Snow fell from the sky and covered the ground, giving Mossflower Wood the appearance of a frozen kingdom. The sharp wind blew the snow around, creating a perfect whiteout. This winter was the coldest winter that old Abbot Laric could remember. However, he didn't know whether this was because of the snow, or the old age that had made his body frail. Abbot Laric, a simple mouse, liked to look out of the beautiful Redwall Abbey's windows during the winter and think about days gone by. He loved the snow when he was a dibbun, but now in his old age he could not enjoy the fun that the winter brought. Suddenly, Abbot Laric saw a silhouette beyond the stream of snow. Uncertain at first, he pressed his face to the glass and adjusted his spectacles. There was no mistaking it now. There was a figure walking outside! Abbot Laric was confused by this. Redwall was on lockdown due to the harsh winter. Nobody was allowed out of the abbey- it simply was not safe. This creature had to be someone seeking refuge. Laric pushed his face harder on the glass to get a better view, but then something unimaginable happened. Weakened by the ice and snow, the fragile window strained under the added weight of Abbot Laric's face. In an instant, the window shattered and Abbot Laric was sent cascading down the side of the abbey, into the deep snow below. The fall was a long one; the window that Laric had been looking out of was on the second floor. The pain in his side numbed by the stinging cold, Laric gasped for air. The fall had been detrimental to his frail body, and now he could not tell the extent of the damage that had been inflicted upon him. Hours passed, and still Abbot Laric laid in the snow. His breathing had slowed, and he couldn't muster the strength to call for help. Defeated, he closed his eyes and accepted death. However, something tempted him to open his eyes. When he did, he was startled to see a mouse standing above him. The mouse was strong, and appeared to be in his prime. He wore steel armor and had a marvelous sword at his side. An aura of calm surrounded this heroic mouse. Abbot Laric nervously swallowed. This was Martin the Warrior! There was no mistake. He appeared the same as he had on the tapestry that hung in the Great Hall. Martin spoke, but his mouth did not appear to move. His voice echoed around Laric. "Worry not Abbot Laric, you are in my care." Laric tried to speak but he didn't have the strength. Martin's voice became more urgent. "I do not have much time Abbot. There is a threat the likes of which Redwall has never seen approaching on the horizon. The time will come when everyone will have to make a choice. But fear not, for while great evil looms, so does great good. Wait for the arrival of the pine marten. He will be Redwall's savior... Martin's voice trailed off and he disappeared into thin air. Behind where he once was, Laric could see a silhouette approaching. His eyes began to close as he saw Skipper the Otter approach him...
Redwall was not all that was affected by the harsh winter. Traveling merchants and traders were greatly affected by the horrible condition. Most were forced to stay inside and wait the winter storms out. One however, attempted to brave the perilous weather. Newt Blackbark hauled his pack of wares through the storm. The pine marten was trying to trade for herbs to help his sick mother. She had obtained some terrible plague, and was now bed-ridden. Newt's mother was all he had, and he was determined to do whatever it would take to insure her good health. Now he was the lone figure stirring in Mossflower Wood. Suddenly, a particularly strong gust of wind sent his pack flying out of his hands. "NO!" Newt yelled in frustration. The pack soared over a hill, and Newt struggled up the cliff face. When he reached the top of the hill, Newt plunged into the unknown and slid down the hill. He sped quickly down the snow covered hill, his fur matted with snow and pine cones. The hill began to straighten out, but Newt couldn't stop himself in time to avoid the raging river that roared below the hill. He plunged into the ice cold waters, and the strong current pulled him away. Seconds felt like minutes, and minutes felt like hours as Newt struggled to keep his head above the water. The icy cold seared his stomach. Ahead he could see a bend in the river. Mustering what little strength he had left, Newt lunged forward and grabbed hold of a tree root. Relieved, Newt hauled himself out of the water and sat, dripping wet and freezing on the shore. He took stock of the situation. He knew not how far he had traveled. His pack was long gone, and his tunic was dripping wet. The cold and snow battered him, but could not dominate him. Newt hobbled to his feet and crept over to a tree. He leaned against it and thought about what he could do. He was hopelessly lost. He had no food and was freezing to death. The situation was horrible. Suddenly, through the snow, he could see a figure approaching him. "Help!" Newt called out. "Help!". As the figure came closer Newt felt warmer, as if they were radiating heat. As the figure approached him, Newt was able to make out that it was a warrior mouse. "Oh please, sir, you must help-" the mouse cut Newt off. "Time is a luxury I do not have Newt." Newt was shocked that this unfamiliar mouse knew his name. "How-" Once again the mouse cut him off. "Head east towards the rising sun, you will find refuge there in the form of an abbey, you..." Suddenly, the mouse stooped over, a pained expression on his face. When the mouse looked back up, it had red glowing eyes. Appalled, Newt jumped back and pulled out his dagger. The mouse's voice was deep and menacing. "You think you are safe, marten? You think the abbey will protect you? The abbey is a lie, and all of you will be brought to your knees, for I am returning!" Suddenly the mouse yelled and looked back up. The seemingly invincible mouse now had a fearful and helpless look on its face. It struggled to speak. "G-Go East, Newt. Help..." and then the mouse disappeared. Newt backed up and turned and ran, terrified, heading east just as the mouse had suggested.