The Fallen Star

A Tale of Redwall

{8}


The Hellgates was still undergoing chaos. The monstrous red devils were leaping upon the sides of the ship, catching anything they could reach with their deadly tentacles. Some actually managed to cling onto the sides and grab at the rats with huge tentacles; dragging them over the sides with the strength of ten warriors. Once they were gripped, none of the vermin could escape. The hooks of the beasts clung easily to their fur and flesh.

Gorril was in the middle of the battle. After failing to catch Greenfang's attention and getting a spot on his crew, he had managed to get himself stuck right where the fighting was thickest. It was only thanks to his natural reflexes and his father's training that kept him alive while the monsters continued to flail their deadly tentacles, though he knew it was only a matter of time before he slipped up.

One of his crewmates found himself being dragged overboard. Gorril didn't give him a second glance. He was focused upon one thing right now; his own survival. He knew that he had to find a way to get out of the fighting, but if he deserted he'd only get himself killed later. He had to act fast if he was going to succeed in making out of all of this alive.

"Gerrout o' der way!"

Gorril was pushed aside and landed on the deck with a thud. Greenfang rushed up and drew his sword, cursing to the wind. The powerful rat captain flayed at the air in a poor attempt to hack at the monstrous devils attacking the ship.

"Come on, ye swabs!" Greenfang shouted, "I'll 'ave yer guts fer garters if'n ye don' shape up an' kill these beasts! Devils don' bleed now, mateys, an' these things do! Give 'em hell! Der first one ta' kill ten o' dese t'ings gets tah be first mate aboard 'der Misery!"

Although Greenfang was not one for giving speeches, his last announcement more than qualified for boosting the crew's morale. Right away the vermin that had attempted to abandon their posts rushed to the sides, fighting off the devils in a frenzy of fur and steel. It didn't stop the red devils from attacking though; regardless of how many were felled by the vermin blades, more kept coming and dragged the unfortunates over the side, thinning the ranks one by one as they did.


In Guldar's cabin, the slave girls could hear the din outside. Many of them huddled together out of fear; some whispered of an attack, that the pirates could have been boarded by an enemy ship. Some whispered of the idea of rescue, while others felt that they would be more doomed at the hands of other enemies than at the hands of the pine marten. Selena ignored them all. She was too busy feeling sorry for herself to even care.

In Guldar's private chamber just behind the main cabin, the caged cub was banging away in an attempt to get free. He could hear the fight going on more easily than the girls, even at his current distance away from the deck. The cuts on his face hurt like wildfire, but he didn't care. He just wanted to escape from all the fighting…and from the beast that was there with him.

The mink looked him over and licked her lips with envy. She could just imagine touching the cub's soft fur, and relished in the idea of wrapping it up over her body as a beautiful fur cloak. What did Guldar need of this beast anyway? She knew he could easily capture other beasts; creatures wilder and more savage than a simple bear cub. Even if he didn't, so what? There were plenty of captured slaves and animals aboard the Hellgates to provide the perfect savage army support were they to go to war. He didn't really need one more.

"Don't worry, darling," the mink said with a seductive smile, "Mommy's not going to hurt you…"

Yet…


Gorril got up. His head was throbbing like mad. Shaking his headache off, he looked up. All around the chaos of the battle was continuing. Rats and other vermin were being dragged overboard, while hunters were doing all they could to keep the beasts from pulling them over. Greenfang was still flailing in the air, not even paying attention as one of the red devils was climbing over the side rail of the Hellgates.

The moment the beast's tentacle shot out, Greenfang flailed viciously like a madbeast. His sword dropped uselessly by his side while the rat tried to fight tooth and claw against the monster that wouldn't budge.

"'Elp me, mates! Get 'dis beast ta' lemme go! 'ELP!"

The other hunters ignored him. Nobody really liked Greenfang. The rat had only made it this far out of sheer luck rather than through the honor that the rest of the hunters enacted. The rats didn't look as if they wanted to help either. Even the promise of being First Mate was a promise too good to be true when it came to the rat captain. Besides…they didn't want to risk their lives needlessly like that.

Gorril, however, wasn't like the other vermin. This was his chance!

Immediately, he grabbed one of the pikes dropped by a slain rat. Getting up, he rushed forward and let loose a powerful yell like a madbeast. With one mighty shove, he knocked Greenfang aside and gutted the devil with the weapon.

The beast let loose black ink, but Gorril ignored it. With one mighty pull, he lifted the beast clear up into the air and then slammed it onto the deck. The monster flailed its tentacles about madly as it gazed up at the frightened vermin with one of its gigantic eyes.

A weasel was the first to speak up. "By 'eck, mates…Dat t'ing's a squid! Wat in der' name o' 'ellgates spawned a squid tha' big?"

Gorril panted madly as he pulled the pike out and slammed it on the tentacle holding Greenfang. The moment the rat captain was released he tugged violently at the limb still attached and tossed it overboard. He looked over at the young rat with a look of confusion…

Was Gorril mad? Why did he save him?


Guldar quickly ordered all the vermin to make their way to the safety of the middle of the ship. The crew happily obliged; those that couldn't find room with the others either upon the deck or inside decided that the masts were the best place to be. The red devils continued to leap out of the water madly; occasionally launching a tentacle or two over the side, before diving back into the water.

The pine marten glared madly at the monsters that nearly bested his own crew. His hunters were standing before him now; many of them covered in squid ink and looking like they had just dove into the black soot of a fire. Guldar had counted them all when they had arrived; 99. They were one hunter short.

"Grimfeather!" the pine marten captain shouted, "Report!"

The weasel approached the captain, gripping his paw as he did. Hooks and barbs covered his entire left arm where a squid had tried to drag him over. He had managed to yank himself off, though not without injuring himself worse. Several cuts and scars across the limb indicated where he had frantically chewed or pulled off some of the hooks from his fur.

"We too' a headcoun' o der crew, chief," the weasel said, "T'irty o' dem are dead, a' leas' twelve wounded. Five o' six 'unter casualties in der' battle, cap'n, meself a'cluded. Snarsnik go' two o' dah t'ings on 'is t'roat. 'E nevah made it."

Snarsnik…Guldar spat off to the left. The stupid stoat was one of his best beast tamers. He'd have to find a suitable replacement upon next landfall.

"What about the enemy?" the pine marten asked.

"Double o' our casualties in der way o' der enemy, cap'n," Grimfeather said, "We go' at leas' ten 'er twelve dead on board. Youn' Gorril managed tah kill one 'imself. 'E's been busy takin' off some er' its pieces."

"Good," Guldar said, "Tell the others to do the same. Divide the parts of the creatures up and have the best parts used for weaponry. Make sure not to break the ink sacs; I want those intact. When you're done, take the rest down to the galley. We'll be having squid tonight with our next meal."

Grimfeather bowed. "Aye, milord," the weasel said, "Ah'll gut one o' dah beasts meself."

Guldar leaned forward to look the weasel in the eye. "Send Greenfang and Gorril to see me."

The weasel nodded, a slight smile forming on his face. Without another word he made his way towards the vermin who were busy tearing the squid carcasses apart with all the expertise of culinary wizards. Guldar watched the weasel obey his commands. Inside, he was smiling inwardly. Things were going according to plan.

"Shadran," the captain whispered.

The weasel appeared like a shadow by his side. "Your word is my bond, sire," he said slyly.

"Stay within sight. I want to make sure that Greenfang knows not to try anything," the pine marten commanded.

The weasel bowed. Disappearing into the ship's shadows, he reappeared again just above the main deck behind the captain, one of his daggers in his hands. Guldar had come to rely much on Shadran's expertise as an assassin, and the rest of his crew knew it well. Very few would dare to try to get Guldar's second in command angry; they may find themselves awoken one morning with their throats cut or their limbs cut off.

Grimfeather returned with the two rats. Gorril was eyeing Greenfang with hatred out of the corner of his left eye; the one with the scar tattoo across it. Greenfang, however, was focused upon Guldar. His face denied it, but Guldar could see the scheming in the rat's eyes. It was that kind of ambition that made any vermin dangerous to be around, especially if one is of higher power than him.

"Captain Greenfang," the pine marten said, "Step forward."

The rat obeyed. He approached the great one and bowed low on one knee. Guldar Deadeyes looked between him and Gorril once before speaking.

"I hear that you managed to lead many of the crew in the fight against the red devils," the pine marten said.

Greenfang bowed lower. "T'was a privilege tah kill in da' name o' Deadeyes, cap'n."

Guldar smiled. He appreciated flattery, but the rat was going to be going nowhere with it. "I also understand that young Gorril had saved your live."

Greenfang didn't answer. Guldar turned to the young rat, who quickly bowed low to the pine marten.

"Well, crew rat," the pine marten said, "What say you? Are my words correct?"

The rat nodded. "I slayed the creature that would 'ave otherwise dragged Greenfang overboard, when no other crewmate would do so, cap'n."

Guldar smiled wider. Both beasts tensed under his gaze. It was dangerous to be around the pine marten whenever he smiled like that.

"Fair enough," he said, "I will reward the both of you. Rejoice, Greenfang, for I have found you a new first mate. Gorril, rise…"

The hunters present looked over in shock. Most of them never amounted Gorril to anything after his father, Gorrahg, had died at the hands of Greenfang. Greenfang was the most surprised of all as Gorril stood up and approached their pine marten commander.

Guldar drew his sword; a deadly-looking weapon with marks of varying size and length which showed how many battles the pine marten had won and how great the victory was for him and his forces. As Gorril knelt, the pine marten cut a wound into his shoulder as a show of honor.

"For your show of strength and skill in rescuing an officer," the pine marten said, "I award you the title of first mate of the ship Misery, second in a long line of ships that shall become my personal armada. Command alongside your captain, and obey his orders as if they were my own. You have the blessing of your almighty captain, Guldar Deadeyes; Warlord of the Seven Seas. Do you swear your loyalty to myself and your captain to obey us in peace or war, through thunder and lightning, regardless of fear or ambition?"

Gorril felt his spirit rise at the chance of power. "I swear it," the rat said, "upon my blood, my blade, and my honor…"

Guldar lifted the sword; its blade fresh with Gorril's blood. Greenfang glared at the rat with menacing eyes, but one look at the form of Shadran forced him to avert his gaze. The pine marten, completing the ceremony, lifted the sword into the air and flicked the blood upon the hunters.

"Death to our enemies!" Guldar shouted.

"Guldar! Guldar! Eyes of death! Terror of the seas!"

The hunters flashed their blades about and roared. Gorril could feel the prospect of glory and vengeance flowing through his veins. He didn't join in the chant though; he was not a hunter yet…but he knew that he soon would be before long…

He looked up at Shadran. The black weasel nodded to Gorril. The rat smiled. He had to be patient for only a little longer.


Not very far off, to the northwest of the current position of the Hellgates upon the red waves of the humboldt squids, the ocean foamed and burst with fury as a powerful beast continued his mad journey east. The mighty monster of fur and muscle that was Furborgg was swimming with all of his might, non-stop against the powerful salty waves.

He was tired. He had been swimming against the current of the ocean for at least three days. The scent of the Hellgates was long gone, replaced instead by the salty spray of the great sea as he continued his mad swim. The powerful beast knew he had to stop; not even he, the mightiest of bears, could continue this up for much longer.

Blindly going where his instinct commanded, the huge beast had lost almost all senses. All he knew was that he had to keep going. There was no hope for him if he were to rest now; his only rest upon the open sea would be the crushing embrace of the sea floor far below.

He suddenly stopped when he felt his battle-scarred head bash against a rock. Shaking it furiously, the great bear looked up. A great massive island of stone, painted with many shades of natural blues and yellows, rose high above the waters of the great sea. How he had managed to miss seeing the great thing, he did not know. Nor did he care…he needed rest.

With the strength of ten badgers; sadly barely a quarter of his natural muscle power; the mighty beast dug into the rock with his mighty claws. Climbing up the steep sides of the rock, he made his way up; careful not to slip lest he fall back into the waters below. Continuing his great climb, the bear clawed and clawed at the steadily evening slope until he finally managed to find flat enough ground to rest on.

The island was huge. He could smell the scent of a great, grassy meadow in its center; perhaps at a crater just a distance away where all but the highest eyes would fail to see. The bear could also smell something that he knew of during his younger days. Memories quickly flooded into his mind of a time when he was young, when he left his cave and tried to hunt a group of creatures with hard clubs and spikes…hedgehogs.

Needless to say, he knew very well what those spines tasted like…unpleasant, and not worth gulping down in the slightest. Besides; most were peaceful creatures at heart. Furborgg had learned that some creatures were worthy prey and some were not. Now, he had only developed a taste for the flesh of stag, of fish, and, most of all, vermin...

Deciding it best not to investigate, the bear looked around at his current surroundings. Luck would have it that he had chosen to stop at a natural pool of fresh water; formed by the eroding of the rock through rainfall and having made a natural basin where rainwater would catch and fill. The water was just enough to feed the hungry bear, and so he quickly lapped it up until the salt taste in his mouth was gone.

When he finally had his fill, the basin was all but empty. Shaking the salt-water off of his crusty, brown fur, the giant bear yawned slightly and lay his head down to rest. He was tired, and while the fury in his heart raged on he knew that he would be nothing to his cub as a deadbeast.

One thing remained in his mind as he went to sleep…the vermin scum who killed his mate and stole his cub would pay dearly for this. He would not allow a single one to remain alive as long as he lived.

So vowed the great beast known as Furborgg.


Guldar made his way down into the depths of the Hellgates. Rare were the days now that the captain of the mighty vessel explored her vast depths within her mighty hull. Some of the ship's darkest depths were unexplored even by the oldest of veterans of the great cavernous place, though for the most part Guldar claimed to know his ship from top to bottom. What few places he didn't know about he relied upon his crew to tell him of, and those were indeed a very rare place.

One spot in particular was the Beast Hold, a section of the vessel where the pine marten kept some of his more 'infamous' captives.

The creatures of the hold were loud, noisy, and most often were used for some specific on board the Hellgates. Many of the supplies there included chickens and other wild animals to serve the crew of the ship by providing fresh eggs, though for the most part many of them were doomed to become a part of the main course of another meal. Guldar enjoyed his food fresh, and even though there was quite a store of food aboard he always demanded one of the stock be served up to him; either a beast from one of their most recent raids or a recently caught meal of fish or some other hapless creature from the ocean. This also meant that whenever the Hellgates had to enter a long voyage or avoid land for long periods of time there was plenty of food available on board long after the stores were gone.

However, livestock was not the only source of animal on board.

The moment Guldar entered the back room, everything was quiet. There was good reason. Normally, the monstrous beasts inside would be wailing, barking, and roaring to their heart's content…but whenever Guldar stepped into the room they knew well that their very lives were at stake should they dare to make another sound. Guldar enjoyed the silence of beasts in his presence. It showed that even he could master respect from the wild.

The room was very dark. He wasn't surprised. Only one creature enjoyed the pitch black of dark this much…

"Shadran," Guldar said aloud.

"Here, my lord," the weasel's voice spoke from no particular direction.

"The plan is going in effect nicely. I congratulate you. The young Gorril is the perfect pawn to cut aside the loose end. That rat had it coming for a while now."

"Which rat? Young or old?"

Guldar chuckled slightly. "Both. I admire the strongly loyal, but sometimes such youthful ferocity is just another path to disappointment. I dislike the idea of having failures on board my ship…"

The pine marten flicked one of the iron bars. A small creature, not much bigger than he, yipped and jumped to the end of its cage in an attempt to get away. Guldar smiled.

"It will not be long before we reach the next island," the captain hissed, "I want you to keep watching over Gorril. Make sure to steer him in the right direction."

"By your word, my lord," Shadran whispered.

There was a clattering sound on the opposite end of the room in a nearby cage. Something began to stir in the darkness.

"Sssssss…you know that your converssssssation issssss no longer privaaaaaate…"

Guldar chuckled. "It may as well be," he said, "No one would listen to an old fool like you, insect."

Something that sounded suspiciously like metal clanged on the bars. "Ooooooold fool I may be," it hissed, "Bbbbuuuutttt who issss the greater fool? The fooooool that watchesssss sssssilently, or the fool that assssssummmeessss he isssssss above onessssss fate?"

Guldar raked his claws on some random cage, causing another animal to duck away in fear. "Nevertheless, if you claim me to be a fool, then you are still the greater fool to be caught by one. Silence yourself, or I'll cut your rations in half again."

The creature made a rasping sound that was oddly like laughter. "Cut rationsssss to piecesssss…one cannot kill the patient one…mark my wordsssssssss…"

Guldar heard a knife being unsheathed in the direction of the voice. "Shall I kill this one for its insolence, captain?"

Guldar shook his head. "Let him be," the pine marten said, "He'll eventually warm up. No beast has ever lasted aboard the Hellgates before coming to my service or dying. Either way, let him be as patient as he pleases. He'll join us soon enough."

The creature hissed again before withdrawing back into silence. As Guldar turned to leave, he made one last final remark to Shadran.

"Should Gorril even remotely turn to failure," he said, "you know what to do…"

Shadran sheathed his knife. "Your word is my bond, captain."

The pine marten silently smiled as he left the secluded room and made his way out of the beast hold. He enjoyed being always one step ahead of every loose end.

Kerian: Oh boy...the humboldts have ultimately failed, and many have become dinner...though not nearly as much as the vermin have. rofl.

I noticed in the last chapter that I did Guldar's accent all wrong, so I fixed it. I also hope you guys liked the scene with Furborgg that I did. I wonder where in the Redwall world he is exactly...of course, if you've read all the books I'm sure at least some of you could figure out where he's gone. He's still quite a ways away from his quarry, though. If he wants to catch up he'd better be quick about it...

Darin: Who would have thought that a big teddy bear would have made it that far so fast though!

Kerian: Well Darin, if you think about it, everybody there's a bunch of mice and other small creatures, and very few creatures that live there are much bigger than that. The few that are are described as having tremendous strength and can swim quite a distance without much problem. I'm sure that a bear, a given ten to twenty times the size of any badger or more, can swim a great many leagues nonstop without much problem...rofl.

Darin: ...Redwall makes no sense to me.

Kerian: Speak for yourself, mister I-can-facepalm-without-actually-having-hands!

Darin: ...please quit bringing that up. :(

Kerian: Anyway, hope you guys enjoyed the chapter. I wonder what's going to happen next. What's going on in Redwall or Salamandastron? I suppose that we'll just have to wait to find out, won't we?

Darin: You just love making your readers suffer the long wait, don't you?

Kerian: Hey, if cliffhangers don't get people to scoot on the edges of their seats and read, I doubt anything will. rofl. Although I do agree, I need to find some better way of closing stories.

Well, I think that after a chapter or two I'll call it good for the Fallen Star for a bit and start working on Legacy of the Sages. I still have to finish (or start, whichever comes first) the next chapter, not to mention finsih the first chapter of the revision update. You guys will like it for the most part. I'll be posting it on DeviantART so that it goes along with my prologue that I finished up. Like I mentioned before, I'm not going to be working on posting the revision bit on until after I'm done with at least five chapters, so that it doesn't really knock people up in the way of reading the story...hopefully. I might just keep it exclusive to DeviantART though until after I'm done enough with it that it won't confuse people to the point of no return. I'll let you guys know when I have it set up so that you can actually read it...rofl.

Well, that's everything. Until next time...

Darin: We, out!

-Kerian and Darin, Warriors of Redwall