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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
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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 :thumb289740381:
The night over Mossflower Woods was calm and warm, but the night over Terramort Isle brought a heavy shower which hung in the air, forming a thick wall of water. The escaped slaves could barely see their way, so they clutched to each other firmly. Wavehound took the lead – the otter would stop from time to time and put a paw to his head trying to prevent the rain from blinding him, checking direction.
Seabird made it her responsibility to see that nobeast would get lost. “Look after your families and friends! Especially old and little ones! Or hold each other’s paws, that’ll be better!”
Betta and the squirrels helping her were ones in the rearguard: the badgerwife hadn’t been free from her chains for longer than anybeast could remember, and the race for life had already drained her strength. Betta did her best to stay on foot, but her body didn’t want to obey her. Several times she tripped and fell, dragging Basko and Mlika down as well, and each time she got up, muttered apologies, helped the squirrels and went on running.
When Betta and the squirrels fell for seventh or eighth time, Mlika stayed lying in a puddle of muddy water while Betta and Basko got back to their footpaws.
“Dear! Are you all right? Please, get up, dear!” Basko clasped his wife’s shoulders, bringing her upright.
“I… I suddenly felt so dizzy…” Mlika buried her head in her paws, the whole squirrelwife’s body was shivering from cold. “I guess that’s ‘cuz of the rain and the running… Let’s go on, I’ll be fine.”
Basko still looked worried. He clearly didn’t want to let her paw go.
“Look after Mlika, I’ll walk by myself,” encouraged him Betta. “I’m not that old to die from exhaustion.” To show it, the badgerwife quickened her pace to catch up with the rest of runaways. Basko followed her with Mlika leaning against him.
The steady rain surrounded Betta in minutes, and the recent prisoner lost all the sense of direction. She could only follow vague shapes looming in the dark. Tiredness made Betta slow down, and then she fell, and couldn’t remember anything.
The awakening was rude: somebeast kicked Betta in the ribs with a heavy boot. “Dead stripedog! ‘Bout threescore of slaves missin’ and all we find is a dead stripedog!”
Vermin! Blaze of fire flamed up in Betta’s chest. Those who razed her homeland and captured her and starved her and tortured her for most of her life! The rage of the Bloodwrath took over Betta, urging her to maim and kill those who maimed and killed her soul… except that Betta didn’t have strength to do it. The night spent on running left the badger completely worn out, and she couldn’t move a paw, couldn’t even growl at her enemies.
Amazingly, it played into Betta’s paws, since corsairs hadn’t even realized she was alive. “Oh, shuttup, Rags, you can only complain. We ‘ave to catch that scum, or Cap’n Viro would sweep the floor with our tails!”
“How ye think we catch them, Bigger? Damn rain washed ‘way half of isle, bah!”
“Ye’ve always been an idiot, Knifenut. Where would you go if you wanted to hide? You’d go to the mountains, that’s for sure. So we just go there, find slaves and teach them ‘ow to escape from us!”
“Teach them? Why, for them to escape again?”
“That’s just how they say, Nut. Let’s go!”
There was tramping of paws, which stopped after a moment. “I have an idea!” cried out the one called Knifenut.
Bigger growled impatiently. “What, again?”
“Err, this time it’s a good one, really! Let’s cut of stripedog’s head! If we don’t find the runaways, we’ll tell we tracked and killed this one, er?”
Betta tried to brace her sinews. No matter how exhausted, she won’t let some vermin get her head!
However, not all the corsairs craved for it. “Fishbrain! Do ye want to carry some bloody pate till it stinks? We can always fetch it on out way back!” Still complaining about each other’s stupidity, ungrateful slaves and bad weather, the vermin went away.
Betta managed to half-open her eyes. After some concentration, she discerned silhouettes of seven beasts atop a ridge, a lone seagull soaring above them.
Vermin. Murderers. Betta closed her eyes tight, and when she opened them again they were bloody red. She growled and tried to get up, spirit of the Bloodwrath overcoming flesh of her old body. A small part of Betta’s mind told her it would be better to find Wavehound and other slaves rather than going after corsairs. But the bigger part of her mind told her that vermin would be gone if she didn’t hurry. So the badgerwife threw her body forward in a desperate attempt to catch up with her enemies.
After few steps Betta tripped and tumbled downhill. She lay here in a gully for a moment, gathering her strength. Then ancient instinct made her continue her way. She couldn’t get up, so Betta began to climb uphill, using boulders to pull herself up.
But when she grabbed another stone, it sank into the soil like a knife sinks into butter. The earth itself shook and dropped under Betta’s paws, and she fell into gaped hole.
Betta was wakened by muted voices around her. “How is she, Skadi?”
“Worn out and famished and bruised, but nothing serious,” said a soft female voice.
“And… what is she? I’ve never seen such a creature.”
“Neither have I. May be Logi knows.”
“I do.” The new voice was a rasp of an old beast. “That’s a badger, a stripedog.”
“A badger?” the first voice sounded surprised. “Like the one that destroyed Gabool the Wild? She is far less terrifying than I’d imagined.”
“Don’t let her looks fool you, Stonebreaker. Judging by scars upon her wrists, it’s the very stripedog that was imprisoned by Deathtrap, and I’ve seen her breaking a metal cage and killing three guards. You never know what a Bloodwrathed beast can do, believe me old fox!”
Fox. That word triggered Betta’s blind fury. There were vermin, and those vermin had to die. She opened her eyes and lunged forward, barely able to discern three figures before her – two rats and a fox. Then something stopped her jerk, holding her back. Betta realized her paws were bound with leather straps. What a shame, a thought flashed in her mind as she struggled with fetters, once I was able to break chains and now I can’t tear some leather!
Splash! The fox hurled a dipper of cold water into her face. The world spun round Betta before returning to its place. The outburst of rage had passed, and now she could take a better view of the situation.
Betta laid on a straw-and-moss-bed in some closed place. She could clearly see there were no windows, but still there were quite enough light – the badgerwife could swear that walls themselves were luminous if she didn’t know it was impossible.
She shifted her gaze on her captors and growled. One of the rats, a middle-seasoned male with small ears and deep-seated eyes put his paw on a weapon thrust through his belt. It wasn’t a usual sword or dagger – no, this weapon was made completely of metal and reminded her a pickaxe miners sometimes use, with a single thick spike, the other side of it balanced by a broad flat edge of hammer.
However, a female rat slapped her companion’s paw before he could pull out that strange weapon. “Pebble! Can’t you see you’re scaring the poor creature?” She spread her paws, showing that she was weaponless. “Greetings, stranger. I’m called Skadi, this gloomy one is my husband Stonebreaker Skief, and this is Logi,” she gestured to an old fox, his fur ragged and grey from age, “he is the best healer in both Terramorts.”
Betta desperately struggled with her bounds while Skadi spoke. “Let’s stop pretending,” growled the badgerwife. “I don’t know were Wavehound and others are. And even if I knew, I wouldn’t tell you, vermin!”
“You got everything wrong, striped one,” chuckled Logi. “We are not your enemies. We have nothing to do with corsairs from Bladegirt. In fact, they are our enemies. So I guess we can call you a friend.”
Betta considered it for a moment. Now she could see that the closed place they were in looked more like a cave than a dungeon cell, and roughly-woven tunics vermin wore were nothing like soldiers’ clothes. “Unbind me!” finally demanded she.
“First you must promise not to attack us,” said Stonebreaker – or was his name Skief? “In my turn, I swear by my son’s life that nor I neither my Clan attack you unless you threat us.”
Giving promises to vermin didn’t sound sensible, but even the part of Betta’s mind that longed for the Bloodwrath to come knew that blind obstinacy would get her nowhere. Still, she growled and tugged her cuffs before reluctantly agreeing, “All right. I swear by my mother’s soul that I won’t attack you unless you threat me or my friends.”
Vermin nodded with a look of satisfaction and undid knots of her bounds. Betta immediately drew herself up, though her head wasn’t ready for it, and dizziness got into her skull.
Logi supported the badgerwife under the paw. “Easy, easy, striped one. May I remind you we don’t know your name yet?”
“I’m Betta of Daggerrocks”, she said, pulling away from his paw. “And if you call yourself my friends, then tell me – where am I and who are you?”
Skadi was willing to elucidate. “You are in the caves of Lower Terramort, and we, those who live here, call ourselves Rolt.”
This statement left Betta even more confused. “This actually doesn’t explain anything to me.”
“Have you ever heard of Gabool the Wild and the destruction of his Fort?” asked Logi.
Of course Betta heard of it, but she hadn’t remembered much. “Well… I think I did.”
“Then you have to remember that one of the reasons rebels succeeded was their usage of the tunnel – or, better to say, the network of tunnels that runs under the whole island. You are in one of these tunnels. We call it Lower Terramort, and the overground part of the isle is Upper Terramort.”
“We’ve found you in one of our tunnels,” added Skadi. “How did you manage to discover the entrance? We’ve always thought it was camouflaged well enough, and you can’t move the screen of rock unless you push a hidden lever.”
“And the lever was hidden in a stone?” said Betta. Skadi nodded, and the badgerwife continued, “Then I pushed it by accident. Falling through some kind of a hole is the last thing I remember. Right, let’s move on. Who is Rolt?”
“It’s rather ‘what’ than ‘who’,” corrected Stonebreaker. “It stands for ‘Rats of Lower Terramort’. This story started soon after Gabool’s defeat. After freed slaves had sailed from Terramort, they left behind pirates who survived the battle – mostly those who fled and hid before it was too late. Without ships, those rats were trapped on the island. There were brutal fights for leadership at first, but then they realized they would wipe each other out unless they cooperate. And they cooperated. Terramort had never been a paradise on earth, but the land here was fertile enough to give rise to some crops and vegetables, and the sea was full of fish. That’s how pirates became farmers and fishers. However, there still was one problem – harsh weather. There had never been woods on Terramort, just brakes and bushes, and the rebels destroyed Fort to the ground. Pirates didn’t have any means to build houses of even huts, so they came to live in these tunnels.”
“I see, I see,” interrupted Betta. “Those rats were your ancestors. No need to go into details.”
“I just want you to see the whole picture. But in short, you’re right. With each generation they were less and less pirates and more and more peaceful farmers. That’s how it’s been till Deathtrap arrived at Terramort many seasons ago.”
“Twenty seasons past, to be more exact.” One more rat entered the cave. This rat looked even older than Logi, and Betta thought there was no better word to describe him but ‘ancient’. He had lost all fur on his face and paws, and his face was wrinkled. The rat hobbled closer, and Betta could see a peg leg replacing his right hindpaw. Without a second thought she jumped up and bowed. In her whole life she had never bent her back before a vermin, but she felt such a great wisdom and strength of mind in that beast that she couldn’t do otherwise.
“Here, don’t weary yourself out, grandfather,” Stonebreaker seated the old rat down the bedding.
“Old ones aren’t as helpless as you think, pup,” sniffed the rat. “Thought all the extra-attention does flatter my self-esteem.” Then he paid his attention to Betta. “So, you’re the stripedog that fell from the sky? I’ve never seen a badger before, but I imagined them to be much more ferocious and menacing.”
That last statement surprised Betta. “Hadn’t you seen the Badger Lord who defeated Gabool?” She blurted without thinking.
Luckily, the elder broke into a toothless grin. “Hey, I’m not that old!”
Then Stonebreaker stepped in. “Betta, let me introduce you to Skvold Sharkslayer, also known as Skvold the Retreater and Knowing One.”
“Add Skvold the Lame to the list, windbag,” grumbled the elder without spite. His words were left without notice.
“He was Stonebreaker when my parents were merely pups, and I’m honored to call him a grandfather. Skvold, let me introduce you to Betta of Daggerrocks.”
“Glad to know you, youngster,” Skvold patted the bedding. “Sit down; you still have all time in the world to give yourself stiff joints.” The badgerwife followed his advice. Betta felt much better than in the morning, but she still was glad to give her paws some rest.
“We just were telling Betta about history of our Clan,” said Skadi.
“Ah, I’ve heard. I think I’ll be a better storyteller, you were just small pups at that time.” The young rats nodded to their older companion, and Skvold turned to Betta. “So it’ll be a tales’ day. I tell you my story, and then you tell us yours.”
The badgerwife silently bowed her head. Betta wasn’t completely sure she could trust these strange vermin, but they had already told her so much.
The elder rat cleared his throat. “This happened seasons ago, when I was Stonebreaker of Clan…”
“I don’t quite understand,” said Betta. “I thought Stonebreaker was his name.” She pointed to Skvold’s grandson.
He patted a handle of his strange weapon with a smile. “Stonebreaker is its name. Only Chiefs of Rolt are allowed to carry it, so it’s a title as well. Skief is my birth name, and Stonebreaker is just an official one.”
“Right, let me continue,” murmured Skvold, and everybeast fell silent. “Rolt led a secluded life, landlocked on this Isle. Then three of Deathtrap’s ships arrived. We were glad that corsairs finally broke our forced seclusion, for it meant trade, and opportunity for young ones to leave. The weasel straight away declared he would rebuild Fort Bladegirt there and make the Isle his headquarters, and we didn’t mind. Fine, I said, Terramort is big enough for all of us, we can still be satisfied with the deal. But no, that wasn’t enough for that yellow-paunched rogue, he wanted us Rolt come to him and become his soldiers! Can you believe it? He wanted us to fight his battles for him and die for him!”
The old rat stamped his wooden leg several time.
“Sure I said no – all Rolt said no, I wouldn’t have withheld beasts against their will. Skief told you, it was long long time since our ancestors waged their wars, and none of us wanted to fight for some stranger weasel. Trouble was that Darm hadn’t taken ‘no’ for an answer. “You are with me or against me. You gonna be my slaves if you won’t be my soldiers,” he said. I tried to reason, tried to drum into his head that we’re peaceful creatures, that we’re nor with him neither against him, that we just want to stay aside, but would he listen?”
“Talking with Deathtrap is a waste of breath,” agreed Betta, her burning homeland still before her eyes.
“It is. We didn’t submit to him. There was a battle. It was my mistake.” Skvold’s speech became more abrupt and brusque, his words heavy and edgy. “We were no warriors. I knew it. But this is our land. Our ancestors lived there, we live there. The weasel had no right to set his rules there. I thought it would be enough. I was wrong. Darm’s soldiers were skilled killers. We lost many. We lost the battle. I ordered us to retreat, to run away and save our lives. That’s how I ended up being called ‘the Retreater’.”
“It was a wise decision,” Skief spoke, interrupting the story. “Rats of Lower Terramort do still live because you ordered them to retreat, or Darm would’ve killed us all.”
“I don’t regret giving that order,” snorted Skvold. “I regret starting the whole battle.”
“It’s a right thing,” argued Betta. “You have to fight to defend what you have.”
“No, youngster. You never start a fight unless you’re absolutely sure you win, or you can lose more than you win.”
Betta was puzzled. She got used to feeling herself like the oldest creature in the Barn, but Skvold made her aware of her not-so-old age and inexperience. “Sorry, can you tell us what happened next?”
“We escaped to our tunnels, and Deathtrap had the entrances collapsed. Can you believe that stonebrains thought he killed us? Ha! Can you kill a fish by drowning it? Can you kill a bird by throwing it from height? Ha! We went further into the tunnels, and we’ve been living there since that. The underground river gives us fish, caves give us mushrooms and moss and lichen, and sun grounds give us some crops and plants. We never go above during the day, and sea-robbers from Fort don’t even know of us!”
“Thank you,” Betta slightly dipped her head. “I’ve got one question, if you don’t mind.” She turned to Logi, who was silent during the whole conversation. “You say Rolt are descendants of Gabool’s searats. But you don’t look much like a rat.”
The old fox shook his head. “I wasn’t born in Clan, but I joined it seasons ago. Right now you’re talking to a criminal, because I deserted Fort and betrayed Deathtrap.”
Betta’s hackles slowly rose. The rats may be peaceful creatures, but this fox had just admitted being part of the weasel’s troops. “Why did you?”
“Well, we didn’t see eye to eye ‘bout some things.” The badgerwife’s gaze was still, and Logi explained, “We corsairs may be ruthless to our enemies, but among ourselves we observe the Law of Sea carefully. However, Darm follows only his own rules. Six seasons ago, my son-in-law was slain in battle. Darm refused to give his share of plunder to my daughter as the Law of Sea demanded, he didn’t even cared she had a little pup to feed. I tried to stand for my daughter’s rights, but the weasel didn’t even listen to me, and his rat eavesdropper whispered to me I’d better keep quiet or there be ‘an accident’. You see where it’s coming, don’t you? We all left Bladegirt, me, my daughter and my grandson.”
“So.” Betta pondered at the news, then slowly nodded, her head spinning with the amount of new information. “I hadn’t even thought somebeast could rebel against the weasel.”
“Oh, a rebellion would’ve been hopeless – there were a couple of them, but Deathtrap had them scorched in two days. But creatures jumping ships? Yes. You’ll meet them here in Rolt. Vidar was denied his fair share after he lost a leg, Idunna’s brother was killed by Darm, and Surt just doesn’t like obeying orders.”
“We often go to Upper Terramort at night,” said Skadi, “so we can help beasts who try to leave Fort. We try hard, but not all of them make it.” She sighed. “Deathtrap likes making example of those who breaks his laws.”
“Now, will you tell us how you got there, Betta of Daggerrocks?” said Skief.
The badgerwife took her time to think. But after all, she had no idea of Wavehound’s current location, and vermin in Bladegirt had already learned about the escape…
“By my stripes!!” she roared, springing up to her paws. “The others – they are out there! And corsairs are searching for them since morning! We must help them, quickly!”
Oh, we are getting to one of my favourite sideplots of this story! Rats of Lower Terramort, or Rolt as they are also known, are the descendants of Gabool's searats that are stranded on the island after the events of 'Mariel of Redwall', and their culture and customs are my own creation. I can't wait to introduce them properly!
Also, in case it's not clear, Betta is suffering from severe PTSD from the time she had spent caged and chained, and she isn't always thinking clearly when around vermin.
Under the bright night stars, a large group of hedgehogs stood at river bank, watching silently at big raft with a hut in its center. Inside that hut laid bodies of more than thirty Waterhogs, ready for their last journey. Big hedgehog called Hart Oakspike untied the rope which bound the raft to the bank and pushed it with long punting pole.
“May wind and waves carry thee to the sunny slopes where may thee find peace.” Hart spoke traditional words of farewell, and tears ran down his cheeks. The body of his father was lying at the raft among other tribebeasts. The old hog wanted to relinquish Chieftainship of the Waterhogs to Hart and spend his last days playing with little hoglets. Who could have known that Hart would have to claim his father’s title like this? Who could have known that a fishing trip half of Tribe took the day before would cost them so many lives?
Hart stood straight. He had to be strong for his tribe. And he had to hurry. Hart had always been down-to-earth type of beast, but now even he could sense danger in the air. That’s why he insisted on performing all the rituals right now and not waiting for dawn as traditions demanded.
“Waterhogs! Nowt, when we took care of our dead, we hast take care of our living. We shall leave this place and head for Redwall Abbey.”
“Shall Waterhogs flee from our kin murderers?” called somehog from crowd.
“Not flee, but find a place where our old and young can stay and goodbeasts to join forces with. I hast a feeling yon vermin were not just bandits.”
“Chief Hart is right!” cried a young hogmaid. She barely survived the massacre, and now her paws, chest and head were bandaged. “I’ve heard yon weasel cry ‘Kill them for Lord Deathtrap!’ They must be a part of bigger horde!”
“Thank thou, Sarosa,” Oakspike dipped his long headspikes. “Then we shall warn Redwall and Mossflower about them. Thaer, I want thy family to go round the woods and send every beast they meet to Redwall. We shall meet the danger together.”
As one can see from its name, Waterhog tribe usually consisted from hedgehogs only. But seasons ago Hart’s father allowed an otter family to join them, and now Thaer, his wife and his daughter were integral part of the tribe. Otters even proudly called themselves Waterdogs.
Thaer, who looks much like a corsair himself wearing a brass earring and red bandana, saluted the big hedgehog. “Sure, Cap. We’ll all go right now.”
“Don’t go thyself, I shall need thou here. Haund, can thou lead our tribe to the Abbey?” Haund, a hedgehog a shade bigger even than Hart, nodded. Hart Oakspike asked in a low voice, “Art thou sure thou don’t want to claim the title of Waterhog Chieftain? Thou art the firstborn.”
Haund smiled and gave his brother a friendly push. “We both know thou shall make a better leader, brother. I could have coped at the times of peace but not nowt… Thou’ve always been the one to resolve troubles, even since we were hoglets.”
Hart gave him a smile in return. “Hmf, I fear I was the one to create troubles as well! Hark nowt. While thou shall lead Waterhogs and those who join us, I and Thaer shall go to Coneslingers’ woods.”
Haund and Thaer exchanged worried looks. “What’s wrong?” wondered Waterhog Chieftan. “Coneslingers art friends of all goodbeasts, and we shall warn them!”
“Things changed after old Whurp’s death two seasons past, brother.”
“But why? Whurp was a fair leader, and I am sure his daughter Burnby is a fair leader too.”
“She is the leader in title, Cap,” explained Thaer, who sometimes left Waterhogs to pay visits to his squirrel friends. “But in fact it’s her husband Flamefur givin’ orders. He arrived from the north three seasons ago with a group of squirrels, fleeing from vermin raids. And he and his followers don’t like otherbeasts interfering in squirrels’ business.”
“I shall go,” Hart repeated stubbornly. “Yon vermin is everybeast’s business nowt. Will thou go with me, Thaer?”
“Asking, Cap? Sure I go! But mebbe… mebbe we go after the dawn? Then it won’t look like we are intruding their territory, say nothing of all their traps!”
Hart was adamant. “At the dawn it may be too late. We shall go nowt. Take care, Haund.”
Hart Oakpike and Thaer Waterdog walked silently to the small forest north to river Moss.
“Do thou know where the Coneslingers art living?” finally said Hart.
The otter scratched his head while thinking. “Yeah, their houses are on the trees right in this forest’s center, but they often change paths to their settlement. I can remember the last one, but I can’t know for sure…”
Hart gripped the handle of his heavy oaken club. “Show the way, I look for the traps.”
When they left Waterhogs, Thaer tried to persuade Hart not to take his weapon in order to avoid troubles with Coneslingers. Hart refused, saying he didn’t want to be unprepared if they met any vermin. Now the otter thought about thanking Chieftain for not listening to him. The large hog walked the path Thaer showed him, swinging the club before he did a step. It already tore through a couple of nooses and broke a well-hidden javelin.
“We’re almost there, Cap!” Thaer threw his head back, looking out for squirrels’ dwelling. “I hardly can see anything in dark, but we must be almost there.”
Hart leaned on his club. “I’d call for them, nowt.” He paused before roaring, “Heeey-aaay! I am Hart Oakspike, the Chieftain of Waterhogs! I need to speak to thy leader Burnby! Heeey-aay!”
“What do you want from Burnby, hog?” Neither Hart nor Thaer heard the squirrel sneak behind them. When they turned round he just stood there – a tall fellow with dark red fur, he was rather brawny but not stout. His sling was hanging from his belt, and Hart noticed a cone put into it.
The hedgehog had never met Flamefur, but the squirrel’s impudence made him believe it was him. “I have urgent news to discuss with thy leader. Can thee call Burnby, please?”
“Speak to me!” declared the squirrel.
Hart shook his head. “Thee don’t look like Burnby.”
The squirrel put his paw on his sling. “Think you can make fan of me, spikehead?”
“Why should you be so rude, Flamefur?” A pretty squirrelwife jumped down the earth, her soft fur bright like fire. “Hart, Thaer, I’m glad to see you. What brought you to our forest at such a late hour?”
Hart saw more squirrels gathering round them – some sat at tree branches, some leaped down, but all of them were eager to hear about the reason of their guests’ visit. So the Chieftain of Waterhogs raised his voice and tried to tell their story in a few words. “Waterhogs art gathering all goodbeasts and going to Redwall,” he concluded. “Will Coneslingers come with us?”
“Why should we?” growled Flamefur. “That’s none of our business!”
“How can you talk like that?” protested Burnby. “We can’t allow vermin play the master in our lands!”
“Mossflower ain’t our lands,” pointed out somebeast from the above. “Our lands are here!”
“Your lands, our lands, - does it matter?” asked Thaer. “Today vermin killed Waterhogs. Who knows whom they’ll kill tomorrow – your friends? Your little ones?”
“That’s right,” nodded Burnby. “My tribe will go to Redwall.”
Flamefur was startled. “What? So, Coneslingers will abandon the forest they lived in for generations and go against a horde of vermin to defend some beasts we barely know… just because a spikehead and a riverdog say so?”
“These beasts are our friends!” croaked some oldbeast. “When our crops died of drought last season, they’ve been giving us food.”
Flamefur sniffed. “And why should Coneslingers give their lives for a handful of vittles?”
Burnby’s voice was cold as ice. “When you came here three seasons ago with nothing but clothes you wore, Coneslingers helped you, Flamefur, and your friends, and accepted you all in our tribe. Is that how you are going to thank us? I’d never thought you are heartless enough to turn you back to those who helped you!”
The red squirrel jerked his head up. “Don’t you understand? Back at the north, I saw my tribe die – all but for a little group of refugees. I don’t want to see any more deaths. No vermin can defeat us here, where we know every path, where we can appear and vanish like shadows, where the earth is full of traps. We will lose our advantage if we leave the forest!”
Burnby opened her mouth to answer, but her voice drowned when the entire tribe began to argue. Everybeast was speaking at once; some of them weren’t even listening to each other. Nobeast paid Hart Oakspike and Thaer Waterdog any attention.
“They can fight like that till the sky falls,” sighed Hart. “We shall not waste out time here. Let’s go to our tribe.”
In the cave among the swamps, four beasts paced the floor, touching the walls, peeping in every hole and crack, digging at the ground.
“It’s useless,” moaned Freedom as she tried to fit herself into a narrow cleft. “It’s a dead end. There is no other way out.”
“Then our only hope is to cut our way through toads.” Bikkle tried to make her voice sound confident, but the mousemaid saw her paws trembling. “I know, it’s too many of them, but we have no other choice but sit and wait them attack.”
“That’s strange,” Maple was thinking of something again. “Why don’t these toads attack? There are dozens, no, scores of them, and they just sit near the cave and don’t go inside.”
“Maybe they are waiting for their leader, or something,” shrugged the Abbess. “Now, what weapons we have here? Plenty of stones, a couple of sticks and two daggers…”
“Unly un dagger, surry,” Rupet showed them a shorn-off handle. “Oi’ve tried to pull it out off dat snake’s head, an’ it’s broke…”
“The snake! We have a dead snake here!” cried Freedom, an idea flashed in her mind. “We can – oh yes, we can scare toads away!”
“By making them believe it’s alive?” Mother Abbess critically poked the dead body with stick. “Look, it’s completely bloodstained – how can it fool somebeast?” She answered her own question immediately. “But we must at least try. Maple, Rupet, go to the snake’s right side, me and Dom take the left. Deelma, Roben, Marfa, watch after the Dibbuns, please.”
Zlissa’s body was heavy, but together four beasts managed to drag it to the cave’s entrance. At Bikkle’s command, they lifted snake’s head and began to move it. The giant blunt muzzle was thrust out of the cave. To complete the resemblance, Marfa scraped two stones against each other, imitating snake’s hissing.
Toads became stockstill for a moment, then they backed away and fell facedown, pressing their bellies into mud. “Evileyes, Evileyes! Youorder – weobey!”
“Oi be Evileyes, shurr-shrr,” Marfa did her best to sound like a snake. “Oi order ye to go ‘way, hur-shurr-shrr!”
Freedom was glad their enemies had no torches with them; otherwise they would have seen Zlissa’s wounds. Now, if they obey ‘snake’s’ orders…
The mousemaid’s footpaw slipped on a pebble, and Dom fell flat on her back. Without her support, her friends could not hold the weight of Zlissa’s body all by themselves. The dead snake plopped down, its head and neck slithered out right into a patch of crescent light. The empty eye socket stared at the toads, who couldn’t be fooled anymore.
A toad in the first line hurled a light reed javelin, and Dom rolled away grabbing the stone she slipped on. But the toad wasn’t aiming at her. The javelin sank into Zlissa’s head. The toad jumped warily to the snake, then pulled the javelin from the body and stabbed it again. “Evileyes dead!” it croaked. “Dead-dead!”
The rest of the toads were upon the dead snake like locust, scores of them, and every one wanted to kick their once deadly enemy, stab it, stone it or trample it down. The swamp came alive with their croaking, just one word repeated again and again, “Dead! Dead-dead! Dead!”
Woodlanders retreated back into the safety of cave. “Looks like those guys aren’t quite fond of Zlissa, ah?” smiled Dom.
“She could’ve been feeding on them,” nodded Maple. “That would explain why toads are so happy to see her dead.”
“Maybe that’s right, and maybe not, I don’t want to find out,” Abbess Bikkle helped Deelma get up. “We are leaving this place before those outside remember about us and turn us into supper!”
As you may’ve already noticed, I really enjoy creating links between my story and canon Redwall books, and so we both Waterhogs from ‘The Long Patrol’ and Coneslingers from ‘Triss’ make an appearance here. I can say that I’m especially excited for the role Burnby and Flamefur are going to pay, because their dynamic is going to be very interesting, at least for me.
The sun had disappeared behind the horizon when Zlissa slithered out of spacious cave that served as her lair. Her scaled face was as emotionless as ever, but a tiny sparkle of light in her eyes could pass for a smile.
It was so easy! Take on a pitiful look, get a sad expression, add some stupid words about friends and other staff, and that silly woodlanders are ready to believe you. However, that squirrelmaid was constantly trying to lead everybeast back to her home, and the old molewife didn’t seem to trust her, but a couple of Zlissa’s persuading stares had solved the problem. Right now, the whole group was sleeping inside the cave. What a fools.
Zlissa Evileyes didn’t need great strength or great size to rule the swamp as she did – her sharp mind and hypnotic gaze was enough. She always could persuade anybeast to do whatever she wanted – always, since the day countless seasons ago when she got rid of her rival Berussca. The swamp wasn’t big enough for two snakes, and normally, they would have fought to death. But Zlissa simply kept ranting how miserable was the swamp and how great was the forest, so once Berusska left to settle in the Mossflower Woods – left as a winner, not knowing that she had actually lost.
The part of the swamp Zlissa entered now was studded with dozens and scores of sloppy dilapidated huts, made of mixed mud and reed. These huts swarmed with sleeping toads clustered inside and nestled outside. The snake set her jaw firm, trying not to be distracted by such amount of meat. Toad flesh is slimy and tasteless. Tonight I’ll have more delicious meal.
The biggest hut was occupied by one dweller only – an old fat toad. Zlissa thrust her head inside and hissed. The toad gave a jump – and immediately froze, caught by the piercing yellow eyes.
“Lissten,” hissed Zlissa, and the toad automatically nodded. “Thhake all yer tribe and go tho my cave. Guard woodlanderss inside ithh. Bound thhem iff ye need, buth not a ssingle one must be injured or killed. Othherwisse yer meath will ssatisfy my hhunger.”
The toad was nodding again like a rush swayed with the wind. Zlissa left the toad, heading back to her lair. There was some business to do - she would leave even before toads arrive. That Deathtrap woodlanders told about must be a cunning beast. He would see benefits of allying with another cunning beast. Tomorrow he’ll get his prisoners as a token of new alliance. Not all of them, of course...
Nothing changed in the snake’s lair when she was absent. Woodlanders still were fast asleep on their rough beds of leaves and moss when Zlissa had returned. The reptile’s forked tongue flitted as she slowly turned her head, looking over the guests – or, better to say, captives. Dibbuns huddled together in the middle of group, but two small molebabes were lying a bit away, closer to four other moles. They immediately became Zlissa’s target.
Freedom dreamed of Riftgard, of the North and of cold sea when something rough touched her tail. The mousemaid stirred, trying to move aside, but her tail was pinned to the ground with something heavy. Dom reluctantly opened her eyes. “Oohh, whaat-”
The rest of the sleep left Dom. Her tail was pressed down with Zlissa’s own tail – but she gasped in shock not because of this. Zlissa wasn’t paying any attention to the little mousemaid. The snake was looming over Renee and Allie, Roben and Deelma’s children. Her jaws wide open, Zlissa lowered her head, like some monster from an elders’ tale said to eat Dibbuns.
“Hey! What- what you’re doing?” Freedom shook her head, struggling to understand if it was still a dream or not. The snake’s head turned round sharply, and Dom found herself staring right into Zlissa’s eerie yellow eyes.
“Lissten. Ssstay ssilent. I thhake thosse I wanth. That’ss how it should be.” Freedom heard nothing but this soft husky voice, and saw nothing but these deep acute eyes, unable to resist their charm. “Come hhere.” Without even thinking what she was doing, the mousemaid stepped forward. Then she made one more step, and one more…
Suddenly Zlissa’s head jerked upwards with a short hiss, breaking eye contact with Freedom. The mousemaid quickly jumped back, and giant reptile curved her body as Renee hung at the snake’s tail trying to bite through solid scales.
“Auurr, leave ‘er alaune, ye big slimmy eartwarm!” The molebabe’s high-pitched cry had probably waked up every living creature in the swamp.
But the snake’s struggle with Dibbun couldn’t last long: with a strong stroke of her tail, Zlissa threw Renee against the wall, snake’s whole body tensed before the thrust. “Ffor thiss ye die!”
“No!” Dom jumped to help the little molemaid, but she was too far away. But Deelma wasn’t. The molewife threw herself between Zlissa and her child, and the snake caught her shoulder in jaws, sinking her teeth into Deelma’s flesh.
“Deelma!!!” In a second, Roben was here. With the angriest roar Freedom had ever heard, he brought his mighty forepaws upon snake’s head, raking his claws across her eyes. Zlissa hissed and turned round, intended to bite Roben as well, but the mole didn’t let go snake’s head, staying out of her reach.
“Riift-gaard!” Freedom lunged herself onto reptile’s back and tried to claw at it, only to discover that snake’s scales were too hard and firm. Zlissa arched her body, and Dom’s paws slipped on her smooth back. With another whack of her tail, Zlissa made the mousemaid crash down the hard ground of cave.
While she was getting back on her footpaws, she saw Abbess Bikkle and Marfa forcing Dibbuns to the corner, away from where the infuriated snake coiled, still locked in a fight with Roben. Now Rupet joined his brother, hanging to the snake’s temple with one paw and punching it with the other. Dom saw Zlissa ramming her head into the cave’s wall, and Roben broke off, gasping for air. Rupet could only tighten his grip as the snake bent her head down, fully intended to repeat the trick. Her right eye that was hit by Roben turned into a bloody mess, and the snake must been going mad with pain.
“Aim for the eye!” gulped Freedom as Maple helped her to get up.
However, the squirrel shook his head. “The neck!” Dom nodded - two beasts jumped forward and simultaneously landed at reptile’s neck. Freedom got Maple’s point now and didn’t try to bite or hit the snake. Instead she followed Maple’s example and grappled the neck with all four paws, pressing it down with all her weight. Zlissa’s stirs slowed down a lot: it was obviously difficult for her to fight while the load on her neck kept it from moving.
“Hold on! I’m comin’!” Bikkle’s muffled voice was heard somewhere from above, and Dom briefly glanced up to see the Abbess climbing the wall with a short dagger in her teeth. Unfortunately, Zlissa had also heard it and doubled the efforts she was putting into fight. Rupet fell down with a cry of pain, and Dom felt her paws growing weak with each second.
“Reedwaaall!” Bikkle jumped down, landing on Zlissa’s head by some luck or miracle. She had almost fallen down as the snake jerked, but the squirrelmaid managed to keep balance and plunged the dagger into the back of her head. Zlissa twitched and coiled her body, as if trying to see what had just happened behind her back. This last outburst of power sent Bikkle, Maple and Freedom flying. When the woodlanders raised their faces from stone floor, Zlissa’s tail lashed one last time, and then the monster was still.
Freedom stared at the snake for a few more seconds, ready to run in case she wasn’t really dead. Then a loud cry reminded her and her friends that they had other things to worry about. “Help! Help, somebest! ‘old on, Deelma!”
The molewife still laid limp where Zlissa had struck her, Roben huddled besides his wife, holding her paw and paying absolutely no attention to his own right paw that hung down his side like a broken branch. Renee and Allie clutched to their mother, crying aloud. Other Dibbuns bunched near, frightened and shocked. Rupet and Marfa also were there. Marfa was trying to bind Deelma’s wound with her shawl, but Deelma was gasping for air with evident difficulty. “Taike care o’ our likkle ones, Roben,” she whispered. “Remembe’ Oi lurve ye.”
“Dun’t zay so! Ye won’t die! Bikkle, ye’re from the Abbay – ye must knau sum ‘erbs!”
The Abbes knelt next to the dying molewife, tears running down her face. “I… I’m no healer, Roben… Sorry, but… I don’t think we can do anything…”
“Then we must find a healer!” Dom jumped to her feet, glad she can do at least something. “We must bring her in the Abbey as soon as possible!”
“Too laite,” uttered Deelma and closed her eyes.
“Hey! Look here! Everybeast!” Maple excited voice sounded as if it came from the other world, and Dom felt an irresistible urge to box his ears. Does he have no tact at all?
“Come on! It’s important!” kept calling Maple.
“Can’t it woit?” growled Rupet, turning to the squirrel. “Deelma is dying!”
“That’s why I’m calling you! She is not dying!”
“What?!” Freedom, Bikkle and Roben breathed out almost in unison.
Maple stood near the head of dead snake. He forced the monstrous jaws open, using a stick as a lever, so everybeast could see forked wormlike tongue and short sharp teeth. Dom frowned. She had never seen a snake’s mouth close, so why she had a feeling something was missing?
“The fangs!” she cried. “She has no fangs!”
“That’s what I mean!” Maple gave a wide smile. “If there are no fangs, then there’s no poison, right?”
“But… but wy Oi feel venom burnin’ in moi veins?” Deelma raised herself from the floor, surprise tingling in her voice. Freedom couldn’t help noticing she looked healthier than just a couple of moments before.
“Maybe you just got frightened too much,” suggested the squirrel Abbess. “And snake bite is a nasty thing, even if there are no fangs. But now I can say for sure – you are not dying!”
“Hurrey!” Renee and Allie cried again, this time for joy. A shadow of worry still could be heard in Allie’s voice when she asked, “Ye wan’t leave us, Mammy? Ye wan’t go away loike Granpa?”
“Oi wan’t let ‘er, likkle one!” Roben hugged his wife with his good paw and unwittingly gasped as he hurt his wounded paw.
“What’s dat?” Deelma pulled back and examined his paw. “Be it brok’n? Oh no, we should taike care o’ it!”
“Dat’s all roight if ye’re well,” sighed Roben as Deelma bound his paw with Marfa’s shawl.
Marfa looked down the dead snake with disgust. “Buorr, I must’ve been too old nawadays. Taike a grass snake fur an adder!”
“This pattern looks like the one of an adder,” agreed Bikkle, pointing on Zlissa’a back.
“But look, the scales are all went gray. Zlissa must’ve been very, very old snake. She could’ve lost her poison fangs with age,” suggested Maple.
“So that’s why she made it seem she was our friend. She couldn’t just kill us, so that monster lured us into her bloody lair!” The Abbess even shuddered at the thought. “I was a fool to believe her after all the evil her kin caused to Redwall!”
“She bewitched us all,” whispered Freedom, remembering that deep trance she fell into when the adder looked in her eyes. She felt tingles down his spine and hurried to shrug it away. “Enough talking of that terrible creature!”
“True.” The Abbess was in command now. “Marfa and I will help the wounded, and you two take care of the Dibbuns. I want to leave this terrible place as soon as possible before some other snake appears!”
The Dibbuns really needed taking care of. Most of them still were struck with fear and worries of the day and the night. However, mischievous Cleve had already begun drawing near Zlissa’a corpse. “Is it dead? Is there blood?”
Maple caught the squirrelbabe, much to his disappointment. “It is dead, but you won’t even go near it, rascal!”
Freedom made her way to other Dibbuns, checking on them and soothing them if necessary. “It’s all right, dear. You are safe now. No more bad beasts, see, Winnie? You’ll be home at the morning, so don’t cry!” Ripple tugged the hem of her dress, and Dom picked the small otterbabe up. “So, riverpup?”
“Why did Zliza attack you? I thought she is our friend!”
Dom frowned, thinking how to give a good answer to such a simple and therefore difficult question. “Well, she only pretended to be our friend. But in fact, she was evil even before we met her.”
“Then ‘ow I know who’s ma friend and who’s just pretendin’?”
Freedom cast a hopeful look at Maple, who always could deal better with such matters. But her squirrel friend was busy with Cleve and a couple of troublesome hogbabes, so Dom had to come out with an answer herself. “Well… I don’t know. But what I do know is that you should judge by one’s deeds, not one’s words. You see, Zlissa said she’s our friend, but attacked us. And Shamra, a weasel I know, had always claimed she doesn’t care for anybeast – and yet she saved me’n’Maple.”
Ripple’s eyes opened wide with curiosity. “Ye’re friends with a weesel? Tell me, tell me!”
“Not this time, you nosey. Look, your Mother Abbess is already gathering everybeast to leave.”
“Be we leave naw?” asked Rupet. He wasn’t as badly injured as his brother, and now the dark-furred mole was pacing the cave. “Mebbe we woite till mornin’? ‘Cause we ‘ave a trauble ‘ere.”
Bikkle frowned. “Do seasons simply mock us? Any more trouble? What’s that, Rupet?”
Rupet Claypaw pointed a digging claw at the entrance. “Them!”
Woodlanders came closer – and struggled for breath. All the visible space outside the cavern was occupied with armed toads.
Aand Zlissa reveals her true face. Apparently, you don't get a name like Evileyes for no reason. Fun fact: this episode was inspired by a chapter of 'Jungle Book' where Mowgli encounters an enormous white cobra guarding a long-lost treasure... only to discover that the snake lost its fangs to old age, making it harmless. However, as you can see, Zlissa is no less dangerous for that.
The main impression I got from Edward VanRoDine was that of certain slickness, and I tried to transfer than into his humanized design. That’s why he has short slicked down hair, narrowed eyes and thinner face features. I also remember the symbolism of Edward wearing a colourful shirt under the drab grey suit, so I tried to keep this titbit while making his outfit, though the result wasn’t as subtle as the symbolism of his original clothes.
Also, this is going to be the last piece of my series of humanized ‘A Rat’s Empire’ characters, at least for now. I don’t have any other characters made, but I may do some side characters in the future – for example, recently I began to wonder how Simone and Wendy VanRoDine would look like as humans…
Hopse and Plana are side characters from my story 'For Freedom' who are almost inseparable from each other, so they got to share this entry.
1. Both Hopse and Plana were named after the characters of ‘Fifteen Hares’ by Felix Salten, the author of ‘Bambi’, which are, by the way, rather engaging and insightful books. There are in-story reasons behind their names as well: Hopse’s name was originally given to him as a nickname by his parents due to his hyperactive nature and a habit of hopping around when he was a leveret, and Plana was named after her grandfather, Major Placidus Nalim Swiffscut.
2. As with many of my secondary characters, Hopse and Plana’s appearances were considerably foggy in my mind’s eye until recently, all I knew was that they both were light-furred. Now that their designs solidified, I can tell that Hopse has light grey fur and hazel eyes while Plana has very light brown, almost beige, fur and brown eyes.
3. Hopse wasn’t actually born in Salamandastron – he came from a family of farmers living south of the mountain. However, he didn’t wish to follow in their footsteps, having heard stories of the Long Patrol even since he was a leveret, and he left for Salamandastron as soon as he was old enough. Plana, on the other hand, was a daughter of a renowned Salamandastron colonel, her family famous for its past heroic deeds, and she feels in the army as fish in the water, being brought up as a member of the Long Patrol and its possible future officer.
4. Captain Longstep often acts as a mentor to Hopse, since he also wasn’t born in Salamandastron and is familiar with the difficulties Hopse may face. Hopse respects the older hare officer greatly, though he rarely listens to his advice due to his careless nature.
5. Hopse doesn’t have great ambitions – he is perfectly content to just be a rank member of the Long Patrol, and an officer’s post would’ve terrified him since he isn’t good in strategic thinking. However, Hopse does want to show his worth to his fellow companions and make a name for himself in battle.
6. Hopse prefers to deal with all his problems by charging right into them and floundering around till they are either resolved or disappear on their own, often dragging other beasts in with him and forcing them to come to his rescue. Plana find this tendency very irritating, and yet she is just the tiniest bit jealous of such carefree attitude since she is used to taking things seriously.
7. Plana possesses the same joyful attitude that all hares share, but personality-wise she is calmer and more composed than Hopse, serious even. However, she is still prone to display certain mischievousness and spirited courage, and the combination of such different traits somewhat puzzles Hopse – but this firmness of purpose and good will is what makes him gravitate toward Plana in the first place.
8. Plana had always been curious about the lands lying beyond Salamandastron and the woodlanders living there. She even tried to become a galloper to gain an opportunity to leave the mountain during her line of work, but she didn’t have enough speed and endurance to keep up with teams traveling further than several days’ trips. So when presented with an opportunity to visit Redwall, Plana snatched it.
So, I saw Voltaic-Soda do this meme literally ages ago, and now I finally put together my own. And I also invite everyone interested to have fun with it (even though it turned out to be Valentine's Day themed for reasons unknown to me).
- Pick 10 of your OCs in any order.
- Don't look at the numbers in the questions while picking the characters!
- Link back to the blank.
- Have fun!
1. So, , what do you think about Valentine's Day?
Deimos: It’s that human holiday, right? Useless thing, if you ask me, though I don’t really care. It’s not a Shadolve custom, so it doesn’t matter.
2. Believe it or not, but  was convinced to go to a blind date. Turned out his/her partner is . How would the date go?
Enigma and Aaron? Gosh, that would be so awkward. Aaron is slightly creeped out by Enigma because his mind has difficulty processing the existence of winged cat/horse/lizard/bear creatures, and Enigma knows this and tries not to put too much pressure on him.
3. Later  and  found out that  was the one who picked them for the blind date...
Heh, Erinye would be the last person to arrange a blind date for someone. Does she even know Enigma and Aaron? They are both associated with Phobos, and she doesn't speak with her brother. However, she could've done this just for laughs.
4. Ding ding,  received an anonymous fan letter! What does it say?
Zandal: Hmm, it says that I'm an amazing fighter and that they wish to be as good as I am one day. *pauses* Actually, the idea of having fans is a bit disturbing. I know I'm far from perfect, and I most certainly wish that no one would do anything dangerous trying to imitate me.
5.  caught  and a crocodile in fancy hat went to a movie together. How romantic!
Eh, Phobos and Frozen Stone are probably two most serious characters from the group, so I can't even imagine how they ended in this situation. It could be a result of a bet, but neither of them would bet on anything – Phobos doesn't take any uncalculated risks, and Frozen Stone finds bets too non-mathematical.
6. Ehem, , can you please describe your ideal partner/dream date, no matter how weird it might sounds?
Catherine: Well, that person should be kind and caring and attentive, and really respect me. You know, I want to be with someone who would actually listen to me and to whom my opinion would matter. Him also being strong, tall and handsome is preferable, but honestly, I would take kind heart and sharp mind over beauty any time.
7. I see, I see... And what does  think about 's description?
Spicy Lily: Purrfect. Smart is sexy. But you forgot to mention that he should also have soft fluffy mane and smell of pine needles.
8.  is dared to kiss someone in this meme, who would he/she choose? (The creator of this meme is nice so it doesn’t have to be a kiss on the lips, unless you want to.)
Sarah: *smooches Zandal* Love you, darling.
9.  and  are fighting for . How come?
Ehm, Deimos is Erinye’s brother, so him fighting over her would be weird at best. However, he is very protective over his family, and if he thought that Aaron threatened his sister in any way he would fight for her. And since Erinye is a rogue agent and Aaron works for the government, it’s not impossible for their interests to clash. So that seems like the most probable scenario.
10. Oh noes!  was kidnapped by heavy-armed evil hamsters and was taken to a castle to become king hamster’s new sweetheart! Anyone want to make a rescue team?
Spicy Lily doesn’t need a team to rescue her mate, she would do it herself. Seriously, Spicy Lily is very sweet and playful person, but touch Frozen Stone and she would decimate you. Also, don’t forget that she has five older siblings.
11. Would  receive any chocolate or gift on Valentine’s Day? Anything from someone in the meme?
I think that Spicy Lily would wake up to a bunch of freshly-killed rabbits from Frozen Stone, as rabbit is her favourite. And not just on Valentine’s Day, too, as Frozen Stone just loves to spoil his mate.
12.  randomly walks in and sees  sitting on  and they're both on a bed.
Phobos: Never mind us, your father had the stupidity to bet that I wouldn't beat him in wrestling. Say it again, Zandal? *wrenches Zandal's arm*
Zandal: How did you do that? I'm stronger!
Phobos: It's called sambo, dude.
13.  and  is giving  some pieces of love advice. What're they?
Sarah is actually nice enough to give Aaron some advice, though it can become awkward since Aaron has a crush on Sarah that she may or may not know about. But Erinye giving love advice would be disastrous.
Sarah: You don’t need to confess your feeling off the bat, Aaron, that may make another person uncomfortable. Instead, show your appreciation with small gestures like helping them out, giving gifts, saying compliments. Who knows, even if they don’t feel the same they can change their mind later, but don’t be too pushy.
Erinye: You wanna win someone’s heart? Find out who their enemy is and kill them.
14. A wild hobo appears! He gives  a flower!
Catherine: Erm, thanks? *takes the flower while keeping her other hand on pepper spray can, then carefully scoots away*
15.  received a mysterious gift box from . What's inside it?
Again, do Frozen Stone and Deimos even know each other? But if Frozen Stone were to send Deimos any kind of gift, he would send some books or research material, and Deimos would get very annoyed because he doesn't like getting supposedly needless information stuffed in his head.
16. So, , have you ever played half-naked Twister? Do you want to?
Phobos: Technically, I'm always half-naked – or at least as naked as a creature covered in fur can be. As for playing Twister... No. Just no. That sounds way to embarrassing, and I'm not going to lose my dignity.
17.  and , please each pick a song that describe your state of mind on Valentine's Day.
Zandal: I don’t care much for Valentine’s Day. There shouldn’t be a specific reason to show your partner your appreciation, so every day should be a Valentine’s Day.
Enigma: I’m not romantically involved right now, but I find Valentine’s Day to be rather entertaining. It’s always amusing to watch other people on a day like this.
18. Cool. And what do they think about the other person's song?
They both respect each other's choices – Enigma understands and appreciates Zandal's serious attitude, and while Zandal secretly hopes for grandkids he wants Enigma to be happy above anything else.
19. King hamster's castle was conquered, and  was in charge of re-decorate it for a Valentines event (don't care about money). How is the castle look like after the re-decorating?
If Spicy Lily is in charge, then there will be flowers anywhere. And colorful bird feathers, and seashells, and ferns and bracken leaves. And if she could get her paws on them, spoons and forks, because Spicy Lily has a rather strange fashion sense.
20. Everyone in this meme is invited to a fantastic ball in the castle. Describe it a bit and/or tag someone to end the meme!
Zandal: Do we really have to go?
Sarah: Come on, it will be fun!
Zandal: Okay, but I'm not dressing up for it.
Erinye: Stupid ball... You can't expect me to go.
Deimos: Hey, Eri, we could paint bones on your fur, like a skeleton, so that you could go around scaring people!
Erinye: Yeeas, let's do it!
Frozen Stone: This place does look very lovely, Lily.
Spicy Lily: Oh, you won't believe the fancy stuff I found in the treasure room! Come, I'll show you!
Enigma: You are perfectly sure you are alright with it?
Aaron: As sure as I can even be now... Though I'm pretty nervous. There will be a lot of strange people.
Enigma: Just think of it as a costumed party. You have those on your planet, right? Like that one, Hallows’ Eve?
Aaron: I never exactly liked them...
Enigma: Then think of it as an undercover mission...
Phobos: *bows* Will you do me the honor of accompanying me?
Catherine: It will be a pleasure, fair gentleman.