Categories > Books > Redwall > Pride of Kavazara

Chapter 7: Welcome to Mossflower!

by Forge 0 reviews

An deadly, ancient enemy comes from the Far Northlands, seeking to satisfy a cold, base hunger. The castle of New Kavazara, Bladestone, opposes them... but it may not be enough.

Category: Redwall - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Fantasy - Warnings: [!!] [V] - Published: 2006-02-26 - Updated: 2006-02-27 - 4041 words

Gregory P. Wong

Chapter Seven: "Welcome to Mossflower"

"When were they last seen?" Wallace questioned Mother Vivian.
He saw the abbess shake her head. "From what I have gathered, Fleeby and Rawl slipped out sometime last night. It could have been at any time!"
Seasons. Two wayward Dibbuns out in Mossflower, alone. Not alarming in and of itself...
... if it hadn't been for those horrifying murders as of late.
"I'll go hunt for them, Abbess."
But the abbess shook her head again. What?
"No, Wallace you will not. Or not alone, at any rate." Ah, that was what she meant. "I suggest taking Leena with you."
He just barely stifled a choke. Now what was the abbess thinking?
"Wallace, Wallace," the other mouse said with smile, "Leena is the best choice as of now. I would have added Danforth, but, unfortunately, he's washing everybeast's dishes right now." Well, after Mother Minerva got her paws on Danforth, that wasn't at all a surprise. "On the other paw, Sister Bria doesn't need help in the infirmary as of now.
"I would have dispatched some of Winopal's otters, but without you here, I want them at full strength."
That was a gracious compliment.
"Besides, you seem very fond of Leena."
This time he did choke.

Wraith Captain Felgara Whipclaw yawned as she heard footpaws rapidly approaching. Well, Trueblade was on time, at least. Well, better get Windtear wrapped up. Her personal weapon, the fifteen-foot weighted warchain Windtear, was emerald and heavily engraved with wraithstones. That high concentration of the gems allowed her to do weird things with the chain.
She was at the halfway point between the oupost and Redwall, and Trueblade should be coming. Well, if that weasel ever wanted to be relieved...
Ah, there. That grayish weasel was moving at a mild jog. From the vantage point this tree branch provided it was easy to see Captain Zine Trueblade.
"Trueblade, anything new?" she called to the other captain as he reached the tree.
"Hey, Whipclaw. Nope, nothing new when I left. But I think one of those otters got a look at me. She and I definitely made eye contact."
Oh, great. "She," was it? Geez. Strange, Trueblade didn't seem the peeping tom--
"I wasn't peeping, ya wacky ferret." Oops, better control the surface thoughts... "I was on ground level, and she was on the battlements. 'Sides, she was too old for me, anyway. Not altogether bad looking, though."
Yeah, too old. Right. There was a time when she'd been romantically involved with the weasel, and she was double Trueblade's twenty-six seasons, but, thank Dark Forest, didn't look it at all. Ah, the benefits of being a Wraith.
Well, that was probably it, then. The otter was just an older normal beast.
She hopped down from her perch. It was making her derriere cramp up.
"Sure she was," she poked at Trueblade. "Knowing you, you also managed to peek at some squirrel or mouse in her bath, huh?"
"Heh, I wish."
"I know you do."
Yes, Zine Trueblade, consummate fem-chaser extraordinaire.
At least the other captain could get by with it. Trueblade was almost ridiculously handsome, and he could win a female quite easily. Plus, the weasel was smooth and interesting to be around, not to mention rambunctious when it fit the situation.
She should know. She'd been his lover for what? a season or so, and she was still an incredibly close friend after Trueblade and she had parted on good terms.. Trueblade wasn't a despicable take-her-heart-and-break-it beast, and that was admirable about him. He also wasn't a relationship breaker. But, if you were an eligible fem, Trueblade was going to show up and beg you to date him.
It was something of a joke that Trueblade's rapier was named "Heartseeker."
Yes, Trueblade said it meant how deadly the blade was, but...
"So, anything I should know before I meet boss?" asked the weasel.
"No. Though he was just about to begin cleaning the general armor when I executed a perfectly necessary tactical retreat. Looks like you're the lucky beast."
Hah. Trueblade gave a sigh and rubbed a paw over his face.
"Just my luck. And, spiderspit, I don't even use the armor. If that isn't unfair, I don't know what is! "
She let out a snort at that. Trueblade never wore the standard uniform, except for special occasions. Well, the Wraith cloak and pantaloons-gray in his case-were regulation, but the open-front long-sleeved, high-collared tunic-same color as the pantaloons, plus a crimson band, of course-and gray headband were sure as heck not.
Trueblade was partly true. The weasel did don the standard Wraith armor when there was need, but never the uniform. She, on the other paw, wore a standard female's sleeveless tunic and duty trousers. Her personal color was green.
But Trueblade looked good. The three gray gull feathers stuck into the headband were perfect with the garb. And the open tunic just showed the right amount of muscular torso, and...
Okay, maybe this was the time to change the subject.
"Well," she said to the weasel, "sucks to be you. Anything I should know?"
Oh, no, there was now a bitter frown on the other captain's face. "Yes, there is something you should know. Two adult hedgehogs, probably travelers," Trueblade said darkly. "Classic signs of Dervaga toothmarks. There were only the upper torsos left."
Hellgates... "Again?"
She watched Trueblade nod. "Yeah. I couldn't track the Dervaga though. They're getting smart about their camouflage."
"Well, that'/s/ something we need like a hole in the head. Smarter Dervaga... fleacrap," she shook her head in anger. "Any evidence that they're moving against Redwall?"
"Not yet. The otters and the Redwallers look ready for a scuffle, though. They'll need it, probably sooner than later. Damn, this assignment sucks."
Better to say nothing, probably. Trueblade hated seeing innocents die... especially by Dervaga paws.
"Yes, it does."
Awkward silence. This always happened when she was alone with Trueblade.
Trueblade coughed. "Well, better not let the major get lonely with that armor. Take care, Felgara."
She smiled. "You too, Zine."
She turned to go.
Well, off to Redwall.

"When I get back to Redwall, I will tan their bottoms," Wallace grumbled.
"You'll have to wait until I'm done, first," he heard Leena grumble back. "Stomping through these thistles is getting on my nerves."
This was new. "Do my ears deceive me? Am I hearing the infirmary assistant speaking bloody murder?"
"No," said the mousemaid with a giggle, "you're hearing a very disgruntled harvest mouse named Leena speaking bloody murder. There is a difference."
He and Leena laughed.
He scratched the back of his head and stroked a round object over his left shoulder. Yes, the pommelstone of Martin's Sword.
It was a fine weapon! Very large and powerful, yet so exquisitely made he could fight with it single-pawed if he wanted. Of course, the hilt was long enough to fit two paws.
The blade was said to have made from star-metal and rumored to be unbreakable. Of course, this made sense, since this sword was several centuries old already, and he had yet to find a speck of rust or a scratch on the deadly blade.
Leena's personal weapon was also a fine weapon, a bronze-hilted, gold-tasseled saber, just over a yard long. Very nice. A beautiful weapon for a beautiful warrior.
Oh, Vivian, was this a good or bad choice?
He scratched his head again. Time to get back to the matter at paw.
But, really, where could those little rascals have gotten to? It was far enough already! Seasons!
"This is beginning to worry me," he said to Leena.
"Oh?" he heard the mousemaid say questioningly.
"Yes. I've never traveled this far when I was a babe. Goodness."
He saw Leena shrug and keep walking. Oh, what luck. Out on a walk with this pretty harvest mouse, but /no/, Dibbuns needed /shepherding/.
He heard a rumbling sound. What... oh, it was his stomach. He noticed Leena looking at him with a wry grin. Another perfect-
He heard another rumble.
Leena chuckled. "I guess we're both famished. We can stop for a moment or two, yes?"
He grinned. "Of course. Burrchopp makes the best--"
Another stomach rumbled. But wait a second, it had come from behind...

Okay, what in Hellgates were a squirrel and mouse child doing wandering around out here?
Felgara settled into a crouch behind a raggedly scrawny bush. Oh, well, it would do.
The run northeast towards Redwall hadn't been out of the ordinary until, well, now.
Weren't the nannies or whatever Redwall had having fits right now? Fleacrap.
Well, for some reason, the two, kids looked scared out of their wits. They were hugging each other, cowering beneath a large beech tree. Hmm... their eyes were darting all over the place.
She concentrated and sent out a sensitive psi-sweep. Nothing. Well, try again. Again, noth--
A Dervaga signature was heading in from the kids' right, and it was close!
She uncoiled a section of Windtear from her right arm and searched for the creature.
Some trees rustled, and...
Ooh-kay, this wasn't good at all.
An adder Dervaga burst out from behind a tree.
And it almost looked like a run-of-the-mill adder. Almost.
But it was a Dervaga. Its scaly skin was black, but an obscene black. Sort of the black you'd expect from a rotting corpse. And it was huge. Being a Dervaga, it was at least a quarter larger than most regular snakes. And to top it off, it had to be a specially crafted sleeper, so it was stronger. Thank Dark Forest it wasn't a Defiled One.
Oh, farking spiderspit. This was gonna take some effort. She held up the wraithcomm wrapped around her left wrist. She tapped the crystal until it got that purplish color, signaling that it was "broadcasting" to both Flickerfist and Trueblade via the "purple channel."
"Major," she whispered hurriedly, "I have a positive Dervaga contact. Looks like a snake. I'm engaging now. Get here when you can."
Hopefully that would get through to either of the other Wraiths. Communications was spotty around her, no idea why.
Okay... distract the monster... there! She shot out Windtear and snagged a medium-sized rock. She whirled it like a sling and launched it at the corrupted adder.
The rock wasn't that big, the snake was, but the Dervaga sure looked like it felt it.
"Hey!" she yelled at the adder. "Lunch is over here! Try a nice meaty ferret!"
Well, it was more of the sounds than the words that were needed. Average Dervaga were semi-moronic, basically mindless insects.
But Dervaga did get angry.
She charged the snake. She heard it hiss venomously and saw it rear back. Damn.
She rolled to the right as the adder struck out. Miss. That was close.
She took a quick glance at her surroundings. A tree was right on her left, and another was about fifteen feet away to the right. Okay, she could do this.
She placed her right footpaw on the tree to her right. She allowed her psionic power to flow, heightening her reactions into the seemingly impossible Wraith speeds.
Wait for it...
She saw the adder blur. A second before its poisonous fangs could touch her she kicked out from the tree, propelling her towards the other one on her left. A nice crunchy noise told her the adder had just slammed into the trunk. Hah! She whipped out Windtear and a section wrapped around the Dervaga's gaping lower jaw.
She yanked hard, and the snake-stunned, thankfully, from the impact into the tree-slammed headfirst into this trunk, the one next to her.
Now, time to send out a mental command an unwrap Windtear.
Well, it must've woken up a bit, since it stared at her and rose. It hissed again and struck.
Or tried to. She rebounded off the other tree, shot out Windtear, snagged the serpent Dervaga, and tugged it into a tree again.
Well, the bastard was now bloody from getting crashed'n'slammed. But it looked like it stilled wanted to eat her. Wonderful.
Spiderspit, this wouldn't do. She couldn't do the same moves on the snake farking over and over again. They could learn, dammit. That just meant this party needed some variety.
Oh, perfect.
The corrupted snake moved more cautiously now. Well, being worked into a tree twice would do that. She shook her head. The Dervaga just hissed.
She saw it twitch. She leaped, and saw the Dervaga dive at the spot she had just been. She landed on top of the wedge-shaped head and wrapped her warchain around its throat. She tugged up, trying to strangle the sinuous piece of crud, but it looked like the snake had other ideas. It thrust its head forward pretty damn hard, and she felt herself flying. Okay... this could work out.
She unwrapped her chain and let the momentum carry her toward a tree. Nice thick branches... perfect. She snapped out her warchain, snagged it on a more-or-less horizontal branch, and allowed the very helpful Dervaga-provided momentum to carry her like a sling-launched stone back at the adder.
One hundred-fifty pounds of five-foot-five muscular compact ferret fem slammed into the snake's face.
The snake dropped like it had just been clubbed over the head by a large rock.
Now... for the finisher. There! A perfectly shaped rock.
Said rock was a bit pointed on the end, not too large... about the size of her head. As she dropped to the ground, she enfolded the rock with Windtear. She landed, and, uh-oh, it looked like the snake was getting itself back together.
Couldn't have that.
She yanked the rock in a high arc and whirled it into the stunned adder's skull, point first.
Crunch, and it was over.
She yanked back Windtear, and manipulated it with her mind so it wrapped around her right arm. Well, not a scratch... not bad. And... oh, almost forgot them.
"Hey, you two," she said to the two shivering kids.
She saw the mouse and squirrel just shrink back more.
Okay, better put this into perspective. Let's see... Scary adder wants them for lunch. Scary adder corners them. Strange ferret pops out of bushes. Strange ferret proceeds to do acrobatics only a semi-suicidal super-squirrel could do. Strange ferret kills scary adder. Now strange ferret wants to talk them.
And, the kicker, ferrets were bad-beasty "vermin" around this place. Great.
"You know, I would explain what just happened," she muttered to the two kids, scratching her head, "but that would probably be too mind-boggling for you two. Let's just say I'm a friend."
The squirrel and mouse just whimpered.
She gave a loud sigh. "Well, I guess that's the best I'll get from you two. I'd have liked a 'Welcome to Mossflower!' greeting, but, well, life ain't not fair. No, I'm not going to hurt you. Yes, I'm a friend. Now, let's get back to your abbey, hmm?"

Wallace couldn't quite stop a yelp of surprise as large, jet-black otter stepped out of the bushes where'd he'd probably been hiding.
Interesting. The otter was at least a head taller than most other otters he'd seen, and that black fur wasn't a usual feature, either. But something looked wrong...
"You startled us!" he heard Leena scold the otter. "There's no need to sneak up on us like that!"
The otter just made an indecipherable noise and took a step closer. Very odd... that black fur was most positively strange-looking. It was black, yet it still looked filthy. The eyes, too, looked strange. Reddish pupil, jaundiced whites.
He saw the otter raise an arm a bit. Grasped in the right paw was... what was that?
It looked like a cleaver Brother Burrchopp used for chopping tough foods, but it was pointed, long-handled, and had a spike that extended down to form a sort of guard.
It was most unquestionably a weapon.
He held up his paws in what he hoped was a sufficiently non-threatening gesture.
"We mean you no harm. We were just searching for some lost Dibbuns." Odd, the otter's expressions didn't change one bit. "Have you seen a small mouse and squirrel wandering about?"
He heard the otter growl and stomp forward, raising the... what were those called? Those days of studying the various weapons had better not have gone to waste... ah, a falchion. A single-edged, pointed, cleaver-like weapon mainly used in a chopping fashion.
Something was definitely wrong. He stepped in front of Leena, putting himself between the mousemaid and the strange otter, and put a paw on the hilt of the sword.
"Stand down! We mean you no-"
The otter swung. He leaped backwards
Hellgates! The tip of the falchion had grazed his chest. Yes, it looked like speaking was out of the question now.
With a smooth motion he drew the sword of Martin the Warrior over his shoulder. He heard another rasping noise, and knew that Leena had drawn her saber as well.
The otter made another swing, a backhand, and he blocked it and levered the weapon up and over his head, forcing the otter off balance. Now, it was best, even now, not to deal lethal damage.
He grunted and slammed the pommel of Martin's sword into the temple of the black otter.
That didn't seem to do a thing except make it stumble. He watched as the otter--
Ouch. That hurt. He rubbed his head, making sure it was still there. The beast had just punched him, and what a punch! It felt like getting hit on the head with a hammer.
Shake the head, clear it, look around. It hurt.
Leena was silently sliding her saber from the otter's chest. What...?
The blood wasn't red at all, but black.
"Are you hurt badly?" he heard Leena ask him.
He nodded. "I'm just a bit shaken. That was a powerful hit. Thank you."
He heard Leena swallow. "You're welcome."
Then he understood. Leena had just killed another beast, Yes, one that was clearly attacking him, but a beast nonetheless. It must have shaken her.
"I should ask you the same question Leena. Are you well?"
The harvest mouse shook her head. "Not at the moment, but I suppose I'll get over it."
Then he heard more rustling. By seasons...!
He yanked up his sword in time to block another descending falchion. He leaped to his feet, forced the blade into the ground, and walloped off the head of the beast, a ferret, also black.
Were those more sounds? He spun around, and saw two more ferrets, a mouse, a squirrel, and a weasel, all black and bigger than average, shamble out from cover.
Oh, no.
He backed up, making sure Leena was too.
And then he backed up into something.
He started, then realized it was a tree. Good. At least there wouldn't be any attacks from behind.
But he and Leena were still outnumbered.
The large mouse came on, falchion blurring. It was going for his... head. He intercepted the attack high on the swing and allowed the falchion to slide past the sword of Martin. He probably caught the mouse by surprise, since the beast stumbled forward, obviously off-balance. Now... follow the block with a lightning-fast counterattack to the belly... and it was done.
The mouse crashed to the ground, but, unfortunately, one of the ferrets attacked.
"Ahh!" he cried as the falchion slammed into his right arm.
That was lucky! He'd been dodging to his right, so the wound wasn't bad.
But it blasted hurt! He hammered his paw into the ferret's face-seasons, it felt like he'd punched a tree bole-and the beast stumbled back. He swept up sword and slashed open the ferret's stomach. The wound spilled...
That wasn't right! It was extremely morbid to think about, but he'd never thought innards would be blackish and scabrous! And-
"Wallace!" he heard Leena scream. He turned.
The remaining three beasts had cornered Leena and were shambling towards the harvest mouse, falchions swaying back and forth. No! He hurled Martin's sword with a roar.
It flew through the air, and...
Seasons! The four-foot blade of the sword sank to the guard into the weasel's stomach. The beast gave a wet gurgle and collapsed to the floor. As he watched, Leena used the distraction to outmaneuver the remaining beasts, threading through the defense with quick sideways counters that left the squirrel's head on the floor and the ferret with a hole through it.
She would be fine.
What in Dark Forest was this? Powerful, large creatures, well-armed, randomly attacking two travelers? The Dibbuns! They were in danger. He rushed over to the sword of Martin and plucked it from the weasel's black body. He could afford to let the shock hit him later.
"No, no, they're fine," said a new voice. It sounded like it belonged to a female beast of some sort. "They didn't feel like, er, moving at the time, so I left them back about thirty yards."
He whirled around.
A short, muscular female ferret leaned on a tree behind him and Leena. Strange garb...
The female was strangely dressed. The beast wore tight, fitting trousers that were a dark emerald and a sleeveless tunic-at least it looked sleeveless, since a strange cloak covered the shoulders-that was also green, except for a dark red strip that ran down diagonally from the right shoulder.
Now, the cloak was an interesting garment! The cloak looked wide enough to wrap around the entire body. In addition, it looked hooded, and the cloth that was facing against the ferret's body was also a deep green. But, strangely, the side facing out was this confused jumble of colored splotches. Hmm? What... Ah! That was it. The side facing out was a very adept camouflage!
And the ferret had a chain coiled around the right arm, a section loosely hanging from the strange beast's left arm.
Seasons, would there be no end?
With a roar, he dashed forward and stabbed out. If he was fast enough, this would be over soon after-
He heard a chiiink and felt a jolt.
Impossible! The ferret had caught his weapon... with the chain. He stared at the tip of Martin's sword stopped perfectly in one the chain's links. This was... impossible! No beast was that precise or that fast!
And then he felt himself pushed backwards. He got oriented again and saw the ferret coil the chain again.
"Really, now," the green-clad beast said exasperatedly, "what does it take to get a nice welcome around here? Geez, what do you do with beasts visiting Redwall, eh? Bonk them over the head with wooden mallets? Heck, at least I got a nicer reception while taking a peek into the bachelor enlisted barracks. I got plenty of whistles."
Goodness, this was a completely surprise.
"I know, I know," said the ferret, as though his mind had just been read. "And yes, I can read your mind. Well, more or less. I can only sense surface thoughts without applying full concentration. Hey, Wallace, Leena."
This was very strange.
"Well, nice to meet you two. I can't stay and chat, y'know, standing orders and all. Hope to see that abbey from the inside someday, though. And, by the way, those kids you lost are that way." The ferret pointed. "Bye, now."
And then the ferret fell into the tree. Yes, fell/. One moment, the female was completely solid, the next, she looked as though she were reddish smoke that barely held the vague form and features of the ferret. Aforementioned smoke /melted into the tree and was gone.
He would definitely need to see the nurse after this. He was going crazy.
He shot a look at Leena. Yes, the mousemaid was looking at him oddly, as well.
"Well, that is most fortunate," sighed Leena. "If you saw that too, it proves I'm not crazy. Well, not crazy all by myself, at any rate."
Ugh. What a strange day. Well, the true answer better be sanity, not simultaneous madness. "True, true, Leena." He shrugged. "We had better get those Dibbuns."
"Oh, of course."
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