SONIC THE HEDGEHOG; OTHER WORLDS
I'd like to thank the producers of the Back to the Future series, which gave me many of my ideas for what is what I believe to be one of my longest and greatest fanfic series, as well as Susan Cooper and her series "The Dark is Rising", the wonderful writer of the book "Bone", which gave me some of the ideas for Sonic's amnesia.
If you seek to open the Gate-
The Key you seek is shadowed fate. -
In the secrets that lie beneath the ground. -
Is where the wisdom required is found. -
To find the third force of power, -
First you must seek the sacred flower. -
When the three gather all in one place. -
Then you shall see the sacred one's face. -
On to the realm through the gates you pass. -
Before you will stand a magnificent mass. -
Three stone structures with names familiar to you. -
The names of the goddesses, Din... Farore... and Nayru.
When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back;
Three from the circle, three from the track;
Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone;
Five will return, and one go alone;
Iron for the birthday, bronze carried long;
Wood from the burning, stone out of song
Fire in the candle-ring, water from the thaw
Six signs the circle, and the grail gone before
Fire on the mountain shall fine the harp of gold;
Played to wake the sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.
The signs appear
There's nothing but fear
Trouble is brewing
You'll find it right here
Be you strong or weak,
Big or Small,
You will always be welcome,
To the place they call Redwall!
Bookshire, ten years later;
Now the tale is over, the nightmare is starting.
A horrible evil is creeping over the land, and our two Chosen Ones aren't here to help us.
Tails has been sending out for help from Neo-Mobotropolis, but the Rob-Cha is coming up, so they are sending troupes, but their weapons will be quite useless, except for the corsairs.
I shudder at the thought of what could be happening in the south islands. Geoffrey St. John has sent a large armada of ships, but no one knows if the will come on time.
Finally, I wish to include one last thing before I believe the dark comes for us.
Somehow, Sonic, if you find this, follow the instructions…"
Bookshire wrote furiously, finishing a writing that would help Sonic a few years later…
Sonic, Knuckles, Rose, Cobalt and Fist entered the chamber that seemed to be the very middle of the temple.
At the middle of the room a huge pillar stood, glistening with malevolent energy.
It was pulsing with veins of black and blue and green energy. Standing next to, computing on the screen, stood six figures.
The first two seemed to be the same, with the same moustache, but their clothes were different colors. The next one was a young looking hedgehog with a still growing beard.
The other figure was hidden in a black mask. The vision of the other two send Sonic gaping for breath.
For standing there, like the center of a monstrous core of energy, were Nephew and uncle Snively and Dr. Ivo Robotnik.
Robotnik hadn't changed since the day Sonic remembered seeing him falling from a cliff, reaching to grab the jagged rock and crannies. His metallic arm still was there, since the day Sonic had pulled through the roboticizer. Snively had not changed much, only that his gaze had become more menacing, as if he had somehow become more dangerous.
Robotnik spoke in a grave, metallic voice.
-" It's the hedgehog… Long time no see, Sonic…"
-" You… How did you?"
-" As you can see, nothing much happened to me… I was saved by someone you ought to know, my young enemy…"
The dark looming figure stepped aside to let enter the hooded character.
He pulled the mask away.
It was Chronos.
The young ape had greatly changed since the last time Sonic had seen him, grasping for air.
His mad red eyes had been partly replaced by metallic limbs.
They twitched towards Sonic. He had but three fingers left on his right arm, the rest being replaced by metal claws that could rip and tear. He focused his glare on all of them, his voice filled with loathe.
-" Hello, Sonie…"
Sonic stared at his old enemy, like a nightmare come to life. But that was what he was.
-" You… saved him from falling?"
-" I had been following his fight against you for a long time. I don't think anyone gets any stronger that him;"
-" He… Killed a lot of people, Chronos."
-" And soon you shall be one of them, for you deserve to die, for letting me to die in the dark pit."
-" YOU deserved it, Chronos. You tried to use me. You made me lose my memory."
-" You were nothing but a machine! You are nothing but a machine!"
-" I suggest we stop this fight, Chronos. We have other things to deal with." Robotniks's voice was final.
-" Your right. Sonic, I don't have time to deal with you. We have something else to deal with.
You see, we are preparing to conquer Mobius, and on this day, the tenth Rob-Cha, we will fulfill this destiny. And you are in the way."
-" That's right, Chronos. I can't let you power the doomsday again."
-" I am afraid you can't do that. Oh, but how shameful of me, not presenting the team. These are Youda and Haizou, my two counselors, and the other one is Grimtooth, my private advisor. Know that this is done, I should think we should go on with the launch, don't you think , Chronos?"
-" But we have to first destroy them…"
-" Of course, lets…"
Robotnik clapped his hands, and three fiersome-looking monsters stepped out, A Venusaur, a Dragonite and a Dragonette.
It turned out the Dragonette had been Chronos' pet, Steelglide.
They all reared and circled dangerously. Sonic didn't have a monster ball with him, and he never had collected any monster. He just had his wits.
He started collecting his energy, preparing to use his firestorm spell. He lifted a finger to the sky, and pointed another to the group of monsters.
A huge blazing wave of fire seemed to spurt from the sky and direct its beam towards the monsters. The Dragonette and the Venusaur were both hit, but the Dragonite was swifter. Soaring high to the dizzying peak of the room, he suddenly turned earthward and was suddenly rearing towards Sonic.
Sonic darted away from reach, but with inhumane speed, the Dragonite started to follow him through the dark winding passageways…
While this, Fist had started advancing towards the characters. But Robotnik had other things in store. Three other monsters attacked from a cave hidden in the back, three vicious Charizards. They reared on Fist and his companions.
Rose and Cobalt quickly unsheathed there swords, in the en guard pose.
They circled the monsters as Fist reared at the back, producing three monster balls.
Rose slashed her sword in an arc, aiming for the first Charizard.
It nimbly side-stepped and aimed a swing of its tail towards her head. Ducking quickly, she counter attacked with a quick jump as she hacked at the unprotected stomach.
Cobalt was wrestling hand to hand with the other two monsters as one of them gnawed at his sword. He was forced to punch and kick how way through the hustle. Grasping the moment when the Charizard let go of his sword. Using the moment of surprise, he kicked the first one in the jaw and sent his blade connecting in the foot paw of the other monster.
Even though monsters don't bleed, they can take damage, and this one fainted.
Fist captured two as Rose was still wrestling with the other.
She trapped his back under her foot, and using her sword, she sent it straight into the creatures gaping maw. It quickly was captured into Fist's monsters ball.
Robotnik was furious. He and his crew quickly ducked into a dissimulated passage, running away from their enemies.
The Neo-Freedom Fighters followed to start the liberation of the South Islands.
Cecilia proceeded to free the prisoners from their cells.
They all cheered and started attacking the Darkbots that had started reanimating.
They fought with anything they could find, chunks of fallen metal, heavy rock, or simply with their fists. Soon the Darkbots were overpowered. A great cheer seemed to rise from the deep corners of the cave.
Cecilia started leading all the inhabitants of the island to the underground areas, because the village wasn't ready yet.
Sonic raced through the corridors, pursued by the maddened Dragonite.
The crazed dragon was slowly gaining on the Freedom Fighter. Sonic had no other resort.
Pulling out a power ring from his bag, he juiced his speed. He seemed to glow golden for a moment, and he was off, leaving the startled Dragonite blinded in a dense cloud of dust.
The creature heard a sound coming from behind it, as Sonic collided with the monster. He had just ran through the whole temple and gotten in the back of the Dragonite!
He pulled out one of Fist's monster balls, and caught the creature. The Neo-Freedom Fighter would like the addition to his collection…
Sonic reached his friends a few minutes later.
-" And you have no idea where Robotnik went?"
-" No, I'm sorry… But I think this was an astounding battle, Sonic!"
–" You go on, I have to settle the score!"
–" Hur, you'm not goin without moi hulp maister Sonic!" A rustic voice exclaimed.
-" You'm don't be a worryin' Sonic, Jeffrey Sent Jon brought his troupes over hurr….
They'm securing then area, but Sally and the others would stay at Knothole to help with the Rob-Cha thingy…."
-" That's fine, Fuffle…"
-" Your not going without me, Sonic!" Said Knuckles
-" You are NOT having all the fun alone!" Fist materialized from nowhere.
-" There has to be at least one sane person in the group. Said Rose
-" You need a thief somewhere in there, Sonic." Cobalt retorted.
-"Then I guess were off…"
Sonic and Co. started searching in the temple's core for about five minutes until Sonic, with his usual speed, found the secret passage.
-" Lets go in, they couldn't have gone far!"
Sonic raced through the corridors with his friends in tow. He thought he could see some kind of eerily red light coming from the end of the long, tortuous tunnel.
Something was going on in his head. Everything had been too easy to deal with. And something had been wrong with the way the Doomsday looked. But enough of that.
He reached the end of the tunnel… And had the shock of his life.
He was in a large cave, with a huge hole in the middle of the top, destined to be used as a launch pad for the huge metallic thing in front of it.
It was the Doomsday.
-" How do you like the Doomsday, Sonic?"
-" But… I just saw the same thing… In the temple…"
-" A mere copy… This is the real thing… And with this, the reign of Robotnik will start again.
You see Sonic, when we allowed you to attack the temple, we knew all this would happen. We just needed something to power the Doomsday. You see, as you were running along the corridors, running away from my Dragonite, the temple itself was absorbing the immense kinetic energy you created. Now, it can fly."
-" Robotnik! You can't expect us to just stay here and do nothing!"
-" I know… This is why we shall arrange a playmate for you… I think Chronos will be more than happy to… Oblige you… HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
Chronos stepped out, armed with a huge scimitar.
-" I was looking forward to this."
-" Now friends, I am sorry, but we must start our conquering."
The Doomsday departed in a massive tidal wave of dust and sparks. The gigantic construction fired a large ray on the soil of the cavern, and the whole island started to roboticize itself.
Sonic quickly charged at Chronos, intent on finishing the ape quickly. But he had kept some of his powers from the old days.
Waving his hands about, a cluster of stars seemed to peel off the sides of the cavern. The started turning into blazing rocks of molten ash and fire, pelting towards Sonic and his companions.
Sonic dived away from the attack, and placing both his feet like pistons, he send Chronos to the floor.
The ape immediately reacted and sent a large number of punches aimed in Sonic's direction. But the Hedgehog was just too quick, and Chronos was infuriated.
Placing his arms in a cross, a huge swirling vortex materialized behind him.
-" This is it, Sonic…. The vortex where you send me… It leads to parallel universes… I don't think you'll ever get out. Only one thing will… If you promise to become one of the Dark Lords of Robotnik, then, and only then can you get out…"
Sonic felt pulled through the swirling hole, filled with colors.
He called to Knuckles.
-" KNUCKLES! GET THEM OUT OF HERE! NEVERMIND CHRONOS! SAVE MOOOOOOOOOOOBIUSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!"
There was a blinding light, and then darkness.
Knuckles and Co. Started running down the tunnel the second Sonic stopped talking and was out of sight.
Knuckles felt nothing when his friend had disappeared from view but a huge sentiment of nothingness. Now who would uphold the fight? He couldn't do everything with two Chosen Ones alone.
As these thoughts assailed him, the suddenly retook consciousness and screamed to his friends.
-" Run through the tunnel! The whole place is going to get roboticized in a few minutes!"
They ran like they had never run before, pushed by the strength of desperation. Racing through the winding corridors of the temple, they could see the whole place had been turned into cold hard metal.
Knuckles concentrated on thinking of a way out. They way they had entered from had been blocked by Bots he could see.
So he continued through a large staircase heading upward. Then he realized his mistake. He couldn't use his gliding techniques, since his friends had to get out too. Then he sighted the gliders. The Neo-Freedom Fighters had left behind some primary looking gliders in a delta shape. Fastening four of them on his friend's backs, he guided them to the peak of the temple, overlooking the island. He ordered them to start gliding towards the entrance to the HQ.
-" It's the only place they won't find! Quickly!"
They glided through the faintly clouded sky, towards the clearing and the opening to the hide out of the Neo-Freedom Fighters…
Robotnik sniggered out loud. He and Snively were poised on the hull of the Doomsday, as they overlooked the spectacle of Mobius being roboticized.
-" This is the last time we shall see that annoying hedgehog, Snively."
-" I don't know, sir. Do you think Chronos will destroy him?"
-" No, simply send him to where he was exiled before reappearing a few years later, where he saved me from falling off that blasted hill. "
-" But he said something about Sonic being able to get out?"
-" Only if he promises me allegiance as one of my Dark Lords. But I seriously doubt our Hero will give in to that. He shall stay stuck in the Other Worlds for the end of his life! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
The maddened laugh echoed through the land as Neo-Mobotropolis and the White Pillar came into view…
Sally raced through the forest, guiding the Freedom Fighters to the new village she and Rotor had been preparing to emigrate to since three weeks. If they were discovered at least they wouldn't find Knothole and the Ring pool… The thought of Sonic sent a shudder running through her spine.
She focused on the scene and the fact that finally the Special Forces sent by Geoffrey St. John had arrived.
She shuddered, and started running at full pace to catch up with the rest of the fleeing villagers…
She saw Dulcy high in the sky, the only thing that had warned them of the imminent approach of the Doomsday.
Something hideous was approaching, which only confirmed the fears she and Bookshire and Amy had all felt, strangely enough.
As the urged the others, she tried to cover there tracks as best as she could.
Bookshire was carrying a large assortment of things, but nothing important had he taken with him.
He had left the manuscript he had destined to the Chosen ones on the log of the ring pool, hoping that someday they would find it.
" So, things are coming full circle" He though…
Soon the future would start writing itself.
The dark-clad figure that was following them shuddered. He hated this part in Mobian history…
But he followed the fleeing beasts, his destiny without doubt.
Sonic would come back, he knew it… All he needed was a good hiding place and patience…
NOTE: From now on, not many things about what is happening on the real Mobius will be divulged. I am still writing a story about that, seem through the eyes of the other Chosen Ones, Tails…
Sonic could feel himself, writhing through the storm… He thought about all those he had left behind… He hoped Knuckles would get out and do something about the future of Mobius… Right now, he had to discover where he was. He opened his eyes.
In front of him was a world of chaos. Dark skies witnessed the horrendous scene. A huge wasteland stood where the beautiful Mobian ocean had anciently stood.
And he thought about the words Chronos had said.
Maybe he was right. This was a parallel universe. So… This must be where I sent Chronos. He must have been overjoyed.
He heard a voice.
-" WELL, WELL SONIC… LOOKS LIKE YOU'VE ARRIVED. I AM CHRONOS. THIS IS THE FIRST OF THE PARALLEL UNIVERSES I HAD TO TRAVERSE TO GET BACK TO OUR WORLD… I THINK YOU WILL FIND IT MOST DISPLEASING."
-" CHRONOS! What have you done to me?"
–" What you did to me a few years back… But never fear… all you have to do is promise allegiance to Robotnik to come back…"
-" We'll see about that… Staying more than three hours in this world will send any good creature senile… I should know…"
-" Chronos! You can stop the madness now!"
-" I don't think so… The madness is just starting… But I must go now… Robotnik had taken over the White Pillaaaaar…"
And with a final gloomy echo, Chronos was gone.
Sonic stood there, stunned. He couldn't see anything around him. Then he spotted his backpack.
Checking it, he found a power ring. He thought he would keep it for later.
Sonic then looked around his surroundings.
He thought he saw some kind of city looming in the distance.
He prepared his legs and was soon racing off to the city he had spotted.
Fang the batthief paused as he was walking down the road.
Something had struck his mind. Some kind of warning.
-" He is coming" He said aloud.
He pulled out a glittering computer chip. It was a small treasure he had been keeping for years, waiting to deliver it…
And finally, the time had arrived, he realized, as a blurring flash of blue lightning seemed to be travelling through the earth.
Sonic ran as fast as he could, burning the road as he went. He had to find some way of finding the way home. He was almost in the city.
Something was calling. The urge to stop there gripped him. He halted his incredible pace a few centimeters from a restaurant, the "Sitting Bull". Shrugging off the name, he entered.
In the tavern, it seemed chaos had here elected a good place to stay. A strange mist was circulating through the construction. Scattered here and there were numerous tables and chairs. The place was crammed full of people, and there seemed to be more coming every second. A black bat was seated at the table behind him, waving a glass at him. Squinting through the almost tangible mist, he spotted something on the table that seemed to be coming from another universe. For there, on the table, was Nicole.
For those who don't know, Nicole was one of the most perfected computers on the face of Mobius. She had served Sally not only as a computer, but as a friend. Indeed, Nicole had been programmed by scientists to be nothing but a machine. But an exposure to the master emerald had transformed her into a talking, thinking machine.
Sonic stared for about a minute, and started heading towards the table.
The bat greeted him.
-" Welcome, friend."
-" Who… Who are you? And… Nicole? Here?"
-" Patience, Sonic… Everything will be revealed to you in due time. But first, you must eat, Chosen Ones."
Sonic realized he was famished. He was served extremely good food there. Ale, sandwiches, and a beautiful cherry tart were broken down in the matter of minutes by the hungry hedgehog.
The bat sat at the table, grinning.
Sonic wiped his mouth on a finely crafted napkin, and asked one question 'Why?'
-"Sonic, since a long time I have been awaiting you arrival."
-"But how did you know I was destined to arrive?"
-"Not such a long time ago, an old bird came up to me and said 'You are the Contact of the Chosen One in this world. Deliver him this.' Then he gave me a key and a poem by which to know you by."
Sonic unrolled the parchment, revealing an ancient manuscript written in runes. Fortunately, he could read them.
"He will come in the third day of the summer,
A blue lightning embracing the earth
Enemies will gather a cluster
To stop his power's birth"
-"He also gave me this to keep until your arrival"
He handed him Nicole and an oddly shaped key.
Nicole's circuits started buzzing.
-"Nicole… It helps to hear a familiar voice"
-"Now, Sonic, I think you might want to listen now… I don't know if Rose is there, but technically…"
A screen flickered, and Sonic saw Rose's cheerful face smiling at him.
-"Sonic, there is no time to speak right now! I must tell you this now! In every parallel universe, Lazarus has given the key to the portal to a 'contact'! The first one will be bearing Nicole. He is Fang the Batthief. You can trust him. He is to be one of your many companions to come. Sonic, now I have to run…Robotnik has attacked the White Pillar… He won…'
Sonic was grieved by the news, but overjoyed to at least now he could eventually get out of the mess he had gotten into.
' So, Fang… Uhm… What's next?'
'We get to the gate. This is a small replica of Mobius, Sonic, with only one city, Chronis. Soon we shall head for the heavily guarded fortress Chronos, our previous leader, established.'
Sonic finished his food hungrily.
Placing Nicole into his bag, he stood up.
'Let's do this!'
Fang's leather wings unfolded. He was wearing a jacket of fine black leather, as well as a stout walking staff, which he held in his left hand. His fangs glittered in the red sun, glittering overhead.
He and Sonic set off, the Hedgehog flying on the ground, Fang hovering overhead.
In the setting sun, a creepy looking castle stretched slowly into view.
The black clad figure looked into his crystal and saw the scene as it was happening. He still had a long time to wait…
Sonic saw the construction looming over the city as they approached it. He saw a huge two-panel gate, firmly bolted with a huge chain. Fang paused and landed on the red ground, a few meters away from the huge revolving chain.
'This is one of the most powerful magic spells ever to be set in this land'
Sonic pushed against the doors, and was immediately repelled by a huge explosion that engulfed his body, and sent him sprawling in the dust.
Focusing his energy while using his collar, he sent a powerful ray of nega-energy, pushing his will against the door. But to no avail.
Fang sat down in the dust.
'I have been trying for days, trying to break the seal. But nothing worked. I don't know, something incredibly powerful is at work, and we aren't strong enough yet to face it.'
'Wait… that's it!'
'Enemies will gather a cluster to stop his energy's birth! All the enemy forces are gathered here, trying to stop us from succeeding in the first part of the journey!'
'Then what are you suggesting?'
'Let's try another way in!'
They circled the fortress, and sure enough, there was another way in. A small door lay in their path, unguarded.
'Incredible… The old bird must have known all this would happen…'
Sonic merely shrugged. Lazarus had always surprised him, but he could never have expected this. Inwardly, he was starting to wonder who the wizard was really.
But enough of the thinking, he told himself. Fang was already creeping through the doorway, checking for any possible enemies.
He was talking in an astounded, low voice.
'Nothing to report… Incredible… How is this even possible?'
'I don't know… Obviously Lazarus has found some way of predicting the future or something…
I don't know, its all so confusing… A few days ago, I was just taking a small vacation, now I have to save the worlds again. Not only that, but I am also stuck in a maze of parallel universes.'
'Well, at least you're not alone.'
'Your right… At least there is a positive side to everything… Hey, I think I can see a light!'
A small lamp seemed to be the only source of lighting in the room they entered. Nothing much crowded it, except a large table and some old dusty books.
'I wouldn't expect Chronos to be something of a librarian…'
'Well. I don't think there is anything interesting to be found here. I suggest we head out from that doorway over there.'
The door opened with a strange creak.
Sonic stepped carefully out. They were in something that looked like a gigantic courtyard.
At the end of the yard, hugging the north wall, was a seemingly huge arc.
At the base were a set of stairs, leading into the arc.
'Do… you think that's the portal?'
'I don't see anything else… Let's go! I'm sick of this world!'
Sonic started running towards the portal. Just then, a huge ripple seemed to occur in the ground itself. The bricks rippled and bumped eachother unevenly.
Something was swimming through the rock. Something incredibly powerful. Something bent on one thing only, destroying the intruders.
Sonic saw the strange wave just in time.
Leaping clear of the tsunami of rock and rubble, he knocked against the wall.
Then, suddenly, ripping through the bricks and the granite as if they were water, it appeared.
The creature was dog-like, seemingly blue. Towering over Fang and Sonic, it's massive paws shook the ground and created cracks through the solid constructions. The dog seemed to posses some kind of a beak fastened to it's torso, and then they saw it had two heads.
Sonic, recovering from the shock faster than Fang, leaped and gave his friend a mighty heave as the strange beast shot a tentacle at the spot the paralyzed bat had been standing on only seconds ago.
Dodging another blow, he charged at the creature, power ring in hand. The result was electrical. The creature blew up in fireworks of sparks and glittering stones.
Fang stood on the ground, still panting.
'I don't think you want to know! Lets hurry into the gate before they call for reinforcements!'
He lead Fang through the portal and turned the key into a slot previewed for it. Along the slot was drawn some kind of forest.
'This must be where were heading.'
Then he saw the other drawings. Obviously, other holes in the other worlds would keep on going higher on the scale, until they reached the last sign, a glorious planet, Mobius.
Sonic glimpsed the soldiers arriving before the whole scene started changing, like a rippling painting.
Sonic caught one last glance of the charging soldiers before he fainted.
He woke up in a seemingly tranquil garden. A lifeless shape was sprawled in a sprig of tulips. Fang seemed to be sleeping as Sonic opened his eyes.
'Whoa!… Even in Mobius the sun isn't this strong.'
The he looked around him, and discovered an image of paradise.
Birds chirped happily in the flowering trees and the bushes of fertile flowers. Emerald green grass recovered the whole field, like a large emerald. Tulips and roses and columbine stood flourishing in the summer like heat of the sun.
Clouds soared overhead, slowly gliding through the summer sky.
Sonic could see nothing but beauty as far as the eye could see.
Even though he could see no other creature.
He walked up to Fang and carefully tugged his friends' wing.
'Fang…FANG! Wake up…'
'Huh?… What happened?'
'We traveled to the next parallel world it seems.'
'Sorry I wasn't much help in the battle against the Grimthane'
'The Grimthane is one of our greatest legends, recounting the story of a lone warrior that destroyed the evil soul of the mythical beast. He tried to contain he soul by some sort of a fusion spell, but to no avail. His soul lost, and the Grimthane came back, strong as ever. The Grimthane had been one of my greatest nightmares since I was a Dibbun.'
'I didn't know… Could Chronos somehow control people's deepest nightmares?'
'I don't know, but if he could do that, who knows what other dark powers he holds in his paws?'
'I think we might have company Sonic…'
A hooded figure was walking up to them. She was a hare. Dressed in simple garments, a red tunic laced with strange woven signs and writing.
She saluted the pair with the wave of a paw, which was riddled with old battle scars they saw.
'Welcome to Mossflower, newcomers. I think you are new to this land, am I correct?'
'We… We aren't even from this dimension, miss…?'
'Bridgett… Bridgett Longclaw'
'Hello, Bridgett… my name is Sonic the Hedgehog, and this is my friend, Fang the batthief.'
'Welcome… I don't know where you blinkers come from, but you came at the right time, too…'
'What is happening?'
'The spring festival, that's what!'
Fang stood up with a jump.
'HEY! There's a group of mice coming straight for us!'
'Don't you worry, that's the mice from Redwall Abbey!'
'I think you might like them, Sonic. They dedicated their lives to helping others. There's Abbot Mortimer in front, and I think that might be the cellar keeper Duddlum Spike.'
'I think I have heard talk about this abbey…. I thought it was merely an old wives tale…'
'We have been living in this wonderful country a long time ago. About a hundred years ago, the hero of Redwall, Martin, established the abbey. And all the other heroes will be remembered in this long feast: Gonff the mousethief, Grath Longfletch from the holt of Lutra, Basil Stag Hare, Mattimeo, Sunflash the Mace and his hawk Skarlath…'
'When is this feast taking place?'
'It is being prepared right now in the abbey, where I was headed before I found you two.
I suggest you come there, it is always providential to stranded voyagers. And I think your destiny might have something to do with this Abbey.'
'All righty then, we'll come with you. But what of the red and blue clad mouse walking with that shimmering sword?'
'That is Martin, our Champion of Redwall; He was chosen five years ago to fight for the Abbey whenever it is menaced.'
'A great warrior indeed, I can feel it.'
"Lets go to the Abbey, I'm hungry!'
They walked down the path, following the group of mice that was slowly becoming a veritable herd.
Sonic met up with the Abbot and Martin, and soon they were in active conversation.
Sonic learned many things about the country he was in, the long history, the tales and the feeling of destiny in badger lords. The Abbot told him everything he could, the many legends circulating in the land, the founding of Mossflower, Tsarmina, the plots, the mighty saga circulating around the brave mice and badgers that had helped to found the country. Sonic and the abbot had been talking for around three hours, with the help of Martin helping the abbot reminding some of the forgotten details. Sonic realized they were inside the abbey already, in the place called great hall.
Alongside one of the walls lay one of the most beautifully crafted tapestries he had ever seemed. It recounted the whole history of Redwall, as well as offered artistic design to the great hall, giving it a feeling of luxury.
Sonic could not help it but to feel in awe at the accomplishments of the beasts of this country, which equaled if not surpassed the hardships, the Freedom Fighters had gone through.
He was starting to thoroughly enjoy himself. He helped himself to a large helping of deeper n'ever pie the moles had helped to bake. Foremole presented Sonic with some hotroot soup the otters had concocted and that had been enhanced with some kind of exotic root.
Sonic saw Fang to one side, talking to Skipper of Otters.
Sonic ate then more than he ever ate in the past few years.
A gigantic variety of foods were offered. Otter hotcakes, delicious strawberry cordial, shrewbeer, deeper n' ever pies, toasted honey moles dipped with cream.
Foremole helped by Skipper of otters brought a gigantic carrot and mushroom turnover, accompanied with a huge leak.
Sonic ate like three, but even he didn't surpass the huge and insatiable appetite of the hare Bridgett. Some say she ate more than all the abbey dwellers put together.
She was cramming food and breaking down everything in site, from the pasties to the turnovers, the cakes, the drinks…
She wiped her chops delicately on a silk napkin before starting her feeding frenzy.
Martin turned out to be a very formidable fighter indeed.
He was in the training room, expertly twirling his sword about.
Jabbing at a shield hanging overhead, he sent a boom through the great room.
He looked up at the blue hedgehog, gazing in awe at his skill and speed.
'Sonic, friend, come over here. I think I understood you were on a quest in this world.
'In this world and in the others, Martin.'
'Then I believe you should start training to know how to use a blade.'
'It would be an honor, but no thank you, Martin. My speed is sufficient.'
'Then prove it, friend. Disarm me and I shall take your word for it.'
Sonic started circling Martin at top speed, waiting for the warrior to lose his guard.
He saw his chance, and aimed a kick at the warrior's hand.
Martin nimbly dodged the kick, and slashing and hacking his sword towards Sonic feet, send him sprawling, losing his balance thanks to his speed.
He lay gasping on the floor, leaning against a statue.
'How…how did you do that?'
'Sonic, you see what I mean. You must know how to use a weapon. Even though your speed is a formidable advantage, it won't be enough.'
'You fight like a badger, Martin.'
'Indeed, I do. I was trained by Auma the Badger, daughter to Orlando the Axe, one of the greatest badger lords ever to tread this land.'
'Then it is settled, Warrior. I accept your proposal.'
'Then so be it.'
Martin and Sonic went to bed then, for the night had been long, and Sonic was eager to start learning.
He slept like a rock in the comfortable abbey bed, with a slight ray of moonlight filtering through a crack in the windowsill. He closed his eyes and within moments he was sleeping soundly.
In murky black seas, in a place out of time, lay the island, lush and blooming, with cities scattered all over the area.
In the middle of the capital lay the palace, made of white bricks, glittering in the sun. There the emperor ruled all. Gulag!
A fearsome badger that had found his way on the island accompanied by many outlaws.
All of which were searching to escape civilization.
He had quickly fought his way up to emperor. He was covered in totally silver fur, showing off his night black eyes.
His body was riddled by scars, bruises and in many areas his fur had been burnt.
But every battle he emerged victorious, which gained him the support of all the island dwellers.
Gulag always fought with two vicious two-bladed battleaxes.
Many feared his ability with the axe. He was actually well loved by his followers, even though none wanted to get in his way when the bloodwrath hit him.
For, even though he wasn't a good badger fighting for good, he had still inherited the fabled bloodwrath.
He was actually a very sociable character, he just didn't like people trying to kill him.
He gave his counselors a fair hearing, and tried to apply there counsels.
Gulag had been feared on the island for many years, even though he was righteous in a bandits way.
Gulag sat in his throne-room set high up in his palace on the top of a hill.
The room was littered with pieces of treasure and chairs.
He sat at a table, peering through a window. He saw that soon the city would meet the eye of the storm.
Gulag had been plotting something for years. He had access to a whole empire, but the one thing he wanted he could not obtain.
This idea lingered through his head, gnawing his every thought.
On the parapets of his dark palace, a dark figure overlooked the raging storm and conflicting rain…
He stood up, and exited the room. Descending through the levels of the castle, he arrived to the vast caves and dungeons. Summoning two guards, he bid them open a huge door, studded with strange signs and magic defenses.
The two guards scuttled up to the door and started reciting the invocation.
'Keeper of Faith, guardian of sorcery
Open the door, the time is canny
We heed you in the name of your kin
Open this door and let our king in!'
With an eerie creek, the door magically opened, revealing a glittering chamber filled with treasures. Gulag traversed it without even a glimpse, and followed the path to a hidden door, hidden behind a vividly decorated tapestry.
He opened it with a creak, and entered the smaller room. Inside lied one of the greatest treasures in Gulag's island.
A huge door loomed in, he had never been able to open it. The strongest magic spells had been applied on it, and they could only be broken with the way they were destined to be.
At the base of the door lay the key of the door.
It was a huge statue of a blue dolphin, carved in some kind of blue transparent precious mineral, probably turquoise.
It was designed in a leaping position it's silvery body bent in a graceful arc, gushing out of the water.
At the place of it's eyes were two holes, which were supposed to contain two glittering emeralds.
Gulag shuddered at the sight of the dolphin. In the room behind him was supposed to be located the greatest treasure contained in all time and place. He had awaited long to obtain it. He had searched the thirteen seas for the eyes of the dolphin, the green an white emeralds. But he needed many more things. The teeth of the dolphin, and it's mighty fin were missing.
Gulag had already sent many of his brave knights on a search for the jewels, which were supposed to be hidden somewhere on the island. But somehow one of them, a weasel named Flimpo, had escaped, with ten of the teeth.
He had sent many bounty hunters out to find Flimpo, but it seemed he had escaped the area and had searched refuge away from the island. For Flimpo was a troublemaker.
He didn't approve of Gulag receiving the treasure, and knew that it was destined to someone else. And Gulag didn't want that someone to come.
The prophecies told of a savior that was to destroy the rule of Gulag, and retrieving the treasure.
Gulag had carefully planned the day he was supposed to appear, the ninth day of the spring festival, and was ready.
But one last thing was a problem. There was only one time in the year when he could action the dolphin, on the ninth day of the spring festival. So he had to find Flimpo and the other jewels before then.
He stared long at the dolphin, and broke out in a maddened laughter. Soon, he thought, he would have the jewels. And soon, he would be all-powerful.
Flimpo the weasel caught his grip on the mast of his ship, the Freeprowler.
He knew something was following him. He had always had a skill of reading minds, people, and sometimes the future.
But he knew one thing for sure: He must not let Gulag obtain the pearls. They were destined only for the blue hedgehog he had seen in dream. He didn't know even where to find him, but he was relying on fate.
In the horizon, he could see land outlining itself…
Sonic was woken up the next morning by a ray of sunlight traversing through the same crack in the windowsill.
Sonic walked down the stairs to a scene of carnage.
The abbey dwellers had just started breakfast. It was an awe-inspiring spectacle to witness; Huge portions of food were broken down in mere seconds, as hares, otters, mice, bats, moles and shrews gave full justice to the spread.
Bridgett, as usual, was eating everything in site, as the dibbuns stared as she devoured huge portions of the good abbey food.
Sonic sat at the table next to Martin and the Abbot.
Fang arrived a few minutes later, winking his eyes lazily.
'Phew! Hadn't slept like that in months. Hey, what's for breakfast?'
The Abbot smiled and passed on a plate of mountain berries that bats love.
Sonic was talking to Martin about his training.
'First, we must make you a sword, Sonic… I think we should travel to Salamandastron…'
'What? That far just for a sword?' Said the Abbot.
Salamandastron was the place of the fire lizard, the ancient dragons. None had been sighted, but it was home to warrior hares and ancient badger lords.
It was on the coast, weeks of march away from Redwall.
Sonic stood gasping.
'You are going to use that sword for more than one purpose, I suggest it be very powerful…
Only the badgers could build something this special. Tomorrow we head off for Salamandastron.'
Sonic spent the day talking to the abbey dwellers, such as Frildo, the cook, Foremole, the leader of the moles of the abbey, and many others. Fang had decided to search for the contact in the surroundings of the abbey whilst Sonic and Martin would be out searching for Salamandastron.
He talked to a lot of animals and beasts dwelling not far from Redwall, such as some of those Guosim shrews.
Their leader, Logalog, befriended the Hedgehog quickly.
Sonic walked about the forest, absorbing the gentle scenery. He trod on the soft undergrowth, feeling free and happy.
He thought about the loved ones he had left in Mobius, and this decided him to continue on with his quest.
Sonic and Martin packed their supplies and a huge assortment of goods that Frildo insisted they took.
Sonic staggered under the weight of the bag pack he ended up with.
Lady Nightshade, the squirrelqueen, helped them to organize there supplies accordingly to their needs. Sonic had never seen such a place. It was bigger than Knothole, and seemed so much better organized.
But the abbey dwellers dreamed at the thoughts of living in such a beautiful place after Sonic had activated Nicole and showed them some samples.
The day was over before Sonic knew.
Him and Martin took a huge supper, and went to bed early, intent on starting fresh the next day.
They slept soundly, enveloped by the silent night.
The moon was white and pale, watching over the calm and peaceful woods as not a creature stirred.
Sonic dreamed that night. He was running towards a mountain, flaming red with flames and molten lava. A huge dragon stood guarding it, and on its mighty swelling chest was a sword.
And all night, it seemed all he did but run, and he didn't get anywhere.
Then a large figure came towards him, a mouse, clad in beautiful armor, started singing.
'To be too quick can lead to many mistakes
Some can be helped, some can't be shaped
Even though you are a mighty warrior
If you run, your end you must suffer…'
He tossed and turned in his bed for the whole night, wondering what the strange dream meant.
When he woke up the next morning, he felt extraordinarily refreshed.
He ate a hearty breakfast, and said goodbye to all those in Redwall. He was to meet Martin in a forest clearing situated on a cliff, in the soft breeze. The cliff was overcome with flowers. Butterflies nestled themselves in the numerous outcrops of daisies and dandelions.
Martin was there, training with the beautiful sword of Redwall, that had once been forged by one of the greatest badgers of all, Boar the Fighter.
Martin twirled and pared with his sword expertly, slashing the air fighting an imaginary enemy.
He gracefully sidestepped, cleaving at the unseen foe. Sonic stood staring in awe as the skillful warriormouse demonstrated his long seasons of practice.
He smiled as he saw the way Sonic was gasping at his skill.
'Do not fear, friend, I was clumsy when I first started.'
He swung his sword in a warrior's salute, and sent the blade straight into the soft undergrowth, singing as it hit the ground.
He picked it up and marched off towards Sonic.
'So, are you ready to start of for Salamandastron?'
'Yup… Frildo packed our bags so full of food I think we can try to feed the dragon to death'
'How did you know there was a dragon in the fire mountain?'
Sonic started recounting his strange dream the other night.
'I think Martin wanted to warn us about being too hasty when we reach the mountain, we shall have to be careful.'
'I think if we continue on talking like this we will be nothing but ash and bones by the time we do reach the mountain! Common, off to Salamandastron!'
Flimpo looked out towards the land he had spotted. Taking the tiller, he started maneuvering the ship towards Mossflower.
His two captains in command, Blaggo and Frogtail, both brothers, came to inform him of the situation.
'Capn', I think we have arrived to a place called Mossflower. We have records of it from the island of Sampetra, and the recounting of Bladeribb the searat, who fought on with his mate, Romsca.'
'Fine, then… head towards there. If I remember well, my grandsire Bladeribb suffered the attack of an iceberg as these abbey beasts tried to help him. They are brave fighters, ready to help any good cause. I think we should consult them, right, Blaggo?'
'Tcha, capn', I think they could be the only thing that stand between Gulag and total power!'
Frogtail had been better educate than his sibling, and his manners had therefore been greatly affected.
'Well, then, Mossflower it is, m'lord! We should anticipate though, that master Gulag will come tracking for us.'
The ship tracked on as the sun sunk slowly into the ocean…
Sonic and Martin trudged along silently in the mossy depths of Mossflower.
The trees let a lot of light through the forest, painting and weaving light patterns on the back of the two travelers.
Some old tree stumps were lying here and there, slowly disintegrating and offering a home for numerous moss deposits.
Mushrooms and other plants flourished under the forest canopy, and numerous bird songs filled the air.
Sonic marveled at the beauty of the woods, and the different types of trees he had seen until know. Every know and then he would stop to listen to a birdsong, which seemed to weave in harmoniously with all the other sounds that filled the forest.
Martin consulted a map Auma had traced for them a few days ago. They had a lot more to travel, and they were travelling at a very slow pace, mainly because of the wonder that filled Sonic to witness Mossflower in the spring.
Sonic felt the wafts and aromas of the forest fill his nostrils and make him feel strangely light-headed.
Sonic found a stout branch, and borrowing Martin's sword, he started modeling it into a walking stick and weapon combined.
His stick wasn't very different from any, only that it was engraved with one of the most powerful runes he had learnt as a magician, the rune of Endar.
Not only did it stop anyone from taking the stick away from him except if he gave it to that person, but it allowed him to channel many spells from it. It was also indestructible, made in tough Mossflower oak, the strongest tree in the land. This tree had been found a long time ago, and had the ability to talk. Therefore his walking pole had the power of speech.
Finally, Sonic also had a lot of ability when using a stick, and trained on the way, every morning.
Martin and he talked a lot about their different childhood, and they found they had a lot in common.
Martin had been born in Redwall abbey, and had had to defend it at the age of fifteen , when his father, Martin of Redwall, died.
He had been trained by Auma, one of the greatest badger fighters the country had ever known. They talked until dawn, when they finally relinquished to let slumber embrace them…
Gulag sat in his throne room, relishing the coolness of his chambers.
He enjoyed the quiet serenity of the night, as the shadows crept up on everything and installed a blanket of sleep on them.
He crept through the rooms of his fortress, heard the sound of sleeping creatures.
He walked out to the parapets, and inhaled the fresh air of the sea.
A stoat named Cragga was on watch, and immediately produced a lantern.
''Tis a beautiful night to gaze over the sea, matey, eh?'
Even though Gulag was their superior, he and his people had developed a deep friendship.
'So it is, Cragga. Anything new?'
'Nah, sorry, sire. Nothing as far as the eye can see.'
'Well, keep your watch me hearty, Blinkeye should soon be coming to take your burden.'
'Aye, aye Sire. Good night to you.'
Gulag was proud of the relationship he kept with his soldiers. Friends, one and all.
He peered through the mist, trying to spot his soldiers. Maybe tomorrow they would return with news of the jewels and Flimpo.
He shrugged and headed up to his chambers.
Flimpo and his crew had been walking in the calm forest of Mossflower for three hours now, seeking for the legendary abbey of Redwall.
Flimpo was disheartened. Blagga and Frogtail had foraged for food in the undergrowth, but had found nothing much to help them on their quest.
Then they had spotted some tracks on the ground. Hares, to think about it. They were following the trail, and they were getting closer to Redwall and to safety within every minute.
Redwall abbey was in full swing. For they had to prepare for yet another feast.
This one would be in the honor of those heroes that had been slain or just died of old age to found the beautiful abbey of Redwall.
The preparations were going feverishly in the kitchens as the moles, hedgehogs and any available creature were on the rampage, baking and cooking at high speed.
Frildo was attempting to bake the greatest number of foods following the list of demands the Redwallers had drawn out for him the other day.
'Hoi, Foremole! Be careful where your putting that pasty, I don't want it all over the cherry conserve!'
'You'm a ruffian, zir! Your conserve will do jus' foine even with the pasty! 'Tis a wunnerful dish!'
'Tissle, I wish you wouldn't run around with the blackberry muffins like that! Rather you come here and help me with the elderberry ale!'
'Out of my way rogues! I have to take this to Progg Spike and Furlo Stump and before they have a fit!'
The kitchens were bustling with people; Fang was helping Frildo with a huge mixture of spices and vegetables. This promised to be one of the greatest soups ever to be baked in Redwall.
Down in the cellars, Furlo Stump and Progg Spike, the cellarkeepers, occupied themselves in the mixture of the drinks for the feast. Duddlum Spike, the apprentice cellarkeeper, was preparing some of his best concoctions, including a season old recipe given down in the Spike family, the cup of cheer.
Furlo had been named after his grandsire, and Progg had found his way to Mossflower and found out that his part of the family in Redwall had always been the cellarkeepers, so the Abbot assured joint membership of the cellars.
Tissle Hogwife was helping to prepare the great variety of cheeses and trying to control the abbey dibbuns from running berserk.
She succeeded admirably, even though she couldn't stop the little mouse Merlin from jumping into a huge pot containing candied chestnuts.
She picked him up, trying to stop him from eating ten at a time.
'Merlin! You little maggot! Get away from those chestnuts!'
The little toddler ran through the kitchens squealing.
'Keeheehee! You'm never catch me!'
Throwing a candied chestnut in the air he caught it quickly in his gaping maw.
Fang was amazed at the ingenuity the abbey dwellers showed when confronted with any problem.
He was gaping at the splendor of the abbey, the peace and content the young and the old could relax in.
He was looking at the great tapestry of Redwall, retracing the moments of its history.
He saw all the battles, saw all of the heroes.
But one single image left him staring in fascination. In a picture left to a scene representing Sunflash the Mace battling his arch-enemy Swartt Sixclaw the Warlord.
In the depths of a cave, small bats were circling around a engraving on the wall representing him and Sonic, arriving through the portal!
Sonic and Martin were walking through what seemed to be the last bit of Mossflower wood when abruptly, the woods stopped. No warning that they would, not undergrowth starting to grow sparse.
It just stopped.
Sonic saw in front of him a huge prairie. Beautiful flowers and trees spread in front of him.
Butterflies frolicked happily around the area, grasshoppers chirruped in a harmonic music.
Sonic marveled at the beautiful scenery.
Large mountainous peaks delimited the prairie, making it impossible to get out except by one way.
Sonic focused his gaze on the end of the pasture, and spotted a huge arc cut through the rock, allowing people to go through the mountain range.
Martin gazed through the prairie, spotting the mountains stretching beyond the sky, touching the clouds.
Martin eyed the area and sheathed his sword.
'We should make camp for the night at the shadow of the willow trees over there.'
'I'll go get some firewood.'
Sonic scrambled through the valley, collecting fallen wood and logs. Soon Martin had a fire blazing and illuminating the dark cave in which they had established camp.
Martin started unpacking the supplies Frildo had packed for them; He pulled out an apple and started eating it with a wedge of cheese and some strawberry cordial.
Sonic preferred attacking a deeper n' ever pie with some candied fruit and some good fresh milk.
They ate heartily, enjoying the soft breeze blowing over the valley. Night deposited it's blanket on Mossflower and they were soon asleep.
Sonic dreamt that night.
A freezing gust blew over the world in front of him. Polar winds and icy breezes swooned all over the world. Deserted, totally frozen. A frail ice surface recovered the sea totally. Sonic could see nothing but this frozen, dead land. A huge tree stretched out in the distance. A glittering tree. It was made of pure crystal, its shimmering branches dancing along with the wind. Sonic looked up at the tree. In the middle of its central bud lay a shining gem, shaped like a snowflake, a star traversed by icy veins. Sonic could instantly feel a cool energy flowing through the gem.
He reached out to try and pluck the jewel. But then, in the glistening aurora of red and blue, came a dark, evil cloud. A strange hooded figure could be seen at the edge of the cloud, seemingly trying to stop it. But Sonic could do nothing but witness the awe-inspiring spectacle.
The hooded figure was cleaving at the dark spirits with his sword, made of a metal so pure it too shimmered as it swung and clashed at the cloud. The aurora sent glistening rays traversing the sword, giving it power and energy, consistence.
Sonic tried to send a heat spell, trying to stop the advancing darkness. But he could do nothing, could say nothing. There was only the brave lone warrior between the cloud and gemstone. Sonic dreamed about it all night, and the battle raged on. Sometimes the cloud would gain some advance, sometimes the fighter would succeed in sending them back a bit.
But always they were evenly matched. Then, something seemed to be happening. A large cluster of horses seemed to fill the air. They were dressed in white garb, all armed with weapons, maces, swords, lances. All of them started fighting the cloud. They hacked and they cleaved at the foe, seeking to destroy it. Sonic could feel their power in his mind.
For hours the battle seemed to continue, a never-ending match between the twin forces, the light and the dark.
Then, suddenly, the dark seemed to be dispersed. The knights started to retreat. And every time one of them passed in front of Sonic, they saluted him, waving their weapons in his direction. And the last figure was the lone fighter, waving his sword and ushering his battle cry.
Sonic caught a last glimpse of the tree, glistening, and everything went black.
Martin woke up to find his friend with his teeth shattering, as though he were suffering a great cold. He felt the warm air filling his veins. He shook Sonic, and his friend started stirring.
'Huh? What happened?'
'You tell me. I found you sleeping, almost frozen stiff.'
'I'll tell you as we go.'
They traversed the field of roses, trying to take some bearings on where they were heading. They could see the arc, scintillating in the sunlight, but it never seemed to get any closer.
Sonic was trying to remember what had happened in his dream. Unlike other dreams, not only had it seemed extremely vivid, but he managed to remember everything about it, from the shimmering tree to the fight against the white knights and the dark mystery cloud.
Sonic told Martin all about it; The warriormouse was utterly baffled about the meaning of the dream.
'I don't know… Maybe something to happen in the future? Very strange things have happened in dreams, sometimes they have no meaning, but sometimes they were very true.'
'What are you suggesting then?'
'I think something in your future is going to resemble that event closely, even though I can't imagine any place looking like that.'
'Oh, well… hey, how long have we been walking?'
'About an hour.'
'You realize the arc isn't betting any closer, don't you?'
'That's what I fear.'
'Wait here, I'll try to get there.'
He was off, sprinting at top speed. He had been running for about ten minutes when he tried to double back. And found himself in front of Martin!
'What the heck is happening here?'
'I don't know. Something is trying to stop us from getting to the gate.'
'How did we cross until our camp then?'
'I don't know. Lets go back there and start thinking.'
They walked slowly, lost deep in thought. They reached the camp and started eating.
Sonic was thinking as hard as he could, when some of his dreams came back.
The truth hit him as he was nibbling on some buttermilk biscuits.
'Remember how my dream had something to do about being too hasty?'
'So? We were walking normally, slowly, when we reached the camp the first time. We hurry and try to reach the arc, but make no progress. I charge maximum speed and find myself BEHIND you. Don't you understand? The faster and the hastier we try to get there, the less speed we take!'
'Your right! That's why I saw you running but not making any progress!'
The insight of their problem gave them something else to think about.
'That might take weeks before we reach the end of the valley.'
'What are you talking about? The valley is very small! It just seemed big because we were going too fast!'
'Okay then, what are we waiting for! Lets start walking, but slowly this time.'
They trudged along at a leisurely pace, and found out they were getting closer by the minute. Soon they found out that the arc was almost within reach.
It was studded with many strange symbols, namely some runes.
The second Sonic reached it, a rippling seemed to occur over the valley, much like the attack of the Grimthane.
The valley WAS huge. But now, Sonic found out, he could traverse it easily.
'The spell is broken… Now we will be able to traverse it when we try again.'
They walked along the mountain range, the craggy lofts and nooks offering a good protection against the heat of the now blazing sun. Sonic had never seen such a spectacle. Lush tropical plants spread in front of their view; Plants and creepers offered a shelter against the heat.
Sonic walked through the forest painfully. Cleaving through the dense plants, he sweated heavily as the vegetation slowly swallowed them.
Back in the real world, the strange figure stirred and gazed long into the things happening in Mossflower.
Rose walked up behind him and asked.
'Are they getting anywhere?'
The figure merely nodded, not uttering a single word. Rose sat next to him, looking into the crystal equally. She saw her friend walking through the forest, alongside a warrior bearing a wonderful sword.
She became suddenly very confident about the success of the Chosen One.
There was only one thought she couldn't settle in her mind. Where was Knuckles? She hadn't seen him since he had saved them in the temple and he had been left behind, fighting Chronos.
She had tried locating him, even using Dulcy had not given any result. The remaining freedom fighters were hiding themselves in the mists of the Goponga Swamp, organizing a rebellion against the forces of Robotnik and the newly founded empire.
Sally and the rest of the Knothole settlement had been captured, save for Bookshire, Dulcy and some others. There had been a failure in the Knothole catapults, and a lot of people believed there had been a spy somewhere in Knothole, but nothing had been accumulated, since the Freedom Fighters had not been able to access Knothole.
Even Tails had been captured after attempting a daring rescue mission to save the leaders of the rebellion.
Rose had been appointed as the leader of the Rebellion, and had hired the services of a spy to communicate with Sally in their cell. Uncle Chuck had been more than happy to oblige.
She had communicated everything the new rebels were establishing in their old base, still in the south islands.
They had managed to stock up on valuable supplies, such as powerful weapons and healing machinery stolen from Robotnik's temple in the south islands.
The stranger had arrived a long time ago in the base, begging for shelter. He seemed to be an adept of magic and time, the flowing unstoppable force. For now, he assured her that Sonic and Fang were doing all right.
She shrugged and walked off to help the serving of dinner. The Watcher merely stared peering into his orb again. Soon, he thought, soon they would come back.
Sonic could hardly contain his glee when Martin finally decided to take a break. The warriormouse seemed to be hardly affected by fatigue. Sprawling himself on the withered carcass of a willow tree, he helped himself to some cheese.
Martin stayed alert, listening intently, his ears twitching.
Sonic asked enquiringly
'Something wrong, Martin?'
'Aye, I've been trying to find my bearings, but I can't seem to find the way we came in from.'
Sonic looked around as realization hit him.
'The plants just grew back in the matter of minutes!'
'I have a bad feeling about this…'
'You telling me?'
As Sonic's voice trailed on in the luxuriant foliage, two bright eyes watched the pair, unblinking.
The character breathed slowly, his breath hardly above a whisper.
Sonic was happily munching on the cheese until something snatched it from his hand.
'HEY! My cheese!'
He groped through the bush to pull out a bunch of bushy ears.
Sonic pulled out a hare. He wore a sash around his waist, and slung around his back was a huge longbow. He bowed slowly to Sonic, and spoke to him in a slow melodious voice.
'Hullo, chaps. I hope you don't mind me filthering your cheese, do you?'
'Hello, sir… Uhm , and whom might you be?'
''I, sir, am Melchior Silverarrow, from the northern part of the family of the Silverarrows.
'Hi, Melchior… May I ask what are you doing in this forest?'
'I was scouting ahead of my party. We come from Salamandastron, you see, and we were headed for Redwall abbey.'
'We were searching for Salamandastron ourselves, sir!'
'Well, then that's a spot of luck, chaps. If you want we can escort you there, we are in no great hurry to reach the Abbey.'
Melchior whistled and three other hares popped out from inside the undergrowth.
The first one was a female hare called Sunshine.
The other two were name Honeycomb and Valiantheart.
They started talking in the strange hare dialect.
'Well, we certainly had a bit of trouble finding you chaps, wot!'
'You're the one who kept filthering the vittles, Valiant! Stop tellin' such fibs!'
'Tcha! I am not the one who tried to keep your little flowers alive with all our water Sunshine! With a name like that, 'tisn't surprising you had problems feeding them!'
'Will you idiots stop fighting! How are we supposed to arrive to Salamandastron before next spring? Come on, a little dignity, you fluttering feedbags!'
The hares all stood to attention the second Melchior started talking. Saluting in a most ridiculous manner, Valiantheart talked in a dignified tone.
'Aye, oh great and mighty leader, mustn't let yore dinner wait!
The hares set about chasing eachother around the clearing. Sonic stared at them, trying to look serious and not falling into piles of laughter. Finally when the hares had been chasing eachother for about five minutes, he set off after them. Valiantheart just saw a blue shadow shade his view for a minute, the next he was being tripped and sent stumbling on his friends.
'What was that?'
'I think it was Sonic, Sunshine.'
The hares gathered around Sonic and started bombarding him with questions.
'How's that even possible?'
'Hoho! And I thought hares were the fastest beings in the land!'
'I wouldn't like to try my hand at a race with him!"
Sonic spoke in a humorous tone.
'That's right, and if you don't lead us to Salamandastron right now, I'll spread the news that the hares of the fire-mountain are geriatric snails!'
The hares were, as usual, the jokers.
'You've got the speed, but we've got the map!'
'You can spread the news, but you won't be able to spread it in Salamandastron, that's for sure.'
'Fine then… Shall we get going?'
Martin had stood while the whole interview, chuckling. He followed along as the five friends discussed speed terms, in general.
A little later in the day, the six friends paused momentarily to eat something. Sonic and Martin unloaded there supplies, but Valiantheart and Melchior wouldn't have an of that.
'Tch, tch! We insist on feeding you sirs. We after tried to attack you crowd.'
They offered them sweet bread and some barley broth. As Sonic munched on some bread, he tried to drink the ale the hares had with them. It felt as if he had eaten a wildfire.
'AAAAAAAAHHHHHH! What is that stuff?'
'That 'stuff', as you call it sir, is the mix of some otter hotroot soup, and some other hare specialties.'
'Aren't you supposed to drink the soup and have some kind of sweet drink along with it?'
'That's for the weak! Are you a man or are you a mouse? No offence of any kind meant, Martin.'
Sonic stared at the drink, and taking a long heave, he gulped down the whole concoction in one huge swig.
The hares applauded.
Martin was helping Sunshine tracing a map leading to Salamandastron. She expertly traced the parts of the voyage she knew.
'I don't know what lies to the northwest, but if you continue west over there, you'll soon get to a mountain range; If you cross that, and with a bit of luck, we'll end up in the swamps. Then its just a matter of good scouting until we get to the beaches and reach Salamandastron.'
'And you have no idea what lies further after the mountains?'
'We have never felt the need to go there;'
'How long will it take, d'you think?'
'Generally we take about a season getting there, but then again, were taking our time, and we also try and collect most of the gossip circulating. Our Badger lord likes to keep up to date in the news of Mossflower.' She turned to Valiantheart who was busy sharpening his longbow.
'What do you think, Valiant? How long would it take us to reach back the ole' mountain with these blokes?'
'If Sonic were alone, no problem, he would be there within hours. But with all of us? Maybe a week, two at the very most.'
Martin walked up to his friend.
'Then I think it's decided, then. You shall make the journey alone as we follow a few days after.'
'First of all, you need to train yourself for the perils to come. All you need is a sword.'
'I shall happily give him mine.' Said Melchior;
'But you must swear one oath: That you shall never use anything but your sword.'
'I swear that never in my quest shall I use other weapons except the sword.'
'You can use your speed to travel across the lands, but nothing else.'
'I shall go now, then.'
Sonic packed some supplies, feeling somewhat forlorn.
Martin pulled him to him for a moment.
'I am sorry if we seem to be abandoning you… This is what Auma did to me when a long time ago when we went searching for her father. This was one of the greatest helps.'
Sonic smiled and sheathed the sword, raising it into a warrior's salute. Martin equally pulled out his blade and saluted Sonic.
Sonic started walking off in the direction Sunshine had indicated. The hares stopped him in his tracks.
'See you in the fire-mountain, old chap.'
'Fastest guy I've ever seen. And a true friend.'
'Hope you don't get eaten by the fire lizard.'
'Of course… Give me some of that brew, I might need… See you later.'
Sonic shot off towards the north, leaving great clouds of leaves and ash behind him as he went. Melchior and Martin started preparing the tents and the rest prepared dinner.
Martin was especially sad on losing his travelling companion even momentarily. The hares were sad equally. Sonic had been a true friend, even in the short time they had known eachother.
Sonic could see the foliage was losing the menacing density conferred to it a few meters back. The lessening forest allowed him to peer through the bugs and creepers. He could see a huge mountain range, the peaks of the monoliths reaching high up for the clouds.
Sonic took a swig from the sweet elderberry wine, and started planning his trek through the mountains of destiny.
While that, Martin and the long patrol were preparing their travel through the forest. The ever-luxuriant undergrowth had replaced the way that Sonic had chaffed through.
Melchior suggested trying to go through the forest following the way he and his crew had gone through a few hours ago. They decided not to head out the very day and established camp in a clearing in the forest, in the moonlit sky. The moon shone on the settling scene as the companions settled down for the night. Martin had decided to be first on guard. He breathed in the sweet and cool air of the night. The branches swayed and danced in the wind. Gnawing at a piece of cake, he thought where Sonic could be, maybe looking at the same moon, in an alien world…
Fang had been living in luxury in Redwall Abbey, marveling at the efforts the abbey dwellers had put inside their creation. He had been searching for the contact, but to no avail. No result had been given. All the warriors in Redwall had been sent searching for any clues leading to the elusive contact. Fang had helped to prepare for the wonderful feasts and feeding the whole abbey, finding in him a natural flair as a cook. He was helping Foremole churn a brand new butter when the Skipper of otters made irruption in the kitchens.
'Fang! Something's come up!'
'What is it, Skip?'
'We sent Chibb the robin spying on the coast… Two ships are arriving in Mossflower, following eachother!'
'I don't think we should make any hasty decisions now… Let's go ask the elders!'
Abbot Mortimer and Auma Badger were snuggled deeply inside great hall, lounging in front of a crackling fire. Alongside them were Furlo Stump and Progg Spike were busy testing their newest brews.
Fang and Skipper almost collided with the two cellarkeepers, with Foremole close on their heels.
After presenting the situation to the elders, Mortimer nodded his head in thoughtful thinking.
'Indeed, this might be the contact you have been hoping for, Fang. This ship seems to be arriving at the right time. But I think that somehow the ship following it might have a good reason to do this. Let us forget the matter for the moment. If one of those ships have something to do with your destiny, soon enough they will come to the gates of the Abbey.'
Fang saw into the abbot's wisdom. Producing a wedge of the cheese he and Frildo had been baking the other day, he offered some to the members of the assembly.
Fang spent the rest of the day tracing a map of Mossflower, intent on making an accurate design for the abbey dwellers. He set off early in the morning, planning on charting the West part of the woods. Abbot Mortimer stood on the parapets, gazing at the figure disappearing slowly inside the deep undergrowth.
'Rest well, my son.' He murmured under his breath; 'Someday you will have to leave. I hope this day would never come;'
Flimpo and his crew had dropped anchor not far from a strange mountain one of the sailors had said glowed at night. But this didn't bother the goodly corsair. Blagga and Frogtail had spotted a ship with Gulag's blazon, and they were trying to put the maximum distance between them and the maddened soldiers of the emperor. A sailor named Slashear approached his captain and asked him if the Light was ever going to win the battle against the Dark.
'Laddy, the fight isn't ever finished. But its up to us to protect these stones from Gulag to give the Light a fighting chance, do you understand?'
Slashear smiled back, and started encouraging his mates to continue on.
Flimpo pulled out a roughly sketched map that had been found somewhere on the isle of Sampetra, in a deserted palace. A colony of rats had given him the map, leading to a place called Redwall, where they had assured him he would find refuge and good beasts ready to help him.
Flimpo sighed and spotted a forest, looming in the horizon. In few weeks him and his troupe would be reaching the safe canopy. There he could hide, he could fight the enemy back.
He signaled to his troupes.
'Righto, Blagga, you take the half of the crew, head for the Northeast. Frogtail, you come with me to the North. We'll split the jewels in two loads. If one of us is caught, the other will save the rest. Common, mateys! Were not going to let Gulag get those stones!'
Gulag was in his chamber, plotting and thinking. Two weasels, Blackscar and Grineye had arrived as emissaries from the leaders of his capital. The news was good. The two weasels produced two shining opals whilst explaining the situation.
'Two days ago, your son Niptooth found these I the grave of a long dead hero of the war. They were placed quite wisely on the I's that composed his name.'
'Hm… Bring my son to me, I wish to congratulate him personally. As for you two, I think the cook will have something to give you.'
The two weasels grinned. Their emperor treated everyone as a friend, and was much loved by his subjects, who equally treated him as a trusted friend.
Niptooth was practicing with his slingshot when Grineye came to fetch him.
The hills were whisked about with the kindly breeze, and a hot marble track ran through them, creating an ideal park.
'Common mate, you have an audience with your father.'
'Coming, Grineye… 'Sit got something to do with the stones I found yesterday?'
'Indeed, it does.'
'I guess I'll get going…'
'See you later, then.'
'I'll be in the tavern, don't you worry.'
Niptooth started strolling down the sunlit path. The sun reverberated on the marble, creating a hard and hot surface to walk on. Niptooth had been living in the island for years, since he had come years ago, and found out his skills as a corsair. Gulag had chosen him as an adoptive son. Niptooth had come to think of the emperor as his real father, and treated him as such. Niptooth saluted the numerous sailors preparing their ships along the jetty. Niptooth was as well liked as his father. The sailors had seen that even though he possessed many riches, he preferred being around normal people. The sea rippled softly under the hot summer sun, lighting up the beautiful surroundings of the town. The ever-moving waves glittered in colors of green and blue, shining like an ocean of jewels.
Niptooth dodged the many people circulating around the town, attending their daily chores.
The palace of the emperor came into his sight, beckoning him.
Gulag walked down the stairways, clutching the night black opals. He paused a second at a dark door. A carved lion was placed on the door; The door was blocked by a brass lock. Plucking out a large polished key, he inserted it inside the lock. A thunderous roar exploded from inside the dark chasms of the room. Inside the room stood a full-grown lion. Gulag had trapped him a long time ago, trying to conquer the old ruin that now constituted his palace. He had been attacked by a whole family of lions, and had killed all but the one child. The lion looked up and started talking to Gulag.
'Come to free me, stripedog? Or are you just going to kill me, like you killed my family?'
A blue fire burnt in his vengeful, hate filled eyes.
'Come now, your not going to attack ME! You don't have the power to fight me. I'm afraid I am too powerful a prey for you.'
Durga the Lion was a mighty beast. Even after the long entrapment, his rippling muscles flowing with power. Even Gulag shuddered at the view of the savage lion.
Durga possessed a strange pendant looped around his aging fur. No one had been able to take it off, the magi had been struck by a powerful lightning of fire energy. Durga had used it once or twice to try and break out of his chains, but his magic power and energy had been drained from the shortage in food rations. Gulag chuckled as he saw the powerful lion trying to summon any power he could think of.
'Durga, there is no way you are ever going to get out from here. There is just one thing that could give you your freedom. Tell me: You know where the jewels of the dolphin are. Tell me. Where they are.'
'I will not ever reveal to you the emplacement of our gem. My father hid it away to protect from the scum such as you, badger. I used to think badgers were noble. I even met some. But you must be the one exception.'
Gulag stomped off, closing the door behind him. Soon the lion would speak. Gulag awaited his son.
Niptooth walked through the huge doors of his father's palace, swinging them open. He marched into the imperial hall, decorated with tapestries and exotic plants. One of the rugs had been stolen from the pack of Durga. It represented a herd of lions, dashing across the arid plains of some long-forgotten desert. Gulag was extremely proud of his kingdom, and he had made it a point to decorate his town and his palace with the grandest fashions as befitted to a corsair king.
Niptooth walked up to his father and saluted him with a low, solemn bow.
'Hello, father. You called for me?'
'Indeed I did, Niptooth. I wanted to congratulate you for the discovery of yet another two stones for our dolphin.'
'I am proud to have found the stones for your quest, father.'
'Well-said, Niptooth. How are the searches for the other stones going?'
'We have found where Flimpo is going; He is headed for a country called Mossflower; '
'Splendid! You shall depart for the land of Mossflower in three days to help with the battles that are possible to occur.'
'Of course, father. Which vessel should I depart on?'
'I think it is time for you to find your own vessel. You shall depart in the search for the Wyrd tomorrow.'
'But father… Three days is not enough…'
'I trained you. There should be no problem finding her. Plus, you know the emplacement of the whale living grounds.'
Once Corsairs come of age, it is a ritual for them to find their own craft, a Wyrd. But the whales on Gulag's island had a special ability. They could fly through what was called the thirteenth sea of Mobius, the air. Not many had been able to capture those mythical creatures, even in the space of years. Niptooth thought the situation was impossible, especially with the ultimatum his father had delivered to him.
Niptooth started preparing his weapons, tracing a map of the areas the whales had been sited. Grinning in anticipation, his buddy Grineye equally prepared his knives.
'Ready mate? Tonight, we go hunting.'
Sonic was resting soundly in the shadow of a large willow tree. A menacing shadow lured in front of him. The strange figure didn't try to attack him, but stood crouched in front of the sleeping figure.
Sonic continued to sleep peacefully as the night went on…
The reddening dawn awoke Sonic in front of a dark shadow.
Unsheathing his sword, he pounced upon the hooded figure. He simply lifted his arm, and Sonic was washed away by a huge wave of water magic. He had seen that before. But he couldn't place the time… The sun reflected the rays off the figure's dark glasses. Sonic had seen him before. It was X. The fierce black hedgehog had not changed, save for the costume.
X was carrying a large staff, which hung loosely at his side.
'Long time no see.'
'Wha… How did you get here?'
'The doctor had to send somebody to ask you if you wanted to join him. Me and Alpha Team were the only ones capable of doing the job, boyo.'
'I thought somehow Robotnik knew someway to get here.'
'Come on now Sonic, you know you'll never get away from here. Besides, I think you will find the consequences most… Unpleasant.'
'I don't care what you are going to do to me!"
'I am not talking about that… What about the people in Mossflower? Hm? Fang? All the dwellers of Redwall abbey?
You have four weeks, Sonic. In exactly thirty days, I will come back and wait for your answer.'
'You wouldn't dare, X.'
'And why is that?'
'Because you don't want to kill me. I know that. A long time ago, we were friends.'
'That is why I begged Robotnik to allow me to spare you. My orders were just to kill. I am giving you a chance.'
'Fine, then, X. in four weeks time you shall have your answer.'
'It is done. See you in thirty days.'
X walked back, produced a small oblong black object and tossed it on the ground. A cloud of smoke spurted out from the ground, blocking Sonic's view. He turned his head back, the smoke was making him dizzy. When he turned back to look, X had disappeared.
Sonic sighed and started packing his gear. Checking his compass, he headed out for the west. In the distance he could see the mountain…
Martin and Valiantheart leaded the party, as the hares and the one mouse scouted through the forest. The hares had planned that at nightfall they would have reached the mountain ranges. Martin had been educating himself in the arts of the slingshot, finding it to be a useful addition to his fighting techniques.
Sunshine turned out to be a master at the art. Launching a rock high in the air, the skillful hare shot another two, placing all three in alignment. Placing herself under them, she caught all three in her pouch.
Seeing how Martin eyed her skills, she chuckled.
'Don't believe what you see, Martin, I'd never been able to do this trick with more than two stones.'
The hares were a jolly crew, cavorting and prancing about, with their guffaws echoing through the forest. Martin could do nothing but admire their courage as well as their sense of humor.
By sundown they had exited the dark and grimy forest, only to pop out into an even more hostile environment. Dark nooks and crannies were scattered about as the group approached the rocky mountains. All of them were bare, with not even a patch of moss or flowers on them. The hares started charting the area, deciding which would be the ideal route to follow. Looming out in the distance, Martin thought he had seen someone spying on them from the top of a rocky outcropping. He turned his head, and the shadow was gone. Shrugging, he turned to follow his friends. Little did he know that X had a few surprises in store for them…
Sonic scarcely could contain his glee when he arrived through the last pass of the mountains, and found himself gazing on the most beautiful beach he had ever seen. The sea played in and out of the beautiful multi-colored corals and shells, sparkling like jewels. The water splashed invitingly, blue and green, lapping gently over the soft golden sand.
Sonic scanned the horizon, and saw two ships anchored not far from where he stood. Deciding it was none of his business, he started heading along the shore-line. He didn't see the dark figure looming overhead, clutching in his hands a little black book…
Sonic could see the beautiful shells as he ran across the shoreline, and he stopped for a moment to collect one. This one was no shell. It was a beautiful jewel. Embalmed with opals, the golden circlet was studded with all kinds of gems, shaped into different shapes, stars, moons, and a sun. A glittering chain was built in so that it would loop easily on your neck. He decided to keep it for Sally. Reassuming his position, once again he was off, with only one goal, finding the elusive mountain. He thought he could see a pillar of smoke and ash spouting out from the horizon…
Gulag was proud of his son. It had been three days now, and his son had found his Wyrd.
The huge creature was gentle and kind, the perfect mount.
Note- A Wyrd is obviously a whale sort of thing.
Gulag looked out of his window to look at his son's catch. The silvery body of the creature glittered in the sun. Niptooth was riding her, instructing her where to go. One passenger only can ride a Wyrd, which was why the other corsairs would follow him in boat. Every now and then he would have to momentarily have to get off the Wyrd to eat something. Niptooth had already affectionately called his Wyrd Silverback, in symbol of her graceful body.
Gulag turned from the scene and ordered the guards to bring in his Wyrd. The creature was black, dark as night. Gulag had fought him a long time ago, in the times of Mattimeo.
He had won numerous battles against other Wyrd trainers, and had been one of his greatest weights when he claimed leadership over all searats in Mobius. Drinking from a goblet of seaweed grog, he whistled a long, eerie call. The whale came floating at his window.
Leaping onto his back, Gulag directed his pet (named Stormback) down to the quay.
Soon, the expedition to Mossflower would depart. Soon, he would collect his stones. Soon, the power would be his…
Back on Mobius, Snively was walking down dark metallic hallways, leading downwards. It had been a few weeks since his uncle had conquered Mobius, and since then, he had repaired his old base. The roboticizer had been at it for weeks. He gazed around at the beauty surrounding him. Cold, robotic plates and cranks had been placed upon the base. The ugly, dirty metal reflected the light he was carrying. His footsteps resounded through the whole construction. The doomsday had been built to become home, fortress and weapon combined. The doctor had positioned it over the white pillar, and tried to roboticize it. But nothing had worked. That was why his uncle had found another way of stopping its power. Snively sniggered. Soon enough, they would know how to control power rings to generate energy. The one he was carrying glittered with energy. It had been found on the chipmunk, Sally. She was leading the rebellion. Her loss had been a terrifying blow for the freedom fighters.
Clasping the gleaming treasure, he inserted it inside the huge contraption.
'Analyzing DNA…' He whispered, his eyes gleaming with the reflection of the ring.
The ring generated a huge jolt of flowing energy, the whole room seemed to pour with energy. The roboticizer's energy gauge started flickering.
Snively couldn't believe his eyes. This had never happened before. Hurrying down to the energy core of the Doomsday, he interrogated the robots.
'What is happening? We have never worked at optimum efficiency!'
The robot answered in a tempered, metallic voice.
'It seems a huge source of energy suddenly started to power the whole Doomsday. We have enough energy to power Neo-Robotropolis for a month.'
Neo-Robotropolis had thrived since the disappearance of Sonic.
Metal replaced what had once been fauna and flora. Cold metallic trees transformed the great forest in a place of cold solitude. Oily seams of the black liquid had made the sea still, unmoving. Mobius had become a giant robotic heart. The plants had not only become of cold metal, but also dangerous. The great unknown had been the only place that had survived this treatment. People seeking refuge found that this was the only place to go. Somewhere on the coast lay the dwellings of the civilians that had been exiled.
In the city itself, some inhabitants had been roboticized, such as the lowly beggars, but the nobles had been kept and were being used as a source of power for control. In the middle of the city lay the white, devastated pillar. It also had been roboticized. Mobius had lost.
The sun lay red and malevolent, giving the earth a red, evil glow.
The metal had even tainted the floating islands, were patrols of Darkbots tried to find the hiding place of the Master Emerald.
Knuckles had been making a few trips to the floating islands, and had tried to find his parents, Locke and Lara-Le. But to no avail; they too had been roboticized.
As for Julie-Su, she had not been sighted for a long time. Knuckles was grieved very much by this, and wondered where she could be. Archimedes the fire ant popped out close to him on a nearby rocky ledge.
'You shouldn't be worrying so much for her, Knuckles. She will appear soon. The Wise One knows what she is doing.'
Knuckles stared back at his friend. Thinking hard, the young echidna decided to head back for Last Hope. This was the name conferred by the Neo-Freedom Fighters to their base.
Gliding gracefully through the polluted and tortured air, he directed his flight towards the southern islands.
Producing a small emitter from his pocket, he contacted Rose.
'Rose? It's me. I have bad news.'
'What is happening, Knux?'
'Well, for one, the people in the Floating Islands have been enslaved, and the other, Robotnik is searching for the Master Emerald.'
'Did your contacts give you any indication on the nature of his need for the Master Emerald?'
'No, but I know its something big. He is also searching for power rings. Only one thing can be concluded: He needs a massive source of energy, for something much more powerful than anything we have ever fought with in the last five years of his reign.'
'This is bad. Somehow we have to find someway of knowing what he wants to do.'
'Any news of Tails?'
'I'm sorry, Knuckles. He has not been seen in the last weeks.'
'Then there is only one creature that can help us: Bookshire.'
'But we haven't been able to locate him for months now.'
'He must be somewhere that has been spared from Robotnik. Every now and then I would hear him talk to me about a place untouched by the evil.'
'Knuckles… Your thinking of going to search for him, aren't you?'
'I am just coming to Last Hope to collect some supplies, then I'll be off.'
'Knuckles… I know its useless fighting with you over this, but I hope you won't be off too long. We are extremely week since we have lost two of the Chosen Ones.'
'I know, Rose, I know. But if we want to stand a chance, we need Bookshire. He is the only one of us standing that has any knowledge of magic.'
'I'll be waiting for you then. Do you want anyone to come with you?'
'I don't think you really can afford losing any of your warriors right now. I think I will go with only Archie.'
'Come back to us quickly, Guardian.'
'I will, Rose. I promise.'
Knuckles flew high, soaring into the sky like an eagle.
Fist had been in the training room for hours. He was learning the use of the noble weapon the rapier. Cleaving and thrusting at the dummy installed in the middle of the room. The carcass of the once human shaped statue had been badly bruised by the marks made by the weapon Fist now held in his hands. Swinging the weapon to and fro, he whisked the sharp blade through the dummy. It had been shaped in the bust of the tyrant now ruling Mobius, and Fist was doing a good job at mauling the thing to pieces. Rose was walking down the stairs and Fist barely missed cutting her arm clean off.
'You could try being more careful where you swing that, Fist.'
'Sorry, Rose… You have no idea how the idea of knowing how to use these things is dear to me.'
Two hedgehog babes, Shadwell and Dingo, came bearing a plate of candied fruit and fresh water for the extenuated Fist.
Shadwell's Mother Karna came fussing about the small hogs, throwing her apron over her head as she did.
'Shady, get away from that spear! Dingo, if you don't stop hanging about Mr. Fist and stealing fruits, its off to bed without supper!'
'Come on, Mrs. Karna, your little ones aren't causing any trouble!'
'Now don't you go protecting these villy'uns!'
Fist and Rose chuckled as the goodly mother hedgehog drove her offspring off to wash their hands.
Fist looked out of the window that gave a wonderful view to the outstretched ocean.
'Is Knuckles going to leave for the wizard's search?'
'Aye… I think Knuckles wants to find some way of finding Sonic faster than possible.'
'I know. The Watcher says that as long as Sonic finds the contacts and doesn't fall to the Dark, he will make it.'
'What do you make of the Watcher?'
'Nice, friendly, mystical, very social, obsessed about time.'
'He is also a mighty fighter. Many people have seen him around Mobius, he is known, but no one really knows anything about him.'
Rose looked around the fortress. Picking up a horn she wore at her side, she blew into it and a long, low sounding sound filled the empty room.
'We have to call the spies.'
'We have to find the warp gate.'
'The one Sonic is supposed to be coming through in a few years?'
'Yes. I think it is necessary to find it. We must not give any notion of us searching for it, though. If Robotnik finds it, he might try to destroy it.'
'Whom should we call then?
'I don't know. I think we should rely on the spies we have here. Summon Romeo and Lily. I think their agents are the best suited for this kind of situation.'
'Fine, then. Let's get Flickie to find him.'
Flickie had been one of the mythical animals, guardian of some of the knowledge behind the Chaos Emeralds.
Sonic had battled a long time to free the Flickie's island from destruction.
The legends on Flickie Island told of his coming, and their duty to give the knowledge to him. Even if they knew they had to give it to him, the help Sonic gave them made them happy to donate their information.
Rose walked down the corridors of their base, and arrived in front of a large room marked with the sign of an emerald.
She found Watcher peering into his globe, barely noticing her arriving.
'Watcher, I need you to tell Flickie something.'
'I already have.'
'I thought you might be needing their help. Your going to look for the warp gate, aren't you?'
'We have to find that gate. It is imperative even. Without knowing where it is, if Sonic comes back and the robots are patrolling, he would be roboticized.'
'Then I will accompany them.'
'Why? We need you here, Your knowledge of magic is imperative as long as Bookshire isn't here.'
'Don't worry. I doubt it will take us much time before we find it.'
'How do you know that?'
'Don't worry about it. When the time comes, you'll learn soon enough.'
Rose merely shrugged. Watcher wasn't going to divulge more information.
She strode off into the hallways, going to dinner. Dark rain clouds started smudging the clear blue sky. It would be a warm wet night…
Sonic was walking through the beach at an alarming speed. He was making plans of what to do about X. He couldn't possibly agree with Robotnik's insane plots. Agreeing to join his armies was unthinkable. He was tracing in his head. The people in Mossflower could fight Robotnik back. He had seen them fighting. But this wasn't enough. As long as Robotnik knew he was alive, he would rip Mossflower apart. The only way to stop him was to get the demented doctor to believe he was dead.
But then he would also have to find his contact, and take Fang with him… His mind swirling with thought, he continued heading towards the blinding light that seemed to spurt from the horizon itself. A dark figure seemed to be looming against him. He couldn't see it, so deep in thought he was.
He pulled out a black leather book, and started inscribing what was happening…
As Sonic raced through area, he thought he could see the ambient flames of the Fire Mountain getting closer.
Preparing his sword, he stopped. He thought he had just seen two dark shapes looming in the distance, embracing the outline of the dunes and rocky outcroppings…
Walking carefully through the sand, his feet making no sound. Closing in on the area he had spotted the two shapes, he prepared to pounce.
Suddenly, something moved in front of him. A bag was thrown over him, and darkness faded his vision…
Flimpo spotted the forest before any of his troupes. Producing a foghorn from his pouch, he blew into it. This summoned the other two teams, and soon enough Blagga and Frogtail came bounding through the sand, followed closely by the other teams.
'This forest is perfect to ambush the other crew. But I think this is what they'll be thinking we will be wanting to do.'
'Then what do you suggest?'
'I think we should just go on and let these idiots lose time. Lets try and get them to fight their own men.'
'Hahar… Could idea, Frogtail…'
Slashear started collecting some hay as he took some of his rags off.
'What are you doing?'
'Maybe we could fool them by using mannequins!'
'Fine thinking, we could use those. Come on, you lot, start helping the liddle guy!
Far in the sands, Sonic couldn't help but stare at the strange spectacle offered in front of him.
A lizard and what seemed to be a miniature dragon were in front of him.
The dragon had two arms, and his wings were outstretched web-like tentacles, fastened together by a thin sheet of filamentous skin.
The lizard seemed to equally posses a pair of wings, folded against one another in his back. The lizard had two weird looking feathers sticking out from the top of his cranium, bobbing to and fro, following the direction of the wind.
Moko had once been one of the most known lizard kings in the world, until an unfortunate accident, when an army of evil lizards had attacked his empire and dethroned him.
Sonic approached the pair, and started talking to them.
'My name is Sonic the Hedgehog… I have been wandering to find the Fire Mountain they call Salamandastron… Do you have any idea of its whereabouts?'
'Ssss… We have been living in this beach for a long time. We help all goodbeassssstssss. My name is Moko, ex-king of the lizardssssss, and thisssssss isssssssss my friend Flakey. He is one of the lasssssst dessssscendantsssss of the Fire Lizardsssss. Of courssssse, the only problem is his ancessssstorsssss usssssed to be much bigger, but don't let hisssss size fool you.'
Sonic looked admiringly at the home of the two. It had been built in rock, with all the accommodations needed for a homely life. A few chairs were scattered here and there, and a large oblong table was placed in the center of the main room. Forged into the rock were five rooms, the kitchen, three bedrooms, and a winecellar that also was used for storage of other things, such as fish drying or numerous clothes.
'Sssstay here, friend, we will prepare dinner…'
Moko went into the kitchen, and started preparing a brew with some berries, salad, and some mushroom pastie.
Sonic marveled as the two friends moved swiftly and had quickly prepared a hot meal.
He ate hungrily, and he found that the lizards were marvelous cooks as well as good hosts. Producing a flute, Moko started playing a cheery tune as Flakey danced merrily to it. Sonic laughed with good heart.
He settled down for the night, snuggling deep into a mat woven with feathers and other silk threads. It made an incredible place to sleep in. A soft breeze blew through the window, cooling down the hot night. It was an ideal place to sleep in. He couldn't help himself, and fell asleep within seconds.
He dreamt again, a restless, tossing sleep in which he couldn't extricate himself from. He could see the mountain, but somehow he couldn't reach his goal. Running through the sandy beach, the soft waves lapping his feet, he could see Salamandastron, glittering in the distance. But a force field of astounding magical strength was holding him back.
A red beam surge through the field, shrieking like a Banshee, and crashed into the hedgehog's muscular body, sending a searing pain through him.
Sonic bent himself in an arc, unable to move. The wind seemed to cackle as Sonic extricated himself from the sand. Bending his body, he leapt past the wind and into the barrier. But the spirit was too rapid, even for him. The wind was in front of him in a flash, bending through him, sending him howling back into the sand, which was forming into a tornado of small golden flakes, in his eyes, his shoes, his ears. Then a sweet, lolling voice, speaking to him psychically.
'Sonic… You don't know my voice… But I was with you when you were born…'
'Are you… My mother?'
'No, Sonic. You shall meet your mother… before this whole quest is ended, you shall see your mother.'
'How… Can I fight through this barrier?'
'Sonic… You are now fighting for your life. This barrier is bent on stopping you from waking up. The only way you can wake from your slumber is fighting this wind and making your way to the mountain.'
'How… Do I do that?'
'That is for you, and you alone to decide.'
Sonic slumped himself on the sands, pensive. The wind howled its challenge at him, menacing and lurking. It didn't try to fight him, it just protected the mountain. And always, that sickening sound, as it roared it's challenge…
Valiantheart trekked pensively through the mountain range, discussing with Honeycomb.
'Something isn't right… Have you had the feeling, Honeycomb, or do I need to have my head examined?'
'Maybe a little bit of both…'
'Very funny… No, seriously, I can feel something somehow lurking in the area…'
'The d'you think we should organize some kind of battle pattern?'
'I don't think so. We shall just have to see what comes, wot….'
Martin was following the conversation between the two hares, and looked about him, looking worried…
Redwall kitchens were bustling with the sounds of clattering pans, cooks shouting here and there.
A young otter named Marie was baking a cake. Scarcely turning her head up, she called to Foremole
'Ahoy, Foremole! Get me some of that pastie you are baking, I need some to match my cake!'
'Douglas, get away from the mushrooms, I don't want you eating half of them again, it'll spoil the concoction!'
The nimble little squirrel dodged around the room as Bridgett tried to catch the young scamp as he darted through the hallways and under tables, still clutching the platter of mushrooms.
Hiding behind Progg Spike as he was running through the corridors, Bridgett furiously stalked through the corridors of the abbey, still searching her mushrooms.
Douglas giggled as the huge mountain hare stalked angrily in the corridors, seeking her ingredients.
Skipper of Otters was helping a young mole named Glamrose carry a huge pan of otter hotrout soup, laced with some different spices, including some supplied by the Guosim.
Using his rudder-like tail to balance himself, he placed the bowl in an even bigger pot, containing numerous bubbling and mouth-watering aromas. This was to be one of the grandest soups ever to be concocted in Redwall kitchens. Many goodbeasts bustled around the container, admiring it.
A huge otter called Romeo entered the hall, bringing in a huge pastie, composed essentially from carrots, leeks, and many other vegetables. Bridgett was between the pastie in a flash.
Romeo lifted a warning paw.
'Beware, miss! Your not stealing any of this pastie, I hope!'
Bridgett tried to look busy as her left arm started reaching for a slice of the pastie.
Romeo had anticipated the move, and swiftly dealt Bridgett a small tap on the back.
'Tut, tut… Miss Bridgett, don't you have anything better to do?'
'Base ingratitude! You help the people and bother about baking things, then they let you go and don't give you a decent scrap of scoff?'
Sonic sat disheveled in the sand. At the other side of the tornado, he could see the mountain, as well as his exit to the natural world. He could see Moko and Flakey, working behind him, probably believing him to be still sleeping.
He thought about the many spells of breaking and binding he could think of, but nothing under these circumstances. Concentrating his mind on breaking the force field, he sent a powerful lightning ray traversing the storm. But the magical obstacle merely absorbed the powerful magic attack. Running towards the storm, he tried breaking through it. The result was clashing. As he hit the thunderous storm, he was catapulted back into the sand, with the small particles of sand swimming around him. Taken aback, he beat into the sand dunes with his fist. He started to examine the problem mathematically. Somehow, this magic could withstand anything magical and physical. He crossed those two options out. Then he started focusing on mental skills. Maybe somehow there was an emotion strong enough to change the evil radiance circulating through the storm.
He had to think of an emotion strong enough. Then it hit him. The only force strong enough to counter evil itself was love. E had to think of something filling him of love. He thought of is beloved planet of Mobius, the beautiful grass, the azure green sky. He thought of the wonderful city of Neo-Mobotropolis. He thought of all his friends, the calm and wise Bookshire, Rotor Walrus, Antoine D'Coolette, Dulcy Dragon, Knuckles the Echidna, Tails, his little brother. And he thought of Sally. These thoughts filled his mind with love. It seemed as if a little bubble of rose-tinted hue circulated through the misty tornado.
The thing became a flaming red, a depressive blue, and turned a beautiful golden color before becoming multi-color, pulsing with all the colors of the rainbow.
The mist slowly faded, and Sonic could see the way, clearly in front of him. Racing towards the mountain, it seemed as though he had just zoomed through a huge bubble and popped it.
He woke up in the calm and hot summer atmosphere. He realised he was famished, and headed towards the kitchen. He met up with Moko and Flakey, who were just starting to prepare things for breakfasting.
'Welcome back, Sssssonic… You have been ssssleeping for a long time, friend.'
As Sonic launched himself upon the food, he tried to guzzle everything in sight as well as recount his strange dream and his escape from certain death.
Moko kept on refilling Sonic's plate as the ravenous hedgehog finished his tale.
'Well… Ssssseemssss ssssomehow sssssomeone isssss tesssting your capability on reaching Ssssalamandastron…'
'Indeed… But there's one relief… I know I have passed all the tests this person is laying on my path.'
'I think there issss ssssafety in numberssssss… Me and Flakey will follow you until you reach the mountain, Sssssonic.'
'Then let'sssss… I mean, lets get going.'
Sonic packed his bag, and Moko and Flakey prepared supplied for the three day journey to themountain of the fire lizard. They left the house at noon the same day.
Knuckles hovered over the beautiful ocean, sparkling of a thousand jewels. He had been searching for days for the elusive island, but to no avail. Every now and then he would land on a small metallic inlet to catch his breath and a bite to eat. He had been visiting the southern part of Mobius, and was almost at the end of his map. Beyond that was uncharted territory. Producing a comlink from his pocket, he punched in a combination.
Rose immediately responded.
'Knuckles, where have you been?'
'Still searching for Bookshire. Nothing until now.'
'How long will you be, Guardian?'
Knuckles viewed the setting sun, the only thing that had not been roboticized on Mobius.
'I have no idea Rose. But I certainly hope to be back before long.'
'Thanks for the detailed answer…'
'Rose, you know I have to find Lazarus. He is the only one for the moment capable of withstanding the power of Robotnik's bots for long. This is our last chance to save what is left of the rebellion until he comes back…'
'Knuckles… There is another possibility. Watcher spoke of the four great wizards ever to walk the land. He told me one of them was the one in the bloodline of the Bookshires, another is yet young and not even in this world, and the other two…'
Knuckles had been listening intently.
'The third high mage is… Lazarus.'
'But… He has been frozen in the vortex for years… There is no way to free him…'
'Wait, there's more… the fourth second most powerful wizard is… Naugus.'
Knuckles paused. Naugus was one of the greatest foes he and Sonic had ever faced in their fight for freedom. Naugus had been sent into space thanks to the help of the Downunda freedom fighters and the Star Gun, which had sent the evil sorcerer off into space.
'What are you suggesting, Rose?'
'I think I am going to send some search parties to find the other mages, and somehow free them.'
'WHAT? Are you insane? Naugus will take the first chance he can to destroy you!'
'Not unless Watcher can do something about it…'
Knuckles was baffled. Signing out, he headed towards the edge of his map that was getting dangerously closer.
He though he could see some kind of islands in the distance, but he wasn't sure. He leapt high into the air and was soaring high into the air, headed towards the isle he had spotted.
Slashear and Frogtail were preparing booby traps and placing them strategically through the forest. Two rats named Slasher and Ripcoil were helping them install the traps. The rest of the crew prepared the terrain and scouted ahead.
Flimpo, along with Blagga, were foraging for food with their scouting teams. The food was plentiful in the beautiful woodlands, berries and apples, and many other fruit that seemed exotic to many of the searats present. A scout came running through the woodland, and barely missed being impaled on spikes placed behind a bush. Gasping for breath, the sentry made his report.
'Puff… Puff… Gulag's soldiers have landed… It's Khenti and his fox gang.'
Flimpo caught his breath. Khenti was the strongest, most important captain in the whole of Gulag's fleet. Khenti was vicious and sinewy, and his gang was only composed of the strongest vermin, all foxes. None had ever defeated Khenti in a sword fight, only the emperor had been capable of doing this, and only when the bloodwrath was upon him.
'Come on, troupes! We have to finish these traps before the mangy foxes come here! Let's send them back there tails between there legs!'
A great cheer occurred from every mouth. The good searats started to work with all their hearts on mining the area with traps. But Flimpo knew there was bound to be a battle at some point. They had finished laying most of the small forest with traps by sundown.
Martin and the hares had been walking for hours through the steep mountain range. Fanning himself with a leaf he had collected from the forest, Melchior planned their way with Honeycomb.
'Righto, we have traversed most of the bloomin' mountain, but then we have doubts about being followed. This might be a hunch, but I have reasons to believe we had better find out who is stalking us, wot…'
Martin walked up to the hares.
'What do you suggest, friend?'
'What we always do with an possible foe or friend. Invite him to dinner, wot…'
'Huh? Your not serious, are you?'
but it showed the Melchior was. Cupping his hands together, he hollered, and the echo of his voice was transported through the whole mountain range.
'Ahoy, there! I am Melchior Silverarrow, last of the Silverarrows! We know you have been stalking us; We come in peace. If you wish to meet us, come to the bonfire tonight.'
'That was possibly the stupidest thing I have ever seen you do, you realise that?'
'Probably isn't the last, if you consider this stupid, zir…'
'What are you talking about? You just told him where we would be situated.'
'Yes… But we are five, and it is one. Furthermore, I doubt him to be a violent creature, maybe he is just cautious.'
'Fine, then. We'll try your idea. But if it doesn't work, then what?'
'Don't ask, and hope my idea works.'
Back in Redwall…
Abbot Mortimer crept through the corridors of his abbey, silently, almost gliding like a graceful swan upon a still pond. He climbed up the stairs to Fermald the ancient's attic, which had been for many seasons a resting-place for the elders and the leaders of Redwall who considered great hall to be too hot.
There were but two elders resting there, Foremole and Bridgett.
The vibrant mountain hare was helping Merlin carve himself a toy sword out of wood.
Merlin was experiencing difficulties using it. He was a young abbey beats, but he was wise for one so young. He was obviously losing his temper carving the object.
The Abbot of Redwall chuckled.
'Merlin, do not worry about using the sword the right way. Hopefully you should never have to use it thanks to our Abbey Warrior.'
Merlin suddenly raised his hands, and a blinding flame seemed to spurt from his little hands. The carving had consumed itself and become a perfect replica of the sword of the Abbey Redwall!
All the elders present gasped at what they had just witnessed.
Abbot Mortimer calmly interrogated Merlin.
'Merlin… How did you do that?'
'I… I don't know… I just was furious at not being able to carve the sword properly, and I just sort of concentrated on the sword, and there it was…'
Abbot Mortimer immediately summoned all the elders and gave them a full report on what they had seen when Redwall was slumbering.
They were all there, Skipper of Otters, Logalog, Foremole, Lady Nightshade the Squirrelqueen, Progg and Duddlum Spike, and Furlo Stump.
'Friends… Something very unusual has happened today. I think you all know what I am talking about. You all saw the perfect carving of the Abbey sword.'
Lady Nightshade had been in many fights in her time. Commander of all squirrels residing in Mossflower, she made a frightful figure with the many battle scars present on her arms and legs. She spoke in a gruff, precise voice.
'I think there is but one explanation to this: Our young Merlin has the gift of sorcery in him!'
Logalog stood up, and in a voice similar to that of Lady Ambrose, he too, agreed to her judgement.
'I think we might have to find him some kind of teacher to instruct him on the ways of magic; Even though this is going to be a difficult problem, I believe he has the sagacity to succeed in his goal.'
Abbot Mortimer stepped into the conversation.
'We must think about this. I think the best way to do this is to wait for him to come of age. Then, and only then, can we send him to learn.'
Murmurs of approval mounted in the assembly. The elders liked the idea. Before they went to their respective beds, Sister Marigold, the beast in charge of the sickbay made one last remark.
'You said that the magic was triggered when Merlin got mad. I think we should start getting careful. Dibbuns his age aren't capable of hating, but the problem is that he might unknowingly hurt someone.'
They all agreed to this, and settled for the night.
Sonic, Moko and Flakey had been walking through the huge dunes for three days now, and they had not met anything unusual. It was sundown when the reached the last hill. Before them, stood the mountain.
Salamandastron! The mountain stood before them, huge, menacing. Sonic had often seen the mountain in his dreams, but never had he imagined how the grandeur and majesty of the place would hit him. Flames spouted out from a hole jutting out of the top of the great monolith, heating up the air and giving an air of mystery to the place.
Moko and Flakey weren't impressed; They had been there more than once, and they were known inside the mountain.
The three companions walked until they reached a rocky cavern. Sitting outside were three hares. Moko and Flakey greeted them.
'Leonhart, matey! It has been many seasons since I traveled here!'
'Indeed it has, Moko! Who's your friend?'
'Buffy! You look as young as you did the last time we visited!'
'And you don't look so bad yourself, Flakey you old flame thrower!'
'Brighteye! You ole' foodbag, still tucking in scoff, as I can see!'
Sonic smiled at the creatures playfully greeted themselves. After the presentations had been made, Sonic and his two companions were lead into the cavern. Behind them, Leonhart pushed a hidden cog and closed the rocky outcropping, that landed with a creak and a thud.
Torches illuminated the way, and every now and the windows carved into the nooks of the inner mountain. Sonic followed the hares as they lead him to the very heart of Salamandastron…
Martin twitched nervously, his sword unsheathed at his side. It had been a restless day. Since the time Melchior had thrown his challenge to the onlooker, Sonic and the hares had been on their nerves. A fire burnt on a small outcropping. The hares were cooking some of their best recipes. Honeycomb was scouting the area, seeing if their guest for the evening was coming. He did come, finally. Valiantheart was cooking a carrot turnover when a lilting sound came from behind him.
'Sssssssssssss… I am here, sssssssssirsssssss…'
The strange bat-like creature helped itself to some food. He devoured everything within sight. Once he had finished demolishing all the food cooked, Martin relinquished to ask him some questions.
'Why were you watching us friend?'
'I am very scared of bad people… A long time ago, I wasssss sssssssssent here… I have been trapped in thisssssssssss world for a long time.'
'I suppose your right.'
A few more questions confirmed that the creature was a goodbeast. Discussing with the hares, Martin was discussing whether he was friend or foe.
'I wouldn't mind taking him with us, he looks so lonely.' Said Honeycomb
'As long as we keep him away from the bally scoff, wot…' Added Valiantheart
Martin nodded, and walked back to the figure who was staring at them wonderingly
'If you agree with it, we would love to have your company in our travels. What can we call you, friend?'
'Call me Clawssssss…'
Knuckles was resting on a huge metallic island the size of Last Hope, when Archimedes the fire ant materialized on his shoulder.
'Hey, Archie. Anything for me?'
'Your headed for an Island that is… Well… Vegetated…'
'Non-roboticized… You know…'
'Any signs of life?'
'I think there might be one habitation, with a huge waterwheel, and enough to be a manor in the forest in a way.'
'Huh? Oh, I think I am going to find out for myself…'
Knuckles soared high into the horizon as Archimedes popped into nothingness.
The guardian flew high over the clouds, soaring like an eagle. His goal was getting closer within every heartbeat.
From within the depths of the cavernous island, something could see the approaching speck of red in the horizon, as the sun set and tinted the horizon in colors of gold and pink hue…
Knuckles flew all night, only pausing twice to recharge his batteries. He reached the island as the sun emerged from the ocean, illuminating the land with taints of golden and blue specks. Tranquil clouds glided peacefully by. It was a beautiful morning. Something wasn't right. Knuckles saw it the second he looked at the sunrise. For one thing, the sky close to Neo-Robotropolis was red; It was possible that somehow this far the land had survived the roboticizing process. His feet pressed against the moist and soft grass. He rubbed his eyes. He hadn't seen something as beautiful as this since about ten summers ago, in Neo-Mobotropolis gardens;
Beautiful foliage grew all along the area. The air was rich with the buzzing of insects and birdsong; huge oversized leaves popped everywhere. The fine strands of grass blended harmoniously with the gorgeous red and yellow-tinted flowers blooming and spreading scattered all across the fields. Creatures frolicked in the warm summer sun as daffodils and lilies spread there petals towards the sun, high up.
Knuckles gazed up. A huge mountain, decorated with flowers and grass glittering like a lost treasure, was located in the middle of the island. A huge building was arisen there. A huge waterwheel, connected to a slide feeding the contraption, triggering a series of ingenious machines. Huge mushroom-roofed houses popped out from the mountain.
What amounted to a town on the mountain presented it in front of his eyes.
He didn't even bother gliding towards the mountain, but preferred walking in the middle of the wonderful forests and meadows, scampering in the roses and butterflies.
He reached the mountain at midday. He saw somebody resting in the field. Advancing up to him and greeting him, he called to him.
'Ahoy, matey! Where am I?'
The mouse woke up with a start. In a small high pitch voice, he asked
'Who…Who are you? We thought we were the only living creatures on this planet!'
'What are you talking about?'
'When the time of the great cold came, we were all hiding here. Bookshire brought us here with his magic. The distance stopped the great cold from reaching this island. Thus, we were capable of staying normal and free. What about you, stranger?'
Knuckles recounted the story of how, by protecting themselves by hiding under the earth, they had escaped the Roboticization that could have condemned them to complete slavery.
The young mouse opened huge eyes filled with hope as he asked the question that was gnawing through his soul.
'So… Someday… We might be…Free? I mean, totally free? Free to wander around Mobius? To not hide away here? Is that possible?'
'It happened once, it could happen twice. You spoke of Bookshire. I have been seeking your master for a long time already. Can you lead me to him?'
The mouse was happy to oblige, and leaded Knuckles through a complicated set of houses. As he passed through the town, the otters, mice and shrews that seemed to be the only species living there would pause from there chores and gaze at him. Some of them would murmur on his way.
They reached the middle of town, where a huge tower was built. The top of the tower could easily pass through the clouds.
'This is where Bookshire lives, right?'
'Sure. I will have to leave you for the moment, I have to help prepare dinner.'
'Of course…' As the little mouse ran through the streets, Knuckles called him.
'What is your name, young one?'
'Rama, mister Knuckles!'
'Please, just call me Knuckles.'
Knuckles tipped the huge door that oscillated slightly with a groaning creek.
He walked into a faintly lighted corridor. Shadows danced in twisted shapes, controlled by the flickering dancing flame of the candles. Suddenly, he heard something that sounded like the blow of a distant wind in a gale, and all went dark…
Sonic had been walked through the chambers of Salamandastron, marveling at the ingenuity of the Hares and the badger lords that had founded the marvelous place. He had met most of the hares in the fortress. Along with those he already knew, such as Leonhart and Buffy, the mighty fighter. Sonic had been discussing with the hares, and they were happy to know that their companions would soon be joining them.
'So, Said Buffy, Melchior is coming back? It has been a long time…'
Sonic walked down a dark corridor, shadows dancing on his skin, and he entered what seemed to be the center of Salamandastron. A huge forge was in front of him, fuming through a hole in the mountain, the bright fire that had lead him past mounts and valleys to this mountain. Leaning on a weapon was a formidable female badger. Lady Blackrock, Badger mistress of Salamandastron looked huge, but she looked calm and serene, like a pond in the morning, untouched by nothing but the quiet hue of the sunlight and the morning dew.
Kindly comprehending eyes looked down on Sonic. Her voice boomed through the whole cavern, but it sounded homely, as if muffled.
'Welcome, Sonic. Welcome, Freedom Fighter. Welcome, world traveler. For a long, long time I have waited on these shores for your arrival. It has been carved in badger runes on the walls of this mountain that someday the blue hedgehog would come in search of his destiny.'
Sonic merely smiled.
'Lady Blackrock… Your kind is very rare in this world and in mine. Badgers are the mightiest creatures of these worlds. I can see the calm radiate from inside you, yet, I can tell you know how to fight.'
Lady Blackrock smiled.
'Indeed. Sonic Maurice Hedgehog, Chosen One, today we start your training. I know you already have started your with my good war companion and friend, Martin the Warrior of Redwall. I shall complete this training.'
The huge badger smiled, a happy, contented smile that somehow filled the whole room with happiness.
Sonic followed the badger through a huge arc leading upward in the mountain.
The huge badger led the way, blocking the Hedgehog's view. He could just see the faintly lighted corridor, and the flames leading the dancing shadows across the huge back of his friend.
Sonic gazed into the room Blackrock had just led him into. A huge circular room stood in front of him. Runes were drawn across the whole area of the walls, covering most of the ceiling and some of the floor. Traced in colors of gold, red and blue, they were drawings as well as strange runes unlike any Sonic had ever set his eyes upon. Lady Blackrock bid him to continue on through another door carved inside the wall. Trying to dispatch his eyes from the runes, he followed the mistress of Salamandastron.
Collecting two torches from the wall, she gave one to Sonic. Keeping the other, she walked through the doorway.
They entered a room that was obviously a library. It was built in a twisted way. One huge main hallways covered with a plush red mat, decorated with many symbols, went on until it reached the end of one of the walls. On either side, were smaller passageways leading to the different sections. The whole scene was illuminated by many torches, which gave it a warm feeling as they lighted up the carpet. Numerous hares stood to attention, some consulting the hundred of books present, others recording information as they sat at the numerous desks placed for that effect.
Lady Blackrock gazed down upon the young hedgehog, who was obviously staggered with the size of the place of study.
'This is were our most knowledgeable hares work to accumulate wisdom; My ancestors, preserve them, were a fighting bunch. I want to stop this tradition, and continue on the way of scholars. My hares can fight, and they are starting to know how to learn.'
Sonic looked appreciatively at the huge library. It was magnificent. On a huge shelf was placed one small leather black book.
Blackrock moved up to the artifact and opened it.
'This was a book given through our history for badgers to come. This book records all the happenings in the land. With it's infinite pages, it will never run out. So the story of Mossflower will stay forever written. This book can survive fire, water, anything that could damage it.'
'I think I have seen this book before, and it wasn't in Mossflower.'
'There is a belief that the ancient creatures that created the universe left one in every time. This is from the time of my grandsires. You might have seen one from a time long ago.'
'Well, Sonic, I think you have seen enough. My mountain has many sites, but I believe you shall see most of them over the next few days…'
Sonic smiled, and picked out a book out of one of the shelves…
Khenti the fox stood at the outskirts of the woods. He was a fiersome looking fox. A long time ago, he had fought a battle against the tribes of wolves in the south, battling for the weapon he now held in his hand. It was carved in pure crystal, studded with jewels that could only be found in the steppes to the far north of Mossflower. A wickedly spike blade was fixed upon the sword, rendering it deadly. It glittered in the morning sun, illuminating the dark features of its owner. Slashing the sword up towards the rising sun, the wolfox screeched to his troupes
'Onward! For emperor Gulag, let's get those stones!'
A great cheer arose from the numerous beasts present.
Many of them had been fighting with Khenti the day he had won his sword, and many of them knew how powerful he was. Not only was he a master swordsman, but he also could handle magic like no one else. He had invented at least three different spells that were his, and which had been voted in by the wizard's council.
He was one of the most powerful fighters in the northern world. Whenever he came to land, he usually started a campaign of rampaging that usually lasted for seasons on end, until he reached the shore again, where his ship would be waiting for him. Khenti smelled the surrounding air, sniffing here and there.
Flicking a bug out of his shoulder, he advanced into the thick woodland.
Immediately he sensed something was horribly wrong. One of his legions walked up to a tree.
'Hey, something's moving in this… AAAAAARRRRRGGGGH!'
a long silvery arrow pierced through the fox, encasing itself with a resounding thud in the nearby tree.
'Watch out, the forest is booby trapped!'
Suddenly, foxes seemed to be falling everywhere in the ranks. Some of them fell into huge pits, impaled on the huge wooden spikes down below. Another was inspecting the woodland, when a huge fire seemed to spurt from under him. He was instantly consumed and turned into a pitiful heap of ashes, smothering and still fuming from the treatment.
Khenti started being more cautious than when he had entered the area. He thought he could guess who had planted these booby traps.
Flimpo was nowhere to be found. Cautiously walking through the deep undergrowth, the heavily armored fox sniffed the air, searching for eventual booby traps.
They were walking through the copse of trees, and from far Khenti thought he could see the sunlight grasping through the leaves.
He had lost many of his vermin to the woods. Leading them out of the copse, he could see the fugitives running through open country.
'Come on, you sniveling hound bags! We have to catch up with them before they reach Redwall Abbey!'
The skies were reddened and dark. This was a land of misery and peril, a land that had not seen a noble creature in centuries. The creature-winged overhead, blocking out the sun as it went. A glittering jewel sparkled on her forehead. Flying her was through the devastated villages, she reached the center of the storm. Spreading her broad wings, the huge bird-like shape flew up to a huge statue. It reached higher than the tallest clouds, ripping through the gathered mass of nebulas. The jewel burned like a furious fire, consuming the dark skies. The strange spike domed head directed the jewel towards a twin replica of the one fastened to the strange creature's head. A huge spark of white lightning spurted from the jewel, spreading lightning over the plains and forests. It continued glowing harder and harder. At the center of this energetic storm stood the strange bird… And so a world was born…
Shadwell and Dingo were running playfully through the corridors of last hope. Rose was forced to run after them at full speed, tut-tutting them as she went.
'Come back here, you little ruffians! Cease and desist!'
'Keeheehee! You'm will never catch usn's!'
Goodwife Karna came racing and appeared right in front of the babes, as they were about to enter the kitchens.
'That's enough, little scamps!'
She grabbed both of the little babes and tucked them safely into her apron pocket.
'Well, marm, you'm have been running allaways through Last hope and back, it seems.
Oi'll gladly take you in for some scones.'
Rose gladly followed the molewife as she fussed around her offspring;
Offering Rose a freshly-baked batch of her scones, she popped one into her mouth and offered two apiece to her young ones.
'So, miz Rose, has yon Knuckles found the wizard yet?'
'I'm afraid not, Karna, and I haven't been able to contact his radio since.'
'Don't you fret about him, missie, Knuckles knows how to take care of himself.'
'I know… But we don't have the sufficient forces to fight Robotnik's army head-on…'
'Marm, don't worry… Knuckles will be back with Lazarus, and hopefully our search parties will have found Bookshire soon.'
The waves lapped hungrily on the coast, forming foamy white clouds on the soft golden sand.
The land of Mobius cowered in the midst of the evil of its ruler. Little did it know that an even greater evil was approaching…
Redwall slumbered on as a strange figure crept through its walls. Blending into the shadows, the creature approached one of the sickbay chambers…
Slinking through the shadows, the alien figure strode determined up to Fang's chambers.
The batthief slumbered on, sleeping peacefully.
The figure walked up to the bat, and drawing an object from her purse, she placed it on his windowsill. Carefully the character slunk off, carefully removing any trace of her visit, all except one. A glowing, red rose…
Fang woke up the next morning, and found the rose on his windowsill.
Walking down to breakfast, he seated himself next to Foremole. On either side were Abbot Mortimer and Romeo.
'Slept well, Fang?'
'Well… Yes, but I found this morning a rose on my windowsill… Was it someone of the abbey that placed it there?'
'I wouldn't know… You might have broken a few hearts when you entered the abbey; I will ask the sickbay assistants, they know most of the gossip circulating in the whole of Mossflower.'
Later that morning, Abbot Mortimer walked into the sickbay and headed for sister Marigold. He quickly informed her of Fang's predicament, and waited for an answer that never came.
'If you have to rely on me, not one creature in this abbey went even near to Fang's room last night.'
'Thank you, Marigold.'
Mortimer reported his findings to Fang. The batthief started worrying.
'Hm… I hope it isn't a bad omen.'
'Well, I suppose if anything is going to happen, we will be there, don't worry, bucko. Didn't you have some map work to do this morning?'
'Hm? Oh, yes…. I am going to try and map the southern part of Mossflower today. Care to join me?'
'No, I can't, my duties at the Abbey are too busy this morning, but I think Skipper and his otters will gladly help you.'
Fang walked out of the gates escorted by Skipper and his whole crew. They cavorted happily through the woods as Fang chattered with Skipper.
'Fang, where did you come from? How is it like?'
'In my world? well, for one thing, there is no vegetation. There is no such thing as a river or a brook. Just one city; There, you have to fight to survive. It was a bad place to live in. I had no one there. Then, Sonic came. I was to follow him as he went through his different trials. I thank him for being my friend, as well as saving me from that world.'
'Hm… Well, now at least you know what a tree looks like.'
'Right… I just hope Sonic will come back soon, I am having troubles finding the contact by my own.'
'Matey, I don't think the contact is anywhere in this abbey; I think that when the time is right, you should start doing some questing of your own.'
'But… I don't even know where I will be going…'
'Friend, you're the one who wants to map, right? And whats more, I'll make sure you won't be all alone on your quest.'
'Skip… Will you come with me?'
'Of course, matey. Wouldn't miss it for the world. And I think some of your friends back at the Abbey will want to come.'
They continued talking as Fang busied himself mapping the contours of the woods. At midday they stopped for a bite to eat.
Skipper produced some damson wine, oatfarls and some summer salad. Soon they were eating heartily. Fang was munching some salad when something hit him in the ear.
A rock whizzed past him and hit an otter named Clarence in the back of the neck. Skipper screamed.
'To arms, mateys!'
The attackers scattered around the clearing and started firing a salvo of rocks. Fang hit one of them with his sling, and the figure dropped.
A mellow voice sounded.
'Retreat, Skyflier's down!'
The figures started dashing through the woods. His blood rising, Fang gave chase. He saw them briefly running through some kind of red ripple in the woods, and then they were gone.
Skipper seemed baffled 'What happened, Fang?'
'I was hoping you could tell me…' Fang looked around him 'There couldn't have been many of them to evacuate so quickly.'
Skipper picked up one of the rocks that had been used in the short but brutal fight 'Hm… Perfectly round, not heavy, we would have been dead had they tried.'
Fang turned around, facing the otter chieftain.
'What do you mean? They only tried to lure us away or something?'
Skipper shrugged 'I don't know, but if they had these stones it would have been hard to miss us…'
Fang started thinking about the possibilities of the attack.
'They might have been anything from a band of robbers to a group of wild monsters. Too bad I didn't bring any monster balls.'
'Well, you can have some of mine, bucko. But I am afraid I don't have that many to offer.'
'That's fine… I don't really need them.'
Fang walked about the area he had seen the fighters disappear. Turning onto Skipper, he nodded in the direction of Redwall Abbey. 'I think there will be no more mapping for today; we should go and tell the Abbot what we saw today. Coming, Skip?'
Skipper of otters was sniffing the deep foliage that had been disturbed by numerous footsteps of their assailants.
'For one thing, they were about six, fighting with long bows and slingshots… They fought like twenty apiece…'
'That's why we should hurry on the abbey, I wouldn't want them attacking it without us.'
Trudging along in the undergrowth, the companions halted every now and then to examine their surroundings and make sure no-one was following them.
Skipper was getting more relieved as they crossed the gates of the abbey.
'Well, nothing seems to have befallen them… Yet…'
Skipper of otters and Fang walked up to the attic of Fermald the ancient. Abbot Mortimer had doze off in a comfortable armchair, oblivious to everything around him.
Fang walked up to the old mouse and patted him gently on the shoulder.
The Abbot of Redwall looked up from his sleep. 'Hello, Fang. Come back so soon?'
The bat warrior shrugged and started the recitation of what had overcome the fighters.
As the Abbot listened to Fang, he shook his head. 'When will all this evil stop? Fang, you are a seasoned warrior. We need you in our abbey. Thank you for the support you offer us.'
That night, it rained like it never had rained before. Howling gales blew the vegetation clear away, and dark menacing clouds loomed over in the sky.
Romeo was on the nights watch, and sheltered by the ramparts, he was busily preparing himself some otter hotroot soup. He looked up to see a figure fighting against the winds, his cape swirling as the wind led the dance, as if the cape were possesed.
Romeo braved the winds and called out to the loan traveler.
'Ahoy, matey! Do you need help over there!.'
A soft soothing voice sounded over the howling wind. 'I would appreciate it if you could let me in the abbey, I heard about your reputation, sirs! Kindly open the gates for a poor famished traveler!'
Romeo screamed to Glamrose, the gatekeeper to open the latch. The friendly otter obliged and let the figure in.
'Phew! Out of the wet you go, stranger. Don't talk right now, we'll take you to great hall; Hopefully there's some supper left.'
The kindly otter guided the disoriented stranger through the lawn as the howling winds tore some of the weeds apart.
In Great Hall, all the abbey creatures were eating their fill, eating huge portions of food. All heads turned to the main door as Romeo and Glamrose entered escorting the voyager. Unlatching his cape and hanging it on a nook, all those present saw him.
He wore a slouched hat the stretched about three times higher than his head. He wore a jacket fastened to his body with two silk buttons. His sleeves were decorated with a number of strange runes. When they looked at his face there was nothing but a half-moon of black, the top of his head hidden by the hat. Two shimmering oval yellow buttons were his eyes.
The abbot invited him to a seat next to him and Fang.
'Friends, we have a new face amongst us. I think the newcomer should present himself, don't you think so?'
The stranger stood up, eyes glittering strangely. 'Aye, father abbot. My name is Darkmoon Mooncrystal. I come from the far south of the world, nowhere close to your world. I was captured by searats a long time ago. I managed to escape, and ended up in this abbey. Before I was captured I was a black wizard; This is all there is to be said about my life.'
Darkmoon sat down and started eating some damson pudding.
'Well, what are you waiting for? I won't bite, you know! Except maybe in that cheese, can you pass me some, Fang?'
The whole assembly started laughing and plunged back into the feast.
Darkmoon turned out to be an excellent jester, with a sense of humor that even got Fang and Skipper laughing after the encounter the same day.
The repast continued on until late into the night. Before Darkmoon retired for the night in the chambers he had been appointed, he looked one last time on the beautiful Abbey Redwall.
Sighing deeply on his newly found peace, his eyes twinkled in the closest he could get to smiling. Abbot Mortimer saw this, and smiled too. It was good to see someone that has been a slave for all his life taste once more the treasures it has to offer.
The whole abbey fell asleep as the storm raged outside.
Darkmoon lit a candle and sat on his bed, thinking of what his life had been before. He longed to become one of the good brothers and sisters. Looking out of the window, he could see the raging storms endlessly battering the world with its fury. He crept into the covers, and he slept like he had never slept before, his first sleep as a free person.
And the storm raged on, thundering through the land and destroying everything in its passage. It was a cold night for Melchior who was on watch. And in Salamandastron, Sonic slept contented in a rocky ledge, heated by the forge…
Martin woke up the next morning, famished. Melchior was heating something over the fire, and Claws had gone to forage for some food. The friendly creature was not as stupid as Melchior had supposed. He was as smart as any of them, plus he knew tracking techniques and what could heal you in this barren land.
Martin came close to the fire, squatting and stealing some oatmeal as he went.
'Hey! Don't touch the scoff right now, you villain! Outrage, master Martin! Give me back that oatmeal!'
Martin ducked skillfully through the bushes as the maddened hare playfully ran after him.
The other hares quickly woke up at the sound of the scuffle (And the smell of the oatmeal).
Honeycomb jumped onto Martin as he was passing behind her. Grabbing the bowl of oatmeal, she went for a spoon. But Melchior caught his bowl and berated her soundly.
'Now, missy! You'll be served with everyone else, and not before! And I suggest you go take a bath, I don't think I will be capable of serving you with that smell!'
Honeycomb proceeded to jump into the clear river that was flowing not far from their location.
Martin was trying to estimate how much longer they had to travel to reach Salamandastron. Sunshine helped him. 'Well, we first have to cross the great sands, then we should reach the dwelling of Moko and Flakey; Then we shall take another day or so to reach the mountain.'
Martin unsheathed his sword as he heard some leaves rustling. It was only Claws who was returning with some wild berries and some other delicacies of the area.
Offering a berry to Martin, he started munching into one himself.
Turning to the sun, he breathed in the fresh morning air. Plucking a thin reed flute, he started playing a merry tune, a greeting to the beautiful day to come.
Martin joined and played on his instrument, a finely chiseled guitar. Twanging on the chords, he set in playing in harmony with Claws. As they played, their tune was transported through the mountains, singing through the dark and hidden places…
They sat eating breakfast as the sun rose, tinting the world with a beautiful golden hue. Martin was munching on some oatfarl when something caught his ear.
He saw something moving in the bushes. Melchior had seen it too. Creeping through the area separating them from the bush, he slowly and stealthily approached the bush. In a dash of speed, he pounced upon the moving bundle. A whelp was heard as Melchior came out holding a large tough looking otter.
Melchior hugged the otter. 'Mandril! What are you doing here, away from Salamandastron?'
'Hey, Martin! This here's Mandril; She was found a long time ago on the shores of our mountain, shivering and close to death, so our Lady Blackrock took her in.'
Presentations were made as Claws prepared another bowl of food.
Mandril proved to be a very happy otter, and fun-loving as well. As she gorged down the food, she recounted the latest news from the mountain.
'Well, for one thing, I was comin' here to find you crowd; Sonic arrived to the mountain a few days ago, and our Lady had been training him for days on end, but he never seems to be tired. Fastest runner I ever clapped me eyes upon, though, very friendly too. We send him scouting the area today.'
'Well, I hope our Sonic learns well. But for the moment, we might take some more time than we thought Mandril. We have two new visitors, Martin of Redwall, you know him from reputation, and Claws over here.'
'Hi, Martin! We know of you and your adventures. It is an honor to meet you.'
Paws shook paws as presentations were made.
The companions set off by noon that day. The sun was warm, but they were passing through a shady grove that offered pleasant protection in the shades of the trees as the light weaved patterns on their backs as it passed through the spaces in the trees.
Martin was delighted to know that Sonic had reached his goal, and was training with his old friend, Lady Blackrock. He wondered how he was doing…
Sonic was cleaving with all the strength he could muster as Lady Blackrock showed him how to fight properly. Armed with only a small staff, she was showing him more than he had ever learned in his life.
He lay on his knees, panting as the badger lady of Salamandastron offered him some wine.
'Phew! You don't need much training, Sonic! You learn fast and well.'
They both drank some wine and ate. They were tired. For three days non stop, Lady Blackrock had been teaching Sonic. Both were exhausted. But the effort had come to use.
Sonic had learned a lot in the past hours. The huge badger smiled.
'Well, you have learned just about everything I can teach you. Martin and your other master will give the rest to you. But enough of this. I think we both need some sleep. Then, when I am rested I shall forge you a sword.'
Even though he was about to collapse, Sonic still found the strength to help the lady to her chambers before collapsing in his own bed. He slept a dreamless sleep, contented and happy in the mountain of the fire lizard.
Lady Blackrock slept peacefully, her sleep dreamless and black. The moon glittered in the starlit sky as the mountain loomed in the horizon, protecting the coast. All it's inhabitants slept calmly inside, the hares in their chambers and Sonic in his. And suddenly, a shadow seemed to sweep over the land as, for a brief moment, the moon was blocked by something horrifically huge. Something that looked vaguely like a bird, with some kind of sharp, domed forehead….
Sonic woke up the next morning feeling remarkably refreshed. He descended for breakfast. And as usual, the whole room was in havoc. The hares were mighty fighters, and all of them seemed to be trying to live up to the legends. Leonhart and Buffy were demolishing a huge carrot turnover between themselves as Brighteye shared some damson pudding with a huge hare called Glink, from the Starbuck family.
Along with a huge harewife called Hinkle, Merrydew and Frimilk, a young hare who aspired to be a member of the Long Patrol. Another one named Furmul, who was Firmilk's brother, was scouting outside the window, and looking to see if Sonic's friends would be arriving the same day. Sonic saw hundreds of hares feasting on numerous delicacies of mountain food. A long time ago, only a few hares had contributed to keep the legend of the mountain alive. Now, hundreds of them served Lady Blackrock.
Sonic ate with great gusto, filling his plate with many of the delicious food that was offered. The hares were a very friendly bunch, and most of them knew him already. All of them saluted him, knowing how friendly he was himself. Seating himself between Merrydew and Furmul, he started eating his fill. He had not eaten much in the previous days, and he tucked in everything in sight. Even though he had never been much of an eater, when he was hungry he could eat everything that was in arms reach.
The hares thought this to be a quality, and they encouraged him to eat his fill. By the end of the afternoon he was introduced to everyone in the mountain. As usual, he had made friends with everyone in the mountain. Lady Blackrock woke up late in the night, eating for hours on end. When she had finished, she set off for the forge. She took with her a piece of emerald that had been found in the beaches around Salamandastron. Sonic suspected this was a piece of the master emeralds, and therefore he dreamed to think what sort of weapon would come out from it. Setting off for bed, the whole mountain fell asleep. All, spare one window. The forge room burned hot with the fire of the Lady's forging. Folding the metal over and over again, she recited all the names of the greatest warriors she knew, like her great great grandsire, Boar the Fighter had done before her, when he had been forging the sword that would be Martin the Warrior's, first of the bloodline.
Sunflash the Mace, Martin the Warrior, Gonff the Mousethief, Mattimeo, Arven the Squirrel, Grath Longfletch. She spoke Sonic's name as she hit the final blow, as the sun was coming up in the sea. At the last blow, the crystal flashed with colors, and the forge room was flooded with the colors of the rainbow.
Lady Blackrock beheld her creation. This was a sword fit for Sonic. She placed it in its hilt, studded with stones and decorated with things of the woodland, sea and air. She hung it on the wall, and it gleamed there, proudly. The sun reflected off the glass-like green emerald, and visible on the blade was the beach, and the surf booming on the coast.
Sonic woke up the next morning. The hares told him to go to the forge room. All of them were assembled close to the wall. He couldn't see what there backs were hiding.
Sergeant Ergoch came up to Sonic's side.
'Well, laddo, are you ready for it? Lady Blackrock worked all night to make this for you; I hope you'll be appreciative.'
Furmul smiled twitching his ears. 'Hm… D'you think he's ready for it, Marm?'
Lady Blackrock smiled, and presenting Sonic with the hilt, her soft mellow voice resounding for all to hear. All his friends from the mountain were there. Leonhart and Buffy were laughing as Sonic unsheathed the sword, Brighteye, Mandril, Glink and Hinkle were squabbling for a look of the sword. Merrydew, Frimilk and Furmul were helping the other hares to watch.
The sun shone in as Sonic gazed at the wonderful sword. It was about his size, a gigantic broadsword that perfectly suited his hilt. It was light even for it's gigantic bulk, and Sonic was surprised by the perfect balance of the hilt. Flicking it through the air, it performed a somersault. Flying high through the dizzying heights if the room, the sun briefly reflected on the blade, and Sonic caught it back in his outstretched paws.
Hurling his paw high in the sky, he screamed the all time-honored war cry of Salamandastron.
Martin and Melchior walked in front of the group. They had reached the sea a few hours before.
Walking slowly, they saw the dwelling of Flakey and Moko.
Melchior was the first to reach the door. A note was attached to it.
"To the Long Patrol;
We have gone to the mountain of the Fire Lizard with master Sonic.
If you are reading this message, then this means that Martin of Redwall and his friends accompany you. Come quickly, use our lodging how you want. You know where the key is."
Moko and Flakey.
'Well, I suppose we might listen to them.'
Melchior reached out to the door. On it was studded a tiny replica of a dragon. He plucked the tail off. At the other side of the tail was carved a small key. Inserting it into the hole placed for that effect, he entered the house. They spent the night in the house, Martin sleeping in the hammock Sonic had used a few days ago. The last thing he saw was Salamandastron, spouting flames and molten ash.
Sonic woke up the next morning feeling marvelously refreshed. Picking up Nicole, he placed her in his pouch. The computer started beeping.
The warm, yet metallic voice rung out.
'Sonic… This is the last day of your ultimatum with X.'
Sonic looked up to the rising sun, tinting the earth and the sand with it's gentle red hue.
'I know, Nicole. I think I have to tell the hares this morning.'
Sonic descended. He saw the usual commotion over breakfast, and smiled. After the meal was over, he told the habitants of the mountain everything. The meeting with his old friend X, the ultimatum, and his plea to them for help.
All the hares grinned at the thought of an approaching battle. A young hare named Drig and his pal Benny stepped up and spoke for all those present.
'Sonic, it would be an honor for us to help you.'
Lady Blackrock equally stood up.
'Friends, there is but one thing: Where shall we battle this X character?'
Sonic talked. 'Well, marm, I was thinking… Before we came here, we were trapped in a huge valley. I think it is perfect for setting up a battle.'
Martin who had been there acknowledged Sonic's wise decision.
'Aye, if only X will agree to fight us on our own terms.'
Sonic smiled. 'Don't worry, X is a good person. He will agree, I think. But we don't have the necessary fighters to vanquish him.'
Merrydew addressed the Hedgehog. 'That is easily remedied to, sir. Ask help from Redwall.'
Murmurs of agreement started filtering through the room.
'Then it is all agreed, then?'
All paws shot up.
A young hare named Sheryl was voted in to tell the inhabitants of the Abbey to prepare for battle. She ate some food, and prepared herself a haversack of supplies, and shot off through the door of the hall.
Blackrock nodded in the direction of the armory.
'I think that the only way is to leave a minimum force in our mountain to protect the coast, and take the rest to fight the army of X. I also wish to address them in private.'
The hares looked puzzled. Their badger lady had chosen some of the non-fighting hares and chosen as leaders Flakey and Moko.
The badger lady took them aside.
'I have chosen you two for a particular quest; But come in my quarters.'
They walked through the corridors of the mountain, high on top.
Sheryl had told the Abbey of what was coming, and Fang and Skipper had insisted on going with her to Salamandastron. The whole abbey was bustling with activity.
Darkmoon and Foremole were carving different stones to charge them with magic powers when the time came.
'Foremole, keep this one stable, I am counting on installing a lightning spell in that one'
'Hurhur, yes zir Darkmoon, oi'm a holdin'…'
Merlin and Marigold were carving some stones and preparing slingshots as Frildo was furiously cooking rations in the kitchens.
Skipper and Fang were preparing themselves too.
'Well, Skip, seems the opportunity to find Sonic again came quicker than we thought, ey….'
'Aye… Better be careful where your pointing that staff, Fang, you could hurt someone with it.'
Just to prove his point, Fang swung the stick too hard and almost impaled Abbot Mortimer who was busily fussing about and making plans.
Skipper winked at Fang. 'See what I meant? You almost sent the Abbey with a Father Abbot!.'
Lady Nightshade was helping Bridgett and Logalog to plan the attack on the valley.
'See, following Sheryl's story, we should attack from the South; Sonic and his friends will be attacking from the North, cornering the army.'
'We should get all the leaders to organize their companies so that all their attack patterns will coincide well.'
'Fine, I'll have to inform them.'
Duddlum and Progg Spike were preparing some of their troupes with Glamrose and Sheryl, who had agreed to take Fang and Skipper to the Fire Mountain the next day.
Chibb the robin was sent to spy on the valley and scout good areas for fighting or ambush. Holding a quill and some parchment in his hand, the Robin sketched the main features of the valley. He saw that the troupes had not arrived yet.
He thought he could see the warriors from the mountain, tiny speckled dots on the huge sandy areas.
Winging off towards the Abbey Redwall, the sun set, and the figure flying over the clouds dressed in a swooping cloak made note of the event in a small leather book…
Khenti could see Flimpo and his crew running through the valley, cleaving through the foliage and vegetation.
'Come on, Mateys! There almost in view!.'
Two foxes named Greck and Flisk came up to the fox leader.
'Khenti! They lost their stones! Three perfectly shaped scales!'
Greck placed the three glistening stones in his leaders awaiting hands.
'Well, mateys! We have no more reason to run after them! Let's go home!'
A cheer arose from the vermin. Little did they know that the fleeing searats were chuckling as they matched deep into the Mossflower loam…
Flimpo and Slashear were laughing so hard they had to sit down.
'Hoohoohoo! Wait until the ole' emperor tries to put those stones in his dolphin!'
Frogtail was hysterical.
'Hahahaha! It got them off our backs is sure of that!'
Flimpo smiled. Thanks to the quick thinking of his captains and of one especially bright young lad, they had managed to keep the gems and get Khenti away.
Marching confidently through the loam, he shouted to his troupes.
'Right, I think you lot have deserved some relaxation! Tomorrow we head for Redwall Abbey!'
The troupes started organizing some kind of shelter as they settled in the comfortable atmosphere of the valley.
All the searats started unpacking their haversacks. It was an ideal morning. Butterflies fluttered freely in the open air. Lush trees and flowers clustered around as they painted shaded patterns over the grassy area.
The crew settled down for the warm tropical night as the sun set in the horizon.
Sonic was sitting on a ledge of the mountain. It was carved to make a natural balcony, a grassy ledge of rock. He looked at the setting sun, sword in hand. Some green smoke spouted out from behind him.
X stood there.
'Well, bucko, this is the last day of the three weeks. Have you made a decision?'
Sonic smiled without even looking back. ' Yes, I have. I'm afraid your going to have to let the doctor know I have no intention in joining his little army.'
'Well, laddy buck. I suppose there is no other choice. We shall rage war on Mossflower.'
The black hedgehog looked down upon Sonic. 'Yes?'
'I have the right to choose the place of the battle.'
'Fine, then. Show me.'
He produced a map from his pouch. Sonic searched the parchment, and found the area he wanted.
'Here. We shall meet you there.'
X nodded. Producing a small oblong ball, he threw into the air. As it landed on the ground, the same type of green fumes obliterated Sonic's vision. He looked back when the smoke was gone. So was X. He sighed and sheathed the sword. He couldn't back down now. X's challenge had been answered.
Now, all he had to do now was hope on his luck and his capability of fighting.
He descended to his chambers, hoping to catch some sleep.
Fang and Skipper had been running after Sheryl all night. They had to reach the mountain before the morning, or the troupes would leave without them. If they had looked better, they would have seen the searat troupes lounging happily not far from them…
They ran through sand and foliage, struggling. Fang thought his chest would explode. Sheryl called a halt.
'Five minutes to refresh yourselves then were off. Oh, by the way, I wouldn't suggest drinking, it will kill your throat. Just drink a sip, and try sitting down for awhile.'
Skipper lay panting on his back. Taking a small sip of water, he started coughing.
'You do this every month? How do you do it, Sheryl?'
'For one, I don't talk all the time. You should keep your breath for running, Skip.'
'Puff… Puff… Fine, oh wise one…'
Sheryl nipped him sharply on one ear, and in mock fury started berating him soundly.
'One more word out of you, and I am sending you in front of us, see how well you handle that.'
They started running an hour after. They could see the mountain, but the travel was difficult as the sands slowed them down. Fang was exhausted. Every now and then, he would sit down in the sand in a panting heap.
Finally, they reached the mountain. Fang and Skipper went to find Sonic, and Sheryl went to drink something and get some sleep.
Sonic was surprised.
'Fang! Skipper! What are you two doing here?'
As Sonic served them some food and much deserved water, Fang and Skipper recounted the sequence of events that had led them there.
'Well, you did the journey in record time. Welcome to Salamandastron.'
Fang knew he would stay in the mountain to guard it. He was too tired to go marching again the next day.
Sonic assured him.
'Don't worry, next expedition, in this world or another, I am taking you with me.'
Fang smiled, and fell into a dreamless, beautiful sleep. The whole mountain slumbered.
Flimpo woke up the next morning, and ordered the march. Soon they had reached Redwall.
Glamrose was into the gatehouse and saw the friendly searat captain approaching from far. They had already come to Redwall, and were welcome here. They had made numerous friends, and had been accepted even with their heritage of murdering and pillage.
Flimpo smiled at Glamrose.
'Well, young'un, long time no see.'
The corsairs entered the yard, and were welcomed by many of their old friends.
Abbot Mortimer descended to greet Flimpo.
'Welcome home, my son. If I remember well, the last time you came you were pursued by the fox, Khenti. We fought many seasons with him.'
Frildo offered the corsairs some refreshments as they recounted their story, and how their chase had led them to escape the wrath of the evil badger Gulag.
Bridgett shrugged as she devoured some deeper n' ever pie.
'Hm. This Gulag seems to be a powerful fellow. Let's hope we shall never have to fight his army.'
Flimpo and his crew started catching up on some gossip, and the arrival of Sonic's arrival, the war against X, and the troupes arriving from Salamandastron.
Flimpo nodded and said something.
'Abbot Mortimer, time and time again you showed us every kindness. What do you think troupes? Let's repay them and help them against this X character?'
A mighty cheer arose from the clustered searats. They agreed.
And as the happy sounds came from the contented troupes, a bird could be seen winging in the outline of the sun…
Knuckles entered the room and was immediately weaving in the darkness as the candle lights guided the shadows in a dance.
He could see a long winding stairway in front of him. He cautiously mounted the stairs. He had known Bookshire before, and the old hedgehog enjoyed farces. But nothing happened to him. Fastening his hand tightly unto the rail (The dark not helping his way), he could hear the sound of his footsteps clanging and echoing through the tower.
He could barely see anything in front of him. Flinging caution to the four winds, he started running up the stairs. The winding stairs seemed to go on forever. He finally reached something that looked like an oversized door.
Pushing all his strength against the gigantic double doors, he heard the portal open with a dull creak.
Walking inside, his vision was blinded by glowing neon white. He entered, and his shape was swallowed in the fluorescent mist…
Fist walked through the corridors of Last Hope. His family had discovered the huge castle-like construction a long time ago. He felt at home here, the huge corridors, stone buildings, with its spires and parapets.
Folly and Glunn greeted him as he entered the kitchens.
The twin ferrymen had well accommodated themselves, and with the help of chef Guido Parcheesee, they had well learned the art of cooking. They were busying themselves in concocting a fresh batch of cookies.
Sandstorm and Anna-Marie were helping them in preparing the huge variety of food that would be presented at tonight's meal.
'Mister Guido! Where should we put the pasties? The cooling slab is occupied by donuts!'
Guido turned from the batter he was mixing.
'Take it to Fillie, he should be able to fit it in the winecellars.'
Fillie the flutist had chosen to become the new ale and wine-maker of Last Hope, and this cool place allowed him to think up new songs.
Plirgo and Setsu were hauling the huge mountain of pasties down the fleeting halls.
Fillie saw them arriving. Quickly throwing one of the barrels out of the way, he stopped the cart. The pasties went flying into the air and landed perfectly into the area that had bene occupied by the barrel.
Plirgo, the young waterhog, lay panting on the floor.
'Well…. At least we got the pasties here in one piece, mister Fillie.'
Fillie smiled. Taking some fizzy cordial from his cupboard, he gave some to the two grateful young ones. They raced off to the kitchens, chuckling when the bubbles fizzed in their throats.
The Watcher was sampling some of Rosie Hanna's cooking. The cheerful young rabbit smiled as the watcher broke down most of her dainty treats.
'Hm… This is good… What is Rosie?'
The rabbit smiled and told him the recipe for her special cherry juice.
'Well, I just crushed some cherries and added some other things, onions, fizzy strawberry cordial, and other things. Makes quite a drink, doesn't it?'
Watcher smiled. He had been fell fended for in this wonderful refuge of Last Hope.
Scribbling some writings in the small black leather book that never left his side, he walked off to pay a visit to some more of his friends. Mayor Zonc's quarters were located in the highest spires of Last Hope, the ex-mayor loving being high.
Walking through the corridors, his cloak swooping around him as some breeze blew through the carved stone windows. Outside, the sun appeared through the remnants of the huge clouds that had attacked the earth with rain and thunder. The sun colored the clouds and the lapping sea with delicious tints of orange and pink. Last hope was situated on an island, far from the mainland.
Watcher knocked on the door. Zonc talked in his deep and calm paced voice.
The mayor was sitting in his long chair, reading a book.
The old otter had long been a mighty warrior, but since the starting of the rebellion, he had started discovering the beauty around him, nature, and everything it had created. He and Magus were spending some time re-organizing the great array of scattered books that they had collected when Mobius had been invaded. Flicking through the pages, they could be seen taking great enjoyment in what they were doing.
Watcher smiled as his old friend invited him to sit down.
'Welcome. It is nice to see you still visit those grizzled by age.'
Watcher walked through the room encumbered by all the volumes lying around the area.
The surf boomed on the rocks. The lonely cries of seabirds could be heard as they winged there way through the ocean, and into the infinity of the sky.
Rose overlooked the gentle scene as Fist paced around the room, worried.
'Settle down, Fist, nothing is going to happen while Knuckles isn't here.'
Fist continued walking and pacing.
He spoke up. ' I am worried. What if Robotnik finds this area, we could be all doomed.'
'Don't worry. We have some wizards, and this is a very fortified place. We have a lot of fighters, we could sustain attack for a long time.'
Fist looked up from his pensive marching.
'Perhaps your right… I just feel that somehow Knuckles might be in some kind of trouble… and with our forces diminished in the search of that blasted gate, this might be the ideal time for an attack from the doctor.'
Rose smiled peacefully. It had been a difficult three months. Now they were settled and ready to fight. She heard the plaintive moan of the gulls as they swooped overhead, scavenging for food.
Knuckles saw some kind of a huge laboratory, in a jumble of tubes and variously weird machinery. He could see huge computers, monitors clicking away, analyzing different materials. Knuckles walked into a smaller door and entered what seemed to be the study. Sitting in a chair was his old friend Bookshire.
The old hedgehog turned around and a huge smile illuminated his face.
'Knuckles! What a pleasant surprise! I thought the Neo-Freedom Fighters would never find this place.'
Knuckles smiled too.
'We thought you had died, you old librarian!'
They hugged eachother. Bookshire looked at Knuckles.
'How strong you've grown! So… How is everything? Has Sonic come back yet? What is happening?'
'Well… The news is quite dire. We have lost track of Tails. We have made contact with Sonic, but he still is in the other worlds.'
Bookshire's mood didn't even falter.
'I know all this. And I know that in the end, everything will finish off well.'
Knuckles looked up at the old hedgehog.
'What do you mean?'
'I will tell you when the time is right. But listen to us now, we'll have it raining soon enough! Are you hungry, friend?'
Knuckles smiled and he and Bookshire descended the stairs into the wondrous town, built out of huge mushrooms and vegetation. The main street was planted with trees, so with the blazing sun shining overhead, shade was offered, weaving patterns on the white rocks.
Sonic and Bookshire sat in a terrace outside of a café. Rama came up to Knuckles and saluted to him.
'Welcome back, mister Knuckles! Seems you found our Bookshire!'
Knuckles smiled at the young mouse.
'Call me Knuckles.'
They lunched on some fruit and other exotic meats.
Knuckle's beeper started clicking furiously.
'That must be Rose.'
Punching in a button, he entered contact.
'Have you found Bookshire, Knuckles?'
'Well, yes, he's standing right here next to me!'
An audible sigh could be heard on the other side of the contact.
'Well done! Can I talk to him?'
Knuckles handed the old hedgehog the transceiver.
'Rose. Long time no talk.'
A sigh was heard on the other side of the line.
'Bookshire, you old hog! Where have you been these last months?'
'Well…. Been establishing my little organization here and I have been training some druids, mages, fighters, and I have ended up with a group of Freedom Fighters here as well. All ready to fight Robotnik.'
'That's wonderful news…'
'Now, about your coordinates…'
Knuckles walked about the city as Bookshire and Rose made plans.
He could see the waterwheels turning, churning water and supplying it to the whole island. He could see the youngsters playing in the shade. Old ones walked about the town, enjoying the scenery.
As he walked around, sniffing in the sweet air, he saw why Bookshire had immigrated to this island. He could see Rama serving the old ones and the warriors with some food.
The sun was setting slowly on the blessed islands. He thought he could see the miracle planet approaching the hemisphere. Soon, the year would be coming to an end. Smiling, he headed off for where Bookshire was discussing with Rose.
Somewhere on the Miracle Planet, Pierre the Blacksmith walked out of his shop. The ferret had long ago given up his evil ways and become a servant of good. He had long ago forged many great weapons to serve the Lords of the Light, and for this they had granted him one wish: It was the matter of this wish that had been one of the most noble things they had ever witnessed. He could have wished for anything in the world, riches, and power. He wished to remain immortal to serve the Light for as long as eternity. A sacrifice incredible.
He therefore had been seen here and there in the history of ever-flowing time, helping the Light one way or other. He had forged some of the most powerful weapons and artifacts on the face of Mobius and the Miracle Planets. He had also forged the beginning of a time machine, bent to work on the Time Stones, the lost treasure of the planet.
He had had to flee Mobotropolis as it had been attacked by Robotnik, and had found refuge in the Miracle Planet, working for the people there. He had met Amy Rose, who had made him meet Sonic the Hedgehog. Sonic and him had immediately become friends, and he regretted that the hero would one-day die. Even though he would pass away, his soul would reappear in another body. With no memory of the past lives. He had seen his friends pass and go. He had found some of them, others were lost into his life.
Well, at least life had given him some good things. And one thing was certain: Whatever happened, he would be in the last fight against the Dark. For he knew it was approaching.
Shrugging off the depressing thoughts, he headed back for the bowels of his forge…