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Rhaegan Front Page Stamp by WynBird Finarel Stamp by Hirvlased Athcatrazna Stamp by WynBird Loki Stamp by FaIIenShadows Ranna Stamp by halloumicheese DotW Geoffrey Stamp by MatrixPotato Raphael Front Page Stamp by WynBird
Palaeontology Stamp by Kezzi-Rose Evolution Stamp by Kezzi-Rose
Let's Collect Evidence by XxDiaLinnxX Respect and Tolerance by LordPendragonOfCaria Politeness is not sexism by Ramen27 It's the honest truth by LordPendragonOfCaria :thumb365197687: It's really useless in 1st World countries. by World-Hero21 Girls can be sexist too, you know. by World-Hero21 I'm Allowed to Eat Meat by FoxyScorpion
Constantly turning to watch their backs, Redwallers hurried to cross Brockhall’s spacious rooms. Simon kept straining his ears in case their followers catch up with them. Wait, is it a sound of footfalls, or my ears deceiving me? Then why it’s in front of us, not behind?
Abbess Bikkle, having better hearing then small-eared otters, stopped and raised her paw. “Beasts in the next passage,” she whispered. “More then two of them.”
Skipper Rumbol nodded to his son, and they both silently handed Dibbuns they carried to Olva and Churk. Simon unsheathed the Sword of Martin, and Rumbol loaded his sling. Without uttering a word, they came to the next passage.
“Whoo’s dere, Skippa?” cried one of the Dibbuns before the others could stop his mouth.
“Redwaaaall!” Without wasting any more time, otters leaped forward, their weapon at ready. Simon seized the sword’s hilt so tight that his claws ached. He won’t lose his head! He won’t!
The otters landed in front of small group of moles, which backed away in terror. “Whoa! Dun’t kill us, aurr!”
“Yeep! We didn’t knuw it’s yer ‘ouse, zurr!”
When Rumbol saw who stalked his friends, he immediately put down his sling. “Sorry we frightened you, friends, we thought it was vermin. We are from Redwall Abbey.” He quickly introduced himself and his companions, who now joined him.
One of the moles, a short male with glossy black pelt, stepped forward and touched his nose in a traditional mole gesture. “Burr, we’re Claypaws, koind zurrs. Oi’m Roben Claypaw, dese’re moi brother Rupet, moi parents Rolf’n’Marfa, moi wife Deelma an’ our likkle ones, Renee’n’Allie. We came to Mossflauwer from west to settle ‘ere, an’ found dis ‘uose few days ago. Dere wein’t nobeast, so we stayed ‘ere. Is it yer ‘uose?”
Abbess Bikkle shook her head. “No, Brockhall doesn’t belong to anybeast. And it’s not safe here, there are vermin on our trail, and they surely won’t spare your family!”
Rolf Claypaw angrily rapped his walking cane on the stone floor. “Urr, rotten-harted vermint! I’ve dealt with dat scam when I was younger…”
Rupet touched his father’s paw. “Sure, Pa, but we’d better woit through it in our secret hoideout.”
“Which hideout?” asked Churk. “I’ve studied this place, but don’t remember anything like this!”
“Dat’s an empty chamber in nort rooms,” explained Roben. “Dat’s not our ‘ouse, so we stayed in dat chamber. Wery well hid, only moles will foind one. We all can hoide ‘ere.”
“Ah, a sanded-in passage!” remembered the otter Recorder. “Urrm said it’s too old to reconstruct. Is it big enough to hide us all?”
Moles nodded, but Skipper Rumbol shook his head. “Thanks, but we’d better give word to Redwall.”
“Wait. We can’t put our Dibbuns under such a risk,” said Bikkle with commanding notes in her voice. “We can’t run across Mossflower with vermin on our tail and little ones in our paws. Me and Dibbuns will stay with Claypaws.”
“But I ain’t wanna to stay!” cried Cleve. “I fight vermin, like Triss’n’Simon!”
“You are too small for a fight,” noted Skipper and went on arguing with Abbess. “Staying here is risky too! What if you are caught?”
“We’ve hid eivery trace ‘ere, an’ not a crack is between door an’ woll,” reassured them Roben. “Not an eartworm will foind it!”
“Look, Skipper, you’n’others are all otters. You can escape fastest by the water,” said Bikkle in such harsh tone Simon rarely heard from her. “If vermin catch up with you, me and Dibbuns will only slow you down. You should return to Redwall fastest. I’m the Abbess of Redwall, and your duty is to obey me. We’ll be alright.”
Rumbol frowned – he knew it’s useless to argue when the Abbes was that serious. “Right, but… take care of each other.”
When the sun climbed up the sky to its peak and began to go down, the great ash tree was chopped down, some of its branches and boughs already hewn off and a piece of its trunk cleaved. Triss put away her woodcutter axe and looked round with pride. “Good work, everybeast! I won’t be wrong to say we all deserved a big savory lunch!”
“Excellent!” Brandon, a young squirrel that was chopping off branches with Triss, jumped down of the fallen tree. “I’ll come to Friar Furrel and bring some treetop broth with Summer Salad, apple pie'n'meadowcream and strawberry cordial… may be some cheese… and blueberry tart…”
Other Redwallers were quick to add their favorite dishes to the list. “An’ deeper'n'ever pie, ho urr!”
“Hotroot soup, mate!”
Brandon waved his paws in a mock terror. “Right, I’ll just tell Furrel a gang of hungry beasts going to plunder her kitchens!”
“I think mint tea and a few oatscones with honey is enough for me,” said Triss when the laughter died out. “Can you bring them to the eastern walltop, Bran?” Young squirrel nodded, and Triss asked Old Skipper. “Would you join me, friend?”
The aging otter sat among the molecrew and imitated mole accent, “Ho urr, Oi’d bees a mole t’day, an’ we moles nivver understand ‘ow ye squirrels so lurve heights. No zurr, Oi’ll stay on gud firm soil!”
The Abbey Warrior responded in the same fashion, “Burr, then Oi’ll wait t‘ll ye turn back to h’otter on the wall.”
When she was on the walltop, the squirrel spread the cloth and laid out the food. “Okay, if that riverdog doesn’t want to join me, at least I can enjoy a quiet break here!”
Nice warm weather, good food and rest after hard work had its effect on Triss, and soon she dozed off. She woke up when somebeast touched her paw. Triss opened her eyes and saw Martin the Warrior standing next to her. The celebrated hero of the past pointed his paw somewhere over Triss’ head. “Look, Trisscar Swordmaid, and beware!”
Triss realized she was sitting on the western walltop, not the eastern one, but it didn’t surprise her much. She looked across the western plains and the road and saw a cloud of dust rising over the road. It was rising higher and higher, and finally it blocked up sunlight, casting a dark shadow over the Abbey. “What’s that, Martin?” cried Triss.
Martin’s voice was firm and serious, and yet it gave her hope. “A darkness is coming, Trisscar, a darkness created by cruelty and evil. Redwallers will need all their strength and courage, all the fire burning in their hearts to banish that darkness. Stand firm, my friend.”
Triss opened her eyes – she woke up again, this time for real. She was relieved to see there were no darkness, but just a quiet summer forest lying before the wall. Then she saw a shadow moving in the underbrush. A rat! The squirrel warrior stared at the forest attentively and spotted even more vermin sneaking here.
“Vermin!” shouted Triss jumping on her footpaws. “Alarm! Vermin at the gates!”
Outside the Redwall walls, deep under the cover of thick bushes, Darm Deathtrap knitted his brow. “Kill the squirrel! And tell Catcher to attack!”
S-wishh! Triss’ cry was cut short when an arrow pierced her chest, and squirrel tumbled down the walltop to the ground.
“They killed Triss!” cried somebeast in despair.
Skipper was first to jump to his friend and bow over her. “She’s alive!” shouted he loud enough to outvoice other Abbeydwellers as he checked her pulse. “Call for sister Vernal! Others – arm yourselves, everybeast! We’ll deal with the vermin that wounded our Triss!”
Fleggen ran up the walltop before Old Skipper. “Logalogalog! Where’s that vermin?”
As if responding to his question, a warcry came from the north. “Death! Death! Deathtraaap!”
The shrew rushed to the northern walltop, but Skipper grabbed him by shoulder before he could go. “Wait! Vermin are coming from the north, but Triss was shot at the eastern walltop! It must be some kind of distraction! You stay here and watch over the walls!”
Fleggen tore himself free from the otter’s grip. “What?! I won’t stay aside while you fight vermin, riverdog!”
Skipper grabbed the young Guosim by his throat. “No time for silly squabbles! You stay here, shrew!”
Leaving Fleggen behind, Skipper made his way to the northern walltop and quickly looked over battlements. At least eighty vermin were almost under the Abbey walls. All Skipper had time to pick up with him were a sling and a pebble pouch, but even this simple weapon was deadly in old veteran’s paws. Three or four corsairs were knocked down lifeless with his clear shots before vermin return volley of arrows forced him to hide behind the battlements.
Down on the Abbey lawn Sister Vernal, Infirmary Keeper of Redwall, was treating Triss’ wounds carefully, commenting aloud for other Abbeydwellers, who considered it their duty to check on their Warrior before going to the wall. “She will live, she will… the wound not very deep, they missed the heart, though the lung may be caught in… and her hindpaw is broken by the fall… Wait, Turfee, where are you going?”
Her assistant, a young mouse named Turfee, ran up the wall stairs with healer’s pouch in one paw and an axe in another. “They need either healer or warrior up the walls, and I can be both! Redwaaall!”
Meanwhile, corsairs came close enough to throw metal hooks over the wall, but none of them managed to get high up the ropes, as Redwallers immediately cut them through. Then Ruggum’s molecrew made its way up the walltop, carrying baskets of the rubbish Redwallers cleaned before the lunch - blown twigs, broken branches, mixed earth and mud. Foremole and his crew hurtled the baskets over the parapet wall, knocking vermin down and causing confusion among corsairs. This and the increasing hail of arrows, stones and javelins finally made vermin retreat and disappear in the woods.
“Hurr-hurr-hurrey, we won!” chanted Ruggum happily.
Skipper was fast to bring him down the earth. “They retreated too easily. It cannot that simple, bet it!”
“Vermin! Attack from the south!” cried Fleggen from his post. “Logalogalogaloog!”
Skipper cursed into his whiskers. “To the southern walltop! Ruggum, stay here! Redwaaall!”
Outside the Redwall walls, deep under the cover of thick bushes, Darm Deathtrap smiled. Excellent! His plan finally snapped into action. He had corsairs enough just to succeed by dint of their numbers, but he didn’t want to waste his soldiers. Let Redwallers run from one walltop to the other while two of his crews attack in turn one after another, in charges short enough not to kill too many soldiers. Then, when Redwallers would be too exhausted… Redwall Abbey will become his!
One after another, small groups of corsairs had been coming back and reporting the results of theшк pursuit to Nabon. Though Darm’s son wasn’t left in charge of the camp, he was acting as if he was, because Captain Arrowfly was wounded during Shamra’s escape and now was treated by healers, and Captain Clyde was busy – judging by the shouts heard from his tent, he was questioning Shamra’s follower captured today. At least, Clyde alone called it ‘questioning’. All the others called it ‘torture’.
The news weren’t good. Shamra escaped, Captain Greywhisker disappeared together with a score of soldiers, and all the tracks of them were lost.
“Shall we stay in the camp, sir?”
Nabon hesitated before answering. His farther would have ordered something useful. Thinking about Darm, Nabon felt a prickle of resentment. Not only Darm didn’t make his son Captain – he left him in camp like a troublesome whelp! “It’s too dangerous, Nabon. You’ll have another chance to prove yourself.” He might have said this, but for Nabon it meant, “You’re too young and inexperienced and would ruin everything.”
Now, with Clyde’s Lieutenant waiting for his command, Nabon felt he had that very chance to prove himself. The young weasel tried to remember his father’s lessons, and it immediately sprang to his mind that Darm was always worried not to let other woodlanders interfere in his plans. If it’s a problem, I’ll remove it.
He looked down on a short wall-eyed ferret. “What’s your name? Badeye? You should know these woods and its inhabitants well, right? Then look what we are going to do…”
“Are you sure we didn’t miss that Brockhall?” asked Freedom as she stopped to catch her breath on a thick birch bough. “We’ve been heading south-east for ages!”
Maple shrugged. “How could I know? I don’t even know how that Brockhall looks like!”
“Yeek! Yahee! Aaaarr!” A loud shriek rose somewhere not far from two friends.
“Here!” Maple flashed among the branches like a red lightning, Dom barely keeping pace with him. Then the young squirrel stopped so abruptly that Dom almost crashed into him.
They were at the very edge of a large clearing with an ancient dead oak in the middle of it. Freedom eagerly looked down and felt giddy again – not because of the height, but because of the sight she saw. Large bunch of vermin was dragging four moles and a squirrelmaid out of entrance hidden in oak trunk, three rats carried a big sack full of tiny writhing crying creatures. Woodlanders tried to struggle despite being bound, but with no success.
Freedom instinctively moved forward, but Maple held her back. “Shh! There’re too many of them!” They ducked back into the cover of leaves, and Dom silently thanked seasons that her green dress and Maple’s dark blue shirt and breeches were unnoticeable among green and brown of tree crowns.
Meanwhile, under the oak Captain Tamant bowed over the squirrelmaid. “Think you can hide from Silentblade? Ha, I’m a better tracker than you think of me. Now, where are the otters, Bikkle? And don’t say you’d rather die then tell me. Your old molefriend had already made this mistake, and you know I won’t hesitate to… honor the request.”
The squirrelmaid kicked out at the rat with her tightly lashed footpaws, but Tamant easily dodged the blow. “Tanhide, Baffla! Take eight crewbeasts, I can’t waste time here! Question these ones, you may kill or maim some, but the babes should be unharmed, it’s the order from Lord! If they don’t tell you where the otters are – kill them. If they do – pass me the word… and kill them anyway.”
The corsairs silently disappeared in the oak dark entrance, and Dom grabbed Maple’s paw. “It’s ten of them now, we can cope with them!”
This time Maple didn’t argue. “I have an idea. I’ll distract vermin and lure them into the woods, and you will free the prisoners!”
Two friends shook paws, and while Freedom went down to the lowest branch, the squirrel boldly jumped on the upper branch where everybeast could see him.
“Take that, you spineless scumbags!” He picked a chestnut from the sprout and hurled it at the vermin; the nut hit Tanhide right between her ears. “In the bull’s eye! Right in the empty pan you call a head!”
Tanhide was more surprised then angry. “It’s a squirrel slave!”
“You made a right guess – strange for a beast with a pumpkin on her shoulders!” Maple mocked, throwing more chestnuts at the corsairs. “I didn’t expect this from such a stinky toad as you!” Some vermin fired a few arrows at him, but Maple easily hid himself in the thick leaves. “Nice try, but you’re too slow-witted and slow-pawed, Tanny!”
This time the stoat guard was literally shaking with rage. “Stonetooth, Brick, you watch over the prisoners! You all – catch this bushtail! I’ll bring his head to Lord myself!”
A laugh was heard from the wood. “Dream more, stoathide!”
Eight vermin disappeared among the trees, and Freedom frowned at two tough-looking foxes that guarded woodlanders. The first part of Maple’s plan worked right; now she had to think how to deal with the rest of it.
Those who read my story 'Raven's Feather' have already met Artus and Skylily, but there is their official introduction, together with a lovely picture drawn by amazing SaynaSLuke. I should say that I simply adore Sayna's designs for Artus and Skylily's outfits, she is just the best.
Name: Squirrelprince Artus
Place of Origin: Southsward
Appearance: Artus is a rather short and burly young squirrel with solid bright red fur and dark blue eyes, bushy tail and tufted ears. He wears green tunic with an entwined pattern of leaves and branches to signify his status as a prince and a golden tail-ring.
Weapon(s) of choice: Dagger, sling
Personality: Artus is a noble and kind young squirrel who takes his role as the prince seriously and is determined to become a worthy ruler for Southsward. However, he is only learning the reins of politics and thus is prone to making mistakes, even though he is more mature and judicious than most beasts his age.
Appears in: 'Raven's Feather'
Place of Origin: Northern Islands
Appearance: Skylily is graceful and slender young squirrelmaid with light grey fur and light blue eyes. She wears dark blue dress and a small silver pendant around her neck which is a gift from her parents.
Weapon(s) of choice: Sling
Personality: Skylily faced enough hardships in her life despite her youth, but still remained a caring and bright maiden. She is very protective of her younger sister Windrose and while Skylily is a quiet and peaceful beast, she is ready to fight to protect her family.
Appears in: 'Raven's Feather'
Characters (c) me
“Here it is – Brockhall!”
A loud ‘wow’ breathed out of Dibbuns’ mouths. They were sure they had just seen the biggest, the oldest and the most impressive oak ever – and it was close to the truth. The tree heaved its boughs high into the sky, so thick that only half-dozen badgers holding paws could embrace its trunk. There were not a single leaf or bud on its bare gnarled branches, what made the oak look like an ancient creature with its paws risen.
The silence was broken by Cleve’s excited voice, “I wonna climb the tree!”
“Afraid you can’t,” said Abbess Bikkle with a smile. “This oak has been standing here before Redwall was built – imagine how old it is? It’s long dead now, nothing but a tree skeleton here. The branches will break even under such a light Dibbun as you!”
The squirrelbabe nodded with a sigh, and Simon decided to cheer him up. “Try to climb my back instead, little warrior!” he said as he put Cleve on his shoulders. Simon wore the Sword of Martin across his back, and Cleve immediately clutched its red pommel stone, happy again.
Churk opened a small door in the trunk and lit two lanterns that hang inside. “Common, I’ll tell you the history of this place. Simon, Olva, look after Dibbuns, we don’t want anybeast to get lost!” As all Redwallers entered the gloomy passage inside, the Abbey Recorder pointed at the carvings on the walls. “Look, they were made by Lady Sable Brock, one of the first rulers of Brockhall…”
Simon soon found himself occupied with the story, and only some time after noticed there were no more extra-weight on his shoulders. “Cleve?.. Cleve! Where’s Cleve?”
Bikkle raised her lantern higher – there were only seven Dibbuns with them. “He must have gone to climb the oak!”
“I’ll get him!” Simon was closest to the exit, and he rushed away from Brockhall as if he was chased by wolves. When he went out, Cleve had already climbed on the lowest tree branch.
“Look, it ain’t break!” At that very moment, the branch broke, and the squirrelbabe plummeted down with a short ‘eep’.
“Krrreeeeegaaaaah!” A cloud of black feathers dived from the sky, and Cleve cried again as he was caught by a giant hawk.
Dibbun’s cry for help waked something inside Simon, and a fire of rage blazed up in his chest. “Aaaar-rraaagh!” The young otter jumped for the hawk with his teeth and claws bare, the weight of his body hit the bird in mid-flight, and both creatures fell on the earth, Simon atop his enemy, biting and clawing and trying to reach the hawk’s throat.
“Simon, stop! I order it!” The cold liquid sloshed in his face, and Simon backed away, tossing his head to shake off drops of mint tea from his whiskers. Bloodwrath slowly faded away, and he could see the Abbess standing between him and the hawk. The bird was squatting, his tattered feathers bristled, his claws clenching. Bikkle held her paws high as a sign of peace. “You are Truvo Blackhawk, right? I remember you, our Infirmary Keepers treated your dislocated wing two seasons ago. We are peaceful creatures, there’s no need to fight. What happened here?”
“Gaah!” shrieked the hawk. “I was trying to save your nestling from falling when that crazy riverdog attacked me!”
Simon dropped his head in shame, his conscience was giving him more pain then a wound on his shoulder left by the carved beak. Now he recognized the hawk. What he had feared most happened: he let Bloodwrath overcome him and attacked a friend. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered, “I was confused. I thought you was attacking a Dibbun.”
Truvo ruffled his plumage. “Kraah, I came here not to snatch your useless whining maggot, maddog!”
‘Useless whining maggot’ had already got over with his fear and now was tugging Truvo’s tail. “Mr. Hawk, gimme a ride, pleeease, I wonna fly!”
Truvo stared at the annoying squirrelbabe as hawks alone can stare, and Olva hurried to take Cleve away. “Cleve, it’s impolite to pester our friend like that.”
“Let me add my apologies to Simon’s,” Bikkle bowed her head to the fierce bird. “We should thank you for helping our Dibbun.”
“Hmm. Then my two-season old debt for your help is paid off.” Truvo turned away and flapped his wings, preparing to leave.
“Wait, sir!” cried Olva. “You said you came here not to help Cleve. Then, what did you come for?”
“Kreeh, there’re fifty vermin on your tracks. I’ve heard them say they will kill you and take you nestlings hostages. Krreegaah, dirty cowards! They are brave enough to ravage nests and kill nestlings, but not brave enough to face a warrior like me! Krrreee, white-feathered, stinky-beaked, pale-hearted…”
“Okay, okay, we got the point!” interrupted Rumbol. “I mean, thank you, but we should hurry, mates! We can’t go back the same way, but…”
“…But we can use Brockhall’s secret entrance to escape!” concluded Churk, finishing her brother’s thought. “Me and Abbess know it best, so we’ll show the way. Rumbol, Simon, watch our backs. Olva, try to cover the tracks. And carry all the Dibbuns, everybeast, we can’t lose any more time!”
“Sure, sis!” Rumbol saluted with his rudder.
Simon’s little sister Ripple clutched to her brother’ hind paw. “Bad beasties comin’?”
Simon held her tightly. “Yes, but don’t worry, I won’t let them harm you!”
With the dagger in her paw and a grin on her face, Shamra was coming to the slaves. Freedom was trying to break free with no effect, her teeth clenched. It was no use to ask for mercy, and the mousemaid knew it.
Slash! With quick move of the dagger ropes bound Dom and Maple were cut. But instead of finishing off slaves that slumped to the ground, Shamra turned to her father. “Remember what I’ve said you a month ago, oldfur? It’s my will to decide if my slave lives or not, not yours! And I say – these two live!”
Instead of losing his temper, Darm inquired, “Don’t you want to be a Captain?”
“I do. But I don’t want to be your Captain and obey you for the rest of my life. I’m not going to dance to your piping any more. I’ve got enough of you and your wars and you conquests. I’m leaving!”
While everybeast’s eyes were fixed on warlord’s daughter, Freedom and Maple got to their paws and backed to the forest edge. However, under shadows of elms they both stopped, too curious to leave.
Now Nabon, still shocked, looked at his sister almost pleadingly. “But Shamra! You – you shouldn’t leave! How…”
“Poor fool brother,” sniffed Shamra. “You still think Deathtrap will share his power with you? Even if you become a Captain, you’ll always be nothing but a puppet in his paws! Come with me – you still have a chance to leave that madbeast!”
“No!” cried Nabon. “You – you are lying! No!”
“I was wrong to call you my heir,” growled Darm, and his voice gave Freedom shivers. “I’ve sensed you’ll never be a great warleader like me!”
Shamra laughed madly. “Didn’t you realize, Yellowbelly? I’m happy I’ll never be a monster like you! I’m ashamed I have your blood in my veins! Now, what would you do? Kill me like you’ve killed my mother? If that, why don’t you just order to – FIRE!”
Z-zip! S-shh! Whi-ip!
All Freedom saw next was a blurry movement behind Darm’s back, and then vermin just stumbled down on the earth with arrows in their bodies and cut wounds. Most of the corsairs made the same mistake as Dom did – they were too occupied with the scene before them that they hardly noticed anything suspicious until it was too late. About a dozen of vermin cut through their crewmates’ line and now stood near Shamra, their weapon at ready.
Amina stood next to the weaselmaid, an arrow notched to her bow aimed at Darm. Shamra waved her paw to Lord of the Seas. “Don’t hope your armor will save you, Amina is aiming for eyes, so don’t try to follow me!” she cried while backing away with her supporters, and Dom and Maple also moved back not to get under their paws.
“You won’t get out of this so easy,” promised Darm. “You are already dead. I’ll get you even if the earth would swallow you up.”
Shamra didn’t response. At the very edge of the clearing, the small group of vermin finally turned and ran to the forest, and soon it turned out that Freedom and Maple were running with them. The mousemaid was too busy running to be surprised when Amina didn’t let stumbled Maple fall. “Come on, don’t slow us down!”
After crossing a small spinney, they ran right into a shallow stream and jumped into it with a splash. Even in this summer month, the water was icy cold, and Dom had to hold her breath when they went downstream.
The corsairs headed to an old tree leaning over the water. Shamra was the first to jump on the trunk and, digging her claws deep in the bark, climbed up, disappearing among the branches. One after another, vermin followed her, but at her turn Freedom could only gave a jump and try to grab the branches. “I – I can’t climb trees!” Next moment two strong rats grabbed her under the paws and literally dragged her upward. The mousemaid immediately clutched to the trunk: looking down made her sick.
“Now sh-hh!” The hush was needless. Now they could hear angry shouts of corsairs following them, and everybeast fell silent, some even held their breath. Their pursuers were examining the stream, and Dom rejoiced that they lost the trail. She could only hope none of them noticed scratched treebark and movement among the branches. Finally, corsairs left the stream and disappeared in the forest.
Freedom sighed with relief. They were free at last, free… but only due to Shamra. The last thing she expected from that bad-tempered brat was to save them… and the last thing she expected from Nabon was trying to kill her. Dom glanced at the weaselmaid. She may dislike her, but now she owed her her life.
It wasn’t easy to say these words, but Dom whispered, “Th-thank you, Shamra… you saved me and Maple.”
“Don’t you think I cared about you,” spat Shamra. “I just didn’t want to follow orders of that poor excuse of a weasel, and then you two could be caught and give us away.”
“And what are you going to do now?” asked Maple in low voice. “Wait for Captain Greywhisker?”
Shamra got closer to her former slave and twitched his ear. “So you were eavesdropping, bushtail!”
“Leave him alone!” hissed Freedom. She won’t let anybeast abuse her friend anymore!
“I’m okay,” reassured her Maple, moving aside from the weaselmaid. “And I wasn’t eavesdropping. I was looking and listening carefully. And I saw you, marm Shamra, and you, Lieutenant Amina, and Captain Greywhisker, and some others, talking more often then other crewbeasts. So I thought you are plotting something…”
“Why, he is an observant chap, noticing what we managed to hide from spies!” Amina shook her head. “We need the one like him in our crew!”
Shamra rolled her eyes. “Put up with that stupid furball again? No, thanks!”
“And we are not going to put up with you, to begin with!” argued Dom.
“Fine. Then go wherever you want… but don’t get on my way anymore!” said Shamra.
“P-ss! Shamra?” Like a silent lightning, Greywhisker climbed the tree and was on a branch next to the weaselmaid in a second. “I gathered a score of our followers, they’re waiting over there, but we must hurry!”
“Good. What about those sent after us? And Deathtrap?”
“We’re lucky that Darm sent Tamant and his best trackers after Abbeyleaders. And Darm took his army to Redwall, saying he’ll attack it leaderless and deal with you later. But there is bad news: one of ours was wounded during your escape… and Clyde got him before me.”
“Stinky foul dirty…” Shamra lowered her voice and uttered more curses. “That hangbeast will make poor creature say everything he does and doesn’t know!”
“That’s it. So I immediately came here. Hellteeth, I didn’t even have time to talk to my old buddy Catcher! Sure he’d joined us…”
“No time to wait for him! The faster we get to the ships and leave this country…”
“Are we going to Terramort?” interrupted Amina. “Drooptail and Houk are loyal to Darm, but Viro Strongclaw, Captain of soldiers, can support you…”
“That prideful arrogant strutter? ‘Backstabber’, that’s what even a fool can read in his face,” Sharma made a sour muzzle. “We won’t sail to Terramort, at least not before I recruit a good full crew, Amina, no matter how you miss your fiancé.”
Amina frowned and crossed her paws on her chest, miraculously managing not to fall from the branch. “Broknose ain’t my fiancé!”
“Wherever. Now, it’s time to go!” One after another, vermin silently slid down the earth and disappeared in the forest till there were only Freedom and Maple on the tree.
Two friends were silent for a moment, then Dom asked in offended tone, “So, all that time you knew Shamra was plotting something, and said me nothing?”
Maple tried to avoid her gaze. “S-sorry, I just was afraid to. I mean, there were spies, and it was dangerous, and I could give everybeast away, and…”
“Well, I see.” The mousemaid nodded, her offense gone. “Now, when we’re finally in Mossflower and we’re finally free, we must go to that – Brockhall, right? – and help Redwallers!” She began to go down the branches only to feel giddy. “…as soon as I manage to get down.”
Maple didn’t seem to be bothered by the height. “Why to get down? We can travel from tree to tree!”
“Looks like you forgot one little thing, Maple: I’m a mouse, not a squirrel. I can’t climb trees and jump from branch to branch. I just can’t!”
“But it’s faster, and there’re still Darm’s corsairs lurking down in the forest. Look, I’ll show you.” The squirrel went down on all fours and walked over a branch. “Grip the branch with all your paws, use your tail to balance yourself. Don’t be afraid if the branch bent under your weight, it’ll hold. Oh, did I mentioned not looking down?”
At that very moment, Dom looked down. “Can I close my eyes?”
“No. Try to concentrate on something. Think… I know! Think about Redwall! You won’t help the Abbey if you fall to death, right?” Surprisingly, it helped, and Maple went on to the next lesson. “Now grab that upper branch, swing yourself back and forth and let the branch carry you to this bough – it’s firm enough to hold me, see? Try it yourself!”
Freedom clenched her teeth and grabbed the branch. For few terrible moments her footpaws hung in the air unsupported, and then they softly hit the bough. “I did it!”
“Aye, you did it,” agreed Maple. “But remember, vermin left earlier then we did, so let’s hurry!”
Redwall's plotline kicks into action! Meet Truvo Blackhawk, an arrogant and prideful but still noble hawk.
And we find out Shamra's true intentions. That was a plot twist that I plotted very carefully – I wanted to show that because someone is not a pleasant person it doesn't mean that they are evil, and not always those who seem decent turn out to be our friends.
Redwall and canon characters @ Brian Jacques
Silver woke up tied up to a chair. Now, that wasn't his preferred method of starting the day, and he hated the thought that he was getting used to it – or anyway, he was beginning to expect such a scenario. This time, the young human was prepared for it. He knew better than to open his eyes and he kept his breath shallow in case there was someone waiting for him to come to his senses. Silver strained his ears, trying to get any clue as to where exactly he was taken, but all he could hear was the faint rustle of working fans. He could feel that his arms and legs were strapped down to what appeared to be a big leather chair, but the bonds weren't so tight that to make his limbs go numb. Well, that was considerable of his kidnappers. But wait, how did he get there to begin with? Who were his kidnappers?
Silver remembered going to Grey Sky's bar yesterday with Scarlett and Rex. Baxter was busy with some kind of Alphian business, and Markus and Ray were still travelling through Alphia and couldn't make it to meet them. Nonetheless, Silver was glad to meet his old friends and enjoyed the time he spent chatting with them and catching up on everything that had happened while he was away. Then Scarlett was called away by someone else, and Rex went to break a fight that erupted at the other end of the bar, leaving Silver alone at one of the bar tables.
But he wasn't alone for long, for a large Alphian dropped on the chair next to him. “Hello there,” he called in a deep voice. “Care to have a drink?”
Silver looked up to meet the Alphian’s yellow snake-like gaze. He was an impressive sight, tall and powerfully-built and probably as strong as Seamus Hyde. He wore no shirt, allowing everyone a good look at his muscle-bound torso, sporting a pair of metal bracers on his forearms instead. Powerful iguana’s tail wrapped around his lizard feet, and a webbed crest went from his head to his neck. The stranger looked threatening, yet Silver had no reason to be impolite to him. “No, thanks,” he said. “I’m waiting for my friends,” he added, letting him know that he wasn’t alone and vulnerable.
“I know,” the Alphian said. “Well, too bad for you.”
Then his hand locked on the back of Silver’s neck while his other hand covered his nose and mouth, pressing some kind of sweet-smelling sponge to his face. Silver kicked at him, reaching for the revolver at his belt, but before he could do this, he instinctively breathed in – and slumped in the Alphian’s grasp. He could still see and hear, though as if through a thick haze, but his muscles were slack, refusing to obey his commands.
“There, there,” the Alphian muttered into his ear, hoisting the human onto his feet and wrapping an arm over Silver’s shoulders. “Come on, lad.” He half-led, half-dragged Silver to the door, and in the din of the bar nobody paid them any mind. Well, almost nobody.
“Hey! Lizard boy! Where are you taking this human?” Something blurred in the corner of Silver’s vision, and none else but Grey Sky herself stepped in the way, blocking the Alphian’s passage to the exit.
But the Alphian didn’t seem in the least concerned. “The lad there had one drink too many. Ha, I told him that he wasn’t tough enough to take on a double shot of Vulcan Landslide! I’m taking him outside to get some fresh air.”
The Shadolve crossed her arms over her chest, not convinced. “I know this human. That’s Silver, a friend of Scarlett and Rex. He came here with them, and I’ll see to it that he leaves with them.”
“But of course,” nodded the Alphian. “But look, the lad’s got a weak stomach. You don’t want him to spill his meal all over your floor, do you? Just tell Scarlett and Rex that we would wait for them in the yard.”
Grey Sky hesitated just for a moment, and the Alphian pushed past her decisively. After that… Nothing but blackness.
“I know that you are awake.” Silver barely held back from flinching when the voice rumbled over his ear. “I can hear the change in your breathing. You can open your eyes.”
Silver sighed and blinked his eyes open. His gaze swept over the spacious room he had been in, one wall completely taken with a tech panel with several screens, the space to the other side separated by a tall niche cabinet with many cells, and the last one occupied with …a bar counter, a fridge and a couch? Silver realized that it was actually several rooms that had no partitions between them or only token borders. In the center of the room – or rather, hangar, – ran a shaft with winding stairs that went all the way to the ceiling, where a glass dome was letting the light through.
A deliberate cough sounded to his right, and Silver turned to look at the very Alphian that kidnapped him. The human sighed. “Let me guess, another Horet fanatic?”
“What? No!” The Alphian seemed appalled. “I don't have anything to do with them.”
“Then what do you want with me?” Silver demanded.
“With you personally? Nothing.” The Alphian shook his head. “In fact, I should apologize for being so unceremonious. Your only fault is that you choose wrong friends.”
Wrong friends? “By that time, Scarlett and Rex and Baxter would know that I'm missing,” Silver said. “They would come after me, so you'd better release me before you regret it.”
The Alphian's smile resembled the one of a hunting predator. “Of course they would come after you. What makes you think that I don't know it? And what makes you think I'm not prepared for it?”
A chill ran down Silver's spine at the sudden understanding. “It's a trap,” he breathed out. “And I'm the bait.” He looked more closely at the Alphian. He was the reptile type, and he knew that such traits were most common among two Alphian Clans. One was Zyvors, who were close allies of Hydes. Well, excluding Alex, who also was a Zyvor... And the second Clan was... “You are a Jekyl,” he said.
He seemed to expect something in return, so Silver attempted a nod. “Erm… Quick Silver Warson.”
“A pleasure to meet you,” Zandal replied.
Silver was less than pleased, but after running several scenarios of possible escape through his head, the human decided it would be unwise to antagonize his captor. “Um, can I have a drink of water? My throat is parched dry.”
“Sure.” Silver expected Zandal to leave to get water, but the Alphian turned and took a cup from the little tall table at his side that reminded him of the one you can find in a hospital. Come to think of it, the chair that he had been tied to resembled the one used in resuscitation departments, too. Ugh, great.
Instead of freeing one of Silver's hands, Zandal brought the cup to Silver's mouth, and since the cup had a straw it allowed Silver to make a few sips. “If you are hungry, there is the nutrient-filled broth,” Zandal gestured for another cup on the stand. “Not the best taste, but filling enough.”
Silver made a sour face. “Eh, and suppose I need to go to the bathroom?”
Zandal made a sweeping gesture. “There is a bedpan. I suppose you know what it is?”
Silver let out a long sigh. It seemed that his chance to get out of this one went out the window. But he wasn't going to give up easily, especially if his opponent was decent enough to treat him as a gentleman, if that was even possible for a kidnapper. “All right, let me be straightforward. You want Scarlett and Rex to fall into your trap. I want to spend as little time in your custody as possible. So why don't you let me give Scarlett and Rex a call and tell them where exactly I am? That way we wouldn't waste our time waiting for them to track you down.”
“Why should I help my enemies?” Zandal grinned. “The more efforts they put into finding you, the less capable of a fight they would be when they arrive. I'm in no hurry.”
Silver was fervently thinking what else he could say to turn the situation to his advantage when a high clear voice sounded from one of the upper levels. “Zandal? Who is it you are talking to?”
“I just brought a friend along, love!” Zandal responded.
A figure leapt gracefully from the level above them – no, not leapt, but glided, because a pair of feathered black and blue wings opened behind the Alphian’s back, allowing them to land elegantly on the metal floor. “A friend? Then introduce me to them.”
The Alphian stepped closer, and Silver saw that it were a tall and slender female that looked to be no older than twenty, though Silver knew that she may be well over two hundred years old and he would never tell. Her skin was dark brown, as was her hair that reached her shoulder-blades, braided into many small plaits in what would’ve been called the African style on the Dying Planet. But the most striking thing about her was her eyes that were wide and brilliant green like a cat’s. Silver thought it fitting, as the Alphian had been a feline type, as evidenced by her round black panther’s ears, long black tail and black feline lower legs. She wore light blue sleeveless top and wide, loosely tied pants, the outfit contrasting with her darker skin and making Silver think of a fresh crisp wind that seemed to enter the room with her.
“Quick Silver, meet Sarali Avilary of Agor Clan, my mate,” Zandal’s voice softened just a little. “Sarah, this is Quick Silver Warson.”
Sarah looked at Silver with her piercing green eyes, then turned to Zandal. “What did I tell you about bringing hostages to my house?”
“But it’s only for a short time!” Zandal threw his hands up. “There is nothing to worry about!”
Sarah snorted in a very cat-like manner. “Each time you say so, there is always some kind of trouble worth worrying about!”
“Ah, but listen…” Zandal turned to face his mate, and Silver tensed. None of Alphians was looking at him now, too caught up in their argument. That was his chance! The human tested the bounds on his left wrist – they were firm, but not tight enough to forbid him movement altogether. Silver’s gaze rested on his wrist watch, a complex device that hid inside much more than just the clock. It wasn’t the same watch that Alex had given him, of course – they destroyed that watch as a precaution against any hidden trackers or bugs that Alex could have planted there. Ace was the one who gave him the new watch, an elegant and deadly thing of Rageryan work. Right now, Silver was slowly twisting his wrist, turning his palm upward.
“Besides, it’s nothing that I can't handle,” Zandal kept talking. “And Quick Silver isn’t going to file any complaints, isn’t that right, lad?”
“Of course I’m not,” Silver replied smoothly. Just turn away from me, please!
Sarah crossed her arms across her chest, her long black tail twitching. “It’s abduction and forced retention, and if I know you – and I know you, - more points would follow.”
“The Head Council wouldn’t bother,” Zandal shrugged. “Things like this happen all the time.”
Another shiver passed down Silver’s spine at these words. He needed to get out! He pushed his palm down, pressing a tiny button against the watch’s side, and almost invisible pale gold ray beamed from one of the watch’s hidden slots. Silver knew it gave off very intense heat, and so he angled his wrist to set the ray against the strap holding him down. Now, all he needed was time for it to cut through the leather.
“You know there are others who would notice,” Sarah insisted. “Should I remind you that I applied for the position in natural reserve of the Last Link Islands? And the council of directors actually said that they would consider my candidature! They seemed to be very impressed with my dissertation on the behavior patterns of Marinexes throughout their life cycle.”
“Well, that’s a good thing, isn’t it?” Zandal smiled.
“Exactly! That’s why I don’t need any scandals and dubious affairs with my name in them!”
“Then blame everything on me,” her mate suggested generously. “Say that it was me who came up with the plan and carried it out and that you didn’t know anything. It wouldn’t be too far from the truth, either.”
Sarah rolled her eyes skywards. “Oh yes, because ‘married to a criminal’ would look right in place in my resume!”
There Silver couldn’t hold back an exclamation of bewilderment, even though he resolved not to attract attention to himself. “Wait a minute, ma’m, you don’t want me to be held there because it would look bad in your CV?”
The dark-skinned Alphian whipped to face Silver, and the human pressed himself into his chair. “Do you have any idea how difficult it is to pass the admission into the Last Link labs? The islands are inhabited almost entirely by Xandals and Hydes, and they have very high standards when it comes to accepting new staff. Even Alphians from their own Clans have to be highly qualified professionals to work there, what’s to say about an outsider like me? This is the third time I’m applying for a position, I can’t lose this opportunity!”
“In that case I have an excellent solution for the problem,” Silver said, hoping that his voice didn’t sound as if he were begging. “How about you let me go, like, right now?”
“And then it would turn out that I dragged you all the way here for nothing?” Zandal frowned. “I’m not going to put my time and efforts spent to waste. You stay put.”
Sarah snorted and pointed a finger at the larger male. “In that case, no shooting, no fire and absolutely no touching my lab data.”
“Sarah, you are a wonder.” Zandal caught his mate’s hand and kissed it. Then, to Silver’s horror, the Alphian began to turn to him. “Now that this is settled, Quick Silver, we are going…”
Silver felt his heart hammer in his chest. The heat ray was only halfway done with his bonds, and while the damage to them wasn’t obvious, Zandal would certainly discover it if he looked at his captive attentively. Think, Silver, think! What would have Ace done?
“How about we play a game?” he blurted out the moment the idea sprung to his mind.
Zandal raised a brow, his expression almost comical. “What?”
“If we are going to wait for Icy Hawk Company to find us, why don’t we play a game to pass the time?” Silver explained. “And why not raise the stakes to make it interesting? If I win, you let me call Scarlett and tell her where to find me.” There Silver faltered, mostly because he hadn’t really thought through what would happen if Zandal won.
But the reptilian Alphian didn’t seem to be interested in prizes. “Hmm, why not indeed? Chess or checkers?”
“Actually, I meant a card game,” Silver corrected himself. “Like blackjack or poker.”
“Chess or checkers,” Zandal stated sternly. “Or I’m getting a board for backgammon.”
“Chess,” Silver sighed. His father sometimes played the game with him, though it was so long ago, and Silver couldn’t call himself a pro anyway. But with chess he at least knew the rules – with backgammon, he had no idea at all what the game looked like.
Zandal hurriedly rushed off, an unusual spring in his step, and Sarah looked at Silver with something like curiosity. “Zandal ranked third in the annual Chess Championship last year. Did you know that?”
The young human attempted a smile. “You just haven’t seen how I play yet!” Calm down, Silver, calm down. You only need to stall for time, the outcome of the game is insignificant.
Zandal returned with a small folding table which he set next to Silver’s chair and put on it a tiny projector that blinked into life the next moment, displaying a holographic chess board. “Which hand?” he asked Silver, showing him two closed fists.
“Right,” Silver answered at once.
The reptilian Alphian opened the fist, revealing a white pawn. “Alright, white is your set. You begin.”
Silver stared at the board, unsure what to do. How did the games with his father usually go? He tried to remember the combination that his dad often used to start a game. “Erm… C2-C4.”
“Ah. The English Opening,” Zandal nodded approvingly. The Alphian settled himself down on his haunches, and it seemed that this pose was more comfortable to him than any furniture his house could offer. “In that case, Symmetrical Defense. C7-C5.”
Silver frowned, trying to guess at the Alphian’s strategy, but he was saved from having to make next move by an unexpected arrival. An ear-splitting screech reached them from above, and two winged shadows fell on the glass dome. Next moment, the dome was shattered as two massive creatures smashed through it, locked in battle, clawing, biting, and flapping their wings. One of them was a pale orange Flaming Divebomber, a six-legged dragon whose species was known for their temper that matched the hotness of their fire, and another… Silver tensed. A giant bird of prey with great hooked talons and mottled brown and black feathers was beating its wings into the dragon’s snout, not allowing it to use its jaws, screeching all the way. It was a Liamavis, or the Terror Bird, and Silver knew that particular bird well. “Skyzor!”
In a split second, both titans fell through the shaft in the middle of hangar and disappeared from view, and there was an audible thud as their bodies hit something on the lower levels. Sarah leapt toward the shaft, her tail lashing madly. “Hexagon!” she yowled.
But Silver was more worried about Skyzor. His father’s Liamavis was a fierce fighter, but on the ground and in a confined space she wouldn’t be able to outmaneuver the dragon - and he doubted that she would cope with a Diverbomber’s flames. “Skyzor!” he shouted again, hoping that the bird had heard him. “Get away from here, now!”
The Diverbomber – was its name Hexagon? – roared, then came a sharp whoosh followed by Skyzor's squeak. In a moment, the great raptor shot up through the shaft and out of the broken dome, her wings singed and her tail feathers still ablaze. The Divebomber followed with a triumphant growl, its whole body covered with dancing flames that did it no harm. In the blink of the eye, both of them were gone, as if the battle was some kind of illusion. But someone else didn’t – someone who was most certainly not an illusion.
Two smaller figures leaped into the shaft from the hangar’s roof, half-swinging half-gliding down on the wings that disappeared the moment their feet touched metal floor. Rex and Scarlett. Rex had shifted into his Alpha mode and now looked as a massive bipedal Forest Wolf, his combat staff at ready. Zandal was already on his feet, drawing two wicked-looking curved knives as he faced off the Hydes. “Took you long enough, twilight dog. Getting too old for this, Hyde?”
Rex snarled, a threatening sound. “Not too old to kick your scaly butt from here till the Vulcan Fields, lizard heart!”
“Rex!” Silver shouted. “It’s a trap!”
But Rex had already brought his staff down in a powerful blow that Zandal blocked by crossing his knives over his head. The moment the blades touched, a tiny white lightning zapped over the metal, ran along Rex’s staff and jumped on the canine Alphian’s body. Rex doubled over, hit with a charge of electricity, and Zandal slammed both fists into his stomach, knocking Rex to the ground.
Silver expected Scarlett to rush to his help, but instead the female Hyde with black-and-white feline ears and tail ran toward Sarah. “Yield!” she cried, baring her long claws.
Sarah jumped aside. “After you broke my roof and scared Hexagon? By crylk intestines I will!” She swept her hand out, sending a zap of electric sparks that Scarlett dodged nimbly.
Silver yanked on his bonds, desperate. He will not stand by and watch while his friends fight for him! Not again! But the strap holding his left hand down wasn’t done just yet, and Silver jerked his arm back and forth, his efforts causing the leather to rip faster.
Zandal lunged to strike Rex while he were down, but the other Alphian kicked with his powerful back legs, knocking Zandal down with him. As he fell, Rex caught his arms and flipped the Jekyl over, slamming his back into the floor. Whether Rex’s blow was weaker from the electroshock or Zandal was just that strong, but he didn’t lose his grip on the knives. He slashed upwards, and the curved blade sliced across Rex’s shoulder. Rex leaped back, but only to get hold of the staff he had dropped earlier, and the two males clashed again. The staff’s blunt end hit Zandal in the jaw, and the reptilian Alphian staggered as something crunched under the blow. His long scaly tail lashed low as a whip, and Rex jumped over it as Zandal attempted to trip him – and missed a blow with the knife’s handle to the side of his neck. Rex replied by swinging his staff widely, and Zandal was too close to avoid it – the staff slammed into his elbow and one of the knives spun through the air and clattered on the floor. As a result, Zandal couldn’t block the next blow fast enough and the other blade was knocked out of his grasp as well. When Rex raised his staff for another blow, Zandal lunged forward instead of away and caught the end of the staff with his hands. Next moment, he pushed it backwards, slamming the other end into Rex’s chest, and when the Hyde’s grip weakened he tore the weapon out of his hands and threw it aside.
This did nothing to stop Rex, though, because he roared and lunged for Zandal, who met his charge with his arms wide. Two Alphians locked together in a fight that was more grapple than duel now as they wrestled and pushed, using nothing but their brute force and strength of their bodies, clawing and biting and kicking. It seemed to Silver that Zandal was also shifting in his Alpha mode, at least partially, because now the scales covered his whole body like armor and his fangs and claws grew longer.
Nearby, Scarlett and Sarah led an entirely different battle, circling each other endlessly. Scarlett’s hands were covered with ice, but that didn’t seem to cause her any discomfort – two long ice blades formed at the back of her palms like those sliding claws Silver sometimes saw her use and she slashed at the other Alphian, the blades moving so fast that they formed figures of eights in the air. Sarah was dodging all of the blows nimbly, ducking and sidestepping and leaping in the air. A pair of large black wings with blue feathertips opened behind her back, and the Agor was folding and angling them to make sharp turns and pivots. A whip of electricity danced in her own hands that she whirled, sending precise strikes at Scarlett from time to time. Once, Silver saw the icy blade clip a wingtip, the other the silver-white whip caught on the dagger, sending several sparks travelling up its handle, but none of the opponents seemed to land any serious blow so far. In fact, the whole affair resembled a very strange and deadly dance rather than fight.
“Yield!” Scarlett growled again.
“You are not even making it difficult,” came Sarah’s mocking reply.
The strap on Silver’s left wrist ripped, and he managed to free his hand. He rose as far as his bonds allowed him and began to cut the straps holding down his right wrist. At least now, when he could direct the strength and path of the heat beam, Silver could free himself much faster.
Suddenly, a sharp yowl rose above the sounds of fighting. “Not the tech!”
That voice was Sarah’s. Turning, Silver saw that Zandal and Rex were still locked in struggle – and they rolled right towards the wall occupied by the panels with a number of various sensors and monitors. Zandal reacted at once: he lifted Rex into the air and made a sharp 90 degrees turn so that when Rex dealt him another powerful blow both Alphians changed direction, rolling away from the tech instead of toward it.
Silver blinked in confusion, but he didn’t exactly have time to ponder on what game was played before him, because the strap on his right hand was finally cut loose. With both of his hands free, the young human hurried to undo the bonds holding his legs, for luckily the belts there had buckles. No one seemed to notice that Silver kicked off loose leather straps and leaped to his feet. Now, what should he do? What should he do? Rex was undoubtedly in a greater trouble and needed help more than Scarlett did, but Zandal took care to take away Silver’s knife and revolver, and the only weapon he had was his wrist watch. Think, Silver, think! How do you defeat a Jekyl?
Suddenly, the young human smiled. That’s it! Jekyls were mostly nocturnal and thus strongly affected by bright light. Silver fumbled with his watch, turning the flashlight on. When the blindingly bright beam of light flicked on, he ran to where Rex and Zandal wrestled on the ground, holding the watch as if it were a gun. “Hey, scaly butt! Look at me! Oof!”
Silver was halfway across the spacious room when he was yanked backwards, two strong arms catching him by his shoulders and pulling him back into an embrace. “You don't really want to get between two fighting males,” Sarah's voice spoke above Silver's ear. “They'll knock your brains out and won't even notice.”
The young human struggled against her grasp, but the Alphian pinned his elbows against his sides, making it impossible for him to slip out of her grip. “Let me go, you featherbag!”
“Hey!” Scarlett ran up to them, blue eyes sparkling. She raised her voice and clapped, and when that failed to get the attention of the fighting Alphians, gave an ear-splitting whistle. “Hey! Silver there is free! We won!”
Zandal and Rex broke apart at once, both Alphians looking considerably worse for the wear. Blood dripped from Rex's cheek, and Zandal's jaw was swollen, not to mention ripped fur and broken scales littering the floor. None of them paid any attention to their injuries, though, as Zandal's gaze measured Silver up and down. “He ain't free,” he noted. “Sarah has him, so you didn't win.”
Win? What in Alphia's name?.. Silver's arms were held tight, so he kicked backwards, catching Sarah in her shin. The Agor female jumped back with a pained yowl, her grip on his disappearing. “Ouch! Now, that was plain rude!”
“He is still on our territory,” Zandal pointed out dryly. “That doesn’t count.”
“Of course it does!” Rex growled. “Besides, Silv freed himself, and that should give him extra points.”
Zandal only snorted in reply. “I don’t see why the human should get any points at all.”
“Ah, you are just angry that a human had beaten you,” Scarlett teased.
“I’m not! And he didn’t beat me, that’s what I’m saying!”
“Yes, he did!” Rex insisted.
Silver stared at the two experienced soldiers arguing like kindergarteners, jaw hanging open in disbelieve. What was even going on there?
Out of arguments, Zandal threw himself at Rex once more, and in a moment both Alphians were rolling on the floor again, though now their tussle was considerably less violent.
Sarah rolled her eyes. “Ugh, males. How long do you think they’d be at it?”
Scarlett shrugged nonchalantly. “Ten or fifteen minutes at best, then they’d run out of breath.”
“Oh, then we’d have time to prepare everything,” Sarah chirped, beaming. “Now, have you brought the muffins?”
Despite his relatively young age, Silver had thought that he had faced many strange things in his life, and yet here he was, sitting in probably the oddest company he had ever seen. Four Alphians and the human gathered round a chromium-plated dining table, Rex sitting at Silver’s right and Sarah at his left while Scarlett strategically placed herself between Rex and Zandal. Even though the Alphians were ready to tear each other apart mere half an hour before, now they sipped tea and snacked on muffins Scarlett had brought like old friends.
“So, we knew that you were the one who captured Silv,” Rex was saying, back in his Beta mode. “But we had no idea in which of your hideouts you holed yourself up. So, what do we do? Scar remembered how Skyzor seemed to sense whenever Silver or his father were in danger, and so we took the Liamavis with us and watched how she reacted when we were picking the direction. I tell you, this hooktalon has a bloodhound’s nose!”
“Nesting instinct,” Sarah put it. “The Liamavis hatchlings are almost entirely defenceless, and so they developed this survival mechanism to better protect their young.”
“Quick thinking on your part,” Zandal nodded. “Though I'm still not sure that bringing the Liamavis with you doesn't count as cheating.”
“Don't tie your tail into a knot,” Scarlett snorted. “You had the Flaming Divebomber, so of course it doesn't count. Oh, and whose idea it was to charge the daggers with electricity?”
“Zandal's,” Sarah smiled. “I used my elemental powers to charge them, and all he had to do was not to touch the blades. Quick Silver, if you don’t want muffins, I can bring apple-and-raisin roll. Have you ever tried appriapple marmalade?”
Silver blinked, realizing that he had been staring dumbly at his food without touching it. “The muffins are fine, thanks. It’s just… can someone finally explain to me what’s going on here?”
“It’s quite simple,” Zandal snorted. His voice was thicker due to his swollen jaw, but it didn’t seem to pain the lizard Alphian in any way. “You must know that Jekyl and Hyde Clans of Alphians had never got along, Alphia be witness, and there was a lot of bloodshed and even war between us in the past. Now there is a period of peace, but things are not quiet. It’s paradoxal, but the longer the peace lasts, the higher the tensions between the Clans get until another battle breaks out.”
“Many think that it’s because of our animalistic DNA,” Scarlett added. “The instinct to fight, to hunt or otherwise be active is strong in us, and long periods of forced inactivity make any Alphian short-tempered and nervous and more likely to snap. And when whole companies snap, the results are not pleasant. So instead of waiting for another battle to break out, something akin to a pact was concluded between several rival companies, among them Icy Hawk and Headstrong Thunder of Hyde, Black Cobra of Jekyl and Cloudy Cliff of Agor. As a… different way to release the tension and let out the adrenaline.”
Silver sighed, ruffling his hair. “It would’ve been easier if you guys just played paintball.”
Rex was the first to catch up on the reference. “The fake battles practiced on the Dying Planet? It’s great for building up speed and stamina, but it leaves little space for strategic thinking. And to outthink and outplan an opponent is just us important as to best them in combat. It’s just no fun otherwise, no real competition!”
“As if you ever were a competition,” Zandal grumbled. “But true, paintball is not a good comparison. If you want to go with the Dying Planet analogy, let us call this ‘silent lightning’.”
“Silent lightning?” Silver repeated. “What does lightning have to do with it?”
“It’s one of the war games of the Dying Planet that is based on the imitation of military actions, though it is built on stealth and speed rather than brute force,” Scarlett said. “It was quite popular in certain regions of the planet. You may have heard of its variation. So if you want, think of it… as of a game of ‘capture the flag’.”
“And I played the role of the flag,” Silver noted drolly.
“But hey, it was a worthy brawl in the end, wasn’t it?” Rex gave them a wolfish grin. “And you did really well, Silv, though next time try to pick up a better weapon than flashlight, ‘kay?”
“Next time, I’d appreciate if you warned me beforehand,” Silver said. “It would’ve saved me a lot of nerves.”
“Don’t look at me,” Sarah said seriously. “I always thought this is crazy.”
“Well, you put up quite a fight today,” Scarlett teased. “Going crazy with us, are you, Sarah?”
The dark-skinned Alphian’s finger jabbed at the Hyde. “You scared Hexagon! For her, I would tear you apart. The poor creature is in shock now after being attacked by that Terror Bird of yours!”
“Come on, Sarah,” Zandal made a wry face. “Hexagon needs some exercise now and then, otherwise she’d get too fat to fly.”
“And the last time you chased Renegade all the way to the valley,” Scarlett remembered.
“That pyromaniac set the crylk pen on fire!” Sarah exclaimed, growing more agitated with every minute. “And that’s in the very beginning of the breeding season, too! Do you have any idea how difficult it is to relocate them while the pen is replaced?”
“That wouldn’t have happened if you agreed to make the fence from the metalized materials and not wood,” Zandal noted. “It doesn’t burn and it’s easier to replace.”
“Crylk don’t like the smell of metal,” Sarah persisted. “They are very sensitive creatures.”
“Crylk, sensitive?” Rex snorted. “Those giant elk sloths?”
“No, they really are,” Zandal interrupted. “Did you know that they don’t breed unless the air temperature is absolutely right? That way they make sure there would be enough plants to feed their young when…”
“I assure you,” Rex snorted. “The breeding habits of crylk are the last thing I want to know right now.”
“And that’s a shame,” Sarah concluded. “Quick Silver, if you don’t want that muffin I’ll eat it.”
“It’s just Silver,” the young human smiled, then looked down at his plate. “And… it’s chocolate?” he said carefully, remembering how it weakened Alphians.
“It’s just one piece. It won’t kill me.” And faster than Silver could move Sarah snatched the last muffin and bit into it.
Her mate rolled his eyes. “You know they are bad for your health.”
“So are alcohol and tobacco, but not many humans are stopped by that,” Sarah retorted.
Silver blinked. Sarah wasn’t afraid to display weakness before the rival Clan, and that meant that she was either overconfident or really trusted Icy Hawk Company. Now he understood why Zandal never used his gun despite having it on his belt, or why the fight of Sarah and Scarlett resembled a dance rather than brawl, or why Rex and Scarlett didn’t call Baxter – it would have made everything less of a competition. And so he let his strained back relax. These Alphians were strange and reckless and possibly a little bit crazy, but so were those he called his friends. If Scarlett and Rex trusted them, so would he. “Sarah, is your offer of apriapple wrap still valid? I’d like to have some.”
Surprise story attack! Actually, this is something like a gift for Shadow-Hyder, because I wanted to do something for her for a long time, so I wrote a quick story set in her original world and featuring her characters. Well, there are my characters as well, so this act is not so selfless. Hope I got Silver and co’s personalities right!
This takes place after ‘Master of Puppets’, so Silver had gained some experience and learned to kick ass. Well, I don’t exactly picture him as a combat expert yet, but he became more decisive and savvy.
I also have this headcanon that the buildings made by Agor Clan are very spacious and have as little sections and partitions as possible because they are slightly claustrophobic. At the very least, Sarah's home is built like that.
Oh, and apriapple mentioned in the story is a hybrid of apricot and apple. If Alphian technology is progressed enough to mix-and-match DNA of several creatures, then they can grow new types of fruit as well.
Zandal, Sarah, Hexagon and the story @ me
World and other characters @ Shadow-Hyder
The second month of summer wass not a season for a raging stormgale, but surely, the storm that broke over Mossflower Woods just forgot about it. All the night the wind keened and the rain battered, and next morning Redwall Abbey looked like it got right into the middle of a maelstrom. The orchard turned into a mess of blown twigs, knocked fruits and broken branches, but the biggest damage was done to an extremely old thick ash tree, which was almost split in two, a half of the trunk by some miracle hung over the earth without falling.
Next morning all Abbeydwellers were busy repairing the damage, with the task of bringing the broken tree down being done by a combined crew of moles, otters and squirrels. Dibbuns tried to be as useful as possible and, of course, caused most of the troubles.
“Eric, Winnie, you should be gathering these apples, not eating them!”
“Ripple, dear, leave that branch alone before you got full paws of splinters!”
“Cleve, get down here, ye fiend! Ye’re too small for climbing that bloomin’ tree, wot!”
A little squirrelbabe with fuzzy pelt climbed higher on the broken tree and stick tongue to an old fat harenurse. “Ha ho, try to catch me! Oouch!” Too busy teasing his nanny, Cleve didn’t look behind his back, and two strong paws firmly grabbed him.
“You shouldn’t talk like this to Memm Flackery,” scolded Triss as she put the Dibbun down. “She is worried about you.”
“Sorry,” peeped Cleve and turned to face the Abbey Warrior. “But I want to climb the tree! I’ve never climbed broken trees before!”
“Hohoho, bet you haven’t even seen trees split like that before!” laughed Gurdle Sprink who was sitting on an upturned wheelbarrow under an apple tree. Unlike his friends Skipper and Urrm, the old Cellarhog didn’t want to retire, though his assistant Toobles was doing almost all the work instead of him. “What do you think, Memm?”
The old harenurse shook her completely white head. “I think I won’t cope with these scoundrels alone, wot! Urrm, where are you?”
The former Foremole always was glad to help his friend with Dibbuns, but now he was busy explaining something to Ruggum. “Hurr, surry, Memm”, he said. “But Ruggum ask’d me to ‘elp him with dat tree…”
“Ye, Oi ain’t iks-… iks-perienced enough to brink dat tree dawn with no advice,” nodded Ruggum and touched his nose guiltily. “Surry.”
“I can help, I think,” intervened Abbes Bikkle. She raised her paws to get everybeast’s attention. “Well-well, little sirs’n’marms! I remember I promised to show Brockhall to you, righto? Who wants to come?”
“Yaaohoo-oo!” In a moment, Dibbuns were bouncing and dancing round the Abbey’s elders, waving their paws. But not all of them. Some of the babes began to wail immediately, crying they want to help with the tree, and some were obviously torn between these two opinions.
Memm Flackery closed her long ears. “Oh my, not all at once, ye little rascals! Listen, all of you can come to Brockhall – t’day ot t’morrow, as you want! Now, raise paws those who want to see that jolly Brockhall t’day – no, Ripple, one paw is enough! One, two… eight. And who wants to help here now and come to Brockhall t’morrow? One, two… ten…”
“Are you sure you cope with the rest of them, Memm?”
The harenurse sighed and looked at the Abbess as if she was still a Dibbun. “I handled ye’n’Ruggum, and these youngsters are angels compared to you two – well, may be except Cleve… an’ Winnie… an’…”
“Okey, okey,” Abbess Bikkle waved her paws peacefully. “But I need some help. Churk, will you…”
The otterwife gave one of her bright smiles. “You think I can miss an opportunity to visit Brockhall once more?”
Brockhall, the ancient home of badgers in Mossflower, was discovered by Redwallers fifteen seasons ago and, due to Abbeydwellers work and Churk studies of history, it was restored to the same state as it was during seasons of Martin the Warrior. As everybeast had agreed, the ancient place had been turned into some kind of museum where young and old could learn about the history of their lands.
Hearing his sister’s voice, Skipper Rumbol put down a pile of wood he was carrying. “Well, having one more otter in the group surely will help. And we can bring back some fresh watershrimp and good long watercress. Maybe some hotroot too, if we spot any. Hey, Simon, Olva, will you go?”
Two friends exchanged glances. “Aren’t we needed here?”
“You needed here?” Old Skipper flapped his rudder on the earth. “I need good hotroot soup for supper much more! And besides,” he gave them a wink, “it too cruel to make you young work with us old grumpy beasts! Go now!”
“Wait for a minute!” Triss Swordmaid came up to her apprentice, the Sword of Martin the Warrior in her paws. “Simon, I think you forgot something.”
“No, Triss, I didn’t… Wait, do you mean… No! It’s your sword!”
Triss smiled. “The sword belongs to Martin, not me. And today I trust you with it to defend our little ones.”
Simon shook his head in terror. “No, I can’t…just can’t take it! At least, not before I get rid of Bloodwrath,” he added faintly. All the last month he couldn’t force himself to practice well – he was too afraid to do something wrong and unlash a monster inside of him.
“Simon, I can see very well you aren’t going to let Bloodwrath rule you,” seriously said Triss. “So let’s say I appoint you to do my duties today. Who knows – may be Martin will give you some advice?”
Glad to hear his mentor’s approval, Simon saluted with the Sword of Martin. “I won’t let you down!”
We finally made it! thought Freedom as she entered corsair camp with Maple. Though she loathed vermin, she couldn’t help admiring their mastery in making camps. Scores of tents were scattered among the trees, camouflaged with leaves and branches, several small fireplaces put near them, but with no fire. Vermin either were hidden in tents or were sitting outside, cleaning weapons, fixing their possessions or just talking, but all at all they produced far smaller amount of noise then one could expect from so many beasts. Freedom had to admit that one could pass forty steps aside the camp and doesn’t notice it.
“Look, up here,” whispered Maple and nudged her lightly. Dom threw back her head and saw several platforms on the trees, with at least two archers on each. It won’t be easy to make off here, she though with regret. I’d better to come up with something, and soon!
Nabon gave her an opportunity as he ordered to bring some water to cook meal.
Dom slightly bowed her head. “Can I take Maple to help me, sir?”
“If my sister let him go.”
The mousemaid bowed once more, a plan began to form in her head. The only place where they could get water was a broad stream they crossed earlier. Dom was a good swimmer (that’s what usually happens if your parents are otters), but she was dubious if she could say the same about Maple. But the current was swift, so they had a good chance to escape.
Freedom finally spotted Maple in the crowd of vermin when strong claws grabbed her shoulder. “There are you, slave! You come to Lord with me!”
The mousemaid twisted her head and squinted to see her capturer. It was Tanhide, a large female stoat, one of Darm’s bodyguards. “But I didn’t break any rules!” Dom tried to protest. “I was about to…”
Tanhide shut her up with a rough clip. “I don’t care, mouse, you go to Lord! And it’s your luck Lord don’t want you to stain the scene with blood, or I’d teach you arguing with guards!”
The scene?.. Carried away by the stoat, Freedom turned back to see Maple being captured just like she was. Minutes later she and Maple were shoved into Darm Deathtrap’s large tent, bound and gagged.
The corsair chieftain was dressing for a battle. He had already changed his vest and kilt for a long chainmail tunic and silver-plated armor, blue cloak draped about him. Darm hadn’t even looked at the slaves as his guards entered. “Leave the slaves here, I’ll deal with them,” he ordered putting on a pointed silver-plated helmet.
Freedom felt sick. Darm was speaking like they weren’t living creatures at all! That was awfully bad. They would be dead soon. But why? pondered the mousemaid. Darm surely couldn’t know I was going to escape! Or could he?..
With a faint tap, an ordinary-looking brown rat entered the tent. “Lord, I have urgent news.”
“The squirrel Abbess and the otter Skipper with three more otters and more then half-dozen of small fry left Redwall and now head south-east, to a place called Brockhall. There is a Warrior’s apprentice among them, the berserker otter I reported you on earlier.”
“All the adult beasts must die,” said Darm as if they were talking about ordering breakfast, not killing creatures. “The babes would make good hostages. Take fifty soldiers and leave immediately.”
Freedom gulped. Redwallers wouldn’t have a chance against so many corsairs! As if repeating her thoughts, Tanhide whispered to her companion, a female ferret that captured Maple, “Fifty soldiers to kill six creatures? Hmm, that’s a waste of force!”
Darm Deathtrap shifted his gaze on the stoat, and Tanhide lowered her head. “Not every day you have a chance to kill two of Abbeyleaders and a Warrior,” said the weasel Lord. “I want no slipups. That’s why you and Baffla will come with Tamant’s crew.” Two guards saluted him with no words, and Darm finally paid his attention to Dom and Maple. “Now it’s time to set the scene…”
The role of scene was played by a wide clearing away from the camp, with a large elm standing on the edge. Freedom and Maple were tied to that elm tightly, and Dom couldn’t even loosen ropes, no matter how much she twitched and jerked.
Maple hadn’t even tried to do anything, though he was frowning much more then usual. “Look, it’s Amina over here,” he moved his shoulder where the stoat Lieutenant leaned on a bow in a crowd of corsairs, who slowly gathered on the clearing.
Dom felt sorry her paws weren’t free to punch her friend. “We’re about to be… I don’t know what are we about to be, but it’s definitely not a pleasant thing, and you’re bothered with some vermin?”
“Hey, Amina was kinder to us than… Look, they’re coming!”
Vermin gave them way as Darm and his heirs entered the scene, scowling Shamra lagging behind, Nabon hurrying to get ahead of Darm. Then the young weasel stopped as abruptly as if he hit an invisible wall. He obviously hadn’t expected to see what he saw. “E-mm… Father… What’s going on? Why my servant is tied?”
“It’s the test you both should pass,” was the answer followed. “Kill your slave – and you’ll become a Captain.”
Astonished Nabon stood silent for a second, feeling everybeast’s eyes on him. “But... but I thought it’ll be some sort of battle… may be a duel…”
“That would have been too easy,” noted Darm. “It’s easy to kill in the battle, and it’s far easier to kill enemies. But to kill a creature that made you no evil, that served you well, that you got used to… Yes, that needs guts. It’s difficult, but once you’ve done with it, you are able to destroy anything standing between you and your goal.”
Nabon swallowed hard. “May be there is some other way…”
“There is no other way. Kill the slave and be my Captain – or you aren’t worthy being my heir and be an ordinary soldier instead.”
Nabon shifted his gaze from his farther to Dom, slowly drew a long dagger and stepped closer. Now Freedom was trying to tear herself away from ropes with all her strength, but still with no success. At first the mousemaid was more then determined not to let vermin enjoy her cry, but as her master was reluctantly coming up to her, her spirit gave way to her sense. “Nabon, you know very well, I didn’t do anything wrong to be killed just because! You don’t want to do it – then don’t!”
Slowly, but firmly the young weasel shook his head. “Sorry, Dom,” he whispered. “But I want to be a Captain more than I don’t want to kill you.”
“Phh! Don’t make me wait, bratter,” Shamra, who was staying silent all the time earlier, shouldered Nabon aside and tore the dagger out of his paw. “If you have no backbone to kill a slave, let me do it! Ha, I’ve been dreaming about getting rid of that poor excuse of a bushtail for a month!”
Back to Redwall again! Now that Darm Deathtrap arrived to Mossflower it’s going to be a primary location. And yes, we are revisiting Brockhall as well, because it always seemed kind of strange to me that it was rediscovered in ‘Triss’ only to be forgotten about in the next books.
Meanwhile, Freedom and Maple are in less than enviable position. Admittedly, Darm is one sophisticated dastard.
Redwall and canon characters @ Brian Jacques
FREE RAFFLE: 150k Pageview Party! [CLOSED]EDIT: The raffle is now CLOSED for new entries! Winner will be drawn within the hour and announced soon!
BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE SINCE 150k IS COMING UP FAST D:
I want to host my first ever pageview raffle!
I like the idea of giving back to the community that has treated me so kindly over the years.
No, this is NOT a kiriban-catching contest and I don't need a screenshot or anything like that. Everyone gets a chance to win something without having to camp out on my page! c:
- I'm thinking something sorta quick/simple, like a character bust! Some examples of what I may do for the winner are below.
- And just a note, I can draw just about any character/creature, not just feral animals! Humans, anthros, monsters, aliens, whatever. The only limitation is it can only be ONE character!