The leverets had only been the beginning. If Mahalo had been capable of making the noise, he would have squealed like a leveretmaid in love. Babies, babies, everywhere! This was what really made visiting Redwall such a treat, apart from the food - all those dibbuns living carefree, happy lives - it was adorable.
When the Major was done having this shamefully feminine mental moment, he let himself be trampled and prodded and hugged and questioned to the little ones' delight. Everything from "mista hare, mista hare, why you so ginomus?" to "nunky mawler, guess, guess wot? I ate a worm t'day!" Mahalo hadn't had such a jolly time since… a while.
Freedom began clearing out babes at about the same time Maulings's wound had taken enough abuse. He had to press his lips together and scowl a bit to keep from wincing at the pain, but it was increasingly difficult. Fearing the thought of being confined to the infirmary any longer than necessary, Mahalo sank down and back into the sheets, breathing carefully through his teeth. He had counted to 20 and back again before the pain ebbed enough for him to assume his taciturn mask without any bother. He became aware of a small, giggly presence splayed across his chest, and realized that Charlock was the only dibbun still with him - or indeed, near his bed at all - despite the fact that he could still hear the young uns making their racket.
He ruffled Charlock's ears gently. "Better be gettin' back to y'ma and pa, sirrah. Wot 'ave all your little friends gotten into?"
Charlock bounced to his footpaws, windmilling his arms to keep his balance on the bed. "Dey-- dey-- der wif auntie Snow!" thus explained, the dibbun jumped from Mahalo's bed and, presumably, joined the squealing pile on top of the obnoxious infirmary assistant. He remained stationary until the infirmary became largely free of dibbuns once again, looking up only when he heard Charlock's small voice. The last to leave, again.
He was just in time to meet Snowdrop's gaze as she spun suddenly, staring him down. He returned her expressionless gaze, not in the least bit disturbed. For a moment, all he could discern was the storm. And then Snowdrop spoke first.
"What," she said.
Mahalo arched one thin, elegant eyebrow, just slightly. Normally, he would not have graced such a ridiculous statement with a response, especially when such ridiculousness was coming from his uncouth haremaid. But the sight of Charlock turning her headfur into an impressively accurate replica of the salad gardens at Salamandastron nearly caused him to seize with laughter. Laughing in public is not something Major M. Maulings does. In an almost desperate attempt at keeping his composure, he forced his face into a look of what he hoped was aloof disdain, and when he felt the beginnings of a giggle at the base of his chest, he choked out the first thing that came to mind.
"Wot, indeed, miss. Don't stand there with y'mouth open, there may be flies about."
Whatever Major M. Maulings had expected upon Snowdrop's return, it certainly wasn't this.
The babies swarmed the infirmary, conquering the stones with their fuzzy little paws, tiny squeaks and squeals, and large, excited eyes, bright with energy and curiosity and babyness. They swarmed all over Snowdrop as she re-entered the sickbay with a laden tray, and then they swarmed all over Maulings, heedless of his injury. The halfer giant could have sworn the infirmary assistant had dumped them on him, but he couldn't be sure because he'd had to do some quick squirming himself to get in a position that would ensure his injury wasn't made any worse by flailing little paws. He'd hate to be stuck under Snowdrop's nose for any length of time. Like he was now.
Propped up in a semi-seated position against the headboard of his little infirmary bed, Maulings stared grimly down at the cheerful fuzzy faces turned up to him. He was struggling again to keep a reign on his emotions. This was something of a problem for Mahalo - this being the babies, and babes and young ones in general - and had been for as long as he could recall. Being a commanding scout major of Salamandastron, he was held to a certain regard concerning the younger set, and though Mahalo always tried his hardest to maintain this and his reputation as well, babes and young 'uns were always… they simply... they were all so...
The smallest among the tiny furry brigade, a small male leveret, climbed Maulings's chest - easy to do, given his position, though the young one still used his claws more than the Major would have liked - until he could reach Mahalo's face, which the babe promptly clapped his sticky paws against repeatedly. "Nunky Mawler!" he squeaked, enunciating each syllable with an extra-hefty high-five to the face. Maulings's ears dropped dangerously low.
The Major lifted the harebabe away from him with one paw, balancing the little one in a neat paw seat, perfectly sized for the child in question. "Master Charlock," Mahalo intoned gravely, "it is right bad form to slap a beast wot's lyin' in 'is sickbed, wot." And then the officer could hold back no longer, and he smiled, eyes sweeping all the young creatures around him. "Wot in the name o' fur h'are you lot doing here, eh?"
Charlock clapped his chubby little paws and giggled madly. The other leverets surged forward, all chattering at once, eager to be the first one to give their Nunky Mawler the battle plan.
"A surprise! It was a flippin' surprise, wot!"
"We came, um, came here be– we came b'fore daddy, and shupsied him, nunky, sah!"
"Wif mummy, ahcuz daddy is pwatolling wif you, nunky!"
"Oh, la, sir, did we surprise him good!"
They all fell about with laughter.
Mahalo watched the exchange between Freedom and Snowdrop from the corner of his eye, just as irritated with the arrangement as his uncouth haremaid appeared to be. At least they had that much in common - and it is always better when two parties mutually dislike each other and both know about it. In this case, safer. For everybeast.
The Major entertained the idea of informing Freedom he wouldn't be having this sort of behavior from her assistant, but thought better of it. It wouldn't do to offend their hosts, especially considering the nature of his mission and that they were looking after him at all. Since when had reccy trips to Redwall become such a chore? Maulings suppressed a groan. Hardly a few hours since he had clapped eyes for the first time on Snowdrop Whitlowe and already she was unraveling his self control and turning him into– into-- what was this? Something like bloodwrath, but colder.
He was impressed on some level. Very few creatures could bring out the worst in him.
Maulings was so wrapped up in his inner dialogue, he almost missed the question directed at him from the infirmary doors.
"I-- allergic, miss?" The thought crossed his mind that she was looking for a way to poison him. He almost laughed at the thought. There were so many more creative ways for a healer in training to poison a beast, it was utterly laughable.
Still. The idea struck him a valid one. Odd... or not so much.
He watched the back of her ears until they disappeared from view. It was depressing, how much time they'd be spending together. There was no way he could sleep with the ache in his side, nor could he stomach the thought of putting up with Snowdrop for some period of time every hour. He almost reconsidered the sleeping tonic - almost. Couldn't stand the stuff, honestly. Which did he dislike more, sleeping draughts or Snowdrop? It was a close call.
The Major sank back into his cot with a faint sigh. This was going to be a long trip.
Mahalo's eyes whipped back to Snowdrop with an almost audible snap when the haremaid snorted derisively. For a moment, both their ears stood rigid. The Major was not used to disrespect and didn't typically put up with it.
"That depends on how long you actually want to stay bedridden. 'twould be a shame if you popped a perfectly good stitching job on the first day."
This haremaid was so completely and utterly… insufferable. Maulings had to grope about mentally for a word to label the young assistant with. Absurd. Boorish. Impertinent. Vulgar? No, no…. uncouth. Yes, that's what she is. A completely uncouth excuse for a maid. Her saucy response - to a question decidedly not directed at her, thank you very much - did wonders at rubbing him the wrong way. Absolute wonders.
In fact… had anybeast ever ruffled his feathers like this? True, his sister Mahina had come very close in the past, but this was…. different. Exceptional. Pure.
Pure dislike, that is.
With some effort, Mahalo regained his mental composure and responded in a quick deadpan, "I see." It was the best he could do without showing some kind of negative emotion. Think of the Patrol's reputation, think of the Patrol's reputation… He remained stiff and composed while Freedom puttered and fussed around him. She was a calming presence. He marveled rather that this infirmary keeper had such an obnoxious assistant.
"Snowdrop will go fetch you some dinner, and after that I will give you something to help with the pain and to help you sleep. Does that sound alright to you?"
Mahalo chose not to respond to the Snowdrop comment. It was too bewildering to think of - on one paw, Redwall fare; on the other, he wouldn't put it past Snowdrop to spit in it, even for as long as he'd known her; then again, it would get her out of the room for a wee bit; but she'd be around even more after that. Bother.
"Well I thankee kindly, marm, but h'I don't think I'll need any help sleepin' - can't abide the sleepin' aide stuff, wot?"
[OOC - ya know, looking back, we did pretty good for three in the morning, there. XD]
Mahalo, in keeping with his typical stoic demeanor, remained silent and largely unresponsive while Freedom labored with medical efficiency over his wound. He did his best to ignore the assistant hovering nearby, thinking instead over the skirmish outside the abbey. The foxes had taken the patrol largely by surprise, and though the hares had known there were foxes somewhere in the area - three vixens and a large dogfox, to be exact - they were tricky beasts and a challenge to track at best. The foxes and hares had been playing a loose game of cat-and-mouse between the river Moss and the western plains, where Mahalo - tired of tracking in circles and not about to loose a load of vermin on the abbey - gave the order to bait the trap, as it were. The foxes took the bait, but not in the way the hares expected. Even so, the battle was short and brutal, ending with minimal casualties for the long patrol and all the enemy slain save two who ran. When the young lieutenant Mahalo had brought along to play healer pronounced his Major fit to be carted to the abbey, the hares double marched the remainder of the journey.
Mahalo knew he could rest easy where he was, the chain of command would ensure all pleasantries were exchanged and messages delivered, but he found it hard to. He might have liked the assistant healer if she hadn't opened her mouth. He worked his jaw silently, forcing himself again to think on other matters as Snowdrop made a faint noise somewhere off to his left. It was well into supper time - he supposed his hares would be stuffing their faces just now. The thought brought the ghost of a smile to his face, though the corners of his lips remained slightly downturned. The storm continued its relentless beating on the abbey stones, and in the brief, brief space between when Freedom cut the thread, and brought her paws to a dressing of some sort, the storm was deafening. It lessened and faded to white noise when the infirmary sister spoke, however. Mahalo had found her to be an agreeable little mouse, one who struck him as running a tight ship aboard the infirmary boat and had a no-nonsense air about herself. Shame the current sawbones at the mountain fortress didn't share the trait - medical emergencies at Salamandastron were turning into quite the production these days.
"You were lucky Major, it was a clean wound. Missed all of your vital organs entirely, and did not do much tearing. I would dare to say that, given the proper treatment and time, and providing you do not bother it much, you will be healed up nicely in about three weeks, four tops."
The Major cleared his throat and twitched his whiskers politely up at the infirmary sister. "Thankee, marm, and y've done a fine job o' patching me up, too, wot." How unfortunate that he would be virtually bedridden for almost the entirety of the trip. Mahalo knew he could count on being fed, though, so it wouldn't be a total waste. All those lovely abbey victuals…. the assistant caught his eye again - quite by accident, he was sure - and he dipped his chin briefly in cool acknowledgement. "Ah, ye have m'thanks as well, miss." She had helped, after all, and although it had taken him less time to decide he disliked her than it would've to scoff a scone after a long march, there was the reputation of the patrol to consider, as well as setting an example for his young recruits. He turned his eyes away from her and focused almost haughtily on the next most interesting thing in the room - the window.
The wind changed again, throwing the storm heavily alongside the glass. Attempting to sit up slightly, the mountain giant addressed Freedom. "Am I to take it h'I've been confined to bedrest, marm, or is a stretch out in the orchard out of the blinkin' question, eh?" This was an important question. Maulings had the sinking impression of who he'd be answering to if he were confined entirely to the infirmary.
"Weather permitting, of course."
[OOC - not sure if this goes in non-traditional or not.]
It hadn't started out bad. Perhaps that is what made it so bewildering, so frustrating - there had been no indication at any point, at any time, for things to go so…. well. "Wrong" wasn't quite the word for it. In battle, the tide can turn in a heartbeat, change can happen faster than soldiers can grasp - he knew, of course, that to expect the unexpected was a part of his job, his lifestyle, even - and truth be told, he was quite good at it. But this…?
Major Mahalo Maulings exhaled heavily, closing his eyes as he did so, shutting out the sight of the arched abbey infirmary ceiling stones, red as the blood still matted in his fur. He vaguely wished he could shut out the sound of torrential rain thrumming at the windows, but it would have been churlish - and utterly childish - to cover his ears.
Just last week Mahalo had been given a very simple - but very much coveted - assignment. Take a small pawful of patrollers and carry a message to the abbot of Redwall congratulating him on a third season jubilee. This was the simplicity of the assignment. The coveted part came from getting to stay for the abbot's jubilee feast - oh, and such feasts they made at the abbey...! Mahalo had been only too happy to snap up the offer. His patrol, though small, was a perfect mix of young greens and experienced vets. His route was a well known and well worn one. All known dangers had been pre-assessed, and all unknown dangers had been dealt with exemplary military efficiency, including the skirmish near the abbey which had landed him in an infirmary bed.
And it was not the plethora of dangers that come with traveling cross country and forest in Long Patrol uniform which caused the Major such consternation presently, nor even the sudden downpour which was most certainly causing flash floods somewhere in the forest. It was not even that he had been wounded, something he was fairly proficient at avoiding in small battles and skirmishes. No, the thing which had Mahalo's ears all atwist had nothing to do with himself nor his assignment, and everything to do with the Redwall infirmary keeper.
Or rather, the infirmary keeper's assistant.
Posting this partly as a safety save, and partly because I really want to start RPing with this guy. XD This profile is very much not complete.
Nickname: Sir. Just, "Sir." Major Maulings is also acceptable.
Full Name: Major Mahalo Maulings
Species: Half European brown hare, half highland/mountain hare
Major Maulings largely takes after his mountain hare heritage in the looks department. He's bigger than the average Salamandastron hare, both in height and muscle - the lad doesn't have an ounce of fat on him. He has dark, almost black, brown eyes, a broken nose, and three thin, faded scars raked slantways across his face from temple to cheek. His features have an air of being battered, and his expression is usually worked into a dark, dangerous scowl, or one of cold military indifference. He is in his mid-thirties.
His fur overall has a much darker undertone than that of his Salamandastron-born father, and though his pelt bears the typical markings of the hare - brown throughout, light belly, dark back - he has more black and dark brown than anything else. His eartips are, of course, solid black. During the winter season he molts into an off-white, gray-flecked sort of color, with exception to his eartips, which remain black year-round.
The Major is forever and always kitted out in full regimental dress. His uniform is a dark, navy blue, with silver backed buttons. He has several medals which are always on display. He carries a ceremonial short sword (strapped to his thigh) and a sling (wrapped around his waist). His weapon of choice is a large, sturdy halberd. Just in case you didn't catch it before, Maulings is NEVER seen in anyting short of perfectly groomed military dress. Ever.
Possessions: …are typical for that of an officer of the Long Patrol.
IN PROGRESS Personality: Very much dedicated to his job, absolutely loyal to Salamandastron and the Long Patrol, and completely trustworthy…....demanding, as an officer and a beast; comes off as overbearing; looks and acts imposing, something he'd prefer not to be
Maulings is a very fitting name for him, etc
- Size - it takes one of great skill, bravery, or stupidity, to attempt a tangle with Maulings. He hits like an anvil and runs like a train.
+Boxing - the Major is a very talented boxer, in both weight and skill
- Rational - an expert strategist, Maulings can pick his way around a battle plan with the best of them. He doesn't panic in emergencies and it is difficult to catch him by surprise.
- Attention to detail - his sharp eyes and ears are largely what makes him such a good scout. Very little happens round the Major without him knowing about it.
- Size - this works against Maulings in several ways. Though he is a hare and a powerful runner, it takes him longer to get up to speed. Smaller creatures are faster or more nimble in close combat. Swimming is difficult - he sinks very quickly.
- Babbies - though he takes great pains to keep from showing it, Maulings has a very big squishy soft spot for babes, young 'uns, fuzzy things with big eyes, and baby animals in general. He wants to marry and have a large family in future.
- Glutton - a typical hare when it comes to vittles.
- Old school - Maulings is old fashioned to the rigid backbone, very much the stereotypical old officer. Though his demeanor demands respect, he often misses out on the silly things in life that make it worth living. This is a major part of his life that he is missing and, in some ways, wishes he had.
- Gruff - fails utterly at being even slightly endearing to young creatures.
IN PROGRESS Background
-Mother - clan of large mountain hares, father - grizzled Long Patrol NCO. Mother divorced/remarried in the north, raised by (bitter) father at Salamandastron to be a champion boxer [= old fashioned, doesn't show emotion much - father. wants stereotypical perfect family - from faint memories w mother]
-entered officer candidate school first thing, decided to be a scout, goal to work is way up through the ranks and be a good commander [overall personality ingrained from long patrol / some event to the baby thing?]
-explain will die for honor/lp/etc, personality, drive for life… speaks with a slight highland lilt from his early years in the north...
-this is hard to write because his background is so boring, I think. XD Here are the basics, and many apologies if your eyes bleed from reading my notes-to-self!