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Luke still had his paws around his dead enemy's throat, he was going to die here without seeing his son again. If he could cry underwater, he would. Sayna had been avenged, Martin would be a fine young mouse by now. His entire body ached, Vilu Daskar had wounded him severely as Luke had steered the Goreleech into the rocks. A determination, not unlike the one when he had sworn to avenge Sayna swept over him, he would see Martin again, aye, and the survivors of his tribe, someday. The lack of air took its toll and he passed out, headed towards death. Without him knowing a bewhiskered mouth grabbed him by his tunic.
Luke woke up, which was a surprise in itself but a whiskered snout leering close to his face shocked him so much he tried to scramble backwards. A deep chuckling issued from the seal's mouth. "You shouldn't move, you are injured great. You have will to live." It was not a question. "I'm Bolwag. You are Luke, your friend, the large rabbit and the mouse like yourself told me."
"Vurg and Beau?" Luke asked with difficulty.
"Yes, that's it." Bolwag flipped in the water. "You need a healer, an' I ain't no healer though I kin put bladderwack on yer wounds, it does in a pinch. There's some more large rabbits that come north every now and then, they have healers. I'll leave when they do. Get one of yer cook heat ready, I'll get fish." Just as Bolwag was diving, Luke halted him.
"I need flint, and tinder, and wood for a fire."
"There is wood from the red ship, you kin use the spear there to splinter it, an' you kin dig for flint."
"Cap'n Trubbs, there's a fire over there, wot!" The galloper Nuntis reported.
Trubbs grabbed his war hammer. "Could be friends, but in this country, I doubt it."
Luke had been laying by the virtually non-existent fire for quite some time, a season to be exact, rain and shine, when he saw a hare staring at him from the sparse cover of the northland scrubs. "Come over, I know that hares are always hungry, and good cooks, if Beau was anything to go by. I can't go over there myself, I'd kill myself."
"You wounded sah?"
"Aye, but Sayna was avenged, got Vilu Daskar, I did."
"I need to get the rest of the patrol, there's a healer among them, Raena. I'm Nuntis by the way"
"Thank you, I'm called Luke."
"Cap'n! There's a mouse around the fire, and remember the Red Ship?"
Trubbs gritted his teeth, "How could I forget, it's crew slayed many hares, good an' perilous beasts."
"The mouse slayed Vilu, but he was severely wounded in the process."
"Raena, get your herbs ready. Sargent Ffring, get 'em ready to move. We owe a debt to this mouse."
The patrol marched double speed till they came to the fire. Luke stared at all the hares, warriors to the bone. He smiled, "I am Luke, I thank you for caring about my life, only beast that has done anything like that for a little more than a season is Bolwag, he'll be here soon."
Raena bustled to his side, "You say you've been here for a season with nothing but seaweed on your wounds?" Luke nodded. "You must have had a reason to cling to life so doggedly, what was it?"
"The wish to see my son again."
"You must have loved your son."
"Aye, I did, as much as a warrior as you."
"Hold still, this is going to sting, but it will help you live." Luke bore the pain stoically.
Trubbs leaned on his gigantic war hammer. "We'll heal you so you can wander in search of your son, I feel that you will not let us accompany you as you search for your son."
"Aye, it may take till I'm old and grey, but I will find him." The warrior rose in Luke's eyes. "Do you have any old battle swords I could have?"
Wother sidled over and winked. "We don't have any old battle swords for you, a warrior like you deserves a woppin' great big new one, wot!"
"Not big, just a simple broadsword."
"Can do old lad!"
The deep booming laugh made all the hares jump, but not Luke. "Told you that the big rabbits would come! Goodbye!"
"Thank you, Bolwag!"
Trubbs looked fit to burst, "We're hares! Not rabbits, wot!"
Another two seasons passed until Luke was fit to travel. He left the cave that he had stayed with Raena and Wother, the rest of the hares had moved back to Salamandastron. Wother and Raena close behind him lest he slip, as his back was still stiff and sore. Wother broke the silence. "You'll be leaving today, why don't you travel with us, at least to Salamandastron?"
"No, I'll be traveling east, Salamandastron is in the south." Luke answered. "I cannot thank you enough for what you did. I could not bear to hamper you."
The hares nodded, "Just visit sometime." And Luke began moving steadily east.
Luke had never met such hospitable creatures as the Noonvalers. When he had wandered into the village purely by accident they had immediately offered him food and shelter for a while, after making sure he was a goodbeast. "Want some more elderberry wine?" The squirrel on his left offered.
"Thanks, miss." He answered and held out his cup.
The mouse on his right passed him a hot scone."What's your name, sir."
"It's Luke, yours?."
"Tis Brome, son of Urran Voh, patriarch of Noonvale."
"Oh. I was once a chief of a little tribe myself."
"Could you tell us your story? I mean, travelers always have good tales to tell." The squirrelmaid on his left asked shyly.
Luke told the Noonvalers his story, right from when he left his tribe.
After Luke finished Brome laid back. "What if I told you I know of Martin?"
"I would ask you where he is."
"Tomorrow I'll tell you of Martin and what he did for all of Noonvale. But tis late now, goodnight."
When dawn broke, Luke was awake and in Urrah Voh's and Brome's hut. "Tell me what you know of my son." So Brome told Luke of Martin and Noonvale. When Brome was done Luke stood up and looked at the setting sun. "I will go south."
"But at least stay till morn." Urran Voh stood up alongside Luke.
"I would be a fool to shun the hospitality of your creatures." Luke smiled and Urran.
It took Luke four seasons of traveling to reach Salamandastron, as he was not sure of it's location. At first he thought it was on the eastern shores, but it was actually on the western shores, he had found out by the healthy amount of vermin on the shores. So he doubled back and headed west.
Finally he sighted Salamandastron, framed in the setting sun's glory. The pretty sight was lost on Luke who muttered. "The flammin' sun's in my eyes."
Colonel Trubbs, Captain Wother, and Sargent Ffring strolled down the beach to the east of Salamandastron.
"Wonder if the sword is in one piece."
"Well of course it is!"
"It's a Salamandastron blade, dont'cha know."
"Just jestin', wot!"
Together they called "EULALIA!"
Luke noticed them and returned the call. "EULALIA!"
"Told'cha the blade is in one piece."
"I say, I was just jestin'"
Luke looked from one to another. "Since when do you speak in turn?"
"Since we aren't on duty."
"Rather, bad form, wot."
"Got to set discipline in the blinkin' troops."
Luke couldn't help but smile at the infectious trio.
"Let's go to the bloomin' mountain."
"Rather, It'll blow you, Luke old chap."
"You can vittle, an' scoff, an' eat to your heart's desire."
The mountain was amazing. It had many chambers and passages, so many that Luke was surprised that the hares didn't get hopelessly lost.
"Have you found your son yet?"
"Of course he hasn't, 'cause his son would be here."
"What was your son's name, old chap?"
Luke smiled at the memory of his son. "His name was Martin."
"Why didn't you tell us?"
"Big, strong warrior type like you?"
"Well I'll be blowed!"
Luke grabbed the last speaker, Ffring. "You know him?" Trubbs butted in.
"Why, of course!"
"He's helping build a blinkin' Abbey."
"Killed the wildcat that ruled Mossflower."
Luke nearly burst with pride, pride for his son. "I used to live in Mossflower, I was an infant when the wildcats took over."
"Mossflower is free!"
"Thanks to Martin the Warrior."
"You'll be going to Mossflower, I suppose."
"Aye, but I have some business to do before, I want to see if I can find any survivors, Bolwag told me that the forward half actually got wedged between the rocks."
"Well, we can provide a ship."
"Know some sea otters that own one."
"Jolly types, you'll like them."
Thank you, let's go on the morrow."
Luke peered upward at the hulk of the red ship wedged between the rocks. "It's stormy seas, we'll have to bed the old Saladscarfer down."
The otter captain, Whumper bellowed out in fine nautical style. "Alright ye swabs, get going, we're gonna bed the Scarfer down to ride the storm. Ofus, furl the sails an' get it right this time or you'll be shaking paws with a shark. Yort'ern, get an anchor overboard, but leave it slack so she kin ride the waves!"
Yorthern, the cook saluted grinning "Aye, aye, cap'n, wot!"
"Whumper, we should get the ship to land, tis a fair storm.
"Gonflet, give me back my pudding!" Martin chased Gonflet around the Great Hall.
Gonflet giggled and squeaked. "Come and get it, fattypants Martin!"
Martin sat down, exhausted next to Columbine. "Here, I got this from Gonff." Columbine passed him another helping of pudding.
"Thanks, Columbine, I'm not going to ask you where Gonff got it from." The remembrance supper for Luke and the others from the Goreleech was chaos, dibbuns, led by Gonflet, stole food from anybeast, and Gonff had started a pudding fight with Skipper. "Why Goody had the idea to serve a special supper, with blackberry pudding and elderberry wine, beasts like Gonff are taking full advantage of it, it's chaos! I'm going to take my pudding to the Gatehouse." Martin stood up, dodging a pudding from Gonff and went to the Gatehouse. In the Gatehouse Martin sat on the bed with the pudding next to him and stared into space recalling his few memories of his father, Luke giving Martin his sword, him going off in the boat, Sayna. He wondered if his father would've liked to live in his birthplace, now that it was free, because of his son, no less! He was so deep in thought that he didn't notice Gonff creeping up behind him with a pudding.
Luke had been traveling for many seasons, he was old, and no longer in his prime when he saw the Abbey, from a good league off. He rose shakily to his feet. He had shunned the company of creatures for quite some time, but right now all he wanted was a warm bed and some food, if only for a night. As he moved closer the sounds of battle reached his ears.
He ran as fast as he could, which wasn't that fast, and answered the cry of the badger lords, "EULALIA!" He burst into the fight swinging his sword. "It's been too long! Haha!"
Luke fought next to a mouse that was expertly stabbing high and low with a couple of daggers. The mouse winked at him. "I bet you're enjoying this."
"Too right you are, who's the leader of this gang?"
"He's the bugger over there, that skinny weasel, see?"
"Aye. LUKE THE WARRIOR IS HERE!" Luke charge the weasel.
Gonff raised his eyebrows and slayed a rat before slipping off to find Martin. "Martin, mate, there's an old mouse here, a warrior and his name is Luke, it seems impossible, but he looks like you, almost exactly, 'cept that he's old, as old as Vurg."
"I'll find out if it's him."
Luke noticed Martin coming up and shouted without taking his eyes off the weasel. "I've been looking for you son!"
"How are you alive? Vurg, Beau, Dulam, and Denno told us that you were dead." Martin joined Luke fighting the weasel, who was a skilled swordsbeast.
"Watch that ferret! What's this Abbey called?"
Martin sidestepped the ferret and slew him with a quick and skilled thrust. "Redwall."
The joys of battle shone in Luke's eyes. "Give 'em a good hard drubbing. So you helped build this Abbey, it's quite big, nice accomplishment. I'll leave you with this weasel." Martin and the weasel circled each other, each seeking an opening. The weasel feinted with a right stab before swinging his sword the other way. Martin was not deterred and hopped over the weasel's blade and in the same motion plunged his sword into the weasel's heart.
Luke was surrounded by five vermin. He swung his sword in one mighty ark to kil three and came out of the swing, cleaving up for the fourth one, but too late noticed the vermin behind him. The ferret stabbed him in the back.
Martin hurried through the carnage that was the aftermath of the battle. "Gonff, where's Luke?"
"I don't know matey, he's probably chasing after some that escaped." But Gonff was just as worried as Martin.
"Martin!" Skipper called. "I found him, he's in bad shape."
Martin hurried over to Luke's side. Luke smiled at him. "'member when you an' I used to make bows an' arrers 'gether? Happy days. You were jus' a babe when Sayna was killed. Look, there's Ranguvar. Ranguvar, wait fer me, I'll join you as a warrior." Luke's eye were drawn to something over Martin's shoulder. "Sayna, I should've joined you when I killed Vilu, are you happy I avenged you so? That's good. Martin." Luke's eyes focused back on him. "Martin, Matthias, Mattimeo, and Martin again." Abbess Germaine finished looking at Luke's back. She shook her head to indicate that Luke would soon die. Luke began speaking again.
"Put these words in your abbey so that others can take your sword and slay evil ones.
Who says that I am dead
Knows nought at all.
I-am that is, Two mice within Redwall.
The Warrior sleeps
'Twixt Hall and Cavern Hole.
I-am that is
Take on my mighty role.
Look for the sword
In moonlight streaming forth,
At night, when day's first hour
Reflects the North.
From o'er the threshold
Seek and you will see,
I-am that is
My sword shall wield for me."
Luke grasped his son's shoulder. "Truly you are Martin the Warrior!