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Redwall Book 8- Outcast of Redwall

Redwall Book 8- Outcast of Redwall

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Published by: pownval on Apr 08, 2013
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Outcast of Redwall
Redwall, Book 8Brian Jacques 
V2.0 There were lots of scanning errors; doubtless many remain.
It was a warm old autumn afternoon of russet and gold, a time for legends and stories of seasons long gone. Blue hazeon the far horizon blended sea and sky into one. On the pale sands of a silentshore, ebbingwaveshadcarelesslystrewn a broken necklace of shells and pebbles along the tideline. Standing tall and mysterious was the mountain, likesome huge beast guarding the coast. Salamandastron! Stronghold of Badger Lords and fighting hares. Once, when theearth was young, it had spouted fire and molten rock. But the winds of time had long since banished smoke from themonolith, cooling its stones. Now Salamandastron was home and fortress combined, run through and honeycombedwith halls, caverns, corridors, chambers, tunnels, and secret places.Midway up the west face on a broad rocky ledge tufted with shrubs and wildflowers, a picnic lunch was set, close
to the mouth of a tunnel entrance. Half a score of leverets, young hares, attended by a fully grown harewife, satwatching an ancient otter. Stooped and grayed by many seasons, he stood leaning on an ash pole, shaking his grizzledhead in disapproval, as old creatures often will when faced with the young. When he spoke, his voice was surprisinglystrong for an old-beast.“Hmph! Wish I was at the Abbey, those young ’uns at Redwall have proper manners. Instead o’ layin’ aboutgawpin’, first thing they’d do would be help a body sit down!”Stifling a smile, the harewife watched die leverets scurrying around the aged otter, doing their best to show respectand concern as they assisted him.“A seat, y’say, nothing simpler, old chap, er, I mean, sir.” “Pop y’self down here, sir, grass is nice an’ soft, wot!”“Whoops a daisy! Easy does it, oF sir!“Lean y’back on this rock, that’s the ticket!” “Righto, ancient one, comfyenough now?” The venerable beast nodded slowly. “Well enough, thank ye. Now, are you all goin’ t’standmerewatchin’ a pore creature starve? There followed a further scuffle as the young hares set food and drink before their guest.“Enough tuck to kill a duck here, sir!” “Summer Salad an’ a beaker of Old Mountain Ale.” “How about fresh-baked carrot’n’leek flan?” “Some scones with gooseberry jelly, very good y’know!” “Rather! Give the old chap a hotpastie!” When the old otter was served, the harewife beckoned the young ones back to their seats. “Good show, chaps,but mind y’manners or Mr. Rillbrook won’t tell you a story.”Beneath fuzzy brows, Rillbrook’s old eyes glinted mischievously. He broke open a steaming pastie and said,grumpily, “Story? Just stopped here trest awhile, marm, wasnt intend-in’ t’do no storytellin’.”A fat, cheeky leveret piped up indignantly, “Scoffin’ a load of our grub annot tellin’ a story? I say, what a ballyswizz!” The harewife cuffed his long ear lightly. Burrbob! That’s quite enough from you, m’laddo. I don’t think youdeserve a story after such impudence!”Rillbrook took a deep draught of Mountain Ale, smacked his lips, and wiped a paw across his mouth. “Oh, Idunno, marm, a good story often teaches rotters an’ rogues to be better creatures.” The leverets shouted encouragement eagerly.“Rather, tell on, old chap!”“Ill say! Anythin’ t’make us better creatures, wot?”“Do us the world o’ good, doncha know!” The ancient otter waited until silence fell and they were watching him expectantly, then he began.“They call me Rillbrook the Wanderer, son of Rillbrook the Wanderer; my grandsire was calledRillbrook theWanderer....” The cheeky Burrbob could be heard muttering, I s’pose his great great auntie was called Rillbrookthe Thingummy, we know that, get on with the yarn. Yowch! This time the harewife’s quick paw did not descend so lightly on the impudent leveret’s ear. She fixed him with afrosty glare and said, “One more word from you, sir, and it’s bed with no supper!”Burrbob took the hint, becoming the very model of silence.Rillbrook started from where he had left off.“I have wandered all the seasons of my life, near and far, sometimes under forgotten skies, along hidden streams,across silent forests. I have seen many things: mountains topped with snow, hot wastelands where creatures would killfor water. I have eaten among strangebeasts, listened to their songs, poems, and stories, words that have brought tearsand laughter to these old eyes. I have heard tales so mysterious that they trouble my memory and still return to roammy dreams on lonely nights.“Listen now, and I will relate to you a mighty saga. It concerns a Badger Lord who once ruled this mountain, andhis mortal enemy, a Ferret Warlord. The destiny of these two was entwined with many creatures, but mainly with twoyoung ones who dwelt at the Abbey of Red wall. They were a pair thrown together by chance, for good or evil.“Each of us is born to follow a star, be it bright and shining or dark and fated. Sometimes the paths of these starswill cross, bringing love or hatred. However, if you look up at the skies on aclear night, out of all the countless lightsthat twinkle and shine, there will come one. That star will be seen in a blaze, burning a path of light across the roof of the earth, a great comet. Think on these words as my tale unfolds. Mayhap you will learn something valuable, notabout stars, but of the value friendship brings.”
Book One: A Friendship Made
Skarlath the kestrel fledged later than his brothers and sisters; the autumn was almost over when he left thenest,never to return. This is the way with hawks. They are fierce and independent, free spirits who love to soar high.So it was with Skarlath, but being young and reckless he flew north and was trapped by winter. Howling gales fromthe very edges of the world bore him away. The young kestrel was held captive by a whirling mass of snow that swepthim over hill, dale, and forest. Shrieking winds drove him along, a bundle of wet feathers in a tight cocoon of dampwhite flakes that built on to his plumage in small drifts. Helpless, Skarlath was shot like an arrow into a forest. Hisbody smashed against the trunk of an old hornbeam. Relentlessly the storm plunged onward, keening a wild dirge,leaving in its wake the unconscious young kestrel.Skarlath regained his senses slowly. It was night, still, with not a breeze about the forest. The cold was bitter andintense, and frost glittered and twinkled on snow-laden tree boughs. Somewhere close he could see the glow of a fire,but could not feel its heat. Voices and raucous laughter came from the lighted area, drawing him, but when he tried tomove, the young kestrel squawked aloud in pain. His whole body was pinioned by ice; he was frozen tight, spread-eagled to the trunk of the hornbeam.Swartt Sixclaw sat closest to the fire. He was a young ferret, but obviously the leader of the threescore vermin whomade up the band. Tall, vicious, and sinewy, Swartt had made himself Chieftain, because he was quicker and strongerthan any who dared challenge him. He was a fearsome sight to friend and foe alike, his facestriped with a slopingpattern of purple and green dye, teeth stained glistening red. Round his neck hung the teeth andclawsof deadenemies. His left forepaw bore six claws’—it rested on the hilt of a long curved sword thrust through a snakeskin belt. The kestrel’s agonized cries brought Swartt upright. Kicking a nearby stoat, he snarled, Trattak, go and see what’smakin’ that noise.” The stoat scuttled obediently off into the snow-laden trees. It did not take him long to find Skarlath. Over ’ere,some stupid bird got itself froze to a tree!” he called out.Swartt smiled wickedly at a young badger tied to a log by a halter. It was a creature about the same age as himself,painfully hobbled and muzzled with rawhide strips. On its head was a broad, golden-colored stripe. Drawing hissword, the ferret touched its point to the rare-colored stripe. “Get up, Scumtripe, and give your master a ride overthere,” he said. The vermin crowding around the flames jeered and laughed as Swartt sat upon the badger’s back and goaded itforward, raking with his claws and slapping it with the flat of his sword blade. Hobbled close, the young creature couldonly take small stumbling steps. Anguished growls issued from its bound mouth as it fumbled through the snow.Swartt thought it no end of a joke, shouting aloud for the benefit of his band, “Giddy up, Scumtripe, y’great lazystripedog, move!”Skarlath eyed the ferret fearfully as Swartt brought his face close, leering and licking his lips. “Well now, whatave we ere? A kestrel, not as tasty as quail or wood pigeon, but young and tender, Ill wager. Stuck fast by theice,are ye, bird? That’ll keep y’nice an’ fresh until you join me at breakfast!” Then, dragging the badger cruelly up, he tied the halter attached to its muzzle to an overhanging limb of thehornbeam. “Here’s a good job for ye, Scumtripeguard my breakfast until momin’! Yer gettin’ too fat’n’lazy lyin’ bythe fire.” Swartt Sixclaw strode off, chuckling, to rejoin his band round the flames, leavingtheunfortunatepairfastened to the tree.An hour passed, when all that could be heard was the crackling of pine logs as flames devoured them; the vermincamp was silenced in sleep. Suddenly, in one swift, silent movement, the badger flung his body closeagainst thekestrel, trapping the bird between himself and the bark. At first the young kestrel thought he was to be smothered, butthe warmth from the soft fur of the badger’s chest started to melt the ice. Slowly, Skarlath felt the blood begin to stir inhis veins. Although the badger was tethered and muzzled, he clung on tightly with all his strengm until at last Skarlathwas able to move his head and wings. Skarlath jerked his head around until he found himself looking into thedarkeyes of the golden-striped creature. Both young ones stared at each other, communicating in silence. Then the badgerheld still as the hawk’s beak went to work. With short, savage movements, Skarlath tore into the rawhide muzzle stripsthat bound the badger until they were ripped to shreds. The badger clenched and unclenched his teeth, testing his jaws;then bowing his great gold-striped head he devoured the rawhide hobbles that bound his paws, chewing andswallowing the strips in his hunger. They were both free!“Come, friend, we go, escape, get away!” said Skarlath, keeping his voice to a hoarse whisper.But the badger acted as if he had not heard his companion. Fierce anger burned in his eyes. Stretching his powerfulyoung limbs, the badger seized a bough of the hornbeam and snapped it from the tree with a single wrench. Smashing

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