Any time you need something from the barn



"In the old sandstone quarry," the owl replied. "You'll have to cross the river. There are caves in the quarry, passages too. Explore them. You won't find Asmodeus until you are least expecting him. By then it will be too late. You'll be deader than an icicle in hell. Goodbye, mouse."

Matthias turned his back upon the snowy owl and strode off with a string of taunts ringing in his ears.

"Nice to have my silver medal back!" jeered the owl. "I'll think of you when I wear it. You should have let me eat you. It'd save you a journey to the quarry. . . . Oh, I almost forgot. You won't be able to give the hare my best wishes. . . . You'll be snug inside the snake!"

Matthias walked onwards, ignoring the cruel jibes of the owl, through the farmyard and across the grassland, not stopping until he arrived at the fringe of Mossflower Wood. The shrews broke cover and milled about noisily with their endless questions.

"Ha, so you got back then?"

"Why didn't Snow eat you?"

281

"Bet you've never seen an owl chat size before, eh?"

"What news of Poisonteetb?"

"Did you find out where he is?"

"Don't just stand there! Tell us, tell us!"

Fierce quarreling broke out. Swords were being drawn as Matthias sought out Log-a-Log and took the black stone from him.

"Shut up and stop fighting, you hooligans, or you'll get to know nothing!" Matthias bellowed.

An expectant hush descended upon the union members of the Guerrilla Shrews of Mossflower. Matthias found it hard to keep the contempt out of his voice. "I found Captain Snow. Actually I was led to him by Squire Julian Gingivere. Does that name ring any bells?*'

There was an embarrassed shuffling in the ranks of the listeners. Many turned their eyes to the ground, particularly Guosim and Log-a-Log.

Matthias folded his paws. He stared about in disgust. "Oh, yes. Pd just like to thank you all! Especially you, Guosim, and Log-a-Log. What a sly, nasty, despicable thing to do, sending me into that bam without a single word of warning about the cat."

Log-a-Log ripped the cloth band from his brow and flung it down. He took the stone up in his paw. "Matthias, I speak not only for myself but for all the Guerrilla Union. We are very sorry, you must believe that. It completely supped our minds. We forgot about the cat. You see, we are shrews, not only by name but also by nature. We argue, quarrel, bicker and fight so much among ourselves that we lose sight of the important issues. That is the way it is with us. Please accept our apologies, friend."

Matthias retrieved the stone. "I forgive you this once. You say you are shrews and you call me friend. You tell me that you forget. Let me tell you, I am a Redwall warrior. I always remember who my friends are, and I never forget an injury done to me! However, we will say no more of this. You must listen to me now. What I have to tell you is of great importance. It can change the life of every shrew here. Captain Snow has told me that Asmodeus lives in the old sandstone quarry across the river. He has given me his promise on oath:

if I defeat Asmodeus, the owl will never again take the life of a shrew."

When the astonished hubbub had died down the young mouse continued, "Think about it, Guerrilla Shrews! It would be a double blessing for you. With Asmodeus dead and Captain Snow held to his oath you could live in safety from both. And while I'm on the subject, my friend Julian the cat is quite harmless. He will not hunt you. , you have his permission to take it, providing you do so quietly, with no fighting or arguing. That is all I have to say to you, save for one thing. Lead me to the quarry."

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