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The Adventures of Superstripe the Unrealistic
(And his trusty hare, Edwin)

Chapter Two: "Superstripe Saves Redwall"

As the light of the sun began to trickle over the tops of the trees in Mossflower forest, a badger lord approached the famed abbey of Redwall. The badger was called Superstripe, and his massive armor and the hilts of his sheathed blades shone brightly with the rays of the early sun as he stood watching, several paces from the gates. There was also a hare, named Edwin, there.

“Ah, there it is at last, Edwin,” said Superstripe. “Redwall Abbey! Inside its dusty red sandstone walls, it holds many different peaceful creatures. Most of them are probably mice. There’s probably a pretty big squirrel ratio, too. And I’m not sure, but there might be a lot of moles. You know how that is, it kind of depends on whether there’s a good Foremole there, or if there’s some kind of mole event going on to the south. Otters are another species I’m foggy about. Usually, they only stop by a place temporarily with their crew, but occasionally some of them stick around. In any case, it is my obligation, my job, and my duty as a badger lord to defend them. From what, you ask? Well, really you wouldn’t ask that, as you know as well as I do that we’re here to defend the abbey from vermin. I was only using that question to sort of punctuate the importance of my business here. Though I sort of messed that up, because I’ve already answered the question in explaining it to you. Well, now I’m probably just rambling, so I’ll skip to the point of my dramatic monologue. We’re here to save Redwall. Now, let’s go inside.”

Edwin laughed. “Jolly good idea, sire, wot? I am a bit tired from th’ journey, but it’s nothing a little scoff couldn’t fix!” He laughed again, and inside he felt only cold anger at his helplessness against the stinging ineptitude of Superstripe.

“Ah, that’s what I like about you, Edwin,” Superstripe replied. “You rarely get upset about anything, and you never harbor an ill feeling against anybeast for showing any stinging ineptitude towards you. Never.”

“Yes, sah,” Edwin replied dryly.

Without another word, the unrealistic badger lord and his trusty sidekick walked to the gates of the Abbey. Superstripe knocked powerfully on the Abbey’s large doors, rattling the doorframes themselves. A panel slid open at eye level on the door, through which they could see the upper torso of a dormouse dressed in bright green.

“State your business!” the dormouse cried sharply.

“We’re here to speak with the Abbot, or another Abbeybeast with an important title,” Superstripe replied calmly.

The dormouse gasped. “The Abbot? Nobody can see the Abbot! Nobody’s ever seen the Abbot! Even I’ve never seen the Abbot!”

Edwin’s eyebrows shot far up. “Uh… is there someone else we could talk to?”

Before the dormouse could reply, a voice came from behind him. “Milo, please step away from the door and stop annoying our guests.” The dormouse was shoved away from the door, and the upper body of a squirrel in an Abbey habit came into view. “I apologize for Milo’s behavior. He’s not quite right in the head, you know,” the squirrel said with a shaky grin. “Oh, by the way, I’m Brother Tombal, of Redwall Abbey. Who might you be?”

“I’m Edwin the hare, at y’ service,” Edwin replied. “And this here is Superstripe the Unrealistic, a badger lord who –“

“I didn’t have to knock, you know,” Superstripe interrupted. “I could have entered using other means. But I didn’t, because I respect certain codes of conduct which I feel are conductive.”

Edwin and Brother Tombal stared at Superstripe for a few moments. “I’ll, uh, unlock the Gates for you,” Tombal finally said.

Meanwhile, on the east bank of the river, trouble was stirring. The mighty horde of the vicious stoat, Darkflash, was preparing to make the move it had come so far north to make… the move that would win them the legendary Redwall Abbey!

The horde consisted of many kinds of vermin - rats, weasels, stoats, ferrets and foxes – equipped in various ways - as swordsbeasts, archers, javelin-throwers, and stupid expendable bumbling foot beasts. Their number was so enormous that no beast could give you a precise count without falling asleep at some point. There were probably ten thousand, though. Over their years in Darkflash’s army, the hordebeasts had grown accustomed to living a very compact lifestyle so that all of them could camp out in areas as closely quartered as the east side of the River Moss without becoming painfully conspicuous to the inhabitants of nearby structures.

Darkflash himself was a terrifying warlord, hardened from many seasons of warfare, looting, and just being terrifying. Upon his back he wore a ragged black cape that trailed almost to his feet. Upon his chest he wore a ragged black shirt that trailed to his waist. Upon his legs he wore ragged black pants that really did trail down to his feet. Upon his feet he wore especially dark black shoes that trailed down to his toes. It was obvious why he was known as Darkflash. His fur was a fairly dark shade of brown. The flash part was anyone’s guess.

Now, the horde of Darkflash was all assembled, listening eagerly as their leader addressed them all with encouraging words about their upcoming strike against Redwall. Darkflash stood on a platform in the center of all of them, a wide, evil grin on his face.

“We have made it through the wilderness! We have completed out journey! We are finally ready to take the abbey of Redwall!” Darkflash shouted in a booming voice, as a ferret next to him translated his speech into V.S.L. (Vermin Sign Language). The horde of vermin raised their weapons and shouted eagerly.

Darkflash continued. “Beyond those sandstone walls, those well-fed fools keep riches beyond your wildest dreams! Furthermore, a victory against Redwall would secure the infamy of each of you across all of Mossflower! If we are successful today, you will have nothing more to worry about!” The horde of vermin raised their weapons once more, and shouted with enthusiasm.

Darkflash went on. “Unfortunately, Redwall is legendary for its defenses, and many of you will probably die.” The horde remained silent. “But that just means,” he quickly added, “that there will be more loot for those of you that survive!” The horde of vermin raised their weapons and shouted with glee. Darkflash exhaled with relief. That was a close one.

“We march on Redwall at noon!” Darkflash cried. “Do whatever you feel necessary to prepare, for this battle really counts!” With that, Darkflash hopped down from the platform and made his way to the back of the hordebeasts, where he met with a short, flea-bitten rat, who he had appointed his personal attendant. “Huh, that lot’s easy to get riled up. Now, what do we have that I could eat for breakfast, Itchytail?”

“Actually, sir,” the rat replied, “my name is Robert Garrison. Anyway, we have-“

Darkflash clenched his teeth in anger. With blinding speed, he clouted Robert Garrison, knocking him to the ground. “What was that, Itchytail?”

Robert Garrison cringed. “N-nothing, sir...” he said softly. “I was just saying… that all we have to eat at this point is fishes from the river.” Standing up slowly, he took a fish from a nearby basket and handed it to Darkflash.

Darkflash took the fish reluctantly. “Fishes? Aw, curses. I hate fishes!” he groaned loudly. The horde of vermin raised their weapons and shouted in agreement. Darkflash whirled around and shouted, “will you fools shut up?! I wasn’t talking to you!” He shook his head in disgust. “Sometimes the hired help really wears on my nerves. You know what, Itchytail? I’m going to go a little further down the river to eat in peace. I’ll be back at noon, so make sure nobody goes anywhere.” With that, he left to do what he just said he was going to do. Which was going further down the river to eat in peace.

But little did Darkflash know, a spy had heard every word!

“Oh, but you must have some food, Mister Superstripe,” Sister Sabra continued to insist, pushing her tray of victuals towards the badger a second time. “Redwall is famous for its wonderful confections! And you must be so hungry, after so very many months of traveling.”

“No, I assure you, madam, I am quite full,” Superstripe answered. “You see, I ate a few bites two nights ago at a Tavern. My usual allotted amount of food is about 3 sandwiches per decade. Actually, I don’t even need to eat at all. So, don’t worry about me.”

A confused look crossed the Sister’s face as she turned to Brother Tombal, who simply shrugged. “Whatever you say, sir,” Sabra finally replied, turning back to Superstripe.

“Well, I notified the Abbot of the situation,” Brother Tombal interjected as Sister Sabra left the room. “He should be down any minute now.”

“I certainly hope so,” Superstripe responded gravely. “The fate of Redwall, no, the world, could depend on it.” Superstripe considered the statement he had made for a moment. “Well, it’s not so much the Abbot coming down that everything depends on as much as it is the results of any possible decisions he could make. So, uh, I guess I can sit tight for a few minutes.” His voice became grave a second time. “But after that… Redwall, no, the world, is at stake.”

Edwin felt a pang of embarrassment, listening to his master’s ridiculous ranting. At least he could find solace from the ridiculousness of Superstripe while eating. Hiding his face in his bowl of porridge, he silently wondered how much longer he would have to sit through the badger lord’s rants before the Abbot would arrive.

In a matter of seconds, the Abbot came into sight, walking apprehensively down the Abbey stairs. Edwin breathed a sigh of relief. “Oh, hello, everyone!” the old mouse said cheerfully. “I’m Abbot Esomar. Pleased to make your acquaintances, Mister -”

“They call me Superstripe the Unrealistic!” Superstripe exclaimed loudly, rising from his chair. “But my foes only call me one thing – fear! And death! Okay, two things! Regardless, I am Superstripe, and I have come to your Abbey with a message! A message of war, for even as I speak the vermin hordes are-“

“Hold on, Superstripe!” the Abbot interrupted. “You don’t need to tell me any of that. Brother Tombal already informed me of who you are, and what your mission is.” The Abbot turned to Edwin. “Ah, and you must be the ‘actually sane one’ Tombal spoke of.” Edwin choked on his porridge, and Tombal gasped, raising his arms to shield from anticipated blows from Superstripe’s massive fists.

“Actually,” Superstripe replied calmly, “his name’s Edwin. Don’t worry; it’s a fairly common mispronunciation. So, do you think your Abbey will be able to muster enough military strength to defend against such an army?”

“Well, that’s the thing,” Abbot Esomar responded. “What kind of horde are we talking about here?”

Superstripe’s face became grave yet again. “Picture all of the flakes of snow in Mossflower woods during an average winter. Now picture ten times that amount, but all of the flakes are vermin instead. Do you have that in your mind? Well, there are even more vermin in this horde than that.”

The Abbot Esomar gasped. “Surely that can’t be possible! Such a number of vermin does not exist in the entire world! And we would have picked up signs of them a mile, no, one hundred miles away! And how would you have received word of them when we did not?”

Superstripe crossed his arms, in an attempt to look wise and sage. “Oh, it’s quite simple, my dear Abbot. You see, we badgers get hunches when this kind of thing happens. And a badger hunch is never wrong. I mean, have you ever seen a badger hunch to be wrong, Edwin?”

Edwin scratched his head, trying to find the right way to put the obvious answer. “Uh, well, sah, there’s not always an entirely, uh, flippin’, er, I mean, there’s a bally, um, I mean, er, wot, wot?“

Before Superstripe had time to realize that Edwin’s statement made no sense whatsoever, they were interrupted by the arrival of a robin through one of the Abbey’s open windows. The red bird’s wing feathers were a mess, and he looked ready to collapse. Panting heavily, the robin only said one word: “vermin!”

The Abbot quickly replied with a question. “How many, Rusbeak? Over ten times as many as the average snowfall in Mossflower?” The robin looked at Esomar quizzically. “Uh, no, not really. I mean, there were a lot, but nowhere near that amount. I mean, maybe the number of leaves in the autumn gale, if you want to stretch it. But the amount of snowflakes in an average winter snowfall? That’s just inaccurate.”

Abbot Esomar looked back at Superstripe, who shrugged and replied, “what? So I embellished a little bit. In any case, let’s prepare for the invasion at hand! For it is not just at hand… nay, it is at foot, as well! And if these feet, in ancient times, walked about mountains green, do we not have an obligation to fulfill?!”

Everyone stared at Superstripe. “What?” the Abbot finally said.

“That’s right!” Superstripe said proudly. “Let’s get to work!”

Meanwhile, Darkflash was taking way too long to eat breakfast.

“I jus’ don’ get it,” a foot-ferret named Bonetooth grumbled. “’E was jus’ goin’ off to eat some fishes, roight? Why’s it takin’ ‘im two hours?”

“I must say, it is quite unprecedented for Darkflash to be so late in coming back,” Robert Garrison replied. “The whole horde is in quite a tumult over his absence. I wonder if something’s wrong?”

“What I don’ get is how ‘e gets off doin’ this right before an invasion!” cried a weasel standing next to Robert Garrison, who’s name was Bloodtooth. “Doesn’t ‘e know we’ve got an image to keep up?”

“Arr, me laddies, why ez we to care eff yonder Darkflosh ez late en comin’ back?” cackled a grizzled old stoat named Notooth sitting nearby. “Eye sez we shudd commezerate on a new deal fer uz! Yarrharrharrharr!”

Everybody just tried to ignore Notooth.

“Wot ez it me beauties?” the stoat continued to cackle. “Ez et me bad teeth? Ez et me bad name? Or ez it just me bad accent? Yarrharrharrharr!”

Meanwhile, somewhere else in the horde’s camp, a vixen known as Zeltana stirred. She was a beautiful teenage fox, draped in a blood red dress. The skull of a shrew was fastened to an obsidian necklace, which she proudly displayed. In her eyes a light of malice shown forth, and her wicked grin betrayed her for the evil beast she was. Zeltana did not grin often, but this was a special occasion. Darkflash had left the picture, if only temporarily. The time was right for her to take her rightful place at the head of the horde! Then she would conquer Redwall for herself, and be feared throughout Mossflower! She couldn’t help but let evil laughter escape her throat at the thought. Absolute power was almost hers!

She stepped towards the platform in the camp’s center, but tripped and bashed her head on a rock, dying instantly.

A few hours later in Redwall Abbey, the Abbey defense was just about ready. While Redwall’s armory had grown low on supplies, Superstripe’s normal arsenal was more than enough to provide every able-bodied Abbeybeast with a weapon.

Brother Tombal was sitting on the Abbey wall, armed with an elastic silk sling. Beside him sat Rusbeak the robin, who was desperately trying to hold the Axe of Brocktree in his wings.

“Yeah,” Rusbeak mumbled to himself, “I definitely should’ve settled for the turban. Say,” he said, turning to Tombal, “is it just me, or did that speech Superstripe made when I came back make absolutely no sense?”

“I know what you mean,” Brother Tombal responded. “Nobody here has hands or feet. Maybe if he said paws, but – oh, here he comes.”

Superstripe walked past the two Abbeybeasts, discussing Abbey defense with the Abbey champion, Malben. Malben seemed quite irritated with Superstripe.

”All I’m saying, Superstripe,” the mouse said, “is that you could have at least brought some reinforcements. I mean, if you’ve got a thousand hares back at your mountain, and you knew we were going to be up against so many vermin, why would you only bring Edwin?”

“Oh, I don’t think it will matter, Malben,” Superstripe answered. “Just look at the kind of fighting beast you have here at Redwall! There’s Brother Tombal…” Superstripe waved to the squirrel, who was distracted and almost dropped the sling off the side of the wall. “And there’s Milo,” Superstripe continued, pointing to the green-wearing dormouse tossing around a throwing axe. “And just look at that otter over there!” Superstripe beamed. “He looks as combat-ready as anybeast I’ve ever seen.”

The otter in question shouted, “I like killing stuff!” and brought the leviathan death blade he held down upon the Abbey wall illustratively.

“What, apprentice Shuu?” Malben replied quizzically. “Oh, he always says things like that. Anyways, it’s not even going to matter if these vermin don’t show up. I wonder why they’re taking so long to get here, if they really are so close by?”

“I must admit I’m not sure,” Superstripe replied. “It’s not like a vermin horde to be so late. I wonder what’s keeping them?”

He didn’t have to wonder long, however – a few seconds later, the sound of vermin war drums could be heard, and soon after the thunderous sound of thousands of footsteps echoed throughout Mossflower.

“Battle positions, everyone!” Malben cried. “Me and Superstripe will try to negotiate with the vermin! Be ready for arrow fire!”

Soon the vermin horde poured into the clearing in front of the Abbey, with Bonetooth at the head. “Ahoy, sorry we’re late, everyone!” Bonetooth began. “There was a bit o’ trouble with our leader. We still don’ really know where ‘e got to. It doesn’t really matter that much, though, ‘cause we know what ‘e wanted us t’ do.” The ferret looked Redwall over. “Say, this place doesn’t really look like a center o’ wealth n’ treasure. D’you guys have riches beyond our wildest dreams?”

“No,” Malben replied. “Not really. We have some really good food, though.”

“Oh,” Bonetooth replied, a little let down. “Well, that’s okay. Mebbe we just shouldn’t invade at all. But could you p’haps lend us hordebeasts some food before we go on our way?”

Before Malben could answer in the positive, Superstripe began to shout. “I don’t know where you come from, ferret! But around here, we don’t make deals with vermin like you! Do your worst!”

Bonetooth raised an eyebrow. “Mebbe you misunderstood me…”

“So it’s a fight you’re after, eh?” Superstripe cried. “Let’s see how you like this!” He assumed a strange pose, with his arms outstretched towards the horde.

A squirrel sitting next to Edwin asked him the question on everyone’s mind: “what in blue blazes is Superstripe doing?” Edwin could only reply with a foreboding groan.

Superstripe’s eyes began to glow red, as he muttered an incantation. “Ka… me… ha…” As he spoke, a blue glow radiated from his body. “Me… HAAAA!”

When Superstripe finished, a gigantic blast of blue energy shot forth from his palms towards the horde. The resulting explosion enveloped the entire horde, ripping apart the earth underneath them as it burned them alive. The Abbey defenders ducked in horror, shielding their eyes, until the explosion cleared. When it did, there were only two things left where the horde had stood – charred skeletons, and a humongous crater.

The Abbeybeasts turned to Superstripe, their eyes filled with shock and accusation. Superstripe smiled, and replied cheerily, “no thanks are necessary, everyone! It’s all in a day’s work for… Superstripe the Unrealistic!”

Edwin died a little more inside.

Darkflash finally returned to the horde camp sometime in the evening.

“Sorry, everyone!” he shouted out. “If you can believe it, I forgot which end of the river I had come from! I probably walked in the wrong direction for over an hour before I figured out where I was going! I guess we’ll have to hold the invasion off until-“ suddenly, he noticed that the camp was completely deserted.

“Huh,” Darkflash remarked, “you just can’t get good hired help these days.”

DISCLAIMER: Redwall, Slagar, and all related properties (C) Brian Jacques and the Redwall Abbey Company. All rights reserved.