Birch and Zen woke up at fu-inle. A doe entered the burrow they were in with some herbs in her paws. She smiled a sad smile at the two rabbits and shook her head as she went over to Zen and tended to the burn on his back.
“What you are you two doing at Brimstone?”
“Came to join Blizzard,” Birch said from where he lay watching the doe tend to his friend.
The doe shook her head. “Then you are fools. Now that you have entered Brimstone you can never leave. The Brimstone Owsla will hunt you down and you’ll be killed by Blizzard or Thanatos.”
Winterberry came in them with Blackstone and they looked at the two fools who had come to Brimstone of their own accord. “Lummis how is the healing?”
“Thanatos and Blizzard really did a number on them. It will take a while for this one’s burn to heal and I’m not sure about the other buck’s ribs.”
Winterberry shook his head and looked at the rabbits with pity in his eyes. “You really shouldn’t have come here.”
“You’re both fools for coming here. No sane rabbit would willingly come to Brimstone and join Blizzard,” Blackstone said. “Our master still hasn’t decided what to do with you yet. You better hope you heal quickly because it may save your lives.”
“Blackstone they may be fools but sadly once master changes them they’ll truly belong to him. Better for them to be fools now then the evil ones they’ll become after the change,” Lummis said.
Birch lifted his head up at the mention of the name ‘Blackstone’. “Did you say your name is Blackstone?” Birch asked the rabbit before him. Zen lifted his head and glanced at Birch.
“Yes it is. The doe is Lummis. She’s the Brimstone healer and this is Winterberry.”
“Blackstone and Winterberry…” Zen said. Both Zen and Birch were thinking about Prince Rainbow’s words. “We came here as spies from Efrafa on Hazel-rah’s orders,” Zen said quietly.
“You mean to tell us your spies?” Winterberry asked Zen.
Zen and Birch nodded. “Prince Rainbow told us to find and befriend four rabbits named Blackstone, Winterberry, Fuser and Pecan and that they were the main leaders of the resistance in Brimstone,” Birch said.
“Blackstone is the leader of our resistance. But there’s no way we can resist Blizzard or Thanatos,” Winterberry said. “If we did then all of the prisoners and the resistance are in agreement that Blackstone would be our chief.”
“Fuser and Pecan will need to learn of this. Get well soon spies for Efrafa because it may be your only chance to live.” With those words Blackstone and Winterberry left to find Pecan and Fuser and inform them of the stupid spies.
Lummis worked on Zen and Birch all night before sighing and sitting back. “I’m afraid the rest is up to the two of you. I’ve done all I can.”
“How many days have we been here Zen?” Birch asked his friend and fellow Owsla member.
“One day I think. Maybe two.”
You have been here a week. So you’re spies for the alliance? What do you hope to accomplish while you’re here?
Zen and Birch shook their heads. They didn’t recognize the voice as Prince Rainbow and they couldn’t picture Prince Rainbow coming to a warren like this anyway. “Who said that?” Zen asked in a shaking voice.
It isn’t time for you to know me but I will tell you that I located in Brimstone however Blizzard’s rabbits guard me twenty-four seven. My power is weakening as is my body but you both will heal and be alright. Trust in the rabbits Prince Rainbow told you about. They… The voice fell silent.
Zen and Birch listened for the mysterious voice in their heads but there was nothing. “What was that? Who was that?” Zen asked Birch.
“I don’t know Zen. But if it is a rabbit and it’s guarded by Blizzard’s rabbits then it must be on the good side.”
Another week passed and Birch and Zen had finally managed to fully recover from their punishment. They were summoned before Blizzard and Thanatos and remembering their punishment quickly bowed before the two rabbits. “Well I see your punishment rubbed off on you since you were quick to come to my summons,” Blizzard said. “Do either of you have any fighting skills at all?”
“We were part of the Watership Owsla master. We were officers,” Zen said.
“So I assume you have some fighting skills then since you were in an Owsla?”
Zen and Birch nodded, not daring to look at the two rabbits in front of them. “I see. Well then I think I know what I’m going to do with you both. But before I get started you will do something for me to prove your loyalty. Though once you are changed you’ll be loyal to me anyway.”
“What do you wish us to do master?” Birch asked shaking.
“I want you to kill Honeysuckle,” gesturing at the doe behind him. “She hasn’t gotten pregnant yet.”
Zen and Birch raised their heads to look at each other. They had to kill this poor doe to avoid punishment by their master? “Is there a problem?” Blizzard asked causally looking from one buck to the other in front of him.
“No master,” Birch said his ears drooping. Zen looked sadly at the poor doe that was silent as if she knew she couldn’t escape her fate. “Oh and to make sure you don’t disobey again you’ll be doing the killing in my burrow in front of Thanatos. He’ll be glad to kill you if you disobey.”
Zen and Birch flinched remembering the lightning that Thanatos had sent through their bodies. They watched Blizzard leave and Thanatos called a couple guards to stand in the burrow in case Zen and Birch decided to leave. Sighing they walked over to Honeysuckle who peered up at them with eyes full of fear. “Please… please don’t kill me!”
“We’re sorry,” Zen said and Birch nodded.
“We’ll make it quick so you won’t feel a thing,” Birch whispered to the doe. Birch and Zen rose on their back legs and brought their weight down on the doe that let out a scream of fear as Thanatos watched and laughed.
Moonblossom was sitting in the circle of stones at Sunstone. A beam of moonlight hit the silver streak between her ears and washed over her entire body as she shut her eyes. She could feel her strength and powers returning. The silver streak which had been growing dim brightened as the moonlight filled the streak and then faded. She opened her eyes as she heard her master calling her.
Master! Are you alright?
My powers are weak from being trapped. Have the three contacted you yet?
That is unfortunate. If they do not contact you by the next full moon then you must contact them. Are you well?
Yes master. My powers just recharged. What do you wish of me?
A doe will appear by the river. Go there with Fern and bring her back to Sunstone.
Blizzard came back in a few moments later. He walked over to the body and saw the claw marks on Honeysuckle. He placed a paw on her chest and smiled at the dead doe. “You did well to obey me this time. I think it’s now time for you join my Owsla. But first I’ll have to change you.”
Zen and Birch looked sadly at the doe before bowing before Blizzard as he smiled and the dark cloud swirled around and over the two Efrafan rabbits as they screamed in fear and fell to the floor. The cloud dissipated after fifteen minutes and there stood Birch and Zen with jet black fur and blue ice patterns on their bodies. Their eyes had darkened to burgundy and they had red circles of fur surrounding their eyes. “Go find yourselves a burrow in the Owsla chambers.”
“Yes master,” Zen and Birch said before vanishing down the run. They easily found the Owsla run and were directed to an empty burrow that they quickly claimed. Blackstone, Winterberry, Fuser and Pecan ran after them as they came out of the burrow. They had heard the poor doe’s screams and Thanatos’s laughter and had seen the changed spies. They had seen the blood on the spies’ claws and had taken off after the rabbits in an effort to help them.
“It may be too late for them if they killed,” Fuser said.
“Let’s hope not,” Blackstone said. They ran into the Owsla run and crowded Zen and Birch’s burrow. The two rabbits were shaking. Hearing the noise of the intruders they bared their teeth in snarls and their eye went cold and dark before they recognized the four rabbits in front of them.
Blackstone and the others slowly walked over to the two rabbits. “Zen? Birch? It’s me Blackstone. Winterberry is here along with Fuser and Pecan. You remember Winterberry and I don’t you?”
“You’re spies from Efrafa. Remember? Don’t forget who you are and why you came here,” Winterberry said. Behind him Fuser and Pecan looked on sadly.
Slowly the anger and coldness subsided from the two rabbits as their memories flashed back to those moments before they had attacked Honeysuckle. The voice they had heard spoke to them and a white light had seemed to curl around their paws as they brought their combined weight down on the doe. They had then lost all sense of themselves as they carried out their master’s orders and the next thing they remembered was the doe lying still in a pool of blood before them with Thanatos laughing his head off as he had come to look at the doe for himself.
“What have we done?” Zen cried out shaking.
“We’ve never heard of or seen Blizzard order rabbits to kill before to join his warren,” Fuser said. “It’s odd that master ordered you both to kill before he changed you.”
Winterberry, Pecan and Blackstone nodded. They too had never heard of this being done before. Birch remained quiet as the conversation went on around him. He was in shock and horrified about what they had just done. He wasn’t just scared that they had killed a rabbit. It was more the fact that they had forgotten who they were until Blackstone and the others had reminded him and Zen of who they were.
“It will be alright Birch. We’ll help you both fight the darkness that master has put on you. Just remember where you come from and why you are here,” Blackstone said. “My burrow is across from yours so come get me if you need anything.”
“That’s right the four of us will help you through this,” Winterberry said as Pecan and Fuser nodded in agreement. Blackstone led his friends out to give Birch and Zen some time alone to recover and try to rest. They weren’t sure if Zen and Birch would ever be the same due to what had happened in Blizzard and Thanatos’s burrow.
Fern and Moonblossom were at the river drinking when they heard the thump of a body hitting the ground. They looked across the river and saw a rabbit lying there. Fern swam across the river and shook himself off before hopping over and gazing at the injured doe. As he gently placed a paw on the doe’s back Honeysuckle opened her eyes.