Disclaimer: I don't own Redwall. You should know that by now.
"I'm hungry, weary but I cannot lay me down
The rain comes dreary but there's no shelter I have found
It will be a long time till I find my abode
Here I am on man's road"- Walking Man's Road; The Last Unicorn
Quellara Newstar shivered violently at the freezing rain and snow soaking into past her pelt, into her skin and pulled her cloak closer around her thin shivering body. "I truly have come far away from the Hotlands" she said quietly to herself. It never got this cold back home. Never. Not even in the rainy months did the air chill her bones and freeze her body as it did now. The freezing beast suddenly quickened her pace as she spotted a light glowing warmly from the window of a small shack that reveled a family of hedgehogs drinking tea, a welcome contrast to Quellara's current surroundings.
As soon as she approached the dwelling, however, the light vanished and the face of the hedgehog suddenly pulled a transformation from warm and friendly to harsh and menacing, little brown eyes glaring at her as she heard a click from a door being suddenly locked. The traveler blinked in insult. It was understandable if these hog did not want to let in a total stranger, but there really was no need for them to be so unfriendly. They'd looked at her as if she were some sort of monster. She certainly hadn't meant to cause any harm, only to get out of this strange weather. Surely the war hadn't spread to this new country? No. That couldn't be. The Hotlands were far, far across the sea. Practically on the other side of the world. Quellara noticed that her hood had fallen down again and her reflection stared back at her through the window. Ice was forming on top of and at the end of her frigid nose and the tips of her ears above tired golden eyes. Besides that, she looked as she always had. Pulling the hood beck over her head, she trudged off into the night once again, still bewildered at the hogs' behavior. The wildcat she'd spoken to earlier said the beats were very kind to those in need. But, then again she was a foreigner in Mossflower. Maybe they'd just never seen a coyote before.
Quellara paused to rest on a ice covered tree stump. Little puffs of air reveling her breath appeared in front of her mouth, disappeared, the reappeared again as she exhaled. She smiled in spite of herself. So Gedji's tales were true after all. It truly was possible to see one's breath in front of your eyes! Quellara made a mental note to apologize to her uncle for not believing him when she saw him again. Her heart tightened. If she ever saw him again. On the boat and traveling she never really got a chance to think about everyone she'd left behind. Her remaining siblings, her mother, the aunts and uncles, and her grandsire Mooneye. There was still a chance she could see them again, if they came here, or vice versa. If the enemy didn't slay them all first. The coyote gripped her tail tightly in her paws. They'd all insisted she'd come to this new place to have at least some assurance that at least once of their line would live on and start a family. Her mate probably wouldn't be her kind, but "half a Newstar was better than none" they'd said. When she left, she believed it. But now in this cold new place, she was more than willing to give this journey up and go back home. She'd die, but at least she wouldn't die alone. "But here…." she said "Here…I fear that I will." Overcome by the sudden sorrow and loneliness, Quellara threw her head to the heavens and let a shrill howl escape from the chasms of her soul and soar up into the night sky. Into the stars. In the freezing rain, they were impossible to see, but the stars were there, they'd always be there. Hopefully.
"Quite a set of pipes ye got 'dere lassie." said a raspy voice. The world suddenly rushed under Quellara as she slipped and fell head-over-tail off the icy stump. She looked up to see a pair of jet black eyes staring down at her. They, along with a red amulet seemed to float in mid air amidst the ice-rain and snow, but with a closer look, a tall figure stood in front of her, a ghost in the whiteness. She gulped. The figure had a striking resemblance to Khm, Angel of the Fallen. Still shaking from both the shock and freezing air the coyote slowly got to her feet. "What…did you say?" There was a brilliant flash of crimson as the ivory figure smiled and replied "I says ye have quite a set o' pipes." Confused golden eyes blinked at the black ones "Err….I'm sorry….I don't understand you… I'm..I'm a newcomer in these parts" The figure assisted in pulling the coyote to her feet. Now at muzzle level, the white form was exposed as a white fox clothed in a short white robe, even his nose was a light nearly white beige. "I'm not surprised, lass. We don' get yer kind much in these parts. A Holtlander shouldna come out 'ere by 'erself." "I cannot argue with that and- hold on, how'd you know I was a Hotlander" The fox chuckled. It wasn't a fun sound. It resembled bones clattering against a tombstone. "To answer yer first question, I be knowin' lots 'o thing, I be a mystic fox after all. As fer the second, what I meant was that you've quite a voice in you. Mine ears 'erd it from way over yonder. Quite a sound. You be a wolf?" "Not at all! I'm a coyote. I suppose we do look like a wolf, I suppose, only smaller. But I've also been mistaken for a fox. Most wolves don't have fur like mine." The mystic nodded "True. Ye do look like one 'o us." He smiled again "but none 'o us could ever make a sound like that 'un! Not in a thousand years." Quellara smiled back at the compliment with chattering fangs "I thank you. Do you know of a place I can stay the night? Maybe yours?" The fox crinkled his nose and began to walk away "Mine?! Alas, ye can' go t'mine, I'm afraid." At the forlorn, worn out look on the foreigner's face the fox paused to call out "If ye need a place t'rest, I be suggestin' the Redwall abbey, not too far from here. They're supposed t'let and creature in, even you"
Quellara nodded "The that's where I'll go. I thank you sir." As she began journeying once more through the frigid wood, the mystic called again "Ye be grateful! I don' usually give dis 'elp for free. Yer just lucky I a'ppened t'enjoy yer singin'. I expect a fee for my effort next time!"
Quellara stood, footpaws numb and frozen and staring into the face of Redwall Abby in astonishment. Such an new, awesome sight this was, this structure of brick swathed in ice and snow. She silently prayed that the fox hadn't misled her as she looked for a knocker or a bell. There was none and her paws refused to come out of her cloak to knock, if knocking would've done any good in the first place.
The coyote sighed hopefully spotting a rabbit asleep near an open window near the abbey's roof. She tipped her head back and with all the breath left inside her called "Hail! You there, rabbit! Wake your tail up, if you don't mind!"
The beast called out from the window "Wot do you want, vermin? And wot business do you 'ave callin' me a rabbit?! I should jolly well teach you a lesson in manners."
Vermin? That was a new one. She'd been called "slit-ear", "pest", "flea-bag", and from the most unkind, "mutt". Perhaps this was the wrong building. But there would be no harm in asking. "Pardon, but I'm new in these woods and have been traveling for seasons in this ice, snow and cold. I was told you would let in any beast seeking shelter. Would you kindly let me in?". Thinking it couldn't hurt, she added "I apologize for calling you a rabbit."
Slowly, cautiously the gates creaked open and Quellara Newstar moved her freezing body in.