Mortimer and Constance, walk through the grounds in contemplative silence, considering the safety of Redwall. Jacques devotes a paragraph to talking about the kinds of stuff they grow at Redwall. Boring. Mortimer mentions how Deus Ex Machina has saved Redwall in the past, but Constance remains cynical about the whole thing. Oh, come on, don't you know what kind of world you live in? Oh wait, this is pre- continuity drift. Carry on.
Meanwhile, Matthias is eating a breakfast of nutbread, apples and goatsmilk. We never hear of goats again. Cornflower's still asleep. That either means she's asleep in Cavern Hole, or Matthias brought his breakfast to Cornflower. Otherwise there's no real reason to mention that she's around sleeping. Jacques even notes that this was a early breakfast, meaning that most everyone is asleep anyway. He spends even more time considering what it means to be the hero, when Methuselah ninjas his way there.
- “Eat heartily, Matthias. No point in facing trouble on an empty stomach. Feed the body, nourish the mind.”
I have to give Matthias props here; he knows that the borderline-senile always give good advice, and seeks Methuselah's counsel. Methy notes that fighting is the only sensible thing to do if Cluny makes his way to Redwall.
- “It is written in the great chronicle of Redwall that Martin was very young to be such a warrior. He could have been the same age as yourself, Matthias. Like you, he was impulsive and had a great quality of youthful innocence about him when he first came to our Abbey.”
There's a grating historical inaccuracy here, which will be obvious once we get to "Mossflower".
- “Why do you tell all this to me, Brother Methuselah?”
- “Because, Matthias … because he was very like you!”
- Before the young mouse could question the old one further, the Joseph Bell tolled out a warning.
- Sandals flapping,
- Matthias dashed out into the grounds, nearly colliding with the Abbot and Constance, who, like everyone else, were heading for the gatehouse.
What's the issue? Apparently, Brothers Rufus and George had a run-in with one of Cluny's rats, who pretended he was injured to try to get in, later on requesting aid to his buddies trapped underneath a cart. Being not born yesterday, Rufus and George ask how many he was traveling with.
- “Oh, a couple of hundred,” came the glib reply.
Rats are stupid.
Showing intelligence not usually available to NP Cs
, they wondered if all two-hundred were trapped in this cart. The rat changes the subject and asks to come in for food. He almost gets let in, but when they ask for him to surrender his weapon, he goes for the sneak attack only for Rufus to prove himself among the most badass NP Cs
ever written. Then, seeing as he's up against two competent mouse fighters (they're fighters? I guess they teach you the quarterstaff once you become a mouse of Redwall o_O/), he curses them out, announces that he has a whole army waiting, and says he's going to get Cluny. This can only end well.
Naturally, Mrs. Churchmouse, the only old married woman worth noting, begins to cry, because he house has been taken over by rats. Her husband says that at least they're safe at Redwall, and Matthias questions the safety of everyone else living in the woods. Ambrose Spike is sent out out to go warn everyone.
- "Spike’ll come to no harm. Once he curls up, there’s nothing can touch him.”
Constance just Jinxed it, didn't she >:|
Mortimer tells everyone to head inside, but Matthias suggests to put a guard on the walls. Sister Clemence, old church lady that she is, tells Matthias to respect his elders, but Mortimer shows common sense, noting that "none of us too old to learn,” and goes with Matthias' plan.
Anyway, John Churchmouse rings the bell to tell everyone to come in to Redwall (so why bother send out Ambrose then?) Brother Methuselah, who apparently only got his 17th level of monk late in life, translates for everyone that enters the Abbey who doesn't speak... Common, I guess? Meanwhile, Matthias and a few others are on Guard Duty.
- Despite the heat, Matthias had ordered all the mice to put on their hoods. It served a double purpose, to shield their eyes from the sun and create a camouflage effect.
- The first mice had built the Abbey of red sandstone....
- dark greeny-brown of the order....
- lighter green of a novice....
- camouflage effect.
No, sorry. Try again.
Constance notes that the birds have stopped singing. No grasshoppers or anything. And the Joseph Bell rings out.
- John Churchmouse shouted from his position high in the belfry, “They’re coming, down the road! I can see them. I can see them!”
Pose as a team, because... This
Cluny's army is here. Fangburn, the rat who Rufus and George encountered, tries to lighten the chief's modd, but gets called out for the idiot he is for loseing them the element of surprise. So now they need a show of force.
- His long ragged black cloak was made of batwings, fastened at the throat with a mole skull. The immense war helmet he wore had the plumes of a blackbird and the horns of a stag beetle adorning it. From beneath the slanted visor his one eye glared viciously out at the Abbey before him.
Every evil warlord needs his Badass Armor.
Redtooth acts as Cluny's mouthpiece again, asking for a parley. Redtooth and Cluny get selected to enter, provided they drop their weapons and Cluny tie his tail around his middle. Also, Cluny has a poison spike on the end of his tail, just because it's awesome. Redtooth shows concern about the badger.
- Cluny answered quietly out of the side of his mouth, “Don’t worry, I’ve been watching her. A real big country bumpkin."
After they enter, Matthias says they don't need too many guards, but the Redwall mice don't listen, so Cluny has to scare them off.
They head to Cavern Hole to have their chat, and Cluny misunderstands Matthias' protagonist power.
- Cluny could sense hostility emanating from the young mouse who flip-flopped behind him in overlarge sandals.
- Strange for one so young to be counted as a captain, he thought.
- He allowed himself a peek at the future. One day this would be called Cluny’s Castle. He liked the sound of that. Secure from attack, living off the fat of the land, in his mind’s eye he saw it all: those mice and the woodland creatures enslaved, living just to serve him. He would hold sway as far as the eye could see; power; an end to his rovings; a dream come true; King Cluny!
Cornflower comes in with Drinks, and Matthias shoos her off.
- Redtooth nudged Cluny. “Cornflower, eh. Satan’s nose, she’s a pretty little one for you!”
Mentions of Hell et. al: 7
- Cluny remained silent. He stood insolently watching Cornflower set the table in Cavern Hole. A pretty one indeed!
She's the equivalent of a thirteen-year-old girl. Furthermore, rats and mice are genetically incompatible. That's two kinds of wrong straight off the bat.
Mortimer asks Cluny his business, and Cluny responds tells them to surrender. Matthias rightly tells him to GTFO. Mortimer apologizes about Matthias and then tells them that he's willing to provide food, clothing, and medical attention. Cluny interrupts and tells Redtooth to read them the articles.
- “These are the articles of surrender to be obeyed by all creatures who come under the claw of Cluny the Scourge or any of his commanders.
- One: surrender will be total and unconditional.
- Two: Cluny will execute the leaders of all who choose to oppose him.
- Three: all property conquered will belong solely to Cluny the Scourge. This includes homes, food, crops, land and additionally all creatures dwelling on said property: they shall be owned by Cluny—”
He's interrupted by Matthias' staff destroying the scroll. He goes after Matthias, but Constance smacks him out of midair. Mortimer asks her to let him up, reminding her of the law of hospitality.
Then he gets mad.
- “I will not need until tomorrow, rat. You can have my answer now. How dare you come here with your robber band to read articles of death and slavery to me? I tell you that neither you nor your army will ever set paw or claw inside Redwall, not while I or any of my creatures have breath in our bodies to fight and resist you. That is my solemn word.”
Mortimer, I will love you when Matthias finally gets some proper slippers.
- Cluny sneered and turned on his heel. Followed by Redtooth, he stamped out. On the stairs between Cavern Hole and Great Hall he stopped and turned, his cold voice echoing between both chambers, “Then die, all of you: every male, female, and young one. You have refused my terms. Now you will suffer the punishment of Cluny. You will beg on your knees for death to come swiftly, but I shall make your torment loud and long before you die!”
Constance doesn't like that:
- Exerting the full strength of a female badger, she lifted the massive Cavern Hole dining table. It was a huge solid oaken thing that no dozen mice could even move. Dishes clattered and food spilled as Constance heaved the table above her head. Her voice was a roar.
- “Get out, rats! Leave this Abbey! I’m weary of your voices. Hurry before I break the laws of hospitality and ask the Abbot’s pardon later. Go, while you still have skulls.”
I love you Constance.
On his way out, Cluny notices Martin on the tapestry. and Matthiasgives him a history lesson.
- “This is Martin the Warrior. He founded our Order, and I’ll tell you something else, rat. Martin was the bravest mouse that ever lived. If he were here today he’d just take up his big sword and send you and all your bullies packing. Those of you he didn’t chop up into crow meat.”
I don't even know what to say to this. It's just... ugh. I don't like it. Anyway, Cluny leaves without giving any more problems, noting that Martin the Warrior is the mouse raped attacked him through his nightmares. Constance continues to be awesome by tossing the scroll of articles- filled with rotten food, too- right into Redtooth's face and then disappearing like a shadow.
Late at night, Brother Alf sees something in the bushes. Matthias recognizes it as Ambrose Spike. He got needlessly injured because they sent him out there when they were already rigning the bell to tell everyone that s~~t was about to go down. Constance pulls an Ackbar and says that they should be wary of traps. Matthias gets an idea of how to get Ambrose in.
- Brother Alf watched the little figure flip-flopping off.
Would someone like to count how many times it's been referenced that Matthias' sandals are too big? Because I'm getting tired of reading it.
Anyway, Matthias comes back with... MOLES!!!! They are awesome! With their accents and their common sense and their accents and their diggin rhymes and their accents and... their accents...
- Their leader glanced out at the hedgehog. He scratched some hasty calculations on the wall with his claw.
- “Oi I think we can get yon ’edgepig back, sur. You’m get us outen the gate and stan’ watch.”
- Turning to his team, the Foremole (for that was his official title) began discussing tunnel width, coupled with reverse prickle drag, forward traction and all the other specialist details that are routine to the average qualified tunnel-mole.
MOLES DO MATH!!!
They stand guard outside the gate while one mole goes under to see about the soil.
- “Harr, he’m be noice an’ soft, sur. Baint no rock nor root to stop us’ns, straight furrer we’m a-thinking.”
- “Oi’ll dig ahead, you’m woiden workin’s. Gaffer and Marge, foller up a-shorin.” He tugged his snout respectfully to Matthias and Constance. “You’m gennelbeast bide by ’ere ’til us back.”
I am twelve again, and not in the perverted way.
- They watched the ground humping...
Okay, now I'm twelve again in the perverted way. The moles come up right under Ambrose and drag him in through the underground. Matthias tries to help, but Foremole brushes him off.
- “Nay, nay, you uns on’y get yer paws durted.”
Ambrose is brought to the infirmary and attended by Mortimer.
- A hasty diagnosis revealed that the hedgehog was suffering from a long jagged wound that ran from the back of his ear to the tip of his paw.
... "Diagnosis?" In this context, that seems like too much. But still... ouch.
- “D’you think he’ll live, Father Abbot?”
- The Abbot chuckled quietly. He cleaned the long ugly wound and applied a poultice of herbs.
- “No cause for alarm, Brother Alf. Ambrose Spike is made of leather and needles. Tough as a boulder, this old ruffian is. Look, he’s beginning to come around already.”
He does, and the first thing he asks for? Liquor. Can't blame him. Anyway, he recounts his tale:
- “It must have been near noon when I stopped at Vole Bank. I told the Voles the bad news, and blow me if that little ninny Colin Vole didn’t go to shrieking and screaming all over the place as to how they’d all be murdered in their beds."
That's why I said I didn't like Colin. His screams alert some foraging rats, and they take Colin and his family captive, stab Ambrose with a churchyard spike railing... thing... and leave him to die because he's too spiky to eat.
- "Er, is there any more left in that jug? This wound’s giving me jip. I need ale for medicinal purposes, Father Abbot.”
Once again. Can't blame him.
Matthias is about to mount a rescue mission, but the Abbot reads his mind and straigh-up say "no." Once again, Matti sees that they're right and he was being stupid. But he still feels bad because he can't do anything about Colin. He can't sleep that night, so wanders off to talk to Martin.
- “Oh Martin, what would you have done in my place? I know that I’m only a young mouse, a novice, not even a proper Redwall member yet, but once you were young too. I know what you would have done. You’d have buckled on your armor, picked up your mighty sword, gone down to that church and battled with the rats until they released the Voles or perished beneath your blade. But alas, those days are gone. I have no magic sword to aid me, only the advice of my elders and betters, to which I must listen.”
Wow. I never remembered Matthias being so... balanced. Most of the other main characters throughout the books are all bravery and badass, but he shows wisdom and humility at the same time.
- Looking back down to himself in his baggy green robes and oversized sandals,
- Matthias felt hot tears of shame and frustration spilling from his eyes and dripping on his young whiskers. Unable to stop himself, he wept freely. The soft touch of a gentle paw on his back caused him to look around. It was Cornflower.
Oh, balls. Luckily, Cornflower isn't there to laugh, but to give him a pep talk that I just have to quote.
- “Matthias, don’t be ashamed, I know why you cry and grieve. It is because you are kind and good, not a hard-hearted pitiless rat like Cluny. Please listen to me. Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep. It shows they have a great heart, one that can feel compassion for others. You are brave, Matthias. Already you have done great things for one so young. I am only a simple country-bred fieldmouse, but even I can see the courage and leadership in you. A burning brand shows the way, and each day your flame grows brighter. There is none like you, Matthias. You have the sign of greatness upon you. One day Redwall and all the land will be indebted to you. Matthias, you are a true Warrior.”
Then, she takes off her headband- Yellow, with blue cornflowers on it- and ties it about his arm.