|The Continuing Adventures of Martin the Turd
Author: Highwing PM
It's not easy growing up in Redwall when everybeast expects you to be a legend.Rated: Fiction T - English - Fantasy - Mattimeo & Auma - Chapters: 5 - Words: 27,311 - Reviews: 18 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 06-02-11 - Published: 05-29-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7032661
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Now that my regular readers here have gotten all the way through The Crimson Badger, I thought some of you might be interested in reading some of the "outtakes" from that novel, featuring scenes from the rough draft which never made it into the final version, or did, but in a rather different form.
Those of you who attentively read my novel - my very first work of Redwall fanfiction, drafted by hand on lined notebook paper mostly during my breaks at my job between 1995 and 1997 - may be interested to learn that the story was originally set about half a generation after Mattimeo, and featured many of Brian Jacques' characters from that novel. When it came time to post The Crimson Badger online in 2001, I knew I would have to rewrite the tale with characters entirely of my own, since my initial vision presented in the first draft no longer matched the published series. Thus, Abbess Tess became Vanessa, Auma became Maura, Sam became Alexander, Cheek became Montybank (and a little bit of Winokur too, although Wink was also in the original version in a much smaller role), old Matthias became old Arlyn, Sister May became Sister Aurelia, and some characters had to be eliminated altogether. Which brings us to the character of ... Martin II. Or should that be Martin III, since we learned in The Legend of Luke that Luke's father was also named Martin? Wotever ...
In any case, my vision of Martin II (or III) turned out to be quite different from the more stereotypical heroic mouse and Abbey Champion Brian Jacques gave us in Pearls of Lutra. Saddled with the name of Redwall's founding Warrior and greatest hero, I could not see him being anything but resentful at having such expectations piled upon him. I loved creating and writing that character, but sadly there was no place for him in the revised version, so he had to be jettisoned altogether. However, I came to realize that his excised scenes played well enough on their own that they almost constituted a separate story independent of the final, online version of The Crimson Badger. Thus, here are all of the scenes in which Martin II/III either appeared or was prominently mentioned. And, as a side note, I will also reveal that these scenes were transcribed directly from the handwritten manuscript, with no effort made to correct punctuation, grammar or sentence structure; they are a glimpse into what the original draft of The Crimson Badger was like when first set down on paper. Hope you enjoy these samples of the Martin that could have been!
Two mice named Martin gazed at each other across the ages.
One of them, Martin the Warrior, was woven of thread and cloth. His image adorned the tapestry which hung in Great Hall, Redwall's largest chamber, above Cavern Hole. The ancient tapestry was the Abbey's most prized treasure, dating back to the earliest generations of Redwall. At the base of the tapestry stood the Abbey's warrior and founder, but successive generations had added to it, and so the cloth was far more than mere decoration; visitors to Great Hall could take in at a glance many of the key moments in Redwall history, boldly embroidered for all to see, a fluttering, beautiful chronicle of colored fabric. But for all the additions and all the years represented, it was still the image of Martin, resplendent with his shield and sword, that dominated the tapestry and drew the eye to it before all else.
The other Martin - flesh and blood and very much alive - stared forlornly at his long-dead namesake. Heaving a melancholy sigh, he asked aloud the question he'd been asking all his life.
"Why did they give me your name? What were they thinking? Didn't they know what it would do to me?"
His softly spoken works died away before they'd penetrated very far into Great Hall's cathedral-like immensity. On the tapestry before him, shifting ever so slightly upon a gentle draft, the expression of Martin the Warrior remained unchanged, a mix of pride, courage and benevolence. To the younger Martin, that confident countenance seemed almost to be mocking him.
The afternoon sun sent its rays through the tall stained glass windows high up on the western wall, spilling vivid multicolors across the stone floor at the far end of Great Hall and creeping slowly up the opposite wall, where eventually the colored reflections from one set of windows would meet the frosted panes of their east-facing counterparts. Most Redwallers would have drunk in the beauty of this daily summer display, but young Martin was oddly immune to it all.
Soft patterings and high-pitched giggles from overhead told Martin that two of the Abbey's children were playing up in the gallery that ran around Great Hall. From the sound of it, they were chasing each other in a game of tag or some such nonsense. Martin wished they would go back outside with the other Nameday revellers. He wanted to be alone with his thoughts.
Summer of the Three Warriors, indeed! Did his parents actually work at making his life miserable, or did it just come naturally?
There was a minor commotion of voices and footsteps behind him. The meeting down in Cavern Hole was finally getting out. Martin didn't really want to be seen by Urthblood or the Redwaller elders. For a moment he contemplated ducking behind one of the sandstone columns, but he didn't want to look foolish either, so he stood his ground, impassively ignoring the creatures coming up the short flight of broad steps into Great Hall.
Urthblood and some of the others glanced his way, but none paid him much notice since he seemed wrapped up in his thoughts. The Abbess wished to offer the Badger Lord a repast from whatever food was still left from the feast, and then give him a preliminary tour of the Abbey grounds. The group passed through Great Hall and out into the late afternoon air.
All except for Matthias.
Seeing his grandson before the tapestry, Redwall's elder Warrior padded across the red sandstone floor to where Martin stood. Glancing at the woven treasure as he stopped by the young mouse's side, he said cheerfully, "Having a talk with Martin, Martin?"
If it had been anyone else, Martin might have resented the intrusion. But he was fond of his grandfather, and didn't mind the sudden company. Not too much, anyway.
Martin slowly shook his head. "He only talks to warriors. Like you. And Dad."
"You know that's not true. The spirit of Martin will speak to any goodbeast in time of need. Many times in our history he has visited us, in dreams and visions. He watches over us all, always."
"He has never spoken to me," said young Martin. "Guess I've never been in need enough."
Matthias changed the subject on his temperamental grandson. "You should have been down there at that council."
"What for? Wasn't it all about war and battles and fighting?"
"What makes you think that?" Matthias asked.
Martin gave a mirthless laugh. "I saw that badger. A beast like that doesn't concern itself overmuch with peaceful matters. And I doubt that the Abbey leaders could have been called away from our precious Nameday celebration over some trivial concern."
Matthias nodded in appreciation of his grandson's astuteness. "A logical conclusion ... although the way you were acting at the feast, one could suppose Mattimeo and the Abbess might have been looking for an excuse to duck out. At least most of the guests seemed to have a good time in spite of you."
"Ah, well," Martin said lightly, his voice laden with sarcasm, "I guess I just can't pass up a chance to spoil everybeast's good time."
Matthias gave him a smack across the ear.
Martin turned to his grandfather in shock, clutching at his stinging extremity. He expected the elder warrior's face to be a mask of fury, but Matthias wore the same calm and benevolent expression as Martin the Warrior up on the tapestry.
"Just getting your attention," Matthias said, his tone still quite friendly. "I never raised my paw to Mattimeo when he was a youngster, wild as he was sometimes, and neither of us ever raised a paw to you. Perhaps that was a mistake. But you're an adult now, and you've got some growing up to do if you want to become a Redwaller. There may be hard times ahead, for all of us."
Martin found he could not stay angry at his grandfather, not even for having struck him. "You've always understood me better than anyone else. I can't help the way I am."
Matthias sadly shook his head. "I'm afraid I don't understand you at all. Everything you need to make you happy is right here, all around you, every day. All you need to do is reach out and take it. And yet you seem to enjoy being miserable. Why be so sullen and alone, when there's no reason for it?"
Martin shrugged and said nothing.
"You do realize what it is about you that frustrates us so, don't you? Your parents especially. It's that we care about you and want to see you happy. And when you make it so obvious that you aren't, it makes us unhappy as well." Matthias gave the forlorn younger mouse a searching glance. "Just tell us what we can do for you, Martin. Give us something to go on. You've got to at least meet us halfway on this."
Martin's gaze remained on the tapestry. "A different name would be nice."
"It's a bit late for that, I'm afraid. As a matter of fact, I worry that you may have missed your best chance to be happy. From what Lord Urthblood says, there may be precious little opportunity for any of us to enjoy small snatches of happiness in the days and months ahead."
"Sounds like just the kind of thing Dad would welcome," Martin said, turning away from the tapestry and walking past Matthias. "Maybe he'll get a chance to swing that sword he loves so much. I'm going up to my room now. Give the warlord my regards."
"Don't you want to know more of what was said in the council?" Matthias asked after Martin's retreating back.
"I'm sure I'll be hearing all about it," Martin replied over his shoulder as he disappeared up the stairs to the dormitory levels.
The sun had nearly set below the western wall when Matthias emerged from Great Hall after his talk with young Martin, and most of the Abbey grounds were covered in lengthening shadows. He saw the others from the council standing by the feast tables, except for Cheek and Sam, who by this time had wandered off toward the pond. Matthias ambled toward them.
Auma noticed him coming and walked over to meet him partway. "What did Martin have to say for himself?" the badger matriarch inquired in a low voice.
"He wasn't much interested in what went on in the council," Matthias sighed. "He's gone up to his room."
"To sulk and be sullen, no doubt." Auma shook her striped head. "We've all tried to bring that fellow up right. I just can't figure him out."
"He follows his own path, no doubt about that." Matthias held out the sleeves of his mulitcolored habit, eager to change the subject. "Just look at this! I feel like a clown in this harlequin's robe. I never should have let Tess talk me into wearing it, not even for Nameday. Of all the days for a Badger Lord to show up at our gates, it would have to be the one when I'm dressed up like a travelling show fool!"
Auma looked askance at him. "Oh, I don't know, Matthias. I think it makes you look rather regal. You're just being a temperamental old mouse."
"I'm a retired warrior," Matthias said with mock self-importance. "We're allowed to be temperamental. It's a privilege of the rank."
Laughing, the two friends joined the others at the tables.
Martin stood in the corridor just outside his half-opened dormitory room door. Deep in her own thoughts, Auma didn't notice him until she'd almost collided with the young mouse.
"Oh. Hello, Martin."
Rather than return her salutation, Martin continued to glare toward the far end of the hallway where Urthblood's new quarters were located. "He's not staying up here, in your father's old room, is he?"
"What better place for him in all of Redwall?" Auma said, struggling to remain civil. Martin's demeanor wasn't making it easy for her. "Why? Do you have a problem with this?"
"I would have preferred he be put on another level, or in another wing."
Auma felt her hackles rising. "Well, I'm sorry we can't arrange all Abbey matters around your whims. How can you say such a thing? You haven't even made any effort to get to know Lord Urthblood."
"And I don't care to. I saw enough of him when he came through the gate, and when he came up out of Cavern Hole. He is a warlike creature, and I'd rather not associate with such a beast."
This was too much for Auma. "Now listen here, you impertinent little sulk. Your behavior at today's feast was bad enough, but don't you even think about insulting Lord Urthblood. He is a guest of Redwall, and will be extended the same courtesy as any other visitor, by every Redwaller ... yourself included. If a little plain civility is too much for you to manage, then perhaps you should keep to your room while he is staying with us."
"Perhaps I should. Tell Friar Hugh to have my meals sent up to me." Martin turned to go back into his dorm, but Auma caught him on the shoulder with her massive paw, halting him in mid-turn.
"Not so fast. Your mother and father want to see you in their study."
He shrugged her paw free. "I'm an adult now, Auma. I'm not going to go running at their beck and call to receive scoldings like a naughty infant."
Auma took his arm and levered him fully into the corridor. "You are mistaken, Martin. All Redwallers are subject to a summons from their Abbot or Abbess. Just because you are Tess's son does not excuse you, or give you the right to disregard their call. Now, will you go of your own accord, or do you require me to escort you down?"
Martin leaned out and shut his door. "I can find my own way. I've been treated like a child enough today."
Auma relaxed her grip, seeing that he wasn't about to escape back into his room. "You know, Martin, you could have at least pretended to have a good time today. It would have meant a lot to your parents, and the rest of us."
"Then they should not have chosen to name this the Summer of the Three Warriors, or insisted that I attend as a guest of honor. They know I dislike being the center of attention."
"Well, maybe they thought you could put all that aside for just one day and not spoil the mood. Obviously, they were wrong." Auma shook her head. "Getting up and leaving in the middle of your father's speech! Can't you show even a little respect?"
"Maybe if they'd respect my wishes, I'd respect theirs."
"And what about Matthias? Your grandfather doted on you long after most of the rest of us gave up trying to reach you. This celebration, and the name we chose for this season, was as much for his honor as yours. Three Warriors, Martin - Matthias, Mattimeo and you, even though you reject the name. Matthias is quite old. He had no reason to believe he'd live long enough to see you come of age to take the sword. Even if you declined the weapon, you should have accepted the honor, for your grandfather's sake if nothing else."
"My grandfather is the only one who understands me well enough not to place conditions on our friendship. He accepts me for what I am, and doesn't try to force me to be what I'm not. I think he was as uncomfortable seeing me forced to attend today's feast as I was to be there. I spoke with him after the meeting in Cavern Hole. If I offended him this afternoon, he didn't show it."
"Ah ... and what was that smack on the ear he gave you?"
"Oh. He told you about that."
Auma nodded. "You've made us all very upset with you today, Martin, and not even Lord Urthblood's arrival can make us forget your behavior. I did my part to raise you as best I could. You're of age now, and I've got other young ones to mother and nurture. You still have some growing up to do, and you'll have to do it on your own, because I can't help you anymore."
Martin started down the stone staircase, on his way to his parents' chamber. Auma merely watched him go, shaking her head in sad bewilderment, as she always seemed to after a talk with the troubled young mouse.
"Where did we go wrong with him?" she asked the empty corridor.
"Where did we go wrong with you?" Mattimeo demanded of his son a short time later.
In all the scoldings he'd received from his father during all the seasons of his young life, Martin usually wore either of two expressions. One was anguish, with his features screwed up as though he might cry out at any moment, although he never would shed so much as a single tear. As he grew toward adulthood, that appearance of inner turmoil had been increasingly replaced by one of boredom. He'd been on the receiving end of his warrior father's tirades and chastisements so many times that he seemed not to care anymore. Mattimeo's angry words would bounce off him without effect; sometimes it was impossible to tell whether Martin was even listening, for his face remained blank and his attention seemed to be elsewhere. Perhaps he retreated into some inner part of himself, dwelling upon secret thoughts that he shared with nobeast.
This was the expression he wore now, and it was only serving to worsen Mattimeo's black temper.
The atmosphere in the room was positively charged with tension. This was the study of Abbess Tess, just as it had previously served as the study for old Abbot Mordalfus, and Abbot Mortimer before that, and any number of Abbots and Abbesses before them. Much of Redwall history had been played out in this chamber, decisions of great importance made here in times of crisis or upheaval. But rarely had a mood of outright enmity existed within this refuge for the Abbey's highest leaders.
"Have you nothing to say for yourself?" Mattimeo tried to bore into his son with his angry eyes, but could not connect with Martin's disinterested gaze. It was like trying to drill through water.
Martin waited several moments before deigning to answer. "I'm only here at the summons of the Abbess. If this is all you have to say, I'll leave now."
Mattimeo paced back and forth in frustration. "When I was a youngster, I had a wild streak a mile wide, and got into more mischief than anybeast at Redwall. I was always expecting the same from you, and I'm sure I could have handled that. But not this, Martin. You're sullen, disrespectful, rude, withdrawn ... and no matter how I've tried to reach you, you won't let me through. I have tried to make a warrior out of you, tried as hard as I know how. And still ... nothing."
Martin let an edge of bitterness creep into his voice. "Perhaps you should not have tried to MAKE me anything, Father."
"You ruined our Nameday festival," Mattimeo accused. "I almost think you did it by design. You had no right to do that."
"Oh? And you had no right to expect me to be a legend."
"When did I ever tell you that?"
"On the day I was born, and every day since then." The young mouse shook his head. "I am not Martin the Warrior, but I cannot escape from him. He lives in every corner of Redwall. Everybeast here expected me to be just like him. But no one ever asked me how I felt about it."
"That's no excuse for the way you acted today."
"Actually, it is," Martin challenged. "And if you'd only stop to think it through, you'd see how true that is."
Mattimeo paced back and forth, teeth clenched, glancing between his son and the floor. "From this day on I will stop trying to make you into a decent citizen of Redwall, or correct your atrocious manners. I had all of that I can stand, and if I don't let it go now I'll make myself sick. Your behavior is no longer my concern. If you wish to act so insolent and drive away every beast who might extend you their friendship, that is your affair. Maybe you may still find the warrior's way. Lord Urthblood warns of a great crisis coming, and weak, selfish creatures never fare well in such times. Maybe such a crisis is what you've needed all this time, to bring out your true mettle. Lord knows, the soft living of peace hasn't done much to build your character into that of a worthy beast. Perhaps war will succeed for you where I have failed."
Martin's tone grew angry to match his father's. "You'd actually like that, wouldn't you? A nice little war, all for my benefit. Tell me, Father, how many creatures would have to suffer and die in order for me to prove myself to your satisfaction?"
This made Mattimeo even angrier. "You've never understood what it means to be a warrior! You've never even tried! We don't relish war ... we abhor it, perhaps more than anybeast, because we're the ones who have to fight, and kill, and sometimes lay down our own lives for the sake of this Abbey, and our way of life. But I guess that doesn't mean much to you, does it?"
"Do you really believe that, Father? Are you sure that warlike brute who's come into our midst hasn't stirred your battle lust and got you spoiling for some beasts to slay?"
Mattimeo clenched his fists, and Martin braced himself for a blow. But it never came.
"No. No, I will not strike you, however much you goad me." Mattimeo's voice was level, but the eyes of the warrior mouse were red-flecked with rage. "I won't compound my failure even more by doing that. Just tell me one thing, Martin: if the enemies of Redwall came to our gate tomorrow and threatened to slaughter and enslave us all, would you even then refuse to pick up arms and defend your home and family?"
Martin was silent for a few moments, then he answered, flatly and simply, "I don't know."
When Mattimeo next spoke, he sounded drained and tired. "You are a disgrace to the name of Martin and the spirit of Redwall, and an embarrassment to this family."
"Maybe I am," Martin said calmly, retreating to his former ambivalent attitude. "But if you're disappointed because I've failed to meet the goals you set for me before I was even born, don't expect me to be too upset about it."
Mattimeo turned away from his son, glowering wordlessly at the corner of the study.
"Martin, why do you hate your father so?" the Abbess asked softly.
"I don't hate him, Mother. I don't wish harm to any creature. I merely resent that I have never been allowed the chance to be who I would have become on my own, without the name of a legend or the expectations of an entire abbey weighing upon me. Maybe that's why I like to be by myself: I'm searching for the mouse I could have been. But Redwall isn't a very easy place in which to seek solitude."
"Then maybe you should consider leaving," Mattimeo said to the corner.
Martin looked at his father's back. "The thought has crossed my mind."
Tess held up both paws. "Please, please, both of you ... Much has been said here in the heat of anger. Perhaps these were things that needed to be said, but with emotions running so high, I would not hold either of you to remarks you might have made differently, or not at all, in calmer and cooler moments. I am speaking now as Abbess, not wife or mother. The family of Redwall has room for all but evil creatures, and I do not see any of those in this chamber. So do not speak lightly - either of you - about one of us leaving our community."
She turned to her son. "Martin, I know you have problems and feelings that you have to work out, and maybe we are even partly to blame for that, as you maintain. But no other creature can get into your heart and mind, and you are an adult now. We can no longer raise you or school you like a child. Whatever answers you need to solve your dilemma, you must find them within yourself. You have made it plain you do not wish to assume the mantle of warrior, or have others tell you what you should be. Very well ... be your own mouse, with all my blessing. Look within yourself, and find the beast you truly are. But never forget that you are surrounded by creatures who would gladly extend you their love and friendship, and will help you if they are able. As long as you do no harm, I would urge you to remain here at Redwall, to enjoy the comforts and protection of this Abbey. Perhaps you will find a place among us more easily than you imagine."
"And if what I seek is not to be found at Redwall?"
"Then ... then, I suppose, you must go where you will. But it is one thing if you depart of your own choice, and quite another if you feel you are forced to leave by ill will." Tess looked toward her husband, her face defiant in spite of the wetness in the corners of her eyes. "I shall not allow that to happen to any creature of Redwall, least of all to my own son." She turned back to Martin. "Some of my very closest friends have become convinced that you can never be happy, because you prefer to be miserable. I believe otherwise, even if the way to happiness has not yet shown itself to your troubled spirit. Someday, I hope, you will find contentment, and enjoy the friendship of your fellow creatures. And I would rather that happen here, where we may all enjoy the benefit of your comradeship. But if your road leads elsewhere ... " And now a tear did roll down Tess's cheek, "Well, I can at least hope you'll find your way back to us, if only for a visit once in awhile."
If Martin was at all moved by his mother's display of emotion, he gave no outward sign. "I'll be up in my room, trying to find myself," he announced, and left his parents without another word.
Tess let her tears flow freely now. After an awkward moment of uncertainty, Mattimeo crossed the study and embraced her tenderly.
"Why, oh why can't he be happy, Matti?" she sobbed into her husband's shoulder.
Mattimeo's heart was torn by seeing his wife reduced to tears. He cradled her gently. "If I didn't love him, I'd kill him," he murmured to the wall. "I swear I would."