Pages

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Death of a Seer

The rabbits slowly picked themselves up from the ground.   Lightstone lay unmoving where he had fallen.  It was Blackavar, squealing in pain, who hopped over on three legs to examine Silver.  He shook his head sadly.  “Silver’s dead.”
The Watership rabbits stared in shock.  They had gone through a lot of trouble to get to Watership Down and the battle of Efrafa without having lost a single rabbit and now a rabbit many of them had never met who Holly had confirmed was from Sandleford had just killed a dear friend and one of the Watership Owsla in addition to kidnapping the son of another Owsla member.
“My heart has joined the Thousand for my friend stopped running today,” the rabbits said as they lowered their ears and bowed their heads to their fallen friend.  Sunstone gathered around their chief protectively as the other rabbits turned on them. 
“It’s Woundwort’s fault!  That stupid dog couldn’t even kill him and save us all this trouble!” Acorn shouted. 
“Kehaar!” Hazel called up to the bird who had been at the farm snatching fish from the cat’s bowl .
“Yah? What ye need Hazel?” Kehaar called as he landed on the ground.  He turned his head to look at Silver.  “Yark! Silver dead?  How dis happen?”
“Woundwort Kehaar! That’s what happened,” Hawkbit said. 
“Woundwort? But that stinking bunny he dead no?” Kehaar turned and spotted Lighstone and flew up into the air screaming, “Yark! Yark! Yark!  Evil bunny alive?  Best kill him or he cause plenty trouble for you.”
“No it wasn’t Woundwort,” Fiver said speaking up.  The rabbits turned to look at him.  “It was another rabbit from our old warren that did this.  I had a vision just before the rabbit came about him.  He killed several rabbits.  He was going to kill Holly but for some reason Woundwort pushed Holly out of the way and took the hit for him.”
“That not possible.  Woundwort not care for anyone but himself,” Kehaar said shaking his head. 
“Parli!” A tiny voice cried.  Dusk cowered in the hole looking for Blackavar and the rabbit who had taken her brother away.  Spotting her parli she ran over to Blackavar sobbing. 
“Mist!” Blackavar cried suddenly remembering his injured doe.  He picked up his daughter by her neck and bolted down the tunnel with Hazel, Bigwig and Fiver following behind as he ran to his burrow.
“Lightstone by taking the hit for Holly you have proven to me and Lord Frith that you have indeed changed for the better.  Your dream of being with Harmony and having a family will come true.”
“Thank you Prince Rainbow!  This means everything to me!”
Prince Rainbow smiled at Lightstone.  “Your Owsla is worried about you.  Soon it will be time to wake up but I will remove the remaining scars from your body and the last lingering traces of evil and hate from your heart and soul.”
“Thank you so much!” Lightstone realized he was crying in happiness and joy.  “But you said I would lose this battle.  Did you foresee that Blizzard would come here?”
“Yes.  It worked out for the best because without you trying to attack Watership Down and then the arrival of Blizzard you would have still been the same rabbit you were before meeting Harmony and founding Sunstone.  There’s also the fact that you would have lost anyway due to three warrens have been united and will fight to protect each other.  However I must warn you about Silverweed.  You need to return to your warren and kill him.  If not then he will poison your rabbits against you and will be sought after by Blizzard.”
“But what about a seer for Sunstone?”
“That rabbit will appear.  I can’t give you too much information on your new seer but the rabbit will have emerald green eyes and forest green vine patters on its body.  Oh and take Mist to Sunstone.  It’s the only way she’ll survive.”
“But what if the Watership Down rabbits don’t allow it?”
“Blackavar will. Anyway I will speak to everyone to tell them to avoid harming you.”
“Mist!” Blackavar shouted after having dropped Dusk on the floor of their burrow and staring helplessly at his doe. 
Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig came in and stopped in horror.  Mist’s ears had been torn to shreds and she was gasping for breath where the evil rabbit had bitten deep into her throat.  Wounds covered her entire body.  Blackavar looked around frantically for the rest of his kittens and relieved to see they were all okay aside from being scared. 
“Oh Mist!” Blackavar cried.  Prince Rainbow suddenly appeared before them and turned towards Mist.  Placing his front paws on her chest he let his power flow into her stopping the bleeding and her racing heart.  Then he turned towards Blackavar.
“Mist will need to go to Woundwort’s warren to be healed.”
“No!” Bigwig shouted.  “Sorry Prince Rainbow but Woundwort is a killer and a slave driver.”
“Woundwort has changed. You all should have been able to realize that when he took the hit for Captain Holly.  A mad rabbit wouldn’t have done that.”
“Prince Rainbow speaks the truth Bigwig.  I sensed no darkness in his heart before the rabbits that came with him protectively surrounded him. They are the ones from Shining Wire Warren right?” Fiver asked looking at Prince Rainbow.
“Yes Fiver.  However they are now part of a warren called Sunstone.  It is this warren that Mist must go to if she is to survive.”
Blackavar gazed at his doe and friend and nodded.  “Alright she’ll go.  But I want her back here as soon as she is healed.”
“Blackavar I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”
“This rabbit is Prince Rainbow Bigwig.  Frith’s messenger.  I trust him.  Fiver obviously trusts him as well,” glancing at the seer.  “Mist is my mate and I will decide what happens concerning her.  If you don’t like that then my family will all go and leave Watership Down forever.”
Prince Rainbow helped Mist stand to her feet and looked at Blackavar’s kittens that were staring in shock and wonder at the rainbow colored rabbit.  “Don’t worry young ones.  Your mother will be fine and back here soon.”
Lightstone opened his eyes.  He saw his Owsla surrounding him. He shook his head as he heard voices.
“Kill him! Down with Woundwort!” The rabbits cried.  His Owsla bared their teeth and growled, tightening the circle around their chief.  A Vleflain rabbit lunged at Lightstone but two Owsla broke from the circle and tackled the Vleflain clawing at the rabbit.  Another Vleflain tried to rush into the gap that was now exposed.  One of two Sunstone Owsla who had broken the circle turned and slammed into the rabbit before he could close to Lightstone.  The white rabbit pinned the Vleflain beneath him with his teeth in the rabbit’s shoulder. 
Lightstone groaned and four warrens looked at the rabbit.  As they watched his fur changed to a pale gold with white tipped ears and white feet and the last remaining scars on his body vanished.  Two of his Owsla lowered themselves and gently helped their chief to stand. When he was on his feet they leaned into their chief helping him stay on his feet.
Lightstone looked the rabbit who was being attacked.  “Frost.  Odin.  Let the rabbits up.”
The two Owsla members sat back on their hind legs, allowing the Vleflains to scurry back to the safety to retreat to their friends.  Prince Rainbow came up with Mist, Blackavar, Hazel, Fiver and Bigwig behind him.  He shook his head at the fighting and spoke.
“Vlefain, Watership and Efrafa pay attention because this will only be said once.  This rabbit that two of your own have attacked for no reason,” he raised a paw as the rabbits began to speak, “is no longer the rabbit you knew him as.  See how his Owsla has protected him when you would band together to destroy him?  Do you not see the concern on each face of his Owsla?  They would not do this for someone who they hated.  If they hated their chief they wouldn’t have surrounded him and ran to him after Blizzard struck him.  This rabbit has freed the Shining Wire Warren from Cowslip and a life of relying on man.  He has learned what it means to love and have friends.  The change of his fur wouldn’t have occurred if he was still evil and full of darkness.”
The rabbits glared at Woundwort and his Owsla.  Prince Rainbow led Mist over to the Sunstone Owsla.  “This doe needs to be taken to Sunstone to be healed.  Only your warren can heal her.  Once she is healed I will bring her back home to Watership Down.”
Lightstone nodded his agreement and after having two of his Owsla stay close to Mist in case she needed help walking they picked their way down the slope and set off for home.  A few Efrafans, Watershipers and Vleflains who were still angry at Woundwort began charging after the Sunstone Owsla but Prince Rainbow erected a force field around the top of Watership Down.  The charging rabbits ran headlong into the wall and were flung back towards the safety of Watership Down.
“Any rabbit that attacks the rabbits of Sunstone, including their chief, will die on the spot.  The Black Rabbit and I have a friendship and he’d gladly take any of you before your time.  Hazel I suggest that you inform Campion and Groundsel of this threat and spread the word about Blizzard and his servants.”  Prince Rainbow looked around at all the rabbits and vanished.
Blackberry stared as the strange wall that Prince Rainbow had erected disappeared.  Hopping to the edge of the hill he noticed the rabbits of Sunstone, including Mist, had vanished from view.  “I think we should do as Prince Rainbow says Hazel-rah.  Campion and Groundsel need to be warned of Blizzard.”
“You’re right Blackberry and I think our visitors have overstayed their welcome,” Hazel said sternly glaring at the Efrafan and Vleflain rabbits.  Hazel then turned to his own rabbits as the Efrafans and Vleflains took the hint and left and stared at them all.
“I’m ashamed of every one of you.  Poor Silver is dead and Thorn has been kidnapped by some evil rabbit who once resided in Sandleford who is set on destroying not just Watership Down but all four warrens-three of whom had nothing to do with Sandleford or the events that happened there-and all you can think of is attacking and killing innocent rabbits when there has been enough bloodshed today?”  Hazel’s voice trailed off and he sighed.  He suddenly appeared very old. 
“If we are going to combat this danger then we must work together.  Yes that includes working with Woundwort and Sunstone,” he added as his rabbits uttered groans of protest.  “Now come and help me fix our warren.”
In a flash of light the rabbits of Sunstone were back at their old warren.  Prince Rainbow had transported them from Watership Down as he had been busy scolding Watership Down, Vleflain and Efrafa.  The six Owsla members who had been left to watch over things looked up as Lightstone and all the Owsla passed through the magical barrier and their wounds were healed. 
“Lightstone-rah is that you?”  Amber asked as she ran up to Sky and touched noses in greeting. 
Lightstone laughed.  “Yes Amber.  We lost like Prince Rainbow said and there was an attack by a rabbit named Blizzard.  He killed a Watership Down Owsla officer and killed some other rabbits as well.”  The rabbits gasped in horror.  “He said he was going to destroy every rabbit for the events at Hazel’s old warren and then tried to kill Holly but I tackled Holly out of the way and took the hit instead.  Prince Rainbow changed my fur and healed me.”
Harmony ran to Lightstone and licked his face.  “Hello Harmony,” Lightstone said smiling at his doe.  “Prince Rainbow said that we will have kittens and be a family,” he whispered in her ear. Her eyes shone with joy as she smiled. 
“This is Mist.  One of her kittens was kidnapped by one of Blizzard’s rabbits,” the rabbits again cried out in horror and growled in anger, “and Prince Rainbow told me to bring her here to Sunstone so she could fully heal.  As such please be kind to her while she is with us.” The rabbits nodded.  “Now I’m sure you are wondering why I appear different.  Prince Rainbow changed my fur and healed me from all the scars I have suffered both physically and mentally.  He took the last threads of evil and darkness from me. This,” looking at his front paws, “is the result.”
“Lighstone-rah! Lightstone-rah!” The rabbits cheered.  Mist cried out in pain as she fell to the ground.  Her wounds had opened up again.   “Someone take her to the healer’s burrow and find Snowberry. She needs to be tended to at once.”
Carefully two Owsla members set her on a third’s back and the rabbit set off at brisk run for Snowberry’s burrow.  Snowberry was Sunstone’s healer. Once the Owsla member and Mist had gone underground Lightstone turned to look for Silverweed.  “Where’s Silverweed?”
“In his burrow Lightstone-rah,” Patch said coming over. “Is something wrong?”
“It appears I was wrong to let Silverweed come with us.  Prince Rainbow told me that Silverweed will try to poison Sunstone against me and he will join Blizzard unless he is killed.  I need volunteers to come with me to make sure he is killed and can’t risk harming us.”
All the rabbits quickly volunteered.  They had noticed that as soon as Lighstone-rah had left that Silverweed had been trying to take over.  None of the rabbits would have it and had beaten Silverweed.  They weren’t sure what Silverweed had said to let Lightstone-rah bring him to Sunstone from Shining Wire Warren but they knew that Silverweed was clever with words.  He had probably said something to Lightstone-rah.  The six remaining Owsla members along with the regular warren had taken turns keeping Silverweed locked in his burrow until their chief would come back. However they had been too late to save an elderly rabbit named Leafstone.  Silverweed had killed Leafstone and a couple of kittens belonging to Officer Limestone.
“Lighstone-rah Silverweed killed two of Officer Limestone’s kittens and Leafstone.”
“What?!  When did this happen?”
“A day after you left for Watership Down Lightstone-rah. He’s been locked in his burrow ever since with everyone taking shifts.”
“Has he escaped at all?”
“No Lighstone-rah.  Thanks to your experience and training he hasn’t been able to even try. We have had to watch Limestone though.  He nearly tore Silverweed to pieces before we pulled him off.”
“Thank you Breeze.” 
Lightstone was furious at himself for letting Silverweed live instead of killing him or leaving him behind at Shining Wire Warren.  Two of the regular rabbits were on duty.  They stared at Lightstone with suspicion until he informed them that he had been changed by Prince Rainbow.  Nodding they stepped to either side so the rabbits could enter Silverweed’s burrow.
Silverweed cocked his head as he saw the rabbits entering.  They could see the scars on his body for Snowberry had refused to heal him at all after the attack on Limestone’s kittens. 
“Why did you agree so readily to come with me and leave your old warren?” Lightstone asked the seer.
“I had my own plans General.  I hoped you would be killed at Watership Down so I could take over and shape this warren to my own design.  These rabbits were supposed to stay under the influence of my mind.  Instead with the killing of Cowslip you freed them from his grip.  Cowslip and I were connected through blood.”
“What do you mean?”
“I happen to be Cowslip’s brother from a second litter. Because I was a seer he protected me.  It’s a shame you didn’t die.”
Lightstone shook his head.  What a fool I have been.  Turning they heard an enraged yell. Limestone barreled through the other rabbits and dove on Silverweed.  He savagely tore open the wounds that had scarred over making Silverweed cry in pain as the large rabbit pinned him to the burrow floor.  Then with a sickening rip Limestone tore out Silverweed’s throat.  Silverweed may have been a seer but he was still just a regular rabbit.  He didn’t stand a chance against the grieving Officer.
“Limestone!” Lightstone shouted at his officer.  Limestone didn’t let go of Silverweed’s dead body.  He snarled and his eyes flashed angrily.  A couple of Owsla members tackled Limestone and held him down as Lightstone looked at the mangled dead rabbit before him.  He hopped over to the dead rabbit and brought down all his weight on Silverweed’s chest causing the bones over his heart to cave in and crush his heart.  He tore out the muscles in Silverweed’s back legs and then sat back blood smeared on his mouth and dripping on the ground before him. 
Prince Rainbow appeared then and looked calmly at the dead Silverweed.  He picked up Silverweed.  “This rabbit will be tortured by the Black Rabbit and his Owsla for his crimes against the rabbits of Sunstone and Shining Wire Warren.  He won’t be troubling you anymore.
“As for you,” turning to Limestone.  “Your kittens are safe with the Black Rabbit.  His Owsla protect them.  So let go your anger as you have avenged their deaths.”
The rabbits were surrounded by a yellow light and the blood that been on the floor of the burrow vanished along with Prince Rainbow and the dead Silverweed. Limestone groaned under the two rabbits pinning him.  At a nod from Lightstone they let him up.  “This will be the only time you are allowed to kill somebody within Sunstone.  I’m sorry about your kittens.”
Limestone nodded, the anger vanishing from his eyes.  Then all the rabbits retired to their burrows for a well-deserved sleep.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Four Warrens

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.
“Yes.”
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.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Sunstone

Woundwort led his rabbits on for days in search of a new warren, picking up prisoners from other warrens along their journey.  He had thought about what Silverweed had said before they had left Shining Wire Warren and begun the journey for a new home. When a fox had attacked a doe and her kittens Woundwort had leapt onto the animal and killed it while his rabbits watched.  When a young buck named Thorn cut his foot open on a rock Woundwort slowed his rabbits pace so that Thorn could keep up.  Woundwort noticed that doing these acts of kindness made him feel good and he noticed that his rabbits began to respect him including the prisoners he had taken by force from other warrens.
Days slid into weeks that slid into months as they searched for a home of their own where they could start over. During this time Woundwort had formed officers and corporals in his Owsla and trained his rabbits how to fight.  To his surprise Harmony began to take a liking to him as Silverweed had said she would.  This pleased him and made him the happiest he had ever been in his life. 
Lying next to Harmony beneath a thorn bush Woundwort slept, his peaceful breathing causing his body to rise and fall.  His dream was of Harmony and snuggled next to her were four newborn kittens while he stood over her smiling at his family.  A smile appeared on his face as he dreamed when it was suddenly interrupted by a voice.
“Woundwort.  The threads of darkness are lifting from your soul but I see that there is still evil inside you.  You will have a battle with your enemies and you will lose.  However due to the kindness and respect you are gathering from your new rabbits and the love you are showing Harmony I have a gift for you.”
“Who are you?”
“Prince Rainbow.  Lord Frith is not pleased about the violence you forced on the rabbits in Efrafa and that is why he had you defeated on Watership Down.  But you did those rabbits in Shining Wire Warren a favor by killing Cowslip. They are slowly relearning the ways of El-ahrairah and how to be wild rabbits. Lord Frith sees that you have some goodness inside you.  Therefore he is allowing me to restore your sight in your blind eye and remove some scars from your body.  I have seen your dream Woundwort and whether that comes to pass depends if you can let go of your hatred and anger.  I will visit you again when the time is right.”
A black mist covered him as he cowered before Prince Rainbow and then was gone. 
“AHH!” Woundwort shouted jerking his head up.  He blinked his eyes and then blinked them again.  His vision was hazy at first and then it cleared and he realized that he could see!  “So seeing Prince Rainbow and getting my eyesight back was real?”
 Harmony looked at him and placed a paw on Woundwort’s.  “What is it Woundwort?”
“Harmony I think I saw Prince Rainbow in a dream.”
“What did he say?”  Seeing Prince Rainbow in a dream meant that good things would happen or that the rabbit was blessed.
“He gave me back my sight in my left eye and healed some scars on my body.  He said I had the power to change from bad to good and that I would again fight my enemies and lose.  He said Lord Frith is angry with me because of how I ruled Efrafa but that I did the rabbits of Shining Wire Warren some good by killing Cowslip.”
“Then trust in Prince Rainbow’s message Woundwort and he will lead you right.”
Woundwort nuzzled Harmony and crawled out from under the bush with Harmony beside him.  Mayberry and Stone, two rabbits that he had sent out to scout for a possible home two days ago, were nibbling on grass. 
“Mayberry and Stone I’m glad to see you both arrived back in one piece.”
“Thank you Woundwort-rah,” they said.  “We think we have found a likely location for the warren.  Would you and Harmony like to come see?”
Woundwort turned to Harmony.  “What do you think my dear?”
“Yes I’d love to see what has Mayberry and Stone so mysterious about.”
“Twinleaf,” Woundwort called as they passed the young buck. 
“Yes Woundwort?” 
“You’re in charge until we return.  Make sure everyone stays close to the thorn bushes and use them for cover in case of danger.”
“Don’t worry Woundwort I’ll watch over everyone.”
Woundwort nodded and the four rabbits began the two day trek to what had captured Mayberry and Stone’s interest.  They went through a small wood and swam a river before coming at last to what had attracted Mayberry and Stone.  Before them stood a circle of stones.
“What type of thing is that?” Woundwort asked.
“I think it’s a man thing sir.  But there is no scent of man here.”
“Then why bring us to this place if man built it?”
“Sir it was Prince Rainbow who showed us this place.”
Woundwort looked startled.  “What did you say?”
Stone swallowed the lump in his throat but continued.  “We were sleeping in the forest when Prince Rainbow appeared to us.  The light that surrounded us woke us up before it dissipated and we saw a rabbit of many different colors standing before us.  We just knew it was Prince Rainbow.”
Woundwort wouldn’t have believed it if he hadn’t just seen Prince Rainbow in a dream. He nodded his head for Stone to continue.
“We asked who he was and he said he was Prince Rainbow and that he was sent by Lord Frith to guide us to a place for a new warren.  He showed us the path to take and then appeared before us when we reached this stone circle.  He said the stone circle was built by man in the past and has lain forgotten but the stones were built to align with Lord Frith during spring and that man used to worship Lord Frith and nature itself here.  There’s some type of magic that protects this man made creation from decaying.  Prince Rainbow said that if we build a warren here then elil and enemy rabbits will never be able to harm us.”
Woundwort looked at Mayberry.  “Do you have anything to add to Stone’s statement?”
Mayberry shook his head.  “Nothing sir except that I think we should take Prince Rainbow’s advice.  Prince Rainbow said that man hasn’t been here in centuries so we don’t have to worry about man.  At afternoon silflay yesterday we were eating and heard a hawk’s cry.  We looked up and saw a hawk come diving from the sky but then it appeared to have hit something and it fell like a stone before managing to beat its wings and fly away.”
“Did you see what it hit?”
“No sir that’s the strange thing.  We felt a strange vibration in the ground beneath us and the air in front of us seemed to simmer as the hawk hit it.  I think that whatever magic man gave to this place is protecting us from harm.”
Woundwort shook his head baffled at what he had just heard.  But he figured it was best not to question Prince Rainbow.  He could possibly lose Harmony if he didn’t trust Lord Frith’s messenger.  “How far does this ‘magic’ extend?”
“It extends for about 30 yards in all directions. We’ve spent the last day testing the limits of the magical boundary.”
Woundwort did some quick thinking.  If  this magic extended thirty yards in all directions then they would have one hundred five yards of safety as long as they stayed within the magical boundaries.  This would mean that there would be plenty of space to build up a new warren and there wouldn’t be the overcrowding issues like there had been in Efrafa.
“Okay let’s go and get the others and bring them here to start digging the warren.  This warren will be known as Sunstone. Is that agreeable with you three?”
“Yes sir I think that suits the place perfectly,” Mayberry said and Harmony and Stone nodded. Four days later Woundwort’s rabbits reached the beginning of the magical boundary surrounding Sunstone.  The rabbits stared in amazement at the stone circle and as they passed through the invisible magical barrier that surrounded their new warren their fear and worry fell away. They clustered together in the stone circle and watched in shock as a glowing white light appeared in front of them and then slowly faded to reveal a rabbit of different colors. 
“Greetings Sunstone rabbits.  Do not be afraid for I am Prince Rainbow.  I am sure you noticed that your fears and worry slipped away as you passed through the magical barrier that protects this place. This is tied to magic that the ancient men who built this place and will protect you as long as you remain within the confines of the barrier.  No elil, enemy rabbits or man will be able to harm.  As a further protection from man, the magical barrier makes man unable to see this place or any of you within this barrier.  However you will not be protected when outside the magical barrier which means elil, enemy rabbits and man can see and harm you.  The magical barrier also has healing properties if you are part of this warren. So do not worry and be happy.  I promise that Sunstone will live long.” With a flash of light Prince Rainbow was gone and the rabbits stood speechless. 
After a few seconds the does set to work digging the warren.  By silent agreement they agreed not to dig any holes in the circle of stones.  They also found out that digging the warren did not harm the magic that permeated through the very air and ground at all.  Rather the magic adjusted itself so that the inside of the warren was protected as well. The bucks worked to make sure the runs were interlocked together and took over for the does so they could rest and go above ground for silflay.  A month passed before the warren was finished and the rabbits could move underground. 
Woundwort called his rabbits together in the chamber that was underneath the stone circle.  This chamber was big enough to house all the Sunstone rabbits for many generations to come.  “I have decided I don’t want to be called Woundwort anymore.  My name is now Lightstone.”
“Lightstone-rah! Lightstone-rah!” The rabbits cheered their chief.  They thought it was a good name for a rabbit that had been blessed by Prince Rainbow and had saved them from Cowslip.  Lightstone waited for their cheering to subside before continuing.
“I saw Prince Rainbow in a dream six days ago.  He told me I would have a battle against my enemies and I believe those enemies are from a warren known as Watership Down.”  The rabbits growled in anger.  “He also informed me that I would lose the battle and that I still have evil in my heart but also that I have some goodness.  I have come to realize since my defeat on Watership Down and almost being killed by the dog that was set upon my old warren that I have been wrong to force rabbits to obey by fear.  I was full of anger and hate and let that cloud my judgment and cause my old warren to hate me and wish for my death in secret.
“I used to love war and death.  What a fool I have been,” he shook his head.  The Sunstone rabbits remained silent as they listened to their chief speak.  “But as Harmony accepted me despite what I had done, with Silverweed’s talk we had after I saw Harmony and felt the first stirrings of love for her, and as I gained your respect and made friends with Twinleaf and Fern I realized that there is another way to live.  A rabbit who runs a warren by fear is no leader.  A rabbit who has rabbits that follow him out of love and respect, who has rabbits that would lay down their lives to protect their chief, who will listen to his rabbits when they are afraid, is a great leader and I hope that I can be that leader for you all.”
Sunstone was full of voices as the rabbits cheered their chief’s speech and stamped in applause.  They were a bit troubled that they would go to war with Watership Down but if that made Lightstone-rah see the error of his ways and destroy the darkness inside him then they were okay with that.  Along their journey Lightstone-rah had opened up to his rabbits about the way he was before being almost killed by the dog that the Watership rabbits had set upon him and of how he had ruled his old warren with an iron paw.  Yet they also saw how gentle and loving he was towards Harmony and how he had behaved towards the kittens and hurt rabbits on their journey.  Yes Lightstone was slowly changing but there would be one more hurdle he would need to pass to make the evil and darkness leave his being for good.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Shining Wire Warren

Woundwort got shakily to his feet and followed the rabbit underground where he whispered something to a big brown buck and then hopped away. He had noticed during his limping that there were bushes scattered all around the warren.  As he followed the buck he had been handed off to he tried asking questions but the rabbits in this place seemed to avoid anything asking “How?”, “Why?”, or “Where?”  Very strange rabbits. Most of this warren appears empty.  But they don’t smell of sickness or disease so why are there are so few?
“We have plenty of empty burrows. You’re free to choose any one that suits your fancy.”
“What about flayrah?”
“Come to the burrow that you were in before and flayrah will be there.”
“Is Cowslip your chief?”
“Oh no we don’t have a chief.  No need for a chief.  Well must be going now.” The rabbit hopped on down the run.
Woundwort was more puzzled than ever and he wasn’t usually puzzled by rabbits.  So they didn’t have a chief?  Well that made things easier for him to take control of this warren.  But first he had to get better and discover more about this place and these rabbits.  Though he wasn’t sure he could amass them into an army.
As the days passed his leg got better and Cowslip invited him to help fetch flayrah.  Woundwort was annoyed.  He was the one who ordered slaves to fetch flayrah.  He had made friends with a couple of young bucks named Twinleaf and Fern.  Over the past few days he realized that perhaps he had been wrong to control a warren by force and if it wouldn’t be better to make friends with the rabbits and get them to like him.  It was worth trying.  If he failed… well then he could always kill anyone who disagreed with him like he had in Efrafa.
Twinleaf and Fern were brothers from the same litter.  They were very close but didn’t like the way they had essentially become man’s ‘pets’.  Of course they couldn’t come right out and say it because Cowslip drove off any rabbit that was unsatisfied with the way things was done.  He wasn’t unlike General Woundwort in a way. 
“How come I never get any questions answered except from the two of you?”  He asked as they were nibbling on some carrots they had taken from the flayrah pile two hundred yards north of the warren.
Twinleaf and Fern stopped eating and glanced up to look around.  “Because they’re mindless beasts.  Silverweed, our seer, has gone into the minds of the rabbits here and made them forget who they are supposed to be.  It’s man that gives us the flayrah and protects us from elil.”
Woundwort spat out the carrot and rubbed a paw across his face.  “Why do you not speak up about it?”
“Cowslip won’t allow it.  Our warren is full of sadness and has a dark secret.  In return for protecting us from elil man sets snares along the entire length of the bushes.  The rules of the warren are that any rabbit that is taken by the Black Rabbit is never spoken of again. It’s as if they never existed.”
“How do you know about this?”
“Everyone does,” Twinleaf said.  “We watched our marli get snagged by a snare when we were only kittens.  We knew to stay away from the bushes after that especially when Cowslip refused to help her.”
“A rabbit I met earlier mentioned that this warren has no chief.”
“Yes that is true.  But Cowslip pretty much runs the warren.”
“If you want to take over we’ll help you.  If you want to leave we’ll help you.  We were driven out when we saved another rabbit from the shining wire when we were six months old.  That rabbit sadly died but we came back hoping that Cowslip had died and we could teach the others how to be like real rabbits again.  But Cowslip seems to cheat death,” Fern said. They lowered their ears at this statement.
“What if I were to kill Cowslip then?”
“Oh would you?! That would be so grand!” Twinleaf shouted.  “But you will need to get control of Silverweed in order to change the rabbits. Even then years of mind control may not be able to be erased from the rest of the warren.”
“Cowslip would do nothing and nobody else would either. We’re the only two who know how to fight.”
“You seem a lot better Woundwort,” Fern said peering at the rabbit’s leg.
“Yes thanks to the two of you.”
The three rabbits continued finishing the flayrah.  As they went along they heard a squeal coming from nearby.  Woundwort dashed through the bushes as Twinleaf and Fern looked at each other before running after him. They spotted a buck caught in the wire.  “Quit struggling you fool and I’ll get you loose,” Woundwort ordered the struggling rabbit.
“Fern!  Get over here and hold him down.  Twinleaf help me dig out this peg that’s buried in the ground.”
The two brothers sprang into action.  Fern bit the rabbit’s ear to keep him still while Twinleaf and Woundwort worked quickly to free the helpless rabbit.  Twinleaf bit through the peg and it snapped in two.  Woundwort gripped the wire in his teeth and lifted it over the buck’s head.  He coughed and there was blood coming out of his mouth and nose but he seemed okay.  The three had gotten to the rabbit in time.
“Th… thank you,” the rabbit said looking from Woundwort to Fern to Twinleaf.
“What’s your name?” Twinleaf asked the rabbit.
“Sky,” the rabbit said shaking his head.  “I know you two. Twinleaf and Fern.  But who are you?” He asked Woundwort.
“Woundwort.  Former leader of Efrafa.”
Sky looked puzzled at this but Twinleaf and Fern had told Woundwort that most of the warren had no knowledge of other warrens except for their own.  “What can I do to repay you?”
“Serve me and I’ll let you live.”
“I’ll go anywhere with you as long as it’s away from here.”
Woundwort smiled.  “I’m going to kill Cowslip. Meanwhile find Silverweed and hold him for me until I’m there to convince him to come over to my side.”
The three rabbits nodded and they went back through the bushes.  The other rabbits stared at Sky in horror.  They had heard the squealing so they knew the wires had gotten him.  They were grateful because it meant they could live another day though there was always a chance that the wires would take them in the end.  But how could Sky have survived?  This made no sense to the rabbits of Shining Wire Warren. 
“What did you do?!” Cowslip cried dashing forward.  “This fool is supposed to be dead!  They’re all supposed to die so that I can live!”
Cowslip turned his head to look at Twinleaf and Fern.  “Didn’t I banish you from this warren two years ago?”
“We came back last summer.  We have been sheltered by the few rabbits of this pathetic excuse for a warren that you and Silverweed haven’t been able to control.”  As Fern spoke seven other rabbits broke from the group of rabbits still staring at Sky and bowed before Woundwort before turning to stand behind him. 
Well maybe this won’t be so hard after all, Woundwort thought. Sky, Twinleaf and Fern then ran through the group of rabbits and went underground to look for Silverweed.  Cowslip let out a howl of rage and ran at Woundwort who rose up on his back legs and brought his weight down on the rabbit before him.  Cowslip squealed and tried shouting for help but the other rabbits were kept at bay by Woundwort’s rabbits which technically wasn’t even needed since they didn’t know how to fight.  Woundwort used his weight to crush Cowslip under him until the weaker rabbit quit struggling and lay still.  Woundwort sat back and tore out Cowslip's throat and calmly looked at the remaining rabbits.
“Keep those rabbits surrounded.  I’m going underground to deal with Silverweed.”
The seven rabbits stood where they were while their new leader went underground to deal with Cowslip’s seer.   Twinleaf, Fern and Sky had found Silverweed and dragged him back to the main chamber that was littered with tree roots in the roof.  A bloody-clawed and bloody-toothed Woundwort came down the run and stood before the white rabbit with black tipped ears.
“You’re Silverweed are you?”
“Yes General Woundwort.  And I know who you are.”
Woundwort was shocked but then he figured that was a trait of seers.  Fiver had known information about him that he hadn’t told anyone so it must have been a talent among all mystics and seers.  Having a seer might be good for his new warren.  “Will you join me Silverweed?  Or would you rather stay here and risk the Black Rabbit taking you like the rest of these fools?”
Silverweed looked at Woundwort and then nodded.  “Yes I think I will join you.”
“Good.  What about the fools who haven’t joined me?  Can you do anything about them?”
“No I’m afraid not General.  It’s better to leave them here since they would just get in the way of your plan to take back Efrafa and destroy Watership Down for good.”
Woundwort was disappointed.  “Sir?”  A rabbit came through the run to his left and cowered before the hulking rabbit before her.  “Might I make a suggestion?”
“Who are you?”
“My name is Harmony sir.  The rabbits that Silverweed can’t fix might be better use for digging our new warren.  I mean unless we’re going to remain here.”
“No of course we aren’t going to remain here idiot!  But I like your idea. Silverweed will these rabbits follow me?”
“I fixed them long ago to follow each succeeding leader of the Shining Wire Warren though I’m not sure if they will follow you to a different warren.”
Woundwort thought about this for a few minutes.  “We’ll take six of them with us to be used as slaves.  The rest we’ll aquire from other warrens on the way.”
“What about the others Woundwort?”  Twinleaf asked his friend.
“Leave them here to rot.  Silverweed I’ll leave it to you to pick out the slaves.  Sky, Twinleaf and Fern you will be my new Captains of Owsla.  If you have does that aren’t as stupid as the rest of the rabbits here and they’re willing to serve me then they can come as well.”
Woundwort turned back to Harmony and studied her.  He had to admit she was pretty.  She had white fur and blue eyes.  He felt a stirring in his heart that wasn’t caused by his desire for power and war.  It was a strange feeling and one he feared.  Silverweed said “You love her don’t you?”
Woundwort looked startled but he had to admit he wouldn’t mind taking her for his doe.  He could either force her to love him or he could do something out of his character and try to court her.  “Harmony you stick close to me and stay with us.”
Then he took Silverweed down a run to an empty burrow.  “I think I might love her.”
“But you’re afraid that she will reject you because of your looks and your past?” Silverweed asked him gently.  “Harmony may be a doe but she isn’t that cruel as to reject you.  I can see into your heart and read your feelings about her.  You’re afraid that if you love someone then they will vanish from you forever like your mother. So to avoid loving someone only to lose them you control rabbits out of fear instead of listening to them and treating them well like a chief should be.
“You worry that if you treat them with respect then they won’t blindly follow you like if you make them fear you and enslave them.  And yet you ask me to change these rabbits here so you can form an army.  You fight with your weight, your claws and teeth and while that makes those around you fear you it doesn’t make them love or respect you.  If you are going to win Harmony and the hearts of your people you need to show them that you care about them and will listen to them.  You need to make friends with them as you have done with Twinleaf and Fern.  General Woundwort if you truly want peace then you need to give up this war and start over with rabbits who love you, respect you and want you to be a leader.  I can see in your heart that you have the power to change.  You are just afraid of changing.”
Silverweed left to go pick out the slaves he knew wouldn’t give Woundwort any trouble leaving Woundwort alone to think over what Silverweed had said to him.  The seer appeared wiser than many rabbits half his age.  Perhaps it was time to start over as Silverweed had said and create a warren where he was respected and not hated by every rabbit in his warren. 

Woundwort went above ground and noticed his followers along with Harmony, Twinleaf, his doe Rainbow, Fern, his doe Daisy, Sky, his doe Amber, Silverweed and the six slaves Silverweed had picked out waiting for him.  “Move out!”  As one the group of rabbits swung to the south and began the search for a new home and, possibly for Woundwort, a new warren based on respect and love.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Vision

Hazel settled for reports on Efrafa and Vleflain from Kehaar.  If Campion or Groundsel needed anything Watership Down was happy to help.  So far things had gone well for both Efrafa and Vleflain. Since Stonecrop had joined Vleflain Groundsel reported that Vleflain’s elil troubles had pretty much disappeared though Campion was having trouble.  Campion’s Owsla was training harder than ever to fight the elil and drive them off out of their warren and out of the boundaries of Efrafa altogether. 
One bright and sunny day that summer Hazel, Bigwig and Fiver were sitting in the grass under the beech tree nibbling at the grass.  Hyzenthlay had given birth to three kittens named Hawthorn, Marigold, and Dogwood.  Blackavar was happy to report that Mist was pregnant with his kittens and was looking forward to being a father.  Fiver’s doe had given birth to four kittens a week ago.  Everything was peaceful at all three warrens. 
“Ohhhh,” Fiver moaned and fell to his side shivering.
“What’s wrong with you now Fiver?”  Bigwig asked.
“Fiver? Fiver! Answer me!” Hazel begged his little brother.
An enemy comes out of the darkness with a sadness met long ago.  A friend thought dead will surface though whether he is friend or foe is yet to be known.  Darkness falls and chokes the out the light. Darkness falls and blood shall run.
Fiver shuddered once more and lay still with his eyes closed.
“What was that about Hazel?”  Bigwig asked staring at Fiver.
“I don’t know Bigwig.  An enemy comes out of the darkness. Well the only enemy we have is Woundwort but he’s dead.”
“Nobody saw his body Hazel-rah. For all we know he could still be out there and madder than ever before.  But what is this talk of a friend thought dead will surface?”
“I don’t know Bigwig.  I just don’t know.  I think we need to warn Groundsel and Campion to be careful and on the alert.”
“Agreed Hazel.  I can send out a couple of Owsla members to each warren to let them know to be careful until we have more information.”
“Do that Bigwig.  As Captain of Owsla I leave that up to you.  The sooner Campion and Groundsel get the message the better prepared we’ll be.”
Bigwig turned and went down into the warren to call on some Owsla members to go to Efrafa and Vleflain right away.  Hazel stayed by his brother’s side until he stopped shivering and opened his eyes.  Fiver sat up and shook his head before looking at Hazel. 
“What did I say?”
“‘An enemy comes out of the darkness with a sadness met long ago.  A friend thought dead will surface though whether he is friend or foe is yet to be known.  Darkness falls and chokes the out the light. Darkness falls and blood shall run.’”
“What does it mean Hazel?”
“I think it means that war will return to the down and Watership, Efrafa, and Vleflain will be in danger Fiver.”
The two brothers saw four Owsla members disappear down the hill.  Bigwig came up to sit next to them.  “Just when we thought we were finally free of war now we face it again.  It seems we never get any peace at all.”
The Owsla members-Silver, Hawkbit, Captain Holly, and Walnut-ran as fast as they could to Vleflain. Captain Holly and Walnut stayed only a day at Vleflain before running on to Efrafa.  A wide patrol stopped them but seeing that they were Watership rabbits took them down to Campion-rah’s burrow.
“Campion-rah!”  An officer said.
“What is it Birch?”
“Sir two rabbits from Watership Down have come and say its urgent that they speak with you.”
“Very well send them in.”
Campion sat and listened closely to what Captain Holly and Walnut said to them.  He had seen Fiver only twice before-once when they had been captured by a wide patrol and the second time when Hazel, Bigwig, Fiver and Blackavar had come to check up on him and Efrafa after Woundwort’s downfall. 
“So Fiver is a seer?”  Campion asked looking from one rabbit to another.  He had heard of seers but had never met one before.  Woundwort had thought them to be nothing but trouble makers and any rabbit who claimed to be a seer had been left beyond the borders of Efrafa for the elil.
“Yes Campion-rah,” Captain Holly said to the Efrafan chief and former Efrafan Captain of Owsla.  “Fiver’s visions have never been wrong.”
Campion thought about this for a while before nodding.  “Right.  I’ll have the security on the warren tightened.  Avens!”
“Yes sir?”
“Tell the sentries to tighten up on the marks.  Make sure no rabbit leaves the boundaries of Efrafa.  Double the patrols and make sure they watch each other’s backs.  It appears we may be in for another war.”
“Yes sir.”  Avens turned and began passing the message along to the Mark Captains and Owsla.
At Vleflain Silver and Hawkbit gave Groundsel the same report.  Groundsel and a few other rabbits sat listening to them saying that Fiver was a seer and that his visions had never been wrong.  As proof of their claim they told Groundsel of the flood that Fiver had predicted at their old warren, his feeling that there was darkness hanging over the Warren of the Shining Wire, and the destruction of Sandleford by man that had caused them to flee their old warren and seek a new home on Watership Down.  Groundsel wasn’t sure what to make of their tale but he trusted Hazel and Bigwig and agreed to do as they asked. 
“Thank Hazel and Bigwig for me will you? Stay the night as my guests and go home tomorrow.”
Silver and Hawkbit nodded and went to go visit their old friends Stonecrop, Sunflower and Nightshade and see how they were faring at Vleflain. All three rabbits reported that they had settled in nicely and Groundsel-rah was more than happy for their advice. They introduced them to Groundsel-rah’s two Efrafan advisers-Apple and Pineneedles that Campion had sent over.  After Stonecrop had single handily saved Vleflain from the stoats he had gained some friends among the Vleflain rabbits and was no longer feared by the warren.
“Run!  Run for your lives!” cried Campion, stamping. 
He tore through them and was gone over the down. Not knowing what he meant or where to run, they turned one way and another.  Five bolted down the opened run and a few more into the wood.  But almost before they had begun to scatter, into their midst bounded a great black dog, snapping, biting and chasing hither and thither like a fox in a chicken run.
Woundwort alone stood his ground.  As the rest fled in all directions he remained where he was, bristling and snarling, bloody-fanged and bloody-clawed.  The dog stopped confused for a moment before dog and rabbit leaped at each other…
The rabbit opened his eye and jumped to his feet snarling.  He shook his head to rid himself of the dream he had been having for the past moon.  No it wasn’t a dream.  It was a memory.  A horrible memory. 
He cried out in agony and pain as he felt a sharp pain in his left hind leg.  For a moment he was scared.  Scared that he would die out here alone.  He had already two close calls with elil. Another whimper of pain burst from his mouth.  He hated weakness. Weakness was for fools and the old and sick.  A rabbit showing weakness was just asking for elil to kill him or a younger rabbit to overthrow them and take over their warren.  No he must not show any weakness if he was to get revenge on everyone who had wronged him. 
The rabbit crawled for days until he saw rabbit tracks leading off to the east.  He pushed himself to his paws and limped along the trail, flinching and crying out as pain shot through his leg and up into his body.  As he appeared out of the forest he saw some rabbits eating grass and flayrah.  He noticed with annoyance that none of the rabbits appeared to be on watch for elil.  What type of fools are these that care nothing for discipline and order?
A lean brown rabbit noticed him and came over.  “Hello friend.  Stay and rest until you are better.  You’re safe here from man and elil.  And you’ll have all the flayrah you can eat in the winter.”
“What type of rabbits are you?”
“Such a fine day isn’t it? But it looks like it is going to rain.  I hate the rain.  You’re more than welcome to come underground and seek shelter.”
The wounded rabbit stared.  He sniffed the brown rabbit before him.  It appeared well fed and healthy but there was something wrong with this rabbit and the other rabbits before him.  He tried again.
“Why are there no guards posted watching for elil or man?”
“We are safe here. In time you will see.  My name is Cowslip.  What is your name?”
The rabbit paused for a moment while he tried to understand why this rabbit wasn’t answering his questions.  There will be time for that later.  First I need to recover and get better.  Then I can see what these rabbits are made of.  Though they don’t look as if they even know how to fight which may be a problem.  “My name… my name is Woundwort.”