Don’t be ashamed to weep; ’tis right to grieve. Tears are only water, and flowers, trees, and fruit cannot grow without water. But there must be sunlight also. A wounded heart will heal in time, and when it does, the memory and love of our lost ones is sealed inside to comfort us. There is only one god and his name is Death.
“In order to get inside their skin, I have to identify with them. That includes even the ones who are complete bastards, nasty, twisted, deeply flawed weasels and stoats and even ferrets with serious psychological problems. Even them. When I get inside their skin and look out through their eyes, I have to feel a certain – if not sympathy, certainly empathy for them. I have to try to perceive the world as they do, and that creates a certain amount of affection.”
There was tender freshwater shrimp garnished with cream and rose leaves, devilled barley pearls in acorn puree, apple and carrot chews, marinated cabbage stalks steeped in creamed white turnip with nutmeg. And while the water-voles and the church-mice were feasting, the Lord of the Pine-Martens sat on his carved oaken throne, watching greedily. He would watch them burn. He would take their women and harvest their screams. He would set their feet to dancing and twisting from the treetops ’til they twitched no more against a silent sky, and he would sleep soundly tonight.
To table, to table, and eat what you may,
Come brothers, come sisters, come all.
Be happy, be joyful, upon our feast day,
Eight seasons of peace in Redwall.
So sing from dusk to dawn
And let the Abbey bells ring.
The sun will bring the morn,
And still we will merrily sing.
And who are you, the proud lord said,
that I must sing along?
You can raise your voice a’loud
But is your arm as strong?
Come, leave your whoresons in the field
Let the bitch-girls keep their place
The men shall fight; the dead shall yield
The victors flay their face.
“Be careful, lad,” Bertram, the wisest hare of them all, cautioned Matthew the Warrior as they crossed the threshold. “They say Timothy the Vole takes all his sisters to wife, and feeds the product of their union to his unseelie, eyeless gods.”
“You say that about everyone,” Matthew answered crossly.
“Well, it’s true about everyone,” Bertram said mildly, “here in the land of Sister-Taking and Infant-Sorrow. This is the most vicious part of the Blood District in all the Screaming Counties.”
“Life is very full of sex, or should be. As much as I admire Tolkien — and I do, he was a giant of fantasy and a giant of literature, and I think he wrote a great book that will be read for many years — you do have to wonder where all those Hobbits came from, since you can’t imagine Hobbits having sex, can you? Well, sex is an important part of who field mice are. It drives them, it motivates them, it makes them do sometimes very noble things and it makes them do sometimes incredibly stupid things. Leave it out, and you’ve got an incomplete world. Badgers fuck one another. There’s just no two ways about it.”
“Tarquin, my old friend,” he said to the hare beside him, “I need to lay in the arms of a good whore tonight.”
“All whores are good whores,” the hare replied, tilting his hat below his eyes as he rested his head against a low-hanging bough, “provided they part their legs as easily as this tree parts its branches for me.”
You will find joy, frustration and sorrow in your quest. Never forget that friendship and loyalty are more precious than riches. Defend the weak, protect both young and old, never desert your friends. Give justice to all, be fearless in battle and always ready to defend the right. Your bitch mother whelped you in pain, and you will die nameless in the dirt. The only joy between you and the grave lies in watching your enemies bleed before you do.
Even the strongest and bravest must sometimes weep. It shows they have a great heart, one that can feel compassion for others. You are brave, Matthias. Already you have done great things for one so young. I am only a simple country-bred fieldmouse, but even I can see the courage and leadership in you. A burning brand shows the way, and each day your flame grows brighter. There is none like you, Matthias. You have the sign of greatness upon you. One day Redwall and all the land will be indebted to you. Matthias, you are a true Warrior.
Matthias, your entire family is dead and your lands have been burned and salted by Northern bannerman and also I’m betraying you and I’m going to cut off your hands and sew them onto your genitals so that your genitals clap when you walk and I’m going to use your skin to make a bagpipe and I’m going to play rude songs about your dead father on that bagpipe and then I’m going to set you and your pregnant wife on fire, Matthias.
“Are you going to go down on your knees and beg for your life, old one?”
Abbot Mortimer stared calmly into Cluny’s savage eye. “I will never bend my knee on my own behalf. However, if I thought I could save the life of one of my friends I would gladly fall down on both knees. But I know you, Cluny, better than you know yourself. There is not a scrap of pity or mercy in your heart, only a burning desire for vengeance. Therefore, I will not kneel to one who is consumed by evil.”
Cluny thrust twin daggers into the beloved, aged abbot’s eyes and twisted them for like twenty minutes until no more viscera and bloody spinal tissue and head gunk could be scoured from the dead mouse’s face. Then he violated the pious old hermit’s remains for absolutely hours, and everybody you know watched it and said things like “Did you see what happened to the Abbot last night?” the next day at work. “I had to watch through my fingers! I mean, I knew they were going to do it, I guess I just didn’t realize they were going to really go for it like that. Ahhhhh! You know?”
“It’s so realistic, though,” one of your friends said. “Like, it’s vicious, but it’s real, you know? Not like most fantasy sagas about abbey mice.”
“That’s right,” another one of your friends adds. “I’ve totally heard that it’s not uncommon for Portuguese water rats to eviscerate a mouse’s eyes and then commit unspeakable acts of desecration against the bleeding holes that were once the window to its soul.”
“Oh my God, though, wait until you see what Cluny does to Cornflower’s arthritic mother in the next episode.”
“Don’t say it! I’m not caught up yet!”
“Oh my Goddddd. It’s brutal. Do you want to come over and watch it with me?”
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.