Extract from the diary of Moonflower DeFormelo Tussock, assistant recorder of Redwall Abbey.
I say, its a jolly good day for a story, Wot! So much snow we cant get out, a nice warm fire, and a beautiful haremaid to tell a tale; thats me, Wot Wot!
Ive finally finished the epic tale of well, lots of stuff: basically stuff that happened before I was born. My mums in it!
Come inside, wot, and listen to a heroic tale (or should I say tail) of adventure!
One stormy night, something happened. A small something, indeed a something so small, nobeast thought much about it. In an abandoned home, re-inhabited by vermin, a female wildcat made her appearance. At the same moment, a tiny squirrelmaid was born.
Rufus!!! A shrill piercing voice rang out over the trees in the orchard. Rufus, get your muddy tail over here!
The unfortunate squirrel, Rufe Swiftflight, turned as pale as a squirrel can go and scurried up the nearest tree. A chubby mousewife bustled out, closely followed by a large badger mother. The mouse saw another squirrel standing by a pear tree, stifling giggles. Ah, Martina, have you seen that scamp Rufus? The annoyed mouses apron strings were flapping around her footpaws. Hes been nicking them candied fruits again.
The tall squirrelmaid smiled prettily and fluttered her long eyelashes before speaking sweetly. Oh no Mrs Longtail, I havent seen Rufe since breakfast, but I dont think it was him who took the sweeties. I saw some of the dibbuns with lots of candied fruit in the kitchens. She curled her long tail next to her ear and went to separate two baby mice whose tails were tied together.
As the two good ladies strode to the kitchens to find the candied-fruit-stealing culprits, the mousewife, Katie Longtail, chuckled. Martina is such a sweet little squirrel, isnt she just, Auma
Aye. The large badger mother smiled. I bet she knows where Rufe is though. Best of friends those two. You can hardly call either of them small though, not now!
Katie smiled. Raised that young Rufus from a tiny orphaned squirrel babe, small enough to fit in one of your paws, I did. Still did fit in your paw for a long time. Oh dear. I think we better get that mole dibbun down from that tree.
Y-yew tells err. Yore a capn, its yore j-j-job to report to Q-q-queen Katanga an Milady Y-Yetaria. It aint m-m-my job, Im o-o-only a c-common foot s-s-soldier. The scared rat was trembling furiously.
A female ermine next to him growled irritably and replied in a peculiar accented voice. Fleashail, you idiot. It aint like we ave much choice ere. Queen Katanga lets err daughter choose the creature to tell err the news. Okay wif you? The ermine grinned unpleasantly. Long gone battles, fights and scuffles had left her face and body scarred; when she smiled unpleasantly, it was more like a grimace.
Fleatail the rat shivered Lady Yetaria was more evil than her mother. Y-y-yes sir, C-capn Brachia, o-o-okay wiv t-this rat ere.
Mama? A young male ermine tugged at Brachias tunic. Mama, can I play inna woods with Bracken the stoat? Ill be good and Ill keep away froms the river. I know otters live there, an they might hurt me.
Brachias craggy face broke into a gentle smile. Of course Midnight, and you must be careful. Midnight the little ermine danced away happily, singing.
Well be careful, well be quick,
If trouble appears well be gone in a tick!
A hissing voice came from within the tent in front of them. Come in, both of you. Tell me your newsss.
Inside the tent it was dark, with just enough light to see a long, lean wildcat stretched out on a heap of soft cushions. The ermine Brachia stood up straight. Oh mighty Queen Katanga, we bring tidings of woe to thy graceful ears. I am sorry to report that when we were asked to discover information about the squirl we failed. Fleatail shook violently, his throat bobbing up and down as he gulped. He knew Katanga would not do anything to Brachia, she a son to look after. But him
What isss her name? You must have found that out at leassst.
We found that out. We heard it. The squirls name is Martina.
The wildcat contemplated the sentence in her head. Leave. I have sssent my daughter to do a better job of finding information. When they had left Katanga murmured to herself. MartinaMartinawhere have I heard that name beforeMartina She sat bolt upright. Martin the moussse warrior!
As the wildcat sat, staring at the side of the tent, a short, crooked pine marten slid through the tent door. Katanga looked up and saw her. Ah, Pine, my trusssted ssservent. Tell me, do you know anything about a moussse warrior named Martin? As she spoke the wildcat flexed her claws menacingly.
Yes, o mighty Queen Katanga, I do. He lived a long long time ago, shortly after the time of your great great great great great great grandfather Ungatt Trunn.
His niece, Tsarmina, was queen of Mossflower. The goodbeasts fought against her, and won. A warrior mouse, Martin, killed her. Drove her into a lake after a terrible battle.
After that the goodbeasts built the Abbey of Redwall and Martin put down his sword. But carved into a secret place on the outside of the Abbeys outer walls, is a rhyme.
In distant future,
One day in time,
Goodbeasts will hark,
Their ears to my rhyme.
The creature to follow me,
Is nobeasts son,
No mouse like myself,
Up trees they run.
Believe me this
When the time is near,
Beware of the daughters
Run in fear!
The pine marten stood, awaiting her mistresss reaction. Katanga frowned. If itsss nobeasssts ssson, well, itsss sssomebeastsss daughter. Up treesss they run, what doesss that mean?
My queen. Pine cocked her head to one side. It could be a squirrel. They can run up trees as if they were flat ground.
The wildcat smiled. Very good, Pine. Leave now, and take your ressst. When the pine marten had taken her leave, Katanga smiled evilly. That sssquirrelmaid wont get in my way. My daughter will take care of that!
Martina the squirrel was in trouble with the dibbuns! In punishment they were chasing her mercilessly. Suddenly she darted into the trees of the orchard, losing all except Fuffle Squirrel and Truffle the Ottermaid in the sharp-turning jumps she was performing. Wes a teach a yous to telly tales onna dibbun! Truffles reached out and grabbed Martinas tail. All three went flying out the tree and landed on Rufe. All four giggled in a heap. Fuffle began to complain. Rufus, yous weighs a ton. Get offa my tail, ya bigs lump.
Rufe sprang up, annoyed. My name is not Rufus, its Rufe, and if you think Im heavy, youve obviously never had a fat squirrel dibbun on your head! Both dibbuns sprang at Rufes head and knocked him over.
Martina was sitting on the ground, giggling. Never insult a dibbun! Suddenly a small mouse leapt from a tree onto her head, closely followed by about a dozen more laughing dibbuns.
Neva tell taleses onna us eitha! Weighted down by infants, the squirrels surrendered under twenty dibbuns-to-one circumstances. When the bells began ringing to signal lunch, the dibbuns disappeared like smoke, all except one tiny squirrel that had fallen asleep on Martinas head. She lifted him off and prodded him awake.
Rufe grinned at the squirrelbabe. Its lunchtime, you know. Plus I dont think Martina is going to hold a great lump like yourself for long. The little squirrel ran off towards Great Hall, muttering something about not getting trifle. I think we better get some lunch before the dibbuns eat it all.
Martina sighed. Talking of lunch, were not going to get a seat now. Sister Aubrietia says the Abbey has never been so full. We could always have a picnic on the walltops.
Yeah, its really sunny so we might as well make the most of it.
The two squirrels squeezed into the dinner line behind Fuffle and Truffle. When it was finally their turn, they took their salad, bread and blackcurrant cordial gratefully and scampered up to the wall top, directly above the gatehouse. Martina sat in a vine filled gap between two battlements. She frowned. Rufe, she said. Is it normal for a wall to have a lumpy dent in it?
Not for a normal wall. But its probably quite normal for a wall that has been in about twenty wars. Hey, what are you doing to that vine?
Martina was tearing away the vines from the wall. There. She pointed to the circular impression in the wall. I know what that is. Its the place Matthias the warrior put the shield of Martin to find the sword. See, thats an M for Martin.
Or Martina. The squirrelmaid turned to look at Rufe. What? Martina is the female form of Martin, isnt it?
Youre right. Martina smiled, and then added, Of coarse, thats why Im so surprised.
Oy you, you little scrubbingbrushtailed hooligan! Ill get you! He dived at Martina, only to land nose first on the hard stone, after shed moved aside. Ow, be nose!
My tail does not look like a scrubbing brush! Say it! The squirrelmaid stood over the unfortunate Rufe, teeth bared menacingly. Say my tail does not resemble a scrubbing brush in any way! Or else!
Rufe did as he was told. Fast. Your tail does not resemble a scrubbing brush! She stepped back, happy. Rufe sprang up. But your head does!
Thats it! Prepare to be pulverised! Martina sprang after an escaping Rufe. Leaping into the trees of Mossflower, they began an afternoon long chase.
Hours later, Mossflower Woods was starting to settle down for the night. The dappled sunlight shone through the majestic trees. Peaceful and quiet, the beauty was suddenly shattered by two giggling squirrels crashing from the trees.
Martina had finally caught up with Rufe. Grabbing his tail, she had catapulted them both from the branches. Gotcha! she giggled. The tall squirrelmaid sat back on her tail, looking around. Errdo you have any idea where we are?
Mossflower. Rufe suggested unhelpfully.
She looked at him, and then spoke sarcastically. That was really helpful, fluff head. A dibbun couldve come up with a better answer than that! Were probably lost now.
Only trying to help, Rufe muttered in a sulky voice. No need to bite my head off. He sat down and started to dig in the dirt with a stick.
Martina round and looked at him apologetically. Sorry, but that was a stupid answer andwhat are you doing?
Errdigging. Rufe grinned up at her. Thats what I do when Im bored.
Martina leaned down to look at him. Thats sooo normal, isnt it? Very mature too. She sat on the floor. Im hungry.
Whats that got to do with the subject? I thought we were talking about my mature way of playing. Rufe stopped digging in the dirt and flicked the stick at Martina. Hang on, you were being sarcastic, werent you?
Martina giggled. Nooooo, of course not, why would I be sarcastic. You puddenheaded treejumper! She suddenly became serious. What was that?
What was what, treeheaded puddenjumper? Rufe chuckled.
Quiet! Im sure I heard pawsteps. Her paw shot out, pointing to a clump of trees. There! The tall squirrel shot up a tree.
What? Rufe was completely confused.
Boys are so stupid. Martina leapt back down and kicked Rufe in the tail. Get in the tree you cakehead!
Rufe grumbled, Cakehead yourself, then climbed into the tree. She was already there, peering through the branches to the clearing below. Rufe plonked himself down on a thick limb of wood, folding his arms. And Im not going to move from here until breakfast.
Pretty long wait, triflebrain. Those four words were all Martina managed to say before two very small and very muddy somethings hurtled past her and walloped Rufe, knocking him out the tree. Before jumping down, Martina could not resist saying, Not going to move until breakfast, eh, Rufe?
The somethings were currently trying to bounce on Rufes stomach, but they kept falling off. Martina jumped down next to them and grabbed a muddy tail. Putta mes down, fuggy buggy!
The tall squirrel held the mud at arms length. You can squash my friend all you like if you tell me who and what you are. The muddy creature stopped squirming.
Is Truffle an she be Fuffle. Can we squish yer fend now?
Hang on Martina took a cloth from her pocket and wiped some mud off the figure. Youre an otter!
Coarse I bees a otter! Gotta be blinder notta seeing that! Truffle grinned and twisted out of Martinas grip, landing just past Rufe. At this moment the squirrel, Fuffle, fell off and the squirrel leapt up and hid behind his friend.
Get those monsters away from me! Rufe cowered after Martina. They weigh a ton!
The dibbuns both grinned. Fuffle scampered up to Martina. We be vwery hungy. Canna wes ave some food?
Sorry. The squirrelmaid picked the little squirrel up. We didnt bring any food. I was chasing him. You dont have to be a mind reader to know youre escaping the Badger mum. Dont want a bath? So what! Being disgustingly mucky is a dibbuns natural defence.
What?!? Rufe was puzzled. How does being dirty help a dibbun defend itself?
Martina giggled. No-one wants to go near them! Both dibbuns nodded in agreement, grinning.
Ha ha. He said dryly. I suppose were going to have to go hungry now.
Yeah. Little Truffle replied thoughtfully. Well, letta gets some sleepybye, anna finds Redwall tamorrer. Everyone agreed with the sensible ottermaid. Rufe muttered to the dibbuns not to jump on him. Big mistake. After five minutes of chasing Rufe and watching Martina laugh at him, the dibbuns fell asleep almost immediately after settling down.
Youre awake then.
A shadowy figure sat up in the darkness. Then whos snoring? Its not the dibbuns, they arent actually asleep.
Hey! Howd ya knows? Fuffles voice came out of nowhere.
You were wriggling. Any idea whos snoring?
I know. A tired baby voice piped up. It that hare wes did saw.
A hare. Thats okay then. Martina lies back down. Go to sleep. You too, Rufe.
The wildcat Yetaria sneered evilly. How easy it would be just to creep up on the sleeping squirrels and get rid of them forever! But it would be more worth her while to capture them.
As the lean wildcat leaned over and stood on tip paw to see her soon-to-be prisoners better, she almost crowed in delight. Two young ones! The abbeybeasts valued their young higher than gold. She quietly slid a backpack from her shoulder and removed several long lengths of rope. Inwardly sniggering, she crept towards the sleeping figures.
Yetaria never thought to check the Redwallers were completely asleep. If she had, this story may have been drastically different
Martina shivered, half-asleep. Through her long eyelashes she could see something moving in the trees. Something with pointy ears. The squirrelmaid squinted, trying to pierce the shadowy darkness. The figure appeared to remove a bag from its back. The squirrel saw a wildcat creep into the clearing.
Yetaria crept stealthily into towards the still, sleeping forms. As she neared the first squirrel, a male who was snoring quietly, something hit her in the chest, catapulting the wildcat several metres backwards.
While Yetaria was stumbling upright, a tall female squirrel materialised out of the darkness. The squirrel grinned. Werent expecting that, were you? Thought I was asleep. Her pretty voice floated through the trees.
Who do you think you are? spat the furious wildcat. Nobeast hits me and lives!
That, my annoying kitty friend, is what you think. And as for who I think I am, Yetaria growled as the squirrel leaned in close to her face, My name is Martina.
Yetaria leapt at Martina, in hope of pinning her to the floor. All that happened was that Martina hit the wildcat on the back of her head, knocking her out instantly.
Wha! Whats going on? Rufe woke suddenly. Whos the kitty?
Dunnobit of a pompous windbag though. Sees herself as some kind of vermin princess warlord. Pitiful.
The dibbuns woke, yawning and stretching. Truffle looked suspiciously at the wildcat. Whered da kitty comes a fromed? Fuffle blinked, not quite awake.
I dont know. Martina picked up the small dibbun otter. But I think wed better try to find our way back to Redwall.
I agree. Rufe picked up Fuffle and jumped into a tree. Lets leave our wildcat friend here!
As the four friends sped through the trees, the wildcat friend stirred. Her amber eyes snapped open and she sat up quickly, only to find the squirrels had gone. Hellcats! cursed Yetaria. Ill get them next time! No pitiful treejumper is going to stop a Sharpclaw!
Back at the abbey, Abbess Mhera was wondering where Martina and Rufe were. They hadnt shown up for supper. Then again, she thought, they might just be out for a walk in Mossflower Woods. She often did just that herself when it felt too crowded. Deciding that they were probably fine, Mhera went over to her brother, Deyna. Even though he was considerably younger, Deyna towered over his sister.
Hey, you up there! Mhera called jokily up to her brother. I want to talk to you!
The abbey warrior smiled and picked his sister with one paw and held her in front of his face. What do you want, little big sis?
You cant do this to me, Im the Abbess, you great lump! she giggled. Anyway, I havent seen Rufe and Martina all day. What about you?
Nope. Theyve got to be somewhere, though. Ill go look for them. Ill just put you downhere! Deyna placed his sister in a nearby apple tree and ran off, laughing.
Hey! Mhera yelled. You leave me here! I cant get down! Deyna! Come back! Get me down or youll be on dishwashing duty until your whiskers go grey! I can do that, yknow! Im the abbess!
Several dibbuns were sitting under the tree, listening to the Abbesss furious yelling. A small infant moue was giggling so hard he was rolling around, clutching his little sides. A tiny hare that was grinning widely leant over the mouse. I say old chap, its not that bally funny, wot wot. Whyre ya laffin?
Heeheehee! Dunno! Hahaho! Not called ol, hee hee, chap, hoha, mes calla George!
The hare shook her small head, large ears flapping comically. Yous be weird, wot wot!
Hee hee! Oh be ha ha quiet, heeheehee! Harebell, you pie-faced giggle machine!
Harebell puffed herself up and spun on her footpaw. Humph! Merely inquiring as to why yer gigglin likes a buffoon! Goodbye! As she tried to stalk off regally, a stick got in her way and Harebell went somersaulting several metres.
Now Mhera was laughing. Although laughing at others wasnt very nice, Harebell had been so funny, Mhera couldnt help herself. Looking down from the tree, Mhera didnt notice the dibbuns sneak up behind. As the Abbess leant out of the branches, an infant mouse pushed her tail off a twig it had been leaning on. Dragged down by her own tail, Mhera stopped giggling as she fell to the ground with a thud.
Hey! Who did that? Mhera struggled upright, rubbing her rudder. You cant just push me out a tree!
Small stifled giggles erupted from the tree. Among the branches, the dibbuns were laughing so much; they didnt notice Deyna pick them up. Whats this we have here, then? Three naughty dibbuns pushing my big sister out of a tree? Tut tut, we cant have that now, can we? The dibbuns hung their little heads in shame.
We cant have miserable dibbuns either! Deyna said, suddenly tickling the infants. Dibbuns need a good laugh!
At the vermin camp, Yetaria was not happy. As she strode through the sleeping vermin sprawled on the floor, the wildcat kicked at the hordebeasts. Get up you idle useless idiots! Its almost noon!
Midnight the little ermine ran sobbing through the camp. Heedless of direction, the infant stumbled over snoring rats and stoats. Right into Yetaria he went, almost knocking her over. Watch where youre going! she snapped, scooping up the young one. Why are you crying?
Wahahah! Da big rwat sat on me! On purpose! Wahahah!
Yetaria softened to the infants cries. Come on, lets get you back to your mother.
Brachia the ermine sighed in relief to see Midnight, but stiffened when she realised who was carrying him. Milady Yetaria. The ermine said stiffly. I see youve found my son. I hope he wasnt any trouble?
Yetaria handing the sobbing ermine baby to Brachia. Not at all. Hes upset about something.
Thank you for returning him Milady. I am eternally grateful. Brachia stroked the little ermines head, and returned to her tent. Normality continued.