OOC: An unfinished RP from Warriors of Redwall. Reserved for myself, Fernleaf, and Doggo.

“A dream you dream alone is only a dream. A dream you dream together is reality.” – John Lennon.

“Jared…Jared, wake up.”

Jared held back before opening his eyes, trying to comprehend what was occurring around him and stirring in his bed timidly. Did he…just suddenly hear a voice? Was said voice asking that he wake up? Something about it seemed familiar.

“Dad?”

Jared’s eyes shot open. Sitting coolly on the windowsill, under the golden reflective sunlight, one leg lazily dangling off the side, and a bright smile on his face, was Dane Sandeye.

His boy sat up straight in bed, wiping the sleep from his eyes. Dane appeared so real, yet there was something ethereal about him as well, an aura of warmth and an air of deep love.

“What are you doing here, Dad?” Jared asked, moving out of bed. He opened a drawer in his bedside table to retrieve a shirt. “I’m dreaming, aren’t I?”

Dane too hopped down from the windowsill, landing noiselessly on his feet on the ground. “Perhaps you are dreaming; perhaps not. That’s up to you, Jared. Be that as it may, it’s not without reason: I’m here because there’s something you need to know. A message that your brother wanted me to deliver to you.”

Jared stretched his arms and yawned softly after slipping his shirt over his bare torso. He practically fell lovingly into his father’s arms, who reached up a paw to stroke his hair. Jared cherished the short moment before pulling away. “Dad, what gives? It’s still the afternoon. Couldn't this have waited until tonight?”

Dane held his child tenderly by the shoulders as he looked him in the eyes. “Like I said, I’ve got a message for you.”

“If it’s Ed’s message, why couldn’t he come tell me himself?”

Dane was making for the bedroom door, again swinging it open without even the most minor of sounds. “He has his reasons; no point in arguing, Jared. Come on, we’ll talk outside. Don’t worry about Maddie, she’ll be all right. She can neither see nor hear us.”

Jared, sensing no other alternative but to some degree defensive, followed his father out into the hallway. “All right, what’s this about?”

Dane climbed up to another windowsill, a little above the floor where they could have some privacy. Looking down, he beckoned Jared to join him. The young squirrel did so without hesitation. Father and son hung their legs over the side, and Jared laid his tired head on the former’s shoulder.

“Jared, odd things have been happening. You’re aware of the coming of the Long Patrol, yes?”

“I know all about that.” Jared answered truthfully.

“And the advancing vermin hordes on the Abbey?”

“All accounted for and made known. The whole Abbey knows.”

Dane put his arm over his youngster's shoulder. “Let me tell you something: whatever’s going on, it isn’t natural. The Long Patrol, the Vermin; they’re not here because they want to be, but on the grounds that they need to be. Something’s motivating them. Also, I think it’s most imperative that…you know who’s with them. Somebeast you and your sister know perfectly – somebeast who is seeking both of you from across the sea.”

Jared jarred awake again, a sharp intake of breath escaping him. Dane’s eyes were all of a sudden turned greatly serious. There was no need for an exchange of words between the two again: they both knew full well what the conversation was pointing towards.

“He’ll be coming for you,” Dane continued. “You must be ready when he does. Already, he’s making his way here from the Eastern Sea. Ed’s been watching his movements. He’s been to Maraul, without any luck finding you and your sister there. So his last resort is Redwall Abbey.”

Jared shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “That…doesn’t make any sense at all!”

“What doesn’t, my son?”

“Maddie and I, we haven’t seen him for…well, years! Now he decides to hunt us again? And Ed couldn’t come and tell me himself?” Jared removed the arm draped over his back and stood up carefully on the windowsill. “He’s my brother, Dad! If there’s anyone I trust more than anybeast else, it’s him! Why send you? What’s with him not telling it to me straight from his own mouth?”

“Jared, I understand you’re angry, but don’t blame me.” Dane calmly jumped to his feet as well. “You know Edoran better than the rest of us. He’s got his reasons; some things are just better kept secret. You have to remember, to recall, he’s done things like this before. It’s only natural.”

“'Only natural'? What’s that supposed to mean?”

His voice was cut off by the sounds of pawsteps on the stairs behind them. Dane looked over his shoulder and saw the figure of an indiscernible creature descending the long staircase. He turned his gaze back on Jared.

“That’s my exit.”

And without warning or conclusion, he disappeared in a short burst of white light.

Jared tried grasping at the empty space where his father had been standing, but with no success. “Wait, Dad! Where’d you go? You haven’t told me everything! Where’s Ed?”

Too late. Dane was gone. The figure had caught up to him, their interest no doubt piqued by hearing the Sandeye boy talking to himself, or with whom he had possibly been speaking.

“Jared? Right?” came a voice. The abbey was big, but not so much that beasts couldn't know each other in passing.

Barley steps groggily down the stairs, tiredness clear in his eyes, as he buttons his leather jerkin around his tan underbelly. The mouse struggles with the last button. Barley was hardly a healthy beast before being introduced to Redwall food.

With a sigh, the obese brown mouse just leaves the button hanging loose, stepping close to the squirrel. "What's got you up so early, and you haven't seen a grey fieldmouse about have you?"

Barley and his brother Oatis were hardly Redwall beasts, more like extended visitors who just happened to work for their keep.

Thump, thump, clack, clack. The sound of heavy footpaws together with the clack of a cane approaches. Mother Snowpaw, the Redwall Guardian, who watches over the Dibbuns, approached. "Jared? What is up?" she said. "You look like you've seen a ghost!"

Jared was surprised by the sudden appearances of his kindred Abbeydwellers. At the sounds of Mother Snowpaw’s cane, the Sandeye boy swung his legs over the side of the windowsill and looked down at the Guardian Badger. A stunned pale look came across his face.

“A ghost? Is that what you said?” Jared thoroughly considered this for a brief second, then answered, “Yes, yes, I…did indeed see a ghost. Whether or not it was a true ghost is a mystery to me.” He shook his head in dismay and confusion.

“Sorry, I’m just…so out of focus right now. I can’t understand what my own eyes just witnessed.”

The squirrel pushed himself down from the window to the ground, landing at the foot of the staircase. He set his eyes upon Barley. “You're looking for your pal, Oatis? I’m sorry, I haven’t seen him. Something unusual just happened to me. I don’t know if you’ll believe this, but…my own Dad visited me, from beyond the grave. But I really do hope you find Oatis. If I do see him, you'll be the first to know.”

“Jared? What’s going on?”

Jared turned on his heel to find the source of the new voice. There, standing in the doorway of the bedroom, was his sister, Madeline. She was pulling on a jade-green shirt and also clearing sleep from her eyes. The Sandeye squirrelmaid joined her brother in the hall. Jared held his sister close to his chest and whispered reassuringly in her ear.

“Maddie, it’s all right, everything’s fine. Just a peculiar dream I had, that’s nothing more to it."

“You were talking to Dad, Jared. Are you certain everything’s fine?”

“Sis, don’t worry. I’m fine. We’ve got friends here, they’re hearing each and every word we’re saying. We’ll talk about it later, all right? Go back to bed, baby girl; I’ll wake you up later for supper.”

The mouse raises an eyebrow at this revelation. Barley chuckles but soon he can hardly contain his laughter.

Then realizes that he is the only one.

"Wait, seriously? You actually saw the apparition of your dear ol' papa?" The mouse leans against the wall, arms crossed. "Right. Well, I suppose stranger things have happened, usually aided by ale…"

Snowpaw frowned. This was serious, especially with a vermin horde approaching. Any portent dreams from the Dark Forest were important. So far, there had been no appearances of Martin the Warrior, but it was possible somebody would be having that soon.

"Did he say anything, Jared? Think! It could be important." she said.

As the Badger Mother saw Maddie, she patted her head. "Precious, you need your sleep. We'll talk with you later, dear."

Maddie took Snowpaw’s advice to return to bed, and did exactly that, closing the bedroom door behind her. Jared shot a death glare at Barley, then met the Badger Mother’s frown.

“He didn’t say too much. The message was supposed to be from my older brother, Edoran. But for some reason, my Dad brought it to me instead. Anyway, the message was this: somebeast from my past - an old enemy - is presumably on his way here to the Abbey, from my homeland, the Eastern Islands. But Mother, for your own sake, please don’t ask who. If what my Dad said was true, then this old phantom is on his way…right now. Whatever it means, it’s not good, not by the slightest stretch of the imagination.”

Jared set his harsh eyes again on Barley. “No disrespect, Barley, but could you be serious, please? My parents and my older brother have been dead for the past decade. The fact that they’re visiting me now is not any simple coincidence. It’s my job to figure out what it all means.”

In the end, the squirrel's angry glare only prompts the mouse onward.

"Decade?" He whistles low, "And I thought my parents were overbearing. But to have them giving me advice from beyond the very grave…" Again Barley chuckles until he realizes he is the only one.

"You're serious, aren't you?" Barley gives the beast a long stare, then to the badger he says, "This thing happen often here?"

Whoof! The answer was a swipe of the badger's paw, laying the mouse on the floor. He would be looking up at one angry Badger Mother. "Do not speak lightly about what you know nothing, little rip!" she said. "This thing does not often happen here, only when Redwall is troubled and distressed, then Redwall's guardian spirit stirs, and things like this happen. Do you think the advancing vermin horde is a laughing matter as well?" She gave a wry smile. "Maybe you would like a nice bath, a good scrubbing, young'un."

Looking at Jared, she said "I will not ask the name of the one who pursues you. But the Father Abbot must know of this, though I will not disturb the Council for now. If you and your sister are in danger, then we must protect you."

“Yes, it’s definitely best that we don’t interrupt the Council right now. It’d be very rude." Jared nodded in agreement at the Guardian, then bent down on one knee in front of the for-the-moment incapacitated Barley.

“Again, no disrespect, but that’s what you get for bad-mouthing my fallen family. You wouldn’t understand, not at all. Don’t waste my time or yours trying to explain all the details. My love for my family is greater than you can possibly comprehend. Don’t you dare insult or dishonor their memory.”

Jared stood back up again and straightened his clothes, somewhat lost for words. He no longer felt tired, no longer having a desire to return to bed, unlike his sister. He simply decided it would be best to remain with his companions, probably until dinnertime; in case they ever wanted to engage in any trivial conversation.

“So, aside from the vermin hordes, in addition to the Long Patrol also on its way, is there anything else I should know?”

Snowpaw thought for a moment. "Jared, have you ever heard of a vermin who turned good? I have seen one, a hermit who lives in Mossflower, who my Dibbuns and I know. He has never set foot in the Abbey, but he has learned the arts of healing and herblore over the seasons. I once visited his hut and heard his story. An unusual ferret, he is indeed. Two of the Long Patrol have gone to look in on him and persuade him to come to the Abbey for his own safety." she said.

“A vermin turned good? Lives out in Mossflower, never set foot in the Abbey? And you say he’s a healer and herbalist?”

Jared took a minute to retreat into his memory to find this curious creature. “My sister and I have met him before, I think. Darn, what was his name again? Fera…Fero...Fern - Fernleaf! That’s who he is! How in the world do I remember his name, but not the meeting we had with him? I hope the Long Patrol representatives have better luck. Fernleaf will most definitely need the safety. I can’t imagine what the Vermin armies will do with him to achieve their own ends. Would you suggest that we visit him again, just in case?”

Jared wasn’t either of what the hermit specialized in; rather, his father Dane had been a blacksmith. The trade was passed on to Jared after he died. If and when the time came, Jared would have to spend the majority of his days at his forge lying a few miles outside of the Abbey. He couldn’t foresee just what kind of metal creations the Abbey would require when the Long Patrol and Vermin arrived.

“You want to get something to eat?” He casually proposed to Snowpaw and Barley. “I’m having a bit of trouble thinking straight right now. Maybe some food will help me get my mind straight. Why don’t we go to the Kitchen? That is…if the Dibbuns haven’t raided it again like they did last week.”

"If I'm not on the menu to have my tail chewed, literally or verbally, sure." He said this first to the badger, and then turned to the squirrel. "And I mean no disrespect, kid. It's just that you should be aware that everyone has lost people, but not everyone shares your sentiments that they can come back from the grave. So don't expect everyone to share in your...enthusiasm." He rolls to his feet. The push onto his rump didn't hurt Barley in the least, it just...took a moment to get back up again.

Dusting off his vest, he counseled further. "Keep that in mind before you go telling people that you saw your long-lost papa in public." The mouse smiles, gesturing for them to lead the way. For Barley it was a friendly warning to the squirrel. The mouse doesn't know Jared very well, but he didn't want him to go making a fool of himself either. Then again how was it his business if the squirrel decided to make a fool of himself? In the end, Barley just shrugs. His brother Oatis was already a pawful to worry about as it is...

Snowpaw smiled. "They won't be doing that for a while, when they got treated to warm nettle soup." she said. "But yes, let's go get something to eat." She left with them.

Upon arrival in the kitchen, Jared instantly took to warming up the previous night’s vegetable soup, putting the pan on the stove and turning up the heat. He removed three dishes from a cupboard, and spoons and a ladle from a drawer. Once the stew was all warmed up, Jared served it to his company.

“Here’s my hypothesis,” he began, sitting down at the table. “Whomever’s coming for my sister and me is doing so with purpose, with intention. I don’t know what or why. Who knows how many of the Eastern Islands he’s visited in his desperate search for us? How many lives has he threatened and undermined for information as to our whereabouts?

“I don’t know what to expect now. Will I get another dream tonight? Who will visit me next? What does this all mean? Mother Snowpaw, I’m asking for your help; just for now until the Council is over and I can speak to the Abbot. I honestly can’t differentiate between dreaming, imagining, or hallucinating. My Dad just…seemed so real to my eyes. And here I sit, talking to you. It all just seems so strange.”

Still very much confused, Jared dove into his soup and said nothing more.

It doesn't take long for Barley to appear from the kitchen as well, bowl of soup in his paws and buttered roll of bread in his muzzle.

He sits down, scooting the chair back to accommodate his girth. Dipping the bread in the soup before eating, he says, "I missed some of the conversation, sorry, exactly who or what is coming after you?" He manages between bites.

"And do you feel the need to inform the guards about it?" It was a rather blunt question but needed.

Snowpaw took some soup and thought. "I've never heard of something like this before. Whatever is pursuing you will have to get through me, and it's a good idea to let the guards in on it. Good idea for once, Barley. But tonight, we sleep in the presence of the tapestry of Martin. It's the safest place in the abbey. I doubt if the guardian spirit of Redwall will let anything harm you." She wondered if he had spoken to anybody yet. And when will those hares get back with the Hermit? She had much to think about.

“Do I really need to give you a name? I don’t know if you’ll believe me if I tell you.” Seeing the truthful expressions on his friends’ faces, Jared decided it was indeed best to give the truth.

“His name is Garkul DemonFang. My sister and I were captured by him, prisoners of his several years ago. We were held there in his underground dungeon for quite a while; wouldn’t have been the first time we’d been imprisoned in such a place before.” The squirrel went silent for a moment while the terrible memories of both events stirred and flooded to the forefront of his mind.

“Anyway, Garkul and I got into a fistfight. He kept bragging on and on without cease about how he could beat me in that kind of thing. As you can guess, I admit, it ticked me off. There was a bad scuffle. He scratched and cut me several times, I punched and jabbed at him. Mind you, this was entirely unarmed combat. It came to a point where I got so out of control…that…I hit him in the jaw. I broke some of his teeth, and he fled. My sister took that opportunity to escape, and we haven’t seen him since.

“Now, as to why he’s exploring the Eastern Islands, that’s pretty obvious: he knows where we live, our homeland. But we’re not there; we haven’t visited in a few months, actually. When all these problems are over, maybe Madeline and I will consider going back. His lack of information is part of his motivation to find us. The less we appear, the more desperate he gets. Revenge is all he cares about.”

His thoughts shifted to the advice of Barley and Snowpaw to inform the guards. It stopped him short for a moment, not really sure how to respond. “I understand you mean well, but…I don’t want to cause more alarm than is needed. We – and I mean the three of us and my sister – cannot predict when he will get here, if he’s on his way to Mossflower from the Eastern Seaboard. The guards can help, but…how much so? I’ll talk to them after the Council is over.”

The image of the Martin tapestry instantly flashed in his mind when Snowpaw mentioned it. Now this was something he could agree with. “Yes, let’s sleep there tonight. I don’t mind it at all. If there’s anybeast who knows best aside from my family, it’s Redwall’s guardian spirit. I don’t want him to choose me as his champion, though. I already have enough responsibility trying to protect myself and my sister.”

Finishing his soup, the portly mouse smirks, "Now there is something I can agree with. I've got enough on my paws worrying about my own sibling let alone with vermin troubles. Speaking of which, if you see my brother Oat about the Abbey do me a favor and don't tell him about this. Especially if this, Garkul is a…" The mouse glances left and right, just in case Oat should magically appear behind him. "Especially if this beast is a v-u-l-pine. He…doesn't need the added stess.""

He relaxes before continuing. "Invasion notwithstanding, I think you are fairly safe here. We have walls, guards, and soon an army of angry vermin warriors to get through. Unless Gar travels with an army of his own, I think you'll be fine." He says with some sarcasm even while trying to be comforting.

Snowpaw had left for a while to escort Fernleaf into the Abbey and prepare him for his meeting with the Abbot. She came back. "Please excuse my absence. I had somebody to meet. I doubt if he would be confident enough to meet with you, he's kind of shy. He's the ferret I told you about. I'm sure spending the night with Martin's tapestry. Whoever he makes his champion would have no bearing on what we're doing now. We just need his protection. I wouldn't worry too much about that, Jared."

Barley smiles in the usual way one does when he completely disagrees with whatever is going on, but finds the effort to vocalize it not worth the trouble. Undead warrior spirits, bah! But the corpulant mouse is hardly one to criticize the beliefs of another.

"If marten doesn't help, just show this ol' weasel to me, I'll show him the ol' one-two," The mouse throws a few mock punches in the air. "Or just dress him up as a fox and sic Oat on him with a hatchet." Barley laughs and laughs and then immediately says sternly, "Under no circumstances should Oat ever be given a weapon. Ever."

He adds even more sternly, "EVER. But anyway. Pleasure chatting with you chaps. Hope your dream business goes well. I am off to find my wayward brother. Take care."

Meal finished Barley waddles his way away from the table, occasionally licking his paws clean of the meal he had. Warriors from beyond the grave indeed.

Jared cordially waved after Barley as he left. However, then a disbelieving sigh escaped his mouth and the squirrel shook his head in disbelief.

“'The ol’ one-two.' Like that will help any. Garkul is not a brute to be trifled with. Who knows what amount of damage has been done throughout the years since our last encounter? I can’t envision what extreme measures Garkul’s turned to, attempting to improve himself, better than before.”

Jared gathered the bowls and spoons, washing them in the sink and putting them away. “I guess it’s OK to skip out on supper. I’m honestly not all that hungry anymore. Maybe Maddie will want some of this. Better keep it out for her, just in case.”

He sat back down on the table beside Mother Snowpaw, putting his paw in hers in need of guidance and counsel.

“So for what remains of the afternoon, should I be doing anything to prepare for the sleep before Martin’s Tapestry? My sister should know, isn’t that so? The visions are mine, of course. But would it be a good idea for her to go along with us?”

Standing on a nearby windowsill, a faceless phantom shadow watched over the young male squirrel, curious and waiting for the coming of the night.

"Not much. We're just waiting for the Council to break up." said Snowpaw. "And the vermin are now outside from what I've heard, and are asking for a parley."

Balma stepped into the room. For a moment, a shudder wracked her body as she scanned the room in visible distress, but in the next moment she calmed down as if brushing an errant leaf off her pelt.

"I'm surprised anyone is hangin' about here at this time! Seems most beasts are either up on the walltop or else abouts. Well, it's jus' as well I found you lot, the place is so empty I kin hardly stand it…"

Before anyone could respond, she went on again. "Yous must be wonderin' why I ain't out there, and truth be told I ain't too surprised by the deal wit them vermin. Coupla days ago I cast some bones, and the forecast wasn't too good, but I figured it would be jus' a bad storm or sumfin'. Is it jus' me or do any of yous sense more spooks around here than usual? It's bad enough my fur is always bristlin', I half expect to turn inta a hedge'og one a' these days. Why, the moment I stepped in here I felt my skin right crawlin'!"

She paused for a moment in deep thought.

"Me ould mentor allas said ghosts were a sign of comin' calamity. Mayhaps those weird premonitions I've been havin' could have some merit to them..."

"What?!”

Jared held back before inclining his head on Snowpaw’s shoulder and about dropped out of his seat.

“They’re already here? At the gates?” Pulling himself up to a sitting position, the youthful Sandeye looked Snowpaw fairly frightfully in the eye.

“What if…Garkul is with them? My sister and I won’t be prepared! This is outrageous!” He clapped his paws to his head in sheer frustration, shutting his eyes firmly and making a decent attempt to think. Something in his gut was telling him not to overreact. Garkul in truth was not with the vermin armies, very much a far long ways behind.

How long till he reached Mossflower?

Jared immediately surrendered his mental questioning and laid his head on Snowpaw once.

“I’m sorry, maybe that was uncalled for. Garkul might not be here with the Vermin hordes. I want you to be with me at Martin’s Tapestry tonight. It’s difficult to foresee what may happen there if left alone. When is the soonest time we can set up there? What would be a good idea for me to bring? I will tell my sister about it as well.”

This was something to be much anticipated. Sleeping before Martin’s Tapestry! Yet there was much premonition and solemnity in it. Regardless, Jared relaxed on Snowpaw’s shoulder, taking deep breaths to calm his emotionally conflicting nerves. He lifted himself up again when Balma entered the Kitchen.

"Balma, good afternoon! I didn't expect you to be awake or wandering on this level of the Abbey, either!" Jared encouraged the ottermaid to take a seat with himself and Snowpaw.

"It is agreeable that the Vermin outside our gates are clearly up to no good, not in the slightest. The ghosts are those of my family, visiting to bear their own warnings of our own 'calamities' to watch out for. If you felt something while walking in here, Balma, none of it was any coincidence.

Mother Snowpaw, my sister, and myself will be sleeping before Martin's Tapestry tonight, and you are welcome to join us. Might even meet somebeast unexpected. What do you say, Balma?"

"What may you bring?" asked Snowpaw. "What may you bring but yourself. It will be enough. What else you may bring is up to you, young Jared. This evening we shall be there. It will be all right. We will see." She placed a paw on his head which was resting on her shoulder. "You will see. You will see." Maybe even Fernleaf might be with them, especially after the way he surprised her, making that vow before the image of Martin. That ferret was just full of surprises.

At Jared's offer, Balma stroked her paw under her chin, seemingly pondering the question.

"Hmm, hmm, hmm, well I can't refuse the chance of contact wit the other side, now can I? Nothin' risked, nuthin' gained is what I think. Though I should prob'ly do an incantation to ward off anythin' malevolent, eh? I mean, I've already done my daily chants, but another couldn't hurt!"

At this, she clasped one of the carved pendants attached to her clothing and muttered some esoteric phrases under her breath, then continued on as if nothing happened.

"It'sa real relief them hares are around now, tho', or else I might have had my work cut out fer me real good like! In these peace times there's not a lot o' need fer guards here, not like it was when I was a young'n, and most of the guard is getting on in age, mebbe a handful of the younger folk. I have to wonder how big the vermin threat is, cause even wit the Long Patrol here there might be tough times a'coming."

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