Here's the final block of Martin scenes that never made the revised version of The Crimson Badger. You'll notice that Martin's role in the tale becomes greatly diminished after Urthblood leaves Redwall; that's because it was at this point in the drafting of my novel that Brian Jacques published Pearls of Lutra, and I realized that my effort would no longer agree with the official books. I forced myself to complete TCB using Brian's characters, even though I knew I'd eventually have to change that aspect of the tale, but since Martin no longer fit my shifting conception of the plot, I let him languish, his part reduced to just a few token appearances.
Hope you all enjoyed these!
When Cyril awoke, the white light of the near-full moon was shining in his eyes through the Infirmary window. He sat up with a start, realizing he'd fallen asleep on the bed next to Jans and Broggen. Cyril flung aside the blanket that somebeast, probably Jans, had used to cover him. The young mouse stood and smoothed out his rumpled habit, his face flushed with embarrassment. He'd nodded off and had to be tucked in like an infant dormouse, and by the very warrior he'd wanted most to impress! Jans and Broggen had been the only creatures who'd taken seriously his desire to be a warrior, and now he'd gone and made a silly fool of himself in front of them. Falling asleep on Jans, right in the middle of the older mouse's war stories! Now they'd just laugh at him like all the others.
Cyril slipped off his sandals. Holding them in one paw, he tiptoed across the floor and out of the Infirmary. The chained companions both appeared to be in a deep slumber, and Cyril wanted to leave without disturbing them. He'd be mortified to have to face them now, after what had happened.
He made his way through the darkened Abbey toward the room he shared with Cyrus, but when he reached it he kept going, down the stairs to Great Hall. He didn't want to climb into the bed he'd slept in since coming to Redwall as a small mousechild, not tonight. The same restlessness that had made him seek out Jans and Broggen in the Infirmary was still upon him. Yesterday he'd wielded the sword of a warrior, and been complimented by other warriors! Even if it was only play fighting, he'd tasted a life that had never been open to him before. The bed of a bellringer child no longer held much attraction for him.
The moonlight was brighter in Great Hall, streaming through the stained glass windows that turned the pale shafts all colors against the sandstone floor. The image of Martin the Warrior stood out clearly, even in the wan illumination. Nobeast was about; all of Urthblood's troops must have been asleep or standing watch out in the Abbey grounds.
It was then that Cyril did something he'd never done before: he spoke to the woven image of Redwall's founding warrior.
"What should I do, Martin? I can't help the feelings inside me ... I don't want to be just a bellringer anymore. I can't be. Somebeast will have to take your sword from Mattimeo and become the next champion of Redwall, and that other Martin sure isn't the one for the job! I know I could do it, but no one here will take me seriously! How can I prove myself to them? What would you have done in my place?"
The mouse in the tapestry made no reply.
Cyril shrugged and turned away. He didn't feel the least bit sleepy, so he walked toward the door that led out from Great Hall to the Abbey grounds and the warm summer night, his sandals still dangling from one paw.
A creature was standing just outside the door, gazing up at the western ramparts. Cyril stopped short, almost running into the beast.
Young Martin looked at the mouse who'd intruded upon his solitary vigil. "Hello, Cyril. Brought me some sandals? Sorry, I don't wear them."
Cyril was surprised to encounter Martin in such an odd place at this late hour. The son of Redwall's warrior had been keeping to his room since the strange incident with Urthblood's sword, and few had seen him.
"Uh, no, these are mine," Cyril said, clumsily slipping his sandals back onto his feet. "What are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same question. But I won't." Martin returned his gaze to the walltop. "Urthblood is talking to his birds again."
Cyril followed Martin's gaze. Sure enough, the badger warrior stood high upon the western ramparts, his huge bulk and crimson armor distinct in the moonlight. A feathered giant sat alongside him, and the two creatures seemed to be conferring. "Is that an owl?" Cyril asked.
"It looks like it. Urthblood's been standing up there all night, waiting for it, apparently. It just flew down a minute ago."
"Oh." Cyril didn't know what else to say. "Uh, what time is it?"
"I'm not sure. Well past midnight and halfway to dawn, I should imagine."
"Did Lord Urthblood ever get around to questioning that hare? He seemed so determined that it be done right away, but then he suddenly got busy with other things." It occurred to Cyril then that the other mouse might not have the slightest idea what he was talking about. If Martin had been in his room until a short time ago, he might not know anything about the hare who'd arrived at Redwall the previous afternoon.
But Martin simply said, rather cryptically, "I would say he's had a change of priorities. Something's happening, something big. Events are going to be moving rapidly from now on."
"But ... if the hare isn't really from Salamandastron ... "
"I don't think that matters to Urthblood. Not anymore. Things have moved beyond that."
"I don't understand."
"You're not alone. But ... " Martin let his voice trail off, and a dreamy look came to his eye. "When I touched Urthblood's sword, I think I saw into his soul. Even though I can't remember any details of the vision I seem to have had, I believe I may have gained some insight into whatever it is that drives him. And I can only say that the experience has left me unsettled and full of foreboding. Perhaps ... perhaps somebeast will indeed have to take the sword from my father and become the next champion of Redwall. But it won't be me."
"You were listening to me in Great Hall!"
Martin blinked hard, as if emerging from a trance. "Huh? What are you
"You mean you weren't listening to me just now, before I came out here?"
Martin shook his head. "I've been standing here most of the night, watching Urthblood."
"Oh." Cyril was struck with wonder. Martin had used almost the exact words that Cyril had uttered in front of the tapestry. If Martin wasn't lying about overhearing ...
Cyril studied Martin, absorbed in his surveillance of Lord Urthblood. Martin was about two seasons older than Cyril, and the two had only known each other slightly from a few classes they'd had together. Cyril didn't particularly care for the older mouse, put off by his aloofness as most Redwallers were, and he'd never thought of Martin as a friend, despite their closeness of age. He would scarcely have imagined them having such a conversation as this.
The owl spread its wings and launched itself from the wall, beating its way north in the night sky. Urthblood descended the wall stairs and roused one of his rat captains who was sleeping near Matthias's cottage. The rat went to others, and soon the cloisters were coming awake with stirring fighters.
"And now it starts," Martin murmured.
"What starts?" Cyril asked.
"What indeed. We'll find out tomorrow, I suppose." Martin turned to enter the Abbey. "Im going to get some sleep. Good night, Cyril."
Auma was puffing mildly by the time she gained the belfrey of the tall bell tower. Otherwise, she might have noticed the slight rustle of movement from above her. As it was, she spat into her palms, rubbed them together, and clasped one bell rope with each paw. Just as she was about to put her weight into pulling on the ropes, to toll out the traditional breakfast knell over Redwall, a voice called out from overhead.
"Please hold up on that a moment. I don't want to go deaf."
Auma was so surprised that she nearly tumbled down the shaft of the bell tower. Only her grip on the thick ropes allowed her to regain her balance. Looking up, she saw a face peering down at her from the highest window ledge, up by the axle frames. It was Martin.
"What are you doing up there?" she demanded rather crossly, as one who is startled often will. "You nearly made me fall from the belfrey deck."
"You shouldn't be so skittish, Auma. Hardly appropriate for a badger." Martin jumped nimbly down from the window space, landing softly upon the deck boards on his shoeless feet. "As for what I was doing here, I was watching Urthblood's army go."
"From here? You can hardly see over the wall to the road from those windows. The view from the battlements would have been much better."
"I could see all I wanted to from here. Besides, the ramparts were pretty packed, and I hate crowds."
"The feeling is mutual, I'm sure." Auma glared impatiently at her least favorite Redwall mouse. "Well? Can I get to ringing these bells now, or do you want me to wait so you can contemplate your navel awhile?"
"No, I'm finished with that." Martin looked at Auma in an uncharacteristically friendly manner. "I've heard rumors that you really wanted to go with Lord Urthblood. Are you sorry that you didn't?"
"Since when have you cared about such things? Although maybe you'd like to be rid of me for awhile. I'm sure you're overjoyed that Lord Urthblood is finally gone. You weren't able to mope around so openly with him here."
"It doesn't make me happy that any beasts might be getting ready for war. And that's what Urthblood is all about. I'm glad you didn't go with him. It could only have turned out bad."
"If you really feel that way, aren't you overlooking the fact that three of Redwall's otters have gone off with him? Or would you care if Cheek never comes back?"
"My chief tormentor? I have a feeling Cheek can take care of himself. I also have a feeling that Cheek, Winokur and Waronkur were not the only Redwallers who left with Urthblood just now."
The badger matriarch stared at him. "What do you mean?"
"Just that a certain young mouse of ours has grown restless of late, to the point that these walls may no longer be enough to contain him. He's certainly made his newfound warrior's yearnings plain enough, but nobeast here has paid any attention ... except for Urthblood and some of his soldiers."
"Cyril? Cyril has gone off with Lord Urthblood?" Auma grabbed Martin roughly by the shoulders. "When did you find out about this? And why didn't you tell us?"
"Oh, I don't know it for a certainty. But I have a strong suspicion that our elder bellringer will turn up missing if we were to look for him now." Martin's eyes went to the powerful paws that gripped him. "Uh, would you mind letting go? Sometimes I think you don't know your own strength."
Auma complied. "What would possess him to do such a thing?"
"Well, everybeast here always assumed I'd be a warrior, and was disappointed when things turned out otherwise. The spirit of Martin never spoke through me. Maybe it has chosen to speak through Cyril instead."
Auma stood thinking for a moment, then turned toward the tower stairs. "I must tell the Abbess about this."
"Maybe this was meant to be, Auma. Cyril may seem an unlikely candidate for our next Abbey champion - but so did my grandfather before Cluny came to Redwall. You and Mother should keep that in mind before you go rushing off after him."
But Auma was already on her way down the steps, the tolling of the bells forgotten, and she said nothing in answer to young Martin's parting advice.
"So, are we under siege or not?"
Elmtail the squirrel turned around at the sound of the voice from behind. He was mildly surprised to see young Martin stepping off the top of the west wall stairs to join him on the ramparts. "I thought you always stayed to your room whenever we had visitors at Redwall," he said to the young mouse rather snidely.
Typically, Martin ignored the other's manner. "All of Urthfist's soldiers seem well enough occupied just at the moment, so I thought I'd take the opportunity to see what rude badger has come to Redwall now."
"Well, that rude badger's why I'm up here now, because he's threatening to be more than just rude. So look all you want, but just don't get in our way," Elmtail waved a paw to indicate the other squirrels of the Mossflower Patrol who were spaced around the walltop, quivers full and bows at the ready. "We gotta stay sharp, in case these jokers try anything funny."
Martin went to the battlement wall and raised himself on his tippaws to see down into the road.
"And I wouldn't stick my head too far up," Elmtail added. "Some of those hares have longbows of their own. Given the reputation of the Long Patrols, I'd reckon they don't often miss what they shoot at."
"I'll flatten my ears," Martin said sarcastically, "so I won't make as big a target."
Elmtail glowered and returned his attention to his sentry duties.
All that afternoon, since the Abbess's meeting with Urthfist, the Badger Lord's hares had taken up positions all around the outside of Redwall. There was nothing overtly threatening to their demeanor - indeed, many seemed to be actually lounging comfortably, almost lazily, in their chosen spots - but no group was smaller than three or four hares, and some had nearly a dozen. For the most part they were close enough to keep a good watch on the Abbey, but far enough away to be beyond easy shooting range. Obviously, they were not leaving their safety to chance, guarding against any surprise attack from within Redwall, as well as any assault from other forces of Urthblood's that they worried might be abroad in this neck of Mossflower. Reassuringly, their deployment did seem designed more for their own defense than for any coordinated offensive against Redwall.
"I don't see Urthfist anywhere," Martin observed, scanning the hares who were stationed in the road below.
"He's around on the north side, where he met with your parents this noontide," Elmtail said. "Seems to've set up his headquarters under the trees beyond the north wall gate. You'll have to go there if you want to catch a glimpse of that badger. Not that you'll have much luck there either. The treetops block the view of his camp from the walltop."
Martin dropped back onto the flats of his footpaws. "Oh. Well, then I may as well stay here with you. Nice view of the sunset."
Elmtail wordlessly gnashed his teeth. Clearly, he wished Martin would go bother somebeast else.
"Say, where's that fetching squirrel lady of Urthblood's that you're all falling over yourselves for?" Martin asked idly, staring past the hares to the Western Plains, bathed in the golden light of the late afternoon. "I'd have thought she'd be up here helping you keep watch."
"She and Machus are down discussing what to do about this situation. She's a noblebeast, a lady of royalty. You wouldn't expect to find her on routine sentry duty."
"Except when Sam's up here," Martin commented wryly. "Those two haven't been apart much in recent days, from what I hear."
Elmtail leaned farther out over the battlements, trying very hard to pretend Martin wasn't there.
"But, I suppose it's only natural," the mouse went on. "If a noble lady like that was going to single out any squirrel at Redwall for her affections, you'd expect it to be the leader of the Forest Patrol, I suppose."
"The lucky stiff," Elmtail muttered.
Martin glanced aside sharply at the squirrel. "Not jealous, are we?"
"No." Elmtail bristled, ruffling his fur as if shaking off a bad sensation. His bushy tail twitched and jerked, although he did not seem to be aware of it. "No ... I've got more important things on my mind just now. We all have."
"I'll say. My mother's locked away in her study, pondering what should be done. I went to visit her on my way out here, but Dad and Auma told me not to disturb her. And Uncle Tim's all upset by something Urthfist told us, about a tribe of shrews up in the northlands that Urthblood supposedly slaughtered. Said they were once friends of Martin the Warrior. Now who but an historian would know something like that? He's taking solace with Cyril and Cyrus in the Infirmary. That Cyrus seems just about recovered from his injury. He was just complaining to Sister May about not being allowed up here to see Lord Urthfist and his hares for himself."
"Sounds like you've been taking a regular tour of the Abbey," Elmtail observed. "Been bitten by the social bug all of a sudden?"
Now it was Martin's turn to bristle. "My mother and Sister May are about the only two creatures in Redwall who don't seem annoyed by my company," he said defensively. "I was merely visiting the two of them. Everybeast else I met coincidentally."
"If you socialized more, maybe more of us would welcome your company."
Martin gazed out over the wall. "On second thought, that lowering sun's in my eyes. You can have it to yourself." He turned and descended the wall steps once more.
Elmtail watched him go, then returned his gaze back to the road. "Hopeless," he murmured to himself, shaking his head.
Young Martin sat upon his bed up in his third floor dormitory room, staring idly out his window at the blue summer sky. He'd been down to the kitchens before dawn to grab himself enough food to last him the day. Friar Hugh and his staff had been unusually busy at that early hour, and it was then that Martin had learned for the first time that his mother had ordered Urthblood's troops to leave the Abbey. Martin's initial gladness at this news was disspelled upon hearing that Lord Urthfist and his hares were to be invited into the Abbey. It would be no bargain, trading twoscore foxes, vermin and shrews for another Badger Lord and fourscore hares. The temperamental young mouse knew quite enough of jaunty harish mannerisms from all the ridicule he'd suffered from Cheek, and he was hardly thrilled that there would now be eighty of those creatures sharing his home for goodness knew how long.
His food supply successfully gathered, Martin had slunk back up to his room with twice the amount he'd intended to get. If there was to be an army of hares staying at Redwall, he would be content to keep to his quarters as much as he could. He had lots of sleeping and thinking he could catch up on, and there was always the nice view outside his window, high enough so that he could observe some of the comings and goings of the Abbey without being involved in them.
As he sat there, thinking idle summer thoughts of no great weight, he became aware of the sounds of activity from the corridor outside. He could hear rather gruff voices, and doors opening and closing. Martin's gaze went to his own closed door, although he certainly didn't expect anybeast to intrude upon his privacy. Every Redwaller knew to leave him alone, and there was no reason why any visitor would come up here to bother him.
The door opened partway, and a long-eared head poked itself into the room. Martin recognized Hanchett from the times he'd seen the hare during his captivity when he'd been free to roam the Abbey. The hare, however, did not recognize Martin, since the mouse had successfully avoided any face-to-face meetings.
"Oh, hullo! Got an occupied one here! Hope I didn't catch you doin' anything indecent. Jus' scopin' out fer vermin 'n' nastybeasts. Don't see any here," Hanchett ran his gaze around the chamber, "so I'll just be on my way, and let you get back t' yerself. Sorry for the bother!" The flop-eared face disappeared, and Martin's door clicked shut once more.
The mouse sat where he was for some moments, gritting his teeth as he listened to the racket of the scouting hares recede and fade away. Then he got up from his bed and crossed to the door. His was the only dorm room in the Abbey that had a lockbolt installed on the inside of the door. Martin slid it into place now, checked to make sure it was securely locked, then returned to his bed.
Mattimeo smiled in the dark. "Just after you left to come up here, Urthfist complained to me that one of our doors was locked to his hares, and the room's occupant refused to open it for them. A certain dormitory on the third floor."
"Oh, dear. Is Martin causing problems again?"
"It's all right. I assured Urthfist it was just our temperamental son, who's as likely to bite his head off as any vermin. Hanchett had seen Martin in his room before Urthfist came into the Abbey, so he was able to vouch for the fact that a young mouse lives alone there. Once I explained to that badger that Martin has no great fondness for strangers and even less for the ways of warriors, Urthfist seemed content to let the matter rest."
"Well, that's good. We certainly don't need any more complications on top of what we already have."
Mattimeo chuckled softly to himself.
"What?" his wife prompted.
"I know I shouldn't, but I take some guilty pleasure that Martin was able to frustrate Urthfist just a little," Mattimeo admitted. "Goodness knows, he's caused all of us enough grief over the seasons. No reason Urthfist should be spared, if he's going to go sticking his muzzle into every corner of our home ... "
Coming out of the Abbess's study, Clewiston found himself facing a young mouse out in the hall. The rodent wore a fine, blouse-like tunic, quite different from the habit robes usually associated with Redwall mice, and was nobeast the Colonel could place from his time spent at the Abbey so far. He seemed to be regarding Clewiston with a combination of impatience and distaste.
"Morning, chap," the hare nodded to the stranger. "Anything the matter?"
"I don't like hares," the mouse stated flatly without preamble. "I find them annoying and intrusive and altogether way too boisterous for their own good. And since it looks like there will be a lot of you living here from now on, I thought I'd better get this out of the way up front."
Then, saying no more, the mouse marched past him toward the stairs, leaving the Colonel staring after him, speechless.
Mattimeo poked his head out of the study. "Were you just talking to somebeast, Colonel?" Then, spying the retreating figure, he smiled wanly. "Ah. I see you've met our son Martin. Putting up with him is one more sacrifice you'll have to make to live here."
Clewiston indignantly straightened his jacket. "If y' don't mind me saying it, my good mouse, yer son could use some work on his bally manners."
"We've been working on him for seasons," the Warrior mouse said. "You're welcome to try your paw at him, Colonel. But I guess this makes it official now. Nobeast can be a true Redwaller these days until they've had at least one run-in with our temperamental Martin. Welcome to Redwall, Colonel!"
Clewiston's whiskers twitched in agitation as he continued to gaze in the direction Martin had gone. "Hope that youngster has bravery 'n' fightin' skills t' match his lack o' social graces."
"Sadly, no," Mattimeo lamented. "He was supposed to receive the sword of Martin from me this season, but he refused it. The ways of the warrior are not for him, I'm afraid. Actually, I think he's practicing to become a hermit, from the amount of time he spends alone up in his room or wandering the woods. The bright side to that is that you won't have to worry about running into him very much."
The hare cocked an ear in agreement. "Well, if that's th' beast you folk were countin' on t' become yer next Champion, I'd say we Long Patrols got here just in time, wot?"
One beast who made a point of not circulating was young Martin, who took a seat next to Sister May and clung to it for the duration of the feast. At one point early in the festivities, the old healer mouse turned to him and said, "You seem to be enjoying yourself, Martin. At least you're behaving yourself this season."
Martin swallowed a mouthful of cheesebread. "This Nameday, nobeast is trying to force me to be somebeast I'm not. As long as I'm left to myself, that's reason enough for me to celebrate."
"Hmm. Well, your parents must be relieved. They were afraid you'd do something to offend our honored hares on their day. Given the way you feel about hares, we were wondering if you'd make an appearance at all. I'm glad you did. You should really enjoy yourself more."
"It seems to be expected of me," Martin said. "As for offending the hares, I got that right out of the way when they first arrived. I wouldn't try to spoil this day for them. If they want a day of their own, they can have it. Just so long as my parents never try to make me the center of a Nameday feast again."
From his other side, old Matthias leaned in and said, "I think they learned their lesson last Nameday, Martin. Once was enough for them!"
... All is well with the other brothers and sisters of our beloved Abbey. Matthias only seems to be growing younger with the passing of the seasons; I saw him just yesterday, up on the walltop catching the early snowflakes on his outstretched tongue like a youngbeast, and I would swear he's more hale and hearty than he was this summer! Matthias the Miracle, some of us are starting to call him. Tess and Mattimeo provide the strong leadership Redwall needs in these uncertain times, and they are both greatly bouyed by the fact that our Long Patrol friends have settled in so well. My nephew Martin is - well, he's always going to be Martin, I'm afraid. True happiness continues to elude him, it would seem, although his behavior has improved somewhat as of late. He has become almost friendly with Sister May and, believe it or not, Auma too. He gave our poor badger mother so much grief when he was a youngster, but now he offers her genuine solace over the death of Machus. She has confided in me that she still misses that fox sometimes to the point of heartbreak, and she has taken to secretly seeking out young Martin at such times for comfort. It is not a role I would ever have envisioned for my insolent nephew, and I cannot imagine how it has come about. But I am glad. If he can ease the suffering of another, that is a powerful gift. Now if only he could find happiness for himself ...