Categories > Books > Redwall > Pride of Kavazara

Chapter 1: Summons

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 - Published: 2006-02-16 - Updated: 2006-02-17 - 2555 words

Gregory P. Wong

Chapter 1: Summons

Lord Tritan Longspear, forth ruler of Bladestone Castle and New Kavazara, looked over the battlements towards the north. The icy mountains of the far north glimmered, a stark contrast to the burning deserts leading up to the castle. A mere two miles or so away from the castle the scorching desert gave way to lush grasslands. Hills dotted the east and west plains. The morning sun warmed his left flank.
He turned as a strong yet delicate paw massaged his shoulder. He turned to face his dark-furred ratwife, Lady Serai Galecut.
Beautiful as usual. She was clad in a long sleeveless tunic that fell to just above her knees, colored a dark gray, her personal color, with a wide crimson strip running from left shoulder to right hip.. The tunic also held crimson runic inscriptions and piping that denoted her position as Lady of Bladestone and Arbiter of the Crimson Guard. The garment was tied by loops of red yarn along the left side. A gray-dyed eelskin belt cinched the tunic at her waist, where two scabbards containing twin long daggers rested. A hooded cloak was fastened over her shoulders, thrown back so it flowed like a cape. It was a Wraith cloak, meaning it was also double sided. The side that currently faced "out" was a deep gray tastefully decorated with crimson bands. The other side was a mottled camouflage pattern. The section of tunic that fell past her belt was slit along the sides. She always said that they made sure her movements were not impeded, but he always suspected that she just did it to keep his mind from becoming too engrossed in his duty. She did have some undergarments, though, so he knew she didn't want him distracted to that degree.
Most of the time, that is.
"Good morning, my wife," he said to her.
"You too, Tritan," Serai replied. She strode up beside him and took his paws in hers. "You peer off into the mountains too often."
He grasped his wife's paws tighter. "It's only a matter of time before the Dervaga make their move," he murmured.
"And the Bladestone soldiers will be there to meet them!"
He looked deep into his wife's eyes. "So true, Serai. It's just..." he paused, lost for words. "It's just that I don't know if we'll be enough. I'm sensing enormous amounts of dark energy emanating from the north, stronger than anything we've ever faced. I'll hazard a guess that strong warlords from this region are being resurrected."
Serai released his paw and leaned on the battlement wall. He absentmindedly rubbed his auburn fur. He wore garb different from his wife's: a decorated short-sleeved gold-hemmed crimson tunic that reached to his waist and was tied on the right side with gold, a scarlet belt, and long crimson pantaloons flecked with gold. His cloak was similar, crimson with gold bands. He didn't carry his personal weapon with him, since he had his wife-what a thought!-guarding him, and the eight-foot tall spear Shadowrend was too unwieldy to stroll around with.
"Who can we send?"
"I don't know," he answered.
In truth, he didn'/t/ know. The strongholds to the south, including Salamandastron and Floret Castle, needed to be warned. But those places were strong places, under the command of skilled warriors. It was Redwall that needed protection. In fact, it was imperative that Redwall be defended. It held the key to stopping the Dervaga.
If the legends were true.
But how to go about that? The far northlands, including Bladestone Castle, were largely inhabited by creatures that were commonly referred to as "vermin." Even though every single beast under his command was good and loyal, it would not play well with the denizens of the south. That's why he and his predecessors had always avoided contact with them. He doubted the Redwallers and southerners would welcome beasts commonly associated with evil deeds into their abodes.
Still, though, somebeast-or beast/s/-needed to be dispatched. Who?
"I will go," Serai said. Like other Wraiths, she had a limited power of mind-reading.
He shook his head and grinned.
"You know I won't approve of that, love."
She cocked a brow good naturedly and wiggled her whiskers. "Why is that?
He grinned wider. "First, I'll need your skill and advice /right here/, my dear Arbiter. I'll sleep better knowing that my Crimson Guard is under your command." It was an age-old custom for the Crimson Guard to be led by the current leader's spouse, whether the lord be a female or male. "Secondly, we'll need good trackers and survivalists to navigate. You and I are lacking in that regard."
His wife sighed. "I know, Tritan, I know. I'm just anxious, that's all.
He shook his head. "Aren't we all?"
"To some extent," whispered his wife.
Then something came to his mind. He knew of two Wraiths, relatively inexperienced in open war, but knowledgeable about tracking and stealth. And they were excellent at individual fighting.
And they had... they had nothing to lose.
"Them? It's not a bad choice," Serai said, obviously skimming his mind. "Actually, I was going to recommend them. They're young, but they are experienced in unorthodox ways.
He knew that she was telling the truth on both counts. He smiled.
"I suppose. I'll send a dispatch to them. Let us go to the council chamber."

The sand marten Tigron Sandstar sat cross-legged on the short grass surrounding the castle, the imposing fortress enveloping him in its shade. He took a brief glance at his light brown fur, marked only by the passage of nineteen seasons, shining glossily. He rolled his muscular shoulders a bit to loosen them up a bit.
He closed his eyes gently and rested his paws on his knees, breathing in the air and spirit of the northlands. He breathed in and out, coming into harmony with the environment. In this peaceful state, he contemplated his life. He smiled inwardly as he thought of somebeast. She would be out of her mind if she tried meditating.
Because there was not enough action for her!
He opened his eyes and got to his footpaws. Last time he checked, he was a little more than, what? Six feet? Right. About six-two.
He dusted off his dark brown cloak. The structure of his clothing differed only slightly from that of every other Wraith, including the Bladestone Lord, but it was far less decorated and his personal colors were not that of the Bladestone lord. His tunic was a light tan crossed with a wide band of crimson running from his left shoulder to his right hip; his baggy cotton pantaloons were the same color, sans crimson strip. The cord binding the tunic was golden, and his sword belt and long hooded cloak were the color of dried grass. Over his tunic a cinched, gold-etched, eelskin leather belt laden with wraithstone crystals was slung across his muscular back, looped over his right shoulder all the way down to his left hip. He wriggled his shoulders a bit to settle his cloak, and turned to his left.
Stuck blades-first in the earth a few feet from him were his personal weapons, the longsword Dawn and the scythe Dusk. Dawn was a handsome weapon, the blade one yard long. It was also surprisingly light-the diamond cross-sectioned blade was almost flat, after all, and relatively thin-which let him wield the sword one-pawed, which was a must when used in conjunction with his personal fighting style. The blade was etched with crimson swirls and inscriptions in wraithstone, the mysterious crystal that flowed like steel when heated upon the forge, but hardened into a perfectly clear red gem upon cooling. Dusk was also a fine weapon; the slightly curving, perfectly carved haft was about four feet in length, with the wide, curving, sharply tapered, two-foot blade connected to one convex end of the shaft. The scythe had a steel buttgrip and counterweight to help balance the blade. Like Dawn, Dusk was decorated with wraithstone filigree.
Wraithstone also had many interesting properties. In large enough concentrations, it allowed a Wraith with a high enough psychic signature to telepathically communicate with those too distant to hear normally. It also allowed Wraiths to funnel their energy into the weapons, imbuing them with various properties that no normal weapon had.
And, in the case of Dusk, it allowed him to "clamp" the weapon to his back without the encumbrance of sheaths and fasteners. The wraithstone bandolier across his back held the scythe still as if by magic.
/Which/, he thought, /is what most people think Wraiths do/!
Chuckling to himself, he reached and plucked Dusk from the earth. With a flick of his wrist, he slapped it onto his back, blade pointed downwards. The diagonal positioning of the scythe allowed his left paw easy access to it. Dawn was put into his left-hip sheath after he had flicked the dirt from it. He took a deep breath.
In a flash, his right paw drew forth Dawn, its wraithstone-inlaid blade still bright even in Bladestone's shadow. He aimed a stab at an imaginary foe, carrying the backhand swing through. As he spun, his left arm, the paw loosely resting in a reverse grip upon Dusk, drew forth the scythe. With a flick that changed the position of the weapon into a normal saber grip, he spun to his right, the keen blade of Dusk rending the air as he spun. After two wind-slicing whirls, he allowed the haft of the scythe to rest on his right flank. With another flick, he returned the weapon to his back. He continued, the blades of Dawn and Dusk alternately splitting the air as he practiced.
With a frown, he psychically sensed someone striding up to him from a distance. He could almost get the signature... It was...
"Lieutenant Sandstar!" came a gruff voice that he recognized instantly recognized. With a final thrust, he flipped his scythe over his cloak and the sword into its sheath.
He kept his face blank as Major Talson Slasheyes, a medium-built gray ferret with white bands on his eyes-hence, slashed-eyes-stepped up to him, clad in the dark red of Kavazara. His right paw snapped up to his left shoulder in a crisp purely-Kavazaran salute as the officer neared.
Slasheyes returned the salute, adding "At ease."
He relaxed a bit.
"Practicing, I see, Lieutenant."
"Yes, sir," he replied to the ferret.
The major's mouth quirked up into a grin. "You're an excellent warrior, Lieutenant. You fit that overgrown grass-cutter perfectly."
He grinned slightly. Major Slasheyes, a non-Wraith officer, was respected by all, be they peers, subordinates, or superiors. He liked the ferret a lot. Wraith or non-Wraith, he was an incredibly skilled officer!
"Sir, this overgrown grass-cutter once belonged to Colonel Summerscythe. And with all due respect, sir, he'd hand you your tail for calling him a harvester!"
The ferret laughed. "Oh, I can see that, L-T. That old weasel was something else entirely."
The ferret officer fell silent for a moment, his grin replaced with a serious look.
"Lieutenant, Lord Longspear requests your presence."
Whoa. What would the Bladestone Lord need him for?
"Uh, if I may ask, what does he need me for, sir?"
"I really don't know, Lieutenant. From what I gather, you and some other beast have a critical assignment."
But that didn't make any sense!
"I'm the youngest Wraith here! Shouldn't he send out a more-"
Major Slasheyes silenced him with a wave of his paw. "I'm sure Lord Longspear has a reason for selecting you, Lieutenant. Let's go... he's waiting."
He shrugged. Well/, /let'/s just see what/'/s in store for me/...

The little bean ball that Raezel Snowdance had kicked sailed up into the air.
The snow vixen's paw shot out and nabbed the ball before it plummeted back to earth. Then the beans were up again.
A footpaw, and elbow, another elbow, a knee, her nose... up down, up down.
With one final kick that sent the toy rocketing into the sky, she somersaulted and caught the descending ball with her right footpaw. She flipped back to her feet, putting the toy away. By Dark Forest, nothing like some good fun to keep boredom at bay. Too bad not everybeast liked playing around. Some beasts, like someone she knew, would rather sit back and read or meditate. Some beasts just didn't know what fun life could be... Geez.
She absentmindedly rolled the tough fabric of her cloak between her fingers.
The silvery cloak definitely matched nicely with her snow white fur, and its length was perfect for her five feet, ten inches, which was tall for her nineteen seasons. The light blue, waist-length, sleeveless tunic-which, like all other Wraith garb of Bladestone, had a crimson band running from left shoulder to right hip-gray belt, silver cording, and dual light gray shoulder weapon carriers all fit together nicely. The loose pale blue knee-length shorts that gripped around her knees just added another dash of color. Smiling to herself, she reached her paws behind her back and drew out her twin weapons. They were sturdy shafts, twenty-seven inches long, ending in wickedly sharp C-shaped sickles. The handles were wrapped in strong, treated eel leather, dyed a pale blue, except where red wraithstones graced the wrapped wood. The wide blades of the sickles also bore etched wraithstone markings.
She began to whirl with her blades, their specially crafted edges causing a low metallic whistle to sound over the sunny field. She had to be in constant motion to use these long sickles correctly.
She spun, and with a deft movement, she locked the two shafts together. Now, her twin sickles were now a single weapon, the sickle staff Frost.
The weapon was in a constant spin, the air echoing with the blades' whistles. She bent at her waist, allowing the rotating staff to pass over her back from her left paw to her right. As her right made contact, her left paw swept up and broke apart Frost. She whirled, the sickles making a whirlwind of noise.
And then she sensed someone coming. Uh-oh.
"Ahem... Lieutenant?"
With a flourish, she reached under her cloak and sealed the twin sickles to her wraithstone carriers, handles down.
"Here I am, Archon!" she called cheerfully to the crimson-garbed Crimsons Guard officer as she came into view. She snapped a salute to the rat.
Archon Keltaa saluted back, giving her the permission to drop her paw.
"How can I help you, Archon?" she asked
Archons were the second-highest ranking officers in the High Templar ranks-equivalent to a Templar general-which meant they were pretty high. Keltaa answered directly to Lord Longspear and Lady Galecut.
The Archon was a loyal servitor and a fierce fighter, but she did posses a sense of humor.
Sort of.
"Lieutenant, Lady Galecut requests your presence." Whoa, red flag! Archons weren't normally-actually, almost never- messengers. "I know little, so please, do not bother asking me."
"Wouldn't dream of it, Archon. Lead the way."
Keltaa turned to go, but suddenly turned around.
"By the way, L-T, make sure you keep that bean ball stowed."
"Yes, ma'am," she replied with a smile.
/Now/, /time to see what Lord Longspear wants with me/, she thought.
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