Sunstone prospered well. Ten does were pregnant and there were a few Owsla members whose does had given birth. Lightstone had decided that marking rabbits was a bad idea so Sunstone lived free. He quickly saw a huge difference in the overall happiness of Sunstone compared to when he had ruled Efrafa. In Efrafa the rabbits had been timid and fearful. No laughter sounded in his old warren and in Sunstone laughter, games, and storytelling was everywhere. Sunstone rabbits looked out for each other on patrols and took care of each other.
Lightstone didn’t allow his Owsla to bully their way onto does. Any mistreatment towards kittens or the old and sick earned lifetime banishment from Sunstone. He had only needed to banish a couple of rabbits for this. One had killed a newborn buck and the other had bullied and attacked a poor deaf rabbit. The rabbits of Sunstone got the message after the second banishment and life resumed its normalcy.
Five months had passed since Efrafa had been defeated and Lightstone decided that now was the perfect time to attack Watership Down for setting the dog on him and nearly killing him. Though he had to admit grudgingly to himself that if he hadn’t lost at Watership Down then he wouldn’t have met Harmony and Sunstone would never have been created. Leaving six of his Owsla to watch over things Lightstone led the remaining twenty on the Watership Down attack.
At Vleflain, Efrafa and Watership Down things were peaceful for the rabbits. They kept up a constant watch for any attack that might come after them after Fiver’s vision five months ago but so far nothing had come of it. The rabbits began to think that perhaps this was one vision that wouldn’t come true. Groundsel and Campion had finally gotten comfortable being chiefs of their respective warrens and Campion had recently begun introducing and training Groundsel and Hazel in wide patrols.
Mist had given birth to seven kittens; five bucks and two does. The bucks were named Swift, Thorn, Ember, Frost and Vine and the does were Dusk and Pearl. They were all healthy. Blackavar was overjoyed at being a father and Bigwig had recently allowed him to join the Watership Owsla because both Bigwig and Hazel recognized Blackavar’s natural talent for tracking.
Fiver and Vilthuril had two bucks and two does. They were Storm, Spot, Ivy and Star. Spot was a seer like his father. He always knew about things before the other rabbits did. Vleflain was used as a meeting point for Groundsel, Hazel and Campion since Vleflain was halfway between Watership and Efrafa.
At sunset silflay on Watership Down a white rabbit appeared on top of the hill where he had climbed up on the western side. The rabbits looked up at this stranger as it wandered over to the main entrance to the warren that lay between the roots of the beech tree. A couple of rabbits quickly blocked the strange rabbit’s path causing it to stop in its tracks. Then another rabbit ran underground to get Hazel, Bigwig and Holly.
“Hazel-rah! Captain Bigwig! Captain Holly!” The rabbit shouted as he went through the warren looking for his chief or one of the Captains of Owsla.
Hazel, Bigwig and Holly were trying to bring Fiver out of one of his visions. Fiver squealed and his eyes rolled into the back of his head as his body jerked and twitched madly.
White as snow he comes seeking to destroy all before him. Eyes like embers he is not what he seems. Words like honey drip from his tongue but around him is a black cloud and there his power lies. Left for dead he seeks to destroy. In the midst of battle the tides will turn. An unlikely ally who comes to kill will unite to kill the real enemy.
The three rabbits stood over their seer, friend and brother as he stopped twitching and his breathing became normal. “Hazel-rah!”
Hazel turned to the buck. “What is it Sunset?”
“There’s a rabbit that suddenly appeared. He made for the entrance but was stopped by Silver and Buckthorn.”
“Has he said what he wants?” Hazel asked.
“No Hazel-rah. But there’s something odd about him. I think you should come aboveground and see for yourself.”
Fiver stirred and sat up. “I want to come too Hazel. I need to see this rabbit for myself.”
“Is it about your vision?”
Fiver shook his head. “I don’t know. But I feel as if the air is slowly being swept away.”
“Alright but stay behind Bigwig and Holly.”
Fiver nodded and the five rabbits went above ground. Fiver screamed as he stared at the rabbit. “Hazel! That’s the rabbit from my vision. I know it is,” he whispered so only Hazel, Bigwig and Holly could hear.
“Are you sure Fiver?” Bigwig asked looking from the terrified rabbit to the white one in front of him.
Sunset had moved to stand beside Silver. The Owsla had encircled the strange rabbit. If their chief was in danger this rabbit wouldn’t escape.
“Who are you?” Hazel asked the rabbit before him.
“You don’t remember me? No you won’t know me would you? My name is Blizzard. I was in Sandleford when man came and attacked like your brother predicted. Captain Holly and Bluebell left me to die when a badger jumped me and tore up my leg.” The rabbit winced in memory at the attack.
“This has nothing to do with Hazel. Blizzard, Bluebell and I had no idea that you would survive. We thought that you would lead elil to us and we’d never find Bigwig and the others. What are you doing here anyway and how did you find us?”
There were ten Vleflains and fifteen Efrafans at Watership Down and they watched the interaction between the Watership rabbits and this stranger.
“Blizzard I’m sorry that Bluebell and I left you,” Holly said trying to reason with the buck he had abandoned to die seasons ago. “But you had also inhaled too much poison and we couldn’t go chasing after you if you ran off. We’d already lost Toadflax that same night. Don’t take your anger out on these rabbits. They had nothing to do with what happened at Sandleford.”
“Yes they did! That rabbit and his brother are responsible!” Blizzard shouted pointing at Hazel.
“If anyone is responsible for the destruction of Sandleford it’s the Threarah. He should have listened to Fiver’s warning and moved the warren out before man destroyed it,” Bigwig said to Blizzard growling.
Before Bigwig could throw himself at Blizzard they all turned to a rabbit stamping the ground in warning. “Woundwort! He’s alive!” The rabbit screamed.
The Watershipers, Vleflains and Efrafans stared in horror as the mad general came at them with new rabbits. It appeared to the Efrafan and the Vleflains who had been born in Efrafa that some of the scars Woundwort had sustained over his life were gone. The rabbits tore down the hill to meet Woundwort and his rabbits and the battle began.
Efrafan, Vleflain and Watershiper fought together for the first time in history. The rabbits clawed and bit at each other. As Hazel and some other rabbits were about to attack a bolt of lightning struck the ground in front of them knocking all the rabbits off their feet. Turning Efrafa, Vleflain, Watership Down and Sunstone looked with horror at the white rabbit whose eyes were the color of embers standing at the top of the hill with five dead Owsla members in front of him.
The four warrens stood in shock as Blizzard raised a paw and the rabbits nearest to him saw that his paw was surrounded by lightning. A black cloud surrounded Blizzard and he thrust this out in front of him while punching the nearest rabbit in the chest with his paw. The rabbit screamed and fell as he was consumed by a pure white heat that covered his entire body before laying still.
“I told you that I would destroy you all! You’ll all pay for leaving me and causing the destruction of Sandleford Warren.”
“No you don’t!” Silver shouted and flung himself at Blizzard. Blizzard only increased the lightning surrounding his paw and sent a bolt towards Silver who screamed as the bolt of lightning burned into his heart. Silver fell never to move again.
“What manner of rabbit are you?” Holly shouted at Blizzard.
“I happen to be your worst enemy,” Blizzard said calmly. “Here’s something new for you all to watch.”
Blizzard let the black cloud flow over the rabbits he had killed with his lightning, avoiding Silver, and closed his eyes as the hum of energy in his body quickened before lightning and fire swirled around his body. The rabbits stood there in horror unable to attack or even move. All thoughts of the battle were forgotten as they watched Blizzard be covered in the black cloud.
When the cloud went back into Blizzard’s body they saw he had changed. His eyes were now blood red and his fur was midnight black with lighting and fire patterns covering his entire body. His pupils had changed so that they now resembled lightning bolts. The rabbits he had killed opened their eyes and clambered to their feet before going to stand around Blizzard. They too had been changed as the black cloud had touched them. Their fur had changed to midnight black with orange lightning bolt outlines covering their entire bodies and their eyes had turned to blood red.
“Go underground and find me a kitten to raise as my successor,” Blizzard ordered his servants.
One of the changed rabbits nodded and ran down to the tunnel to do his master’s bidding. The changed rabbits attacked any rabbit that came near their master. Blizzard turned towards Holly with a cruel smile on his face. “You die first.” He reared up on his back legs and smiled as a small fireball crackled with lightning and he flung the ball at Holly. “No!” Lightstone shouted and tackled Holly out of the way as the lightning fireball hit him instead. The Sunstone rabbits cried out in anger and ran towards their chief.
The rabbit that had gone down the tunnel emerged with Thorn in his mouth. Thorn squealed in pain. The rabbits saw that he had blood on his mouth and a few scratches that closed as they all watched. “Marli! Parli!” Thorn screamed in fear. The rabbit dropped the young kitten and placed a paw on his back holding him down as Thorn struggled in vain to get free.
Blizzard hopped over to Thorn and gazed down at him. “I see that you will be a very strong rabbit. Very good,” he said to the rabbit that had snatched Thorn after fatally injuring Mist. “Grab him and let’s leave this place.”
The four warrens moved to intercept Blizzard and his rabbits. “Thorn!” Blackavar cried running at the rabbit that carried his helpless son. Another changed rabbit blocked Blackavar’s path and snarled a warning, eyes flashing dangerously. He turned towards his master with a questioning look. Blizzard shook his head and the rabbit bit Blackavar in the shoulder as the two rabbits fought. The rabbit suddenly grabbed Blackavar by his neck and threw him into the tree. Blackavar screamed in pain as he heard the sickening crunch of his right back leg breaking. The rabbit turned and went running after his master as Thorn screamed “Marli! Parli! Help!”
Blizzard looked at the rabbits standing. “I’ll see you all again.” He raised his energy to maximum and shot his power behind him killing the rabbits ten feet all around him and knocking the others back down the hill before he and his servants vanished from view.