Summary: When Martin and Gonff are trapped in a partically collapsed room together for some time, Martin begins to have odd visions, and more than one secret is revealed...
Rated T, to be safe
One of the things I have always wondered about was how Martin knew about the whole I am that is thing, because none of the books really say. In "Tribes of Redwall Mice", it alledgedly says that both Martin and Abbess Germaine are seers, but this isn't a satisfactory enough explanation for me. So this is my take on the matter.
Some other things to note: this story directly quotes events in other books, namely Redwall. All of the Redwall quotes are acurate, for I own the book now. However quotes and references to other books (such as Martin the Warrior) are not so accruate, because I do not have the book in question to refer to, so if there is anything incorrect, that's why. Also, if Krar Woodcatcher's accent is all wrong (and it probably is) that's because I can't remember what it's like for the life for me, and again, had nothing to refer to to find out. So I guessed.
This is a one-shot fan-fic, but is rather lengthy (borderline on twenty pages in WordPerfect). Hopefully, it will be well worth the read. Now enough of my jabberin'. :)
I Am That Is
"You say that it would most likely be here, then?"
"Oh yes, most assuredly."
"Well, we'll just take a look around then."
"I don't suppose you have any idea what you're looking for, do you?"
"Not particularly, no."
"Then let me do the major searching."
"Who said you'd be any better? Do you know what to look for?"
"'Cuse me, but seein' that I was in charge of buildin' this room, I should do the searchin'."
"No. Doing it all on your own would take hours. You need help, Skipper."
"Agreed. We'll work together."
"Says the mousetheif who just moments ago seemed ready to do it all himself."
"Hey, I could of done it."
"You also said you didn't know what to look for."
"And I ask you, Martin, do you know what to look for?"
"As a matter of fact, I do."
"Oh, really. Well, can you see it anywhere around here?"
"No, Gonff, I can't. That's why we need to look. Together."
"We've been looking for the past hour!"
"And we'll look for several hours more until we find it! This isn't a joking matter, Gonff!"
"What isn't a joking matter?"
Gonff looked up and down the partly completed hallway. "Columbine!" he exclaimed, seeing his wife approach. "My blushing rose pedal, me and Martin were just having a civil conversation regarding a mere trivial matter."
"More like an uncivil argument over a very serious matter." Skipper quipped to Martin.
The warrior mouse silently agreed, then stepped around the otter and approached Columbine.
"Argument?" Columbine repeated, giving Gonff a glare, under which the mousethief cowered.
"Truth is, Columbine, is that we got word from the quarry not long ago that some of the building stones we just recently received are faulty." Martin explained.
"Faulty?" Columbine said, looking puzzled. "What does that mean exactly?"
"It means that the stones are not very strong." Gonff explained for his wife. "And that they could crack and crumble easily under stress."
This alarmed Columbine. "But, the building of the abbey has been going on all day!" she exclaimed, worried, gesturing to the half-completed dormitory hallway they stood in. "Any of those stones could have been used already, and are built into a wall by now."
"Which is why me, Gonff, and Skipper have been doing an inspection of the walls, to see if any have." Martin explained. "So far we've been lucky and found none. But, even though it's not finished yet, Redwall is a big abbey."
Columbine frowned. "What would happen if these stones were used to build a wall, and suddenly gave way?" she asked.
"T'would be like removing somethin' from the bottom of the pile, marm." Skipper provided. "Everythin' on top would collapse in to fill the space."
"That could be dangerous!" Columbine declared. "If somebeast was in the way when that happens..." she suddenly cuffed her husband's ear. "Shame on you on telling me this was trivial matter!" she told Gonff. "This is a very serious matter!"
"Nothing we can handle." Martin was quick to intervene. "We've narrowed it down to this one last room that was completed earlier today." he gestured to an empty, windowless, storeroom, the entrance to which they stood next to. "If this room checks out, then we have nothing to worry about."
This relaxed Columbine, and grinned, relieved. "Well, while you do that, I'll get some food for you lot." she started to walk off, but Martin stopped her for a moment.
"Please don't share this with anyone, at least until we've confirmed that there is no danger." Martin pleaded. "It wouldn't help to have everyone get in a panic over nothing."
Columbine nodded understandingly and walked off for the spiral staircase.
Gonff rubbed the ear his wife cuffed. "Moody at times, she is, but pretty nonetheless." he remarked softly.
Skipper clapped his paws together. "Well, shall we get started then, eh mates?"
"Yes, let's." Martin said, stepping into the small room. "The sooner we get this done, the sooner I can rest peacefully tonight."
They began to individually inspect each of the red sandstone bricks that made up the room. It wasn't long before they had checked out most of them as safe, and were down the fourth and final wall of the room.
"Where is Columbine with that food she promised?" Gonff asked, tapping a brick with the hilt of one of his daggers. "I'm hungry."
"I hope ye turn to yore wife fer more than food matey." Skipper remarked more in jest than anything.
Gonff was offended by the remark, however. "Skipper, are you implying that I don't love the fair-furred mousemaiden that is my wife?" he asked hotly.
"No one said anything of the sort, Gonff." Martin said, being the mediator as always. "Don't get worked up over nothing."
"Aye, that's right Gonff, I was only jokin'." Skipper quickly provided in his defense.
Gonff didn't looked convinced, frowning as he continued with his task. "I'll have the both of you know that I love my wife very much, and nothing will ever change that. Life would not be worth living with out her."
"I wouldn't know about that." Skipper said, again speaking without thinking. "I'd think that one could do it."
Gonff glared at him. "Tell me, Skipper, have you ever had a wife that you've lost?" the mouse asked.
The otter shook his head. "But I've lost lots of good creatures who meant a lot t'me." he replied, he paused, then added, "My brother for instance."
"It's not the same, mate." Gonff said. "A wife is much more important family."
"Losing someone that close to you is like losing a part of yourself." Martin remarked aloud suddenly. "A part of you that can have the rough edges smoothed over, but never replaced."
His companions looked at him, surprised that the warrior had spoken such powerful and moving words. The surprise was such that the argument fell apart from there, and they continued on with their inspection in a moment of silence. Finally, Gonff's curiosity got the better of him.
"Where'd you come up with such words, Martin?" he asked. "I can't say I've ever heard you say something quite like that before."
"There is a lot about me that you don't know, Gonff." Martin stated, avoiding the question.
It didn't concern Gonff enough to press it. "Fair enough." he said. "I suppose that's true with us all." He tapped his dagger on another brick, listening carefully to the clacking sound it made. "You know, Martin, you'd probably benefit from a wife."
Martin was caught off guard by the unexpectedness and the bluntness of the question. "What do you mean by that?" he asked, looking at the mousethief.
"Well, you're such a lonely beast." Gonff said, distracted. "You always seem to be by yourself whenever you have the time, and you socialize with us, but sometimes never more than you need to. Finding a maiden to wed could resolve that."
"I'm fine as is, thank you Gonff." Martin said.
Gonff glanced at him. "No." he said defiantly. "You aren't."
Martin looked back, and the two stared at each other. Skipper looked back and forth at one another, wondering if he should be worried. It was Gonff that made the first movement again, tapping the next brick in line while not looking away from Martin. All three flinched at the hollow sound it made.
Martin rushed over to the brick and inspected it, finding in it hairline cracks in it. "Well, it looks like we found one of our faulty stones." he said, then turned to Skipper. "Can it be removed safely?"
Skipper pondered the question for a moment, taking note of the bricks position in the wall. "The wall would have to be shored up, and it might take a day or two to remove it safely, but yes, I think it can be done." the otter replied.
"Then we might as well get started right away." Martin said. "I wouldn't want this to give way and fall on some unsuspecting beast."
Skipper nodded, and exited the room to get the needed supplies, nearly bumping into Columbine on the way, who was returning with a tray filled with food.
"I'm back." she declared, stopping in the doorway. "Find something?"
"Yes we did, my love." Gonff said, tapping the brick once again. "One faulty brick found." he tapped it again.
Martin flinched. "Be careful, Gonff." he said, urgently. "Tapping that brick too many times might make it give way."
"Oh, don't worry you overgrown scaredy-mouse." Gonff said, completely unconcerned, tapping the brick roughly. "I doubt this brick is unstable enough to just give way just like..."
A very ominous crack rang out, making him, Martin, and Columbine freeze.
Gonff gluped. "...that." he finished his statement.
Another crack rang out, and the brick suddenly shattered, the wall buckling under the sudden lack of support.
"Look out!" Martin exclaimed as the wall caved in, pushing himself and Gonff out of the way.
Martin heard a scream and turned back in time to see a portion of the room's ceiling give way and the debris falling towards Columbine, who was frozen with shock.
"Columbine!" Gonff cried out like a wounded animal and tried to head towards her.
Martin held him back, knowing it wasn't safe, but before any of them could do a thing more, debris thudded down on their heads, knocking them both out cold.
Martin did not know how long he was out, but slowly he became aware that he was sprawled out on a smooth stone surface, feeling worn down from years of use. Slowly, Martin opened his eyes, and was surprised to see a clear blue sky hanging over him, a golden sun hanging in one corner of it, warming his face.
Puzzled, Martin sat up and looked around. He wasn't in Redwall anymore, but instead sat on a small, arching, stone bridge, crossing over a small gurgling stream. A village was clustered around it, with woods sitting to one side of it, and a towering mountain on the other. Martin stood, studying it all. It seemed all so familiar.
He went to the edge of the bridge and peered over the stone railing down the at the stream below him, watching a small fish swim past in the crystal clear water.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
Martin suddenly froze at the sound of the voice, and slowly turned to face the speaker. Then, all at once, things came together, and Martin remembered everything. Where he was, when he had been here, and, most importantly of all, who it was that now stood before him.
"Rose?" he asked softly, stunned beyond belief.
But before he could say or do a thing more, the vision suddenly vanished as quickly as it came, fading into darkness and Martin became aware of the pain...
"Hold still!" Gonff exclaimed, grabbing back Martin's paw as he whisked out from the mousetheif's grasp. "Let me finish with this bandage.
"Ow!" Martin exclaimed, sitting up under the pain. His head spun as he did so, and he allowed himself to fall back against the rough jagged stone he was propped up against. He squinted at his dark surroundings. "What happened?' he asked.
"The blooming wall collapsed, that's what." Gonff said, annoyed. "Took the rest of the room with it. We're trapped in the back end of it."
Martin stared at the pile of broken stone that divided them from the rest of the abbey. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he saw that Gonff had already tried shifting the pile to no avail.
Gonff read his thoughts. "'Tis no use mate, we're stuck in here until our friends out there dig us out." he said, adding his final touches to the makeshift bandage he had wrapped around Martin's paw.
Martin winced under the constant throb it was generating. "How bad is it?" he asked, gritting his teeth.
"You crushed your paw." Gonff said. "And you've got a good bump on the head, but as far as I can tell, you're okay."
"Are you okay?" Martin asked his friend, eyeing the cut above Gonff's left eye and the trail of blood that trailed down from it.
"Yes." Gonff replied, wiping at his eyes.
Martin noticed that Gonff's eyes were tear-streaked and red. "Don't worry." he said. "Skipper is probably already getting a crew together to dig us out. And I'll bet Columbine is right there..." he trailed off, remembering the last moments he remembered of the cave in. "Columbine." he said, "Gonff, I'm sorry."
"It's okay." Gonff said, sniffling. Martin could tell he was crying. "We have more important things to deal with."
Martin placed his good paw on Gonff's shoulder. "I'm sure she's okay." Martin assured him.
Gonff shook his head. "No, I saw." he insisted. "There was no way she could've gotten out of the way herself."
"You don't know that."
"Yes I do!" Gonff exclaimed, tears streaming down from his face. "Somewhere under that pile of rocks is my wife! And that's it, end of story!"
He sat down roughly and began to cry harder. Martin placed a paw on his friend's shoulder to try and comfort him, but Gonff shook it off, clearly not wanting any comfort at the moment. Martin wasn't sure what to do now. He silently watched Gonff weep for several moments, then tried to sit up again.
This proved to be a mistake, for Martin's head spun again, and this sent him fading back into unconsciousness once again.
Martin opened his eyes to see a clear sky again. Full of hope, he jumped up and was secretly thrilled to see his dreams had taken him to the little bridge in Noonvale again. But was this really only a dream? Martin felt the ground underpaw, and realized that it felt very real. So did the railing on the bridge. Reaching over the edge, he touched the water rushing past in the little stream with one claw. It, too, felt very real.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
Martin turned and faced the one and only love of his life, Rose. She stood there grinning politely, looking not a day older since he last saw her, perfectly healthy, and very much alive.
"Rose." Martin said, holding one of the mousemaiden's paws in his own, seeing that they felt real as well. He reach up and brushed one claw against Rose's cheek. "I've missed you."
"Missed me?" Rose asked. "Martin, it hasn't been all that long."
Martin frowned for a moment, before saying, "It felt like it to me." he then turned and looked out at the horizon. "It is very beautiful." he said, in answer to her question.
Rose grinned, stepping up next to him. "You should see it at sunset." she said. "The view is even more pretty then."
Martin shook his head, hardly believe that this was happening. "I'm dreaming, aren't I?" he asked.
Rose gave him a puzzled look. "I'm sure the past few events might seem like it, but you're not dreaming." she said.
Martin frowned, seeing where this was going. This dream, or, more accurately, this vision, seemed to only be a replay of a memory. One of the last times he and Rose had together at Noonvale before the battle at Marshank.
The battle in which everything changed for Martin.
Martin sighed, and stared down at the lazy stream below him.
"You're worried for your friends, aren't you?" Rose asked.
Martin, deciding to play along with the memory, replied, "Yes, I'm worried if they're alright." he said.
He couldn't remember what Rose should've said, but what she did say wasn't what he expected.
"Don't worry Martin, everything at Redwall will work out fine."
Martin turned to face her, both surprised and puzzled. "How do you know about Redwall?" he asked, despite himself.
"I know a lot of things, Martin." Rose answered. "Especially one thing you need to know yourself."
She pointed out at the horizon. Martin turned to face it, but was surprised to see that what should've been a horizon was now a large wall built out of a reddish-stone. Martin quickly gathered in his surroundings, and instantly recognized where he was. This was Redwall, and he was standing in the middle of the Great Hall.
But it was different, not at all like the Great Hall Martin knew. Everything seemed worn down slightly, like the room had seen years of use. The towering windows were made out of stained glass, and weren't the mere temporary clear crystal that were in the windows Martin knew.
The stained glass depicted figures, and after a moment of studying them, Martin began to recognize them. There was Lady Amber, Skipper, Abbess Germaine, Dinny, Gonff, and...
Martin's eyes came to rest on the last window, recognizing the figure it portrayed as himself. Feeling awkward, he looked away from the window, only to find another depiction of himself sitting directly below the window. It was a tapestry, stretching all across the hall's four walls. Martin's own representation began the tapestry. Immediately after it the tapestry portrayed things such as the downfall of Kotir, and Martin and his friends journeying to the Northlands to find out what happened to Luke, Martin's father.
Martin realized that the tapestry was portraying the history of Redwall, an abbey that he knew wasn't finished yet. At least in his time. He must be seeing the future then; it was the only logical explanation. Further more, beyond the representation of adventures he had already gone on portrayed events Martin did not recognize, and most likely would never see in his lifetime.
Feeling very puzzled now, Martin turned once again, only to discover with a jolt that a sword was being pointed at him. A sword he recognized as well. It was his sword, the one he currently had hanging on a wall in his dormitory. But now, another creature, a mouse, had it pointed at him. He was younger than Martin, but Martin already could sense something very familiar about this mouse.
The mouse also looked like he had recently just been through a battle for the green habit he wore was dirtied, ripped, and tattered. Blood had been drawn, and gashes on various spots on the mouse's body bled freely. His fur was ruffled. But this did not seem to bother the mouse, for he stared Martin down intently, the sword he had pointed at Martin not wavering for an instant. Suddenly, the mouse spoke.
"I am that is!"
Martin awoke again with a start to find himself back in the partially collapsed room with Gonff, the mousethief still sulking with grief, but now had his tears under control. Martin watched him for several moments, wondering if he should say something.
"Is there any water?" he finally asked, surprised at how raspy and weak his voice sounded.
Gonff looked at him. "Oh, you're awake." he said. "Pity, I liked it better when you were asleep."
The bitter remark stunned Martin. "Gonff, are you sure you're alright?"
"No." Gonff replied bluntly, staring at the pile of rocks before him. "Would you be?"
Martin choose not to answer the question directly. "I would at least be keeping a positive attitude about me." he said.
"Positive." Gonff repeated with a snort. "Right."
"Where's the happy, constantly joking, Gonff I know?" Martin asked.
"Not here." Gonff answered.
Martin was silent for a moment. "So, is there any water?" he asked again.
"No, not one drop." Gonff said, annoyed.
Martin leaned over a placed his good paw on Gonff's back. "Gonff, everything will be alright, trust me."
"Trust you?" Gonff asked, "A warrior who couldn't have any idea what I'm going through, is telling it will all be well? Well, in case the warrior forgot, the maiden I loved is dead! How can everything be alright?"
"You don't know that she's dead." Martin said calmly. "Columbine could be right on the other side of this pile of rubble, helping everyone else dig us out."
"Yes, but you don't know that either, now do you?" Gonff accused.
Martin sighed, and bowed his head. "No, I don't."
Gonff let his paws drop to his sides. "There you go." he said. He kicked at the rubble in frustration.
"Gonff, no matter what does happen, you can't stay like this!" Martin persisted. "Dwelling on things you can't control won't help you in the slightest!"
"But I could have controlled this!" Gonff said. "It was me that caused the wall collapse in the first place, by tapping that brick one time too many!"
"That's in the past now!" Martin pointed out.
"But that doesn't make it any less important!" Gonff also pointed out. "Now, because of me, my wife is dead, we're both trapped in here, both injured and cut off from supplies, and completely undid a day's worth of work on this abbey!"
"Don't blame this on yourself!" Martin said, attempting to stand, but his head began to spin, not allowing him to. "This is no one's fault, I know that, you know that..."
"But that's all!" Gonff said, "No else in the abbey would know that!"
"No one is going to blame you for this!" Martin said.
"You won't, but you can't speak for the others!" Gonff said.
Martin was silent for a moment, breathing heavily. "Isn't the fact that I won't blame you comfort enough?" he asked.
Gonff didn't reply, and instead sat down on a broken stone and began to ignore Martin. Martin stared at his friend's back for several moments before the weariness of the argument took it's toll on Martin's injured body, and he drifted into sleep once again.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?"
Martin turned to face Rose. "Yes." he replied slowly. "Yes it is." he looked back out at the horizon again for a moment. "Rose, what is this all about?" he finally asked.
Rose seemed to hesitate for a moment. "It would defeat the purpose if I just told you." she said.
"Tell me what?" Martin asked. "Rose, whatever it is, you can tell me."
"I know that Martin." Rose replied. "But this is something you need to learn on your own."
Martin sighed, rubbing his head.
"Just like Gonff needs to learn the value of hope, and that life can go on." Rose continued.
Martin glanced at the maiden in surprise. "I get the impression you know more than I do." he said.
Rose shrugged. "Maybe I do." she admitted. "But that's not why we're here."
"Why are we here?" Martin asked. "There must be more to this than for it just to be a chance to see each other again."
"To learn the secret." Rose answered.
"What secret?" Martin asked.
Rose grinned. "I am that is." she replied simply.
And then Martin's surroundings suddenly changed again, and almost instantly he saw that he was in Redwall again. But this was a part of the abbey he didn't recognize. It's curving walls made a kind of tunnel, one that went downward until it faded into the rapidly increasing darkness. He stood at the top, on a circular platform, with a solid, wooden beam stretching from one end of it to the other, bridging the large gap.
From that beam, hung a large golden bell.
Martin suddenly understood. This was the bell tower, a part of the abbey that was in the plans, but had yet to be built yet. And it probably wouldn't be built for some time still, for the main focus on Redwall's construction was completing the main body of the abbey and getting everyone settled in. Creating the finer details of the abbey would wait until afterwards.
But here he was, standing at the top of that non-existent tower. He must be seeing the future again. And to almost to prove the point, the mouse Martin had seen in his earlier vision appeared, climbing up the wooden steps up onto the platform Martin shared with him. This time, the battle worn mouse seemed oblivious of Martin as he cautiously stepped out onto the beam holding the bell, Martin's own sword held at the ready in his paws.
"There's no way out up there, mouse! I'm coming up after you. You're as good as dead now!"
Martin glanced down at the bottom of the tower, where the voice seemed to have originated. Lightning flashed from outside, briefly illuminating the tower. Standing at the bottom was probably the most wicked looking rat Martin would ever see. Martin looked over at the mouse, to see how he would react, but the weary mouse simply sat down upon the bell's timber axle, taking the moment to rest.
Lightning flashed again, and Martin saw the rat suddenly move. At first, he thought that the rat was coming up to the belfry, but instead the rat laughed as he pulled a little fat mouse in a kitchen apron out from the stairs.
"Look, mouse!" the rat called up. "See, I've got your little fat friend. Ha, I won't have to climb those stairs after all. Throw the sword down or I'll spike him like a lollipop!"
The rat held the iron spike he clearly been using as a weapon under the fat mouse's chin. the warrior mouse glanced downward at them. The rat pushed the spike harder at his prisoner's chin.
"You see? All it takes is a little harder push and he's dead." the rat announced. "Now, throw down your sword and get down here yourself, quick!"
The warrior mouse thought for a moment. "All right, rat, you win. But how do I know you'll keep your word? First let the friar go, then I promise on my honor as a warrior that I'll come down." he said.
The ran grinned wickedly and threw the friar from him, who ducked back under the stairs. "Come on down, mouse, Cluny the Scourge is waiting for you!" he cried out.
The warrior mouse stood, raised Martin's sword, then swung down on the rope holding up the bell in one swoop. Like a rock, the bell fell towards the rat, who remained where he was, either too frightened to move, or too shocked to fully comprehend what was happening, until too late. With a loud clang, the bell struck the bottom of the tower and sent up a large cloud of dust, undoubtably crushing the rat.
Panting from the exertion, the mouse pulled the sword free from where it had embedded itself into the bell axle, and held it aloft, admiring it for a moment, the light catching in it's blade in large, bright glints.
Suddenly Martin understood. In order to have won the battle, the mouse needed that sword. His sword. But other than that, what did that have to do with him?
Martin awoke again, sensing Gonff's presence nearby. The mousethief was dabbing at the cut over his eye with his sleeve, checking to see if it had stopped bleeding yet.
"Gonff..." Martin said softly.
Gonff looked at him. "Yes?" he asked, just as softly, but still hadn't cooled down enough yet.
"Nothing." Martin said. "Just making sure you're alright."
Gonff grunted as a noncommittal response and looked away. Martin frowned, unsure what he should say now, if anything.
"Gonff, I know you're suffering greatly at the moment." Martin said. "But understand that it is tolerable, despite what you might think."
Gonff glanced at him. "For a warrior, you certainly know a lot about this." he remarked.
"Like I said before, there's a lot about you me you don't know." Martin stated.
"That's something I haven't ever understood about you." Gonff said. "I can understand for creatures to keep secrets, but not as many as you undoubtably hold, Martin."
Martin sighed, looked at his footpaws. "I have good reasons, Gonff."
"I've wondered about that too." Gonff said. "I've wondered what those reasons are, and if they really are good reasons."
"Gonff, I haven't had an exactly peaceful life." Martin said. "There are things that have happened in my lifetime that I would much rather forget."
"Forget?" Gonff repeated. "You want to forget parts of your own life? What on Earth for?"
"You have said several times now that you are convinced that Columbine is dead." Martin stated. "Wouldn't you like to just forget that event and the pain and suffering that came with it, so you can go on with life peacefully?"
Gonff shook his head. "It's not that simple." he insisted. "In order for something like that to work, I'd have to forget all about Columbine, so it would be like I never met her."
"Sometimes that is for the better." Martin said, a little harsher than intended.
"I would rather die than do that!" Gonff said. "Columbine was one of the greatest things my life had to offer! I will not swoop down to ignorance just so I can stop suffering!"
"Would you?" Martin said. "Tell me Gonff, can you handle the pain and suffering your feeling right now?"
Gonff was silent for a moment. "Barely." he admitted.
"Could you go on feeling like that?" Martin asked next.
Gonff didn't answer.
"Gonff, trust me, sometimes it is better this way." Martin said. "Sometimes..."
"Shut up!" Gonff roared suddenly. "Just shut up! Don't you go telling me things you know nothing about!"
Martin gaped at Gonff, shocked at the outburst. Gonff seemed a bit shocked of himself as well, and suddenly collapsed onto the floor, sobbing. Martin watched him sadly, silently rebuking himself for wounding Gonff more like that. But Gonff was wrong, he did know what he was talking about.
Because he had lost the love of his life once as well.
The next time he saw Rose in his dreams, he embraced her heartily, taking comfort in her presence, even if it wasn't real. Rose, in an understanding way, returned the embrace.
"Don't worry Martin, everything will work out in the end." she cooed softly in Martin's ear.
"I know that." Martin replied. "But I'm afraid of what might happen between now and then. The things that will have to be overcome before everything works out in the end, and how long it will take."
"Don't be." Rose said. "It isn't as bad as it seems, trust me."
And Martin, of course, did. "I'm worried for Gonff, though." he said. "I don't know if he can hold on for much longer."
"He won't have to." Rose said. She suddenly pulled away from Martin. "I'll see to it. But now there are other things we need to attend to."
"You mean these visions you've been showing me." Martin said. "What are they about, anyway? I know you're showing me the future, and that it somehow relates to me, but I still have so many questions."
"I know you do." Rose replied. "That's why I'm here."
"To answer the questions?" Martin asked.
"So to speak." Rose replied. "Think of it more as a guide to lead you on your journey."
"My journey." Martin repeated.
"The journey you've taken to where you are now." Rose explained. "And the journey you'll take to continue onward."
And the scenery changed again. Martin looked around. It was very late at night, and the only illumination for the moment was the stars. The moon was hidden behind a line of clouds at the moment. He stood on Redwall's outer wall, the eastern wall it seemed. Standing on the wall with him was the warrior mouse that had appeared in all of the other visions but wasn't battle worn and bore no sword, just a shield. A much more elderly mouse stood next to the warrior mouse, one that looked older and frailer than Abbess Germaine, and next to him was a female badger, also beginning to show her age, but hid it well. They stood looking westward, as if they were waiting for something.
Martin needn't wait long to discover what, for the abbey bell tolled once, on the hour, Martin presumed. Once the bell had rung, the warrior mouse took the shield and gently lowered into what Martin just now realized was a specially designed slot craved into the ramparts, looking as if designed for the purpose of holding the shield for this very event.
Once the shield was in place did the full moon reveal itself from behind the clouds, and shone down upon them all.
"Look! The shield is reflecting the moonlight back into the sky!" the warrior mouse cried out excitedly.
And indeed it was, concentrating it into a single beam of light, bouncing it back towards Redwall.
"Truly it is a beautiful, wondrous sight." The elderly mouse strained his eyes to see where the beam of light pointed. "Alas, my old eyes are not what they were." he said dejectedly. "All I see is a light shooting off into infinity."
However, Martin could see where it pointed, and he wasn't the only one.
"Wait. Look at the abbey roof." the badger said, pointing, "The beam cuts right across the top gable. I can see the weather vane as clearly as if it were day."
"Good heavens, you're right!" the warrior mouse squeaked. "The abbey weather vane, it's the only thing that's caught in the path of the light!"
"The North! The North!" the elderly mouse suddenly exclaimed. "It's the weather vane arm that point's north! That's where Martin's sword must be!"
Martin suddenly glanced at the mouse in surprise. Why would his sword be on a weather vane...?
Martin awoke again to silence. Puzzled, he rolled over slightly to where Gonff sat, to see what his friend was doing.
And nearly jumped out of his skin in alarm.
"Gonff, what are you doing?" Martin asked, worried.
Gonff did not reply, staring at the dagger he held in his hand, it's tip pointed at his chest. Ignoring Martin, he began to raise the blade as if to stab himself. Despite the pain and discomfort it caused him, Martin lunged over and grabbed the dagger's hilt, stopping it.
"Martin!" Gonff cried out in frustration, trying to throw his friend off, "Just leave me be!"
He tried to wrest the dagger from Martin's paw, but Martin would not let go.
"Don't!" Martin said simply. "You will do no such thing!"
He disarmed his friend, taking the dagger from Gonff's paws, as well as the other still slipped in Gonff's belt. Gonff tried to take back his daggers.
"Martin, don't do this to me!" he cried out, but Martin kept the daggers out of reach. "Martin! I can't take this anymore! Just...just let me..."
"No!" Martin exclaimed. "You can get through this! But you must have the willpower in order to do it!"
"I don't have that!" Gonff exclaimed. "If Columbine is gone, then there's nothing left for me!"
"Yes there is!" Martin persisted, grabbing his friend roughly. "There's Redwall that still needs your help in completing, pies that you still need to steal and eat! Think of your friends, of me, your best friend, think of your son! How do you think we'd all react? Besides, you still don't have proof that she's dead!"
"She is, Martin! By the fur, she is!" Gonff roared. "She meant everything to me, and now she's gone!"
"Even if that's true, losing one life in one day is one thing, but what about two?" Martin said. "Killing yourself will only make things worse! For all of us!"
Gonff resisted Martin's grasp and tried to pull away, but Martin held on.
"Gonff, back in the Mossflower War, we worked together to save lives!" Martin went on. "Do the same now, by saving your own life!"
"Martin, I can't!" Gonff said. "I can't take it anymore! I just want it to end!"
"Gonff, it won't end!" Martin exclaimed. "It never will, you'll just have to live with it!"
"How do you know?" Gonff shouted. "You've never lost the maiden you loved more than anything, now have you?"
Silence fell. Martin released Gonff, sitting back, looking stunned. Gonff remained where he was, looking to be in a kind of stupor. They were quiet for several moments.
The warrior looked up at his friend.
"You haven't lost something like that before..." Gonff said slowly, "...have you?"
Martin did not reply. He simply stared at his footpaws. But Gonff knew Martin well enough to hear the unspoken answer.
"Martin..." Gonff said slowly, stunned. "I...I never knew...I mean, you never said anything..."
Martin nodded slowly.
"But why?" Gonff asked. "I mean, you must have been dealing with this for several seasons now...why didn't you tell anybody?"
"Because," Martin said, "It was the least I could do for her."
They were silent again for several more moments.
"Gonff, you remember when we were both locked in that cell in Kotir, when we first met?" Martin asked.
Gonff nodded. "You told me about your origins, about how you came to Mossflower after waiting in the Northlands for several seasons for a father that would never return." he said.
"That's not entirely true."
"Wait, so you lied?" Gonff asked.
Martin nodded. "Instead, several seasons before the time I indicated I left, when I was still young, I had wandered away from home, playing with my father's sword. My grandmother followed me, to tell me off for wandering so far from home. But we were both captured, by a tyrant named Badrang. He and his forces were gathering slaves and heading west to build a fortress and establish an empire. Me and my grandmother became some of those slaves, and were forced to march for miles."
"My grandmother died along the way, but I survived, and lived the next several seasons of my life serving as a slave, helping build a vermin fortress called Marshank. I fought and resisted every step of the way, though, often getting beaten because of it, if not worse. Finally, Badrang had enough of it, and strung me up for the seabirds to eat in the morn. However, I was saved."
Gonff, entranced, whispered, "By who?"
Martin's eyes glazed over, remembering. "Rose." he said.
"Her full name was Laterose of Noonvale, but she was called Rose by most. She was in the area of Marshank, looking for her younger brother, Brome, who had been missing for several days and was feared to be captured and made a slave. She saw my predicament and saved me by fending off the birds with slingstones and eagle calls, until Badrang was forced to realize that he couldn't kill me so simply."
"So he threw me into a pit, shared by only two other slaves, one was Rose's brother, Brome, and the other was Felldoh, who had been tossed down here for similar reasons as I. From there, we were able to arrange an escape plan with Rose on the outside and succeeded. We traveled about, making allies and friends, and eventually we returned to Marshank with enough forces to take out the fortress and slay every vermin within."
"And we did just that. I, myself, slew Badrang with my father's sword, perhaps the greatest victory for me that night. But it was not without a price."
Martin's eyes began to brim with tears, and this time it was Gonff who was doing the comforting, by placing a reassuring paw on Martin's back.
"What happened?" the mousetheif asked, curious, but saddened as well.
"He killed her." Martin sobbed. "Just before he and I engaged in battle, Badrang killed Rose. By the time it was all over and I could be at her side again...it was too late." he hung his head a cried for a few moments. "I promised to protect her, to keep her safe. That she would emerge from that battle safe. And I failed."
"But...I don't understand." Gonff said. "Why didn't you tell anybody? Why did you keep all of that emotion bottled up within you? Was it out of shame?"
"No." Martin replied. "It was out of respect."
"Many days past after that battle, during which I acted not unlike you have today, Gonff. Having lost all hope, drowning in the pain it had brought down upon me, having thought of just ending it all right there and then. But eventually I realized that wasn't what Rose would've wanted of me. And that it wasn't what I wanted of myself. But I couldn't stay there, not after what had happened. So, instead of heading on to secret village of Noonvale, I left, heading south, eventually to Mossflower, swearing that I would not tell another soul of what had happened there."
Martin fell silent. Gonff kept quiet too, biting his lip. "Martin, I'm sorry." he said. "I've acted very irresponsible. I hadn't stopped to think that you might actually..."
"Just...leave me alone for a moment, Gonff." Martin interrupted. "I need some time to myself. We'll discuss this later."
Gonff nodded, and did not disturb his friend anymore.
"Martin, will you be alright?" Rose asked, concerned.
"Yes, I will." Martin assured her, wiping his eyes. "That's not the first time I've dwelled so much on that event." he shook his head. "I can't believe I actually did it, though. I broke my own promise, my own vow. I made myself swear never to repeat that story, and I did."
Rose took Martin's paw and gave it a squeeze. "You did the right thing, Martin." she said. "Even you must have known you couldn't keep it secret forever. And you've helped Gonff deal with a truly grave moment in his life, and that is more important."
"You're probably right." Martin admitted. "But still..."
"No, don't." Rose said, silencing Martin by pressing one claw on his lips. "No one will blame you for what you had to do. I certainly won't." she smiled. "And that's more important."
Martin nodded, understandingly. "But still, it's all so much to take in at once. What with Gonff's problems, being trapped in that room all alone, and these visions..." he shook his head again. "I don't understand these visions." he said. "They don't seem to be leading me anywhere."
"That's because there is still one last thing I need to show you." Rose said. "Then it will all come together, I promise."
"I hope so." Martin said aloud. "Because I still don't see what this is about."
"I am that is." Rose answered.
Martin looked at her. "What does that mean?" he asked. "And what does it have to do with anything?"
"Everything, Martin." Rose said. "It has to do with everything. Everything about you, and everything about Redwall." Seeing Martin still looking confused, she added, "Just watch and listen, Martin, and then you'll understand."
And then Noonvale melted away, and was replaced with the Great Hall at Redwall. Sunlight streamed in through the towering stained glass windows, casting multi-colored shadows on everything in it's path. Martin saw the beautiful tapestry, and his eye's traveled along it to where the depiction of himself stood.
Only it wasn't there. Something had cut it away and had left a big ugly gap in it's place. The warrior mouse and the elderly mouse stood at it, wiping dust from the exposed wall. Martin stepped closer and saw that there was writing there.
"It's written in the old hand," the elderly mouse stated as they finished, "But I can read it clear enough."
"What does it say, old one?" the younger mouse asked, excited. "Hurry up and read it to me!"
Martin, however, did not need a translator and read along as the elderly mouse read it out loud. Martin caught some significant things from the poem-like passage, but it did not help him add anything up.
"Well, what did all that mean?" the warrior mouse asked once the older mouse had finished reading. "It's a riddle to me."
"Precisely." the old mouse replied. "It is indeed a riddle, but don't worry Matthias, we'll solve it together. I have sent for food and drink. You and I will not move from here until we have the answer."
And neither did Martin, standing nearby like a bodyguard as he and the two other mice tried to sort out the puzzle, but remaining unseen by all around him. He did not make much more progress than the other two did, though, even though he already had clues to help him, generously provided by Rose.
"'I - am that is.'" the warrior mouse, Matthias, said aloud, quoting the passage, grabbing Martin's interest. "What is? 'Two mice within Redwall.' Hmm, two mice it tells of."
"Of two mice in one." replied the older mouse.
They were silent for a moment longer, Martin watching them think, wishing he could make the connections as well.
"What I cannot understand is that sort of dash." Matthias suddenly spoke, pointing. "Look: 'I - am that is.' Do you see, there is a small dash between the words 'I' and 'am.' In fact the same dash occurs three times throughout the rhyme: here, here, and here."
"Yes. You may have something there." the elderly mouse agreed. "It could be the key to the whole thing... 'I - am that is.' Let's say that the dash separates the line, so that we will look at the last three words, 'am that is.' Suppose we took that part out, then it would read, 'I, two mice within Redwall.'"
The mouse named Matthias shook his head. "What do you make of that?" he asked.
"Complete nonsense." the old mouse replied. "Let's stick with 'am that is.'"
"Sounds all mixed up to me." Matthias thought out loud.
The old mouse suddenly looked up sharply. So did Martin.
"Say that again." both the old mouse and Martin requested in unison, although Matthias could only hear the elderly mouse.
"Say what again? You mean that it sounds all mixed up to me?"
But Martin wasn't listening entirely anymore. He had figured it out, possibly before the other two had. And once the elderly mouse had figured it out, he had to explain it to the younger mouse.
"I mixed the letters up and re-arranged them." the old mouse explained. "It's you own name... 'am that is'...Matthias."
"Are you sure?" Matthias asked the old mouse.
"Of course he's sure." Martin replied, mostly to himself, since he was the only one who could hear it while placing one paw on the text. "No matter how you re-arrange it, the name Matthias is the most logical answer. But...why? Why a name of a mouse who isn't even alive yet? What is so important about this young mouse?"
"Methuselah, do you realize what this means?" Matthias was exclaiming.
The old mouse, Methuselah, sat down beside Matthias, nodding gravely as he replied.
"Oh yes, indeed I do. It means that Martin somehow knew that one day he would live on through you."
Martin stared at the old mouse as it all came together for him. This is what Rose wanted him to know. That when he died, it wasn't the end for him, nor the warrior of Redwall. It would live on. Through another.
"That's right." Rose said, suddenly appearing at Martin's side. "And Matthias isn't the only one. There are many more who you yourself will choose to fill in that role, not all of them mice. Just what the situation demands at the time."
Martin's jaw hung loose as the enormity of this began to sink in. "I'll do all of that?" Martin asked. "How?"
"How is not important." Rose replied. "Besides, I don't think anyone really knows. It doesn't really matter. What does matter is that now that you know, you must start preparing, right now."
"For all of this?" Martin asked. "Great seasons, I'll have to start now, there's so much I'll have to do...and...and..." he trailed off, looking at Rose. He held her paws, bringing her close to him. "I liked seeing you again Rose." he said softly.
"So did I Martin." Rose replied. "But all good things must come to an end."
"It's over then." Martin said. "This will be the last we ever see of each other."
Rose grinned, shaking her head. "Nothing is forever, Martin." she said. "Not here, in those terms anyway. We will meet each other again. That I promise."
She stepped back, and held her arms aloft. "Now, one more thing for you to see before you leave."
And then Martin saw everything; everything about Redwall, including it's past, present...
"Martin, wake up!" Gonff said urgently, shaking his friend awake again.
Martin opened his eyes, and became aware of an odd noise. "What's that?" he asked.
Gonff pointed. Up at the top of the pile of collapsed debris, some of it began to shift, sliding aside. After several long moments, it all shifted, opening a small gap between the pile and what remained of the roof's ceiling. A head looked through.
"Skipper!" Martin exclaimed, relieved.
"Martin, me matey!" Skipper called back. "Ye both alright in there?"
"For the most part!" Gonff called back. "But hurry up and dig us the rest of the way out of here!"
"Aye, Gonff, that we'll do." Skipper said, beginning to dig at the rubble once more. "Just sit tight fer a liddle while longer an' we'll 'ave ye out before supper."
"We'll still be here, mate!" Gonff said, smiling for the first time in what seemed like ages. He patted Martin on the back. "We'll be getting out of here soon!" he told him.
"Yes, and then the real work will begin." Martin said, fading back into the mist of sleep.
When Martin awoke, he was neither in the collapsed room, nor at Noonvale. Instead, he was in bed in the Infirmary. This slightly surprised Martin, for the Infirmary was only half-finished, last he saw, but looking around he saw that the completed side of the room had quickly been prepared for temporary use.
He lay in bed, one that a Redwaller must have donated for his use. Martin felt touched, knowing that probably meant that Redwaller now had nothing than maybe a few blankets to sleep upon. He examined the injuries he had received in the collapse, and saw that they had been changed and properly treated now, the herbs they were bound with helping to sooth the aches and pains.
Martin relaxed, enjoying the relief he felt for a moment, then turned to where Gonff lay in another donated bed, already awake and eating food.
"Oh look, the sleepyhead decided to wake up." Gonff teased in-between mouthfuls of food. "How are you doing mate?"
"How are you doing, Gonff?" Martin asked. "You seem more cheerful now."
Gonff nodded. "I was ready to get out of that room." he said. "Of course, one other thing helped, too."
He pointed at the foot of his bed. Martin sat up and peered over there. Laying on the floor, wrapped in several blankets slept Columbine, completely unscathed except for a few cuts and bruises and very much alive. Martin stared at her, grinning in slight surprise.
"She came in to be with me." Gonff explained. "See, what happened was after you sent Skipper to get the things he needed to remove that faulty brick, he doubled back to ask you if there was anything else we might need, and was right outside when the room caved in. Thankfully, Skipper reacted quickly and pulled Columbine away from the worse of the danger just at the last moment. She owes him her life." he trailed off, looking at his sleeping wife. "Martin, I owe you an apology." he said. "I acted very...well, put simply, dumb, and was being selfish, thinking of only myself. I didn't really pay heed to your advice, nor your needs, like I should've of. Had you been injured any more seriously, that could have costed you your life. So, I'm sorry."
"It's all right, Gonff." Martin assured his friend softly, "I know what you were going through."
"That's another thing I feel guilty for." Gonff said. "You really did know what you were talking about, but I never even stopped to consider it, and as a result, ignored what was very good advice."
"At least we all got through it alive, that is what counts." Martin pointed out.
Gonff nodded, feeling a lump in his throat. "I haven't told anyone else, by the way." he added. "About Rose. I thought that if you had kept it secret for this long, that you'd want to keep it a secret for a few seasons longer."
Martin nodded, understanding. "Thank you." he said.
"I only wish I could do more." Gonff said. "I feel very guilty for putting you through all of that grief back in that room."
"Gonff, really it's fine." Martin said. "Remember, I can relate."
Gonff nodded. "Yes." he said, feeling the lump in his throat grow bigger. "I know."
He returned to his food. Martin leaned back in his bed, and thought about what he needed to do now.
Krar Woodwatcher looked at Martin's sword with a puzzled look, it's magnificent blade hidden by it's protective scabbard. "You want sword up on weather vane?" he asked, sounding confused.
"If it's not too much trouble." Martin replied, favoring his injured paw.
"Why want sword up there?" the goshawk asked. "No good up there."
"I know." Martin said. "It's...complicated. Could you do it for me? And keep it a secret?"
Krar nodded. "Even though it seems absurd."
He took the sword with one claw, then, as Martin stepped back a few paces, took to the air, soared up over the abandoned abbey grounds, then hovered over the weather vane as the sword was attached to it. From the ground Martin watched.
"Who says that I am dead," he said reverently as he watched, "Knows nought at all."
"I - am that is,
Two mice within Redwall.
The Warrior sleeps
'Twixt Hall and Cavern Hole.
I - am that is,
Take on my mighty role.
Look for the sword
In moonlight streaming forth,
At night, when day's first hour
Reflects the North.
From o'er the threshold
Seek and you will see;
I - am that is,
My sword will wield for me..."