|The Last Champion: The Riddle of Arken, Book I
Author: Varkanax40 PM
The Twisting Flame Horde has come to Mossflower, and Redwall Abbey and the whole wood threatens to fall into the grasp of the ferret warlord Rivan Fireclaw. Two young Redwall squirrels must join together to solve the Riddle of Redwall's last champion- and find the lost sword of Martin the Warrior...Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Fantasy - Chapters: 18 - Words: 37,970 - Reviews: 106 - Favs: 10 - Follows: 10 - Updated: 09-12-12 - Published: 05-24-12 - id: 8146193
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Colonel Tirian Redblade of the Long Patrol was up early. Dressed rather simply for a Long Patrol hare of his stature, with only a small medal to proclaim his status, he knocked quietly on the door to the private chambers of Badger Lord Rawn Wildstripe.
"Come in," Rawn said, raising his voice slightly. Tirian stepped silently through the open doors and stood before the youthful Badger Lord. He'd only recently succeeded his mother, Maia Wildstripe, as ruler of the mountain, and, like Tirian, he was still rather youthful. Tirian Redblade was slightly older than the Badger Lord, and had only recently won his promotion to Colonel during the battles against the Searat Captain Naaxt Whitespear.
"What do you wish to tell me, my friend? Have the searats returned?" Rawn asked Tirian, his voice calm. But Tirian knew the badger Lord well enough to understand that he knew something was wrong if Redblade would bother him so early in the morning.
"No, sah, the searats won't come anywhere near our mountain if they know what's good for them," he said. "Ah think we gave Whitespear and his bally chaps a run for their money for once. Nah, the reason I'm here is because of this dream I had last night. It was of a mouse warrior, wielding a sword, and he called to me from the distance, warning me of some danger. Then I saw the walls of Redwall Abbey, and a dark shadow falling over the ramparts. I'm not sure, sah, but I think Redwall's in trouble!"
"Redwall? In danger?" Rawn asked. "Well, the mouse from your dream is obviously Martin the Warrior, the long dead hero of Redwall who still helps them in times of need. In any event, it bears checking out. I have heard tales of a vermin leader from the northlands who leads a horde called the Twisting Flame. At the very least, it may be wise if we send some Long Patrol hares, if only to make sure Redwall is safe."
"I shall take one hundred of my best," said Tirian Redblade. "And if any vermin or danger threatens Redwall- be it these Twisting Flame buckoes or something completely different- will be given the Long Patrol welcome. Blood 'n' vinegar!"
Ravenna cut the last of the bonds which held Sarrow and helped the otter to his feet. "There," she said. "We have to get out of here now, before the vermin come back to investigate."
Sarrow could only nod wordlessly as he and Ravenna slipped into the shadows, away from the two sleeping stoats. They didn't dare look back.
When Ravenna judged they were a safe distance away and her eyes had adjusted to the gloom of the nighttime Mossflower, she looked around her. No moon shown in the sky, and dark clouds hid the stars from view. Still, Ravenna, though young, was one of Skipper's more accomplished trackers. She could find the way back to Redwall from here.
Looking back in the direction of the sleeping stoats, Ravenna couldn't help but smile. She wished she could have seen the expression on the ferret leader's face when he realized that both of his captives had escaped!
From his position, concealed in the shadows of the tall, shady grove, Rivan Fireclaw watched as Ravenna and Sarrow slipped away into the shadows. He smiled in satisfaction. Not only had they thought they'd escaped on their own, they were giving his horde a trail to follow directly into Mossflower Wood to Redwall Abbey.
And they had set the stage for the next piece of his plan.
"Success," he said to Darkfur, the weasel captain's face twisted into a smirk. "The prisoners have escaped."
Rivan's hypnotic eyes flashed momentarily with triumph as he saw the rest of his patrol approaching him, fully armed. He saw at once the look on Shale's face and knew at once that the horde was on the move.
"Gather the horde," ordered Rivan. "Tonight we march into Mossflower Wood!"
The fifth day after the birth of the two young squirrels Rodan and Raya dawned clear and cold, a throwback to the cold days of spring before summer had arrived. Abbot Tyrn and Brother Alfin sat in Cavern Hole. Brother Alfin smiled, watching the Dibbuns run circles around Maia, dancing along with the badger mother.
"They certainly know how to have fun, don't they?" said Brother Alfin. "Even on days like these, when winter's chill comes back to bite us in the middle of summer, they're still playing outside happily."
"We should get out there," said Tyrn. Alfin looked at him. "I'm getting far too old to go out there in this weather," he said. "But let's round up Sister Marian and Brother Robin. Maybe we can enjoy some tea together upon the walls while we watch the Dibbuns play."
"Sounds like a grand old plan," said Tyrn, clapping the older mouse on the back conspiratorially. "Let's go, it'll take our mind off the Riddle for a few hours, I hope."
The two mice walked quietly through the hall and out of Cavern Hole, passing by the kitchens as they went. Friar Tura Sickleback, the brother of the Cellarhog Drogg Sickleback, waved to them from inside the kitchen, were the delicious aroma of pies wafted through the air to Tyrn and Alfin.
At the door of Cavern Hole, Brother Robin was holding a hushed conversation with Skipper. The Otter seemed agitated, and seeing Tyrn and Alfin, met their eyes. "One of Skipper's otter patrols just returned. They were captured by a vermin band, but escaped. There are nearly thirty warlike vermin loose in Mossflower!"
"Thirty?" asked the Abbot, alarmed. Immediately Skipper and Robin recounted the entire tale that Ravenna and Sarrow had told them, including how they'd escaped. The Abbot's face grew more and more alarmed as they described Rivan Fireclaw to them.
"We have to find a way to stop them before they reach Redwall. While I doubt thirty vermin could conquer the Abbey, they could cause the deaths of many Redwallers. Do whatever you can to prevent the vermin from reaching the Abbey!"
"Permission to take our otter patrols out to take down this vermin threat?" Skipper asked the Abbot. "By all accounts they're still a few days' march from Redwall. Hopefully we'll be able to overtake and finish the vermin scum before they knew what hit them."
"Very well," said Tyrn. "But be careful. Don't take any unnecessary risks. Perhaps we should contact our old allies, the Guerilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower. The Guosim would be more than happy to help out against a vermin band."
"Ah, we have nearly fifty otters on hand right now, more when we're assembled at full strength," said Skipper. "A band of thirty vermin won't be a problem. We'll mop this threat up before they come within a day's march from Redwall!"