The Softbrush Saga
By Katie Sullivan, a.k.a Snowfur
Early morning shadows stretched across the leaf-covered floor
of southern Mossflower woods. The summer sun beat down, burning off the tendrils of
fog. Mariel and Dandin trekked ever southward, with no particular destination in
mind. Each had a well-stocked haversack slung under their shoulder.
Mariel and Dandin took turns carrying the
little fox as they wandered southward. The sun rose ever higher, drying off the
infant. Soon it was time to stop for lunch. It was then that they realized
their biggest dilemma. Mariel inspected their food supplies.
Theres nothing here a newborn can eat.
Many seasons later...
The prow of the Pearl Queen cut
through the gray seas north of Salamandastron. Dandin closed his eyes and felt the
fresh sea breeze ruffle his whiskers. He, Mariel and Bowly Pintips were finally
going home to Redwall. In the past three years they had sailed all around the globe,
and although they had enjoyed their adventures immensely, there was something comforting
in the knowledge that their next destination was Redwall.
That evening, mixed emotions filled Cavern
Hole as the Redwallers took their supper. The empty Abbots chair stifled much
of the joy over Mariel, Dandin and Bowlys return. Mariel nibbled
half-heartedly at a pastie, and Dandin stared into a mug of October Ale with a disturbed
At dawns first light, Mariel and Dandin took their full
haversacks and set off through Mossflower Woods. The rosy sun on the horizon cast
extended shadows through the forest. It felt good to stretch their legs after so
much time at sea. They tried to take the same route as they had on their way to
Southsward all those years ago.
They reached a simple but sturdily-built
cottage in a clearing. A chopping block and firewood by the door showed recent signs
of use, and a well-tended garden lay nearby. Dandin and Mariel strode up to the
door, and he knocked. There was no answer. He tried again.
Silence. The two warriormice looked at each other. What now?
Dandin and Mariel lingered uncertainly around the small
cottage. They were perplexed by Softbrushs abrupt manner.
Dandin and Mariel ran after Softbrush, but the
door slammed in their faces again. Dandin
Days later, the travelers spotted the spires of
Redwall. Softbrush hesitated at the main gate. Im not sure I can
do this, she said, clasping her paws to her chest nervously.
Using supplies from her sack and from the
Abbey infirmary, Softbrush mixed a brown paste. Dandin frowned at the mush in the
bowl. Are you sure this is the cure for Tallgrass Fever? Softbrush
sighed. No. Its been years since my mother taught me the
recipe. But I think this is it. Or something close, anyway. Im
sorry. Its the best I can do.
Through the day and into the night,
Softbrush fed Saxtus the medicine. As dawn light began to stream through the
infirmary window, Mariel looked up with a start. He moved! she said.
Saxtus slowly became aware of his
surroundings. There was light. And an herbal taste in his mouth. He was
lying down. In bed. Not his own bed. The infirmary? He struggled
to open his eyes. He found himself staring in Dandins concerned face.
Mariel was at his side. And there was a stranger. A vixen! In Redwall?
The residents of Redwall stood at the
east gate a few days later. Abbot Saxtus still looked pale, but was quickly
regaining his strength.
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