Hello there, Lordwelshi here with the start of a new story! I hope that this appeals to fellow Redwall fans, as I simply adore the series and wanted to tell my own tale in that fantastic world. I hope you enjoy, and I look forward to your feedback. Redwall and its world are copyright to Brian Jacques.
The rain fell hard upon the stones of the small house as the wind howled outside, whipping the deluge into a frenzy of splashing raindrops. The sun lay hidden behind the dark clouds, shrouding the forest in a damp shadow. A hedgehog rose from his comfortable chair by the crackling fire, crossing the room and drawing the curtains closed, shutting out the dark, damp night. He yawned, stretching his arms out as his spines bristled. He turned back to his chair when a knock came at the door. Puzzled, he stepped over to the wooden door, opening it a crack.
"Tumble, you young rogue!" he said in surprise, opening the door fully. "Get in here and warm yourself by the fire! Dear me, your fur is soaked right through!"
The hedgehog ushered in a young squirrel, dripping wet, and led him over to the fire. "Thank you, mister Dib," Tumble said, wringing the water from his damp, red tail. The young squirrel shook his head, flicking water around the room. Some hissed as it splashed onto the fire, disappearing in a cloud of vapour up the chimney. "It's terribly wet out there."
The hedgehog left the room for a moment, reappearing with a flask of strawberry cordial. "Here, get this down your neck," Dib said, offering the drink to the squirrel. "What were you doing out in that weather, Tumble?" the hedgehog asked as the squirrel drank noisily. "This is no day for young ones to go wandering about."
The squirrel gasped for air as he put down the flask, wiping his mouth on his arm. "Aye, but there was something I wanted to ask you." Tumble shifted uneasily on the stone floor. Though the fire was warming him through, he felt a deep coldness in the pit of his stomach. His eyes flicked uneasily from the crackling flames to the kindly hedgehog.
Dib moved to his armchair, sitting down comfortably as he wiggled his back into the cushions. "Come now, Tumble, you obviously wanted to talk to me about something serious, otherwise you wouldn't have risked the storm to come here."
Tumble nodded slightly, his gaze held by the flames. "Aye, there is something I wish to talk to you about." The squirrel's mouth closed, not wanting to open again, to ask the question that was burning deep within.
Dib sighed slightly. "I have a feeling I know what this is about. It's about your parents, isn't it?"
The squirrels head turned to face the hedgehog. "Yes," he replied. "I…I want to know about them. I want to know what they were like before I was born, before they came to Mossflower." Tumble paused, turning his head away. "I want to know how I came to have two foxes as parents."
"Have you asked your mother and father about this?" Dib questioned.
"No. Well, I have tried once or twice, but father seems unwilling to talk about his past. And with the talk of vermin on the shores of Salamandastron again…" Tumble broke off, unwilling to continue.
Dib nodded in understanding. "You've heard talk of your parents, haven't you?"
Tumble nodded, tears forming in his eyes. "Some of the others say my parents are no better than sea rats!" he said, his voice strained. "And they say I'm just as bad, raised by foxes." His shoulders shook as the squirrel held back the sobs that threatened to rise in his throat. "They say I may as well have been raised by weasels!"
Dib rose from his seat, patting the young squirrel on the head. "Don't listen to them, young Tumble. They don't know your mother and father." He moved across to a cupboard on the wall, opening the small doors and withdrawing a small sack of candied chestnuts. The hedgehog offered some to the tearful squirrel, before sitting back into his armchair. "Your mother and father are goodbeasts, and have been very good friends to me and many of the creatures that live in these woodlands. Your father has reason to be reluctant in relating his past to you, Tumble. He was a very troubled young fox when he first arrived in these parts."
"Was he…a pirate?" the squirrel asked, chewing slowly on a sweet morsel.
"Goodness me, no!" Dib laughed. "Whatever gave you that idea?"
"Herbert said…." Tumble began.
"Ha!" the hedgehog snorted. "Don't you listen to that young fibber of a mouse. He's a bully and likes to spin tall tales." The hedgehog smiled slightly. "Speaking of tales, you wanted me to tell you of your father." The squirrel nodded, tears forgotten as he turned to face the hedgehog. "Well, I can't tell you of much before his life here in Mossflower except that which he's told me, and truth be told, he'd be better telling you this than me. But I can tell you everything from his arrival here, and how he came to the gates of Redwall Abbey, battered and on the brink of Dark Forest."
Tumble gasped. "My father was nearly dead when he was found?" he said in awe.
The hedgehog nodded, chuckling quietly. "I thought that would get your attention. Yes, when he arrived at the Abbey…well, I shall tell you the story from the beginning. Make yourself comfortable, young Tumble, this is a grand story. Now then, it all began many seasons ago, in the middle of the warmest spring these woods had seen for many a season…"
There came a loud rap on the door. Dib looked at Tumble. Passing over the bag of candied chestnuts to the squirrel, he stood from his chair, and crossed once again to his door. Opening it a crack, he looked out into the dreary, fading daylight.
"Ah, Bryn, I wondered when you'd get here. Come in, come in." The hedgehog opened the door wide.
A fox, his deep russet fur tinged with the tiniest hint of grey, came in through the doorway. "Thank you, Dib. Have you seen my son around?"
"That I have, my friend, he's sitting by the fire with his paw in a bag of candied chestnuts!" Dib chuckled, leading his friend over to the fireplace.
The fox crouched down by the squirrel. "Tumble, why did you go running off like that?" he asked, his tone firm but gentle. "Your mother's worried sick! I nearly had to strap her to the bed, she was so desperate to find you! I convinced her to stay home in case you came back and to look after your brother."
The squirrel looked down at his paws, not wanting to meet his father's eyes. "I'm sorry, dad, I didn't mean to worry you or mother," he said, his voice filled with sorrow.
Bryn smiled slightly, embracing his adopted son in a gentle hug. "Well, no harm done, just don't worry us so much!" he said. Drawing back, he looked Tumble straight in the eye. "Now, why did you come to visit old Dib then?"
Tumble looked at his father, turned to face the smiling hedgehog, and then looked back to his father. "I wanted to hear the story of how you and mother came to Mossflower. You wouldn't tell me yesterday, or when I asked you earlier, and I knew you'd been friends with mister Dib for many seasons."
The fox looked at his son quizzically. "What brought on such curiosity about mine and your mother's pasts?" Tumble wouldn't meet his father's eye, and seemed reluctant to answer.
"I can answer that, Bryn," Dib said. "I think your young lad has been receiving a bit of ribbing from the other young 'uns about his parents being foxes."
Bryn looked at his son. "Is this true?" Tumble merely nodded in return. The fox frowned. "Son, I had no idea. You should have told me. It was that Herbert mouse again, wasn't it? I swear, he's been nothing but trouble these last two seasons, I've got half a mind to talk to his mother." Bryn sighed dramatically, shrugging his shoulders. "I suppose the only way to cheer you up would be to tell you my story then, eh?"
Tumble nearly jumped with excitement. "Oh, yes, father, please!"
Bryn barked a short laugh. "Alright, son, get comfortable by the fire while I collect my thoughts." The fox turned his head to Dib. "That is, if my friend doesn't mind that I commandeer his home for a few hours?"
The hedgehog smiled as he nodded. "Go ahead. I'll head over to the Abbey and tell Aneira that you're both safe."
The fox nodded. "Thank you, my friend. Be careful out in that storm."
Dib laughed. "Ha, it'll take more than wind and rain to get to me!" The hedgehog pulled a thick, dark green cloak from a hook next to the door, threw it about his shoulders, and opened the door. "I'll see you two later, but right now I've got your wife's delicious oat farls to claim as reward for rescuing your son from this storm!"
"Pincushion!" Bryn shouted, hurling a stuffed cushion.
The hedgehog ducked out of the door before the pillow could hit him. "Fang face!" came the reply. The fox and young squirrel could hear the hedgehog's laughter disappear into the wind.
Bryn smiled to himself, shaking his head before looking at his son. "Well, Tumble my lad, I suppose I can't hide my past from you forever. There were things I went through that I hoped you would never have to endure, and I still hope that you never will. But I know now that you are old enough, and I can't hide my past from you." Bryn stepped across the room, and sank into the large armchair with a content sigh. Suddenly he yelped, jumping into the air. Turning, he winced as he pulled a spine from his back. "Oh, that hedgehog!" he mumbled under his breath as Tumble burst out laughing. "You can stop that right now or no story for you!" he growled good humouredly.
Tumble pressed both paws over his mouth, his eyes streaming with tears as he fought to hold back the giggles that threatened to rise from his throat. Bryn sank back into the chair, weary of further surprises that Dib may have left him.
"Alright then, so what exactly do you want to know?" Bryn asked his son.
Tumble sat forward eagerly. "How did you come to Mossflower? Were you really half dead when you arrived at Redwall? When did you meet mother? When did you get married? When did you adopt me?"
Bryn held up his paws against his son's stream of questions. "Ok, ok!" he chuckled. "I see you want to know everything. Well, listen close, my son, for I think you may enjoy this story." Tumble's eyes grew wide as Bryn's gazed into his memories. "It was many a season ago when I first came to Mossflower…"