As Dominic, an intelligent young mouse, sat at the bank of the Redwall Pond, he muttered to himself.
"I sure do wish that my parents were around to see what kind of person I've Abbey-mouse I've become."
He recalled his parent's tragic death, his father, Raldoll, a close friend of the Recorder Fottlink and his mother, Emersalda, or Salda for short and a much trusted friend of Sister Fisk, they went into Mossflower Woods looking for some hotroot for Friar Wopple and then they were killed by Razzid Wearat, but of course Dominic was but a little Dibbun, then.
Just then Abbot Phribb, came walking by in his oak-colored robe, his face, like always, was a plate of pure cheerfulness and a joyous spirit.
"Top of the morning to you, me old laddie-chap. Oh, sorry Dominic, seems to me that I've been hanging out with the otters to often again, but aside from that, what's the matter." the Abbot mouse said kindly.
"Huh? Oh, hi Father Abbot sir, nothings the matter." the young mouse said in reply.
"Oh?" the Abbot said, his face, still full of happiness, had a slight show of concern and confused, "Then why," he continued, "are you sitting here doing nothing at all?"
Dominic looked out onto the great plain of water before him, known as the Abbey Fishpond. He turned his head up and saw that his friend Harb Spikke, a hedgehog, was walking over.
Dominic turned his head and Harb clearly noticed, "'Ello Domiic, top o' th' morn t' ye. What are ye doin' jus' sittin' 'ere like a dead bump on a log." he said.
Dominic turned his head back to the beauty of the pond, "Oh, hello Harb, I guess you could say it's a nice day."
Harb noticed the forlorn look on his friend's face, "What seem t' be th' matter?" Harb saw that he wouldn't say "Oh, c'mon, me old pal, ye c'n tell me. I won't tell nobody an' I swear 'pon me great-aunt Igerla's spikes."
Dominic half smiled, "First of all, you never had a great-aunt Igerla, and second, there is nothing the matter, now will you please just let me be." he seemed slightly annoyed.
Harb realized his friend irritation, he backed away slowly, hopeful that he wouldn't bug the obviously-sad mouse.
Dirtleg and Bloodfate were starting to get tired, but as the two High Captain's of Vastagug's army, they were to show no weariness or mercy to other beasts of the hordes.
"I'm tired, Ye Lordship, may we pleese take a res', me bones are breakin'" said a-soon-to-be killed rat called Muddnose.
Vastagug, who was in front of the horde, stopped and turned toward Muddnose, everybeast stepped back, even Muddnose, but the other hordebeasts pushed him towards Vastagug.
Vastagug approached him, the rat's bright yellow eyes almost glittering in the summer sun, "Well, Muddnose, ye are tired?" the menacing creature said.
Muddnose swallowed hard, sweat was already dripping down his face, his breaths were now in quick gasps of air, "Uhhh... uhhh...,well I..." any further speech from the frightened ferret was drowned into a mere half-mutter.
Vastagug was getting annoyed, "What? What, speak up, ye weakling. Ye dare call yeself a warrior worthy o' thee Hordes o' Vastagug the Dark. Tell me," he pointed to the nearest horde-member, a stoat called Darkhide, "Ye, Darkhide, tell me this. Is this 'oung rat worthy of being in the Ranks of Me Horde?"
Darkhide was very uncertain about what Vastagug meant by the question, Was it that Vastagug wanted a 'yes' or a 'no' t' 'is question, it was hard to tell, so the confused stoat chose the answer in the middle.
"I don't know." and then, just like that, he realized what he had done wrong, but then the thought had cleared his head... forever.
"Anyone else want to join Darkhide at the Hellgates?" Vastagug asked his horde of newly-frightened beast.
Everybeast stepped back, that is everybeast except one.
Abbot Phribb was checking on the Kitchens for this season's Jubilee Feast.
"How's the Great Hall Gateau coming along Friar Bbbbbernernnnarkennarkenburn?" the Abbot was clearly embarrassed for saying the Friar's name wrong.
"Father Abbot. It's Bern-nark-en-burn, you know, like in... the Bog of Bernnarkenburn." the Abbey-cook said.
"Did you say the Bog of Bernnarkenburn?" said the Abbot.
"Yes, Father Abbot, the Bog of Bernnarkenburn, but of course, nobeast has ever heard of it." the Friar said.
Abbot Phribb looked at the Friar's face, it showed a slight picture of sadness "Yes, I was just about to ask you, what is the Bog of Bernnarkenburn?"
Bernnarkenburn put down the pastry bag he was using to decorate a Redwall Spice Cake, a favorite among the otters, and said "Come Father Abbot, let me tell you of my family's history and origin."
They walked down the corridors until they reached a courtyard, then the Friar lead them up to the dormitories and into Friar Bernnarkenburn's room, and at the Abbot's first sight of the dorm, he said "Wow, Friar, this could be the Abbey Library."
The Friar just blushed.
It was Deathbone who stood out before Vastagug.
"I'd like t' see ye try sen' me t' the Hellgates with Darkhide. So are ye up fer it, Vastagug?" Deathbone spat the words out.
Vastagug wasn't surprised to see Deathbone stand up against him. "So, Deathbone, ye finally got th' guts t' stan' out 'gainst me. 'Tis 'bout time, me thought that ye were not tough 'nough t' rebel 'gainst me."
Deathbone shot Vastagug a hasty glance but turned quickly away at the sight of Vastagug's yellow eyes, desperate not to show fear, Deathbone replied quickly, "I 'ave always held a deep hatred to'ard ye."
Vastagug laughed hoarsely, "Haharr, I already knew that Deathbone, that's why I've trained meself fer this day. Don't worry Deathbone me'll make yer killin' nice an' fast so ye don't 'ave t' suffer."
Deathbone wasn't scared, or at least he didn't show it, his eyes now were as fierce as Vastagug's, "I'd like t' see ye try an' kill me."
"Oh, don't worry Deathbo..." Vastagug pointed behind Deathbone, "Don't look now but there's a eagle flyin' this way." Vastagug swallowed hard hoping that Deathbone would turn.
Deathbone jerked around, completely convinced that Vastagug was telling the truth, but before he could completely turn around, Vastagug's dagger was already through his head.
Dominic was still sitting at the each of the pond. It looked like the mouse was about to fall asleep, but a nearby voice jerked him awake.
"Hello, I've noticed thata alla you've beena doing is sitting downa on the edge of the ponda." the voice said.
Dominic couldn't identify what creature who was speaking, "Hello, who's there."
The voice spoke again, "My name's Thallminus Thallymus, but mosta beasts calla me Nalu, cause it'sa my father'sa name."
Dominic looked around nobeasts in sight, "Okay... Nalu, where are you."
"I am ina the ponda, justa looka downa," the voice, this time almost seemed, friendly.
Dominic looked down into the pond and sure enough there was a speaker, "You're a... you're a... a... a... fish."
Abbot Phribb was still stunned by the amount of documents, records, parchments and manuscripts that were all confined into such a small space.
"Incredible, Friar, did you collect all of these?" the Abbot asked.
"Yes," the Friar answered, "all of these papers you see are my family's records. Like this one," he picked a bark parchment from a nearby desk, "this is my granddad, Cylt Bernnarkenburn's family tree, see." he pointed to numerous names of the parchments, "Here's my great-grandma Resla, my great-uncle Svall, my elderly uncle Ghillip, and here's the farthest ancestor my family knows of, my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-granddad, Slyrhgudd of Bernnarkenburn."
"Yes, yes, it's all very interesting Friar, but my original question was, what is the Bog of Bernnarkenburn." the Abbot asked.
Friar Bernnarkenburn rummaged though his records and came out with a very ancient-looking map, "This here is a map created by my great-great-great-great-great-granddad Plerrith, they say he was half-shrew and half-mouse. It was created before the time of Redwall and even before the time of Kotir. You see Father Abbot, Kotir was built upon a lake, which was home The Gloomer, a vicious black water-rat, for some time, but before that lake was a lake is was a Bog, called the Bog of Bernnarkenburn."
By this time the Abbot had become very interested in the Friar's story, "Come, Friar, you can tell me the story in the Orchard, besides, I think that it's the Dibbun's nap-time.
Dominic could not believe his eyes, a fish had spoke to him.
"You're a fish! A fish!" Dominic was surprised.
"Yesa, yesa. I am a fish, a grayling to be exacta, anda againa, my name is Thallminus Thallymus, but you cana calla me justa Nalu." the grayling said.
"Well... Nalu, sorry for not noticing you sooner. You see nobeast in the Abbey has ever heard a fish speak, before." Dominic said.
"That'sa okay, anda please pardona the way I speaka, I knowa it'sa nota the way you are useda to, but it'sa justa the way I speak as a fish," Nalu said in his fish tongue.
"Yes, I was..." Dominic was cut off by a nearby call.
"Dominic! Oh, Dominic! Where are you Dominic?" the Abbey-mouse could easily recognize that voice, it's was the voice of Amylia, a beautiful, young mousemaid, that would soon become a Redwall Sister for the Infirmary.
Dominic was startled by her quick appearance, just like that, she was already standing next to him, "Hi, Dominic." she greeted in a light, melodious voice that sounded like bird's morning song.
"Hi, Amylia." Dominic replied.
Nalu's head was still surfaced at the sight of this, "Oh, looksa to me thata Dominica has a crusha on the younga mousemaida." he teased, and then swam down into the Abbey Pond.
Amylia looked around, concerned, "What was that, Dominic. Didn't sound anybeast I know."
Dominic stuttered, "I... I... I... I... I don'ta... I mean, I don't know what that was. Anyway, why did you want to see me?"
"Oh, yes," Amylia started, "Brother Fhrinch needs you and I to go out into Mossflower and pick some bitterroot."
Dominic was surprised, "Elderberry. Really, that doesn't sound right. The Infirmary should have loads of bitterroot ."
Amylia's face went from happy and cheerful to sad and forlorn, "Yes, Dominic, it should, but ever since last season, more and more Abbey-beasts have to go into the Infirmary. Brother Fhrinch says that every single one of them has the Blackbark Cold."
Dominic shuttered, a chill ran down his back, "Blackbark Cold, you are sure. Sister Arviline says that the Blackbark Cold is almost impossible to catch, and the only other time that somebeast had it was in the time of Abbot Cedric."
"That's what Brother Fhrinch told me and he doesn't know how to explain it. Come, if you don't believe me." Amylia said.
"It's not that I don't believe you, it's just that it doesn't seem likely." Dominic said as they ran toward the Infirmary.
Vastagug pulled the dagger out of Deathbone's head, he turned toward his horde.
"Who am I, my horde-beasts?" Vastagug asked.
They all spoke out as one, "Vastagug the Dark!"
"An' who are ye." he asked.
And again, they spoke out as one, "The Beasts of Vastagug!"
The Horde-master looked upon his beasts with an look so strong that you couldn't penetrate it to discover the feelings of Vastagug, "If ye are me beasts, then sing me song." he instructed.
Beware o' the Dark One
Beware o' the Sly One
Beware o' the Cruel One
Beware o' the One
that will steal yer young 'un
He's the Captain o' Captains
the Thew o' the Thieves
the Best o' the Belligerent
He's a Deity o' Death
the Burliest o' the Brigands
An evil smile was now forming on Vastagug's face.
Abbot Phribb was just about to sit on a nearby stool-stump, next to Friar Bernnarkenburn when the mole Dibbun, Gruggo, or Grugg for short, came running to the Abbot, looking scared to death, and being followed by a mud-covered Brother Relligent.
"Favva Fribb, Favva Fribb. Brovver Relleejint be chasin' oi, loik some mad beastie." the Dibbun said.
The Abbot gave the Brother a wink and said, "Oh, Brother Relligent, I'm ashamed of you, chasing this young Dibbun around like a mad beast."
Brother Relligent smiled apologetically and said, "Yes, Abbot. It won't happen again, but he..." the Brother was cut short by the Abbot.
"Hold it, Brother. Now, tell me exactly what he did."
The Brother recalled the story, "Brother Nhollan sent me to get Grugg and take him to Brother Dacwus, you know the Abbey school-teacher, so that he could teach him about the Apiary and Beekeeping, but noooooo. Grugg had to go and trip me while me were walking up to the Apiary, and I fell into a mud-puddle. Right in front of Sister Dretta. I tell you Father Abbot, that Dibbun is nothing but trouble."
Gruggo protested, "Oi'm not nuthin' but troubel, roight Favva Fribb."
The Abbot smiled at the little mole, "Of course you're not. Now run along now, young one."
As the young mole ran to the go play with the other Dibbuns, Brother Relligent said, "That's enough, Father Abbot, I've had it with Dibbuns. Please send me to work something else."
Abbot Phribb thought about it and finally said, "Okay, Brother Relligent, you're going to work with Bellgalo the Vole-Elder, in the Library. Now go, it's only five more days until the Jubilee Feast."
Muddnose was thankful that Vastagug had forgotten about his claimed tiredness. If it wasn't for Darkhide's stupid answer and Deathbone's short-lived rebellion, Vastagug would have remembered his weariness and probably kill him.
Just then a creature appeared behind him. Muddnose didn't turned, he didn't have to, the ice-cold breath going his back told him that Vastagug was there, Had he remembered?, he prayed not, "Muddnose," the voice was unmistakeably that of Vastagug's, "Do ye know why we've been marchin' in these woodlan's fer so long."
Muddnose chose his words very, very carefully, he didn't want to suffer the same fate as Darkhide at the Hellgates, "No, Dark One. All I c'n say, an' I say this on b'half o' th' horde, ev'r since we've left Sivirlunk, ev'rybeast has tried t' guess where we are goin'?"
The Dark One looked at Muddnose, and said, "Sivirlunk, eh." then he pointed to a ferret called Dogear, "Ye, Dogear. What do ye r'member 'bout Sivirlunk?"
The ferret was obviously thinking very hard but finally he said, "Well, Master Vastagug, I c'n r'member is Vlask Trogantt instructin' usbeast t' do things fer 'im. I c'n r'member one time, me and Frelgg, me ol' horde-mate, were jus' walking 'round th' grounds of Fort Sivirlunk when 'Is Tyrantship Vlask Trogantt came face t' face wi' us, then he said that we were tryin' t' revolt 'gainst 'im, so we round'd up usselves some other beasts, an' we left Sivirlunk. Sadly, lat'r Vlask found us agin an' we all had t' go back t' bein' 'is soilderbeasts. Then 'bout four seasons lat'r in th' middle o' autum' ye, Vastagug, ye came t' Sivirlunk, kil'd Brooll an' tried t' preten' t' be 'im. Then ye round'd us up an' in th' middle o' one night, we left."
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, that's great 'n' all. Anyway, b'fore we left Sivirlunk I stole a map that Vlask had stolen from a wandering woodlander, and on that map was a place called Dredwall Habbey or something like that. Anyway, I took ye all down 'ere so we could rob 'n' plunder th' place, so whose wi' me."
The Hordebeast yelled out, "We, the Beast o' Vastagug!!"
Vastagug smiled as he thought Hhhhmmmmm, may'ap 'twon't be as 'ard as I thought 'twould.
Blankwood, a young hare in the Salamandastron Fur and Foot Fighters Border Partol, was feeling like an even younger, young one, or as Clarabello O'Fairmeadow put it, an absuteballylutely-whinin'-cryin'-naggin'-fussin'-laddochappiebuck-of-a-young-'un.
"Hi'm tired of walkin', can we stop. Please Clarabello." he begged at the General.
"No, now stop bein' a naggin' fussbag, Blankwood. Now steady in the ranks, an' one more thing, when you haddress your helders, use their full title. Like mine; General Clarabello Chester Pepper'n'salt'n'wheat'n'rye O'Farimeadow."
Blankwood looked at the General, "What kind of a name is that. Hi mean, 'onestly, hespecially that Pepper'n'salt'n'such'n'such."
"Well, what's your full title Blankwood," the General now sounded like a young leveret.
Blankwood stood up straight, puffed out his chest and said his full name, "Blankwood Sconescoffer Puddenpaw Flanface Frostingfur Tarttail Vittlesscoff Stag Hare."
Another hare in the Patrol, Quickeye, who was listening to the conversation thought for a short moment and said, "Stag Hare? Now where 'ave Hi 'eard that before?"
Blankwood supplied the answer, "Like in Basil Stag Hare, 'E is my great-great-great-grandpappy."
Pawflame, a Corporal, was a bit doubtful, "Basil Stag Hare, eh. Hunlikely story, Hi'll bet my granduncle's scoffing bib, that your story is a made up one. Can't you see General Clarabello, 'e's trying to pull a whopper over us."
"There's only one way to settle this, Blankwood, hif you can name all the generations back to Basil Stag Hare, as bein' your great-great-greatgrandpappy, then you win, and hif you can't, then Pawflame, you win. Hoh, and that reminds me, cancel that whole thing about calling heach other by there full title." the General said.
"Hokay, this'll be a piece of some Wild Woodland Plum Pie," he said as he started to recite his ancestors name's, "Me, Blankwood, then my father; Leafscuttle, then 'is father; Twellaherb." Blankwood stopped to think, "Oh, yes, then my great-grandpappy; Berrywood. After 'im was 'is father; Borage Hawthorn Stag Hare, and finally, Basil Stag Hare, you see Basil named 'is leveret a 'erb just like 'e was. Ahahahawhoo, Hi did it, Hi told you Hi could do it."
General Clarabello clapped aloud, "Well done, Blankwood. Well done hindeed."
Pawflame, being all irritated about losing to Blankwood, he said, "Well, is doesn't matter can't we just get on with the mission, that's why Lady Rosepaw Starstripe sent us out 'ere, Hi mean, the Fur and Foot Fighters Border Patrol 'asn't been in Mossflow'r since Lord Snowstripe ruled Salamandastron."
As they pressed on, deeper and deeper into the woodland fringes of Mossflower, under the orange-red sky caused from the setting sun on that summer day, Clarabello thought to himself, Hokay, tonight. Tonight it must be done. They must know what's really going one, hespecially that young 'un Blankwood 'e deserves to know first.
Hours had pasted since everybeasts in Vastagug's horde had fallen asleep, all that was left awake was the Hordemaster himself, he sat on a log in front of the fire, T'night. Yes, t'night I'll kill th' five rebellers. Vastagug didn't know for sure that they were really rebellers, but he had two good reasons, one; there was too much beasts in the horde and not enough vittles to begin with (and so Vastagug was trying to lower the amount of beasts in his horde), and two; they were always hanging around with Deathbone, a former rebeller.
Pulling out his dagger he moved closely and quietly over to the rebellers, Ashfang; a weasel, Wolfscum; a rat, Foxvoice; a stoat, Scornbreath; a fox and Clugg; another rat. Vastagug closed in on the first one, the slumbering weasel, Vastagug raised his dagger and... Sliiitt in the blink of an eye Ashfang lay dead, his death was so quick that he didn't have time to scream. Next was Wolfscum, and again, in a blur Vastagug killed him. The Dark One did this with the otherbeasts, Whew, that was much easier than me thought 'twould be. Then, without another thought in his mind he drifted off to sleep, dreaming about tomorrow's attack on Redwall.
Brother Fhrinch was explaining his hypothesis for the Blackbark Cold.
"I think I know what happened, last season, you know, the Spring of the Heaving Rain. I think that the rain saturated the moss on the larch tree that Hembellfy Spikke used for his new Woodland Larch Brandy." the Infirmary keeper said.
"Yes, Brother, but how, exactly?" inquired Amylia.
"Well, if you must know, here's what I think. The rain wetted the moss too much, which then corroded the bark, which in turn damaged the chemical make-up of the sap, which Mister Spikke used for his brandy." the Brother explained.
"Ah, I see, but what are the effects of the Blackbark Cold?" Dominic asked.
"Well, the effects, just let my look over here," the Brother went over to a nearby shelf, and pulled a small scroll, "Ah, here it is, Sister Handera's Mossflower Illness," he scanned it thoroughly, "it says write here, Blackbark Cold, first..." and in the blink of an eye, an arrow flew through a nearby window and killed Brother Fhrinch.
Stoneye squinted hard into the window to see his slain victim, he smiled, then called down to Vastagug from the top of the fir tree.
"E's slain, Vastagug, an' th' little un's wi' 'im are all confus'd an' such." he said.
"Good Stoneye, now come down from there, 'fore ye break yer bone." Vastagug shot him a winning smile.
"Don't ye worry Vastagug, they say me gran'father was half squirrel." and upon the end of his speaking, as if by an evil luck, Stoneye lost his balance and fell head first onto the one below, all the way down, and, as if by another evil luck, he landed at the feet of Vastagug.
It was hard to tell who was more surprised, the mosuemaid who had worked in the Infirmary her whole life or the Abbeydweller who wouldnʻt believe anything that couldnʻt be logically explained.
"What...what..what was that," Dominic stuttered. There was no answer, but he didn't bother to look at Amylia, the soft but consistent sobbing, echoing from her told it all. His eyes were still stuck on the corpse of the dead Infirmary-keeper, the small scroll still in his paws.
Dominic's eyes were just glued upon the sight of the dead Brother Fhrinch, but a nearby robin's call jerked him back into reality. Refocusing on everything around him, he walked over to Amylia who was still weeping quietly over the newly-dead Abbey-caretaker.