Sequel to "Light in the Dark". Dedicated to those friends of the past, and those friends I will meet and make in the future, and to those present with me now. Dedicated to my good LegendTeller again, for inspiring me to write Redwall Fanfictions. Thank you for the support, all of you!

Perforated Heart (Prologue)

Seasons after Ox Rookbane, Slayer of Ravens, Lord of Salamandastron, had told his story... Problems with his family brew. Being the Badger Lord of Salamandastron had fed the fire of the relationship that was meager and barely floating on the sea.

Lady Victoria of Salamandastron, wife of Ox, had started to distrust him. He would promise something to her, and it would never be executed; something always got in the way as his duty of being Badger Lord. It frustrated her, and she could not take it.

She confronted her husband and had a heart-breaking conversation between him. She stated she would leave, and take one of their two twin sons, Lekota. She would head to Redwall Abbey and stay there for the rest of her days. She had planned it in advanced, and Log a Log would support her as a travel aide to Redwall- all in that day.

After the conversation, she had left Salamandastron. Ox would accompany her and his son, Lekota (who was only still a babe) to Log a Log. A trek that would stab a hole in Ox's heart every step of the way.

On arrival, he gave his goodbyes, and held his son one more time. His first words were spoken that day, "Daddy". It would be the first words Ox had heard from his son, Lekota, and it would be the last he will ever hear-- until later.

"She just... Look, when I promised one thing, it would deteriorate. Whenever I had my exotic free-time, it would be with her or with my sons. I feel she used me, but... I'm too stubborn to realize. A cockamamie love I've had for many seasons. I guess it wasn't enough for her, and now I'll miss my son I have loved, Lekota. Lekota... Lekota..."
- Ox Rookbane

Book 1: Wrong Place At Wrong Time

Chapter 1

Many seasons after the departure of Victoria, Ox had lived and cared for his only son now, Kenai. Kenai was sixteen in seasons, while his father was old. His fur had started to become grey as he grew old.

The Badger Lord nowadays would wear a simple brown tunic with a brown cloak. He had started growing a beard, but insisted on not having one. It would be trimmed whenever it started growing back. He didn't mind being scruffy, but he would not have a beard like his father, Blitz.

Kenai was a young and a fighter. If there was a chance, he'd fight his father to go against his words. To live with him at Salamandastron for this long was quite a feat in Ox's eyes. His only salvation was from the morning walks his son would take. He would walk as far out, all the way until he reached Mossflower Woods.

It was the same thing this morning, Kenai would take a walk and enjoy a fresh spring morning. Ox watched him depart from a window in his bedchamber, and sighed. A friend of Ox's, one of the hares of the mountain, Dandy, came to his side. She rested her chin in her paws, and set her elbows on the window ledge, and looked out. This did not go unnoticed by the Badger Lord. "Thinkin' of something, young lady?"

She sighed, and continued to stare out the window. "No, nothing in particular, Ox."

Dandy scooted over and allowed his massive arms to rest on the window ledge. He laid his chin on his arms, staring out over the sea. Letting off a sigh, he spoke a thought of his. "It's been sixteen seasons since I've seen my son other son, Lekota. She never visited like she said she would..."

Dandy thought about it, and sighed once more. None of them spoke a word, but continued to stare out over the sea. A beautiful spring indeed. Ox had planned many times to go to Redwall to see Victoria and his son, but he never came around to it. It was either he was busy, or his body becoming heavier with seasons would not comply. Kenai might be one of his sons, but he missed Lekota, and Kenai wanted to see his brother at least once.

Peace and quiet lasted for a short few minutes. The Colonel of the Long Patrol, Whiscut, barged in on the two. Neither two turned to look at him. "Beautiful spring day, chaps! Go out, sniff a pretty rose or somethin'! Stop mopin' about, wot!"

Neither of the two bothered, and continued to gaze out. The Colonel showed disapproval, but none of them could see it. Ox took a great sniff on the air, and breathed out heavily. Turning around, Dandy followed him out of his bedchamber. The two went down to the kitchens to grab tea, and went out to their spot they always sat at. A ledge on Salamandastron that had once been cultivated by a previous Badger Lord of long ago, Sunflash the Mace. Grass grew there now, along with some wild flowers.

Ox took a great sniff of the air again, and sneezed this time. Taking out a kerchief, he blew his nose, and muttered to himself. "Not my allergies again..."

Dandy kept silent, and the Badger Lord fell silent, joining her. The two sat and took in the spring, and spoke nothing. For some reason, Ox had a feeling something might not be right about the day, but he did not say a thing about it, for he knew not of what would happen, or if anything would happen.

Chapter 2

Redwall Abbey, a beautiful place indeed. Victoria had became a Badger Mother at Redwall, something that has not happened for a long time now. She was scarcely a season younger than Ox, her husband, but felt old. Her son Lekota had attended Abbey School, and learned as much from there.

Abbot Manes had passes many seasons back, and Abbess Poppy succeeded him. A shrew as an Abbess was different, but they accepted her. She was wise, kind, and knew leadership well. She enjoyed Lekota when he was a babe, but now he had grown to be sixteen seasons of age. He could no longer be held when he was a babe, and would soon take on the world on his own.

He had heard the story of his father from his mother, but he barely knew about his father. He didn't know of his twin brother Kenai until she told him. Separated when his mother disagreed; separated because his father struggled so hard to keep it all together, but failure occurred and he could not succeed.

He wanted to find his father, and meet his brother for the first time. He would leave Redwall. His unorthodox plan was secretive, nobeast knew about it. Lekota was afraid; he doesn't know how to survive on his own out in Mossflower, and he doesn't have anything to defend himself.

He consulted to the Skipper, Skipper Brandil for help. Giving him a dagger, and getting him a satchel of vittles to supply him on his "runaway", he packed it away in a room he had in the Abbey. He was not ready yet to leave; he wanted to know a bit more before he ran off, so he wouldn't get lost.

He consulted to the library in the Abbey, set by Old Quelt from many seasons ago. Searching through the shelves for a book that might house a map, he would sneeze when he pulled a book out and dust would be released into the atmosphere.

Pulling a book off a shelf, he flipped through the pages and found a map. Locating Redwall, he looked for Salamandastron. He found both locations, and pinpointed them in his mind. Grabbing paper and a charcoal stick to write with, he designed a hasty sketch that was flawless. It was almost an exact replica of the map.

Finishing his sketch, he closed the book and more dust aroused and tickled his nose, causing him to sneeze. Shoving the sketch in a satchel at his side, he stood up and put the book back up on its rightful place on the shelf. Scanning for anything else that might interest him and catch his eye, he couldn't find anything.

Curious, Lekota thought about checking the "O's". Scanning through all of the "O's", he saw nothing that caught his attention or interested him. Lekota was hoping on finding something for "Ox", for his father, but his hopes were crushed. Why would he find such a thing here? He was just imagining a wish he could have.

After his time in the library, the young badger snuck out and crept to his room. Grabbing the supplies and the dagger, he slipped the dagger into his satchel and put on a backpack of the supplies. Writing a quick letter to whomever would be concerned at him missing, he left it on his bed.

The only way to sneak out would be through the window. His room happened to be on the second floor, so jumping was out of the question. Looking out, he found sturdy places to hold on to and settle his paws on to climb down. Kicking his legs over the ledge, he took a deep breath in, and started descending. Ledge to ledge, he came down to the ground eventually.

The gates of Redwall weren't far now; he could make it away undetected. Keeping to himself and making sure to stay in cover, he easily made it to the gates, accomplishing his goal. Opening the gates, he slipped out, and it locked on its own. Lekota was free.

Afternoon tea was around the corner. Lekota would've always taken the tea with Abbess Poppy, his mother Victoria, and Skipper Brandil. But this afternoon tea would be short a member. Skipper Brandil knew of Lekota's disappearance, but did not inform anybeast. Victoria took notice, and pondered the thought of what might it be about, and it was obvious Poppy was, also.

"Where is that young rip now? He never misses afternoon tea..."

The Abbess scratched her chin. "I was thinking that, too. He's always healthy, so I wouldn't expect him to be sick. Should we check the infirmary?"

Brandil had to play along to avoid detection or suspicion. "That's a good idea, Mother Abbess! Let's take a peek, shall we?"

The trio dispersed to head to the infirmary. On arrival, they were greeted by Brother Buckleberry. He nodded and smiled. "Good afternoon, Mother Abbess! Somebeast sick, or are you lookin' for one?"

"You haven't happened to see Lekota in here, have you?"

Brother Buckleberry, a kind and heartwarming mouse, chuckled. "He's never been in here since... Oh, how many seasons ago was it now? I must be getting old!"

It was apparent that Lekota was not there. Thanking the infirmary-keeper for his information, they set off to check Lekota's room. Opening the door, they did not see the massive badger there sleeping or anywhere in the room, but a letter.

"Mother, I have set off to find my father, Ox, and my 'brother', Kenai. I've always wished and dreamed of being able to see them, and you would say that we'd go back and visit someday, but it's never happened. So I went off myself to do so. If you want to find me, you'll have to come to Salamandastron."

Chapter 3

Kenai had made it into Mossflower Woods rather early. Having never really travelling out into it, he felt curious and a growing passion to explore it. Ignoring his father's warnings he's been lectured on many times, he started his exploration.

Only afternoon and he made it to the woods, this surprised him. Smiling, he enjoyed looking around and taking in the scenery. Mossflower Woods appeared amazing to him. Better than a mountain, better than sand dunes, better than all of it. The trees he's never seen before, the sweet berries he would pluck from a bush or two, the lush grass beneath his paws...

This was something his father would have never allowed him to do. He felt pride in being rebellious. His nose in the air and sniffing his surroundings, Kenai enjoyed the scent of the flowers and trees- he enjoyed it all.

His father would've never let him do such a thing, would he? Ox... Over-protective. He needed to lighten up his iron hold on his only son Kenai. No, he wasn't an only child, but how did he know that this "Lekota" existed? Only his father and mother knew sure enough. Why should he believe those old windbags?

Mossflower Woods was peaceful and quiet, the wind rustling the foliage of the trees. Nothing disturbed him or bothered the silence. He was wandering out farther than he's ever been, and it didn't make feel uncomfortable at all. It was out of his mind, but he should've felt it.

Lekota used his map effectively and his skills in navigation to work his way to Salamandastron. He had already calculated an estimated time of arrival, and tried to fit into it. The afternoon was peaceful and quiet. A bit unusual, he dubbed it.

Wandering for even more, he took a planned break and helped himself to some packed scones and a flask of strawberry fizz. Sighing, he looked over the map, and looked into the sky. Pondering some things, he knew he was going the right direction. Lekota knew very well that it wouldn't be too long if he kept it up at his pace, and he'd arrive.

Kenai started to feel unsure about his decision. Turning around, he tried to go back home. Wandering in the same direction he thought was home, he had actually gotten himself even more lost. Kenai began panicking. He should've listened to Father.

Chapter 4

It was late in the afternoon, and evening wouldn't be too far. Ox Rookbane looked out his window from his bedchamber, awaiting the return of Kenai. Ox had matters to address, but he did not focus his attention on it. Kenai was late- he never came home late. It was always on the dot of the afternoon. Did he get lost or caught up in something? Or worse... Did he not listen to his father about his warnings?

Colonel Whiscut came in to check on the Badger Lord to see that his duty was being executed. Ox needed this to keep him on track as he got older and dealt with his son. Noticing him staring out the window, the hare cleared his throat. "'Scuse me, sah, but what are you doin'?"

"He's not back yet. He's always been back on the dot, but not today... I find something wrong 'bout it. It's... Distracting."

Whiscut scratched his chin and shrugged. "If it gets late and he doesn't show his pretty face 'round here, I'll send some Long Patrol chaps out to go huntin' for him."

The Badger Lord sighed, and went back to do what he doing. His work was nothing interesting, but part of the responsibilities of being a Badger Lord. Ox struggled in keeping his head on what he was doing, but his mind ventured out to think about his son. What if he lost Kenai? He'd never see any of his sons again... He did not want to loose all he had now.

Victoria and Abbess Poppy had been discussing on what to do. Unfortunately, the Friar piped up and exposed Brandil. When the two confronted the Skipper, he had no idea what it was about. Smiling, he acknowledged them, and spoke. "Found the young un' yet?"

Mother Abbess glared at Skipper. Staring coldly, he started to feel worried. "What? Somethin' wrong?"

The badger mother spoke for the Abbess. "We know you helped Lekota sneak out."

Brandil played a perfect face of plain stupid. He was not going to accept the accusation lightly. "Whaaaaa-? Pfft, no! I wouldn't do that! If I did, I would've gone with 'im! Ox is an ol' friend of mine!"

Victoria dragged Skipper by the ear, and he yelped and complained every bit of the way to wherever she was taking him. They were bound for Cavern Hole, where they would discuss. On arrival, the badger let go of the otter's ear, and he scrambled away from her. He did not want another tormenting session of getting his ear pulled. "Nearly ripped me ear off!"

The Abbess arrived soon after, and she whispered to the badger mother. Skipper Brandil pondered about what they were discussing, frightened at the thought he pictured. Would they exile him? Chop his tail off? Starve him? Imprison him? Whatever he was thinking, was not correct.

"Hmm... Very well. Skipper, did you help Lekota out?"

He sighed, and shrugged. "He just asked me to get 'im supplies and a dagger for 'is journey, and that's it. It's all I know of it! Swear on me rudder!"

"We believe you. Now, have you seen Felix?"

"Felix? Haven't seen that rip since breakfast! He scoffs and he's off, no idea where he might be."

Lekota continued to walk his way, examining the map and his surroundings, and making sure he was still on the right track. Checking around him, it was clear; nobeast was around, and nothing to disturb him. Lekota put his muzzle into the air and sniffed, then sneezed. Sniffling, the young badger rubbed his nose and continued to look a the map.

As he buried his muzzle into the replicated map, he did not notice a figure sneaking up behind him. Walking forward, he addressed himself and help intervention on his going. "Hmm, I am going the right way, correct? Lets see... According to my estimation from before, and the time that has passed, it shouldn't be too long now, should it?"

The figure froze, and didn't make a move when Lekota spoke. When it felt confident, it continued to stalk the young badger. Closing the distance with a hasty but silent jog, he prepared himself and leapt on his back.

"Sup, furball!"

Lekota freaked out and yelped aloud. He tumbled to the ground and rolled, Felix still on his back. Laughing, he flicked Lekota, and teased him. "You'd be scared if a bug landed on you! Hah!"

Realizing the tormenter was Felix, Lekota calmed down and disapproved of the otter. "Not funny. Now what are you doing out here?"

The otter stood up and dusted himself off. Fixing the red and black plaid kerchief around his neck, and adjusting his necklace to rest in the center of his upper chest, Felix finished tidying himself up and answered. "Just followin' you to wherever."

Lekota attempted to shoo him away. "Go back to the Abbey- I'm going alone. This is for me only."

Felix would not let up. "I don't wanna go back to Redwall! 'Tis boring there! I want to come with you, and be free from that place!"

The badger sighed. "My friend, this is my journey I had set for myself to meet somebeast that is close to me."

The otter smiled slyly. "Talkin' about your... 'Lover'?"

"N-no! He is NOT my lover!"

Felix's eyes widened, and he exploded with laughter, and fell to the ground. Lekota face-pawed himself, and shook his head. "He's my father- I might as well say to save myself."

Wiping a tear trickling down his face, Felix recovered from laughing, and leaned against his friend. "Oh, your father, eh? Well sink me rudder, never knew you had one!"

"It's just that I've never met him before. My mother took me from my home and abandoned my father and we went to Redwall. Also, I apparently have a brother, also."

An audible growl could be heard and it originated from Felix's stomach. "Ooh, am I hungry! And perfect, you got supper!"

Lekota turned and walked away. He ignored Felix's feeble attempts to reach the haversack of vittles and get himself a snack. After several failed attempts, he started to complain to his badger friend. Lekota shook his head and denied. "I have a schedule I have planned for myself to arrive at my destination. No, not until I make my resting point."

Felix sighed, and started to fidget with his kerchief draped around his neck. He was the son of Skipper Brandil, and the kerchief was passed down to him. After messing with the kerchief for some time, he went to examine his necklace. Running his paw over it, he enjoyed the little charm at the end of it: a little sword.

Chapter 5

Kenai panicked. Scrambling around, he tried different directions to get home. He was lost. There was no doubt about it, but he was lost. Evening was fading in slowly, and he wouldn't be home. He knew his father would send the Long Patrol out to find him. Kenai didn't want to be found by the Long Patrol; he'd be punished severely for going against his father's rules. But another part of him wanted him to be found because he'd be safe at home.

Getting desperate, he looked around for anybeast that might be following him, or that might be stalking him. Safe. He sighed and felt his eye twitching. Looking around once more, he decided to yell out. Cupping his paws around his mouth, he roared out, "Help!"

In the distance, a voice could be heard. Lekota could make out a "help" from it. Packing his gear up, he stood up and judged the direction of the yell. Felix was munching on a scone and stood up to be at Lekota's side. "So I wasn't the only one who heard that now, was I?"

"No, I heard it also. I believe it's coming from this way. Come on, we better go see to them!"

Kenai slumped against a tree, and panted. Hyperventilating himself, he crouched in a ball and breathed heavily. These were the consequences of not listening to his father- a scholarly Badger Lord. He would pay the price for his ignorance.

Suddenly, a figure dropped out from a tree. It was a squirrel. Retrieving himself from his ball, he tried crawling away rapidly, frightened at the sudden appearance of the squirrel. This squirrel laughed, and soon the trees has squirrels coming out of them. The one who had frightened Kenai spoke. "Did we frighten you?"

Trying to regain his breath and slow his heartbeat down, Kenai nodded. "Nearly gave me a heart attack!"

The squirrel laughed. "I'm Fey Bushtail, but you can call me Fey. I'm the leader of the squirrel tribe here in Mossflower."

Fey held out her paw, and Kenai took it gently and shook. Slowly rising, he looked around at all of the squirrels. Judging that he was lost, she decided to give an offer to Kenai. "You seem lost. Where you headin' to? I think we could help!"

Kenai shook his head. "You wouldn't happen to know where Salamandastron is, would you? That's my home..."

Fey sighed. "Can't say I do. Sorry... But I do know where Redwall is!"

Kenai denied. "My father wouldn't be pleased, nor my mother. It must be Salamandastron."

A scarred squirrel stepped forward. Scars ran across almost every limb of his body. "I believe I, Fargo, would know the way."

The young badger lit up with hope. "Oh, thank you! Please, show me the way!"

Fey gave permission to let Fargo lead the squirrel tribe and Kenai home to Salamandastron. Fey questioned if he was the Badger Lord, and he shook his said solemnly. He explained about how his father was, and his duties. He also went on to ramble about the morning walks Kenai himself would take. Nodding in acknowledgement, she appeared somewhat fascinated at it.

Fargo seemed to not be listening, but caught Kenai off-guard with his comment. "Scholarly, eh? Not like a bookworm, but discovering all this 'fascinating' stuff?"

"Y-yes... He's found many accounts and inscriptions from past Badger Lords. He likes using his free time on doing that, or he calls his duties that."

"Interesting," was all Fargo replied back.

Chapter 6

"Where is he?! COLONEL!" A furious Ox Rookbane looked around and shouted.

Colonel Whiscut could not be found. Ox looked everywhere for him. He wasn't in the dining hall, he wasn't in the Forge (to prove Ox's desperateness), and he wasn't buried in vittles at the kitchen. Where could that hare be?

Running his paw through his fur, he sighed. He was still heated and furious at the "disappearance" of his Long Patrol Colonel. He even asked his daughter, Dandy, and she came up to no avail. "Sorry Ox, I haven't seen him since when he barged in this morning..."

"Well, I last saw him during the afternoon. It's almost nightfall, and I can't find him, and my son hasn't returned."

Getting the idea that Colonel Whiscut might be off running an unorthodox mission to find Kenai, he would be grateful to know that they were hunting for him, but also furious for not notifying him. He would also be even more furious at his son for not listening to him.

Checking the barracks and even more places, he found the Long Patrol still here. His frustration was obviously clear to the hares, and they stood to attention, saluting. The Badger Lord rolled his eyes, and rapped out in frustration. "Where is Colonel Whiscut?"

The hares looked around at each another and shrugged when one would whisper to another to ask. Finding it useless, Ox Rookbane strode out hastily and muttered curses about the Colonel to himself.

Checking the armory, all weapons were hanging up on the walls or cradled on a rack. Looking at where the Colonel usually kept his weapons, there was one thing missing: a sabre. Colonel Whiscut has gone off on an unorthodox mission ALONE, and notified nobeast of his departure. Ox shook with anger, and stormed off to the Forge. Hares form the barracks stumbled upon him and tried to check on Ox, but he passed them and ignored them on his way to the Forge.

Colonel Whiscut wandered in Mossflower Woods with his sabre in holster, a ration of vittles to keep him going, and a torch in paw. He was searching for the squirrel tribe to ask around, but his main focus was Kenai. He had no idea if Ox found his note he left for him.

Kenai and the squirrels camped in a comfortable and supportive location for the tribe. Fires were going and squirrel foragers returned with what they got. They came back rich in edible food and desirable food to live off of from Mossflower Woods.

Kenai sat alone and worried about the possible consequences his father would have in store for him when he came home. He wouldn't know what would happen if he came home now. Surely Ox would be furious at him, but would he have a soft spot for Kenai? Being all he had, of course he wouldn't want to loose Kenai from running away now, would he? Surely not.

Lekota and Felix camped out at their own camp site. Felix got a fire started, and Lekota marked a tree for which direction he should be going towards the shout he heard earlier. Luckily for him, it was the same direction to Salamandastron, so he would be able to kill two birds with one stone.

Tomorrow morning, nobeast expected things to go down.

Chapter 7

The Squirrel camp was up and about. Preparing themselves for the last few distance between them and Salamandastron, they would return Kenai home. Shuffling around, a quick breakfast was eaten and packing up was happening. It wouldn't be too long now.

When the trek picked up again, the going was somewhat slow. Kenai pondered what his father would be like when he returned to Salamandastron. Thinking up rational ideas, he shuddered, and tried to shake it out of his head. It would not be pretty.

"I am going to KILL him when he gets back! He is in BIG TROUBLE." The Badger Lord roared to himself, but Dandy overheard him (of course).

"Sah, I would let him off if I were you; he's never gotten a chance to explore ol' Mossflower!" Dandy attempted to defend Kenai.

"Then he would SAY SO! Wouldn't harm me or him to ASK?" Ox sneered back at Dandy.

Panting with anger and frustration, the Badger Lord sighed. Wiping his brow with the back of his paw, he shook his massive head, and sighed once more. "I'm sorry if I sneered at you, but do you know how I feel? Kenai is all I have! Victoria took Lekota and 'promised to visit'! Never happened once! Isn't that messed up?"

Dandy rubbed her chin and thought of an answer. "Mayhap she forgot? Maybe she couldn't?"

Ox denied this, and scrapped the question. It would not help him at all, and would not make him feel any better about the current situation. Colonel Whiscut was no where to be found, and there was no idea where he might be.

Colonel Whiscut wandered after a good night's rest, searching for the squirrel tribe. Hearing a chorus of voices belting out a ditty, he approached to the sound. The Squirrel Tribe! And what's this they had in tow? Kenai! He had found Kenai!

"G'morning to you, chaps! Now sir Kenai, y'mind comin' home?"

Kenai turned and was hysterical towards the Colonel. "Whiscut! Oh, you came lookin' for me!"

Colonel Whiscut winked. "Only because your father would've thrown me out a window if I haven't had, wot!"

Colonel Whiscut met some of his old friends from the Squirrel Tribe and met new members of it. As he laughed and chatted with them, a whizzing arrow darted by and struck a squirrel straight through the head. Turning around, a bandit group of vermin came charging. Colonel Whiscut was being followed and stalked this entire time.

"It's an ambush, run! To Salamandastron, come on!" Kenai roared out.

The squirrels, badger, and hare dashed for their lives. Some squirrel archers and slingers sent missiles back at the oncoming vermin, but could not stop. Running out of Mossflower woods, across some terrain, and eventually breaking out onto the shore of Salamandastron, the runners were exhausted.

Ox and Dandy had viewed them stampeding towards Salamandastron. He could see the sight of one creature that he had been longing for: Kenai. Quick for his old age, he speedily grabbed his Ravenshaft (A double-headed war axe engraved and made of fine metal, with a lance point at the bottom of the shaft, and streamers tied around by the head) and slipped on his chest piece and gauntlets. He was out of Salamandastron and coming to bring the fight.

As arrows and slingstones were being sent from the vermin, the mad group ran in a zig-zag formation to avoid the incoming missiles. A squirrel maid who bore a babe was struck in the back of the shoulder and she fell, dropping the babe. Fey was in there rapidly, trying to help the maid. Fargo took the maid while Fey took the child. Neither of them saw the incoming arrows.

"Look out- Aaaaaauuurragh!"

Kenai had taken to arrows, one to his shoulder and one to his lower chest. Panting, the Bloodwrath had started to brew a red mist in his eyes. He had inherited it from his father, and had no control over it- unlike his father. Kenai succumbed and now was under the influence of the madness.

Ox strode out into the fight. This would be a warm-up after many seasons of inactivity. Thinking he would be able to get into the fight, he instead had to sheath his Ravenshaft to help Fey and Fargo out. Getting them safely into the mountain with the babe and maid, Ox attended to more and more, never getting his paws dirty in the skirmish.

In little to no time, the skirmish was over. No survivors from the vermin's side except one: a weasel. He had scrambled off with something dangling from his paw. Colonel Whiscut reported this to Ox and saluted. Instead of getting a "thank you" or a nod, he got a bop in the back of the head. "Next time, tell me about your missions instead of running off."

The Colonel didn't bother telling him of the letter in Ox's mood. Making his way around, a cluster of creatures were gathering in one location. The Badger Lord made his way to the crowd and found his son Kenai, laying there dead. Ox cursed, and was enraged by this. Forgetting to control his Bloodwrath, he let himself slip into this anger.

Taking off as fast as he could ever go in his old age, Ox was off to pursue the last survivor and take revenge for his son's murder.

Lekota and Felix had made there way to where they heard the scream from earlier. Arriving on the scene, they were horrified at what they saw: carcasses of some vermin and squirrels laid astray. Felix stared in horror. The badger checked one of the bodies and with his paw he felt a warmth, then it faded away. This was recent.

Following the tracks left by a stampede, they made their way out hastily and eventually arrived at Salamandastron themselves. Entering through the main entrance, Lekota somehow navigated in to the dining hall. Squirrels were grouped up and hares were also. One approached him and spoke to him. "Ox? I thought you ran off..."

"I'm not Ox, that's my father..."

"But- Kenai just died! You can't be him!"

Lekota's eyes enlarged in size. "H-he died? M-my brother? H-how?!"

The hare's eyes grew twice as large as Lekota's eyes. "L-Lekota?! Oh goodness, its been seasons! K-Kenai? Yes... It's unfortunate... Come, come with me, I'll let you see him."

Leading him into the vaults where very few of the slain goodbeasts were laid out, Kenai's body laid out on one of the slabs with flowers plucked from the mountain's slopes; some of Ox's favorites. Lekota stared deeply at him, and placed a paw on his dead brother's paw. Beaten and scarred the body was, but he looked different in features compared to Lekota. Lekota was a bit shorter and had a thicker white stripe than his brother.

Felix eventually found Lekota and heard what happened to Lekota's brother, and cried along with him and Dandy. It would be a sad day of loss...

Chapter 8

Ox was not himself. With such an anger at the death of his only son, this sparked an unbelievable Bloodwrath that has never been seen in him before, or in many Badger Lords at all. Hunting down the last survivor and brutally slaughtering them was Bloodwrath's job- it was Ox's job to be the host to fulfill the duty.

He did not need to track at all- he was guided in his state of immense Bloodwrath. Charging about with his weapon in paw, he was not slowing down, despite his old age and the weight of armor and Ravenshaft.

There was no way the weasel would get away. Ox would have him- he would. Failure would not be an option for him. The warm blood of the weasel would please him immensely- avenging the death of his son. This weasel might not have particularly have slayed Kenai, but Ox didn't care. As obstinate as he was, it would be even worse with his Bloodwrath.

Eventually, he found the weasel after bulldozing over terrain to find them. The weasel panted and panted after his running from his pursuer. Turning around to face the mad badger, he smiled and laughed. "Do you know what I am capable of, Ox?"

These words pierced Ox and he quickly regained his senses. "Running from an inevitable death, am I correct?"

The weasel shook with laughter, seemingly as an act of mocking Ox Rookbane. "No! I, Zarix, hold everything in hostage! Do y'understand?!"

Ox slightly rested his weapon. He was not going to strike. "I don't follow you. You can't- you ambitious vermin scum!"

"Oh, but I can!" Pulling out a pocket watch, he laughed. Ox stared at it.

"Do you know what this is? The very item of the manipulation of time! Your past can change to be how I WANT IT TO BE! NOW DO YOU FOLLOW ME?!" The weasel laughed maniacally. Ox found a rock in his paw, and tossed it behind his back and caught it back in his paw.

"What do you mean?" The Badger Lord questioned the weasel.

"Don't you see? With this, I can go back and change YOUR past! I can go back and change anything I please! Ungatt Trunn's death? FIXED! Gorath surviving Vizka? NOPE! Urthwyte, friends with Wildlough? HOW ABOUT, DEAD?! Mwaha, haha! Hahaha!"

Ox stared in disbelief. "M-manipulation of time?! A-are you insane?! Do you know what happens if you create a-"

"Nobeast cares but you, toodles!"

Zarix held the pocket watch up and moved his claw over a dial and turned it a few times, then relocated his claw to rest on top of a button. Giving a devious smile, he pressed it just when Ox threw the rock. It was a direct impact.


Flash! A white flash occurred and blinded Ox, causing him to stumble and fall over. What had just happened, he thought?

Chapter 9

Fey, Felix, and Colonel Whiscut back at Salamandastron experienced the blinding flash also. After its effects, by coincidence, they all bumped into somebeast and fell to the ground. All of them rubbed their heads and groaned.

Colonel Whiscut looked and saw a hare in front of him. Looking at him suspiciously, he questioned them. "Who are you? Never seen you 'round here before, chap!"

The hare replied back. "I can say the same about you too, mate."

"Well who are you then? Speak!"

"Major Mullein. Now that I told you mine, I expect the same with you."

"I'm Colonel Whiscut, Colonel of the Long Patrol!"

"W-what? No your not! I don't even know you!"


Felix moaned from the collision. "Watch where you walk!"

"I can say the same about you too, mate."

Looking at each other, they smiled slyly. Felix's smile went from ear to ear. "And who may you be?"

"Me name's Ruff mate, you?"

"Felix. W-wait, how did you get here at Salad-manastron? N-no... Got it wrong again! S-Salamandastron, there!"

"I-I'm at Sala-what-astron?!"

Fey bumped into a squirrel almost her age. Smiling, she struck up conversation with them. "Never seen you before in my squirrel tribe! What may your name be?"

"W-where am I?"

"Salamandastron, that's where! Now, what may your name be?" Fey smiled and spoke in a friendly voice.

"I-I'm Samkim... I come from Redwall..."

Fey raised an eyebrow. "Redwall? I don't know anybeast that has came here from Redwall, let alone a squirrel! How did you get here so quickly?"

"I don't recall ever heading here..."

Ox rubbed his head and shook his head. Groaning, it pieced together to make a chorus of groans. There were other creatures with him without him realizing. "Ughhh... What just happened? I feel like I'm going to get sick!"

A voice replied back. "I don't know, but now I have this ache in my head that is killing me..."

Another voice could be heard replying with the one from before. "Now that you mentioned it, I do feel a headache... Ughhh..."

One more voice gave their complaint. "I feel like I'm going to be sick also- oh goodness!"

The sound of somebeast vomiting could be heard, and Ox had to clutch his stomach and try to keep himself from vomiting himself. Gulping he laid down and tried to relieve himself of the queasy feeling in his stomach. After some time, he sat up, along with three others who sat up right with him.

They all crawled back hastily to put distance between each other. Grabbing their weapons, they stood up. There were now three more badgers in company with Ox. One marked by a flame on his forehead, one pure white, and one younger than Ox but showed no special traits. The three newcomers held their weapons threateningly towards each other. Ox looked and saw a pocket watch on the ground, and picked it up into his paws.

"Who are you?" , "You first." , "...Who are you? Can't we just say?"

Being broken from the trance of the pocket watch, Ox Rookbane could now look at the others freely. He knew every one of them. Brocktree, Urthwyte, and Gorath. Past Badger Lords of Salamandastron- before Ox was even born. While the three bickered, Ox chuckled, and they looked at him. "Well well! Nice to meet you, Brocktree, Urthwyte, and Gorath! You probably won't know each other, but I know you all."

They all focused on Ox, pointing their weapons at him. Brocktree slowly approached Ox and eventually had his great-sword pointed at his throat. Backing up, Ox looked at Brocktree confusingly. "D-don't point that at me! What did I do?"

He snarled back. "How do you know me?"

Brocktree's statement was backed up by the other two. Ox looked around frantically and pulled out the pocket watch once more. Examining the mechanics of it, he knew it was somewhat busted. "Did that throw knock something out of place? This doesn't make sense! You are all... Dead. Currently, you are living in the future! H-how? Cut my tail off and paste a rudder on and call me Brandil, but how?!"

Urthwyte peered at Ox. "We're all dead but living in the future... And you are telling us you are alive and in your present time?"

Ox nodded. "T-that weasel! H-he gets away with killing my son AND ESCAPED when I had him cornered! His stupid time piece must've been busted along with this one! Must've cloned it... Again, cut my tail off and paste a rudder on and call me Brandil! We must get to Salamandastron, hurry! I think better in my bedchamber!"

Brocktree seemed to despise Ox. "YOUR bedchamber?!"

Ox rolled his eyes. "The name is Ox Rookbane, but call me Ox. Now introduce yourselves to one another and follow me! Come on! We need to work hastily or else that weasel Zarix might accidently create a paradox and destroy time ITSELF!"

Introductions were made, and Gorath posed a question. "How do you know this stuff?"

Ox shook his head. "I theorized it. I thought of a question and eventually made answers and explanations backed up by some logical explanations and proof. Now hurry along! If he creates a paradox, this is it for us! Time itself will cease to exist and we won't even be here, nor in the past or future! Gone forever!"

The pace was brought up into a sprint to Salamandastron. Ox didn't know that these past Badger Lords would not be the only guests in this timeline.

Chapter 10

"W-who are all these creatures?!" Ox looked on in shock at all of the new creatures roaming Salamandastron.

Urthwyte tapped Ox's shoulder and jumped back when Ox swiveled around almost instantaneously. "What do you mean by that?"

Ox didn't reply. Thinking of reasons, he turned around and walked off, and the others followed. He was intervening with himself and blabbering on about topics nobeast understood. "Ooh this is bad... This knocked THREE timelines into one! And- oh no..."

Turning to the others, Rookbane questioned them. "What were you all doing before this happened?"

Brocktree replied first. "About to reclaim Salamandastron from Ungatt Trunn."

Urthwyte went next. "I was travelling with Mara to help my brother Urthstripe out."

Then Gorath. "I was after that fox!" Vizka Longtooth.

Ox nearly collapsed after hearing all of them. "And the best part about this all is: your enemies are somewhere out here, and my weasel I want to slay is out there also. This, is not a good thing..."

Gorath raised an eyebrow and questioned. "So Vizka is here, and I'm not just abandoned here?"

Urthwyte cut Ox off before he could answer, and posed a new question. "So that means... Urthstripe could be here?!"

"I-I DON'T KNOW! Please, I cannot comprehend all of this madness! You're going to make me insane!" Ox whined and complained at Urthwyte. All he whispered back to the cracking badger was "sorry", and Ox face-pawed himself.

Ox was about to head to the bedchamber when he remembered Kenai. He wanted to give his respects like a father would do. Detouring to the vaults, Ox hurried off. Though the other Badger Lords might be in tow, Ox didn't care. He didn't care if he openly expressed his emotions to his son in front of them.

Heading down there, he saw another badger, Dandy, and an otter. Pushing through them to be next to his son's lifeless body he took his paw and held it, and wept. The badger who had been there put a paw on Ox's shoulder. "M-my brother is dead... And I never got to know him..."

"He had no- Lekota? This is you?!" Ox turned around and looked at the badger. He nodded. It was Lekota. The two embraced a massive hug together. Lekota's Father peeked over his shoulder. Turning his head around, he saw the other Lords, but he didn't care. He continued to hug his father and they wept together.

"Oh, Lekota, it's been seasons! Now you've grown up so much! And what's even worse, I didn't even get to see you grow up! The only real memory I have with you were your first words: 'Daddy'! I thought that would be the only words I heard from you! Oh boo hoo hoo!" Ox lost it and was overwhelmed. Tears dripped off his face and plopped on the ground.

After the long hug, they let go. Lekota turned around to see the other Badger Lords, and addressed his father. "Father, who are they? N-no, wait... Gorath the Flame and Urthwyte... Haven't I- Eureka! I have read Redwall records of you two! C-can't say I know you though..." Lekota nodded to Brocktree.

"I'm Brocktree. I overheard, but to make sure, you're Lekota?"

"Yes sir, that would be me. If you will excuse me, but... I need time to gather my thoughts and emotions."

Lekota abandoned the vault with Felix in tow. Together the friends went off and eventually found the ledge that unwittingly Ox and Dandy sat at all the time. The two stared off out into the distance. Lekota's mind was everywhere. He had met his father, and had seen his brother; dead and scarred after helping and protecting friends he had just made...

"I cannot help but to think about why we must do this... Why must we fight one another constantly? Kenai was just an innocent young badger who was just growing up and being able to have more freedom until it was... Stolen from him..."
-A journal entry from Lekota

Ox finally got some freedom from Brocktree, Urthwyte, and Gorath. Finding his son with his friend on his favorite ledge, he sat down next to Lekota. His son leaned against him and sniffled. Batting an eye at the otter, Ox saw a similarity between them and somebeast else. "You look awfully a lot like an ol' friend of mine, Brandil."

"Brandil is my father, Sir. Name's Felix." Felix added.

Ox nodded, and saw the journal entry Lekota had recently written. Holding him close, Ox gently and soothingly sang out a little song.

"Don't you worry your pretty little mind;
Creatures throw rocks at things that shine...
And life, Makes love look hard...
The stakes are high, and the water's rough,
But this love is ours..."

Chapter 11

Lekota was assigned the guest room of Salamandastron. Being rarely used, dust and cobwebs smothered any furniture in the room. A desk had accumulated about an inch of dust, a chair choked with cobwebs, and a bedframe coated in the particles of dirt that has built up over the seasons.

Taking a kerchief and dampening it with water, the young resident of the room got to work on laboring in dusting the room. The kerchief needed to constantly be wringed out and washed to prepare it for another strike against the dust. The task was annoying- constantly wringing out the kerchief.

After finishing the long labor of dusting the room, the young badger settled down and unpacked his gear. Putting some of his belongings on the desk and writings on a shelf, he hanged up his haversack and came out of the room.

Looking around, Salamandastron was more crowded than before. Lekota wandered about looking for his father. He wanted to speak with him and learn more about him since he never got the chance to do so. Thinking he might be in his bedchamber, Lekota waddled off to find him there. Coming across Felix, he saw him with Ruff, and left him to hang with his new friend.

Making his way to the bedchamber, he heard bickering and fussing coming from inside. Creeping the door open, he peeked through the crevice and spied in. Viewing his father stressed out and running his paw through his fur, the words he returned to the questions and bickering from the other Badger Lords came out hot.

"I can no longer think now! How many times have I told you? Why must you be this stubborn?! And stop calling this your bedchamber! I am sick and tired of you now!"

Lekota didn't dare to breathe. Closing the door gingerly, it creaked loudly. The spy eyes' squinted and stared at the door. Not moving the door at all, he could hear a voice call out to him. "Who's there? Come in here, don't run off now."

Sighing, Lekota opened the door and stared at them all. Then, he flatly stated, "You all get a long well... Now who's this one complaining about a bedchamber? That sounds silly to me- the young Dibbuns at Redwall never complained about simple things like that! And they are youngsters!"

The one who was complaining was Brocktree. He strongly disliked Ox and couldn't trust him. He felt as if Ox was lying about the whole situation, and was trying to smother out Brocktree from his "rightful" place as a Badger Lord of Salamandastron.

Lekota's father took a kerchief and blew his nose in an attempt to hide his laughter. Ox couldn't resist and burst out laughing, right in front of Brocktree. His son just stared at his and rolled his eyes. Gorath feigned a unsure chuckle. Urthwyte smiled at the reference Lekota made. Brocktree was furious at the laughter and elbowed Ox in the stomach, knocking the wind from him.

"Oof! D-did you really need to do that? My old body is wearing out and you're not helping me!" Ox wheezed.

Lekota came to his father's side and bopped him in the back of the head. He was rewarded with a harder bop to his head from his father. Wincing, Lekota rubbed his head and looked around the room, examining all of the collections of records, articles, documents, stories, biographies, and even more to think about. Most of it had been written by Ox himself on this shelf. Another shelf housed scrolls from other Badger Lords, including Mandoral Highpeak and the account of Brocktree's story from Russano the Wise.

"Woah... These over here look far more ancient than Redwall's records! Geez, have Badger Lord ever heard of 'innovation'? See, it's this amazing thing where one improves an invention or system..."

The other Badger Lords (not including Ox) glanced at each other and stared at Lekota. His smile of discovery and amazement left him, and he laughed nervously. Trying to change the subject, he posed a question. "So, Father... If they are here, then what are we going to do about them? They got all of their buddies here also?"

Ox lit up. "That's right! And if their 'buddies' are here, then that means- oh... Oh, this ain't well..."

Urthwyte looked nervous or annoyed. "What isn't so well about it?"

Ox gulped. "We got probably got four groups of enemies here to deal with. Maybe even five if Zarix gathers vermin to join him..."

This, isn't so good...

Book 2: Conflux of Time

Chapter 12

Zarix wandered Mossflower Woods, cursing and complaining at his broken pocket watch. The components have been busted and he could not time travel. This is where he was, not knowing how far back into the past or ahead into the future he was.

Wandering about, the weasel sighed. How would he be able to ruin Ox's life now? There could be no way he would now with the broken timepiece. That's it! He must fix it! But how? How would he fix this exotic artifact? There is no manual that came with it, and there definitely isn't anybeast who would simply know.

Zarix continued to wander off alone. Thinking about how to fix the timepiece, he noticed one thing about it: a missing cog. This cog would fix the timepiece, and everything would be in his control now. Nothing, will stop Zarix on getting his cog! Nothing!

Ox Rookbane was finally alone from the past Badger Lords. Free from their pestering, free from Brocktree's pure hatred, free from Gorath's cluelessness, free from Urthwyte's faulty logic. Laying down on his bed, he stared up at the ceiling while his son Lekota waddled around the room, examining it all. Taking one of his father's many collections of information, he sat down on the side of the bed and started to read.

"Huh, this story about Sunflash The Mace seems interesting... Mind if I read it?"

"Oh, that? This isn't a library, Lekota, but I guess you could 'borrow' it as long as you return it." Ox flatly stated.

Lekota giggled and began reading. "So, how did you find this all out?"

His father shrugged, playing with the pocket watch he had. "Oh, just deciphered some cryptic messages and writings written on the walls in Salamandastron and some accounts already written by others."

As his son mused on about it and blabbered constantly, Ox ignored him and messed around with the pocket watch. Pressing down a knob on it, Lekota froze in place and didn't speak or breathe at all. The Badger Lord raised his brow and looked on at his son. Then suddenly, Lekota continued exactly where he left off from speaking. His father showed a puzzled face. "Something wrong?"

Ox sat up on the side of the bed. "Tell me if you notice anything different, ok?"

Lekota looked clueless at his father. "Ok... Unusual task if you a-"

Lekota stopped exactly where he was. He did not move at all. No breathing, blinking, or heartbeat. Ox stood up from the bed and walked across the room. Coming to his desk he sat down in the chair and turned to face his son. Thinking of something else to do, he quickly dashed over and took the writings Lekota held from his paw and sat back down to read it. Time fixed itself and resumed.

Lekota looked down at his paws and looked back up at his father who has seemingly teleported from the side of the bed, to the chair with the writings Lekota was holding. "H-how did you do that?!"

"It's this pocket watch! It can pause time for just a short time! Like... Like I just BLINKED over here! Bam! And now, I got what you were reading!" The Badger Lord was laughing in excitement at his discovery.

Gently opening the pocket watch's internals, he could see everything seemed normal- spare the missing cog. "Huh, a cog is missing. Just need it and we can fix this once and for all. Not just the pocket watch, but time itself! I need to know where it is!"

Two sworn enemies after the same thing they do not know where it is, but one thing's certain: the other is after it. Little did they both know that there was only one in existence. Whoever found it first would be the sole ruler of Time, and could freely manipulate it to their desire. This, comes with the risk of creating a paradox...

Chapter 13

"Land ho!" somebeast stirred the silent atmosphere from one of the many platoons of ships sailing in unison.

Their leader came out of his cabins and found the one who roused him. Seeing them bouncing around with glee, the leader approached him. "What's the meaning of your bellowing? I was napping!"

"Lord, I found land! Land dead ahead! Ha hah, I can't believe it!"

"Don't get your hopes too high, rat. Get notice out to the other ships and let them prepare themselves."

Another rat ran up to the leader. "Ungatt Trunn, sir! Our ship is ready to dock and is leading the way!"

Ungatt Trunn smiled. "Good. Where is the mountain we were going for?"

The high magician's smile faded. Groddil, a fox, had his ears flop. "The storm knocked us off course, but don't worry. I know we'll be getting some good luck from this, trust me."

He made it up. It was only to save his tail, but Ungatt Trunn trusted him. Ungatt Trunn... A figure from Lord Brocktree's timeline, the Badger Lord who now had his timeline merged with Ox's. He had no idea what would await the journey ahead.

In not too long, they ported at shore and the Blue Hordes took to the shore. Ungatt Trunn planned what they would do next with his captains. They would camp for the day where they landed, and would trek onwards to wherever Salamandastron might be. A crossing is nigh...

Chapter 14

A ship docked at River Moss, and the crew scrambled ashore. A mess of sea pirates levitated on the banks of River Moss after the order of their captain. Staring straight forward, and not daring to let their eyes chance a glance at the captain, he finally joined them. Pacing straight past them, he turned around and examined them all.

"Well, how is my ship's crew; the crew of the Bludgullet?" the captain sneered.

There was a silence. Nobeast spoke, until one spoke for them all. "All prepped like y'asked, Captain."

The fox shrugged. "Good to know. Now, let's see what trouble we can do for now..."

Vizka Longtooth, from the timeline of Gorath The Flame. Captain of the Bludgullet, and a dangerous fox. If he smiled for you, it wasn't to look pretty; it was to show your death was inevitable.

Vizka had his crew go foraging. The ship's cook, Glurma, made a simple meal for every one of the vermin ship. After finishing her duties, she sat down by Vizka. He noticed, and gave a suspicious look. "Wot do you t'ink your doin'?"

"I thought I might've told ye about Red walls?"

The fox captain narrowed his eyes. "Wot Red walls?"

"Just a place supposedly loaded with treasure, sir. Good vittles too, better than this..."

Vizka liked the sound of it. He grinned and nodded his head, scratching his chin. "Go on, this sounds good t'me."

The ship's cook continued on about her knowledge of Red Walls, or better known as Redwall. Nodding at every good detail, from amazing treasure, to great vittles, and a great place to have as a castle. Vizka liked it all. It would be a suitable place for him. "Then we set out tonight for it!"

Signaling his crew, Vizka rallied them up for the hunt for Redwall...

Chapter 15

A tremendous horde marched north towards Salamandastron. Led by a weasel, he was feared. Sparkling blue eyes and a charming smile... "Charming"... His massive horde was after the treasures of Salamandastron.

Ferahgo the Assassin... From the timeline of Urthwyte and Urthstripe. Urthstripe? Urthstripe has never been seen or known to be merged into this current timeline... Could it be possible..?

Ferahgo led on with his son Klitch. They were all after the loot Salamandastron possibly had. Nothing would stop them. Ferahgo was cunning, he could plan a demise easily. He looked at seizing Salamandastron like it's finally a challenge for him. Merely everything else to him was child's play.

There is nothing much to it. It's just an ambition being executed. No pauses, no nonsense. Just, conquering...

Chapter 16

Zarix was able to live off foraging here and there. The weasel managed to survive for this long out here. He couldn't go back and fix anything or jump into the future and end things. His pocket watch was broke in the exact way Ox's was. Ox Rookbane... His new mortal enemy. He's never had a mortal enemy until now. Ever since Zarix found the watch, he was able to end his tormenter without their acknowledgement.

He was furious at Ox for ruining his watch, but he had to give him credit. He admired him for his heroism. Well, he more likely admired him for being a badger. The weasel thought about the thought of being a badger. Oh how he could slander the species by acting the complete opposite of what badgers are expected to act! Now would THAT frame Redwall's Badger Mothers and Salamandastron's Badger Lords!

Walking about in Mossflower, he wondered how he would get back at Ox. How would he be able to defeat him? While he was walking, he heard voices. No, not the voices in his head, but voices possessed by other creatures! Turning around, he saw a horde of vermin led by a weasel like himself. This weasel smiled at Zarix. "And who might you be?"

"Oh, Ferahgo, you wouldn't know." Zarix replied back, imitating the smile he was given.

Ferahgo's smile faded. His paw danced over to the knives strapped on his chest. "How do you know of me? I've never met you."

Zarix grinned ear to ear. Pulling the pocket watch out, he held it, dangling from his paw. "I have... Sources. Now you're headin' to Salamandastron? Listen, I got an ol' stripedog that I happen to hate over there. Maybe we could, you know... Be partners, friends, allies?"

Ferahgo grinned also. "No-"

"I'm not in it for the treasure. I just want to kill a stripedog that is specific to me, 'tis all. Deal?" Zarix cut him off.

Ferahgo seemed a bit worried underneath his charming, sinister self. How did this weasel know so much about him? How did he know his motive? Is he just one of the many forgotten members of the horde? And what's with this strange relic he is holding? "Deal. But first, tell me some things I want to know..."

Zarix explained about the relic and what his stripedog enemy has done. Ferahgo was fascinated at the capabilities of Zarix. To prove this, Zarix seemingly blinked from being in front of Ferahgo to being behind him. The timepiece was glitched, just like Ox's. Zarix might just be the tool The Assassin needs to conquer. All for free, no payments necessary- except to let Zarix slay Ox Rookbane, Badger Lord of Salamandastron, father of Lekota Rookbane. Zarix is probably better of slaying the entire family of the Rookbanes. He didn't care if Lekota was young.

Ferahgo and Zarix actually came to get along. Eventually the two became "mates" and worked along side each other. Ferahgo had no problems trusting Zarix, and the same can be said about Zarix. Two cunning weasels, two vermin after one goal: Salamandastron. It will theirs.

The Assassin taught Zarix some of his skills, and Zarix gave a lot of information to aide Ferahgo in planning his attack on Salamandastron. "Ox and his Long Patrol has no idea what's about to hit him! He he he!"

Chapter 17

"Lekota, what do you think your doing?" Ox looked delusional at his son.

"Who's going to go huntin' for the one piece we need to fix that timepiece of yours, eh? Guaranteed Zarix is huntin' for it."

The picture of Ox's face was comical. His jaw nearly fell off and his tongue flopped out. Wide eyes and stuttering, he shook his head to gather himself. "And YOU think you're going after it? No."

The three other Badger Lords appeared behind Ox. Lekota quickly took notice, but continued packing. "Then who do you expect would go after it?"

It didn't take Ox to think of an answer. He hastily blurted "not you". Shaking his head in disbelief at his son, he sighed. "You know what happened to Kenai? Stalked down by vermin-"

"That was Colonel Whiscut's fault. He admitted it; he shamelessly let them stalk him. He was right to be paranoid on his... 'Unorthodox mission'. Now I ask again, who do you expect to go after it?"

Ox scratched his chin to think of an answer. "I would if I was still youthful," he sighed. "But I'm not young. I'm not the bashful youngster I was in the ol' days... My body wouldn't agree with it. All I can do is fight- let the Bloodwrath do it for me, actually. I still have seasons to go, but I'm quite old. Besides, nobeast knows where it is!"

Lekota grinned. "And that's why I am going to hunt for it. Let me reflect back to my notes I jotted down after studying the record of Redwall, maybe I'll find something in there..."

Lekota dropped his book of notes and cringed. A drawing he had created in his notebook revealed itself to the crew. It was a cog with annotations. "What's this?", "Why was this in my dreams with a funny-looking badger with a funny name: Brocktree? Isn't that vegetable?", "Why would me, eight seasons of age, possibly need to remember this?"

The only thing that stood out to Brocktree was the statement noted down. Lekota seemed to shrivel up as he cringed. Urthwyte was busy examining the drawing with Ox, but Gorath was laughing at what Lekota had to say about Brocktree and received a smack for it. "S-sorry, sir. This was when I was... Eight seasons of age. Woah, it's been eight seasons since than. I remember writing that now... Had to stay indoors at Redwall after sneezing like a madbeast."

Ox rolled his eyes and giggled. "Well, good to see you know what it looks like now. But, I'm not letting you go out huntin' for it."

Lekota groaned. "Not even if Brocktree did a quick jig?"

"What's it with you all targeting me? Why am I so special?"

Lekota's father chuckled. "That would be an interesting sight, but still- no. Don't be bribing him about it, either. I'll gather some Long Patrol hares-"

Urthwyte cleared his throat, and shook his head to disagree with Ox. "Allow the young one to go, will you? He's the only one who has seen it in some particular way. He's better off searching for it instead of Long Patrol."

Lekota added on to it. "Besides, I can take Felix with me so I won't be alone. If you want to send one Long Patrol hare along, go ahead. See, I won't be going alone!"

Ox pondered the idea. Would he let his only son go? It's dangerous indeed; the threat of vermin, the threat of Feragho and Zarix, Ungatt Trunn, or Vizka Longtooth. Contemplating with the ideas and solutions he was given, he gave his answer finally. "Lekota, what you are doing is very brave. Deep inside me, I wouldn't go out there with such a threat hanging over my own head. I will let you go. Make it certain that Sergeant Bridges accompanies you. Felix may go, also..."

Lekota finished packing. Rations of water and food was ready for him. The info got to Sergeant Bridges and Felix, and they packed themselves up for the journey. The young badger was still in the presence of the Badger Lords as he realized a problem. "W-what am I expected to use to defend myself?"

His father wanted to face-plant into the floor. "G-good question... Uh... There is nothing suitable for use of weaponry- spare my Ravenshaft. No, you cannot use my Ravenshaft, that's my beauty."

"You are not helping out with solutions." Lekota lamely stated.

Brocktree inspected the blade of his greatsword. Examining the sharpness and how sturdy it was, he came up with an idea. "Why don't you forge something?"

Ox caught on. "Yes, in the Forge! Come along, we don't got so long to wait!"

All of the five of them took to the grand Forge. The Badger Lords all keyed in on tutoring Lekota on forging. Ox showed his Ravenshaft and twirled it around professionally. Steamers fluttered from the shaft of the double-headed war axe as the beautifully engraved metal heads of the axe cut the air. "This, is what I have made. It's my beauty I call the 'Ravenshaft'. Now we need to know, what are you planning on making?"

Lekota was caught off-guard with the question. Pondering about the question, he was scolded for taking too long. "It's a weapon, you can always substitute. Just hurry up already."

"I'll remember that, Broccoli-Tree. I'm in the mood for a Claymore?"

"'Scuse me?"

"...Never mind. I don't think any of you would know what that is. I'll stick with a traditional broadsword..."

"Good choice, considering I've no idea what a 'claymore' is."

Lekota sighed. "Oh, I just read about a squirrel using it from one of the records in Redwall. The description of it seemed marvelous-"

Ox smiled. "Do you have a description or picture of it?"

"Sure do!" Lekota leafed through his notebook once more and found the picture. Showing his father, the book shook as Lekota appeared to shake in delight.

Ox chuckled. "Oh, this? My son has a good taste in weaponry. Now, who was it that used a claymore? Wait, don't tell me- ...I forget."

"Rakkety Tam MacBurl!"

"...Really? Wow, am I old."

After spending hours tutoring Lekota on how to make it, the sword was finished. Lekota didn't enjoy calling it a "claymore". Instead, he named his sword to "Rookbane". He was very proud at the work he did. "I can't believe I made it!"

"Just like me, son! When I first made my Ravenshaft, I had a perfect mental image and somehow executed it PERFECTLY! It was only my first time doing it, also! Guess it runs in our blood, eh?"

Lekota shrugged, and sheathed his new weapon in a sheath strapped across his back. "Don't get too cocky. It's never a chance somebeast can learn from FOUR Badger Lords on how to forge!"

The Badger Lords smiled. Looking out the window, the sun was starting to set. Lekota declared he would set out tomorrow with Felix and Sergeant Bridges. That night, he laid with his father on his favorite ledge and stared at the stars. Father and son, reunited after many seasons, only to be separated once more by the bravery of the son. "Zarix, please don't harm my child, Lekota. Kill me instead, if you must..."

Chapter 18

At Redwall, chaos was the very word to describe the atmosphere. The newcomers from different timelines (mainly Gorath's and Urthwyte's) were too much for Redwall to handle. Abbess Poppy was now accompanied with Abbess Vale and Abbot Daucus. The three had peacefully came to a decision, but Victoria had a little more to say about the situation. "If you two are from the past, how are you here? I see something suspicious..."

Abbot Daucus seemed to catch on. "Humph. I don't see any situations that can explain this."

Abbess Vale had to agree with Daucus. "I can't see any possibilities either."

But Victoria was already hopping onto possible solutions. She threw out her husband to being the problem. "I believe it may be my husband's fault. Ox Rookbane, Badger Lord of Salamandastron. Before I left him there, he was blabbering nonsense relating to 'time' and what so."

Brandil overheard, and disagreed with her. Eavesdropping further, he could not take the accusations made against his childhood friend who wasn't even present to defend himself. "Why must you stoop so low and blame Ox? I question how you two even married in the first place?"

Victoria chuckled. "You don't think it's him? I will wager it is him. Believe me, I'm not giving up on him and blaming him."

"Oi, well why don't I go see? It'll be nice to give him a personal visit, and a word-for-word quotation of what you just said about me ol' mate. And if it is his fault, it was most likely an accident- he's too smart to do something stupid," the Skipper put. "-Unlike somebeast here..." was the last statement he muttered under his breath, referring to Victoria.

Skipper Brandil stormed out and went to packing. He was going to Salamandastron to visit his friend, and offer as much help as he can. Remembering how Lekota left earlier, he snickered. "I can see why you left to go see your father, mate. Your mother is quite a pain in me rudder!"

At Salamandastron, Lekota stood outside of the main entrance, embracing the goodbyes from his father. He was prepared and ready to go, but Ox smothered him in a hug, not letting him go. Felix and Sergeant Bridges waited patiently for the Badger Lord to finish with his son.

Ox noticed Sergeant Bridges starting to get impatient, so he let go of his son, and quickly kissed him on the forehead. Lekota rolled his eyes. "That took five minutes."

Ox sniffled. "Come back safe."

"I won't do anything for the mission that would jeopardize my safety the welfare of others."

The Badger Lord nearly lost it. "That's good to hear- because if you don't, Bridges won't be seeing a brighter day for the time he lives."

Sergeant Bridges overheard, and saluted to the Badger Lord. "On it, Sah. I'll keep 'im in line if anything goes astray!"

"Good. Now, what are you sitting here doing? Hoping for snowfall? Get out of my sight, get going! Wasting valuable time, you are!"

Lekota groaned. Tinkering with his Rookbane on his back to a comfortable position, he called back. "I am going to have to raise an objection on you for your contradiction! 'Wasting valuable time', wow! Says the one who smothered me for five FULL minutes!"

Ox grinned. His son was the very replica of him. He knew he would make a great Badger Lord to succeed him.

Book 3: Huntin' and Runnin'

Chapter 19

Zarix and Ferahgo made a so much progress in so little time. It wouldn't be far not to reach Salamandastron. They have befriended each other, told secrets, and plot their course of action together. They were mates- from different timelines. The closer they traveled to Salamandastron, the closer they would meet up with another group.

"'Ey, fluffball! Stripepup! Fuzzbrain! Lekota!" Felix pestered.

Lekota smiled. "I was starting to get worried that you didn't know my name. Now, what is it, Felix?"

"I'm hungry."

The badger roared with laughter. "It hasn't even been three whole hours since the last meal! You're joking, right?"

Sergeant Bridges backed up Felix. "I'm hungry, too."

"Are you two serious? I'm still full!"

Felix twitched. "You didn't even eat much. Your still sayin' your stomach is the size since you were a youngster?"

Lekota chuckled, and shook his head. "No, my friend. Certain foods are energy efficient! It keeps you full for quite some time."

The two groaned. Traveling with Lekota meant no breaks until everybeast was ready to flop down of the ground. Felix and Bridges would have to suffer until the big badger started to starve. "Starve a little faster there, ol' fellow!"

Lekota laughed once more. They tried to get him to succumb by mentioning delicious delicacies, but their attempts only made them even more hungry. Lekota referred to his journal of notes and to the specific page with the sketch on it to guide him. Annotations from what he was advised about in his dreams were jotted down, and the dream- word for word, came back to him. The rock with a mouth where the right used to inhabit. Between the two distances of the places he belonged. A home where greatest friends met, a rock with a mouth clogged with a boulder- hiding the secrets inside. He would be looking for a cave, but "where the right used to inhabit"? What would this possibly mean?

Silence! I hear voices!" the Assassin called out.

The horde was bared with arms, ready to defend against attackers or ambushers. When the voices grew louder, a wildcat and a fox could be seen striding next to each other. Zarix smiled, and turned to Ferahgo. "Allow me to do the negotiation."

Zarix approached them, smiling and letting the timepiece dangle from his paw. "Oi! Who be crossin' paths with us?"

The wildcat grinned. "Who dares to cross paths with Ungatt Trunn-" "And Vizka Longtooth?"

"Ah, Trunn and Longtooth. I be Zarix, and I come along with Ferahgo the Assassin."

"What do you want with us?" Trunn replied back.

"Oh, we don't really want anything, but I think we might have a similar goal we're all working on. Conquering that big mountain, Salamandastron?"

"We don't want your help. We're after it for our own reasons." Vizka shot back.

Zarix shook his head. "Allow me to finish. Now, I know Ferahgo is after the loot, I'm after the stripehounds occupying there. How 'bout you?"

"A mountain to rule as my domain." The wildcat put out.

"Ai, the mountain to rule along side with Trunn and some o' dat loot of you're talkin' booty, eh?" The greedy fox claimed.

"I see a compromise. Let's work together. You three get a equal amount of the loot, and I get a sliver. I kill the stripehounds, I'm happy with meager loot. If we equally rule together- the four of us, I'm good on those terms. Deal?"

Three agreements were made. Zarix had just negotiated all of them to work together. Salamandastron would be hit hard with large forces working together. Lekota better hurry, or his father will be slain, and time will never be able to be repaired, and a paradox will surely consume everything.

Chapter 20

"Ooh, great. A thunderstorm. And to make it better, why not have it happen in the woodlands?" Lekota moaned.

"Yay! It's your fault! We should've stayed back at that nice little covering, Lekota."

Sergeant Bridges admired Lekota for having the brains like his father, but had to agree. "Sorry to gang up on you, sah, but I hate to agree."

"I know, I know. I goofed, ok?"

Finding a shady ledge, they flopped down into the shelter. Dry wood had seemed to laying underneath by coincidence. They took it for granted, and got a fire started to dry off. The glow of the fire echoed off the ledge and the wall of rock behind them, crackling and wheezing as it burned.

Felix and Bridges began to stuff their faces after the long wait for Lekota to starve. Lekota himself enjoyed some scones himself. Blankly staring at his notebook containing the cog, Lekota started to have some doubts. The rock with a mouth where the right used to inhabit. Between the two distances of the places he belonged. A home where greatest friends met, a rock with a mouth clogged with a boulder- hiding the secrets inside. What did this mean? "Do any of you have an idea of what 'where the right used to inhabit' means?"

The two who accompanied Lekota on his journey shook their heads. They had no idea. Another idea came to mind: maybe Redwall would know about this? "I think where we need to head to now is Redwall. I'm sure there must be some records of it somewhere there!"

"Sure, I guess. I mean, it sounds reasonable, mate." Felix stated.

The massive horde of vermin, led by the four, marched onwards to Salamandastron. It seemed if a crowd of them were slaughtered, another crowd would move in to replace them. Sure, Salamandastron had three times the size of its original Long Patrol and the help of woodlanders, but would it be enough?

"What shall we do when we arrive?" Vizka asked.

Ferahgo had a scheme. "Arrive there and scare 'em with our numbers. I'll send one of me good ol' 'pals' to go deal with their rations and supplies so they can starve!"

"Ferahgo, me mate; it won't work. Ox will know that you'll be doing it. It won't work." Zarix lamely spoke.

"And how do you know?"

With the sight of the timepiece dangling from Zarix' paw, he knew exactly what he meant. Sighing, he went back to thinking of a good ruse. After multiple attempts to model a plan, they gave up. None of them contemplate a good strategy to conquer the Badger Lord stronghold.

After a foraging excursion, Long Patrol hares and others returned with a story to tell Ox Rookbane. "We were just foragin', sah, and we heard voices." "Yes, they came from rotten ol' vermin, sire!" , "Indeed! It looks like they were foragin' too, so we picked them off and took our stuff and left 'em behind."

"So your saying, you slayed a foraging group of the vermin army that aren't too far away? Darn."

A massive meeting was held, led by the four Badger Lords. Discussing their course of actions and preparing for war, they needed to hold out. After fortifying the place, Ox would need to describe the threat of a paradox to them, and what they can and cannot do. They need to be careful.

"When will this dreaded rain stop? I want to get moving." Lekota whined.

Felix rolled his eyes. "Oh, shush it, furball! This, is relaxing!"

"Well, I just planned and had a schedule I made up in me 'ol head and I want to be followin' it."

The hare sighed. "I want the bally 'ol rain to stop, too, but we have to deal with it, Lekota, m'laddie buck!"

"Don't call me that- Ah!"

Lekota had seemed to vanish from his companions. Frightened at the sudden disappearance of him, they scrambled about, panicking. What just happened to Lekota?

Chapter 21

"Dear me, mister Lekota! Did I scare you?"

Lekota panted vigorously, desperately trying to regain his breath after his fright. "Y-yes. Goodness, don't do that!"

The mysterious beast chuckled. "If y'ever return, I'll remember that, mister Lekota. Name's Nog. Imma badger just like you."

Nog waddled forward out of the darkness. Lekota couldn't help but stare at him with an unsure sense of mind. "You don't look like a badger t'me, sir."

The unusual badger chuckled. "It runs in m'family. It's strange, I tell ya: our black fur is swapped for a nice cream, and our stripe is replaced by a jolly ol' charcoal lookin' one! Yore friends probably are wonderin' where you are. Let me fetch 'em..."

Nog popped out of a vine and moss covered tarp that draped over the entrance to his cave, and beckoned them in. Noticing the unusual fur coloration, the two approached cautiously. After entering, Nog waddled back and struck flint with steel to start a fire. The light from the fire bounced off the walls and displayed carvings consisting of images and words. Of course, nobeast could understand it all.

"I see ya noticed all the carvin's, eh? Can't read 'em, can you? No ye can't! It's 'cause its a special written language me family made. Y'see, we're psychics. Very smart beasts we were told, no doubt about it. I noticed you also helpe yoreselves to me fire wood, eh?"

Lekota scratched his head and sighed. "Sorry about that, Nog. I'll fetch you some more if you want- after the rain clears, of course."

The badger was midseasons, but still hardy. "Ha ha, thanks f'the offer, Lekota. Imma say no on that; I had it there specifically f'you three."

Sergeant Bridges was dumbfounded. "H-how did you know we were coming?"

With a wave of a paw, an answer came. "Me family are known t'be psychics! I knew of your arrival from me special powers, my friend, Sergeant Bridges. I see you three were snackin' on some not so satisfying meals out there, so take a taste of me soup!"

Four bowls were dished out. One for each of the guests and one for the host himself. Lekota, Felix, and Bridges accepted it gratefully and blew on the soup to cool it down. After a few cooling blows, they gingerly tasted the soup and enjoyed it. Lekota smiled and sipped spoonful after spoonful. "Magnificent! It makes me think of a soup I made at Redwall. Sure, my mother and the Friar helped me, but wow! What do you call this?"

"Taste 'o Nature soup. Got some cloves in there, some good spices that grow wildly, celery bits, and some good ol' mixtures of ingredients to get a delicious broth. Made it meself, and it's wonderful!"

"Splendid! Now, if you don't mind me asking, but do you have anything to tell us to help our little quest?" Lekota asked.

"Huh, you said it was: The rock with a mouth where the right used to inhabit. Between the two distances of the places he belonged. A home where greatest friends met, a rock with a mouth clogged with a boulder- hiding the secrets inside. Am I correct?" Nog questioned.

"Yes, we're searching for a missing cog. We need it to fix a manipulation in time. Right now, we're in a conflux of three different pasts from different periods of time."

Nog pondered a bit, and sipped once more at his soup. "I have the answer, but I am forbidden to tell anybeast until next sunrise- tomorrow. If I do, my psychic prediction and hint will fade an' no use in it workin'."

Felix sighed. "I guess we're going to be held back, Lekota, mate. Looks like your going to have to suffer losing more time!"

Sunrise tomorrow morning, and the clue to help them would be announced. Lekota took no time in falling asleep trying to pass the time. As his chest rose and fell gently without any sound, Felix scooted over and curled up with his friend, who enveloped him in a hug which he embraced.

Chapter 22

"Yeowch! D-don't you know what idioms are? S-stop it, are you seriously going to cut me tail off and paste a rudder on?" Ox wheezed out through his humble resistance.

Ox had been pestered over the fact on the coming army. Cut my tail off and paste a rudder on and call me Brandil! Gorath had heard it enough, and decided to try it. It's been constant assault his tormenter. "S-stop! Takin' advantage of an ol' weary body, shame on you!"

After taking enough of it, Ox Rookbane swiftly strafed and kicked him in the gut. Within a few seconds, the tormenter collapsed in pain with the wind knocked from him. "Herr Annoyance, hm? Somebeast captivated or beaten enough eventually rebel-- martyrdom. Learn the hard way."

Sitting back down, he took to a map and pawns before he set off to the hall Long Patrol ranking officers were to meet. Being followed by the now timid Gorath, it was a hasty pace to the hall.

Bam! The doors flung open. In came the current (and rightful) Badger Lord. Approaching the long table, the map plopped down and unraveled without resistance. Glancing around, he looked for any emotion he didn't expect. Nothing. Grinning deviously, words came out. "Looks like nobeast has any objections. Let's get started..."

Outlining the defense plan, nods and small-talk of agreement aroused the room. Brocktree, Gorath, and Urthwyte seemed to be surprised at Ox's ingenious scheme. The defense layout would work. Now, Salamandastron would appear immovable-- undefeatable. Just enough time for his son, Lekota, to return with the cog to fix it all.

Redwall thrived, even though they were crowded with the newcomers. Eventually, everything was worked out and no troubles seemed to worry them. Victoria shrugged it all away after being convinced to forget about who to blame. It was obvious Abbess Poppy didn't like her accusing her husband.

She regretted telling her son the stories about Ox. How he became the Badger Lord (caught by a trap to catch thieves from the Long Patrol), hilarious moments, and loving memories outlined it all. All because of these he ran off to find him. But her mind was changed by Poppy. It wouldn't be right to hide him from his own father. But one word stuck like a tattoo to Victoria. It unsettled her and gave her regret. How could I be such a fool?

"How's the barricading goin', Stiff?"

Stiffener Medick shrugged. "Noisy but working. You think your plan will work?"

Ox sighed. "All I can say is that I hope. Hopefully it's enough time to get my little cog to fix this shenanigans. I'm getting too old for this... My body's aching an awful lot."

"Y'need some support?" The boxing hare offered.

"I would gratefully accept it. Thank you, Stiffener..."

Chapter 23

The smell of ashes tickled Lekota's nose. Waking up with a sneeze, he looked around. His friends were missing. Grasping his claymore, he went to frantically stand up when a footpaw held his paw restrained. It was Nog. "They're outside waiting f'you. Didn't mean t'scare ya, pal. Y'better c'mon if y'want to hear me prediction."

Sheathing the Rookbane, he feigned a laugh. Grooming his fur back, he walked out. Nog had already fixed himself up and was ready to tell them of the message. Lekota sat next to Felix when his pal noticed him shaking with eagerness. A paw was placed on his shoulder by the otter to calm him down. Ceasing the eager actions, the badger sat patiently, waiting for the message.

"Redwall n' Salamandastron should hold a key to solve the riddle. Words audibly heard can be interpreted different ways... Slow n' steady won't get you anywhere, get going. Oh, don't f'get a glove or cover-up when y'retrieve yore little doohickey..."

"T-that's it? Well, you two goofs heard him! We're off to Redwall! I thank you, Nog for this." Lekota said, bouncing around as he tried to get his cloak on.

"What are y'still doin' here? Bounce away if y'must, mister Lekota! Shoo!" Nog chided.

As his friends were off at a jogging pace, Lekota bounced away, now trying to don legwear. "I hope we'll meet again-- after all of this madness if over! Good seasons and fortune be with you!" the young badger called back.

"No, good seasons n' fortune be with ya! Hurry up, I can still see ya, but not yore friends!"

After Lekota caught up with Bridges and Felix, he finally adjusted his pace to the jog they had adopted. Thinking, he wondered what he could be interpreting wrong. Could it be the where the right live part or something else? No, it wasn't reasonable that anything else would not work. "I think we've miss-interpreted 'right' wrong. Only letters I can think of to start it off is 'W', but that doesn't make sense."

Felix laughed, panting through the jogging pace. "Nice little tongue twister, me mate! Dunno if the 'W' is correct, but it possibly could be! You go snoop the library at Redwall when we get there while we scoff, m'kay?"

Lekota denied, and decided to mess around after his great friend had done to him. Picking him up and holding him sideways on his shoulders as if he shouldered his sword, he started a sprint through the woodlands, Felix yelling. The fast pace even challenged Bridges, a great runner in the Long Patrol-- seasons ago, maybe.

Slowing to regain breath but not stopping, they pressed on to Redwall. Nighttime was soon, so they pitched a camp up and sat down to rest. Getting some provisions ready that Nog gave to Felix, the trio relaxed as the cool night brought breezes to satisfy them.

After a meager meal, they were almost about to sleep when bushes rustled. Weapons ready, they prepared for any bandit that might try to assault them. Forming a triangular defense with back-to-back, they watched their surroundings carefully. "Woah, there's me boy! And there's the young rogue that sent out after his father. Ooh, seems he was successful if he brought ol' Bridges with him and a beautiful sword."
"Father!" , "Uncle Brandil!" , "Brandil, you old riverdog, eh wot!"

It was the Skipper of Redwall. Greeting him, they combined rations and prepared for slumber. Brandil agreed to lead the way to Redwall so they could follow through with their mission. After the reunion, drowsiness took its toll and the four slept softly...

Chapter 24

The horde of vermin were a mass of slaughtering machines built for destruction by the evil side of Mother Nature. Everywhere they went, they left a path of destruction. Homes of innocent creatures lay in rubble, and bodies of poor beasts bled on the floors of Mossflower. Everywhere they went, plunder occurred. The trouble and disorder they caused sent Mossflower spiraling down into a dark time.

Nog had been keeping to himself inside his cave, carving away more cryptic messages into the walls. Nothing disturbed him, and he hummed a tune while he worked. Remembering his visitors, he hoped they were not having much trouble. Chiseling more rock away, a faint sound of voices could be heard from outside his cave.

Trying to decipher them, the unusual badger moved hastily to clog the mouth of his cave with a boulder resting inside of it. The voices did not belong to Lekota, Felix, or Bridges. Who were they?

"Oi, uh chief, foire s'ms t'have b'n 'ere."

"Do I look like I care? 'Tis just burnt timber. Whoever was here is long-gone. If y'still find it important, pester Ungatt for a bit, eh?"

The dialect spoken by the unknown creatures sounded vermin-like to Nog. Not daring to breathe, he hoped they would move on. Waiting for a few moments, pawsteps turned into a rumble as the vermin horde marched past Nog's dwelling. Making sure the cost was clear, he let off a sigh of relief. The badger had no problems with the boulder clogging the mouth of the cave-- he had a secret vent to allow fresh air in so he could breathe if he ever needed to close off the mouth of his home.

The group of four trekked onwards to Redwall, hoping to make it there in time. The running and goofing off had really gave them an advantage as for they had finally arrived. The gates opening for them by the Gatekeeper, they rushed on to the main building. All four of them were off to the library to search for clues.

On the way there, they were confronted by Abbess Poppy and Victoria. Bridges sighed and knew it wouldn't be well with Victoria. The first bunch of words she had were for Felix. "Master Felix, you young fiend! Don't you ever sneak off like that again! It had us worried sick! At least leave a note like your pal Lekota if you're going to run off."

"As for you Lekota, did you get what you wanted? It seems that you did if you brought Bridges along with you. How was your father, anyways?"

Lekota knew it wouldn't end well, so he pushed passed them to get to the library. Making it past, he didn't get far when he was dragged back by his tunic from his mother. "Let me go! I got no time to waste with your shenanigans, father sent me on a quest to retrieve something!"

"Would you like to inform us on what that it, Lekota my son?" She asked him.

"Err, it's top secret stuff, eh? A bit of hush-hush if y'know wot I mean?" Bridges came to his rescue.

As a fight started to brew, Lekota whispered with Felix. Sighing and nodding his head, the whispered conversation came to an end and Lekota sighed. How would he be able to say this? "M-mother, I have b-bad news for you... K-Kenai, my brother, is... dead..."

This set her off. "W-whaaaaaaat?! Grrr! Ox wasn't watching him, was he?! He did something stupid and let his son slip up and die! I know he did, ohhhhh!!!" And the badger Mother wept.

The four knew of the real reason, and had to inform her. "Kenai sacrificed his life to save the squirrel chieftain, a squirrelmaid, squirrelbabe, and a warrior squirrel. He... He did it for them-- died heroically..."

Now being able to easily push through, he waddled off to the library depressed. Lekota wanted to forget, but brought it up on himself. Arriving with Felix, Brandil, and Bridges, all of them were fascinated at the archives of books-- but not Lekota. Skipper, his son, and the Long Patrol hare all looked for anything that had to do with "right". Lekota scanned through for something interesting, trying to forget what he had just said.

"Oi! I found something... 'How to make the right pasty'. No, not correct" Brandil sighed.

"Did y'mention pasty? Sounds yummy, riverdog! 'Ey, I found somethin' also. 'Wright System'. What is that s'posed t'mean?" Bridges exclaimed.

Lekota waddled over and flipped the book over. "'Judicial system'. Huh, I guess it was some kind of system for somethin'. Anyways, it ain't what we're looking for. Keep at it."

As they searched, Lekota pulled a book off the shelf that seemed interesting. "Ryely Urie," is what the cover read. Opening the book and reading some pages, it seemed to be a biography about an otter. Scanning through it, he noticed pages upon pages of lyrics to songs and ditties he had written it seems. Reading through one titled "The Death Of Me", somebeast called out. "I think I found what we're looking for!"

It was Felix who found something. Coming over, Lekota dusted off the cover and read the text aloud. "'Wright, Markus'. Underneath it is written: 'Great friend of Redwall and Sunstripe, and a loving husband to Thena Wright and father of Klavier Wright'. I believe we found our 'where the right live' riddle. It's not 'right', its 'Wright'! Nice catch, mate!"

Taking the book and slipping it into his satchel at his side, they thundered down and out the library, off to head out for Mossflower once again. Now they believe they had the right way to finding the cog they needed!

Chapter 25

"Oi chief, how much further do we have?"

Ferahgo smiled. "When we get there."

The horde traveled onwards towards Salamandastron. The ground rumbled with the massive numbers marching onwards to a mission on conquest. Ungatt, Vizka, Ferahgo, and Zarix walked and talked on the way there. "We're goin' the right way. Trust me, I ran there an' from there. Not fun when y'got a whole platoon of foebeasts chasin' you."

Ferahgo snickered at Zarix's encounter with the defenders of Salamandastron. "You ran before from a platoon, but let 'em run from our horde!"

Vizka chuckled heartily. "Aye, they t'ink they can outt'ink us? We got more 'eads than 'em! We can easily outt'ink them!"

"Don't get too cocky, I wouldn't be sure 'bout that. Rookbane is a great planner, so I can see him makin' quite the plan for us. In fact, I'm a little intimidated by him. Just because I'm a little frightened doesn't mean I'm going to back down from an' old figure of bones." Zarix reminded them.

Ungatt sighed. "You're probably right, but we can plan somethin' too. We aren't all stupid, so we can make our own plan for conquest."

"True, but who knows what they got planned for us? We'll have to see when we get there." Ferahgo lamely stated.

And so that was how it would be. Sighing, they all continued the march onwards to Salamandastron.

A couple days later, they could see the mountain cutting high into the sky. They were close now. Motivated and somewhat frightened by its massive size, the horde trekked onwards. They seemed tiny from a distance, but now they looked massive and numerous as the leaves on the trees of Mossflower Woods.

Chapter 26

Ox Rookbane laid in bed silently. Barely moving except for the rising and falling of his chest as he breathed was abnormal. He typically squirmed around and rolled in his sleep, but he just laid upwards not moving now. A day went by in his slumber, and he had not awaken yet. Colonel Whiscut and Major Mullein went up to his bedchamber to check on him considering he missed an important meeting.

Slowly Whiscut opened the door which caused the hinges to squeal loudly. Cringing, they peeked at the Badger Lord laying in his bed. He didn't even move! Sliding on in, the two hares cautiously tip-pawed towards him. Mullein spoke in a whisper at first, then rose the volume of his voice to wake Ox up, but the badger would not. Now the Major started to yell. "Wake up, Sah! Y'need to report for a meeting! Ox!"

Whiscut started to panic and made an audible gulp. Shaking him, he still wouldn't wake up. Now Mullein understood and panicked too. Whiscut knew Ox well, and he knew his daughter was a great friend with him. Frightened dearly, Mullein stood there dumbfounded and speechless. Whiscut stuttered, then let out a bloodcurdling scream. "Aaaaaaaahhhh!"

It wasn't shortly after the scream that many in Salamandastron were alerted. The first one on the scene was Dandy followed by Brocktree. The sight was shocking as the two hares first there stumbled back and fell into Brocktree's arms. As more and more crowded outside the bedchamber, it eventually had to be blocked off from the others. Mullein and Whiscut were asked many questions, but the most they could do was stutter.

"This is how you found him? Is he dead?" Brocktree asked.

Through the stuttering, Whiscut managed to gather his words. "W-we h-heard a h-heartbeat but he wasn't responding... Oh, I hope he isn't going to die on us! Oh boo hoo hoo!" And Whiscut lost it.

Outside where many wanted to see what the commotion was, an ancient squirrel from the squirrel tribe passed on through everybeast and slowly made his way in the bedchamber. Shuffling over to Ox, he started examining him, disregarding all of the statements or prevention of reaching him. Feeling the badger's forehead with the back of his paw, opening his eyelids to examine his eyes, and holding his paw, he shook his head. "Ah, what I thought, worst case scenario. It seems as if our friend here is suffering from a rare condition barely anybeast has suffered from."

Brocktree and the Long Patrol Guards no longer disregarded the ancient squirrel and began to show interest in his diagnostic of Ox Rookbane. "What's is he cursed with? Will he wake up? And is he going to be-"

"Ah, my friend Brocktree from another timeline, patience is a virtue. I was just about to give my results. I believe he's sufferin' from a coma. I don't even know if that's the official name for his condition considering it's super rare!" The ancient spoke.

A coma. What would've slipped Ox into one? Brocktree and the others desperately needed him, so he began to question. "When will he wake up? Can't we just do something to get him up?"

The squirrel shook his head and breathed in. "Comas are usually for when the body needs to heal. I do not know why he would need to be induced in one, but I'm not the one that controls these things... He'll wake up whenever his old body is ready, but for now we must wait. There are occasions where certain things might trigger them to awaken, for instance: a scent. It might be something dear to them or completely random, but I wouldn't try doing so."

Dandy sniffled and wiped away a tear that trickled down her face. "What do we do about him for know, Sah?"

"He still needs vittles and a good drink to keep him alive like a normal beast, so practically he'll need to be force-fed-- but make sure he's leaning up so he doesn't choke. But for now, we wait until he wakes." The ancient one replied back.

Gorath and Urthwyte came in the bedchamber with Ruff the otter in tow. Ruff cleared his throat and did the talking since the others were somewhat intimidated to. "Uhhh, Brock... There's a massive horde 'o vermin comin' this way... And we were wonderin' what to do..."

The badger showed a paradigm of being shocked and stuttered a bit himself. "H-how f-far out do they g-got?"

Urthwyte answered for Ruff. "It's going to take awhile. They still got a day's march, but considering their numbers and our sabotage of their supplies, I'd say they'll be here in five sunrises. Generosity from our scouts."

Brocktree shook away his dismay and took a sense of leadership in a way Ox would've done it. "Make sure the Long Patrol hares are prepared, also the squirrels. Is it possible that there could be reinforcements from the woodlands?"

Gorath answered this one. "We have Lekota-- Ox's son... Umm, I also believe Bobbtail and Birchwood-- Long Patrol hares from Ox's division, are out lookin' for the Guosim and whatever else they might find."

"Fantastic. We might be hit before they arrive, but it would be best to force a smile, even through our hardest times. Our goal is not to destroy them, but to fend them off in time for young Lekota to return with our piece we so desperately need. Clear?"

The three informers saluted and were off spreading the news of Brocktree. Dandy sniffle once more and made a statement towards Brocktree. "You sounded just like Ox when he gives orders. Always optimistic and uses that quote himself too, 'Always try to force a smile, even though the hardest times.'"

"I guess we have more in common than we expected. You don't seem ok, are you?" Brocktree asked in return.

And Dandy sniffled once more, then hugged Brocktree and let it all out. The haremaid was embraced with a massive hug in return with reassuring words from the massive badger. "Please trust me that everything will turn out to be O.K in the end. I don't know it myself, but lets look forward towards it..."

Chapter 27

"Well, we should be coming close to our destination. It said in between Salamandastron and Redwall." Lekota reminded the group.

And Felix raised the question, "M'kay, but pray tell, do you know where it is?"

"Ha hah, when we get there, pal. We're looking for a cave that's mouth is clogged with a boulder." The badger reminded them.

Following in one direction for a few day now, it seemed hopeless that they would find the cave. Dividing themselves up and spreading out over a considerable distance where they were still in sight, they continued the search. Felix called out loudly to all of them. "'Ey Lekota, I remember seeing this when we were half way. You sure this is precise mate?"

But Lekota didn't call back. He was silent. Waddling up to his discovery, he looked astonished at what he saw. A somewhat massive boulder clogging a cave's mouth. Staring in awestruck, the onlooker came around the side and placed his paw on the boulder. Lekota spat on his paws, and leaned up against the boulder, and began to push. It didn't budge the first try, but throwing more of his raw strength against it, he was able to get it shifted and easily rolled it out the way.

Turning around and panting, he looked onwards into the mouth of the cave. Bending down and holding his knees, a whirling could be heard and a Thunk! Turning around, a dagger had been perfectly thrown and stuck in a tree. They missed... Stumbling back and falling to the floor of Mossflower, Lekota tried to scoot away as fast as he could. He couldn't cry for help-- he was speechless.

A spark of sunlight caught the eye of somebeast within the cave and it seemed to glow in the darkness within. A dark, sinister voice fed off the fright from the young badger. "You dare disturb me? You signed your death warrant, boy..."

Stammering and stuttering, Lekota tried to speak up to defend himself. "B-but I'm n-no vermin!" he managed to whine out.

His fear fueled the sinister attribute of the unknown presence lurking within the cave. "I don't care. Go, now!" Another knife whirled out and Lekota barely missed but took a cut across his cheek.

His three companions came together to meet him since his unusual silence, and saw the figure emerging from the caves, lurking closer towards their frightened friend. Brandil saw them clearly: hooded and wearing a brown vest with daggers cradled in a holster strapped across the chest and bandages wrapped around both paws with straps fluttering with his movement. Almost completely entranced by the ominous figure and malicious eye, he was able to shout out: "Lekota, get back here or you're going to be dead meat!"

The figure halted and sheathed a knife into one of the many holsters. Pausing with silence, they looked around the woods and the trespassers. Finally, he laughed. "Lekota, is it? If you would say your name, you wouldn't have taken that cut 'cross your face, stupid. The name is Antonio Wright."

Lekota was helped up by his friends, but still staring at the newly named figure, Antonio Wright. Antonio took the hood off and chuckled once more. He was a massive badger but quite older than Lekota, but not as old as his father. Approaching Lekota cautiously, he wiped the blood off the youngster's cheek and wiped it down his white stripe, making it a light tint of red. "You got a nice sword there, but it's a shame that you don't use it! Come on in, and bring your pals."

Antonio welcomed the visitors into his cave and set them on a sofa. Grabbing a mug of tea, he sat there and stared at Lekota, then spoke. "Y'know, when I heard of you in a dream from my ancestor Markus Wright, you sounded strong and warrior-like. I just witnessed the complete opposite!"

Lekota gave an unsure chuckle and sighed. "I'm the son of the Badger Lord, Ox Rookbane, The Slayer of Ravens. My pa was quite the warrior in his time and I bet he still is even with his age."

Sipping his tea before responding, Antonio chuckled. "Ah, my ancestors were very close friends to the Brocks. First it was Markus and Sunflash, then Mark and Rawnblade, we've gone silent with the Lords of Salamandastron. I only let you live because you're Lekota, the one I've been waiting for. You're going to fix this conflux of time, right? Might as well."

Sergeant Bridges sipped his mug of tea. "How come I've never heard of any Wrights from Salamandastron? Me ol' pa used to tell me some lore he knew, wot! And also, why haven't any of you been the Lord of Salamandastron?"

"Good questions. First off, Badger Lords don't keep much writing, and that's a fact! Ha hah, next off, the reason we haven't succeeded is that you'd never see the Badger Lords you see or have heard of today. Wrights have been around for a long time. Dwelled in these caves for seasons, but only a few of us really had interactions with others."

Brandil nodded as he took in the information. "Me best mate which happens to be Lekota's father seemed great. Why haven't you gone and befriended him there?"

Antonio chuckled once more, then had a serious face slapped right on. "We don't wander around Mossflower or waddle off to Salamandastron like we're dweebs. We've been friends with them before they ever became Lord of Salamandastron. Some journals kept by my ancestors said something inside of them draws them away to rule it. It has bothered them because they've lost some good friends, but they managed to work around it."

Lekota sat and listened as he drank his tea. After allowing his friends to question his newfound friend, he put his mug down and stood up. "It's great that you have questions for him, but we need to get back on task. A riddle that I've heard eight seasons ago when I was only eight seasons old led us here to find a cog for our timepiece we need fixin' to fix time. It has to be here, do you got it?"

"Of course I do, but not in this cave. See, we got a separate cave-- a hideout you might say. We've stored our weapons, treasures, and prizes we held dear to us there. It's most likely going to be there, so I'll show you all the way."

Standing up, he led them outside, shifted the boulder to the mouth, and dragged them off. The distance wasn't short, but Lekota had one more question to ask. "Where did you bury your dead?"

"Only Markus's son, Klavier was buried or whatever in this treasure cave. Every other one of us was put six pawlengths underground. Though Markus, he was buried alongside Sunflash at Salamandastron, those lifelong friends! And also, this cave had a purpose for the 'Badger Legion'. A little clan made up of Markus, Thena, Blitz, Petal, and Sunflash."

"I've heard Markus, Thene, and Sunflash, but what about Blitz and Petal?" Lekota asked.

"Those two were just youngsters that stumbled upon the militia that Sunflash and Markus gathered to fight a battle. Now if you would hush with questions... We're here."

Pulling aside a tarp of vines, moss, and overgrowth, Antonius shifted another boulder and beckoned them in. Stepping on inside, they looked around in astonishment at the beautifully made weaponry hanging up, the shelves of writing collections of many types, and some gear for the Badger Legion. Passing it all and approaching a small wooden chest, Antonio opened the chest. Slipping gloves on, he grabbed its contents and placed it in Lekota's paws that were sweating with eagerness.

"Thanks mate. We wouldn't have made it here if it wasn't for good ol' Nog. We need to be off, though I'd love to stay."

"Ha hah, sounds cool. Nog is a good pal of mine. He's been here a few times. I'm guessing he gave you an encrypted message and sent you off? Well he can be quite a pain in the tail sometimes. Now be off, you better go along and fix this! If you ever need me, I'll be on the spot ready to slaughter some vermin! Oorah!"

The group of four bolted off towards Salamandastron with their cog they've been searching for. Lekota had slipped the cog into a pocket and pulled a scone out with the same paw and munched down on it rapidly. He was excited that he had found what he was looking for!

Chapter 28

Lekota, Brandil, Bridges, and Felix walked casually without any care in the world. After a nice celebration for their mini-victory, they continued their journey back home. Shrugging away all the troubles they went through, they enjoyed a bit of fun and goofing off. While they messed around, a voice could be heard. "Hey! Stop moving, I need to tell you somethin'!"

It was Antonio. Charging up, he skid to a halt in front of Lekota. "Huh, you guys are slow if you aren't so far from home. Anyways, I forgot something I was meant to give you, Lekota! Come on back, will you?"

The others shrugged, and Lekota agreed. Following Antonio, he lead them back to the treasure cave. Pushing a stone, a slab of the wall shifted. Pushing it in, the wall budged to reveal a secret chamber within the cave. Blocking the entrance, he put a paw on Felix. "Nah, man. Only Lekota. Wish you could come in also, but not what I'm supposed to do. I'm a good boy, and I listen to my elders-- even if they are only figures in my dreams. Come on."

The vermin horde had arrived at Salamandastron. Brocktree stared out the window with Urthwyte and Gorath. Clenching his paw, he stormed off to the hall for breakfast. He was followed by the other two as they had the same idea with him. Their short travel was silent until Urthwyte ruined it. "Can't believe they are here with such massive numbers! I didn't think four time periods would spawn so much vermin..."

"You and I both, Urthwyte. There was four Lords, now we're down to three. We could desperately use Ox in planning, but he's in that wretched coma! To Hellgates with that idea!" It was visible that Brocktree was in a rotten mood.

Arriving just in time for breakfast, Brocktree sat down at the front end of the table as the other two took to random seats. Reaching for a pastry, he plucked it before a hare could take it and held it in his paw close to him. He stared at the hare. "Try that funny business with me and it wouldn't be funny anymore."

As he went for a bite, the pastry disappeared out of his paw and down the throat of Bobbtail. Smacking his lips, the gluttonous hare licked the crumbs off his paw and smiled at Brocktree. "Tough luck, wot! It's all or nothin' with the last pastry--"

Thud! The hare collapsed onto the floor, and laid there peacefully. The thud got everybeast's attention. Bobbtail has been knocked cold by something, and it wasn't Brocktree's fist. He laid there peacefully, almost just like Ox. Just like Ox... "What happened?"

The ancient squirrel who had diagnosed Ox made his way over to the collapsed hare and looked wide-eyed with astonishment. "My, the same exact condition with the other badger! But, why just now?"

Brocktree's jaw dropped. He had an explanation that wasn't what they wanted to hear. "He stole my pastry and gobbled it down, the gluttonous hare did! I guess... Somebeast contaminated MY pastry to knock me out, but Bobbtail took the fall... After arriving with help from the now-massive Guosim, I feel bad for him... He deserved honor, not to be shamelessly knocked out..."

"Then I suggest you and your fellow Lords don't eat right now. There would be no way to perfectly time the contamination unless they are in this room right now..."

Gorath listened but took a bite of a slice of cake before the explanation was made. Still chewing, Urthwyte and Brocktree stared at him along with everybeast in the room. Realizing what he was doing, the one marked with the flame spat out the cake he had just chewed and scrapped his tongue to get the flavor off and possibly any mixtures to put him out. "Well... Umm... If it was recent and done without being seen, where could our 'poisoner' be?"

Scuffling took place and yelps of pain as a fox was dragged out from under the main table by tail from Stiffener. Dragging him up by tunic and disarming him, he smiled. "Heh, thought you could be clever hiding under a table? Only something a leveret would do. Why don't you tell us your name?"

The fox stammered, frightened by the piercing gaze given by Brocktree. "F-Farran... I-I was sent here t-to... To do this by F-Ferahgo! I-it was against my will! H-he w-would've killed me if I d-didn't!"

Brocktree gave a sinister grin. "Since you can make fancy liquids to induce one into a coma and poison others, why don't you make a remedy for these forced comas? This is not a request, so I hope you can, scum!"

"I-it's h-hard, b-but if you g-got what is r-required, I can make enough to r-revive your two ill ones..!" Farran cowardly exclaimed.

"Good, I'll see that you get this done." Stiffener added, as he dragged him away to a holding cell to be locked up.

Brocktree now had attention on his. Clearing his throat, he prepared for a speech. "We don't have much time until an attack might occur. Who knows if that vermin scum will get his thingy made to get back Ox and Bobbtail, but we need to defend! Hold off for as long as we can until we get him to get the plan extended! We are in a great position to defend, but we need to keep with what Ox had planned before. Remember what you were told and trained to do. Stations!"

Antonio and Lekota looked at what was before them. Beautifully designed robes of red, lined with gold and a beautiful design in the middle where the chest is. Belted with a belt with pockets, the robes dropped down to the footpaws. Black leggings and boots were included, along with gold-colored gauntlets and shoulder pads with an engraving of vines. A helmet rested on a hook beside it that was gold-colored with the same vine engravings by the face mask with a well-designed crevice to allow vision and easy access to breathe. Last, a necklace hung down the front of the robes. Made of gold with a fire-red ruby, it sparkled with the little light beaming in. Nobeast would suspect strong, lightweight armor to be under all the fabric used to weave the robes.

"This is... Beautiful... But why for me, and not a Wright?" Lekota questioned.

"Oh, we help out our friends, don't you remember from your first visit? Come on, hurry and don the gear!" Antonio beckoned.

And Lekota came out of the secret room, armed with his new armor and sword in hand. He looked everything like a warrior. Felix whistled in astonishment, and Bridges threw out that he looked far better than Ox. Brandil was proud that his best friend's son would be following his footsteps righteously.

"Thanks, Antonio. Now we must be heading off."

"...Can I come? I've got nothing going on with myself and I just get bored, y'know?"

The four looked at each other and nodded. "I don't see a problem with it. Come on, we better get going! And may I ask you two questions? What's with your eye, and what is this necklace for?"

"First answer: It runs in the family after my ancestor Markus took a cut across the face defending a young mousemaid against Swartt. And second, it's supposed to have the power of the Flames, but I dunno what that's supposed to mean."

And the group had now added a new member.

Chapter 29

"Like I said, we need to get there hastily!"

"I need a break... I can't take this anymore..." Lekota panted through his helmet, making the voice sound somewhat artificial.

Brandil sighed. "Just take the darn armor off and you won't have this problem."

"It's not that... I'm not hot, I feel cool. I just am struggling to breathe..."

They settled underneath a oak and took a rest. Lekota ripped his helmet off and gratefully took gulps of water from a flask. His friends sat down while they were at it and took sips of their own water provisions, too. Looking around, everything seemed peaceful-- a bit odd... Not a bird chirped, crickets didn't stir, and the wind didn't blow...

Antonio stood on his tip-paws and scanned the surroundings. Sniffing the air and glancing about, he returned to normal height and shook his head. "Not even a noise but us. I don't like it..."

Felix glanced about unsurely and feigned a chuckle. "I hate to agree. I feel like we're being watched... We should get moving again."

Packing the entire group up, they all continued on back to Salamandastron. Lekota slid the helmet back on once more to continue onwards. The silence of the atmosphere gave an eerie feeling to the group that seemed to never go away. The feeling of eyes burning into the back of their skulls, melting away at their sanities, as if to take their souls.

Their suspicions came true. "Vermin comin' from our flanks! Run like you've never ran before! Go!" Bridges shouted.

Zarix led the charge alongside Ungatt, Ferahgo, and Vizka. Thrashing through Mossflower like a madbeast, he let his tongue dangle out the side of his mouth as his eyes twinkled with delight. Staring at Lekota, he would be his prize. But, there was another badger! One he'd never seen before! Wait, is that really Lekota in armor? Or is Lekota the one running beside?

The lush and silent forests of Mossflower started to end and led to dunes of sand. Salamandastron shot into the sky in the horizon, and they knew it wouldn't be far now. Though the prey were tired, they didn't lighten up on their speed. The pursuers were tiring also, but determined to catch the prey.

Ox Rookbane and Bobbtail were cured of their comas and up and about. From a distance, Ox could hear a thundering sound. "Hmm... Not a cloud in the sky, yet I hear thunder..."

"I don't think that's thunder..." Stiffener pointed out.

"I don't like where this is going..." Urthwyte noted.

Antonio, Felix, Brandil, and Bridges ran as fast as they could, approaching Salamandastron. The gates opened to let them in for refuge. Ox was there to greet them and put a paw on Antonio's shoulder. "My son-- wait, what has happened to your eye?"

"I'm not your son--"

Looking at each other they noticed Lekota wasn't with them. Turning around and looking out of the gates, he was stumbling in the sand with Zarix casually approaching him. Then, he fell to the sand and laid there. Soon, the rest of the horde was gathered and waiting outside of Salamandastron.

Ox couldn't help but to stare in disbelief. Tears sprang in his eyes and he couldn't do nothing but stand there in complete horror of the situation. Had his one and only son just die on him now?

Zarix laughed in Lekota's face after he had removed his helmet. Gasping for air, he reached a paw up in a feeble attempt and moaned, "help me". With no help, his paw fell flat on the ground as his vision became blurrier with every second passing. The last he saw was Ungatt and Vizka assisting Zarix on tying Lekota to a log the size of himself and being lifted upright once more...

Chapter 30

"I want my son back! Let me go!"

Ox Rookbane struggled against many holding him back. His anger empowered him to almost break past and charge straight at the enemy. Tints of red were visible in his eyes with the continuing struggle against those holding him back.

"Would y-you stop squirming?" Antonio complained.

"Let me g-go! I want my son back!!!" Ox roared out.

"If we don't turn him loose, well, lets say that you can say 'goodbye' to your life." Brandil unsurely said.

Tapping Ox on the nose, Brandil tried to calm his greatest friend. Coming to no avail, he slapped the badger, and a whine aroused. Everybeast looked at Brandil who had a defiant face on. Ox whined once more and became somewhat childish as he winced from the stinging sensation on his face. "Owie..."

"Quit blubberin' and go get your son."

It wasn't a suggestion, but a command. Brandil had Ox grabbed by his tunic and pulled him down to his level so they were face to face. The gruff voice and frustration portrayed on the Skipper's face was not a mock of it. Ox sensed the emotions were genuine and wiped a tear away. Being released from the otter's grasp, he was off grabbing his gear, calling back, "Start the plan up! I want to see it executed like we discussed! No exceptions!"

"Where is the cog?! Tell me!"

Lekota hung from the log rooted upright. Weary from his beatings and torment, he kept panted, then spoke. "I s-swore I had it... Eh... Heh heh..."

Lekota had forgotten one part of the message Nog gave: to wear gloves. The cog, coated in poison, lost its delicate dressing after the sweat from the badger's eager paws washed it away. Going for a snack after that he didn't know he had poisoned himself. The Wright who had prepared the artifact had done so to keep the foolishness of those curious to harness its powers away, or to kill them off. The badger Lord's son had lost it among the sand at the beaches of Salamandastron.

A tap on Zarix's shoulder alerted him. Swinging around, he saw Ferahgo's paw pointing straight ahead towards Salamandastron. What seemed to be a massive yet organized horde of the Long Patrol and other woodlanders willing to fight marched out. At the head was Ox, Brocktree, Gorath, and Urthwyte. Brandil had pushed through and made it to his pal's side, giving him reassurance. Felix had stayed behind inside the mountain with Antonio.

The otter and badger sat inside the mess hall, kicking their footpaws up and resting. Brandil denied his son's participation in the efforts of defense, but Antonio was not wanted. After making an "inappropriate" comment after a statement Ox made, he was instantly benched. Felix was still giggling over it. "You're a dirty minded, eh?"

"We Wrights like to poke fun during serious situations to lighten the mood. Originally being a family of psychology, the sense of emotions have been passed from Wright to Wright."

"But does that really HAVE to make you say what you did?"

"He said not to go in too far."

"But he never meant it the way you made it..."

"All I said was 'That's what my wife would say if I had one'. Nothing bad about it."

Felix facepawed himself and sighed. "It doesn't take a lonely thirty-season-old male to know that IT IS inappropriate."

"I wish I had a wife to say that to me."

"You disgust me."

"Good, I'm not into you otter types anyway."

"Go out there and get sniped by an arrow please."

And those words seemed to be magic as an arrow came whizzing in through the window, barely skimming Antonio's headfur. Wide-eyed, he flipped around and stared at the arrow. Turning back to look at Felix, the two couldn't help but to stare at each other.

Ox raised his paw. The march halted. The vermin who had shot that arrow miserably was killed on the spot by his fellow mates. Ox signaled to the right then left for them to break off. Gorath took to the right with his section, Urthwyte left. Now the center had Brocktree and Ox (with Brandil being a jockey to Ox). Bringing the front up and making an arch, Ox smiled wryly.

Zarix sniggered and broke out into a fit of laughter. "Woahoohahooheehoohah! He thinks he's going to pull that off on us? Get our sides and flanks ready! He ain't pullin' that off on us!"

As the vermin prepared, Ox had his moment to chuckle. With two swift flicks of his paw, the army charged to clash head on with them. The front which had arched upward now split; Ox went to the left, and Brocktree to the right. The new groups came and cut in front of the sides from before, then they fell back into an arch at the bottom. Ox had tricked Zarix into thinking he would run his old plan. Now, he had them trapped!

Like old times, Ox cleaved and butchered vermin, sending limbs and blood into the field of battle with screams of anguish and death, all while Brandil hacked away at his flanks to make sure he wouldn't be backstabbed. Urthwyte and Brocktree had became intoxicated with Bloodwrath. Ox catching a glance of them easily slaughtering their foes, he somewhat envied them and wanted to be filled with the madness. In his mind he knew it would be an awful decision, but the yearning-- the unusual intimacy of the situation. It gave him a maniacal pleasure, as if something to turn him on with a smile. It was something he wanted for some reason at his old age. Was it the ability to do work when his body could not exert such energy and force like he normally could?

Through the melee in the daylight, Ox stepped on something and squeaked out in sudden pain. Toppling over, Brandil had to scramble away to avoid getting squished under his tremendous weight of his pure muscle. Coming back, he had to assist his friend from the incoming onslaught of rats, ferrets, weasels, foxes-- you name it. Finally getting a breather, he noticed what was at his footpaw: the cog. Going to reach for it, Zarix dived for it! The force and weight of the weasel landing on his paw caused him to retrieve it from the fight for the cog.

Shooting his strong and muscled legs out, Zarix went toppling back. Ox went for the cog and managed to grab it before Zarix got it-- or so he thought? Zarix has abused the power of the broken pocket watch he owned to get the quick steal. Ox stammered a bit before he could cry out in outrage. "Y-you-! So you want to play that game? I can TOO!"

Brandil had retreated after being smacked down by swarms of vermin coming at him. Being buried under them, he had to be saved by Brocktree who had managed to control his rage before slaughtering the one in need of saving.

Being helped up on his footpaws, Brandil was shielded by Brocktree as he shouted back to him. "Fall back, Brandil! I have you covered! Go for it!"

Scanning the warfare in front of him, he noticed Ox struggling with Zarix for an odd reason. Wondering if he should carry out the order or go for Ox, the otter chieftain had to defend himself if he would like to think about it a little longer. Running full blown towards Ox, a kick was sent to the weasel and it was received; he went sprawling. Noticing he didn't have the cog and it wasn't on the ground, Ox whipped around towards his friend, listening to Zarix calling for a retreat in "victory".

"I would've had it, but you ruined it!" Ox growled towards Brandil.

"I-I was just trying t-to h-help..."

Discouraged and dispirited, Brandil stood there ashamed of the move he had pulled off. The vermin army retreated with half of what they came with. The other Lords of Salamandastron grouped up with Ox and licked their wounds. Ox stood, watching the vermin retreating while letting his wounds bleed. His own Long Patrol hares had to work with him as he stood to patch him up. Despite their pleas to get him to look towards them, his eyes never strayed away from the sight before him. Lekota, tied to the log, being carried away by the vermin leaders and other minions to them. "There, finished. Now don't go running off into another battle--"
But Ox had already ran off to the next battle...

Book 4: Bad Blood Runs Cold

Chapter 31

"We're gonna be goners! If they all come after us, they'll outnumber us!" A stoat moaned out.

Zarix wanted to smack the speaker for what he said, but had to sigh with agreement. Sure, his paws were full with carrying their captive, but he did realize the trouble they were in. Sighing, he showed is agreement visibly. Ferahgo looked back at him and showed some symphony for some reason. Ungatt had been abandoned after being mortally wounded.

Their hostage struggled against his bonds. Laying on his back and facing the sky... The Sky... Such freedom a bird has in the blue skies when the weather accounted for it. The only thing he could see was the sky, and it became his best friend since then. He genuinely missed Felix as his companion and friend, and would kill to be free from the bonds that held him back so he could run back to Salamandastron to be with him and his friends he had made.

"Aye, Cap'n! We're back with good news! We ain't bein' follered!"

Scouts had came back to make their report. The Long Patrol and or woodlanders weren't putting chase on them. The words struck Lekota like an arrow directly fired at his heart point blank. No, he thought, they couldn't have abandoned me with them!

Ox had collapsed to the floor of Mossflower panting. Brocktree, Urthwyte, and Gorath had emerged from the trees and gathered around him. Standing up on his own, Ox swung around looked at them. Brocktree had blood splattered on him with his broadsword dripping with blood. It was clear that he had closed off ties with Ungatt Trunn. One down, three to go, Ox noted. Thinking things through, he noted the direction they were going off to. To Redwall... "Brocktree, I need you to head back to the mountain. Where they are going must not be seen or visited by you, or a paradox would result. Same with you, Urthwyte, but you got loose ends to tie off..."

He shrugged, denying the offer. "If that young rip of yours manages to break free, he can have a go at the weasel, or weasels if he's lucky enough."

"Why don't you come on back with me, Ox? Aren't you a bit too old to run around like this?" Brocktree suggested.

And with a heavy sigh, Ox pondered with the choices he had, and finally chose one. "I want to stay out here and go after my son, but... I-I'm... I'm... I'm too old for this... And it hurts me that I will be giving up because of my body and age instead of doing what a real father should be doing. He's my only son now, and if I lose him, that will be the end of me. Our bloodline will be wiped, and my heart will be shattered forever. I will never let my duties of being Lord of Salamandastron get in the way of my children. I said that before, and I failed once already... But again? That would be the last nail on my coffin..." Turning to Gorath, he spat out orders. "You go after them to Redwall, and you help the creatures there. But don't you let my son die on me."

And he was off.

Slowing their pace, the remainders of the combined forces wandered with Vizka, Ferahgo, and Zarix. He made it clear that Redwall would be their next stop, and would be an easier target to conquer. Besides, they wouldn't need the mountain if they succeeded-- they'd be living like kings!

They knew they would be close to Redwall, Zarix announced. And those words sparked chaos. An arrow whizzed by like an angry wasp and struck Ferahgo clean through one of his legs. Collapsing in sudden pain, the horde stampeded on past him. A badger emerged from the woods, and the words dripped out of the weasel's mouth, "U-Urthstripe-!"

Zarix turned around to see his one and only friend and companion attempt to take on the badger one-on-one. Whipping his head back around and plugging his ears with cotton, he shuddered at the roar and screams and yelling he could hear behind them all.

And in front of them? The walls of Redwall...

Chapter 32

"Victoria, do you hear that?" Abbess Poppy questioned.

The Badger Mother looked around and sniffed the air. Scanning the abbey grounds and seeing nothing unusual, it was time to look outward from the walls. An arrow whizzed by and went through her left eye, causing her to fall over from the wall tops and next to Poppy. Falling flat to the ground, she called out loudly, her voice echoing and traveling all over the abbey. "Somebeast, come quick! We have a wounded! And get whatever weapons you can find, we're under attack!"

A rush of willing paws came to assist the Abbess to help with the wounded badger. Helping them down and through the lawns, they rushed her to the infirmary for medical attention. Victoria's heart still beat to a steady rhythm with her chest rising and falling gently to her breaths. Blood poured into her right eye and blinded her. The carnage of the wound would've been hard for her to keep her stomach. The young attendants who has lifted her here waddled off grasping their stomachs, attempting to savor their lunch.

"That's one nasty wound, eh! Thank goodness it wasn't any deeper or you'd be a deadbeast."

The one who spoke managed to earn a chuckle from Victoria. "Ha hah, good to know I got luck on my side, eh Melutar?"

Lekota yelled and moaned at the vermin around him. "H-hey! I'm a prisoner, not a battering ram! S-stop! P-please! Oof, these vibrations aren't making me feel any better!"

Zarix sighed, and rapped out in a shrill voice, "Shaddup! I saved yore poor ol' rear end 'coz you were stupid enough to poison yourself, dimwit!"

Then the gates gave in and allowed them in. Pouring through like an ocean in a damaged hull of a ship, the vermin horde's first attempt to cause trouble went unnoticed and was replied back with a volley of slings, arrows, and javelins from the Redwallers. Not noticing the hostage, an arrow zoomed by and barely numbered Lekota's days. It had managed to skim the rope bounding his neck and eventually snapped at the fibers.

Now he had perfect view of the fight unfolding before his very eyes. Nobeast would know it was him behind the helmet and armor. No, they would not know it was only a badger of sixteen seasons of age. He wouldn't look like he was sixteen after all the growth he'd had during his journey. It was hard to tell all the muscle and height he had gained behind all of his armor and bound to the ropes. Before he was even captured, he could feel a six pack on his chest and felt very proud of it.

His thoughts were scrambled as he was uprooted once more and brought more closer to main building. All paws were on the lawns and filled with various melee weapons. From clubs, sticks, paddles, table legs, and some of the friar's best knives, they fought on the oncoming vermin horde.

Gorath had been sprinting rapidly through the woodlands. The walls of Redwall Abbey could be seen from a distance, so he put the thrusters on and stampeded onwards, not noticing much around him except for what was ahead. "Aye, Gorath! We're coming with ya!"

Glancing around, he noticed Antonio, Felix, and Brandil. His face showed the perfect example of shock at the newcomers. "What in the name of Hellgates are you doing here?!"

"Exactly what your doing: fetching Lekota and defending Redwall Abbey. Hey, I'll be a shame if we lost it-- I'm particularly fond to October Ale," Antonio reasoned.

"I'm into hotroot soup, mate!" Felix added.

Brandil gulped, and gave his sense of words. "I'd be a deadbeast for not being here to defend it after running off to see me ol' mate..."

The four closed the distance between Redwall Abbey and entered through the gates to see the log containing Lekota sitting right in the middle of the path leading to the main building. Approaching him, Brandil took a knife and started cutting his bonds while Felix came to his front and greeted him. "Why, hello there mate! It's been awhile, hasn't it? So, how was your imprisonment?"

Lekota was free and dropped down from the log, landing on his legs but stumbling over and supporting himself up with his paws. Drawing the Rookbane from his sheath on his back, he growled viciously and replied back in a snarl. "It taught me how to build up a rage and release it on the vermin near me..."

Running into the battle with his blade drawn, he sucked in air and bellowed through his cavernous chest, "Redwaaaaaaaaaaall! Eulaliaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!"

The blade of the claymore known as Rookbane caught the glare of the sunlight and was brought down on a rat with so much force that it cut him in half. Felix buried his face in his father's chest after seeing the incident. Holding his son close and stroking his headfur, he attempted to soothe him after what he had witnessed. Gorath would be after Lekota, but stuck behind with the two otters until commanded to go after the badger by Skipper. Then, it was just him and his son. The younger otter sniffled and began to cry as his father continued to stroke his headfur and whisper a lullaby to calm him. Removing his face from his dad's chest, he looked up at him with tearful eyes and trembling lips as he fought to get his voice out. "W-why did h-he do s-such a t-thing?"

And with a sigh, his father shook his head. "That ain't yore friend Lekota anymore, that's a Bloodwrath badger warrior. I never thought such a peaceful kid like him would grow up to be bloodthirsty like that... His father suffers it, but at least he has control over himself."

"B-but why h-him? Out of all c-creatures?"

And his father shook his head again. "He doesn't choose whether he want it or not, it chooses him. I could imagine him being so vengeful and succumbing after being held as a prisoner for some time."

And in a short notice, they were scooped up by Antonio as he cut around and zigzagged to avoid bumping into others. "Yeehaw! Giddyup! You two sittin' 'round and doin' nothing isn't going to help us! And I could see those vermin scum eyeing you two, also. You can thank me later!" And a slingstone whirled by, being caught in Antonio's paw and smashed. "Ha! Pebbles won't do much, laddie!"

Delivering them inside at the dormitories, they were greeted by those sitting around defending. Dropping the otters off, he saluted to them. Defenders had gathered to defend the dormitories stuffed with Dibbuns. Victoria wouldn't let her eye wound prevent her from her duties, so she insisted on guarding. Noticing Skipper with his son marked with tears streaming off his face, she seemed upset. "What happened? Is something wrong with Felix?"

"But first, what happened to yore eye?"

"Oh, an arrow might've travelled somewhere it shouldn't have gone. Now, my question?"

"Let's just say... Umm, how do I put this? Sheesh, I can't even--"

"I-I'm scared, dad! I-I-I don't know if he'll be like that on me o-or if anybeast is safe near him!"

The fear in his eyes did not go unnoticed by the badger mother. Looking to Skipper for answers, he sighed and a tear trickled down his face also. Gulping and trying to rid himself of the lump in his throat, he could not collect his voice. Hugging his son, the two of them wept together. Antonio turned to look at them, then Victoria. She looked at the badger with eyes that asked the question, what is going on, but he shrugged and mouthed I don't know as a response.

Lekota had left bodies lay astray all over. The magnificent sword no longer glittered as it dripped with the blood of the unfortunate vermin he had slaughtered. The Bloodwrath was powerful in him and had him consumed. Filled immensely with it, it seemed as if he'd be completely possessed and lose himself to it-- but he didn't care. No, he instead felt... A pleasure deep within him? It was such a caricature that nobeast would recognize him as Lekota. But the pleasure? Maybe he shared the same intimacy as his father had with Bloodwrath.

Lekota could somewhat see through the red mists, but then his visibility faded away as his vision became completely red and no longer could feel or know his own thoughts. He had been possessed completely...

Gorath had fought his way to Lekota, and called out to him. Trying to get his attention, it came to no avail. Through the black visor he could see a red glow shining and that's when he knew he had lost Lekota to the rage. Hearing a maniacal laugh, the head mechanically turned to the source which originated from Zarix as he ran his blade through a shrew. Growling, he bellowed deafeningly, "Eeeeeeeuuulaliaaaaaaaaa!"

Instead of using his sword, he shot his paw out and struck a ferret obstructing his path between him and the weasel with the palm of his paw. What Lekota didn't see was a flaming pulse originate from that paw, launching the ferret with a sizzle. They landed right at Zarix's footpaws and he looked over to see the badger that had once been tied up. Shriveling up, he noticed Lekota sheathing his sword only to stomp the ground and swing his paws around. Flames engulfed him and he was back in control of himself.

As he approached the weasel, a shout from across the Abbey's main building could be heard. "We need help at the dormitories! Come quick! The Dibbuns!!!"

With anger that he now had to divert his rage and attention from Zarix, he charged onwards to the dormitories. Getting to the foot of the hall, he lit it up with the flames originating from him. Letting off the warcry of Salamandastron once more, his paws were swinging with a lethal blow and flame to sizzle away at the flesh of the unfortunate. Fighting through the hall, the last of the vermin was either slain or fled the seen. Walking into one of the rooms and ignoring the youngsters, he watched as Zarix fled. Turning away from the window and exiting, the path was blocked by Victoria and Skipper at the front, and Antonio at the back. He retracted the flames and it all seemed to disappear back into the amulet at his chest.

"And what do you think you're doing?" The badger mother replied, with Abbess Poppy joining her at her blind side.

Lekota went to answer, but tried to calm himself and ease his voice so he wouldn't frighten the youngsters now gathering at the doorways to catch a glance of the warrior with flames. "Lending my assistance to defend this grand abbey, but now I must be off-- for I have loose ends to tie off with that weasel warlord-- or more like scum."

Felix now was at his father's side and sucking on his thumb as he used to do when he was young. Clenching onto Brandil, he tried to keep his eyes away from Lekota even though a feeling inside of him wanted to betray those actions. Lekota turned his head to his otter friend and sensed the fear his friend had towards him. Frowning behind his helmet, he crouched low and addressed Felix.

"I didn't scare you, did I? If I did... I'm... Sorry... Guess I loss my cool, huh?"

"That is an understatement! Didn't you see yourself?!"

Lekota thought for awhile, then sighed. Taking off his helmet, he revealed the face underneath. Headfur all shaggy and hanging at his eyes, he brushed it away with his paw and ignored the gasps around him at the reveal. Staring Felix in the eye, his own eyes showed innocence, sorrow, and guilt-- all in those two shiny dark eyes...

Felix looked as if he was entranced by his eyes, then eventually let go of his father and came up to his friend. Smiling, he patted his back. "I would hug you, but you reek! Besides, those robes are probably soggy with blood!"

And out of everybeast there, Antonio chuckled. "Oh, it won't absorb blood. But it will absorb stench. Phew, is that nasty!"

Lekota giggled and whipped his headfur away from his eyes. "I would be sent straight to the bath, wouldn't I, Mother? Maybe later though. I got that weasel to go after and I already lost valuable time!"

A pathway was made for the young badger warrior with his mother waiting in the center. Sliding his helmet back on, he had one thing to say to her before he left: "Father loved you, go back to him, will you?"

She sighed and wiped away a tear from her only functioning eye. "I would if I wasn't so old and didn't have to clean up YOUR mess!"

Lekota shriveled up and cautiously walked around her before he was out of her range, then took off at a sprint. He would tie off loose ends. He would... He. Would.

Chapter 33

It was only Zarix. He was seldom and alone. The lone weasel-- the lone vermin scum... Nobeast would have his back, and he would be left abandoned to die on his own. He feared that Lekota would demolish him in that rage of his. Every bone, muscle, tendon, and tissue in me body, SQUISHED like it was nothin' but a dried twig, the weasel thought. He had found friendship with Ferahgo, but with the screams and the attack from the massive badger, it was obvious that he was more than dead, but slaughtered.

Well, if Lekota doesn't kill me, it'll be Ox, Zarix decided. Who knows what Ox would do to him. He'd probably rip him limb for limb, or stab away until he lost numbness in his limbs one by one. A cold shudder was sent down his spine at the very thought of it. Just imagining it made him pale and queasy. Watching as the massive stripedog stabbed away at his arms and legs, staring in utter defenselessness as his blood sprayed in the air and all over the tormentor. He could just see the pleasure of it all behind the badger's eyes.

Pulling the pocket watch out, he let it dangle from his paw. With the cog, he was back in power, but something wasn't right about it... He felt compelled by the triumphant victory at the grab for it, even though he had won everything by now... It didn't feel right. He recalled wanting to be a badger to tarnish their reputation the species had gained, but now, he just wanted to be one to be accepted... Those who weren't vermin stereotyped him, and that was what had happened all of his childhood.

He suffered from discrimination. He had always wanted to make friends with other creatures like otters and shrews, but they pulled away. "You no good murderer", "cruel and bloodthirsty scum", and "weasel of no pride". Those were only the beginning. He had remembered all of the names he had been called, and it hurt him to. He wouldn't have gotten himself into all this trouble if he didn't fall into place with the labels and tags they gave him. He felt ashamed that they had cracked him and got into his head, playing their games and tricks on him like an unsuspecting child.

He sighed and continued to wander on. He had no apparent destination, and just wanted to find a friend. Ferahgo had been his only one, but that was an infamous one that deserved those labels and tags. Zarix just simply wanted somebeast to... Play with? His childhood was wasted. Abandoned as a babe and left to be cared by those who barely bothered, he suffered malnutrition frequently. He had taught himself to survive off the land-- one berry at a time, and one method at a time.

And at the sound of boots stomping their way through Mossflower, growing louder and louder to Zarix, he knew the watch had to come into play. Preparing for a pausing maneuver to easily walk away from the encounter, the weasel waited the arrival of the incoming creature who possessed the boots creating the sound.

And like that, those familiar robes and helmet showed up once more. Glancing up to the sky and sighing, it was obvious he was a bit... Annoyed. Rubbing his face with his paws and letting one long sigh out once more, he was ready to speak. "Just, leave me alone. I don't want to cause any more trouble and harm anymore... I'm... Done... You can even have--"

But the words went unheeded by the warrior. A rock had been thrown with a velocity so fast that it seemed to be a blur. It wouldn't have been a good feeling to get smacked by it-- especially that it was flaming also. With quick reactions Zarix had hit the knob on the watch, then he shriveled up and anticipated on the painful blow the rock would deal. But instead, he was dealt with a flash!"

Retrieving himself from the ground, he noticed he was no where near Lekota or his friends that had just then ran up on the scene. He counted one otter and one badger: Felix and Antonio. The flash is not what he had expected, but took it for granted considering he was alone now. He sure well knew what it meant after experiencing it for the first time, but it didn't bother him the least. Wandering off again, he continued his newly found nomadic lifestyle to escape the tormentors seeking to murder him when all he wanted was a friend.

Chapter 34

"Unnghh... It happened again..."

Lekota woke up after the flash that had occurred. Looking around, his friends were missing. Frantically glancing around, he had no idea where an otter and badger could've gone. Turning back to look in front of him again, he saw a noticed a helmet close to his own helmet. Lekota could see the fierce and dark eyes in the other one's head, but they could not see his own eyes. The visor had obviously blocked vision of that.

Behind this new figure, Lekota could see Felix and Antonio tied up, guarded by another... Badger... Sheesh, how many badgers can there be?!

A blade came up between their helmets. He could hear the growl and harsh tone of the voice from this unknown creature. "A warrior, eh? Nothing like a good day to die from Verminfate. Stand up."

Lekota shook his head, and waved a claw. "Aww, you'd harm a perfectly innocent and peaceful creature? 'Tis a shame. Also, you'd capture perfectly innocent and peaceful creatures, too? Tsk tsk, such a shame."

"Perhaps you don't understand? Stand up. Now. I said now. NOW!!!"

Lekota found it entertaining to poke fun at this creature. He stood up then sat back down, only to be brought up on his feet again after the creature grasped his collar on the robes. It was a weird sensation this creature gave him. He could somehow feel the breath of this other creature through their helmet and his own helmet. He was not happy. Glancing to the paw that held the... "Verminfate"? He noticed the creature bringing it up to strike. That's when the young badger got serious.

With a smack of his palm, he could feel the flames emerge and smack down on his foe, heating up the metal chestplate that the enemy wore. He could obviously see that the heat caused great discomfort. If I can get him to cast away his armor, that'll be one less problem to deal with.

The Rookbane flashed out of the sheath and twinkled with pride in the sunlight it caught. Glancing up at his opponent, he held his sword prepared, ready for a duel.

Together they pivoted in unison in a circular formation in an attempt to outmatch one's stride to have an easy blow at their foe's side. This opponent was fast, but Lekota perfected his pace and was able to keep up with him. It went on like this for a few minutes, obviously frustrating this creature. At least he had some time to think about things in life, such as who was the wielder of this "Verminfate"? Searching through the archives of his mind for a possible answer he had probably forgotten, it nearly came with a price of stumbling. He finally had the answer and knew is opponent now. Rawnblade Widestripe.

"Come on, make your move! I don't got all day," Rawnblade snapped. "You're a disgraceful warrior if you even call yourself that! Can't you swing a simple--"

The sound of metal clashing rang in the air. Lekota had hit first, and brought more lunges and cuts and thrusts at the enemy. It was a move that caught Rawnblade off guard that cost him considerable damage to his chestplate. Now it was time to slash back! The broadsword struck quickly, but Lekota kept his pace up with his blade. He managed to fight off with the exact speed that was being thrown at him.

The clanging and ringing of the splendidly-crafted blades filled the atmosphere. It would be a cut followed by a parry. The matched strength of the two badgers allowed no slip-ups or weakness between the two, but Rawnblade began to tire. The youthfulness of Lekota made it easy to keep his fighting underway even without the proper energy and nutrition after being starved from his captivity.

The past Badger Lord could feel himself tiring in his muscles and realized this opponent would not tire or let down. He couldn't give in and fail. With some of the last of his strength, he channeled all of his strength to bring a devastating blow down on the blade Lekota had. With a powerhouse of a slash downwards and a uppercut with it, the Rookbane flung out of the youngster's paws and he could feel a searing pain in his upper chest from where he had been kicked.

Tumbling to the ground, Lekota didn't retrieve himself to continue the fight. Laying and panting, Rawnblade approached with a swagger in his step and stooped over to scoop up the Rookbane in his other paw. Pointing both blades at Lekota threateningly, he made a demand, "Stand up."

Lekota resisted. He didn't feel like it. His ribs weren't broke thankfully, but it still caused him a decent amount of pain. Ignoring a repeat of the demand, it was obvious the enemy was getting peeved. Sighing with frustration, he said one more thing. "If you won't get up and fight, do you got any last words?"

Gulping, Lekota gave his few. "I promised my father that I wouldn't fail him... And being so close, I've not come this far to die now."

Then in only a split second, he was on his paws armed with only his fists. He felt the familiar pressing of Bloodwrath that he was so fond of now. Being consumed, he charged towards Rawnblade with only fists. Are you mad?! I've got two blades and you come at me with your FISTS?!

And Rawnblade would've killed Lekota, if only he wasn't expecting this next move. It seemed as if he disappeared leaving an outline of himself with flames at the location he had just been at. Dropping down behind the Badger Lord, he was able to palm him and send him sprawling with another sizzle. Lekota wasn't blinded, but was imbued with these flames...

It was the necklace! The fire-red ruby fed off the Bloodwrath and instead imbued Lekota with these flames he'd never been able to manipulate ever in his life! He wondered why it fed off of the rage than anything else that was possible.

Keeping up with the paw-to-sword combat, finally he earned the efforts to retrieve his sword. The moves he pulled off with the flames was barely much, and soon he slipped and became consumed. Swinging and roaring, Rawnblade struggled to keep up with the newfound strength the opponent now possessed. It would be quite hard to keep up after he'd been adjusted to the force before. Now, it was his time to slip...

Bloodwrath versus Bloodwrath. Rawnblade struck back with considerable force with his sword, and Lekota would parry it. Sparks flew from the metal of each blade as they continued with tremendous force. Rawnblade slowly took the advantage with strength and would soon overthrow Lekota. His own Bloodwrath fueled him more, and soon his eyes started to glow red, showing through his visor.

It would've been an amazing battle to watch. Ox Rookbane would've been surprised at the force of his son and Bloodwrath, but proud at the same time. The thought occurred to Lekota for some reason, and it was all he could think of as he was possessed. He had lost control of his own body and mind once again, but with one thought in mind: pride from his own father.

The glow actually frightened Rawnblade, even in his state of Bloodwrath. He had no idea if Lekota was a demon or... a Bloodwrath warrior like him... He noticed Lekota sheathing his sword and thought it was an opportunity to get the kill-- but he was wrong. As he did at Redwall, Lekota became engulfed with flames and regained his senses. Drawing his sword after doing an activation ritual, its blade burned with the very flames that surrounded its wielder.

And the flames would seem to put Rawnblade at bay. With every clash, burning sparks came and sizzled on the chestpiece of his. The heat started to become unbearable underneath it, and he yearned to take it off. Taking it off would allow a major weakness to be accessed by the enemy, but he couldn't stand it. And, it wouldn't matter anyways. He ended up being disarmed and knocked to the ground. Staring up at his opponent, he sighed as he came out of his rage. "You... Won. Finish me off. You've bested a Badger Lord of Salamandastron. That's a feat."

And the flames returned to the very ruby contained on the necklace. Underneath the helmet, Lekota smiled. Sheathing his sword for good, he held a paw out for Rawnblade who now had his helmet off. Looking curiously at the paw offered to him, he finally took it and was helped to his footpaws. Then, Lekota slid his helmet off.

"The name's Lekota. Good fight, but you wasted my time, and had your pal tie and gag my friends. Do you mind?"

Rawnblade easily answered by signaling the other badger to free Antonio and Felix. But Antonio and this badger stared at each other. They noticed the similarities in their eyes... "I'm Mark Wright, the only living Wright... Impossible..."

"Nah, I'm supposed to be the only living Wright. Welcome to my timeline."

"Woah... Cool... Time travel?!"

"Guess you could call it that, but we're on our way to fix this all because we're on the brink of a paradox."

Lekota and Rawnblade went through a conversation as they walked and talked. Mostly, it was questions towards how Lekota learned to fight like he did and how he possessed such a power. "I don't know honestly. It's something with my necklace."

"Where did you learn to fight so professionally?"

"I guess I inherit it from my father. He's the Badger Lord of Salamandastron-- currently. I was sent on a mission to fix this conflux in time so time itself didn't collapse. Can you believe it, I'm only sixteen seasons of age and look at what I've accomplished."

"Sixteen seasons?! You're bluffing! I did NOT lose to an amateur."

"Admit it, you did."


"Admit it..."


Now Mark, Antonio, and Felix chimed in with Lekota. "Admit it!"

Rawnblade sighed with frustration and rolled his eyes. "Fine, I lost to an amateur. Don't know why you three are so pretentious about it."

Laughing, Lekota rubbed his nose and tipped his muzzle to show respect to the Badger Lord admitting his defeat, and gave an apology. "Don't mean to disrespect you sir. Now, it was great meeting you and your pal, but my pals and I have our own business to deal with."

And Rawnblade nodded. "I understand. I know already enough of this from you to get a picture of the situation. I will back you up on the way just in case it's needed."

"Thank you, Rawnblade."

Chapter 35

Through wheezing and dehydration, Zarix stumbled across dunes towards Salamandastron. It would be signing his death warrant, but what did he have? He'd be killed anyways, no matter how he tried to convince them.

The mountain appeared in the distance, and a tear came to his eyes. In the distance, he could see the four badger Lords waiting. Gorath made his return hastily after he had went after Lekota. The weasel stumbled a bit, and finally came up to Ox. His head hung down in shame and dripped with droplets of sweat. Shoving his paw in his pocket, he retrieved his pocket watch. Popping open the gear compartment, he took out the cog Ox needed and gave it to him.

Accepting the cog, he slipped it in his own pocket watch and looked at the weasel. Zarix could not find the strength in himself to look Ox in the eyes. No, it wasn't humiliating due to his surrender. There was something... Deep inside of him that troubled him dearly. Each badger Lord smiled, except for Ox.

Zarix sniffled, and collapsed on his knees crying. They stared, but Ox came on his knees and put a paw on the weasel's shoulder. It was uncomfortable for Zarix emotionally and physically-- such a massive paw placed on his tiny, feeble shoulder. Showing remorse for the vermin, it struck Brocktree, Urthwyte, and Gorath dumb. "Something troubles you?"

"P-please... J-just kill me..."

"Kill you? I never had such plans to do such a thing. Just because you're vermin doesn't mean are 'evil'. You've made bad choices, and I want to know why."

Zarix looked up with his tearstained face. Gawking after the words he just heard, he couldn't help but to stutter. Ox smiled and hugged him. Those of the Long Patrol came out, and some of them smiled.

"I... I never had parents... I... Was abandoned and never even had a name... Left for dead... I tried to make friends with other creatures, but nobeast would bat an eye towards me to care. Always the 'nasty vermin' or 'murderer'... I just wanted a friend!"

"It's pleasant to have friends, and if you can't find one, I'm willing to be there-- as long as you change your wrong ways you fell into with the stereotypes and tags."

With a smile, he lifted his head up towards the badger. "T-thanks- ACK!"

Both were sent tumbling after a shoulder charge came crashing in. It was Lekota...

Zarix managed to scramble behind Ox as he was helped up by his hares. Looking towards his son, he seemed disappointed. His blade drawn, he seemed to go for Ox with Zarix behind his back. The weasel quivered with fright, but Ox stood straight and rigid as a mighty oak. His paw found a sword, and it rested at his side. The sword he helped forged came swinging at him, but parried.

A snarl originated, and the sword came swinging down again. And parry after parry, it fueled his son with anger and rage. Why does he defend such a useless scum of a vermin?

Then, the glow of his eyes came. The force he used hit heavily down, sending aches and pains through every bone and joint in the old badger's body. He was weakening with his defense. The glow frightened Ox-- not because he was scared of fighting against a Bloodwrath fighter, but because that warrior was HIS son...

"Lekota, can you hear me?! Stop it this instant! I will not play your petty games! Please, listen to your father! You're hurting me!"

It was useless. He lost his son to the very rage before his eyes. No self control like his father, and the youthfulness of Lekota plus the infusion of Bloodwrath would be impossible to defend against. He felt his paw deaden with the vibrations the sword sent through his body. He let go of his sword...

And the claymore came down on him. With his paws, he caught the paw of his son. Growling, Lekota tried to wiggle from the tight grasp his old father put on his paw. Digging his claws in deep, a whine originated from the youngster, then a thud!

He kicked his father in the chest. With the simple robes covering him and such force of the blow, it was miraculous that he didn't suffer from any broken ribs. The real target was revealed, and going to slaughter him.


With a pause of time, Ox regained his senses, stood up, and got his footing correct. He set the watch to resume time after a few seconds, so he squared his shoulders and prepared for a strike against his sword. Time slowly regained itself then played in normal speed. Clank!

And there goes Ox's sword... Into the... Air... His attention caught on the flying sword, he only had a second to notice the stab coming at him with full speed. A face of terror was pasted on his face. His son would actually kill his own father... Closing his eyes and embracing himself, he whined.

It was a gargling noise that made him open his eyes. Looking down, the blade had found itself in the chest of Zarix. Ox stammered, then gently slid him off the blade and rested the weasel's head on the badger's lap. Looking down with tears in his eyes, he could only stammer, "why?"

After a coughing fit of blood, the weasel spoke. "Oh, your s-son c-couldn't bare the g-guilt he'd have..."

"Nonsense, I am old and lived a good life, it should be vice versa..."

"Nah, mate... I... Wanted to die anyways... Tell me, what does the Dark Forest look... like?"

Ox knew what he meant by that. Zarix was destined to see him on the other side. "Hah, it's a good thing I don't know... Though I... Do hope I see you there."

"Likewise... Would... Dark Gates with two... badgers... guarding it sound... correct?"

Ox started to cry with more force, and managed out, "Y-ye-yes!"

And with a smile on his face, the weasel closed his eyes and laid his head down gently in his lap. Lekota regained his senses, and trembled. "W-wa-what h-have I've d-done?!"

His sword collapsed from his paw, and he tumbled to the ground shedding tears after ripping his helmet off. He was a mess-- maybe even a hot mess. Sweat and tears mixed to make an extremely salty wetness.

And a paw was placed on his shoulder. It felt cold and sent a shiver down his spine. Gasps came from everywhere, and even his father who had diverted his attention from the friend he just lost. Turning around, he stumbled from the sight of what he saw. "K-K-Kenai?! But you're-?!"

"Only a presence, and nothing more. The package was received."

"Y-you mean Z-Zarix?!"

"Call me a messenger."

"B-but he... What about me?! H-he hates me, doesn't he?!"

And the presence of Kenai laughed. Turning to look at everybeast that had gathered, a stoic form showed in his apparition uncharacteristic to him. "Oh, you? I forgot you even existed. From what I've heard, a furball like you was more scholarly than warlike. But here you are, possessed by what got me killed, and what father can control. But you're different, yes, you.

"You think its controlling you. It's not. If you could only learn how to use that stupid amulet, things like this wouldn't happen. I would say I am jealous of such power, but the way you flash it makes me want to laugh."

Everybeast soaked in the words he gave, especially Lekota. Clenching a fist, he growled. "Is it possible to smack down an apparition?"

"No clue, I'm new to this--"


Lekota brought his gloved fist down on the apparition of his brother. It was a successful hit across the face that send him sprawling. "Would you like to run that by me again, little brother?"

"Little? Hah, daddy always made you sound like a little babe. Sounds like they carried your rear end over there at Redwall and would show medical attention at every bruise or scraped knee you got!"

"Oh yeah?! Look at me now! See how much I've became from my care AT Redwall?! I guess you never learned anything because you were too busy causing mayhem here, I've heard!"

And the two laughed. Ox smiled as the two brothers continued on with their shenanigans. Everybeast cheered. Victory, had arrived.

Ox was helped to give Zarix a proper burial worthy of being a comrade. Many agreed with it, and those who didn't agree were persuaded by fellow mates. Rawnblade had joined the committee of Badger Lords as they conversed after recent success. Rawnblade went into detail about Lekota and how he could fight, and it made Ox blush. Antonio who was stumbling by, sneaked in a quick word. "So you lassoing around at night turned out to be a wise decision-- yeowch!"

It was Felix who smacked him, then followed by Ox. "I told you that you disgusted me. I am disgusted with insects, so I smack them. I'm disgusted with you, so I smack you." The otter's words poured out and left an impression.

"You Wrights can make me sick. Why can't they be normal and set like Del Wright?"

"You know about him?"

"Some Badger Lords reckoned to write about some accounts, like Mandoral. Hey, he described many accounts with Tiria and her friend Ryely. Poor otter Ryely was, couldn't stand on his own two paws after he ran nonstop to go with her on the journey. Had to get a brace to support him to stand. Got it here. Man, would I like to hear what music he had written!"

The two Rookbane brothers fussed and chatted, going about their childhood that they could recall. Lekota beamed with superiority when he listed all the goodness of Redwall. Jealous as Kenai was, he couldn't help but to smile. "I'm happy that it was the right place for you, even if it split us apart."

"Eh, I wouldn't really have cared much about you anyways."

"Ha hah, I'll remember that. Listen, tell dad I love him, would you?"

"Can't you tell him?"

"I'm out of time here, and I've been around him more than I've been around you. Love you little brother!"

"H-hey! I'm not little! Just look at this six pack you jealous son of a--," and Lekota paused. "That would've been bad if that slipped and I was heard..."

Ox was standing behind him. "I've heard about every word in the book that there was. Kenai was a troublemaker and I still am surprised at him and astonished. I should've executed him for the time he laced my drink with a hint of p--"

"Ok, that's enough..."

"Don't get me started about the time--"

"Please stop! You're embarrassing me!"

And with a hug, Ox apologized and said his final goodbyes... Although the loss of Zarix ate him on the inside, he couldn't help but to forget about the emotions and spend time celebrating one of the greatest and last victories he'd ever see in his lifetime.

Chapter 36

"And what do you plan on doing now?"

Ox stood in a stoic military fashion. With the best garments he owned (some designed by Dandy), he turned to reply to Brocktree. "I fix time. It was great knowing you all, but it's time for this to end once and for all."

"And afterwards?"

Ox lost the stoic picture on his face as he pondered his decisions, then it returned. "I am... Am... I am... D-done I guess with being the Lord of Salamandastron. I'm drained, and I'd rather see Redwall once more and my wife."

Brocktree nodded sadly, and backed away. Lekota had substituted his battle armor for a fancy tunic handed down from his father. He bore a red and black kerchief also, a trademark with the Rookbanes and Brandil's family. Lekota raised a brow and questioned, "Then who will be the Lord of Salamandastron without you?"

"You, my son. You. It seems rightful to have you succeed me. Does it not?"

The answer was not what Lekota expected, and he seemed to retreat from the thought physically. "W-what?! Pfft, you can't let a sixteen seasoned male like ME run around doing whatever it was you did! Nuh-uh! And besides, I'd like to have a life instead of mine to be consumed?"

And Ox seemed peeved at the last statement. "You think the life here will CONSUME yours? What, I guess you take me for a con-beast, huh? Nothing better but a con artist?"

And Lekota flipped out. "I-I-I-?!?!" And then he regained his words through a bellow. "CON ARTIST?! I-I NEVER WAS REFERRING TO THAT!"

"Ha hah, you're adorable when you lose your temper. Now shut up unless you want to shout a warcry with us for our parting time travelers..."

All five Badger Lords, including Lekota joined in. Counting it down from five, their paws bounced up in down with anticipation with their gatherings of the paws in one group. Hitting one, they all bellowed "Eeeeeeeulaliaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

Among it all, a voice crack could be heard with a shriveling young badger as he tried to slip away unnoticed and unaccounted for the voice crack. He didn't make it far before he was clapped on the back by Gorath. "Growing up, are you?"

Through the sweat and heated face of embarrassment, all he could say was "shut up". And more laughing took place.

"Urthwyte, it was quite interesting to get to know you."

"I can say the same with you, Gorath."

"Ehh, you didn't really get to know me much, but it was quite a ball while it lasted."

"Can't believe you're one of my descendants and I actually MET them."

"Never falters when you can be with dead creatures living past their times, does it? Anyways, its about time to get going."

Ox slipped the pocket watch out and moved his claw over the button. Setting it to reset, he smiled one last time and looked at all the faces he just had learned who they belonged to. A tear trickled down his eye when his claw nervously shook on the button. It took him to channel his willpower to press it down and return everything back to normal. Flash!


"Well my children, that's me story!"

A mature and scruffy Lekota sat in his arm chair with one of his sons on his lap. His two daughters and two sons were enthralled by the recounting of the events their father lived through. His wife, Ambrook, waddled in with dinner. "That was an interesting tale, my darling. Sound very fictional, though, you ol' fibber!"

The oldest out of the two sons shook his head and disagreed with his mom. "But it's true! Show mommy, daddy!"

His father cleared his throat to suppress a giggle. "Well, the soup is kinda cold... Oh, what the heck? It wouldn't hurt to show a little parlor trick off, eh?"

With the snap of his claws, he started a little ember from his paw. Focusing on increasing its size a little, he started to heat up the soup his wife left sitting for awhile. Smiling at the surprised faces of his youngsters, he whipped his paw and the flames withdrew. "Eh, how was that? What do you think about it, Ferin?"

The oldest son wagged his tail with glee. "That was epic!"

The one sitting in his lap, Oxford, winced. "Would you quite your voice, Loud Mouth? You're hurting my delicate ears... On the flipside, that was awesome!"

Oxford might've been younger than the other (who were triplets), his youthfulness was a disadvantage but allowed something none of the rest possessed. He could hear the noise of somebeast's heart, just like Markus Wright! Even named after Lekota's father...

His sister, Petra agreed with Oxford. "It was pretty cool, but you consider THAT a parlor trick?"

Lekota boasted by dusting off his knuckles and blowing on them as if to get rid of dust on his valuable paws. "Oh, it's so natural for me, so I consider it quite lame."

The other sister, Lilac, passed it off. "You're lame yourself then!"

Their father put on a dramatic face of pain as if he took it personally. Wiping an imaginary tear away, he blubbered out in the most fake voice that had them all cracking up with laughter. "Oh, boo hoo hoo! She said I'm lame!"

Then, Oxford controlled his laugher and asked a serious question. "Will I be able to see Grandpa and Grandma?"

Lekota's laughter stopped instantly which caused everyone to feel tense. Thinking through his thoughts and words to choose, he finally came to the words he wanted to say. "It wouldn't hurt to see Grandpa, would it?"

"But what about Grandma?"

And the ruse to get himself out of that was blown by the question he didn't want to answer. Looking out of the corner of his eye towards Ambrook, she gave a slight nod. Oxford already had tears in his eyes because his emotional senses had picked up on the slightest skip of his father's heartbeat. "Well... She... She passed away three days ago... I received a letter ran down here by my old friend Felix from my father. He said it was because of her eye that weakened her to die. I don't think so, because I feel as if he didn't think that she should live less than him. Grief, we all go through it."

"So does that mean... We won't be going to Redwall to see Grandpa?"

Lekota pulled off a smile and slapped his knee, shaking Oxford who still resided on his lap. "Naw! I say, why don't we go cheer Grandpa up, huh? Tomorrow we will leave, how does that sound?"

A chorus of gleeful agreements filled their dwelling. Since Lekota didn't reside at Salamandastron, he chose to clean up and move into Brockhall. Founded during the time of Hightor once more, he thought it would be a rightful place to live before he knew Fate and Destiny would sweep him out and drag him to Salamandastron.

He knew his destiny would take him to the mountain, but it gave him a long time to be with his wife and children. Lekota knew it would happen, and with his wife he planned it all out. Through tears and sobbing, they finally agreed that Lekota would take Oxford with him to the mountain when the time came. He always felt like he was on edge of just walking out and it frightened him every night. He'd sleep with his wife in the same bed and it would be obvious to tell that he was crying at the very thought of it, and required comforting.

Packing up to hit the path tomorrow to Redwall, the strangest thought hit his head. "Honey, I can't put my paw on this but, why do I keep thinking of 'Callahan Rudderwave'?"

"I don't know, you unusual loaf of bread."

"If anything is unusual, its how deformed the bread is when you make it."

"Wow, at least it entertains the children with otter shaped bread."

And Lekota paused for a moment, and under his breath he continued to lace his thoughts together. "Callahan Rudderwave... Otter... Callahan, an otter? Rudderwave, an otter? ...Sheesh, this thinking hurts me ol' beautiful head!"

"If you think I can't hear you being cocky, you'd be wrong!"

"Ha hah, love you too, darling!"