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Author Topic: Possibilities  (Read 2868 times)

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #60 on: September 16, 2018, 05:59:44 PM »
It's true that training an owsla can be really difficult :hawkbit3 The General will have to suffer a lot before he can lead a successful attack... :woundwort2

Aspen will be an important character throughout the story.  Despite one incident, he will show up in many chapters :aspen

Here's chapter 19; I hope you will all like it :) @Rosie Willowwater and @Trifolium appear in this chapter.  The name “Ahfernwort” comes from an ancient role-playing group started by “Blueberry-rah”.

Chapter 19: Ruins.: ShowHide

“The stones here speak to me, and I know their mute language. Also, they seem deeply to feel what I think. So a broken column of the old Roman times, an old tower of Lombardy, a weather-beaten Gothic piece of a pillar understands me well. But I am a ruin myself, wandering among ruins.”
--Heinrich Heine

Aspen and Vervain had been travelling for a long time, before they finally reached Vervain's old warren, known as Ahfernwort.  Most burrows and runs had collapsed long ago; only a few holes remained.
-”This is where you last saw that friend of yours?” Aspen asked.  “How long has it been?”
-”Many seasons,” Vervain answered.  While he had expected to find the warren in such a state, he still felt disappointed and sad.  This was one occasion where he would have preferred to be wrong.
-”Where do we go now?” Aspen asked.
-”We're not going anywhere until we have inspected this warren.  It may look deserted, but that doesn't mean it necessarily is.”
Vervain looked at the holes before finally deciding to enter the largest one.  As he moved underground, however, he felt something touch his face, something sticky and clingy.  He walked out tail first and ran through the field in a state of panic.
-”ASPEN!  TAKE IT OFF!  HELP ME!”
Aspen looked at Vervain in confusion.  He had never seen the former captain so panicked before.
-”How can I help you if you run around like that?”
-”I don't care, DO SOMETHING!”
Aspen continued to look at Vervain, wondering what to do.  Finally, when Vervain came close to him, he pounced on top of him.  With his companion pinned to the ground, he managed to brush off the few pieces of cobweb clinging to the fur; Vervain sighed in relief.
-”Aspen, I just want to tell you...”
Vervain stopped abruptly.  He was about to thank Aspen for what he had just done, but questioned whether that was a good idea.  He had the reputation of claiming to be always right and better than everyone else.  He never thanked anyone in Efrafa except the General, and doing it now was more than he could handle at the moment.
-”Get off me, you big oaf!” he decided to say instead.  That was more fitting for the personality he tried to project.
-”I'm sorry, sir,” Aspen apologized, “but it was the only way to get you under control so I could clean you up.”
-”Right...you go first now, all right?”
Aspen walked inside the run, with Vervain following him.  When they finally came inside a burrow, Aspen started to remove the cobwebs he had picked up along the way; Vervain had purposely sent him first to clear the way.

The burrow was not in good shape, but remained stable enough that the two rabbits' lives were not in imminent danger.  In a corner, Vervain saw the body of a rabbit.  She had clearly died many years ago, probably in the battle against the Efrafans.  There was nothing left but the bones, faintly glowing against the dark burrow floor.  Vervain gasped in fear, but tried to calm himself down to avoid making a poor impression on Aspen, who slowly approached the body.
-”What are you doing?” Vervain asked.
-”Licking the bones,” Aspen said.  “In respect for this unfortunate rabbit who lost the privilege of existing.  And to keep the evil spirits away.  I hope she's having a nice life in the Meadow, now.”
-”Right...I'm not afraid of ghosts,” Vervain lied.  Was there really any point in keeping up appearances?  He was no longer in Efrafa, so why did he still have to worry about his reputation?  Why couldn't he just act naturally without worrying about what others would think of him?
-”Hey, there's been someone else here recently,” Aspen said, pointing to another run which was strangely clear of cobwebs.
Vervain didn't think: in his mind, this could only mean one thing.  He ran straight through the run and into the burrow it led to.
-”CHIBISCUIT!” he called out.
The creature in the burrow wasn't Chibiscuit, but Vervain only realized this once it had opened its eyes.
-”RUN!” he shouted as he bolted out of the burrow.
-”What's the matter, Vervain?” Aspen said as he walked towards the burrow, clearly not taking Vervain's warning seriously.  When suddenly he saw a weasel, its mouth wide open...

Vervain ran for a long time until he was some distance from the warren.  Only then did he remove the cobwebs from his face: he had been too scared to do it before.  Suddenly, he realized that he was alone; Aspen was no longer with him.  The idiot, why didn't he run?  Vervain slowly made his way back to the warren.  Hiding in the undergrowth, he looked at the weasel, who walked out of the warren and vanished into the night.  Vervain could clearly see that it had rabbit blood all over its face.

Aspen will not stay dead; he will return in the next chapter.

Vervain looked at the sky.  It was fu Inlé, and the moon was perfectly round.  There was no point in staying there.  He was no closer to finding Chibiscuit, and his travelling companion was dead.
-”No matter how hard I try to accomplish something, I always end up causing a disaster,” he said sadly, but there was nobody around to hear him.

==========

-”ATTACK!”
It was early morning.  General Woundwort had spent the entire night teaching the rabbits of Cowslip's warren how to fight.  It was now time for the final test.

The rabbits were once again paired up, and as soon as Woundwort gave the order, they pounced on each other.  They fought very hard, inflicting wounds on each other, until finally some of them couldn't take it anymore and surrendered.  Silverweed did not participate, however: as he was the smallest rabbit in the warren, he had no chance against any of the others.  Therefore, he simply sat by the warren's main entrance, watching the others.

Woundwort looked at the events with satisfaction.  His hard work had paid off: he had an owsla worthy of the name, and he could use it to defeat the outsiders.
-”Perfect.  Everyone wait here for me.”
Woundwort went back underground, to make sure he hadn't forgotten anyone.  All the burrows he visited were empty, except Cowslip's.
-”WAKE UP!”
-”What's the matter now, General?” Cowslip mumbled.
-”I have successfully trained an owsla.”
-”Good for you.  Now if you will let me sleep...”
-”Sleep?  This is no time for sleep.  It's time to attack the enemy!”
-”Good luck with the war, General.  When the traitors have been defeated, I ask that you bring me the ears of the two ringleaders, Hickory and Marigold, as proof that they are really dead.  I shall hang them to the roots of the great burrow as a warning to future rebels.”
-”What are you talking about?  You're coming with me.”
-”Very well.  As soon as I finish this nap...”
-”You can nap after the outsiders are destroyed.  Follow me.”
-”Come on, General, surely the war can wait half a day?”
Woundwort placed his front paws on Cowslip's neck; the white buck could feel the claws.
-”I don't have much of a choice, do I?” he asked nervously.
-”Absolutely no choice at all.”
Cowslip sighed.
-”Very well...
As soon as Woundwort allowed him to, Cowslip got up and walked out of the burrow, eventually making it above ground.
-”Owsla,” the General shouted, addressing everyone, “now is your chance to help me achieve my destiny!  We are going to war against an enemy who deserves no mercy!  Onward!”
Cowslip, however, had slipped away from the group.  He could see the farmer in the field further away, inspecting the destroyed snares and scratching his forehead in confusion.
-”I'm sorry,” Cowslip said.  “I'm sorry I failed you.  It's not my fault.  I tried to stop General Woundwort but he left me no choice but to show him where they were.  Please forgive me!”
The farmer, however, did not appear to have heard him.  Woundwort approached Cowslip.
-”What are you waiting for?  You shall march next to me.”
Cowslip had no choice but to obey Woundwort.  As he was about to leave completely, however, he cast one last look at the warren, thinking about how it was quite a shame to leave this life behind.

Rosie was nearby, hiding in the grass, when she overheard the rabbits' conversation and saw them leave.  She was horrified that everyone was going to war.  She ran over to a nearby tree; her friend was asleep on one of the branches.
-”Tumbler, wake up!” she shouted.
Tumbler opened her eyes, stretched and yawned.
-”Rosie?  What are you doing up at this time of night?  You need sleep.”
-”Come down.  The rabbits are gone.”
-”Gone?” Tumbler climbed down the tree trunk and ran over to Rosie.  “Where are they going?”
-”I don't know, but Woundwort said they are going to war.”
-”How terrible!  War never accomplishes anything.”
-”Who knows how many will die in the battle...”
-”Are they all gone?”
-”All of them.  Not a single one is still here.”
-”At least the farmer won't be snaring them any more.  But dying in a battle is not any better than dying in a wire.”
-”I wish there was something we could do, but I can't think of anything.  They're all terrified of Woundwort, there's no way we could convince any of them not to fight.”
-”I suppose we could ask...Frith to help them?  I think that's what rabbits call Him?”
-”Let's do that.  It's a shame we can't really do more...”
Tumbler wrapped her tail around Rosie, doing her best to avoid getting spiked.  They remained together for a long time, watching the stars in the sky.  After a while, three weird creatures, standing on their hind legs, came running by.
-”What are those creatures?” Rosie asked.
-”I'm not sure, but I've heard a lot of funny stories about them,” Tumbler explained.
Moments later, a large, overweight human also ran by, but he tripped on a tree root and fell head-first into the warren's main entrance.  He tried to get back up, but was unable to; his head had gotten stuck in the hole.
-”Does he show up in the stories too?”
-”He often does.  He's always chasing the three.”
-”Why?”
-”Because it's funny.  He never succeeds, but it's probably for the best.”
-”Perhaps we should help him?  The three creatures he was chasing must be far away by now, there's no way he could be able to catch up with them.”
-”You're right, Rosie.  Let's do this.”
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!


Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #61 on: September 23, 2018, 05:25:59 PM »
Chapter 20: Brain Glitch.: ShowHide


“Things die. That's part of life. It's bad to kill, but it's not bad to die.”
--”The Iron Giant“

Vervain was not the only rabbit travelling alone; Campion was also aimlessly wandering.  Watership Down, Efrafa and the canal were far away; he had gone further than the usual range of the wide patrols and could not recognize any familiar landmarks.

He stopped in the middle of a field and stood on his hind legs to look at the sky.  The thunderstorm was still raging in the area.  Ever since his encounter with the Black Rabbit of Inlé the previous day, he had been thinking.  There was only one logical explanation for what had happened, and he didn't like it at all.

Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck Campion's left ear.  His body was filled with a burning sensation for a moment, then it was over.  Unaware of anything happening around him, he collapsed and fell unconscious.

When he woke up, the place he was in seemed vaguely familiar: it was the same arid desert where he had first met the Black Rabbit of Inlé.  Campion shook his head, refusing to believe this.

In front of him, the air was slowly turning black.  The darkness arranged itself into a familiar shape.
-”CAMPION, WHY ARE YOU BACK HERE?”
-”Black Rabbit, I've been thinking.”
-”WHAT ABOUT?”
-”About our previous encounter.  Supposedly I had died before my time and you therefore sent me back to the real world to finish my life.”
-”THAT IS AN OVERSIMPLIFICATION, BUT ESSENTIALLY TRUE.  AND NOW YOU DIED AGAIN!”
-”No.  I am not dead.  You see, Black Rabbit, I am still alive.  Yesterday, I was hit by some sort of boat.  Today, I got struck by lightning.  Don't you see, Black Rabbit?  I suffered physical trauma my body cannot handle, causing my mind to fluctuate and see things that aren't really there.  I'm not dead, I'm just going crazy.”
-”ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT I AM NOT REALLY HERE AND ALL THIS IS IN YOUR MIND?”
-”I'll quote you: this is an oversimplification, but essentially true.”
-”I SHALL HAVE TO GET THIS RIDICULOUS IDEA OUT OF YOUR HEAD.  LOOK TO YOUR LEFT.”
Campion turned; he could see a faint brown spot far in the distance.  The spot seemed to grow larger as it approached him.  He soon realized that this was a rabbit, floating closer and closer to him, with a look of terror on its face, until he stopped right in front of him.
-”DOES THIS RABBIT LOOK FAMILIAR?” the Black Rabbit asked.
The rabbit still looked terrified.  He turned around to try to run away, but remained in the same place.  He kept floating over the same spot, moving his paws in all directions and at one point flipping over on his back.  But he could not get away, as if held by an invisible force.  All the time, he was squealing in terror.  Campion sniffed him.
-”Why is he screaming like this?” Campion shouted.
-”I'LL TAKE CARE OF HIM.”
The Black Rabbit of Inlé raised one of its front paws and touched the rabbit with it.  He continued to struggle and his mouth was wide open, but no sound came out of it.
-”It's nice to have some silence again.  Anyway, this rabbit is an Efrafan.  I don't know why he's so afraid of me, though, I always tried to be a friend to the slaves and the outskirters.”
-”YOU WEREN'T MUCH OF A FRIEND TO THIS ONE.  YOU WERE ON THE PATROL THAT CAPTURED HIM WHEN HE TRIED TO RUN AWAY.  HOW MANY RABBITS DID YOU ACTUALLY HELP ESCAPE WHEN YOU WERE STILL IN EFRAFA?”
Campion fell silent; he knew very well that the answer to the Black Rabbit's question was “none”, but he was too ashamed to admit it.
-”I've encountered many rabbits when I was in Efrafa.  I can't seem to recall this one,” he finally said, trying to change the subject.
-”DOES THE NAME BLACKAVAR SOUND FAMILIAR?”
-”Let me think...is he the rabbit who escaped with Hazel and the outsiders?  Not pretty little Primrose, the other one?”
-”THREE THINGS.  ONE: YOU ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD YET, SO YOU ARE THE OUTSIDER HERE.  TWO: STOP BOTHERING ME WITH ROMANCE.  THREE: YES, HE IS THE RABBIT YOU DESCRIBE.  HE WAS KILLED BY A CAT YESTERDAY.”
-”That's unfortunate.  But why are you showing him to me?”
-”TO PROVE TO YOU THAT THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING AND NOT A BRAIN GLITCH.”
Campion hopped over to Blackavar, who was still struggling silently.
-”That doesn't prove anything.  I could be imagining his presence, just like I'm imagining yours.”
He raised his front paw and moved it towards Blackavar.
-”DON'T TOUCH HIM!”
But it was too late; Campion's paw was already on Blackavar's back.  He was immediately filled with an extremely unpleasant sensation of cold, darkness, despair and fear.  It was unlike anything
he had ever experienced before.  Worst of all, his paw seemed solidly anchored to Blackavar: he was unable to remove it.
-”OH, GOOD JOB!” the Black Rabbit shouted sarcastically.
Campion finally managed to remove his paw, but as he looked at it, he realized its underside was completely black; he tried rubbing his paws together, but it didn't go away.
-”The eyes, the ears and the nose can be fooled, but touch doesn't lie...you mean I'm really dead?  This is all really happening?”
-”ABSOLUTELY.”
Campion remained silent for a few moments, processing this new information.
-”You were right, I shouldn't have touched him,” he eventually said.  “Now I've got that nasty stain on my paw.”
-”THAT'S NOT THE MAIN REASON WHY I DIDN'T WANT YOU TO TOUCH HIM.  IT'S JUST AN UNFORTUNATE SIDE EFFECT.”
-”What is the main reason then?”
-”YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE DEAD, BUT HE IS.  IF I AM TO SEND YOU BACK TO THE WORLD OF THE LIVING, I WILL HAVE TO SEND HIM TOO.  I WISH IT WASN'T THIS WAY, BUT IT'S ONE OF THE MANY COMPLEXITIES OF DEATH.  EITHER WAY, I WILL HAVE TO ARRANGE A SECOND DEATH FOR HIM AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE.  I HAVEN'T HAD TO DO THAT IN OVER FIVE THOUSAND YEARS, SO I'M A LITTLE RUSTY.”
-”How many years?” Campion was confused by the large number.
-”IT DOESN'T MATTER.  NOW, IF YOU WILL EXCUSE ME FOR A MOMENT, I HAVE TO DEAL WITH MY ASSISTANT.”
The Black Rabbit raised one of his front paws to scratch behind his ear.  As he did that, Campion's vision went blank.  He could not see anything, no matter which way he looked.  However, he could still hear, smell and move normally.
-”Now, Black Rabbit,” a rabbit said, “as you know it's fu Inlé on the night of the full moon.  My time serving in your owsla is over.  I demand that you set me free.”
-”FINALLY,” the Black Rabbit said with a sigh.  “YOU'VE BEEN ONE OF THE LEAST PRODUCTIVE BLACK EMISSARIES IN A LONG TIME.  I HOPE YOU BROUGHT YOUR REPLACEMENT WITH YOU?”
-”What?  Oh, him.  I left him back at the Meadow.  Now can you just give me my reward?”
-”YOU DON'T DESERVE ANY REWARD FOR YOUR SLOPPY WORK, BUT THE RULES ARE THE RULES, SO YOU SHALL GET ONE ANYWAY.”
Campion then heard plenty of seemingly random noises.  Soon after they had stopped, his vision came back; the rabbit he had heard was nowhere to be seen; only Blackavar and the Black Rabbit were still there.
-”SORRY FOR THIS INTERRUPTION,” the Black Rabbit said.  “REGARDLESS OF HOW DIFFICULT IT MIGHT BE FOR ME, I WILL HAVE TO SEND BOTH OF YOU BACK TO THE WORLD OF THE LIVING.  TO MAKE SURE YOU DON'T DIE AGAIN, CAMPION, I SHALL SEND A THIRD RABBIT WITH YOU TO PROTECT YOU.”
The Black Rabbit scratched his ear again.  Suddenly, in a puff of smoke, another rabbit appeared.  He seemed to be running and absent-mindedly looking at his surroundings, but as soon as his paws touched the ground he found himself slipping, and collapsed further away.
-”Uh, who are you?” he asked as he got up.  “Are you the Black Rabbit of Inlé?”
-”YES.  AND SINCE YOU ARE THE LAST RABBIT TO DIE ON THE NIGHT OF THE FULL MOON FU INLÉ, YOU HAVE TO SERVE IN MY OWSLA UNTIL THE NEXT FULL MOON.  YOUR JOB WILL BE TO PROTECT THIS RABBIT SO HE STAYS ALIVE.  ANY QUESTIONS?”
-”Woah, you talk fast, but you seem to make sense.  Can I meet this rabbit?”
-”OF COURSE.  IF YOU BECOME GOOD FRIENDS, SO MUCH THE BETTER.  HE'S RIGHT BEHIND YOU.”
The rabbit turned, and gasped in shock as he saw him.
-”Captain Campion, is that you sir?”
-”Yes.  You look familiar...are you Corporal Aspen?”
-”You remember me!  It's great to meet you again, Campion sir, I just wish we weren't both dead...”
-”IF YOU TWO DON'T MIND, HAVE THIS DISCUSSION ELSEWHERE.  I HAVE OTHER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT, SUCH AS BLACKAVAR HERE.”
With that, bright red beams of light emerged from the Black Rabbit's eyes, each one striking one of the two rabbits and teleporting them back to the world of the living, leaving nothing but smoke where they used to be.  He then turned to Blackavar.
-”CALM DOWN AND GET USED TO IT.  ONCE CAMPION DIES FOR REAL, YOU WILL HAVE TO SPEND ALL ETERNITY WITH HIM.  OH, AND HERE'S YOUR VOICE BACK.  USE IT FOR POSITIVE PURPOSES, NOT TO ANNOY OTHERS.”
He touched Blackavar again.  The dead rabbit, despite having calmed down somewhat since Campion's disappearance, was still breathing fast.
-”Can I be alive again now?”
-”NOT YET!  LIKE I TOLD CAMPION, THIS IS A VERY COMPLICATED PROCESS.  WHILE I MAKE THE NECESSARY ARANGEMENTS, YOU WILL STAY HERE IN THE SHADOWLANDS.  YOU'LL PROBABLY BE ALIVE AGAIN TOMORROW.”
Blackavar looked like he was about to cry.
-”Can I at least go to the Meadow until then?”
The Black Rabbit sighed.
-”I SUPPOSE YOU CAN.”
-”Oh thank you Black Rabbit.  I'm so grate...”
Before he could finish his sentence, Blackavar was teleported away from the Shadowlands to the Meadow, where he crashed in a patch of clover.  He started to nibble it; being dead wasn't so bad after all.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!


Offline Acacia Heartstrings

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #62 on: September 27, 2018, 04:24:40 PM »
It's true that training an owsla can be really difficult :hawkbit3 The General will have to suffer a lot before he can lead a successful attack... :woundwort2

Aspen will be an important character throughout the story.  Despite one incident, he will show up in many chapters :aspen

Then it may be the same as in the series. Red Stone destroyed by the hand of man. It's a posibility. Wonword will have to struggle. And I hope to see you doing the crazy adventures of Aspen and Varvein XD

On chapter 17, I really liked the interaction and dialogue between Blacberry, Prim, Marigold and Hicktory. A lot of kindness and conversation about the danger that possibly threatens the burrow ... That sign presages death. An interesting interaction of the characters, as well as in Watership Down with the baby rabbits XD
Hazel and Fiver as always are moral support for each other. They rely on the good and the bad.  :cheers    :hazel    :fiver    :hawkbit
I love Watership Down!
 
Everything is fine =) (?)

Offline Chipster-roo

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #63 on: September 27, 2018, 10:07:19 PM »
Thanks for the review Acacia :) I'm glad you liked the chapter :)

Aspen will soon end up with Campion rather than Vervain, but there will still be some crazy adventures :aspen
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!


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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #64 on: September 30, 2018, 05:35:30 PM »
Warning: this chapter is dark.

Chapter 21: The Lack of an Alternate Path.: ShowHide

“[...] driving at the speed limit - hideous thought.”
--Stephenie Meyer, Midnight Sun

Blackberry and Primrose left Redstone early in the morning, as they had planned.  Before leaving, they wished Hickory and Marigold the best with their warren.

Travelling by daylight and in calm weather, along with the fact that Blackberry was now familiar with the path, helped the two does to travel faster than during their initial trip.  No unusual events happened during their journey, until they reached the canal.  The water level seemed to have risen since their previous visit.  The gates had been destroyed when they had crossed them; therefore the bridge to the other side no longer existed.  The human authorities were aware of this, and were in the process of installing new gates.  Until then, however, the area was off-limits to the rabbits.
-”Are you sure there's no other way across?” Blackberry asked.
-”None that I know of,” Primrose replied.  “The first time I returned to Redstone, with Hazel, we travelled a long time alongside the river without finding anything, so I decided to use a boat as a stepping stone.  It didn't work out and we both nearly drowned.  We discovered the bridge on the way back, and that's what has been used in all trips since.  But now that the bridge isn't there anymore, I don't know what to do.”
-”There has to be another way.  It may take us a while to find it, but it must exist.”
Blackberry started to walk along the canal.  Primrose, however, remained on the edge, staring down at her reflection in the water below.  Her thoughts were soon interrupted by Blackberry:
-”You coming?”
-”Ye- yes, I'm coming.”
She ran after her friend, and the two started their search for another way across the canal.

==========

-”I'm tired.  Let's rest, shall we?”
Without waiting for an answer, Cowslip lied down in the patch of clover.  He had been travelling with Woundwort and the rest of the owsla for most of the day, and was starting to feel tired.
-”What do you think you're doing?” Woundwort asked.  “We have an enemy to defeat, and we won't defeat anyone by sleeping.”
-”I know, but we won't defeat them if we're too tired to fight them, will we General?”
-”Fine.  If you want to sleep, sleep.  I'll go on with the others, and once you have rested, you can try to catch up with us.”
-”I'm tired too,” another rabbit somewhere in the crowd said.
-”You stay here and rest too.  In fact, anyone who wants to rest is free to do so.  The rest of you will follow me.”
Woundwort started to walk away from the crowd.  A certain number of rabbits ran after him, but most of them remained where they were, whispering.
-”Why did we ever follow that crazy freak?”
-”Yeah, let's go back to the warren!”
-”We'll follow our tracks.”
-”Good idea.”
-”You forgot that crazy Woundwort fellow taught us how to walk without leaving tracks.”
-”Cowslip, which way do we go?”
-”I don't know, I really don't know, I've never been so far from the warren before!” Cowslip cried, on the verge or hysterics.  “We have no choice but to follow him.”
Cowslip ran after Woundwort as fast as he could.  His followers stared at each other in confusion, before joining him.  Cowslip made his way back to the front of the crowd, next to the General.
-”I didn't think you would stay away very long,” Woundwort said.
-”I just want to know what your plans are, how long this war will go on, and...”
-”The plan is simple: find the outsiders' warren and kill everyone.  The outsiders can't fight, so I would say the war will end less than a day after we get there.
-”When we will be able to go back home?”
-”The true home is the battlefield, not some oversized old warren full of snares.”
-”My warren is the best in the world.  Fresh flayrah daily, the po-”
-”Shut up.  I've already heard this many times before, and it doesn't sound any more exciting than the first time you said it.”
-”You can't appreciate good things when you see them.”
Woundwort did not reply; the rabbits continued their journey for a long time, until they came to a hrududu trail.  The road was diverging in three different directions, and a few hrududil were rolling around the roundabout.
-”General Woundwort, wait!” Cowslip said suddenly.  “You're going the wrong way.  Redstone is closer to the road on the right.”
-”Who said we were going to Redstone?”
-”Bu- but General!  You said you wanted to train an owsla so you could help me get revenge on the traitors.”
-”It's not my fault you were stupid enough to believe that.  You see, I was merely using you.  Now that I have an owsla, I am free to lead it anywhere I want.  I know the outsiders' warren isn't in the same direction as Redstone, so we're going another way.  After the outsiders are all dead, maybe we will go to Redstone and destroy it too.  Maybe.”
With that, Woundwort crossed the road without even bothering to see if it was safe; most of his owsla followed.  Suddenly, a hrududu arrived; Cowslip stared at it in horror as it approached his people.  The driver slammed on the brakes, hoping his car would be able to stop in time: cleaning rabbit blood off his shiny vehicle would be very time-consuming.  The vehicle stopped near the middle of the crowd.  While most rabbits were unharmed, a few were crushed by the wheels.  The driver poked his head out of the window and shouted:
-”LIFE IS BETTER AT THREE DIGITS!  NOW GET OUT OF THE WAY.”

Woundwort and the others stared in horror at the remains of the corpses, lying in a puddle of blood around the wheels.
-”Why don't you idiots watch where you're going?” Woundwort said angrily.  “I spent a lot of time training you all, and you're of no use to me dead.  Let's get going.”
The survivors stared nervously at the hrududu, half-expecting it to start moving again.  But it didn't, and the driver kept shouting at them; while they couldn't understand what he was saying, it didn't sound very friendly.  Eventually, they finished crossing the road without looking back at the scene.

Cowslip could not get over the coldness with which Woundwort had commented about all the deaths.  He briefly wondered whether this was hypocrisy, considering his own detachment towards the deaths of rabbits at his warren, but soon brushed away these thoughts, unwilling to admit his own faults.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #65 on: October 03, 2018, 09:58:40 PM »
Caught up again! and it continues to keep me interested. :D Pleased that a certain rabbit is being given another chance...
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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #66 on: October 04, 2018, 12:13:57 AM »
Thanks Meadow :) I'm glad you're enjoying this :)
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #67 on: October 07, 2018, 04:56:30 PM »
@Leo-rah and @Capt. Rake Nightfur appear in this chapter.

Chapter 22: The Beginning of the Investigation.: ShowHide


“A person's a person, no matter how small. “
--Dr. Seuss

It was early morning in Efrafa; most rabbits were asleep underground.  Moss woke up rather early, but instead of going on a short patrol around the warren as he usually did, he remained in his private burrow, awaiting the arrival of Leo and Rake for the meeting.  It did not take them long to arrive; Moss invited them to lie down in the corner.
-”You remember yesterday how I told you I was taking over the investigation?” Moss said.  “I don't want anyone else to know about this.”
-”Why not?” Rake asked.
-”The only reason I'm in charge of the warren right now is because Campion said so.  If anyone finds out that I'm trying to free the rabbit they all think is guilty, they would just kill her without a trial.  And probably kill me too: I don't have the same respect Campion has.”
-”I always knew this warren was dysfunctional, but this is even worse than I thought,” Leo said sadly.
-”You will find a lot more examples of this, now that you're in the owsla.”
Leo stared at Moss in shock.
-”But I'm not in the owsla.”
-”Not yet, but you will be.  I'm going to promote you right now.”
-”But we just met a few days ago!  I appreciate that you trust me, but how do you know I'm the right rabbit for the job?”
-”I know a good rabbit when I see one.  You're strong, you're intelligent, and you're good-looking.  Can't ask for anything more.”
-”When do we do the ceremony?” Rake asked.
-”What sort of ceremony?” Leo said.
-”It's not much of a ceremony, really,” Moss explained.  “Just two words and a mark.”
Moss placed both his front paws on Leo's head; the grey buck was rather ticklish, but did his best to remain motionless.
-”Leo, do you swear that you will always do your best to protect Efrafa from enemies and loyally serve Wo...Campion?”
-”I do.”
-”Don't move, this might hurt...”
Before Leo could react, Moss slashed him across shoulder.  It didn't hurt as much as he had expected, but he winced at the sight of blood on Moss' claws.
-”Welcome to the owsla Leo.”
-”It's an honour, sir.”
-”Cut out the “sir” business.  Just call me Moss.”
-”So, where do we start the investigation?” Rake asked.
-”First, we should meet the prisoner again, and see if she's willing to speak to us.”

The three rabbits hopped out of the burrow and made their way towards Heather's burrow.  Along the way, Rake bumped into a tree root and a large amount of dirt fell from the roof.
-”Didn't you have the warren stabilized yesterday, Moss?” he asked.
-”I did,” Moss replied.  “What just happened is bad news: the warren is clearly still unstable.”
-”We'll have to walk carefully to avoid any further collapses,” Leo added.

When they finally reached the burrow where Heather was confined, they saw that the two guards at the entrance had fallen asleep.  Moss poked one of them, who woke up instantly.
-”I'm sorry, sir, I've been tired...”
-”Don't let it happen again.  I'll let you off with a warning this time, but next time I may not be so lenient.”
The other guard, alerted by the noise, also woke up.  He stood up straight, trying to look as if he had never fallen asleep in the first place.
-”How long have you two been on duty, anyway?” Moss asked.
-”Ever since the prisoner was arrested, sir.”
Moss could not believe this.  These two rabbits had been forced to guard the prisoner for half a day without any breaks.  No wonder they had fallen asleep.
-”All right, you're relieved, go to silflay.  And the first officer you find on your way is to be sent here at once to replace you.”
He peaked inside the burrow; Heather was still lying down facing the back wall, but the flayrah was nowhere to be seen.
-”Oh, and get some more flayrah for the prisoner,” he added.
The two guards nodded and did as they were told.  Moss, Leo and Rake stayed behind and kept an eye on Heather from outside the burrow.  She briefly got up to scratch her ear, but other than that remained motionless.

After the replacement guard returned, carrying a few pieces of lettuce with him, Moss took the flayrah and finally went inside the burrow himself, with Rake and Leo following.
-”I see you've eaten,” he said.  “Have some more.”
Heather turned her head to look at the visitors.
-”Oh it's you again.  Why don't you just leave me alone?”
-”I don't want to hurt you.  Come on, eat.  It's not poisoned.”
Heather looked at Moss, then at the lettuce, trying to figure out what he was trying to accomplish with this.  Eventually, she glanced at Rake and Leo.
-”And who are these two?”
-”I'm Captain Rake Nightfur.”
-”And I'm Leo-rah.”
-”Oh great,” the doe said.  “You brought your friends to interrogate me.”
-”Actually, we want to hel...” Rake started to say, but Moss silenced him:
-”Let's not say that yet.”
-”Keeping secrets, eh?” Heather said.  “No need to, I already know what you're up to.” She then took a bite and started chewing, very slowly.  ”You're trying to bribe me with flayrah, aren't you?  It's not going to work.”
-”Do you know why you're here?” Moss asked, trying to change the subject.
Heather sighed.  She had no reason to lie, at least not yet.  Besides, the odds were that Moss already knew the answers and was just testing her.
-”They say I killed Woundwort.”
-”Did you?”
-”No, but I tell you, if I had been given the chance, I wouldn't have hesitated to do it!”
-”The same could probably be said of many Efrafans,” Leo said.
-”Sure.  And I will be forever grateful towards whoever actually did it.”
-”You said you wanted to kill him, but you didn't actually do it,” Moss said.  “I didn't think you had.”
Heather did not reply.
-”Do you know who did?”
-”I don't know, and even if I did, I wouldn't tell you.”
-”Why not?  Don't you trust me?”
-”Oh, I trust you all right.  The moment you find the real killer you'll have them imprisoned in this burrow with me until Campion comes back for the trial.”
-”Heather...” Moss stopped.  This was the first time he had called the prisoner by her name.  He awkwardly glanced at his two friends, unsure how they would react; they were both staring at him, but neither spoke.  ”As I was saying, I want to help you.  I don't think you're guilty, so I want you to be free.”
-”What do you care whether I'm free, or dead?  I'm just a slave.”
Moss remained silent for a few moments, trying to think of what he could reply.  Officers trying to help slaves was virtually unheard of.
-”Slave or not, you don't deserve to be punished for something you didn't do.”
-”Tell that to Vervain.  He used to make me...”
-”I think we all know what Vervain did,” Leo said, recalling his own horrible encounters with the bearded rabbit.  “I'm sorry he hurt you too.”
-”The fact remains that we're here to help you,” Rake said.  “As far as I know, they only way we can do that is to find the true culprit.”
-”Well, then,” Heather shouted, “what are you here questioning me for?  I told you I don't know who killed him!”
-”Do you have any information that could...” Moss started to say.
-”Go away!  Leave me alone.”
Moss fell silent.  With a sigh, he and his two companions left the burrow.
-”I didn't hear your entire conversation with her, but she sounded rather rude towards you,” the guard said as Moss hopped past him.  “Shall I discipline her?”
-”Worst thing you can do,” Moss replied.  “Just let her alone, and make sure she doesn't escape.”
-”Come on, there's nothing a few bites and slashes to the tail and ears won't fix.”
-”I don't want anyone to hurt her until Campion's return..” Moss placed his paws around the guard's neck.  “Clear?”
-”...yes sir.”

The three rabbits made their way above ground.  Overall, Moss was satisfied with the way the conversation had played out.  While Heather still resented his authority, at least she talked to him, already a major improvement over the previous evening.  His thoughts were interrupted by Rake:
-”You have a crush on her, don't you?”
-”On who?”
-”Heather, who else?”
-”What?  Of course not!”
-”No use denying it, Moss...”
-”I tell you, I don't have a crush on anyone.  Can you back me up, Leo?”
Leo remained silent for a few moments, thinking of what he would reply.
-”You have a crush on someone, but it's not Heather.”
-”You see?  I don't have a crush on her,” Moss told Rake.

A while later at silflay, Moss pulled Leo aside.
-”Who do you think I have a crush on, if it's not Heather?” Moss asked.
-”I would rather not say...” Leo winked, before hopping away.
Moss remained unsatisfied by Leo's answer.  Surely he knew his own feelings better than anyone else?  Nevertheless, he decided not to press the issue: the investigation was more important.  Hopefully Leo would elaborate later on, though.
« Last Edit: October 07, 2018, 05:05:26 PM by Chipster-roo »
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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #68 on: October 09, 2018, 08:35:01 PM »
The injustices in Efrafa have always reigned, poor Heather is one of many victims. Although things only improved a little. It seems that Leo and Rake are contributing their contribution in this story, so far they do well.

Now that I remember Wonwort forgets something important, even if I train those rabbits to fight, they are useless for warriors. For that reason Efrafa was invatible, because the rabbits were trained from young and all their life have served to be soldiers. For more training they have, it will not do much good.

Good chapter 18     :primrose
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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #69 on: October 10, 2018, 10:46:06 PM »
I'm glad you've enjoyed this chapter Acacia :)
Whether Woundwort's training will pay off will be determined over the next few chapters.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #70 on: October 14, 2018, 06:13:18 PM »
This chapter marks the first appearance of Hyzenthlay, Bluebell and Silver from the original book, and Flyairth and Prake from TFWD.

Chapter 23: Ode to the Forgotten Warren.: ShowHide


“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it--always.”
--Mahatma Gandhi

Cowslip collapsed yet again.  It was late afternoon and he was still travelling with Woundwort and the others.  It had been a while since they had left the roundabout, and they had not come across any other rabbits all day.
-”I don't think I have the strength to go any further,” he said.
-”Then stay here and follow us when you're rested enough,” Woundwort said, thinking Cowslip would change his mind again like he had earlier.  However, he soon realized that this was not going to happen.  All the rabbits were visibly exhausted, and nearly everyone had lied down.
-”Fine.  We rest here for a while.  But Cowslip, I want to talk to you privately.”
Cowslip sighed.  He slowly got up and approached the General.  The two rabbits hid in a small ditch to have privacy.  However, Cowslip stepped in something he didn't expect to find there: a cluster of hraka.
-”How nasty,” he complained, talking slowly as usual, as he started to clean himself.  “It's all over my claws and between my toes.”
-”But that is rabbit hraka, isn't it?”
-”Of course it is, but I don't see how that changes anything.”
-”If that's rabbit hraka, that means there must be other rabbits nearby.  Maybe even a warren.”
-”Oh, good.  I was really hoping I would be able to spend the night in a warm, comfortable burrow.  I'll go and tell the others now.”
-”Go ahead.  But if there is a warren, don't allow anyone underground until I say so.  I want to take a look at it first.”
After Cowslip had gone out of the ditch, Woundwort decided to check out this warren.  Hopefully the rabbits living there would agree to join him, allowing him to have an even larger owsla to face the outsiders.  Unless, of course, this was the outsiders' warren, in which case they would attack.

It did not take him long to reach the warren.  It was in the middle of a clearing in the woods further away, and several rabbits were at silflay.  Judging by the number of holes, the warren seemed larger than Cowslip's, although nowhere near as large as Efrafa.

Woundwort slowly approached the warren, nibbling the grass as he went, trying to get an idea of what the rabbits there were like.  It did not take long for his presence to get noticed.
-”Hi!  You're new here, aren't you?”
Woundwort turned to look at the rabbit who had spoken.  It was a young doe, average-sized and with entirely brown fur.  The friendly greeting meant that this was not Hazel's warren, but he remained unsure how to react.
-”Yes, I arrived just now...”
-”Welcome to the warren!  You're free to stay as long as you wish.  We're somewhat different from most warrens, but you'll get used to it.  What's your name?”
Woundwort hesitated before telling this strange rabbit his name: what if they already knew about him?
-”I'll tell you later,” he eventually replied.
-”Very well.  Anyway, I'm Prake-rah.”
-”Rah?  You're Chief Rabbit?”
-”Actually, we have two Chiefs here, and I'm one of them.  Having two of us is one of the things we do differently here.”
-”And the other one?  I assume he's your mate?”
Prake did not answer.  Instead, she hopped to another rabbit further away.  This rabbit, another doe, was almost as large as Woundwort himself.  Her fur was mostly black, although with several large orange stripes.
-”Flyairth,” Prake said, “we've got a visitor.  He won't tell his name, though.”
-”Greetings, stranger,” Flyairth said.  “I'm sure you will enjoy it here at the warren of Marli-rah.”
-”YOU are the second Chief?”
-”Yes, that's me.  We founded this warren together many seasons ago and have been leading it ever since.  Shall I show you around?”
-”Go ahead.”
Flyairth nodded in satisfaction, and made her way towards the nearest hole, followed closely by Prake and Woundwort.

The warren was well-built.  The runs were smooth from many seasons of usage, and seemed very solid.  It was a fine warren, but Woundwort had problems with its social structure.  There were two Chiefs, something unusual in itself, and they were both does.  When Prake had first explained she was one of two Chiefs, he had expected the other to be a buck, probably her mate.  This buck would have run the warren, with Prake acting as some sort of adviser.  When he learned that the second Chief was another doe, he had trouble believing it: he had never heard of such a thing before.  But that was not all: even if Flyairth had not been Chief, he still would have been afraid of her.  She was the only rabbit he had ever met who was around the same size as him.  If he ever had to fight her, she might end up defeating HIM.

After a while, the three rabbits entered a large burrow.  It was not as large as the Honeycomb on Watership Down, but it was still large enough to fit a small crowd.  At the moment, besides Flyairth, Prake and Woundwort, there were only two other rabbits there.  One was a young, small buck, currently nibbling a piece of lettuce.  The other was a doe, larger than Prake but not as large as Flyairth, who had sleek black fur with a few white strands, giving it a shiny appearance.
-”Flyairth-rah,” she said, “there's a large group of rabbits outside.  I don't know where they come from, but right now they are all lying in the grass.”
-”And who's that?” Woundwort asked.
-”Oh, that's the detective,” the other buck replied.
The “detective” sighed.
-”I've had that nickname for many seasons.  It's somewhat popular, although it would be nice if they used my real name instead,” she replied.
-”What is your real name?”
“Hyzenthlay.  I'm the captain of owsla.”
-”You're the captain of owsla?” Woundwort said.  “Say, what kind of a warren is this anyway?”
-”I told you we did things differently here,” Prake said.  “But it's not really that different.  I'm sure you will like it here.”
-”But seriously, ever since I've been here, everyone of importance I've seen is a doe!”
-”It is true that both Chiefs are does, and so is our owsla captain, along with all rabbits in the owsla,” Flyairth explained.  “But it's not really different from an owsla made entirely of bucks, is it?  Nevertheless, we try to make this warren an enjoyable place to live for everyone, bucks and does alike.  Now, Hyzenthlay, what did you say about strangers?”
-”Many rabbits are outside, and they are all huge,” Hyzenthlay replied.  “I didn't talk to them, I wanted to report them to you as soon as possible.”
-”Oh yes.  They are with me, they are MY owsla,” Woundwort said.  “And since I couldn't afford to be picky when I assembled it, it's got both bucks and does.”
-”You have an owsla?” Flyairth said.  “Are you attacking our warren?”
-”No, I'm attacking another warren, and I was hoping I could get you to join us.”
-”Why do you want to attack this other warren?” Hyzenthlay asked.
-”Because they tried to kill me.  They would have succeeded if...”
-”They succeeded?  Woo hoo,” the other buck said.  “I've never met a ghost before.  While you're rather creepy, with your dead eye and all, you don't look like you would haunt anyone.  It's nice to meet you, sir ghost.”
-”Bluebell, shut up!” Flyairth ordered.
-”Were you even paying attention to what I was saying?  They tried to kill me, and they obviously failed.  Either way, I will have revenge.”
-”Why did they try to kill you?” Hyzenthlay asked.
-”Because I was at war with them.”
-”Why were you at war with them?”
-”Because they kidnapped some of my people.”
-”Were they really kidnapped, or did they choose to leave?”
-”They were happy to leave, the ungrateful fools.  They refused to appreciate what I had done for them.”
-”What HAD you done for them?”
-”I made them great again.”
-”You know what?  You sound like a tyrant.  Perhaps they would rather be free than great.”
As much as Woundwort hated to admit it, he knew that Hyzenthlay was right.  He was somewhat of a tyrant in Efrafa, but he had his reasons.  The rabbits in Efrafa were safe from elil and any other outside enemies, and they were forbidden to leave for their own safety (and also so they couldn't team up with the outsiders).  Many were ill, but that also meant they wouldn't have the strength to run away.  Before he had arrived in Efrafa, the warren was weak, and elil were taking advantage of them.  But then he came, and he made them great again.
-”I didn't come here to argue about the way I ran my warren.  I have an enemy to defeat and I want you to help me fight them.”
-”We have no plans for going to war at the time,” Flyairth said.  “You and the other rabbits you brought are free to stay here as long as you wish, but there is to be strictly no fighting.  We try to live peacefully, but if we are attacked, we will not hesitate to defend ourselves.”
-”I suppose this means there is no chance of getting you all to join me and my cause?”
-”No, but you remain free to stay...”
-”I have no wish to live in the same warren as cowards.”
With that, Woundwort ran out of the warren through the first run he could find, while the others remained underground.
-”What do you think he's going to do?” Flyairth asked worriedly.
-”I'm not sure,” Hyzenthlay replied.  “He won't settle down here, that's for sure.  Perhaps he will just leave and keep searching for that warren he's been talking about.  I hope he won't destroy it, though.  Rabbits have enough enemies as is without having to fight each other.”

Outside, Woundwort's owsla was getting restless.  Several were trying to reach the holes, with others trying to hold them back.
-”General Woundwort,” Cowslip said, slowly as usual but visibly nervous, “can they go underground now?”
-”No.”
-”When will they be able to go underground?”
-”Not now, not ever.  Did you know that this warren is dominated by does?  Both Chiefs are does, and their entire owsla is made of does.  How revolting!”
-”I don't care if they worship the Black Rabbit of Inlé, as long as they have warm burrows to sleep in.”
-”Perhaps they are Inlé-worshippers, but it doesn't change anything.  We shall attack them and kill them.”
-”Can't we sleep first and attack later?  Why do you want to kill them, anyway?  These are not my deserters, nor the outsiders you hate so much.  And I don't see how the fact that the does are in charge justifies their death.”
-”They refused to join me and must pay for it.  If you want to sleep, you'll have to do it right here above ground, and as soon as you're ready, we'll attack.”
-”But the elil...”
-”We'll fight them too.”
-”I've had just about enough.” One of the rabbits, a buck with grey-white fur, stepped forward.
-”What do you mean, you...whatever your name is?” Woundwort said menacingly.
-”I refuse to follow you any longer.  These rabbits didn't do anything wrong and don't deserve to be killed.  Also my name is Silver.”
-”I'm the one giving the orders around here, Silver!  If I say they should die, they WILL die!”
-”But I won't be the one killing them.  I'm switching sides, and if you do proceed with this attack, I won't hesitate to fight you.”
Woundwort was about to pounce on Silver, but the white rabbit dashed underground through the nearest hole.  Seeing a few other rabbits also approaching the hole, he ran in front of them, blocking the way.
-”If anyone else tries to betray me like Silver did just now, I'll blind them.  Do I make myself clear?”
The rabbits, knowing Woundwort would not hesitate to carry out his threat, nodded slowly.
-”Good.” Woundwort turned to the rest of his owsla; everyone looked terrified.  “Sleep if you want to, but we will attack as soon as possible.”
-”Why don't YOU sleep, General, for a change?” Cowslip said.  “You haven't slept a wink since you first arrived at my warren two days ago.”
-”Hmm.  I'll take a nap.”
With that, Woundwort lied down in the grass and closed his eyes.  Cowslip could not determine whether he was actually sleeping or just pretending to.  Nevertheless, most rabbits also lied down in the grass: while they would have preferred to go underground, they were afraid of doing so.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #71 on: October 21, 2018, 04:45:21 PM »
This chapter marks the first appearance of Thethuthinnang and Nyreem.

Chapter 24: Backports...the Opposite Way.: ShowHide


“At this period, too, Leningraders resorted to their most desperate food substitutes, scraping dried glue from the underside of wallpaper and boiling up shoes and belts.”
--Anna Reid, Leningrad: The Epic Siege of World War II, 1941-1944

-”They want to destroy the warren!”
When Woundwort had run out of the warren of Marli-rah, he had not bothered to check whether he was being followed, or if anyone else was nearby.  Therefore, he had noticed a single kitten doe, slightly older than Pipkin, hiding under a few leaves.  She listened to his entire conversation with Cowslip and the others, unnoticed; as soon as Woundwort had lied down, she bolted down the first hole she could find, to notify Flyairth and Prake of this upcoming attack.
-”I see,” Prake said.  “While this General Woundwort fellow looked weird, I didn't expect he would try to do this.  I thought he would just leave to fight those other rabbits he's been talking about.  It's a good thing for us all that you heard this conversation, Nyreem.”
Nyreem smiled at Flyairth's praise, satisfied to have done something that helped the warren.  As the young doe hopped away, Prake turned to Flyairth.
-”Get the two captains of owsla and come with them to the owsla chamber.  We need to discuss the best course of action.”
Flyairth nodded, and did as Prake had asked her.  While Hyzenthlay was a captain of owsla, she was not the only one: she focused mainly on the warren's defences while another doe, Thethuthinnang, handled daily business in the warren.  It was another thing done differently at Marli-rah.

The owsla chamber was an average-sized burrow that the warren's main leaders used to discuss potential improvements to the warren, with other rabbits occasionally invited.  The discussions were generally friendly and most suggestions made were carried out unanimously.  However, as the four rabbits settled down inside the burrow, there was a feeling of nervousness filling everyone's minds.  They had never had to deal with an attack before.  The awkward silence persisted until finally, Flyairth spoke:
-”So...what would be the best course of action to survive this attack?”
-”I had a good look at these rabbits,” Hyzenthlay said.  “While they are all very large, most of them don't look like they were built to be good fighters.”
-”In that case, it shouldn't be too hard to defend ourselves,” Prake said.
-”You're right about that, as long as we keep them above ground.  If they manage to break into the warren, then we're in big trouble.”
-”We could position members of the owsla in all runs and try to prevent the enemy from entering the warren this way,” Flyairth suggested.
-”And what if they try to dig a new way in?” Prake asked.
-”They don't look like they are good diggers,” Thethuthinnang said.  “They probably won't try, but if they do, we should be able to hear them before it's too late, and get ready to fight them when they break through.”
-”That might not work, because they would already be underground, and we would lose our advantage,” Hyzenthlay said.  “Their weight is of little use to them in narrow runs, but in a large burrow, things are different.  But I can't think of a better option.”
-”I have an idea,” Flyairth said.  “Nyreem said they all fell asleep.  Why don't we attack them now and drive them away?  They won't be expecting that.”
-”I don't think that would be a good idea,” Hyzenthlay replied.  “While they don't look like good fighters, there are so many of them we couldn't fight them without sustaining heavy losses ourselves.”
-”I'm afraid you've got a point there...” Flyairth reluctantly agreed.
At that moment, a buck with pale fur entered the burrow.
-”I was told I could find the Chief Rabbit here,” he said.  “Which one of you is it?  I have an important message for them.”
-”That would be me, and Flyairth here,” Prake said.  “Who are you?”
-”My name is Silver, and I came with the group of rabbits who are currently above ground.  They want to destroy this warren, but I don't think you deserve to die, so I would like to join you and help you fight them, if you wish to have me.”
-”I think you're telling the truth, and we would be glad to have you,” Hyzenthlay said, staring deep in Silver's eyes.  “We've already heard the news, and we have a plan.”

The members of the owsla were split out among the many runs leading outside.  However, there were not enough rabbits in the owsla to guard all the runs, so other strong rabbits, bucks and does alike, were also chosen to help.

==========

-”ATTAAAAACK!”
Cowslip and the others were unpleasantly woken up by Woundwort's shout.  Judging by the sky, it was in the middle of the night.
-”Now is a fine time to attack,” Cowslip complained.  “We were all sleeping, and actually resting.”
-”We have to attack now when it's not expected.  ATTAAAAACK!”
The rabbits, still half-asleep, failed to understand Woundwort's order properly.  They arranged themselves in pairs and started duelling.
-”FOOLS!  Not yourselves!  The enemy!  Attack the warren!”
As they heard this, the rabbits realized their mistake.  They slowly started to make their way towards the warren, two rabbits per run.  As they dove into the runs at mostly the same time, the fight broke out.

Woundwort's owsla failed miserably.  The holes were too narrow for both attackers to enter side-by-side, so one had to enter first with the other following.  There they met the rabbits of Marli-rah, but in the narrow runs, their weight was not very useful to them.  The rabbits they were supposed to kill were able to hold their own, and while the attackers were desperate to make it back outside, their partners behind them blocked the way.

Just a few minutes after the attack had started, all rabbits in Woundwort's owsla were back above ground, most of them wounded.  While the wounds were not life-threatening, the rabbits were still in great pain.  Nyreem had bitten one of them's nose, and he was running around the area in a state of hysterics.

Woundwort stared at the scene in shock.  All by himself, he had turned this sloppy, lazy bunch of useless rabbits into a strong owsla that should be able to defeat anything that stood in its way.  And now, after only a few moments of fighting, they all retreated like cowards.
-”Get back in there!” he ordered.  “Don't let a few scratches stop you!  Fight like your life depends on it!”
Most of the rabbits were in too much pain to want to fight any more at the moment, and therefore remained motionless.  However, a few of them went back to the holes, afraid of being killed by Woundwort if they didn't.

The owsla's second attack was also a complete failure.  Their intended victims were once again able to hold their own and push them back out of the warren.  Woundwort became furious.
-”You worthless cowards!  I'll go down there myself and show you there's nothing to be afraid of.”
Woundwort fearlessly dove down the first hole he could find.  Before he could get very far underground, however, he came face-to-face with Flyairth, who slashed him across the neck, where Vervain had wounded him.  The pain resurfaced; he did his best to ignore it and keep fighting, but Flyairth kept slashing him across the face.  As much as he hated to admit it, there was no way his owsla could win a battle against these rabbits; he would have to try something else.  He turned and went back above ground where, upon seeing him, several rabbits burst into laughter.
-”Shut up!” he ordered.  “This is war, and is not supposed to be funny.”
The laughter immediately stopped.  Woundwort glanced at the crowd and gave further instructions:
-”This is a siege.  You are to make sure that the enemy stays underground.  If anyone tries to make it outside, push them back underground.  If they can't silflay, they will grow hungry and will have no choice but to surrender.”
He stared intensely at his owsla.
-”I don't think that's too much to ask of you,” he added menacingly before walking away to silflay.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2018, 04:57:52 PM by Chipster-roo »
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #72 on: October 28, 2018, 05:52:55 PM »
Chapter 25: The Hole.: ShowHide


“As many have discovered, it is entirely possible (although not particularly desirable) to love two people with all your heart. It is entirely possible to long for two lives, to feel that one life can't come close to containing it all.”
--Gabrielle Zevin, Elsewhere

After their return to the world of the living, Aspen and Campion had started travelling again.  Aspen was excited to have been tasked with protecting Campion.  Like all Efrafan officers except Vervain, he admired Campion.  Now that they were together he did not hesitate to praise him and ask him about his adventures all day.  At first, Campion appreciated the attention and told him several tales from wide patrols, but after a while, he grew tired and ordered him to shut up.  This had the exact opposite of the intended effect: Aspen was saddened at having annoyed the rabbit he respected the most and spent a long time apologizing, annoying Campion even more.  They eventually reached a farm, and Campion ordered Aspen to carry a carrot: it was the only way to keep him quiet.

It took until late afternoon for Campion to speak again.
-”Aspen, I'm going to ask for your advice.  It's probably not going to be useful, but I have nobody else to ask, so you'll have to do.”
Aspen dropped the carrot on the ground.
-”I would be glad to give you some advice if you want some, Campion sir.”
-”Right.  So, I have a friend who made a mistake...oh never mind that nonsense, you would figure it out anyway.  I am the one who made the mistake, and don't know what I should do about it.”
-”Well...what exactly was the mistake, sir?”
-”Stop calling me sir, all right?  I'm asking you this as a friend, not as an officer.  Anyway, there is a doe, and I told her I loved her.”
-”I don't see anything wrong with that...”
-”She's already someone else's mate.”
-”...oh.”
-”...is that all you have to say?  I'm asking you for advice!”
-”But what CAN I say?  You've hardly told me anything.  Does she love the one she mated with?”
-”Yes, she loves him.  From what I've seen, it seems like a perfect relationship, just like in the old stories of El-ahrairah and what's-her-name.  His favourite doe.”
-”Nur-rama?”
-”I think that's her.”
-”I never really liked those old stories,” Aspen confessed.  “El-ahrairah and Nur-rama have nothing in common, and besides, I thought...”
-”I agree, but that has nothing to do with the problem I'm currently facing.”
-”Sorry.  What were you saying?”
-”This doe I love, and her mate, seem to have a perfect relationship.  At times, it seems a little too perfect.
-”Do they have kittens?”
-”Yes...”
-”Who's the father?”
Campion sighed loudly as he realized what Aspen was implying.
-”Her mate is, of course!  Seriously, did you think I would do something so low as to steal someone else's mate?”
-”I didn't, but you said you had made a mistake and I just wanted to make sure.  What exactly WAS the mistake anyway?”
-”To make long things short, I shouldn't have told her that I loved her.  She seemed quite depressed the next time I saw her.”
-”What do you plan to do about it?”
-”Aspen, I'm asking you for advice!  What SHOULD I do?”
-”I don't know.  There might not be much you could do, honestly.  If she and her mate are happy together, you shouldn't try to meddle.  Maybe apologize to them the next time you see them?  I'm not sure if that would help though.”
-”So there's nothing I can do?  Thanks, Aspen.  You've been VERY helpful.”
-”Always glad to be of service,” Aspen replied, failing to catch Campion's sarcasm.
The two rabbits continued wandering for a while, until Campion decided to reveal another secret:
-”There's also another doe I love.”
-”What's the matter with this one?  Does she have a mate too?”
-”As far as I know, she never had one.  I may want to mate with her at some point in the future.  She's really beautiful.  Her fur is blue and white, and she has cute pink ears.”
-”You won't be too broken-hearted over the other one, then.  It's all perfect.”
-”There is a problem though: I can't remember the blue doe's name.  All I remember is that it's some type of berry.”
-”How about Blueberry?  That would match her fur.”
-”Blueberry...that doesn't sound right, but I can't think of anything else, so it'll do.”
Suddenly, Campion stopped.  He did his best to remain silent, and crouched in the tall grass.
-”What's going on?” Aspen asked him.
-”Keep still, and keep quiet.  There's something in the grass over there.”
-”What is it?”
-”I don't know, but stay away from it!”
Aspen, however, did not listen.  He calmly hopped over to the thing in the grass.  It was the beginning of a sinkhole; at the moment it was round and descending vertically into the ground.  He looked down the hole; it was completely dark and he could not see the bottom.
-”Hello?  Anybody here?”
Aspen remained silent for a few moments, waiting for an answer that did not come.  He turned to Campion, who was staring at him in fear.
-”Well, there's nothing in there.  I can't hear or smell anything.  I just don't know why it's there.”
Campion was really afraid for Aspen.  Maybe there wasn't anything dangerous in the hole, but standing so close to the edge like he did certainly wasn't safe.  He ran straight into Aspen, knocking him into the grass further away.  Aspen squealed, and looked at Campion angrily.
-”Get away from that hole!” the captain shouted.  “Do you want to fall in or something?”
Just as Campion said that, the ground fell from underneath him, and he silently vanished down the hole.

Aspen stared at the scene in shock.  He slowly approached the now-rectangular hole, which was still as dark and mysterious as before.
-”Campion?  You all right?”
Just like the last time he had talked down the hole, he did not receive any reply.  However, the Black Rabbit of Inlé had tasked him with protecting Campion.  It was his responsibility to see that nothing bad happened to him.  Aspen tried less-than-successfully to push his fear out of his mind.  Finally, he decided to simply close his eyes and jump down the hole.

Campion dug himself out of the pile of dirt he had found himself buried under.  Once he had broken through, he spent a few minutes coughing, before looking at his surroundings.  Unfortunately, it looked familiar.  A dark coloured cloud of dust was carried in front of him by the wind, where it materialized into a familiar shape.
-”Well, Black Rabbit, why am I here again?”
-”YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE HERE.  THE FACT YOU ARE IS BAD NEWS.”
-”Campion!  Oh thank Frith you're all right!” Aspen said, appearing behind Campion; only then did he notice the Black Rabbit.  “Oh.  I guess I was unable to save you.  I'm sorry Campion.”
-”YOU FOOL!  I THOUGHT MY PREVIOUS BLACK EMISSARY WAS BAD, AND YOU, ASPEN, FAIL RIGHT ON YOUR FIRST DAY!  IT TOOK FOUR DAYS BEFORE THE LAST ONE MADE A MISTAKE.”
-”Don't be too hard on him,” Campion said.  “I fell down the hole so he wouldn't.”
The Black Rabbit remained silent for a few moments, thinking about what Campion had said.
-”FINE.  BUT DON'T TRY THIS AGAIN, CAMPION.  ASPEN, BEING THE BLACK EMISSARY, IS UNABLE TO DIE, SO YOU DON'T NEED TO SAVE HIM FROM ANYTHING.”
-”I'm sorry I failed you, Black Rabbit,” Aspen said tearfully.  “I'll do my best to do my job properly next time.”
-”I HOPE YOU WILL, FOR YOUR SAKE.”
-”Um, Black Rabbit?” Campion said.  “Why are you so small?”
Indeed, the Black Rabbit seemed to be gradually getting smaller.  While at the beginning of the conversation he was towering over Campion and Aspen, now he was barely taller than they were, and visibly getting smaller by the moment.
-”OH, I'M GOING AWAY.  THERE'S NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT.”
As he finished talking, he vanished entirely.  There were no traces of him left other than a black puddle on the ground.  Campion looked at it, half-expecting to see his reflection, but instead he saw something else, something terrifying.  He squealed, and fell to the ground unconscious.  Aspen rushed to him.  He wondered what Campion had seen in the puddle that had affected him so, and decided to look too, only to see that it had already drained away through the sandy ground.

When Campion came to, he was back in the world of the living, lying next to the hole with Aspen shaking him.
-”Campion!  What happened to you?  You really had me worried.”
Campion slowly got up.  His fur was still covered with dirt after the incident with the hole.
-”Don't worry about me, I'll be fine,” he said as he started to clean himself.  “But don't go near any more mysterious holes.  That's an order.  Pick up your carrot and let's get going.”
-”I think it fell down the hole.”
-”In that case don't jump down there to get it back!  Just follow me.”
Campion walked away; Aspen was trying to figure out exactly why Campion was acting the way he was, but decided to quietly follow him.  The questions would come later.

It did not take long, however, for Aspen to break the silence.
-”What happened to your face?”
-”What are you talking about?”
-”The left side is completely bald.  It wasn't like that before you fell in the hole.”
-”I probably lost it in the Shadowlands.  I hope it will grow back though.”
-”Perhaps you could ask the Black Rabbit about it the next time you meet him?”
-”It's your job to make sure there won't be any 'next time'.”
-”Oh.  Right.  That momentarily escaped my mind...”
-”Well, I sure hope you will remember to protect me the next time I'm in danger!”
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!


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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #73 on: November 04, 2018, 06:35:06 PM »
It's that time again :D This chapter includes a minor crossover with another fandom, but this is mostly a one-time thing rather than a regular occurance.

Chapter 26: Don't Panic!: ShowHide


“It is sometimes very hard to tell the difference between history and the smell of skunk.”
--Rebecca West

Blackberry and Primrose had spent the day travelling alongside the canal, searching for a way across.  However, they had failed to find one; there weren't even any boats on the river.

Late that afternoon, as Blackberry sniffed the air, a look of disgust appeared on her face.
-”What's the matter?” Primrose asked.
-”There's something nearby, and it smells horrible.”
Primrose sniffed the air too; she too immediately noticed it.
-”What could produce such a smell?”
Blackberry, meanwhile, was looking around her, trying to pinpoint the origin of the smell, until she saw a purple spot next to a tree further away.
-”A skunk.”
She then hopped closer to her, with Primrose following.
-”Shouldn't we go away from the smell?”
-”Under ordinary circumstances, yes, but she might know a way across.”
-”You may be right...”
The two rabbits soon arrived next to the skunk.  She was lying against the tree, her overly-large tail wrapped around it.  She was looking at a couple of birds in the sky, with a look of peace and happiness on her face.
-”Excuse me, but we're lost,” Blackberry said.  “Do you know any way to reach the other side of the river?”
Primrose expected the skunk to suddenly spray Blackberry, but this did not happen.  Instead, the purple-furred creature looked down at them and did not seem the least bit hostile.
-”My, you're tiny aren't you?”
-”I suppose we are, compared to you,” Blackberry replied.
-”No, you're much tinier than my two bunny friends.  They are the same size as me.”
Blackberry and Primrose looked at each other in disbelief.  The skunk was larger than General Woundwort; how could a rabbit possibly be so big?
-"Can you help us get to the other side?” Primrose asked.
-”You're bunnies.  Can't you jump?”
-”It's too far,” Blackberry said.
-”In that case, perhaps you should just walk over it.  If you look at the sky, you won't fall.”
-”I don't understand.”
-”Gravity only works if you look down.”
-”I'm...really confused now.  What is gravity?”
The skunk looked at the two rabbits in disbelief.
-“Perhaps I could teach you?”
-”Maybe later,” Primrose said.  “We're in a hurry to get to the other side.”
-”Well, in that case I know of a bridge further away.  Shall I lead you there?”
-”Yes,” Blackberry said.  “Thanks for the help.”
With that, the skunk unwrapped her tail and got up.  She walked alongside the canal on her hind legs; while both rabbits were confused by this, they did not question her, and simply followed her.  Primrose kept her distance, however: she remained afraid of being sprayed.
-”I'm Fifi,” the skunk said after a while.  “What are your names?”
“Unusual name,” Blackberry thought.
-”I'm Blackberry.”
-”Primrose.”
-”Nice to meet you two.  Have you seen any boy skunks around here recently?”
-”No,” Blackberry replied, slightly taken aback by the question.  “I haven't seen any girl skunks either, other than you.”
-”Oh, what a shame, I was hoping you might know of one.  You must know this area better than me, I'm just here on vacation.”
-”Where do you come from?”
-”Acme Acres.”
-”Never heard of that place before.”
-”Lots of people haven't.” Fifi sighed.  “Have either of you ever experienced true love?”
-”My friend Primrose has a mate, and they really love each other.”
-”But...” Primrose was about to speak, but Fifi cut her off:
-”How lucky you are!  It must be wonderful to have someone who is utterly devoted to you and loves you unconditionally!”
Primrose lowered her head.  Fifi had just described Hazel.  Despite how much she loved Hazel and Hazel loved her, she still felt guilty over abandoning Campion.  She was about to cry, but her thoughts were interrupted as they reached the bridge Fifi had mentioned.  It was a wooden drawbridge that was part of a road, and it was up at the moment.
-”I don't understand it,” the skunk said, scratching the fur on her head.  “There's no boat nearby, so it should be down.”
-”Does this mean we can't use it?” Blackberry asked.
-”No no, I'll just have to use some dynamite.”
Suddenly, Fifi pulled a red cylinder out of nowhere and lit it on fire, before throwing it into a small cabin next to the bridge.  A few moments later, there was a loud explosion, and the drawbridge dropped back into place.  Now that it was closed, the rabbits were able to cross it.
-”How did you do that?” Blackberry asked.
-”A squirrel taught me,” Fifi replied. 
-”Well, thanks for helping us reach the other side, Fifi.  We really appreciate it.”
-”No problem.” The skunk grinned.  “And if you ever meet a pretty boy skunk, please let me know!”
-”We will.”
-”Let's get going,” Primrose said, eager to forget the entire incident.  They had not been sprayed yet, and she was in a hurry to leave before it happened.

After they had crossed the drawbridge, the two rabbits realized that the area around them was virtually unrecognizable.  They had strayed away from the path they had taken during their initial journey, and they failed to recognize any familiar landmarks.  They were both exhausted; they would have to stop, but where?  As far as Blackberry knew, there were no warrens nearby, and being forced to sleep above ground had been one of the most difficult aspects of the journey from Sandleford Warren to Watership Down.

She considered digging a scrape, but after she and Primrose started scratching the ground, it became obvious that they were too tired to dig.  They were forced to lie down in a small ditch, filled with tall plants.  While it was not as good a hiding spot or as warm as a hole, it would have to do until they had rested enough to continue their journey.  They both fell asleep almost immediately, lying right next to each other.

Blackberry woke up in the middle of the night.  After stretching, she hopped out of the ditch for a quick silflay.  However, there was something unusual, which she could not understand: an unusually loud sound of footsteps, as if many creatures were approaching.  She turned, and saw many shadows in the distance, rapidly approaching.  She bolted back into the ditch, only to land on Primrose, who was immediately woken up.
-”Don't move,” Blackberry urged.  “Our lives depend on it.”

Time seemed to go by very slowly for the two does.  The footsteps kept getting louder until the creatures stopped just outside the ditch.  It was a group of rabbits, but all of them were extremely large, some of them as large as General Woundwort.  Suddenly, one of them stopped and sniffed the air.  It was a doe, with brown-purple fur and a green feather was hanging out of her right ear.  She sniffed the ground, coming closer to the ditch with each step.  Blackberry and Primrose huddled together in a far corner of the ditch.  This rabbit did not look friendly, and neither did any of her companions; if their presence was noticed, an attack seemed likely.

Blackberry thought about how she had decided to take on this journey a few days before, to impress Bigwig, and how she had taken Primrose with her to show her the way, and because she thought this would cheer her up.  This whole mission, Blackberry thought, had been a failure.  The odds were that they would be killed right then and there.  Not only would she have failed to impress Bigwig, who would remain forever ignorant of her motivations, but she would have also caused the death of one of her closest friends.  Primrose, meanwhile, was thinking about Hazel and the kittens.  She was going to die, and nobody would ever find out what had happened.  They would be heartbroken.

Suddenly, a voice was heard:
-”Let's get going.  There's nothing in that bush, Spartina.”
Instantly. the doe turned around and hopped away.  The footsteps resumed, and gradually faded away until the air became silent again.  Primrose peaked out of the ditch; the rabbits were gone, and only a faint smell proved that they had ever been there.
-”We're...safe?” Blackberry asked.
-”It looks like it.”
-”Thank Frith!  Who were these rabbits?  Are there any other warrens near Redstone?”
-”Not that I know of.  But I tell you, I haven't been so afraid in seasons.”
-”Neither have I.  For a moment, I was sure we were off to Inlé.”
The two rabbits remained silent for a long time, reflecting on their lucky escape.
-”Why do you suppose she left us alone?” Blackberry said after a while.  “I was sure she had smelled us.”
-”I don't know.  It probably has something to do with that other rabbit calling her.  Maybe she was straying too far away from the group?  I've heard of things like this happening on Efrafan patrols.”
-”That could make sense.  But altogether, I wouldn't feel safe staying here.  They might come back.  Do you think you would be able to continue travelling?”
-”Yes, I would be ready, whenever you are.”
Blackberry nodded; she and Primrose walked away from the ditch, hopefully towards Watership Down.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!


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Re: Possibilities
« Reply #74 on: November 11, 2018, 06:36:52 PM »
Chapter 27...
Also @florapaw makes a brief appearance here.

Chapter 27: Bits and Bob-Stones.: ShowHide

“Soon after, I returned home to my family, with a determination to bring them as soon as possible to live in Kentucky, which I esteemed a second paradise, at the risk of my life and fortune.”
--Daniel Boone

Hazel was outside, staring at the sky.  The previous evening, he had sent Kehaar to Redstone for news of Blackberry and Primrose, and he was awaiting the gull's return.  The only other rabbits above ground were Fiver and Flora; Fiver approached him.
-”Spending your day looking at the sky won't make Kehaar come back any faster,” he said.
-”I want to know the moment he comes back, so I can hear the news as soon as possible.”
-”You don't have to sit here and wait.  Even in the deepest burrow, you could easily hear him arrive, you know how noisy he is.”
-”There he is now!  HEY KEHAAR OVER HERE!”
Hazel started to run madly across the Down, trying desperately to attract the attention of the bird.  Fiver cast a quick glance at the sky, and shook his head.
-”Hazel, that's not Kehaar.”
Hazel abruptly stopped running as he learned of his foolish mistake.
-”What is it, then?” he said, hesitating.
-”I don't know.  But I doubt we've seen the last of this bird.”
-”Is it elil?”
-”Hazel, I know you're really worried, but you should at least be able to see that this bird is too small to be dangerous.”
-”I'm sorry, Fiver, it's just that...”
-”I know, Hazel.  I know.  But seriously, calm down.  When Kehaar comes back, you will know for sure what's happening.  Until then, this is all speculation.  Come on, there's a bob-stones tournament going on in the Honeycomb right now, and we're all hoping you can participate.”
Fiver managed to persuade his older brother to participate, and all three rabbits went underground.  Hazel, however, cast one last glance at the bird he had mistaken for Kehaar.  It appeared to be a small falcon, possibly female.  She perched near the top of the beech tree, and flew away.
-”Cute, isn't she?” Flora said.  “Hopefully the bird you're waiting for will show up soon, though.”

==========

As the bob-stones tournament progressed, Hazel's mood greatly improved: he was too busy thinking about the game to worry about Blackberry and Primrose.  He defeated all opponents that stood in his way, until only one remained.
-”Guess this one right, Bigwig, and you win,” Pipkin said.
-”Don't rush me, Pipkin,” Bigwig replied, “I'm trying to think.”
Bigwig kept staring at Hazel, trying to pick up hints in the Chief's body language, to no avail.  He would have to trust his instincts.
-”Bob-stones guess is...”
The rabbits were interrupted by a raucous cry coming from above ground.  That could only mean one thing.  Hazel immediately ran outside, revealing the two stones he was concealing.  He found Kehaar cleaning the feathers under his wings, with Hannah still on his back.
-”What's happening?” he asked.
-”'ello meester 'azel!  How are things going here?”
-”Please, I just want to know...”
-”Ya.  Vell...friendly Blackberry and lovely Primrose left Redstone yesterday mornin'.”
-”Yesterday morning?” Hazel repeated in disbelief.  “Where are they now?”
-”I dunno.  Didn't search for 'em.”
Hazel was horrified by these news.  If they had left the previous morning, they should have made it back by now.  What had happened to them?  Where they lost?  Had they been attacked?  Were they still alive?  He bolted back underground towards the Honeycomb.
-”Bigwig, we're leaving.”
-”Leaving?” Bigwig was visibly confused.  “Where are we going?  What about the bob-stones tournament?”
-”Never mind, you win, let's go!”
-”Hazel, we need to finish the...”
-”But there's no time!  We have to go now!”
-”And you still didn't tell me where we're going or what's so urgent about all this.”
-”Hazel, calm down,” Fiver said.  “Tell us everything from the beginning.”
Hazel took a few deep breaths to relax, but still remained visibly nervous.
-”Kehaar just came back from Redstone.  Primrose and Blackberry left yesterday morning and should be back by now.  Since they are not, we should go and search for them.”
-”All right, we'll do that.  But first, let us finish the tournament,” Bigwig decided.
-”How can you stay calm when the lives of two of our rabbits are in danger?”
-”We've wasted more time arguing than it would have taken to finish the tournament.  Let's get back to the game, and in just a few moments, we can leave.”
Hazel reluctantly agreed, and hid some stones under his paws again.  Bigwig was still taking his time to examine Hazel's body language; he didn't notice anything besides minor trembling, but that probably had nothing to do with the game.
-”Bob-stones guess...is three,” he finally said.
Hazel raised his front paws, revealing one stone under one and two under the other.
-”You win, good job Bigwig.  Now can we go and search?”
-”Now that our tournament is finished, there is no point in waiting, Hazel.  Who do we bring?”
Hazel looked around him.  Nearly all rabbits in the warren had gathered in the Honeycomb to watch the bob-stones tournament.

Hazel wondered whether anyone would be suited for such a mission.  In most situations, they brought Pipkin along, but with Primrose absent from the warren, he would have to stay behind to keep the kittens under control.  They also often brought Hawkbit and Dandelion along, but Hazel wondered whether they would actually be useful this time.  Primrose, if she was still alive, would probably be depressed, and Hawkbit's sarcasm might end up making things worse.
-”Just the two of us, with Kehaar and Hannah,” he finally decided.  “Fiver, you're Chief Rabbit until we get back.”
-”Who, me?” Fiver said suddenly.  “Oh no Hazel, not me.  I don't know anything about being a Chief Rabbit.  You're a natural leader, I don't have that skill.”
-”I'm sure you'll do fine, Fiver.  Don't underestimate yourself.”
-”You should at least give me some tips as to what to do.”
-”It's really not that hard, now that the war is over.  Just be confident and optimistic, and if there are any disputes, use your wisdom to settle them.  There's nothing to it, really.”

Meanwhile, Bigwig was discussing things with Pipkin.
-”Pipkin, you've done a good job leading the Junior Owsla for a while.  As you know, I'm not as young as I used to be, at some point I will probably retire from my position of captain of owsla, and I think you would make a fine replacement for me when that happens.  I'm not really good at speeches, am I?”
-”No, it's a good speech, Bigwig.  I just don't know what you're trying to tell me.  You're not retiring now, are you?”
-”Of course not.  What I'm trying to say is: while I'm gone on the rescue mission, you're captain of owsla.”
-”That's amazing, Bigwig!  Thank you for trusting me with the job.  Exactly what do I do?”
-”Keep in mind that you're still not as experienced as I am, so don't do anything crazy.  Just make sure the others train every day, and your Junior Owsla stays under control.  Feel free to take out some patrols if you want, but don't go further than the bottom of the Down.”
-”Eh, Bigwig...”
Bigwig turned and saw Hawkbit and Dandelion standing in front of him.  Dandelion continued to speak:
-”I've, uh, WE've been thinking about things, and how you're leaving Pipkin in charge while you're gone...he's still young, and still in the Junior Owsla.  Don't you think you should appoint someone more experienced...look Hawkbit, I'm better at telling stories than making speeches, you explain, all right?”
-”Heh.  Essentially, he's saying that you should leave me in charge instead.”
-”Not necessarily you!  It could also be me, or even Strawberry...”
-”I've considered it,” Bigwig explained.  “But you're forgetting one thing.”
-”What?”
-”Pipkin, unlike you lot, actually takes his job seriously.  Any further complaints are to be addressed to him.  You ready, Hazel?”
-”Yes, I'm ready anytime you are,” Hazel replied.  “Let's go.”
Hazel and Bigwig made their way outside; along the way, however, they came across another rabbit, a scarred brown buck with an unusual overgrowth of fur on his head.
-”Blackavar?” Hazel asked.
-”Yes, that's me.”
-”I thought you were dead!” Bigwig shouted.  “I saw you die with my own eyes.”
-”I came back.  Am I still welcome here?”
-”Of course,” Hazel said.  “I'm sorry we burried you alive, you really looked dead.  We're really glad to see that you survived, against all odds.”
While Hazel seemed to accept Blackavar's return easily, Bigwig wasn't convinced.  As Blackavar hopped past him, Bigwig bit his tail.  He could feel the fur on his tongue, so logically Blackavar really was alive and not a ghost.
-”Ouch!  What was that for?”
Bigwig immediately let go of the tail.
-”Sorry...sorry...” he awkwardly said, before following Hazel, who was outside speaking with Kehaar:
-”Kehaar, we're going on a mission.  We're going to search for Primrose and Blackberry.”
-”Ya, ees very eenteresting mission.”
-”We would want you to come with us, to help us with the search.”
-”Very good idea.  I'm ready anytime.  HANNIAH!!”
The mouse came out of a nearby hole holding a few sunflower seeds.
-”What's the mattah, Kehaa?”
-”Ve're going flying.”
-”But we juss came back!”
-”Good, good.  Ve start now.”
-”But...oof never mind.  Yur one stubborn gull, Kehaa.”
-”I'll do my best to keep the warren alive while you're gone, Hazel,” Fiver told Hazel.  “And I'll make sure Blackavar doesn't die again.”
-”I know you will.  Just one last thing: did you have any feelings or visions that could help us?”
-”I'm sorry Hazel, but no.  The visions come when they do, I can't make them happen.  I didn't see anything about Blackberry and Primrose or where they are.  I didn't see anything about you two either.  So please be careful.  I want you all to come back alive.”
-”Don't feel bad about this.  It's not your fault you didn't have any visions.  And we'll be careful, I promise.”
Fiver and Hazel exchanged one last hug, before the two searchers left the warren on their journey.  Kehaar, with another of his signature cries, took off, carrying Hannah on his back.  Fiver looked at the two rabbits until they vanished from view further down the field.
Have you considered making each day count - doing something meaningful each day - instead of letting the days and weeks and months and years fly into oblivion? --Bright Side

Thanks to Rosie Willowwater for the avatar!