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Hazel Eyes and Golden Scales

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This story was co-written by my friend Silva, so give her credit too. :)

Chapters or chapter sections marked with >:) are written by me, and ones marked with <3 are written by Silva. But if you know both of us, you should be able to figure them out anyway. ;)


Prologue

This is a story of love and hate, of revenge and forgiveness, of war and peace.

This is a story full of dreams and nightmares, heroes and villains, loyalty and treachery.

But above all, this is a story that is formed and dominated by two creatures -one good, the other evil- who share a unique ability and a common interest.

This is the story of Hazel Eyes and Golden Scales.


Chapter 1- Varanus Riptail

>:)

They came across the great western sea, from an island beyond where the sun sets. They came to destroy. They were the Monitors!

Varanus Riptail was their leader. He was a monstrous reptile with cold, evil eyes and a tough, grayish-green, scaly hide that seemingly no weapon could penetrate.

Varanus stood on the deck of the ship that he had stolen from corsair vermin, watching the horizon for any sign of land. His mate, Fangara, stood next to him. She was a sly and cunning lizard, and although she was not as big and threatening as her mate, she was more clever and and a better strategist. They came for one reason: To destroy all furbearers!

When he was young, Varanus and his brothers and sisters were attacked on their island by wicked corsair vermin. The vermin captured and tortured the young lizards, slicing off their limbs and tails and burning the stumps so that they could not grow back. And Varanus was looking for revenge! Along with the scars that raked his scaly body, his tail had been sliced at the end, and was now a grotesque stump; but he had put that to his advantage. He attached a spiked metal mace to the end of it, which he could use for smashing and clubbing better than even a regular Monitor tail, which was a fearsome weapon already.

He turned and looked out at his army that swarmed the deck. They were all Monitor lizards; most smaller than himself, but vicious fighters and ruthless killers. After all, they did eat the flesh of their enemies. But there was one weapon that was more deadly than any other he had. The eyelash viper, Skavris!

The snake was long and golden-yellow in color, with ridged scales and an evil-looking spike above each eye from whence his species got its name. His deadly fangs were small, but contained poison powerful enough to kill even a mighty Monitor. But the most terrifying thing about Skavris were his eyes. Piercing, yellow, hypnotic eyes with thin, black pupils. When another creature locked their gaze with him, they could not look away, no matter how hard they tried. And that was when the snake could whisper softly to his victim, and they would do whatever he said. Even if he told them to kill their own family, and burn their house to the ground, they would do it. Skavris was in complete control. Of everybeast that is, except Varanus and Fangara. The snake knew that they were his masters, and they fed him a young bird or fish whenever he wanted. Besides, he had a mission as well.

So they came. Varanus Riptail and his horde, along with the hypnotic eyelash viper, were coming to destroy all fur-bearing creatures, be them vermin or woodlander. And they were coming to Mossflower!


Varanus stood watching the horizon and grinned evilly. He turned to a lone searat, whom he had kept alive to help him navigate to the faraway shores. “How long until we reach the zhorez?” he asked in his sinister, rasping voice.

The searat, who was completely terrified, replied shakily, “N-no more than an hour, s-sire!”

The Monitor leader nodded. “Good! Keep the zhip zet for a ztraight courze. We will find and deztroy all furbearerz in thiz land!”

The searat saluted and gulped as he scurried across the deck and right by the savage lizards that stood around, their hungry eyes watching him.

Varanus spoke to his mate, “When we get to the zhore, zhould we keep the rat?”

Fangara narrowed her wicked, glittering eyes. “No. There zhall be other creaturez there to give information. We zhall not need thiz one when we get to land.”

Varanus grinned. “Very well. The troopz are getting hungry for frezh meat!” Then he asked, “Haz the Golden One been fed az of yet?”

Fangara gave a slight smile. “Yez. I ripped off a piece of the rat'z flezh and gave it to the Golden One. Did you notice how it limped?”

Varanus watched the unfortunate searat limping around the deck, and up to the ship's wheel. The Monitor gave a hissing laugh, “Yez! I am zure that the Golden One waz pleazed with the offering!”

A few minutes later the searat called out, “Er, land ahoy!” Varanus had already seen it and he dashed across the deck and issued orders to his horde, “Zantuz! Get the troopz ready to go azhore!”

The ship was anchored just off the coast, near a large sandbar. The gangplank was lowered and the Monitors came pouring out. The searat came over to Varanus and whimpered, “So can I have me freedom now?”

The Monitor leader smiled. “Of courze my friend! You are now free from any bondage or pain!” With one swift and powerful blow of the lizards mace-tail, the searat fell dead with a crushed skull and broken spine. Lifting the carcass effortlessly in one claw, Varanus threw it out into his horde, where it was ripped to shreds. A pity he hadn't kept it alive while he threw it out there, then it would suffer just as he had!

Fangara came over, holding a large basket. It was painted with bright red and yellow dyes in the pattern of many golden eyes, which stared out perpetually. Varanus looked at it. “The Golden One iz zleeping?”

His mate nodded. “Aye, the ratflezh haz filled him, and he iz ready for hiz work!” Varanus smiled and walked down the gangplank after his horde.

Varanus Riptail and his Monitors had come to Mossflower. And all furbearers would die!


Chapter 2- Silva of the Hazel Eyes

<3

Silva the squirrelmaiden's eyes narrowed in concentration as she peeked around the corner to catch a glimpse of her enemy. The captain of the archers, her sister Wildrose, did the same. Silva pushed her back. “No Wildrose, we can’t risk-”

An arrow whizzed by and buried itself into the ground a few feet away from them. Silva’s eyes narrowed and she stepped away from the sheltering wall toward the arrow. As she pulled it from the ground, she saw out of the corner of her eye, a young shrew from the enemy camp trying to slip away.

“Silva, what are you doing? Do you want to get killed?” The otter captain on the opposing side was incredulous.

Silva was indignant. “Hydat, maybe you should pay attention to your archers. Hey Swivo!” she called out to the retreating shrew. The shrew stopped in his tracks, looked around for way of escape, and then gave himself up to the squirrel. He turned and faced her flashing hazel eyes.

She looked down at him. “Is this the arrow from your bow?” she asked. The shrew nodded sullenly.

“Then can I ask you why its tip is sharpened? Don’t you know that’s against the rules?” He hung his head and stared at the ground. Silva broke the arrow in half and handed it to Swivo. He took it glumly and went back in line.

“Let that be said to all of you,” Silva said, addressing both teams, “No sharpened arrows. This is not real war, and if my father finds out…. well, I don’t think I need to tell you that our games would be over. Now back to your places!”

The young creatures went back to their proper places. Silva went back to her post just as her father came out of the Abbey to the grounds.

“Silva!”

Silva winced. She didn’t like the tone in her father’s voice. What had she done now?

She beckoned to her second in command, her brother Tivel. He nodded and understood without any words having passed between them. He gave her a ‘good luck’ look of sympathy, and then went out giving orders.

Silva’s paws slapped against the stone floor of the Great Hall as she followed her father to his study. Had he gotten wind of the arrows? They were supposed to be sticks with feathers on the end, completely blunt. He had warned them that the game would be put to an end if anybeast ever got hurt. Good thing for the ‘warriors’ they had Sayna, Silva’s youngest sister, who had all the skills of a practiced healer. She bandaged up the wounded, and nobeast ever told the real reason. “I fell out of an apple tree.” one might say, or, “My, aren’t those blackberry thorns sharp!”

They all looked up to Silva as their leader, and she was constantly trying her best to help them grow up to be defenders of their precious Abbey.


Now she was in her father's study, the walls lined with shelves full of books and old scrolls. Only one wall was free of reading material, and on it hung Danvar’s great battle-ax, his most treasured weapon. Never did Danvar use a sword; no, he left that to Silva, his eldest daughter, and Tivel, his eldest son. The rest of the children, the twins Wildrose and Warren, Tugg, Sapphire, and Sayna, were either to young to learn weaponry at all, or were practicing their archery. But he kept to his ax.

As he sat down in his large chair, he rubbed the scar on his neck from the long-ago battle with the great wolf, Urgan Lukros. It always pained him when he sensed danger; Silva knew this, and was relived and concerned at the same time. This was not about her, but there was something amiss in Mossflower country. Danvar sighed. “And how are you, my dear?”

“Father-”

“Now now Silva, can’t you answer a simple question?” he pretended to be offended.

Silva couldn’t help smiling. She leaned down and kissed her father's forehead. “Oh, I’m alright. And how are you, dear Father?”

“Never better” he replied, and then winced. “Well, I have been better. But this old scar here has been at it again.”

Silva sat down on the floor next to him and placed her chin on the arm of the chair and looked up at him. “What is it?” she asked gently.

“I can’t tell. It's not vermin, I can tell you that. And it’s not a wolf; the pain would be maddening if it was. No, I don’t have the slightest idea as to what it is. That’s why I called you, Sil. I want you and Tivel to scout out the surrounding woods tonight, see if you can find anything. It might just be the cold weather coming in that’s affecting me, but I don’t think so…”

Danvar rose from the chair and walked towards the ax. Silva followed him with her eyes, and watched questioningly. He took the battle ax down from where it hung, and held it, like he was holding a young Dibbun, or an old friend. Then the quiet moment died, as he lifted the ax above his head and swung it in a large arch. Silva watched him, fascinated, as he moved so deftly with the huge weapon. She never tired of seeing him work his magic with it. It struck fear and awe in her heart, as nothing ever had before. As she looked on, she imagined herself in a slave compound, with this handsome young squirrel battling vermin, slaying them left and right, and she knew why her mother loved him so much.

The moment was broken by a cry from behind them, “Oh, really, Danvar!”

They both turned to see a beautiful female squirrel standing in the doorway. She looked very much like Silva would in about twenty seasons.

“Oh, hello mother!” Silva rushed into Fenna’s arms, and hugged her tightly.“Mmmm, you smell of honey, and pears, and cream, and-”

“And you smell of outside and dust and old books and dreams.” Fenna replied.

“What do you mean dreams?” Silva asked. But Fenna did not answer her. She turned to her husband. “If you want any of my honey-pear custard, I suggest you get downstairs before those ragamuffins we call our children eat it all!”

The burning light of battle and death left Danvar’s eyes and a new light of hunger replaced it. “I bet I’ll get there before either of you ladies!” he challenged.

And all dignity was lost by father, mother and daughter as they rushed down the stairs, pushing to be first.

Nobeast could even imagine what was coming to destroy all of their happiness.


Chapter 3- The Calm Before the Storm

>:)

Varanus led his horde across the sand dunes on the western shore. Far off in the distance, along the beach, he could see a great mountain rising up into the sky. The Monitor narrowed his eyes. It did not seem like the sort of place where creatures would dwell. So he moved on across the sands.

Suddenly dozens of toads leaped out from nowhere, all brandishing tridents. The Monitors halted and bared their fangs and claws, ready for battle. But Varanus signaled for them to stay as a larger toad, carrying a tall staff from which hung skulls and bones of all kinds, came forward. The big toad croaked, “Rrrrkk! What are biglizards doing in toadlands?”

Varanus waved his tail back and forth. “We are here to rid the land of all furbearerz. Will you join our conquezt?”

The big toad laughed, his huge, warty body shaking, “Bwhohoho! There be to many furbeasts to kill all! You be fool lizards!”

Like a bolt of lighting Varanus swung his tail-mace out and slew the big toad on the spot. The Monitor hissed savagely to the other amphibians that surrounded his horde, “Join me or die!” The toads were all shocked at seeing their leader slain, but they knew better than to argue with his killer, so they raised their weapons and croaked as one, “Rrrrrgggkkk! We all follow you mightylizard!”

Varanus smirked and turned to Fangara. “Now we have more on our zide!”

She nodded. “Aye, now we must find a place to ztay and zcout for more troopz,” Then she added with a slight smile, “And for victimzzzzz!”


A short while later they came to the edge of Mossflower Woods. Varanus sent out four toads to go and scout for any creatures that they could either interrogate, or add to their army.

The horde of Monitors and toads lay about, basking in the sun. Varanus and Fangara sat under a large oak tree, and next to them was the basket containing Skavris.

The Monitor leader hissed, “Zo, what zhould we do with the creaturez that the zcoutz bring back?”

Fangara closed her eyes. “Kill all but one. That one zhall tell uz of any nearby zettlementz of furbearerz. Then we may kill it.”

Varanus's long forked tongue flicked the air. “Yezzzz. You are truly a clever beazt.” His mate smiled and whispered to herself, “I know...”


Dragg Fellpaw and his band of weasels wandered about in Mossflower Woods, searching for some creatures to attack and rob. Dragg was a big, tough weasel and he carried a curved sword that he mostly used for whacking his gang members bottoms when they displeased him. All of his gang were weasels, numbering about fifteen; nasty, cruel vermin, who loved to kill and bully.

Dragg wiped sweat from his eyes as he marched stealthily through the trees. Lately there hadn't been many victims, and his band was getting restless for plunder. Of course he wouldn't dare attack the Abbey, not since that strange warrior squirrel had come there. Dragg was no fool. He knew not to mess with real warriors.

Suddenly one of his vermin whispered to him, “Hoi, Chief! There's a few fat frogs o'er here!” Dragg went over to where the weasel pointed and he grinned when he saw the four toads that Varanus had sent out. He licked his blade. “Finally somebeast to plunder! Though I can't think of what a frog might 'ave. But we can still have some fun wid 'em, eh boys?” The weasels all smiled evilly and crept up closer to the toads.


One of the toads had spotted the vermin, and he croaked, “Crrrrkkk! There be furbeasts coming thisaway!” The appointed leader toad motioned to the others. “We go back now. Furbeasts follow. It biglizard's orders! Grrkkk!” The other toads followed after him and back to the Monitor's camp.


The vermin watched the toads hop off through the trees. “Now where are they goin'?” one of them asked. Dragg cuffed him. “It doesn't matter where, thick'ead! Let's foller 'em!”


A little while later Dragg and his band emerged from the trees and onto the beach. He looked around. “Where in the name o' darkness did dey go?”

Suddenly a powerful tail came out of nowhere and wrapped around his neck. The weasel gurgled painfully and found himself staring into the cold, vengeful eyes of Varanus Riptail.

“What are you doing here, furbearer?”

Dragg tried to strike out with his sword, but Varanus grabbed it from his paw and snapped it in two. Flinging the broken weapon aside, the Monitor slammed the weasel to the ground and hissed, “I am going to azk you a zmall queztion, and you are going to anzwer or die! Now, are there any zettlementz of furbearerz around here?”

Dragg gulped and tried to think of something quickly. “Settlements? Well, er, um.... oh! There's this big, red Abbey see, and it's called, er, Redhall or somethin'. An' they have lots o' furbearers in there!”

Varanus smiled, his deadly fangs glistening. “Good! I thank you for your helpfulnezz.” The weasel whimpered, “What are ye gonna do with me?”

The Monitor swung his tail-mace down and it thudded into the ground next to Dragg's head. The vermin wailed, “Please don't kill me! I'll do anything! I'll be a soldier or a slave, just please don't kill me!”

Varanus bent down and hissed softly in the weasel's ear; his voice was a sibilant whisper, “I do not want zoldierz. I do not want zlavez. I want death! Death to all furbearerzzzz!”

Those were the last words that Dragg Fellpaw ever heard. The huge Monitor gave one hard slash of his powerful claws, and the weasel lay dead, with his chest ripped open.

Varanus stood and looked over at the other weasels, who were cowering on the ground, surrounded by his army. The Monitor snarled, “Finizh them!”

The lizards fell upon the vermin at once, ripping them to pieces. Varanus smiled evilly as he listened to their anguished screams.

Fangara came over to her mate, a sneer of disapproval on her scaly features. “Why did you not take a captive?” she hissed angrily.

Varanus seethed inwardly, knowing that in his fury he had forgot about making one of the weasels show him where the Abbey was. “I already had enough information!” he growled, “We can find our way to the big, red houze ourzelvez.”

His mate smirked, “You better hope that you can!”


A pair of shining black eyes had watched the whole scene, and the creature they belonged to smiled grimly. He was glad that those scummy vermin were dead; they had been a nuisance to Mossflower and its inhabitants. But now here was an even greater menace. What did they want? The creature narrowed his dark eyes and went down to investigate, his jet-black fur blending with the shadows of the forest.


Silva peeked around the trunk of the tree. This time though, she was not practicing. She had a quiver full of real arrows, a bow, and the marvelous sword of Martin the Warrior at her side. And this time she did not need to push her companion back.

Tivel was young, about seventeen seasons, but he was strong, quick, and wise. He stayed next to her, his bow ready with an arrow, flattened against the tree.

They watched for every tiny movement and listened for any sound. Tivel whispered, “So what are we looking for exactly?”

His sister answered, peering behind some brush, “I'm not really sure. Father just told us to scout around the area. So just anything suspicious I suppose.” Tivel nodded and they crept stealthily onward.


Later that evening, Varanus sent a Monitor captain named Zantus with several lizards and toads into the woods to find the exact location of Redwall Abbey.

It was awhile until they did actually find it. Zantus's cold, reptilian eyes gazed over the high sandstone walls, taking in every detail. He hissed to two lizards, “Go over to the wall and find any weaknezzez.”

The lizards were apprehensive at first, but they decided it was better to get caught by weak furbearers, than to face their leader's wrath.


The black creature had followed the reptiles on their way to the Abbey. Maybe he could capture one and question it about what it and its kind were doing here. He drew a dagger from his belt and crept silently through the trees towards the Monitor scouts.


Zantus waited back in the trees with the remaining lizards and toads. Suddenly one of the toads gave a harsh, muffled croak, and Zantus turned to see what was the matter.

A black form held dagger to a toad's throat, covering its mouth with his paw and dragging it off into the brush. Zantus leaped up and ran at the dark figure, baring his sharp claws. The creature let go of the toad and threw his dagger at the oncoming lizard, but the blade thudded harmlessly off of the Monitor's thick scales and fell to the ground.

Two toads and a Monitor came over and held the creature down before he could get away. Zantus snarled and held up the beast's head with his tail, hissing, “A black furbearer, eh? Varanuz will be pleazed with thiz catch!” The creature struggled wildly, but a blow from the toad's trident-butts knocked him into unconsciousness.

The scouts came back and reported, “The wallz are thick and made of red ztone. But there iz two gatez. One big, one zmall.” Zantus nodded and kicked the senseless creature on the ground. “Good. We have what we need here. I think that Lord Varanuz will take interezt in thiz one.”


Silva was up in a high alder tree, watching the surrounding area. Tivel called softly up to her, “See anything?” She shook her head. “No, not a thing. It's like there's not a living creature around.” Then she froze, listening intently, and shook her head again.

After a moment, she beckoned him to follow her as she jumped to the next tree. The silence that surrounded them was deafening. She whispered to Tivel, “Do you hear that?” His body tensed. “What? I don’t hear anything.”

“That’s what I mean; there's nothing to hear! Not one bird... the nightingales are usually going at it like their lives depended on it right about now. And not one cricket chirping... It’s not right.”

After a few minutes, Tivel asked, “What do we do now?”

“I don’t know... There's nothing to see, or hear, so I suppose we should head back” Her brother nodded in agreement, and they both slipped off back to Redwall.


Chapter 4- The Golden One

>:)

Varanus and Fangara sat by a fire on the edge of the woodlands, eating the flesh of the vermin that they had killed. Fangara watched her mate through the firelight as he ripped at a piece of meat. “Do you think that the verminbeazt waz telling the truth?” she asked.

Varanus swallowed a chunk of flesh and replied, “We will find out when Zantuz and hiz zcoutz get back!”

A few minutes later, Zantus came out of the trees, followed by his group of reptiles dragging along with them the dark-furred prisoner. Varanus and Fangara were immediately interested. “What iz that creature? Iz he from the big red place?”

Zantus picked up the senseless beast and threw him over towards his two leaders. “We found thiz furbearer outszide while we zearched the redhouze.”

Varanus picked up the creature and looked at it. “A treejumper? Iz it from the redhouze?”

Zantus shrugged. “I do not know, mazter. But it was near there.”

The Monitor leader slowly wrapped his thick tail around the black squirrel and started to crush tighter in hopes of it waking up to be interrogated. But Fangara slashed at her mate's tail and pulled the squirrel from his grasp. “No! Thiz zhall be for the Golden One to deal with!”

Varanus growled like a Dibbun that had his toy taken away. “Then go ahead! You are the one that takez care of zuch matterz!”

Fangara smiled and, holding the squirrel in her claws, she went over towards another nearby fire. The basket containing the viper was next to it. The Monitor bound and gagged the squirrel and tied him to a tree.

Then she knocked softly on the lid of the basket with her tail. “O Golden One, come out to zee your next victim!”


The lid shook slightly, then it opened, and Skavris the eyelash viper lifted his golden-scaled head out. Fangara made sure to avert her eyes as the snake looked in her direction. After a few sinister moments, he spoke, in a soft, rasping voice, “What doessss my misssstressss wisssshhhh for SSSSkavrisssss to do?”

The Monitor pointed at the bound squirrel nearby, and the snake turned to look. His deadly yellow eyes brightened when he saw his next victim. The viper slid silently out of the basket and over towards the squirrel. He wrapped his golden coils around him, then asked, “Am I to give him the kissssss of eternal sssssleep?”

Fangara shook her head. “No. Thiz one iz for your magic eyez!”

The snake was obviously delighted at this. “Yessssss! SSSkavrissssss sssshall give the furbearer the magic eyesssss!”

As cold-hearted as she was, Fangara couldn't help but shudder at the viper's crooked, malicious smile as he sat, and watched, and waited for his victim to awaken.


When Silva and Tivel arrived back at Redwall, night had fallen. Tivel knocked upon the huge, wooden main gate of the Abbey, and it was opened by Brother Sartori, the old mouse gatekeeper. He smiled at them. “Back so soon? Your father is in his study waiting for you.” They shook his paw and went across the grounds and into the Abbey building.

Their younger brother Tugg came over to them and asked, “Did you find any badbeasts?”

Silva smiled and patted his head. “No, Tugg. Nor any goodbeasts either. The woods were very quiet.”

Tugg nodded and pointed over to a stairway that lead away from Great Hall. “Father wants you.” They went up the stairs and into Danvar's study.


The speckled squirrel sat on a chair near the fire, holding his ax in his lap. At the sound of the door opening, he turned and smiled. “Silva, Tivel, I see that you have returned. What did you find?”

Silva sighed and sat down. “Not a hair, whisker or feather of any living thing, Father. Mossflower was very quiet tonight.”

Danvar narrowed his eyes and rubbed his scar. “That's what worries me....”

Tivel nodded. “Whenever vermin are about in Mossflower, like Dragg and his gang, the birds and insects grow quiet for awhile. But not for the whole night. There's definitely something wrong. We should probably be watchful out in the woods.”

Silva smiled as she stared at the ground. Her brother was a wise young creature with a good head on his shoulders, and he often gave such advice.

Danvar sighed, “Aye, we must be on the lookout for the next couple of days.” Then he smiled. “But enough of this gloominess, I hear that Toran is making a special feast tonight in honor of the 'archery battle' winners!”

Silva and Tivel grinned at each other. They knew that their father meant them. Silva winked at her father and brother. “Well, if we wait any longer, then there won't be any left, 'cause Cecil will eat it all!” They laughed and went downstairs to supper.

As they left the room, Danvar glanced back at his battle-ax that sat on his chair, the blade glistening in the firelight. He wondered how long it would be before he had to wield it in battle once again.


Deep in Mossflower, the black squirrel groaned and his eyelids flickered open. The first thing that he saw was the piercing, golden gaze of Skavris the viper.

Skavris smiled eerily, and the squirrel gave a muffled cry and struggled to get away, but the ropes that he was bound by held him tight. He glanced around in fright, and saw Fangara and Varanus sitting by the fire, watching him intently.

The snake hissed softly, “He hassssss awakened, my lordsssssss....”

Fangara nodded. “Good. Zo you know what to tell him?”

The viper bunched his strong coils up around the struggling squirrel. “Of courssssse missssstresssssss!”

The squirrel tried kicking out at the snake, but his legs were bound as well. All that he could do was stare into the evil yellow eyes before him. The snake's pupils grew larger and smaller, and his head swayed like a blade of tall grass blowing back and forth in the wind. Skavris hissed softly, “Now hold ssssstill young one, or I sssshhhall have to give you the kissssss of eternity!”

Varanus growled, “Juzt get on with it!”

The viper nodded fluidly, his body still swaying back and forth. “Assssss you wisssshhhh, massssster.”

The black squirrel stared in complete terror as the sinister voice continued to whisper softly to him, “Jussssst relaxxxsssssss young one..... Put everything away from your mind.... Thisssss will not hurt a bit..... Jussssssst lissssten to me and do assssss I ssssssay......”


Varanus and Fangara sat by their fire, waiting long into the night as the viper performed his hypnosis. The Monitor leader growled, “When iz he going to be done?”

His mate pulled a dead wood dove from the fire and sank her teeth into it. “The Golden One'z work iz not for uz to queztion. Be patient!”

Suddenly, Skavris was right beside them. The snake bowed his golden head and hissed softly, “My work issss finisssssshhhed my massssterssssss. He isssssss now one of usssssss.”

Fangara tossed him a large piece of the half-roasted bird and the snake took it in his jaws and slid back to his basket.


The two Monitors went over to the still bound squirrel and stared down at him. The squirrel's eyes were still closed, and his chest rose in long, hissing breaths. Then his eyes snapped opened.

They were no longer the dark, intelligent eyes of a bright young squirrel. They were now the same golden color as the eyes of the snake that had hypnotized him. They glittered coldly and stared up at the two lizards in a strange, reptilian gaze.

Fangara smiled and ripped off the gag and ropes that bound him with one swipe of her claws. Then she said, “Zo tell me, what iz your name?”

The black squirrel kept staring at them, his now golden eyes becoming more harsh and cold every minute. Then he replied, his voice low and raspy, “My name.... is Kuro.”

Varanus nodded. “Welcome to my horde, Kuro. You zhall prove uzeful in my conquezt!”

The squirrel stood up and hissed, “To desssstroy all furbearersssss....”

Varanus gave a hissing laugh and slapped his tail against the ground, “He iz truly one of uz now! The Golden One iz a real wonder!”

Fangara folded her claws. “And you know what you muzt do?”

Kuro replied, but in a normal voice now, “Yes. I am to go into the big, red place full of furbearers and they will accept me. Then I will open their gates to let my masters in.”

Varanus was so filled with evil joy that he did a little dance. “Yezzzz! Yezzzz! That iz what you muzt do!”

Fangara rolled her eyes at her mate and asked the squirrel, “Do you have a weapon?”

Kuro bared his teeth. “My only weaponssss are my clawssss and tail. For I am a Monitor!” He waved his bushy tail back and forth.

Fangara stared at him strangely for a moment, then said quickly, “Well, you ztill muzt carry a weapon of zome zort. Even the mighty Varanuz haz a weapon bezidez hiz natural abilitiez.”

The black squirrel looked at the spiked mace on the end of the Monitor leader's tail, then he nodded. “Yessss. I ssshall have a weapon along with my clawssss and fangssss.”

Fangara thought for a moment and then spoke to her mate, “Go and get the zword of that weazel you zlew.”

Varanus snorted. “But I znapped it in two, what uze would it be?”

“Juzt have somebeazt find it!" she snarled, "I have a plan.”


The broken sword of Dragg Fellpaw was brought to her and she spent the rest of the night crafting it into a new weapon for their most recent ally. Kuro stalked about the camp, his cold eyes searching back and forth through the trees for any 'furbearers'.

It was early morning when Fangara finished. She had taken the broken point-end of the blade and attached it to a sturdy piece of driftwood, forming a strange, curved dagger. The hilt-end of the sword was made into a vicious flail, with small pieces of spiny plants and some chains from the ship attached to it. The squirrel hid these both in his cloak and looked to his masters for further instruction.

Fangara waved him off. “Go now and do az you have been told!” Kuro nodded and set off into Mossflower.

Varanus rubbed his claws together gleefully. “In no time at all we zhall be inzide that Abbey!”

“And when we have invaded the Abbey, the dark zquirrel iz all yourz, my huzband.” Fangara said.

Varanus's long tongue flickered out as he glanced out towards where Kuro had gone. “Good! I have not tazted zquirrelflezh for a long while....”


Another pair of eyes had watched the squirrel depart on his deadly mission. Skavris smiled to himself and went back into his basket. Unknown to either of the Monitor leaders, the crafty viper had whispered his own words to the squirrel. Yes, one day he, Skarvis the Golden One, would be rid of his Monitor lizard masters, and be his own ruler. With his power he could conquer most everything in this new land and be the first serpentine warlord! He gave a soft, hissing chuckle and fell asleep.


Chapter 5- Kuro

>:)

A skylark burst from the forest floor to sing its praises to the new morning that dawned over Mossflower Woods. Suddenly the bird stopped as a dark shape caught its eye. The skylark landed on a stump and cocked its head, curious, but ready to take off at any moment. It never even knew what hit it.

The black shadow came hissing out of the underbrush and grasped the unlucky bird in its claws. Its fangs slashed down and ripped the lark apart to get at its meat.

Kuro dropped the small carcass and licked blood from his mouth. This meat was good for lizards. But why did it seem like he never had it before? The dark squirrel shook his head and rose up on his hind legs, his tongue flickering the air. He was close. Soon he would have to disguise himself as a furbearer in order to enter the Abbey. He did not know how he would do it, but Skavris had given him orders, and he had to obey.


Silva sat on the wall-top with her brother Tivel, both enjoying the fresh morning breeze. Silva sighed and took a small bite of a cherry scone, closing her eyes and leaning back against the wall. Tivel sat watching intently around the surrounding woodlands.

Silva spoke, “What do you think is going on out there?”

Her brother shrugged and kept his eyes on the vast expanse of trees and meadows. “Not really sure, Sil. It's still so quiet... Although I did hear a skylark warble once, but then it stopped.”

Silva sighed and peered over the wall next to Tivel. Her hazel eyes widened and she gasped, “Look Tiv! There's somebeast down there on the path!”

Tivel looked down and saw the dark shape creeping towards the Abbey gates. He turned to Silva. “Go down and get father. I'll stay up here and see what this creature does. It could be a trap.”


Kuro trudged along the path towards the Abbey. He was almost there... almost... He looked up.

The moment that his eyes locked on the tall, time-worn walls of Redwall Abbey, something in his mind buzzed and he winced and held his head. Then lightning pain.... he fell to the ground and gasped. What was happening?

Suddenly it was all over. He opened his eyes and gazed upward at the Abbey. There it was! The only place that could give him shelter and help! He had to get there... he was so tired....

Kuro stood and stumbled across the path.


<3


“I’m coming, I’m coming!” Brother Sartori hurried toward the main gate from which the pounding ensued.

Silva and Danvar were right behind him. The gates opened to reveal a dark-hooded creature leaning against the gatepost.

The beast shuddered, as he tried to choke out a few words. “I- I heard tha- that I could- could, perhaps, stay here a-” The creature fell down in a faint of exhaustion.

Danvar ran forward and placed a paw on the creature's forehead. “Quick Silva, help me carry him into the infirmary!”

The two squirrels took the traveler into the sickbay, and laid him on a cot. Both of them gasped as the hood fell away. It was a pure black squirrel, not much older than Silva. Neither of them had ever seen a black squirrel before.

“Silva, go get Sayna.”

Silva was out the door in a flash. Just as she left the room, the black squirrel opened his eyes to see Danvar bending over him.

He smiled inwardly. It had worked! He had stopped resisting the faint he had known was coming, and it got him in with no trouble at all!


“Here she is Father! We came as quick as we- Oh, he woke up.” The black squirrel looked up, and something changed in his heart just then.

The heart, like a twisted piece of metal, was being reshaped by the master crafter of hearts: love. It was a quiet little pang, the first of many that would straighten out his heart, and he though he didn’t realize it, he was stuck.

“Oh I’m fine, really I am, uh, I just was a little hungry, I guess.….”

Silva stood in the doorway, trying not to stare. She had never seen a young squirrel as handsome as this one…. Other than her father. He was strange, though. There was something about his eyes…. It wasn’t right. Silva felt a cold pang of fear run through her as the eerie golden eyes stared back at her.

Silva was so lost in her observations that she didn’t hear her father: “Silva, why don’t you get the lad something to eat?”

This was the second time Danvar had said this. Silva started, as if in a trance, and quickly left without a word.


That night at dinner in Cavern Hole, Silva picked at the food that was on her plate. Cecil, the husband of Martha and resident Redwall hare, leaned over to her from across the table.

“I say, Sil old gel, what are you doin’? Muddlin’ about with perfectly good food, wot! Well, a pretty young thing like you should take to tucker like that more seriously, and here’s a secret...” he winked at her, “the plumper you are, the more suitors you get, wot!”

Silva was laughing and groaning at the same time. “Oh, Cecil, suitors are the last thing I want. But I do know what you want.”

The big hare leaned farther in as the squirrelmaid beckoned to him, her eyes sparkling with mischief. “You want this pie, don’t you?” His large head nodded eagerly, as his mouth was full. She smiled coyly. “Then here it is!”

Pie crust and filling went all over the hare, and everybeast broke into uproarious laughter. He blinked his eyes to get the filling out of them, and the young shrew Swivo cried, “Hoi, food fight!”

Silva laughed at the trouble she had started, then threw herself into the fray with the cry of, “Reeeedwaaaallllll!!”

Gooseberry tarts, summer salad, nut cheese, beakers of cider, and all other food imaginable was tossed left and right, at everybeast in sight. Silva looked more like a pie that a squirrel. Her mother and father were in the thick of it also, pouring the cider on those who complained of being dirty. Cecil was eating everything in sight, be it whole or not, while Martha chided him and tried to keep from laughing at the same time. The night was filled with screams and shrieks of laughter.

“What, in the name of flaming darkness is going on here?!” A savage voice boomed out over the long table.

Everybeast went still. Silva turned to see the tall black squirrel standing at the head of the table, paws on hips, looking with hateful disdain at the rowdy scene before him. Danvar's face grew hard and he glanced at his daughter.

Silva would have been offended by his behavior, but because she was in such a good mood she replied for the rest of the dumb-stricken creatures: “Oh, ha! You mean this little brawl? Oh dear, I hope we didn’t wake you, sir…uh, what was your name?”

His eyes blazing, the black squirrel turned to her, and his heart was hit by the hammer again. “Kuro.” he replied simply.

Silva raised an eyebrow at Kuro as she made a signal behind her back for her siblings. All of the children of Danvar took hold of some object and held it under the table. “Well, er, we are just having a good time, is all, and….” she picked up a raspberry tart, “do you like tarts?” Not waiting for an answer, she raised up her paw and yelled, “Fire!”

The tart landed squarely on Kuro nose, as the rest of the missiles were chucked at him. The black squirrel was soon a jumble of colors as the food rained down on him. Everybeast was silent as Kuro stared first down at himself, and then at Silva.

His strange, cold eyes started to glint savagely, and a cruel hissing noise bubbled up in his throat. Then he locked eyes with the grinning Silva, and a voice whispered in his mind: “You sssshall become one of them....”

Suddenly his expression changed. A smile broke his features as he bowed. “Thank you, Silva, let me repay your kindness!” A whole bowl of custard was thrown, and it covered the squirrelmaiden from head to tail.

Silva had a change of heart toward Kuro, and so did everybeast as he became one of them. And the food fight went on long into the night.


Chapter 6- The Darkness Inside

<3

“Oh dear Tugg, no, here, let me do it first. See, pull the string to the jaw line, with the arm holding the bow straight, so you don’t get hit by the string when you release it. Now look ahead, aaaaimmm…..”

The arrow whizzed as it was released and hit the target dead on. Silva handed the bow back to her brother. “Now you try.” Tugg followed his sister’s instructions and hit the target a little ways from her shot.

A voice came from behind them: “Well done, Tugg! And you too, Silva. I’m very impressed that such folk as you learn the arts of war.”

Silva froze at the sound of the voice. What did Kuro want? He seemed to follow her everywhere, but just as she realized he was there, he would leave. He also liked to slight her and her siblings about the fact that they practiced weaponry.

“That was excellent, Tugg, now go put your bow away, and tell father how well you did, alright?” The young squirrel tripped off to do as he was told as Silva turned and addressed Kuro.

“And why does it surprise you, sir? Is it wrong to learn how to defend your home and those you love? Or, are you just surprised at the fact a female would learn to shoot and fight?” The scorn and pride was apparent in her voice. The tall dark squirrel looked down at her.

“Well you're a fighter, aren’t you? No, I don’t suppose it's wrong for peaceful creatures to learn to defend their land, but I was I was a bit surprised to learn that you were a master at archery, and, as Cecil puts it, ‘a top notch pro with the sword, wot!’”

Silva couldn’t help laughing at Kuro’s imitation of the big hare, but there was also scorn in her laughter. “Well I suppose you have just seen me shoot, so how would you like to see me with the love of my life?”

Kuro’s heart jumped as she said these words. “Er, your what?”

Silva pulled out the huge sword out of its sheath. The stainless, glimmering blade reflected off Kuro’s golden eyes.

“The sword of Martin the Warrior.” she explained, “He was the first protector of Redwall, you know. They say his spirit is with the one who carries his sword, and that beast is the next protector of the Abbey.”

“That’s you?”

“That’s me, alright. Now, if you want to see how well I am with this, draw your own, and we shall see who the best is.”

Kuro was taken aback at this challenge, but he accepted. He was about to draw the odd blade that Fangara had fashioned for him, but then thought better of it.

“I have no sword, just a dagger.” he said almost apologetically.

“Oh, that can easily be taken care of.”

Silva started to walk to the gatehouse, which held some weapons, with Kuro following her. She noticed him and stopped. “Going somewhere?”

“With you, of course.”

“Oh no, you’re not! You are staying right here. Because, Kuro,” she took a step closer to him, putting her face very near his, and whispered, “I don’t trust you... yet.”

With that she walked on toward the gatehouse, leaving Kuro standing still, full of two different emotions. His inward battle raged.

When Skavris hypnotized him, the snake had put evil thoughts into his mind; but that did not make him evil at heart. He still had good thoughts, most of them toward Silva. He had been a good beast before the Monitors had captured him, and, deep inside, he still was. So his good heart and his evil-filled mind argued: about Silva.


His heart hurt, and cried out, “You must earn her trust, Kuro! We don’t want her to distrust us! We love her!”

But his mind was angry. “Are you going to let her talk to you like that? Good, she doesn’t trust us, but then nobeast else distrusts us… yet. She can be the first to die when Varanus attacks and you can be the one to slit her throat!”

“No, no, no! You can’t do that, Kuro! She is the one that you love, how can you even think of killing that beautiful creature!”


Silva was walking back to him, a blade in her paws, and he put a mask of calm over his face to cover the tempest that had been there just a moment before.

Silva handed the sword to Kuro and bowed. “May the best win, though you don’t stand a chance!” She laughed, and Kuro let his old self over come the poison that was in his mind, for just a while. He smiled and replied, “I wouldn’t be so sure, Miss.”

Silva was the first to make a move. Kuro blocked the blow, surprised at her attack. It had come out of nowhere. Silva laughed at his expression. “Didn’t see that one coming, didjya, ol’ boy?”

Kuro came back with a blow of his own, and Silva moved out of the way as his blade dug into the earth. She mocked playfully, “Oh, come now, sah, what did the blinkin’ dirt do to you now, wot!”

Silva laughed at her own imitation of Cecil, and Kuro couldn’t help smiling. “Are you always this chatty when you fight?”

She blocked his next blow. “Oh, yes! A fight is no fun at all with out some conversation!”

The sound of metal striking metal rang out for a long while, and some of the Abbey creatures came out to watch the battle, cheering for their beloved Silva.

Silva was as fresh as a butterfly, flitting about and abusing Kuro with her comments, while he was tiring quickly. Silva’s imitations went on:

“I’ll killee, killee, you dirty little worm! KILLEE!!!”

“Really, old sport, old boy, what are you doing, messing with a seasoned fighter like Sil, wot!”

“Oi don’t roitly be knowing what’s in that liddle ’ead yonder, but all tators n’ stew, sez Oi!”

The creatures of Redwall were rolling about on the grass, laughing as this one-sided combat went on.


That was when Kuro's dark mind snapped and took over. He feigned surrender and fell to his knees.

Silva came up to him, smart as a whistle, and smiled triumphantly down at him. “Well, master Kuro, not so high and mighty now, are we?”

An evil light had crept into the black squirrel’s eye, and he bowed his head as if in shame.

Suddenly he leaped up, dealing blow after blow with a new, vicious strength. Silva blocked and parried as best she could, but could not help backing up. The dark squirrel bared his teeth in a sinister smile and hissed gleefully as he rained down his attacks. Then Silva suddenly stopped, for Kuro had run her into the wall. She held her sword up to block the sword which was coming toward her, and kept it off her, though it took all her strength. Blades locked together, one pushing down, the other pushing up.

“Now who is the best, little maid?” Kuro hissed through clenched teeth. He was calling upon all his power, and succeeded in pushing Silva down a little more.

Fear filled Silva’s eyes. This squirrel was bloodthirsty, she could tell. And it was terrifying. She had been right in her judgment; Kuro could not be trusted. She stared into his eyes, and was puzzled by how cold and reptilian they were. Then she called upon her last resort: hypnosis.

Looking into his eyes, she whispered to him “You don’t want to do this, Kuro.” Her hazel-green eyes started to swirl, becoming more of an apple green, the green of poison.

Kuro’s eyes were filled with the same color, and his intensity of force was slackened. Silva repeated herself, “You don’t want to do this, Kuro. You don’t want to kill me, do you?”

Kuro’s voice was strange when he answered, “I wassss told by my massstersss to do it...”

Silva’s eyes widened with fear at the unexpected answer. “Who are your masters?”

“Varanusssss and Fangara, the massster and missstresss of all ssscaled beingsss, and Skavrissss the Golden One, who sssoon will be victoriousss in their missssion to dessstroy all furbearerssss in all of the land!”

Silva looked at her father, who was at her side now, and he shook his head. Silva turned back to Kuro.

“You are not under their power any more. You are not under anybeasts's power, you are-”

“Then you are not my mistress?” Kuro was speaking normally again.

“No, I am not your mistress.”

“I think you are the mistress of my heart.”

Silva dropped her gaze, and blushed unconsciously. She whispered “That may be so, but I do not rule you.” her voice grew louder and she raised her eyes. “You are your own master, free to make your own choices. You are a good, gentle beast, who-” She paused as she thought. “who will help protect Redwall Abbey against all foes, even the reptiles. You are now free, Kuro.”

The strange green color left his eyes, taking with it the golden color that had been there. It left pure black, the same color as his fur, and in them there was honesty, courage, and, when he looked at his rescuer, love.

He dropped his sword and fell on his knees before Silva. “I am so sorry, Silva. I almost killed you, and I-”

“It’s all over now, Kuro! You are your own person now, not under the power of the reptiles.” She felt slightly flustered. “Please, stand up.”

Kuro stood up, and bowed before Silva. “You are truly Redwall’s warrior.”

The creatures who had watched the whole battle take place cheered and praised Silva, who wished dearly to escape from it all.

Her father finally came to her aid, taking her and Kuro into his study. Danvar's heart shuddered and his eyes narrowed. He could smell war.


Chapter 7- Secrets Revealed

>:)

It was early in the evening when Varanus Riptail began his first move against Redwall. He stood in front of his horde of Monitors and toads, his cold gaze flicking back and forth through the crowd of reptiles, who stood to attention, waiting for their master to speak.

Varanus turned to his mate as she came up to him. “Do you think that our little zpy haz gone into the red place?”

Fangara nodded. “Yez. Unlezz he got lozt, he zhould have arrived there lazt night.”

Varanus smiled and turned back to his waiting horde. “Today,” he hissed out to them, “we zhall go and attack the furbearerz that live in the big red houze!”

All of the Monitors and toads hissed and cheered. Varanus held up a claw. “When we get there, I zhall zignal to our zpy and he zhall open the gatez for uz. And when we go inzide, kill every furbearer you find! Be it young or old, male or female; all furbearerz muzt die!”

The army of reptiles hissed and croaked louder. Varanus waved his mace-tail in the air. “But leave the black one to me! I have zomething zpecial for him....”

He turned to Zantus, his Monitor captain. “Take a group of my warriorz and wait by the zmaller gate. When I go through the big gate, you will come through there and block all exitz! There zhall be great zlaughter among the furbearerz thiz day!”


<3

Danvar and Kuro watched Silva pace back and forth in Danvar’s study, as they thought over the situation. “Is that all you can remember, Kuro?”

“I can only remember that I was captured by the lizards, and the snake... oh, what’s his name, Skarvis, or, no, it was Skavris, yes, and they called him the Golden One. He was this horrible golden viper, with these spikes above his eyes...” Kuro shuddered at the memory. “They knocked me out, and when I awoke, I was tied and gagged, and then the snake hypnotized me, or so you say. Though all I remember of what he told me was that I was to give them information about how large your defense was on the night of the first full moon, and, when they gave me a signal, I was to let them in through the gates. They want to destroy all of us creatures, or, as they call us, ‘furbearers'.”

Silva stopped pacing and collapsed onto the floor, staring up at the ceiling, thinking.

“Do you remember anything about you before you were captured?” Danvar asked.

“No. I lost it all when I was hypnotized. Though,” he paused and looked down at Silva. “I remember I was a goodbeast, with no intention of hurting any of you.”

Silva would not meet his gaze as she stood up. “Well, you lost all of your memory by the power of hypnosis, but I know what can bring it back.”

“What?” The two male squirrels asked together.

Silva turned and gave them a little smile. “Hypnosis.”

Kuro raised an eyebrow. “How are you going to do that? You don't have a snake here do you...?”

Danvar shook his head. “No, but Silva here was born with the uncanny ability to perform hypnosis. Ha, it got her into a lot of trouble as a Dibbun, I can tell you that... But it might just be the thing to help you.”

The black squirrel looked at Silva again, and he sighed. “Alright....”


Silva had her head cupped in her paws, elbows on the table, looking down at Kuro, who was sitting in her father's large chair. She had a silly, almost dreamy smile on her face as she looked at him.

Kuro was flustered. “Why are you looking at me that way?”

Silva laughed softly. “I’ve never done this before. It will be... interesting.”

Kuro's eyes widened and he started. “What?! You have never ever done this before? Are you mad?! I am not letting you do this!”

Kuro struggled to get out of the sagging chair. Silva was in front of him in a moment and pushed him back down again.

“Oh no, you don’t! I am going to get every detail of your past, and I’m not going to let your lack of trust get in the way. I will have Cecil hold you down if you struggle. That is,” she laughed, “until you fall asleep.”

Kuro glared at her. “Why are you so interested in my past?”

Silva gave him a mysterious smile, and turned to her father. He gave a small nod. She placed herself in a chair in front of Kuro, and he sat up straighter.

“No, Kuro, lie back! Get comfortable. There, see?”

Silva was speaking in a hushed, soothing voice, and Kuro found it easy to relax. Silva looked into his eyes, but this time they did not turn green. They turned a bluer color, a calming blue, which now filled Kuro’s own eyes. Silva started to speak to him....

“Kuro, I am going to count to three. On three, you will fall asleep. In this sleep, you are going to be able to see your home, and everything that has happened to you in the recent past, as clear as if it were happening right now.”

Kuro’s eyes were slowly closing as he was soothed by Silva's calm voice. “One...two...three...”

Then Kuro was surrounded by velvety blackness.


“I lived on a small wooded island, where a colony of squirrels lived. Our ancestors had once been oarslaves who had escaped, and started a new life for themselves. They built a small village, where I was born and lived for most of my childhood with my parents and two sisters. It was a lively village, and we lived peacefully, until...”

Kuro’s voice trailed off, and he ground his teeth together. Silva bit her lip. What had happened to him?

Kuro continued. “A horde of searats attacked our village. They were cruel, vile vermin, and with one motive: to kill or enslave every living creature on the island. I was about sixteen seasons, and I believe I hated our peaceful existence. I wanted adventure, not a quiet life by the sea! But oh!” He cried out, as if in pain.

“Oh, what I wouldn’t give to have that life back again! To have my mother, and dad, and, oh! Amara and Coral! What I wouldn’t do to see your pretty faces one last time, not cut up and stained with blood!”

Tears were streaming freely down his face, and Silva's own eyes were stinging. She and Danvar remained silent as the black squirrel found his tongue again.

“The searat's leader -a big, ugly brute with a scarred face- killed my mother and father immediately, running them through with his cutlass. But my sisters...” he cried out in anguish, “my sisters they tortured and beat for information and for fun, and when they were killed, it was a slow death! And I wasn’t there to save them; I wasn’t there to help anyone! Oh, ohhhh!”

His body was racked with sobs, and Fenna, who had joined them, wept louder that Silva and Danvar, whose tears flowed swiftly down their cheeks.

“Oh, please, make him stop, Silva! Don’t put the lad through so much!” Fenna begged, tugging at her daughter's paw.

But Silva stood firm. She had not reached her breaking point, and she knew neither had Kuro. He was strong, that she knew, and she would know when he had reached his limit.

The dark squirrel’s sobs had died down, and soon he resumed his tale.


“I was not there. Oh, I know, everyone thinks of me as a warrior, a fighter. But in truth, I’m no fighter. I am as cowardly as those rats that ran my parents through rather than fight them. I hid! I ran and hid, and the screams of terror and anguish followed me, haunted me, while I ran and took shelter in the caves of the island. I stayed there for three days and nights, and on the fourth day, the searats left, having taken all our stores from our supply caves near the coast. But there was one they didn’t find. This cave had all manner of provisions, but most importantly, boats. So I took out a small row boat and went out to sea. I had never sailed before, never been out on the water alone. All I wanted was to drown, to have the sea wash away my guilt of my family’s death by killing me, too.

“I went on and on, and the boat didn’t capsize, as I had hoped it would. I had barely any food or water, and after five days it ran out. So I sat on the sea for two more days, and was just on the point of exhaustion, so ready to close my eyes forever, when I was scooped out of the water by some hares. They took me on their boat, and I found out that they came from the mountain of Salamandastron, where they lived with their leader, Lord Lonna Bowstripe, a huge badger lord, and his daughter Melesme. They cared for me for the rest of my life, taught me how to fight, how to be a warrior. They taught me! I wasn’t a warrior all on my own! No, really, deep inside, I’m just a coward, a spineless piece of scum that doesn’t deserve to hitch a ride on the boot of any creature!”

Silva took a deep breath and they all waited for Kuro to continue. She still needed to know more. Fenna handed her a flask of gooseberry wine, and Silva poured a little down his throat. This seemed to help the black squirrel, and he went on.

“I stayed there for quite some time, until I had reached my twentieth season. They decided I should come to Redwall, to be with creatures of my own kind. Lord Lonna told me that his friend, Danvar the Avenger, had a family whom I could call my own. So I set out one day to Redwall Abbey, and, for quite some time, had an uneventful journey. But then, in a part of Mossflower Woods, it changed. It became tenebrous, dark and uninviting. I had heard that this was supposed to be a lovely, bright, cheerful wood, but it was not so here.”


Danvar looked at Silva. “You can wake him up now. I have heard all I need to know.”

Silva had her head buried in her paws. She slowly raised her head, as if awakening, then she looked at her father and nodded.

“Kuro, you have told us all we need to know. When I count to five, you will wake up out of my hypnosis, but you will continue to sleep. In this sleep, let go of all your emotions; the hate, anger, sorrow, and shame. Let them flow out with your tears, and, when you awake in the morning, you will be refreshed, focused, and ready for the battle before you.” Silva glanced up at her father, who nodded approvingly.

“One...two...three...four...five..”

A change came over Kuro’s face. It had been distraught before, but now it had a look of calm, and his tears flowed as he wept in his sleep. He cried over his parents and his sisters; his lost home.

Danvar crept silently out of the room, Fenna with him.


But Silva stayed for a short time more, her heart burdened with emotions. Hatred toward the searats who had brutally murdered Kuro's family; sorrow and pity over his loss; the burning desire to get rid of the vicious lizards threatening her life and her family’s.

She let her head fall on the desk as she whispered, “I’m so sorry, Kuro.”

The last feeling that fell on her heart was the one that broke it. Do you know what it was?


Chapter 8- Schemes and Nightmares

>:)

It was evening when Varanus Riptail brought his horde to Redwall Abbey. He gazed up at the high red walls and smiled evilly. Then he turned to Zantus. “Go and take your troopz over to the zmaller gate.” The Monitor captain nodded and went silently off with his group of lizards and toads. Varanus spoke to his mate, “Now give the zignal to our little zpy.”

Fangara walked up closer to the walls and gave a sharp, hissing whistle. They waited for a few moments, then she tried again. There was still no reply.

Varanus growled, “We told him to be awake at thiz hour for our coming! He zhould be there!”

They all sat waiting silently, but still no one came. Varanus cursed under his breath, “If he haz betrayed uz, he will die zlow.....”

Fangara tried one last time, but it got no reply. Varanus hissed angrily and sent a Monitor to bring back Zantus and his group. The captain returned with a puzzled look on his face. Fangara told him what had happened and the horde moved silently back to their camp.

Varanus took one last look back at the tall, serene red walls and snarled savagely. He was already beginning to hate those walls with a vengeance....


Inside Redwall, Danvar and Fenna peeked into the room where Silva and Kuro lay sleeping. Fenna whispered, “Should we give Kuro his own bed? He needs to sleep properly.”

Danvar smiled at his wife's thoughtfulness for the black squirrel. “Aye. He is in too deep of a sleep to wake if I move him. But Silva, we'll leave here. She's had a long day.” The warrior squirrel went over to the sleeping Kuro and picked him up.

They left the room, and Fenna glanced back at her daughter one more time. She was proud of her and the way that she had finally used her power for something other than mischief. Fenna smiled and closed the door.


Back at the Montior's camp, Varanus and Fangara sat around a campfire, planning what to do next. Fangara snarled, “Zince that zquirrel haz gone and ignored hiz dutiez, we need to think of another plan for tomorrow.”

“No!” Varanus hissed savagely, “The furbearerz muzt die tonight!”

His mate rolled her eyes. “You really think that the zquirrel iz going to change hiz mind in a matter of minutez? No. Zomething happened to him, and I am going to find out what it iz....” She stood and stalked over to the basket that sat by another fire. She tapped lightly on it and Skavris raised his golden head out.

“What doesssss my missssstressss wisssshhhh for SSSkavrissssss to do now?”

Fangara moved her eyes away, but still faced him. “Tell me, iz there any way for your magic eyez zpell to be undone?”

The viper stared at her for a moment, then replied, “Only I can take away the ssssspell of the magic eyesssssss.”

But Fangara was not satisfied. “Zomehow that black zquirrel haz come over your zpell in the red place. What happened?”

Skavris narrowed his golden eyes and hissed, “If another creature had the power of magic eyessss, then they could overcome it.”

Fangara was interested. “Yez! That iz it! Another creature in there gave him the magic eyez to take away your zpell! But what creature haz that power other than a zerpent?”

“I have heard of furbearerssssss called pine martenssss having that power. But none other that I know of.”

Fangara growled, “Either the Redwall beaztz dizcovered that he waz a zpy and killed him, or zome creature in there took your zpell off of the zquirrel! We need another plan, but....” Suddenly she looked over at the viper and asked, “Can you put back the zpell?”

Skavris had come all the way out of his basket and now lay coiled up near the fire. He raised his head and hissed, “Yesssss. Sssskavrissss can do many thingsssss....”

She pointed a long claw at him. “Then you zhall go into the red houze and put the zpell back on that black zquirrel!”

The snake thought for a moment, then he gave his crooked, evil smile. “It sssshhhall be done, missstresss.”

The Monitor nodded briefly. “And while you are at it, you can give the creature with the magic eyez the kizz of death!”

Skavris's smile broadened. “But of coursssssse!”

Fangara waved her claw. “Then go and do as your miztrezz tellz you!”

The viper sneered inwardly. He would not have to be subject to the Monitors for much longer, for he had a plan of his own. He took a smoldering twig from the fire with his tail, and rubbed the black ashes over his golden scales; that way, he would blend in with the night, and could slip through the Abbey door unnoticed.

Fangara watched him leave, then went over to Varanus to tell him of the plan.


It was late at night in Redwall Abbey and Kuro lay sleeping fitfully on his dormitory bed. He tossed and turned and moaned as images flashed in his mind.


He was back on his island home, sitting by the seashore and watching his sisters skipping rope on the sandy beach. Then they stopped and ran off, laughing, to gather seashells. He smiled as he watched them go. Suddenly something caught his eye. The rope that his sisters had left on the sand started to move. It wriggled about and slowly changed its form. Golden scales formed along it's length, and one end of it became larger. He stared in horror as it reared up and turned to face him with evil, yellow eyes. It was the golden viper, Skavris.

The snake slid along the beach towards him, hissing, “Look into my eyesssss young one. You are under my control!"

Kuro leaped up and turned to run, but Varanus's tail mace smote him hard across the chest and he fell to the ground. Both Varanus and Fangara loomed over him and snarled, “Traitor!”

In a blind panic he scrambled up and tried to run again, but he stopped short when he saw a big, savage-looking searat with a long scar down his face, standing over the dead bodies of his mother and father. The searat looked up and grinned wickedly at Kuro, pointing his blood-stained cutlass at him. “You're next, liddle black squirrel! I'm coming for ya!”

With a roar, Kuro tried to throw himself at the searat, but it was as if his paws were made of lead. He screamed in rage and the searat laughed insanely as he tortured and beat Kuro's sisters. Their anguished screams filled Kuro's ears as he struggled to reach them, but Skavris suddenly knocked him down and wrapped his golden coils around him, hissing softly, “Look into my eyesssss, young one! For I am the massssster of your mind, heart, and sssssoul!”

Kuro struggled vainly in the snake's steely coils. “Never!” he screamed, “My mind, heart, and soul belong to nobeast! Nobeast but Silva the squirrelmaiden from Redwall Abbey!”

Skavris gave a crooked, evil grin. “No, you belong to meeeeeee!”

The black squirrel yelled, “Never!”

The viper started to sway his head back and forth. “Then you sssshhhhall sssssuffer!” The golden-scaled head shot down and the deadly fangs sunk into the squirrel's neck.


Kuro awoke screaming and sat straight up on his bed, panting, his tears mingling with cold sweat on his face. He picked up his crude dagger, which had slipped out of his belt and poked into his neck. The squirrel grit his teeth and flung the weapon across the room. It thudded into the door just as it opened and Fenna came in. Kuro had his flail out and was ready to throw it as well.

Fenna stared at him fearfully. “What's the matter Kuro?”

When he saw her, he gave a long sigh and slumped down in his bed, the flail falling from his sweaty paw. Fenna came over and sat on his bed. “What happened, dear?”

He shuddered and moaned, “It was a dream.... a nightmare. All of my enemies.... the Monitors, the viper, even the searats, they were all attacking me! It was horrible! Just horrible....” He buried his face in her arms and sobbed.

Fenna sighed and stroked his head lovingly. “You don't have to worry about them any more, Kuro. You're safe here with us at Redwall.”

He looked up at her. “But in my dream the searat said that he was coming for me! And the Monitors said that I was a traitor! Oh, if only I could just die!”

She shushed him gently, “Never say that, Kuro! Never wish to die! It was only a dream and chances are those searats are nowhere near here and Danvar will take care of the Monitors, you'll see.”

He took a deep breath and nodded. “I hope so...”

Fenna kissed him and said, “Now go back to sleep and forget about those things; you're alright. Good night, Kuro.” As she left, she pulled the dagger out of the door and held it up. “Do you want this?”

Kuro's eyes narrowed and he nodded. “Aye, for I shall use it to kill those foul reptiles that dare to threaten Sil- our Abbey!”

Fenna smiled to herself; this young squirrel was so much like how Danvar was; yet, not so much. She handed the weapon to Kuro and whispered, “Then use it well, Kuro. Good night.” Then she went out of the room and shut the door.

Kuro lay back on his bed, thinking about what Fenna had said. She was right; those searats would never come here to Redwall. They may even all be dead. And good riddance! He closed his eyes and sighed, then he fell asleep with no more dreams.


Skavris slid silently over the forest floor towards Redwall. A plan had already formed in his cunning, sinister mind, and he knew exactly what to do. After he had hypnotized the black squirrel, it would take him to the creature that had broken his hypnosis, and that beast would pay for what it did to humiliate Skavris, the Golden One.

The snake finally came out of the woods and raised his head to look at Redwall Abbey. He slid along the wall, looking for any way into it. But the sandstone walls were thick and there were no cracks large enough for him to fit through. The viper cursed inwardly and decided that he would have to take the riskier way in. He crawled up to the main gate, wrapped his tail around a small rock, and banged it against the door several times. He waited silently until he heard pawsteps coming, and he hid around the corner.

Brother Sartori, the mouse gatekeeper, came stumbling sleepily over to the door. He called out, “Who is there?” But there was no answer. He opened the door slightly, and peered around at the silent pathway and woodlands outside. He did not notice the sleek, black and yellow form darting past him and into the Abbey grounds. Sartori sighed and muttered as he went back to his gatehouse, “Must be hearing things in my old age. Huh, fancy me getting out of my nice, warm bed for nothing!”

Skavris watched him go back into the gatehouse and shut the door. The crafty snake looked back at the main gate, which Sartori had not closed all the way, and pushed a small pebble in-between the doors. He could easily go back to Varanus and tell him of the open gates, but he knew better than that. If he was going to conquer and rule, then he would not need those Monitors in his way. The viper turned and looked around the silent Abbey grounds, a slow, evil grin flickering across his face.

Skavris the Golden One had come into Redwall Abbey.


Chapter 9- The Viper Strikes

>:)

Skavris slid quietly through the crack under the door of the Abbey building. He gazed around at Great Hall, and his golden eyes fell upon the long tapestry at the back of the room. He slid closer and looked up at it. A tall, courageous-looking mouse in armor was pictured on it, leaning on a magnificent sword, while vermin all around him fled in terror. Skavris noticed that there were no reptiles of any type running away from the mouse, and he gave a soft, hissing laugh at the irony.

He turned and looked around for any sign of life. He saw a stairway that lead upward and slithered over to it. His forked tongue flicked the air as he tried to catch the scent of the black squirrel. Then he got it. The snake slid up the stairs, the torchlight flickering over his gold and black body as he went. He slid past many doors, following the scent of his quarry.

Soft snores came from many of the rooms, and some creatures mumbled in their sleep. Skavris thought of how soon, those rooms would be filled with reptiles, all at his command, and Varanus and Fangara would be his servants; if not dead. Then the scent got stronger as he came closer to the room that contained the sleeping Kuro. The snake pushed open the door and peeked in.

There lay the black squirrel, lying peacefully on his bed. Skavris smiled evilly and slid over to the bed. He climbed up the post and looked down at Kuro. The squirrel lay sleeping with his crude dagger held tight in his paw. Skavris had not expected the squirrel to be armed, but he could take care of that. The viper wrapped himself slowly around Kuro's body, making sure to hold down his dagger-paw. He brought the front part of his body over the squirrel's mouth, and flicked his tongue out, gently touching it to the tip of Kuro's nose. The squirrel moaned and tried to scratch at the offending itch, but he found that he could not move his arm. His eyes snapped open and he stared in terror at the evil, golden head that hovered above him.

Kuro tried to scream, but his mouth was covered. Skavris smiled. “Hello again my little friend! I've been worried about you; you've been a naughty beasssst! But don't worry, I have come to take you back under my power!”

Kuro could not believe it. Was he dreaming again? Was this just another nightmare? He closed his eyes, expecting the door to open any moment and for Fenna to come in again. But instead he heard the snake hiss, “Open your eyesssssss young one! You sssshhhall obey me oncccccce again!”

Kuro then realized that this was very real. He rolled off the bed, taking the viper with him. They hit the floor and the snake's hold was loosened from his body. The squirrel yelled, “Help!”

Skavris lunged at him and pinned him to the floor with his steely coils. He hissed, “Look into my eyesssssss young one! I am you massssster!” Kuro could not take his gaze away from the snake's hypnotic stare. Skavris waved his head back and forth as he whispered, “You sssshhhall help me in my conquessssst of thisssssss placcccce.....”

Suddenly the door was flung open and Danvar stood there, his battle-ax held ready. Skavris looked up and hissed angrily. Kuro flung the snake off of him and scrambled to get out of the way. The ax came down, but the viper dodged it and moved like lightning up the handle. He raised his head back to strike, but Danvar threw him off and he went sailing out the door. Skavris hit the wall and fell to the ground, but as soon as he did, he was off like a streak. The viper slithered down the hallway as fast as he could go; he had to hide somewhere until the time was right.

Danvar raced down the hallway after the snake, while Fenna, Tivel, and several other Redwallers crowded around Kuro.

Fenna knelt down and asked him, “What happened?! What was that snake here for?”

Kuro lay on the ground, staring at the wall and gasping for breath. Finally he spoke, “That is the viper, Skavris. He....he tried to hypnotize me again, and...and I almost gave in to him....”

Tivel groaned, “That means that those lizards outside are going to attack!”

Kuro slumped down. “Oh, what have I done, coming here? I-” Suddenly he stopped and looked around frantically. “Where's Silva?!”


Skavris heard the pounding paw-steps of the warrior squirrel coming after him. He had to hide. The snake looked around the stairway desperately. Then he saw a door that was partially open. He darted inside, and shut the door with his tail. He reached up and pulled the lock on it closed. Then he gave a hissing laugh and shuddered. He had outsmarted them for now!

Skavris turned and looked around the room. He nearly jumped when he saw a squirrelmaid sleeping with her head on a desk. Skavris froze and watched her. No, she was sound asleep. He gave a sigh of relief, and then a strange feeling came over him. He slithered closer to the squirrelmaid and looked at her. There was something about her, something not normal with other furbearers..... Then he knew it. This was the creature that had undone his hypnosis on the black squirrel! The viper smiled. But this was not his normal, cunning smile. This one was filled with malicious savagery.

He slithered up to the sleeping Silva, his mind filled with pure hatred for what she had done to his pride and power. He reared up in front of her and was starting to wrap his coils around her neck, when she suddenly moaned softly and opened her eyes. She gave a little scream when she saw the golden viper before her, his head swaying back and forth, and his eyes filled with cruel hatred. She did not know what was happening, or how the snake had gotten here, but she knew one thing: It was trying to hypnotize her.

Skavris hissed, his voice laden with pent-up anger, “You have causssssed SSSkavrissssss much humiliation! And you mussssst pay for it! Look into my eyesssssss!”

And she did.

Their eyes locked and Silva's started to mist over with the poison-green color. Skavris was taken aback at first, but he still kept on glaring at her, his head swaying like a leaf in the wind. Silva knew that she was up against a very powerful foe, and she had never before had a staring match were she had not won instantly. The snake and the squirrelmaid continued their battle of hypnosis for many minutes, which to Silva, seemed like days. Her eyes started to water over, but she still kept on staring. Skavris knew that he was winning the battle, and he was ready to strike her at any moment. But right now he could not seem to move his body forward. Silva clenched her paws tight. She needed a weapon to defend herself with, in case she let her gaze fall. She reached back behind her, and felt a short, metal stick, which was used to stir the fire. She grabbed hold of it, and, still not breaking her stare, held it up and ready. They both knew that if they let go of their hold, it would mean their death.

Silva started to shake all over, and her bright green eyes were now flowing with tears as she struggled to hold her gaze. Skavris too was starting to slip. He had never before seen a creature with such a strong will. But he would win in the end; the squirrelmaid was tiring. Then they heard voices from outside and the door rattled. Skavris had his back to the door, but he did not move. Silva knew that it was her father outside, and she longed to call out for help, but any sound would break their lock.

Suddenly they heard a loud cracking noise, and the lock on the door was smashed out, causing the door to fall in. Danvar the Avenger stood in the doorway, his eyes burning with anger and his ax held high. Then both of the combatants let their gaze drop at the same time. Skavris went out the door like a shot, and Silva collapsed to the floor. Danvar swung his ax down, but the viper was too quick. The warrior squirrel raced off after him as Fenna, Tivel, and the rest came dashing into the room.


Skavris shot across the Abbey grounds towards the main door, with Danvar hot on his tail. A few more yards and the snake would be free. Brother Sartori came out of the gatehouse, having heard the noise, and looked around. Danvar yelled, “Get out of the way Brother!” But the gatekeeper ran over to the door to close it.

Skavris, in one last attempt for freedom, leaped through the air, and landed on the mouse's back. He struck, and sunk his fangs into Sartori's neck before he could close the door. The gatekeeper fell to the ground, just as Danvar came running up. With a roar of rage, he swung his ax down, right when the viper slid out the door. The snake was fast, but not fast enough as the ax severed the tip of his tail. Skavris hissed in pain and slithered off into the night woodlands.

Danvar growled in anger and knelt down by the body of Brother Sartori. The gatekeeper's eyelids fluttered and his eyes started to mist over. He whispered, “I tried to stop him...”

Danvar knew that there was nothing he could do to save the old mouse. He whispered, with tears running down his face, “Ssshhh... I know, Brother, you did your best. You were very brave.”

Sartori nodded and gave a slight smile. “Yes. Just like.... you......” Then he fell back with a gasp, and went limp. Danvar stood, holding the mouse's body, and went back inside the Abbey.

<3

Silva slowly got up off the floor as the other creatures ran in, and her father ran out. She was shaking; never had she gone through such a battle. Her hazel eyes were still watering, but she had not given in, she was still strong.

But all that strength melted away when her mother, brother, and Kuro came into the room. She turned to Fenna, who was her comfort at times like these, and was about to run into her arms, when she turned, as if a magnet were pulling her, toward Kuro. Without thinking, she threw her arms around his neck and buried her head in his shoulder, shaking with her sobs.

Kuro was surprised at Silva for choosing him, but soon he wrapped his arms around her, enveloping her, whispering softly and soothing her.

Fenna and Tivel stared at the two in surprise, but then turned away, walking quickly in the direction Danvar had gone in pursuit of the snake.

Tivel spoke, “How do you suppose the snake got in here?”

“My guess is as good as yours, Tivel. Oh, to think that he could’ve hurt my Silva, or Kuro! It hurts to think about it.”

“What hurts is that the snake got in, and could have hurt the entire Abbey!”

He gripped his sword tighter as he saw his father come in with the limp body of brother Sartori. Fenna gave a little shriek, and then tears ran down her face. Danvar came up to them, his face grim. “He tried to shut the gates to keep that worm from escaping. He was just trying to help, to be brave, like-”

He broke off as Tivel slowly took the body from him, and he held his wife close. Tivel walked away, whispering to the dead mouse, “I’m so sorry....”

He laid it on an empty cot in the infirmary, and then covered it with a sheet. He looked down at the blood on his paws, and sighed. “Martin, if you can still hear us, please, tell us what to do!” When he joined his parents, they all went up to the study together, nobeast saying a word.

Silva was running out of tears, and was starting to get angry for throwing herself on Kuro like that. She was regaining her strength, and her pride. She stepped back from Kuro, and gave a pitiful excuse of a smile. “I’m all right, now.”

Kuro said nothing. He looked over Silva's head as the trio came back, silent and grave. Something was wrong. Silva whirled toward the sound of approaching paw steps. She didn’t like the look on their faces. “What happened?”

Fenna broke into sobs again, and Tivel tried to comfort her. Danvar came up and put a paw on Silva’s shoulder. “You didn’t get him?”

Danvar sighed, then took his daughter with him toward his chair and placed her on his lap, as he used to when she was a Dibbun. He whispered in her ear, and she cried out, “No!”

Tivel was relating the sorrowful incident to Cecil, Hydat the otter, and his two sisters, Unda and Nauta. They were all tearful.

Kuro was at a loss. “What happened?!”

Danvar raised his head from where it was resting on the weeping Silva. “Brother Sartori was killed by that snake.”

Kuro was taken aback. “What?!”

Tivel turned to him. “I’m afraid it’s true; he was bitten on the back of the neck.”

Kuro cursed aloud, “It’s all my fault! All this is my entire fault! I never should have come here, I-”

“No, Kuro!” Silva got up off her father lap, and laid a paw on Kuro’s shoulder and looked up at him. “None of this is anyone’s fault. If there is anyone to blame, it is those horrible reptiles. It’s a good thing you came when you did! If you hadn’t, we never would have found out what the lizards were planning! And you can help us defend the Abbey! You can’t blame yourself for any of this.”

“But you were almost killed!” Kuro let out what had been on his mind. Silva stepped back at the violence with which he said it. He quickly changed what he had said. “All of you could have been killed!”

“But we were not, Kuro! That’s the point! We are fine, and,” she looked down, “only one life was lost.”

Kuro had no more words. He broke away from Silva, and left the group. “Kuro!” Fenna called after him. But he kept going, out onto the grounds.

>:)

Skavris slid quietly into the Monitors' camp, his severed tail making a trail of blood behind him. He was in a foul mood. The toads and Monitors that acted as guards stayed out of his way as he slithered past.

He went towards the fire that Varanus and Fangara were sitting by. The female Monitor got up and asked, “What happened? Did you zucceed in your mizzion?”

The snake said nothing as he slid past them, over toward his basket. Fangara followed, and asked again, “Iz the black zquirrel under our control again?”

Skavris still did not reply as he went into his basket and coiled up inside. Fangara snarled and kicked the basket over, spilling the snake out. She stepped on his middle and hissed viciously, “What happened? Anzwer your miztrezz!”

The viper reared up, his fangs bared, but he did not strike. Instead he took advantage of the fact that Fangara had not averted her eyes.

Skavris swayed his head back and forth, looking directly into the lizard's eyes and hissing angrily, “You never sssssent SSSSkavrisssss to go into the Abbey. I did not go there, and you sssshhhall not order the Golden One to do your will any longer!”

Fangara stared into the golden eyes and nodded dumbly. The viper spoke again, “And you sssshhhall take your claw off of my body!” She lifted her foot, and Skavris slid over to his basket, pushed it upright, and crawled inside.

Fangara stared at the spot where the snake had been, then shook her head and looked around. She snorted and went over to where her mate sat by the fire. Varanus asked, “Did the Golden One complete hiz mizzion?”

She looked at him strangely. “What? I did not zend Zkavriz on any mizzion.”

Varanus stared at his mate in confusion. He snarled, “But we zent the zerpent to zlay the creature inzide the red houze that undid hiz zpell on the black zquirrel!”

Fangara shrugged. “I do not remember any of that! You make theze thingz up, Varanuz!”

The Montior leader scratched his head, puzzled. He glared over at the viper's basket and then shrugged. “Fine. We didn't zend him.”

Inside his basket, Skavris smiled as he listened to the two Monitors arguing. He now knew that he could have control over his masters. And if he could hypnotize the clever Fangara, then he could do so to her mate as well. The viper gave a hissing laugh, forgetting all about his severed tail and wounded pride in his revelry at this new-found power.


Kuro leaned against the battlements on top of the Abbey walls, sobbing and shaking with grief. Hatred coursed through his body and dominated his emotions. Hatred for the searats that so mercilessly slain his family; hatred for the Montiors and their evil conquest; hatred for Skavris and his wicked, manipulative ways. But most of all, hatred for himself. He was a coward and he brought bad luck to this peaceful Abbey.

So Kuro stood up on the wall; hating, crying, and waiting.

Waiting for the dawn.

And waiting for Varanus.


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