Book One Two Fortresses Fall
It was a cold night on the shores of western Mossflower Woods. The ocean stretched on to the horizon line then faded into the night sky. Amid the sand dunes and the rocks stood Salamandastron,the mountain of the fire-lizard. The huge rock tower loomed high into the air, an impenetrable fortress.
Sitting at a window high on the mountain's face, was an old hare in a pink regimental tunic with medals and badges pinned on it everywhere. By his side was strapped a rapier, thin and perilous looking though old. The hare was gray with a few white spots on him here and there. His eyes looked tired and worn out. His bristling moustachio was waxed and trimmed and in his hardened old paws he held a cup of tea.
A knock on the door behind him broke the silence, and a deep voice called in, "General, may I come in please? I have something for you."
The old hare turned and called out. "Come in Colonel Ropaus." The door opened, and in stepped Colonel Gideon E. Ropaus with a tray heaped high with food.
"The cook sends his compliments and this tray of tucker, he knows how you like to eat up here in your room, the bally mess hall can get rather noisy at times wot." General Norbew Warpaw smelled appreciatively from the tray as Colonel Ropaus handed it to him.
"Ahhh, leek and onion pastie, my favorite! Oh, and some fresh salad, top hole wot!"
"There's also some cordial, though I know you prefer tea these days sah." said Ropaus.
"Oh I'm tired of filppin tea, wot. I'll have some of that cordial." said the General.
As Ropaus poured him some cordial Warpaw looked the hare Colonel up and down. Colonel Gideon E. Ropaus was a very large beast with a huge barrel chest and a deep booming voice which he used when giving out orders to the Long Patrol hares. Strapped to his belt was a formidable looking sabre. He also wore a regimental tunic but his was red unlike the General's.
"Thank you very much for coming up here, Colonel. Though why did you bring two trays?" asked Warpaw. Ropaus began pouring himself some cordial as he explained.
"Well like I said sah, it gets rather rowdy in the mess hall so I decided to join you up here, that is if you don't mind sah?" The old hare started in on his salad as he replied.
"Mind? I should think not Colonel! Why, I'm very glad of your company, it gets rather lonely up here by myself. Of course you can join me." Ropaus sat down next to the General and began devouring his pastie.
"Thank you very much sah." he said. The old hare watched the Colonel eat pastie after pastie then turned and stared about the room thinking. The Colonel stopped from eating his salad and inquired of his General.
"Whats wrong sah? You look like your doing some hard brain work wot." General Warpaw turned and gazed out the window.
"Yes I am," he said. "I've been having dreams lately." Ropaus sat looking at the General. "What sort of dreams sah?"
Warpaw kept gazing out the window as a breeze came through and ruffled his fur."Not normal ones, no, these are different, it is like they are trying to give a warning."
Ropaus leaned forward. "What is the warning General?" He asked.
"A warning of a great evil that is coming to Mossflower country, a horde of vast proportions, these vermin will try to destroy and conquer everything that gets in their way."
The Colonel leaped up sabre in paw. "An evil horde you say sah? By golly if they try to set one paw in Mossflower I'll have the Long Patrol on them in the blink of an eye. We'll give them blood and vinegar, the caddish fiends!" he roared. "When are they coming sah? And where?"
"I do not know Colonel, but I know that if I did you would have the Patrol there and waiting for them," said Warpaw. "It is a shame we do not have a Badger Lord right now and I have to rule the mountain in his absence. But nevertheless we must be ready for this evil that is coming."
Colonel Ropaus stood up and began walking to the door. "Don't worry sah, we will be."
Far over the mountains, rivers and trees from Salamandastron through Mossflower woods lay Redwall Abbey. The huge red sandstone walls towered above the trees that surrounded them. Tall battlements and ramparts loomed above the path leading to the Abbey The top spire and belltower of the Abbey, reached skyward as if trying to touch the stars. The word that summed up the whole building- colossal!
Inside the Abbey walls spread across the grounds was a pond and orchards filled with delicious fruit. There was a gatehouse cottage built next to the west wall. In the middle of the grounds stood the main Abbey building large and serene complete with dormitories, an attic, kitchens, a cellar, Cavern Hole and Great Hall.
Standing in the hall surrounded by torches and stained glass windows was Ceoen the Redwall Champion. Unlike most Redwall Warriors who were mainly mice, squirrels or otters, Ceoen was a hedgehog, who normally take the role of Cellar Keeper. But since he was the Abbey Champion Ceoen could only take half the job who he shared with his trusty mole friend Dugber.
Looking up at the tapestry that hung in Great Hall the hedgehog gazed into the eyes of Martin the Warrior the founder and Redwall Champion of long ago. Depicted on the tapestry the mouse was shown posing in a heroic stance while vermin all around him fled in terror. Holding his magnificent sword and with a fearless smile on his face Martin looked every inch a warrior.
Ceoen touched the sword that hung in it's black leather bound scabbard by his side. A magnificent blade it was! Fashioned by a Badger Lord from a falling star it looked dangerous. From the needle-like point to the red pommel stone on it's handle it truly was a warriors tool Ceoen drew the blade and watched the fire playing along it, shining off in a dazzling blaze keen as midwinter ice and deadly as a roaring fire.
Ceoen turned as footsteps sounded in the hall. The Father Abbot of Redwall Abbey entered clad in a brown habit. Though he was an old mouse Abbot Misminn still looked young in a way. He never seemed to tire and had almost bounless energy.
As the Abbot mouse came in muttering something under his breath, Ceoen went forward to meet him paw outstretched.
"Ah Father Abbot good to see you! How are the feast preparations going?" The hedgehog asked.
"Well things are going well," said Abbot Misminn "everyone is working hard to get things ready for the Nameday feast. Though with all the hustle and bustle I need a chance to wind down. What do you say we go down to your cellars and have some nice strawberry cordial eh?"
The hedgehog warrior turned to go out towards the door with the Abbot close behind. "A splendid idea friend, though I have never seen you tired."
The Abbot caught up with Ceoen and they started at a brisk trot. "Tired? Who said anything about being tired? Come, the strawberry cordial can wait, I feel like a nice walk on the walltops. It's a beautiful night and a great one for a walk. Come on I'll race you there!" they sped off laughing like dibbuns who had escaped from bed.
The Abbot was the first to the stairs but Ceoen was not far behind. They caught their breath as they sat on the bottom step.
"Whew! That sure tired me out. Wow Father Abbot! I didn't know you could run that fast," panted Ceoen.
"Why, didn't you know? Asked Abbot Misminn. "Every season they held the walltop race I always came in first. In my younger days that is," he added.
They started to climb the wallsteps, when Ceoen remembered something.
"Father Abbot, what was that you were mumbling about when you joined me in Great Hall?"
They had reached the west walltop by now and began walking towards the south wall.
"Oh it's nothing really", said the Abbot.
"Come on Father it had to be something," Ceoen coaxed. "Come on tell me."
The mouse sighed and turned to his hedgehog friend.
"Well there's something bothering me," he said. "I have been visited in a dream by Martin the Warrior. He tells me that a great wickedness and cruelty will be coming to Redwall and that we must stop it. What it is that troubles me," Abbot Misminn continued "is that beside you Skipper Retto and Sciria (Skurr-ee-a) Speedflight there are no real warriors to defend our Abbey. Though I am sure many of the brave creatures who live here would give their lives to protect Redwall I don't want any needless dying. Can you do anything Ceoen?" Asked the Abbot.
They had reached the east wall by now and were turning onto the north wall. Ceoen clasped his friend's paw and spoke.
"Don't worry Abbot Misminn, if any evil vermin try to take our Abbey I will do everything I can to stop them and I know Skip will too. Don't be concerned, I'll make those vermin flee from our gates, they will not hurt one of the creatures who live here as long as I have anything to do with it." The Abbot felt comforted knowing his friend meant every word he said.
They reached the wall stairs and descending the steps they headed to the cellars for strawberry cordial.
That night while he was lying in his bed. Ceoen had a dream. In his dream he was walking along the wall again except this time he was walking with Martin the Warrior. As they walked they talked of the Abbey. Then as they rounded the corner leading to the north wall, Martin stopped and stared straight at Ceoen and said,
"Defend this Abbey until your time.Speak to your friends, remember this rhyme Trust the rodent who holds the keys Rely on Battleblades, he will set you free."
With that Martin turned and stepped off the walltop into thin air then disappeared, his words echoing in Ceoen's ears.
If you were far north of Redwall Abbey, in the foothills of the mountains of the north near the border of Mossflower Woods, it would look very peaceful, with meadows, creeks and bushes dotting the landscape.
But if you looked closer, you would see that all was not peaceful, for Grickzann the Terrible was abroad! Grickzann commanded a vast horde of vermin all trained in the art of warfare, every one of them a killer born. Grickzann himself was an evil sight, for he was a Wearat the crossbreed of a weasel and a ferret. He was hulking, huge, powerfully built and muscular. He had no ears or any sign of a neck. He had on a black cape and a chainmail breatplate, and across his back was hung a great battleaxe as big as any Badger Lord's.
Among the vermin in his horde was an assortment of ferrets, weasels, stoats and rats. The only foxes in his army were two brothers, his captains.
The horde marched on through the day stopping at night to rest on the fringe of some woods. Grickzann had two horde members put up a tent for him, and inside he conversed with his captains. When he spoke his voice was harsh and grating, "Well Vulgaris, how soon before we reach Mossflower Woods?"
The elder of the two foxes Vulgaris, was taller and thiner then his bulkier brother Drigdedd, but he was faster. He carried a cutless whereas his brother carried a sabre, both weapons were as wicked looking as there masters. Both of the foxes had gray fur and both had belts, only Drigdedd's was strapped across his chest.They also both wore dusty stained tunics. Vulgaris took a drink of grog before replying to the wearet. "Well sire, I believe that this fringe o' trees is it, but if it's not then we should be there in about a day."
Grickzann turned to Drigdedd, "And you, are the hordes weapons and armor ready for battle?"
"As ready as they can be Lord. All geared up to charge into battle. I've seen to that" answered the fox.
"We also have plenty o' provisions sir. 'nough to last us until we get to Redwall." said Vulgaris.
Grickzann went and sat down in a chair opposite his captains. "Good, very good. Now you Drigdedd, send for a messenger on your way out, tell him to go straight to the western sea and report to Silvertriz that we are in Mossflower. She will tell Lord Carniskus of our movements. Then we will continue on to Redwall Abbey and overtake it and destroy the creatures that live within so that all may know the might of Lord Carniskus and his Deathdealers."
The two fox captains left the tent and returned to their own delivering the message to a ferret messenger.
Grickzann lay down to sleep waiting for the next day when his horde would march closer to his goal of conquest.
The evil had come to Mossflower!
The next morning down in Cavern Hole, breakfast was served. There was hot oatmeal with nuts, fruit and honey if you liked, blueberry scones, hot tea and more. Redwall Abbey food was famous for being the best in all Mossflower, and the current cook Friar Gibbo certainly lived up to it's standards. The Friar vole was a master chef, who always went around with a tall chefs hat on his head, and a white apron tied about his middle giving out orders.
Ceoen came up from his bed in the Cellars feeling hungry as ever.
"Good morning Ceoen" said Friar Gibbo as the hedgehog came in the room. "I trust you had a good nights sleep?"
"I couldn't have Friar, thinking of all the wonderful food that you make would keep anybeast up all night" said Ceoen.
The vole blushed at the compliment given to him. "Here, I made a tray up just the way you like it, with hazelnuts, apple and strawberry pieces, and a drizzle of honey. There is also some warm blueberry scones and some pastie I made just for you."
The hedgehog warrior took the tray and headed for a table. "Thank you very much Friar Gibbo. Mmmm this looks tasty."
Ceoen went and sat down at a table with Abbot Misminn, The Skipper of Otters Retto and the squirrel named Sciuria Speedflight.
"Hello friends" greeted Ceoen. "How are all of you this morning?"
The Abbot looked up from his bowl of oatmeal. "Why, hello Ceoen! We are all doing well. And how is our Abbey Warrior today?"
"Glad to be alive on such a fine morning Abbot Misminn" said Ceoen.
He sat down in between Skipper(who everybeast called Skip) and The Abbot, and began to eat his food.
"So Father Abbot, anymore dreams last night?" questioned Ceoen.
The Abbot nibbled on a scone while he replied. "As a matter of fact I did. Martin came to me last night and told me to inquire of the Abbey Champion about his dream." He looked towards Ceoen. "Did you have a dream last night?" He asked.
"Yes, I did." said the hedgehog. "Martin came to me too and told me this rhyme.
"Defend this Abbey until your time Speak to your friends remember this rhymeTrust the rodent who holds the keysRely on Battleblades he will set you free"
Their was silence after Ceoen said these words.
Then Skipper Retto broke it by saying, "Well mates, if Martin the Warrior gave us a rhyme we should listen."
"Exactly what I was going to say" said Abbot Misminn. "what do you think Martin means."
"I'm sure that we'll find out soon" said Ceoen.
At Salamandastron, Colonel Ropaus had called a council of war in General Norbew's room. all of the Long Patrol officers were there, listening to what the Colonel had to say.
"The General tells me that he has been having dreams. In his dreams Martin the Warrior that mouse that founded Redwall Abbey, has told him of an evil coming to Mossflower. Now, I believe that it is our duty to stop it, wot. Us and the rest of the hares in the Long Patrol. So I'm going to lead an attack on those vermin with all our Long Patrol warriors. I have a feeling that they will attack Redwall, because every vermin Warlord cad that goes through Mossflower, tries to take over the Abbey wot. So we will have to stop them."
A sandy colored hare raised a paw.
"Yes Sergeant Thrugton" said Ropaus
"Well sah" began the Sergeant "What about the mountain? Shouldn't we leave some hares here to guard it?"
Colonel Ropaus turned to General Warpaw. "What do you think sah?" He asked.
General Warpaw thought for a moment then said "I think that's a capital idea. But don't leave to many here, you will need all the fighters you can get wot."
Colonel Ropaus saluted and turned to the other officers. "Right sah. Now does anybeast know an exact count of Long Patrol warriors we have here?"
A tall solid looking hare stepped forward, I believe we have about six hundred sah" he said.
"Thank you Captain Leapscut. Now, we'll leave one hundred hares here to guard Salamandastron, the General will be in charge of them. We will bring five hundred with us to stop those invading vermin bounders wot wot. So, get your regiments together and get them ready, we march at dawn."
Grickzann the Terrible kept his vermin horde marching. They were surrounded entirely by trees now, though every once in a while they came upon small clearings.
That night they stopped for a brief rest near a large river. Grickzann was standing on the bank trying to figure out a way to cross, when Vulgaris came up with the ferret messenger behind him panting hard.
"Sir, the messenger has returned from the west shores, Silvetriz says she is ready to carry out the plan. Her ships are anchored just off the coast, out of sight of anybeast who may be watching from shore."
Grickzann turned and signaled the fox and ferret to leave.
"That is very good, tell the horde leaders to get their soldiers ready to march. We are going to cross this river."
Vulgaris saluted and hurried of to do his Lord's bidding.
The moon was high in the sky as Grickzann and his army crossed the River Moss. The vermin had been instructed to build rafts to ferry them and their supplies across the deep waters. They used long punting poles to push their way along the river. Grickzann sat on the foremost raft looking ahead as the shore loomed closer.
When all the rafts had made it to the other side the horde gathered up their supplies and began marching onward.
Grickzann the Terrible was that much closer to Redwall Abbey!
Slightly north and west of Salamandastron just offshore but unseen by anybeast on land eight ships lay at anchor. aboard the largest one Silvetriz Dethlia stood on the prow of her favorite ship in her fleet, the Dethclaw watching her other seven ships bob up and down with the current. She mentally named each one as she looked from one to the next.
"There's the Darksail, the Bloodstern, the Seastoat, the Redfang, the Blackhelm, the Gutdeck and the 'ol Wildwave, every captain and their crews all bloodthirsty killers ha harr."
Silvetriz was High Captain of the entire fleet and it was no wonder that she was. Every inch of her was a barbaric sight from the top of the spiked helmet on her head, to the bloodstained silks and satins she wore, to her sharkskin belt which held her dangerous looking weapon, a saif was strapped to her belt, as well as two lethal daggers that she could both throw and stab with. across her back was strapped a three-pronged trident which added further to her evil appearance.
One would think that with all these weapons she would not have the strength to climb up and down rigging and move with ease. But she was far stronger then any of the vermin in her fleet, and most vermin for that matter. For Silvetriz Dethlia was a wildcat. The fearsome predator that gave even Martin the Warrior the fight of his life (even though she didn't win). Yes, wildcat's were not beasts for cowards to trifle with. Even the fiercest of her captains Rakkle the fox captain of the Redfang feared and obeyed her.
Sivertriz had received the message from Grickzann and she was ready. All she had to do was wait for Grickzann to make his move, then she would make hers. Her first mate, a weasel named Rago approched her.
"Uh, High Captain Silvetriz, the crew is getting restless, they want to know when we're going when attack."
Silvetriz looked at her crew as they had their supper. She had heard mutterings and grumblings among the vermin crew and she knew that she would have to make a move soon.
"Tell the crew that we will attack soon Rago." she turned in the direction of Salamandastron, she could just see the top of the mountain looming up into the sky. She chuckled wickedly to herself, "Hahaha. Yes, very soon indeed."
Grickzann the Terrible kept going through Mossflower Woods. He was getting close to his destination, he could feel it. When he was about to call Vulgaris over and ask him how much farther they had to go, he came to the edge of the woods, and onto a broad path leading north and south. Since he had come from the north he decided to travel along the path south.
Grickzann and his horde continued marching, with woodlands on their left, and flatlands on their right. On the right he could just make out the silhouettes of distant mountains. Then up ahead he saw it, the top of the Abbey belltower. Grickzann smiled to himself, he was there, he had reached his destination.
Grickzann ordered the horde to camp just on the edge of the woods because night was approaching fast, and he needed to plan a means of attack. He called Vulgaris nad Drigdedd into his tent to formulate a plan.
Grickzann pointed at the top of the belltower "Well? What do ye think we should do?" He inquired.
Drigdedd raised a paw, "Sire, I say we march our 'orde in front of their gates, give them a good scare."
Vulgaris pushed his brother down "You idjit! We shouldn't do that! We don't wot manner o' beasts lives in that place. How do you know that they don't 'ave giant stripedogs or waterdogs in there? I've 'eard stories about that place, 'n they ain't very pretty. An old rat once told me that those beasts fight like mad, and those waterdogs are big tough 'uns. And as for the stripedogs, well theres one story dat says dat one o' dem grabbed a rat's tail and swung 'im around 'n around den lets go and the rat smacks into a tree and 'e's dead as a doornail. I'm telling you dose stripedogs is powerful beasts."
Grickzann thought about what Vulgaris had said, then asked "So, what do ye think we should do?"
Vulgaris toyed with his cutless handle as he replied "Send four or so scouts to check out what dey 'ave got in dat place". Den, when we know 'ow many dey have we can make a plan to attack dem."
Grickzann nodded "Yes, that is a very good idea, I was wondering when one of ye would come up with that. So be it, I will send out four of my horde to scout the place out. Then when they come back we will attack Redwall."
At that same time in Redwall, Skipper, Ceoen and Sciria were walking along the battlements talking about the rhyme and it's meaning, when Sciria suddenly stopped and peered into the woods on the north side of the wall. (That was the side they were on)
What's wrong Sciria?" asked Skipper.
Sciria continued to look over the wall at the trees on the outskirts of Mossflower. "Oh, I don't now Skip, I just thought I saw some kind of creature dodge from one tree to another. I'm not sure though... Aha! there he is again running towards the north wallgate, it's a stoat. I wonder what he's doing?"
Skipper looked in the direction that Sciria was looking and saw the stoat too. "By golly yore right! There is a stoat down there. Hi, Ceoen were are you off to?"
Ceoen was already down the wallsteps and hurrying across the Abbey grounds as he shouted back "I'm going to see what he's doing Skip."
Skipper and Sicria came bounding down the wallsteps after him.
"Wait up mate! Let me fetch my javelin and sling." called Skipper.
Five minutes later Ceoen, Skipper and Sciria were outside the east wallgate with their weapons in their paws. Skipper with his otter javelin and sling and stone pouch, Sciria with her squirrel longbow and quiver of arrows and Ceoen with the sword of Martin.
Silent as shadows the three warriors began to steal up on the unsuspecting stoat, when Skipper stopped and pointed towards the east wallgate. There stood a weasel inspecting the gate. Skipper spoke in a whisper to his friends "I don't like it mates, there wouldn't be just a couple of vermin around the Abbey checkin' out the gates if their wasn't more of them somewhere".
Ceoen nodded "Right there has got to be some connection between them. I wonder if there's more around here?"
Sciria pointed with her bow at the stoat "Well there's one way to find out. I'll follow that one, you and Skipper follow the weasel. If they meet up together then we know there most likely part of a bigger gang. They may just be scouts".
Skipper began moving towards the weasel. "Great plan Sciria. Come on Ceoen mate, lets find out where this weasel takes us."
The weasel in question was looking at the gate trying to find any weak spot in it. Then he gave up and began heading back to the woods. Skipper and Ceoen followed. Once he was in among the trees, the otter and hedgehog saw him meet up with a rat and they began talking to each other.
"Well mate" said the rat "did you find anything?"
"Nothing Scriknose" the weasel said. "That liddle gate is shut tight and locked too. I didn't see anybeast did you?"
The rat Scriknose scratched his arm "I didn't see anybeast Zilver. But maybe Blakpaw and Driggle found somting."
At that moment the stoat that Sciria had first seen came up, followed by another rat.
Zilver the weasel hailed them "Hoi mates any luck?"
Blakpaw the rat shrugged "I didn't see much. But Driggle 'ere said 'e saw one 'o those waterdogs and a treejumper too."
Scricknose looked at Driggle "Where'd ye see 'um mate?"
Driggle pointed back at the Abbey "I saw dem up on de wall. I don't know if dey saw me. I also saw one 'o dem hedgepig's up der too."
By now Sciria had joined Skipper and Ceoen as they listened and followed the vermin. The vermin kept talking until they came to a clearing where the three friends saw hundreds of tents pitched and vermin everywhere. The four vermin scouts headed for the biggest tent and went inside. Sciria pointed to a tree next to the tent and Skipper and Ceoen nodded understanding. Quick as a flash Sciria darted up the tree and hid among the leafs just above the tent. The hedgehog and otter watched the tree until the squirrel warrior came down and dashed over to where they were hidden. She indicated that they start back towards the Abbey. When they were well enough away Sciria related what she had heard.
"Those vermin were part of a bigger force as you saw, they were sent out to check out the Abbey's weak spots and see who was living there. I heard they talked to some creature who had a harsh grating voice who they addressed as Sire. After they said their piece the creature dismissed them and began talking to two vermin named Drigdedd and Vulgaris and began to relate a plan to attack Redwall. After I heard it I climbed down the tree and ran back to where you were hidden and the rest you know."
"So mates, it appears that there's going to be a vermin horde attacking Redwall sometime soon." said Skipper.
"Just like in the dreams that Martin the Warrior gave to Abbot Misminn." Ceoen said.
The enormity of the situation struck the three warriors and they began to run towards Redwall Abbey.
At dawn the Long Patrol struck out from Salamandastron. Colonel Gideon E. Ropaus had appointed four other officers to lead. Captain Leapscut, Sergeant Thrugton and Lieutenants Bruffburry and Correala (Kor-reel-lee-a). The Long Patrol marched most of the day only stopping once in the afternoon for a brief respite. Most of the younger hares were very much excited as this was their first real patrol. One new recruit named Fringle Cappsdonn even broke out into a marching song with all the other Long Patrol members singing along. (Sorry, I don't know any good marching songs. Thats why I didn't type one.)
That night they camped out on the flatlands northeast of Salamandastron. The hares took off their packs, rolled out their bedrolls, got out their mess kits and lined up for supper. The hares chatted back in forth while they waited.
"Oh golly, that was quite a lot of marching we did today wot. My footpaws are killing me!"
"Ha you think that was a lot, when I was young we marched a lot longer then that laddie buck."
"I say, is this flippin line going to move or what? I'm fair starving wot!"
"It figures you would say that fat belly, your always hungry."
"Speak for yourself Fringle. You were the one who ate so much at that last feast they had to carry you to the sickbay Hah hah hah!!"
Colonel Ropaus sat apart from the other hares with his officers planning the next move.
"Well, I guess that we marched about near thirty miles today" said Ropaus. "We should be getting into Mossflower soon. Anybeast have anything else to say?"
Lieutenant Correalia stood up "The scouts just came back with a report sah. They said they got near Mossflower Woods but they didn't see any vermin."
Colonel Ropaus nodded "Good, that means we'll have to press on further tomorrow. All right chaps and chap'es, let's turn in for the night."
Back at Salamandastron General Norbew Warpaw sat in the dining hall with the only other officer at the mountain Colour Sergeant O'Halgg eating supper. The other hares around them laughed and joked with each other, while the two officers talked together.
"I have an uneasy feeling O'Halgg, there's something not right, but I can't put my paw on it" said Warpaw.
The Colour Sergeant agreed "Your right sah. I have that feeling too. It's as if something terrible is going to happen."
Out on the sea Silvertriz Dethlia made her move. Her eight warships pulled up anchor and began sailing southeast toward Salamandastron.
As General Warpaw lay in bed that uneasy feeling grew stronger. When he drifted off to sleep he dreamed he saw Martin the Warrior again, and the ancient Badger Lord Brocktree and both were fighting against hordes of vermin driven on by a wildcat dressed as a corsair, and a large weasel type creature with a battleaxe. There was also a shadowy form behind the two vermin warlords. Warpaw couldn't tell what it was except that it was very large and savage looking. It was clear that both Martin and Brocktree were fighting for their lives. Both were expert warriors but they were hard pressed with seething masses of weasels, stoats, ferrets, foxes and rats. just when it seemed that the two warriors would be killed the dream ended, and General Warpaw woke up with Sergeant O'Halgg standing over him with a worried expression.
"Sah! Sah! Wake up sah! We're being attacked!"
The General sat up and instinctively reached for his rapier "Where are they? How many? Who are they?" he shouted.
O'Halgg had his rapier in one paw, and a javelin in the other as he replied. "Corsairs sah! Hundreds of the blighters! They've gotten in but I don't know how. They killed the sentries then stormed the mountain I'm guessing their making their way up sah what do we do?"
The hare General headed for the door shouting "Follow me! We have to find the rest of the hares that were left here."
O'Halgg followed saying "The vermin cads killed most of the patrol left here except ten. We're hiding up in the forge room sah, because we don't have enough numbers to fight them."
Warpaw stared disbelievingly at the Colour Sergeant "You mean that they have slain ninety hares?"
"Yes they have sah" replied O'Halgg sadly. "They came into the dormitories and started slaying left 'n right. most of the poor chaps and chapessess were still half asleep were they were killed. It was horrible sah. We tried to fight but that did little good. We gave a good account of ourselves but to no avail, they were too many. The only thing we could do is run sah. By that time their was only about fifteen of us General, and then they picked five of us off with arrows. The rest of us are hiding like I said in the forge room."
By this time they could hear the sounds of battle as they drew closer to the Badger Rulers forge room. Then suddenly they turned a corner and saw a group of vermin standing at the forge room door using a table as a battering ram to break it down. The General ducked behind the wall and spoke to O'Halgg in a whisper
" We need to get inside that blinkin door wot. We're going to have to charge them to get into that room wot. So when I charged forward then you follow got that Sergeant?"
O'Halgg saluted with his javelin "Yes sah every word."
The General jumped up in spite of his long seasons and charged forward with the Colour Sergeant right behind him. Both hares had their weapons at the ready and were shouting.
The time honored warcry of badgers and hares echoed around the passage. The vermin were so surprised that they didn't know what to do. But the two Salamandastron hares did. General Warpaw took the first two out with slashes of his sword, while O'Halgg took down one with his rapier and another two with stabs of his javelin. They two hares fought their way to the door, while as Warpaw fought off any vermin that got close, O'Halgg pounded on the door with his fist bellowing out
"Open up you blighters! It's Sergeant O'Halgg with General Warpaw. Open the door or we'll be killed!"
The door opened and the two hares rushed inside. The door was closed right before the vermin charged in. The General and Colour Sergeant stood panting in the room with the other ten hares helping them to sit down.
General Warpaw was breathing heavily as he asked "How many weapons have we got?"
A young female hare spoke up "We only have a bow and about twelve arrows, three javelins including Sergeant O'Halgg's and one spear that I managed to grab. Theres no weapons in here because we haven't had a Badger Ruler for a long time."
The hare General stood up inspecting the other ten hares in the room. They all looked scared and nervous. Even O'Halgg was a bit shaky. Warpaw saw that he would have to take charge as the leading officer.
"Right you lot, I want three of you to stand next to the wall furthest away from the door with the bow and arrows and the javelins. Then the rest of you group around near the door with your weapons ready. If you don't have any weapons then use anything you can find around here or use your legs. Now, when I shout Eulalia then shoot arrows at them. Then you lot with the javelins jump out and lay into them from the front. Me and the Sergeant will come in from the sides with our groups and hit the vermin there, sort of a small pincher movement. All right? Let's get ready their almost through the door."
Silvetriz was very happy. She had taken over Salamandastron without very much bloodshed-for her side. She chuckled to herself when she thought of how surprised the hares had been when her corsairs came in and started slaughtering them. Silvetriz was now ruler of Salamandastron just like her ancient ancestor Ungatt Trunn. She even had her own trident fashioned like his was. She now considered herself to be every bit a conquerer as him. As Silvetriz stalked the halls of the mountain she came upon the vermin trying to break down a door. As she came up a ferret saluted her.
"What is going on here?" she asked.
"High Captain, we are trying to break down this door to get at the hares that are inside." the ferret replied.
Silvetriz watched the vermin hoist the table and ram it against the forge room door. She shook her head.
"You are not doing a very good job of it are you?" she growled
The ferret shuffled his footpaws and looked at the ground. "Well Captain, we've almost broken through the door."
Silvertriz moved towards the table battering ram. "You are doing it all wrong. Here, all of you lift like this, and back up. Then on my count charge the door. 1... 2... 3!!!"
The vermin charged the door and crashed it open. The first sound that met their ears was General Warpaw yelling.
An arrow took out a stoat in the front as the rest of the hares poured out shouting their warcry. Silvertriz urged the vermin on as the hares battled with their larger numbered enemies. As the battle raged first one hare then another fell dead. Soon only Warpaw, O'Halgg and three other hares were left. Silvertriz took out a dagger and threw it at one of the hares killing him. Colour Sergeant O'Halgg battled his way to the General who was fighting off a rat and a ferret. The Sergeant bellowed at his General
"Sah! There's too many of the fiends. We can't-"
O'Halgg fell with Silvetriz's other dagger in his chest.
General Warpaw and the female hare were the only ones left. They fought on with desperation knowing their lives and the mountains freedom were at stake. The female hare fell next to Warpaw and the vermin seethed in yelling and screaming. The General had his rapier in one paw and a spear in the other stabbing, slicing and cutting at the foebeasts. Then Silvetriz was in front of him with her saif out. She swung at the Warpaw's head and he blocked the blow with the spear. As the wildcat went for his side he stapped with his rapier at her footpaw. Silvetriz yowled with pain and fury and as the vermin pressed in around him General Warpaw flung the spear at them shouting aloud over and over.
"Eulaliaaa! Eulaliaaa! Eulaliaaa!"
"Give up fool!" yelled Silvetriz.
"I will never!" yelled back the hare General.
Then with a stab from the wildcat's sword, General Norbew Warpaw fell. And with him so did Salamandastron.
Bird's warbled out songs on the bright warm day. Grasshoppers trilled in the weeds and butterflies drifted lazily on the breeze as all of Mossflower Woods greeted summers first day in their own way.
All this peaceful tranquility was lost on Grickzann the Terrible and his horde, as they stood in front of Redwall Abbey, looking up at the creatures on the walltop. Grickzann was puzzled as to how they Abbey dwellers had known he was coming and had assembled on the wall. No matter, he would still be able to conquer there Abbey.
The wearet stepped forward and bellowed up at the creatures on the walltop. "I, am Grickzann the Terrible, vermin Warlord. I command a horde of vermin eight hundred strong, all are murderers and assassins, and I command you to surrender your Abbey to me!"
An otter(Skipper) on the walltop shouted back "We don't take commands from vermin scum! So you and your eight hundred strong horde can just turn around and go back to where you came from!"
"So be it, you wouldn't give me your Abbey peacefully, so now I will take it by force."
He turned to Vulgaris. "Prepare the invasion."
The fox captain turned and signaled the some vermin with catapults to fire.
The attack on Redwall had begun!
Grickzann stood back and watched his horde assault Redwall. The vermin had two kinds of catapults, one shot off rocks, the other shot rocks with oil soaked weeds and dry grass wrapped around them and when dipped in a pot of fire burst into flames. The Redwallers had their paws full trying to keep the fire from spreading inside the Abbey walls.
As Grickzann sat down underneath a tree surveying the damage he was doing to Redwall a rat scout came up and saluted him saying.
"Sir, we saw some creatures coming dis way, they looked like rabbits and dey had a lot of weapons. Der was about five hunnred of dem."
The wearet stood. " Their hares! I thought Silvetriz took care of them. Well if that wildcat can't then I will. Tell my two captains to come here."
The rat saluted "Yessir I will."
When Drigdedd and Vulgaris came up to Grickzann, the Warlord related what the rat had said to him, then also said, "Take six hundred of the horde and head west. I want you to cut down those hares. I only need two hundred with me here. Now go! And do not fail me!"
Both of the foxes saluted and after they had gathered all the vermin they needed started off west.
Unknown to Grickzann there was a pair of eyes watching his every move. The creature had heard the conversation between the wearet and his captains and was now following the two foxes and the horde they were leading. Silent and stealthy the creature followed.
The Long Patrol had risen at dawn and was on the march again. They were in Mossflower woods now and Colonel Ropaus kept them moving. that night they rested underneath the trees, each hare was rolled in his or her bedroll and was sleeping soundly. Colonel Ropaus had posted five sentries around the camp in case of danger. But unknown to the hares danger was very close by.
Driggdedd and Vulgaris each had command of three hundred vermin. When they had sneaked near to the hares camp they held a whispered conference resulting in Vulgaris taking his band around the Long Patrol's camp opposite of Driggdedd. Then five vermin sneaked forward closer to the camp. One hare sentry turned toward a sound as a weasel stepped out from behind a tree. The hare was just about to sound the alarm, when a ferret came up behind him and slashed at his back with a sword. The hare fell dead to the ground, with the same happening to the other sentries. Then when all the hares had been taken care of, Vulgaris signaled across to his brother and the vermin ran in yelling and screaming. Within a few moments the Long Patrol hares were completely surrounded.
Back inside Redwall Abbey, the Redwallers were having a tough time defending. They had to put out fires from the flaming rocks, they also couldn't do anything against the damage they were causing. Skipper, Ceoen and Sciria were in charge of the defenses and they were running around helping, encouraging and instructing the other Abbeybeasts.
When they had a moments rest, the three warriors sat in the orchard sipping cold cordial and resting.
Sciria brushed some soot off of her face as she said,"Whew! Those vermin sure have me tired out. my paws are aching from all that running around."
Skipper took a large drink from his beaker before replying,"Your right Sciria matey. Those vermin shore do know how do attack."
Ceoen nodded "Aye, but we mustn't let them conquer the Abbey. Think of all the destruction they would cause."
Skipper drank the last of his cordial, then got up. "Well mates lets get back to our defending."
Grickzann knew he was close to conquering the Abbey. How would they be able to keep defending under his attack? Still, he would need to do something else as well. But what?
Colonel Ropaus was awakened from sleep by the sound of vermin yelling warcrys and of hares screaming. The Colonel sat up and reached for his sabre when he saw a rat's footpaw standing on the blade. The rat leered down at him as he prepared to stab with a rusty dagger.
"Heh heh! Looks like your going to be on the list of casulaties soon rabbit!" he snickered.
"Sorry vermin bounder but I'm not planning on being on that list wot." said Ropaus.
The hare Colonel rolled to the side, sprang up and delivered a hard kick to the rat's stomach knocking him back. Ropaus reached down and grabbed his sabre just as a stoat came charging up with a spear pointed at him. The Colonel stepped to the side just as the vermin went past and slew her with a thrust of his sword. Colonel Ropaus looked around and saw the hares of his Patrol battling with the vermin from Grickzann's horde. The Colonel thought fast, then came up with a solution and roared out.
"Long patrol to me! Long Patrol to me! Form up in the middle of the camp wot!"
The hares ran toward their Colonel fighting their way through the vermin. Soon the rest of the hares were their, numbering about four hundred and fifty.
Then Drigdedd and Vulgaris stepped forward and the elder fox captain said,
"Listen rabbits! Lord Grickzann has sent us to kill you all. But if you surrender now we will spare your miserable lives."
The only answer the fox got was all of the hares shouting.
And then the fight was on!
The vermin charged the hares, and the Long Patrol held out their pikes and lances. As the battle raged on Drigdedd got an idea and drew back with fifty vermin. As he was circling around he heard a muffled scream from behind him and turned to look. Seeing nobeast he continued on. Then he heard another scream and then another. Drigdedd gazed around bewildered. How could the hares have gotten away from the rest of the vermin? Were there more around here? Then the fox captain felt a paw clamp around his neck in a grip of steel, and with a swift thrust from a blade, Drigdedd, a captain of Grickzann the Terrible was dead.
Colonel Ropaus knew that the Long Patrol didn't have much time left. They were battling against at least one hundred more vermin then they had in their Patrol, and the number of casualties were going up fast. He had to think of something soon. But what?
Just then on the other side of the circle of hares the vermin broke through. Colonel Ropaus heard Vulgaris yell
"Take their leader alive! But don't spare any of the rest!"
The hare Colonel turned and saw stoats, weasels, rats and ferrets slashing their way toward him. Ropaus readied himself as he shouted above the noise of battle.
"Get ready chaps and chapessess this is it. Let's give these vermin blighters one more good 'ol Salamandastron battlecry wot wot!"
And with that the hares all shouted as one, one more time.
Vulgaris stopped for a second as a chill went up his spine at the hares battlecry. Then he came back around and urged his vermin onward. Just as the hares finished, Colonel Ropaus heard another warcry.
Vulgaris heard it too. And an even bigger chill went up his spine. He knew that that was no hare's voice!
It was about the middle of the night when Grickzann the Terrible got an idea. Smiling wickedly to himself he turned the plan over in his mind. Yes, this would work perfectly! Summoning a weasel named Gorzum who was acting as captain in place of Vulgaris and Drigdedd, he related his plan to her. "You wish to speak with me sir?" asked Gorzum. " Yes I have formulated a plan to get into Redwall Abbey" said the Wearet Warlord. "Now this is how we will go about it...."
As Colonel Ropaus turned he saw a ferret come flying towards him. He ducked, then looked up. Coming toward the group of hares, slashing through vermin, was a huge male badger. He had on a black tunic and he wore a metal breastplate and metal greaves. He also had on a forest green cape and a black belt was around his waist. two scabbards hung on his belt, one on the left, the other on the right. And in his paws he held two dirks that were the size of swords to Ropaus. Across his back was a short broadsword, with the hilt protruding over his right shoulder. Vulgaris saw the badger too, but the thing that scared him the most was the badger's eyes, they were blood red. The fox knew what that meant, he'd heard stories of such things. This badger was in the grip of the Bloodwrath. Vulgaris wanted no part with badgers so he yelled out to his vermin soldiers.
"Retreat!! Retreat!! Run!! Run! Back to Lord Grickzann. Retreat!!!"
Renewed by the turn of tide, Colonel Ropaus shouted out.
"Long Patrol, after them!! Don't let the blighters get away!! Eulaliaaaaaaaa!! Chaaaaaarge!!!!" The vermin ran with the hares hot on their heels. After awhile the Long Patrol gave up the chase and returned to the camp. Ropaus turned to look at the badger who was sheathing his dirks. The Colonel stepped forward and bowed his head. "Thank you sah, we are in your debt. You showed up at the jolly right time wot wot. May I ask what your name is?" The badger looked down at Ropaus and spoke with a thundering yet gentle sounding voice. "My name is Gardeb Battleblades, I have come from the south, and I have been living in Mossflower Woods for ten seasons now. I make armor and weapons, though so far only for myself." He pointed to his greaves and breastplate. "I was on my way to Salamandastron because I have been having dreams that are calling and telling me to go their. I was just starting out when I came upon a horde of vermin led by one called Grickzann the Terrible. They were attacking Redwall Abbey. I wanted to go and help the Redwallers, but their was nothing I could do. Then I heard the one called Grickzann talking to two other beasts, and he told them to find some hares and kill them.” He looked around. “I suppose you are those hares?” he questioned. Colonel Ropaus snapped to attention and saluted “The Long Patrol, at your service sah!” he said. Gardeb nodded “Yes I have heard of the Long Patrol. The best fighting squad in Mossflower. Well I can testify to that. You fought courageously, against those odds. “Well we do our best sah.” replied Ropaus. The badger nodded then looking off through the woods he said “ Since we are both following those vermin we should get moving.” “Good idea sah.” Ropaus agreed He then turned and barked out. “Ateeeeeeeennnntion!!! Long Patrol gather up your supplies and form up to march on the double we have got to catch up with those vermin before they get to Redwall!”
At that very moment Grickzann the Terrible was putting his plan into action. While half of his force still shot the catapults, the other half he divided with him and fifty going to the east wall with scaling ladders and fifty going to the south wall with a battering ram to smash down the south wallgate. He then ordered half of the catapult forces to the north wall to start to kindling a fire to burn down the north wallgate. His plan was simple distract the Redwallers with the catapults and battering ram, then the fire would be started on the gates, and then while the defenders were trying to put out the fire and shore up the south wallgate, the vermin at the east wall would climb into the abbey with the ladders. The wearet laughed out loud. He would get inside the Abbey one way or another! Catapults, fire, scaling ladders, or a battering ram... He would get inside Redwall!
Ceoen, Skipper and Sciria were busy with their jobs. Ceoen was getting a pail of water to put out a fire when he heard a thumping noise at the south wallgate. Then their was a great crash, the gate collapsed and vermin came pouring in.
Ceoen jumped up startled and roared out.
“Skipper! Sicria! Everybeast! Vermin in the Abbey!!”
The hedgehog warrior drew his sword and ran forward shouting his battlecry.
Skipper was on the north walltop when he heard Ceoen shout. Bounding down the stairs he bellowed over his shoulder at some Redwallers on the wall with him.
“Come on mates! Lets help Ceoen! Redwaaaaaaaaallllllllllll!”
The Redwallers ran down the wallsteps behind Skipper shouting too. Just as they reached the lawn the north wallgate burst into flames and more vermin poured in, hitting the defenders from behind. They slashed and stabbed at the Abbeybeasts, who tried to fight back but were overwhelmed. Skipper turned and saw the leering face of Gorzum the weasel with a curved sword in her uplifted paw.
The otter dodged as the sword came down and whacked out with his loaded sling. Once! Twice! Three times, and Gorzum lay dead on the ground. Skipper launched himself on another vermin as he roared out again Redwaaaaaaaaallllllllllll! Give 'em blood and vinegar mates!!
Sciria was on the west walltop firing arrows down into the vermin ranks, when across the way she saw even more vermin soldiers coming in over the east wall. And one of the first ones over was Grickzann the Terrible. The wearet drew his battleaxe out of it's carrying case on his back and ran towards the stairs, jumping off halfway down. The wearet warlord began hacking and slicing any Redwaller that came within reach. Sciria raced off the wall and ran towards Grickzann just as he knocked a mouse down with his axe. Sciria launched herself on him and bit into his shoulder. Grickzann roared with pain and grabbed the squirrel and threw her off of him. Sciria sprang up an arrow notched to her bow, when from behind her Zilver the weasel stabbed her in the heart, and Sciria Speedflight was hewn lifeless to the ground. Grickzann laughed and continued his slaughter, as he and his Deathdealers massacred the Abbeybeasts.
From inside the Abbey Abbot Misminn and Dugber the mole watched as their friends and fellow Abbey dwellers were killed. The Abbot couldn't take it any more, and seizing a window pole, he charged out yelling the Abbey warcry. Dugber the mole yelled after him. “Don't du it H'abbit zurr. Yu'ull bee killed!!”
Grickzann turned, and seeing the Abbot running towards him he smirked evily, this one would be easier then the squirrel. As the Abbot came forward Ceoen turned too and seeing the old mouse running towards the warlord he yelled a warning.
“Father Abbot no! Keep away from him!!!”
But it was too late. As Misminn ran up and swung the window pole, Grickzann sidestepped and with an almost careless swipe swung his axe and chopped of the Abbot's head.
Ceoen screamed and ran towards Grickzann slaying, stabbing and cutting down any foebeast unfortunate to get in his way. The hedgehog was fighting like a berserker, as he ran at the one who had killed his Abbot. Grickzann saw him coming and readied himself. When the two creatures met their weapons crashed together with a sound like thunder mixed with cracking ice. Ceoen hacked and gouged at the wearet, while Grickzann kept blocking the hedgehog warrior's blows. Ceoen swiped at the wearet's head but Grickzann blocked it with his axe pole. Then the Abbey Warrior slashed at the warlord's side but again Grickzann parried it. Back and forth they went, the sounds of their blades clashing rent the air. Then as Ceoen swung at Grickzann's head again, the wearet dropped down and slashed across the hedgehog's legs. Ceoen gave a cry and dropped to his knees. That was all Grickzann needed. Hooking the axe right where Martin's sword blade met the crosstree and yanking back, Grickzann sent the sword skimming to the side. Ceoen dove and reached for it. Once again, that was all Grickzann needed, and right when Ceoen grabbed the sword and looked up Grickzann brought his battleaxe slashing down. And Ceoen lay dead, chopped in half by Grickzann the Terrible, vermin warlord, and conquerer of Redwall Abbey.
Book 2 The Recapture of Redwall
Gardeb Battleblades, Colonel Ropaus, and the rest of the Long Patrol, pursued the vermin through Mossflower. They were getting closer to Redwall by now and the Colonel didn't want the enemy to get back to the rest of their force. So he ordered the Patrol to step up the pace, so they could catch the vermin. Gardeb was not built for speed but he stuck it out, the one thing keeping him going was the thoght of what the vermin would do to the Abbey beasts if they were conquered.
Then one hare in front named Wethers spotted something up ahead and ran back to report it to the Colonel.
“Sah, saw something in the trees up ahead sah. I thought it might be the bally vermin sah!”
Ropaus began running faster.
“Good job wot. I'll bet it is the bally vermin Let's get to the blighters sharpish. On the double now chaaaaaarge!”
The hares were already hard put running as fast as they could, but the thought of catching up with the foe spurred them on and they dashed ahead only to come out in a clearing and find dead vermin laying on the ground. Colonel Ropaus called a halt. He was wonering what had happened when he heard sounds of battle in the direction the hares were running just before. He signaled the Long Patrol to advance, and when the hares came to the source of the sound they found the vermin in combat with some shrews. Colonel Ropaus took this all in at a glance and shouted.
“Long Patrol charge! Eulaliaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!”
The hares fell upon the vermin to aid the shrews who were fighting viciously. But out in front was Gardeb Battleblades, with his two dirks out, roaring and snarling with the lust of battle.
When Vulgaris saw the hares and badger charge into the fray he groaned inwardly and, shouting to the closest group of vermin he said
“Fight your way out o' here! We've gotta git away!”
The vermin started to break through the mass of shrews blocking the way, and once clear, started running to the east in the direction of Redwall Abbey. As soon as Ropuas saw what was happing, the hare colonel urged his troops on as he and some of the hares that were closest to the vermin tried to battle forward and cut them off.
“Come on! Don't let the scum get away back to the Abbey!”
The hares tried their best but they couldn't fight loose of the rest of the vermin, desperately battling for their lives.
As soon as all the vermin left were either dead or wounded, the hare colonel ordered his troops to continue in the pursuit. But the hares were already exhausted from being awakened in the night and fighting and running after the vermin, so Ropaus instead called a halt so his hares could recuperate. Gardeb however, wanted to go after the vermin, so off he ran to the east.
When Colonel Ropaus had made sure all of his hares had been given water and food he joined his other officers who were talking to a small scruffy shrew who was obviously the leader. Ropaus approached and asked Lieutenant Correalia
“Where's Captain Leapscut? Shouldn't he be here?”
Correalia sniffed and looked at the ground
“He was killed back at the ambush sah.”
The colonel closed his eyes and sighed
“Poor Leapscut. He was a brave hare, and a true friend. His memory will forever rest in our souls. But we have some very important matters at hand now.”
He turned to the shrew and asked
“What is your name sah?”
The shrew saluted with his small, thin, rapier as he replied
“Me name is Griffle. I'm the Log-a-log of the Guosim, so you can just call me Log-a-log.”
“Righto Log-a-log, my name is Colonel Gideon E. Ropaus of the Long Patrol of Salamandastron. These other officers are Lieutenant's Correalia and Bruffburry. That is Sergent Thrugton, and we just lost Captain Leapscut when the vermin ambushed us back aways. Oh, and that big badger type was Gardeb Battleblades. He rushed off after the vermin and we're going to follow him soon, have to give the Patrol a rest doncha know, wot.”
Sergent Thrugton spoke next
“This 'ere shrew chap was just tellin' us 'ow he came to be fightin' with those vermin sah.”
Ropaus nodded once more at Log-a-log
“Go on then laddie buck. Tell me your story.”
If anybeast could tell a story it was the beasts of Redwall Abbey- the ones that had survived that is. In total Grickzann and his horde had killed about thirty Abbeybeasts, including Sciria, Ceoen and Abbot Misminn as well as more. The survivors were huddled together watching Grickzann conferring with his newly appointed captains, the weasel Zilver and a rat named Groggle. Of everybeast present there was Ceoen's mole friend Dugber, Friar Gibbo, the cook's helper a molemiad called Florey, the Infirmary keeper a young mousemaid named Astrantia, all of the dibbuns, the mouse gatekeeper Billano, and other various Redwallers. Some were badly bruised, others had just mere scratches. But everybeast agreed that Skipper, had gotten the worst of it. The otter chieftain was covered from head to tail in cuts, gashes, scrapes, and any other kind of puncture wound you could think of. That was along with both eyes being black, a deep gash on his head with blood from it running down his face, a stab in the side, and one footpaw with all of the fur and skin sliced off. But if anybeast could live with all those wounds the captives reasoned, it would have to be Skipper. The tough otter was lying half conscious, with Astrantia leaning over him wrapping up some of his wounds with a few bandages she usually carried around with her. Grickzann the Terrible had finished talking with his captain's. He now came over to the captives and standing before them he shouted
“I, am Grickzann the Terrible, the conquerer of Redwall Abbey, and slayer of enemies. I have chosen to spare your miserable lives choosing to have you be my slaves here. Each day, the cooks shall make me my food, and I shall have others to serve and wait on me. More shall go out into the orchards and pick fruit for me and my horde, and others will fish the pond. Anybeast who does not do what I wish will be locked in your gatehouse without food or water for three days. And anybeast caught being lazy at their job, or dropping or breaking something shall receive thirty lashes and then made to clean everything up. That is my word, and my word is law. Obey, or die! My horde will be watching you to see if you carry out your tasks to my pleasure. Now before your living-death live's begin does anybeast have anything to say?” he asked almost casually.
Billano stood up but was pushed back down into a kneeling position by one of the guards.
“Yes, I do. You are a murdering, cruel, heartless beast, and I would not serve the likes of you not for one day!”
Grickzann sprang forward and dealt the gatekeeper a blow that made him fall back as the wearet shouted into the old mouse's face
“Who gave you permission to say such things!? You shall be the first one whipped as an example to all of the rest of your comrades! You dare say such things to me!”
With great difficulty Skipper sat up, and faced the vermin warlord and looked him straight in the eyes and said
“Listen scum, everything that that mouse said was true, aye and more too. You are not fit to command anybeast in this Abbey!”
The wearet leaned close to the otter, his foul breath blowing in Skipper's face. Grickzann whispered to Skip “You will wish that you had died with the rest of your comrades by the time I am through with you riverdog!”
The otter stared back bravely, unafraid, at least for himself.
“No vermin, I'm glad that I'm alive. Cause with life there's hope. Hope that one day I'll be free, and that I'll slay you one day, and send you to where you belong murderous scum! You can't kill Redwallers spirit's that easily! ”
Grickzann was about to strike the otter but then stopped and then suddenly stood up and walked away. Away from those burning eyes of the otter's.
Zilver stepped forward and rapped out commands
“Right, you eard, the chief. Cooks, ta da kichins. The rest of you head to the orchards and pond. Except you mouse, and you waterdog. You will be flogged and then the riverdog will be put into the gatehouse with no food or water for three days. Now move!” Billano looked at Skipper and grimaced “Well mate, this is it. I hope I see you on the other end of this.”
Skipper smiled at the old mouse gatekeeper and remarked
“O' course we will mate! Like I said it takes more then this to break Redwaller's spirit's!”
The gatehouse keeper smiled back and strode off with the otter, head held high. Skipper smiled outwardly, but inwardly he grimaced too. How much would it be until the Redwaller's spirit's were broken?
Not far off, Grickzann sat staring into space trying to rid himself of the otter's words, and piercing, burning eyes.
“Me and my tribe o' shrew's were on our way to visit the Abbey- we had left our boats hidden back at the River Moss-when we steps into this clearing and finds that about twenty five score vermin come out into the same clearing from the other side. Apparently we were in their way so they charged forward and began to attack us. Naturally we fought back in true Guosim fashion, but they were just to many. It's a good thing you showed up or we might 'ave been done for.”
The Long Patrol was on the march again, along with the Guosim (Guerrilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower), they weren't going at as hard a pace as before, but the officer's kept them going quick enough so that they could catch up with Gardeb. As they marched, Log-a-log Griffle told the Long Patrol officer's how his tribe came to be battling with the vermin the hares had previously encountered. The shrew was wearing a short kilt with a belt round his middle, into which was thrust his rapier. Around his head he wore a bright blue headband. The rest of the shrew's were similarly garbed, except not all with blue headbands. Some carried slings, others bows and arrows.
As soon as Griffle had finished talking, the hare scout named Wethers came loping up and threw a stiff salute to Colonel Ropaus and barked
“Sah. We spotted the Abbey belltower sah. Couldn't find the badger though. End of report sah!”
Ropaus nodded approvingly
“Good show Wethers. Now fall in and get marching.”
Wethers saluted once more and fell in to line along with the other hares and shrews.
Thrugton looked up at the grey sky, just beginning to show the red of dawn light
“The jolly old H'abbey eh, wot. Should be there round mid morn H'I wager.”
Log-a-log looked at the sky briefly then lowering his head back down, trudged on saying
“Aye, and who knows what we'll discover once we get there.”
All the hares that had been slain back at Salamandastron had been tossed out into the sea. All of them floated out to sea-except one. The female hare that was the last to go with General Warpaw was still alive. She crawled ashore and lay down exhausted from having to swim back to land. As soon as she had enough strength, she would go tell Colonel Ropaus of what had happened. But for now she lay on the sand resting, and trying to rid herself of the horrible memories of what had happened.
After Billiano had received his whipping he was sent to work in the orchards. Skipper on the other paw was led off to the gatehouse by six guards under the watchful eye of Zilver. The weasel had come to love the power that had been given him by Grickzann, and he was exercising it all that he could.
“Make sure that you keep a close eye on him, and don't let him escape, or Lord Grickzann shall see you get a worst punishment then him! I have to go now. Lord Grickzann wants to have a special meeting with me. ”
After much struggling and straining the guards finally got the big otter into the gatehouse. As soon as they had exited Skip took a look around the familiar gatehouse that had been a friendly place so long, but now, was his prison. They had blocked up the windows so there was no way of escape there. They had removed just about everything that could be used for escape. So how could he break free?
As The Long Patrol and Guosim came up to the gates of Redwall Abbey, they were met by Gardeb Battleblades.
“I've been observing the ramparts for activity” the badger said to Ropaus, “but I haven't seen anybeast up there. I am sure that Redwall has fallen to the vermin. Otherwise there would probably be something going on right now.”
Ropaus signaled the hares to hide in the underbrush as he replied to the badger
“To bad sah. Looks like the rotters got in just before we got here wot. I say, did you check up with those vermin bounders?”
Gardeb shook his head and said “No afraid not. They had a small head start on me and just got into the Abbey before me. I did get a few of the stragglers though. Now we have to concentrate on getting in.”
“Right sah” Lieutenant Correalia agreed. “We have to recapture Redwall from the blighters.”