A shadow fell across the fields as the sun sank lower and lower under the horizon. A young otter stood in the last remaining strand of sunlight, a shield on her back. On the trail to the north, Thorn the Fearless had met the odds. The summer had been long and good, though it had been eventful. Turning back to look at the setting sun, Thorn saw the two pairs of gleaming eyes.
“Come on out, you silly beasts! Come and meet the Shieldmaiden!” Thorn laughed.
A squirrel and a badger flew out at her, laughing and joking. The trio wrestled together, before Thorn stood up, triumphant, the squirrel on her shoulder, the badger at her side.
The badger stood at attention. For a badger, she was small. Named Dawnsky Longstripe, she and Thorn were great friends.
The squirrel, though she tried hard to look serious, she ended up bursting into laughter. When Thorn passed, the squirrel got a withering look that said, Do you think I ended up as Shieldrmaiden by laughing and joking? Lady Blossom, for that was who she was, lowered her eyes down to the ground.
“Okay, what do you want to be tested on today, Dawnsky?” Thorn the Fearless asked.
The badger replied readily, “The art of swords, ma'am the Thorn! Then, please test me so as I become the Swordmaiden!”
Blossom laughed. “It's marm, Thorn!”
Dawnsky lightly cuffed the squirrel. “That's what I meant, marm, Blossom.”
Laughing too, Thorn cuffed them both. “Go ahead and add your courses as a title. We start with titles. Pretend I've never met either one of you. Start with introducing yourselves.”
Dawnsky stepped forward. “I am Dawnsky the Swordmaiden, enemy of all vermin.”
“And I am Lady Blossom the Arrowmaiden, slayer of enemies. Kindly, marm, identify yourself!”
Courtesying, Thorn replied, “I am Thorn the Fearless, the Shieldmaiden, the illusionist!”
Dawnsky and Blossom turned like they had been taught. Thorn jumped on them in a mock attempt to fight them.
“And the warrior's honor code we agreed on?” Thorn asked.
Calling out in one voice, the trio called into the dusk, “An enemy's friend betrays him once! An enemy betrays their friends thrice! Beware the fighter you cannot trust, and always uphold our code! Always fight for the common good, not personal gain. Slay only if mandatory, if not, let lives be saved! Stun, do not kill! Two wrongs do not make a right! Defend the good at heart, fight against the evil. Life cannot flourish if there are vermin! Our purposes are written, do not try to change them! Remember the First Warriors and their examples, Felldoh the Furious, Martin the Warrior! They had their code, we have ours! Follow it, and you are a friend. Go against it, and you are an enemy!”
And, to the night, badger, otter and squirrel called, “Daaaaawwwwwwnnnnnnnssssskkkkkkkkyyyyyy!!! Bllllloooooossssssoooommmmmm!!!!!! Thhhhhhhooooooooorrrrrnnnnn!!!!!!!!!!”

Chapter OneEdit

Fellizia Seafox stood at the helm of the Streaker. The great vastness of the ocean still amazed the seafox, but she didn't let her crew know. Snapping orders, Fellizia had her crew on her side completely. All except Badfoot. Fellizia was sure he was planning something, and Fellizia was seldom wrong, and the vixen wasn't sure she could trust her crew's loyalty if Badfoot started a riot. Finally, Fellizia called Bluddfot, her boson, over to her. "Bluddfot, fetch my armour and swords. And bring Badfoot over to me."
Groaning, the rat climbed into Fellizia's cabin. But what he saw took his breath away. He felt himself freeze, and fall to the floor.
"Bluddfot! Will you hurry up, fool?" Fellizia called, annoyed.
But the vixen's voice was far away to Bluddfot, and all he knew was that he was dying. The poisoned arrow, standing straight out of his foot, quivered evilly.
Snarling, Fellizia climbed up. "Bluddfot, you idiot! Hurry up, fool! What are you doing, stupid?" She cursed, climbing the stairs.
Then, she saw his body. "Badfoot, you'll pay!" she screeched as she was chased down the staircase, Badfoot close behind her.

Far away, Sister Annessia at Redwall Abbey, was setting supper down on the table in the Great Hall. Mother Wondress, the badger mother, or that was what she was called, was scrubbing Dibbuns, and then sending them into the Hall, where they promptly began eating, which made them a mess again! Mallivuk and Skipper, two otters, were setting a pot of hotroot soup down. One of the Dibbuns reached for the otter's treat, but Avery quickly pulled him away, while Mallivuk howled with laughter. As Lady Snowflake led a small band of squirrels into the Hall, Foremole and Chreset led the moles in to their meal. The animals sat down, and Abbott Avery said the grace. With a roar of Amen!!!, the animals began eating. Laughing helplessly, Wondress and Annessia looked at each other, and looked at Mallivuk and the otters, and began eating. All was peaceful at Redwall Abbey. But the peace was not to last.

Chapter TwoEdit

"Dawnsky, you walk like a fat bear!" Thorn laughed.
The badger continued to lumber, only this time, it was on purpose.
"Do you hear something, Thorn?" Blossom suddenly stopped.
"No." replied the otter. "I don't." But she drew her rowan shield anyway.
There was a huffing noise in front of them. Smoke was rising over the trees. "Heehee, no need go fffurrrther, Flinchaye have you good now! Heehee!
Dawnsky drew her sword. "No need to go further, do we? Flinchaye have us good now? What rubbish! We go our own way, regardless of what hairy demons say, what, Thorn?"
"Aye, master." said Thorn, playing along with the Swordmaiden.
"Who you, tell us!" The creatures demanded. Murmurs of agreement filled the air.
"I am Enipecnad the Swordmaiden, and these are my companions, Thorn the Shieldmaiden, and Lady Blossom the Arrowmaiden. We eat Flinchaye for supper!" Dawnsky roared.
There were gasps from the trees. "Impossible! Enipecnad is prisnor! Heehee, liars!"
Thorn twirled her shield. "Impossible, you say? Blossom..."
Turning toward where the squirrel had been, Thorn gasped. Lady Blossom was now missing! And both Dawnsky and Thorn knew where she was- the Flinchaye had taken her as a prisnor. With whoever this Enipecnad was!

Snarlsnout laughed evilly. "Lookit ol' Felliz'a, bein' chased 'way by Bigfoot! Harrharrharr!"
Foulclaw too laughed. "And they killed Bluddfot. Served him roight!"
The two rats stopped, relishing Fellizia's screams. "Harrharr!" they guffawed. They didn't here the vixen stop screaming.
"That fool of a fox! She couldn' tell the sea from a tree. Harrharrharr!" Foulclaw laughed.
Fellizia appeared in the doorway behind Snarlsnout and Foulclaw. Her leg was torn and bleeding, and her head was ripped open. The two searats' insults did nothing to improve her mood. Taking her sword out, she chopped Snarlsnout's head off. Tossing it into the sea, she snarled insanely at Foulclaw. "Any more jibes, rat?"
Trembling, Foulclaw said, "No, my..."
"THEN GET OUT!!!!" roared Fellizia.
"Wh...where dddoo Iii gggo, mmmyyy qqquueeeennnnnn?" asked Foulclaw.
Snarling, Fellizia replied, "Into the sea, with your friend, Snarlsnout." And, taking her sword again, she chopped Foulclaw's head off, and, like Snarlsnout, tossed him into the sea.

Chapter ThreeEdit

"Absoultly not, Chigtress. You need a bath as well as anyone." Sister Sylvia told a Dibbun sternly.
"Bu' I don' wanna!" Chigtress wailed.
"Quit whining, Chig. You get a bath." And Mother Wondress came over and dunked the Dibbun into the tub of water.
Sister Sylvia smiled gratefully at the stout badger mom. "That un's as bad as his grandfather, Gonff."
"Aye." Wondress replied, wiping water off her apron. "Neither one grew up."

Kicking, Thorn was led into the Flinchaye's camp. "You'll not take me alive, monsters!"
Dawnsky nudged closer. "Don't antagonize them. Try to undo your bonds. Blossom and the Enip-guy're over there. You're shield is too."
The Flinchaye tugged the badger's bonds. "No talk, or go sleep-sleep!" Waving one of the smoke-sticks closer at them, the Flinchaye advanced upon Thorn.
The otter stared at them. They stared back. Finally, Enipecnad called, "You'll get killed, otter! Let them do it, it's harmless! You just go to sleep!"
Sighing, Thorn allowed herself to go to sleep.

When Thorn awoke, it was night. The Flinchaye were all asleep, and Dawnsky was just moving.
Thorn slipped her bonds off. Sneaking over to her shield, she woke Blossom and Enipecnad softly.
Dawnsky reached her sword, but as she was almost to the exit, she stumbled on a Flinchaye. Within moments, the entire :::Flinchaye camp was awake. The escaping prisnors were surrounded!

Chapter FourEdit

That night, as Abbott Avery was sleeping, a spirit came to him. "Martin!" the Abbott called, delighted.
The warrior mouse nodded.
"Do you have a message for me?"
Again Martin nodded. And he began to speak:

There are three friends,
They have wide grins,
But watch out, one has a shield,
And the other has a sword to wield.
They fight like me,
But soon they will see
Your abbey red,
And ask for bread.
At the Abbey's darkest hour
Climb to the Bell Tower,
See the fallen one,
And Thorn and her son!

Enipecnad crawled over to Thorn. "Otter, it'll be a fight." Thorn nodded, unable to speak. "Dddddddaaaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwnnnnnnnnnssssssssskkkkkkkkkkyyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!" With a roar, the badger sprang at them. Dawnsky's sword sliced four Flinchaye to pieces. Thorn quit watching Dawnsky and looked for Lady Blossom. She was trapped, behind the pole that they had been tied to. As one Flinchaye came at her, Thorn's Shieldmaiden instincts came over her. "Tttttthhhhhhooooooorrrrrrrrrrnnnnnnnnnnn!!!!!" The young otter jumped in front of the squirrel, protecting her. Blossom grinned weakly at Thorn. "Tttthhhaaaannkkkksss." Then Thorn realized just how hard Blossom had been hit. Afraid that her friend was dieing, Thorn grabbed her, and ran out. Dawnsky and Enipecnad were waiting for her. "Good, you got away." said Dawnsky, relieved. Then she saw Blossom. "No, Iiii'mmmm ooookkkkaaaayyyy." said Blossom. "Get leaves, badger. Otter, get some water." Enipecnad took charge. "Don't worry, squirrel. Ol' Enip'll fix yew up right good!"

Chapter FiveEdit

That night, Enipecnad sat with lady Blossom, Dawnsky, and Thorn the Fearless, listening to their tales. Enipecnad told his eager listeners:

My grandmother, Firetail Coneslinger, knew of a woods that stretched endlessly, where all of the Coneslingers could live in peace. We thought about traveling there, but the other squirrels didn't want to have to leave the area. We were renounced peacemakers; even the name “Coneslinger” sent fear into the smartest vermin. But then... our camp was burned. My mother, her name was Pinedance, was the last squirrel left. Later, she gave birth to me, and named me Pinedance too. But I wasn't as pretty, elegant, or goodnatured as my mother. So I got known as “Backwards Pinedance”. Soon, I was just known as Enipecnad Coneslinger, which is Dancepine backwards, and if Coneslinger can even be used as a name.”

Thoughtfully, Thorn said, “So you are Pinedance Coneslinger the Second?”
Pinedance nodded. “Aye, matey, that I am.”
Dawnsky, who had been sharpening her sword, looked up. “Do ya wanna be Pinedance, or Enip-whatever?”
Grinning, the squirrel replied, “Pinedance at your service, marms!”
“Okay, Pinedance Cone-whateveritwas the Second, what's your weapon?” Blossom asked. “Oh, obviously other than healing us.”
Still grinning at the Squirrelqueen's joke, Pinedance replied, “Pinecones!”
Laughing helplessly, Dawnsky dropped her sword. “Heehee, hohohohoho hahahaha, duh, heeheehee hohohohoho hahahahaha, hohohohoho, Pine... heehee ho!”

Fellizia turned to her remaining crew members. “You are loyal, all of you. For that, I thank you. The Streaker is still my ship, Badfoot is just an unwelcome disease. Now, how rich do you want to be?”
The rats cheered loudly.
The seafox smiled winningly. “Good, glad about that. Now, how many of you have mates that Badfoot has taken? Oh, come on, be honest! We're all friends now, aren't we?” About half a score of rats came forward. Fellizia pretended to be sorrowful at this. “Alas, my loyal mates, Badfoot has told them of a hidden wealth.” At this, the rats became surprised. Fellizia held up a paw. “Ahhh, my pals, Fellizia the Seafox knows all. He doubtlessly told you this too. Otherwise surprise would not be written on your faces.

“Anyway, Badfoot knows of a place called Sampetra. There, many ships dock. Badfoot has a ship there, called the Fire Dragon. It in, there is gold, silver, swords, anything you could possibly want! But you see, he has told you that I have a treasure, has he not?”

When the crew nodded, Fellizia's heart leaped. “Ahh, mutiny. But you see, Badfoot thinks that I want his treasure for myself. He knows that I am on to his plan- he will kill me, allow his crew to think that he will share the “wealth” that I have, which I don't, but he really won't! Any rat who asks him about it, WHAM! He'll slay them. You see, stick with me, and you'll get all the plunder! I wouldn't take any of it! It's yours, my mates, Fellizia swears! But, there is one thing- you have to swear loyalty to me- no one else. Tell no one else about this- it'll be our secret.” With a hearty cheer, Fellizia's crew set off across the waves, quickly. Badfoot had long-since gone to sleep. As the crew followed the seafox's directions towards Sampetra, Fellizia began hatching plots in her mind on how to kill the mutinous searat Badfoot before he caused anymore permanent damage.

Chapter SixEdit

Abbott Avery was setting down his cup of water after washing his face, and put his robe on. Walking down the stairs into the hall, he was just entering the Great Hall, there was a call of, “Visitors!”
The bells on the tower began tolling out their greeting. The two mice on the tower, Gwinnith and Gwillith, twin fieldmice, let out the Abbey warcry. “Redwaaaaaalllllllll!!!!!!!!!”
The seven travelers on the path below looked up. There were two hares, each in a dirty green tunic with comical hats. A squirrel and a mouse had on light blue skirts and yellow shirts smiled deeply at the two fieldmice.
Gwinnith and Gwillith continued ringing, as they watched the curious sight. An otter, a mole, and a badger followed, lumbering along at their own paces.
The leading hare burst into song. “Ohhhhh...

Let us in, sir, or we will scream!
Can't you please spare us some cream?
We will give you such delight,
We are such an amazing sight!

Flying lice, or is it mice?
That's not why we'll roll our dice!
Juggling potters, or is it otters?
Oh, that is why we implored our daughters!

Who are we, you may ask?
Sit down, sir, pull up a flask,
For we are the Hungry Beast Troupe!
Of course, sir hare, you're quite the group!

What will show you?
Oh, what will we do?
Lend me your ear, I tell you just what...
Oh, yes, and this is why we strut...

Princeton the Otter juggles the chairs!
Cicilia Badger can lift ten bears!
Frisky Flyers- do squirrels really fly?
Oh, we're the Hungry Beast Troupe! But, lad, please don't you dare sigh...

Mother Wondress and Abbott Avery smiled and clapped. The hare bowed. “I thank you, good chaps! We are here to amuse, to entertain, and to bally well clear any excess food you may have lying around, wot! Ah, but here we are... the Hungry Beasts Troupe!”
Gwinnith landed neatly next to the badger mother. Wondress turned to look at her, but the fieldmouse was gone. She landed cleanly next to the squirrel and the mouse, and, embracing her long-lost friends, Gwinnith practically screamed, “Esmeirla and Keivani, my friends! Oi, Gwillith, it's the Runders!”
Gwillith too landed neatly by Mother Wondress before dashing off to embrace her friends. “You live, Esmeirla! And Keivani, my goodness, you're fit as ever!”
As Abbott Avery watched them, the hare turned to the old Abbott mouse. “Wonderful to meet you, wot, ol' chap. My name's General Quincy Quill Quontington, or Quinn to you. I say, old blighter, any chance of a spot of tucker?”
“Of course, though less of the “old” here and there. I'm Abbottmouse Avery, to you, just Avery. Wonderful to meet you.”
General Quinn turned to look at the two badgers. “I say, though, one mome. Wot's your badger's name?”
Avery laughed. “Oh, nobeast knows her real name. She won't say! We know her as Mother Wondress. What's your badger's name?”
Turning around, the General hare replied, a little huffily, “Her name's Cecilia, don't you blighters ever listen to the blinkin' words?”
“Oh, of course!”
The pair set off towards Redwall, but Abbott Avery stopped. Quinn stopped too.
“Heard your name, wot wot?”
Avery nodded to the hare. “As a matter of fact I did...”
He stopped. Wondress and Cecilia were coming towards him. “Abbotttttttttttt!!!! Oh, good, you heard me! Anyway, I feel I should tell you this. You see, Wondress isn't my real name...” Mother Wondress told him, as she skidded to a halt in front of the old mouse.
Cecilia finished her statement. “Her real name is Autumn, since her born-day is the first day of Autumn, and guess what?”
The Abbott, dazed, said, “No, I really don't know. What?”
“Mother Autumn is my mother!”
Avery, exhausted, sighed. “Good, I'm so glad. Why don't you two follow the General back into Redwall. I want to talk to Skipper and Mallivuk. They're with Princeton...”
And so, laughing and joking, the creatures of Redwall met the Hungry Beast Troupe. They were unaware of the murderous schemes that both Fellizia and Badfoot were creating.

Chapter SevenEdit

Pinedance Enipecnad and Lady Blossom had become quick friends. Pinedance, who had been living off of Mossflower since Pinedance Coneslinger had gone missing, showed Blossom how to make bows for arrows, and, in return, Blossom made her a sling, and the duo collected pinecones together.
Pinedance taught Thorn the way of the woods, and how to avoid places like the Flinchaye territory. In return, Thorn made her the Pinemaiden.
Dawnsky's sword had broken during the fight with the Flinchaye. Pinedance quickly made an axe, and chopped down a redwood tree. She melted and mended for three days. She added the metal to the wooden hilt, then melted more of the metal that Blossom had found the other day. She wrapped that metal around the hilt, protecting it, then she added a dark blue stone to the sword. Dawnsky loved it so much, she promised to always protect Pinedance. Pinedance smiled fiendishly and added that Dawnsky would protect her anyway. Dawnsky smiled too, and told her that she was right.
But that night was different. Since the night before, Pinedance had told them her story, it was Thorn's turn now.
Thorn Streamflow began her story with a warning that it was not always cheerful.

“I was born to the great otter warrior Lucinda Courier the Fierce. At that time, the vermin band led by Ugrev Dynasty the Wildcat roamed the lands. Lucinda was the sole leader of her holt, Holt Estrango, which held the most precious treasure of all- the Spear of Love. This spear you did not throw. Oh no, this was far too valuable for that! It's point was deadly sharp- but it did not kill. It was silver, aye, pure silver, with a sharp point. It's pole was metal with a hilt like a sword. Where the pole and the hilt met, there was a large, shiny, golden stone. Vermin, you know, can't resist looking straight into the center of a stone because you can see if it is real or not. But if you looked into this stone, you were hypnotized. You could make the stone's victim do anything. It was called the Golden Death. But that's beside the point.
“Like all vermin, Ugrev wanted the Spear for himself. However, he knew how easily Lucinda killed leaders. He also knew that Lucinda was pregnant with me. Ugrev, like every other wildcat, knew how to wait. And he knew the rewards. You see, he was plotting to steal me, Lucinda's child, thinking that Lucinda would do anything to save me. However, I didn't come on time. Ugrev's fighters grew weary of waiting on an unborn otterbabe, so Ugrev Dynasty was forced to either leave, or face mutiny. He left. As it were, I was born the day after he left. My mother had a sister who had died saving her. Her name was Leah, the Shieldfighter. Ugrev's army had invaded Holt Estrango, and Leah had sprang in front of Lucinda. Ugrev shot a poisoned arrow at Leah, which went through her shield. After Ugrev had retreated, Leah still hadn't died. But she was close. Her last words were, “Lucinda, tell your unborn daughter that rowan make better shields than pine.” But, once again, I degress.
“Lucinda named me Thorn after the guardian plant that Leah had loved. And, thoroughly puzzled, she told me what Leah said about the types of wood for shields. Later, Ugrev returned. He found us waiting. Lucinda and Ugrev got into a fight- they both died. I allowed my older brother, Enbar Streamflow, to become leader. I set off on my own quest, to find Ugrev's mother's sister, a seafox called Fellizia, and met Dawnsky Longstripe, Blossom Truequiver, and Pinedance Enipencad Coneslinger the Second!”

Chapter EightEdit

Fellizia had thought about fear. She inflicted fear. But she had never felt it. Until Badfoot's rebellion. He had over half of her crew, and she barely had supporters. The seafox's only reassurance came from one thought: At least I'm still in charge of the Streaker!
But the Streaker was headed towards Sampetra, where Badfoot's ship, laden with the riches of others, lay resting... Badfoot's ship! Fellizia didn't know exactly how many supporters Badfoot had... Suddenly, Fellizia felt faint. She rang a bell, and her commander-in-chief, one of Badfoot's secret pals called Snakechielf, came into her cabin.
Throwing a salute, Snakechielf asked in a husky voice, “What is it that my Lady wishes?”
Fellizia sighed. She always felt safe when Snakechielf was around. She trusted him, and knew not that he was a traitor! “Ahhh, yes, Snakechielf, my good bosun, fetch me some fresh water!”
Snakechielf saluted again and left. Outside, the rat met Badfoot. “The poison, master. She wishes for water.”
Badfoot looked up from his pouch of poisons. “Clear water?”
Snakechielf nodded gravely. “Yes, master, clear water, clear poison!”
After the weasel had gone, Snakechielf looked at the pouch. He ran to the galley, and dipped a beaker into the water. Grinning evilly, he put some poison in the water.
A moment later, Snakechielf had knocked on the door. He handed the glass to Fellizia. She did not drink, however, until he drank. Snakechielf, sweat running down his back, pretended to drink the water. But Fellizia saw him pretend.
“Why, Snakechielf, what is wrong with the water?” Then, drawing her sword, she placed it against Snakechielf's throat. “Drink, or you die!”
Snakechielf drained the cup. Before the poison could take effect, Fellizia had booted Snakechielf out into the ocean. She enjoyed watching him writh with agony, and finally, she got an arrow and shot him. Badfoot came running out, attracted by the rat's screams. Unknowingly, he ran right under Fellizia.
The seafox saw her chance. Her bow twanged, and right before the weasel died, Fellizia called down, “Ahoy, Badfoot, Snakechielf tried to poison me, and look what he got! I don't deal with traitors!”

Chapter NineEdit

The next day passed eventfully for Thorn Streamflow and her pals. They saw nothing unusual until noontime, when they stopped for lunch. Pinedance and Blossom went out for wood for a fire, and Dawnsky and Thorn talked while they set out a nice picnic. About half-an-hour after the squirrels had left, Thorn was getting worried.
“Give 'em ten more minutes.” Dawnsky told the worried otter.
Thorn relaxed. “Oh, alright!” But the next second, both squirrels came tumbling out of the forest, wood in their arms.
Pinedance stood first. “Not... Mossflower! Strange... dark... rats called Painted Ones... attack...there ocean... see ship... Paint One call Fellizia...!” The Pinemaiden collapsed in a heap.
Blossom, gasping, finished the tale. “Say Fellizia... seafox... by night...”
And they fell over, in a dead faint.

The feast at Redwall was a huge event. Abbott Avery had allowed General Quincy Quill Quontington to say the grace, which was as short as it could possibly be. There was a chorus of AMEN! and the Redwallers began eating. However, Abbott Avery did not, and neither did the Troupe.
Avery allowed the creatures to speak for a few seconds, before standing. Mother Autumn noticed this, and roared, “All beasts QUIET! Let good Abbott Avery speak!”
There was silence.
Avery dipped his head at Autumn, who was sitting with Cecilia on her lap, regardless that she could “lift ten bears”, and began speaking. “Tonight we are having a feast to welcome some very special guests. You see, this is the Hungry Beasts Troupe. They have heard some things and seen some things that they will tell us later. But now, for the show!”
He looked at Quinn. “This is General Quincy Quill Quontington, or General Quinn, and I will allow him to begin.”
Quinn took the stage, midst polite applause. The hare beckoned to Cecilia, who nodded and slid off Autumn's lap. “Welcome, chaps and chapesses, to our show! We will now sing our famous song which opens all of our shows. Cecilia!”
The badger nodded. “My thanks, General Quincy.” And she began her song:

Let us in, sir, or we will scream!
Can't you please spare us some cream?
We will give you such delight,
We are such an amazing sight!

Flying lice, or is it mice?
That's not why we'll roll our dice!
Juggling potters, or is it otters?
Oh, that is why we implored our daughters!

Who are we, you may ask?
Sit down, sir, pull up a flask,
For we are the Hungry Beast Troupe!
Of course, sir hare, you're quite the group!

What will show you?
Oh, what will we do?
Lend me your ear, I tell you just what...
Oh, yes, and this is why we strut...

Princeton the Otter juggles the chairs!
Cicilia Badger can lift ten bears!
Frisky Flyers- do squirrels really fly?
Oh, we're the Hungry Beast Troupe! But, lad, please don't you dare sigh...

The audience clapped for Cecilia. She took a bow, and allowed Quinn to take the stage again.
“Presentingggggggggggg... Princeton the Otter!” With this, Quinn left the stage.
Princeton, a muscular otter in a maroon cloak, walked onto the stage. Laughing, he said, “Okay, Skipper and Malivuk, bring out the chairs!”
Skipper and Malivuk brought out Quinn. “'Kay, Princeton, here's your hare!”
The Redwallers laughed. Princeton buried his head in his cloak. “No, you likkle maggots! I said chairs!”
Malivuk scanned the crowd. “Hmm, I'll bet there's a beast out there who cares, eh Skipper?”
But Skipper had gone.
Princeton looked around. “Skipper! Skiiiiiperrrrrrr?”
But no answer came. Skipper was missing!

Chapter TenEdit

Thorn knew of nothing else but what Pinedance and Blossom had said. “Fellizia will be here! Uhhh! Fellizia will BE HERE!” The otter began doing a wardance of impatience.
Dawnsky held her back. “No, Thorn! We'll have to take care of Pinedance and Blossom first, otherwise Fellizia will make off with them! Thorn... Thorn, are you listening?”
Thorn was not. “Let me AT HER!”
Sighing, Dawnsky reached out as if to pat her. “Sorry, Thorn, but this is for your own good...” And the badger knocked Thorn out!
Soon after Pinedance and Blossom came around, Thorn woke up. The otter immediately drew her shield threateningly. “Don't stop me this time! We march for the shore!”
Blossom thrummed her bowstring. “Go around the woods.” she advised. “The Painted Ones aren't exactly friendly, you know.”
Sighing, Thorn changed course. She beat her rowen shield endlessly and steadily, never skipping a beat, never doubling a beat. Not once did she turn around until they reached the dunes and the rocks surrounding the ocean.
She watched as the squirrels came up behind her, and Dawnsky scrambled indignantly, trying fruitlessly to grab a foothold. Finally, puffing, the Swordmaiden managed to pull herself up, and she stood at attention.
Thorn did not even turn to acknowledge the badger's presence. “You see that dot on the horizon? That is the hated Streaker, Fellizia the Seafox's ship!”
Pinedance absently took a pinecone from her pouch and fitted it to her sling. Taking careful aim, she neatly shot it.
It fell easily short, however it seemed to attract somebeast from the woods. With a roar, thousands of rat-like, multi-colored beasts came pouring out.
Pinedance smiled at Thorn. “These are the Painted Ones!”
Thorn nodded. “Mmm, okay.”
Suddenly, Thorn turned and nodded to Dawnsky.
The flag in Streaker's helm went up and down twice. A yes.

On board of the Streaker, Fellizia laughed. “Bob the flag again, Mudhead. The stripedog can bellow all day, if she wants!”
Dawnsky saw the signal from land and called, “THEN IT'S WAR, FELLIZIA!!!”
Mudhead bobbed the flag again.
On land, Blossom shot an arrow into the ocean. It was war!

Chapter ElevenEdit

Chapter ElevenEdit

On board the Streaker, Fellizia was doubled over in helpless peals of laughter. “Oh, heehee hahaha, they... hohoho, actually think... ahaha, that they... ahahahoho, stand a chance... against ME?? hahaha hoho heehee hoho...”
Mudhead slumped at the helm and then fell on Fellizia. Immediately her laughter subsided. “GET OFF ME, YOU DIRTY LITTLE...”
Then she noticed the trickle of blood running down the weasel's chin, and his head lolled. Fellizia threw him off of her, and he landed a ways away on the deck of her ship. It was then that she saw the arrow quivering in his back. Her foxy eyes narrowed, and she remembered the little squirrel who had shot the arrow into the water to signify the start of the war. But how had the squirrel gotten her flagsbeast?
The seafox's temper was quick to fray. She grabbed an unlucky corsair from nearby and growled, “Take four others and go ashore. Tonight, when all are asleep, find a badger, two squirrels and an otter, and kill them. Bring me their slings, bows and arrows, swords, shields, anything they have on them, then return to me. I shall find a ship, and, should you succeed, you will become Captain of it. Understand?”
The corsair rat, an ambitious fellow named Giar, bowed deeply. “Yarrs marm, I unnerstand.”
While Fellizia did not have high hopes in the survival of this mission, she dipped her head and turned her back on the rat. “Very good. You are dismissed.”
After Giar left, Fellizia heard a scuffling sound outside her window, which was wide open. She froze immediately, waiting for the scratching sound.
She heard it, and, at the last second, she ducked. A dagger flew through the air and landed in the exact spot where the seafox had just stood.
After a splash which assured her that her assailant had begun their decent, she reached out and grabbed the dagger. There were eight words carved in the metal:

A Slow, Painful Death Is For You, Fellizia

Chapter TwelveEdit

Thorn, watching the ship, saw a shape hit the water. She narrowed her eyes in confusion.
"Pinedance!" Thorn shouted.
A chorus of shouts and squeaks came in response. Puzzled, Thorn remembered in time that the Painted Ones were there. She turned to find a hoard of creatures staring at her. She raised her shield so that the T shone.
A large rat stalked up to her. He unsheathed his dagger, and laid it at Thorn's feet. Then he turned and swaggered back into his crowd. After a long bout of chattering, the Hoard of Painted Ones turned and left, not leaving a single rat behind.
Watching, amused, Pinedance grinned as she approached Thorn. She mocked the leader and bowed to the otter. "Hya ye go, musses."
Thorn smiled, then sobered quickly. "Did you see that shape hit the water?"
The squirrel nodded. "Why? A searat probably fell off the... wait! Listen!"
There were faint cries of help! help! help! coming from the water.
Thorn flew into action. She dove into the water, pushing her shield ahead of her.
An otter was floundering weakly near the corsair ship. Thorn pulled up to him and looked at him carefully. "Well." she said finally.
He pulled himself up onto the shield. "Thank ye, ma'am, for helping me."
She floated up and stared at him. "And you are?"
He coughed as he lay on the large shield. "Name o' Skipper of the Redwall otters. If ye'd help me ashore, I'd greatly be indebted to ye, and will tell ye mah tale on land..."
Thorn pushed him ashore, where Pinedance had gathered Dawnsky and Blossom. "Pinedance." The Shieldmaiden said simply, and, in understanding, both the Swordmaiden and the Arrowmaiden allowed them to pass, Skipper leaning heavily on Thorn.

Chapter ThirteenEdit

After the show, which quickly dispersed after Skipper's disappearance, Malivuk and Princeton ran for the river, where one of the rafts was missing. Silently, they boarded one of the remaining two rafts and poled themselves along the Mossflower River.
After a while, the otters arrived at the sea. Malivuk spoke first. "Is that thar a corsair ship?"
Princeton nodded mutely.
"And a fire on the beach?"
Another nod.
After a moment, Malivuk said simply,
"Get to the beach."
The raft began to turn towards the beach, the path lit by moonlight.

It was Pinedance, on lookout, that first saw Malivuk and Skipper that evening. "Alarm ho!"
Thorn leaped up with Skipper behind her. He had recovered well since his fall from Fellizia's cabin window. But Skipper laughed when he saw the otters. "Thooooooooorrnn!! Thas' ol' Mally an' Prince'on!"
The raft turned at Skipper's voice.
"Skip? Is that you?" Malivuk called.

Chapter Fourteen (this one made me LOL as I wrote it)Edit

Giar and his four beasts crept through the woods behind Thorn's encampment. One of the beasts with him, a rat, whispered, "Naow, wha' deed Felleeza sigh aboot daz creatures?"
Giar repeated, "You'll fand a otteh, two squiells, and a badger. We're t'kull 'em, an' bring everthin' they has on 'em. Den we gets t'be Captins!"
The rat narrowed his eyes. "Boot dere eez two ottehs!"
"Yeh, dere eez!" Another member of the group called out. One by one, the other members of the group agreed with the rat (whose name was Tye).
Giar narrowed his eyes. "Yo' right!" He was silent for a while, watched the firelight make shadows over the group, then, when he saw Princeton and Malivuk pull up in their raft, and Skipper greeted them like old friends, Giar's mind was made up.
"Muss' nae be 'oo were lookin' vor. Carry on." He turned into the trees and the band followed him.
No one looked back at the otters. All of the corsairs' minds were made up.
This wasn't the band we're looking for. Why waste time killing 'em when we could catch the real band Fellizia's lookin' for and become Captains so much quicker?

Chapter FifteenEdit

Fellizia watched the two otters' canoe pull up. Her attempted murder earlier that day had shaken her up badly. She knew that Thorn was responsible for it, but she wasn't sure how to make that otter regret it!
The seafox also watched Giar's troops advance into the woods. She growled. "Stupid beasts! Didn't they know that it was Thorn I wanted?!"
She stamped around her cabin for a while before she decided to go up on deck. In the moonlight, Fellizia stalked the upper decks. Suddenly, she saw a light in the distance on the water. It blinked- once, twice.
The seafox watched as one of the animals on shore grabbed a lighted branch and swung it once, twice, three times over their head.
Frowning, the corsair took one of her lanterns and threw it far in the direction of the first light. When it hit the black seawater, splash!, it sizzled and went out.
Immediately, both lights blinked out.
Strange! Fellizia gasped aloud.
Three ratguards approached her. "Lady, there are reports of an ottercanoe approaching from the south- we believe it may be a surprise attack."
The seafox turned towards the guards. "My thanks." she purred. "Prepare the firearrows!"

Thorn saw Fellizia's signal.
"Dawnsky, put out the torch! The hares know where we are now, but so does Fellizia!"
The badger stuffed the burning tip in the sand. "Fellizia knew where we was before tonight!"
The otterwarrior shrugged. "Nothin' like precautions."
Pinedance and Blossom ran up to the two warriors, with Skip and Malivuk following.
"We set off the trick-canoe, with Prince pushing it. Felly's guards heard it, and are preparing "firearrows" to destroy it. Nothin' like trickin' the enemy, eh, Thorn?" Pinedance reported.
The Shieldmaiden grinned deviously. "Nope. Waste of ammunition, I should say! Prince'll give up on it after a while, won't he? I'd hate for him to get hit by an arrow."
Malivuk shrugged. "Prince is smart. Don't worry."

Chapter SixteenEdit

BOOM! With a deafening roar, the canoe exploded under the weight of all the firearrows. There was the sound of gleeful, howling laughter from the shore. Fellizia pounded her fist into her paw. Foiled again! Suddenly, through the light of the burning boat, she saw a sleek brown shape slithering through the water.
Her eyes gleamed. The seafox grabbed a longbow and an arrow. She pointed it at the shape, and shot. There was a scream from the shore, and the corsair looked up, a glint of mad triumph in her eyes. She howled at the sky, a long, drawn-out howl, one of pure, savage joy.
The brown shape stopped and sunk, a trail of blood left in the water.

"NOOOOO!" Malivuk screamed as he watched the arrow fly. "No! Thorn! Skip! We-we can't let them get Prince!"
Thorn shook her head sadly. Her eyes had tears in them, and she gazed sadly at the water. "I believe he's gone, Mali. Fellizia must have seen him, and realized that he-he was the one who..."
Malivuk turned to the Shieldmaiden. "IT'S ALL YOUR FAULT!" He screamed. "You and your stupid war! You killed my brother!"
Skipper came and put a heavy paw on the otter's dark, heaving shoulders. "We don't know if he's dead."
"He is. I can feel it, like a weight pulling me down," Malivuk sobbed.
"I don't care. We'll look for him." Skipper shot Thorn a meaningful look.
The Shieldmaiden nodded. "Of course. Come on." The two dove into the churning ocean water towards the Streaker.
Lady Blossom and Pinedance sat down next to Malivuk. "I didn't know he was your brother," Blossom said after a long period of silence.
"Half-brother. Same father," he answered shortly. "Loved him as a full brother. We traveled with the Troupe for... ages together."
"I know what it's like. My parents both died before I joined Thorn," Blossom said softly. "My sister, I thought she was gone forever. She was taken from me by an evil creature. I never saw her again."
Pinedance lowered her eyes, then looked away, at the burning ship. Her thoughts flew out to Skip and Thorn, alone in the ocean, searching for Princeton. Without thinking, Pinedance whispered, "I was taken, long ago, after my parents died. I never found out my master, and I ran away. I became a prisoner, although I later escaped thanks to Thorn, Dawn, and Blossom. I-I stayed with them. You can't blame her, Mali."
Malivuk wiped his eyes. "You're right. But... the Redwallers don't even know where we are."
"Don't worry. You-you'll be alright," Pinedance reassured.
"Aye," Dawnsky barked. She had been silent for so long, all three had forgotten she was even there. "You learn from Thorn. She's an amazing defensive fighter, but she knows so much about fighting, she taught Blossom and I about offensive fighting. We-we... we're like the families we never really knew."
Malivuk sighed, and drew his legs up towards him. His arms curled around his legs like an egg, and he rested his chin on his knees. "I'd love to stay with you, but not if it means losing Prince. My way of life... I've never fought for anything in my life. And I couldn't leave Prince. If he's gone... I may lose myself."