Categories > Books > Redwall > Pride of Kavazara

Chapter 8: The Board Is Set

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: 2006-03-02 - Updated: 2006-03-02 - 2259 words

Gregory P. Wong

Chapter Eight: The Board Is Set

Slydant straightened his crimson cloak and sash, marks of his position as a Bladestone High Templar. The pin-damn, it was always going crooked. Better straighten it out-of a three crossed spears showed his rank as a tribune.
He took a look in the mirror. Well, everything thing was there. Reddish fur, classic fox-face, okay-looking, but certainly not get-the-fems-giggling handsome, and-
Ahh, no/! Was that a /gray hair on the muzzle?
Forty-six, and already in possession of some gray hairs. Life wasn't fair. Well, no consequence. His vanity wasn't that fragile. More or less.
Then again, it wasn't everyday an old tribune was asked for an audience with the Grand Marshal. But Longspear and Galecut weren't procedure-stricken ninnies, so the hair could stay.
But... Forty-two with gray hairs? It was obscene!
He sighed and stepped out of his quarters. Now, now, time to see what the Bladestone leader wanted.
He came to the conference room oak door-which was, of course, guarded by three Praetorians-and walked in.
Well, this was interesting. Besides Lord Longspear and Lady Galecut, War Marshal Razorfang and a large, silver-winged raven female were present. All four beasts were standing.
He dropped to his knees and saluted the Bladestone leaders, and offered a regular salute to Razorfang. He gave a little nod to the raven.
"Glad you could make it, Tribune," he heard Galecut say. He saw Galecut gesture to the raven. "This is Pinionmaster Steelwing, one of King Nightalon's top officers."
Ah, one of Nightalon's beasts.
Phoenix Eyrie, Nightalon's kingdom/stronghold, was located about fifty mile east. The Kavazarans and the ravens were firm allies, even though when Wraithlord first came here there was some bloodshed. But, nonetheless, relations now were very strong.
He gave a respectful nod to the raven. "Hello, ma'am."
"Greetings to you, Tribune," he heard the raven reply.
"Well, I 'm sure you'd like to know why you have been summoned," Lady Galecut put in. "To make a long story short, we have some very... bad news."
Okay, now this was very puzzling. "Is it in direct regards to me, ma'am?"
"Not you, specifically, no. It's more of everybeast in and around Bladestone, which is clearly worse."
"Of course, ma'am."
He heard Razorfang clear his throat. "Is tha tribune cleered fer this, Tritan? We wern't quite dun with tha Pinionmaster's discussion."
He saw the rat lord nod. "He will be, effective now. He will be leading the relief force, after all." He noticed that Lord Longspear was pinning him with a gaze. "Considering, of course, that he agrees."
Relief force? What was this?
"Four days ago we dispatched two Wraiths, Lieutenants Tigron Sandstar and Raezel Snowdance, south to Redwall Abbey in order to reinforce Major Flickerfist and his group." The Bladestone Lord grimaced. "I thought five Wraiths would be plenty, but guess what? I think I'm very wrong. Pinionmaster, if it not too much inconvenience...?"
"None at all, Tritan Longspear," said the raven. The bird turned to face him.
"Tribune, my scouts have confirmed that a sizable force of Dervaga are headed this way. Some type of mist made visibility poor, but we guess a force of at least fifty-thousand." Oh, no. "Furthermore, We also discerned at least eight hundred Dervaga-corrupted birds shadowing the main force."
Oh, no, doubly no.
"And this brings us back to the discussion, Tribune," said Galecut. "We have decided that you would be best to lead a short battalion to further reinforce Redwall.
"This will most likely be a joint operation, so there'll be elements of Crimson Guard, Templar, and Wraith units."
An honor to be asked... but why the heck him?
"We chose you because of your abilities and experience, Tribune," said Longspear. Oh, yeah, the Wraiths could read minds. "Fourteen seasons as a Templar, five of which were with the Pathfinders; two seasons with the High Templars, where you rose to tribune, followed by a season in the Praetorians before you requested to be transferred back to the High Templars. You have, oh, a grand total of nineteen seasons experience to date. And also an accomplished tactician in both cavalry and infantry, and, from what I heard, a good fighter too."
"So, to cut to the chase: will you volunteer, Tribune?" inquired the rat lady.
"If it is in best interest of Bladestone, yes, ma'am, I accept" he blurted. What in Hellgates? Did he really just say that? He wasn't normally this hasty in decisions...
"Yes, you did, Praetor, and thank you."
What...? "It's 'Tribune,' ma'am."
"Oh, not anymore."
He blinked.
"Thank you, Praetor," he heard Lord Longspear state. "We do have some things to run by you, though. For one, would you accept a Wraith major as your XO?"
A Wraith? "I would have no objections to a Wraith executive officer, sir."
Longspear nodded. "In addition, if at all possible, I'd prefer the battalion to include two line companies, an archery company, an engineering one, and a platoon or so of mixed logistical and medical personnel." Longspear fell silent for a moment, and then the rat looked like he had remembered something. "Ah, yes, how could I almost forget? I'm sure you'd want your former command to come along as well, and I recommend it."
Hmm... Good. But there were some loose ends to tie up, though.
"Of course, sir. Though, if I can, I'd like to promote one of my century leaders to tribune, since it's not, er, technically my unit anymore."
"Of course, Praetor. Diis, is it?"
"Uh,"-ah, mind-reading again-"Yes, sir. Centurion Diis."
He saw Longspear nod. "Excellent. Last, but not least, War Marshal Razorfang has something to add."
Okay... why did Longspear have that grin?
He heard the wildcat clear his throat again.
"Ach, Praetor, Ah'd think it be prudent if Ah cood toss in a Pathfinder squad or tew."
He let himself grin. "I'd be ecstatic to have a pathfinder group, sir. In fact, now that you mentioned it, I have one sergeant major I'd beg to requisition."
"Is tha so?
"Yes, sir."
"Wudd it happen tae be Blikot?"
Good guess! That mountain of a wildcat sure knew plenty of stuff. "Correct, sir."
He saw Razorfang grunt laughter. "Weel, yer going tae have yer work cut aout fer yew. I hear Blikot has tha infamous Tred in tha coorrent command configuration."
Hmm... Now, was that a good thing or a bad thing? The sergeant­-who had formally been a staff sergeant not less than two weeks ago-was very bad-mouthed and borderline insubordinate sometimes. However, the rat was loyal, clever, very skilled, was in possession of a good heart, and was one of the best shots with the Pathfinder mechbows. But was this good or bad? In any case, it was unavoidable
But, oh yes, Blikot would be having a fit when he found out about this, oh yes.
"I guess I will, sir."

Tritan grinned slightly as the fox saluted and left.
Interesting character. He'd only met Slydant a few times or so, and he didn't really remember the fox. He more or less knew why.
Slydant was just about average in every respect. Not too tall or short, not too muscular or thin, not too loud or taciturn, and not strikingly handsome. And even though the fox was a­-very-competent officer, the now-praetor didn't give off those vibes.
Hmm... he would bet if the fox was given civilian clothes and left to wander Bladestone or the civilian towns not a single beast would recognize the officer for what he was.
Well, well, that would be interesting to think how that would play out...
But, of course, things needed to be done.
"Pinionmaster?" he said, addressing the raven. "Will we be receiving support from-"
"There is no need to even ask such a thing, Lord Longspear! In fact, four hundred of our best warriors are ready for my return to fly out to meet you!"
He gave a bow to female raven. Of course it was a stupid question. Gah. Everybeast was on edge.
"My apologies, Pinionmaster. I didn't mean to imply otherwise." He cleared his throat. "If I may ask, which officer will be leading this detachment?"
Well, that was... unorthodox
Or not. This just showed Kavazara's and Phoenix Eyrie's close friendship.
He gave a respectful nod to the raven. "I'm sure your warriors will be fearsome in battle, and that you and they will prove to be a deciding factor, Pinionmaster."
"You do my clan honor, Lord Longspear," stated the raven. He saw the bird take a look outside the window. Hmm... it was already nearing sunset. "Sir, I think it be best for me to depart now, if I am to reach Phoenix Eyrie before nightfall."
"Of course, Pinionmaster. Have a safe journey." Wait, perhaps the raven would prefer... "Pinionmaster, shall I have my Praetorians escort you back to your guards?"
"Thank you, Lord Longspear, but that will not be necessary. I do not wish to trouble your beasts, so, if it is allowable may I depart straight from that window? I'm sure I can fit."
"Ah, in that case, farewell, Pinionmaster."
"Safe journey, Pinionmaster," he heard his wife say
"Aye. Gud nigh' tae yew, Pinionmaster," drawled Rid.
"Thank you all. Good tidings."
And then he watched the pinionmaster fly off.
He turned to his wife and Rid.
"We had better start getting things planned, because this is going to be /bad/. I hope those two L-Ts are doing okay..."

"I'm serious. Life really does suck," the Pathfinder rat Tred snorted.
"You always say that, you moaning bastard," he heard Staff Sergeant Verjik laugh. "Seriously, you need to lighten up."
Yeah, sure/. "Sure, dude, whatever, bark all you want. /You'/re/ not having your arse dragged out of Bladestone to save the tails of some 'Redwall' place. Sheez, this bites."
"Ah, shaddup," the stoat said, waving a paw vaguely. "Learn to enjoy life, my friend."
Oh, come on. Like he hadn't heard that one a farking million times. Verjik wasn't going gallivanting off to the arse-end of nowhere with nothing but some mixed units. Geez, he still wanted to slap some sense into Blikot for assigning him to this piss detail. Bah, Blikot was too good a smaj to get beaten. But whatever.
"My left arse cheek life is enjoyable, dude. I mean, what type of total crap will I have to deal with? I'm only farking twenty-four. I don't need to travel."
"Tred, at least you'll get to see the world and stuff. I'm stuck here enjoying Stoutjaw's cooking."
He snorted. While Sergeant Tork Stoutjaw was a decent cook, it was, well, average. Got hecka boring after a while. And this dinner in the enlisted mess room was no exception
"Well, at least that's one good thing about me leaving."
"I heard that, you little runt!" he heard Stoutjaw call good-naturedly.
Yep, he was a runty rat. Barely over, what, five-two? At least he had muscles, though. And those came in handy when idiots didn't think a small thing like him could dish it out. Oh yeah, that one corporal was still in the medical wing, and he was still serving farking double shifts. Some beasts didn't have a sense of humor.
"Come 'ere and say that to my face, tubby!" he called back. And no, not angrily.
"Later, after I've poisoned all your arses."
Heh. He waved his arms around and raised his voice. "At least this beast's honest, which is jack-great compared to all you."
"Go and choke on the poison then, yah prickhead," he heard somebeast call out.
Yeah, yeah, the backroom barker. Big farking deal.
He flipped a middle finger in the general vicinity of the voice and stepped up to Stoutjaw. "Right then, watcha got, Tork?
The portly weasel slid over a plate. Well, now, some warm bread, nice. And some veggies... okay. Some type of pastry with tasty-looking-or not-gravy... not too bad looking. Oh yeah, the limp stick of whitish cheese and that cup of pale, watery beer.
Oh, nice.
He picked up the cheese and cup and waved them around. Hellgates, the cheese was bouncing around quite liberally. How in heck could they get cheese wrong? "Hey, lookee here! Dead rat's prick and what he pissed out of it!"
"Call my stuff dead beast's prick again and I'll make sure yours is served up, you overgrown flea." grunted Stoutjaw.
"What, all eight inches of it?"
"More like two.
"Yeah, 'cause yo' mama loves it," he shot back.
"I never knew my mother. Now get your arse out and eat," grunted Stoutjaw
He and the fat weasel laughed, and he took his food to sit... hmm. Ah! There. Some Pathfinder NCOs.
He plopped down on the bench.
He tucked away everything but the cheese, because, really, it looked like some corpse's unmentionables. Yech.
"Hey, Tred," he heard Verjik say.
"You told me you'd tell us why you got busted back down to sergeant... /again/."
Oh, that. It was only a week ago that he'd been-finally-a staff sergeant. And, whoopee-doo, he was now a good 'ole sarge again. Fun times.
"Meh, it was a standard SNAFU. My old L-T was a humorless arse-chewer. All I did was tell him his mother was a two-coin whore who got pregnant by the ugliest toad possible and was born in a latrine. And I was drunk! You'd think he'd cut a beast some slack! He was such an arsehole."
"Oh yeah, I'll bet," he heard Verjik chuckle.
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