Cluny's main front is on the ditch acroos the road from the Abbey. Good for him, because he's out of range of anything that the Redwallers could launch at him. Bad for him because rats suck at bowmaking. Meanwhile the front lines are getting annoyed (yes, annoyed) by arrows from the wall. He gets the slingers to throw up some cover fire while another group rushes the wall with ladders and grappling hooks. Unfortunately, the Redwallers have a large pile of rubble that they use to knock all the climbers off.
Seeing that his troops just got pwned off of the walls, he sees a remaining grappling hook and tries to clim it and get into Redwall himself. With no backup.
- There was no better general than Cluny when it came to strategy.
I knew that would come in handy.
Cluny's a good distance up the wall when the only beaver at the Abbey (and in the rest of the books, for that matter) chews through the rope and knocks him on his ass. He calls a swift retreat, and since he's nothing if not a bad sport, he lets them celebrate, only to launch a final volley as they stand up.
Speaking of biting through ropes, Ragear has awakened and is now escaping Matthias. He plans to join the battle again and maybe distinguish himself a bit so Cluny won't be too mad.
Of course, this is where things go horribly, horribly wrong.
I'll let the scene speak for itself, yeah?
Back to less scary things: Cluny's making a new plan; Redtooth dresses as Cluny and continues attacking the Main gate, while Cluny and another group goes around to the forest side to find a close-enough tree that they can climb it to get over the walls. He sends a scouting party out to find the right tree, and Cheesethief and a ferret named Killconey come back with news of Ragear's encounter with... the thing. I also want to note Killconey's accent.
- “Do ye not know? ’Tis the dreaded name of the divvil himself, sir,” wailed the ferret. “I know because me ould mother told me so, and she always said never to look a serpent in the eye.”
Mentions of Hell et. al: 11.5 (I'm not sure why I started doing this. I think it had something to do with xkcd
A weasel named Scragg comes up with news that's actually helpful to Cluny; there's a conveniently placed tree near the wall that's conveniently tall enough that they can use a conveniently-sized plank to bridge the gap between it and the wall. And then they start climbing.
When we last left Matthias, he walked right into the middle of some sentries while rescuing the vole family. Colin and his mother get grabbed, and Mattie tells Abram to run away; he's just a Commoner, after all. Matthias happens upon a branch that he uses as an improvised weapon, swinging it around and calling for Basil to see if he's still around. And Basil does not disappoint.
- He came bounding up, for all the world as if he were on a Sunday School picnic, grinning from ear to ear.
In my head, he was skipping his way over and had a bunch of flowers in his ears to boot. Where was he, by the way?
- “Sorry about that, Matthias, my old lad. When these chaps gave up chasing me, I scooted back to my den. Spring cleaning, y’know. A bit late, but I’m only a bachelor in single quarters, what!”
This starts a round of banter between them as they fight off the rats together. It's done rather well; I still chuckle at it today, especially at the invitation to the (very bemused) Voles to afternoon tea, the fact that Basil's table can only seat 4. Also, the "I am 12" running gag continues with this line.
- “Why, of course you will, Mr. Hare. What a bore you must think me. I’ll probably sit around on the common here and teach the rats to make daisy chains.”
Because I hope to Raptor Jesus that in 1989 England, "daisy chain" didn't have its urbandictionary meaning yet
. Actually, I hope it did. Because that would make Jacques even more awesome.
They part ways, Basil taking the Voles into hiding until the battle is over, while Matthias heads straight to Redwall to join in said battle however he can.
Except he gets lost. And then sidetracked by his stomach and goes foraging. And then "the itis" sets in, and he falls asleep. Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!
Meanwhile, Cluny and his squad are up a tree, waiting for the evening when they can cross over to the wall under cover. And before I continue, I have to bring up something weird that keeps bugging me.
- Some of the rats were really hopeless climbers in Cluny’s estimation.... as for that idiot Cheesethief, imagine waiting until you were six yards above ground to find out that you were afraid and had no head for heights.
What is the scale like in this world, to be completely honest? A 2-pound fish can feed everyone in the Abbey (plus whoever they invited in from the forest) with Leftovers. And yet it was all cooked at once in an oven; How high off the ground is 6 yards? Is it 6 yards as the average rat would see it (So, 4-5 times their own height), or 6 actual human yards (40-50 times their height)? And don't get me started on the sizes of the creatures themselves. I guess it's best not thought about and move on.
Cluny bemoans the fact that he doesn't have enough mustelids in his horde. As for the plank plan, they're high enough to reach the wall from the tree, but the plank would slope upwards. The new plan is to wait till nightfall and then catch the Redwallers off-guard. He unofficially puts Scragg in charge of a squadron, and the weasel responds with the exact idea that Cluny had a moment ago about the plank situation. Seeing that Scragg is marginally intelligent, Cluny hints that a captain spot might open up soon. Cheesethief somehow hears this despite being on a lower branch and Cluny being right next to Scragg whispering. Meh. He starts plotting against Scragg.
Meanwhile, Mortimer and Constance have their Shipping Goggles on as Cornflower goes about feeding the troops. They also talk about the Missing Matthias.
- “I’m certain that he is helping our cause, so we’ll just have to await his return and trust to Matthias’s judgment and good sense.”
- Gathering a bunch of tender leaves and buds, [Matthias] made his way back to the sun-warmed sandstone and stretched out on his back, nibbling dandelions and gazing up at the cloudless blue June sky through the treetops.
Anyway, Foremole and Winnifred the Otter launch a boulder with a children's seesaw, and the world is very lucky that e-books have no physical presence, and thus cannot be thrown.
In other news, the rats have a new weapon in their arsenal.
- Some inventive rat had devised a fearsome weapon: chunks of iron grave-railings from the churchyard, strung to lengths of cord.... The missiles sped upwards, two or three times higher than the wall... then they would plummet downwards... to burst on the ramparts. Any defender struck by a missile was either instantly killed or horribly maimed. Even if the iron missed its target, the stones and shattered metal fragments ricocheted about dangerously.
That's pretty much a bomb without the explosion. Luckily, if they're aimed wrong, they could come back down on the rats, so it's pretty even, I guess.
Inside the Abbey, Methuselah is looking at the space where Martin used to be, wondering where Martin's grave would be, thinking about how long he's searched for it. He's about to move off, when he stumbles a bit (My headcanon is that Martin's ghost tripped him), and when he puts his hand to the wall, it finds writing carved into the stone, directly behind the place where Martin's portrait was.