From the journal of Sister Churk, Otter recorder of Redwall Abbey.
"Today marks the first day of summer, And what a beautiful day it is! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and everybeast is in a cheery mood, well except brother Marcus. That mouse is never happy. Anyways, the Abbott has planned a large feast in celebration of the new season for this evening. I can't wait to sample all of the delicious dishes that are to be prepared. Uh oh, here comes trouble. My brother's son Garth is climbing the wallsteps towards me. I'll write later, maybe."
Churk shut her book and set it beside her along with her quill and ink just as Garth made it up to the battlements. "Hey Auntie what're ya doin?" He asked.
"I was writing you young rogue. Wow you really need to stop growing Garth. You're taller than I am, and just look at that habit. You're even to tall for that!" Churk said as she noticed that the young otter's habit came up to his knees.
Garth shrugged. "Can't 'elp it. Dad says I still 'ave a few more seasons 'o growth yet."
"Well at least go to the Abbott about a habit that fits. You would want to look nice for the feast tonight and for tomarrow."
"Your seasonday silly. Don't tell me that you've forgotten how old you're going to be as well."
He shook his head. "No, I'm goin to be seventeen seasons."
Churk smiled at her nephew and stood up and put a paw on his shoulder. "I wish I were that young again. Those were good times."
Garth rolled his eyes. "Auntie i'll talk to you later. I 'ave to get back to the kitchens before dad finds out that I left."
Before he could leave Churk stood on tippaw and kissed his cheek. The young otter looked at her with disgust as he wiped a paw across the spot she had kissed. "Auntie! I'm to old for kisses." He said as he began to leave. Churk chuckled.
Tak Warfang sat in his tent sipping wine as he awaited the return of his scouts. He had sent them to look for a better place to move his horde to. Somewhere with plenty of food and drink and plunder. They were currently located on a barren plane with next to nothing to eat. A ferret guard came into the tent and bowed in front of the warlord. "What is it Slatenose?" He asked casually.
"My Lord the scouts have returned."
"Send them in."
The guard saluted the warlord and went to fetch the two scouts. Two weasles came into the tent and bowed to the warlord. "Don't waste time bowwing to me. Speak!"
The first scout a female weasle with dark brown fur went first. "Lord, There's a big forest about five days away from here."
Tak nodded to the second scout, A male weasle named warin. "It 'as lots 'o vittles Lord. Plenny for everybeast. It's nice and cool there too with shady trees."
Tak Warfang liked the sound of this place. "Good work you two. Make sure you get extra rations tonight."
"Yes my Lord." They said in unison.
"Leave me and send Morgran in."
Morgran was a stoat just like the warlord. He was also Tak's second in command. "You wished to see me lord?"
"Yes, I want you to make sure the horde is ready to move. Tomarrow we start our journey to this big forest that Thorn and Warin told me about. I has to be better than this desolate place."
The overweight stoat turned to leave. "Also Morgran, When we get there i'm going to need slaves. It shouldn't be hard to find a few woodlanders."
"Aye lord, those country bumpkins won't know what 'it 'em."
"Leave me Morgran."
He saluted the warlord and left.
Tak Warfang stood up and set his goblet of wine down on a table and went over to the coner of the tent where a golden furred stoat lay asleep. "Stupid child. Always sleeping." he murmurred irritatedly.
He shook her awake and when her eyes opened gave her a swift kick in the tail. "Ouch! What was that for?"
"Don't use that tone with me. Get up! While you were over here snoozin you missed some important information."
The golden furred stoat sat up and crossed her arms over her chest. "Like what?"
"The horde will be moving tomarrow to a big forest that my scouts told me about."
"Anyplace is better than this one. Hey dad are you getting slaves when we arrive in the forest?"
The warlord growled at his daughter. "I told you to adress me as lord! And of course I'm getting slaves. Why do you care anyways?"
"Well, since I am the warlord's daughter I think I should have my own slave."
"Whatever, You can have first pick, but you can only have one."
"Thanks daddy!" she said sweetly.
Tak angrily left the tent before he tried to kill her. Muttering as he went, "Stupid girl...*growl*...Just as stubborn as her mother!"
At the same time a group of gypsies were entering mossflower country. Their cheiftain, A large overweight male otter, was eager to get to their summer camp. It had been a long journey from the north, especially with his family and the others. Enzo Silvermist and his wife had five beautiful daughters. The youngest, Aishe, was still a babe. The twins, Tsura and Drina, were about eight seasons old and as rambunctious as ever. His second daughter, Nadya, was twelve seasons old and was very smart. And Enzo's eldest daughter was sixteen. Mina Silvermist was not only Enzo's eldest she was also the most beautiful and the most trouble. She never listened to her elders or showed any interest in their customs. She often became bored and went out by herself armed with only her twin amber hilted daggers. Mina was very skilled with her weapons and practiced with them daily. But at the time being Mina was sitting in the back of her family's cart, tired of travelling and wishing that they were there already.
As the cartpullers stopped to rest, a muscular dark otter jumped up into the cart and sat beside her. She stared icily at him with her bright electric blue eyes. "Vat do you vant Khaz?" she asked.
"Mina I..." He forgot what he was going to say as he stared at her beautiful face.
"Vell spit it out!" she said impatiently.
Khaz shook his head. "I vanted to ask you if you had reconsidered vat I had asked you."
"My answer is still no. I vill not marry you Khaz. You should just give up."
Khaz stood up. "I vill never give up on you Mina and you know it!"
He left her to rejoin his cart pulling crew. She sighed. That was the third time this week he had asked her. She had been asked by others as well, but she always turned them down. Mina had always been an outcast in her own community. She never bothered to get to know anyone other than their name and purpose to the group.
As the cart began moving again she laid down on her bed of brightly colored rugs and closed her eyes. She could hear her sisters laughing. Mina smiled, she loved her sisters even though they were annoying. Nadya especially. She could hear her father barking orders to the cartpullers and her mother gossiping with the other wives in the gypsy language Romani. Mina knew they were talking about her by the few words that she knew. When she was younger her mother tried to teach her the language, but after Nadya was born became too busy to teach her. "Let's see..umm..bibaxt, that means bad luck. and what else...bori, that was bride. Dilo..what does that mean? Oh duh..fool. Great my mother is calling me a fool for not getting married." She thought.
Mina listened to the gossip for a bit longer than became bored and fell asleep.
"Mina. Vake up sister! Come on Mina!"
Mina Silvermist opened her eyes and saw her sister Nadya sitting beside her. "How long vas I asleep?"
"A vile. ve have stopped for the night."
Mina stretched. "Vat do you vant Nadya?"
"Papa told me to come vake you. He vants to speak to you."
Nadya shrugged. "I don't know. He just told me to get you."
Mina stood up and straightened her skirts. She offered a paw to Nadya and helped her up. "Come Nadya, lets see vat papa vants."
The two young ottermaids almost knocked over their mother, Fiffika, as the rushed out of the cart. "Vere are you goin in such a hurry?" she asked as she tried to calm a startled babe.
"Ve are going to see papa. Do you know vere he is?"
Fiffika nodded. "Your father is over by the Darkriver cart."
"Thank's mama, oh and sorry about vaking Aishe."
The two started off towards where Enzo was speaking to a tall dark otter named Yanoro. Yanoro had jet black fur that glistened in the fading sunlight. His eyes a brilliant pale green. Yanoro was also Khaz's father. Enzo beckoned Mina over, but when he saw Nadya said, "I vish to speak to your sister alone. Leave Nadya."
Nadya nodded and went off. She hid behind the wheel on the next cart over with her ears listening to every word.
Enzo looked his eldest daughter in the eye and said, "Yanoro told me that Khaz had asked you to marry him. Vy didn't you tell me about dis?"
Mina crossed her arms over her chest. "I didn't think it vas of importance. I told him no."
Enzo twisted her ear. "Not of importance! Mina you already disgrace the family name and now you turn down a marriage that could turn your whole reputation around!"
"Yowch! Papa, if you keep twistin my ear it's goin to come off!"
He released her, but didn't stop yelling. "I can see vy you turned down the others, but vy a good varrior like Khaz? Don't you care about a good future? I am sick of your antics! You need to grow up and settle down vith a good mate!"
"But papa I..."
"Do not 'But papa' me girl!"
Mina thumped her rudder on the ground angrily. "I hate you! You never let me explain anyzing!"
With that she stormed off.
Back at her cart Mina grabbed a haversack and filled it with any food and drink she could find and then when it was full threw it over her shoulder. She grabbed her cloak and daggers and ran off into the night through the vast Mossflower woods.
Garth was sweating in the hot kitchens as he worked on a special cake for the feast. As he finished smoothing the icing Friar Rumbol came to stand behind him and inspect the cake. "It looks good Garth. What are you going to do for the border?"
Without looking up from his work Garth replied, "I was going to do two strawberries for every five sugar pearls."
"That sounds great."
Garth smiled up at the Friar. "Thank's dad."
Rumbol ruffled his sons headfur and went to go check on the other kitchen workers. As soon as Rumbol left a young squirrel about the same age as Garth scurried into the kitchens. "Hey Garth." He said.
"Hello Fagan." Garth replied without looking up from his cake.
"Did you ask your dad yet about going into Mossflower by ourselves?"
Garth shook his head. "I havn't had time. We've both been busy preparing for the feast."
"Why don't you just ask your mum?" Fagan asked.
Garth glared at his friend. "Why would I do somethin that stupid? She'd ground me if I asked her."
"Well please find time to ask him. My parents said I can go as long as you can. Well I have to go help hang lanterns. See ya Garth!"
Fagan left, but not without stealing a few sugar pearls from the bowl first. Garth smiled at his friend. What was he going to do with that silly squirrel?
Garth finished his cake and put it on a high shelf out of reach of the dibbuns. Then he went to see the Friar. "Is there anything else I need to do?" He asked.
Friar Rumbol scratched his whiskers thoughtfully. "I think everythings been done so you're free to go."
"Thank you sir!"
Rumbol smiled as he watched his son run off. "Where is he off to in such a hurry?"
The Friar looked down and saw a middle seasoned mousewife standing next to him. "Huh, Oh Clementine I didn't see you there. That boy is probably off to meet that friend of his. The pretty ottermaid Clove."
Garth and Clove were playing hide and seek in the orchard. Garth was hiding up in the branches of a peach tree. He had to stifle a laugh as he watched his friend walk aimlessly around below him. She would never find him up here! He decided to take a short nap.
Clove's voice startled him and he almost fell off of the branch he was perched on. She sat across from him on another branch. "You shouldn't wake sleepin beasts like that." he said.
"You shouldn't 'ave been sleepin during a game."
Garth began climbing down with Clove following him a few feet apart. When he reached the ground he called up to her. "Come on slow poke! I ain't goin to be late to the feast because of you!"
"Shut up. Ahhhhh!"
Suddenly the branch she was holding onto snapped and she fell down right on top of Garth. He made an "Umph" sound as his back hit the ground and the wind was knocked from his lungs. As he regained his breath he saw that Clove was laying on top of him and she was laughing. Her big Hazel eyes sparkling. Garth smiled up at her and put his arms around her. Clove's laughter faded as she lay her head on his chest. "So, does that cake you made look good?" She asked.
"Yeah, You can have the first piece if you want."
"I'd love that!"
Garth picked up a fallen peach blossom and put it gently behind her ear. Clove smiled softly and got up. Shaking dirt off of her habit. She extended her paw to Garth and helped him up. "Race ya back to the abbey building!" Clove challenged him.
The two raced off towards the abbey.
Later that night the feast began. Garth was wearing the official white button up shirt with the other kitchen helpers as he helped serve the other Redwallers at the feast. He was setting his cake on a trolley when a few of the strawberries fell out of place. He groaned. The heat from the kitchens must've affected the icing that held them in place. Garth carefully pushed them back into place with one of his claws. When he had fixed his culinary masterpeice he began rolling it out to Great Hall for all to see.
Heads turned to see the young otter and the highly anticipated dessert. He saw Clove smiling at him. He smiled back. But while he was smiling at her the young otter didn't notice the large break in the floorstone. Garth tripped and the cart toppled over. The cake that he had so painstakingly worked on all day crashed to the floor right in front of his face. There was much laughter from the Redwallers. Garth felt tears welling up in his eyes. He pushed himself up and ran all the way up to his room, feeling awful and humiliated.
Once in his room he slammed the door shut and flopped down onto the bed. Tears streaming freely down his face. He heard the door creak open and saw his mother, Clove, and Fagan come in. "Go away!" he yelled at them.
His mother, Palla, sat down beside him and put a paw comfortingly on his shoulder. "Garth, it was an accident. It could've happened to anybeast."
He sat up and glared at her. "No mum it couldn't."
She sighed. "I'll leave you with your friends."
Palla left the room and shut the door behind her. Clove took her spot and sat beside the young otter. She took his paw in hers. "It's alright Garth. It was only a cake."
"Yeah, I bet you could make a hundred more even better than that one." Said Fagan.
"That's not the point. My dad is probably so ashamed of me. I'm an embarrassment to my family."
"You are not an embarrassment. Your father looked more worried than anything." Clove said. "He didn't care about the cake. He was worried about you."
Garth put an arm around the ottermaid. "Fagan,"
The squirrel looked up at his friend. "What?"
"We're leaving tonight." replied Garth.
"To Mossflower woods. Get your things and meet me by the west wicker gate in one hour."
Fagan nodded and smiled mischeiviously. "See ya there riverdog."
Fagan left. Clove looked at Garth confused. "Where are you going?"
The young otter shrugged. "On an adventure I guess."
"I want to come too!"
Garth shook his head. "No, you need to stay here."
She crossed her arms over her chest defiantly. "It's because i'm a girl isn't it? Well fine! If you wont let me go i'll just go tell your mum about this."
"Alright you can come just keep quiet about this!"
She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. Garth felt his face get hot and quickly turned away from her.
"See you in an hour Garth!" she called as she left.
Tak Warfang and his horde were on the move. It was very late at night and many of the vermin grumbled and whined, but not loud enough for the warlord to hear. They were secretly grateful to be moving in the coolness of night instead of the swealtering heat of the summer day. Kita, Tak's daughter, complained openly to her father. "I'm so tired! Can we stop for a bit? I really would like a bite to eat. My stomach is growling a lot. My footpaws hurt. I think I stepped on a sharp stone back there..."
"Will you shut up!" bellowed the warlord. "If I hear one more complaint I swear i'll cut out your tongue and shove it down your throat!"
Kita gulped visibly and shrank away from her deadly father.
Back at Redwall...
The three friends met by the west wicker gate. Each had a full haversack and were armed with some sort of weapon. Fagan had a bow and a quiver full of yellow fletched arrows. Clove had a sling tied around her slim waist along with a pouch of stones. Garth had his father's javelin. He unlocked the gate and the three of them quietly passed through. Garth shut it carefully and said, "Alright, lets go."
The friends went a while in the woods and once they were far enough away from the abbey Garth lit the lantern Clove had brought with her. Once lit he gave it back to her to carry. They went alongside the path through the trees. There was no moon tonight so they were well hidden among the shadows except for the lantern light. When they came to a small clearing Garth called for them to stop. "Lets make camp here. Tomarrow we will continue our journey."
They spread their cloaks on the ground as makeshift blankets. Fagan was soon asleep and Clove was close behind. Garth however was far from sleep. He lie looking up at the star studded sky. The young otter felt horrible leaving his mother and father without telling them. Clove's mother was probably distrought in finding her gone. Oh well, whats done is done. He rolled over onto his side and looked at Clove. She was fast asleep and breathing softly. 'She's even pretty asleep.' Thought Garth. The young otter knew he wasn't completely in love with her. She was just too much like a sister to him. He sighed. Garth's pale violet eyes closed as he let sleep finally take over.
Mina Silvermist began to tire and slumped against a large oak tree. She stood there for a moment to catch her breath and dug through her haversack for something to drink. She pulled out a flask of strawberry cordial. The young ottermaid to a deep drink and wiped her mouth with the back of her paw. Suddenly there was a rustling in the bushes behind her. Mina set down her haversack and drew her daggers from the silk sash around her waist. She was ready for whatever it was. There was rustling and a loud "Ouch!" Mina lowered her weapons. She knew that voice. A second later Nadya came stumbling out of the bushes covered from head to rudder in dirt and burrs. "Nadya? Vat are you doing here?"
Nadya sat down completely exhausted. "Vell, I heard everyzing zat papa said to you. I didn't vant zat to happen to me so I followed you. Yeesh Mina. You run faster than a ferret vith his tail on fire!"
Mina put away her weapons and sat beside her sister. She pushed the haversack in front of her. "Here eat vat you like."
Nadya ate and drank her fill and was starting to drift off to sleep. Mina wrapped her cloak around the ottermaid and let her fall asleep in her lap. She tried to smooth Nadya's unruly headfur but her paw came in contact with a sharp burr. She pulled her paw away and being more cautious began pulling the burrs out of her sisters fur.
Friar Rumbol went up to Garths room and knocked on the door. When he received no answer he pushed the door open to find the room empty. The bed was made and there was a peice of parchment atop the pillow. Rumbol picked up the parchment and read the note that was scrawled on it. His eyes went wide and he hurried out of the room and down to Cavern Hole. There he found his wife sitting in an overstuffed armchair reading a book. "Palla! Palla, Garth is gone!"
She looked confused up at him. "What?"
He gave her the parchment. "I found this in his room."
She read it and a worried look crossed her face. "Rumbol, It says Clove and Fagan are with him! We need to tell their parents."
The friar nodded. "I'll go find Ashton and Maple. You go find Sonya."
Palla got up to go find Clove's mother. They all met back at Cavern Hole and Rumbol was the bearer of bad news. "My friends, our children have gone off into Mossflower without our knowing."
Clove's mother, Sonya, gasped and grabbed Rumbol by his shirtfront. "Are you sure?" He nodded. Sonya let go of him and broke down into sobs. "Oh, my baby Clove! I've already lost Riverstorm, I can't lose her too!"
Palla , who was much calmer, pulled her into an embrace and let Sonya cry on her shoulder. She looked over at Fagan's mother. "Maple, aren't you worried about your son?"
"Of course I am, but I remember doing the same thing when I was his age. I think he can handle himself out there."
Ashton was conversing with Rumbol. "Why would they do something like this friar? And on the night of the feast too!"
Rumbol shook his head. "I don't know, but if anything happens to Garth I don't know what Palla and I would do. He's our only child. Poor Sonya. Clove was the only family she had left."
Ashton nodded. "Fagan is our eldest and our only son. I hope he'll be back soon. Oh this is going to be hard to explain to the twins."
"Our wives are a lot calmer than I thought they would be. Only Sonya is crying."
"I noticed that. Well goodnight Rumbol."
Ashton and Maple left. Sonya pulled away from Palla and wiped her eyes, said goodnight and went to the dormitories where she cried herself to sleep. Rumbol put his arm around Palla and together they climbed the stairs to their room. They changed into their pajamas and crawled into bed. Rumbol blew out the lantern and they laid there in silence. He touched Palla's cheek and it was wet. She was crying. He pulled his wife close and she began sobbing. "Oh, Rumbol I can't beleive Garth would do something like this! I'm so worried, He's my only baby."
"I know, but we must hope that he returns safely. I remember being his age, always wanting to explore and have adventures."
Palla wiped a paw across her eyes. "Yeah I remember too. That's when I met you."
Rumbol smiled and kissed her head. "Get some rest."
The next three days for Garth and his friends were spent marching. They had finally made it to the ford where they cooled their footpaws in the water. "Ah, this is the life guys." said Fagan.
Garth nodded in agreement. "Aye. I think we should eat lunch now."
The others agreed and Clove began dealing out rations. "Is this really all we get?" asked Fagan.
Clove put her paws on her hips. "Yes it is. This is the last of the food that we brought with us. So that means we'll have to go foraging later if we want dinner."
Fagan groaned. They ate their lunch and were soon on their way once again.
Tak Warfang and his horde made it to Mossflower in record tim. While camp was being set up the warlord called Morgran over to him. "Yes my lord?"
"I need you to take Thorn and a score with you to find some slaves. Don't come back without good slaves or i'll have your head. Unnerstand?"
"Yes lord." The overweight stoat scurried off to gather his crew.
Tak watched as they left.
Later that day somewhere in Mossflower...
Mina and her sister, Nadya, were walking in the forest when Mina stopped suddenly. "Vat is it Mina?" asked Nadya.
"Somebeast is coming. Hide now!"
Mina Silvermist pushed her younger sister into the bushes just as a score of vermin came out of the trees in front of her. The vermin formed a ring around the ottermaid. Mina drew her daggers and growled, "Vat do you Vant vermin?"
A large stoat laughed. "Vat do I vant ye say? I want you me beauty!"
"So you are slavers zen. Just try to put a dirty paw on me."
Suddenly a blade was at the young maid's throat. "Drop your weapons gypsy or you'll feel my blade."
Mina dropped her daggers. The female weasle kept a tight grip on her arm, her grimy claws digging into Mina's flesh. She bit the weasles paw and latched onto it with her sharp teeth. The weasle screamed and tried to shake the otter off,but the maid just bit down harder. Then a male ferret came up and punched Mina in the jaw, forcing her to release the weasles paw. She charged the ferret, but he saw what she was going to do and brought the butt of his spear down on her head. Mina was instantly knocked out. Morgran nudged the limp otter with his footpaw. "Tie her up and carry her. This one will make a fine slave for lord Warfang."
Mina's brass bangles jingled as they half carried half dragged her back to the other slaves they had gathered.
Nadya felt hot tears stream down her face. She couldn't beleive that they took her sister. Once she was sure they were gone Nadya stood and shouldered the haversack. She picked up Mina's fallen daggers and put them in her belt. Then she ran like she had never ran before. Nadya had to find help. She needed to find help fast! Mina's life depended upon it.
Garth and his friends sat around the fire. Garth had gotten stuck with the duty of cooking because he had the most experience. His father was the friar after all. He sat stirring a pot of hotroot soup whie Clove rearranged the rest of the provisions. Suddenly there was a rustling sound behind them. Garth picked up his javelin and stood up. "Who's there? Show yourself."
What happened next surprised them all. Instead of a vermin like they had expected, a young ottermaid stepped out from the shadows. "Please don't hurt me." she squeaked.
Garth lowered his weapon. "Who are you?"
Clove elbowed him. "Don't be rude. Come young un. We won't hurt you."
The young ottermaid walked over and sat down beside the fire. Clove filled a bowl with hotroot soup for her. The young ottermaid took it, but didn't make an attempt to eat it. Garth sat back down and looked at the young maid. Her dark eyes were filled with sadness and pain. "What's your name?"He asked.
"Nadya, Nadya Silvermist. I'm a gypsy. I ran avay vith my sister a few days ago."
"Where is your sister? Shouldn't she be with you?" asked Fagan.
Nadya broke down in tears and Clove pulled her close. "Don't cry everything will be alright." she murmured.
"Y..you d..don't understand!" Nadya sobbed. "Sh..she vas t..taken by vermin!"
Clove looked up at Garth. 'What are we going to do?' she mouthed.
"Well I guess we'll just have to get her back." said Garth.
Nadya pulled away from Clove and looked at the male otter. "You vould really do zat for me?"
He nodded. "Do you know where they took her?"
Nadya shook her head. "Probably back to their camp."
"What is your sister's name and what does she look like?" asked Fagan.
"Her name is Mina. She is a bit taller zan me vith dark fur and a creamy underbelly. Her eyes are a bright blue. Mina is vearing a vite blouse that is cut short so her belly shows. Her skirt is a dark pink vith a purple shawl tied around her vaist. There is a pale rose bandana on her head and she has brass hoop ear rings and lots of bangles."
"She must like to wear jewelry." said Clove.
"No, she just likes to be noticed. And most gypsies vear a lot of jewery for tradition." said Nadya.
Garth sat staring off into the distance.This Mina sounded like a strange creature, but she also sounded beautiful.He had to find her. He had left Redwall looking for an adventure and the adventure had found them. Garth and his friends were going to save the gypsy ottermaid Mina Silvermist. Unfortunatley they had no idea of what trouble they were up against.
Mina Silvermist awoke with a pounding head. She instinctivly tried to touch her head, but her arms were bound tight by the rope around her torso. The tree she was tied to was rough and hurt her back. She tried to pull free of the ropes, but it was no use. Next she tried to bite at the ropes with her sharp teeth, but the ropes were too far away from her mouth. Mina gave up and let her head droop onto her chest. How was she going to get out of here? The ottermaid heard someone coming and looked up. Two stoats and a ferret were coming her way. "Untie 'er and bring her over with the others." commanded one of the stoats.
Mina bared her teeth at the vermin and the ferret backed away from her. "Come 'elp me scardytail. She ain't gonna do anythin."
The ferret nervously came forward and helped the other stoat untie the otter. Mina saw her chance. As soon as they removed the rope she lept up and took off running. The ferret and stoat stood in shock. "Don't just stand there! Get her!" roared Morgran.
The two vermin raced after the escaping ottermaid. Some other horde members heard the commotion and ran to assist their comrades. Mina knew the vermin were hard on her tail and she needed to distract them. The way in front of her was blocked by a few barrels inbetween two tents. 'Perfect' she thought. The young ottermaid leapt onto the barrels and landed on the other side of them. She leaned into them with all of her weight and they toppled over, rolling into the vermin and causing them to fall. She smirked at her quick thinking and turned around right into a hulking rat. Mina gulped. The rat grabbed her and twisted her arms around to pin them against her back. She whimpered in pain. The rat forced her to move towards the center of the camp where more woodlanders were chained together. The rat didn't chain her to the rest, but had her paws bound tight by a weasle. Mina struggled against her bonds even though she knew it was useless. A ferret came out of the tent in front of them and said, "Bow down before the mighty Tak Warfang!"
A tall muscular stoat came out of the tent followed by a smaller golden furred stoat. All of the slaves and hordebeasts bowed except for Mina. She stood with her head held high and her feirce eyes staring right at the warlord. He walked over to her and grabbed her neck. "You are a stubborn one I see. Quite the rare beauty too. It's too bad that you wont look like this when i'm through with you." He said.
Mina spat in his face. The warlord stepped away from her and wiped his face. "Why you little wretch! I'll skin ye alive for that!"
"Go ahead." she growled.
Tak looked away from her angry gaze. "I would, but you are of too much use to me. You are stronger than you look."
Kita pulled at her father's cloak. "Can I choose my slave now?"
"Yes, but that ottermaid is not an option."
"Hmph. That's the one I wanted. I'll just wait until you get some more." Kita stormed off into the tent.
Tak assigned the slaves different jobs and left several vermin in charge of each group. He came to Mina last. He gave her a disgusted look. "There are many ways of breaking a slave my dear." He turned to a bulky weasle, "Take this one and give her twenty lashes. Then tie her up and give her no food or water for two days."
The weasle had Mina's paws bound around a tree so that her back was facing him. The young maid's eyes filled with fear as he raised the whip. Mina squeezed her eyes shut and clenched her teeth, preparing for her punishment. Nothing happened. She opened one eye to see what was going on. The weasle just stood there dumbly, Then a female weasle came up to him. "Why aren't ye doin your duty?"
"I can't do it Thorn. It don't feel right hurtin a maid."
"Well if you won't do it I will. Look what she did to me paw!" Thorn held up a bandaged paw. "Bit me she did. Give me that whip!"
Thorn snatched the whip from the male weasle and raised it. "This is for me fightin paw you wretch!"
The whip struck Mina's back and she cried out in agony. Thorn grinned wickedly. The female weasle brought it down on her back again and again, each time a new gash would open. Tears streaked the maid's face as the pain got more and more unbearable. Mina could feel her own blood soaking her clothes and fur. After about fifteen lashes her vision started to become cloudy. Soon everything went black...
Mina was awakened by a bucket of icy water being thrown on her. She gasped and tried to sit up, but her back burned with pain. She lay on the ground with her footpaws shackled to a post on the edge of camp. Her forepaws were chained, but she was still able to move them. Mina reached to touch her back and winced. Her paw came away bloody. The ottermaid began sobbing as she lay there helplessly in the dirt. What had she done to deserve this? Her father had been right. She should have just married Khaz and lived a boring life. It would have been much better than this.
Garth and his friends were trekking through Mossflower. Garth leading the way with a weary Nadya on his back. Clove was right behind him with Fagan bringing up the rear. "Do you think we're close Nadya?" asked Garth.
"Yes, not much further now."
After another five minutes of walking Garth began to hear music. He picked up his pace. Soon the place they were seeking was visible through the trees. The gypsy camp was in a large clearing with the carts arranged into a circle. In the center of the camp was a large fire with females around it cooking food for everybeast. "Garth, let me go first. My kind don't like strangers."
Nadya jumped down from his back and began walking into camp. Heads turned to look at her and a large female otterwife ran and scooped her into her arms. "Oh Nadya, You had me vorried sick! Vere is Mina?"
Nadya looked away from her mother. "Mina vas taken by a bunch of vermin."
Fiffika gasped. "My baby Mina! Oh how vill ve get her back?"
"Mamma, I did bring some friends who are villing to help. Garth, Come out now."
Garth and his friends stepped out of the trees and into view. A few other gypsies who saw them pawwed their weapons. Fiffika ignored them and went right up to the three. "Vat are your names?" she asked.
Garth stepped forward. "I am Garth Swiftcurrent. These are my friends, Clove Streampaw, and Fagan Treejumper. All of us are willing to save your daughter."
Nadya's mother pulled the young otter into a hug. "Oh zank you! zank you!"
Garth felt the air being sqeezed from his lungs. When the large ottermum released him he gasped for breath. "I'm Fiffika Silvermist. please come vith me, my husband vill vant to speak vith you."
They followed Fiffika over to an ornately decorated cart. It was painted a deep blue with silver swirls. The doorway was covered with a long piece of blue fabric with silver stars sewn into it. "Ztay here." said the ottermum as she began climbing up the steps and dissapeared behind the fabric.
Garth could hear muffled voices inside the cart and it sounded like they were speaking in another language. Soon Fiffika came out followed by two little ottermaids and had a baby in her arms. "The cheiftain vill see you now."
Garth climbed up the steps and pulled back the blue curtain. The cart was much larger inside than he had thought it would be. Along the sides were several piles of rugs that probably served as beds. Each bed had a shelf above it. Most of the shelves were full of shiny trinkets or extra clothes. In the center of the cart was a low table surrounded by multicolored cushions. On one of the cushions sat a large male otter. He was tall and had a beard and a rotund belly. His green eyes watched them suspiciously. "Vell are you going to sit down?" he asked in a gruff voice.
The three friends quickly sat down on the cusions accross from the large otter. "My vife says zat you three vish to save my eldest daughter."
Garth nodded. "Yes sir. We were told that she was taken by vermin."
"I've heard. Vat I believe is zat you are...."
A tall black furred otter burst into the cart. "Enzo you vished to see me?"
"Sit down Khaz."
The black otter sat beside Clove. "Now as I vas saying,I believe zat you are vasting your time trying to get her back. This vould be a good lesson for her. And you vould be greatly outnumbered by a horde of vermin."
Garth and Khaz stood up at the same time, both enraged. "Don't you care about her at all! What kind of father wouldn't care about his daughter and her safety?" roared Garth.
"Ve can't just let the vermin have her! I vill not let my future bride be tortured or even killed by those filthy beings!" boomed Khaz.
"Sit down both of you! I vas not finished speaking!" said Enzo angrily.
The two young males sat back down reluctantly. "You may go after her for I vont stop you. I just vont be joining you. I have a tribe and four other daughters to vorry about. Khaz, If you save her do not provoke her or even talk to her about marriage. Bring her back here first. As for the rest of you good luck in finding her. You all may leave now."
Khaz was the first to leave followed by clove and Fagan. Garth stayed. "Cheiftain Silvermist, what causes you to hate your daughter?"
"I do not hate her. She just causes me lots of trouble. After the twins vere born she vasn't the center of attention anymore and she decided to take matters into her own paws. Mina vanted to be noticed. She began vearing bright colors and shirts zat showed more fur than I approved of. She also began going out on her own, only returning ven she vanted to be fed. She stopped obeying her elders and lost interest in our customs. Mina never learned Romani or how to read or write or cook. She vas too busy destroying our family's reputation."
"I wish I could say that I know how she feels, but I don't. I come from Redwall Abbey. I am an only child and the son of a cook. My mother works in the infirmary and made me learn to read, write, and heal wounds."
Enzo looked Garth in the eye. "I can tell zat you are a smart one. vat is your name?"
"Garth Alin Swiftcurrent." he replied.
"That's a good name. I hope my daughter takes a liking to you because I know I have. I admire the vay you stood up to me. Not many creatures dare to do such a thing. I see potential for a varrior in you Garth."
"Thank you sir."
"Also vere is dis Redwall place? I would like to move my tribe there. Is it big enough for about two score gypsies?"
"yes sir. I'm sure the Redwallers will welcome you with open arms And I hope your tribe likes to eat. My father is the best cook in all of Mossflower."
Enzo laughed. "Hohohoho! I'm sure he is young un. Now vy don't you go find your friends. I vill have provisions made for you."
Garth stood up to leave. "Vait a minute I have something for you."
Enzo silvermist got up and went over to a shelf above one of the beds. He took a bundle of clothes and gave it to Garth. He stared at the brightly colored fabric. "Give these to Mina. I'm sure she'd appreciate it."
Garth nodded and put the clothes into his haversack. He left the cart and went to find his friends.
The young otter found Clove and Fagan talking to the black furred otter. Clove saw him coming and ran over to him and grabbed his paws. "Garth, That otter says that he wants to join our roup and save Mina! Isn't that wonderful?"
Garth shrugged his shoulders. "Fine with me, but what was his name again?"
"His name is Khaz Darkriver. Says he's a warrior."
"That's an odd name." said Garth.
"So is yours. Come on you should meet him." Clove said as she pulled her friend over to where Khaz was.
Khaz looked at the other male otter. Then to Clove's paws intertwined in Garth's, Then back up at Garth. "Are you two mates?" he asked.
Garth shook his head and laughed. "No, we're just friends. So when do you want to leave to save Mina?"
Khaz's midnight dark eyes became serious. "Tonight if at all possible. The darkness will hide us from any vermin."
"Alright tonight it is."
When the sun set Garth and his group set out into the vast mossflower woods. Fagan took to the trees and said he'd report if he saw anything like a vermin camp. They travelled west all night and when the sun began to rise the three otters stopped to rest. Clove's eyes were beginning to droop as she yawned for the millionth time. Eventually she fell asleep and let her head rest on Khaz's shoulder. The dark otter sighed and said, "Ven is your squirrel friend coming back?"
Garth shrugged. "He should be back soon. I hope."
Just as he finished his sentence there was a rustling in the tree canopy above them. The two looked up and saw fagan climbing down from the tree. "Did you find anything?" asked Garth.
"Sure did. A few miles north of here is a large vermin camp right on the fringes of Mossflower and guess who I saw!"
"I saw our missing ottermaid. Not in very good shape though. She was chained to a post and was either sleeping or unconscious. Poor thing was covered in blood and dirt."
"That's awful! We need to get her out of there!"
"I agree." said Khaz. "Vat are the guard positions?"
"Alright there are guards everywhere, but only two in her area. The rest were on the other side of the camp drinking and fighting. If we could manage to get rid of those two guards without causing too much commotion one of us will have to go for the maid. If they do notice us we will have to create a diversion so the one getting Mina out of there can get as far away as possible with her. We can always regroup later."
"I like dis plan. Vat about you Garth?"
"It sounds risky, but what other choice do we have? Since Clove and Fagan are fast i'd send them in to distract along with you Khaz. You're a lot stronger than I am and that is an advantage. I'll get Mina and take her to a well hidden spot. You three should run and hide after I leave as well because the vermin will no doubt try and pursue us. When they give up we will regroup at Redwall Abbey."
They all agreed and then woke Clove up to tell her the plan. She also agreed. Tonight under the cover of darkness they would free Mina Silvermist.
Darkness fell over the vermin camp and Tak Warfang was in his tent making battle plans. Suddenly Slatenose entered and went un to the warlord. "M'lord, the scout, Warin, has returned. He said that to the south and west is a big red fortress! He says that it's full 'o woodlanders in funny clothes. There's probably lots of vittles and treasure in there."
"A fortress ye say! Well we'll just 'ave to pay those woodlanders a visit eh.Good report Slatenose."
The ferret guard bowed and left. Tak grabbed a new piece of parchment and began making plans to attack Redwall Abbey!
On the other side of camp Mina Silvermist was awake. She sat up and was playing with the chains that bound her paws. she sighed and plucked a piece of grass to chew on. Her stomach grumbled loudly and her throat longed for moisture. She was wondering how she would ever get out of there when she heard something behind her. She turned around and stared at the bushes. Suddenly she was forced to duck as two stones flew over her head and simotaniously knocked out both of the guards that were in charge of her. Mina pushed herself up and looked around franticly. Who had thrown those stones? she thought.
"Miss Silvermist we've come to rescue you." a voice behind her whispered.
Mina spun around and saw a tall male otter standing behind her. She opened her mouth to scream, but his paw quickly covered her mouth to stifle any noise. She looked the stranger up and down. He wore a strange green robe that was tied around his middle with a piece of long cord. There were sandals on his paws, but the weirdest thing about him was his eyes. She was instantly drawn to them like a bee to honey. His eyes were a delicate pale violet. Mina was too busy staring into those eyes to notice that he had unchained her. What brought her back to reality was the sound of a hordebeast yelling, "Look! A slave is escapin! She's escapin!"
Soon a score of vermin were coming their way. "Uh oh, Time to go Miss" said the stranger.
Garth threw Mina over his shoulder and started running for their lives. Mina could see the vermin gaining on them with their weapons waving wildly. She pounded on the tall otters back and yelled, "Run faster! They're gainin on us!"
Garth put on an extra burst of speed and left the vermin in the dust. Back at the camp his friends were causing a distraction so they would have enough time to get away. He hoped that they would'nt get themselves captured or hurt. They were soon a good half mile out of the vermin camp when his worries were pushed aside as the ottermaid hit him with her rudder. "Put me down! I can run on my own! Put me down!"
"I will when we get farther away now be quiet!"
"No one tells me to be quiet! I don't even know who you are, vy should I trust you? Vat is your name?"
"There's no time for introductions! Now will you please shut up!"
Mina growled, but held her tongue. Whoever this stranger is, she thought, I'm going to make his life miserable. They ran blindly through the darkness of Mossflower. About a mile outside of the camp garth began to slow to a trot. Mina yelped in pain as her strange rescuer almost tripped. "Sorry." he said.
The young maid's back stung as she felt her wounds reopening. "Can ve please stop? I think my back is getting vorse!"
Garth slowed to a stop and lowered her down to the ground. Mina swayed on her paws as her head became dizzy. She had forgotten how weak she was during that sudden burst of adrenelin. She began to fall forward,but Garth cought her and lifted her into his arms. A few tears slipped down her face. "Are ve safe?" she asked quietly.
"Yes. You are safe now."
Mina smiled and let herself drift into the dark realm of unconsciousness.
At Redwall Abbey.....
An otterwife in her mid-seasons was strolling along the walltop with only the moon as a source of light. She stopped above the main gates and leaned against the parapets overlooking the path. She sighed and pulled a small flower out of the sleeve of her habit. It was a violet, its petals seemed to glow in the pale moonlight. A tear fell from the otter's brown eyes and onto the flower. The otterwife's son had given her the tiny blossom when they were out gathering herbs for the infirmary. His words still echoed in her head as she recalled the memory. "Hey mum I have a gift for you!"
"Hmm..What is it Garth?" she asked as she finished picking dock leaves.
"It's a violet! The first one of spring! You can always remember me by it you know."
"It matches my eyes." He said happily.
Since that day Palla had kept the flower in her habit sleeve as a reminder of her son. Never had she thought that he would be gone from her. Now that tiny flower was all she had left of Garth.
The otterwife looked up suddenly as she heard a rumbling down on the path below. There in front of the Abbey were several carts with what looked like woodlanders following beside them. There was a pounding on the gate. "Hello is anybeast there?" Ve vould like to enter the Abbey!" a gruff voice bellowed.
What a strange accent thought Palla. "Who are you and what do you want here at Redwall?" She called down.
"I told you zat ve vish to enter! Ve are voodland gypsies and ve mean no harm. Vill you let us in?"
"Will you please wait a moment while I get our Abbott? I will be quick I promise!"
No answer. Palla ran down the wallsteps towards the Abbey building. She rushed through Cavern Hole and up the great staircase to Great Hall. She was heading towards the dormitory steps when somebeast caught her paw. She looked over her shoulder and saw Rumbol. "Where are you going in such a hurry love?" he asked while pulling her into his arms.
"I was going to get Father Abbott. There are travellers at the gate."
Friar Rumbol ignored her reply and wiped a stray tear from her eye. "You were thinking of Garth again. I know that he will come back. He'll come through those gates smiling I just know it."
Palla kissed him softly. "I know, I just can't help worrying. Will you go see if those travelers are still there? I'm going to get the Abbott."
"No need to fetch me Miss Palla. Martin came to me and woke me." said the Father Abbott of Redwall as he came down the dormitory stairs.
The abbott was an old gray mouse with a laid back attitude. "Come children, let's go meet these travellers."
He also referred to everyone in Redwall as his child no matter how old or what species they were. He went up to the walltops with Palla and Rumbol. "Hello friends, How may we at Redwall be of service to you?"The old mouse called down to them.
"Ve vish to enter your Abbey kind sir. My tribe is veary from travel and ve seek shelter from the many threats of the voodlands."
Abbott Alfred looked up at Rumbol. "Good enough for me. Go let the poor creatures inside."
Friar Rumbol went down to the groung and opened the gate for the gypsies. They brought their carts in single file and parked them over by the abbey pond. The old Abbott held onto Palla's arm as he walked down the wallsteps. They then ventured over to the gypsie cheiftain. The two shook paws and introduced each other. "Enzo if your creatures are hungry I can have our Friar whip up a quick meal." offered the Abbott.
Enzo declined. "No zank you Father, They've eaten and the babes vere just put to sleep. but i'd have breakfast ready in the morning. My tribe is full of early risers."
Palla nudged her husband. "Hear that darling. You'll have to get up early."
Rumbol groaned. He was known for sleeping late and it aggrivated the Redwallers at times. "Well, I'll leave you to get some rest. As should we. Good night Cheiftain Silvermist."The three Redwallers went back up to their beds and quickly fell asleep.
Mina Silvermist awoke to the smell of food. She opened her eyes and saw that she was in a cave and a small fire was lit a few feet away with a pot of something bubbling over it. Mina sat up and saw the tall male otter from before sitting on the other side of the fire using a flat stone as a cutting board as he chopped vegitables and threw them in the pot. He looked over at her, his eyes sparkling in the firelight. "I'm glad to see you awake. I'm sorry I couldn't do more for your wounds, but at least the bleeding has stopped." He said.
"Food." she said hoarsly as her stomach moaned.
"It's almost ready. Here." The strange otter handed her a flask of water and she drank it greedily.
"Woa..slow down! You'll make yourself sick if you drink that fast. Anyways I'm Garth."
"I'm Mina Silvermist."
"I know. Your sister sent my friends and I to come rescue you." Garth stirred the contents of the pot, tasted it, then ladeled some into two bowls. He gave Mina hers and she began eating quickly. Garth smiled as she finished her bowl in seconds. "This is good. Can I have more?"
He nodded and refilled her bowl. She had two more bowls before she was finished. Mina sighed contentedly and said, "You are a very good cook. I don't even think my mother can make soup zat vonderful."
"Thank you. How are those bandages holding up?"
"Bandages?" Mina looked down and saw that her entire upper torso was wrapped in gauzy bandages. "You mean you...Vere is my shirt?"
"I burned it. The back was shredded and it was soaked with dried blood. Besides those bandages are covering you."
Mina glared daggers at him. Her icy blue eyes felt like they were burning into him and a shiver went down the young otter's spine."I only saw your back. Honest. On me afidavit I swear!"
The ottermaid got up and went around the fire to sit by Garth. She punched his shoulder. "Ouch!"
"Zat vas for peekin. Now do you have anything zat I can vear?"
Garth had almost forgotten! He grabbed his haversack and dug through it. At the bottom he found the bundle of clothes that Enzo had given him. He pulled them out and handed them to Mina. "Here, your father told me to bring these for you."
Mina looked down at the bright fabric and absentmindedly ran a paw over the bundle of clothes. "I didn't know my father cared zat much about me. He's alvays yelling at me and pointing out everyzing zat I do wrong."
"When I was talking to your father he said that he loved you even though you cause him trouble. He was even worried about you. I think he admires your rebellious spirit. And besides your his daughter, he can't hate you."
She smiled. "I guess you are right. I alvays thought he vas to busy vith my sisters to care about me."
"May I ask you something?"
Mina nodded. "At the gypsy camp our group joined up with another otter. I believe his name was Khaz. He said that you were going to be his bride."
Mina snorted in the most unladylike fashion. "Hah, Khaz is such a liar. I vould never marry him. Vy do you care?"
"I was just wondering thats all."
"Oh." Mina yawned. She lay down on the stone floor of the cave and closed her eyes. Garth watched her chest rise and fall as she breathed steadily in her sleep. She was a pretty creature with her perfect almond shaped eyes and her cute nose.Garth shook his head. Oh what was he thinking? There was no way that someone like her would ever want to be with him. He was just a simple kitchen boy that baked pastries for a living. Surely she deserved better than that. Right? Garth poked the fire with a stick and watched the orange glowing embers dance in the air. "Oh, Martin. I bet you never had problems with girls. You were a warrior, fearless and loved by everyone. I hope you can hear me Martin." Garth whispered. He sighed and kicked some dirt over the fire to extinguish it. The young otter lay down on the floor of the cave a short ways away from Mina. He saw that she was shivering and sat up to grab his cloak. He laid the thick cloak over her and lay back down and closed his eyes.
In his dream Garth was standing on the Redwall battlements looking out over the flatland in front of the Abbey."Garth, Face me." said a voice behind him.
The young otter spun around and saw Martin the warrior standing behind him. The mouse was dressed in his full armour and had his legendary sword in his paw. "M...Martin?"
The warriormouse nodded. "If you manifest something and believe in it, truly Beleive, It will surely become a reality." said the warrior.
Garth was confused. "What does that mean? Martin?"
The mouse had vanished and Redwall Abbey was fading away leaving Garth to the deep darkness of sleep.
The next morning garth was awakened by the earth shaking rumble of thunder. He felt something beside him as he opened his eyes. He looked over to his right and saw Mina curled up against his side. She was shaking even though she had his cloak, I'd better start a fire, thought Garth. He stood up and went out of the cave to look for firewood before the rain came.
Mina hated thunder. She found herself shaking from cold and fright and she was also alone. Where did Garth go? She walked to the entrance of the cave pulling the cloak tighter around her shoulders. A heavy downpour had began and barely anything was visible through the heavy rain. Suddenly another chorus of thunder began and Mina ran back into the dryer part of the cave. There she found Garth's haversack and began digging through it for something to eat. She found a flask of cordial and two blueberry oat scones. They were a bit hard, but better than nothing. After she ate she went back to the entrance of the cave to look for Garth. As she stared through the rain she thought she saw a dark figure coming towards her. She looked closer and saw that the figure was tall and had a long thick tail. As the figure came closer she noticed that it was Garth, and he was carrying something under that funny green robe of his. The tall otter stumbled into the cave soaked down to the bone. He walked right on past her and dumped a pile of firewood on the ashes of the old fire. He pulled out a piece of flint and a stone and tried to light the fire. After about ten tries the flame took and there was once again a warm fire. Mina sat down by it and held her paws out so they would get warm. garth stepped away from it and peeled off his soaking wet habit and threw it on the floor by his haversack. He went to sit down by Mina, now only wearing a pair of barkcloth shorts. "I thought you had left me." Said Mina.
The young otter looked over at her. "Why would I do that? If I was going to leave I would've taken my things with me."
"Vat are ve going to do now?" she asked.
Garth shrugged. "Wait for this rain to stop I guess then go on to Redwall."
"I've never heard of a Redwall. Vat is it?"
Mina stood up and draped the cloak over Garth who was still wet. "I'm going to get dressed. Don't you dare look."
"Don't worry I wont." Garth said as he turned his back to her.
She picked up the bundle of clothes from the night before and began to change. The ottermaid winced as she pulled the clean shirt over her head. Her back was hurting again, maybe Garth could redo the bandages. She picked up her old bloody rags and went to throw them in the fire sending up a burt of embers. "You can look now."
Garth turned back around and picked up a stick to stir the fire with. Mina sat on the other side watching him. She didn't know why, btu she was begining to like the otter in more ways than one. For one thing he could cook and he was good at it. He was handsome with his toned abdomen, dark fur, and delicate eyes. His personality was good too, calm, sweet, and polite. Garth caught her staring at him. "What are you looking at?"
"Nothing." she said quickly and began playing with the bangles on her wrists.
"Hows your back?" he asked.
"It's starting to hurt again."
"Come here and let me see." She went and sat by garth and lifted up the back of her shirt. "Mina it might be easier if you just took it off. I might have to redo the bandaging."
She sighed and pulled the shirt off. Garth pulled experimentally at a piece of loose bandage and Mina yelped as it pulled her fur. Garth spread the cloak out on the floor. "lay down please. Your bandages are begining to stick so I might as well change them and put a salve on your back."
Mina lay on her belly while Garth took the now empty soup pot outside. What was he doing? she thought. He came back a while later with it full of water. He tore a piece of cloth off of his habit and let it soak in the water. He took it out of the water and used it to dampen the bandages. and make them unstick from her fur. When all of the bandages were completely soaked he started removing them from her back. Mina looked up at Garth and he had a pained look on his face. "Is it really zat bad?"
He quickly straightened his face and smiled. "No, actually it's much better than it was. I'll be right back."
He got up and went to his haversack and pulled out a small jar of green salve and came back to kneel beside the ottermaid. "Okay this might burn a little at first, but..."
"Oh, just fix my back! I mean...I'm sorry." She buried her face in the cloak.
Garth stuck a paw in the salve and began rubbing it onto her wounds, which were swiftly turning into pink scars. Mina groaned. "That feels nice...."
Garth smiled and continued his work. He squickly finished and put the lid back on the jar of salve. "Mina if you sit up i'll put clean bandages on." She sat up holding the cloak over her chest. Then reluctantly let it fall into her lap. Garth fixed his eyes on the pink scars and began bandaging her torso. He finished as fast as he could without doing a sloppy job. He handed her her shirt. "Here put this on." He got up and went back over by the fire.
She did. "Garth, I...did I do somezing wrong?"
He shook his head. "Mina, I don't know how to say this, but...Oh I feel stupid."
She went over to him and took his paw in hers and gave it a gentle squeeze."Garth, you can tell me. I vont make fun of you."
Garth looked into her eyes and said, "It's nothing. Forget it."
She looked over her shoulder at the cave entrance. "It looks like the rain has stopped."
Garth stood up and gathered their supplies. He slipped on his still damp habit and threw the haversack over one shoulder and picked up his javelin. He held out a paw to Mina, "Come on, let's start heading to Redwall." She grasped his large paw and he pulled her up. She picked up the cloak and put it on. Garth began walking away then looked back behind him. Mina was kicking dirt over the fire. "Are you coming?"
Mina Silvermist stood there a moment as if pondering on what she should do, then she ran to Garth and threw her arms around his neck and kissed him. The young otter's eyes widened in surprise and color filled his cheeks.She pulled away from him and said, "Of course i'm coming!"
And so the pair set off for the legendary Abbey of Redwall together, paw in paw, unaware of the dangers that lurked ahead.
Clove, fagan, and Khaz were on their way to Redwall as well. Unfortunately they were going the wrong way. They were heading deeper into Mossflower. Khaz and Fagan were arguing over which way to go and Clove was getting irritated. "Will you two shut up! My gosh we'll never get anywhere if you keep fighting."
They mumbled sorries under their breath. "Well, as you seem to know everything Clove, which way do we go?" said Fagan.
"Umm...lets see...moss grows on the north side of trees so...We go that way!" She pointed off to the side. "That way is south an' west. The abbey should be directly that way."
The two males followed her as she began walking that way. They didn't know if she was right or not, but what other choice did they have?
Back at Redwall.....
The Redwallers were enjoying lunch with their guests, the gypsies. Their cheiftain Enzo Silvermist was sitting next to the Abbot with his wife, who was holding their youngest daughter in her lap. "The food here is vonderful father Abbot." said Enzo.
"Don't tell me that young sir. I'm not the one that cooked it. The one you should thank for this meal is right over there." He replied while pointing at Friar Rumbol.
"Here i'll get him for you. Friar Rumbol, would you mind coming over here for a moment?"
The Friar began walking their way and came to stand by the Abbot. "Yes Father Abbot?"
"This kind sir wished to complement the chef."
Rumbol smiled slightly and held his paw out to the overweight otter. Enzo took it and shook it. "T'is me pleasure to cook for you mister cheiftain sir."
"Please call me Enzo. Is something wrong Friar? You look tired."
"I couldn't sleep last night. I couldn't stop thinking about my son."
"Sit down and relax. Tell me vat is dis son of yours like?"
Rumbol sat and took off his chefs hat and ran a hand through his fur wearily. "Oh, where do I start? My boy Garth is seventeen seasons old and tall. He looks a lot like his mother and acts like her too. Always calm and caring, a bit shy, but not afraid to speak his mind when he has to. He loves to cook and read. His eyes are the thing that make him unique though. They're a pale violet."
Enzo smiled. "I know your son. He came to our camp to return my daughter Nadya. Then he vent to rescue my eldest daughter Mina from vermin. His friends vent vith him. You have a brave son Rumbol."
"Wait, What? Garth has never fought before in his life! He could get killed!"
"May I zay zomezing?" inturrupted Fiffika. The two males nodded. "Friar Rumbol. Garth vas determined and he vas ready to face anyzing zat crossedhis path. He vanted to save her no matter vat it took. Ther has to be varrior blood in him somevere."
Rumbol smiled at the big ottermum. "Aye, there is. My uncle was the Skipper before he was born."
Fiffika smiled back, then looked down to see Aishe stealing a piece of apple off of her plate and stuffing the whole thing in her mouth. She began caughing and sputtering as she tried to chew the too large piece of fruit. Fiffika acted quickly, shoving a claw in the young babe's mouth she pulled out the apple and put it back on the plate and pushed it out of her reach. Once the child was fine once again her mother held her up to eye level and said. "Zat is vy you never shove things in your mouth my girl."
The babe began sucking on her paw and Fiffika sighed. Rumbol was shocked. Enzo hadn't even shown concern for his daughter! The poor thing was choking and he didn't seem to notice. "Enzo, she was choking." he whispered in the cheiftains ear.
"Rumbol, vonce you get to your fifth child you don't vorry about those things anymore. It's like a sixth sense to my vife to pull something out of a young uns mouth. Mina vas the vorst. Alvays chewing on things or like Aishe just did, eating more zan she could chew."
The Friar couldn't believe this. He stood up and put his hat back on. "Well i'll talk to you later. I have some scones in the oven for tea later and I should let my wife know about Garth."
Once he was gone Enzo leaned over to his wife and said, "He thinks ve're crazy."
"Vell ve are a bit odd." she replied.
They both laughed.
Somewhere in Mossflower.....
Tak Warfang's horde was packing up camp.The warlord stood watching them and was beginning to get irritated by how slow they were. He was already in a bad mood because of those who had let the troublesome ottermaid escape. He was far from finished with her. Nobeast humiliated him in front of his horde and lived. He had lost almost a score of vermin during the chase because of the ones that were causing a distraction. It wasn't a big loss, but a loss no less. "Move faster you worthless layabouts before I come flay yer hide with me scimitar!" yelled the warlord.
The hordebeasts began working faster for fear of having to face the warlord. Only one beast didn't fear him and that was Kita, his daughter. She knew he wouldn't hurt her because he had promised her mother that he would care for her before she died. She strode up to her father unconcerned about his foul mood. "Where are we going father?"
"Closer to this red stone fortress so I can find it's weaknesses. I wish to conquer it and all of its inhabitants. There is treasure hiddin inside of that place, I know it."
"What are you going to do about that ottermaid?"
"We'll catch up to her and her friends soon enough. That rainstorm made travel impossible so she couldn't have gone far."
Kita smiled evily. "I call the squirrel. He hit my footpaw with a stone."
"Fine. But the ottermaid and that tall one are mine to deal with."
By nightfall the horde was on the move. Only three days away from Redwall Abbey.
Garth and Mina had stopped to rest by a small stream. What little moonlight shone down through the treetops glistened off the surface of the water. Garth dropped his haversack on the ground and laid his javelin beside it. Mina went to the edge of the stream and put her tired footpaws in the cool water. "I'm going to get some firewood." said Garth.
"ok, make some food vile your at it."
Garth rolled his eyes and went off to search for wood.Mina sat there for a while longer then got up and pulled the cloak closer around her. It was going to be a chilly night. She decided to be helpful and went to gather stones to make a fire ring with. Garth came back just as she finished putting the last stone in place. He dropped the load of firewood in the circle and placed dried grass under it. He took out his flint rocks and tried to make a spark. After about five minutes the fire took and soon they had a good campfire going. Garth found a flat stone and laid it on the fire to heat up. Then out of his haversack he took a small bag of flour and mixed some water into it to make a thick dough. He added some dried berries to it and made the dough into little cakes. These he sat on the hot stone to cook. Mina watched in silent amazement at how fast he prepared the food. "Do you cook often?" she asked.
Garth nodded. "My father is the head cook for Redwall Abbey. I was cooking since I was old enough to toddle or so I was told."
The ottermaid looked down at her paws. "I never learned." she said quietly.
"Well nows as good a time as ever to start."
She looked up at him with hopeful eyes. "Vill you teach me?"
He smiled. "Of course."
"Ve should vait until ve get to Redwall first. I vant to learn in zat big kitchen."
"Alright. Whatever you want to do. For now try to get some rest. I'll take first watch."
She laid down by the fire, but didn't feel tired. She sat up again and went to sit by Garth. "I can't sleep. I'll just stay up vith you."
Garth yawned. "Suit yourself."
She shivered and scooted closer to him. Garth noticed she was cold and put an arm around the thin ottermaid and pulled her closer to his side. "It's cold tonight huh?"
"yes." she said as she rested her head against his shoulder. "Oh, and I think your bread things are done."
Garth stabbed the little cakes with the tip of his javelin and blew on them to cool them off. They were just a tiny bit darker than golden brown, but weren't burnt. He took two cakes off of the tip of his javelin and handed them to her. They ate in silence except for the chirping of a few crickets and the gurgling of the stream. "It's really nice out here. It is much different from my camp. Zere is alvays somezing going on vith a lot of noise,but here...it's peaceful...."
"Aye, I could stay here forever."
Mina leaned up against him and rested her head on his shoulder. "I like you Garth Swiftcurrent. You are not like other males."
"You're gentle and you listen to vat I have to say. You see me as an actual being, not just some prize to be von. I like zat."
he smiled. "I don't know what to say to that."
"Zen don't say a thing."
Garth put his paws on either side of her face and leaned down to kiss her. He had been wanting to do it for a long time and she finally gave him the oppertunity. Their romantic moment however was cut short when three creatures stumbled into their camp.
He quickly scooted away from Mina and jumped up onto his feet. "Uh...Clove," He put his arm around her shoulders and pulled her towards the other side of the camp. "Wh...what a wonderful surprise...you dropping by like that with the others."
She turned around with an angry look on her face. Paws on her hips. "What was that?" she questioned while poking him in the chest.
"Wh...what do you mean?"
"You know exactly what I mean! You. Her. Snogging. Don't even try to lie about it Garth Alin I saw you!"
"Clove, I um..well...how do I explain this?"
She glared at him with those big hazel eyes. "That gypsy has you under a spell, doesn't she? That witch probably slipped some potion into your drink."
"Mina is not a witch!" yelled Garth. "Although she may look and sound different doesn't make her any different from you or I!"
Garth lightly touched his face where Clove had hit him. He felt something warm and pulled his paw away to see a bit of blood. Her claws must've scratched him. His pale violet eyes followed her as she went to go sit by the fire across from Mina. The young otter sighed and went over to the stream where he tore a piece of fabric from his habit and soaked it in the water and then pressed it against his face. Unbidden tears coursed from his eyes and dripped onto the smooth surface of the water causing it to ripple. He felt a paw on his back and looked over his shoulder to see Fagan standing behind him. "Hey mate, Are...are you crying?" asked the young squirrel.
Garth wiped his eyes quickly. He didn't want his friend to see him cry. "She has never hit me before." he said softly.
"Well she's never seen ya with another girl before. You got off easy with just a slap to the face. Clove could've done a lot worse."
"I guess so. What does Mina think?"
"She is not very happy. Khaz has been lecturing her in another language so I can't really tell you what he's lecturing her about."
"That's alright she probably dosen't know either. She told me that she never learned gypsy."
Fagan gave his friend a weak smile. "Let's go back over by the fire."
"No you go ahead i'm going to stay here. I think it's best I keep some distance between me and Clove."
The young squirrel shrugged and went to go sit by the others.
The next morning the group continued on to the legendary Abbey of Redwall. Garth was in the lead because he actually knew where he was going. Clove walked beside him. In the center of the group Fagan walked beside Mina, wich left Khaz to bring up the rear. Mina walked with her arms crossed over her chest while glaring at the back of Clove's head, silently cursing her.
Fagan could feel the tension between the otters growing stronger with every passing second as they marched in silence. The young squirrel looked up at Mina. She wasn't much taller than him, maybe by a few inches. Her fierce blue eyes glaring at the back of Clove's head. He couldn't bear the silence any longer so Fagan decided to strike up a conversation with the gypsy ottermaid. "So...you're Mina right?"
She loooked at him and said, "Zat vas the name I vas given."
"Well i'm Fagan. I've been friends with Garth ever since we were little."
"That's great." she said sarcasticly.
Fagan could see that she didn't want to talk about him,so he decidedx to change the subject. "Um..do you know how to read paws?"
"No.. I vork vith de cards. Tarot cards."
"What are tarot cards?"
"Cards zat predict your future. I can show you if yoiu'd like back at dis Redwall of yours."
From behind them Khaz snorted. "Don't listen to her Fagan. Tarot is a scam."
Mina shot him a dirty look. "That's okay Khaz, I still think that i'll try it."
Mina looked smug. "I like dis squirrel."
Clove turned around and rolled her eyes at Mina. "How can you like him? You don't even know him! And why are you tainting his brain with the talk of magic cards? I know that you're putting a curse on him! "
"You think zat I am tainting his brain! "The only person I should be putting a curse on is you!"
Enough!" Garth yelled over the two females. "You fight more than a pair of dibbuns!"
"Clove started it."Mina mumbled.
"I did not!"
"Will you just shut up! If you keep yelling the vermin will find us and we'll never get to Redwall."
Just then an arrow buried itself in the ground , narrowly missing Khaz's footpaw. "Run, it's an ambush!" he yelled.
The five travelers ran as fast as their paws could carry them, their only thought was to run to the red sandstone building looming up in front of them. Mina grabbed Garth's paw and ran close to him. If they were going to die she wanted to die with him. Behind them they could hear the roar of the vermin horde. Vollies of arrows fell around them causing the five woodlanders to duck and weave. Suddenly Mina tripped over a stone and pulled Garth down with her. He tried to sheild her with his body while helping her up, but an arrow struck his side. The young otter howled with pain and Mina let him support himself on her shoulder. "C'mon Garth, ve can make it!"
Together they began towards the gate. The others were nowhere to be found. They were probably already inside thought Mina. Mina and Garth were very close now when a large male otter came out of Redwall and ran to help support Garth's other side. "Dad?" asked Garth.
"Yes Garth. Now focus on walking!"
What the three otters didn't see was Tak Warfang fitting an arrow on his bowstring and aimed it towards the young ottermaid that had caused him so much trouble. He released the arrow.
There was a scream but the arrow hadn't struck the intended target. Garth had saw Tak release the arrow out of the corner of his eye and had used what little strength he had to push Mina to the ground as the arrow buried itself into his lower back. Friar Rumbol lifted his only son onto his shoulders and grabbed Mina, making it inside the gate just as it was being closed to keep the vermin out. Palla ran down from the ramparts towards her husband. "Rumbol! Lay Garth on the ground so I can tend to his wounds!"
He did as he was told and she ripped his tattered and stained habit so the wounds could be seen clearly. Palla broke the shafts off of the arrows and took out a tool from her apron pocket which she used to dig the arrowheads out. "Rumbol get a stretcher. He needs to get to the infirmary now."
A stretcher was quickly brought by four of foremole's crew and the unconscious young otter was lifted gently onto it. Mina tried to follow them as they went up to the infirmary,but Khaz grabbed her arm and said, "Mina, Let zem take care of him. If you go up you'll only be in the vay."
She sighed and let him guide her towards the gypsy carts that were parked close to the pond.
Fiffika rushed over to her eldest daughter and wrapped her in a tight hug. "Oh my Mina! I vas so vorried about you, i'm so glad you are safe!"
"I missed you too mama. Vere is papa and the others?"
"Your papa is up on da valls and your sisters are in da cart. How is Garth doing? He vas hurt."
"I...I don't know mama. I'm vorried about him. He took two arrows for me and he vas unconscious by the time ve got in the gates."
The loving ottermum wiped a tear from her daughter's eye. "Go to him Mina."
Mina broke away from her mother and ran towards the abbey building. Once inside she felt entirely lost. Where was the infirmary? Just then she heard someone approaching behind her. The young ottermaid spun around and saw Fagan standing behind her. "Mina? What are you looking for?" he asked.
The squirrel nodded and took her paw gently. "Come, I don't know if we'd be allowed in, but its worth a try."
They walked up two flights of stairs to the third floor where the infirmary was located. The two stopped at the third floor landing as they saw Palla come out of the infirmary, followed closely by Friar Rumbol. The infirmary sister looked grim as she wiped her paws on an already bloody rag. Rumbol put his paws on her shoulders and the usually calm and collected sister broke down into sobs. Silent tears fell from the Friar's eyes as he pulled her close. Now Mina was even more worried.. Was he dead? She went over to the infirmary door and pushed it open. The room was large and very plain, lit only by the sunlight streaming in through the stained glass windows and a few lanterns. Out of the score of beds that lined both walls only one was occupied and she quickly went to it. Garth was laid on his stomach, eyes closed, and his back covered. She could barely see the rise and fall of his back as he breathed shallowly. Mina carefully pulled back the blanket to reveal a thick bandage covering his lower torso and two lumps in the bandage where poltices has been applied. She gasped and thought, 'This is all my fault!'
Mina took off one of her bangles and placed it in Garth's paw, so when he woke up he would know that she had been here. She was halfway to the door whe she heard a hoarse voice say her name. The young ottemaid hurried back over to her love's cot and knelt on the floor so he wouldn't have to strain himself to look at her face. His pale violet eyes were filled with tears waiting to be spilled. "Mina, I can't feel them Mina." he said hoarsly.
"Vat are you talking about Garth?"
"Legs. I will never be able to walk again. The second arrow hit a piece of my spine and now i'm paralyzed, waist down."
Tears flowed down his face and Mina was having trouble keeping her own under control. He wiped a stray tear from her face. "I havn't said it yet,but I love you Mina. And I want to be with you always even if saving you sends me to darkforest."
Sobs racked her body as he held her paw tightly. "It's okay, Everything will work out." He said comfortingly.
Out on the ramparts all of the able bodied warriors and the Abbot stood, brandishing weapons made from common items. The Abbot leaned over the wall and peered down at the vermin army. "What do you want here at Redwall?" He shouted.
Tak Warfang laughed, "What do I want? I want this fortress for myself! Surrender now and I won't harm you."
"Hmph that's a lie! You've already harmed one of my beasts." said Abbot Alfred.
The warlord growled angrily. "Fine then! I'll get this abbey one way or another even if it means killing all of you first! First rank...Fire!"
The Redwallers ducked as a vollie of arrows flew over the wall. The few redwall archers fired back and were rewarded by strangled screams as their arrows found their targets. The war for Redwall Abbey had officially begun.
As the battle progressed, Palla Swiftcurrent and her infirmary helpers were kept busy tending to wounds and taking the severely injured up to the infirmary. This worried Palla alot because she didn't think there was going to be enough beds soon. She went up to the battlements and found Rumbol, who was reloading his sling. "Rumbol I'm going to need your help." she said over the loud warcries.
Friar Rumbol crouched down beside her. "With what?"
I need to move Garth out of the infirmary so I can tend to the other wounded."
"What? Where are you going to move him to?"
"The gatehouse. Churk can watch over him."
"Alright, i'll help." Both otters carefully made their way down the wallstairs, across the lawns, and up to the infirmary. Rumbol felt uneasy around injured beasts. He could hear them groaning , crying, or maybe both. Not wanting to see creatures he knew in pain he quickly made his way over to his son's bedside. Garth was asleep. Palla came over and gently shook his shoulder. The young otter's eyes fluttered open. "Mum." he said hoarsely.
"Yes dear, it's me. You're father is going to carry you out to the gatehouse, but before we go do you have any pain at all?"
"Just a little, but it's nothing. I'll be fine."
Palla nodded. Rumbol let Garth put his arms around his neck and as he stood up lifted him into a carrying position. Garth winced a bit, but insisted he was fine. Friar Rumbol could feel tears welling up in his eyes as he carried his nearly full grown son like when he had been a dibbun. Sister Churk was waiting for them in the door of the gatehouse. Ushering them in, she told Rumbol to set Garth on the large bed in the corner of the main room. "No, dad can I please be in a chair or something?" asked garth.
"Um... we could try. It might put more strain on your back though."
Garth shook his head defiantly. "I don't care. I want to sit up."
Rumbol sighed and carried his son over to an overstuffed armchair. Being careful of the bandages he set him down. "Now Garth, if you're having any pain, please tell your aunt."
"I will. please don't worry about me, just focus on defending the Abbey."
The friar smiled and ruffled his son's headfur. "I'll show them vermin how they should fear us redwallers. Behave yourself."
Rumbol left the gatehouse to go back and fight. Churk sat in another armchair next to her nephew. She smiled, "That was a brave thing you did Garth. Taking those arrows for that gypsy maid."
"Her name is Mina."
"Oh, well what did your mum say about your recovery time?" she asked trying to change the subject.
Garth stayed silent. His aunt wrung her paws anxiously not knowing what to say. She took a deep breath. "You're not going to recover are you?"
"no. I'm paralyzed Auntie."
Sister Churk the Abbey recorder got up from her chair and grabbed her quill and ink along with her recorders journal from her desk. "I...I'm going up to the ramparts to record the battle. do you need anything before I go?"
The young otter could tell that she was on the verge of tears. "I'll be fine."
He heard the door shut as his Aunt left. Garth rested his head on his paw. Where was Mina? He wanted to talk to her now more than ever.
Mina Silvermist was in her family's cart eating a light lunch with her sisters. The twins, Tsura and Drina were braiding each others fur. Nadya had Aishe in her lap who refused to eat. Apparently her new favorite word was no. Nadya sighed and looked towards her elder sister who hadn't touched her food. "Mina, are you feeling okay?" she asked.
"Huh, oh yes. I'm just vorried."
Nadya smiled softly. "Zen vy don't you go visit him. Maybe take him some food. Infirmary food can't taste good."
"I think i'll go. Vill you be okay?
"Of course ve vill! Silly Mina, have you forgotten that ve're gypsies? Free to roam and do as ve please."
Mina stood up and grabbed some bread and a small jar of blackberry jam. along with a flask of pennycloud cordial. This she wrapped in a kercheif, making a neat little package. "No I haven't forgotten." Mina said with a smile.
She left the cart and started to the abbey building and up to the infirmary. Once at the door of the infirmary Mina pushed it open and walked in, looking for Garth among the other injured beasts. To her dismay he was nowhere to be found. The young gypsy maid left the infirmary with a heavy heart. Where could he be? Could it be that he is...no Garth can't be dead. She sat down heavily against the red stone walls with her head low. Tears welled in her icy eyes. 'I killed him. Because of me he is dead. My love is dead!' she thought. Mina threw the package of food at the opposite wall as hard as she could, hearing the jam jar break. Tears fell freely from her eyes.Just then Palla Swiftcurrent stepped out of the infirmary, her stern gaze fell upon the heartbroken maid. "Get up gypsy. What are you crying outside my infirmary for?"
Mina stood and wiped her eyes. "I vas looking for Garth, but he vasn't in there. I vas afraid zat he vas..."
Palla crossed her arms impatiantly. "My son is not dead. He was moved down to the gatehouse earlier. But why should I let you visit him, when you were the cause of his injuries?"
"He chose to take the arrows! He pushed me down so I vouldn't get hit."
"Why would he do such a thing?" asked palla.
Mina looked her in the eye and said, "Love makes us do crazy things."
The infirmary sister didn't look impressed, but said, "You may see him, but if he tells you to leave. Leave. Is that clear?"
Mina nodded and left. She rushed down the stairs and out of the building toward the little gatehouse cottage.
Halfway across the abbey grounds Mina stopped running when she saw two of her gypsy tribe, a squirrel and an otter carrying a stretcher covered by a white sheet towards the carts. She began walking towds them, afraid of who might've been killed. The two put the stretcher on the ground and walked away. Mina crept over and lifted the sheet. The young maid gasped in horror and tears instantly sprang unbidden to her eyes. 'No. no it can't be' she thought. She knelt down beside the stretcher and pulled the sheet back again. There lay Khaz, cold and lifeless. His midnight blue eyes glazed over in death, an arrow in his throat. He still held his scimitar in an unbreakable grip. Mina gently closed his eyes. "May the spirits guide your soul to a place of peace." she said softly while covering him back up with the sheet. "And protect from demons that vant to consume you. Have a safe journey my friend."
She stood and started towards the gatehouse. Opening the door quietly she found Garth asleep in a chair by the window. Mina placed her paw on his shoulder and his eyes fluttered open. "Hmm...Mina. Mina whats wrong?" He asked noticing that she had been crying.
"Khaz vas killed. I'll be fine."
He grabbed her paw and gave it a genle squeeze. "I'm sorry to hear that."
"I'm ready for dis battle to be over."
Garth looked out of the window. "It looks like its going to rain. Perhaps that'll make the vermin retreat."
"Perhaps." She sat on the arm of the chair and Garth put his arms around her waist.
"Do you think you'll stay here?" He asked.
"At Redwall?" Garth nodded. "Vell yeah, I vant to be vith you more zan anyzing. Your mother dosen't like me though."
He smiled. "She doesn't like anyone."
This made her feel better. Mina patted his arm lightly. "I should get back."
"Stay a little longer, please. I hate just sitting here."
She sighed and turned to kiss his forehead. Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Mina got up to answer it. Opening the door she was greeted by a scowl. Clove stood there with a tray of food and what looked like medicine. She stormed past the gypsy maid and slammed the tray down onto the small table. On her way out she paused to glare at Garth and growl, "I hope you're happy." She slammed the door shut.
Mina went over to the tray and stared at the small bottles placed upon it. "Vat are these?" she asked.
"The clear vial is a standard painkiller. The brown one is an iodine solution used to clean wounds, and the other one looks like a vitamin supplement. I think mum wants me heal quickly."
"That's good. I vant you to heal too. I....I really must go. Mama vill be vorried. I'll see you later." She gave him a quick kiss and left.
That night it began to rain heavily and just like Garth had thought, the vermin retreated to the open plains in front of the abbey far out of shooting range. Sentries patrolled the walltops still in case they came back, but many, including the gypsies, had taken refuge in Great Hall. Garth had been given a wheelchair thanks to cellerhog Darwin. e sat next to Mina at dinner and couldn't stop wondering as to why she was dressed in a red skirt, a very short matching top and lots of gold earrings, bangles, and other accessories. "Mina, why are you dressed like that."
She smiled slyly at him. " It's supposed to be a surprise, but my sisters and I are going to dance for you Redwallers."
"I'll be watching."
When dinner had ended Mina and her sisters got up and took their places in the center of the room. Enzo stood up and said, "Tonight ve vish to share a bit of our culture vith you Redwallers. My four beautiful daughters vill be performing a traditional dance for you."
He sat back down and nodded to the small band of gypsy musicians. They began to play their music and Enzo's daughters began their dance. Garth's eyes were focused on only one of the dancers. Mina. She moved so gracefully and effortlessly. Garth had to blink back tears, knowing that he would never be able to dance with her. A while later they finished their dance and the redwallers applauded and cheered. Suddenly the big oaken door burst open and a gray furred squirrel rushed in, soaking wet and out of breath. Many gasped as they saw the arrows sticking out of his back. "T...their here. *gasp* V..Ver...Vermin!." The squirrel crumpled to the floor dead. Nadya grabbed her sisters and went over to their father. Mina ran to Garth. "Ve need to get you out of here!" she said.
"No. I can fight. Take me to cavern hole."
"Don't be stupid!"
He sighed and began pushing the wheels of the chair towards Cavern hole. Mina didn't try to stop him but she did follow him. He stopped at the grand tapestry of Martin the Warrior. "Mina, I need you to get me that sword."
He pointed at the sword hanging above the tapestry. Mina reached for it,but couldn't reach it. "I can't get it! I'm too short!"
"Stand on my legs."
"But von't dat hurt you?"
"No, I need that sword." he replied.
He took her paw and helped her up onto his knees. "Can you reach it?"
"Barely, I...I got it!"
She grabbed the sword and jumped down to the floor. Carefully she handed the hilt of the sword to him. "Please be careful. I don't know what i'd do if you got hurt, or vorse!"
He took her paw gently. "Mina, I will come back for you, I promise. Come closer."
She leaned down towards him. "Vat is it? Mph!"
He kissed her lovingly. When they broke apart from each other they instantly regretted it. "Don't come after me." He said softly. Garth released her paw and started to wheel his way out of the room.
'No, don't look back. If you do you'll never leave.' thought Garth. He left without looking back at the worried ottermaid. Leaving without knowing what the young gypsy was going to tell him.
Garth went out onto the abbey grounds and was terrified by what he saw. Vermin were actually inside the walls. How did they get in? He gripped the legendary sword of Martin in his paw, ready to fight. "Martin, please give me your strength." he whispered.
"Why is it always me that you call on about your problems?"
Garth jumped as the ghost of Martin the warrior appeared beside him. "Good gosh! you nearly gave me a heart attack!"
Martin chuckled. "So what are you doing doing with my sword? You know you can't fight in your condition."
"Why do you think I asked for help?"
"I see. Well I think I can help, but only if you let me."
"I could control your body for the battle, which includes your legs. the only control you will have is over your mind."
"okay sounds great."
Martin disapeared. "Where did he go?" thought Garth.
"I am right here Garth. I never left. Now lets go kill some vermin."
It was then that Garth realised that the legendary warrior was possessing his body. Soon Garth's body was walking into the battle ready to fight. It started out as a low growl, but gradually got louder as a war cry erupted from his throat. He was surprised at how many vermin fell to the sword of Martin, but of course it was actually Martin fighting. 'are you sure you know what you're doing? I'm not gonna get killed am I" Garth thought to Martin. The mouse warrior laughed. "You worry to much. Do you know how long i've wanted to do a warcry like that? And its nice being tall!"
'Oh shut up.'
Martin laughed again. "i think I see their leader over there. You wanna end this war?"
'Sure why not. Just don't get me killed or mutilated.'
From up in the dormitories Mina watched in horror and shock as garth made his way towards the warlord. "He's valking! Oh Gosh he's such an idiot! Vat is he doing? He'll be killed!"
Mina grabbed her weapons and tried to get out of the abbey building. But when she got down to great hall her father was guarding the door to get outside. "Vere are you going?" He asked.
"To save Garth. Please, you must let me go! He'll be killed. Papa please!"
"I cannot let you Mina. If you are killed I vould never forgive myself."
Mina turned away in defeat, but as she began walking away thought of another way to get out of the Abbey. She ran to the kitchens and jumped up onto a countertop and unlocked the shutters. She slipped through the window into the wet wartorn night. She made her way through the battle with her daggers whirling and hacking at various vermin attackers. Her focus was on one thing and one thing only, getting to Garth. Mina found him circling with the warlord. Each creature sizing the other up. Tak made the first move but it was blocked quickly by the young otter. As they fought Mina watched in horror desperately thinking of something that she could do to help. But while she was thinking she didn't see the warlord's daughter Kita aproaching behind her. The golden furred female stoat tackled Mina from behind and they both went tumbling onto the grass. Mina fought to get her weapons out of her belt, but struggled under the biting and scratching Kita. She managed to get one dagger free and brought it skillfully in between her attackers ribs, into the heart. Kita was killed instantly. The gypsy maid kicked the carcass off of her and ran over to Garth's side. Well as close as she could get without being stabbed. The warlord saw her and drove Garth (Martin) away from her so he could be closer to the maid. Unexpectedly he pulled away from the fight and caught the young maid off guard as he grabbed her, his arm pressing against her throat making it hard for her to breath. She clawed at his arm, but it was of no avail because of the steel guards covering his arms. Garth (Martin) stopped in mid-fight. Frozen. "Oh no. I've seen this before. I can't let another innocent maid be killed!" thought Martin.
'What? What's going to happen?' asked Garth.
"I lost my love to a stoat who used the same technique. He killed her. Threw her into a wall headfirst. I won't let it happen again, especially not to her. You need her."
Tak Warfang pointed his sword at Garth (Martin). "If you want the maid to live drop your weapon!"
The legendary sword dropped from the otter's paws. While the warlord was enjoying his enemy's defeat, Mina had noticed that his elbow wasn't protected by armor. She bit down hard, causing the stoat to howl in pain and drop his sword, but she was terrified as he flung her from his arm and she was thrown into the west wicker gate. The young otter's rage escalated as he saw what happened. He picked up the sword and drove it through the stoat warlord. Killing him. He pulled the sword out and turned to go to Mina. 'My work here is done.' said Martin.
Garth fell to the ground, his legs again useless. This didn't stop him however from getting to Mina. He crawled over to her and cradled her body close to him. Hot tears of rage and sorrow fell down his cheeks. "It's not fair! My Mina. Oh Mina, why did you come to fight? It's not fair that you had to die...It's all my fault."
Suddenly she groaned softly. "G...Garth." she said hoarsly. "Vy are you crying? I'm not dead."
he hugged her closer to him. "Mina!, oh Mina I love you!"
Five seasons later...
From the journal of Sister Churk, Otter recorder of Redwall Abbey.
The summer that followed spring of the stoat lord was peaceful and happy. Mina's father decided to let her stay at our Abbey which made my nephew happy. They were married soon after and I being the greatest aunt ever let them have my gatehouse. I figured that i'm still young enough to handle a few stairs, and besides its easier for Garth to get aroung in that wheelchair of his. Mmmm...something smells good from the kitchen! (what food doesn't at Redwall?) I think I shall go check it out....maybe even volunteer to be a tastetester. I'll write later...maybe.
Churk made her way down to the kitchens and found Mina there chopping vegtables anr throwing them in a large stew pot. "Hello Mina, how are you today?"
She grunted in reply. "Um... have you seen Garth?" asked Churk.
"He's in the larders looking for water shrimp. Have you seen Huttser anywhere?"
"Yes, he was out playing with the other dibbuns."
Mina nodded in understanding. She put down her knife and went to go sit down at the small table. She put a paw on her swollen stomach, rubbing the spot where her baby had kicked. "I'm ready to get this baby out of me. I haven't slept for da past two days. This kid love's to kick all night long."
Churk put a paw on her shoulder. "Hang in there."
Just then Garth wheeled into the room. He had a bag of shrimp which he placed on the counter. "How are you feeling Mina?" he asked.
"Exhausted. I think i'm going to lay down in the gate house."
She stood up and gave Garth a kiss.. A worried look filled his violet eyes. After she left he looked at his aunt Churk. "Auntie, i'm worried about her. The baby could come any day now."
"Do you want me to check on her?"
"No, she'll only get angry. I'll check on her later. Let her rest."
Lunch and afternoon tea came and past and Garth still hadn't seen Mina come out of the gatehouse. Hegave a few orders to his kitchen helpers about dinner before leaving. He made his way out to the gatehouse with a tray of food. Pushing the door open and wheeling inside he sat the tray on a table and went into their room. Mina was fast asleep laying on her back. One paw atop her bulging stomach. He went over and sat beside her in his chair. Garth took her paw gently and sqeezed it. Mina stirred and opened her eyes to look at him. "Garth...How long vas I asleep?"
"For most of the day my darling. Dinner will be starting soon if you want to go."
"I'll go, but i'm not hungry. Help me up."
Garth helped her out of bed and went with her to great hall. Together they sat by Palla and old brother Gabriel the gardner. After anchient abbot Alfred squeaked out a prayer everybeast began eating except Mina. She turned away the food that Garth had put in front of her, even her favorite latticed rhubarb pastry with meadowcream. She wasn't feeling well and was having a slight pain in her abdoman, but nothing she thought she should complain about. Her young son Huttser climbed into Garth's lap and began eating off of his plate. Huttser had his father's dark fur and his mother's eyes and restless spirit. Mina smiled at him. Suddenly a sharp pain shot through her and she sucked in a sharp breath and winced. Garth put his paw over hers, his eyes full of concern. "Are you alright?Is it time, please Mina, tell me what's wrong."
She winced again. "It's time. Ahh...Ve should go to the gatehouse."
Palla the infirmary sister helped her daughter in law stand and walk out of Great Hall to the gatehouse. Garth followed close behind with Huttser asking a million questions. What was going on? Was mommy going to be ok?Was the baby coming?... Garth shushed his son and told him that they would have to wait and see because he himself didn't know if the baby was coming or if Mina was alright.
Several hours past and Garth was worried as he waited outside of the gatehouse with his friend Fagan. Huttser had fallen asleep not long ago, but sleep would be impossible for Garth while listening to Mina's screams of pain from inside. Fagan put a paw on his friend's shoulder and said, "She'll be fine"
The otter chef sighed. "I hope you're right."
More time passed and it wasn't until the wee hours of dawn when things in the gatehouse became silent once more. A tired looking infirmary sister stuck her head out of the door and said, "Garth Would you like to meet your son?"
Fifteen seasons later...
From the journal of Brother Luca, Recorder of Redwall Abbey.
Many creatures say that I look like my father, but I don't think so. I didn't gain anything of his except for the eyes. Other than that i'm like my mother, short, hot tempered, and good with daggers. she's more proud of my older brother Huttser though. He became a skipper and i have to say that i've never seen his ego so big. Oh well i'm happy living here at Redwall instead of travelling through the unnamed parts of mossflower. Well enough about me, today is the season nameday feast and i have to go to the kitchens soon to make my famous blackberry trifle. Not even my father, the friar can recreate the recipe. Before I leave remember that anybeast with a good heart and a good recipe will be welcome at Redwall Abbey.