The grass was still damp when Threar left his run to silflay. Rain clouds gathered in the sky above. The buck could hear the does anxiously warning their kittens to stay dry, and the indignant squeals of the kittens in their childish rebellion. Threar shook his silvery-grey ears and looked around for a quieter spot to silflay. He wasn't the most well-liked rabbit in the warren (mainly due to the fact that his position as the next Chief Rabbit was certain and he had let it go to his head a bit) so he headed towards a sandy patch of grass underneath the rowan tree he was named for. His teeth tore at the grass and his glassy eyes stared blankly ahead at the mist the encased the surrounding field. From the corner of his eye, he spotted what seemed to be an argument. This was more interesting than looking at nothing, so he raised his head and focused on the quarrel.
Threar wasn't too sure what was going on, but his blood ran cold when he noticed that Eanmayth was the only one giving the chastising. He was an old Owsla officer – cold and rather unattractive with tattered ears and a face full of scars. He was best known for his sharp tongue and hardhearted attitude. Threar knew he wasn't as bad as the does told their kittens, but he did snap at Threar, so the buck knew what his potential was. Threar glanced over to whoever was his unlucky victim.
The doe, characterised by her rich, caramel coat that was flecked with little patches of a lighter colour, was Nildroo. This doe was certainly one of a kind and well-known throughout the whole warren despite most rabbits never having met her. She was witty and endearing, but could be extremely stubborn and arrogant. Suddenly, the reprimanding seemed justified. But Threar looked harder, and the look of Nildroo's face was one that was completely out of character for her. Her ears were flat against her head and eyes darting nervously. Her nose twitched. Eanmayth snapped his teeth aggressively. Threar straightened up and watched, ready to defend the doe if necessary, but was surprised when the doe sat back up. He took a few small steps in their direction to hear the conversation.
"- And then you just barge in and tell me that I don't have the right to silflay here. This Owsla isn't fair! You all bend the rules to your liking!"
Threar frowned. Nildroo's deep eyes glared defiantly at the buck in front of her. Eanmayth looked appalled by her words and stared at her in shock for a few moments, then composed himself again and his look of pure hatred returned. Threar winced. He knew that look. Eanmayth lifted a paw and cuffed her over the head. The doe was a lot smaller than either of them. Eanmayth towered above Nildroo, and she wouldn't have the strength to defend herself if anything happened. The thought of such a fragile thing truly worried Threar.
After the blow was delivered, Nildroo gasped and shook her head a little. But she didn't back down. Her spirit was admirable. She was at a height difference now, as Eanmayth was no longer slouching. They had brought together quite a crowd. Eanmayth seemed to enjoy the attention – no one had ever tried to put Nildroo in her place before – but Nildroo didn't seem bothered at all. The buck leaned down towards her with a taunting expression. "What kind of doe doesn't follow authority?" He whispered. Nildroo shivered, but she stood her ground. Eanmayth gave a snort of amusement. "Obviously a really stupid one."
Nildroo lowered her head and glared at the ground. She didn't speak, so many of the rabbits left. Eanmayth rolled his eyes and just before he left, his claws scratched at the ground and pulled up grass. His threat didn't work. Nildroo closed her eyes and sat hunched over and made no attempt to move; not even when the light raindrops fell upon her back. Threar hopped over to her side and gave her a gentle nudge. She jumped, and the moment she made eye contact, she lifted her chin. "What do you want, Threar-rah," Her voice was filled with contempt, which confused Threar. He hadn't done anything to upset her, had he?
"Excuse me?" He asked. Nildroo rolled her eyes and hopped a few paces away and nibbled on the wet grass. "You're all the same. You think you're all so much better than us," She glanced back to him, waiting for his reply.
Threar shook his damp fur. "I see you did something to irritate Eanmayth. Any idea what could've set that off?"
Nildroo seemed unbothered. She fussed over her ear for a few moments and spent a long while nipping at the tips of the blades of grass. Her eyes watched Threar closely, but she didn't stop to answer. "I don't know what I could have done, sir," She finally answered. Her tone was light and sarcastic and her fur was almost bristling. She was daring him to reply. Threar waited a moment to keep his tone even and calm.
"You must've said something, at least. He's never angry at someone for no reason."
Nildroo's eyes sparkled. Her laughter was evident. "That grumpy old rabbit? Of course. He's always got a reason to snap at someone." For once, Threar found her mockery entertaining. Threar moved to her side, and Nildroo didn't move, but also didn't seem uncomfortable by his presence. They both looked around and noticed that the last of the rabbits who had been out of their burrows were now retreating back. The rain was still dribbling from the blue-grey clouds. Now that they were close, Threar noted her size. She was a lot tinier than he had first thought, with small paws and ears that almost seemed too big for her body. But she was warm, and he was melting her icy exterior.
She looked up and tilted her head a little. A look of surprise crossed her face, but then she paused and nodded her head. "I guess you've heard of me. I'm not surprised."
"The whole warren knows you," Threar answered, his manner unusually warm. Nildroo's face dropped, as did Threar's. She knew she was known for all the wrong reasons. She mouthed the Owsla captains and had no off-switch when it came to honesty. Threar felt sorry for her. He really did.
He looked up towards the sky. The storm was going to break at any moment. "We should head inside."
Nildroo gave a small hum of acknowledgement and then bounced forward, demeanour growing bright once more. It lifted Threar's heart. "Come on and show me to my burrow, dearest captain of Owsla."
There was a friend in her yet.