"Fergus Ian Kelley, I swear upon all that is good an' holy, if ye've gone and gotten us lost, I will skin ye alive," she growled, glaring at him. The black-haired squirrel simply glanced up from his compass (he had modified it a little, and now it was spinning in circles instead of pointing out true north) and smiled. It was his normal 'I'm in trouble' smile, the one that was equal amounts cheek and sheepishness. Eileen looked like she wanted to strangle him before she followed through with her threat of skinning him alive. But that wouldn't work, if she strangled him before hand, so maybe she was going to strangle him after? Ew. That could prove to be a mess, and also, why would he let her?

He eyed his older (and littler) sister as she pawed her dagger hilt and glared at him. He knew she wouldn't actually skin him, but she had no qualms in chasing him down and walloping him good. As they tramped along this narrow, disused path, in the heady, green realm of Mossflower, she stood out. Her dark red, curly (and a touch frizzy in the humidity) hair was bound back and escaping, falling into her eyes so she had to flick it back, or blow it out of her face. Both gestures made her look vaguely like a horse. Or like she had a nervous tick, like Great-Aunt Bellamey.

"We're not lost, Eileen," he told her, glancing down at the round little compass. It was still spinning like a top. She seemed mollified, and he braced himself for what was coming next: "We're simply taking a detour."

She walked for a pace more, and then stopped suddenly. Fergus had kept on walking, striding down the narrow little foot path ( it was going to come out at the main road, the one that went past the Abbey further north) but he could feel her glare boring into his head. Then, as if sensing it, he bolted. She was right behind him, chattering in angry Gaelic, her dagger in one hand and threats spilling from her mouth. He laughed hysterically and shot through the forest, his pack slapping his back with each step.

**

An hour later, they were still lost, but Eileen was in better spirits about the whole thing. Chasing after Fergus had that effect on her. It helped relieve some of the frustration that she felt. Not all of it, but a little. They had been lost and 'taken detours' more times than she could count, on their journey south. She just wanted it to be over, so they could settle and take care of the farm in the Southsward, until they could sell it or get someone they trusted to take care of it. And their Grand Uncle Cain didn't want it going near paws that weren't of Kelley blood. With a sigh, she slumped back against the tree they were resting under and passed Fergus a flask of water. he took it with a grunt of thanks, and for a long while, they simply enjoyed the clearing. But unable to sit still for long, Eileen took to scanning their surroundings; a habit she'd picked up from her Militia training. She hadn't made captain for nothing, after all, even in a backwater little Militia like hers.

And what she found was not at all good. She pretended not to notice, and stretched languidly out. Her foot nudged Fergus's, and he grunted again, rousing himself from a doze. In their native tongue, she murmured, <we're bein'="" watched.="">Fergus opened one eye idly and looked at her. She was serious, he could tell by her voice. He made no moment to sit up, though, he was tensing to run. <oh? how="" many,="" and="" where?=""><about five,="" maybe="" eight.="" in="" the="" ferns,="" surrounding="" us.="">Her paw went to her dagger's hilt, but before she could move, a harsh cry rent the air and their watchers charged.</about></oh?></we're>

"Willow!" Halicon called out. "Come out, come out wherever you are! Aye, this must be the millionth time she's sneaked off. That little brat," he muttered to himself as he trudged further into the woods away from Midnight Battalion's camp.

The ferret could take care of herself, and she usually turned up on her own accord anyway. Halicon simply went searching for her because he was bored and too lazy to work on packing stuff up to continue traveling again. The amount of labor Zarya put them through was just plain murder. Ha, no wonder Willow snuck off again.

When he was far enough away from the camp, he stopped calling for her and idly stretched himself. "Ah! Hehe, time to relax…" The red fox tapped his scythe against his shoulder as he searched around for a comfortable place to take a nap.

"CHAAARGE!!!"

He looked up as a vermin war cry hit the air. Some innocent beasts were probably being attacked, unless it was Willow who managed to get herself into trouble. He rushed towards the noise and stopped at the edge of the clearing. Two squirrels were being attacked by armed vermin muggers.

He was too far from the camp to call for help. At the very least, the beasts were armed. "Hey vermin! I suggest ya scram before I slice ya in half!" he growled as he spun his scythe and charged in. He slashed through a fox, knocked down a rat with the butt of his scythe, then leaped into the center to fight alongside the pair. "On your side, mates," he winked.


Leonid wandered through the woods, idly using his spear as a walking staff. He was searching for a specific type of tree that normally grew in Mossflower towards the north western parts. Before he left Redwall Abbey to gather materials, Belarus asked him to grab some yew as well. Apparently, the bows they had stored away were aging to the point of easily snapping, kinda like the old fox. He briefly snickered to himself at the thought.

He looked up and smiled as he found his target.  He recognized the mass of fanning stems of plentiful greenery hanging off the branches of a wrinkled stubby trunk. He approached the tree, briefly scanning around for any nearby beasts before setting down his spear and pack. He eyed the heavy branches as he detached his hatchet, calculating how much he'd be able practically rope up and drag back with him to the Abbey, considering he'd be cleaning off the leaves and excess twigs.

As the squirrel quietly pondered to himself, he noticed that the chatter of the birds have came to a stop. All was nearly silent except for the blowing of the wind and the rustling leaves. He frowned as he scanned his surroundings again, wondering what this could have meant.

_"CHAAARGE!!!"_

That voice sounded like it was coming from a searat. Somebeast was under attack. He shouldered his pack and grabbed his spear, then bolted off towards the noise.

As soon as he emerged into the clearing, he saw the two squirrels being charged from all sides. He had to act fast. He pointed spear forward and charged in. "FOR REDWALL!!!" he cried on the top of his lungs as he ran a weasel through. As soon as he noticed Halicon, he charged straight for him.

"Look out!" he shouted to the other squirrels as he pierced towards the red fox.

Halicon quickly parried his spear to the side with the shaft of his scythe. He gave him an annoyed scowl. "Hey, you're attacking the wrong beast, I'm trying to protect them!"

"What!?" Leonid gave him a perplexed look before they turned around and blocked attacking strikes from two of the remaining vermin. They were still outnumbered 6 to 4\.

Four to five, now. Eileen had dispatched a rather large ferret with her dagger, swearing softly and grunting in pain. It had managed to gouge her side before she got to him. She wished she had her shield still, but it had been left on the moors when Fergus and she had been run out of the pub. It wasn't her fault, that. She hadn't known the bloke she punched had been the proprietor's son. She pulled her dagger out of the ferret's chest, pulled up the spear he'd been wielding (it had a small amount of her blood on the blade), and tossed it at Fergus. He caught it with a squawk, still gaping at the sudden flurry of new comers. The boy had always been useless in a fight.

Dodging a spear butt to the face, she dropped to her knees and then popped back up, in between the new squirrel and the fox. She didn't exactly like the help, despite knowing that it was more than impossible they would have made it out alive, just her and Fergus. But she didn't have to like getting help. She was a Captain, not a simpering maid. She swatted at the fox's arm and then elbowed the squirrel, both harmless, gentle nudges the likes of which were common among her family. "Fight now, argue later, ye wee liddle plonkers!"

But by that time, with the score evened by Eileen's running through of the ferret, the tide of the fight was changing. A pudgy, cruel-looking stoat ( the leader, if Eileen was correct) was starting to back off a pace. Suddenly they were less certain about the outcome of this attack.

Halicon knocked back the rat that attacked him with a mere scimitar before blinking curiously over at the female squirrel. Ha, since when did another authority figure like Zarya come along? He chuckled to himself as he swung his scythe through the air. "Yes, ma'am!"

Leonid felt the nudge and looked over at Eileen with disbelief. "But can't ya see that he's a-?" He was abruptly interrupted, ducking as a rapier swung over his head. He quickly jabbed forward and pierced through the heart of the attacking ferret. He stood up and made several feint swings to push back two other vermin that were crowding close by. "Err, right, fighting! Sounds good!" he called out.

Halicon grinned as he sensed the uncertainty growing in the attacking force. The knocked down rat groaned painfully as he got back to his feet and started stepping away from him, raising his blade defensively. The fox lunged forward and smashed the blade of his scythe against his sword, releasing a short resonating ring as the scimitar left the rat's grasp and pounded into the dirt.

The rat squeaked as he retreated behind his attacking comrades. The fox started spinning the scythe again, intimidatingly swinging it left and right out at the two vermin, carefully minding his allies. "Ha, I'll say this again, mates. I suggest ya scram before I start choppin' off some heads!" he bellowed triumphantly.

Andur, the stoat leading the attacking vermin shook his head and stepped back several more paces. "We've met our match. Back to da woods!" he commanded as he turned and ran.

The rest of the vermin hastily followed suit. "But Andur, what will we tell Redfang?" the rat squealed as they fled.

"Shut up, ya idjit!" the stoat growled just before they disappeared from view.

Halicon curled his arm around the scythe and patted his paws. "Hehehe, we sure showed them, didn't we?" he laughed. "Must be them typical bandits. Aren't ya glad I came along?"

Leonid turned to him and scowled. "Psh! Yeah, well ya didn't handle them all by yourself, Sir Modest!"

Halicon stuck out his tongue. "Well kudos to you for attacking the wrong beast, you dull little tree hugger."

"A dull what!?" Leonid growled at him and was about to retort when he caught sight of Eileen's side wound.

"Oh Madam, you are hurt. I wouldn't suggest leaving that size of a wound untreated. Luckily I've got some medical supplies with me…"  He immediately started digging into his pack for some bandages and healing herbs.

Halicon snickered at Leo, then looked over at Fergus. "Heh, not much of a fighter, eh? Are you two siblings by any chance?"

"Aye, that's my sist–Eileen! You're hurt?" The question was more of a high pitched demand on Fergus' part.  "The squirrel said you're hurt!" He didn't bother glancing at the fox and the squirrel, simply barreling up and over, the spear tossed his way as he passed.

Eileen herself was standing there, arm lifted and head bent to get a better look at the wound. It wasn't too deep, but it was bleeding profusely, and stung like a snake's bite. At the sight of the blood, Fergus slowed to a halt, paled, and then swore under his breath in Gaelic.  He hated blood, the sight of it usually made him want to get sick. Or faint, but Eileen usually laughed at him for that, and the other beasts -and who in the great green wood were they, anyway?- were likely to do it, too.

"Fergus," Eileen snapped, glancing up at him. "Stop starin' before ye faint. It's fine. That liddle plonker ruined me last blouse an' had the guts tae make me bleed all over it." If her mood was any indication of her health, she was still fine. Or putting up a fine act of it, because it was bleeding impressively. Her paw was pressed over the wound, but her cheeks were pale under her fur.

"Shush an' siddown yeself," he told her, pointedly not looking at the wound. "Yer fixin' tae faint, Militia Captain Kelley."

She rolled her eyes but sat anyway, her free hand waving at the Squirrel. "Stop that. We've got supplies fer this. Oi, Fox!" Despite the pain and (slight) weakness from the gradual blood loss, her voice was still sharp. "Bring me that pack there, by yer foot, would ye?"

"Sure, anything to help!" Hali picked up the pack and handed it to the one called Fergus.

Leonid shook his head. "Oh, I wouldn't be worrying too much about the blouse, miss, err… 'Militia Captain Kelly'. That wound did quite the number on you." He turned his attention to Halicon and frowned. "So that's Fergus and Kelly. Who on earth are you, Mr. Fox? Sure, you may have helped us, but that doesn't convince me that you're not a typical vermin scumbag! Do you have a name?"

"Ohoho! 'Vermin scumbag', eh?" Halicon repeated in a low growl as he approached the squirrel and sized him up. The height difference between the two species was apparent, but the squirrel showed no signs of backing off. "Well, Mr. Treehopper. You've got some nerve treating me as the bad guy after I just risked my tail to saved your lives! For your information, I am Halicon Silver of the Midnight Blades! We're a little patrol that goes around protecting good beast travelers like yourselves from the real 'vermin scum'. Now I can't say I've heard of you."

"Leonid Haiden. Redwall defender, blacksmith, and crafter. I've heard of this Midnight Battalion of yours, but I never expected such poor taste in members. Heh, no matter..." He turned back to Fergus and Kelly to see how they were progressing, ignoring Hali's glare of resentment. "How is this Eileen faring? Will she be all right?" he asked Fergus.

"And what were you guys doing out here, if you don't mind me asking?" Halicon added as he rested his scythe against his shoulder.

Eileen actually gave a terse smile at the squirrel, the one who introduced himself as Leonid when he chided her about the blouse. However, it was her last one that had so far escaped getting bled on, torn, muddied, split on, or punctured by arrows.  Needless to say, she was annoyed. Hurt and bleeding, but still annoyed.

Fergus took the bag from Halicon with a grateful grin, and rushed over to chide Eileen and dress her wounds. He worked quicky, ignoring most of the two male's arguing, muttering under his breath in Gaelic while he pulled the blouse up from her kilt and worked under it. He was squeamish as ever, but he had learned that he could hold back the urge to get ill until the job was done. Herbs were brought out and slapped on the wound, chickweed to stop the bleeding, and then dock leaves, and then a round of bandages around her waist, to hold the whole thing in place.

Eileen listened to the male's posturing with an annoyed frown, not impressed to much with either of them. Granted, she was grateful for the help with the band of rouges, but she was too independent to ever actually be happy of such help. And, if she were going to be impressed by one over the other, she might have had to go with the fox, who had placed bigotry aside and stepped in. Sometimes, the morally ambiguous ones were the most helpful.

"Aye, this Eileen'll be jus' fine," she replied, to the inquiry. Fergus nodded along, as he tied the last of the bandages off and stumbled upright. He mumbled something in thick Gaelic, and then hurried off towards the trees. Eileen blinked after him, and then looked up at the two much larger beasts. "He's not much fer blood. I cannae blame him, honestly," she explained, calmly wiping the blood from her wound off her paw. The other paw was held out, offered first to the Fox and then to the Squirrel. "Right. Proper introduction time. Eileen, of th' Clan Kelley, Captain o' Stratfore Shire Militia in north Mossflower, at yer humble service."

"Aye, this Eileen'll be jus' fine," she replied,

"Well, that's good then!" Leonid reflected.

Hali watched in confusion as Fergus spoke something in a language he never heard before and rushed off.

_"He's not much fer blood. I cannae blame him, honestly," she explained,

"Right. Proper introduction time. Eileen, of th' Clan Kelley, Captain o' Stratfore Shire Militia in north Mossflower, at yer humble service."_

Halicon shook her paw firmly and smiled. "Nice ta meet ya there, Captain! I'm Halicon Silver, also known as the Reaper, of the Midnight Battalion! We're a little traveling patrol of protectorates for good beasts like yourselves, in case ya haven't heard of them."

Leonid followed suit. "Captain of Clan Kelly? Leonid Haiden. Blacksmith, crafter, and defender of Redwall, at your service. I can't say I've ever been much farther north of Mossflower than this. What's this here Stratfore Shire Militia about?"

"Not bloody likely," she replied, smirking a bit and shaking her head. "Me father's still clan head, obviously. An me home militia is about what any militia is about: Keepin' th' rest o' th' beasts in our Shire safe from rouges and marauders. Kinda like th' Midnight Battalion–" she paused here and grinned at the fox, adding, "--Aye, we've heard o'ye, boyo, from some of those of ours that's traveled down this way. Ye ever meet Dougan Whitebranch? He says he ran into ye fellahs a season or two ago--" before turning to look at Leonid again, her voice softening and slowing once more. As if speaking to a child. It was hard for her to curb that voice or attitude; she had grown up with the militia always close by, threats over the horizon, and a need to protect valuable livestock and crops "--But less flashy an' more stationary. Ye know, I'm sure."

Leonid glared at Eileen puffed up his chest. "Hey, I see nothin' wrong with that! Besides, I still get around. Just more south than north…"

Halicon smiled and paced around him. "Well I'm not even from this continent, what does that say to you? I imagine you haven't even taken one paw step outside the depths of Mossflower. It would certainly explain your narrow-minded attitude."

"Well-!" Leonid began to retort, but had nothing to continue with. He just glared up at Halicon.

He chuckled. "Does your Redwall have a curfew out for you? Are you expected back soon?"

Leonid growled. "I come and go as I please! What about you? Shouldn't you be making errands for your traveling circus?"

Halicon stopped and paused for a moment. Zariah would murder him in his sleep for slacking off again, but eh, it's not as if it would be the first time. "I come and go as I please," he repeated.

The squirrel smirked. "Just what I thought, not but a lazy bafoon."

"You've got me beat on hot air, I'll give you that much," Hali laughed. "Which brings me to the point, do we all have our own duties to take care of, or is there anymore assistance needed?"

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