Categories > Books > Redwall > Pride of Kavazara

Chapter 11: Before the Gates

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: 2006-03-13 - Updated: 2006-03-14 - 2536 words

Gregory P. Wong

Chapter Eleven: Before The Gates

"We have no idea where they come from, but I can hazard a guess that they do mean us harm," Brother Audrin said.
Ugh, this was /unneeded/!
Winopal the otter kept a passive face. Aye, no need in alarming the rest of 'em.
She, Abbess Vivian, Mother Minerva, Brother Audrin, Wallace, Leena, Danforth, and the young, pretty gatekeeper squirrelmaid, Treamyst, were in the gatehouse, where nobeast could--or should, come to think of it--overhear.
"I think it's quite apparent, Brother," she heard Treamyst say testily. "If the otters hadn't done so good a job training me, I'd have been dead or carted off."
Ah, a nice compliment. Her mateys had done a good job with teaching the squirrel female how to use the customary double-ended otter spears.
She heard Wallace groan. "This is truly excellent! First large beasts that almost kill Leena and me, second, beasts that melt into trees... and now /this/! Fortune must detest us now."
"Aye, well said Wallace. But 'member, fortune is a fickle thing," she said.
Goodness... was approaching forty making that brain think philosophy? Goodness! Getting along in seasons--though everybeast insisted thirty-eight wasn't old, but what did they know?--was... strange.
"I know, Winopal, but do we need a horde now?" Wallace asked.
"The answer be 'nope' if yah asked me," she replied with a laugh.
"Everybeast, please! Can we stay on topic?" implored the Abbess.
There was silence for a moment. T'wasn't a nice topic, after all. A horde of unknown--but most likely superior--numbers was very, very bad sign.
Well, it could have been worse, such as if she and her otters weren't here.
"As I was saying, Abbess, I think it's obvious this group means us ill-will. For one, they are obviously vermin. Second, they clearly wanted to harm me," she heard the squirrelmaid say.
"Then it is clear. Our gates ought to remain shut until we can devise some method to make them move along," Leena suggested.
"I take your proposition as practical, Leena. It appears Redwall must once again become a place of battle."
She saw Vivian shake her head sadly. Poor Abbess. It had to pain the mouse to shut the gates to Redwall. After all, Redwall was a place that welcomed all!
Except for the odd rapacious vermin, that is.
"Wait, Abbess, let us try one more thing before we do that."
If the abbess looked any more sad, she'/d/ start crying. "Yes?"
"The incident with Treamyst could have been a horrible mistake," Wallace said. "Before we prepare for conflict, perhaps we can make contact with their leader first, and find out that horde's true intentions."
Oh, dear. Treamyst had just stood up from her seat... angrily.
"Wallace, are you suggesting I may have exaggerated my claims?"
"Whoa, there, Myst! Wallace was just making sure that--" Danforth tried to say.
"That this squirrel is telling the truth, eh? I almost get killed, and, /seasons/, you aren't sure of their /intentions/!?"
Oh, goodness. Now Treamyst was storming out of the room in a huff. True, the squirrel was a pretty one, but Treamyst had a temper that would probably put paid to a badger's.
She watched Brother Audrin wipe a paw tiredly across his face. She felt like doing that too, but it probably wouldn't look good.
"Treamyst's words do hold truth, everybeast," the Recorder admitted. "Yet, as Wallace said, it is our duty to make completely sure of this group's intentions."
"An' somebeast 'as a chance now," she heard a voice say. She turned. Ah, it was Mudskip. "Somebeast by the name o' 'Grimtooth' wants ta talk ta somebeast."

Wallace cursed--yes, something Vivian would definitely not approve off if he was heard--and looked down at a huge black-furred stoat who was carrying a very wicked-looking battleaxe.
This did not look very good. Even from atop the battlements, he didn't feel completely safe. That "Grimtooth" looked positively bad-tempered. Even the fact that it was just past midday didn't bring one ounce of comfort.
To say the least.
"My name is Wallace. Who are you?" he called down.
Hellgates, somehow, the stoat was looking even angrier. "My name is Grimtooth, you upstart mouse. Do you have the ability to make binding decisions?
Somehow, this was going very badly. "My Abbess has given me the power to make binding decisions, yes."
He watched Grimtooth sneer. "Then hear my terms, you undersized rat. You will immediately throw down your arms and unbar your gates. You will relinquish the magical sword and all treasure within. Then, you will all submit to me as your slaves."
He blinked. Did this... /stoat/... really think he could throw this in their faces!? What an utter...
"Here are my terms, /Grimtooth/." He made sure the name came out like a curse. "You and your beasts will leave Redwall and will leave the Mossflower woods. You will get nothing from us, scum."
Now Grimtooth looked enraged. "You have signed the death order of all the beasts residing within your walls!" Grimtooth screamed.
Then the large stoat faded back into the woods.
And now he felt a bit sick. Had he really just murdered everyone in the abbey?

This would be an utter farce.
Tanth was sure there was no more than threescore beasts to man the walls. They wouldn't be able to stop Grimtooth.
There had to be someway to dissuade Grimtooth, even now. Perhaps if Grimtooth was told that a siege would be far too troublesome... yes, that might work.
He approached the tent of Grimtooth. Strange thing, really. Grimtooth usually didn't retire to the tent until nightfa--
There was a shriek of pain.
He rushed the tent. Hellgates, the stupid guards were looking, well, stupid. Which meant they weren't going to do anything. If Grimtooth had been--
And then he saw something fly out of the tent.
Veredia hit the ground, but the female was up with a skillful roll. Seasons, this was new...
And then he heard rustling cloth, and a naked Grimtooth stormed out of the tent.
And... Seasons! The chieftain had a ragged bite right on the inside edge of the right thigh. Veredia...?
"I have tired of you, /ferret/!" he watched Grimtooth roar. "Now it is time for you to /die/!"
Oh, no. What in seasons could he do? He wouldn't bar Grimtooth from taking the female's life... but he couldn't watch Veredia die. He shifted his gaze back to the female. The--former--slave was looking downright defiant. What could he do if--
What in...
"Take that filth outside of the camp and execute her!"
Dark Forest, no! Not this!
He whirled to look at Grimtooth. Damnation, he was sure he had an imploring look on his face. But who cared!? There was no way Veredia was going to be executed by... by...
"Sir, please..." he begged. Oh, that voice issuing from his mouth sounded desperate.
Suddenly, Grimtooth had stepped into his face "Tanth/, I remember you telling me /something/." Now Grimtooth's upper lip was curled up in contempt. "/Something about no matter how much you don't like an order, you will /damned carry it out/. I have given you an order."
There was no escape... except...
"But, sir, why... why me?"
"Because," Grimtooth whispered in what was easily the most malicious tone ever, "I know by how you look at that slave that you want her. This will be the test... Senior Officer. Kill her."
"Yes... yes, sir. I will fulfill your wishes."
Seasons, that look of horror on Veredia was sure to break something inside...
But he had to move... or Grimtooth might...
He stalked towards the--still naked--ferret fem and yanked her to her footpaws. He locked a paw onto Veredia's upper arm... tightly. There was no way Veredia was going to escape.
He yanked the slave along, towards the perimeter of the camp.
"Anybeast who follows me will be executed... by myself personally!" he snarled loudly.
He dragged Veredia along, and he knew well enough that no beast would disturb him while he...
He came to his tent and shoved Veredia inside.
"Kneel!" he spat, pushing the fem onto the blankets where he slept.
Veredia looked numb, but she did kneel.
"Tanth..." he heard her whisper brokenly. Hellgates... any more of that voice and he'd go insane. "Please..."
Somehow, even being tossed forcefully out of the tent by a murderous Grimtooth had not even provoked a fearful look from the fem... but now, it looked as if Veredia was doing everything not to cry.
He looked down at the nearly-sobbing fem.
"Veredia, I have never, ever disobeyed Grimtooth."
He watched Veredia close her eyes and look at the floor. The fem was going to make this easy.
Or not.
"Until now..."
If Veredia's head had snapped up any faster, she would have probably broken her own neck.
He knelt down and looked at those green eyes. "Veredia... can you..."
But a finger pressing his lips was a sign to stop, no?
"Shh, Tanth. Don't ask me to forgive you. There's nothing to forgive."
Suddenly, Veredia became blurry. No, that was wrong... Veredia wasn't blurry... the tears just made it look so. He was such a pathetic beast...
"Veredia, you... you have to leave," he croaked, and he let his paw wipe away those damned tears. "I have weapons around my tent, and you should take whatever you can use. I'll dig up some more clothing."
He turned, opened up a chest and--hmm... would those fit Veredia?
He looked behind. Seasons, Veredia was so beautiful...
The fem had taken up some... strange. Veredia was holding a medium-sized recurved bow, a quiver of thirty blue-fletched arrows, and... a spear?
"Veredia, that'll slow you down. Perhaps a dagger?"
Hmm... Veredia was giving a knowing smile now. What could that mean?
Strange... now Veredia was picking up a spare hatchet from another chest. Was the fem taking a whole armory with--
With some swift strokes, Veredia cut two sections of shaft. The two rods were about one and a half feet in length. He knew he was cocking an eyebrow now, but yes, this was the right time for it. Two sticks? Was that all?
Then Veredia picked up those rods and twirled them expertly.
Well, almost. Most likely the... the abuse at Grimtooth's paws had slowed those paws. In the end, it didn't matter. Veredia looked as if she could affect some damage with those... sticks? Rods? Batons?
And... damnation, the staring had to stop! He shook his head and withdrew the chosen clothes from the trunk.
He had some dark brown well-kept trousers from when he was young. They'd probably be a bit snug, but Veredia wasn't large to begin with.
He didn't have any extra tunics that would fit, but he did have a sort of hooded, sleeveless robe that might suffice. It was moderately heavy, a dark green, and a very satisfactory garment for a beast who needed to move swiftly. Since it reached down to about Veredia's knees, it could make a makeshift blanket.
This was the best he could give.
He watched Veredia hurriedly slip the garments on. Then the fem slipped the quiver expertly over her shoulder and strapped it to her back. The twin batons went into the waist of the trousers. A pack of food was strapped around Veredia's waist, under the cloak.
And then Veredia looked like she was ready to go. But, then, something needed to be said.
"Veredia, before you go."
"When you leave, don't..." Hellgates, this was almost too painful to say. "Don't... wait for me. Go your own way. Find somebeast who deserves you."
Veredia frowned deeply. "Tanth, what do you mean?"
Seasons, was the fem making this harder on him deliberately? Damnation! "Veredia... somebeast like me doesn't deserve somebeast like you/. The more I think about it, the more /foolish my reasoning for staying with Grimtooth seems.
"But I cannot abandon my journey now. I must do everything possible before all is said and done. I cannot leave.
"And you deserve a beast who isn't chained to idiocy like I am."
Dark Forest, that was so damned hard to say...
And then he felt a paw on his cheek.
"Tanth, never ever say that about yourself. I respect you for this decision, and I find it noble, not foolish. If you are so dedicated to something you don't even /like/, what will you be like towards something you love?"
What to say to that? If...
Fortunately, he didn't have to say anything, because Veredia's lips covered his own.
"I will wait for you, Tanth. Something tells me there is more to this siege than meets the eye. Just... think. About when enough is enough. Keep well."
Veredia smiled...
...and was gone.

Seasons, only a day had passed, and already Grimtooth was making his bid for Redwall.
"They have ladders," Winopal heard Danforth the hare say, somewhat superfluously.
Those were very big ladders Grimtooth's horde had built. Those things would easily top the abbey's walls. In addition, the beasts holding them looked incredibly mean.
And to stop that, she had thirty other otters and about a score of young adult abbeybeasts. Somehow, fifty beasts did not seem enough... strange feeling...
"Thank you fer pointing out th' obvious, Danforth," she said dryly.
"Eh? Oh, always glad to be of service, marm."
Goodness, Danfroth just had a way of evoking a grin.
Grins were in short supply now.
"Here they come!" she heard somebeast call out.

"At least we know they aren't simple rubes, sir," Tanth said to Grimtooth.
"Yes, that is most apparent, Tanth," he heard the chieftain reply. "Hmm, it is most fortunate that band of foxes decided to join us."
Oh, yes indeed. A score of foxes had been obviously been attracted to this horde, and they'd joined. Just more blood for battles.
Under the cover of some archers, the five siege ladders had been sent forward. And, despite that, the twenty foxes and thirty hordebeasts that had manned the ladders had been beaten off with heavy causalities. But, true, it had been close. One ladder had actually made it up, and hordebeasts had clambered up it like mad ants.
Unfortunately, that bold mouse that had spoken to Grimtooth yesterday had intercepted the ladder, along with a sandy-furred hare and a mousemaid of some sort. The otters up on the battlements had returned fire--quite effectively, in fact--at the archers with slings, and the attempt was a clear failure.
But why wasn't Grimtooth looking as angry as he knew the stoat should be?
"Well then, sir, what will we do? It is not to late to withdraw."
Grimtooth looked at him with a strange smile. "Now, why would I want to do that? This was only a probe, after all. I'll just let them stew for a day or two... by then those bumpkins should know what I am planning. Oh, yes, they'll know."
What did that mean?
Something strange was going on... And it was sure to be bad, as well.
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