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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Fire Moon

In a small burrow beneath a hollowed out tree a single kitten was born.  The young back was red with a lavender stripe that went from its nose up between its ears and down its back to its tail.  The doe shivered from the cold wind that blew on the down.  She knew her son was special.  Shingetsu came to the doe as her kitten nursed from his mother.
“My Lord is it time?”
Shingetsu looked at the kitten beside its mother.  “Your kitten is a seer. You should be proud of him.  What shall you name him doe?”
“Hitsuki.”
“Fire moon isn’t it?”
The doe nodded.  “Do not worry Starlight about your kitten.  He’ll be one of my best and most powerful servants. It is him that will change the world.  I will give you another week to live and look after him but then you must come to the Shadow Land with me.”
“What of…”
“A rabbit will come to you who will take care of your kitten along with his doe. He’ll be in safe paws.”
“Thank you My Lord.”
Shingetsu smiled and went back to the Shadow Land.  Starlight looked down at Hitsuki and then fell asleep.    A week passed when Starlight heard something outside the burrow. She poked her head out of the burrow.  A few rabbits were on patrol.  Starlight didn’t know that she was in the boundaries of the alliance and was near Watership Down. Looking back at Hitsuki she returned to the safety of the burrow as her son snuggled next to her.  He was still blind and without fur.  Starlight knew there was no way her kitten would survive without her.  She had to get him to a warren.
She cautiously came out of the burrow and began to feed.  Blackavar was out on sentry duty that night and saw the rabbit in a patch of moonlight. He checked to see that he wasn’t being watched and ran towards the doe before pinning her to the ground.  “Be quiet,” he hissed in the doe’s ear.
“What’s your name?”
“Starlight.”
“Starlight huh?  What are you doing here Starlight?”
“Please don’t harm me or my kitten,” Starlight pleaded with Blackavar.
“Kitten?  Let me see. Don’t worry you can trust me,” Blackavar added as he noticed Sitara’s fangs.  “I swear to you as Captain of Owsla that I won’t harm your kitten.”
Starlight looked at Blackavar.  For some reason she could sense that he meant her or Hitsuki no harm.  She led him back to her burrow and Blackavar followed her down.  Blackavar peered at the kitten in the dark and saw the lavender stripe across its back and face. “Tell me did the Black Rabbit visit you at all?”
“Yes.  Why do you ask?”
“He visited me as well and told me that there would be a kitten with the exact description of your buck that I would need to protect. It seems this is the one he spoke of.”
Starlight nodded.  She saw the Black Rabbit behind Blackavar who smile and nodded.  “What is your name Owsla Captain?”
“My name is Blackavar.”
“Blackavar.  Take care of my Hitsuki for me Blackavar. I leave him in your charge,” and with that she took her last breath and passed from the mortal world.
Blackavar sighed and picked up the kitten gently in his mouth before turning and running back to his burrow where he set the kitten down next to Mist.  “Blackavar?”
“Go back to sleep Mist.  I’ll explain everything in the morning.”
The next morning Mist woke up to see a strange kitten nestled beside her.  Blackavar lay next to Mist looking at the kitten.  “Blackavar what is this about?”
“I found the kitten that the Black Rabbit told me of.  Do you remember?”
“Yes.”
“This kitten is the exact one that the Black Rabbit showed me an image of.  His mother just died.  It’s our duty to protect and care for the young buck Mist.”
Mist nodded and licked the little kitten before settling back to sleep as Blackavar watched over them both. He would die to keep his promise he’d made to Starlight. Nothing would harm this kitten as long as he lived and he knew Mist would also give her life for the kitten entrusted to them.
Two months passed and little Hitsuki grew.  Blackavar and Mist’s remaining kittens were protective over the addition to their family and felt that this kitten was given to their parents in replace of their lost brother Thorn.  The kittens would snuggle against each other when they slept while Blackavar and Mist looked on in happiness and worry. 
One autumn day Hitsuki and his siblings were playing tail tag when Hitsuki suddenly fell to the ground shaking.  Because of the lavender stripe on his back and the fact that his mother had died a week after he was born many of the rabbits made fun of him.  Hitsuki knew that he had been rescued by Blackavar and that Blackavar and Mist weren’t his real marli and parli.  He had no idea who his parli was and neither did Blackavar or Mist.  Vine ran up to the fallen buck and watched helplessly.  He recognized the shaking as what had happened to their old seer, Fiver.  Hitsuki was a seer!
The son of a warrior now mad with power comes back from the dead to finish what was started.  Changed at birth and changed at death the one we miss is gone and will seek to destroy the ones who wronged him.  Enslaved to their master the servants cry but their blood will flow at the claws of the alliance.  Battle will once again ring through the land.  But if they hope to avoid the darkness two alliances must unite or all will perish.  All will perish.
“Hitsuki!” Vine shouted.  Hitsuki got up and shook his head.  “Vine? What happened?”
“I knew it!  I knew there was something odd about that rabbit!” A voice shouted.
Vine and Hitsuki looked up and Vine groaned.  It was Glengloss, a kitten of Willowbark and Skylark.  “You have no clue what you’re talking about Glengloss,” Vine says standing quickly in front of his rescued brother.
“That Hitsuki just had a vision didn’t he? He’s a bloody seer! You know they’re outlawed in the alliance Vine.  So your parents have been harboring an enemy for two months? Wait until Oakleaf-rah hears about this.”
“You’re not going to tell anyone about this,” Vine growls before he shoved Hitsuki carefully away from them. “Go find marli,” he whispered and carefully positioned himself in front of Glengloss. 
Vine tackled Glengloss to the ground ripping into his ear.  Glengloss screamed in pain. “If you EVER report this to anyone I’ll tear your throat out myself,” he hissed before letting Glengloss up and watching the other rabbit walk away.  
“Vine!” Vine flinched as he saw his marli come running up to him. 
“Hi marli,” Vine said weakly. 
“What do you think you were doing just now to Glengloss?”
“Hitsuki had a vision marli,” Vine muttered under his breath. “Glengloss overheard it and threatened to tell Oakleaf-rah and I… may have over reacted a bit.”
“Vine I appreciate you wanting to protect Hitsuki but threatening another rabbit isn’t the way to go about it,” Mist said sighing as she looked at her son.  “We could all be killed for harboring Hitsuki if his ability gets out to the warren or the alliance.”
“So we’re just expected to abandon him to live on his own?!” Vine shouted.  “If that’s the case then why did parli even bother rescuing him?”
“VINE!” Mist shouted suddenly losing her temper.  She lowered her voice.  “Your parli did a good thing by rescuing Hitsuki.  We won’t abandon him or see him killed. Blackavar and I will give our lives to protect him and you and your siblings as well.”
“A seer!” Oakleaf-rah shouted at Glengloss who smiled. “There’s a seer in Watership Down, a seer in the alliance?!”
“The buck that was taken in two months ago by Blackavar and Mist is the seer Oakleaf-rah.  I heard him having a vision and Vine threatened to kill me.”
“Send the Owsla to Blackavar and Mist’s burrow.  Kill Blackavar and Mist but bring the seer to me so I can finish him myself.”
Dogwood ran immediately to Blackavar and Mist.  “What’s wrong Dogwood?”
“Blackavar!  Is it true you’re harboring a seer?”
Blackavar and Mist’s eyes widened. “How do you…?”
“No time! You must all leave immediately.  Glengloss told Oakleaf-rah. He’s going to see you both as well as your kittens killed and kill the seer himself!”
Blackavar let out a snarl. “Thank you Dogwood!” Blackavar and Mist ran for their burrow and gathered up their children.  They turned to leave only to find the Owsla standing before them. 
“So you’ve been harboring a seer all this time Blackavar?” Captain Marsh asked. “We’re under orders from Oakleaf-rah to kill you, your mate and your kittens.”
“If you want this seer you’ll have to get through Mist and me Marsh,” Blackavar snarled.  Mist took up position on her mate’s left and they bared their fangs at the Owsla members. 
NO!” Hitsuki shouted.  A blast of fire hit the Owsla making them scream in pain as they burst into flames.  “Run Blackavar and Mist!” Hitsuki shouted before he collapsed.  Blackavar picked up the poor kitten and his family followed him up the run.  They had just managed to get to the entrance that came up between the roots of the beech tree when they were blocked by Oakleaf-rah and some more Owsla.
“So is this the little buck?  He doesn’t look like much.”
Blackavar twisted his head and threw Hitsuki out of the burrow.  “RUN!  Run and don’t look back!” Blackavar lunged at Oakleaf and began biting and clawing at each other.  Mist took on one of the guards but they closed in on her.  She screamed in pain as they tore open her right hind leg.  “Mist!” Blackavar shouted running towards his mate.  Suddenly five more rabbits tackled the Owsla that had been attacking their kittens. 
“Can you not see that the seer is vital to our warren as well as to the alliance?!”
Oakleaf turned to look at the rabbit who had spoken.  It was Falkner.  “What is the meaning of this?! How dare you and your pack of dogs defy the order that Hazel sent down!”
“I was there when Hazel-rah died.  Before he took his last breath he said ‘Fiver… what I have done?’ That leads me to believe his order was a mistake.  No doubt a mistake forced on him by Frith.  Without seers there would be no rabbits! They aren’t a threat to us!”
“Hazel is no longer chief!  What I say goes and if you don’t like that you will die along with your rabbits.”
“Go ahead and kill me then Oakleaf if you dare try.  Neither I nor my friends will allow you to harm the seer.”
A white rabbit slammed into one of the Owsla that had been going for the seer. He ripped into its throat and there was a sickening rip as the flesh and muscle was torn out.  Blood dripped onto the grass as the rabbit turned and glared at the Owsla.  Falkner, Blackavar, Mist and the kittens were slowly backing out of the burrow.  “Come after us and you’ll be sorry,” Falkner shouted.  He turned and picked up the kitten that was now getting to its feet. 
“Are you alright little one?” Falkner asked looking at the young seer with concern. 
Hitsuki was unsteady on his feet but nodded.  Oakleaf and his remaining Owsla that had been in on the attack charged them.  “STOP!” Hitsuki shouted as the ground exploded below them sending the attacking rabbits down into the warren.  Hitsuki fell then and lay still.
Falkner and the others stared at each other.  The little seer had a lot of power.  “Come on!”
Falkner and the others took off down the hill and across the down.  The rabbits ran as far as they could go, pushing their bodies to the limit before they collapsed in utter exhaustion.  Falkner set Hitsuki down on the ground before he collapsed and lay there panting.  The rabbits shook with fear of what had just occurred.  Blackavar and Mist explained what had happened to the Owsla who had been sent to kill them and take Hitsuki.  They were all shocked that the little seer had burned five rabbits of the Owsla to death. 
“Then we must protect him at all costs.”
“But where will we go? The only warren we’re aware of is Brimstone and that was destroyed,” Kori said. 
“We’ll just have to hope there’s somewhere out there we can go to. Or we have to make our own warren.  Either way we must get outside the boundaries of the alliance or we’ll be killed.  Oakleaf will no doubt send word to Vleflain, Efrafa, and Sunstone to hunt us.”
Five pairs of glittering red eyes appeared in the night.  Four black rabbits and a burgundy rabbit appeared in the small plot of trees looking in silence among the rabbits.  Falkner opened his eyes and stared in horror at the rabbits before him.  Before he could shout a warning one of the black rabbits tore out his throat and he fell.  “Find the seer and bring it to me,”
“Yes Thanatos-rah,” the four black rabbits muttered. Their gold collars shone beneath the moonlight as they advanced on the sleeping rabbits.  Thanatos calmly sat there listening to the screams of the rabbits as they tried to fight the rabbits of Zorn but of course they were helpless to stop the attack.  Normal rabbits against four rabbits that each had a different power?  An attack against rabbits that were enslaved to Thanatos for life?  It wasn’t even a contest. 
There was a squeal of pain and one of the enslaved rabbits was blasted into a tree.  It hit the tree and slid to the ground in pain.  The three other slaves came walking back.  A kitten was dropped before Thanatos.  Thanatos stared at the kitten with the lavender stripe along its back and head.  “So you’re the seer that was cast out of your warren?” Thanatos said and then smiled.  “Well then I think I’m going to enjoy this.”  He brought a fisted paw down on Hitsuki and the poor kitten blacked out.  Then the five rabbits vanished from view.  There was a pitiful moan of pain as something moved in the place of death.  Kori and Vine got shakily to their feet and looked around them at the scene of destruction.
“Marli! Parli!” Vine shouted crying as he ran to the still forms of his parents.  Kori suddenly felt sick.  They had failed to protect Hitsuki from the evil rabbits. What’s worse he had recognized the black rabbits with patterns as he had seen them before at Brimstone.  “Oh Kuu no!  The evil son lives. The seer’s vision… it’s true!”   In front of him Vine’s painful wails of pain and loss were loud in the dark night.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Nightdusk

Elrond was a former prisoner of Brimstone. He had escaped Brimstone with the other prisoners and good changed rabbits when Prince Rainbow had opened up a tunnel in the prison run.  Little did Elrond know that he was being tailed by the two rabbits who had watched Moonfell from behind the hedge.  Elrond had been hard to capture by the Brimstone Owsla as he had been quite fast for a normal rabbit.  However nobody was faster than then Brimstone rabbits. 
The two rabbits followed Elrond on his way to Nightdusk.  They slid easily into the forest and slunk through the shadows being careful so Elrond wouldn’t see them.  Their golden collars hung loosely on their necks.  They had been captured a moon ago and been enslaved to their master Thanatos. 
“You know Thanatos will be looking for us,” the first rabbit said.
“I’d rather die than go back to that rabbit and his warren.  There were some others like us at that one warren we spotted.  They called it ‘Moonfell’.  Do you think they’d take us in?”
“I don’t know Shadowfax.  Even though we want to escape how can we?  The collars will kill us if we disobey Thanatos-rah.”
“We got this far didn’t we without them picking up on our having gone missing.  There has to be some type of weakness in Thanatos or at least in these collars.” The collar tightened and the bracelets became visible as they began slowly tightening on Shadowfax.  He let out a squeal of terror as the collar and bracelets slowly worked their way into his body as the cuts began appearing.  The other rabbit stood beside him unable to help. 
“Shadowfax!” The second rabbit shouted watching as the cuts began getting more numerous and deeper on the poor rabbit. 
Elrond stopped upon hearing a rabbit’s squeal of pain and quickly bolted for the forest.  He cowered in a log as he listened to the rabbit’s squeals of pain.  “Poor rabbit,” he said softly to himself. The squealing stopped then and as Elrond was about to leave the safety of the log he stopped seeing a flash of red with a white tipped tail. “Fox!” Elrond squealed in terror shrinking back. 
The fox must have picked up the sound of the rabbit’s squealing as well for it.  Against his better judgment Elrond followed the fox, being sure to keep downwind. “Ah long ears,” the fox said licking its jaws.  “Funny shiny things on your necks but no matter.  I can snap your backs in one pounce and you’ll be dead before you know it.”
“Get away from here fox!”
Elrond stopped at the rabbit’s voice.  What foolish rabbit stands up to a fox instead of bolting away?  Elrond couldn’t see anything since he was still downwind of the fox and trying to keep from being spotted.  “I said GET AWAY!” Elrond cowered as a cold breeze hit him and he the fox suddenly burst into flames.  He heard a thump as something fell to the forest ground and Elrond cautiously made his way forward. 
Two rabbits were lying on the ground panting as their sides heaved.  One rabbit was covered in wounds and the other seemed to be exhausted.  Elrond watched in amazement and pity as four gold bracelets disappeared from view and the gold collar loosened allowing the rabbit to cough up blood and lay there on the forest floor, its sides heaving as it gasped desperately for air.
The rabbit who had shouted at the fox raised its head and looked at Elrond with fear in its red eyes.  It got wearily to its paws and stood over the other rabbit that was still panting and gasping for air.  “Please do not send us back to Thanatos. Please don’t kill us.”
Elrond jerked at the name.  “Thanatos?!  Who are you and what are you doing here? How do you know Thanatos?”
“You know of Thanatos as well?”
Elrond nodded.  “I was a prisoner of Thanatos and Blizzard in Brimstone before the battle. You mean to say that Thanatos is alive?”
The rabbit nodded its head.  “I do not know of this Blizzard you speak of but Thanatos is our master.  Please do not send us back there! We only want to be free and escaped when we had the chance.”
“What of the collars on your necks and the bracelets I saw on the other rabbit?”
“Tools of our chief.  Thanatos-rah has every rabbit wear them.  If we disobey our master then the bracelets become visible and the collar and bracelets tighten and slash our body as you see with my friend Shadowfax,” the rabbit said looking at his friend who still hadn’t gotten up.
“That’s horrible!  It seems my former master has gotten more evil since the defeat of Brimstone,” Elrond said.
“Really?  My name is Joyner.  We come from Zorn. That’s the warren run by Thanatos.  You won’t send us back there will you? You won’t kill us or tell anyone we’re here?”
“If you come go to my warren…”
“NO!” Shadowfax said sitting up.  Joyner leaned into his friend.  “Our master is determined to find those that escaped Brimstone and punish them for leaving.  If we come near Moonfell or this Nightdusk that you’re going to then our master will be able to find these warrens.”
“How do you know of Moonfell and how do you know I am going to Nightdusk?”
Joyner and Shadowfax looked at each other and then turned back to Elrond with sheepish looks on their faces.  “We spied on your warren and followed you this far to Nightdusk.  If that fox hadn’t appeared then you wouldn’t have known we were following you.”
“You lit the fox on fire?”
Joyner nodded.  “That’s why I’m weak and why we were unable to run away from the fox in the first place.  I couldn’t leave Shadowfax behind to get killed.”
“Though death would be better than being slaves to Thanatos,” Shadowfax muttered. 
“Then what if Thanatos finds my warren?!”
“He won’t.  We stayed in the hedges and watched.  As long as we don’t go into the boundaries of the warren then Moonfell and this Nightdusk are safe.  Will you help us?  We promise to stay away from your warren and this Nightdusk.”
“How can I help you?”
“Don’t tell anyone at Moonfell or Nightdusk that we’re here,” Joyner said.  “Please.  If you do then it will be our heads and yours as well.”
“As it is master is too busy trying to build up Zorn so he can kill those rabbits that killed his parli,” Shadowfax added.  “But he’ll come for you as well when he gets around to it.”
“I think there’s a small cave nearby.  You should be able to hide there and I’ll come see you when I can and get you flayrah.”
“Thank you Elrond,” Shadowfax and Joyner said. 
“How do you know my name?”
“We heard you say your name to your chief. We followed you after you left.”
Elrond, Shadowfax and Joyner got up and continued on their journey.  There was a cave with a rock covering the entrance but there was a small enough gap for the three rabbits to squeeze through.  “I have to continue on to Nightdusk,” Elrond said. 
“I think it best to stay here,” Shadowfax said.  “Night’s falling soon and it’s not safe to be out when the night elil are awake and hunting.”
Elrond nodded and the three rabbits settled down for the night.  “How did you escape?”
“Thanatos had a bunch of his Owsla out looking for more victims to bring back to Zorn so they could get the collars and bracelets. That’s how Thanatos controls us.  If we disobey our master we’ll die,” Joyner said sadly.
“We don’t really know how we escaped.  We were scouting a little away from the main group and then a couple of foxes came.  We bolted for cover and cowered under a bush.  We…”
“We forgot about our powers,” Joyner said.  “Shadowfax can control ice and I can control fire.  We should have been able to take on the foxes but we were terrified.  Then we heard a voice in our heads telling us to get away and saw... well I don’t know what it was we saw exactly.  A thick mist suddenly appeared and we saw a rabbit dark as tar come towards us.”
“Probably the Black Rabbit but is that possible? Why would the Black Rabbit of Inle help us?” Shadowfax asked.  “We didn’t stop to think about it.  We just ran and found ourselves close to Moonfell.”
“We’re grateful to whoever helped us escape our master but we have to be careful that we aren’t spotted.  We heard voices and followed them and we saw rabbits.  We saw your warren and when we heard that you were leaving for another warren we… we decided to follow you.”
“Why follow me? Why not wait for Blackstone-rah or one of the sentries to help?”
“We felt we could trust you. Plus we were scared the others would kill us.”
“Especially if they thought we were here to take you back to Thanatos-rah.”
The rabbits fell asleep then.  The next morning after silflay Elrond continued the half day to Nightdusk.  Elrond hopped under the stone archway and looked at the rabbits.  A couple of rabbits came up to him.  “Greetings stranger.  What brings you to Nightdusk?”
“I wish to join your warren,” Elrond said.
“What’s your name stranger?”
“Elrond.”
“What does it mean?”
“Vault of Stars.  Who are you if I may ask?”
“My name is Ruby and this is my mate Sprigbree.  Come and follow us to our chief.”
“How long have you been on your own Elrond?” Sprigbree asked.
“Two moons. I escaped a former evil master.”
“That’s terrible.  You need not fear the rabbits of Nightdusk.  Our chief may order you to be seen by our seer but as long as you wish us no harm then you can live here as long as you wish,” Ruby said. 
Elrond stopped. These rabbits had a seer?  Ruby and Sprigbree stopped as well and came back to Elrond?  “Is something wrong?”
“You said you have a seer?”
“Yes our seer is Shizun.  Shizun can see into rabbits hearts and determine if they are telling the truth as well as their intentions. Shizun is also a telepathic.  He can read rabbits minds and communicate with them telepathically.”
Elrond’s breath seemed to leave his body and he collapsed to the ground. Blackstone-rah and Moonfell hadn’t guessed that this new warren would have a seer among them.  “Come on Elrond.  I don’t know what you’re afraid of but you have nothing to worry about. Kaolin-rah should be in his burrow right now.”
Elrond got shakily to his feet and followed Ruby and Springbree into the caves and down various runs to a large burrow. “Kaolin-rah there’s a rabbit who wishes to join Nightdusk,” Sprigbree called into the darkness.
A blue rabbit hopped out of the burrow and looked at Elrond.  “Sprigbree fetch Shizun.”  After Sprigbree had left the rabbit looked at Elrond.  Elrond was shocked to see a long scar on the rabbit’s chest.  “I am Kaolin, chief of Nightdusk.  Why are you here?”
“Kaolin-rah I have come to ask if I can join your warren. I escaped from an evil master and have been traveling for two moons looking for a warren.”
“Is this master dangerous?”
“He’s dead Kaolin-rah.  But his son is alive and would gladly place me under his control.”
“Then you’re welcome to live here and we’ll protect you.  So you say your former master and his son are evil rabbits?”
“Yes Kaolin-rah.  I was taken from my old warren and my entire warren was destroyed by my former master.”
“How did you master die?”
“He was killed along with other evil rabbits of my former warren.”
“What is this warren called?”
“Brimstone.”
Kaolin jerked in surprise and Ruby took a step forward bearing her fangs at Elrond who cowered before the chief.  “Ruby be at peace,” Kaolin said. He turned back to Elrond.  “We heard tales of a warren where rabbits were killed and brought back from the dead. Is this the warren you speak of?”
“Y-yes.”
Kaolin nodded to himself.  “You don’t seem like a dead rabbit.”
“No Kaolin-rah. Blizzard’s rabbits, when brought back to life, became jet black with patterns on their bodies. Patterns that spoke of their powers.”
“I see.  Ah Shizun how nice you to come.  Please look into this rabbit and see if he is telling the truth.”
“Certainly Kaolin-rah.”
Shizun placed a paw over Elrond’s heart.  Well Elrond it appears you are here to spy on my chief and on Nightdusk.  Apparently you were telling the truth about being taken prisoner by Blizzard and taken to Brimstone where you were tortured by both Blizzard and Thanatos.  That’s horrible.  The rabbits of Nightdusk were also under the control of a bad rabbit and his brother though in your case it is different.  You were not mind controlled and neither was your warren. Yes I can see that you are here on bequest of your chief and that you’re now of a warren called Moonfell.  Don’t worry about your secret getting out however I will need to speak to Redwood about telling you where we are.  You see we are also trying to stay away from being enslaved again.  He shouldn’t have gone to your warren without informing Kaolin-rah. 
Hmm I also see that you found two rabbits who escaped your master’s kidnapped son Thanatos who is formerly Thorn and that your people are in danger of an alliance.  Dear me you don’t have much luck staying away from trouble do you?  I can sense you mean us no harm but it would be wise to come out soon and tell our chief of your real intentions here.  For now I will leave your mind but will communicate with you in the future while you are here.
“It is as he said Kaolin-rah.  He means Nightdusk no harm.”
“Thank you Shizun.  Ruby take him to a burrow underground.”
Ruby took Elrond down a run that led beneath the caves.  “Begging your pardon Ruby but why does Kaolin-rah live in the caves?”
“The caves are part of our warren.  They would be considered the upper part of our warren. This way it allows us to remain hidden in case man or elil were to come snooping around.  They would have no way to dig us out.”
“I find that it makes sense.”
“Indeed.  Well here we are,” she said as they came to a small burrow.  “This is your home from now on.  Welcome to Nightdusk Elrond.  We’re glad to have you with us.”
“Thank you Ruby.”
Elrond looked around his small burrow.  “So this is Nightdusk.  Well Shizun seems pleasant enough and so do Ruby and Sprigbree.  Hopefully I can make some friends here and Kaolin won’t be too mad about me spying on his warren. But after what happened to us at Brimstone and then with the alliance’s chiefs saying they would kill us all and now Thanatos being alive?  Moonfell will need to form its own alliance and perhaps Nightdusk can help with that.  I just hope that I won’t be punished by Kaolin for not telling him the true reason I’m here.”

Friday, June 28, 2013

Rabbits of Sadness

Blackstone was above ground at dawn silflay watching the rising of Frith in the sky.  Blackstone scowled absently after knowing what Frith had done to Shingetsu.  Prince Rainbow was patiently waiting for Blackstone to finish his breakfast so he could show Blackstone and any others of Moonfell the story of the rabbits of sadness. 
The sentries who had been on duty last night came back and reported that they had detected no unusual activity during the night.  Blackstone nodded and sent them to their burrows to get some rest. The day sentries would be going on duty soon. 
“Well Blackstone are you ready to see the story of the rabbits of sadness?” Prince Rainbow asked when Blackstone came over to him.
“Yes Prince Rainbow.  Birch and Blueberry would like to see it as well.”
Blackstone, Blueberry, Birch and Prince Rainbow joined paws.  “You will be able to see but not be heard or seen by the rabbits of sadness,” Prince Rainbow explained.  “In short you will be phantoms in their warren.”
Blackstone, Birch and Blueberry nodded and felt a slight pull on their bodies before landing in a small field.  They saw twenty rabbits cautiously creeping out of the forest.  It looked like they had been in a fight.  Blackstone, Birch and Blueberry froze upon seeing the rabbits but they stared past them as if they didn’t see them.  Blackstone cautiously took a step forward.  “Hello? We’re sorry to intrude on you.  Do you need help?”
A huge lean light brown buck hopped into the meadow and sat up sniffing the wind.  A smaller silver buck hopped up next to him and set to munching some grass.  “Silverweed can you sense anything dangerous about this place?”
Silver wires surround the warren. Death lines the ceiling and sadness abounds as the phantoms of the dead patrol the runs. Rabbits shall lose their cunning and skill to become the food for man.
Silverweed looked around.  “The hedges hold death Cowslip.  But we can use this to our advantage.  I think I can tap into their minds and control them and you can lead.  If I can enslave their minds then they won’t be able to flee when the deaths begin.”
“Then enter their minds and control them.  Tell them I’m of… Shining Wire Warren.”
“You’re not going to do that,” a voice spoke up.  A huge dark brown rabbit appeared.  “You’re not in charge here Cowslip. Nor are you Silverweed.”
“Glenwood-rah I’m the one in charge now and Silverweed is my lackey.”
“You both should have been killed when you were born.  Especially Silverweed. That rabbit has caused nothing but trouble.”
“Silverweed if you’d be so kind.”
Silverweed smiled and entered the minds of the rabbits. They were too weak from the battle they had been in and didn’t have any mental defenses against him.  Cowslip is the leader of our warren.  Kill Glenwood for he seeks to kill your leader.
The rabbits’ eyes glazed over as Silverweed took control and they robotically obeyed the strange voice in their heads.  They advanced on their chief and began attacking him.  Cowslip just sat back and smiled watching the rest of the rabbits do his dirty work. 
“What are you doing?”  Glenwood asked as the rabbits began clawing and biting him.  He threw a rabbit off him that had been trying to rip out his throat.  The rabbit let out a squeal of pain but was on its feet in an instant and back on the attack with the sixteen other rabbits.  Glenwood raised his eyes and saw Silverweed with his eyes glassy.  “YOU! You’re doing this!”
Glenwood advanced on the poet but Silverweed raised a paw and swung it at his chief knocking him to the ground.  Kill the enemy.  Kill Glenwood.  Kill him and do your duty rabbits of the Shining Wire Warren.  Glenwood screamed as the rabbits used their combined weight to bring him down.  Bring him to Cowslip.  Hold him while your leader finishes off the enemy.
Robotically the seventeen rabbits obeyed the voice in their heads and dragged Glenwood in front of Cowslip.  “You bastard!” Glenwood shouted at Cowslip who just looked down at the helpless chief and smiled before he tore out his chief’s throat.
“Silverweed tell them to start digging the warren.”
Dig the warren.  Dig your death bed.  None will escape the shining wire.  None will escape the death trap.
Silverweed twisted the rabbits’ minds.  He attacked any memories they had of their former chief and warren as well as the fight they had recently been in. They methodically began digging the warren where Silverweed and Cowslip said to.  Digging was an instinct that Silverweed kept intact. Digging deeper Silverweed destroyed all cunning and tricks and myths of El-ahrairah from the rabbits minds.  When he finished several hours later the rabbits were nothing but mindless beasts.
“Is it done brother?” Cowslip said looking at his little brother.
“It is.  They now see you as their leader and have forgotten the old ways. They’ll blindly follow you into the Black Rabbit’s warren as well,” Silverweed said smirking as he lowered his head to begin munching on some grass.
“That is horrible.  So this rabbit named Silverweed manipulated those poor rabbits into killing their chief so his brother could take over?” Blueberry asked in horror.
“It’s disgusting how a rabbit would enter the minds of others and manipulate them like that,” Birch said shaking his head in sadness.
“Manipulating a rabbit is wrong yes,” Blackstone said.  “But I don’t see the harm in peeking into another rabbit’s mind as long as you don’t delve too deeply to make that rabbit insane or lose who they are.  Perhaps it can be useful if you’re trying to figure out an enemy who is dangerous to you.”
It was winter now at Shining Wire Warren and there were now double the rabbits in the warren.  Yet there was a sadness about the warren.  It had been three seasons since the first rabbits had come to Shining Wire Warren and dug out a home.  Throughout the hedges were shining wires that would catch an unwary rabbit and strangle them to death. Then man would come, remove the dead rabbit, and reset the snares for the next victim.  Any elil that came to the warren were shot by man and taken away.  The rabbits were fed flayrah from man during the winter and the rabbits had all they could eat during the harsh season when other animals suffered and went without.  The rabbits of Shining Wire Warren welcome new rabbits into their warren but did not answer any of their questions and with Silverweed’s mind manipulation they too gradually fell into the trap.  If a rabbit was taken by the Black Rabbit their name was never spoken of again in the warren.  The rabbits of Shining Wire Warren had become domesticated pets of man, being born and dying to feed their worst enemy.  But it was a small price to pay for they were protected and the only thing they had to fear were the shining wires that gave the warren its name. Rabbits who escaped the warren referred to it under different names: “Cowslip’s Warren”, “Shining Wire Warren”, “Rabbits of Sadness”, “Warren of Snares”, or “Bones of Death.”
Seasons changed and then one rainy night a group of rabbits appeared. They dug scrapes next to a tree and were weary and tired from their long journey.  Cowslip went to them and offered them a place to stay.  A small buck refused to go into the warren and had to be pushed down the run by a rabbit with a tuft of fur on its head.  Silverweed said a poem and the rabbits stood there and listened.
The wind is blowing, blowing over the grass.
It shakes the willow catkins; the leaves shine silver.
Where are you going, wind?  Far, far away
Over the hills, over the edge of the world.
Take me with you, wind, high over the sky.
I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-wind,
Into the sky, the feathery sky, sky and the rabbit.
The stream is running, running over the gravel,
Through the brooklime, the kingcups, the blue and gold of spring.
Where are you going, stream? Far, far away
Beyond the heather, sliding away all night.
Take me with you, stream, away in the starlight.
I will go with, I will be rabbit-of-the-stream,
Down through the water, the green water and the rabbit.
In autumn the leaves come blowing, yellow and brown.
They rustle in the ditches, they tug and hang on the hedge.
Where are you going, leaves? Far, far away
Into the earth we go, with the rain and the berries.
Take me, leaves, O take me on your dark journey.
I will go with you, I will be rabbit-of-the-leaves.
In the deep places of the earth, the earth and the rabbit.
Frith lies in the evening sky.  The clouds are red about him.
I am here, Lord Frith, I am running through the long grass.
O take me with you, dropping behind the woods,
Far away, to the heart of light, the silence.
For I am ready to give you my breath, my life,
The shining circle of the sun, the sun and the rabbit.
The young rabbit shivered as it listened to the song and Blackstone, Blueberry and Birch shivered as well. There was something eerie about the poem and the strange rabbits in the warren.  They were lined up in rows on either side and a rock lay in the center of the warren that Silverweed sat on.  A hole in the roof allowed light to shine down giving the silver rabbit an eerie glow. 
“Fiver come back!” A rabbit called and tore after the young buck as it vanished up the run and above ground.  But the rabbits who had been invited in applauded the poet and continued eating the flayrah that man had lain out far near the warren.  “Tomorrow you’ll help us gather flayrah,” Cowslip said to the strangers.  He turned and the rabbits vanished to their burrows.
Another season passed and the rabbits of Sandleford had gone. Cowslip was angry that they had escaped his warren.  Then three more rabbits came who said they were looking for a couple of rabbits named Bigwig and Hazel.  A rabbit named Pimpernel was caught in a snare while two rabbits named Holly and Bluebell left to look for the rabbits.  They came back and a strawberry colored rabbit, appropriately named Strawberry, left with Hazel and his rabbits. 
Rabbits died and the warren emptied but there were always births occurring to keep man fed.  The only entertainment the rabbits of the death trap had was Silverweed and his poetry.  Through Silverweed Cowslip controlled the warren. Blackstone, Blueberry and Birch found themselves in another memory. Silverweed hopped up onto the rock and closed his eyes as he began another poem.
Moonlight falls on the meadow of night
The stream rushes over the stones
Running towards the ocean, far, far away
Take me with your stream on your long journey
I will be rabbit-of-the-stream, the stream and the rabbit.
The waves crash against the shore
A never ending expanse of water
Take me with you ocean, take me into your dark depths
I will be rabbit-of-the-ocean, the ocean and the rabbit.
Trees sway beneath the wind
Under the gentle wind the branches creak
Leaves fall to the ground in the autumn
Take me through the forests trees, far, far away
I will be rabbit-of-the-trees, the trees and the rabbit.
The clouds form a barrier in the sky
Bringing forth rain
Take me with you clouds as you sail the sky
I will be rabbit-of-the-clouds, the clouds and the rabbit.
The dark follows the day
Bringing sleep to the day and night hunters awake
Take me with you night sky on your circle
I will be rabbit-of-the-dark, the dark and the rabbit.
The rabbits hummed and swayed with their eyes closed in unison as Silverweed’s last word fell from his lips.  The memory changed and they found themselves after the death of Cowslip. The glazed look in their eyes faded.  Blackstone and his two rabbits could see the rabbits were confused.  Their leader was dead.  A month passed and the rabbits seemed to be recovering their wits.  They had a new leader named Kaolin, one of the few rabbits who had been unaffected by Silverweed and Cowslip.  Prince Rainbow came and told them that Silverweed was dead. With that the spell over the rabbits was broken and Kaolin led them away from the death trap, telling his rabbits to stay away from the hedges. 
The rabbits of Shining Wire Warren had a long journey.  They were being hunted by elil but slowly they relearned the ways of El-ahrairah.  News reached them of a threat that killed rabbits and brought them back to life.  The rabbit was named Blizzard and he ruled a warren of dead rabbits and prisoners named Brimstone.  Kaolin and his rabbits skirted that warren and swung south making sure they kept far away from that evil place.  They crossed through what would be Moonfell and kept journeying for two days until they set up a warren.  There was a stone archway and a small set of caves just beyond the stream.
Blackstone, Blueberry and Birch found themselves back at Moonfell.  “I could feel their sadness and despair in that place,” Blueberry said shaking. 
“Prince Rainbow is this Kaolin fellow like Cowslip and Silverweed?” Blackstone asked.
“No.  Kaolin did his best for the rabbits Nightdusk when they were still trapped under Cowslip’s and Silverweed’s control.  I suppose you’re interested in how he was able to keep sane when the others lost their minds?”
The three rabbits nodded.  “Kaolin was born with the ability to read the darkness and the light.  Silverweed and Cowslip emitted darkness and Kaolin was born outside of Shining Wire Warren in a small thorn thicket one autumn’s day.  He can resist mind control and sense other rabbits emotions and read their hearts.  Silverweed was unable to penetrate Kaolin’s mind and for that was kept a prisoner.  The ability to read darkness and light is extremely rare and the only reason he has it is because his parents stole that those powers from both Frith and Kuu. From Frith Kaolin can read light and from Kuu Kaolin can read darkness and wield both those elements. He was given that gift to help the rabbits and lead them to a better future far from that death trip. He will make a good ally to Moonfell.”
Blackstone nodded his thanks and Prince Rainbow left.  “An ally will be good against the alliance Blackstone-rah,” Birch said.  Blackstone nodded as his mind drifted back to what the four chiefs had said to him and Birch as well as their seers. They would be killed if they set foot anywhere in the alliance. “Find me a volunteer to go to Nightdusk and spy on their warren.  See if they can in fact be trusted.”
Birch nodded and ran off to do his chief’s bidding.  Blueberry excused herself and went to her burrow.  Blackstone prayed he would do the right thing for Moonfell by allying with Nightdusk but first he had to see if those rabbits meant his warren harm. If they did then it wouldn’t be a problem since the changed rabbits could easily kill their enemies thanks to Blizzard’s foolishness.  But Blackstone prayed they wouldn’t be drawn into another war.  He just wanted his warren to have peace.
A bluish silver buck appeared before Blackstone.  “Blackstone-rah I would like to volunteer for the spying mission on Nightdusk.”
“What’s your name rabbit?”
“Elrond sir.”
“Very well Elrond if you feel up to the task you’re free to leave any time.  Try to make friends among the warren and see what it is like.”
“Yes Blackstone-rah,” Elrond said before turning and vanishing south to Nightdusk.  However none of the rabbits noticed a couple of rabbits who were watching Moonfell from the bushes. Their eyes shone red and they vanished into the shadows.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Moonfell

Blackstone and his rabbits had made their way across the river and had set to work digging a warren far from Brimstone or the alliance.  Their warren laid a two month journey away from Brimstone and even farther from the alliance.  Blackstone had sent some of his rabbits to scout around before they had settled here but his scouts had reported while there were elil there didn’t seem to be any risk of the alliance finding them.  They had no clue that Thanatos and some Brimstone rabbits had survived the war.
“Blackstone-rah there’s a rabbit on the borders of Moonfell,” Captain Winterberry said.  “He’s being held by Pecan and Zen.”
“Is it a rabbit from the alliance?”
“I don’t know Blackstone-rah.”
Blackstone sighed and got up from where he had been lying on the grass before walking following Winterberry down the forest path towards the clearing that opened to the sky.  There was a red rabbit sitting between Captain Pecan and Officer Zen. 
“Who are you and why have you come here?  Are you lost?” Blackstone asked the rabbit.
“Do you know of the rabbits of sadness?”
“No I’m afraid I don’t and neither do my rabbits,” Blackstone said. 
“A few of us were set free by a rabbit named Lightstone after Cowslip’s death.  We used to live Shining Wire Warren.  Then we got news of Silverweed’s death and the spell over us was broken.”
Blackstone tried to remember where he had heard the name of that warren before.  “Oh yes I remember.  A friend of ours took one of my officers and I to that warren to try to talk to the chiefs of the alliance.”
The rabbit looked at Blackstone.  “You’re strange rabbits.  A bit like we were when we were enslaved by Cowslip and Silverweed.  My name is Redwood and I’m part of Nightdusk.  My warren is three days journey from here to the south. Now I must go before my chief wonders where I’ve gone.”
“Wait! How did you know we were here?” Blackstone asked Redwood.
“Kaolin-rah sent me to scout out this warren to see if we could form an alliance together.  He was also curious about the rabbits with patterns on their bodies.”
“So you’re a scout?”
“Yes.  A few of us are scouts, others are in the Owsla and others are just regular rabbits.  Now I must be going.  Good day.”  Redwood turned south and hopped away.
“Should we go after him Blackstone-rah?” Pecan asked.
“No.  He seems to be no threat to us.  I’m curious to learn more about Nightdusk though. Perhaps it would be good to send a spy there to see what they can make of the warren.  Who is on sentry duty?”
“I am,” Pecan said speaking up. “Along with Officer Birch and Officer Pox.  A few others as well.”
Blackstone nodded.  “Stay alert then.  Position yourselves around the warren and our boundaries.”
“Yes Blackstone-rah.”
Blackstone turned and was followed by Zen and Winterberry as they made their way back to Moonfell.  Blackstone went underground to his burrow and lay down thinking.  Perhaps Shingetsu or Prince Rainbow would know of the rabbits of Shining Wire Warren.
“Prince Rainbow!” Blackstone said in surprise as the messenger rabbit appeared before him.  “Goodness you nearly gave me a heart attack.”
Prince Rainbow laughed at that.  “You called Blackstone? What is it you want to learn?”
“I would like to know more of Shining Wire Warren and the rabbits there.”
“Ah the rabbits of sadness.  I’m sorry to say their tale is depressing.  Are you sure you want to learn of them Blackstone?”
“Yes Light Master.”
“Light master?  Oh you’ve been talking to Shingetsu,” Prince Rainbow laughed again.  “It is true that I am the master of light and Shingetsu is the master of the dark and shadows.  However I think it is best that you see instead of just listen. Get some sleep Blackstone and after morning silflay I will show you their story.”
Shingetsu pushed himself up as the last of the chains was ripped from around his body.  He looked up in shock and stared at the blue gray rabbit with sea green eyes.  “Hikari!”
“Master Shingetsu,” Hikari said helping Shingetsu stand up and then bowing before her master.  “Master we should get out of Ether.”
“Do you dare defy us Hikari?” Taiyo said, his voice deathly quiet.  Hikari screamed in pain as a spear flew into her leg sending her to the ground.  “Master go!” Hikari’s screams grew louder and more painful as Taiyo and Inazuma advanced on Shingetsu’s servant. 
Shingetsu pushed himself to his feet and summoned his power.  Condensing it into ice and shadow he threw the shadow ice ball into Taiyo and Inazuma sending them back into the wall.  He picked up his blood bond servant and ran quickly for the hole before leaping through as it was just beginning to close.
“Hikari how did you escape the cell that you were held in?”
“Master Shingetsu opened the cell I was in. I sensed master’s presence and ran to you as fast as I could.  Luckily Taiyo and Inazuma were more interested in punishing master.”  Hikari let out another scream as the pain coursed through her body.  “Go to the frozen pool and heal yourself there Hikari.  Then go to my burrow and get some rest.”
“What about you master?”
Shingetsu smiled.  “I’m the Black Rabbit.  It’s a full moon tonight so I’ll heal properly beneath Lady Kuu’s rays.”
“Master did your mate…?”
“Yes Hikari she is free.  Thankfully when a rabbit named Blizzard was destroyed it released my snowfall.  Now go do as I ordered you to and no more questions.”
“As you wish Dark Master.”
Shingetsu smiled as he watched his servant leave his warren.  Hikari too had been forcefully blood bonded to him like Greystorm’s servant had been bonded to Greystorm.  Sadly Hikari had been taken from him and held in Ether for fifteen years when Shingetsu had disobeyed the mother and father.  They were… quite cruel and it would not do for Greystorm to disobey them.
Shingetsu went down the halls and activated his healing powers as he went.  The scratches from the chains disappeared except for the scar across his chest. That scar would never heal or vanish since it had been inflicted in Ether.  In reality the other wounds shouldn’t have healed either but Shingetsu had learned in his time in Brimstone to take pain as it was dealt him.  All his life he had suffered either at the hands of his old warren, at Frith’s sick orders, in Brimstone and rarely at the hands of the mother and father.  His eyes drifted closed as he made his way out of the warren and he collapsed allowing Kuu to heal his body and mind.