however. He managed to cut off the Rat’s ear, along with giving the Stoat a bloodied nose. However, Sam also got a beating; a rather savage scar ran across his face, by luck missing his right eye. Not even stopping to wipe the blood off his face, The Red fury unleased a rain of sticks and pebbles, all while holding the dagger in his mouth. By luck, it managed to slow down his enemies. Seeing them hindered, Sam sprang toward them, Dagger ready in paw!

Thonk! The Stone made direct contact with Sam’s head. Instantly, the Squirrel slumped down, feeling rather groggy, his vision clouding quickly. He groaned slightly. The last thing he saw before he blacked out, was Elmtail being slugged senselessly.

The trail the Patrol was following was surprisingly straightforward to interpret. It went mainly straight ahead, which was very convenient for them. However, their torches illuminated something they hadn’t realized; a fork in the road. Being the Collecting Type, Mattimeo ordered a halt. “Alright. We have two paths; one may be a trap, both may be a trap.” He paused for a moment before continuing. “Cheek, Flick, and I will go to the left. Jak, Kidd, and Ayla; you go to the right.”

“Now Hold thou tongue for a moment!” Interjected Jak. “Y’puttin’ us in equal danger! Aren’t we more powerful as a group? What if a group of yonder vermin come, to rid of us?”

Flick went to her father’s side, her voice surprisingly strict. “Father. Mattimeo is our current Leader. I say we should follow his way of thinking. If we are ambushed, we could easily flee into the trees, like we are trained to do. There, we could pick off enemies one by one with our bows, until they are nought but rotting corpses. Then, we proceed. We also have a map of Mossflower, if you do remember, Father?”

“I suppose you are correct…” He muttered. And with that, the groups separated, each ready to see what the roads had ahead.

Meanwhile, Redwallers, both big and small, reverently searched for the trio. Each nook and cranny, room and area was explored fully, and, much to the dismay of Basil, none of them were found. The Hare himself was much too worried to do any actual work. So he just sat on a chair, swigging October Ale Nervously. In that time, Ambrose and Jabez had made it to the hare. Looking at each other, Jabez allowed himself to speak his mind.

“Er...Basil. You know we still haven’t completely checked the cellars, y’know? The Ale Fungus.”

“I don’t flippin’ give a rat’s tail ‘bout the flamin’ Fungus! Jess’ll have me head for loosin’ ‘er son and his friend! Oh my aunt’s pinny, I’m doooooooomed!” Cried Basil. Luckily for him, Jess was asleep during the whole ordeal. Ambrose patted his old friend’s back, trying to comfort him.

“There there. It’s allright. I’m sure Mattimeo and the Patrol’ll find them!”

John Churchmouse had just returned from searching the infirmary. Wiping the dust off his habit, he looked at the hare and hedgehogs. “Why don’t you start lookin’, Basil? The young ones aren’t going to find themselves!”

Winifred the Otter had also turned up, dripping wet from most likely checking the Abbey Pond. Shaking herself to rid herself of the water, she succeed in dousing Basil in water. The Otter smirked, highly amused. “Hey, Basil! Y’styled your fur new or somthin’? I likes it!”

Basil was highly un-amused.

Some time had passed for the second group. Kidd was feeling rather groggy and sleepy, while Jak cursed under his breath. Yawning, The Ottermaid said, “I hope we find Bastian, Sam and Elmtail soon. I swear, I’m going to fall asleep any minute now!” It was rather obvious Kidd Nightbank was trying to keep things optimistic. However, the two squirrels on either side of her refused to do so. So, she was forced to stay somber with her companions, occasionally glancing at her map.

“Alright. The little pine sapling should be around the next corner…”

Snap!

Ayla stopped suddenly. Scanning the area, the black squirrel bit her lip. “I heard something. I’ll go check it out. I won’t be long.” She looked for an approval from her companions, Kidd smiling and nodding, and Jak flicking his paw, indicating to go already. Nodding, Ayla vaulted over the shrubbery, ready to take on anything. Walking slowly, she cupped a paw to her ear, the other paw clasping the bolas at her side; her most trusted weapon.

“So you finally found you.”

Ayla gasped when she saw the owner of the voice. It was another squirrel, dusty brown, eyes dark slits. However, the most unusual thing about him was his attire. Clad in a brown kilt, paint and patterns of all colors decorated his body, face, and paws. His tail was much stranger, though. Beads, feathers, rope, arrowheads, and even twigs were woven in his bushy tail, not to mention the peridot earring he wore, made him look particularly savage.

“Khan! What do you want!?” croaked Ayla. Her heart hammered inside her rib cage. How could he have come here? It was impossible! Or so she thought…

“Simple.” Said the Squirrel known as Khan, leaning on a tree nonchalantly. “You're a fugitive. Chief sent me to get you back alive. We can’t have you run away at your free will, can’t we?”

Ayla staggered toward him, baring her teeth fiercely. “I’m not a part of you anymore! Just leave me alone! I don’t want anything to do with you!....Just go! NOW!”

“Your wrong.” Khan slitted his eyes even more, allowing himself to smile a bit. “Your one of us. You’ll always be the same, Sigarai!”

The Black squirrel suddenly backed away, her eyes wide, in utter horror. “That’s not my name….THAT’S NOT MY NAME!”

“Sure sure.” Khan smirked, before slinking back into the shadow. Ayla rushed over back to Kidd and Jak, feeling her heart thumping. It was impossible! How could he have come all this way! No...No! She argued with herself! She couldn’t let anyone know! She couldn’t!

Kidd waved over at the black squirrel, her face painted with worry. “Ayla! You were gone for a long time! What happened?”

“Just a newt.” Ayla Lied. She wasn’t ready to tell them. Far from ready.

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