The Cruel Spur (open)



  • “It’s down,” Everett said, dropping the candle on the steps. The flame exploded for a mere second, then dissipated into shadows, leaving behind a thin wisp of smoke that vanished in the darkness. She gasped for breath as the blade began to lower, her eyes lingering on the brief explosion of flame as it vanished into darkness. “You have nothing to fear now, do you understand?”

    His paw moved quickly in the darkness, grabbing her wrist and twisting it away from his body. He was careful with the weight he applied, not to injure or enrage, but to end the hostility and prove she had nothing to fear from a slightly older, stronger ferret. Before she could protest he climbed to the step she stood on, his body pressing against her own. He felt her exhales on his neck as he leaned towards her ear, his nose lighting against her cheek.

    “I’m not going to hurt you,” he whispered in her ear.

    Willow felt his breath upon her fur, and his strong arms around her body. Slowly, the shuddering began to slow and she calmed down, dropping the tanto from her grip, causing it to crash noisily to the floor, the crimson of her blood coating the elegant designs upon its hilt. She gulped, coming back to her senses and finding herself blushing, despite the circumstances.

    "Hurt me…" Her voice was softer, not as harsh, and seemingly confused as she phrased the question again, as if repeating it would make its meaning clear. "Hurt me..." She faltered for a moment and turned her head, her long brown tail twitching behind her, the two rings of blackened fur visible against the rest of her tail, rough grey marking the edges of the strange patterns in the dull light.

    For the first time, her eyes looked into Everett's.

    Enchanting, crystalline sapphire orbs gazed forwards into his icy blue depths, nestled within silken bands of white fur markings across them in a long tear like shape that lead out towards the edge of her muzzle, continuing from the natural curve of the eye upwards. Distinctly different from the chocolate-brown fur covering most of her body.

    Her gaze lingered there, hovering for a moment as if she were at the gates of the dark forest, stunned. Willow blinked repeatedly, and then turned her eyes to one side, away from his face. Her pink noze twitched in irritation as she attempted to gather her thoughts, her focus drifting at the edge of her paws clutch.

    Blood trickled down her paw as her claws had dug quite deeply into the hilt, causing streaks of red to drip down her fingers. As she once more hovered over that abyss, almost she dared to look into its depths, her eyes meeting Everett's again, before she pulled back, releasing herself from his grip and stepping back to press against the wall, glancing down for the fallen tanto.

    "Hurt me?" She said again, though her signature, charming smile lit up her face. "You couldn't harm me, Sir." Her speech seemed to resolve itself, falling into something that most beasts would call a respectible and civilised tone. "I may not look it, but I am quite capable of taking care of myself."

    Willow wished to distract him from what had occured, and so she glanced up the steps of the tower.

    "I saw the glowing from the gardens...and decided I should investigate. As to the abbeys treasures...why.." She grinned widely. "I wouldn't dream of touching them...Everett, did you say your name was?"

    Her focus quickly returned and she took several deep breaths, attempting to disguise them as sighs. "Now If you are done, I would like to sheath my blade." Blood trickled down her paw, un-noticed, as she began to cast her gaze around the floor for the metal blade. Of course, Willow was not going to apologise, nor would she be giving her name to this stranger.

    I can't believe I did it again. Zarya will not be pleased with me, and I don't want to sit through another lecture! Though her gaze was upon the ground, her head turned down towards the steps, she couldn't help but let her eyes dart towards Everett. Of course, she doesn't have to know… Her smile broadened and her eyes glittered with the sparks of mischief in the dim light upon the staircase.

    Who does he think he is anyway?  With his flashing eyes…his.... She halted to glance over at the Ferret. I nearly killed him, he's incredibly lucky! I Can't let him have my name. Nobeast must know I was here.



  • Everett watched her face, watching for any sign of violent thought or conscious rebellion…but when he searched her features, he saw none. The fear had dissipated, leaving behind an exhausted shell that was lovely in the dwindling shadows of twilight. Her eyes were fire, hotter than the tongue of flame that died on the steps below their footpaws. He twitched his nose at the sound of dripping; he scanned her frame with the eyes of a physician, his subconscious wanting him--granting him–permission to look on her as a female rather than a patient, but he wouldn't allow it...not now. He pushed the thought aside and found the source of the dripping.

    "You're bleeding," he said quickly, grabbing her injured paw and wrapping it with a stray piece of cloth plucked from among many similar strands resting in his back pocket. "I'll need to clean it, once we get to the abbey."

    "Hurt me…" "Hurt me…" Her voice was softer, not as harsh, and seemingly confused as she phrased the question again, as if repeating it would make its meaning clear. "Hurt me…" She faltered for a moment and turned her head, her long brown tail twitching behind her, the two rings of blackened fur visible against the rest of her tail, rough grey marking the edges of the strange patterns in the dull light.

    For the first time, her eyes looked into Everett's. He fought against her gaze, wanting to look anywhere but into the deep sapphire orbs that stared into him and through him, but he was overwhelmed by the force of her gaze, and soon he found himself transfixed and buried in her stare, reveling in the shine of her eyes.

    "Hurt me?" She said suddenly, though her signature, charming smile lit up her face. "You couldn't harm me, Sir." Her speech seemed to resolve itself, falling into something that most beasts would call a respectable and civilised tone. "I may not look it, but I am quite capable of taking care of myself."

    Everett shook his head, trying to free himself from the dizzying spell that pained his brain. He cleared his throat and tried to find something to occupy his paws with, but failed miserably. "Of that, I am quite sure," he spoke in a faltering voice.

    Willow wished to distract him from what had occurred, and so she glanced up the steps of the tower. Everett bent and retrieved the dead candle and its holder as she spoke.

    "I saw the glowing from the gardens…and decided I should investigate. As to the abbey's treasures...why..." She grinned widely. "I wouldn't dream of touching them…"

    Everett looked up and returned her grin, a symbol that he didn't quite trust her reply but was willing to forgo any further prodding.

    "Everett, did you say your name was?"

    Everett righted himself and nodded. "I did, though I would hardly recommend such a meeting as ours with any of the other abbey creatures!" He laughed nervously and rubbed at the back of his neck as she looked away from him, scanning the stone walls as if searching for something.

    Her smile never faltered. "Now If you are done, I would like to sheath my blade."

    His gaze dropped to her fallen weapon, and as he stooped to retrieve it, he found her snatching paw flash like a bolt of dark lightning–quick and precise, and just as deadly. In a moment the blade disappeared into the folds of her garment, safe and at rest. He rubbed his paws and shrugged.

    "Well, I don't know what else to say. Are you hungry?" He smiled at his own question. "The cooks have prepared a marvelous chowder, with fresh bread and steamed vegetables...I wouldn't want you to go without a proper meal tonight."

    Her eyes…I could drown in them! He wanted to sigh and groan in frustration, but he caught the noise in his throat and converted it to a quick cough before continuing. "I'll help you down…if you'd like company."

    He cocked his arm out for her to hold when he heard the gurgling shout behind him.

    "Ressssssk blahh guuurrrrrraaahhhh!"

    He whirled, but too late--the rat fell atop his back, and the two began their painful, erratic fall down the rocky steps and into the blackness below.



  • (I'm planning on joining this, maybe tomorrow! That is my answer to everything! ;D)



  • She had allowed him to bound her paw, momentarily lost by the fact that it had been bleeding. How could she have missed that? A healer, she should've felt the pain, known it was there. It was undoubtably shock from the unprepared sight of flames.

    Her smile was wider than ever as she watched the other ferret struggle with his wordplay, a small chuckle escaping her lips. As he leaned down towards her tanto, she quickly darted forwards and had the blade within its sheath, her movements, for a brief moment, like lightning. A quick flash across the ferrets paws and the blade was safely within its home, nestled into the sheath like a resting viper ready to strike at the first sign of danger.

    Never give up your weapon. That's what Zarya would say.

    Indeed, that sign of danger approached quickly. Willow had allowed herself to be distracted by the ferret, and she had lost her focus as she had danced across the edges of that wonderfully enticing abyss.

    Ive…never felt like that.

    "Well, I don't know what else to say. Are you hungry?" He smiled at his own question. "The cooks have prepared a marvelous chowder, with fresh bread and steamed vegetables…I wouldn't want you to go without a proper meal tonight."

    She nodded her head and licked her lips. Redwall vittles! The finest she had ever tasted. Surely, she would not be missed just this one night? The rest of the blades could wait, or perhaps, join her later.

    A taste of those vittles might be worth another 'serious talk' from her mother, decided the young ferret girl.
    Afterall, rumors of vermin in mossflower tend to be just that these days…

    "I'll help you down…if you'd like company." She grinned, her charming smile had so easily ensnared this other ferret and she was delighted, though she did not quite understand why it pleased her that she made him so disorientated.

    "I suppose I shall…If you will not inform anybody of my coming h-" She stopped, her eyes had caught the movement but she was too slow as she turned towards the rat.

    "Ressssssk blahh guuurrrrrraaahhhh!"

    The rat leapt past her before she could unsheath her blade or indeed, stop him. He landed ontop of Everett and she found herself instinctively moving after them, down the staircase.

    Shink

    The tanto was released once more from its sheath within her garments as Willow halted, turning to glance up the staircase.

    What if there are more of them up there? Zarya will certainly tan my hide If I let vermin into the abbey! But if that one kills Everett… She glanced down, then back up into the gloom above.  Then…..then he might...he might go into the abbey and hurt more beasts! Zarya will not let me forget it.

    The thought of Everett flashed into her mind but she pushed it aside, deciding that saving him would be preferable to another lecture from Zarya about 'responsibility' and 'morality'. Afterall, she didn't really care what that rat did, or who he killed. It was her reputation and status that would be affected if she let the rat rampage!

    Having rationlised why she had to save the beast and confront the rat, she sped downwards into the darkness. Across the stairs she leapt after the struggling pair her footpaws dancing through the air with every jump and increase of speed her body responding in her time of need so easily that one might believe that the ferret was flying down the stairs indeed upon the wings of a ghostly steed.

    The name came unbidden to her lips, soaring freely into the air cutting through the darkness.

    "Everett!" She yelled, leaping down the stairs with her tanto drawn, hoping that the cause was not forlorn she darted forwards in seek of the rat her eyes alight with a predatory fire like a cat, hunting for her pray where perhaps she might display swordsmanship of the first degree and slide her blade freely into the rat, maybe before he did any real damage…besides, he might be carrying something valuable or pretty, and that would make the effort worthwhile, Willow hoped.

    Edit, ooc: Ive just re-read this again and I can't help but think it sounds horribly poetic. I think I might have missed some punctuation somewhere Or need to change some words. Thoughts? 😕



  • Kenji Haruki was eating his dinner a few seats away from Everett. He didn't pick up the whole conversation, but the veteran heard enough to understand the problem at hand. As Everett turned at left the table Kenji finished his portage in a flash, mopping up the remainder with his bread. He jumped up to follow the other ferret called, "wait Everett! I'm coming too!" But, Everett had already gone out of hearing range.

    "There goes another crazy ferret," Nimmer snickered. Kenji threw him a glance but kept running.

    By the time Kenji reached the Abbey grounds, Everett had already started up the tower steps. Now alone in the dark, Kenji started to have second thoughts. "What if there is something up there," he muttered to himself, "it could trigger… that thing..." Kenji walked slower as he thought, a cold chill running up his body. "Curses, I'm to young to have battle memories," the ferret groaned as he started up the bell tower stairs.

    Kenji was about halfway up when there was a sharp cry and Everett came tumbling down the steps in the grasp of another beast. Kenji quickly moved out of the way, his heart feeling as if it were his mouth out of of surprise. He felt a strange feeling as if bile were rising in his throat, but he knew better. The second half of his mind was rising to take control. "I came to Redwall for peace... this can't happen..." Kenji gasped as he tried to fight it. The poor ferret collapsed to his knees in the stress of the internal battle, slowly pushing his dark self back into the blackness of his thoughts.

    The few seconds it took for Kenji to fight off his evil side seemed like hours. When he rose, he was covered in sweat. He was overjoyed at having won that battle, but he knew it wouldn't last.

    "Everett!"

    Kenji whirled to face the yell that came from above. Out of the darkness a figure came bounding down the stairs, a sharp knife held in its paw. "Hellgates," Kenji muttered as he drew one of his own serrated gutting knives. Without thinking of the mental breakdown that could quite possibly follow, the muscular ferret jumped to meet his new opponent head on.

    "I won't let you hurt anybeast in this abbey!" Kenji yelled as he slashed at Willow, quite unaware of her true intentions.



  • The world spun like a helter skelter, each drunken turn accented with a sudden impact that rushed through Everett's mind in a burst of pain, like a horrible field of nightmarish flowers, each bloom erupting in twisted, vile colors and bringing its own terrible sensations. Everett growled and moaned, struggling with his attacker as they continued their improvised descent. Fortunately for Everett, the rat was taking the majority of hits from the stairs, but he still clung to his throat and shirt as if his life depended on it.

    "Everett!" He heard the female's shout and knew she had given chase. He was touched…no, that's not right. I'm comforted. She cared, and her caring manifested in her pursuit and concerned cry. Part of his mind eased at the knowledge that when he and the rat stopped their tumbling, she would arrive mere seconds later, and with the way she held her blade, he knew he would be in good paws.

    But what about his thoughts–his feelings? He wanted to ask her a dozen questions, a dozen's dozen, searching her eyes for the hidden warmth behind them, reeling in the majesty of her smile, wanting to confess how she made him feel alive while she threatened his death, a trembling blade giving way for her soft cheek and whispers to her ear. His breath caught in his throat--what if he died? How could he tell her? He grit his teeth and growled. He wouldn't die–not yet! He still had things to ask her...to tell her.

    "Argh, gerroff!" Everett mumbled, tasting spats of blood as he yelled at the rat. He punched and kicked, scratched and bit, but the rat held fast. Everett took the edge of a stair on his forehead, and the world bleached in a sudden, bright explosion; sounds became muffled, and his limbs felt flimsy and dead.

    Slowing...slowing...and then suddenly, almost as quickly as it started, Everett knew they had reached the ground floor. He lay on his side, his fur mottled and bloody as he rasped for air, his vision swimming in his eyes. He hurt, but he knew it wasn't life-threatening...

    "I won't let you hurt anybeast in this abbey!" The voice sounded familiar…was it Kenji? What was he...doing here...? Everett rolled onto his back, trying to find the strength to sit up. Kenji sounded angry, and when Kenji was angry…

    "No," Everett moaned, hefting his torso with little effect. He raised a shaking paw towards the distant staircase. "No, Kenj…don't...she's not...!"



  • "Argh, gerroff!"

    She could hear his cries down the staircase below, she felt the cold stone beneath her flying footpaws as she moved forwards, and then disaster struck.

    A huge beast of a ferret emerged from the darkness infront of her, and she shuddered at his size. He drew a serrated blade and she glanced down at her tanto which seemed hardly use against the ferrets weaponry.

    _"I won't let you hurt anybeast in this abbey!" _

    Sweat dripped down her face as she glanced from his blade to her own. Her ears perked and she felt as though she might be able to hear the moans of pain in the distance, followed by thudding, and then mumbling that could have been a voice.

    Focus regained, she took a deep breath and decided it would be wise to holster the blade. Afterall, she did have the 7 hidden daggers beneath her cloak in her shoulder-sling. Her charming smile brightened her face as her shining crystalline blue eyes focused onto the ferret, who was sweating and shivering as if he had a fever. Willow lowered her voice to a calm and comforting level.

    "Please, I mean no harm to anybeast in this abbey. Put your weapon down." She gestured to the staircase and the darkness into which Everett had fallen.

    "Everett may need your help. If you must kill somebeast, then take your anger out on the rat!" She growled, her face a mixture of defiance, annoyance and pride, lit up by that disarming smile, her voice silken and layered with honey, as she used all her trickery at her disposal to hopefully disarm the violent beast. "Please? You must help Everett. Is he not your friend?"

    If he ever tell's anyone of this…I might have to kill him. How embaressing.

    Willow waited for the ferrets response, holding her body quite calm and still, one paw upon the shoulder of her cloak, ready to snatch and throw the daggers if need be.



  • "No, No, Kenj…don't...she's not...!"

    The weak words of the distant Everett were lost upon Kenji. He stared intently at Willow as she sheathed her blade, watching her for any sudden movement. Kenji couldn't tell what she was thinking but he knew what an attack looked like.

    "Please, I mean no harm to anybeast in this abbey. Put your weapon down."

    "You may mean no harm, but I will drop my weapon for nobeast," Kenji felt relief wash over him as she changed her attitude. A little bit further and that… thing... would have been back. He lowered his weapon paw to his side to show her that he meant no further harm. Kenji wondered what she had been doing up in the bell tower. She looked awfully young to be lone wanderer.

    "Everett may need your help. If you must kill somebeast, then take your anger out on the rat! Please? You must help Everett. Is he not your friend?"

    Kenji swalled nervusly at her words. "I really don't want to kill anybeast," he said with a strange chouking tone in his voice, "but I need to help Everett." He seemed rather unaware of the verbal trickery Willow was using on him. Kenji turned away from Willow and took off down the steps in a run. He hoped the rat was unconscious from the fall, or it could still be hurting Everett.

    When Kenji came upon the two beast lying in a heap he reached down and grabbed the rat's wrists. The strange beast moaned, showing it was not quite down for the count. Kenji sqiezed the rat's wrists in a way so that a little pressure would still hurt a lot. It quickly let go, rolling a little away from Everett. Kenji kneeled next to the other ferret, shaking him gently. "Are you awake Everett?" Kenji asked, "you're loosing blood, we need to get you in."



  • @Vikenti:

    "No, No, Kenj…don't...she's not...!"

    The weak words of the distant Everett were lost upon Kenji. He stared intently at Willow as she sheathed her blade, watching her for any sudden movement. Kenji couldn't tell what she was thinking but he knew what an attack looked like.

    "Please, I mean no harm to any beast in this abbey. Put your weapon down."

    "You may mean no harm, but I will drop my weapon for no beast," Kenji felt relief wash over him as she changed her attitude. A little bit further and that… thing... would have been back. He lowered his weapon paw to his side to show her that he meant no further harm. Kenji wondered what she had been doing up in the bell tower. She looked awfully young to be lone wanderer.

    "Everett may need your help. If you must kill some beast, then take your anger out on the rat! Please? You must help Everett. Is he not your friend?"

    Kenji swalled nervusly at her words. "I really don't want to kill any beast," he said with a strange chouking tone in his voice, "but I need to help Everett." He seemed rather unaware of the verbal trickery Willow was using on him. Kenji turned away from Willow and took off down the steps in a run. He hoped the rat was unconscious from the fall, or it could still be hurting Everett.

    When Kenji came upon the two beast lying in a heap he reached down and grabbed the rat's wrists. The strange beast moaned, showing it was not quite down for the count. Kenji sqiezed the rat's wrists in a way so that a little pressure would still hurt a lot. It quickly let go, rolling a little away from Everett. Kenji kneeled next to the other ferret, shaking him gently. "Are you awake Everett?" Kenji asked, "you're loosing blood, we need to get you in."



  • Everett's head lolled as he felt Kenji's strong paws lift him up to a sitting position. He turned his head and coughed, cringing at the crimson spittle that fell to the stoney floor.

    "I'm alright," he croaked, raising a trembling paw to the knot on his forehead. "The blood…" He looked down the front and sleeves of his shirt, which were criss-crossed with streaks of blood. "It's not m--mine! Argh!" He winced and arched his back in pain. "But I could use...a little help up."

    As Kenji hoisted him to his footpaws, Everett looked up the staircase, spotting the pretty female ferret who stood watching Kenji, her blade resting in her paw. He smiled at her as Kenji wrapped Everett's arm around his neck.

    "Are you okay?" he asked her.

    The rat on the floor groaned and mumbled something incoherent; Everett gasped as the rat rolled onto his side, revealing a large stab wound on his stomach.

    "Fates, he's been stabbed," he said, trying to reach the rat. "We need to...whuh..." Despite his best efforts, the ferret lost conscious thought and slipped into a patch of darkness.



  • "The blood…" He looked down the front and sleeves of his shirt, which were criss-crossed with streaks of blood. "It's not m–mine! Argh!" He winced and arched his back in pain. "But I could use...a little help up."

    Willow made her way down the remaining steps, quickly reaching Everett's side.

    "The blood is mine" She gestured to her bloody paw which had some cloth covering it, though it was stained with a coat of red. She frowned and looked over at the rat, his blood coating his fur and dripping onto the floor.

    "Or perhap's It is his." Willow sighed and wiped at her forehead. She looked up as Everett spoke again.

    "Are you okay?" he asked her.

    She nodded and her iced blue eyes gazed at the rat with little emotion. A quick flit up and down his body, and she shrugged, then gasped as Everett fell forwards.

    "He is injured. Take him quickly to the infirmiry! I will follow you shortly, I must investigate further…"

    Zarya will kill me If i let the ferret die. Besides….he is...perhaps, he might be useful.

    Without looking to see if they were moving or not, She bent over the injured rat, leaning down to look into his eyes. His fear was evident, his pain was moreso, body shaking with the injury.

    With her cloak covering her body so that she could not be seen, so close to the rat, Willow reached and slid out one of the 7 daggers pressing it against his neck.

    "Tell them Vindauga sent you, with mercy and the grace of a painless quick death" She whispered, watching the rat's eyes as her arm moved quickly in a flash across his neck then forwards into it, ending his life with a few crimson spurts coating her muzzle and hand.

    Willow smiled, that terrible mischievous glint in her eyes.

    Zarya will be proud. I gave him a quick death, his injury would never have healed. I can show mercy, see! She glanced across the rat and frowned, looking for anything of value, her groping paws locating empty pouchs. Finding nothing, she sighed and shook her head, wiping at the blood.

    Nothing for my efforts. A knife would have done.

    With that, Willow glanced around before darting back to the steps, her paws dancing to the hilt of her tanto as she once more drew the blade and hurried upwards to see what she might find, the dagger replaced snugly within the confines of her cloak, footpaws gliding upwards as if driven by the winds of mossflower wood forwards into the unknown darkness and what secrets it held at the top of the staircase.

    I have to see what that glow was. There may be more of them.



  • "The blood… It's not m--mine! Argh! But I could use...a little help up."

    "At least your not losing blood," Kenji said as he lifted Everett into a standing position.

    "Fates, he's been stabbed. We need to…whuh..."

    Kenji caught Everett as he fell forward, supporting him with both arms. "I guess he must have hit his head a few times," Kenji muttered, "I'm surprised he stayed awake as long as he did!"

    "He is injured. Take him quickly to the infirmiry! I will follow you shortly, I must investigate further…"

    Kenji nodded in silent agreement and pulled the smaller ferret up onto his shoulders. He carried the unconscious fellow into the main hall of the Abbey where he was met by a few beasts who were wandering around after dinner.

    "See, I was right! Two ferrets go out and one comes back dead," Nimmer said, "you shouldn't have gone up in that tower."

    'He isn't dead, he is just unconscious," Kenji replyied, "get the infirmarian down here." Nimmer ran off in search of the medical expert as Kenji slowly lowered Everett to the ground.



  • Meanwhile, outside the gates and walls of Redwall, bathed in the light of the full moon, thirteen assorted vermin–soldiers all--went about assigned duties or conversed around dinner fires in their camp beyond a small glade. The commander of the troupe, a leftenant fox named Brandisher Spoor Duskback, stepped out of his tent and whistled a low pitch to the camp with his paw in his lips.

    "Bostitch...c'mere."

    A lean stoat hopped to his footpaws, dusting off the aged uniform coat he wore. "Yessir, Cap'n." Bostitch followed Brand into the commander's tent and stood just inside the flaps, allowing his leader to sit at the makeshift desk inside.

    "Any word from the scouts?" Brand asked, pouring two glasses full of dark liquid from a chest at the foot of his bedroll.

    " 'Fraid not, Cap'n," Bostitch said, scratching at the embroidered rank stitching on his left arm. "They said he made it through the brush, but past that...they dunno."

    Brand handed Bostitch a glass and drank from the other. "And he was headed north, they said?"

    "Yessir," Bostitch said, drinking deeply. He smacked his lips and smiled. "Thankee for the drink, Cap'n."

    Brand clapped Bostitch on the shoulder. "You've done well...all of the boys have. We'll find his body, an' when we do, he'll have that map somewheres. Then we'll find what we're lookin' for."

    Bostitch winced, afraid to ask his question. "Cap'n...pardon, but what if he survived?"

    Brand smirked, strolling over to the desk. A bloody cloth lay next to a series of parchments, and Brand snatched the cloth up in a paw. "He won't," he said, unwrapping the cloth to reveal a bloodstained dagger. "It was a gut wound, and he'll bleed out like any other gnat. We'll find the corpse." His eyes shone darkly in the dim light. "An' then we'll know where to look inside that red abbey for our treasure." He turned to Bostitch. "Tell the boys to pack up--we're headin' towards the abbey."

    "Yessir!" Bostitch saluted, exiting the tent and barking orders to the assorted troop.



  • Cautiously, Willow drifted upwards as silent and as light as a feather in the wind. Each step was carefully calculated despite her swift movement, avoiding cracks and loose stone that might give away her position.

    Still with the blood of the rat over her features, she ascended the belltowers darkness and reached the top. There, upon a shelf above lie a single candle, its glow snuffed out as she arrived into the tower room, melted wax coating the floor beneath as it had lay unattended.

    Willow glanced up at the candle, and then made her way forwards into the gloom, her keen eyes darting to a piece of parchment on the floor. She frowned, picking it up and squinting.

    I cant read this at all…

    She sighed, glancing across the room and then down at the symbols and shapes upon the parchment, its edges coated with blood.

    "This must've been his…" She muttered to herself, then rolled the parchment up and holding it tightly in one of her paws. "I'll get to the infirmiry then. Zarya would kill me if anything happens to these 'goodbeasts' at the abbey." Willow shook her head and sighed, turned and headed off into the darkness.

    It was at this point that her footpaw connected with the molten wax upon the floor, invisible in the darkness that shrouded the belltower and its staircase.

    Within an instant she felt the burning sensation on her footpaw and she screamed, sliding forwards and losing her balance. Her mind whirled in a panic as her world blurred, she attempted to grip the wall with her free paw but it slid, coated in blood as it was, and then finally her grip was lost.

    With a terrorfied squeal, she toppled backwards and down the staircase, tucking herself up and rolling to minimise the damage. Willow landed with a resounding thud at the bottom.

    The young ferret girl remained still, parchment clutched tightly in her paw.



  • Kenji stood and watched as a crowd of beasts who apparently had more medical experience than he surrounded Everett. Their was talking and arguing but the infirmarian seemed to be making progress. The group under her command lifted the unconscious ferret and carried him to the sick bay where he would recover.

    "So, what happened to Everett?" Nimmer asked Kenji, "he didn't just fall down the steps by himself did he?"

    "He was tackled by a rat," Kenji said, "and there was another ferret too, a female."

    "Are they still on the loose?" Nimmer asked in a worried tone, "should I get help?"

    "The rat isn't going anywhere, and I think the ferret is on our side," Kenji answered, "she said she was investigating."

    "Are you sure she is alright out there? What if there are more vermin in the bell tower?" Nimmer continued.

    "You are such a worrywart Nimmer," Kenji sighed, "but I guess I better check." He exited the Abbey hall and made is way across the dark and windswept grounds to the base of the bell tower yet again. He gasped in surprise as he caught sight of a dark figure laying on the ground. Was he too late?

    Kenji ran to Willow's side and bent down to see if she was all right. He noticed the parchment in her paw and looked at it carefully. Though he could read, Kenji was no scholar and the only light was a little that shone from the Abbey windows. He shrugged and started to gently lift Willow. He carefully placed his big paws around her slender frame as if he where afraid she might break. "I don't know who you are," Kenji muttered half to himself, "but I hope you are OK."



  • Everett felt cold paws and colder instruments poking and prodding his body, but his mind ached, and each moment he thought he would open his eyes, his mind snapped shut in a thunder of pain and dizziness. He swallowed his spittle and cleared his throat groggily, speaking to whomever might listen, despite keeping his eyes closed.

    "I'll be…fine..." he said slowly, picking each word from his mind like one would pick and inspect a pear from a tree. "Just...get me...to...a bed...to rest...and don't...let...her...leave..."

    He felt a comforting pat on his chest and heard the infirmarian repeat his request to the others gathered around. His weight shifted as several paws helped him up and carried him into the dormitories. Hopefully those pillows would be as soft as his own...


    Brand snickered and rubbed more mud on his paws, applying the dirt liberally across his face and jacket. He felt some remorse in dirtying the jacket, but he knew the cloth would withstand the stain.

    "Dirty those paws 'n' faces, boys!" Brand bellowed, smiling at the snickering responses that answered his order. "We've got to look the part, iffen we're to eat at Redwall this night!"

    "Less than five hundred paces, Cap'n," Bostitch reported to Brand. "The boys have their weapons hidden good."

    "Good," Brand said. "We'll find that traitorous rat's body, and then we find what we're looking for. Redwall won't know what happened!"



  • Kenji carried the unconscious Willow back down the path to the main Abbey gates. He tried to shield her from wind with his body, but he realized that was the least of her troubles at the moment. "The poor girl," Kenji muttered to himself, "who would let her out by herself on a night like this?"

    When Kenji reached the door, Burren, who had been watching from the window, opened it for him. The infirmarian, having finished with Everett, had returned to the hall to await further patients. Kenji carefully handed Willow over to the care of the infirmarian and her helpers.

    Before they took the ferret girl away, Kenji took the parchment that she had been holding on to and unfolded it. "A map?" he muttered to himself, "I guess it isn't anything important." He slipped the map into his pocket without a second thought.

    "That ferret wasn't from the Abbey," Nimmer said when the crowd had dispersed, "I wonder how she got in."

    "Do you think somebeast left a wall gate open?" Kenji asked the mouse.

    "Maybe, or she opened it. We should make sure it's closed or we'll have bigger problems," Nimmer answered. He threw a cloak on over his tunic and went out into the night. Kenji followed, inwardly cursing his luck. Next thing he knew there would probably be a horde inside the grounds.

    It didn't take long for them to find the open East gate. The relentless wind had blown the lightweight door to its maximum expansion. Kenji pulled the door shut and held it closed while Nimmer closed the lock. "We should really get this latch fixed," Nimmer groaned, "it would be any easy matter for any skilled thief to pick this." Kenji nodded in agreement as the headed back for the warmth and light of the Abbey.



  • Willow remained silent in the entire time she was carried into the infirmiry. As Burren looked her over she nodded to herself.

    "Just a slight knock. She'll be awakening soon… poor dear. Now, we must tell the father abbot about this. Was there any otherbeast out there?" She walked out of the room and headed to the great hall in search of the abbot.

    Meanwhile, Willow shuddered and groaned, her head aching too much for her to open her eyes just yet, the comforting darkness much easier to drift, staying within its grasp as she tried to collect her thoughts together.



  • Everett thanked the creatures who helped him to the bed as he rose unsteadily to his footpaws, forehead wrapped in a bandage. He hobbled with a slight limp–thanks to the stairs--but he knew he'd be fine in a few days. His main concern was the strange female ferret he encountered on the stairs.

    As he walked out of the dormitory, he saw Lei walking through the hallway.

    "Excuse me, Lei," Everett said. "Have you seen the female ferret, from the belltower?"

    "Oh, the one who was hurt?" Lei pointed towards the infirmary. "Kenji brought her in; I think Burren looked her over."

    "She's injured?" Everett said, increasing his speed as he turned the corner into the infirmary. Just as Lei had said, she lay on one of the beds, eyes closed. At that moment, Everett spotted Kenji coming in from the courtyard, followed by Nimmer.

    "Kenji!" Everett called, hobbling over to the female's bed. "What happened?"



  • Kenji and Nimmer came back in the Abbey doors and stomped their feet to ward off the cold. A few Redwallers asked them about the state of the door and with a little gossip nearly everybody knew of the broken latch within minutes.

    "Kenji! What happened?"

    Kenji was confused when he first heard Everett's question, but when he saw his friend next to the unconscious Willow he got what he meant. "I'm not sure Everett. I think she fell down the steps too from how she was laying," Kenji explained as he approached the two other ferrets, "I don't know what caused her to fall, but I figure it is best to wait for morning to look."

    Nimmer decided at this point to interject himself into the conversation. "Yeah, you never know! If we went up there we might be pushed by that ghost too!" he exclaimed as if it were pure fact.

    Kenji gave Nimmer an exasperated glance. "There is no such thing as ghosts Nimmer," Kenji said, "and if there was, they couldn't push you. They're dead."

    "Those beliefs will get you killed someday," Nimmer shook his head in disapproval, "just look what happened to her." He indicated Willow with a paw.


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