Tuesday, February 8, 2011
RIP Brian Jacques
Brian Jacques, best known as the author of the Redwall series of novels, passed away on February 5, 2011.
When I was in grade school and middle school, I really got into Redwall. I remember our teacher reading the class Redwall and Martin the Warrior when we were in fifth grade. Both novels made our prickly old teacher get so emotional that she had to pretend to cough and sneeze to cover up the strain in her voice.
The Redwall world was my first experience with online fandom. I joined a Geocities site for roleplaying Redwall characters, and I made up a hare named Borian Tenears. I have probably written more fan fiction for Redwall than for any other setting, though I haven't written any in more than a decade.
That said, the best tribute I can come up with for Brian Jacques is to dust off the old hare one last time, and put him to rest for good.
I don't normally post fiction on this blog, but my original stories were on the internet for all to see, so I see no reason to be shy about this story. You don't have to read it if you don't want to.
Borian Tenears: The End
"The battle-scarred old hare stood tall at the top of the hill, surrounded by a sea of vermin. They surged up the slope toward him, their beady eyes gleaming with hatred as they clutched their sharp weapons. Borian Tenears calmly drew back arrow after arrow, loosing them into the approaching horde. His single, ragged ear stood like a crest, and his aim never wavered. Each speeding shaft struck down a new villain, but the horde got ever closer.
"A weasel with a chipped cutlass was the first to crest the hill, his fangs frothing from the climb. He raised his cruel blade to strike, but the hare spun and landed a kick on the weasel's chest, sending him toppling into the slavering throng of his companions. A rat aimed a slice from a scimitar at the gallant old campaigner, but the hare blocked the blade with his ancient bow and turned it, using the rat's momentum to send him crashing to the ground.
"'Have at me, you rotters!' came the hare's bold call. He kicked a stoat in the face, sending teeth flying. 'I expect you bleeders are finding it harder than you expected to kill a North Patrol Hare, eh wot!"
"The leader of the vermin swarm, a pine marten who wore the skull of a fox like a helmet, emerged from the horde, and the others backed away in anticipation. The pine marten pointed his halberd at the hare in challenge, but Borian only laughed. 'You vermin will follow any old blighter,' chuckled the hare. 'A fellow puts a bone on his bonce and suddenly he's the boss!'
"The pine marten charged, swinging his weapon. Borian dodged under the blow, then blocked the backswing with his bow. The strength of the attack cracked the bow, and the mighty Bow of the Tenears fell from Borian's hands. 'Top-hole shot, old chap,' said Borian grimly. He jumped clean over the next swing as the rest of the vermin, eager to get the killing blow, surged in all around him. 'If you'll permit me to say so, this is really one of the best bands of villains I've ever had the honor of facing.
"And thus fell the brave hero," concluded the storyteller, leaning back in his chair. The fire had gone down to coals since the story began, but the Dibbuns of Redwall who were seated around his chair had not yet noticed how tired they were. An audible exhalation went up from the group at the conclusion of the tale, and amazed smiles spread over sleepy faces. Bluebell, one of the lady mice of Redwall, came by to remind them, shooing them up the stairs to their quarters amid a chorus of mumbled protests.
When Bluebell returned, she found the storyteller gazing into the dimming coals. She touched the old hare's shoulder gently, and he turned to look up at her. She smiled down at him, noting how the firelight made the wrinkles mix with the scars on his face. He was wearing a warm robe, and the hood pulled over his head covered the stump of his missing ear.
Bluebell spoke softly. "That was a nice story. I think I liked last year's version better, though."
The old hare's eyes twinkled as he smiled at her. "Oh? And how did old Borian buy it last year?"
"As if you don't remember," teased the mouse. "He was fighting a rat captain in the rigging of a pirate ship, and they both fell to the churning water below."
"Ah yes, old Greeneye. What a rapscallion he was," chuckled the hare.
Concern creased Bluebell's forehead. "It's nearly Spring. Are you going to leave us again this year? I do wish you would agree to stay in Redwall."
"I would dearly love to see Salamandastron again, and check in on those young fellas at the North Patrols," sighed the hare. As Bluebell was about to speak, he continued, "But I think that, this time, I'll let you finally talk me into staying."
The mouse clapped her hands with relief. The hare adjusted the robe around his shoulders. "Now I think I'd like to sit and think for a while," he said.
The mouse nodded. After a few moments, she asked, "Can I get you anything?"
But the hare was already asleep. She watched his chest rise and fall slowly in the dim light of the embers, and then she quietly slipped away to let him sleep.