Greystorm woke up to a pile of lettuce, carrots and a turnip lying in front of him. Ochiba was still outside. He stretched and cautiously sniffed the food. It didn’t smell of man. Greystorm wondered where the food had come from and looked out of the burrow at the sleeping rabbit.
Ochiba quickly got to his feet at his master’s shout and lowering his head meekly came into the burrow before cowering before Greystorm. “Yes master Greystorm?”
“Did you get this food?”
Ochiba nodded never raising his head to look at Greystorm.
Ochiba flinched at the question. “I went to a farm on Earth and brought the food back to the Shadow Land for you. The food of the Shadow Land isn’t fit for master or any other living rabbit. Moonblossom being the exception since she was born in the Shadow Land. The food isn’t poisoned.”
“How do you know that?”
“In Ether I was subjected to tasting food for when you came master. I learned the hard way to determine which food is good and which isn’t,” Ochiba said sadly.
“How long have you been in Ether?”
Greystorm just stared at Ochiba. “Twenty years?!” Ochiba flinched at his master’s raised voice. “How?”
“Inazuma and Taiyo took me when I was a year old to Ether and turned me into a phantom rabbit until the seer who saw in three was born and able to enter Ether. That seer is you master.”
Greystorm couldn’t believe that Ochiba had been taken from his mother at one year old and then held captive for twenty years. “So you died?”
“No. I’ve been alive for twenty years but living as a phantom until master came. Alive but trapped in Ether. When you arrived I was told to get you when you awakened. Though I didn’t know you were my master until Inazuma and Taiyo forced the blood bond.”
“Why do you call me Greystorm when my name is Fiver?”
“Rabbits who can see in three have a true name that only Inazuma, Taiyo and their servants know and a regular name that everyone else knows. Rabbits that can see in three are rare and very powerful as Inazuma and Taiyo pointed out to you in Ether. The blood bond that we were forced to do in Ether holds strong even into death itself. If master dies then die as my life is now tied to masters. There is no escape from the blood bond or my enslavement to master.”
Ochiba shook his head. “Master Greystorm should regain his strength. Being in a battle and then coming to Ether must have taken a lot of strength.”
As Ochiba made his way back outside the burrow to the spot he had slept in last night Greystorm decided to make an impulse decision for the poor rabbit. “Ochiba I don’t see any reason why you cannot stay in the burrow. No reason to freeze to death.”
Ochiba stopped and took a couple hops before lying down against the left wall of the burrow. Greystorm ate the food that his servant had brought before carrying a piece of lettuce over to Ochiba. “Eat this and stay here. I’m going to talk to Shingetsu-rah.”
Greystorm left Ochiba in the burrow and went to look for the Black Rabbit. He found Shingetsu playing bob stones with Walnut. “Where have you been Fiver?” Shingetsu asked without looking up from the game.
“In three master.”
Shingetsu looked up then. “This game is over. Fiver come with me.”
Walnut looked at Shingetsu-rah and Fiver and nodded. Fiver followed Shingetsu down the runs to the burrow pit that carried the white blindness. “So how did you manage to get into Ether Fiver?”
“Honestly master I don’t know. I woke up yesterday and decided to wander around the warren for a bit and a phantom rabbit was waiting for outside Moonblossom’s burrow. The rabbit motioned for me to follow it so I did and came upon a stone wall of the burrow. The phantom put a paw on the wall and words appeared before disappearing and then we went into Ether where Inazuma and Taiyo forced us to blood bond. After the blood bond I found myself back here with the servant that was blood bonded to me and told that my true name is Greystorm.”
“The only way one can get into Ether is if they can see in three. Which means you’re more powerful than I thought.”
“Master do you have a true name?”
“No. Neither does Prince Rainbow. Prince Rainbow is no seer Greystorm. What did you think of Ether?”
“It’s different master. I’m not sure what to make of Inazuma or Taiyo.”
“Do not tell anyone of your true name Greystorm.”
“Because Inazuma and Taiyo are not to be disobeyed,” Shingetsu said wincing. “Return to your servant Fiver. I have business to attend to.”
Shingetsu wandered through the warren until he came to the entrance to Ether. He placed his paw on the ruby set in a depression of the stone wall and walked through the hole into Ether.
“Shingetsu why are you here?” Taiyo asked the Black Rabbit. “Shouldn’t you be with your mate?”
“Why have you awakened Greystorm after so long my Lord?”
“He needed to be awakened. Though he has merged from sleep he hasn’t yet realized who he is.”
“Do you doubt what we did Shingetsu?” Inazuma said looking at the Black Rabbit. “Or perhaps you need a reminder in who are the masters here?”
Shingetsu was frozen to the spot as the chains once again came from the ground and wrapped around the Black Rabbit. “It seems your punishment in Brimstone by Frith wasn’t enough to teach you your place. Apparently that will have to be corrected.”
Shingetsu shook as the chains dragged him to the ground and held him there as Inazuma and Taiyo stared down at him. The chain around his neck tightened. “Falner disdrim vanmer grashay numzer tupay. Mind and body, soul and heart obey the master.” The sentence was repeated over and over as Shingetsu screamed in pain. It had been so long since the mother and father had tortured him.
“Greystorm didn’t need to be awakened my Lord and Lady,” Shingetsu gasped when they stopped to give him air. “There has to be another…” He was cut off as the torture began again.
“You were wise to tell Greystorm not to disobey us though,” Taiyo said. “For that I suppose we can show some mercy.” A violent slash appeared across Shingetsu’s chest. “I wouldn’t tell Greystorm about his past Shingetsu unless you want to suffer more punishment. Do we make ourselves clear slave?”
“Y-yes master.” Shingetsu hung his head and closed his eyes as the father and mother advanced on him. His piercing cries filled the air. Suddenly something darted past him and gripped the chains in its teeth before ripping them from Shingetsu.
“Master Shingetsu,” the rabbit said bowing before the Black Rabbit of Inle. “I’ve waited a long time.”