Key: speech: "blah"
Poems, songs, etc: blah
~~~~~~~~~~- flashback/dream sequence
~~~~~~~~~~- time passes
Hey there! If you're reading this it probably means you've already read the other chapters so far and you must like my story! Either that or you came here by mistake and were too lazy to leave. But either way, you're here now! ^_^ I hope you've enjoyed the story so far. And errr…. To whoever IS reading this…PLEASE review this fic! PWEEEESE? *sad puppy eyes*
"All animals are equal. Butsome animals are more equal than others"- Animal Farm
"Alright Shade. This should be easy enough, twill be jut like all the other assignments, nothin' t'worry about." Majax's raven friend blinked his jet eyes at him curiously at him. "Don' go a-bein' nervous, matey. Jus' an' ol' Abbey, 'tis all. N-Nothin' t'be frightened of…" The martin's cheery encouragement was more designed for himself than his partner. As the pair of assassins stared up into the towering heights of sandstone bathed in red, Majax gulped nervously. Redwall seemed to loom over them in the moonlit night, glaring spitefully at the two vermin. All the tales he was told about this place suddenly sprung to mind. His parents, grandparents, the cook, the seer, and everyone else in the old horde would sit him, along with the other babes around them and speak of things…hideous things that happened to vermin there. So many vermin, and smart, sly and strong vermin at that, met their ends here. The names of them all raced through the depths of Majax's mind. Cluny the Scourge, General Ironbeak, the Marlfoxes, Slagar the Cruel, and so many others. Every one of them commanded enormous, powerful, armies with the most bloodthirsty serving under them, the very earth itself trembled in blind, screaming panic at the very utterance of their names. Yet, when they approached this great Abbey of red stone all their dreams of conquest and power vanished and transformed into nightmares of demise and defeat. There were also tales even more frightening of a great tapestry home to the spirit of a mighty terrible warrior that came in visions to the slayers of vermin to aid in Redwall's victory. Above this tapestry it was said a magic sword was hung. The same sword once held by that warrior spirit in life, the one that cut down countless armies and hordes. It held with in it sorcery and power mere mortal minds could not possibly fathom. The very blade…held by the beast he'd been assigned to kill.
Shadewing poked his fellow assassin in his fat belly with a talon inquisitively. He'd never seen his partner in such a state before. "I'm…I'm not likin' th' feel o' dis place.." The bird unfurled his wings and clacked his beak in banter. Majax's face screwed up in insult as he caught on to the message. "I'm not bein' superstitious! I..canna jus' be burstin' in th' place. Tis a high guarded fortress, I'll be bettin'. T'isn't th' time t'be takin' action unwisely." the pine martin bore a sour face as the creaking rasping sound of Shade's silent laughter filled the air. He grabbed a stone and chucked it at the bird. Shade ignored it and continued on with his silent hysterics. Majax not "wanting to act unwisely"! There wasn't ever a time where he had EVER acted wisely!
"Ach, shut yer beak, ye blitherin' buzzard! Off wit ye! T'ain't nothin' th' matter wit bein cautious. Now, I 'ear dese Abbeybeasts are nothin' t'be laughin' at. A great power they 'ave." At the raven's befuddled look he continued "Aye, I've 'eard they be pushovers as well, but make no mistake, Shade me lad! Once dey been wronged, no mercy's shown upon ye! Don' be fooled. Remember Ironbeak, a raven like yerself once thought th' exact same way an' look wot 'appened t'him!" It seemed Shadewing couldn't argue with that, making clicking sounds at his fat friend. "Ahhhh, so now ye be interested, eh? Ha, canna say I blame ye." The assassins crouched as they conspired in the dark, Majax's voice lowered just below a whisper. "Now listen 'ere me quiet comrade. Yore goin' t'fly 'round th' Abbey an' find a hidin' place t'observe. Sounds like dere's some kinda party goin' on in dere. Be sure t' swipe wot vittles ye can fer me! I bet in dere dey be havin' candied chestnuts, baked pies, bread, October ale and strawberry cordial! Mmmmmmmmmm, remember th' time we swiped some offa dat travelin' 'edgepig? Twas a night t'remember!" His eyes glazed over dreamily as he thought of the banquet sure to be happening. A sharp croak snapped him back to attention. "Ach, no need t'be impatient lad! Now make sure no beast sees ye. When all clear an' dey're asleep in dere liddle beds ye come an' fly me over yon wall. Then we begin our task. Oh, a fine payoff dis one'll be!" Shadewing beat his ebony wings in excitement. Finally, his partner spoke his language! Silently, the bird lifted off into the sky, a blot of ink in the night sky.
Jaxin Nerworth Braebuck's velvety nose was quivering in anticipation. All around him was so many kinds of food and drink in so many numbers all just waiting to be eating! He inwardly tortured himself with the decision of what to sample next. Finally, after much deliberation me began to gorge himself on candied chestnuts and bread as he turned to look at Quellara. She sat quietly beside him dressed in a long silk black robe that trailed over her footpaws and onto the floor, so only the black tip of her tail was exposed. A silvery material portrayed an elegant winding design around the collar and hem. Her gold armlets were polished to perfection, catching the light so they shined, as did two golden hoop earrings with a little symbol hanging from them and jingly silver bracelets that jingled merrily when ever she made the slightest move. Around her neck hanging on a simple nearly invisible thread hung a small amulet of shiny silvery black metal that shimmered fluorescent shades of cobalt and emerald. The little orb held Jaxin's reflection as he stared at it, a shining gem of ebony against the coyote's bronze and light dun fur. Nevertheless, despite her fancy attire, Quellara didn't look at all very festive. She was staring into her goblet of strawberry cordial unhappily, paws resting in her lap. Unlike her new friend who'd begun to stuff his face as soon as he sat down, she hadn't eaten a bite. She'd taken a small sip of her cordial, screwed up her nose and hadn't touched a drop since. Jaxin waggled his long ears in bafflement. He couldn't see any reason why Quellara didn't eat. She certainly looked hungry,. Perhaps she was nervous, or still wasn't feeling well from earlier. He tapped her footpaw with his. She glanced at him out of the corner of her eye. "What is it?" "How come ye haven' eaten anythin'? Ye not feelin' well?" She gave a small smile "Better than before, thanks. I'm…just a bit nervous I suppose." The rabbit shrugged "Ye shouldn't be. These are good beasts" he turned his attention to a new bowl of chestnuts.
Quellara shifted uncomfortably in her seat. Why, by the fang had she agreed to this? She looked around. Many of the seats near here were left empty, save for Jaxin, who'd been the only beast to bother talking to her since she'd awakened. His father, the hare that had let her in sat protectively at his son's side, eyeing her cautiously. At the hare's side was a rabbit she guessed was Jaxin's mother, handling a handkerchief nervously, as if she feared for her son's safety… Sitting next to the coyote's other side, a great badger chewed unceremoniously on a cake. The fur on her nape rose nervously. He was the biggest badger she'd ever set eyes upon! He was immense and hulking, powerful muscles now at rest as monstrous jaws tore into the cake. A long shining scar ran over his right eye. A huge battle ax rested at his feet light glinting across it's deadly steal rested at his feet next to an unusually long white tail tipped with gold. Sharp fearsome eyes were locked onto her silent figure, as if waiting for her to commit some kind of act, though she couldn't possibly figure out what that could be. The badger had been staring at her all night. Jaxin's question popped into her head. Who on earth could possibly eat with death of two burly legs kept staring into you?
A single amber-gold eye sought out the other Redwallers sitting well away from her at the far side of the lengthy oaken table. A small assortment of beasts was what caught the coyote's attention specifically, all crowded together, as if in conspiracy. The shadows of suspicion and fear swirled all around them as they whispered to each other in low tones assured there was no way they could be over heard. But they hadn't counted on the fact that this newcomer had the ears of a warrior. She heard every word that passed their lips.
"Who is that?"
"Is it a fox?"
"Can't be, foxes don' look that tall"
"Maybe a wolf, then?"
"Nah, too small"
"An' lookit there, at that strange goldish fur!"
"Has to be a fox. Other foxes 'ave 'ad golden fur before"
"Humph! Evil, good fer nothing' vermin!"
"Nothin' good ever came from 'em"
"Wot's she doin' here any 'ow?"
"'Eard th vermin came knockin' at the gate gatekeeper Garrin 'ad turned in, so Hortwill-"
"The hare. Hortwill Braebuck II. The nephew of Martha, remember? Jaxin's father. Ye know 'im"
"He let 'er in"
"Twas stormin' at th' time. Besides, all creatures not imposing' a threat t' Redwall are welcome here, you know that"
"Well, I heard th' Abbess made him take 'er in outta pity."
A hedgehog made sour face "Pity? HA! Vermin deserve no pity, they give none t'us! Let the lot take their own medicine."
"Yore absolutely right, mate!"
"Ye said it, Gurnwil!"
The hog, spurred by his colleague's compliments, he continued "I don' care wot Abbess Fenna says, we may take in creatures in need of aid, we shouldn't give none to any wicked, scheming'. murderin', thievin' vermin!"
"'Specilly a fox!"
A squirrelmaid spoke up "Surely they can't be all bad…some vermin must be good. She looks like she's not from around here. Wot if she's just a stranger 'ere? Doesn't she deserve at least a chance?"
Her husband placed a paw on her shoulder kindly "A nice sentiment love, but believe me, this vermin brings trouble!"
"Aye! We showed kindness t'vermin afore, an' go good's ever come out o' it! Remember th' last time a fox entered Redwall?"
"Learned it in Abbey School, a nasty chap by the name of..errr….wot's 'is name…"
"That's it! Rotten scoundrel!"
The hog shook a fistful of nuts in the air dramatically "I tell ye friends, no good'll come of this!"
A mouse leaned over to his friend "Say, Pentalor, ye noticed th' fox hasn't touched any of th' food?"
The hare called Pentalor gasped "Yore right! Hasn't touched a blinkin' bite!"
Immediately the table was alive with theories of what this must surely mean. Many plates of vittles were immediately shoved away
"Bet ye th' schemin' thing did something' to the food!"
A mousemaid shrieked and nearly burst into tears "Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!! My pore liddle ones!"
Her husband desperately tried to comfort her "Now don' ye fret love! Look dere, Berrin an' Hortwill are guardin' 'er."
The hedgehog Gurnwil nodded proudly "Won't get far wit him around"
"Yore evil scheme's foiled NOW, ain't it foxey?!"
Some beast clasped a paw over his mouth "Shush now, mate! Want 'er t'hear ye?!"
A dibbun tugged his mum's shoulder "She doesn't look so bad t'me mummy… I think she looks sad.."
"That's only cunning lad, only cunning."
"By the fur! Look, Jaxin's sittin' right next t'the fox! An' smilin' at 'er!"
Gurnwil shook his head sadly "Such a good lad. Will trust any beast that flashes a smile."
"Only that smile's made o' fangs!"
"Right you are, mate. Schemin' fox. Best we keep an eye on that 'un"
Quellara's fangs clenched in outrage and frustration. A place of peace and friendship, fah! To their own kind perhaps, but not to her. Not to "vermin". She crossed her arms and growled to herself. The badger had now turned his head to glare at her with both eyes. The irate coyote decided to not take this indignity and longer and returned his glare with full force, amber-gold eyes blazing with insult. Most of the Redwallers had ceased their whispering. All eyes were fixed the two figures, a large mass of muscle and fur and a tall slim black clad one stared at each other for a long time, neither one wavering even slightly, refusing to show any sign of weakness.
Finally, Quellara put her paws on her hips and declared rather loudly "Well?! Is there something you Redwallers would like to say to me?!" None spoke, so she continued "There must me! You've all been whispering and staring all night about me. Don't you dare think for a second, I haven't heard you! I'm been quiet, not dense! If you've something' to say to me, at least have the courage to say it to my face instead of whispering behind my back like a buncha twitterin' songbirds. You all act as if I've murdered all your families and burned your houses tonight. Well, I haven't. Not that I could anyway, seeing as how my weapons, my rightful property was TAKEN from me! You may all hate what I am, that's just fine, but that gives you no right to be ill-mannered. If you've got something to say, say it!"
Jaxin's scratched his ears in confusion. They'd been staring and being rude to his friend? He hadn't even noticed. He suddenly wished he had… This explained why she hadn't eaten anything, his friend must have been feeling terrible. His long ears drooped low in regret, feeling he'd failed his new comrade.
Quellara tapped a paw on the table impatiently. "Well? Have you all lost your voices? They seemed just fine a moment before. Have you nothing else to say to me? I want to know why you're all whispering behind my back. I've a right to know, don't I?" Her expression turned bitter, her voice dripping in oily sarcasm "Or do 'vermin' as you so affectionately call me, have no rights?!" She directed her stare to the hedgehog Gurnwil "Just as we 'deserve no pity'? Not that it matters what a VERMIN thinks, but I would really like to know why!"
"As would I" added in another voice. All eyes were on Abbess Fenna as she slowly stood from her seat at the front of the table to address Great Hall. "My dear friends, this abbey is a place of friendship and peace to all creatures, regardless of what they are." A young mousemaid by the name of Kallia spoke up "That's right! We offer shelter to everyone. We're all peaceful creatures here, we can surely work all of this out." Gurnwil crossed his arms with a sour air of uncertainty as the Abbess continued. "Because vermin have deceived and betrayed us in the past, does not mean our visitor will do the same. Now, this fox-" At this point Quellara growled under her breath. Why did EVERYONE insist on calling her a fox? "This fox is our privileged guest here at Redwall. She came seeking only warmth and shelter, as many of you have. She's as much right to be at our feast as any of us."
Quellara struggled to keep a scowl from crossing her face as she directed her glare at the group whispering moments before "With all due respect Abbess, I believe some others in this room believe otherwise. Mother Abbes smiled apologetically "Please, you must forgive our apprehension. Our previous encounters with ones like yourself have not ended well. Kindly forgive Redwall suspicion." Quellara nodded with a sigh "I understand. I suppose. Now that that's done with, may I have my weapons and staff back now?" Sharp ear picked up a familiar hedgehog's muttering of "Right. So ye can murder us in our sleep?" Amber eyes glared in his direction, then made the transformation to eerily calm. She smiled cunningly at him, twirling a knife in her paw "Sir Gurnwil, if my intention was to kill, you can trust I'd have done so and taken leave long before now. I do not need weapons to do so, trust me." She turned to Berrin "Don't give me those glares badger, I only speak the truth! Now. I've had my rightful property taken from me and I'd very much like 'em back. Above all, my staff." For a split second her voice softened "Someone…very dear to me carved it for me. It's all I've left of him. I want that returned." There was a brief silence before she quickly added "Please." Fenna nodded "You will have your weapons returned when you leave. Understand no weaponry is to be used here." "Right, and the staff?" "will be returned after the feast" finished the Abbess.
This seemed to give the visitor great relief as she leaned back in her seat with closed eyes and a relieved sigh. Jaxin swallowed a mouthful of flan so he could speak "If ye all got t'know Quellara when she firs' came, we wouldn't 'ave this problem. If ye'd jus asked, then ye wouldn't be so suspicious." Kallia nodded kindly and smiled at the visitor "Why don't you tell us about yourself? Let us get to know you better." As Great Hall turned their full attention on her Quellara's ears began to blush scarlet with embarrassment. 'Perfect. Now everyone's really staring at me. What do they expect me to say, anyway? I'm starting to think liked the whispers better… If I say the wrong thing everything will only start all over again. Then again, I could not say anything at all, but that'd give Gurnwil and all his little suspicious buddies would be proven right. I'm not about to give 'em that satisfaction . So I just hope I say the right things, and the most I can hope for is to be left alone. And that suits me just fine. I should've just kept my trap shut. By the sands, how I detest being in the spotlight.' As Quellara inwardly went over her options Jaxin noticed her discomfort, for she was fiddling with her amulet nervously. He smiled encouragingly at her. "Don' be nervous, friend. Everyone's really warm an' kind. Just a rocky start is all. We're really all good beasts here." The coyote gulped 'That's what I'm afraid of'
With a sigh and a quick prayer she began to speak. "Errr..Greatings, Redwall Abbey. I'm..not so good at making speaches..so I'll keep this short. I am Quellara Ambrosianna Newstar, daughter of Tekiitm and Citalina Newstar. I descend from the Hotlands, a land far, far south from here across the sea in the west. The weather here…it's..so different from what I'm used to. I greatly appreciate your letting me stay in your abbey. I shudder to think what my fate would be if I'd been turned away, and I thank those who have shown me hospitality. I shan't bring any harm to those who dwell here….unless I am harmed first, that is. I am still a warrior after all." Berrin scoffed indignantly at the very aspect of a vermin giving themselves the honor of title "warrior". He didn't like the gleam arousing Quellara's eyes, no matter how much she claimed to not cause any harm. The coyote caught the sound and couldn't resist giving the badger a taunting wink as she continued "I'm peaceful at times, I still adore a good fight." Her amber eyes glistened with what was either joyous anticipation at the thought of a brawl, or wild bloodlust, it was hard to tell the difference. If there was difference at all. "Anybeast willing to take me on?" Berrin had apparently had enough of this. "I will" he growled. A black tipped tail wagged in excitement, all previous apprehension had fallen to her enthusiasm, apparently blind to the badger's unsaid threat "Shé-tâl! Excellent! Shall we spar tomorrow? No weapons either, seeing as how you've that big hulkin' axe and I've nothing. Isn't very honorable to attack an unarmed lady, after all!" "I always fight honorably. Not that any vermin knows anything of honor" Quellara flashed the badger a fanged secretive smile "and whom exactly do I have the honor of battling?" A paw flew to her mouth in mock alarm "Oh, dear! I've forgotten. I don't have the honor at all, do I? No vermin could EVER have honor, the very thought of it!" Berrin pulled himself to full height glaring down at the coyote, who smirked coolly at him. She was enjoying this. "I am Berrin Suntail and you, little fox shall regret your challenge". For first time since setting foot in the country Mossflower Quellara Newstar laughed, showing a mouthful of pearl fangs as she did so. "We shall see Sir Suntail, we shall see. And if you please, not a fox. I am a coyote, and with all due respect it will be you, by burly friend who will admits defeat, not I."
High, high above the Redwall feast another pair of eyes of jet black eyes glittered in the lamplight of the feast. Shadewing's stomach gurgled at the smells of all those vittles going to waste. He eyed the table up and down with expertise until he spotted his target. The badger was much bigger than the stoat described, and the sword his partner nearly wet himself over was not there, but the axe certainly was and the telltale gold tip of the tail was poking out from behind it. Surely this was the target! Bringing him down would certainly be a challenge. The raven flexed his cramped wings and flexed his talons in anticipation of the kill. But it would not be impossible. Not for Shadewing the Silent and Majax: The assassin's assassin. It truly was a shame the sword was not there, he'd been curious to see this so called magic blade so many had apparently fallen to. What nonsense, a magic sword. Still, there was the fact that none who held it had ever been defeated. But there was still the battle axe. He sighed in disappointment. It was a great loss, the weapon was of such a massive size, for such a pretty, shiny blade and for it to simply go to waste seemed like a terrible crime. No matter, it couldn't be of any use to them. The raven rasped in silent laughter as he imagined Majax trying to lift the great axe. He'd be overpowered by the weight and fall smack on his fat face! What an amusing thought. Finally the martin would have a weapon actually heaver that he was! Hidden by the shadows of Redwall the raven laughed himself sick.