Some Laughs And Games About Redwall
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Slagar the Cruel:
Coast to Coast
(And his trusty hare, Edwin)
Chapter Three: "Perchance to Dream"
His eyes alight with malice, Superstripe held his mighty badger war hammer high above his helmeted head before launching it downward to the earth, mere inches away from the relatively small skull of the stoat who lay squirming on the ground. The imposing lord of impractical power continued his interrogation of the vermin, repeating his question in a booming voice: “Where did you get this treasure, vermin scum?”
“Uh, excuse me, sir,” began a rat standing amidst three other vermin a few feet away from Superstripe, the stoat, and Superstripe’s subordinate Edwin the hare. “The stolen goods you’re currently inquiring about were not, in fact, items of ‘treasure’. Rather, it was a bag of illicitly obtained foodstuffs. Furthermore, the stoat whom you’re questioning isn’t our leader, just one of our accomplices. The ferret next to me is our real captain.”
Superstripe glanced between the rat and the stoat several times.
“Oh,” he finally remarked in a flat tone, throwing his war hammer down. “My apologies, vermin scum,” he continued, patting the reclining stoat on his shoulders in a sign of good faith. (The stoat only whimpered.) Superstripe then proceeded to lift the mallet a second time, swiftly flattening the misbegotten mustelid to a pulp. “But in any case, that’s what you get for being an accomplice,” the badger said sternly to the stoat-pancake. “Okay, let’s try this again with the real leader.”
The ferret chief elbowed the talkative rat next to him hard. “Way t’ go, Robert Garrison,” he hissed. “See, this is why nobeast wanted to let ye join their gang after ye escaped that massacre at Redwall – ye talk too much! Well, s’ either that or yer unusually long naaAIEEYAHH!!!” The vermin cried out in pain as he was hoisted into the air by his tail, held in the remorseless paws of Superstripe.
“Okay, vermin scum,” Superstripe growled, “last chance. Where did you swipe this treasure? Or… food, or commemorative plates, whatever you have in that bag of yours. I know it’s something bad because my unrealistic badger senses have deduced it to be so!”
“Uh, we, er, and don’t kill me for this, but we, uh, stole it from, please don’t kill me, we took the vittles real gentle-like from the house of an ole she-vole in a house down the river, er, where yeh’d be able to find ‘er pretty easy after you’re done not killing me,” the ferret stuttered incomprehensibly.
“Oh, an old volewife down the river? Is that all?” Superstripe barked with laughter. “Why didn’t you say so earlier? This will be much more simple than I had thought!”
Before the ferret had time to breathe a sigh of relief at the indicated change of heart in Superstripe, the battle-crazed badger hurled him high into the air; then some type of energy sphere fired through the lord’s palm reduced the captain to ashes in a radiant explosion. The three remaining vermin, including Robert Garrison, were hurled screaming by Superstripe in a similar fashion, but in different directions with various trajectories and altitudes. Robert Garrison was tossed straight up towards the heavens, while one weasel appeared to make it just past the stratosphere. Finally he raised the bag of food aloft and, using unrealistic powers of deduction, calculation, and aiming, hurled it towards the volewife’s home.
“Uh, nice job, sah,” Edwin noted with an uncharacteristic amount of interest, “but I can’t help noticing that y’ didn’t vaporize the last three rascals. Were y’ actually showing… mercy towards them?”
“What?!” Superstripe asked incredulously, before laughing hysterically. “Aha, Edwin, you comical hare you. Of course I’m not showing those… what did you call them, rascals, ah, that’s gold… those rascals mercy.” He let out one last snicker. “No, I’m just getting a tad bit weary. I could only fire about eighteen thousand more of those small energy blasts before I would start to get *really* tired, so I think it’d be a good time for me to take one of my monthly slumbers.”
“Oh, really?!” exclaimed Edwin with genuine excitement. The night watch Superstripe usually kept while the hare slept were always marked by the din the badger made by *loudly* investigating every single possibly suspicious noise his hyper-sensitive badger hearing could intercept. “Capital idea, sah, let’s hit the sack at once, wot wot wot?”
Superstripe chuckled yet again. “Oh, Edwin, my friend,” he barked between laughs, “that third ‘wot’ you stuck in there was a stroke of genius. You truly are a comical hare.”
Meanwhile, in a cabin by the side of the River Moss, an old volewife sat peacefully in her chair knitting a sweater for one of her many grandchildren. She was content, comfortable, and healthy, and in general her world was in a state of serenity. She just wished that she still had those extra food supplies she had stored up which were stolen during the previous week…
Without warning that very bag of food supplies that had originally belonged to the vole came splintering through her own home’s roof and, crashing into the vole maid’s lap, it flung her out of her chair and out a window.
As the sun’s last rays slipped behind Mossflower’s canopy of treetops, Edwin had finally finished setting up camp. A fire was lit, a shelter had been pitched, his bedroll had been lain out… and Superstripe was standing upright in full armor, which is how he preferred to sleep.
“Remember, Edwin,” Superstripe explained for the umpteenth time, “when I doze, it’s a prime chance for my grand badgerlord ancestors to appear to me in a vision. They usually deliver a glorious mission for me to accomplish in some type of majestic verse while they’re at it. While we’ll have to wake up and begin said quest immediately after I receive these orders, you shouldn’t worry. Depending on the length and gravity of the message, we may even get to sleep for three hours! Well, good night, Edwin!”
Edwin simply grumbled and shoved his face into his bedroll, trying to savor what time for rest he had been allowed.
Just as the hare began to slip into slumber, a noise crept into his ear. Though soft at first, it soon grew into a great rumble, a thunderous cacaphonic roar that caused Edwin’s long ears to ring. His eyes shot open in horror as the terrible realization dawned upon him at last…
Superstripe was snoring.
Superstripe found himself regaining consciousness in a forest clearing… but it was immediately clear that this forest was not Mossflower Wood. From the dark earth sprang dark-wooded trees that towered up and up, beyond what Superstripe could see in the darkly lit locale, into the dark, starless sky. And things were very dark, too.
“Hey,” Superstripe remarked aloud, “I must be in the Dark Forest.”
And indeed he was. Slowly, three gigantic figures waded out of the palpable darkness and into Superstripe’s range of vision. Superstripe kneeled, recognizing what was happening. His admiring ancestors, those paragons of virtue and ability whose legacies were imprinted upon the mind of each badgerlord to come, were approaching him.
“Wait a second”, Superstripe cried, “Who are you guys supposed to be?”
“I am Brownstripe the Compassionate,” the first badger replied. “I am renowned in many circles for having signed treaties with neighboring populations so as to secure peace and avoid warfare.”
“Oh,” Superstripe said bluntly, “no wonder I’ve never heard of you.”
“And I am Cuno the Cghchemarde,” spoke the second badger confidently, prompting Superstripe to answer “gesundheit”. This caused Cuno to flare up in anger. “What?! You dare mock the name of your elder and better? I’ll have you know that the cghchemarde is a perfectly honorable weapon to be named after!”
“Oh, really?” Superstripe answered enthusiastically. “What sort of weapon is it?”
“Er, well,” Cuno stuttered, “it’s an, um, sword, that has an… uh… ONLY I MAY KNOW THE SECRETS OF THE CGHCHEMARDE, UNREALISTIC ONE!”
“And I,” the last badgerlord muttered, “am Urtholemew the Apathetic. Okay, I spoke my piece, can I leave now?”
“I still don’t get this,” said Superstripe. “I’ve been able to trace my bloodline back to famous lords of Salamandastron such as Boar the Fighter, Sunflash the Mace, and Rawnblade Widestripe. How did I end up with you guys?”
“Well,” Brownstripe meekly reasoned, “it’s not that they don’t like you or anything… or that deceased badgerlords at large are enraged at your unrestrained behavior, or something like that. Uh, so there, we’ve proven that we don’t not like you by using a double negative. You know what that is, right?”
“Look, all of this is irrelevant,” Cuno shouted. “Superstripe, we’re here to talk to you about your conduct as a lord and a warrior. We’re especially concerned with the recent incident in Redwall…”
“Oh, that,” answered Superstripe smugly, making no effort to constrain his pride. “Yes, that was some of my nicer handiwork, wasn’t it? I was especially thorough that time, too, because I-“
“Enough!” bellowed Cuno. “We’re not here to pat you on the back for your little bloodbaths, we’re here to tell you of all the things you’ve been doing wrong as a badgerlord! And, to be frank, it’s going to take a while! Is any of this making it through that thick skull of yours?”
Superstripe paused, and then replied jovially, “Yes, my skull is quite thick, isn’t it? It takes more than a regular weapon to pierce my bones, let me tell you!”
Brownstripe groaned. “Where to begin…”
Meanwhile, in the waking realm of living creatures, Superstripe’s subconscious sonance continued to drive Edwin further towards the brink of insanity. The hare had wrapped his bedroll around his long ears, and placed the dismantled shelter upon that, in his fervor to block out the disquiet – but it was all in vain.
At last, Edwin gave up. Pulling his ears from his bedroll, and taking it with him, he proceeded to leave the campsite. This was no difficult task. The sheer sonic force of Superstripe’s periodic emissions would have been enough to blow a more diminutive beast from the area completely independently.
After marching about sixty paces, the noise of Superstripe’s snores had finally diminished enough for Edwin to deem it “quiet”. Unfurling his bedroll again, and lying down upon it, he let out a sigh of relief. He thought back to a maxim his old mother had taught him: that you don’t appreciate many things – perhaps chief of them being silence - until you’ve been bereft of them.
But even as sleep began to envelope the hare once more, another sound began to tug at his ears. Like the snoring of his master before it, this sound was growing exponentially louder… but it was different. It sounded somewhere between a creature’s scream, and that of an arrow or a slingstone whistling through the air. Despite Edwin’s best efforts to ignore the sound, it soon became too much to bear.
The hare leapt up from his bedroll and looked to the sky, ready to shake his fist and curse his abhorrent luck - but it was then that, too late, he saw the source of the noise…
As Robert Garrison, the rat Superstripe had hurled into the air several hours ago, came crashing directly on top of him.
Edwin went out like a light.
“I still don’t understand what you’re getting at,” Superstripe said dismissively.
Cuno shook his head in frustration. “If I wasn’t dead, you’d be killing me, unrealistic one! Brownstripe, show him the diagrams again.”
“Now please try to listen this time, Superstripe,” Brownstripe ordered sternly, as he pointed at several different charts with a pointer. “If you’ll direct your attention towards the pie chart to my right, you will see that the sliver representing how much you needed to be there to disintegrate a bunch of vermin that weren’t even going to attack Redwall there takes up approximately 100% of the pie. And if you look to the bar graph on my left, you’ll find that the large bar represents how much you shouldn’t have gone to Redwall on a crazy hunch, while the bar that isn’t there represents how much you should have been there.”
“Oh! Oh, right, right, I see what you’re saying,” Superstripe affirmed. A few moments later, he spoke again. “But I still don’t understand what you’re getting at. If not for my unrealistic powers of intellect, I would think that you were insulting the honor of my actions in the hyper-aggressive defense of Mossflower Country!”
“It is at this time,” Cuno said coldly, “that I would like to remind everyone that Superstripe has still refused to identify the source of his unrealistic powers.”
“Oh yeah?” retorted Superstripe indignantly. “Well, at this time I would like to remind you guys that this guy still hasn’t told us what a Cghchemarde is! Seriously, I think we deserve to know the meaning of a word that’s so hard to say!”
Cuno groaned and put his head in his hands. Brownstripe turned to Urtholemew. “Come on,” he pleaded, “help us out here!”
“Meh,” shrugged Urtholemew, “I just can’t bring myself to care about this guy or his actions. His story brings me to a state of disinterest, to a sort of… apathy, if you will.”
Cuno sighed exasperatedly, never lifting his head. “Please tell me that was some kind of weak attempt at sarcasm,” he grumbled.
Brownstripe looked to Cuno with sympathy, and then turned to Superstripe, speaking while pointing a finger at the heavily armed badger. “Look, let’s just forget the issues of your Redwall attack and where you draw your powers from, and focus on the heart of the problem. Superstripe, there’s more to being a leader than ordering attacks, and there’s more to being a warrior than killing. To be a true badgerlord, you can’t run around away from the mountain killing vermin at random the way you have in the past.”
“So,” Superstripe asked perplexedly, “you’re saying I should run around away from the mountain killing vermin at random… differently than I have in the past?”
“Uh, sort of,” Brownstripe began. “I think you’re misinterpreting my statement, though. What I mean is-“
“What he means,” Urtholemew interrupted, “is that there’s trouble at Salamandastron, and that you need to get back there immediately.”
”What?” cried Brownstripe. “That’s not what I meant at all! What I did mean is that –“
But it was too late. “Then it is settled!” proclaimed Superstripe. “I shall return to the Mountain of the Fire Lizard and reclaim it in the name of our royal lineage! And I shall maltreat all vermin miscreants I come across along the way!”
“Yeah,” said Urtholemew indifferently, “you go ahead and do that.”
“Farewell, my ancestors!” Superstripe gleefully cried, ignoring the protests of Brownstripe and Cuno. “I will continue to make you proud! Eulalia!!!” And with that, he returned to the world of the living, leaving behind only sullen quiet.
Finally, a thoroughly exasperated Cuno turned to Urtholemew, and with red eyes began to howl at his fellow ancient baderlord. “What in Hellgates were you thinking?! It’s bad enough that you refused to help Brownstripe and me to convince the fool to change his ways, but to actually encourage him…?”
“Whatever,” Urtholemew replied coldly. “At least I got rid of him. And there *is* trouble at Salamandastron, so it’s not as if I were lying.”
”Yes, but you know exactly how he’ll go about fixing that trouble – and of the sort of things he’ll do along the way!” the mighty lord known as the Cghchemarde continued with vexation. Then Cuno turned away, crossed his powerful arms, and pouted. “I hope you’re happy,” he sniffed.
“I’ve never been happy,” Urtholemew replied dully.
Edwin and Robert Garrison, who had been lying unconscious alongside each other, were woken abruptly by a loud shout from somewhere in the woods. They both shot up immediately – Robert with amazement at being alive, and Edwin with fearful recognition of the sound.
“Get out of here?” Robert Garrison replied inquisitively. “Oh, not at all, Mister Hare. I must thank you for breaking my fall and saving my life! Why, I’ve never in all my life been as thankful for… well, life, as I am now that I almost had it taken away! Maybe I can turn over a new leaf, do some good for the world! Why, I have all the time in the world, for I am alive! Alive, alive, oh gloriously alive –“
Superstripe burst through the woods, severed Robert Garrison’s head from his neck with a quick swipe of his leviathan death blade, grabbed Edwin, and continued his mad scramble.
“Hurry, Edwin!” Superstripe exclaimed madly. “We make for Salamandastron! Euuuuuulaaaaaaliaaaaaaa!!!!”
Redwall, Slagar, and all related properties (C) Brian Jacques and the Redwall Abbey Company. All rights reserved.