- Brian Jacques
Stabgut let out a yelp of surprise. He had no love for Trager, but he also had no love for the woodlanders. Especially the prisoners. Stabgut, his paw still wielding a dagger, immediately lunged at the small group. Forte side-stepped into his path, grabbing both of the ferret’s paws, keeping his arms stretched apart.
“What should I do with him?” Forte asked the others. “There would be no honor in defeating one lone hordebeast, and we can’t just let him run off!”
“String ‘im to the tree!” Frisk responded, a stern look on his face. “He deserves no better!”
Seeing the way this was going, Stabgut attempted to worm his way out of it by spewing halftruths. “Naw, naw, you got it all wrong! Why see, me? I was against Trager from the start! Said he shoulda let you all go, but he wouldn’t listen, no! As a matter of fact, I just tried to kill him, on me own mother’s grave I did!”
“I bet!” Frisk snorted. “Probably put your mother there in the first place!”
Stabgut scowled at that, then ignored Frisk. “Please, sir, I didn’t mean you any harm! Was just moving away from the horde, I was! Please let me go like a kind beast!”
Forte looked at the ferret, then at Frisk, then back to Stabgut. “As I said, I won’t kill you, nor will I let you go! You say you meant us no harm? Liar! If you had meant us no harm, you wouldn’t have lunged at us!”
Stabgut’s mind raced. “Y. . . . y. . . . y. . you just took me by surprise, that’s all! Was a bit jumpy, you see?”
Frisk grabbed the ferret and yanked him to the nearby tree. “Toss me a rope, will you, Scamper, matey?”
Scamper took some of the rope they had just freed Nachoon and his voles from and tossed it to Frisk, who then proceeded to tie the ferret to the tree trunk.
“Filthy otters!” Stabgut hissed. “I’ll pay you back for this insult someday! I swear I will!”
“That’ll be awfully hard to do while tied to a tree,” Nachoon retorted. He looked around, suddenly noticing something different. “Hey,” he said, “where’s Tigerlily?”
The otter was no where to be found!
Tigerlily moved through the underbrush of Mossflower. She couldn’t trust anyone with the secret of Mossflower. She had to go away, far away, and hide for the rest of her days. The secret was too great. Should anyone ever get a hold of it. . . She pushed the thought away and continued on her journey south of Mossflower, never to be heard from again!
During the excitement with Stabgut, the four Redwallers, Daniel, Alfred, Gunthre and Gonjur, had held a council. Their primary goal was to retrieve the Sword of Martin and return it to their Abbey.
“It doesn’t make sense, I tell you!” Gunthre argued. “Why would he steal the sword, go east, then double back to attack the Abbey? Something doesn’t fit!” “Now that you point it out. . . ” Alfred conceded. “It does seem a little odd!”
Gonjur nodded as well. “Maybe the chap was planning on attacking Redwall all along, and he just doubled back to get an army?” he suggested.
Daniel shook his head. “Doesn’t fit! He had his army waiting only a few miles from Redwall. But he led them into the quarry to die. I’d sure like to know where the other vermin came from, though!”
Gunthre’s brow furrowed. “They were probably the same horde! One group was supposed to secure the sword while the other waited as back-up in case the plan went awry. Obviously, Trager is manuevering them so that he can dispose of them! He has to know that no one can invade and conquer Redwall!”
“Let’s see. . .” Daniel concentrated. “If you were an opportunistic wolf who needed to dispose of large numbers of vermin, how would you go about it?”
Alfred snapped his fingers. “Attack Redwall, of course! Then, fake your own death and run away into the night. . .”
“Which would leave the rest of the horde attacking Redwall, without a hope in the world!” Gonjur finished. “Of course!”
“But, how would he fake his own death?” Gunthre questioned.
Stabgut’s pleas interrupted them. “Tried to kill him, on me own mothers grave I did!”
All four of the dibbuns looked up, the opportunity that presented itself to Trager suddenly dawning on them.
“Gunthre,” Daniel said, “go through the tree tops and see if you can find Trager. . . See if he’s slinking away from the rest of the horde!”
Gunthre nodded, then leapt up into the boughs of a nearby tree, his green cloak rippling in the wind. He sped from tree top to tree top, following the path the horde had taken, hoping to catch some sign of the wolf stealing away.
Erin, who had been lurking in the shadows of an oak, slowly emerged, looking from side to side for Tigerlily. The otter was nowhere to be found. “We’ll have to search for her,” he said. “She can’t have gotten far.”
Scamper held up a paw, shaking his head. “No, Erin!” he said. “Redwall should be our main concern. It isn’t far from here, and they may already be under attack! Tigerlily will have to wait!”
“I concur!” Forte added. “We’ve wasted enough time with this vermin. We need to press on to Redwall!”
Erin nodded, then saw the dibbuns. There were only three of them. “Daniel?” Erin called. “Where’s Gunthre?”
The three dibbuns all whirled around at the same time, nervous looks on their faces.
“Gunthre? Oh, he’s just. . . that is to say. . .”
“He wanted to. . . ummm. . . well. . .”
“He needed to exercise and stretch his limbs after being chained for so long!” Daniel finally answered. “He’s quite fond of bolting through the trees, y’know!”
“Now’s not the time to be bolting through trees!” Frisk commanded. “There’s vermin on the prowl! He could get captured again!”
Just then, Gunthre came bounding out of the tree. “Daniel!” he called. “I saw him! You were right! Trager’s heading eastward again, alone! The rest of the horde’s marching to Redwall, though!”
“We must go after Trager!” Erin stated.
“We can’t leave Redwall defenseless!” Alfred argued.
Daniel stood taller, as if he were years older. “Nachoon, Forte, take Frisk and the other prisoner’s to Redwall! Gunthre, Alfred, Gonjur and I set out from Redwall to reclaim the Sword of Martin, and we won’t return until the Sword is ours once again!”
Erin nodded. “I will accompany you, Daniel! My destiny also lies with the Sword of Martin!”
“You’ll need more matey’s than ol’ Erin here for protection,” Scamper joked, “So, I’ll go, too! Probably’ll be easier than takin’ on that horde, anyway. . .”
Daniel nodded. “I thank you both! But, we have no time to lose! We must set out at once!”
Scamper nodded, then went to Frisk and hugged his companion in good-bye, never knowing if they would meet again.
“May the spirit of Martin guide you to victory!” Alfred called after the group heading to Redwall.
“How far away was Trager, Gunthre?” Erin asked.
“I’d say he has a good deal of a head start, but, we’ll overtake him!” Gunthre said.
“Let’s not waste any more time here,” Daniel said. “I have a score to settle!”
The group nodded, and then they set off after the wolf who had stolen the Sword of Martin!
Daniel, Alfred, Gunthre, Gonjur, Erin, and Scamper. Alone against the wolf, Trager the Beast!