[Author's Note: Josh Boycott was the writer behind the character of Pyr Teranight, my fellow vixen from the first round of the Redwall Online Community: Survivor contest. Pyr also featured prominently in my "Vodola Chronicles" previously posted here, which consisted of my entries made during the course of that game.
On September 26th, 2003, Josh was killed in a car accident during his senior year of high school. Those of us who'd had the privilege and pleasure of working with him in ROC:S were shocked and saddened, as were all his other online and real world friends and family. The news hit me and Cayenne especially hard, since our characters had survived through to the end of the game along with him, and the three of us actively collaborated on the conclusion to that story. Cayenne and I decided to write one last fanfic with our ROC:S characters as our memorial to Josh, and the story below was the result. This originally ran in the November 2003 issue of the online ezine Terrouge which Josh had helped found. Vodola and Cayenne were retired after that, and have not appeared in any stories since.
Today would have been Josh's 28th birthday. Happy birthday, old friend. You are still remembered well.]
It was the worst possible news.
Nobeast would have imagined that a day which had dawned so splendidly, with invigorating sunshine bathing the green countryside of Mossflower beneath a sky of the purest blue, might hold such sorrows. Spring had come early, bringing the tree buds into leaf before the season was barely a few days old. The joyful memories of the Nameday celebrations just past still hung fresh in everybeast's mind, and all the world seemed poised on the verge of wonderful things.
The vixen Vodola ran through her fighting exercises alone in the woods outside the east wallgate, twin shortswords flashing as she pranced and tumbled to and fro, rolling along the ground and ducking between trees as she battled unseen enemies. Such drills had long been a part of her routine, going back to her days as a cadet at Maulseed Academy, and even though she was a Redwaller now, she saw no reason to curtail these practices or let her skills grow rusty. She could never pursue the assassin's life for which she'd been trained, but she could still serve as a defender to her adopted home if trouble ever came to the Abbey's gates.
When she'd first settled at Redwall, Vodola performed her exercises out on the Abbey lawns, always mindful that nobeast lingered nearby whom she might accidentally slash or stab. One glimpse of her frenetic dances of imaginary death was all any Abbeydweller needed; after that, the woodlanders knew to steer well clear of her at such times. But after an unrelated tragedy the previous autumn in which both Redwallers and rats had lost their lives, Vodola had not felt comfortable making such a military display of herself where all the Abbeybeasts could see her. Thus, she began venturing into the depths of nearby Mossflower for her drills, even in the winter when snow lay on the ground and numbed her footpaws with its powdery or crusty coldness, and the bare trees forced her to retreat far into the woods to seek the privacy she desired.
It was bad enough that she was a fox - a species customarily shunned at Redwall - and worse still that she'd been raised at a school dedicated to Redwall's overthrow. The events of the autumn before had left an unspoken awkwardness hanging between her and the others, and the last thing Vodola needed was to constantly remind her adopted family that she was a formidable fighter, second in warrior's ability only to the Abbey Champion Alvernon and perhaps one or two of the otters. Some of the brothers and sisters still barely trusted her as it was; their qualms would hardly be soothed by repeated demonstrations that she could slay any one of them in an eyeblink if she so chose.
A voice reached her ears, over the heavy gasps of her exertions and the flutter of her habit robes and the keening whistle of her blades slicing the mild spring air. "Vodie! Vodie, you out there?"
Vodola cocked her head as she paused, sliding her twin blades back into their thigh scabbards. She recognized the voice of her closest friend, even at this distance, and while it had held excitement, there had been nothing of panic or alarm in its insistent tone. Vodola jogged the short way out from under the trees to stand at the foot of the east Abbey wall.
An otter's head, its fur more of a russet hue than that of most otters, protruded over the battlement stone of the walltop above. "Hullo, Cayenne," Vodola called up with a wave. "What is it?"
"Squirrel, comin' up the road from the south!" the otter replied. "Wearin' the livery of Castle Floret!"
"Floret?" Vodola thought a moment. Her other best friend and fellow vixen Pyr Teranight had been called away from Redwall two seasons before, to her home court of Canto Attia, which lay below Southsward and Castle Floret. Pyr most likely would have passed through Southsward on her way to and from Canto Attia.
A whirlwind of memories and emotions swirled through Vodola's mind - recollections of the shipwreck which had stranded Cayenne Doubletree, Pyr and herself on a deserted island, the plot against Redwall that they'd unwittingly uncovered, their escape back to the mainland and their desperate struggle to avert a war that would have ravaged Mossflower. Cayenne and Vodola both missed their friend very much, after all they'd been through together, and eagerly awaited Pyr's return. Perhaps this squirrel bore a message from her.
"I'll be right in!" Vodola yelled to Cayenne in mounting excitement, and hastened toward the east wallgate.
By the time Vodola made it across the Abbey grounds to the main gate inside the west wall, the old otter gatekeeper Rogg had already admitted the squirrel messenger. Yes, Cayenne was right; this beast did indeed wear the fine uniform of the court of Floret. She didn't recognize this particular courtier from the brief time she'd spent at the Castle the previous summer, but then Queen Constantina had many scores of servants and lackeys fulfilling her needs, and Vodola could hardly be expected to remember, or even to have met, every one of them.
Cayenne descended the west wallsteps even as Vodola approached the scene; the enthusiastic otter player had raced around the top of the ramparts to arrive in good time. Like her vixen friend, she was eager for any news about Pyr, or other relevant happenings to the south.
It was clear at a glance, from the downcast expression on the squirrel's face, that his tidings were not to be joyous ones. His gaze went from Rogg to the two former castaways. "Ah, you are the two I most came to see ... "
Vodola's heart caught in her throat. Ever since the conspiracy between the fox marquis Rilander Castanel of Canto Attia and the corrupt vixen Jerreaun of Maulseed had been foiled, leading to the headmistress's death and Rilander's disgrace and exile, the three friends who'd defeated the plot were left to wonder whether other conspirators from that incident might come out of hiding to foment further turmoil in the lands. The formidable and deadly Marlfox assassin, for one ...
"Is it ... Maxton?" Vodola demanded of the squirrel. "Has he caused more trouble?"
"Oh no," Cayenne moaned, clutching at Vodola's arm. If that kind of trouble had broken out, Pyr most likely would have been caught right in the middle of it. In fact, Maxton might even have targeted her specifically for her part in ruining the plans that would have made him a powerful and influential general in Rilander's court.
"Nothing of that sort," the Floret squirrel said. "Peace still holds sway over Canto Attia and Southsward, or at least it did when I left. But I am afraid my news is no less tragic for that ... "
The color blanched from the faces of both vixen and otter. "Wh- what has happened?" Vodola forced out.
The squirrel squared his jaw, bracing himself to deliver what he knew would be a terrible blow to the two female creatures. With sorrow and compassion in his eyes, he answered the vixen's question.
"Queen Constantina has dispatched me here to inform you that Pyr Teranight has been killed."
For many long moments the dread words hung in the air between the squirrel and the two friends who'd just lost a part of themselves. Tears welled up in Cayenne's eyes, while Vodola's remained dangerously dry. They clutched at each other, as though they might fall without such mutual support.
"How?" Cayenne whimpered, her usually ebullient voice a timid whisper.
"Let us go inside, if we may. This news is for the Abbess as well, and I - "
"No, tell us now," Vodola insisted, in a tone that brooked no argument. "How did it happen?"
"It occurred near winter's end," the squirrel began, with reluctant sadness. "Lady Teranight had spent several days with us but was restless to return to Redwall, even though the Queen implored her to stay at Castle Floret until the spring to enjoy our hospitality. She departed for the north harbor where a ship waited to take her to Mossflower, but on the way there was an accident, and she never made it ... "
"Accident?" Vodola challenged, all her suspicions pricked by this revelation. "Or treachery?"
"We have spoken with the badger who was pulling Lady Teranight's cart, and he is heartbroken to his core. He assured us there was no foul play. A light snowfall covered the road on that morning. The wheel hit a large rock in the road that he did not see, hidden by the white coating, just as they were going over a bridge. The cart tipped over, and ... I am sorry, Madam Vodola. Madam Cayenne."
Vodola began to shake, a trembling beyond her control. She remembered a journey of her own much like that - perhaps in the very same cart, drawn by the same badger, along the same road. She even remembered a sharp jolt when her own vehicle had struck some obstacle in the path, and perhaps she remembered the bridge as well. On that occasion, three seasons earlier, she'd been on her way from Castle Floret to Maulseed, to confront the terrible conspiracy at its heart, and had made only passing notice of her surroundings as her mind dwelt on the ordeal before her, a trial from which she might very well not emerge alive.
But Pyr had been on her way back to her new home, to rejoin her two closest friends, and her mind could only have been full of good thoughts and anticipation, an eager joy that she would soon be back at Redwall with all the wonderful things that were to be found at the Abbey. No, this could not be right. After all they'd endured, all the perils they'd faced, for this to have been an accident ...
Cayenne noticed her companion's convulsions even through her own aggrieved trembles, and held Vodola closer to her. "Oh, Vodie ... what're we gonna do?" the otter blubbered. "She was the last of us! Now there's just you an' me! This can't be true! It just can't be!"
"Where is she now?" Vodola asked the squirrel, her voice quavering so badly that her words were barely intelligible.
"Lady Teranight was taken back to Canto Attia, where she was given a full court funeral and laid to her final rest with high honors. Her brother the Emperor is, by all accounts, completely distraught by this."
"Why Canto Attia? Why not here?"
The squirrel regarded Vodola strangely, as if she'd just spoken complete nonsense. "Why, Canto Attia was her home. All her family and relations are there. That is where she belonged."
"But ... we're her family," Vodola said, sending a similar stare back the squirrel's way. "Me and Cayenne. It was the three of us ... "
The court messenger looked to Rogg. "Good sir otter, I think it is time we go inside, by your graces. The Abbess and the others must be told of this as well ... "
"Aye, that's true," agreed Rogg, his own eyes tearful. "Tho', they'll not be happy t' hear it. That Pyr lass was well-liked hereabouts, an' not just by Cay 'n' Vodie 'ere ... "
"C'mon, Vodie," Cayenne wept, gently urging her vixen friend toward the Abbey. "They're right. We can't stand out here keepin' this to ourselves. Let's go on inside, where we can be with all our other friends. We'll need 'em now ... "
Vodola allowed Cayenne and Rogg to escort her into the Abbey, the Floret squirrel trailing a few discreet pawsteps behind. She'd still not allowed herself to shed a tear ... not yet.
There was a solemn and somber memorial service, of course; Abbess Tristesse insisted upon it. She had always been fond of Pyr since that vixen's first stay at Redwall, even if she didn't share the same special bond with her that Cayenne and Vodola did, and she recognized the need for emotional closure, especially for the two remaining former castaways. Pyr's official funeral might already have taken place in Canto Attia, but many of the Abbeybeasts had come to regard her as a Redwaller in spirit, and it would have been unthinkable not to commemorate her passing.
Nobeast could remember whether Pyr had had any one favorite spot anywhere in the Abbey - she had always seemed equally at home no matter where in Redwall she was - so Tristesse decreed that the farewell ceremony would be held out on the lawns between the pond and the orchard.
It was the day after the messenger's arrival. Brother Travis the Recorder mouse had spent much of the night meeting with the Southsward squirrel, transcribing into the Abbey histories all the details of Pyr's accident and her reasons for venturing to Canto Attia the previous autumn, as well as general observations about that region. Travis had never before had occasion to speak with any squirrel of Castle Floret's royal court, and he intended to make the most of the opportunity.
The day brought a chill reminiscent of the departed winter, the bright spring sun that winked in the cold blue sky doing little to warm the world below. Midmorning saw everybeast gathered around the designated spot, habits and cloaks and coats clutched about them for warmth, heads bowed as Tristesse recited appropriate words of parting and remembrance. Vodola and Cayenne stood together at the fore of the group, paws about each other for support just as on the day before when this heartrending news had bludgeoned its way into their lives. Both shivered as they stood there, but it was the burning coldness of loss inside rather than the weather without that kept them trembling.
Cayenne shed many tears during the service, unabashed in her emotions and sometimes gripping Vodola so tightly that the vixen might have worried about bruises under her fur had she not been so preoccupied with her own grief. Vodola's eyes watered, but still she could not allow her tears to flow freely. She was not ready to accept this cruel twist of fate just yet, and to cry without reservation would be to surrender to this indignity of circumstances and make it real. And she did not want it to be real.
As the Abbess presented her eulogy, Vodola found her attention wandering to some of the others around her. There beside Tristesse stood Travis, who had always been suspicious of foxes - Vodola even moreso than Pyr - and had never really warmed to the idea of either vixen sharing his beloved Abbey. Near him stood the Abbey Champion Alvernon, who once freely accepted her into Redwall's community but had remained awkwardly aloof toward her ever since the incident with the rats in which innocent blood had been spilled on both sides. And then there was Sister Nalley, whose coolness toward Vodola surpassed even the Recorder's. In her present temperament, it was easy for Vodola to forget that she had friends here besides Cayenne.
She hadn't felt this alone in seasons.
When the service was concluded, the two of them went over to Abbess Tristesse. Cayenne released herself from Vodola long enough to take the mouse in a heartfelt hug of appreciation. Freeing herself from the player after a prolonged embrace, Tristesse stood back to regard otter and vixen. "Are you two all right?"
"It's ... hard, ma'am," Cayenne confessed. "My insides feel like they're walkin' a highwire act. But as one of my old teachers once told me, the trick is to just keep movin' an' never look down. So I guess that's what I'll hafta do ... "
Tristesse turned her gaze to the vixen, noticing that the fox had not cried out her sorrows at anytime during the ceremony. "And you, Vodola?"
"I'm ... I'll be fine, Abbess. Thank you for that wonderful tribute. I'm sure Pyr would have liked it."
Tristesse reached out and took one of Vodola's paws in her own. "I know you come from a place where it was considered a great flaw to show any weakness, but this is Redwall, and to release your grief is no weakness. Please remember that. We are your strength, so you don't have to put on any kind of brave face for us. Don't worry about being strong for yourself, or for some code of behavior that was part of your previous life before coming here. We are here for you. We all are."
Vodola's gaze sought out Travis and Alvernon and Sister Nalley, but she held her tongue. It would be highly inappropriate to naysay the Abbess after such a gesture, even if the fault lay open for all to see.
"Thank you, Abbess. I will remember that."
And then she took her leave of both Tristesse and Cayenne, seeking out the solitude of the orchard.
Cayenne wandered like a disembodied soul for much of the morning, pawsteps hollow and eyes damply vacant against the world. Afternoon found her slumped alone in Great Hall, directly under the tapestry of Martin the Warrior; always one of her favorite places, the spot now seemed to hold no solace for the empty place in her chest. Quiet tears filling her eyes, she tried inside, silently, to add Pyr's name to the list of her departed friends. The name refused to fit properly, choosing instead to glare out at her with a blaring, crimson defiance.
Cayenne buried her face in her arms and sobbed.
Presently, a voice broke in on her tiny world of grief and despair. "Cayenne, matey, ye missed lunch ... "
Cayenne looked up into the face of Rogg and several other otters, bearing trays of bread and soup and light winter ale. Cayenne wiped her nose on the back of her sleeve and grinned up at her friends through her tears.
Ten minutes later the other otters were watching in amusement as Cayenne stuffed food in with a voracity that had not been seen in her since her first arrival. She talked loudly through mouthfuls of food, openly sharing her emotions with the Redwallers she felt safest around, even lapsing unconsciously back into the more nautical dialect commonly spoken by the waterbeasts.
"Pyr was a good matey an' a brave soul. What really hurts, deep inside, is that, on the island, I saved 'er life an' she saved mine, but now, when it all comes down to it ... "
Cayenne suddenly choked around her impromptu sandwich and bawled with her mouth full.
Cress, an older otter lady who reminded Cayenne strongly of Tundra, gently put her paw on Cayenne's shoulder and let Cayenne bury her face in her green tunic. "Pyr was a young vixen, mate, and she had 'er whole life ahead of 'er. I allus liked that vixen, and I'll miss 'er sorely. But, that bein' said ... "
Cress suddenly shoved Cayenne out of her lap and dumped her on the floor, where she lay somewhat stunned. Cress stood and berated her loudly, thumping the stones with her tail. "Yore a young thing too, and you got no excuse wastin' yer own good life mopin' around 'avin' a pity party for yoreself!"
Cayenne dragged her paws across her eyes and jumped to her feet. "Cress, yore a cruel, cruel lady, but by the dice yore right. Pyr's gone out there, but she ain't gone in me 'ead or me 'eart. As long as me an' Vodie an' anybeast else who loves an' remembers Pyr are still around, she'll allus 'ave a place."
Cayenne sniffed, smiled, crushed Cress in hug and pounded out to the orchard to seek out her fellow survivor.
All the rest of that day, Vodola shunned the company of any and all of her fellow Abbeybeasts. When some of the moles and squirrels came out to tend the orchard, she moved to the walltop, and when others joined her there to take advantage of the slowly-warming afternoon, she retreated to the shadier parts of the grounds where the sunless cold would discourage anybeast from following her.
Anybeast but one.
Cayenne, her spirits bolstered by her fellow otters, could not have been dissuaded by chin-high winter snows or Cluny's horde itself from seeking out her fellow castaway.
She found Vodola standing at the base of the north wall, paws and forehead pressed against the cool stone with her back turned to the Abbey. The vixen made no move to indicate that she noticed Cayenne's approach. But, as the otter player halted a few paces from her, Vodola said without looking up, "I still don't believe it."
"I know how ya feel, Vodie. But looks like we don't have any choice, huh?"
Vodola, still facing the wall, drew both her shortswords and traced their points absently along the joins in the brickwork. "It can't have happened like this. She got off the island with us! She was a survivor! Together we overcame a conspiracy that would have thrown the lands into war and ruin! The three of us - you, me, and Pyr! She can't have died in an ... an accident!"
"I know," Cayenne repeated, striving to break through Vodola's barrier of grief and self-pity just as Cress had breached hers. "But these things happen, even to those we love. It really rots, but ... what can you do?"
Vodola spun around as if gripped by a frenzy, her face twisted in frustrated grief. "If it had been an assassination, or if she'd died in battle, then ... then ... " She held aloft her twin blades. "If I knew that Maxton had something to do with this, I could strap these on and go hunt him down and slay him ... or at least die trying! How am I supposed to gain vengeance against ... against a rock in the road? How can I have retribution against an icy bridge, or an overturned cart? The whole thing's so stupid!"
"This ain't anything that can be avenged, Vodie," the otter said sadly. "I'm all wrung up inside over this, an' I feel like a part o' me's died, but that's just the way it is. It's just me an' you now, out of everybeast who was aboard the Starsong. Pyr's joined Tundra an' Vinklinar an' Levet an' Athi an' Orlic ... so we hafta be here fer each other. I'm here fer you, Vodie ... an' so's all of Redwall."
"Not all of it," Vodola muttered. "It's like ... do you remember when Vinklinar died, on the island? I'd tried to take my mind off it by working myself to exhaustion on the Indigo, but when I woke up the next morning, I was ... dead inside. I didn't want to feel. I wasn't sure I even could feel anymore. That's kind of how I feel now. Or at least that's how I want to feel - to make all the grief and rage go away, and just be empty."
"Aye, I remember, Vodie," Cayenne nodded. "An' I remember findin' you standin' out on the beach with all yer clothes an' weapons left behind in our shelter, staring into the forest an' ready to give up on everything. When I saw yer robes an' swords lying there with you nowhere in sight, I really thought we'd lost another one, an' it would be just me 'n' Pyr. But you didn't give up ... an' that's what got us off the island. If you'd thrown in the towel, Rilander an' Maxton an' Jerreaun would've won, an' there might not even be a Redwall now."
Vodola let her arms slump at her sides, shortswords burrowing their tips into the spring earth. "Yeah, I guess you did get me past that moment, didn't you?"
"Gettin' gloomy customers outta their doldrums has always been one of my specialties!" Cayenne said with forced cheer, then turned more earnest again. "An' I remember what I told you then, too ... " She stepped forward and took Vodola in a loving embrace. "If you're havin' trouble feeling ... feel this!"
Vodola reluctantly returned the hug. Tears sprang to her eyes, and for the first time since receiving the terrible news, one or two spilled past her lower lids to trickle down her cheek fur. "Thank you, Cayenne. Thank you."
"What else am I here for, if not fer you, huh?"
"She's ... she's really gone, isn't she? Our Pyr's really gone?"
"I'm afraid she is, Vodie."
More tears coursed down Vodola's face, and she gave a loud sniff. "But, I don't want her to be gone ... "
"Me neither, Vodie. Out there, Pyr's gone." The young otter placed her paw over Vodola's heart. "In here though, Vodie, in yer heart an' yer head, she ain't gone. She's there with Vink an' Athi an' Orlic an' Tundra an' everybeast we've ever loved. Sappy though it sounds, I really believe they're watchin' o'er us, Vodie." Cayenne felt her friend's tears against her ear, and patted Vodola on the back. "You can cry, Vodie. It's just you 'n' me. Let it out ... "
The next thing Vodola knew, she was bawling like a babe, her tears flowing like rivers down her face and saturating the fur there. She cried so hard that she gasped for breath, so fiercely that she felt like she was coming apart inside.
And it felt good. Necessary, even.
Some time later, they drew apart and smiled at each other. Not happy smiles, but satisfied ones, in a sense. Cayenne withdrew a kerchief from her tunic pocket and passed it to Vodola. "Ugh, you're a mess! Here, have a good blow an' clean yerself up."
"Thanks." Vodola did just that, and then the two of them headed back into the Abbey.
Cayenne found herself in the kitchens, curled up in the far corner by the ovens, where it was warm, and the noise was a dull, soothing drone. This was another favorite spot of hers, and the plump otter was well known in the kitchens, whether helping the cooks or helping herself to one of the famously savory Redwall dishes. Now the kitchen staff seemed to be leaving her alone in her little corner, and she let herself take in the comfort of warmth and the smell of good food.
The noise and movement of the kitchen, subdued and muddled as it was already, seemed to fade further away, and Cayenne was not much surprised when Pyr stepped out of the steam, sat down next to Cayenne, and passed her a candied chestnut. "You look down," she said amiably. "What's up?"
Cayenne toyed with the chestnut, looking into Pyr's face. "Well, see, I just found out yesterday that you'd died. It were a bit of a shock, see ... "
Pyr laughed then - not her musical, refined court laughter, but her raucous, happy laughter that made Cayenne wince and grin at the same time. The vixen put her arm around Cayenne's shoulders and popped a candied chestnut into her own mouth. "Cayenne, listen up, I don't have much longer, but there's something you need to know. I might be gone out there, where you can see me, but I'll always be right here," she tapped Cayenne between the ears, "and right here," she flicked Cayenne gently in the chest.
Cayenne nodded sagely. "I knew I was right. Love it when that 'appens. But ... " She turned a worried face toward Pyr. "Somebeast oughta explain that to Vodie. I tried, but ... "
Pyr stood up and winked at Cayenne before disappearing back into the steam. "Don't worry about it. I already have."
Vodola lounged against the battlement stones along the Abbey's walltop, perfectly alone, when Pyr strolled toward her.
The Maulseen vixen straightened in surprise at the approach of her Canto Attian counterpart. "Pyr! They said ... they told us you died!"
Vodola couldn't remember. "I don't ... know."
"Well, whoever it was, that was quite silly of them, wasn't it?" Pyr leaned casually against the rampart wall. "I mean, here I am."
"Yes." Vodola's face split into a wide grin. "It's so good to see you again. I thought we'd lost you."
"You'll never lose me, Vodie. You of all beasts should know that."
"Um ... you're not a ghost, are you?"
"I thought you didn't believe in ghosts?"
"Not even after what happened on the island with Levet?" Pyr shrugged. "Seems pretty strange to me, living at Redwall and not believing in ghosts. I think the spirit of Martin might have a thing or two to say to you about that."
Vodola glanced around nervously, afraid that the warrior mouse might appear at any moment, summoned by Pyr's invocation. She didn't want anybeast else intruding on this private moment with her beloved friend, not even the spirit of an ages-dead hero. Except for maybe Cayenne; that would have been quite all right.
"Just came to tell you I'll be going away," Pyr continued. "But I'll be thinking of you, always. And I should hope you'll do me the decency of returning the favor."
"Of course I will. You know that."
"Then I'll never really be apart from you, will I?"
"No. I guess not. I just wish you could stay. And you should really tell Cayenne too."
"I already have."
And then Vodola woke up. She sat up in her bed, the deep darkness of the predawn hours casting her dormitory chamber in impenetrable shades of black. She'd not been sitting up very long when a glow appeared on the other side of her closed door, outlining the frame and shining through the keyhole. The door clicked and opened, and Vodola squinted in the sudden brightness of the lamp Cayenne carried.
"Vodie, you awake? I just had a dream. At least, I think that's what it was ... "
Things got better after that. They would never be quite the same again, for who can lose a friend in this world and not say they miss them? But as spring wore on, blossoming into the full lush beauty of its renewal of the lands, the sorrow and the longing grew less and less. Cayenne and Vodola returned their attention to living their lives, not just for themselves but in tribute to Pyr. The void would always be there, no matter how it dwindled with the passage of time, but this hole in their hearts would help them cherish their fallen fellow castaway. The dream had helped, and they still had each other, which was a gift more precious than gold or gemstones. Pyr was a hero, having played a crucial role in stopping a war which might have wracked Mossflower, and not even the reservations of Brother Travis or Sister Nalley could diminish her stature now. Her name would echo down the annals of Redwall history, along with that of Martin and Mariel and Matthias and Arven and Deyna, as one of the truest defenders of the Abbey. Abbess Tristesse would see to that.
What would the future hold? Nobeast could say for sure, not even Cayenne with her deck of fortune-telling cards she'd acquired on a whim from a passing gypsy stoat. Trying to predict the future would be as futile as attempting to sort out which dreams were real and which were merely dreams. There was only the life that was left to the living, to be lived as fully and enthusiastically as a beast could, one glorious, irreplaceable day at a time.
And that was exactly what Cayenne and Vodola did.
[Author's Note: Most of the above story was drafted by me, with Cayenne making her own contributions after the fact. Her dream scene by the kitchen ovens was entirely hers, and the scene with Cress and the other otters in Great Hall may have been as well. She also contributed a few other lines here and there; the rest of the tale is mine.]