To even the most dedicated chronicler in Redwall, the lands of the north have always been somewhat of a blank space. While there were landmarks that were known, yes, as well as the general terrain, there was very little known of the beastd that abided there, and where they inhabited. This ignorance often leads to the assumption that the lands are scarce and dark, and the beast that live there, if not savage, then at least quite hardened. Nothing could be farther from the truth, that sunny day on the coast of the western sea.
It was time yet again for the annual Fishing Competition. While originally it was an even sponsored by otters, for otters, over the seasons many beasts have come to spectate and participate in the quite unique event. Beasts came from many miles away to witness the event that only happened once every four seasons, and among the young and ambitious, a chance to take part in what had become a prestigious sport. Of course, wherever there is beasts, there are beasts that try to sell to them, and it was not long after the even had gone from a humble contest to a grand competition that vendors of all sorts began to set up along the beach. A young squirrelmaid who started at one end of the pavilions that paralleled the seas and ran to the other end could expect to see no less than two circus troupes, four groups of singers, a knife maker, a fire eater, at least ten different bread sellers, countless stalls selling fishing tack, three sellers of blankets, countless vendors of other vittles, and the odd wandering hare that always hawked his latest batch of noonberry bread. It was a lot of commotion, and to make it to the other end and still have coins in your purse would be quite the accomplishment!
Of course, all of this would not have come to pass if it was not for the fishing competition, of which there was one event that mattered: who could catch the largest fish. Every year the fish to catch was different, last year it was grayling, this year it was cod. The fish was chosen in an elaborate ceremony that started the competition, where the skipper of the local otter tribe drew a small wooden representation of the fish of choice from an old fishing net. It was quite the affair. From there, all contestants had three days to find and land the biggest fish they could, measured by length from tail to snout. Otters were the among the largest body of contenders, but by no means were they always the best. For two years running the beast to beat was a hedgehog named Gallum, who’s skill throwing a harpoon from a boat has earned him quite the name along these shores. Squirrels, mice, shrews, a few rats, and a smattering of others were suited up and ready to either stand ashore or put to sea in small boats in order to see who would be the best, for the prize this year was coveted.
The prize, a single mast skiff, donated by the shrews, had been lovingly created by its makers as a work of beauty and practicality. Gilded carvings of sea creatures lined the outer rim of the vessel, which was large enough to hold a compliment of at least a half score of sailors, complete with a sail that was stitched with a image of a mighty shark. It was said to be a big enough boat to conquer the open sea, while still agile enough to manage the inland rivers. It was quite the prize.
Celebes the sea otter was glad to be in attendance this year, as a young pup he had remembered the festivities before his family had come to Redwall. He knew he had a few days to stay here at least, for of course every beast who had messages to send down the path with Celebes wanted to wait until they could share the news of who won. The sea otter knew he would have quite the load of mail on the return trip, but no matter. Perhaps with the boat, he could simply sail down the coast with his parcels! Yes, wouldn’t that be somethin’? Never mind he hadn’t fished on the high seas since he was a dibbun, he was an otter as good as any! Landing a cod here on a calm day like this couldn't be any harder than from the River Moss. He had his harpoon ready to go, now all there was for it was to go sign his name in!