9. Bunnykins and the quest for the great stone Part two

September 1, 2011

VII

 

As Bunnykins hopped towards an entrance to the warren, two large fierce looking rabbits appeared as if from nowhere.

 

“Where do you think you are going?” barked one of them, his brown eyes flashing in the sunshine.

 

“Why I am here to visit an old friend.”

 

“We don’t allow visitors here.” Replied the Rabbit “Don’t you know the disease is spreading?”

 

“The Disease? What disease?”

 

“Who Myxy of course. A horrid thing. Those humans are cruel creatures.”

 

The second Rabbit was looking around Bunnykins carefully. “He doesn’t have any lumps or bumps, his eyes look clear and he has no swelling on the head. He looks clean to me, Brunswick.”

 

“We aren’t the judges of that, Stalkfinder. You know that.”

 

“Who are you looking to see?” asked Stalkfinder. “Perhaps we can send him out to you, but you can’t come in unless the elders permit it.”

 

Bunnykins nodded “that makes sense. I am looking for Startsfights he will probably expect me.”

 

Stalkfinder stared “Really? He is a bit loopy you know.”

 

“Really? Oh we will get on very well then, I am pretty much loopy myself” smiled Bunnykins.

 

Bunnykins waited and after some time Stalkfinder returned followed closely by another rabbit. The second rabbit hooped with a strangely lopsided gait. From time to time it would freeze, listening intently and the twitch its head before moving on. This is a weird looking rabbit, thought Bunnykins, but I guess that must be Startsfights. Startsfights hopped over to where Bunnykins was waiting and looked at Bunnykins quizzically. “So you are the famous Bunnykins? Not very impressive but you are who you are I guess.” Startsfights glanced back at the two Rabbits staring behind them “You needn’t worry I won’t be coming back into the burrow, we have some business to attend to.”

 

Stalkfinder and Brunswick looked relieved as the two rabbit hopped away from the warren and were soon out of view. “I will be glad if I never see anything of either of those two again.” Stalkfinder smiled “I don’t know, they are odd for sure, but I can’t help thinking they are both good rabbits at heart.”. Brunswick snorted “I can’t abide and optimist, let’s get back on duty.”

 

VIII

 

The two rabbits hopped into the distance and after some time Bunnykins noticed Startsfights gait had changed and was more what he would have thought of as being normal. Startsfights noticed him stare. “Oh you have noticed have you. I put my little act on for those idiots back at the warren. They think little of me, so I can get away with a lot.”

 

Bunnykins laughed “So this act is just for show then?”

 

“Of course that lot are dumb enough to fall for it, so all the better for me.” Startsfights hopped along beside Bunnykins and matched his pace without any noticeable effort.

 

“Where are we going?” asked Bunnykins

 

Startsfights laughed “I wish I could tell you that, all I know is that we are to seek out the Pixie Princess.”

 

Bunnykins stopped “What? What rubbish is this? There are no such things as Pixies”

 

A voice behind them startled both of the Rabbits “You think not do you? Well I don’t believe in rabbits either.”

 

The Rabbits stared at a small figure dressed in green and brown standing on a branch of a nearby tree observing them. Her brown hair was pinned back and on top of her head nestled a small cap. On her feet she wore a pair of sturdy boots that flashed and shone as she moved. “Hasn’t anyone ever told you its rude to stare?” She smiled.” Like my boots? They are the latest thing amongst the young Pixies. The oldies still wear those silly felt things. Yuck!”

 

Bunnykins was astounded “Are you really a Pixie?”

 

The Pixie laughed, “Of course I am and you are really a Rabbit. What has taken you two so long? The Princess has sent me out to seek you, she fears you have got yourselves lost. Judging by your conversation I am not surprised. Come along, follow me.”

 

With that she began to hop from branch to branch, leading the Rabbits deeper into the woods until they came to a large clearing. In the centre stood an old tree stump. The Pixie alighted on the trunk and gave the trunk a kick with her boots. “That should do the trick.” She smiled.

 

A cross voice called from inside “I am coming, can’t you be patient.” A click was heard and the side of the trunk was opened revealing a wizened, elderly Pixie. “Heavens these newfangled boots make an awful noise. Now if you youngsters only stuck to traditional felt we would all be much happier.”

 

The Pixie put her hands on her Hips “Get with the times, Grandpa. We can’t stay in the dark ages forever you know.”

 

The elderly Pixie put his hands on his hips and glared “Why you young whipper snapper, show a bit of respect to your elders and don’t answer back. When I was young I would never.”

 

A gentle cough came from behind him “As I recall Bozman you were the worst scamp in the hive and the cheekiest around.”

 

Bozman looked ready to argue, but blushed and dropped his gaze. A Pixie stepped forth into the daylight. Her raven hair was piled on top of her head and she was clad entirely in green, Her gown sweeping to her delicate feet. “The Princess has asked me to bring the Rabbits to her. Could follow me please? Jeanne, well done in finding them so quickly, your mother asks that you come too.”.

 

She turned and started to walk down some shallow steps leading down from inside the hollow tree. After hesitating for a moment the two Rabies followed her “That is Catarina my mother’s favourite assistant.” whispered Jeanne as the Bozman closed the door behind them and the Rabbits hopped into the land of the Pixies.

 

IX

 

The tree trunk slammed shut behind them, but instead of the darkness Bunnykins was used to in the warren, small lights seemed to spring up on the walls lighting their way as they hopped or walked downstairs. Soon they were in a large underground chamber, lined by what looked like nests from which emerged the curious faces of many Pixies. In the centre of the chamber stood a simple chair on which sat the most an imposing and beautiful Pixie. Her white robe was sprinkled with what looked to Bunnykins like fallen stars that shimmered and sparkled in chamber’s lights. The Pixie stood and activity around her seemed to stop, “Welcome here Bunnykins. I have waited for your coming for a long time.” Bunnykins looked startled. The Princess smiled “Did you think this would be a surprise for me? No dear Bunny I have been told of your coming and of your quest. Come sit by me and bring your friend. He looks like he needs a nudge right now.”

 

Bunnykins turned to see Startsfights cowering and muttering “The white lady of the woods.” over and over again.

 

The Princess smiled “He is afraid as we normally discourage rabbits from this place. You can see how damaging their digging could be to our home. But, we never harm anyone, I assure you of that.”

 

The Rabbits hopped up together and lay down at the Princess’ feet. She smiled at them. “I am Princess Calandra. Welcome to our home. While you are here we will extend our hospitality to you and you will be under our protection.” on uttering these words, She gazed around the hall and stared pointedly at a tall Pixie who stood nearby “and on this point I speak for everyone.” The Pixie grimaced but bowed low to show that he understood.

 

Calandra looked back to Bunnykins “So young Bunnykins, you have had a hard time, but here you are. You both look like handsome young rabbits. Stay with us awhile then return to your homes. This quest is too much to lay on your shoulders.”

 

Bunnykins rose “No I must keep my promise. I will continue, so perhaps it is best if we leave.”

 

Calandra smiled “I knew you would say that but still I had to offer you a way out. Very well, rest tonight and tomorrow I will tell you where the Stone resides. I warn you that you will face a very dangerous foe. One who cares nothing for pain and will kill you if he can.”

 

Calandra beckoned “Jeanne show our guests to the chamber that has been prepared for them so that they may rest before they eat.”

 

Bunnykins and Startsfights followed a skipping Jeanne to a small hollow at the side of the chamber. “We tried to make it feel like a Rabbit Tunnel but I don’t know if we have managed.” The two Rabbits nodded happily, “This is fantastic” said Bunnykins and with that lay down and fell fast asleep. “Well that’s gratitude for you.” Muttered Jeanne as she walked out leaving the sleepy Rabbits to rest.

 

X

 

The noise was very soft, almost a whisper but Bunnykins heard the sound, his ears twitched and he sat upright. Next to him stood the Pixie he had noticed inside the hall. “Well, well MR Rabbit you have very keen hearing. Good I wish to speak to you.”

 

Bunnykins looked at him quizzically “Speak to me? What about?”

 

The Pixie smiled “Please don’t be coy. We both know your mission is to collect the Black stone. I don’t disagree with that, but I want the black stone brought here.”

 

Bunnykins looked surprised “But what good can it be to you? Surely it is a stone for Rabbits quite meaningless to you?”

 

The Pixie smiled “No it is a stone of great power. If we have the stone here we will have a great protection and strength. You must bring it to me, I mean us.”

 

Bunnykins shivered as he felt the power of the Pixie’s desire for the stone, a desire almost bordering on madness. “But I have promised to return the stone to my old burrow. If I don’t do that then I will have failed in my quest.”

 

The Pixie looked at him angrily “Your quest? It can fail here and now if I choose to throttle you.” Bunnykins gasped “If you bring the stone to me, I will protect you, but if you don’t I will punish every rabbit that comes my way. Do I make myself clear, you and your kin will suffer, I will make sure of it.”

 

A low growling noise came from behind him. The Pixie spun round to see Startsfights glaring at him angrily. “Get out of my way you wretch.” snarled the Pixie.

 

“Let him go Startsfights, we need to rest.”

 

The Pixie backed out of the entrance pausing to snarl “Remember what I said Rabbit, bring the stone here and all will be well. Fail and it will go badly for you and your kin.”

 

XI

 

The next morning Jeanne woke the Rabbits, as the dawn light was breaking overhead. “My mother wishes to see you. I am sorry it is so early but it seems to be very important.”

 

Jeanne ushered the two Rabbits through to hall and then across to a small recess where Calandra waited for them. “I hear you had a visitor last night.” Bunnykins nodded “I can guess what it was he was after, Brephus is ruthless in his demands. I wish I could have dealt with him a long time ago, but he has many friends and supporters. I am sure he has frightened you and your friend.” Startsfights shook his head vigorously. “Scared of him, I could bite him in two.” Calandra shook her head “Unfortunately not, brave little one. He is a powerful magician; he would use his powers long before you could bite. No we will have to deal with him our own way. In the meantime we must get you both away from here safely. Leave Brephus to us.”

 

Calandra looked worried at the Rabbits “What you seek is hidden in a warren on Horsefield Common. It is an evil place, run by a rabbit who calls himself Wroth. Beware that one; he carries a power within that is fed by evil. Jeanne, make sure our guests have something to eat and are well taken care of. When they are ready I want you to take them to the edge of the Common and return. Do not get involved, young Lady, come straight back here without delay. Do you hear?”

 

Jeanne nodded, but had Calandra looked closely she would have seen Jeanne cross her fingers behind her back as She smiled.

 

“Very well. Bunnykins there is something I will give you.” Calandra held a tiny package in her hand “this contains a substance which is very dangerous to use. Both to the person using it and to those it comes in contact with if they haven’t been placed under the counter spell.” Calandra muttered, making strange motions in the air and a light flared briefly and shone around Startsfights and Bunnykins “You are now protected my friends, but I warn you this weapon is dire and only to be used in extreme danger, when you have no other option.”

 

Calandra slipped the tiny package into Bunnykins’ right ear “It will be safe there until you need it. I pray not, but this may save your life.”

 

Bunnykins bowed hid head in thanks, wondering what the awful thing could be. “Jeanne” said Calandra “ look after our guests.”

 

Jeanne led the Rabbits in to the hall where they had food and drink and were soon ready to leave. As Jeanne led them from the Pixie camp she whispered “Horsefield Common is around one mile East of here. Follow me and let’s leave quietly so that Brephus is unaware that we have gone.”

 

As they walked into the open air the tree trunk slammed behind them with an ominous bang, leaving them wondering if any of them would ever return.

 

XII

 

The journey through the forest was uneventful and soon Jeanne led them to the edge of Horsefield Common. “This is as far as I take you.” She smiled “The Common is just ahead.” Her smile was wistful as she whispered “I do wish my mother would see I am not a child any more. I would like a little excitement in my life.” She sighed and turned to leave. “Good luck little Rabbits” she called as she walked away.

 

Bunnykins and Startsfights looked away towards the common so did not see Jeanne as she muttered a spell that shrank her to the size of a flea. Fearfully she hopped back and into Bunnykins’ hair, and climbing up, settled down on his head. Bunnykins started and scratched his back.

 

“Are you alright?” asked Startsfights.

 

“Yes”-replied Bunnykins “I thought I felt something, but it must have been my imagination. This would be a bad time to catch fleas.”

 

Startsfights nodded “Stop it you will have me scratching next.” Laughing the two friends moved towards Horsefield Common. As they walked forward they became aware of a commotion in front of them. A harsh voice sounded out “Drag that carrot you miserable worm or you will suffer.”

 

The two friends dropped low and hid behind some small bushes. Soon they saw a line of Rabbits appear. Surrounded by larger rabbits who were cajoling, kicking and biting the Rabbits were carrying, or rather dragging food. Bunnykins had never seen Rabbit carry food. Normally they just ate it. But these Rabbits were being forced to take the food somewhere. “Slaves?” muttered Bunnykins “Can this really be Rabbits using others as slaves?” He had heard of this thing amongst humans and ants, but never amongst Rabbits.

 

Bunnykins looked at Startsfights. “This is my way in.”

 

Startsfights stared in disbelief. “Your way in. Don’t you mean our way in?”

 

“No my friend your job was to help me get here and you have done this. No they may not notice one extra slave but they would notice two. You are free to go my friend.”

 

Startsfights started to protest bu Bunnykins had already started to move towards the group. He picked up a fallen vegetable and fell in line.

 

“Where were you?” cried an angry voice at his side.

 

“Sir, I just needed a call of nature and went over there” replied Bunnykins. His reply was a sharp kick. “ Don’t try to be smart.” Snarled the voice as Bunnykins trudged towards the warren with the other captive rabbits.

 

Starts fights watched as his friend disappeared in the crowd of Rabbits. “I won’t leave you.” He whispered, “I will help you somehow.”

 

XIII

 

The line of Rabbits trudged into the burrow carrying their load, which was dropped in piles from which other rabbits were moving items to storerooms and to eating areas. Bunnykins carefully placed his carrot in the proper pile when he became aware of a sensation of being watched. He glanced round and saw the largest rabbit he had ever seen watching him intently. Bunnykins quickly dropped his head and started to hop away when he heard a harsh voice order “That one. Bring it to me.” Bunnykins stopped and stayed absolutely still in the hope that the command referred to someone else, but it was him. Two burly rabbits quickly shoved him to the side and moved him into a side tunnel and from there to a large chamber.

 

The large rabbit soon entered the chamber. Bunnykins looked at the huge Rabbit in fear. The rabbit seemed a mixture of brown, balck and white but as he moved the colours seemed to melt and flow into each other so that he was all of these and none at the same time. Bunnykins knew that this was the Rabbit Calandra had called Wroth.

 

Wroth sneered at him “Did you think I would not notice a stranger in our midst? I can smell the stench of Pixie scum from you.” Wroth shook hi head “Truly you are a sad specimen. Did they really think you would get away with spying on me.”

 

Bunnykins shook his head “I am sorry I have no idea what you are talking about.” Though large Wroth moved fast and clubbed Bunnykins across the side of the head “Don’t take me for a fool. What is it they are after?” Again, Bunnykins shook his head “I honestly don’t know what you are talking about. I have been your captive for many months.” Wroth laughed harshly and struck Bunnykins again “So you could show me the work rooms, the eating rooms and your sleeping chamber, Slave.” Bunnykins did not reply. “I thought not. A poor liar indeed.” Wroth stepped towards the prone Bunnykins and kicked him. “Soften him up I want to know who he is and why he is here.”

 

Wroth left the room as the two Rabbits began to systematically beat Bunnykins around his head and back. Wroth hesitated on the threshold “Not too enthusiastic, I want him alive to get the information I need.” and with that he swept away.

 

XIV

 

Brephus fumed that the Rabbits had slipped his grasp. He had especially wanted to have a chat with Bunnykins again to make sure he understood how serious Brephus was in getting the stone. “ I should be the leader of the Pixie’s,” he muttered as he hurried along a passage to a meeting room where his supporters were waiting him. He flung open the door and strode inside. “They have gone. Did no one notice them leave?” Heads shook and eyes dropped in response “Must I do everything myself?” He strode around the room his anger growing, and then just as suddenly he cooled again. I need these fools, he thought, I can’t afford to alienate them. “Very well what is done is done. I want to send a small group of you to the Rabbit warren; perhaps you can gain entry whilst the Rabbit acts as a decoy. In the meantime I have had enough of Princess Calandra and her kind. It is time to take control of the clan from her. You” he said pointing to a nearby Pixie “take four of these and go to Horsefield Common. Attempt to enter the warren and gain the stone.” The Pixie paled “But we have failed in this task every time we have attempted it. That’s why you said the task must be achieved by a Rabbit.” Brephus marched towards the Pixie glaring “Are you defying me?” The Pixie quickly shook his head “Then go now. Pick your team and leave.”

 

When the Pixie had gone Brephus sat down and looked at the crowd inside the room. “It is time to move against her. I feel we will gain the stone this time and that will secure our power. In the meantime we must move to capture her and her entourage. When she is in our prison she will sing a different tune.” Brephus whirled as the door was suddenly thrust open and Calandra strode in followed by a large contingent of guards. She bowed to one of the Pixies “Thank you for telling me of this little plot. You may leave.” The Pixie hurriedly left the chamber. Calandra laughed, “Did you think I wouldn’t hear of your little plot?” Brephus snarled and moved towards her “I wouldn’t take me on Brephus, my power is greater than yours and I have no real wish to harm you.” Brephus stopped “You have no evidence, you can’t hold me.” Calandra smiled “Silly creature, of course I have evidence. This is just the last straw. Think yourself lucky I decided to stop your little game now to prevent bloodshed. Guards take him to the dungeons where he may ponder the error of his ways.” She glared around the room “Does any one wish to accompany him? Those who wish to may leave and plot no more.” The room quickly emptied and Brephus was led away to the cells.

 

“Your Majesty, what of the group who left, should we fetch them back?”

 

Calandra shook her head “No those ones stand no chance against Wroth and his minions, but they may provide a distraction that will aide Bunnykins in his mission. Allow them to leave, we can deal with that problem should they ever return.” With that she swept from the chamber.

 

XV

 

Wroth came back into the chamber, where Bunnykins lay groaning in pain. “I see my team have carried out a good job on you then, Mr Rabbit. Are you ready to talk now?”

 

Bunnykins groaned and tried to move away from the voice. Shoots of pain radiated through his body, where the Rabbits had pummelled, kicked and bitten him. “Why are you here then?”

 

Bunnykins shook his head “You captured me, and have kept me here against my will. It isn’t my choice.”

 

Wroth lashed out at Bunnykins in fury. “Don’t lie to me!” He produced a black back “I know you are after this aren’t you? You want my precious jewel, my black stone.” The bag opened and inside Bunnykins could see what seemed like a stone figure of a black rabbit, but as he look shots of white light ran through the stone, turning the Rabbit white. “Who sent you here? How did you know? You must tell me.” Over and over again he struck Bunnykins around the head and body. So violent was the attack that Bunnykins passed out from the pain.

 

“Wake up Rabbit” Snarled Wroth as the door was suddenly opened and a figure called, “Sir, we are under attack.” Wroth looked sharply around, “Attack? Who would dare to attack us?” The rabbit before him looked shaken and alarmed “Very well I will come and attend to this problem myself. I can’t rely on you fools for anything, can I?” As he spun to leave he Kicked Bunnykins one more time “I will be back Rabbit, have no fear this isn’t over.” And strode out leaving the Black Stone on the floor next to Bunnykins.

 

XVI

 

The Pixies approached the edge of the Common debating what to do next. “I don’t believe that we can do this. It’s a death sentence for us?” argued one. “But we have supported him and if he wins and we don’t do would he asks then it will go more the worse for us.”

 

One of the Pixie’s shook his head “I don’t like the feel of this at all, in fact I would prefer Calandra to what he is doing. The question is how do we do this and come out of it alive?”

 

As they were debating Startsfights hopped towards them. “Pixies am I glad to see you!” The Pixies stared at the Rabbit as he gave what in the Rabbit world passes for a grin. “Bunnykins has gone into the warren and I am worried he will never return. We must do something to get him out. Maybe if we make a fuss we can give him a chance to escape?”

 

The Pixies looked at each other “Can we speak alone for a minute?” Startsfights nodded. The Pixies whispered “Look here’s the thing if we do it this way, Brephus will think we did it for him if he succeeds. If not Calandra will think we did it to help that Rabbit. Either we could be alright.” One of the Pixies shook her head “We may well die doing this, we should just return and say we tried.” The first Pixie paused and looked at her, “You know that could be certain death from either of those two, let’s take our chance with the Rabbits.” All the Pixies nodded in agreement.

 

“Very well” we agree to help you. You are a Rabbit how do you suggest we help?”

 

Startsfights paused “Let’s spread out and find an entrance to the burrow and make a fuss there to make it seem that they are under attack. There may only be six of us, but we may be able to cause confusion. You have your magic and I my feet and teeth, let’s fight.”

 

Finding the entrances the Pixies and Startsfights started to make a lot of noise and soon there were rabbits rushing out to face a battle with magic and of course sharp kicks and bites for Startsfights. Word was sent to Wroth of the attack and he broke of his questioning of Bunnykins to rush to the fray.

 

Wroth burst on the field and at the sight of a Rabbit they had heard so much about the Pixie’s abandoned the field and rushed away. Wroth hopped briskly over to Startsfights. “What do we have here?” growled Wroth. A better Rabbit than you replied Startsfights and soon the two Rabbits were striking and kicking each other. Startsfights fought with speed and accuracy but Wroth with anger and deadly force. Remorselessly he pounded Startsfights until the smaller rabbit was forced to the ground> Steeping forward Wroth stood on Startsfights head and brought down his other foot on his neck, snapping it. Startsfights twitched and started, then moved no more. “Hang him over there for all my enemies to see, to remind them never to defy me. I have work to do.” With that he returned to question Bunnykins.

 

XVII

 

“Bunnykins wake up.” Whispered Frankie Wake up>“ Bunnykins woke with a start to find Jeanne shaking him “Wake up she” said.

 

Bunnykins looked around drowsily “Did I dream all of that?” Jeanne shook her head “No and we are in trouble.” Bunnykins looked around in dismay “Why are here? Your mother said you had to go straight back.”

 

Jeanne laughed, “Did you really think I would miss out on this? We don’t have much time he could be back any minute. Let me get the thing from your ear that my mother gave you.” Quickly she fetched the tiny package from his ear and hid behind against the side of the entrance wall as Wroth swept back in. “Well Bunny, your friends have failed and now I need to deal with you.” He pounced towards Bunnykins kicking and snarling when he was aware of someone else in the room.

 

He spun around just as Jeanne hurled the contents of the packet at him. The powder fell over him making him cough and wretch. “What have you done to me?” He roared. Bunnykins looked in dismay as Wroth’s head began to swell, his eyes watered and became milky and his nose began to run.” Jeanne looked on to “My mother was right it is Myxy, it is awful.” Rabbits were running toward Wroth as they heard him scream but on seeing him they backed away soon cries of “Myxy” were running through the burrow as Rabbits fled.

 

Jeanne picked up the bag and put it on Bunnykins back. “Come little Rabbit I know you are weak, but this is our chance to get out of here.”

 

Wroth made a last desperate lunge towards them, but missing he collapsed to the floor as Bunnykins hopped feebly away.

 

XVIII

 

Bunnykins looked at the body of Startsfights. Tied by his ankles he swung in the evening breeze. A shadow fell over him and Bunnykins flinched expecting the worst. He looked up to see the face of the Travelling man looking down on him. “Poor Bunny your and in an awful state. Come and I will put you in my bag.” Bunnykins hopped over to where Startsfights swung. The Travelling man looked puzzled, then his face cleared “This must be Startsfights I am guessing. Let’s take the poor fellow down and make sure he has a decent burial. It’s the least we can do.” The Travelling man cut the rope and gently took Startsfights and placed him inside a pocket inside his large coat. Bunnykins hopped slowly over to him. “Come on old boy, let me lift you in. I put your friend inside my coat; he will be warm and safe there. No point having you in with a dead rabbit is there. As for you young lady” he added looking at Jeanne “I think you have had enough excitement for one day. Get off home.”

 

Jeanne stroked Bunnykins fur and hugged him tight “Please get well my friend and come and visit us.” And with a last glance she rushed home.

 

On the ground near where Bunnykins had been he saw a black sack from which there was a dim glow. The travelling man lifted up and put it in the bag with Bunnykins. “I am guessing this what what you came to fetch little bunny. We best be on our way then.”

 

The Travelling Man’s long legs carried the Bunnies over hill and dale until they came in sight of Bunnykin’s warren. Inside the bag Bunnykins slowly felt his life force slipping away from him, but he was determined to deliver the great Stone to his burrow.

 

The Travelling man sat down and put his bag down beside him. He looked at Bunnykins sadly. “You are in a bad way old fellow, but not as bad as your friend here. This seems like a good spot to bury the poor fellow” He reached into his pocket and lifted out Startsfights. As he did so, the rabbit gave a small gasps and his body jerked. “My word,” gasped the Travelling Man “he is still alive!” Startsfights opened an eye, and then closed it just as quickly. “I hope they can look after him in your burrow old fellow for this is as far as I can go.”

 

The Travelling Man left the two rabbits near the entrance to the burrow and moved away to a safe distance. Soon some rabbits came out and looked at the two Rabbits. Carefully they nudged them and moved them down into the tunnels and they were lost from the sight of the Travelling Man.

 

XIX

 

The two rabbits were taken down the tunnels to a chamber where sick rabbits were taken to recover or die. A rather sever rabbit hopped over. He looked at Startsfights. “This one is in a bad way but I think we might be able to do something for him. Go and fetch the herbs for me and we can start treatment.” A young Rabbit bounded off at his command.

 

He looked at Bunnykins and shook his head sadly. “I can’t do anything for this one. He is beyond help. We can make him comfortable and that is all. Fetch some Monkshood we will help him from his pain.”

 

Bunnykins opened an eye; weakly he groaned “Fetch the council I have some important news for them.” The Rabbit looked blankly at Bunnykins. Bunnykins coughed “Please I ask you send them here I have news for them.”

 

“Well this is all very unusual but, very well.” The Rabbit glared at an assistant, “You heard him go and respectfully ask the Council to come here”

 

Soon the Council members entered the chamber, news of the Rabbits having arrived to them they were curious to see them.

 

Bunnykins rolled over gently and looked at them “I am sorry to call you here like this but I have brought you a great gift.” He nuzzled the bag towards them “Inside is the Great Stone, the black Stone. You must keep it safe here for all of the Rabbits.”

 

The Council members stared in disbelief, while Bunnykins shook the bag and the Stone rolled into view. “You must keep it safe for there are those who will seek to steal it.”

 

An astonished murmur arose as the Black Stone rolled into view, it’s surface flickering with a dull light. Soon the Council were marvelling at the Stone and ordering it to be moved to the centre of the warren where all could see it and it could be best protected.

 

Cries of “It’s not a myth, it’s real” and “Its wonderful may we see it?” resounded through the warren.

 

Bunnykins slumped back “May I see Frankie?” Frankie came towards him She recognised the strange Bunny whom she had met before.

 

“You are very ill.” She whispered.

 

“I am indeed Frankie. You know who I am don’t you?” Frankie shook her head but as She looked she saw Bunnykins slowly change from brown to white in front of her eyes. “Bunnykins? Is it really you?”

 

Bunnykins smiled weakly “Yes it is. I have come back if only for a short while.”

 

Frankie gasped” You are back, get well.” turning to the other Rabbits she whispered “Please make him well.”

 

Bunnykins coughed weakly “No one can make me well now. I need to rest.” He closed his eyes and smiled, gave a small gasp and was gone.

 

The Council looked on in astonishment as Frankie was led from the chamber. “This one must have a special burial. News of this must be spread far and wide. Bunnykins came back and has returned to death. We have seen a wonderful thing.”

 

XXI

 

Bunnykins carefully opened his eyes. Shots of pain exploded in his body. Semesgren sat nearby. She hopped over to him and gently stroked his head.

 

“Well young Rabbit, I had my doubts, but you have achieved what you were sent to do. It’s time for you to rest. Let me take you there so that you may seek peace and love.”

 

Bunnykins shook his head “You must send me back you promised.”

 

Semesgren shook her head “Don’t persist in this, it is folly.”

 

“I must go back.” insisted Bunnykins.

 

Semesgren laughed, “You have spirit I will give you that. Very well, but I did warn you that your return would not be what you expect. In any case the world always needs a white rabbit.”

 

Bunnykins closed his eyes. He felt a strange floating motion and then stirring, a pulsing, flashing light. He smelled something warm, comfortable and inviting. Crawling forward he latched on to his other’s teat and was content.

 

In a nearby field, the Travelling man was preparing some supper. He paused from stirring his beans, sniffed the air and smiled. “Welcome back Bunnykins.” Nodding he served his well-deserved meal.

 

The End

 

 

 

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