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Spoilers for Martin the Warrior, Mossflower and Legend of Luke.

Prologue: Enter the Players Edit

Whispering voices roused him from a deep sleep. His battle instincts, long unused, caused him to move quickly as he pulled his dagger from its place hanging above his bed, careful not to wake his wife. He noted with dismay the patches of rust and corrosion pitting the blade to the point of uselessness. He should have maintained it.

He opened the door outside and followed a faint light. It reminded him of that long night so many seasons ago, back when he had been a young 'un. He smiled, recalling his long-gone best friend's cocky smile and wholesome laugh. The light entered Noonvale's library and he followed in silence.

He lost it for a minute amidst the dusty shelves and old tomes, but arguing and sleepy voices soon got him back on track. “Wanga, why yoo bwing us here?” a cross Dibbun he recognized as his own son Riordan demanded, “I tired!” Dibbuns. He should have known.

The squirrel babe Ranga was climbing a high shelf, scanning the titles as she responded to her inquisitive friend. “Wemember da stowy yoo Daddy wead us wast nigh'? Welw, da second book's here.”

“Dere's anover stowy wiv Martin ee Wurrior?” a plump hare babe asked.

Ranga nodded. “Yes. It after war wiv Badwung, back when Mommy and Daddy were likkle!” There were gasps.

“Dat old? Wow!”

“Did they figh' in da big battle!”

Ranga squealed in triumph and pulled a tome nearly as big as she was from the shelf and threw it onto a nearby armchair. She nimbly leaped after it and opened it to the first page. She cleared her throat and began to read aloud, stumbling over the longer words. The adult who had followed them smiled as he heard long dusty memories brought into the light at last. Ah yes. Those were the days. Back when he was young and strong, and free as the wind. Back when many friends who were now dead walked the world and were alive.

Ah, yes. Those were the days . . .

Book One: The Warbeast of the NorthEdit

48 Seasons Before, in the Summer of the Shining Water


Chapter One Edit

Night had fallen over the village of Noonvale. Somewhere in the murky blackness, an owl hooted thrice, adding to the sense of foreboding and danger. On this night, precisely eight seasons ago, Badrang the Tyrant had slain Laterose of Noonvale.

Unaware of the night's significance, two rats were bumbling blindly around in the woods. The older of the two was a bulky rat appropriatly named Fatgutt. He leaned on a halberd, and a rusty iron helm graced his head. His companion was not very old- only about 48 seasons, but his face was scarred with traces of past battles, most notably the slash across his left eye. His name was Ripred, and his preferred weapon was a cutlass. "Admit it, we're lost.” Ripred said, more than slightly annoyed, “This is the second time we've passed that tree in an hour!"

"Come on, there's only one way left!" Ripred rolled his eyes but followed the older rat.

"What're we looking for, anyways?"

"Didn't ye listen? Her Ladyship gave precious orders-"

"Precise!" muttered Ripred.

Fatgutt dealt the young rat a blow. "Shud up, numbbrain! Anyways, she told us to scout out these woods and report anything of interest, like villages or fortresses."

The two vermin continued on their way, arguing. Silence descended once more on the woods- but not for long. A compact figure slid down the trunk of a nearby tree. Another popped out from behind a bush. The two converged in the center of the clearing. "Come on, Brome , let's follow 'em!" the second figure whispered. The first nodded and they followed the pair.

In the eight seasons since Badrang's defeat, Brome of Noonvale had grown much. He was now a very skilled healer, though still small for his age. His companion towered over him- though this was to be expected. Being the oldest otter at Noonvale, Keyla was taller than most of the populace, except Rowanoak and Ballaw DeQuincewold.

The pair crouched behind a rocky outcropping and peered over it. "By the fire, would you look at that!"

It was a massive army. Ferrets, foxes, weasels, stoats, and rats, a mass of unruly vermin- all led by a single pine marten. Her name was Zounzdican the Evil. Unlike most females, she scorned dresses, preferring instead the rough tunic and spiked armor of a warlord. In her paw rested a barbaric sword- longer and wider than your average claymore. Her eyes were like two chips of stone, and just as cold. This was Zounzdican the Evil, Warbeast of the North.

"An army of vermin!" gasped Brome.

"That big 'un's about to speak," Keyla shushed. His eyes locked on her. Somewhere, in his mind's eye . . .

The gale bristled with thunder and flashed with lightning. He felt the hot passion of hate washing over him as he stared at the prostrate body of his father.

Something poked him and the memory vanished. Brome looked at his otter friend worriedly.

"You alright?"

Keyla shook his head to clear his thoughts. Whatever that was, it was gone now. "Tell ye later," he muttered, eager to get off the topic, "Now shush."

"We are starting a new life here." Her voice rang and echoed off the rocks, intensifying her eloquent tone.

"Here in the northlands, we can regroup. Grow strong once more. And when we are, we will take vengeance." Deafening cheers rang from the shore. Keyla and Brome had to cover their ears until it died down. "If you remember, we were bested once by a tribe of mice from Pah!" She spit on the ground in disgust. As well as dressing like one, she had the atrocious manners of a searat captain. "That was my father's lead we were defeated under. We lost one of our best ships, the Greenhawk, because that fool underestimated Luke the Warrior." Brome and Keyla gasped. Martin is the son of somebody named Luke, Brome thought, Can it be? Is Martin at Mossflower, where or whatever that is? It was Keyla's turn to poke. Brome came back to the present as she began speaking again.

"We shall conquer what ever pitiful tribes are left here. And then on to Mossflower, to exact our revenge! What is our goal?" her voice was screeching now, so high with rage you could hardly hear it.

All the vermin cried as one "Revenge! Revenge!"

"And who will lead you to victory?"

"You, O Evil One!" Keyla would have sworn that several rocks shattered under the intense sound waves.

"I think we've seen enough,” Brome muttered. Keyla tore his eyes away from the strangely familiar pine marten and nodded.

"You're right, mate. Let's get out o' 'ere while we can."

They slipped off into the blackness.

On this night, precisely eight seasons ago, Badrang the Tyrant had slain Laterose of Noonvale.

Chapter Two Edit

Extract from the writing of Abbess Germaine, first Abbess of Redwall Abbey, as dictated to Bella of Brockhall

Life at our abbey has been calm for many seasons now. Gonflet, along with Chugger and a season old Dibbun named Ivy have become tight friends- there is a constant watch on the Abbey kitchens now. Trimp, Vurg, and Beau have made their permanent home here at Redwall. Beau has become Assistant Cook to Goody Stickle. Despite his age, he is still an excellent cook, one that Redwall can be proud of. Martin has been spending much time with the Dibbuns lately. I notice that he always seems melancholy round this time and season, though I have no idea why- even he seems to have no idea himself.

A drought has come upon us. I incorporated the pond into the plans. It is all that is left of the flood tunnels we used to bring down Kotir. Now even if the generations to come have a drought this terrible, they will have an undying source of water.


***

"An army, you say? How many?"

"Ten thousand, at least." There were gasps of horror around the council room. Urran Voh sighed and put his head into his paws. First Badrang, now this.

"Ten thousand? We'll be massacred!"

"Our children!"

"We must leave!"

"I'm not going!"

"SILENCE!" Everybeast turned in surprise to the normally soft-spoken Brome. "Shouting and panicking won't get us anywhere. My father-your chieftain- is talking, I suggest you listen." He nodded to Urran and sat back down.

Urran Voh turned to the populace. "The situation is grim, my friends. We are not warriors. We are healers, thinkers, creators. We know little of such matters. And so I have decided to reinstate the Fur and Freedom Fighters. Barkjon, Keyla, Ballaw, and Rowanoak know more on this subject than we do- you'll be in good paws. Now, does any one have any other ideas?" Almost immediately, Keyla's paw was in the air. "Yes, Keyla?"

The young otter stood and surveyed the populace. "Eight seasons ago, we faced a similar threat to our freedom. We faced Badrang the Tyrant, but overcame it with help." His eyes were determined. "I vote we seek out that help." Urran Voh felt cold anger ignite with in him as he realized what the young otter was saying. Keyla's sea blue eyes met Urran Voh's. "I move we go to find Martin the Warrior."

Conflicting murmurs ran through the populace. Urran Voh, nearly blind with anger, managed to speak calmly. "Keyla, I need to talk to you in private."


Almost as soon as they were out of earshot he turned on the otter. "Are you mad? I wouldn't let Martin within a thousand miles of Noonvale if he was the only hope of peace!"

Keyla waited while Urran continued his rant. When he reached a stopping point, he spoke his argument. "That just shows how bitter ye are." Urran Voh opened his mouth to respond, but Keyla continued. "You're looking for someone to blame for Rose's death, and Martin makes a logical scapegoat. But he had nothing to do with it. He put her as far away from the action as possible. I know. There was little fighting where she was."

"Then how come she died?"

Keyla fought to control his rising temper. "Because Badrang was such a coward that he tried to escape through the tunnel Grumm dug. He hacked at Grumm, and Rose hurled herself at him. He threw her against the wall and you know the rest."

"If you know so much about it, where were you during all this?"

"Saving Brome's hide!" Their voices had both raised.

"I can't. You don't know what it's like, Keyla. To lose one you love."

"You at least remember Rose. I have few memories of my father and mother. Snippets of a lullaby, a voice, the rocking of a ship- fragments of a previous life." Keyla laughed bitterly. "You were spared the sight of seeing Rose die. The only memory I have with clarity is seeing my father fall to the deck, covered in blood, dead. At least you did not see that happen to Rose."

Urran Voh shook his head. "My verdict is final."

=Edit

***

==="Make your report." Her voice was curt.

"My Lady, we found this at a rocky outcropping just above our landing place." He handed her Keyla's sling.

She examined it crictically then sniffed it. "An otter's sling. Of otter make, and it reeks of otter too." She threw it over her shoulder carelessly. "Were there any footprints?" she inquired.

"Yes, my lady."

"Where did they lead?"

"We thought we'd report before we followed it, my l-"

She slew him on the spot, the barbs on her sword ripping through his flesh. He didn't even have time to gasp, and if he did, he never heard it. She glared at the rat behind him. "Congratulations. You've just been promoted. Now follow those footprints! DO YOU UNDERSTAND!?!?"

The last words were a full-throated roar. The scouts fled. She settled back with a sigh. Idiots. They were the younger, unexperienced vermin. She'd have to keep them on their paws.

=Edit

***

===A door slammed and all of Noonvale looked up as Urran Voh walked into the room, with Keyla in tow. The way his father ground his teeth and curled his lip, the way his friend's blue eyes sparked and his fists clenched was like an open book to Brome. Both were angry, presumably at each other. Keyla stalked over to Brome and sat next to him, still muttering angrily under his breath. Urran Voh stepped back up.

"We decided that getting Martin was not a good idea, for tactical reasons-"

"More like personal reasons," Keyla wrathfully growled.

"-And we have no idea where he is," finished Urran Voh. "Now if anyone has any other ideas-"

With out warning, Brome shrieked, a high, piercing, heartbroken sound, and fell off the scaffolding to hard rock where he lay unmoving.

=Edit

***

===Brome saw it happen, plain as day. The pine marten from last night was laughing like a maniac. Her sword was covered in blood, and at her paws lay corpses. Dad. Mum. Grumm. Keyla. Ballaw. Rowanoak. Tullgrew. All these and more lay dead, slain by the pine marten.

He screamed and felt a paw on his shoulder.

"This is what will happen should you fail."

"Martin? You haven't aged at all!"

The other mouse had an apologetic look about him. "I'm Matthias, not Martin." For the first time, Brome saw the female standing next to Matthias.

Rose!

Before he could say anything, she began to speak.

"In Mossflower Wood, which grows thick and deep
Where is the Warrior who will answer thy call?
To lose to the Warbeast shall demand a cost steep;
You shall find the Warrior at the Abbey of Redwall"


Rose stopped speaking, and Matthias took over:

"To seek the Warrior, who shall proceed?
Which five travel forth through danger at need?
First of the five, the first to be shown-
Healer of Wounds, thy skills will be known.
Next, Otter the swimmer, slinger of stone.
Your constant companion, whether you laugh or moan.
Player must go, though she be filled with fright,
Singer of song, and dancer of light.
Then the thrower of javelins- my words thou shalt heed,
Freed slave from Marshank, your presence we need
Lastly, the strong, loyal digger of rows,
A great friend to Rose- in his heart still she grows."


As one, three voices began to speak- Matthias', Rose's and Felldoh's. It was a little eerie; the way they spoke in unison- a dead healer, a slain hero, and an as of yet unborn Warrior. That just made the chanted lines all the more terrifying:

Tarry not, continue on your way <center>When two have fallen in the land without rain,
Beware the little folk, flee away,
Do not trust their sweet refrain.
One more shall be lost at the River Moss,
An expense to Stormfin but to thee a gain.

Brome had a bad feeling about the days ahead.

Chapter Three: ParleyEdit

"Where did the footprints lead?" she asked with a frown. Hopefully, this rat was smarter than those other idiots she's met earlier.

"It led to that Loonvalley place."

"How many full-grown woodlanders were there?"

"Hmm, uh, no more than uh, two hundred? . . ."

Luckily, she didn't notice the question in his voice.

"Good. I want every member in my army fully armed and ready to march in one hour. I'm promoting you to second in command."

She reached into her cloak and produced a brooch in the likeness of a cobra ready to strike- identical to one she wore on her shoulder. "This is a sign of your rank." She roughly pinned it on his left shoulder. "I had a black cloak here somewhere- if you find it, you can have it. Now, don't fail me- one hour."

"Yes my lady." He ducked out the door with a slight frown. He had seen young ones at Noonvale. He didn't feel very comfortable attacking little 'uns. The others could call him soft if'n they wanted, but he wasn't going to hurt innocent babes.


'

***


Their conflict forgotten for the moment, Keyla and Urran Voh hovered by Brome's still form. "What happened, Keyla?"

"He screamed and fell. That's all."

"He's coming to!"

Brome groaned and sat up, holding his head. "What- what happened?"

"You fell off the scaffolding," Keyla said, "You were lucky you didn't land on yer 'ead."

"Brome, are you alright?" Urran Voh asked anxiously.

"I'm fine." Brome's eyes fell on the Laterose bush. His eyes widened. "Father, Rose sent me a message."

Urran Voh stared at his son. "She what?"

"Yes, Rose. And Felldoh." Barkjon stifled a gasp. "And some guy named Matthias who looked an awful lot like Martin . . ."

"What did they say?" Keyla asked.

"In Mossflower Wood, which grows thick and deep Where is the Warrior who will answer thy call? To lose to the Warbeast shall demand a cost steep;

You shall find the Warrior at the Abbey of Redwall"

"To seek the Warrior, who shall proceed?

Which five travel forth through danger at need?

First of the five, the first to be shown-

Healer of Wounds, thy skills will be known.

Next, Otter the swimmer, slinger of stone.

Your constant companion, whether you laugh or moan.

Player must go, though she be filled with fright,

Singer of song, and dancer of light.

Then the thrower of javelins- my words thou shalt heed,

Freed slave from Marshank, your presence we need

Lastly, the strong, loyal digger of rows,

A great friend to Rose- in his heart still she grows."

Tarry not, continue on your way

When two have fallen in the land without rain,

Beware the little folk, flee away,

Do not trust their sweet refrain.

One more shall be lost at the River Moss, An expense to Stormfin but to thee a gain.

"What does it mean?" a frustrated Brome finished.

"It means," Keyla began with a triumphant look at Urran Voh, "That we have to go find Martin."

Urran Voh's face darkened. "Keyla, we've been through this already-"

"It makes sense," mused Aryah,

"In Mossflower Wood, which grows thick and deep Where is the Warrior who will answer thy call? To lose to the Warbeast shall demand a cost steep; You shall find the Warrior at the Abbey of Redwall"

"She even went so far to even tell us where to find Martin."

"I can't believe you're considering this, Aryah," Urran Voh whispered brokenly.

"It's our only hope," she whispered softly, taking his paw.

Keyla placed a paw on the Chieftain's shoulder. Urran Voh was quiet, then he exhaled and slowly nodded. "You're right."

"To seek the Warrior, who shall proceed? Which five travel forth through danger at need? First of the five, the first to be shown- Healer of Wounds, thy skills will be known,"

Tullgrew quoted after a minute. Her brow furrowed "Basically, it's asking five of us to go find Martin. How do we know who the first of the five is?"

"It's me," Brome said softly, avoiding his father's gaze. "She showed me what would happen if we failed, and I was the first of the five questers to know of this."

"Here I draw the line!" Urran Voh burst out angrily. "Brome, you are NOT going!"

"I must. Father, Rose told me to go. Healer of wounds, thy skills will be known. What if I don't go and somebeast dies?"

He had nothing to say to that. "Continue," he muttered. Brome recited the next two lines.

”Next, Otter the swimmer, slinger of stone. Your constant companion, whether you laugh or moan.

"Keyla, guess you're on this boat as well."

The otter nodded. "Aye. I'm one o' two otters here at Noonvale, an' I'm with ye constantly. Got to be me."

"Why not Tullgrew?" asked Celandine.

"'Cause she uses javelins. Me, I still think nothin' beats a good sling."

Well, Urran Voh thought with relief, Keyla's no pushover. Least he won't let anything happen to Brome.

"

Player must go, though she be filled with fright, Singer of song, and dancer of light.


"Player? What's a player?"

"A Player, old lad, is a thespian! A flippin' actor! One of us Rambling Rosehip Players is in on the fun! Righto, time to pack my bags, toodle pip!"

"Sorry, Ballaw, it's not you."

The hare attempted to take a bite of pastie and speak at the same time but failed miserably. "Groomffansmoch!"

"Just live with it, Ballaw," chuckled Rowanoak, "If Keyla's going on the quest, somebeast needs to supervise the slingers."

"I was saying that- oh, never mind. Pack, up Celandine, guess you're the lucky quester!"

"Ballaw, don't joke!" Tulgrew said reproachfully.

"I don't think that was a joke, Tull'," Keyla said. Singer of song and dancer of light.

Celandine went pale. "Leave Noonvale? And go to potentially hazardous country?! Ohh-" she fainted and Buckler caught her.

Brome began cracking the next line.

Then the thrower of javelins- my words thou shalt heed, Freed slave from Marshank, your presence we need.

Before anybeast could say anything, a shout came up and a sentry ran over. "Vermin approaching!!"


The two rats waited outside of Noonvale. "How do you think it'll take them to notice us?" asked Fatgutt impatiently. A sentry ran from the outskirts of Noonvale and then back to the centre.


"Looks like they just did," Ripred replied.

"Father, don't go!" Brome cried, grabbing his father's arm, "They're armed!"

"I must, Brome. I must try to avert war."

"At least don't go alone," Keyla said, pulling Amballa's sword from its place on the wall and thrusting it into his belt.

Tullgrew joined the twain, holding a stave. "They're right." -


"Put down your blade, waterdog," snarled Fatgutt.

Keyla bristled angrily. "Once you drop your halberd!" Tullgrew placed a paw on his shoulder.

"Ignore him, Keyla. He's baiting you."

Urran Voh ignored the exchange. "What is it you wanted to say?" he inquired calmly.

"Will you surrender to Zounzdican the Evil, Warbeast of the North?"

"What are the consequences if we choose to fight?"

"Then Her Ladyship will wage all-out war on you. You will all be slain- down to the last babe!" Fatgutt said with a smirk.

How did I get in this mess again? wondered Ripred, You were stupid enough to run into Zounzdican. Then you have two choices. Join or die.

Urran Voh looked unnerved by Fatgutt's blood thirsty proclaimation. "And if we surrender?"

"Don't!" Keyla hissed.

"Then we will enslave you and yours. All property will belong to Zounzdican and her horde. What say you?" Fatgutt asked.

Time stood at a stand still. Thoughts and memories flashed through his mind.

Brome tearfully telling him of Rose's fate at the paws of Badrang's paw

The freed slaves come awake screaming from nightmares in which they were again enslaved, watching friends wither and die around them

Seeing emanciated Dibbuns from Marshank

The intense hatred bestowed upon Felldoh as a result of his slavery since Dibbunhood

The horrendous scars on Keyla's back, scars that will never go away

All results of slavery.

"What is your answer?"

A rush of determination came over him. The woodlanders under his care would not be subjected to that tyranny. Urran Voh raised his brown eyes to meet Fatgutt's black ones. "I will not surrender."

Keyla relaxed visibly and Tullgrew smiled with relief. "Come on, Fatty, let's go."

The older rat ignored his higher-ranking officer and glared at Urran Voh. Suddenly his halberd was in motion. It cleaved through the air, slicing-

Nothing. The sinewy male otter had exploded into action, shoving Urran and Tullgrew out the path of the javelin the instant his paw had moved. The next thing Fatgutt knew, he was fighting for his life. He glanced at the otter's face and screamed in terror.

Keyla's sea blue eyes were now steel grey, seeing nothing but the traitorous rat. When the halberd had goen into motion, he had found himself knowing automatically its path. His vision had fragmented and his surroundings- Tullgrew, Urran, the other rat- faded. Areas of the rat showed- the unguarded eyes, the belly for which he took his name, his open mouth. Targets.

Urran Voh and Tullgrew stared in astonishment at their friend. The normally mellow otter was fighting like one possessed. He gave a hard strike with his paw and the halberd's wooden shaft shattered like glass. The rat, moaning in terror, tripped over his own tail and fell, staring up. It was clear that Keyla was going to kill him.

Tullgrew started forward and caught her friend's shoulder. "Keyla, stop!"

He turned his head towards her and briefly she wondered if he would attack her too. "Tullgrew?" he asked, disoriented.

"Don't kill him, Keyla. I've had enough fighting for one day."

From his position on the ground, Fatgutt saw the berserk otter's stony expression soften. The grey faded and his eyes retained their usual cerulean hue.

The younger rat helped the older one up, staring at Keyla, who shifted uncomfortably. Fatgutt glared at the trio. "this means war!" he threatened. He picked up the head to his shattered halberd and the pair slunk away.

Keyla stared after the twain, a puzzled expression on his face. "What happened? Why were they looking at me like that?"

Urran Voh looked at the otter, aghast. "You attacked him!"

There was genuine puzzlement in the otter's eyes. "I did?"

"I don't think he remembers, Urran."

"I attacked him? Why?" His expression became dismayed. "For no reason?"

"No, the scum made the first move," she assured him, "You saved our lives. Though I must admit, you scared me there for a second. Have you-"

"It doesn't matter now," Urran Voh interrupted, "We need to prepare Noonvale for war." In the light, he looked weary and careworn. "I never in my worst nightmare imagined that I would ever say those words."

Chapter Four: Dark WaveEdit

It was quiet. The last golden rays of the sun faded as night fell on the Western Sea. In the slavehold of the Dark Wave, a brawny sea otter had no choice but to relive his memories.

Had he lived, his son would have been 15 winters old today. Brown eyes filled with tears of rage as he recalled the catastrophe he had brought onto his family . . .

I laughed as I wiped the blood off my swords with a rag, looking at the vermin that floated in the water. They'd never bother innocent creatures again. I felt a small paw tugging on mine and I smiled. Speak of the Ribbajack. "Farder, wet me twy!" a young voice pleaded. My heart swelled with pride as I turned to my son.

"Alrighty mate, let's see if'n ye can carry these yet." I pressed my sword into his paw. He wrinkled his nose.

"Bof of dem!" he begged. I gave in and handed him the other one. I hid a smile as he strained, trying to wield both blades with a single paw each. He got them about an inch of the deck. "I . . . nearwy . . . gorrit . . . whoa!" He toppled backwards and hit the deck. He sighed. "Guess I is too wikkwe," he muttered.

I smiled, reclaimed my swords and sheathed them, then picked up my offspring. "It's not your age that matters, Kay, nor you size or physical strength, or even your mental prowess. It's what's in here that matters," I said, placing my paw on his chest, "What you believe you can do and what you trust in." I pointed to the sky over head, where the stars were coming out. "See that star?"

"Da bwight one?"

"Yes. It's the smallest of all the stars."

He looked at me, cerulean eyes wide. "Da smawwest? But-"

"Do you know why that's my favorite star, Kay?" He shook his head.

"Because it's the brightest star. It doesn't let its size affect its light, or anything else." He stared at the bright point of light. The countless stars of heaven's field were mirrored in his eyes.

"Gammage!" Maris, my wife, came over. "You know it's Kay's bed time!"

"But I don' wanna go to . . . *yawn* bed!"

Maris shook her head and gently took our son and carried him down to his bed. We tucked him in. Just as I swept out of the room, his sleepy voice called after me. "Farder?"

"What is it, Kay?"

"When I gwow up, I wanna be jus' like oo'."

I smiled. "Good night, Kay."

I awoke when the door to my cabin slammed open. I sat up in astonishment as Seapaw, my steersbeast, stumbled in, a black-fletched arrow protruding from his chest. "Seapaw, what-"

He fell to his knees, gasping. "Redtide . . . Goreleech . . . many vermin . . ." his breath rattled and he went limp.

I pulled on a tunic and strapped on my swords. Maris was already dressed. "Maris, get to Kay. He's the only one on the ship who can't wield a sword." I offered her one of my swords, but she shook her head. "Maris,you have to."

"I don't want to kill anything- not while I have a choice."

Sounds of battle reached me. "I don't have time for this. Just make sure nothing happens to Kay and yourself." I raced on deck and threw myself into the fray. I saw them. A pine marten and the stoat. They must hate me bad if they actually stopped fighting among themselves long enough to attack me. I saw the pine marten, Zounzdisommat or other, working her way with the others to the door leading below decks. Maris! Kay! I hurled myself at them, screaming like a bunyip.

They had expected it and began fighting me all at once. I saw an opening and swung at the pine marten's head.

Too late I heard the paw step behind me. The next thing I knew was blackness.

Gammage Galedeep futily tugged at his chains, an action often repeated over the past 13 winters. He could feel Maris behind him. "What did we do wrong, Maris?" he whispered brokenly, "How did we let this happen?"

"If only I had used a sword-"

"No, it's my fault. I wasn't smart enough. I should 'ave guessed that they'd attack us next. It was my mistake and we all paid the price." Tears trickled down his cheeks. "Especially Kay."

"Ach, stop blaming yerself ye wetblanket," ordered a voice with a heavy Highland accent, "Thair was nothin' ye could 'ave done."

"I should have gone to protect Kay myself. Then maybe he-"

"We don't know for sure, Gammage. We don't know if he lived or died," Maris said.

"I'd give anything to know that he was alive and safe- my very life, even."

"Alive or dead, blaming yourself won't get us anywhere," a young mouse named Burdock said.

"Aye, the young'un's right. Don't blame yerself."

"Young 'un? Dell, you're not that much older than I am."

The squirrel sighed. "Ah wish ye'd ferget that already!"

Gammage turned to Maris, seated behind him, ignoring the bantering friends. "Maris, I swear- that fox will die by my blade. Then that stoat. And the pine marten. Then I won't rest until I find my son."

She reached forward as far as she could and touched his paw. "Where you go, I go."

Gammage looked out through the tiny porthole at the sky, his eyes landing on the smallest star of all. By far the brightest. Kay, please be alright, where ever you are.

***
Then the thrower of javelins- my words thou shalt heed, Freed slave from Marshank, your presence we need."


"If anyone else thinks that this line gets more infuriating by the minute, raise yer paw!"

There was a show of paws, quickly lowered at Urran Voh's stern gaze. "A bit of light-heartedness isn't gonna hurt any- in fact, I think it'd help." Urran Voh shook his head at the young otter, but said nothing else.

"I vote we skip it and move on," Celandine said.

"We can narrow it down a little," Keyla said, Freed slave from Marshank- that kicks out about 7/8ths of the populace. And is there anybeast here who uses javelins?"

"About all of the Fur and Freedom Fighter, old lad," Ballaw said grimly.

"Not all of the Fur and Freedom Fighters escaped from Marshank," pointed out Tullgrew.

"Either ways, it's a dead end. Let's leave it for later," Barkjon said.

"Lastly, the strong, loyal digger of rows, A great friend to Rose- in his heart still she grows."

"Huh, this one's easy!" Urran Voh said, "A digger is a mole. It could only be Grumm."

The mole stood and tugged on his snout. "Hurr, oi bees ready to go when you'm ees."

"Not yet," Keyla said grimly, "There's one more stanza:

"Tarry not, continue on your way When two have fallen in the land without rain, Beware the little folk, flee away, Do not trust their sweet refrain. One more shall be lost at the River Moss, An expense to Stormfin but to thee a gain.

"I don't know about you guys, but I don't think that sounds good. The land without rain is probably a desert, but who in the name of D- erm, fur and fire knows what little folk are?"

"Your guess is as good as mine, Keyla," Urran Voh said, "Who knows what will happen?"

"And we still need another quester," Rowanoak pointed out.

"Worry about it later. We'd better get a defense up for Noonvale. What's the good of going on a quest if there's going to be nothing to save?"

2 Days later

Tullgrew was tired. Exhaustion seeped through her muscles as she tried to get the tree trunk in place. Suddenly her strength gave way. She felt a momentary rush of panic as it started to fall back on her-

She needen't have worried. Keyla darted under the tree and righted it, muscles standing out like a coiled snake ready to strike. "I'll finish up here, Tull'. You go an' rest up."

She smiled at him and stumbled back to Noonvale, tired but proud. The wall was near completion. Keyla, Barkjon, Ballaw and Rowanoak had designed it. Tree trunks were cut down from the surrounding forest and rolled into the valley, then set in holes dug deep to firmly ground them. The branches were intwined with each other and brambles, thorns, bells- anything to dissuade or warn of vermin.

She sat on a bench next to Brome and began picking thorns and brambles from her paws. "What happened earlier, Tullgrew?"

She looked at him, confused. "Earlier?"

"When you and my dad came back from the parley withthe rats, Keyla seemed . . . upset."

She told him what had happened. He stayed quiet and when she finished, he spoke slowly, as if trying to recall. "Actually, I don't think that's the first time it's happened."

"What? How- when-"

"We were trapped in the tunnel under Marshank. The entrance had collapsed and we were running out of air and the others were panicking. He pushed his way up to me and asked me what was wrong.I told him, and he just . . . . went into a rage, I guess. He flew at those rocks like they were foes to be killed, and boy," Brome shook his head, "He sure took it seriously. I couldn't see his eyes, so I can't say if it's the same thing or not."

"It could be the same thing."

"It could . . ." Brome chewed his lip thoughtfully. "I wonder if Keyla knows anything. I don't know much about his past- maybe there's a clue there."

"Just as clueless as you are, mates."

The twain jumped guiltily. Keyla materialized out of the mist and sat next to his friends, eyes unreadable. "I don't remember anything of my life before Badrang except my father dying and a few other trivial things."

"How did you feel during the parley and the tunnel incident?"

He was quiet, as if trying to recall. Then at last he spoke, a puzzled tone to his voice. "I can't recall it at all. I mean, it's there, but when I try to remember, it . . . it won't come."

He sounded downcast. Tullgrew felt pity seep into her heart. She reached over and lightly touched his paw. "It'll be alright. You'll see."

He said nothing but turned his face to the star studded sky.


***

Never had Redwall Abbey seen such a storm. Lightning flared and thunder crashed, shattering the still night like glass. It was one such blast which awoke Gonff, Prince of Mousethieves. He'd always been a light sleeper, and this storm didn't help matters any. He groaned, rolled over and tried to go back to bed.

Then he heard it. "Badrang!" What was that? He sat up, fully awake. "Badrang!" It was coming from somewhere in the Abbey, drowned by the He stood up and followed the sound. He opened the door from which the sounds emanated.

Martin was asleep, for his eyes were closed. But he was kicking, thrashing, and struggling like one in Bloodwrath. It was he who was shouting.

"I am a warrior! Martin son of Luke! I will live, I will not give in and die up here! Do you hear me, Badrang? I will live to take back my father's sword and slay you one day! Badraaaaaaaannggg!"

Gonff looked around wildly for a way to awake his friend.

Tied by my paws, I fought the storm. "Badrang! Badrang! Can you hear me? I am a warrior! Martin son of Luke! I will live, I will not give in and die up here! Do you hear me, Badrang? I will live to take back my father's sword and slay you one day! Badraaaaaaaannggg!" I shouted. Wind tore at my face.

"Martin son of Luke! Can you hear me?" I opened my mouth to respond and water filled it.

Choking and gagging, Martin came awake, disoriented. Where was Badrang? And while they were on the subject, who was Badrang in the first place? "Martin, what happened?" Gonff's worried face loomed over him. Martin sat up and noticed he was soaking wet.

"Gonff-"

"You wouldn't wake up!" Thunder chashed out side and we both jumped. "You were sleeping through that. I think you were having a nightmare."

Martin, confused, shook his head. "I don't remember anything."

"I do. You were shouting a name. Badrang."

Badrang. Martin felt a shudder of anger course through him. The name was evil. Of this he had no doubt.

Badrang. Badrang the Tyrant.

Chapter Five: AttackedEdit

Dawn's early light shone down into Noonvale. The newly erected walls cut off much of the light. Noonvale's life style continued as usual, save the sentries onthe walls, and the fact that nearly all the creatures were armed. Keyla, Ballaw, Urran Voh, Brome, and Rowanoak were attempting to dissolve that last couplet.

"Then the thrower of javelins- my words thou shalt heed, Freed slave from Marshank, your presence we need."

Urran Voh shook his head in puzzlement. "Whose presence? That's a question we need an answer to." Tullgrew poked her head in the door. "Breakfast has been ready for an hour now." There were murmurs of "wait another second" "Just a minute." Keyla looked up as she turned to go. His eyes widened as they lighted on the bundle of javelins strapped to her back. "Tullgrew!"

"What?"

His voice was low. "I think you're the one."

"Don't grasp at straws, Keyla." "I'm not! Do you think I'm happy about this? It has to be her. She escaped from Marshank and I bet you a pot of shrimp an' 'otroot soup that all the other Fur and Freedom Fighters forwent the javelins in favor of a bow and arrows- at least, the ones who escaped from Marshank."

"He's right," Rowanoak said, "Almost everybeast selected a bow and quiver of arrows. The few who didn't were myself, Ballaw and Tullgrew here."

"We better leave soon," Brome said, "Say, about noon. We can get it together by then, right?"

Urran Voh nodded. "I think so."

"Tullgrew, wait." The female otter swept by Keyla, ignoring him. He stared after her, confused. "What did I do?"

"I think it's what you said earlier- that you weren't happy that she was coming. Why did you say that anyways?"

"Brome, at the end of this, three of us are going to be dead. Three out of five creatures. I don't like those odds." "Oh."

"Not that I can tell her. She's not listening to anything I say. I don't think she's been this mad since the prank war."

An involuntary giggle escaped Brome. "Oooh, that was fun. Even Father started pranking people!" Keyla smiled. "Don't you wish we could start another one and just forget this whole thing?" Brome nodded. "Keyla, Brome! Time to go!" Keyla shouldered his pack. "Come on, mate."

Keyla and Grumm were pulled aside by Aryah. "Will you do something for me? Please, take care of Brome. Don't let anything happen to him, like Rose . . ." her voice trailed off and she bit her lip, fighting back tears.

"Hurr, oi'll guard him with moi loife."

"Marm, I swear it on me 'onor- I won't let anythin' 'appen to him while I'm with him. I will protect him as if he was my brother."

She smiled through the tears. "Thank you." She broke away and rejoined the main group, Grumm in tow.

"Farewell, Brome."

"Be careful, son!"

Urran Voh and Aryah embraced their only child, tears running down their cheeks. Keyla felt a hot stab of envy, watching his friend enjoy what he himself could not. He has a father and a mother to worry about him and to comfort him when he's sad. Somebeast who loves him. Me, I have no one. I did . . . once.

Pain shot through my arm as I was thrown roughly to the deck. Screaming in pain as the barbed whip was brought down on my back. My father lay on the deck, blood running down his face like a river. I shake him, futily calling him. No answer.

Angrily, the otter dashed the hot tears from his face. Tears were a luxury he could no longer afford. He felt a paw on his shoulder. Without turning he knew it was Tullgrew. "I'm sorry. I know why you said what you said. I shouldn't have reacted that way. We've known each other forever and I should know better." He looked at her and she saw the faint echos of the liquid sadness in his eyes. "What's wrong?"

"It's nothin' ye could help with anyways," he muttered, adjusting his pack.

The five questers slipped towards the exit tunnel under the wall, as it had no gate. Aryah stared after the questers, eyes filled with worry. Is my son one of those fated to die? '

***

"My lady!" Fatgutt stumbled into Zounzdican's room, panting. "Five woodlanders have broken away from the rest of the populace. They're going to get help. What do we do?"

Zounzdican pounded her paw on the stone wall in anger. Her army had moved into the ruins of Fort Marshank as a means of beginning occupation. "Ripred, take ten fighters, persue those woodlanders and stop them. Kill them, capture them- I don't care how, just do it!!!!" He had no choice but to obey.

***

Sharp voice grating and scraping, she called her challenge. "I would speak with your chieftain!" After a pause, Urran Voh's figure appeared on the walltops, high above her head. Zounzdican stared him down, eyes poisonous green with hatred. A shudder raced through him at the way she looked down at him despite him being at least 16 feet over her. The wind billowed, spreading her black cloak and revealing her ebony armor, evilly twisted and spiked. Her barbed sword glinted in the red light of sunsety, lusting for blood and death. You are a filthy worm, her eyes seemed to taunt, I will crush you and yours under my paws.

"I gave you every chance for you and yours to surrender. Lucky for you, I will give you one last chance. Surrendur and I will spare you miserable lives!"

Urran Voh felt a burst of anger. And subject those in his care to slavery? Never. "Go to Dark Forest!" he spat. The Noonvalers flinched, unaccostomed to hearing him speak in such a violent manner.

She raised her sword and dropped viciously. "Fire!"

Arrows hissed through the air, mingling with the battle cries and the screams of the wounded and dying. War had come to Noonvale.

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