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Of Warriors and Corsairs

Verminfate November 4, 2009 User blog:Verminfate

Book One- The Corsairs

Chapter 1

A cold wind slid over the deck of the Bloodhelm. It was evening and the corsair ship had just come through a fierce storm. A fat searat with one ear clumped over to a tall weasel standing by the ship's rail. "Uh, Cap'n. The crew is fixin' a broken beam but everythin' else is shipshape." The weasel was silent. The rat boson gulped and tried again. "Er, Cap'n I said..." "I heard you Faggra." The weasel turned and stared hard at the searat. He was a tall, muscular vermin with a red sash and a round, spiked helmet. He had identical bracelets with metal spikes around them. At his side was a long, narrow scimitar thrust into a red belt studded with sharp metal spikes. His eyes were black and cold as ice. Drawing his scimitar, he pointed with it at a faint shape on the horizon. "Tell me Faggra, what do you think that is?" The searat peered out at the faint object, "Well," he said, scratching his ample stomach. "I'd say it was a ship Cap'n." The weasel smiled and spoke softly to his boson, "And what kind of ship is it, my friend?" Faggra looked closer and then chuckled, " Huhuhuh! 'Tis a merchant ship Cap'n." The weasel grinned evilly and nodded, then he turned and called out to a passing fox, "Agrat! Is the crew ready for battle?" The fox stopped and saluted, "Well, Cap'n we was just fixin' somethin' so..." "Then get them ready you buffoon!" the weasel captain bellowed "And be quick about it! We're having visitors." Agrat smiled wickedly and sped of to do his captain's bidding. The weasel turned back to Faggra. "You know, Faggra, I kind of pity that ship in a way." The searat looked puzzled. "Why's that Cap'n?" he asked. The corsair again pointed his blade at the approaching ship. His eyes glinted evilly and he smiled. "Because they are about to see first-handedly the might and viciousness of Rackorg Vinn!"

Chapter 2

Wengle the young otter stood on the bow of the Rosalie enjoying the cool sea wind blowing through his fur. A voice called from below deck "Wengle, supper is ready!" Licking his lips at the thought of the delicious seafood stew, he raced towards the galley. His mother, Nela, a pretty, middle-aged otterlady, was serving stew to many creatures seated at a long table. Wengle sat down next to his best friend, a young shrew named Riddy. The otter gobbled down the stew like he was facing a five-season famine. His friend laughed and said "Slow down mate, you eat like a hare!" Wengle raised his head from the bowl and grinned sheepishly. Riddy gave him a cloth to wipe his mouth with, and spoke to his friend in a hushed tone, "Did you hear about the other ship spotted just a few minutes ago?" Wengle shook his head and asked, "What kind of ship?" "Captain Bigspike said that it could be a corsair ship, but he's not sure." Wengle's eyes grew wide, "A corsair ship!" Riddy shushed him, "Shhh! Nobeast is supposed to know. They might panic." Wengle looked around at the animals gathered around the table. Most of them were passengers like him and his mother who were sailing from across the eastern sea for a warmer climate. He did see some that would surely panic. Tiffily the mousemaid and her family, Hampa the old squirrel, and many others. He understood. His father had been killed by marauding sea-vermin when he was just a babe. Wengle's blood boiled when he thought of innocent creatures being cruelly slain by wicked vermin. Suddenly Riddy's voice snapped him out of his thoughts. "Hey mate, don't squeeze that spoon any harder or it'll break." Wengle looked at the wooden spoon in his paw. It was already splintering. "Sorry Riddy, but I just can't imagine how I would feel if the vermin really attacked our ship and killed somebeast." The shrew nodded and said, "Yea I know, but it's probably just another ship like us, with good, honest creatures aboard. So don't worry." The otter smiled at his friend and felt better. The laughter and merriment continued and the other ship drew closer and closer.

Chapter 3

That night, aboard the Rosalie, Wengle lay awake on his bunk. Everybeast was asleep except the captain and some guards on watch. The young otter could not sleep. Even though his friend Riddy had somewhat comforted him, he still felt nervous about the other ship. What if it was a corsair vermin ship? They would be caught by surprise and wouldn't stand a chance. He looked over at his mother and Riddy. What if they got slain? He shuddered and tried to put it out of his mind. Eventually sleep overtook him and his eyelids closed. Then he had the dream. In it he was back home on the shores of that faraway land. He saw a huge ship loom out of the fog and corsair vermin leaping ashore. They ran about, slaying creatures left and right. He tried to stop them, but he could not move. Then he saw the weasel. It was a tall, evil-looking corsair vermin with a spiked belt and bracelets and a long, curved scimitar. He laughed insanely and stood over the bodies of two dead otters. Wengle looked closer. They were his parents! He screamed and tried to run at the weasel, but then everything changed. He saw figures swirling around in his mind, some that he knew and others he did not. He saw a squirrel and a pine marten locked in combat, a sparrowhawk with a scroll in it's talons, and a mouse in armor with an immense sword. Then he again saw the corsair weasel. He screamed and threw himself at his enemy, but then he woke up. It was early morning, and he had fallen off of his bunk. He saw that his mother was already awake and in the galley cooking. He leaped out of bed to go to the galley for breakfast. But just then, a voice shouted from above, "We're under attack!"

Chapter 4

Rackorg Vinn stood on the bow of the Bloodhelm, he was waving his scimitar about, and roaring to his crew. "Faggra! Get the archers ready. Galza, bring out the grappling hooks. Agrat, come here!" The first-mate fox scuttled over to his captain. The weasel smiled at him and spoke softly, "Agrat, how would you like to command a ship all to yourself?" The fox's eyes grew wide. "Do you really mean it Cap'n?" Rackorg Vinn pointed out at the ship only about three-hundred yards away. "Yes, you can have Bloodhelm after I capture that one." Agrat's face fell. "But Cap'n I thought that I could have that one." Vinn glared at him and said, "You will have what I give you!" The fox persisted, "But Cap'n..." Smack!! The weasel gave Agrat a blow in the face with his paw. The sharp wrist-spikes sliced the fox's cheek as Rackorg Vinn yelled, "You will have what I give you, scumbrain!" He turned from the injured fox and roared to Faggra, "Are the archers ready?" The searat saluted and said "Ready as ever Cap'n!" "Then prepare to fire." The weasel captain looked at the Rosalie and grinned, "Get the grappling hooks ready, archers aim, FIRE!" The shafts went up into the sky and came down like a shower of deadly rain. The arrows thudded into the other ship and it caught fire. Vinn stared at it and then turned to Faggra angrily, "You dolt! You weren't supposed to use flaming arrows!" Faggra grinned awkwardly and scurried off. The weasel looked over at the burning ship and sighed, "Well Agrat, I guess you won't be getting this old ship after all." Then he ran over to the side deck where the grapplers were. "Get ready.. now!" The hooks fell onto the deck of the Rosalie and the vermin pulled the two ships close together. "Not to close, you idiots!" Rackorg screamed, "I don't want my ship burned up too!" Two shrews on the other ship started hacking at the grappling ropes with knives, but the archers shot them down and the sea-vermin climbed onto the Rosalie.

Chapter 5

Wengle raced to the upperdeck and somebeast yelled, "Fire!" He ran around trying to help in some way, but it was complete chaos. Creatures ran everywhere and flames shot up into the dawning sky. Then vermin leaped aboard the ship, armed to the fangs. Captain Jorflun Bigspike of the Rosalie ran about giving orders and smacking vermin with his weapon, a big iron-headed mallet. The burly hedgehog fought wildly, trying to protect his ship. He was fighting off three vermin at the same time when a tall weasel slashed at the back of his neck with a scimitar. Captain Bigspike fell to the deck dead and Wengle stared in horror at the weasel. It was the same one that was in his dream! Then he remembered his mother and ran down towards the galley. Smoke clouded his vision and he coughed as he tried to find her. Screams and clanging metal echoed in his ears as he raced about. Then he saw a figure lying over by a bunk. It was Hampa the old squirrel. He tried to rise but kept falling down. Wengle hurried over to him to help him up and the old squirrel smiled at him, "Bless you young one." Wengle supported him and asked, "Have you seen my mother?" Hampa shook his head. "No young one, I have not." Wengle tried to look for a place to hide, but there was no hiding from the flames. Hampa fell down again and as Wengle tried to help him up, he saw a long gash in the old squirrel's side. The otter gasped and Hampa pulled on his paw and whispered in his ear, "Go to the Longbrush Glen." Then he fell back and stopped breathing. Wengle stared in shock at the body of Hampa. He had just seen two creatures that he knew very well, die, and his mother was nowhere to be found. Then he heard a scream from near the galley and ran over there. He saw the weasel standing over the body of an otter. His mother! He screamed and threw himself at Rackorg Vinn, but something whacked him across the back of his head and everything went black.

Chapter 6

When Wengle woke up, he felt the worst headache he ever had. He looked around and saw that he was not on the ship anymore. He was on a sandy beach and was draped over a rock, his tail dragging in the water. Suddenly it all came back to him. The corsair weasel, the fire, the ship, his mother! But was she really dead? He had only seen her lying on the floor next to the weasel, but there was no blood. Then he remembered the dream. In it the weasel had killed his mother. But was it possible? He also thought of the other things in his dream, the squirrel and the pine marten, the sparrowhawk... and there was something else. What was it? Just then he heard a voice call from the beach, "What ho, old lad! Doing a bit of fishing wot! And with your tail too! Haw haw haw!" Wengle looked up and saw a tall, lanky hare standing a few yards away. He had on a green tunic and a big straw hat that flopped about when he walked. The hare came over and helped Wengle up. " Who are you?" the young otter asked. " My name is Corkly G. Battlescut the third. Formally of Salamandastron. Pleased to make your acquaintance." Wengle shook Corkly's paw, "My name is Wengle Brookrudder, pleased to meet you." The hare led Wengle up the beach asking questions all the way, "So, how did a chap like you get washed up on the shore eh?" Wengle told him the whole story, about the corsairs, the burning ship, and everything. But then when he got to the part about Hampa's death, he suddenly remembered something. Hampa's message! He turned to Corkly and asked, "Mr. Battlescut..." " Please, call me Corkly." “Okay Mr. Corkly, have you ever heard of the Longbrush Glen?" The hare stopped for a moment. "Yes I believe I have, there's a squirrel chap who lives just west of here, deeper into Mossflower Woods, that goes by the name of Spruce Longbrush. Nice fellow but very warlike." Wengle wondered how anybeast could be nice and warlike. They soon got to the hare's home. It was a cave among some rocks, and though it looked rough on the outside, inside it was rather homely and comfortable. There was a table and two chairs in the middle of the cave, and a stove near the back. A large bed was the only other furniture in the room. Corkly went over to the stove and lifted the lid of a pot on it. "Good grief, The soups nearly boiling! Better take it off." Wengle sat down in one of the chairs, as the hare served him the vegetable soup. The otter blew on his soup as he asked, "What's Salamandastron?" The hare nearly choked on his soup as he exclaimed, "Never heard of Salamandastron! Unheard of old lad!" Wengle stared at him, "Well, what is it?" "It's only the blinkin badger fortress! The bloomin, mountain of the flippin fire lizard! It's..." Corkly looked over at Wengle who was looking shamefaced and said in a softer tone,"Sorry, laddie I forgot that your not from around here." After supper, the otter asked Corkly, "Tomorrow can we go see the Longbrush Glen?" The hare took off his hat and hung it up on a peg on the wall, "Well, it's rather dangerous, what with the swamp, and the lizards, and that tribe of barbaric pine martens, but I suppose that we could." That night, Wengle lay on the bed, listening to Corkly snoring, and wondering if his mother was still alive.

Chapter 7

Far out on the eastern ocean, the Bloodhelm sailed further south. Rackorg Vinn smiled and felt the wind in his fur. It had been a good last few days. He had sunk another ship, gathered more loot and... he glanced over at nine pitiful figures huddled by the mast. He had some slaves! His ship was not big enough to have rowing slaves, but he could always sell them, or... Suddenly the lookout, a weasel named Scarnose, called out, "Ship on the 'orizon Cap'n. A big'un with black sails." Vinn peered out at the ship, Faggra came over and asked, "It's not another merchant ship is it Cap'n?" The weasel ground his teeth together and snarled, "Silverfang!" Faggra looked puzzled, "Who's Silverfang Cap'n" Rackorg Vinn's breath rasped as he answered, "Kovra Silverfang is a searat, and his ship the Stormshark is the biggest vessel afloat. We were once allies, but then he stole some loot from me and now.." "Your bitter enemies, right Cap'n?" The weasel's claws dug into the ship's rail as he replied, "Exactly! Now it looks as if he wants something from me but..." He looked over at the captives, then at the approaching ship, and he smiled. Faggra gulped. He knew that smile. It meant that Rackorg Vinn was planning something. Something evil.

Kovra Silverfang was small for a searat, but anybeast could see that he had the muscle of a creature twice his size. His ship the Stormshark was a huge craft, with two decks of oars and three big sails. Unlike other corsair captains, Kovra did not carry a blade. He carried two. Twin stilettos, long, sharp, and deadly. They had cross-hilts that were hooked, perfect for disarming an opponent. He and Vinn had never dueled one-on-one but the searat knew that he would surely win if they did. Now was his chance. He called up to his lookout, " Ahoy, Worgutt, do ya see that ship on the horizon?" The stoat looked for a moment and then replied, "Aye Cap'n not a very big one though." Kovra laughed, his silver-plated fangs glinting in the sunlight, "Harrharrharr, of course it ain't, it belongs to that no good murderer, Rackorg Vinn." Worgutt called down,"But aren't you a murderer too Cap'n?" The searat thought for a moment then laughed, "Ha, I guess I am. But he murdered some of my crew, that's different." The two ships got closer and closer, each of their masters thinking of only one thing. Revenge!

Chapter 8

Wengle awoke the next morning to the smell of fresh baked bread. He got up, yawned and looked around. Corkly was busy taking some bread out of an oven carved into the wall that Wengle had not seen before. The hare looked over at the young otter, "Well good morning sleepyhead and have some breaky, wot!" Wengle walked over to the table and sat down as Corkly served bread, a fruit salad, and some scones. "Are you ready for our daring quest laddie buck?" The otter spoke around a mouthful of fruit. "Yes, I am!" "Well then," the hare replied "we'll be off right after breakfast." Later, after they had eaten and packed for the trip, Wengle paced around the cave, waiting for Corkly. " Are you done packing yet?" he asked impatiently. The hare rummaged around a bit and finally came out. Along with his hat, he had with him a knapsack, two water gourds, and a long walking-stick. "Are you ready laddie buck?" The otter smiled at him and said, "I've been ready for an hour!" "Then we're off!" The hare trotted into the woods that skirted the beach. But then Wengle realized something. He called to Corkly, "Aren't we going to bring a weapon?" The hare came back and grinned at the otter, "Oh, I forgot to tell you. I was an expert boxing hare at Salamandastron, doncha know." Wengle looked at his friend. He did look like he could knock out an enemy in one blow. But then Wengle asked, "What about me?" Corkly looked him up and down. "Hmm, I suppose you could use my stick, but.." Suddenly he raced back inside the cave. Wengle sighed and went over, but then Corkly emerged carrying something in his paw, "This should do the trick wot!" It was a sling and a small pouch of stones. The hare gave them to Wengle, "I suppose that you know how to use it?" The young otter held it and started swinging it around. "Yes, I practiced with one every day back at home." The hare straightened his hat and walked onward. "Then come on old sport, we've got a quest to attend to!" Wengle followed Corkly into the trees. He looked at the sling in his paw and then at the boxing hare walking ahead. He didn't care what they faced, they were going to find the Longbrush Glen!

Chapter 9

Agrat, the first-mate fox of the Bloodhelm, stood on the deck looking through a spyglass. Next to him was Rackorg Vinn, waiting to hear about what the fox saw. "Well Cap'n" Agrat said "it looks as if they're wavin' a white flag." Vinn turned to his crew. "Bring her in closer to the Stormshark, but not to close, I still don't trust that searat, white flag or not." The two ships came closer to each other, enough so that the two captains could talk to one another. "Ahoy there Vinn" Kovra yelled from the other vessel, "how many of your crew have ya murdered today, eh? Harrharrharr!" Rackorg Vinn was smiling as he answered his enemy, "Not as many as allies that you tried to rob, Silverfang!" The searat looked hurt, "Come on now, haven't ya put that in the past mate?" The weasel gritted his teeth, "No, as a matter of fact, I haven't." Kovra gave a silver-toothed grin, "Good, cause neither have I! Harrharr!" “Enough of this talk, searat." Rackorg Vinn yelled "I want to know why your here." "Simple really," Kovra said "I just want to parley." Rackorg Vinn looked over at the captives, then whispered something into Agrat's ear. After the fox had left, Vinn turned back to Kovra, "Alright, I'll parley with you on one condition, no funny moves!" The searat raised his paws up in mock alarm, "Of course not, mate! I would never try anything on you." After awhile, most of Rackorg Vinn's crew was on board the Stormshark. The two captains faced each other, both had their paws on their weapons. "So Kovra, what do you really want?" The searat toyed with his stiletto." Nothin' much, just... this!" He swung his weapon up, the point touching Rackorg Vinn's throat. The weasel's crew all gasped, but Vinn smiled and pushed the stiletto down with his paw. "You want a duel, correct?" Kovra Silverfang shook with rage as he replied, "Aye, to the death!" Rackorg Vinn's voice was soft as silk, "Winner take all?" Kovra ground out every word, "Winner take all!"

The vermin from both crews formed into a ring. The captains stood at each end, their blades drawn. Faggra and Worgutt, who both acted as referees, said in unison, "Ready... begin!" The two corsairs clashed with a roar and the battle between Rackorg Vinn and Kovra Silverfang, began!

Chapter 10

The sun glinted off the combatant's blades as they fought on the deck of the Stormshark. Rackorg Vinn's scimitar sliced through the air and Kovra Silverfang's twin stilettos jabbed and blocked. For a while, neither one had the upper hand. Kovra's blades locked against Vinn's scimitar, and he gritted up into the weasel's face, "I'll send ya to Hellgates, Rackorg Vinn!" The weasel smiled savagely, "On the contrary, it is you who will die!" Their blades rang against each other as they fought viciously. The vermin around held their breaths, they knew that their future lay on whoever won. Then all of a sudden, the searat hooked one of his hilts around Rackorg's sword-paw. The scimitar went flying into the crowd of awed vermin, as Kovra backed Vinn up against the ship's rail. The searat grinned at the weasel, "Well, it looks as if I've won!" Rackorg Vinn smiled back, "It's not over till one of us is dead." Silverfang held his blades up to the weasel's throat. "I can fix that easily." He slashed upward, but Rackorg Vinn ducked and kicked up at the searat with both footpaws. Kovra Silverfang went hurdling over the edge of the ship, into the sea. All the vermin gasped, and Rackorg pushed his way through them. He raced up to the ship's wheel as Kovra shouted threats from below, "I'll get you for this Rackorg Vinn! I'll..." The weasel spun the wheel towards the voice, then there was a dull clunk and a gurgling scream. All of the vermin ran over to the ship's rail and they watched as the limp body of Kovra Silverfang sank down beneath the waves until it was lost from sight. Everybeast turned to look at Rackorg Vinn. He stood by the wheel, smiling victoriously and looking down at all of the sea-vermin. Faggra brought him his scimitar. "Silverfang is dead Cap'n." The weasel waved his blade about as he roared, "I am Rackorg Vinn, Conquerer of the Oceans and Destroyer of Enemies. You are all under my command now. My name will go down in history along with other great corsairs of the past, Vilu Daskar, Tramun Clogg, Gabool the Wild and many others. But above them all shall be the name Rackorg Vinn!" All the vermin raised their weapons and shouted, "Aye, aye Captain Rackorg Vinn, Conquerer of the Oceans and Destroyer of Enemies! We salute you!" The weasel turned and gazed at the land mass in the distance. He pointed his blade at it and whispered to himself, "Next stop, Mossflower Woods!"

Book Two- The Pineshadows

Chapter 11

A lone squirrel walked up the path to Redwall Abbey. Even though he had seen it many times before, it always took his breath away. The huge sandstone building towered over Mossflower, it's tall bell tower standing high above it all. It had been there for many seasons, and yet it still stood firm and beautiful. The squirrel came up to the massive wooden main gate and knocked sharply. An old mouse opened the door. "Spruce Longbrush it's good to see you again!" The big squirrel shook paws with him, "It's good to see you too, Brother Gerant!" As they walked into the Abbey, Spruce looked around at the Abbey grounds. Mice, moles, hedgehogs, otters, squirrels and voles were everywhere, picking fruit in the orchard, pushing wheelbarrows, playing, singing, and having a good time. Spruce sighed as he saw all the happiness around him. If only they knew of the silent war going on outside of the Abbey, he thought. Then Gerant asked him, "Are you still having trouble with those pine martens?" The squirrel nodded grimly, "Yes, the Pineshadows think that all of this section of Mossflower belongs to them. They attack my clan almost every night, but we do manage to fight the scum off." The old mouse shook his head sadly, "Such sad times we are in my friend. But come and join us, we are preparing for the autumn feast. It will take your mind off such things." Spruce Longbrush smiled and shook his head, "I'm sorry but I must be going back to my clan. The Pineshadows might attack again. I just came by to say hello." Gerant went inside the Abbey and came out a short while later, carrying a small basket of scones. "Then take these with you as a token of friendship." The big squirrel thanked him and walked out of Redwall. "Thank you again," he called back "give the Abbot my best wishes." The big gates closed and Spruce went into Mossflower Woods. He took a big bow and a quiver of arrows from off his back and loaded the bow. You could never tell what dangers lurked in Mossflower while the Pineshadows were about.

Chapter 12

Corkly G. Battlescut carried on marching through Mossflower Woods, with Wengle lagging behind. The young otter was tired of walking for what seemed like days. So far they had not come across any of the dangers that Corkly had mentioned, and Wengle was getting bored with the quest. He called up to the hare, "Mr. Corkly, can't we rest awhile?" The hare came over and sat down. "Whew, your right laddie buck, we could use a little rest-up right about now." He looked around and then remarked, "I think that I recognize some of these trees and rocks around here. We're getting close to the blinkin swampland." Suddenly Wengle was alert, "Where is it?" Corkly took off his hat and fanned himself with it, "Can't really tell. The flippin marsh is hard to see around the forest floor, so be careful." They got up and trekked onward, watching where they stepped. Wengle turned to the hare and asked, "How will we know it when we see- aaahhhh!" He suddenly sank waist-deep into the ground and Corkly grabbed his paws. The hare popped him out and they tumbled over. Corkly laughed, "That's the trouble laddie, you don't know it's there until you flippin well step into it, wot!" Wengle tried to wipe the muck off, but it was no use. He sighed as he asked the hare, "Well, what now?" Corkly was about to reply when they heard a hissing noise behind them. They turned to see about two score of big swamp lizards advancing slowly on them. Corkly gave one word, "Run!" and they took off, not caring anymore about the swamp. The lizards chased after them, surprisingly fast for such slow-looking reptiles. A few of the lizards, who were faster than the others, caught up to the two travelers. One of them grabbed onto Wengle's rudder and bit down with needle-sharp teeth. The otter yelled in pain, as he tried to get the reptile off of him. Then Corkly G. Battlescut the third leaped over his head and landed flat on the lizard's neck. Wengle winced as he heard the bone snapping and at first thought that it was his tail. But then he looked at the lizard with it's head at a lop-sided angle and he knew. "Thanks Mr. Corkly" he said. But the hare didn't answer, and Wengle saw why. They were completely surrounded by lizards!

Chapter 13

Agrat walked up to Rackorg Vinn who was standing on the deck of the Stormshark. The fox knew that he was risking his life by asking this question, but he had to. "Uh, Cap'n?" The weasel turned and looked at him. "What?" Agrat shuffled his footpaws around as he asked, "Um, well, I wanted to know about the ship you were gonna give me Cap'n.? He fully expected another blow in the face, but Rackorg Vinn smiled, "Of course, I forgot about that. You can have that leaky old craft, the Bloodhelm, or you can stay with me on the greatest vessel in the oceans. Your choice." The fox had never thought of it like that. He thought for a moment and then said, "I guess that I'll stay with you Cap'n." Rackorg Vinn smiled wickedly, "Good choice fox, cause if you had chosen the Bloodhelm... you would have sunk down with it!" He pointed over at the weather-beaten, old corsair ship. The archers had dipped their arrows in fire and had nearly covered the ship with the blazing shafts. Agrat gulped. He had narrowly escaped death. Suddenly there was a commotion over by the below-deck hatch. Five sea-vermin were struggling to get a young shrew slave down the hole. Vinn strode over to the tussle and asked in a loud voice, "What's going on over here!" Faggra clumped up and saluted, half of his good ear had been chewed off, and he sported a black eye, "This shrew just won't go down into the slave-deck Cap'n. He's already injured four of the crew, including me." The weasel drew his scimitar and placed the tip against the young shrew's throat. "What's your name, shrew?" The shrew did not answer, he just glared at the weasel. Vinn pressed harder as he roared, "Your name, or I'll slit your throat!" This time the shrew replied, "My name is Riddy. Did you kill my friend Wengle the otter?" Rackorg shrugged, "I've killed many otters, Riddy, and what do you care anyway, your just a slave now." Riddy's blood boiled as he yelled at the weasel, "You scum! I'll kill you if you did!" A searat named Scumtail spoke up, "Remember Cap'n that young otter that was gonna attack you? I whacked his head with me club and threw 'im overboard." Riddy turned to Scumtail, and threw himself at the searat, teeth bared. The other vermin pulled the shrew off and beat him with their clubs. When he was unconscious, Rackorg Vinn waved his paw and the vermin took Riddy down to the slave-galley. Vinn then looked at the strangled body of Scumtail and smirked. Fool! Suddenly, Scarnose the lookout called down, "Land ahoy!" The weasel turned and saw the shores of Mossflower not very far away. He smiled. He had conquered the sea, now he would conquer the land!

Chapter 14

The afternoon sun shone down on Redwall Abbey. Gerant, the gatekeeper, sat in a chair by the gatehouse watching the Redwallers preparing for the autumn feast. Fernald, the Father Abbot of Redwall, was busy giving instructions to the Redwallers. "Sister Patia, will you help Friar Dobble in the kitchens? Foremole, will you go down to the cellars and get some of Furgo Cellarhog's Raspberry Cordial? Oh my, will somebeast please keep these Dibbuns busy? Their getting in the way. Careful now, don't drop that table!" The Abbot dormouse came over and sat down next to Gerant. "Whew, if I have to do another one of these feasts I think I might faint!" The old gatekeeper mouse chuckled, "Don't worry my friend, the rewards of such work are good. By the way, Spruce Longbrush came to visit a short while ago." Fernald looked surprised, "Really? Why didn't you tell me?" Gerant smiled, "You were busy preparing for the feast. Besides, he only stopped by for a short time, trouble with those pine martens, you know." The Abbott sighed, "I hope that they don't decide to attack Redwall. They seem to be getting closer every day!" "Don't worry," Gerant said, "Spruce and his clan will protect us." Just then, Brother Trell, a stern old vole came jogging by, panting. Fernald asked, "What's the matter Brother?" The vole was furious as he replied, "It's those Dibbuns, Father, I put them up in their Dormitory to play, but three of them, that rascal Yurpp and his cohorts, just escaped! And I don't know where they are!" They looked everywhere and asked everyone, but they were nowhere to be found. Then the Abbot said, "There they are! Over by the east gate. I really do need to get Furgo to fix the lock on it." The three Dibbuns were holding some spoon "weapons" and were just about to walk out of the door. Brother Trell came up just in time and shut the door, before the Abbeybabes could get out. Yurpp, a molebabe, said in his odd mole dialect, "Yurr zurrs, we'm was just gonna go out and be gurt wurriers, hurr" Trell sniffed as he said to them, "No you were not! You are to stay in bed through the feast tomorrow. You have been very naughty." The Dibbuns started to cry and the Abbot said, "Oh, let them be at the feast, it's a very special occasion. But they will have to go to bed early for the next three days." The Dibbuns hugged the Abbot and ran off. Fernald and Trell followed them. Gerant stayed and looked at the broken lock. "Oh dear, we will have to have Furgo fix this. Well, maybe after the feast." Little did any of them know that that oversight would have consequences.

Chapter 15

Wengle did not know what to do. The big lizards had surrounded them, and the only weapon that they had was his sling. The reptiles closed in on them, and Corkly whispered to Wengle, "On the count of three we'll charge the blighters." The otter was shocked, "What?!" "Just trust me laddie buck, alright, one, two, three!" They ran yelling into the pack of surprised lizards. Wengle swung his sling about, smashing any lizard that came near. Corkly G. Battlescut roared as he charged at them, punching, kicking and butting every lizard in sight. The reptiles scattered, and the two friends were just about to stop fighting and race away, when a huge lizard with evil red eyes came up in front of them, with even more lizards behind him. He hissed at Wengle and Corkly, "Ssss, we will eat your flesh!" The hare smirked as he replied, "Oh really, couldn't you find something a bit more appetizing, you stinkin bounder?" The big lizard hissed savagely and charged the hare. Corkly side-stepped, and as the lizard ran by, he gave a powerful upper-cut to the reptile's jaw. The big lizard dropped like a stone, and all was silent for a moment. Then all of the lizards rushed at them and the fight began all over again. Except that this time the lizards had the advantage. Wengle smashed a lizard's skull with his sling as he yelled to Corkly, "I don't think that we can hold them off much longer!" The hare kicked upward at two lizards that were leaping at him, "I know old sport, so we have to think of another plan, sharpish!" The otter looked around as he fought, then he saw something. "Mr. Corkly," he yelled, "what about that log over there!" Corkly looked over where Wengle was pointing and ran over there. He rolled the big log into the pack of reptiles. The lizards tried to scurry out of the way, but the log rolled over most of them. Corkly and Wengle dashed through the opening made by the rolling log, and ran off into the woods. The lizards chased them for awhile, but soon gave up and retreated back to their swamp. The two questers kept running until they were sure that the lizards had stopped chasing them. They sat down, breathing heavily. Corkly winked at the young otter. "Pretty good fighting there laddie buck!" Wengle smiled at the hare as he panted, "Thanks Mr. Corkly, but you were the one who got us out of that mess." The hare waved a paw, "Oh pish-tush old sport, all in the days work of a Salamandastron hare, wot! I say, how about some supper?" They took some dried fruit and biscuits out of Corkly's knapsack, and had supper. (With Corkly eating almost everything in the bag!) That night as they slept beneath a tree, Wengle was dreaming of his home and his mother, when all of a sudden he felt a heavy weight on him and a claw scraped across his face. A pair of red eyes stared wickedly down at him and a voice rasped, "You will both pay! Sssss!"

Chapter 16

The vole gave a yelp when five pine martens dropped from the trees in front of him. The largest of them, who carried a bone club with adder's fangs on the end, pointed the weapon at the vole and said in a deep, rasping voice, "You have trezpazzed on ze land of Valkarano, Lord of ze Pineshadowz. If you do not have anyzing to pay ze toll, you muzt die!" The vole stammered, "I-I d-don't have anything." The big marten looked at him scornfully, "Zen you will come to meet Valkarano." Two of the Pineshadows grabbed the unfortunate vole and carried him up into the trees. A short while later, they came to the throne of Valkarano. It was set on a platform in a large oak. Many other platforms and small, ragged huts dotted the forest around. The pine martens brought the vole before Valkarano, who was seated on his large oaken throne. The vole gulped when he saw the Pineshadow Lord. He was a huge dark-furred vermin with a long scar running down his face. His left eye was permanently shut because of the scar. His long, bushy tail twitched almost all of the time, and his sharp claws dug into the arms of his throne. He held a short, thick wooden pole with a crow's skull attached to the top, the beak sharpened to a deadly point. Valkarano stared down at the quivering vole as he spoke, "What iz it now Draker?" he asked the big marten who had captured the vole. Draker bowed as he said, "O great Valkarano, zis creature has trezpazzed on your domain without any toll. What iz your verdict?" The Lord of the Pineshadows waved his paw, "Juzt kill it." The vole was lead away as Valkarano sat back in his throne. He was tired of all of these trespassings and executions, all that he wanted was to kill that squirrel, Spruce Longbrush. He felt the scar on his face, it was that squirrel who had done this to him. He called Draker over to him, "Draker come here." The pine marten came over and bowed. "Yez my Lord?" Valkarano stroked the top of his scepter. "I want you to take ze tribe and attack ze Longbrush Glen tonight. And ziz time don't leave any of zoze zquirrelz left alive." Draker bowed again and then picked up a horn and blew on it. Pine martens poured in from everywhere, carrying clubs, daggers, and spears. Draker shouted out at them, "Tonight, we will attack ze Longbrush Glen. But remember, kill everybeazt zere! My Lord Valkarano haz zpoken!" All of the Pineshadows yelled and cheered. Valkarano sighed, then he whispered to Draker, "But bring back ze leader, Zpruce Longbrush. I want him alive."

Chapter 17

In the bottom slave-galley of the Stormshark, Riddy woke up. He tried to stand, but he was chained to the oar in front of him. He looked around at all of the slaves. They too were chained to their oars. Riddy turned to his oar-partner and whispered to him, "My name is Riddy, what's yours?" His rowing partner, a tired-looking old hedgehog said in a low voice, "It don't matter now. We're slaves and that's all we'll ever be." Riddy looked down at his chains, "Someday I'll free everybeast aboard this ship, I promise." Just then, a big ferret slavemaster, named Gorrag, came over and cracked his whip above their heads. "Shut up you slaves, or I'll flay your hides!" Riddy winced as the whip stung his back. He looked at the ferret straight in the eyes and said, "Just try it, and I'll break your neck." Gorrag growled savagely and whipped the shrew again, harder. But Riddy just sat and glared at the ferret. After a while of whipping the tough shrew, Gorrag gave up and went to another part of the slave galley. Riddy narrowed his eyes as he whispered, "I will get us out of here, I promise!"

Rackorg Vinn was worried. There seemed to be a chain of rebellions going around. First it was that one shrew, what was his name? Riddy. He was starting to get the slaves to think that they were going to get free. Now there was talk of mutiny among his crew. Gorv, a big, muscular searat who had been part of Kovra Silverfang's crew, was talking to some of the sea-vermin about how "Vinn was getting to big for his boots", and "How he was gonna get them all killed". He had already got three other vermin on his side. Two stoats named Dinzog and Blueclaw, and a searat named Thramba. But Rackorg knew that these rebellions would subside soon enough. That evening, the Stormshark weighed anchor in the shallow water off of the shores of the Mossflower region. Most of the vermin went ashore and set-up camp. Vinn left his first-mate, the fox Agrat, in charge of the ship until he got back. Rackorg Vinn looked around. He saw the edge of the woods, dotting the beach and the vermin setting up makeshift tents and building campfires. He also saw four vermin huddled together at the edge of the woods. The weasel knew that it was Gorv and his cronies. He smiled and then ordered some of his crew to set up a tent for him. But he didn't post any guards by his tent that night. He knew that Gorv and his gang were planning to desert. Under the moonlight after everybeast had gone to sleep, (except Rackorg Vinn,) the traitorous vermin ran off into the woods. Vinn smiled as he watched them go. They would be back. And then they would learn the reward for treachery.

Chapter 18

Wengle stared in horror at the scaly face above him. It was the big, red-eyed lizard and some of his tribe. The otter also realized that he was tied down with a heavy, woven net and that the red-eyed lizard was on top of him. He looked over at Corkly and saw that the hare was in the same position as he was, only it took six lizards to hold him down. Corkly shouted threats to the lizards as he tried to escape, "You big, ugly blighters, just let me at you and I'll whack you so bad that your scaly, stinking grand-lizards will have headaches!" The red-eyed lizard smiled and gave a hissing laugh, "Ssss you will die next after the waterdog." Wengle closed his eyes as the lizard opened it's mouth for the killing bite, but just then, a screech ripped the night air, and something slammed into the big lizard, knocking him off of Wengle. The young otter looked and saw a large, female sparrowhawk standing on top of the big lizard. The reptile struggled wildly, but in vain. The hawk's sharp beak flashed down, and the lizard's lifeblood drained away. All of the other lizards had scattered into the woods when the hawk came, so there were no more for the bird to deal with. Then it turned to Wengle, it's beak dripping blood, and it's savage eyes piercing him through. Wengle closed his eyes again as the hawk walked over toward him. He expected to feel the sharp beak rip out his throat, but instead it cut the net fibers away from him. Wengle jumped up and thanked the hawk. "Thank you very much! My name is Wengle, what's yours?" The sparrowhawk wiped it's beak on the grass as it answered, "My name Keekag. I messenger for Squirrel Longbrush." Wengle's eyes grew wide as he asked, "Longbrush! That's where we're going! Can you take us there?" Just then they heard a voice, "Sorry to interrupt your jolly old conversation, but could Miss Featherbag kindly come here and take this confounded net off of me?" The sparrowhawk walked over to Corkly and glared at him as she ripped the net off. "My name Keekag! Not Featherbag, rabbit!" Corkly got up and dusted himself off as he sniffed, "Humph, I'm not a rabbit, I'm a hare, you blinkin' birdbrain!" Keekag was about to leap on him, when Wengle got in-between them. "Stop! Mr. Corkly, Keekag knows where the Longbrush Glen is. Shouldn't we follow her?" The hare picked up his knapsack, "Of course! That's what we've been trying to find all along! Lead on Keegeek, or whatever you're flippin' name is, wot!" The sparrowhawk flew upward as she screeched at Corkly, "Me name Keekag! Not Keegeek! You both follow me. I know way to Longbrush Glen." The travelers set off again, following the hawk to the goal of their quest. The Longbrush Glen.

Chapter 19

When Wengle first saw the Longbrush Glen, he almost fell over. It was basically a village high in the trees. Treehouses were on almost every large branch, and a rope and pulley system made it easier for any non-squirrel creatures to get up to the top houses. Keekag lead them through the glen as squirrels peered out at them from everywhere. When they had gotten to a particularly large treehouse, the sparrowhawk stopped and turned to them, "You wait, I go get Squirrel Longbrush." She flew up into the tree and a short while later she came down with a big squirrel following behind her. "This Squirrel Longbrush," Keekag said, "He help you." Then she flew off. When the squirrel saw Corkly he broke out into a grin. "Corkly G. Battlescut, it's been ages since I last saw you!" The hare laughed as he ran up and shook paws with the squirrel, "Indeed it has Spruce Longbrush, you old treebounder!" Then he turned to Wengle and said, "Spruce me old matey, this is Wengle Brookrudder. He's come a long way to see you." Spruce shook paws with Wengle, "It's a pleasure to meet you Wengle! So why did you come to Longbrush Glen, eh?" The young otter winced as he felt the squeeze of the squirrel's strong paw, "I was told to come here by an old squirrel named Hampa, do you know him?" Spruce smiled as he said, "Hampa Swiftbow! How is that old warrior doing?" Wengle bit his lip as he replied uneasily, "Well... it's a long story." Spruce beckoned them up to the tree and said, "Then let's go up to my treehouse and you can tell me all about it." They went up into the treehouse and sat down at a circle of chairs as Spruce served them some nutbread and cider. The squirrel sat down and asked Wengle, "So, tell me the whole story." The otter took a sip of cider and then began, "Well, me and my mother were traveling here to Mossflower from a our home across the eastern ocean. We were on board The Rosalie, and Hampa was one of the other passengers." Spruce had a faraway look in his eyes as he whispered, "So that's where he went." Wengle looked at him strangely, and continued on, "Then, when we were not to far from the coast of Mossflower, some corsair-vermin attacked our ship and..." He glanced over at Spruce and swallowed the lump in his throat as he said, "They killed Hampa." Spruce shut his eyes, tears brimming them as he said, "He probably died as he had wished to." Wengle looked down at the floor, remembering his mother. Then he continued, "In his dying breath he told me to go to the Longbrush Glen. Then the vermin threw me overboard, and I washed up on the shore near Mr. Corkly's house, and then we came here." Wengle looked up at the big squirrel. "So you knew Hampa?" Spruce nodded, "He was my father's best friend and a great warrior. It was he that taught me how to use the bow and arrow. Then one day he and my father got into a big fight and Hampa left the clan. We had heard that he had moved off to another land, but we have not heard anything since. Until now." The squirrel narrowed his eyes as he mused, "I wonder if he was coming back to..." He was interrupted by shouts and cries from outside. They all rushed out to see what was happening. Wengle gasped as he saw the Pineshadows leaping and screaming through the trees like ghosts. Ghosts with sharp teeth and weapons.

Chapter 20

Spruce Longbrush took the bow off his back as he shouted out to his clan, "It's the Pineshadows! Everybeast to arms!" Squirrels came out from everywhere, carrying bows, javelins, and slings. The two forces clashed together and the battle began. Spruce shot one of the Pineshadows with his bow as he called to Wengle and Corkly, "Get back inside, this kind of battle would be to much for you!" Corkly sniffed as he took up a boxing pose, "Stay away from a jolly old scrap? Not likely. Me and Wengle here have faced foes far more powerful then those hooligans out there!" But Spruce was insistent, "No! Trust me on this! The Pineshadows are not like any foes you've ever seen! You must stay back and let me and my squirrels do this." With that, he leaped off through the trees, shooting vermin whenever he had the chance. Corkly G. Battlescut sighed and he sat down, "The rotter! He won't let us get in on a jolly good fight. Quite caddish if you ask me!" Wengle was about to reply when two big pine martens dropped down in front of them, slashing with their spears. Corkly punched one of them in the jaw, spun around and kicked the other off of the platform. He grinned at Wengle as he said, "Who says these blighters are harder to fight? Wot wot!" He charged of, shouting the warcry of badgers and hares. "Eeeuulaaallliiaaaa!" Wengle smiled at his impetuous friend. Then he heard someone whispering to him, "Come over here. Hurry!" He turned and saw two young squirrels near the back of the treehouse. They were peeking out of a trapdoor and were motioning him over. He went over to them and asked, "Who are you?" The biggest of the squirrels, a young male a little younger than Wengle, answered, "My name is Garrow, and this is my sister, Oakflower, we're the children of Spruce Longbrush. You must follow us!" Wengle was surprised. "Why?" Garrow explained, "Whenever there is a battle, all of the young, old, and weak escape out through these trapdoors. They lead far away into the woods." Wengle followed them into the hole. It was a tunnel carved into the tree. He crawled carefully down the narrow stairs, following the two young squirrels. Then the path went straight, which Wengle knew meant that they were now going underground. They came out of a hole in the ground away from the battle. But they could still see the fight going on. The bodies of both squirrels and pine martens fell from the trees and the sounds of combat echoed around the forest. Then Oakflower shouted out, "Look! It's daddy!" Wengle looked and gasped as he saw Spruce Longbrush locked in battle with a large pine marten that carried a club topped with adder fangs. Then he remembered, this had been in his dream!

Chapter 21

Gorv, the big searat who had deserted Rackorg Vinn, was lost, and he knew it. He and his three companions had been wandering around Mossflower for hours, and they were all tired and hungry. The stoat Blueclaw had had enough. He sat down on a rock and growled, "I ain't going no more." The searat turned and looked at him, "What did you say?" The stoat crossed his arms, "I ain't going any further. We were fools to follow you Gorv. We should have stayed with Cap'n Vinn." Gorv drew his sword as he said to Blueclaw, "So, you're rebelling, eh? What do you plan on doing?" The stoat replied, "I think I'll just go back to Cap'n Vinn." The big searat laughed, "Ha! You idiot, Vinn'll skin you alive if you show your face around there." Blueclaw shrugged, "Then I'll go off by myself, away from you." Gorv smiled dangerously, "Oh really? And how long do you think that you'll last?" The stoat curled his lip, "A lot longer than I would hanging around you!" "Your right about that, stoat!" With one thrust of his sword, the big searat slew Blueclaw on the spot. Gorv kicked the stoat's carcass off of the rock and waved the sword in front of the other two vermin. "Do either of you two muckheads want to talk back to me?" Dinzog and Thramba looked at the ground and shook their heads. Gorv sheathed his sword, "Good! We'll make camp right here. Dinzog, you go look for some vittles. Thramba, you go get some firewood. I'll set up camp." The two vermin went off. A short while later, Dinzog the stoat came back. "Hey Cap'n, there's three liddle creatures in the woods over here." Gorv was interested, "What kind of creatures?" The stoat replied, "Two squirrels and an otter. They didn't see me." Gorv drew his sword again, "Haha! Maybe we could get one of 'em to tell us where some vittles is. Lead me to 'em."

The battle had died down as both sides watched their leaders fight. Spruce Longbrush had knocked Draker's club out of his paw and now the battle was fought with tooth and claw. The pine marten was ripping into Spruce's side with his claws, and the squirrel was battering with his fists on his opponent's head. They rolled around amongst the branches, sometimes falling onto a lower platform or limb. Draker knew of Valkarano's order to bring back the squirrel leader alive, but his insane battling fury made it a fight to the death. Spruce kicked Draker in the jaw and the pine marten went tumbling down. But he grabbed onto a branch below and threw himself up at the squirrel. Spruce kicked out again, but Draker bit deep into the squirrel's leg. Spruce screamed in fury and pain, battering at the pine marten's face. But Draker just bit deeper and then he slipped. The pine marten hung there, his teeth holding onto the squirrel's leg. Spruce bit his lip from the pain. Then he saw a dagger tucked into Draker's belt. He reached over and grabbed it, then in one swift motion he spun it around and slammed it point first into the back of the pine marten's head. Draker's mouth dropped open, his eyes rolled back, and he fell, crashing through the branches and platforms, until he hit the ground far below. There was silence for a moment, and then all of the Pineshadows raced back off through the trees, some of the squirrels chasing after them. Spruce Longbrush lay on the branch, trying to stop the blood flowing out of his leg. Rockshaft, a hefty squirrel who was Spruce's second in command, came over and inspected the wound. "It looks pretty bad," he said, "But if it's bandaged up properly, I think that you will be able to use it." Just then, Garrow came running up, screaming, "Oakflower has been captured by vermin!"

Chapter 22

Oakflower gazed in horror at the three big sea-vermin surrounding her. Gorv licked his sword as he said in an evil voice, "Well me beauty, you're gonna tell us where some vittles are or I'll carve you're pretty little tail off nice an' slow, and then use it to decorate me belt!" She screamed in terror as the other two vermin held her down and Gorv advanced, grinning wickedly. Just as he raised the sword, a slingstone came hurdling out of nowhere and smashed into Gorv's sword-paw. The searat screamed and dropped the sword, then looked up to see Wengle standing there, his sling already loaded again and spinning. "You let her go!" he said in a loud voice. Thramba ran at him, brandishing a rusty knife, when an arrow hissed out of the trees and buried itself in his throat. Everybeast looked up to see Spruce Longbrush, Rockshaft, and a dozen other squirrels, each with a loaded bow. Dinzog turned to run, but he was brought down for good by Rockshaft's arrow. Gorv picked up his sword and was about to grab Oakflower, when another arrow came down and impaled his paw. The squirrels leaped down from the trees and Oakflower ran over to her father and hid behind him. But Spruce did not even notice. His eyes were red and his teeth gritted together. Gorv tried to run, but the big squirrel knocked him down and stood on him, an arrow pricking his throat. The searat sobbed pitifully as he tried to make excuses, "I wasn't really gonna hurt her, on me oath I weren't! We were just playin' around!" Spruce pulled the bow back tight as he gritted out, "The word of a vermin is useless. You will pay the penalty for what you did to my daughter!" He was about to let the shaft loose, when he felt a soft paw lay on his shoulder. He turned and saw Oakflower gazing at him. She said in a soft voice, "Don't kill him daddy. He didn't know what he was doing." Spruce looked down at the searat who lay quivering on the ground. The big squirrel closed his eyes took a deep breath and put his bow down. Then he bent over and whispered to Gorv in a voice that was hard as ice, "You should be glad that my daughter is so forgiving. I'll let you go, but if I ever see you again, I swear, you will die! Is that clear?" The big searat nodded, then Spruce yanked the arrow out of his paw, and let him up. Gorv took off running into the woods. Spruce winced as he felt his injured leg, then he turned to his daughter and said, "Why did you do that?" The young squirrelmaid answered, "Because he was so foolish and confused. he didn't know how to do good. I let him live so that maybe he could learn to be good." Spruce sighed as he hugged her, "Vermin will never be good and that's that. But still, it is possible. Come on let's go home." They went off, but Wengle stayed behind, thinking. Rockshaft came over to him. "What's the matter young'un?" Wengle sighed, "It's just that those vermin were corsairs. I wonder if they were the same ones that attacked the ship that I was on?" Rockshaft shrugged, "They could be. But there are a lot of corsair vermin on the seas. So it's not likely. Come on, let's go back." Wengle followed him, still wondering.

Gorv ran on. He didn't care where. All that he knew was that he had to get away from that vengeful squirrel. He kept running. Unfortunately for the searat, he went to an even worse place. The camp of Rackorg Vinn.

Chapter 23

Back at the Longbrush Glen, Spruce, Wengle, Corkly, and Spruce's two children were up in their treehouse. Spruce was writing a message on a piece of parchment. When he was done, he whistled sharply and Keekag the sparrowhawk flew down into the treehouse. Spruce gave the message to Keekag as he spoke, "Take this to Redwall Abbey. It will warn them of the corsair vermin in Mossflower." The sparrowhawk nodded and then took off. That was when Wengle realized something. This scene had been in his dream! He felt woozy and sat down. Corkly asked him, "What's the matter old chap, feeling a bit ill?" Wengle shook his head, "It's not that, it's just that lately I've seen some things happen that have been in my dreams." Corkly and Spruce looked at each other, then the squirrel asked, "What sort of things?" "Well," the young otter began, "the battle between you and that pine marten this morning, and also Keekag carrying that message. I dreamed about those the night before the vermin attacked our ship. What do you think it means?" Corkly replied, "Well, it either means that you ate too much supper that night or..." He paused a moment, "What else was in your dream?" Wengle tried to remember, "Um, I dreamed about the corsairs that attacked our ship and about those things that I already mentioned and... Oh! I also saw an armored mouse that carried a big sword!" Spruce's eyes widened as he exclaimed, "Martin the Warrior!" Wengle looked at him, "Who?" The big squirrel explained, "Martin was the champion and founder of Redwall Abbey. He owned a great sword that was made from a fallen star and fashioned by a Badger Lord of Salamandastron. It has been passed down through the seasons by Abbey warriors. Martin is said to speak to a future Abbey champion in their dreams." Wengle leaped up, "Does that mean that I am going to be the next Redwall champion!?!" Spruce shrugged, "It could be, but we'll have to visit there to find out." Corkly shouldered his knapsack, "Then we're off on another quest! Wot wot!" Valkarano, Lord of the Pineshadows, was furious. Not only did his tribe not bring back Spruce Longbrush, but his Chief Guard, Draker, had been killed. He stormed around his throne, smashing everything and cursing loudly, "You foolz! Zey juzt killed Draker and you all run away like cowardly frogz! I zhould kill you all for zis!" He sighed and sat down on his throne. He then pointed to a formidable-looking, female pine marten, "You! What iz your name?" The pine marten saluted, "I am called Zenka, my lord." Valkarano looked her up and down, "You will be my new Chief Guard, Zenka." He turned as two scouts came hurrying up. "My lord," they said, "ze zquirrelz are leaving, zey zaid zat zey were going to a place called Redwall Abbey." Valkarano smiled, "Zat coward Longbruzh zinkz zat he can hide from me zere." Then he turned to the newly promoted Zenka, "We will attack Redwall Abbey tomorrow night."

Book Three- A True Warrior

Chapter 24

Rackorg Vinn smiled as he watched Gorv come stumbling into camp. Laying his scimitar up against the wall of his tent, he strode out to the searat, a plan already forming in his clever and brutal mind. Gorv sat down on a log, breathing heavily. He had gotten away from that squirrel and now he was safe. Then he realized where he was and he started to run back into the woods. He heard Rackorg Vinn's voice call up from the beach, "Ahoy mate, why are you trying to run away? See, I'm not armed." Gorv turned and saw the weasel standing there, his paws outstretched and with no scimitar by his side. Vinn came over and embraced the searat, "Well mate, I'm glad to see that you came back. Where are your pals who went with you?" Gorv did not want to admit that he had been scared off by a few squirrels, so he lied. "Well, you see Cap'n, there was this big, fierce badger in the woods, and it killed me mates. I tried to fight it off, but it was too strong, being a badger and all. Then I ran back here to warn you about it Cap'n." Rackorg smiled and shook his head sadly, "Your poor mates. I would have liked to see them too. But cheer up, you can come to my tent to eat and rest. Come on." Gorv followed the weasel captain over to the biggest tent. He had expected to be slain on the spot, but instead, Rackorg Vinn was treating him like he was his son. They got into the tent and Gorv saw a roasted gull and a jug of blackberry wine on a table. Vinn spread his paws wide, "Go on, eat all that you want." Gorv sat down on Rackorg's bed and was about to take a bite, when he put it down and looked at Vinn suspiciously. The weasel took a bite of meat and a sip of the wine. He smacked his lips as he said, "See? It isn't poisoned." The searat wolfed down the food, spilling it everywhere. He did not notice Rackorg Vinn slowly reaching over to his scimitar, and hiding it behind his back. When Gorv was done eating, Vinn said, "You must have had a hard time fighting that badger. You must be tired. Would you like to rest?" The searat belched and leaned back on the bed, "Aye, that would be nice." Rackorg Vinn gave a smile that was both kind and savage, "Then you can rest for as long as you like." He turned to leave, but then said, "Oh, and Gorv, I forgot to tell you something..." Quick as lightning he turned and swung the scimitar at the searat's neck. Before Gorv even had time to think, his head dropped to the ground. Rackorg Vinn wiped his blade on the searat's headless carcass, sneering, "Never underestimate the cunning and intelligence of Rackorg Vinn!" He strode out of the tent and called to some nearby sea-vermin, "Take that thing out of my tent, and clean the place up! The blood has stained my best satin pillow!" He sheathed his scimitar and stared out into Mossflower Woods. Once word about Gorv's death got out, he was sure that there would be no more rebellions.

Chapter 25

At Redwall Abbey the feast was ready. Every kind of food was there. Pasties, scones, salads, pies, soups, flans, and much more. Everybeast had gathered round the table in Great Hall. Father Fernald rose and was about to give the blessing, when their was a sharp rapping on the door. The Abbot was puzzled, "Now who could that be?" Foremole, the mole leader, went over to open the door, "Woi, it's a gurt hawkburd with a messarge." All of the Redwallers stared at Keekag. She walked over to the Abbot and said, "This message from Squirrel Longbrush. He say there be verminbeast in Mossflower." Fernald read the message and then sighed and said, "But how does he know that the vermin are going to attack Redwall?" Keekag shrugged, "Don't know. But verminbeast be badbeast, so they might attack." Suddenly all of the Redwallers were in a tizzy, "But we're not prepared!" "We're in the middle of a feast." "We need to fight them off." The Abbot raised his paw for silence, then he turned to the sparrowhawk, "Go back to Spruce Longbrush and tell him to come to Redwall immediately." Keekag nodded and went out of the door. Fernald turned back to the Redwallers, "Everybeast please stay calm. It was only a few vermin in the woods, so we don't know how many there really are. So everybeast go back to the feast and enjoy yourselves." The feasting continued but everybeast was still thinking of the same thing. Would the vermin attack Redwall?

Outside of Redwall, four Pineshadows surveyed the Abbey. Their leader, a tall, thin pine marten named Carcad, whispered, "You two, Barzag, Kraka, you go by ze wall and look for any crackz or open doorz. Gruckan, you go up in ze treez and look over ze wall. Warn uz for any creaturez coming." The three Pineshadows slide quietly off. Carcad crept up to the main gate and inspected it. It was solid and seemed to have no weaknesses. He stabbed his dagger into the door in frustration. Just then he heard Kraka calling him over, "Carcad, come here!" He silently followed her towards where Barzag was, over by the east wall. Barzag smiled as he gently pushed the small east-door open, "Ze lock waz broken." Carcad peered inside. It was very large and had a pond over on one side, an orchard was near that. The huge Abbey lay in the middle and there was nobeast in sight. Carcad smiled wickedly, "Lord Valkarano will be pleazed!" Barzag pushed past him and into the Abbey, saying, "Letz go in, zerez nobeazt here!" Carcad pulled him back roughly, "You fool! You zink zat uz four can conquer ziz now? We go back to Lord Valkarano and tell him of ziz." The three vermin slid quietly off. Carcad called to Gruckan who was up in a tall ash, "Come down, we have found what we want!" The pine marten dropped from the tree and whispered urgently, "Zere iz a hawk in ze Abbey. It juzt came out of zat door." Carcad looked up and saw Keekag flying upward out of the Abbey grounds. Carcad pushed them all into the woods, "We muzt go back to Valkarano. Zat bird iz from ze Longbrush zquirrelz." They hurried off into the woods, thinking that the sparrowhawk had not spotted them. But she had.

Chapter 26

It was morning and everybeast in the camp of Rackorg Vinn had already heard about the beheading of Gorv. Vinn waved his scimitar about as he roared to his crew, "Everybeast get packed up, we're going onward! You two! Come here!" The two vermin in question ran over to their captain, "Yes Cap'n?" Rackorg pointed his scimitar at one of the vermin, a ferret, "What is your name?" The big ferret with a long scar down his back, replied, "My name is Riphide Cap'n." Vinn pointed over at the other, "And you?" The lean searat answered, "My name is Muckro Cap'n" The weasel sheathed his blade, "I want you two to scout ahead. Find out what is out in those woods." The two vermin gulped and looked at each other. Riphide asked warily, "B-but why should we do it?" Suddenly the scimitar tip was at his throat, "You will do it because I said you will!" The two vermin saluted and ran off into the woods. Vinn turned and yelled at his crew, "Alright you scurvy idiots, get moving! Were going into the woods and to Redwall Abbey!" Faggra's mouth dropped open, "You mean that we're going to..." Rackorg Vinn smiled, "Yes, I have had this planned all along. You've heard about the great riches in that Abbey, well I'm going to get them." Faggra scratched his chin, "But what did you send out Riphide and Muckro for Cap'n?" Vinn smiled evilly, "Because, my foolish friend, if they return, then we'll know that the way they went is safe. But if they don't, then I'll know to go a different way, and I won't loose more than two crewbeasts." The bosun looked in admiration at his captain, "Wow, Cap'n, that's a clever plan." Rackorg Vinn sheathed his scimitar, "That's why I'm the Captain, Faggra. Now get everybeast ready, we're going to march on Redwall tonight!"

In the slave galley of the Stormshark, the old hedgehog looked out of his oar-hole. He saw all of the vermin getting ready to leave. He smiled grimly and whispered to Riddy, "They're all leaving. Is everything ready?" Riddy nodded and he tapped the shoulder of a vole in front of him. The vole nodded and then whispered, "The slaves across know what to do. Shhh, Gorrag's coming!" The burly ferret lumbered down the aisle, cracking his whip over the slave's heads. Riddy gritted his teeth, he knew that they would break free. It was only a matter of time.

Deep in Mossflower Woods, Wengle, Corkly, Spruce, Garrow, Oakflower, and some of the squirrels from the Longbrush Glen, trekked on. Wengle had become close friends with Spruce's two children and he told them of all of his adventures as they walked. The young squirrels were amazed at the otter's story and they hung on every word. Oakflower asked him, "So you and Mr. Corkly really fought off a hundred lizards?" Wengle nodded, "Yes, and then at night they captured us, but Keekag came and rescued us." Garrow sighed, "I've never been in a battle before." Wengle smiled, "Well mate, you don't want to. They can be pretty fierce." The squirrel gritted his teeth, "But I just want to be in one. I want to prove to my father that I'm not a little baby anymore." Suddenly Corkly called out, "Look up there! It's that blinkin sparrowhawk!" They all looked up and saw Keekag soaring above them. Spruce whistled and the hawk looked down. She saw them and swooped down from the sky, landing in front of them. Spruce asked, "Did you give the message to the Redwallers?" Keekag nodded, "Yes, they say you come there now." The squirrel replied, "Well that's where we were going anyway, so..." Keekag interrupted him, "Also I see four pinebeasts by the wall. They look at doors and walls. They try to find way in." Spruce Longbrush was alarmed, "The Pineshadows are going to invade Redwall!?" The sparrowhawk nodded. "Keekag," Spruce said, "you go back to the glen and tell everybeast to come to Redwall. If the Pineshadows are going to attack the Abbey, then we will need to help them to defend it." Keekag flew off, and Spruce Longbrush turned to the group, "We must get to Redwall quickly, come on."

Chapter 27

Riphide and Muckro had been wandering around for a long time. They had no idea why Rackorg Vinn had sent them out, but they did not dare to question him. Both of the vermin had been from Kovra's crew and they didn't really like their new captain. A few times Muckro had suggested that they desert, but the ferret just said one word in reply, "Gorv", and the searat was silent. They traveled on, not having any clue to where they were. Then they came to a path and they decided to follow it for awhile. They traveled up the road until they saw Redwall Abbey. The two vermin were astounded by its size, and they were hesitant to go near it. Riphide whispered to Muckro, "I'll bet that Cap'n Vinn sent us out to scout this big building." The searat nodded, "Aye, so we had better go and look at it close up." They walked around the Abbey, looking for cracks and checking the doors. Then they came to the small east-door with the broken lock. Muckro pushed on it and was surprised to see it open. Riphide peered inside, "It looks as if the lock's broken." Then he shut the door quickly. "There's a big spikehog in there and he's comin' this way!" They both ran off into the woods. When they got to the edge of Mossflower, they turned and then looked at the door. Riphide smiled, "Cap'n Vinn will be so happy with us that we found an easy way into that building." They went off, back to their camp. Unknown to them however, they passed only a hundred yards away from Spruce and his group. As they ran, Muckro stopped and said, "Hey mate, what's that up there?" The ferret looked up and saw Keekag high above the trees. He grinned, "It looks like a hawk, I'll bet that their good to eat. We can bring some food back to Cap'n Vinn, then maybe he'll promote us for finding the big, red building and for bringing back a good meal." Riphide took a bow and some arrows from off of his back and sighted on the sparrowhawk. Then he loosed the shaft but it fell short. Keekag noticed and looked down at the two vermin. Then another arrow shot up and clipped her wing. She screeched and dove down toward the vermin. Riphide was about to load another arrow, when the hawk hit him full in the face, talons outstretched. The ferret gave a muffled scream and his arms flailed about wildly. Muckro stood for a moment, staring at the scene. Then he hefted his spear and threw it at the sparrowhawk. At the last second, Keekag let go of the struggling ferret and flew upwards. The spear went straight through Riphide's throat and he fell back, instantly slain. Muckro stared in horror at the body of Riphide, then took off running. Keekag gave a screech of victory, and flew off to Longbrush Glen. Muckro ran, knowing that Rackorg Vinn would ask him what happened to Riphide. He started to think up excuses when he remembered the broken door. He smiled greedily as he thought off all the rewards that he would get. He didn't notice the soft, swampy ground under his paws until it was too late. Dark shapes scurried about and wicked, reptilian eyes watched as the searat slowly sunk down into the marshy soil.

Chapter 28

Wengle stared in awe at the massive Abbey before him. The small group walked up to the main gate and Spruce knocked sharply on the door. Brother Gerant opened it and smiled, "Well Spruce, I didn't expect to see-" The big squirrel grabbed his paw, "I need to speak to the Abbot, where is he?" Gerant lead them across the grounds and into the Abbey. Wengle was amazed at the size and beauty of Redwall. They went inside and saw creatures cleaning up from the feast. Corkly muttered, "Humph! I notice that the blighters didn't invite us to the jolly old feast, wot!" Abbot Fernald saw Spruce and came over, "Spruce Longbrush, I haven't seen you for awhile! How are you?" The squirrel shook his paw, "Well we wont be doing very well soon Father." The Abbot was puzzled, "Why? What's the trouble?" Spruce sighed, "My messenger hawk Keekag saw some of the Pineshadows sneaking around the walls last night. She thinks that they were trying to get in. And with corsair vermin in Mossflower as well.." Fernald sat down and shook his head, "Then it's a good thing Furgo fixed the east wall-door. The lock on it was broken." Then he looked at the other travelers and said, "I believe I haven't met any of you yet." Spruce made the introductions, "This is Corkly G. Battlescut..." The hare bowed, "Formally of Salamandastron and ready to defend the jolly old Abbey!" "These," Spruce continued, "are my two children, Garrow and Oakflower, and this is Wengle." But the otter didn't reply. He was staring at a huge tapestry hung on the wall. In the middle of it was a brave-looking mouse in armor, leaning on an immense sword. All around him vermin fled in terror. Fernald smiled, "That is Martin the Warrior, the champion and founder of Redwall Abbey." Wengle nodded, "Yes, Mr. Longbrush told me all about it. He also said that Martin appears in the dreams of the next Redwall champion." He turned to The Abbot, "And I had a dream about him!" Fernald glanced over at Spruce then replied, "When did you have this dream Wengle?" The young otter told him the whole story. After he finished, Wengle asked, "Am I the next Redwall warrior?" Abbot Fernald had tears in his eyes as he replied, "Why don't you see for yourself?" He pointed at a dangerously beautiful sword hung on two pegs above the tapestry. Wengle's heart thumped as he took the sword down and looked it. The sun's rays glinted off of it like flaming ice, as he held it above his head. He had never seen a weapon as beautiful as this. Fernald smiled, "That is the sword of Martin the Warrior." Wengle twirled it around and slashed down with it, "Can you teach me how to use it?" The Abbot chuckled, "I can't, but I'm sure that Spruce and Corkly wouldn't mind." The squirrel and the hare accepted, "Of course! I'm a little better at the bow or dagger, but I have wielded a sword before." "Indeed! Even though I am a boxing hare, at Salamandastron I did learn how to use the jolly old sword, wot!" Just then, Brother Gerant opened the door and came in, followed by Rockshaft and the rest of Spruce's clan. Rockshaft went over to Spruce. "Keekag said that you wanted us to come here," he said, "and I think that there is more of a threat from those vermin than we thought." The squirrel leader asked, "Why? What is it?" "She saw two vermin near here" Rockshaft said, "and they looked like corsairs. They too were sneaking around the walls. She killed one, but the other got away." Spruce was concerned, "Then we had better start to get ready for an attack. Tell Keekag to keep watch, everybeast must get their weapons ready." Then he turned to Wengle and winked, "And we'd better start training you to use that sword, mate!"

Chapter 29

Rackorg Vinn and his crew went stealthily on into Mossflower. He knew that Riphide and Muckro had not come back, so he had went a different way. The sea-vermin had their weapons ready in case of an attack. Suddenly, the Pineshadows dropped from the trees. Rackorg Vinn drew his scimitar. Zenka, the new chief Guard, stepped forward, holding a sharp stone sword, "Why are you trezpazzing on ze landz of Valkarano and ze Pineshadowz?" The weasel held his blade out, "We aren't trespassing on anybeast's land, but if you like, we can fight it out here and now." Zenka narrowed her eyes, "What are you doing here?" Vinn answered, "I am going to the Abbey of Redwall!" The Chief Guard thought for a moment, then leaped up into the trees. The two vermin groups eyed each other suspiciously, sizing up each other's weapons and numbers. A short while later Zenka came back, and with her was Valkarano, Lord of the Pineshadows. The two vermin leaders looked at each other for a moment, then Valkarano spoke, "Who are you?" Rackorg answered, "I am Rackorg Vinn, Conquerer of the Oceans and Destroyer of Enemies! And I am going to conquer Redwall Abbey!" The Lord of the Pineshadows narrowed his eyes, then said, "I am Valkarano, Lord of ze Pineshadowz! I too am going to ze redztone Abbey, but only to find and kill ze zquirrel Zpruce Longbrush." The weasel sheathed his blade, "Well, since we're both going there, why don't we join forces. You can get the Longbrush beast and I will rule the Abbey." Valkarano smiled, "Yez, we would be zure to win if we combined forcez." He hestitated, “But will you ztill let me and my Pineshadow tribe rule Mozzflower Woodz?” Rackorg Vinn shrugged, Why not? All I want is the Abbey. I don't care much about the surrounding woods. You can have them.” Valkarano nodded, “It'z done zen!” They clasped paws, both of them smiling. They had just met and already they did not trust each other.

That evening they came to Redwall Abbey. Rackorg Vinn smiled as he saw the Abbey from in the woods. Valkarano asked him, "How zhould we attack?" The weasel had already thought of a plan, "Your crew can climb trees, correct?" The pine marten nodded, and Vinn continued, "If you have your pine martens climb the trees around the Abbey, then use my crew's grappling hooks to grab the walls and slide down into there, they could open the door for the rest of us to get in there." Valkarano thought over the scheme then he nodded, "It could work." Zenka, the Chief Guard, spoke up, “What about ze broken door zat Carcad and hiz zcoutz found?” Valkarano nodded, “Yez. I will zend out zome of my martenz to zee if it iz ztill broken. If not, zen we will do your plan.” Then he sneered, "But you had better hope zat it workz, for your zake." The pine marten strode off, and Rackorg Vinn narrowed his eyes and he whispered to himself, "It will work! And besides, you won't be alive long enough after to carry out any of your threats, barbarian!" He looked over at the Abbey and smiled.

Chapter 30

Agrat sighed as he stood on the deck of the Stormshark. He had been doing some serious thinking. Rackorg Vinn hadn't given him the ship that he promised, and the fox felt cheated. So why not sail off with this one? He would be the captain and Vinn would have no way of following him. But many of the crew were loyal to the weasel and they might mutiny. Just then, Worgutt the stoat came up and saluted, "First mate Agrat.." he began. The fox sniffed, "It's Captain Agrat now." Worgutt stared at him, "B-but what about Cap'n Vinn?" Agrat laughed, "Ha! That weasel went off on his choice. He left me in charge and now I say that you will all call me Captain Agrat." The stoat shrugged, "All right. Cap'n Agrat, the slaves are getting restless, what should we do about it?" Agrat thought for a moment, "Well they'll be rowing pretty soon now so tell Gorrag to get them ready." Worgutt's mouth dropped, "You mean that were sailing off? Without Cap'n Vinn?" The fox smiled, "Yes, like I said, he left on his own free will and he put me in charge. So I'll take this ship for meself and sail away from here." The stoat didn't know what to reply, so he scratched his head and said, "Alright Cap'n. So I should get the crew ready to sail?" Agrat drew a long dagger from his belt and looked at it, "Aye. Get some provisions from the land first and then we'll sail off." Then he turned and roared out in typical Rackorg Vinn style, "Alright you lazy morons! We're going ashore to get some provisions and then it's off to sea!" The crew stared at him for a moment and then did his bidding, remembering that Rackorg had placed him in charge. The fox stroked the dagger and chuckled to himself. It was nice to have so much power.

Riddy heard shouts and running from up on deck. He whispered to the old hedgehog next to him, "I wonder what's going on up there?" Then Gorrag came, cracking his whip above the slave's heads as he shouted, "Alright you mangy slobs, you had your rest long enough. We're puttin' out to sea soon, so get your carcasses moving!" Riddy was shocked. Had Rackorg Vinn come back already? He whispered to the hedgehog, "This will ruin our chance of escape!" The hedgehog bit his lip, "I don't think that were leaving just yet. I've been down here long enough and I don't think that the crew is ready right now." The young shrew sighed as he flexed his muscles, "Then we're going to have to carry out our plan soon to have any chance!"

Chapter 31

"That's it old chap, sweep to your left... that's the stuff. Now block, good show! You'll make a top hole warrior if I do say so myself, wot!" Wengle had been practicing for hours with Corkly and Spruce guiding him. The otter sat down and gasped, "Do you really think that I'll make a good warrior?" Corkly waved a paw, "Of course old lad. Why I'll bet that any cad who attacks Redwall would pay dearly if he faces you!" Wengle stroked the red pommel-stone on the sword, "I just don't know." Spruce Longbrush patted him on the back, "You did fine, Wengle. But you still need to work on it a bit. I suggest that you use your sling more often and only take out the sword when you need to." Wengle smiled and sheathed the Sword of Martin the Warrior into a scabbard on his back. Rockshaft came over, "Keekag said that she saw some vermin in the woods just a little while ago. I think that we need to be on the lookout more closely now." Spruce grabbed his bow, "Where did she see them?" "Over by the east wall. They seemed to be checking the door for something." The squirrel leader ran up to the east wall battlements. He looked down and saw a few shapes moving off through the trees. "It's the Pineshadows," he said through clenched teeth, "they're checking for weak spots on the walls. I wonder if they're alone in this?" He turned to Rockshaft, "Make sure more guards are on the walls. I have a hunch that those vermin are going to attack tonight."

Spruce's theory was indeed correct. That night, Rackorg Vinn and Valkarano, along with Faggra and Zenka, sat around a campfire planning their way of attack. Since the door's lock was now found to be fixed, they all agreed that they should carry out the corsair weasel's scheme. Zenka narrowed her eyes, "But why do we have to do all of ze work to get in?" Rackorg bit into a roasted woodpigeon leg and replied, "Because you pine martens are the only ones who can climb well. Just have half of your force go in on the ropes." Suddenly, Valkarano called out, "Carcad! Get ready to climb ze treez. Get ze ropes!" He turned to Rackorg Vinn. "We will go zouth and wait for ze doorz to open, yez?" Vinn stood up and drew his scimitar, "Aye, when I give the signal, they'll throw the grappling hooks. Come on, let's get ready to invade Redwall." The Pineshadows were up in the trees surrounding the Abbey. They just waited for the signal. Inside of Redwall, Wengle, Corkly and the Longbrush squirrels were ever alert, waiting for the vermin to attack. Wengle thought about his mother and the corsairs and he wondered if those same vermin were outside of the Abbey. He looked at the sling in his paw and felt the Sword of Martin on his back. Corkly and Spruce were right. He would be a Redwall warrior!

Chapter 32

Carcad sat up in a tall oak with seven other Pineshadows. He held the grappling rope, the end of it already tied to the tree's trunk. The pine marten sighed impatiently, waiting for the signal. Suddenly it sounded, the call of a whip-poor-will. He grinned and whispered to the others, "Now we will go." He swung the rope around and threw it over the battlements. A dozen other grappling hooks flew out of the trees surrounding the Abbey. Carcad half-slid half-climbed along the rope, the others following. He landed on the wall and turned to the other vermin, smiling, "Now go and open ze-" An arrow sped through the air and thudded in his chest. The other pine martens watched his body fall over the wall and a shout was heard from the Abbey, "Everybeast to arms! We're getting invaded!" All of the Pineshadows had landed on the wall, screaming and waving their weapons. The Longbrush squirrels shot their arrows into the crowd, but they kept coming. Zenka slid down a rope and leaped down onto the Abbey grounds. She landed on all fours and raced over to the main door. She lifted the latch and the doors swung open.Then Rackorg Vinn and his crew along with the rest of the Pineshadow tribe, poured in to Redwall Abbey.

Wengle leaped up and raced out onto the grounds, followed by Spruce, Corkly and the rest of the squirrels. He gazed in horror at what he saw. The corsairs and Pineshadows were everywhere, and the squirrels were completely out-numbered. Corkly G. Battlescut charged into the fray yelling, "Eeeuuulaaaliiiaaa!" Wengle raced in, not sure what to say. He swung his loaded sling back and forth, smashing any vermin that came near. Spruce Longbrush was leaping along the battlements, shooting off arrows into the crowd of vermin. Seceretly, he knew that his force would soon be crushed. He had not expected so many vermin. He called down to Corkly, who had picked up a corsair spear and was slashing around with it, "I don't think that we can hold them off much longer! There's too many of them!" The hare roared back as he belted a searat in the jaw, "I think your right old lad, these blighters seem to be everywhere!" The battle continued with ferocious intensity.

Rackorg Vinn stayed back, smiling as he watched the battle. He spoke to Valkarano, who was standing with him, "This was a lot easier than I thought. We out-number them at least three-to-one." The pine marten nodded and was about to reply, when he saw Spruce Longbrush. He gritted his teeth when he saw the squirrel and ran off towards his enemy. Spruce saw him too. With a roar he fired off an arrow at his foe, but Valkarano dodged it and climbed up onto the battlements. He swung his club, and Spruce ducked. The squirrel drew his dagger and they clashed head-on.

Wengle was fighting back-to-back with Corkly, whirling his sling around. He tried to grab the Sword of Martin from off his back, but every time he tried, another vermin would charge him. He shouted above the noise of battle, "Mr. Corkly! Do you think that we should go over to the Abbey and defend the entrance?" The hare stabbed a pine marten with his spear, "Good idea old lad, don't think that we should leave it open to these cads, wot!" They ran over to the door of the Abbey and gasped. Some of the vermin had already got inside.

Chapter 33

The Stormshark was all ready to sail, the last of the provisions getting boarded. Agrat called out, "Get ready to sail!" The sea-vermin were all on board and they pulled in the anchor. Agrat smiled, now he had his own ship and Rackorg Vinn couldn't do anything about it.

Down in the slave-galley, Gorrag the slavemaster cracked his whip, and all the slaves started rowing. Riddy sat glaring at Gorrag and thinking of the freedom that he almost had. But there was still a chance. He whispered to the vole in front of him, "We can still carry out the plan!" The vole rowed as he replied, surprised, "Really?" Riddy nodded, "Yes, we're not that far from the shore so the sooner the better. Do what we planned." The vole sighed and stopped rowing, then he called out in a voice loud enough for everybeast to hear, "I ain't gonna row any more! And that stupid Gorrag can boil his head!" There was silence as all of the slaves stared in shock at him. The burly ferret lumbered over, rage on stamped on his ugly face, "What did you say?" The vole was trembling as he replied, "I'm not gonna row anymore for some stinky old vermin!" Gorrag burst with fury as he whipped the vole savagly, "You slimy liddle toad! I'll teach ya to row, or I'll rip the skin off your back!" Unfortunately for the ferret, he had his back to Riddy. The shrew stood up as best he could and wrapped his chain around Gorrag's neck, pulling it tight. The slavemaster dropped the whip and struggled wildly for a moment, then he gurgled and went limp. Riddy let go of the carcass and grabbed the key in the ferret's belt. He unlocked his chain and the chains of the nearby slaves. They all stood up, cheering and laughing. Riddy tried to shush them but it was too late. Worgutt and some other vermin had come down. The stoat looked about, bewildered, "What's the matter? Why's the ship stopped?" Grabbing an oar, the old hedgehog who sat next to Riddy ran at Worgutt and smashed his face with the oar. Then it was chaos. Riddy ran about unlocking the slaves chains, and the sea-vermin came running down, wondering what was happening. The slaves attacked the corsairs, remembering all of the beatings and hardships. Riddy had unlocked the last slave's chain just as Agrat came running down, "What in the name of Hellgates is goin-" His voice and his life ended as a chain, thrown by Riddy, wrapped around the fox's skull. Leaping over the dead Agrat, the young shrew yelled, "Freedom!" All the slaves charged up, killing or knocking out any vermin they saw. They soon stood on the deck of the Stormshark, laughing and crying. Riddy walked over to the old hedgehog and shook his paw, "We did it mate." The hedgehog smiled, "Yes, I have waited a long time to taste freedom again." Riddy saw the vole who had sat in front of him and patted his back gingerly, "Good job friend! Thank you for sacrificing so much for this to happen." The vole smiled through watery eyes, "Anything for freedom, mate!" Riddy watched the slaves meander about the deck, eating any food they found and enjoying the sea breeze. He thought he saw an otter that looked very familiar, but then the vole asked him, "Where should we go? Should we go to land or continue at sea?" Riddy wondered about this, then a voice seemed to speak in his mind, "Go to Redwall Abbey." The shrew thought a moment. That seemed reasonable, the creatures there were known to be friendly. Then he turned to the vole and said, "Let's go to Redwall Abbey."

Chapter 34

Faggra, Rackorg Vinn's bosun, lead the way into the Abbey. He called back to the other vermin, "Ahoy! Close that door so that none of those squirrels can come in after us." Corkly and Wengle charged up to the door just as the vermin shut it. The hare pounded on the door, yelling, "You cads! Don't you dare harm those Redwallers or I'll beat your scurvy bottoms, you flippin villains!" He sighed and turned to Wengle, "It's no use old lad, they've barred the door." The otter threw a stone from his sling, felling a ferret, as he replied, "I sure hope that the Redwallers can take care of themselves."

Inside, the vermin milled about, not sure what to do. Faggra stared at the tapestry of Martin the Warrior and gasped, "Sink me, I hope he's not alive any more or we'd be goners." A stoat pointed to the kitchen, "There's vittles in here!" All the vermin raced into the kitchen, and started to gobble up any food they could find. Faggra swallowed a big piece of cheese as he said, "This is the life mates. Lots of vittles and no battle to worry about. Hoi, what's this?" He walked over to the short stairway that lead down to Cavern Hole. "Come on mates, let's see what's down here."

During the battle, the Redwallers went down to Cavern Hole, the down-stairs room that they used as a dining room and meeting place. Garrow and Oakflower were there too, wondering if their father was alright. Furgo Cellarhog stood guarding the door, a bung mallet and a kitchen knife in his paws. Oakflower whispered to her brother, "Do you think that father will be okay?" The young squirrel replied uneasily, "I'm sure that he will. He is a great warrior after all." The Dibbuns ran about, shouting and pretending that they were fighting off vermin. Yurpp the molebabe was about to run out the door and up the stairs, when Furgo grabbed him and hauled him back, "Now liddle master, don't you go out there. It isn't safe." As if to prove the point, Faggra's ugly head peered around the doorway. Furgo swung the mallet, smashing the searat's snout. Abbot Fernald leaped up, "How did they get in here?" The big hedgehog shrugged as he touched Faggra's limp body with his footpaw, "I don't know, but we'll chase them out of here anyhow." Just then, more vermin came racing down the stairs. Smacking a weasel with the mallet, Furgo roared, "All of you get back! I'll fight'em off!" Foremole came running up, carrying a window pole. He whacked a searat that was about to leap past Furgo, "Yurr, you'm vermints get out of'n our Abbey!" Suddenly a stoat sliced Foremole's arm with his sword. The mole cried out and fell to the ground. The stoat was about finish him, when Garrow leaped over and knocked him down. Drawing his small dagger, he slew the vermin with one stab. The squirrel helped Foremole up and was about to continue fighting when he saw that all of the vermin were lying dead or unconscious. Furgo hefted his bung mallet and grinned, "That was some good fightn' there master Garrow." The young squirrel leaped up the stairs, calling, “Come on, let's go help my father!”

Chapter 35

Spruce Longbrush rolled underneath Valkarano's legs and tripped him. The pine marten growled savagely and swung his club down. The beak of the crow skull caught in Spruce's bow. Valkarano yanked it back, and the bow went flying over the wall. The squirrel slashed across with his dagger and cut into Valkarano's side. The pine marten screamed and leaped up, blood pouring from the wound. He swung his club down again and Spruce rolled out of the way. The squirrel jumped up and punched at the Pineshadow's face, when Valkarano swung the club again, and it whacked Spruce on the back of his head. He fell senseless in a heap and Valkarano stood over him, smiling wickedly. He raised the club and hissed, "Now you will pay for what you did to Valkarano." Before he could give the killing blow, something flew through the air and smashed into him, yelling, "Father! Nooooo!" It was Garrow. He collided with the pine marten chieftain, clinging to him and battering at his face. They staggered around for a moment. Then Valkarano tripped over the battlements and they both fell over the side of the wall.

Wengle saw that the battle was in favor of the enemy. They would soon be defeated. He yelled to Corkly, "I don't think that I can fight much more!" The hare winced as a spear cut his leg, "Agreed. We'll need some help soon if we're to win this blinkin battle, wot!"

Rackorg Vinn smiled. He was winning and the Abbey would be his. The Longbrush squirrels fought fiercely, taking a toll on the vermin. But what did that matter? They were completely out-numbered and he would soon be the victor. He walked out onto the battlefield, stepping around the dead bodies. An injured squirrel lay face-up on the ground, gasping for air. Rackorg Vinn drew his scimitar and pushed the blade into the squirrel's throat. It gurgled and went limp. He smiled sadistically and wiped his blade on the squirrel's body. Yes, he would conquer and rule! But his smile disappeared when he heard a shout from the main gate. "Freeeedooooom!" He turned and his mouth dropped open when he saw the slaves from the ship, with Riddy in the lead, swinging a chain. Wengle and Corkly saw them too, but they had a different reaction. Wengle gasped, "It's Riddy! I thought that he was dead! He must have been captured by the corsairs and now he's come to help us!" Corkly G. Battlescut laughed aloud, "What ho! It looks as though he's brought a whole flippin army as well!" The former slaves charged into Redwall, wielding oars, chains, and weapons taken from the sea-vermin. The vermin force never knew what hit them. The Longbrush squirrels cheered and fought with the knowledge of hope. Rackorg Vinn didn't know what to do. He ran about, yelling at his crew and trying to find a place to hide. Then he saw Riddy. It was that shrew! The one that had started the slave rebellion! That stupid Agrat had let them escape! Vinn swore that he would skin him alive when he got back, but right now he would take care of that rebellious shrew.

Wengle waved to Riddy and ran towards him, but then he saw the weasel. Rackorg Vinn sneaked up behind Riddy and slashed downwards, slicing the shrew's shoulder to the bone. Wengle screamed. That was the weasel that had murdered his mother, and now he had probably killed Riddy too! Rackorg Vinn stood over the young shrew, ready to give the killing strike. He slashed down, but something was in the way. The sword of Martin the Warrior! Wengle pushed the scimitar up, his eyes staring coldly into the corsair's. Rackorg Vinn drew his blade back and swung at the otter, but Wengle blocked it and started attacking his foe, swinging wildly. Vinn easily blocked and parried each insane blow. Then something unexpected happened. The sword of Martin smashed down on the part of the scimitar where the blade and the hilt met. Rackorg stared in shock at the broken handle in his paw, then he turned and ran out of the Abbey, Wengle chasing after him, wielding the Sword of Martin the Warrior.

Up on the battlements, Spruce Longbrush woke up and rubbed his head. Where was Valkarano? How was the battle going? The squirrel leader looked down onto the grounds and his eyes went wide. The vermin forces had been crushed, some other army had rescued them! Then he remembered the pine marten he had been fighting and looked around. Where was he? Spruce looked over the edge of the wall and gasped in shock. Then he leaped on top of the battlements and climbed down. Lying on the ground below was the broken carcass of Valkarano, Lord of the Pineshadows. And on top of him was the limp body of Garrow. Spruce stared in horror as he picked up the body of his son. Then he sat down, cradled Garrow's still form close to him, and wept.

Chapter 36

Of all the vermin to invade Redwall Abbey, only one came out alive. Rackorg Vinn. He ran off through the east woods, hoping to get away from the vengeful otter and back to his ship. But Wengle ran after him, his teeth clenched in fury, and getting closer with every stride. Rackorg Vinn stopped from fatigue and looked back. Wengle was gaining on him. The weasel looked around and saw a large stone, he grabbed it and hurled it at Wengle. The otter slowed down and blocked it with his sword. That was all the time Vinn needed. He ran on, as fast as he could go. Then he came out of the woods and saw the Stormshark near the shore. He raced over towards it screaming at his crew, "Agrat! Worgutt! You idiots, throw me a line! There's a mad otter after me!" Some of the vermin who had only been knocked unconscious by the slaves, heard him and ran to get a rope. Wengle burst though the foliage and ran along the beach towards the ship. Rackorg Vinn got to the ship just as a rope was thrown over. He leaped up and grabbed it and the vermin pulled. When Wengle saw that his enemy was getting away, he roared with anger and pounded down the shore. Then he drew the sword back and hurled it like a spear. The weasel was about halfway up the ship's edge when he heard the otter's warcry, "Redwaaaaaall!" He turned to look, and the last thing that he saw was the Sword of Martin the Warrior, coursing through the air straight for him. The sword went right through his middle, the point buried into the side of the ship. Rackorg Vinn stared down at the sword sticking out of his stomach, then his head lolled back and he fell down into the water. Wengle leaped through the air and dove into the sea. He yanked the Sword of Martin out of Rackorg Vinn's carcass, and held it aloft. Then he waded out of the water and made his way back to Redwall.

When Wengle got back, he saw that the battle was completely over. He went over to where Riddy had fallen. Corkly and Furgo were already there, kneeling down by him. The hedgehog inspected the wound, "Looks pretty bad. We'll have to get him to the infirmary right away." Furgo took him into the Abbey and Corkly turned to Wengle, "I say old lad, where did you run off to, eh?" The young otter sheathed the sword and smiled, "Those were the corsairs that attacked the ship I was on, and I was just taking care of their leader, the one that killed my..." His voice stopped and he stared straight ahead. The hare looked at him curiously and asked, "What's the matter Wengle? You look like you've seen a blinkin ghost!" Wengle pointed at a small group of slaves who were talking, laughing, and gazing around at Redwall Abbey. There in their midst was... "Mother!!!" Wengle raced over towards them and flew into the arms of his mother. Nela gazed at him, "Wengle? Is it really you?" Tears coursed down the young otter's face as he said, "Yes! I thought that you were dead!" She stroked his head, "No my dear, I fainted when those vermin came down into the galley. Later when I woke up, I found myself tied to the mast with some other creatures from our ship, including Riddy! He's the one that saved us from a life of slavery." Wengle's face fell, "Um, Mother," he began, "Riddy was injured in the battle and I don't know if he will live." She shook her head sadly, "That pore dear, I hope that he will be alright." Just then Corkly came up, and Wengle introduced him. "Mother, this is Mr. Corkly G. Battlescut. He found me when I washed up on the shore." The hare bowed, "It's a pleasure to meet you marm, from what your son told me, you seem to be an excellent cook. I am feeling a bit peckish right know. Fighting all day does bring up an appetite, wot!" They all laughed. Just then Rockshaft came up. His right ear was missing and he was limping. He put a paw on Wengle's shoulder, "Wengle mate, Spruce sent me to get you. It's about Garrow."

Spruce Longbrush and his daughter Oakflower both knelt by the body of Garrow. Oakflower sobbed brokenly as she hugged her father, and Spruce blinked back tears. He looked up to see Rockshaft, Wengle, and Corkly walk up. Wengle stared in shock at the young squirrel's body. He stuttered out, "Y-you mean he's d-dead?" Spruce nodded sadly, "Yes Wengle, I'm afraid so. When I was fighting Valkarano, that scum knocked me out with his club. He was about to kill me, when Garrow leaped into him and they both fell over the wall. He gave his life for me, I just wish that it had been the other way around." Wengle gulped back tears. First Riddy, and now this? He sniffed as he said, "Garrow wanted to be a warrior just like you. And now, he is." Spruce sighed as he picked up Garrow's body, "Yes, he indeed has. Come, let's put him to rest at Redwall."

Chapter 37

Abbot Fernald stood by as Furgo laid Riddy down on a bed. Sister Patia, the mouse infirmary keeper, got some herbs and medicines and put them on the shrew's wound. "He's in very bad condition." she said, "But I think that he will live." The Abbot sighed with relief and sat down in a chair. "Thank goodness! Young Wengle will be very happy." Just at that moment, Wengle came in the door. "Will he be alright?" he asked uneasily. Sister Patia nodded, "Yes, but he'll need to stay in bed for awhile." Suddenly Riddy woke up. "Where am I?" he asked dazedly. Wengle ran to his side, "Riddy! Your alive!" The shrew stared at him, "Wengle? You didn't get killed on the ship?" The otter shook his head, "No, and guess what? My mother is alive too!" Riddy sighed, "That's good." Then he smiled at his friend, "Glad that I came to your rescue, huh mate?" They both laughed and Sister Patia shooed everybeast out, "Now go away, this young shrew needs his rest." Wengle walked alongside the Abbot down the stairs and into Great Hall. Fernald smiled as he watched Wengle put the Sword of Martin back on the wall spikes. "There's no need to do that Wengle." The otter took the sword down again and looked at him, "Am I the Redwall champion forever now?" The Abbot chuckled, "No not forever, but until either you pass away, or choose to give it up, you will remain our Abbey champion." Wengle stared at the swordblade and smiled, "Then me and mother can stay here?" The dormouse nodded, "Yes, you and your mother can stay here for as long as you like. So can Riddy and all of the slaves too." The young otter sheathed the blade and raced out of the Abbey calling back, "Thank you Father Abbot!" The Abbot smiled and looked up at the tapestry of Martin the Warrior. "You know," he mused, "I think that he will make an excellent Redwall warrior, don't you agree?" Martin's woven face stared straight ahead, but his eyes looked as if to say "yes". Abbot Fernald smiled again then and strode out after Wengle.

The next day there was a feast at Great Hall in the honor of the victory and of all the fallen who died to protect Redwall. All of the Redwallers, Longbrush squirrels, and slaves were there. Wengle sat in-between to his mother and Riddy who had a bandage on his shoulder and was feeling a lot better. Corkly sat across from them and the hare practically filled two plates with food. Corkly took a huge bite of salad and washed it down with a gulp of October Ale. Wengle giggled as he asked him, "Mr. Corkly, I never asked you what the G in your middle name stood for." The hare swallowed and replied, "Well, me old mater always said that it stood for 'Glutton' but I'm actually not really sure." He took another huge bite of salad and thought aloud, "Now I wonder why she would call me that?" Wengle and Riddy almost fell over laughing. Then Abbot Fernald stood up and announced, "Let us have a moment of silence for the creatures who gave they're lives to protect our home." There was silence that followed was broken only by an audible sniff from Oakflower. Then the Abbot said, "Well now, let's continue with the feast." The merriment continued long into the night.

The next morning, Wengle sat by the grave of Garrow in Mossflower. Along with him were Oakflower, Riddy, and Spruce Longbrush. The squirrel leader sighed as he spoke to Wengle, "You know, Wengle, your courage is what inspired him to be brave. He admired you." Wengle sniffed, "I just wish that I could be a brave a warrior as him." Riddy looked at him strangely, "What do you mean? You are very brave Wengle. You saved me from that corsair, and you traveled all this way to Redwall, and you helped defend it. Now don't tell me that that isn't brave." The otter smiled at his friends. Then he heard the voice of his mother calling to him, "Wengle, breakfast is ready!" The otter winked at his friends, "I'll race you there!" The three young creatures ran off laughing and shouting. Spruce Longbrush smiled and looked at his son's grave one last time. He gave a whistle and Keekag the sparrowhawk came diving out of the sky. He gave a message to her, "Go tell Rockshaft back at Longbrush Glen that I think I'll be staying at Redwall for awhile. The hawk nodded and flew off. Spruce Longbrush sighed happily and walked back to Redwall Abbey.

That evening Wengle stood on the battlements, looking at the setting sun. He drew the Sword of Martin the Warrior and watched the suns rays reflect off of it and smiled. He was reunited with his friends and family and he was now a warrior of Redwall Abbey.

The End

Like this story? Then please read the prequel OW&C-The Beginning, and the sequel The Darkblades. Thanks!

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