"Can't blame her for attacking you," said dark-pelted, bulky pine marten next to Dylan. He was just as bound as rest of the gang; sitting on the floor, short chain connecting his shackles on the big iron ring bolted on the stone, not allowing him much room to move.
"You were 'de one who sent her to be a messenger – and 'den ditched her"
Crookeye was the name this pine marten used nowadays. His real name was Knar, but that was a secret kept hidden from others. Mostly because Crookeye didn't wish the beasts he encountered make the connection between him and his past-self. 'Knar the Kinslayer' was what they called him back then. Or 'Knar the Badgerbane'. One of the many infamous bynames he had earned as Third-in-Command in vast horde army. It really was a story how a beast from such a rank had ended up in here. In this dark dungeon which walls echoed the shrieking screams, condemned like a petty bandit. Oh yes, it was quite the story, and while there were many reasons how his road had led him in here, the biggest turn of events must be the moment he took up Dylan for his offer to join his little band of thieves and cutthroats.
Had it been a mistake? Knar really didn't know. If Knar believed something called "luck", he would think Dylan had got both the worst and the best of it. First the gang leader had this grand plan rob the "riches of Kingdom of Gilmar" and actually pulled it off only to find out that this so called "riches" were just one loud, through and through spoiled princess, whose rotten personality was just unbearable. Then they were attacked, not just by beast-eating tribe but also an eagle that lived near the watchtower they had barricaded themselves in. And against every odds they had survived that. Killed the eagle, escaped the tribe-beasts, and the plan of use princess to get some royal ransom was set in motion. For a while it seemed like all this would turn out be very profitable; they had traveled to towards the meeting point where the exchange of payment and kidnapped would take the place. Only to end up meeting the King's bounty hunters on the road, resulting their capture.
Bottom line, Dylan seemed to get into the worst kind of trouble, dragging the whole crew down with him. But then again, Dylan somehow managed to pull through. Somehow managed to be the leader he was supposed to be and turn things to his favor. Knar didn't know if he should be impressed from such tenacity, or just astonished that other was still alive.
But this – Knar let his eyes dark eyes wander around, on the cold, unforgiving stonewalls that surrounded them – this might be pickle even Dylan's "worst-and-best-luck" could not save him. Or them.
Knar grunted, leaning against the wall. Errot, the young weasel kid, was beside him, curled against his side for warmth. Kid was shivering. He had just started to recover from his fever and Knar was worried this cold and damp cell would set back that progress and make the kid sick again.
"I, for one, would be honored to live my days by serving you, Great One", the rat said with humble bow. He then selected a big, wide bowl from the table and placed it on the floor.
"So what knowledge you wish to quiz me, o Mighty? " he inquired innocently when starting to fill the bowl with the finest wine. Snakes couldn't drink from the mugs or tankards, their moyth was way too big for them. "I….I have been long away from our blessed Sanctuary, but I'll do my best to answer!"
Ah, an enthusiastic youngling then, thirsty for an adventure and heroic deeds! If Steck would be a responsible adult, he would indeed instruct this young lad to return back to his home. As the wide world wasn't as thrilling and full of wonders as tales happen to tell…. Well, of course there were thrills and wonders, but also dangers that aren't as glimmering as they are presented in legends.
And unlike in legends, in real world bad beast could win. And sadly, very often so.
But alas, Steck might be an adult, but responsible he was not. So eyes glimmering he just passed the notion how young other was to be wandering around all alone.
"Why, indeed I was" Steck said as he took the wide brimmed hat and made an exaggerative bow, the red weather glimmering in vanishing daylight. "I'm Steck Vennet, a story-teller, a song singer, a spoker of tales of far-off lands, an introducer of the famous heroes, an illustrator of breathtaking adventures and a messenger of great deeds! How nice that you enjoyed my little piece, as hurriedly as it was made" – he returned the hat back atop his head. – "…and who might you be, my newest friend? And if I can be so bold – would you happen to share this nice camp with another fiery traveler? I have walked far and I would not mind to have a company for a night."
The vixen's pleading didn't seem to make much of effect on the rat: he just merely glance at her way, before moving the hook that kept the pot above the fire. Now it needed to cool down ….
"If you really want my help…" the rat begin, but was interrupted by the hissing call from behind the kitchen door. The rat quickly hopped down from the stool he had stand upon while mixing. "…Then load that big stray with everything delicious. There's lot of it in the pantry" The rat pointed out the big stray on the table. while he himself picked up a smaller one which had couple of finest wine-bottles on it. By the looks of things (and other bottles spread on one of the tabletop) it seemed like Rat had searched through the whole liquor cabinet.
But when passing the fox, the rat suddenly stopped and leaned over others knelt form, a clove-wearing hand resting on vixen's shoulder. "If you do exactly what I say, we both might live through this," he hissed near Inktail's ear, his voice suddenly low and icy. And for a moment his grip form fox's shoulder tightened. "Now, go get the food."
And as if nothing had happened, the vermin lifted his paw and continued his way.
"I apologize for the delay, O Mighty One," the rat said with chirp tone, as he pushed the kitcken door open, all the grimness suddenly vanished from his voice. "The kitchen there sure is a disaster. It seems like somebeast tried to leave in hurry or something." The rat hummed as he placed the stay near the snake.
"Food will be here shortly, but I brought some wine as appetizer. Though…." a concerned frown appeared between the rat's eyes as if he had just thought of something. "I ¬– I really do not know if your earthly manifestation cares for it. In the Sanctuary, we sacrificed wine to your smaller imagines all the time…"
Here I come! Sorry for the delay – had a bit busy end of week but now I can relax with my vacation! x)
Normally there were many sounds that belonged in forest at the evening time; creaking of the old trees, the rustle of the leaves when wind passed through, a distant tweeting of some late bird and so on. A sound of clapping was the most unexpected thing Steck wasn't prepared for and immediately mouse's eyes hopped towards the bushes, from which direction the sound came from.
And not so later came a voice too, calling him 'master voice'.
Well, now he really had to find out who was the owner of the mysterious voice.
'That's mole-speech, alright,' Steck thought to himself as curiosity brought him to the obshes, the mouse walking past them to meet the his hidden admirer. 'Maybe a fellow traveler? I don't see any light, so I doubt there's actually house a nearby….'
Out of loud he said: "Greetings, a fellow wanderer, I ––," Steck's sentence was cut shirt when his eyes landed on the small mole, sitting under the tree.
Surprise after another, it seemed. Another thing Steck hadn't been expecting was a young mole in middle of darkening Mossflower woods. But this bard-mouse was nothing but quick to reclaim his speechs.
"–– Oh, hello there little one…" Steck said, hesitantly looking around. He was trying to find any sign of this cub's parents or guardians, whoever they might be. But besides himself and the kid, in the small clearing there was no other. There wasn't even any sign of proper campground, no fire or such. Just young mole, sitting on the ground.
Steck returned his attention back to this young one. At least he was geared up for travel: he had a rucksack and blanket, and appeared to be calm like summer breeze. So… maybe not lost one, then? Usually kids who got lost in the woods would be much more teary and frightened than this one.
"…..Are you here all by yourself?"
Hello to all of you! How nice of you drop by! ^^
Okay, the thread is here: "Singalong In The Night" ( http://www.redwallslegacy.com/forum/index.php?topic=2817.0 )
We have room if any of you're interested. Feel free to hop in if you ever feel like! Me and waaaaaaah haven't much of thought of the plot yet, so we just swing it as we go xD
But be warned – there will be SINGING! muahahhahaaa!
Evening was creeping into the Mossflower woods. It was time for dibbuns run to their homes and their open-arm waiting mothers, exhausted from their daily play and mischief. Candles would be lit, the supper would be carried on the tables and families would dig in. And after all was well and warm, beasts would gather besides the log-fire and spent the night telling stories and singing songs until sleep took them.
…That was what any sensible beast would be doing right now, Steck Vennet, a wandering bard, though a bit bitterly as he climbed over a fallen tree truck and hopped down, continuing in his way. …Tuck themselves somewhere warm and bright – not wade through the thick undergrowth, their paws wet and sore from all the walking, while hunger gnawed their stomachs.
Steck stopped for a moment, scratching behind his ear, looking around but seeing nothing that could give him any better directions than were he was already heading. This was rather discouraging… According to the directions that helpful water vole had given, he should have reached the main road by now. But here he still was, surrounded by the tall and ancient trees, no sight of the road and sun has already started its journey towards the horizon, painting the sky with illuminating shades of red and orange. The only explanation, of course, was that he had somehow strayed from his path… But in this massive underbrush one could lost even a sight of over-sized badger!
Steck let put a small sigh. Well, he couldn't help it now, could he? He should continue a bit more, try to find some nice and dry place or hole to spend his night… Have his traveler's evening meal, as meager as it would be…
Again, thinking about dry bread for a supper was a bit dispiriting. So Steck tarted whistle a tune, something that has just popped in his mind. And it didn't take long before hummed words were added to it. Singing always brightened his mind, uplifting his spirit, no matter the time or place.
_"Here's a song,
not from times far agone
I should know it – I spun it!
As I walk alone
To the place, they all call
The Abbey of Redwall"
"This jolly and smart mouse
Storyteller, second to none
But you won't see me grouse
As I travel on
Darkness doesn't scare this witty bard
I have travelled east to west
The trees can stand on their guard
And witnessing my gallant quest
To the place of legends of all
To the Abbey of Redwall"
"But in my midst of distress
The truth I find
My path has led me to digress
As there's no Red Walls in my sight…"_
The bard let out a snort and shook his head, chuckling: "Oh, that was just horrible! 'Find' and 'sight'? Oh, nonono, that won't do at all…"
"Oh?" Tinderwick addressed the fox's panic calmly from the fireplace, where he stood in front of small black cauldron. He didn't even lift his eyes as he was talking to Inktail, clearly focusing in his task. Something was already boiling in that iron pot, the transparent mixture whirling in the rhythm of rat's dipper. Odd scent rose from it: sharp and ashy, little bit hard to breathe in. Maybe that’s why the rat had covered his snout with cloth hanging around his neck.
"And how are you planning to do that?" The rat continued like they were having conservation about weather. There was something really odd about Tinderwick, not just because he was so overly calm about the situation, where horrible death resided only behind one wooden door. For example, he didn't stutter as he had before. And he was carrying himself in much more confident manner, as if a beast who knew exactly what he was doing, as he went through the cupboards of the kitchen. In other words, it almost seemed like Tinderwick was whole different vermin altogether.
" There's no kitchen door in here. And the windows…" – the rat pointed up where the wall met the ceiling. And where the kitchen's small hatch-windows were – "…are way too small us to fit through. So the only way out is through the hall and main entrance. You really think the snake is going to let you just walk out of the door?"
Tinderwick pulled out a big jar, examining its content. He let put a gleeful yell.
"Ooh! Honey! This will do nicely!…" And he hurried back to the cauldron, pouring the golden, sappy ingredient into it.
Steck was born in far-off south, in lands where the earth is dry and the sun boils the landscape. In those bare lands there are many clans and tribes that compete over the ownerships of the oases and cultivable earth. Most of those clans and tribes are leaded by jackals. Pitiless and scheming beast who are still fond of comforts of life. So they weren't so keen to wage open war as disastrous battles could have easily destroy what's left of arable land. And traders, who travel by boats across the seas, would disappear, taking their goods of luxury somewhere else. So power struggle wasn't brutal force or open conflict. It was a poison in the wine and treacherous dagger between shoulder bones. It was lies and scheming where alliances were as easily formed as they were broken.
Between plotting clans where those poor tribeless or clanless beasts, outcasts, victims of betrayal, slaves, merchants and mercenaries. Without proper livestock, life was beyond miserable in those dry lands. On his early years Steck was just one of the many of orphan without name or any worth on his life. He has never known his father and his poor mother passed away when he was seven-year-old. Left alone with no-one caring if he lived or died, a little mouse-boy started - as many did in the situation like his - stealing. And after countless of beating and nearly-death-experiences he become inexpertly good at it. Almost whole three years he managed to survive but then he was captured by slavers and sold to the Blackstripe Clan. The Clan's head was called Adgar the Blackstripe - or Adgar the Cutthroat, the lord of the side-striped jachals. He was very cunning and manipulative beast, that preferred subtle means over brute force to get what he wanted.
Before Steck was branded he managed to steal his cage's key from guard's keyring and escaped. But it was a short-lived freedom as he was immediately captured by rat Scartail, Clan's storysinger. She had seen mouse-boy's light finger in action and had picked interest in him. Scartail wasn't cheerful rat although she was Blackstripe Clan's storysinger. Aging had made her bitter and displeasing to the eyes and if something was dislikable in Blackstripe Clan it was ugliness. Scartail knew this, and how the aging had made her less useful than she had been in her better days, so old hag-rat saw opportunity in small mouse-lad. As through him she could gain value so she wouldn't be disposed of. She proposed her Lord Adgar that she would mentor this little scamp to be use for Clan. And Adgar gave his permission.
Thus young mouse's days with rat began. Scartail poured his knowledge and teachings rather harsh way into the youngling, expecting nothing less than lawless performance. Young mouse learned how to play various instruments. Learned how to sing and how to behave when presence of jachal lord - or any beast who had more worth than he had. But then there were other lessons – lessons which purpose young mouse didn't first understand. Alongside everything else he learned how to pick locks. He was trained to memorize things only by singe look and to repeat correctly everything of the conservation he had once heard. How to move like he wasn't there, how to mask his presence and eventually how to use a dagger. Those really didn't felt like fitting lessons to become the Clan's storysinger but Steck didn't question. It was always a mistake to question Scartail. Meanwhile rat was slowly brainwashing the mouse into the Clan's mindset: you were only wanted if you were useful. Useful ones followed the orders and did not question their place. Eventually, as the small mouse proved himself being worth of her time, Scartail gave him name 'Tenet'.
As the time passed by it become more clearer and clearer to Tenet what was the true nature of his lessons. Scartail wasn't as much storysinger as she was spy working for the Blackstripe Clan. Her role as storysinger was a facade to fool others and give her freedom move as she liked in resident of Clan. Of course, her age didn't allow her do much anymore, but there Tenet would come in, carrying his role in task she wasn't able to perform anymore.
Thus Tenet's live as a spy began. It started by hunting down other clans' spies or traitors inside Blackstripe Clan. Back then Tenet's didn't deal with the traitors himself - he just delivered his findings to Scartail who reported them to the Lord of Blackstripe. And after that some unexpected and tragic accident would fall upon those poor beasts. Tenet was only sixteen years old when he was sent to the other Clan as a spy, his ties to the Blackstripe Clan well hidden. There his skills were put to the test as he balanced not to blow his cover while sneaking and spying and then reporting back to Scartail. All what it took to sabotage the clan inside so it would be easy to Blackstripe Clan overpower it. He was never discovered as no-one could suspect well-mannered and skillful mouse-bard.
In year's time the rival clan was destroyed and Tenet got his order to come back. Adgar was pleased in Tenet's performance and wanted Tenet answer directly to him from that day on, cutting of the middleman Scartail. Old rat didn't take this well as she saw is as a threat becoming useless. Now that Tenet has clearly won the lord's favor she couldn't anymore take credit of youngster's deeds to herself. So Scartail began to plot against her own pupil: an unfortunate 'accident' would happen to ´Tenet' and then Scartail would offer to train another one to her Lord. It was good and carefully composed plan. But Scartail had taught Tenet way too well as the mouse saw the treason coming, preparing for it. In the end it was other way around and it was Scartail who met her demise - in the hands of his pupil.
Adgar wasn't even slightest disappointed when he learned what had become his old spymaster. On the contrary he was trilled, from his point of view Tenet had proven his skills when the mouse had managed to outsmart old Scartail. The mouse was truly worth of keeping and would now be Clan's new spymaster. That day Tenet received his curved daggers from the Lord of Blackstripe.
Tenet absorbed his two-facade-role. In daylight he would be unsuspicious mouse-bard, playing masterfully his harp for Clan members, keeping his senses observant. And when moon climbed to night sky, he would carrying out whatever orders the lord of Blackstripe would give. He never failed to found rotten apples among the others, nor bringing his lord an infomartion the jackal Lord could use as his advantage. Now that Scartail was dead, responsibility of 'accidents' usually fell on the Tenet's shoulders. Not that mouse cared much. Scartail teachings as well betrayal had left him empty, like a dry shell. He wasn't happy nor was he sad. He lived his live like in insignificant haze, going where he was pointed at and doing what he was told. He didn't ponder what he wanted or wished, incapable for being truly passionate of anything. His life was passable as he was more that slave, less than free beast. He could come and go as he wanted but never leave the residents grounds without given permission. What he knew was that life could be worse in many ways so rebellion never crossed his mind. Like what else livewothy there could be in the outside world?
Then one day, Blackstripe Clan got its claws on crushed enemy's wealth. That included bunch of slaves and Tenet got an order to find out if any spy had managed to slip in with them. Tenet didn't find any other potential suspect but an old hedgehog lady whose eyesight had gone bad. To Tenet that seemed bit suspicious since no ordinary slave would have lasted to reach that age -- so something must have been going on. Thus he kept eye on the old lady. It turned out that hedgehog was just as feeble and old as she appeared to be: she had survived only thanks to the other slaves' kindness as they shared small rations with her or helped in her tasks. Tenet had never witnesses a such caring for a fellow beast, as he had been raised into mindset that beast was only good for its keeping if it was useful enough. And yet that old hedgehog was treated with care and concern, even though he was too old to be actual help... She tried to return others' kindness as much as she could by looking after those who were sick or injured. And she told them stories. Stories not from jackals' lands but lands far-off -- where she had lived many years ago. It didn't take too long before Tenet was captivated by those stories he had never heard. He started visit old lady as much as he could and after each visit and new story, his curiosity grew... Which was weird since he didn't remember ever being curious about anything. Then one late of night Tenet just couldn't sleep as he thought those stories and lands he had never seen... And all of sudden, a powerful urge, a burning desire, overtook him. For the first time in his live Tenet wanted to do something and it was so overpowering feeling, that he just had to act according to it. He wanted hear more of those stories. He would go and seek the lands from where they came from. He would see with his very own eyes the wonders mentioned in the songs. And he would take the old headgehog with him - not exactly knowing why, but it felt important to him. Thus Tenet grabbed his belongings with few other things and slip into the night.
On that same night in barracks, working-slaves woke up as one of their cell's door opened and the key-ring landed on one of the slave's lap. It took them a while to grasp what had just happened before they freed themselves and gazed carefully into the corridor. Barrack's few guards had been taken care of and they were lying on the floor lifeless. So the slaves freed the others and determined, they picked up anything they could use as a weapon. Flame of vengeance had ignited.
As the alarm of slave rebellion had given guards other things to think about, no-one noticed as Tenet sneaked to the kitchens and woke up the old hedgehog who was shackled to her sleeping place besides the stove. Tenet had to came up with imaginative lie to get old grandma come with him but he pulled it off. And while the chaos in Blackstripe's resident escalated. Tenet and the old hedgehog sneaked into the night. Tenet didn't really have a plan since it was the first spontaneous act he had ever made. He managed to bribe merchant's boat to take him and old lady aboard (with aid of the few valuable items he had snitched from Blackstripe's Clan). The boat set to sails and for Tenet that night felt like he was first time alive. He was 22 years old back then.
Favored by winds the boat sailed to the more greener lands. But long and tiring travel by the boat had taken its toll upon the old hedgehog. She had become very fragile and when she set her pawn down on the dry land, her spirit just left her, like it had only been waiting for its last chance touch the land as a free beast before leaving in peace. That was the first time in his life Tenet grieved, as during the journey, he had grown very fond of the elder. He made resting place for her but after that he was completely lost in what to do next. It was pure stroke of good luck that he stumbled upon travelling performance-group. Tenet practically begged them to take him in. And eventually he managed to win group's trust as they discovered that mouse was fine add to their performances with his music-skills. He abandoned his name Tenet and started his new life as Steck Vennet, learning arts of stage from the other performers. And it was a good life.
Couple of years passed and Steck came to realize that traveling with the group wasn't the right place for him. The group traveled within the familiar lands, like birds moved on the different seasons, eventually coming back where they had left. He was happy but wasn't satisfied: same old secure route could no longer offer the young bard new songs and tales he so longed for. He wanted to travel lands beyond, even to those that had been labeled as dangerous for travelers. Because out there must be so many stories he hadn't heard about, he just knew it. His hunger grew and so on the autumn of his 25th year, Steck bid his farewells and left the group starting his own journey. For beginning it was harsh, as Steck no longer had the protection on larger group. Bandits and vermin view lone wanderers as an easy prey on and some land were less welcoming the guests than others (but the tales and songs he found made it all up in thousand fold!) Steck learned to adjust and survive as he could time to time resort in skills learned from Scartail. In time he grew dislike his past-self and tried forget about it by leaving his dagger in their sheaths.
His talent for music: he can play very well various instruments, but has specialized in string-instruments, especially in harps.
Performer (knows various tricks entertain others)
Sharp memory, attentive about his surroundings
Can pick locks
Not very strong
Habit of being too clever which tends to spur more problems..
Can't keep promises
Habit of lying. Goes in great lengths to conceal his past.
Addiction of stealing
Avoids responsibilities. Little bit selfish
Blackstipe Clan – severed ties. Steck doesn't know whar have becomce tthe Clan after the night he left.
Old Hedgehog granma -- deceased
Group of performers -- Steck has heard that his old band is still on business and doing fine. That makes him happy.