“Vine we must leave here before we are killed.”
“Where are we going to go Kori? Parli and Marli are dead as are my siblings.”
“As long as we can get out of the alliance we’ll be okay if Kuu wants it.”
Suddenly rabbits began appearing before them. With dread Kori and Vine realized that these rabbits were phantoms which could only mean one thing. The rabbits of Inle Warren.
“Do not be afraid of us. There is a warren you can flee to called Moonfell. It is two months journey from the ruins of Brimstone. If you want one of us can guide you there.”
“You’re… you’re the Black Rabbit’s Owsla?” Kori asked in fear.
“Our master sent us to rescue you as well as take these poor souls driven from their home back to the Shadow Land.”
“What of Hitsuki?” Vine asked.
“His fate is not for you to know little one but my master has given me leave to tell you since he saw how close you were to the seer that his time will be hard due to his imprisonment.”
“Can I see him?”
“No. Though Thanatos can’t harm us our master has ordered us not to go to Zorn. So the souls of the dead wander there instead of in the Shadow Land. Thanatos has gotten more powerful and is crueler than when he was a kitten. He could easily entrap us as well if we went there.”
“Will that not harm the Black Rabbit with souls being on the mortal plane?” Kori asked.
“Yes it will make our master weak again and he is already not up to strength but our master would rather be weak then risk losing his Owsla. Goldsky!”
Another phantom rabbit appeared. “Yes Walnut?”
“Guide them to Moonfell as per master’s orders.”
“Of course. You two come with me please.” Vine refused to move. “I’m not leaving without speaking to marli and parli.”
Goldsky looked at Walnut who sighed. “Blackavar and Mist please come here to comfort your son.”
Blackavar and Mist who had been staring at their dead bodies and comforting their kittens turned to Walnut and Goldsky and walked forward. “Marli! Parli! Don’t leave me!” Vine sobbed.
“Vine everything will be okay. Just follow Kori and Goldsky to this warren the Owsla of the Black Rabbit speaks of and listen to Kori. Kori we expect you to take care of our son for us,” Blackavar said looking at Kori.
“Of course Captain Blackavar. I’ll do everything in my power to watch over and protect Vine.”
“How is it we’re able to see you?”
“Simple. You protected the seer. Seers are servants of the Black Rabbit and are only loyal to him. Therefore master allowed for you to see us. Now you should leave here while you can.”
“Both of you place a paw on me. I’ll transport you to Moonfell.”
They did as Goldsky commanded and then they found themselves at Moonfell. “The journey from Watership Down to Moonfell takes six months. You’ll be safe here.”
Kori and Vine looked around them. They were standing in the clearing that Redwood had stood in when he had come to introduce himself and ask to form an alliance between Moonfell and Nightdusk. Vine gazed at the two rabbits that had appeared from the shadows in front of them while three other rabbits encircled Kori and Vine.
“Peace rabbits of Moonfell,” Goldsky said letting go of his solid form that he had used for the transportation and resuming his ethereal form. “These rabbits are here on orders of the Black Rabbit. Little Vine here was friends with the seer born near Watership Down two months ago and driven out and Kori is a rabbit that fought to protect the seer.”
“What happened to the seer?”
“He was taken and the rabbits fighting to protect him were destroyed along with Vine’s parli, marli and siblings. They were driven out of their warren when they fought to protect the seer from being killed.”
Zen and Birch, the two rabbits in front of them, nodded. “Welcome to Moonfell Kori and Vine. We’ll take you to a burrow.” Goldsky then slipped between the boundary of the mortal plane and the Shadow Land, his job done.
The rabbits ran along the forest path in silence before coming upon the warren. “I’ll alert Blacksotne-rah to what happened,” Birch said and Zen nodded before he led the two rabbits down the run and to a burrow. “This is where you’ll stay. Blackstone-rah may or may not question you but if he does you have nothing to worry about.”
Kori nodded and pushed Vine into the burrow. Zen nodded and then ran back up the run and along the forest path to his post since he was on sentry duty that evening. “Kori do you think that Hituski is okay?”
“He’s a seer. I’m sure he’s fine.” But really Kori was worried about the little seer. He had seen that Hitsuki was powerful despite being two months old. He doubted whether a regular seer could have caused the ground to open up and send Oakleaf and his rabbits tumbling into the warren. Then there had been the incident where Hitsuki had knocked that evil rabbit away from them before collapsing and blacking out. But they were just normal rabbits. There was no way they could have possibly won and protected the little seer. And now his friends had died because of those stupid evil rabbits. Kuu only knew what horrors Hitsuki was facing.
Elrond grabbed a turnip in his mouth from Shizun’s burrow and carried it out of Nightdusk and to the cave where Joyner and Shadowfax had been hiding. “How are you two?” Elrond asked looking at them with concern as he set the turnip down.
“Thanatos-rah is… preoccupied.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because if he wasn’t then our collars and bracelets would have killed us by now,” Joyner answered simply. They had explained to Elrond about the collars and bracelets they were forced to wear earlier in the evening when he had arrived with a carrot. A small pile of flayrah was piled up against one of the walls.
“How are things at Nightdusk Elrond?” Shadowfax asked. Joyner and Shadowfax were grateful for a friend who didn’t seem to want to kill them just because of what they looked like and who their master was.
“It seems okay so far. I haven’t had any suspicion from any of the rabbits at Nightdusk but it’s only been a day. The Black Rabbit said that the alliance would be formed in two weeks so I assume that they won’t destroy my warren.”
“You trust the Black Rabbit?” Joyner asked munching on the carrot that had been brought earlier while Shadowfax fell upon the turnip.
“The Black Rabbit was kept enslaved by my former master and chief. I’d rather trust him the Frith.”
His two friends nodded. “You best get back to Nightdusk Elrond,” Joyner finally said. “Thanks for the flayrah.”
“You’re welcome. Stay hidden.”
They nodded and watched Elrond squeeze out of the gap between the rock and the cave wall and vanish into the night. What had their master so preoccupied that they weren’t being punished or even sought after? Whatever it was they were glad they wouldn’t be at the brunt of their master’s anger.
“Master,” Renmay said bowing before Thanatos.
Thanatos looked at the doe in front of him. “What is it?”
“Master I have decided on answer.”
“And?” Thanatos asked.
“Yes what Renmay?”
“Yes master I will become your mate and bear your heir and kittens.”
Thanatos smiled and cuffed the doe knocking her back into his burrow. “Then I suggest we get started. Nobody is to enter my burrow!”
The two guards nodded, bowed and left to stand guard at their master’s burrow. Thanatos smiled at Renmay as he went over to her. “If I catch you talking to any buck I’ll kill you and send my Owsla to kill the buck who spoke to you. Your purpose from here on out is to bear me a heir and kittens. If you don’t then I’ll kill you. Do I make myself clear Renmay?”
“Yes master,” Renmay said tears coming to her eyes.
“Good. In return for bearing me an heir and kittens and assuming you actually don’t do anything that causes me to punish you you’ll have access to my personal flayrah storage. You’ll also have my protection. No rabbit-kitten, buck or doe can lay a paw on you. Now then…”
The guards ignored the mating going on in their master’s burrow and stood there in silence. They knew if they weren’t alert then their master would punish them. Their master mated with his doe twice more during the day and then fell into a satisfied sleep. Renmay shivered next to Thanatos who was pressed up against her. She tried to move and was cuffed across the head. “Do NOT move Renmay.”
“Good.” Thanatos lay back down and went to sleep. In the next burrow Hitsuki shivered in fear. He hadn’t recovered at all from last night. It didn’t help that Thanatos had beaten him nearly senseless either. Bruised and battered the young seer stared around his burrow searching for a way out of his predicament. But the only way was the entrance to the run and he knew he wouldn’t be able to get past the guards.
An hour later Thanatos went into the seer’s burrow and cocked his head as he looked at him. “Will you serve me Hitsuki? You’ll be protected and can right the wrongs of your old warren for wanting to kill you.”
“Why would I want to possibly serve the rabbit that killed my friends? There’s no way I’ll ever serve you!” Hitsuki spat out.
Thanatos was furious and grabbed Hitsuki by his neck and slammed him back into the burrow wall. “You will obey and follow me little seer,” Thanatos growled in Hitsuki’s ear.
“And I said that I will NOT follow you!” Hitsuki shouted and a shockwave that vibrated through the burrow sent Thanatos into the run and undid the collar around his neck. Thanatos didn’t move. His guards hurried over to him and stared in horror at their unconscious master before turning to Hitsuki. Hitsuki swayed a bit where he stood before his own guards darted forward and pressed themselves on either side of the seer. “Get me out of here and I can free you both from Thanatos’s control.”
The guards looked at each other. The seer could free them? One of the guards lowered themselves to the ground while the other gently placed Hitsuki on the first guard’s back before they turned and bolted into the run and out of Zorn. The two rabbits ran quickly but the Owsla were after them. “Stop,” Hitsuki pleaded and the two guards instantly halted. Hitsuki looked at the Owsla who were approaching them and his eyes flashed red as tree roots sprang up out of the ground ensnaring the Owsla who squealed in pain as they were strangled. Hitsuki concentrated and a blue light shot out of his eyes as he looked up at the sky causing storm clouds to block out Frith and torrents of rain to fall. Exhausted Hitsuki collapsed but not before one of his guards caught him and they made their way away from Zorn with the Owsla’s screams ringing in their ears.