Some Laughs And Games About Redwall
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Slagar the Cruel:
Coast to Coast
(And his trusty hare, Edwin)
Chapter Four: "Most Important Chapter Ever"
A figure clad in black strode without a sound through the Southwest fringes of Mossflower woods. The long, slender blade he carried gleamed in the midday sunlight, just as his bright golden eyes glowed with a light of their own. His pointed ears twitching at every suspicious noise, and his eyes wandering through the surroundings in a desperate search for even the slightest clue, this stranger continued his hunt. This mysterious traveler was named Emnoch, and he was a fox – but no ordinary vermin was he. His past was dark, yet his heart was true, and Emnoch sought only to bring justice to those who had wronged him in the past.
The daunting stranger had suffered his entire family – a kind, noble clan of vulpines – to the javelins of a vicious otter crew. They had claimed to be goodbeasts, but Emnoch had learned firsthand what sort of bigoted, mean-spirited creatures they really were. The pain of his loss still stung the fox deeply, but he would never admit it. He focused his grief and despair upon only one thought – revenge.
Then a squirrel clad in blue popped out of a tree next to Emnoch. “Hey!” he cried.
Emnoch tripped, fell onto his face, and then swore loudly. “Dude, you could have given me a heart attack or something!” he shouted angrily at the squirrel. “What the hellgates is your problem?!”
“Nothin’, really”, the squirrel answered calmly, yet with a certain enthusiasm. He wore a smug expression upon his face that never really seemed to leave. “I just heard you trampin' around out here, and thought I’d check on what you’re up to.”
“Heard me tramping around…?” Emnoch repeated slowly. “I was striding through the forest without a sound!”
“Yeah? Well you were being awfully noisy about it,” the squirrel replied deftly.
The fox growled in frustration. “I tell you, I was NOT tramping around. In fact, I happened to be hunting down the vicious murderers who took the lives of my parents.”
“Oh? It’s a good thing you told me about that when you did, then” the squirrel said without raising his voice. “I was just getting ready to plug you full of arrows while you were down and distracted.”
Emnoch looked at the smaller creature incredulously for half a moment, then leapt nimbly to his feet. “You thought I was a foebeast?” he hissed. “But why?”
The squirrel rolled his eyes. “Well, a large part of it has to do with the fact that you’re an armed vermin.”
“And just because I’m a fox, it means I’m some kind of rabid soldier of darkness?” Emnoch sniffed. “You wound me with your accusations! That’s profiling, I’ll have you know.”
“Maybe so,” the squirrel answered. “But considering that vermin regularly pillage and maim in this area… heck, let’s be honest, in any area, I’d argue that it’s pretty much justified.”
“Bah! I am a good vermin!” cried Emnoch. “What you described is merely a stereotype! In fact, I personally embody the ability that ‘vermin’ have to arbitrarily differ completely from the rest of their species.” He waited a moment for some sort of retort, and when only a blank stare came, he continued speaking. “So anyways, I am a wandering warrior seeking vengeance on my family’s murderers. My name is Emnoch Greyleaf, but I have become known to friend and foe alike simply as… The Hunter.”
“Hey, nice to meet you, Emnoch,” the squirrel replied. “I’m Squirrel.”
Emnoch raised an eyebrow. “That’s it? Just Squirrel?” he asked.
“My name is a perfectly normal…” the fox trailed off. “Wait, where are we going with this? Why are we having this conversation?”
“I dunno, but you started it, pal,” Squirrel answered. “So are you gonna want me to help you gather information for your quest, or what?”
Emnoch shrugged. “Eh, why not.”
Not so far away, another pair journeyed slowly and cautiously through the expansive wilderness that is Mossflower Woods. One, a hare, worked hard to keep up with his companion, a massive badger, who made his way through the rough terrain briskly and with grim resolve. They had a mission to accomplish, and nothing would stand in the way of their seeing it through.
“Wait up, sah!” the hare cried breathlessly.
“Never!” answered his master. “We can’t slow down! Remember, we have a mission to accomplish! And nothing will stand in the way of our seeing it through!”
It is important to note that this duo was not Superstripe the Unrealistic and his trusty hare, Edwin. This badger and hare were completely different creatures. The two parties never met, and to be perfectly frank, this particular group’s actions never amounted to much of anything in the broad scope of things.
A slingstone streaked right past Emnoch’s head, prompting a tiny shriek from the fox.
“Whoops! Might wanna watch your head there, Emnoch,” Squirrel said in a voice that indicated little sympathy. “You gotta understand, I’m not the only tree-dweller around here. Don’t worry, Emnoch, I’ll try to talk you up to ‘em.”
Squirrel turned and shouted to the tree that had issued the deadly pebble. “Ease up, fellahs! This guy is with me!”
Several more slingstones immediately flew towards Squirrel and Emnoch from the branches of several of the surrounding trees, one nicking Squirrel upon his right ear. “Whoah!” he remarked, looking upwards. “What, are you guys cranky or something?”
“Shove an acorn in it, Squirrel!” came the reply from one of the other squirrels who lurked just above in the treetops. It was Ordun, who was generally considered to be a leader amongst the creatures of the area. “We of the trees are ever at war with the dangerous vermin who would threaten peace. The fox who follows in your wake is clearly an assassin or soldier of some type who would bring harm and death to us and our allies! (Plus, I think you’re a total jerk.)”
Squirrel raised an eyebrow. “This is because I dated your sister, isn’t it?”
“But I am a good vermin!” Emnoch cried. “I may be a fox, but underneath my biologically determined evil exterior lies a pure intellect, and a heart devoted to what is just! I would never hope to bring war to your homes!”
“Oh?” asked Ordun, poking out from his vantage point. “Then what’s that pointy thing you’re carrying?”
Emnoch raised his thin, curved blade – forged from some strange red alloy, and laced with obsidian and emeralds. “This is my katana,” he replied. “It is called the Tongue of Thanos, and has slain many – but only in my gritty quest for justice.”
Ordun cocked his head. “What’s a katana?” he asked quizzically.
Emnoch laughed. “Oh, it’s a type of sword that originated in Ja… er, that’s not important. What’s important is that I am a creature of valor.”
“And how did you get that way, fox?” growled Ordun. “You admitted yourself that your kind is naturally inclined towards wrongdoing.”
“You wish to know the tale behind my commitment towards exacting righteous vengeance, instead of simply murdering and thieving?” Emnoch coolly and softly replied. “You really want to know of the tragic and intriguing story that is the origin story of… the Hunter? Very well then, but listen closely, for few have heard this tale – and none might hear it again! It all began one night, as -
“Actually, never mind, you can go,” said Ordun, whose patience was clearly worn out. “Just… just go. And take Squirrel with you.”
Emnoch raised a paw indignantly as if he were about to fire a retort, but remained silent and walked away from the area.
As Squirrel followed, he called to Ordun. “Hey buddy, I’m real sorry about all this. Y’know, we should really get together somewhere after I finish helpin’ out Emnoch here, to clear up all this animosity between us. Is your sister’s place okay?”
Yet again, Emnoch and Squirrel successfully dodged the barrage of slingstones hurled towards them.
That crazy duo from our last adventure had run into quite a jam by this point!
“Had” being the operative word.
Because they were dead.
Indeed, two of the vermin Superstripe the Unrealistic had tossed into the air earlier has burned into cinders upon re-entering the planet’s atmosphere.
“So where are you taking me, anyways?” Emnoch asked Squirrel. “Couldn’t you have tried to convince your kinsmen back there to divulge some information pertaining to the whereabouts of my adversaries?”
“Uh, not sure if you noticed, Emnoch, but they weren’t particularly keen to either of us,” Squirrel answered. “Which isn’t to say I’m anything but ever-popular. I just don’t usually hang out with that crowd. I spend a lot of my time looking after a shrew named Daggle who lives around these parts… and as a matter of fact, that’s also who I’m takin’ you to see.”
“And this… shrew you look after,” Emnoch replied slowly. “He might help I… the Hunter… to exact gloriously righteous yet deliciously ‘on-the-edge’ violence upon those who murdered my family?”
“Yeah, he knows all about pretty much everyone who traverses the River Moss around these parts,” answered Squirrel. He quickly added, “I should probably warn you, though, he had kind of an… ah… condition. He’s sorta sensitive about it, too, so you might not wanna reference…” he chuckled, then continued. “Ah, who am I kidding, don’t worry about it. You’ll like this guy, Emnoch; he’s a real crack-up.”
Emnoch shrugged off the ambiguous and apparently revoked warning Squirrel had issued, and continued his jaunt. Shortly afterwards, he found himself careening head-first over a trip cord, before getting scooped into the air by a net weaved out of some sort of vines.
“Nice work, Daggle,” Squirrel commended, clapping his hands. “You actually got one of those makeshift traps to work. Not sure if it was called for in this instance, though.”
“Not called for?” came a gruff voice from the bushes. The speaker rolled slowly into view upon a makeshift wheeled chair. Emnoch gaped at the state of his captor: a shrew not only missing both legs, but also with two hooks in the place of his hands and a patch over an apparently empty eye socket. “Ye dare insult me judgment and capture of this one, Squirrel? I may be lame… and lacking in hands… and without me left eye... but I ain’t blind, ye hear me? That there is a dangerous, evil-looking, blade-wielding vermin caught up in my trap!”
“Nah, he’s pretty much harmless,” Squirrel replied. “Cut ‘im loose. And shake a leg,” (this prompted a glare from Daggle) ‘we’re kinda in a hurry.”
Emnoch sighed exasperatedly. “For the last time,” he cried, forcing himself upright in his net, “I am a good vermin, who only thinks of righteous justice and stuff like that!” The vines trapping Emnoch began to uncoil and snap as he struggled, causing him to break loose, plummeting several feet towards the ground.
“Yarr, looks like me trap wasn’t put together correclty after all,” Daggle said somewhat apologetically. “Though ye can’t really blame me fer that. With the hook-hands, and all. Ye were saying something about yer righteousness vigor, I reckon?”
Emnoch shook his head in disgust. “Well, I’ve had to explain myself to everyone else today, so why not? I am a good fox named Emnoch Greyleaf but better known as… the Hunter, and I am out to slay the dreaded Bluerudder otter crew that slaughtered my family.” A tear rolled down his cheek. “Alas! The lives of my mother, my father, my uncle… I still don’t know if my poor, young brother Brushslay made it out of the area alive…”
“Aww, isn’t that the saddest thing you ever heard?” Squirrel said, perhaps mockingly. “Now why don’t you put your best foot forward” (another glare came from Daggle) “and lend a helping hand” (Daggle clenched his teeth and raised a hook menacingly) “to this guy? I’d kind of like to get him outta my fur.”
“Mayhaps I shall lend my services after all!” answered the shrew. “I spotted the Bluerudder crew heading up the River Moss not two days ago! If ye are willing to make great enough haste, we might reach them before sunset!”
Emnoch nodded his head. “Very well, Daggle. Let us proceed, that I might crush these fools under my terrible yet positively oriented boots!”
“Good luck with findin’ the culprits there, guys!” Squirrel said warmly. “Break a leg out there, Daggle!”
An angry roar tore out of Daggle’s throat as he launched from his chair towards Squirrel – falling several feet short. “I’ll, uh… I’ll let you guys go," Squirrel slowly remarked.
Emnoch gracefully dodged the javelin of Bluerudder crew’s Skipper before knocking it from his paws, leaving the otter defenseless and at the fox’s mercy. “It all comes down to this, then”, Emnoch uttered grimly. “Finally, you have been tracked down by… the Hunter. Who is me. Now I shall kill you all as you lie unarmed, just as you all hunted down and killed my poor defenseless family!”
“Poor defenseless family…?” the skipper repeated. “Look, fox, we never hunt down much of anyone. Leastways nobeast who hasn’t harmed us first.”
“Arr, aint’cha the Bluerudder otter crew?” asked Daggle. “This fox was tellin’ me all about how yer all heartless killing machines the whole way here! Yargh!”
“Hmm… well, we were forced to fight off and kill a few thieving foxes a week or two ago,” the skipper pondered aloud, still lying before Emnoch’s blade. “But only because they were tryin’ to rob us at knifepoint!”
“Bah!” Emnoch cried. “My family was a noble brood, not a common den of thieves! We were only forced to borrow from others by force because my father’s back condition restricted his career options!”
Daggle and the Skipper only stared at Emnoch, puzzled. “Well, anyways,” the fox continued uneasily, “that wouldn’t have explained why you attacked me!”
“You were coming at us with a sword, mate!” Skipper replied. “Plus, you’re a… you know… you are a vermin…”
This was the last straw. Emnoch howled with rage, tore his dark cloak apart at the collar, and ripped Daggle’s eye patch clear off his face, only to place it on his own. “Hey, that be my best patch, knave!” Daggle cried. “Me only patch, too! How dare ye steal what don’t belong to ye! I thought ye were good, Emnoch!”
“Emnoch?” the fox answered in a tone of pure insanity. “No longer, messmate! I give up! From now on my name is ‘Fangtooth’, and all I do is generically evil things! Do you hear me? I AM A TYPICAL EVIL VERMIN!”
At once, a vibration was felt in the earth beneath the three creatures. Enormous ripples rapidly began to form in the nearby river. “Wh-what’s happening?” Emnoch asked, as the quake beneath his feet grew exponentially beneath his feet.
Finally, Superstripe the Unrealistic – and Edwin, his trusty hare, who was hanging upon his master’s shoulders for dear life – burst into view. “Die, run-of-the-mill evil vermin!” cried the badger, just as he vaporized the fox with a flurry of tiny energy spheres. Then, as quickly as he had arrived, he disappeared over the horizon.
“Well, that was fun!” the badger remarked. “Now let’s continue our trek to Salamandastron! EULALIAAA!!!”
Redwall, Slagar, and all related properties (C) Brian Jacques and the Redwall Abbey Company. All rights reserved.