Warning! This tale is mainly about villains, so do not expect any happy endings! If you wish to know about the demise of Malkariss and his kingdom, read Mattimeo. Thank you.
A sharp knocking on the door awoke Abbess Germaine from her sleep. She got up wearily from her bed and opened the door. Two mice stood there. One, a young male who was sobbing brokenly, and the other a tall, motherly looking female who held her arm around the young one. Germaine sighed and looked down at the young mouse compassionately. “What's the matter, young Brenly?” she asked soothingly, “Did you have another nightmare?”
He nodded pitifully and the other mouse spoke, “He wanted desperately to tell you about it, Mother Abbess.”
Germaine smiled sadly and welcomed them in to her room. Brenly and the Abbess sat down on the bed, while the other mouse stood watching. Germaine placed a paw on the young mouse's shoulder and asked, “What did you dream about, Brenly? What's upset you so?”
Brenly took a deep breath, fighting back his tears, and said, “Well, Mother Abbess, I dreamed that I was in the courtyard, near the well. I was enjoying a peaceful summer night, when suddenly a huge, evil-looking beast came out of the well. It was a white ferret-like creature, with claws and teeth that looked as though they were made of stone. It rose up and looked around the Abbey for awhile, but it didn't see me. Then it raised its arms and a horde of black, shadowy figures spread all across the courtyard and over the Abbey. I stood terrified as they went past me, then the huge white beast spoke, in a voice that was like echoing thunder. 'This realm shall all be mine! Both the underworld and the land above it!' it said. And then another voice said, 'It is as you say, O Malkariss, Ruler of the Deep!' Then they were all gone; disappearing from the Abbey completely. But, oh Abbess, it was horrible! I felt like a terrible evil had covered all of Loamhedge and had threatened to destroy the earth!” He then broke down into sobbing again.
Germaine looked over at the other mouse, who stood solemnly. Then the Abbess spoke, “I....I don't know what to say, young one. But it was all probably just a bad dream, nothing more!”
Brenly wiped his eyes, “Are you sure?” The Abbess smiled, “Of course. Now go back to bed, Brenly, and try to think about nice things.” He smiled weakly and went out of the room.
Germaine sighed and turned to the other mouse, “Well, Sister Linfa, what do you think?”
Linfa shook her head sadly, “This isn't the first time that young Brenly has had a nightmare about some coming disaster. Just last night it was about a huge earthquake, and last week it was a horrible sickness that swept across Loamhedge. I don't know if they are just dreams or....” Her voice trailed off, and Germaine pursed her lips, “He might very well be predicting things that may come in the future. How far into the future, I don't know, but let us hope and pray that they are only dreams, and not signs of things to come.” Sister Linfa nodded and left the room.
Germaine sighed wearily and lay back on her bed. Although she didn't wish it to be so, she firmly believed that Brenly's dreams were indeed shadows of the future.
Many seasons later....
It was a night of a full moon on the southern plateau where the ruins of old Loamhedge Abbey lay. A nightingale trilled sadly in the dark, it's song rising to the stars that twinkled above. Then it suddenly stopped. The bird had sensed the presence something. Something evil.
Three figures strode silently across the plain that lay before the ruins. They were all donned with hooded cloaks, two black, and one purple. They stopped in front of the decimated ruins of the Abbey and the two outside figures threw back their hoods. The black-hooded one was a tall female ferret, and the purple-hooded creature was a short but lithe male black rat. They stood silently gazing at the caved-in entrance to the old cellars of Loamhedge.
The middle figure, it's black hood still covering it's face, spoke, “Is this the place, Zadan?” The rat bowed as he answered, “Yes, O Great One. My scouts have found the perfect place for your mighty empire to take root.” The middle figure turned to the ferret, “Do your visions tell you so, Kereth?” The ferret closed her eyes and drew several objects from a belt-pouch about her waist. One was the hollowed-out skull of a raven, the other, a pawful of herbs and leaves which cast a strong, sickly-sweet smell over the plain. She crushed the herbs in her paw and sprinkled them in the skull. She breathed in the evil odors and gave a long, rasping sigh. “It is indeed, O Mighty Ruler. From the ruins of peace, shall spring up a kingdom of powerful evil.” The middle creature gave a low, hissing laugh, “Finally! I place that I may set up my kingdom, away from the cursed sunlight!”
The two other vermin bowed low as the black-cloaked creature threw back it's hood. He was a tall, sinewy polecat, with pure-white fur and eyes that glinted red in the moonlight. His face was streaked with black and red dyes to outline his evil features. He smiled, revealing two long, sharp fangs that protruded from his upper jaw. He rasped, “Yesssssss....... my reign will be long and mighty indeed! I shall build my kingdom of the underworld as a blight upon the land; for creatures to fear and respect! Yessssssss, all will tremble at my name! The name.....of Malkariss!” Zadan and Kereth remained bowed as they spoke together, “It is as you say, O Malkariss, Lord of Darkness!”
It was evening in the far southern woodlands, and all was quiet, save for the frantic racing of footpaws and the crashing of ferns and bushes as a pair of rats ran headlong through the foliage, driven on by terror.
It was coming.
They could here the pounding of it's powerful claws on the ground behind them; the heavy breathing as it followed them; the coarse rasping of its throat as it sniffed and gaped for them.
It was coming.
One of the rats tripped on a protruding root and went sprawling onto the forest floor, but his companion ran on, spurred by fear. The rat raced onward, more speed added to his paws as he heard the terrified screams of the unfortunate vermin that had fallen.
It had found him.
The remaining rat sped through the woodlands until he came upon a small clearing where many makeshift tents were set up. He was stopped by a weasel holding a pike, “Halt! Who goes there?” The rat shoved past him, yelling hoarsely, “It's coming!” The weasel stood staring at the retreating figure for a moment. “What? Who's coming?” He half turned at a sound behind him and soon found out.
The weasel's scream awoke everybeast in the vermin camp. Garzat, the stoat warlord, came out from his tent, his sword in paw. He glared around the camp, “Wot's all the racket about?” Then he stood stock still, his eyes fixed in horror at the beast that stood in the midst of the camp. He backed off slowly as it came towards him, the shredded carcasses of several unlucky vermin in it's huge claws. Garzat pointed shakily at it with his sword, stuttering, “Y-y-y-you! But...but I killed you! No! You're-you're dead!” The beast came closer to him, it's dark, evil eyes shining with savage vengeance. Like a flashback, the stoat remembered everything that had come up to this.
Many seasons in the past, a verminbabe had been born in his clan. But it was not like other creatures; It's mother had been a weasel and it's father a ferret. The mixed genes had caused a strange mutation in the creature; it had no external ears, a very short neck, and stocky, muscular limbs. It's fangs were unnaturally long and it's body was bulky and powerful, even as a babe. It's mother had died giving birth to it, and Garzat had executed it's father for parenting such a beast. He had it thrown out into the woods, after ordering his vermin to beat and mutilate it savagely. Now it was back. The beast that had been outcast from his clan; the beast that had been a freakish monster. It was back. And looking for revenge.
Garzat struck out with his sword as it came closer to him, but the monster ripped the blade from his grasp and crushed it with one paw. Saliva flecked it's mouth and blood dripped from it's claws as it came closer, something akin to a smile on it's evil face. Garzat turned and ran for his life, shoving aside vermin and screaming in terror. The beast went after him, slaying any creature in it's path as it pounded after it's mortal enemy. Garzat raced through the trees, not daring to look behind him. Suddenly the sounds of the creature that was chasing him stopped. The stoat slowed to a halt as he stood still and listened. There was not a sound. He gave a sigh of relief, but it was caught in his throat as a huge paw shot out from beside him and grasped his neck. Garzat struggled wildly as he stared into the savage face of his former pursuer. The huge beast crushed harder on the stoat's neck and brought it's prey closer to it's face. Then it spoke. It was both the first and the last time that Garzat had ever heard it speak. It's voice was a deep, grating whisper, “Wearet has found you!”
Razgath the pine marten was a mercenary. He traveled from horde to clan to slaving line, doing whatever he was told for the right price. He was quite handsome, with fur that was dark brown, almost black and he spoke with a curious accent. He carried two weapons; a long whip which was studded with barbed spikes and a bolas, three metal balls on leather straps attached to a short wooden handle. He was skilled with both weapons and it was said that he could take out a dragonfly in mid-air with his whip. But right now Razgath was not working for anybeast. He traveled alone in southern Mossflower, surviving off the land and mostly ignoring anybeast that crossed his path; unless they carried anything of value. He never went too far north though, for he was cautious about the infamous Redwall Abbey and it's mighty warriors.
The pine marten strode along through the woods, practicing with his whip by snapping the heads of flowers from their stalks. His stomach growled and he looked about for any type of food he could find. Then he spotted a nest high up in an oak tree. He grinned and tucked his weapons into his belt and flexed his claws. Razgath ran forward and leaped up onto the tree trunk, his sharp claws grasping the bark. He was as good as any squirrel when it came to climbing. He soon came upon the clump of branches that held the nest. It was a wood-pigeon nest with three chicks in it. Razgath smiled. What luck! He drew out his whip and plucked a spike from it. Then he grabbed one of the chicks and was about to pierce the spike through it's heart, when he heard voices from below.
He glanced down and saw two hedgehogs trundling along through the woods, carrying haversacks. They were armed with only walking sticks. The pine marten chuckled and placed the bird back into it's nest. Why eat a scrawny baby bird when he could have whatever good food was held in those haversacks? He cracked his whip out, wrapping it on a branch and swung down. He landed right in front of the surprised hedgehogs, his whip in paw.
One of the hedgehogs, a burly male, growled, “Who are you and why are you stopping us?”
Razgath paced around them, cracking his whip every now and then, “Don't ye worry, messieur hedgepig, I am not here to stop ye from goin' anywhere. I'm just a puir beastie who's come on ha'd times! What 'ave ye got in the haversacks, eh?”
The hedgehog held his staff out defensively, “You wretched thief! We have all of our food and belongings in these here bags, and you won't be getting 'em!”
The whip snaked out and yanked the staff from the hedgehog's grasp. Razgath caught it and twirled it around. He pointed it at the other hedgehog, a female. “How about you, madam? Will ye be so kind as to help feed a sta'vin creature?” Her spines bristled as she shouted, “Get away from us, you foul vermin! We're a going to Redwall Abbey and we don't want any trouble!” The pine marten threw the staff up into the air and caught it with his whip, “Redwall Abbey ye say? Well, they've got fuid a-plenty, so why keep wat ye have all to yersel'es, eh?”
He struck out with the whip again, and it snapped the straps off of the female hedgehog's haversack, slightly cutting into her shoulder as well. The burly male roared and charged at Razgath, but the marten side-stepped and slammed the staff on the back of the hedgehog's head. He slumped senseless to the ground, and the female ran over to him, crying out, “Oh you horrible creature! You vile vermin!”
Razgath picked up both haversacks and bowed low, a charming smile on his face, “Ah, he'll be fine madam. But I thank ye kindly fuir supplyin' a puir beast such as myself with such wonde'ful gifts! A good day to ye, and say allo to all o' the kind creatu'es at Redwall for me!” Then he disappeared up a tree like a shot, leaving the two robbed and injured hedgehogs behind.
A lone squirrel stood on the south battlements of Redwall Abbey, looking out across Mossflower Woods. He sighed and took off the green beret that was on his head, fondling it gently. It had belonged to his father, Samkim, a warrior of the Abbey, who had helped the Badger Lord of Salamandastron mountain in a fight against an evil vermin horde. Now he, Sanken, was Redwall's Champion, and it was his duty to defend the Abbey and it's inhabitants from all enemies. But something was troubling him. The weapon of all Abbey Champions was the famous sword of Martin the Warrior, a blade that was stronger than any other and was said to be made from a fallen star. But Sanken did not carry the marvelous sword, like his father had. It was hidden away up on the roof of the Abbey, as was the instruction by the spirit of Martin the Warrior, the first champion of Redwall. Now Sanken was without the sword that he should rightfully wield, and was stuck with a simple dagger and bow. He drew the dagger from his belt and carved it along the edge of the sandstone wall.
Just then he heard a shout from below and he looked down. He saw two hedgehogs limping through the trees towards the Abbey and he called down, “What seems to be the trouble, friends?” The male hedgehog had awakened and he called up while rubbing his head, “We were attacked an' robbed on our way here! Can you please let us in?” Sanken nodded and raced down towards the Abbey grounds. Mara, the badger mother of Redwall, had heard the squirrel warrior talking to someone over the wall and she asked, “Who is it Sanken? Visitors?” Sanken replied as he ran by, “Aye, two injured hedgehogs! Let them in quick!”
The small south wall-gate was opened and Sanken ushered in the weary travelers. Several Redwallers had gathered around to see what had happened. Mara saw the hedgehog's injuries and said quickly, “Go get young Brother Methuselah, he's good at healing wounds.” A young mole went off to do so, and Sanken held up the male hedgehog as he swayed and groaned, “Ooohh.... me achin' head! We was just coming here to Redwall when we was attacked by a vermin thief, so we was!” Sanken frowned, “What kind of vermin, sir?” The hedgehog narrowed his eyes and scratched his chin, “Well.... I'm not really sure. I was knocked out colder 'n a frozen pole, when he got away.” Mara was taking the wounded hogwife up to the infirmary when the hedgehog stopped and said, “I remember what it were. A big vermin with a bushy tail an' a whip. He dropped down from the trees and took our food and belongings! He spoke funny too. Ohh, if I get my paws on him I'd teach 'im a thing or two!” She winced and held her shoulder while Mara lead her into the Abbey. Sanken spoke through grit teeth, “Razgath!” The hedgehog shrugged, “Didn't know his name, but he were a nasty beast. Sorta polite though for a vermin.” Sanken sighed, “Yes, Razgath is a thief and a rouge sure enough. He's come by here many a time; robbing travelers and causing concern about Mossflower. But you'll be safe here, my friend. Go up the infirmary and we'll bring you something to eat.” The hedgehog smiled at him, “Thankee kindly sir!” As he walked off to the Abbey, Sanken looked out the open wall-gate. He grasped his dagger-handle tight and strode out the door. He would put a stop to that pine marten's thievery for good.
Razgath sat up in a tree fork, eating the last of the food that had been in the first haversack. He flicked an apple into the air and caught it with his whip. He gave a sigh of contentment as he munched on the apple. This was the good life. No more hordes or vermin bands for him, he would just sit back and take the pickings from innocent travelers. Suddenly he heard a noise from below and looked down. It was that pesky warrior squirrel from the Abbey! The pine marten drew the bolas from his belt and twirled it around lazily. If the squirrel wanted a fight, then he would get one.
He lay back on the limb with his eyes closed and called down, “Allo, my friend! And what are you doing out here in the forest when you could be in you nice, snug Abbey, eh?” Suddenly he felt the prick of cold steel at his throat and he opened his eyes to see Sanken standing over him, his dagger at Razgath's neck. The squirrel growled, “Enough of your games, vermin! You are to leave Mossflower Woods, or die! Choose!” Razgath smiled calmly and tipped the blade away from his neck. “We needn't to be so harsh about a few liddle robberies, no?” Sanken's voice was hard as iron, “No! You will leave or die! Make your choice!” The marten shrugged and stood up, climbed up the branch a little ways and pointed to the haversacks, “If you want 'em, then take 'em! I've had my fill already.” The squirrel glared hard at him, “Leave or die?” Razgath raised his paws disarmingly, “Alright, alright, have it your way!” He bent over as if he was going to leap down from the tree limb, when he suddenly sprang up and whirled his bolas, yelling, “Nobeast tells Razgath what te do!” He hurled the bolas at Sanken, but the squirrel dodged it and pulled the bow from his back. The bolas straps wound around a branch behind him, the metal balls clacking together. Razgath had his barbed whip out in a flash. Sanken fired an arrow at him, but the pine marten cracked it out of mid-air with a flick of his wrist. Sanken had his dagger between his teeth and another arrow in his bow. He was about to fire when the whip slashed out and knocked the bow from his paws, cutting them in the process. The squirrel gave a muffled cry of pain and the dagger fell from his mouth, following his bow down to the ground below. Razgath cracked his whip in the air and sneered, “Ye see? Nobeast outwits or outfights Razgath the Mercenary! Now go back to ye pretty liddle Abbey, squirrel! I'll leave, but I'll also remember this day! Au revoir warrior!” He leaped over to the branch that his bolas was wrapped around and unwound it. Then he flicked his whip out and wrapped it around the remaining haversack and leaped off into the trees and out of sight.
Sanken lay on a branch, nursing his sliced paws. He felt horrible; some great Redwall Warrior he was! He had been beaten by his enemy, and had even let him get away with the booty as well as drop his own weapons while in battle! At least he had got that thieving scum to leave Mossflower. But was it for good? Razgath had said that he would never forget this day. Did that mean that he would come back? Well whatever he meant, it wasn't good for Redwall. Sanken groaned and climbed painfully down the tree. When he reached the ground, he looked around the ferns and bushes for his weapons. He found his bow, but the dagger was lost from sight. If only he had the sword of Martin, then he would have surely won the battle! He sighed again and went back to Redwall, with tears of rage and disappointment stinging his eyes.