Prologue

Morganna the vixen sat slumped by the campfire, glaring at her master, Orglan Creg, chieftain of the Juskacreg. The swarthy weasel, nondescript save for the crimson slash across his muzzle designating the tribe to which he belonged, sneered spitefully back at her, and spat contemptuously into the flames.

"Ain't much t'look at, is she?"

A pile of rags near Creg's footpaws stirred, revealing the head of a hideous old vixen with crossed eyes, most of whose teeth were missing. She, too, leered at the younger vixen, before turning her attention to her chief.

"M'niece aint' pretty, Creg, but that ain't needed t'be a seer. Look'a me!"

Creg grinned mirthlessly, and discharged another load of saliva. "That ain't saying much, Narsha. 'Ow do I know if she's good?"

Narsha grinned again, laughing stupidly. "Trus' me, it's family. She's good."

Creg surveyed Morganna again, smirking at the hateful look she was throwing his way. "Huh, ugly li'l brat," he muttered, just loud enough for her to hear. "If she'd 'a been mine, I'da drowned 'er. But foxes is...different...folk. Mahap she 'as summat to offer."

Morganna quivered with rage. Yes, she was starting to look vaguely like her aunt, and yes, she had never been all that pretty in the first place, but that gave Creg no reason to treat her this way. But he did, and so did everybody else...even Narsha, who shared her niece's unfortunate appearance. And Morganna could do nothing about it.

A slow smile spread on the young vixen's face. No, she could do nothing...yet!

That night, while all the camp was sleeping, Morganna slipped out into the night. Using all the power a young vixen possessed to conceal herself, she snuck past the night sentries, and headed into the snow-bound Mossflower Wood. Five minutes and a few scratches and bruises later, she came upon a clearing...where he was.

He was Airen, the love of her young life. He smiled as she drew near him, his shiny blue-black-grayish fur glinting in the moonlight. Sparkling violet orbs smiled gently at her, and powerful arms opened to embrace her.

Morganna sighed contently as she slipped into the circumference of those arms. She had known Airen for only a week, but she already knew their love would last forever. Airen was the only beast who had ever seen past her infirmities, had loved her for her beautiful spirit...and now, he was the only beast who could set her free.

"Oh, Airen, my darling, I get so sick of this cruel world at times."

"Yes, dear heart, I know," sighed Airen, tears flowing manfully down his well-formed face. "For those with such sad and tragic lives as ours, living hardly seems worth the trouble."

Morganna snuggled him, and looked back up into his eyes. "If only there were a way to make the world more beautiful," she said, "and stop the cruelty I have always endured." She had thrown in a strong hint there...world he take it?

He would. "Oh, shining-light-of-my-sorely-wounded-heart," Airen said, smiling, "I thought you'd never ask."

He placed his strong paws on her shoulders and closed his magnificent eyes in concentration. Morganna closed her eyes as well, waiting hungrily for her transformation.

A half hour later, two radiant foxes stood outside the Juskacreg camp, smiling gleamingly. Airen looked at his promised wife, marveling at the shining physical form that his beloved's beautiful soul had taken on.

"Well, my love, shall we make the world more beautiful?"

Morganna Morningstar Lightpaw Springleaf the Wonderful smiled gently, her perfect white teeth now startlingly visible in the pitch black fur that gleamed in the dazzling moonlight.

"Yes, my darling," she said, her eyes, the same purple as her beloved's eyes, twinkling with excitement. "We will start by helping my poor Juska brethren out of the darkness."

The two foxes joined paws, and skipped merrily into the Juska camp, singing brightly at the top of their clear, beautiful voices.

And so, yet another Mary-Sue entered the world of Redwall.