behind you. We'll make good time in this cool night air."

The young mouse was assailed by gnawing doubts. "That's all very well, but how are we going to scale the wall into the Abbey grounds? If Cluny has captured Redwall, he's bound to have sentries posted upon the ramparts."

"What for ratworm want sentry?" Warbeak shrugged her wings. "Him catch Abbey, not know we come to catch back."

"Warbeak, you're right! But it still doesn't solve the problem of how we get in," Matthias replied.

The young Sparra Queen winked cheekily. "Is easy. Me get Sparras to open little wormdoors in wall: east, south, north. You see, they do good. Warbeak go now, see friend Matthias mouse at Redwall."

The Sparra Queen shot off into the air like an arrow from a bow. Matthias arose to continue his journey. Log-a-Log stayed behind and waited for his warriors to catch up.

Beside the north wall gate, Plumpen stirred. He groaned and rolled over. There was a bad wound on the back of his head, but he was still very much alive. The first sight that greeted the dormouse's hazy vision was three sparrows standing over him. They were Dunwing, Battlehawk and Windplume. Silently they slid Plumpen out of the open door into the woods.

Dunwing gave orders to the two Sparra warriors: "Take red rag and grease. Bring many Sparra. Fly quiet, grease other little wormdoors. Wait 'til Queen Warbeak come. No let ratworms see warriors, go now."

Throughout the night hours many sparrows worked secretly on the locks, bolts and hinges of the small wallgates.

Somewhere in Mossfiower, Matthias was still pressing on to Redwall. Log-a-Log and the regiment of Guerrilla Shrews were hot on his trail. A thousand Sparra warriors perched in the branches of trees all around the Abbey, waiting.

The light of dawn began to appear in the sky. The sun's rays tinged the sandstone walls to a dull pink and clouded red. Dew was upon the late rose.

Despite the blessing of a glorious summer day, the whole of Mossflower was doom-laden with an awful tension that threatened to burst upon the captives seated on the grass.

Horde captains came stamping out of the Abbey. They prodded the prisoners with cutlass points and slapped out with flat blades at the helpless defenders.

"Come on, you lot! On your feet! Stand up straight, you mice! Step aside there! Make way for Cluny the Scourge!"

Reluctantly the Redwall contingent complied. They turned. All eyes were on the door of Great Hall.

The silence was broken as the door slammed back upon its hinges. Cluny strode out. Behind him, bearing the horde standard and a lighted torch, came Fangburn and Killconey. The  wildly. Cluny was the picture of barbaric power, geared for war from his poison tail tip to the frightening battle helmet. He looked every inch the conqueror.

Regally he swept through the ranks of both sides, looking neither to right nor left. Mounting the dais which had been set up for his use, he swirled the sinister cloak about him and sat down in the Abbot's chair. All that could be heard was the crackle of the torch and the unhappy whimper of one of