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#1 2020-11-04 08:02:35 AM

Registered: 2017-06-24
Posts: 256

A Six Season Patrol

So I was clearing out an old hard-drive and I found this
I took a break from Redwall for about a year and a bit after University

So I wrote up a story about what Quinten had been doing for 6 seasons and this is that story.
Enterprising hares can find a copy of this book in the library or in a cabinet in Quinten's office.

It was this story that landed Quinten the job as recorder and librarian originally.


A Six Season Patrol
By Private Quinten Tarn Marben Teno Aluioscious Tof’Marole

This is an account of my journeys over the past 6 seasons. After graduation as a Private of the Long Patrol, I was assigned to a 6 Season patrol with Lieutenant Manuel and Private Trodar.

Our orders where simple, to take a long patrol down the Southern Coast, reviewing the number of toads in the marshes and generally observing the state of Vermin levels and offering aid to any of the communities of woodlanders who live that way who may have required assistance from the Long Patrol.

Season 1 – Autumn - A Journey

We left Salamandastron, dressed in regimental attire, after a final send off from the Major we started south along the beach. Spirits where high and the Lieutenant allowed us to converse back and forth as long as we kept up the pace.

Now I am no runner, unlike the other two, Fighter is what I picked but it didn’t take long for me to settle into that effortless routine of stride and hop, loping side by side the others in the patrol as we headed south in the early hours of the morning.

A good three or four hours after we left the mountain, we entered the marshes to the south. The vast track of swamp land that lies between the mountains and the shore, home to reptiles and frogs, toads and eels, a realm of pools of still water, weeds and lilies, small hills with gnarled trees rising from mudflats.

It is jolly difficult to patrol in such conditions. A chaps’ paws are soon coated in mud and cold from the stagnant water. But we pushed on deeper into the swamp. We traversed mud flats up to our waists and camped beneath the stars on small grassy hillocks with gnarled trees reaching for the vault of heavens.  We came across several encampments of toads, newts and lizards, most of them where harmless, fishing and eking out a life in their rather crude and less then pleasant villages.

Of course, by this time the smell no longer quite bothered us, as swamp mud has a distinctively unpleasant scent and after long enough spent wading through it everything smells the same. But we did come across several tribes near the foothills of the mountains that had some rather unsavoury practices.  Must have been nearing the end of the Season when we came across them, in the swamplands near the foothills of the mountain range when we came across their village.

We discovered they had a nasty habit of capturing travellers who strayed into the swamp from the mountains and taking them as servants for their village. The Lieutenant decided that we needed to encourage them to stop this form of slavery. With a well executed plan in the middle of the night we gave them such a fright we scattered the tribe into the woodlands.  It helped that they thought they were being attacked by a group of wild mud creatures looming out of the swamp, moaning and groaning and draped in water weed and pronouncing doom and destruction.

Superstitious bounders up and ran for it! Leaving us free to jolly well release the slaves and guide them back up out of the swamps to safety.  There where several mice, squirrels, one very elderly Hedgehog matron and a whole bushel of shrews.  Well they where a grateful bunch of jolly old chaps and after we led them out of the swamp and into the foothills. We made our way southwards away from the marshes at last and out onto an open plain bisected by the great southern stream.  With autumn drawing into a close the Lieutenant accepted an invitation to visit with the GUOSIM for the winter as a beast could not travel very far once the snows came on. So that is how we found ourselves travelling inland and south-easterly to a great gathering of the GUOSIM for their winter encampment.

Season 2 – Winter – A GUOSIM Camp

So that is how Manuel, Trodar and I found ourselves ensconced at the GUOSIM winter camp. It was a hodgepodge of tents, wooden shacks and cabins built on the bank of a wide water meadow.  The wind was getting colder by the day and grey clouds where blocking out the sunshine; winter had arrived and the Lieutenant accepted the invitation of the Log-A-Log to stay and ride out the wicked winter weather in the GUOSIM camp as a thank you for freeing his shrew warriors and the other prisoners from the toad encampment.

Now for those of you who do not know the GUOSIM or the Guerrilla Union of Shrews in Mossflower are a loose collective of river shrews. They tend to paddle up and down the river ways of Mossflower in small groups and occasionally large flotillas. They are led by their Log-a-Log, the shrew chieftain elected and acclaimed by all other shrews to serve as their log-a-log.  I’m not too clear on the particulars involved in becoming Log-a-log but they always seem to be fair, just leaders, great warriors and able river-beasts.

The favoured mode of transportation is the log boat; a tree-trunk rounded at each end and hollowed out with several benches inside.  They are moved by means of oars and as I am writing this I can tell you there is nothing quite as exhilarating as paddling a log boat down a swiftly running stream or across wide open water meadows.  Be it a simple journey or urgent; paddling a log boat is a team effort and working as part of the flotilla you have to keep time with the others, make sure you do not snarl your log boat on others. The GUOSIM have many a method of keeping time. We soon picked up the steady beat of the drums or the songs and shanties sung by the GUOSIM to help in keeping time.  By the time we reached the water meadows where the winter encampment was to take place we had been gifted with our own Log boat by the Log-a-log, who then joined us in the boat as our fourth oars-beast. A team of three hares and a shrew paddling a log boat with gusto if not skill was a sight to see.  I promise you we only capsized twice and sunk it once before we finally picked up the correct method of sailing.

Winter in a GUOSIM camp was an experience one should try if they ever get the chance. Even a night spent in a shrew camp can teach you a lot about these fierce but loyal water beasts.  Arguments, competitions, anything competitive and involving skill where the order of the day. Cooking each night was done by general discord, with the meals produced ranging from disasters that had us ducking for cover to feasts unheard of in the mountain.  Salads and shrimp, stews and suet puddings, treacle pies, woodland trifle, flans and shrew breads with roasted nuts and crystallised honey truly a most unique and clashing match of food. But like good regimental Long Patrol hares we set too, and I can assure you there was not a food eating contest that winter that was not won by me, Manuel or Trodar.

Of course, there were other contests and after a week in the camp the snow fell, trapping us all in camp. The drifts reached at least 6 feet deep in some places and the streams and water meadows froze.  The log boats where pulled out of the water before it froze and the GUOSIM shrews took advantage to clean the undersides of their log boats.  The days where given over to foraging for firewood, cooking and working on the log boats and in good form Lieutenant Manuel had Private Trodar and Private Quinten working side by side the shrews on their boats.

It was a learning experience, how to mix up tar from tree bark and sap, tying ropes and repairing or whittling oars. Scraping barnacles and moss and lichen from the underside of a log boat could take several days.  With the occasional break to take cover from a barrage of shrew children hurling snow balls, hastily constructed forts from log boats led to many an afternoon wasted hurling snow back and forth in defence of our precarious but tactically important location: The cook fires!

Evening however in the GUOSIM camp was something else, in the evening all work stopped. The food was served and the music started, dancing, singing and contests of all kind happened after the sun sank beneath the horizon.  From singing contests to shows of martial prowess such as wrestling, boxing, swordplay, tug o war with a rope over a mud pit.

And so, the winter passed, hard working days and nights filled with celebration and good cheer. But like all such things winter came to an end, the spring thaw began to melt the streams and ice meadows and on a dew drenched morning in early spring we took our leave of the GUOSIM, once more dressed in uniform we started south once more.

Season 3 – Spring – Flatlands

South through the woodlands of lower Mossflower, past glades filled with nodding snow drops and early flowering bluebells. We where making good time, with few interruptions beyond a group of travelling players who where being menaced by a group of vermin.
It was late in the day when we heard screaming in the distance, swiftly running through the woodlands we came out of the trees at the base of a honking great cliff! 

In the shadow of that cliff there was a group of three wagons being menaced by a group of filthy unwashed low-life scum! A fox, three rats, a squirrel and a weasel where unloading one of the carts whilst menacing a band of troubadours.  It did not take much to drive them off, a few sharp whacks of javelin poles across shoulders and a well-placed arrow from Trodar soon had them scarpering for cover in the foliage. 

With their enemies driven off we helped the Troubadours set their caravan to rights and travelled with them for a few days. They introduced us to a passage leading up the side of that bally great cliff side! Once we reached the top of the cliff, we were able to see the wide rolling planes leading off to the south.

We had one more encounter with those bally vermin however as we crossed the flat lands.  There was a great gorge blocking our path at one point and we had to cross it by means of a rickety old rope bridge.  Turns out those vermin scum had fled from us and move southwards up the cliffs to this point.  They had us trapped in the middle of the bridge with vermin on both sides, hemming us in. A quickly cast Javelin on my part and two arrows from Manuel and Trodar felled the verminous crew on the south bank, leaving us free to make a break for safety as the fox and his remaining vermin tried to sever the northern end of the bridge.

We still barely reached safety as the bridge started to fall out from under our feet, swinging ponderously down to smash into the side of the gorge. We leapt, a mighty thrust of the old back legs to land safely if precariously on the far edge.

That was pretty much the end of our adventures on the flat lands. The spring passed relatively quietly otherwise, ranging back and forth across the grass lands of the plains. We saw many a strange object, a pair of rocks shaped like a badger’s head and a bell. The old tumbled down ruins of an ancient Abbey and a river we had to cross by boat due to a multitude of nasty, flesh eating shrimp living within the sluggishly flowing water.

But as the days became longer and dustier, the heat rose, and we carried on south wards. We left the rolling flat-lands, crossing over a sedate range of low-lying hills into a vast forest where in the distance, several days to the south rose the great red tiled towers of a mighty castle!

Season 4 & 5 – Summer/Autumn - The Court of the Squirrel King

After three long seasons of travel we had reached the southern Kingdom of Southsward.  Where the Squirrel King sits enthroned at Castle Floret.  It is a peaceful kingdom of tall forests, bounded in the east by tall snow-capped mountains and to the west by the endless expanse of the great western sea.

We found a Kingdom troubled however by turmoil within. After the death of the young King William IV his infant son King Tristan was crowned.  A regent was selected, a cousin from the House of Maltazar and with the backing of the Head of the Royal Guard, Captain Direoak the kingdom had prospered for many years.

We however came across a land plagued by bands of roaming rats. Sacking villages and pillaging the homes and farms of the hard working, peaceful populace. With the main bulk of the army trapped inside Castle Floret by a horde of rats in control of the main causeway there was little the Regent could do.

By stealth, good luck and a beneficial agreement with a mountain eagle Lieutenant Manuel managed to get inside the castle and talk with the Regent and the young king.  With Trodar and me in the woods rallying the populace to stand up for themselves things soon started to go sour for the rat horde and their leader “Gartang the Merciless.”  Making clever use of hidden underground passages beneath the castle and distractions drawing away the forces of the besieging army the Regent Eugene Maltazar was able to filter part of the army out into the forest and trap the rat horde on three sides.

With the irregulars from the villages, otters, squirrels and mice led by Trodar and myself, 2 units of the Southsward army led by the Lieutenant and the walls of the castle manned by archers. The rat horde was caught off guard and ground to defeat against the sides of the bluff upon which the castle sits.  Gartang himself was slain trying to retreat to the shore by Captain Direoak and Lieutenant Manuel.

Peace was restored to Southsward and several new garrison posts have been constructed near the borders of the kingdom so that they will not be caught off guard in such a manner again.

We found ourselves invited to the court of the squirrel king, embarrassingly lauded with praise and grand speeches thanking us for our aid. But staunchly we insisted we had just been doing what any good and honest patrol hare would… whilst eating everything they put before us.

As the long summer campaign was over, and the Kingdom was rebuilding the damage done by those verminous invaders from the sea. The Lieutenant decided once again decided that his two wayward, rough and ready privates could benefit from some time spent in the Armed Guard of Southsward.  So, we found ourselves working alongside the otters, squirrels, mice and moles of the Castle Guard.  We learnt to climb trees, to man the walls of the castle and Captain Direoak himself drove us through his archery course until we met his standards.

We had to learn manners! Can you believe it, Long Patrol hares with court manners, one could not be presented at the Harvest Ball unless one was properly prepared. I tell you it was more complicated then marching in time whilst blindfolded! All the little rules and instructions and courtesies you must follow to be a proper gentleman. I mean us hares are always Gentlemen and Noble Ladies, but they had rules for the rules!  Was jolly hard to keep track of it all but the ball was a blast…

Right up to the moment Trodar tripped over the Duchess of Elmwood Vale’s dress and landed headfirst in the trifle. Things went rapidly down hill from there. It all culminated in the boy king somersaulting into a vat of butter and launching an all out offensive against the Lord Regent who was defending the buffet table with a tub of cream, whilst the rest of the guests split down the middle in a jolly good food fight.

Needless to say Lieutenant Manuel was less then impressed, after giving us a dressing down whilst his ears dripped custard. He sentenced us both to digging a trench line out in the forest for “Disrespect to a Superior officer by giggling like dibbuns”

The King did declare the harvest ball was the most fun he had all year and the regent thanked us for a most entertaining if unorthodox evening.  Our experience in the Floret military finally wound to an end. Lieutenant Manuel declared we had been on patrol for long enough and as the situation in Floret was now once more under control and peaceful. It was time we wrapped up our Long Patrol and made for the Mountain.

Season 6 – Winter – A sea voyage and home   

We left Castle Floret for the western shoreline where a grand galleon crewed by otters was waiting for us. We were to sail back to Halyard village in style aboard ship.  Of course, Lieutenant Manuel failed to tell Trodar and myself that he had signed us up as members of Captain Docdel’s crew for the journey. 

Docdel was a nice enough sea otter, but his first mate was a cruel one! It seemed like his job was to make us all hate him, so none of us bothered disliking the captain! Any of you out there with romantic ideas about an idyllic life at sea forget it! Hammocks are not fun, scrubbing the deck for hours on end is only slightly better then manning the bilge pumps. Standing up to your ankles in fetid bilge water is not pleasant!  The crows nest is cold and windy, sail duty involves climbing up tar smeared ropes to dangle from a piece of wood no thicker then my ear whilst you fasten some knots.

It is hard work, character building I am sure but very hard, worse then military life!  We made a slow journey up the coast, it was coming on for winter and Captain Docdel plied the trade between Halyard and Southsward, stopping in at shore side villages and small towns to trade.  There was ice on the rigging most mornings and if we didn’t hop when an order was shouted well it was not pleasant.  On land you can afford to let your mind drift a bit as you are running on patrol, if it rains you can stop under some shelter.

At sea you have none of those liberties, you must always all work together as a team.  If the weather turns and you are up the rigging furling sail, you do not come back down until you stop.  If you are on the tiller and it starts to rain you stand there in the wet and hope someone brings you an oil skin to keep the water off.  It took us most of the winter to make our way up the shore back to Salamandastron, in easy steps from village to village. Dodging storms and ice and snow. We even had a brief encounter with a boat load of ferrets, stoats and weasels but they where only interested in trade and not pillaging.  Seems even corsairs get bored of the pillaging life after a time and a ship full of sea otters was apparently too much of a risk for their tastes.

So eventually we docked at Halyard and dressed in our well-worn uniforms we made our way ashore. Gave thanks to Captain Docdel for passage and teaching us and made our way back towards the mountain and home. It is jolly good to be back, but it was certainly an adventure and a learning experience. I’ve spent weeks trudging through the mud, camping under the stars and living rough, with nothing but wind, rain and the sky as my home and a bed of grass to rest my head upon.  We sailed down the great southern stream and learnt how to paddle a log-boat over rapids.  I crossed most of the southern flat lands, sun-up to sunset running through grass until we made camp at nightfall.  I spent a summer dyed green and hiding in the woodlands of Southsward whilst we tried to out manoeuvre an army of rats. I had a food fight with a King and learnt how to tie a shoe-shank and a horseshoe and that the Bo’ sun always has sharper ears then you expect.

And now I have returned home, to Salamandastron and if the Colonel orders me out the door again, I’ll grab my bag and start running as ordered. The life of the Long Patrol is hard and trying but grand. But for now, I am home, once more in the ancestral mountain home of Badger’s and their fighting hares, back home with the Long Patrol.

Quinten Taran Marben Teno Aluioscious Tof'marole Delmenare.
Long Patrol Private


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