– 1st week of the third Goldhorizon 53E - Fort Norlan --
Cold air on a clear sunny day with a light breeze was still cold and Commander Ellard Nurth hated the cold leaving him rather flustered toward the fact he had been stationed in the Northlands so far from his desert home. He stood with his paws on the stone parapets of the terrace that overlooked the village below as he surveyed the slowly brightening eastern horizon in the hour before dawn. Norlan had been around for generations and over the seasons local woodlanders and northlanders had built their homes in the shadow of the mountain stronghold finding it a place of safety as well as a place of easy access for traders being near the coast as well as a large mountain pass that went south. Nurth sighed and listened to the carts below, not all of them were the carts of the beasts native to this land a few of them were the main reason Norlan had ever been built. Silver, a valuable yet untapped resource that was rather abundant in the Northlands and that had been the only reason Nurth had tolerated the cold though now Nurth found himself interested in the locals. Being an Imperial if the red clan he had been raised for one thing, battle, but here there were very few battles especially when the enemy considered the giant stone fortress watching from the mountain above. Instead there was trade with the occasional adventure seeking a challenge; Nurth gave an amused huff at the thought of the word adventurers. Adventure in the local tongue could mean any number of things that to the Group Commander were trivial who in his mind thought adventure as fighting with blade and arrow to survive.
His thoughts were shrouded in awareness as his scout Birnar Piketail pushed open the door that led out onto the fortress terrace. Nurth turned to the table next to him and reached for the pouch that sat tied shut on it “Find anyone head down there?”
Piketail shrugged in reply to his commander “Possibly but not positively. What’s the whole point of this anyway, sending somebeast south with a bag of seed?”
Nurth snorted as he juggled the pouch in his right paw “Redwall was hit with a blight this spring, a blight that killed of all the laterose. And it so happens that laterose is a primary symbol for the Abbey which means that without it the Abbey isn’t exactly the same.”
Piketail twitched his snout as he watched the pouch of seed bouncing in the air as Nurth juggled it in his paw “Laterose, why not just have somebeast from Noonvale take some down to them? Why do ‘WE’ have to send someone from way up here?”
Nurth gave a sigh of resignation and grasped the pouch in his paw “Noonvale was hit with the same blight and it didn’t come all the way up here because it’s just a tad too cold for it but not too cold for the laterose though the blooming period is earlier for us. I don’t like sending beasts on trivial runs like this but symbolism of one’s self is important. Take the Imperial symbol on our tower shields for example though this symbol of Redwall is even more than that… it’s alive, a symbol of peace, life, and passing all in one, that I have to respect and that is why I am granting this request.”
Piketail nodded as his commander gave him the pouch “I understand sir, I’ll deliver this to the adventurers now.”
-- Port Norlan --
The patrols from Fort Norlan were known as the Northwinds and Branson Tidebreaker was proud that he was in charge of one such patrol. His father had been in command of the woodland group before him and Branson felt that it could potentially become a family tradition. Right now his group was resting after a long tour of the eastern region rounding a few bandits who had been brave enough to raid one of the mining posts. The burly otter watched one of the elderly inhabitants as he hobbled up to the blacksmith with the help of an ancient looking oak cane. Normally Tidebreaker would have tried to help such a beast but he had dealt with this particular beast before and had learned that the hare did not like being helped. The blacksmith, a soot covered hedgehog turned his attention from the recently arrived mining cart to the hare and raised an eyebrow as he walked over “Why guud morning to yu sir, what is it I can do for you?”
The hare while elderly wasn’t ancient and still sounded quite healthy for his age though the cane indicated otherwise “Good morning chap, the old ears picked up some hinting about there being a questing to Redwall and…”
The hare pulled a few silver coins and a scroll from his vest pocket as he continued “I was wondering if you could smith something for the lot to deliver to Salamandastron for me?”
There was a meerkat leaning against the mining cart and he took note of the silver coins then looked over his shoulder into his cart as the hedgehog took the coins and scroll and inspected them. On the scroll was the image of a rose and scribbled in the corner was an indication that the rose was made of silver and studded with red and green quartz. The hare took a pouch of prasiolite and rose quartz from his belt and gave it to the uncertain hedgehog who looked from the pouch to the drawing “Not going to be easy or cheap… at least double…”
He stopped as the hare frowned then both of them were distracted by the Imperial’s fake cough who waited until they looked at him before raising his paws up and speaking “Won’t be a problem chap, I just brought this in from the mines so any silver he uses is one me and I’ll pay for the work… Heh, I’ll help if’n he lets me.”
Branson’s ears were distracted by the Imperial scout who had apparently came up to him without gaining his attention “Commander?”
Branson gave a small jump then saw it was Piketail and sighed “Arr, what you trying to do scare me ta death? Hmmm, what’s that in your paw?”
Piketail held up the pouch with an emotionless almost unhappy face “The package for Redwall, I assume you know where to find the adventures you told me about?”
Branson took the pouch and winked “Don’t worry about that mate, they’ll find me.”
Piketail twitched his snout with a slight wrinkle in disapproval but said nothing as he turned and strayed back towards the mountain path leading up to the fortress.
-- Not much later - Port Norlan --
Branson had made his way to the theatre and was now standing on the raised stone floor in front of beasts who had gathered in curiosity as to what the rumors of a quest were about. Tidebreaker looked around as he spoke, the shaping of the tiered stone incline creating an echo so he didn’t have to scream until his voice gave out “Beasts from near and far, I am glad to have your ears and patience. Word has come from the south that a prized symbol of their home, a rare type of rose known as the laterose, is dying. Redwall is known far and wide as a place of peace and comfort and the loss of this symbol hurts their moral and their spirit. I called you all specifically because you all have said you were already considering going south and I did not want to ask someone to perform this task if it would take them out of their way. I… we ask that you would take this gift to their abbey and be rewarded with their hospitality. This is not a quest for wealth or glory; it is a quest for kindness and friendship. If any of you are willing to depart with this package early Nurth has agreed to provide you with the necessary supplies to make the journey. Will any of you volunteer?”
In the shadows at the top tier of the theatre Piketail stood watching silently. Like all meerkats he looked a lot less intimidating without his armor clad instead in his red and yellow striped uniform with the only exception to his less threatening appearance being his eyes which displayed doubt and distrust of all those who were not members of the Empire. Even though it was a task to help other woodland beasts he was not confident that these woodlanders would be willing to do anything.