A/N: This is a very old piece, originally posted in 5 chapters, but looking back, that seemed a little silly since the whole thing was rather short. Minor edits have been done since and it has been condensed to one single 'chapter'. Edited version up as of 24 July, 2009. Title is a paraphrase of Shakespeare.
A Rose By Any Other Name
It was spring, the season of new growth and rebirth, when the hearts of young beasts awoke and turned to flirtation. Redwall Abbey was abuzz with the spirit of the season.
"Piknim." The squirrelmaid nudged her friend. "He was looking at you again."
Piknim sighed. "You know, Craklyn, this is all in your head. I can't imagine Martin being sweet on anybeast. He's far to dignified."
"Oh, what's dignity got to do with it? A maid like you could leave any mouse in Mossflower with all the dignity of redcurrant jelly." Craklyn's eyes darted over to where Martin sat, across the table and several seats down. "Look, he's doing it again. No, don't look!"
"You just told me to look."
"Well, I didn't mean for you to be so obvious about it." Craklyn poured her friend some strawberry cordial. "Sip this, and look at him over the rim of the cup."
Piknim brought the cup to her whiskers and tried not to look unnatural. She let her eyes slip over to where Martin was sitting. He held his cup hovering below his nose without quite sipping. And his eyes were focused strongly back at her.
Piknim inhaled sharply and got a mouthful of strawberry cordial fizzling at the back of her throat. She started to cough. Craklyn pounded on her back until she breathing easily again.
"Martin, are you alright?" Piknim heard Abbot Durral ask.
"I'm fine, Father, just clumsy," Martin said. He had gotten up from the table with a large elderberry wine stain on the front of his jerkin. "I'll just go change out of these wet clothes."
As he walked by Piknim and Craklyn, his whiskers twitched in an embarrassed and secretive smile.
As the season grew older, it turned from a time of renewal to a time of riddles and, eventually, a time of tragedy. Martin, the Skipper of Otters, Clecky the mountain hare, and Gerul the barn owl set off on a quest to save Abbot Durral and Viola bankvole from their vermin captors. Tansy the hogmaid, Rollo the Abbey Recorder, Piknim, and Craklyn, with the help of the other Abbey residents became engrossed in a quest to find the Tears of All Oceans, beautiful pearls, round and rosy.
It had been a long journey upon the Seaking, and Martin was weary. But no one could be too weary to enjoy a party put on by Redwallers and Guosim shrews.
There was a great bonfire on the beach with dancing and singing and good food, such as could be made from packed provisions and seaside fare. All and all, the spread was surprisingly impressive, certainly better than Martin had enjoyed since leaving Ruddaring.
"Tansy," Martin said, pulling aside Redwall's new Mother Abbess.
"Martin," she said, smiling. "It's wonderful to have you back. I would hug you if it weren't for my spikes."
"A little poke might do me good. My head is still spinning. I can't believe that I'm on solid ground so close to home... Or that little Tansy pansy is Abbess. Congratulations."
Tansy's spikes bristled with embarrassment. "Really, you said enough when you gave me your sword."
"That was ceremonial. I say this now as a friend, if a gentle abbess will have a brute like me for a friend."
"I may be Abbess, but nothing has changed. Friends once and friends for life."
"Speaking of friends, I've seen Rollo and Craklyn, but I haven't seen Piknim. Didn't she come with you?"
Tansy was silent, but there was a glint of a tear in her eyes. "Martin, I wish I wasn't the one to tell you this."
Martin's face fell. "What happened, Tansy?" She shook her head, and a tear fell, leaving a dark streak in the fur on her cheek. "Tansy, you are Mother of all Redwall. For the rest of your life, you will have to give the creatures in your care tidings, both good and bad. Now, tell me what happened. Is she ill? Was she hurt? Please, Abbess, I need to know."
When Tansy spoke, her voice was thick with sadness. "She's dead, Martin."
The warriormouse crumbled to the sand. "Don't lie to me, Tansy. Why is she not here? Why have you left her at Redwall?"
"She died, Martin. She died. We all grieved for her long ago. You will have a time to do the same, but not now. You are the strongest beast I have ever known. Be strong just a little longer before you grieve. It will break the hearts of our Redwallers to see you unhappy at your own homecoming."
There was a great feast at Redwall Abbey upon the arrival of the party from the shore. Martin played every game and tried to look happy, but there was a depression in his eyes that betrayed him to observant creatures like Rollo bankvole.
When Martin walked for a fourth and fifth time listlessly up and down the stairs between the Great Hall and Cavern Hole, Rollo tapped him on the shoulder. "Come walk with me in the orchard," the old bankvole said. "Tell me what's on your mind."
"I feel horrible," Martin said when they got outside. "I feel like I've let the Abbey down."
"You brought back Viola and Abbot Durral safe and sound and in one piece. You helped Grath to find her place in the world. You rid Mossflower from the danger of the vermin from Sampetra. The whole Abbey has been working to give you a wonderful welcome home, and yet you feel that you've let us down? Why do you feel that way, Martin? Why would we feel anything but pride?"
"I helped to bring back the Abbot and Viola, and when I left I felt that that was my place. But I left the creatures of the Abbey unprotected, and a maid died because of it."
"A maid you cared for quite a bit, no less."
Martin bit his lip and almost gave a real smile. "I wasn't as subtle as I thought I was."
"No, you were entirely too subtle. You keep your friends from getting too close to you. You keep them at a distance, and then they never know how much they mean to you... Have you ever read about the first Martin, the one who founded Redwall?"
"I can't say that I have."
"I've read just about every scrap of parchment in that gatehouse, scrolls, journals, every bit. You've always seemed to have a lot in common with your namesake. He was a quiet mouse who kept mostly to himself. He never told anybeast much of anything about his past. Legend from around the time of Abbot Saxtus says that he once loved a mousemaid who gave her life for him in battle, and he spent the rest of his life blaming himself for her death."
"You're telling me that he made himself miserable and I shouldn't do the same?"
"I'm telling you that Piknim gave her life to try to save her friends. She was a very brave maid, and I think she'd prefer you remember her well than weep for countless seasons to no end."
"I'll try," said Martin. And as Rollo walked back to the festivities, he added, "Thank you."
The seasons rolled by. The young became old, the Dibbuns grew. Martin, warriormouse of Redwall, was grey and old. With old Rollo gone, he lived now in the gatehouse cottage where he had grown up. It was there that he called the young squirrel Arven one spring afternoon.
Arven had long admired the legendary sword of Martin, the founder of Redwall, and when he opened the gatehouse door, his eyes lit up at the sight of it.
"Would you like to hold it?" Martin asked, pleased with Arven's fascination.
"Yessir. Very much."
For all his seasons, Martin lifted the sword with ease. "It's heavier than it looks when somebeast like me is holding it." He threw the sword in to the air where it spun around and the blade caught the light, and then he caught the blade in his paws and offered Arven the hilt. "It's not very sharp now. I haven't needed to use it in many seasons. And I hope you never will."
The impudent young squirrel had rarely been so polite in his life as he was the moment he took Martin's sword. "Pardon, Sir? I don't quite understand."
Martin smiled. "I used to dream that some day my own son would wield this sword. It has been in my family for three generations, but truly it belongs to the Abbey, and all those strong and brave enough to protect the peaceful creatures who live here." He put a paw on Arven's shoulder. "You are to be the next Warrior of Redwall."
Arven stood perfectly still, eyes wide, dumbstruck.
"Arven, this will take a lot of hard work. You will have to learn how to protect yourself and others, and above all, you will have to earn the respect of every creature in Mossflower."
"I'll work hard, Sir. I promise."
"Abbess Tansy and I know you will. That's why we chose you. But there's more to being a warrior than I can teach you. You must love, Arven, and no beast can teach you that."