Summary: Her name is Adah Eventide. This the tale of how she got where she is now. And how she came to be punished so...
Rating: T (for blood, violence, conspiracy, etc.)
First off, I must say the following: If you have not yet read the fanfic "Warrior of Redwall" then DO NOT READ THIS FANFIC until you have done so. I repeat, DO NOT READ THIS FANFIC. Doing otherwise would ruin...well...everything for "Warrior of Redwall", so go read it FIRST. Go on, go. I mean it now. Don't make me use force!
Okay, so I can't really do anything to keep you from reading this in whatever order YOU want. And I suppose you can choose to read one fanfic or the other, you don't necessarily HAVE to read them both. But it'd be great if you did. In order, too, with "Warrior of Redwall" first.
Now, for those of you who have already read "Warrior of Redwall", you can skip all of the above, and go ahead and start reading. This fanfic is essentially "Warrior of Redwall", retold entirely from the point of view of Adah Eventide. it originally started out as a oneshot, but grew to be...shall we say...a little long? Like, 109 pages long? Yeah, kind of long for a oneshot. So I've reluctantly turned it to a short multi-chap fic. Totals to 24 chpts. It's already completely written, but because I'm being a meanie, and because it's tradition, I'm only going to post one chapter every week. So you have to wait for the rest of the story. :P
Anyway, I think that's everything I've got to say that's really relevant to you lot, so enjoy. :)
"Wot's Yer Story?"
There didn't seem to be anything spectacular about the traveling stoat.
He was abnormally short for a member of his species, and walked with both a limp and a hunch, leaning heavily on a carved, wooden, staff he made himself. He seemed frail, and obviously couldn't move very fast. He was also getting on in seasons, his age showing through his graying fur and wrinkling flesh as well as a droopy tail. At a first glance, there didn't seem to be anything special about him as one would watch him shuffle through the woodlands.
But that was exactly what the stoat prided himself on. He may not be much overall physically, but mentally was quite another story. He was also quite observant. So he knew almost right away when he was being watched by a creature hidden somewhere in the depths of the woods. A little while later, he also knew straightaway that he was being followed by the same creature. As he walked for awhile, he debated as to what the creature's intent might be. He figured at first that the beast's motives probably involved theft and a bloody beating, but after awhile, when the following creature made no such moves, the stoat ruled it out. If that had been the case, the creature would've acted by now.
Eventually, he figured that the creature was another traveler like him, easily evidenced by his or her cloak that covered their body and other distinguishing features. The creature was just simply too shy to come forward and announce its presence, but probably was lonely at the same time and longed for company regardless. So it settled for this discreet following, unaware that its presence had already been detected.
The stoat's solution to the matter, however, was a simple one. He continued his journeying for the rest of the afternoon, more or less ignoring his unexpected shadow during all of this time, until the day started to draw to a close, and the stoat settled down to make camp in a small clearing only a few paces wide. He started a fire, then pulled off his haversack, pulled out some food and stuck it on a stick, and started to roast it over the fire, sitting calmly on a nearby log. All while the mysterious creature watched from afar, hidden in the darkening shadows of the surrounding woods.
Finally, without looking in the creature's direction, the stoat acknowledged it's presence. "So, are yeh goin' t' be standin' out there all evenin', or are yeh feelin' up t' joinin' me?"
For a long moment, nothing happened. The stoat was just about to address the creature again when the mysterious beast finally peeked out cautiously from the edge of the woodlands, looking hesitantly towards the little camp. It made no further movements forward, but it was something for the stoat to build off of.
"Well, c'mon, then." He said, motioning for the creature to come with one paw. "If it's food yeh want, I got food t' spare."
When the creature still made no movements to join him, the elderly stoat pulled out another biscuit from his sack, stuck it on another stick, then tossed it over the fire to rest it against a nearby rock that sat on the other side of the fire from him. Another moment passed with nothing happening, but then finally the mysterious creature ventured forward and approached the food cautiously. It wrapped its cloak tightly around its body, almost all but concealing itself from apparently unwanted eyes, but the sight of the long snout that peeked out from under the hood, it's tall height, and the tip of the tail that trailed behind the creature was sight enough for the stoat to deduce it was a fox.
The creature arrived at the rock where the food was propped up on it's stick, and looked at it for a moment. It made eye contact briefly with the stoat, then gingerly pulled the food off the stick with one paw, and started nibbling at it. It started to turn and go, but the stoat wouldn't stand for it.
"No, no, sit down, rest yer tail an' make yerself comfortable." He urged, motioning to the rock.
The fox was hesitant for a moment. "I do not wish to intrude," it stated in a quiet, reluctant, but sweet, grammatically correct, voice that said a great deal about the creature, but above all, revealed the creature's gender.
"Yeh ain't intrudin', 'sides I could use th' company." The stoat persisted, and again motioned to the rock.
The vixen glanced at it for a moment, then hesitantly and carefully sat herself upon it, as if afraid the boulder would suddenly bite her tail off. When it obviously became clear this would not be the case, she relaxed a little, and curled her slender legs up in front of her, wrapping one paw around her knees while she used the other to continue nibbling at the biscuit she had been given. She kept going until it was all gone.
The stoat tossed her another. "There yeh go," he said, then moved the subject to other matters, "They call me Grump, by th' way."
The vixen glanced at him, looking puzzled, as she nibbled on the second biscuit. "Why Grump?" she asked.
"I dunno. Certainly ain't because I'm grumpy," The stoat muttered. He looked at the fox expectantly for a few moments, then when it became clear she wasn't getting the hint, asked, "Wot's yer name?"
The vixen was silent for a very long moment, clearing debating with herself, before she gave the curt answer.
They spent the next several moments eating in silence, since it was clear that the vixen didn't really wish to speak. Which Grump actually found a bit surprising. He fully expected her to be just brimming with questions, like who he was, why he was out here, where he was going, and why his food seemed to be composed of only biscuits, berries, and a block of cheese, with no meat, unlike the supplies of most vermin in these parts (the answer to the latter was simple: sometimes for a traveling hermit like Grump, it was just easier to stick with biscuits, berries, and a block of cheese). He thought that once it was clear that he had no intention of hurting her, Adah would've loosened the tongue she had been keeping remarkably quiet during all of this.
But the more he studied her during this long moment of silence, the more questions he got about her that really started to drive the other matters on his mind aside. The first one was the obvious question as to why she was so quiet, but any number of things could account for that. The next thing he noticed was that once Adah had more or less warmed up to her situation, she started eating better, and would accept and devour whatever Grump handed her with a polite gusto. This revealed that the vixen was terribly hungry. And the fact that she didn't seem to have any supplies at all to call her own, it seemed understandable as to why. And even more, her slender frame, her delicate body, her above-ordinary clothing that she wore under the cloak as well as her very persona just didn't fit nor suited with the traveling lifestyle she seemed to be pursuing as of late.
What was this beautiful creature doing so far out in the middle of nowhere, then?
When they had finished the meal, Grump reached into his sack again and pulled out two wooden cups and a canteen. Setting the cups beside him on the log, he uncorked the container, and started pouring the liquid inside into the cups.
Adah perked up a little at this, and finally ventured to speak again. "Water?" she inquired hopefully.
"Even better." Grump remarked with a grin, replacing the cork into the canteen and returning it to it's sack. "Sumthin' with a bit more kick. Ale."
Adah accepted a glace from the stoat and peered into it at it's contents. "What kind of ale?"
"I dunno. It's just ale, an' that's all I care about." Grump downed the contents of his glass in one go, making a self-satisfied sigh afterwards.
Adah more carefully sipped at the unknown drink, and was ultimately glad that she did, because the drink did indeed have quite a bit of "kick" to it. As Grump poured himself another drink, and watched Adah daintily sip her drink, he finally asked the question.
"So wot's yer story?" he asked, innocently enough.
Adah suddenly gagged on her drink, not the most ideal thing to do, considering it's strength. "Excuse me?" she gasped, after a moment of coughing.
"Wot's yer story?" Grump repeated, innocently enough. "Everybeast's got 'un if they're out 'ere." He set his glass down. "Fer instance, me story is that I got t' travelin' around 'cause I was never really a creature t' settle down an' 'ave an ordinary life, y'see? Wasn't really wanted in any hordes either, so I decided t' just 'ead out an' explore this crazy world we live in. Been travelin' ever since."
"Ah," Adah remarked, acknowledging that she had listened, then fell silent again.
"So wot about yeh?" Grump persisted. "Gotta be a reason yer out 'ere." Adah did not comment, so he continued. "In fact, it's kinda surprisin' t' see a creature like yeh out 'ere, travelin' like yeh are." Another pause, which Adah again did not take advantage of. "How far are yeh goin'?"
"I don't know." Adah admitted finally under Grump's badgering. "Nor do I know how far I have traveled already."
"Well, it can't 'ave been far, seein' that yeh don't seem t' 'ave any supplies."
"I've been living off the land as I go along."
Grump snorted. "That ain't a very good way to live."
"No, there have been several days during which I have gone hungry."
"Well, how long have yeh been doin' that?"
"Since I left home."
"An' when was that?"
"Late last spring."
Now Grump spluttered on his drink. "Last spring? But that was a whole season ago! Autumn's nearly upon us! Wot th' devil do yeh think yeh're doin', vixen?"
"Look!" Adah suddenly snapped, springing to her footpaws, suddenly not looking so calm and innocent, "I'm out here because I made a choice that I am, unfortunately, living to regret! Good seasons, by all accounts, I should be dead now!"
"Dead?" Grump repeated, and was suddenly sobered to the situation. "Wot, were yeh chased out of yer home?"
Adah sat grumpily down on her rock. "I suppose you could say that," she mumbled darkly, "This is my punishment, at any rate."
"Punishment?" a pause, "Wot 'appened?"
Adah glanced in his direction. "It is a very long tale."
"It's not like we're pressed fer time now. 'Sides, I'm admittedly curious now."
"It is not a happy tale."
"I've probably 'eard of worse, though." Grump looked at her for a moment. "If yeh don't want t' tell me, I suppose I can't make yeh."
Adah was silent for a very long moment, clearly debating the idea. Grump was just about the decide that she wasn't going to tell him, and was about to reluctantly drop the matter, when Adah, unexpectedly, made her choice.
"I suppose I should start at the beginning, then," she commented, repositioning herself on the rock to be more comfortable, "If you really want to hear the tale. But mind you, there is a very good reason I'm reluctant to." She sighed. "Anyway, it all began early last winter…"