Disclaimer: I own naught of Redwall. If I did, then I wouldn't be writing this, now would I?
A/N: I have the utmost respect for Brian Jacques. He's kind of my hero.
A/N the second: The way I see it, Brian Jacques ended Martin the Warrior the way he did simply because he was bound by the contents of Mossflower; this is presumably why authors try not to write books out of order, as it's very restrictive. In Mossflower, Martin never speaks of Rose or Noonvale or of having any adventures, so Mr. Jacques was faced with a bit of a conundrum—how to keep Martin logically quiet so that Mossflower wouldn't faceplant inelegantly in light of Martin the Warrior's existence. His solution was to break the Warrior's heart so thoroughly that he would never wish to speak of it, and admittedly it was probably the only solution that would make passable sense.
Assuming instead that he had written them in the proper order—that is, in the Redwall universe's chronological order, in which Martin the Warrior precedes Mossflower—Mr. Jacques might not have been similarly compelled to the same depressing conclusion. Perhaps it would have been different. Perhaps it would have been…
A Rose Grows in Mossflower.
This fanfiction, then, is an attempt to stay true to Mr. Jacques' original Mossflowerian intentions whilst harmoniously incorporating elements (and most significantly, characters, and one in particular) from Martin the Warrior. I will not be transcribing Mossflower verbatim, nor I'm sure would you want me to, but I will certainly be keeping up with the various plotlines, so those of you who haven't memorized the whole novel should be able to get the gist of the original through this fanfiction (and I will try not to be too repetitious). Also, whilst I will try to reflect Mr. Jacques' trademark elements, I probably am lacking in his ability to have vivid descriptions of feasts, along with the enviable knack to compose good songs at the drop of a hat, but nevertheless, in the spirit of things, I will try.
So in the end, I hope you enjoy this retelling of one of my favorite and undoubtedly one of the most beloved novels of Redwall, Mossflower, and if you do, kindly review.
A Rose Grows in Mossflower
[the return from Marshank]
The flames from the battered and burnt Rambling Rosehip cart were naught but a few pale wisps of smoke now, and somewhere distant, the sporadic sounds of battle continued as the last of Badrang's horde was hunted down on the shores of the Eastern Sea. But inside Marshank's crumbling and stained walls it was silent, and Brome clambered out of the moles' tunnel to cast a quick glance around the fortress' courtyard in a preliminary scan for survivors. A group of creatures had created a huddle, and with a curious frown, Brome approached them at a quick trot. He pushed through their ring, only to espy the huddled corpse of Badrang, the bleeding form of Martin, and the battered figure of Rose.
Despite the gory severity of the Warrior's wounds, Brome succumbed to his instincts and rushed to his sister. "Rose!" he half-gasped, half-cried, and he slung down his pack of herbs and bandages to cradle her head in his paws. His right paw dampened, and he drew it away from where it had braced the back of her head; red blood glistened darkly in the sunlight.
"She'm bin 'urted greatly," Grumm managed to relay through a throatful of tears. "That noisty Badrang, 'e'm pick 'er oop an' give 'er a moighty 'eave into the wall thur. She b'ain't moved since."
Turning her gently but nevertheless with marked urgency, Brome probed the extent of her injuries. A dribbling swelling had already appeared on the back of her skull, but due to the proliferation of ugly bruises rising through her fur along her back and shoulder, he could guess that she'd taken the force of Badrang's throw there. It was difficult for him to discern if any bones had been broken, but he was already moving on to the most important assessment, one he had somehow overlooked in the initial flood of terror.
His paw fumbled on her throat, pressing in all the wrong places, and he had begun to choke on a sob when his questing pawtip found what it sought; her heartbeat rippled beneath his touch, faint but steady, and his sob turned into a laugh.
"She's alive, she's alive!" he assured the concerned onlookers, laughing and crying simultaneously as his relief overwhelmed him. For his part, Grumm plopped down on his behind and bawled unabashedly, clutching his ladle fiercely and slurring incoherent praises to luck, fate, and whatever else could possibly be held responsible for this happy circumstance.
Brome shook himself back into focus, and as he glanced about for his pack, Pallum tossed it to him and said, "There ye go, mate. An' when you're done with the pair o' them, I'd be mighty thankful if you'd tend to this split in me backspikes."
"As soon as I can, Pallum," the young mouse promised, already digging in his supplies whilst he situated Rose for easiest access. Preparing a hasty poultice, he pressed it to her sluggishly bleeding headwound and fastened it neatly in place with a strip of linen; there wasn't much he could do for the mass of purple bruises on the back of her shoulder, so he simply bound that shoulder's arm—her left—to her chest so that when she did wake, she wouldn't disturb it unduly.
Brome nodded to Keyla and Grumm. "If the two of you could fetch a stretcher for her, then…there's a group along the marshes, cutting all the sturdy wood and making stretchers out of the lot. Make sure to load her on her uninjured side; these bruises need no help from us!"
"Hurr, maister Brome, we'm won't let oo daown!" Grumm declared, getting to his footpaws as he wiped the last tears away with his heavy digging claws. "C'mon, oo 'ater-dawg, let's go!"
While the otter and mole scuttled off, the Healer mouse bent to the task of binding and staunching Martin's many wounds. The gashes were grimy with sand, and it took Brome some time to wash them clean and then to assemble the proper poultices. By the time he was done, it seemed as if Martin had more fur bandaged than not, and Brome lamented that he hadn't asked Grumm to bring two stretchers when the mole arrived back with the otter and exactly what the Healer would've asked for.
"You brought two!" Brome exclaimed, delighted.
"Aye, we'm knowed that zurr Marthen 'ould be needen one, too," Grumm replied with a chuckle and a wink. "We'm also broughten 'elp."
Ballaw De Quincewold strode in, ears erect and whiskers a-quiver with pride, victory, and duty. "I say, there's a wounded hero in need of carryin', is that right? Then let's bally well get on with it, wot! Can't leave the poor chap lyin' there in the dirt when he risked life'n'limb slayin' that fearsome villain! On the count o' three then, me good fellows—h'un! H'two! H'three!"
With strong, swift motions and a certain degree of unnecessary showmanship, Ballaw aided Brome in getting the fallen Warrior onto one of the stretchers; the unconscious mouse clung white-knuckled to his father's sword, unaware of the commotion going on around him.
Brome turned to his sister's hedgehog friend, already unrolling a fresh bandage. "I'm going to patch Pallum up, but you carry Rose and Martin out of here; I should think they've seen enough death for today. The rest of you lot, if you aren't hurt yourself, then check about for any survivors and report back to me right away if'n you do."
"Yes, sah!" Ballaw declared, whipping a strange salute with one ear, and then he and a nearby squirrel hefted Martin's stretcher while Grumm and Keyla lifted Rose's. The other creatures dispersed as requested, searching the numerous bodies for any still possessing breath.
Pallum tried to observe Brome whilst the mouse attended to the slash on his back; needless to say, he did not succeed to any great degree. "You shoulda seen that final battle, mate," he related to the busy Healer. "Martin came down on that stoat like the wrath o' the heavens when Badrang threw Rose into that wall." He shook his head. "Even wounded as I was, I was payin' attention, and there was a moment there when I really thought she was gone, and then there was a moment when I thought Martin would rip Badrang apart wi' his bare paws for doin' that to her."
Brome cast an eye on the Tyrant's heartless body. "It seems Martin succeeded, even if he did ultimately use a weapon." He sighed and tied off the bandage. "I'm just glad Rose is alive, that's really all. I never would've forgiven myself if she'd died from all this, after she was just trying to make sure I was alright. I'll be responsible in the future, I swear I will," he vowed quietly, more to himself than the hedgehog. "She'll never have to risk her life for me again."
Pallum laid a paw on his shoulder. "Aye, we'll all go home to Noonvale and spend our days there in peace. Rose will heal up in no time, and you'll be back to squabblin' like the siblings you are before the week's out. So let's get out of 'ere, matey, and leave this place to the gulls an' the tides."
The young mouse dusted off his knees and stood up, gazing around the ruined fortress. None of the other creatures had located survivors, and they'd wandered off and left the mouse and hedgehog alone in that prison of death. He shuddered and shouldered his pack anew.
"Aye, let's go home, Pallum. I never want to see this place again."
The Fur and Freedom Fighters had abandoned Marshank's carcass as soon as they had gathered their wounded and buried their dead, and those who had no other destinations—mostly the liberated slaves and the Rosehip players—followed Brome and Grumm's lead to Noonvale. As it neared sunset of the second day of their march, Rose drifted awake to a glorious play of fire across the sky and a splitting headache.
She groaned, her eyes squinted so fiercely they were nearly shut, and she tried to determine the source of her agony by moving her paw, only to find it unresponsive. Her breath hissed through her clenched teeth, but before she could really figure things out, Grumm was joyfully greeting her.
"Miz Roser! You'm awake!"
"Not so loud, Grumm," she winced as she managed to lever her weight off her right paw and used it to investigate; her left appeared to be tied up in a sling on her chest, and her head was swathed in bandages while her shoulder protested sharply when she barely traced her paw across the angry bumps and bruises.
"'m gurtly sorried, miz," the mole said, his voice tactfully lowered to little more than a whisper. "You'm got roight banged oop in battle."
"This lump on my head is the size of a whole 'nother head," she remarked, lowering her right paw to dangle loosely off the side of the stretcher. " 'Roight banged oop', indeed." She shut her eyes and tried to focus on anything except the throbbing pain reverberating through her battered body, but her thoughts led her to only one place, and that forced her upright, crippling pain be damned.
"Martin! Where's Martin?" she demanded urgently of Grumm, who supported the bottom of her stretcher near her footpaws. "Is he alright? He won, didn't he? He defeated Badrang and he's okay?"
The mole's homely face creased in a smile. "'E'm shure did, miz! Got 'is father's great sword an' everyt'ing!"
Rose slumped back, no longer propped up on her good paw, and felt some of the tension melt from her frame. Martin was safe! Thank the seasons! But curiosity propelled her onwards, and she opened an eye to study her molefriend again.
"If Martin's alright, then where is he? I would very much like to see him, to speak with him."
Grumm's expression crumpled. "Well, Miz Roser, you'm can see 'im, but I'm afraid you'm be a-doin' all the spakin', as sooch," he explained apologetically, and he nodded somewhere off to the right.
Situated as she was on the stretcher, the mousemaid could not immediately see what Grumm indicated, as it was behind her. With some difficulty and greater determination, she rolled onto her back and ignored the shooting pains in her neck and shoulder as she twisted her head to see her Warrior, wrapped up in a dozen bandages and yet holding Luke's sword.
"Oh, Martin," she breathed, and she tried to reach across to touch his paw, but she could not maneuver half as far as necessary. "What did that evil stoat do to you?"
"It wuz a gurt battle," Grumm supplied solemnly. "Ze stoater even begged fer 'is loife at th' end, but Marthen would 'ear none o' that. 'E avenged all th' creatures that villyun 'ad ever wronged, so 'e did, an' 'e'll be rememburred fer all toime as th' 'ero, Marthen ze Wurrier!"
Rose smiled as darkness began to slip in on the edges of her vision again. "My hero," she echoed in fading tones as she fell back asleep, "Martin the Warrior."
After remaining unconscious until the following midday, Rose awoke to find that the hammering pain had subsided somewhat to a much more manageable dull ache. Birds chirped brightly in the trees as the Fur and Freedom Fighters continued their trek to Noonvale, and the mousemaid lay on her stretcher, gazing up to catch glimpses of blue summer sky through the occasional gaps in the lush summer leaves and listening to the quiet serenity of the woodlands and the chatter of her friends. It just so happened that the returning army was stopping for lunch, and Grumm and Keyla set her down gently on the soft loam.
"Burr, 'tis toime for zoop!" the mole declared, brandishing his ladle and tipping her a wink. "Oi'll keep the 'otroot outta yurr bowl, Miz Roser!"
She grinned, remembering her fiery encounter with the otters' favorite spice. "I'd greatly appreciate that."
Brome came over to check on his veritable fleet of stretchers, and he could barely restrain himself from throwing himself upon his sister. "Rose! You're up! Grumm told me that you came to briefly yesterday, but of course you were already out again when I happened by." He paused, looking torn, and she exhaled a laugh.
"Yes, Brome, you can hug me. Just not too hard," she told him as she pushed herself up on her good paw.
She had barely finished enunciating the final syllable when her brother was embracing her tightly, careful to keep all pressure away from her left shoulder. He helped settle her back, urging her to lie down with a gentle but firm paw.
"You might get lightheaded, what with the nature of your injuries and all," he explained. "Can't have you faintin' in your soup, now can we? Eh, Grumm?"
"Hurr, no, maister Brome. Oo carn't sleep in zoop! Oo 'ave t' eat it!" the mole replied wisely from where he was masterfully assembling a cooking fire.
"Slip some hotroot pepper in there and I won't sleep for sure," Rose pointed out, hastily adding, "Not that I object to sleeping in general, so don't add any!"
Keyla chuckled from where he'd lounged by the head of her stretcher. "Hotroot soup! 'Tis a long time since I've had that! You better load it up good'n'strong for me, Grumm—I'm hungrier than a hare!"
Ballaw, who had been wandering by, came to attention and peered at the young otter. "I say, wot's this? Hungrier than a hare, d'ya reckon? Sah, that is a challenge, a right 'onorable challenge between two famished beasts!" He turned to the army and spread his paws in supplication. "Who can sup more hotroot soup—my good self, the devastatingly handsome veteran champion, or this feller, the impudent young challenger? It shall be a contest, not to the death, nay, but to the thirst!"
Keyla clasped the hare's paw willingly. "Whoever washes out their mouth first loses!" he agreed with a reckless grin.
Rose watched with great amusement, along with the entire army, as Ballaw and Keyla ladled, panted, and strove for victory. The theatrical hare was first to acquire a pronounced flush from the heat, but the otter's brow began to sweat before his opponent's, and they stared at each other fiercely through tearing eyes as they supped soup with no regard for their health.
"Gettin' a bit hot for ye?" Keyla prodded, sweat and tears pouring down his face and dripping into his near-empty bowl, which Grumm promptly refilled.
"Not in the slightest, you young whippersnapper!" Ballaw retorted bravely, even though his face was redder than a ripe strawberry and a fanciful observer could see steam rising from his long ears. "I'll jolly well vanquish you an' all comers, or my name isn't Ballaw De Quincewold! And 'tis, so you're facing an ignoble defeat, my dear chap!"
"That'll be the day!" the otter roared back as he drained his bowl.
The whole affair went on for several more minutes until, with sudden and hilarious timing, both hare and otter flung aside their bowls and upended themselves in the nearby creek, howling and yowling the entire way to the bubbling waters until their mouths were filled with precious, cold liquid.
"It's a draw!" Brome shouted above the hoots and applause of the much-entertained army. "A draw!"
Ballaw retracted his head from the stream and glared at his audience. "Don't just stan' there cheerin' all day! My blinkin' tongue's on fire! Fetch me some cream to snuff these flamin' flames this bally instant!"
Rowanoak shrugged apologetically from where she sat on a small hill, munching on a pawful of blackberries. "I'm afraid we don't have any cream, Ballaw. We did just come from a war, y'know!"
"No flippin' cream? Argh!" And the hare immersed his head once more in the rushing waters.
Brome shook his head, still chuckling at the sight of Ballaw and Keyla attempting to cool their mouths, and turned back to his sister. "Definitely no hotroot for me, in any quantity!"
But Rose was yet recovering from her wounds, and despite the frivolity of the camp, she was fast asleep.
The Healer mouse carefully checked her bandages and then smoothed back the fur on her brow, as he recalled his mother used to do. "Take all the time you need," he told her softly, and he glanced aside at Grumm. "Save some of that for her; she'll be hungry when she comes back 'round."
The mole bobbed his head in acknowledgement and returned to slurping down his own hotroot-laden soup with gusto, smiling secretly at the fact that if Ballaw or Keyla had challenged him, there would have been a clear victor, burr aye.
Oh, burr aye!
A/N the third: Mole-speech just gave my spellcheck an aneurysm. I don't even want to know how Mr. Jacques edited whole novels...