The moon beamed down coldly on two lone figures that drifted slowly across a field, one small and scrawny, the other gruff and three times the size of his companion.
"This should be good," said the first with a chuckle, his accent strangely familiar to the listener's ears.
"About as good as anywhere else, I suppose," said the other one with a much deeper voice. "You're sure you know the process?"
"Why doubt me, Granite? I've more practice with spells than any other rabbit you're ever likely to meet."
"Yes," nodded the scrawny black one. "In fact, I've met a hedge wizard myself. Hannah Milana, was her name, and I tell you, her magic was as real as the day is long!"
"You're a raving lunatic, Vervain. Get on with it before I cuff your lying eyes straight out of your head."
The first rabbit, Vervain, nodded seriously before throwing three maple leaves, two blue jay's feathers, and a man stick into the ditch. "Alright," he said, and took up the chant:
"When thunder breaks through earth,
and lightning cuts short breath,
whilst honoring a birth
and mourning for a death.
My master be departed,
my chief, forever gone,
until Inle be started,
and take him back by dawn."
The Maple leaves began to hover, spinning round in circles, while the Blue Jay's Feathers glowed and the man stick burst into flames. It was as if all of Inle had come into one spot, releasing utter chaos.
Granite flinched, and squinted to be able so see in the wind. "By Frith, you've done it!" he shouted.
"You doubted me?" asked Vervain, looking genuinely shocked, but Granite had no time to give an excuse, because just then, they got what they came for.
"Vervain," growled Woundwort, his voice low and angry. He was nothing but a dark shadow with the exception of a glowing red eye.
"Master," said Vervain, bowing alongside with Granite.
"You have awakened me from my slumber of afterlife. Why?"
"By your orders, sir," said Vervain pitifully. "You swore you'd be back; that you'd never stop hunting. You're chance is now."
The ghost laughed. "And all this time, I thought you disliked me behind my back."
Vervain looked down slowly, wondering if it had been that obvious. He thought of his real goal in this, to win the defeat over Watership Down, and become a prodigy whom rabbits will never forget, and there was only one rabbit that could lead this war.
"Nevertheless," continued the General. "Much gratitude, Captain Vervain. You have freed me from my chains. For that, I will help you."
Now Vervain pursed his lips, almost annoyed with the General for acting as if he were doing this as a charity. Vervain knew what his chief wanted. He always knew.
"Granite," said Woundwort, his eye momentarily flicking to the other rabbit, then back, "Vervain, come. We have… attack plans to go over. I find that being dead has the advantages that we need. First, we must find the nearest man burrow." He laughed so coldly that Vervain and Granite shuddered.
Fiver started up in his burrow. Something was wrong… terribly wrong. He could feel it in his blood, but could not place it. But it was coming; faster than a thousand hrududil.
Bigwig's harsh voice cut through the pleasant outside noises like a knife. "On your feet, lads! We're leaving for a patrol!"
Danelion jumped up, having been so preoccupied with a patch of clover that he had not seen Bigwig approach. Hawkbit did a full spin to face Bigwig. "Aye, captain. Who knows what new enemies we'll discover today?"
He sounded completely lighthearted and sarcastic, but Bigwig nodded approvingly. "There's the spirit, my old son."
"I never really get why he calls is that," whispered Dandelion as he watched the large buck go back to warn Hazel that they were leaving.
"Suppose so," agreed Dandelion. "You notice that Bigwig seems to be putting us through more patrols now that Woundwort's done with?"
"He doesn't know what to do with his freedom," replied Hawkbit. "He'd rather have an enemy than be bored, see."
"Or maybe he just does it to impress Spartina," laughed Dandelion.
"Yeah," agreed Hawkbit with a chuckle. "That must be it."
As Bigwig neared the beech tree, there was a rustle of grass nearby and he found himself in the ears-up position. Then he was under attack… by the kittens.
"We've got him!" cried Robin, bouncing on his hind legs on his father quickly. Robin was on Bigwig's back and attacking at the fur on his head like a cat and mouse.
"Hardly so, Robin," replied Terra smugly from her patch of grass. "Not that dad would ever admit it, but he's just letting you when."
"Oi, what do you mean, Terra? Little Robin here has a heck of a fighting streak… like you, when someone messes with your flowers." He brushed Robin off his back. "I'm going on patrol, kids. Be back in two shakes."
"I'd like to come on patrol with you!" shouted Eliroo ("Little Enemy"), bouncing from his spot in the grass, his black ears flying forward and smacking him in the face.
Bigwig shuddered at the very thought of any of his five kittens going on patrol, but showed no signs of weakness. "As soon as you can tackle a weasle. Then we'll see."
Eliroo pouted. "It's not very fair that you keep us shut up in this warren. There's never any action."
"It's not me," said Bigwig, lowering his voice and looking around as if nervous he were being eavesdropped on. "It's your mummy, see. She somehow got the idea in her head that it's dangerous to go around and play bob-stones with foxes. Odd, really."
Terra smirked into her grass as Eliroo pouted some more. "I'm going to tell her you said that," said Terra.
Bigwig looked mock-scared. "Oh, no, Terra, please don't! Your mummy will rip my ears to shreds if she knows!"
Terra just kept her eyes on the grass as Bigwig chuckled to himself and ran down the run. Fiver and Hazel were having a serious conversation; a large turnaround from the conversation Bigwig had been having previously. The chat seemed to be just ending as Bigwig approached.
"Yes, Hazel," sighed Fiver. "I suppose it's nothing."
Hazel nodded, still frowning when he turned to Bigwig. "Hello, Bigwig," he said rather distractedly.
"'Ello, Hazel. I'm taking the owsla out for a patrol. You won't miss us too terrible?"
"I'll try to contain my grief," replied Hazel sarcastically. "Be back before sundown."
"Will do. It'll only be a quick spin."
With that, Bigwig scampered back up the run to find Eliroo and Robin running along on top of Dandelion, chanting, "We've captured a fox! We've captured a fox!"
Dandelion opened his eyes after pretending to be dead. "Oh, there you are. Lovely day, isn't it?"
"Get up," ordered Bigwig with a play of a smile on his lips. Dandelion obediently stood up and shook off some dirt.
Bigwig sighed as if Dandelion were the most hopeless, pathetic creature within miles. "Where's your mate?"
"I don't have one," replied Dandelion, purposely trying to sound as stupid as possible.
Bigwig may have bitten Dandelion if not for his kittens there. "Where's your chum, then?"
"Do you mean Hawkbit?"
"No, I mean Woundwort," replied Bigwig snippily. The kittens all paused from their activities and shuddered, having heard stories that displayed Woundwort to be the second scariest thing in this world, next to the Black Rabbit of course.
"Well, no need to get our tempers up. He's at the base of the hill waiting to begin."
"As you should be," said Bigwig. "Get a move on!"
The two rabbits scuttled down the hill to where Hawkbit sat in a dreamy daze, looking up at the clouds until Bigwig kicked him over. "Quit slacking off you lazy lay bouts, we've got a warren to protect!"
Hawkbit and Dandelion exchanged grins as if sharing some inside joke before standing straighter. "Let's get on with it then."
Pipkin (A/N: and we mean the REAL Pipkin, as in the small one with the Scottish Accent without an ugly ring around his eye) sat in the grass, distastefully wrinkling his nose as he squinted against the sunlight, seeing the grass that was still parted, facing in the direction that his junior owsla had run off in. Primrose had permitted her kittens to go on a berry gathering, it seeming to drive her mad with worry of anything happening to them, but being driven mad all the same by the constant begging of being able to do something freely.
He sighed, absolutely bored. No one was in the mood for tail tag or bob-stones, not that he played it as often these days. He considered going to chat with Bigwig's kittens when a noise came from the bushes behind him.
Pipkin jumped and bolted to take cover in a ditch, but before he got there, he stole a glance over his shoulder and stopped dead in his tracks. It was a small bird with white feathers and patches of brightly lit colors around its head. As sure as day, this was a young gull.
Pipkin turned around to face the gull, who cocked its head to the side. "Hello," said Pipkin, his voice as light and friendly as he could manage after having a near heart attack.
The small gull opened its beak and sang out, "'Lo! 'Lo! What ees you?"
Pipkin had had enough experience from both Kehaar and Scree to understand what he meant enough. "I'm Pipkin, and I'm a rabbit. What's your name?"
The little gull puffed out its chest. "I Claudia!"
"That's a nice name," said Pipkin, smiling. "Are you here all by yourself?" Pipkin was already anticipating the answer.
"Nah nah, my daddy, 'e bring me 'ere. 'E say that I meet 'is old friends!"
"Really?" asked Pipkin, pretending to be clueless about the whole situation. "Where's your daddy now?"
Claudia shook her head. "'E get lost while bring me 'ere. 'E trying to find it now while searching in de sky!"
"Could you do me a favor, Claudia? Could you bring your daddy down here? I'd like very much to speak with him."
Claudia opened and closed her beak several times as she tried to understand how anyone should like to talk to her father. Finally, she beat her wings. "Ja, ja. I get heem. You stay. I go. Come back, ja?"
"Alright then, that's fine," said Pipkin. As Claudia took off, Pipkin realized his back legs were trembling in excitement, and he became aware of how much he wanted to run back to the warren and tell everyone that Kehaar was back. But that wouldn't do much good, would it.
"I wonder how many kittens he's got," said Pipkin aloud to no one in particular. That was only to keep him occupied, but he got more excited by the moment, because he could see two figures coming in fast. Then, Kehaar (A/N: And we mean the REAL Kehaar, not the fake one with the stupid accent. Seriously, that was not Kehaar's accent in the third season, that was some not accented guy holding his nose!) did his signature crash landing.
"Kehaar!" shouted Pipkin, already running toward the gull that was picking himself up.
Claudia, who had landed perfectly evenly by her father's side, cocked her head to the side. "Daddy? Dis dee ol' friends you told of?"
"Peepkin, Kehaar find you!" Kehaar said excitedly. Pipkin made a mental note that Kehaar hadn't picked up many more Lapine skills while off in the big city.
"It's lovely to have you back Kehaar, but where are the rest of your babies?"
Kehaar's joy seemed to slip away at that point. He frowned. "I have many of dem. T'ree. But Gluck! Gluck keep dem wit' 'er and Reesco!"
"Reesco? Who's he?" Pipkin sat up, feeling a pressing sense of resent bowling in the air.
"Gluck's odder mate!" Kehaar sighed. "I vanted to keep dee cheecks, but Gluck say, 'No, I keep children. You know what I have to do to get dem? I have to—'"
"That's quite enough, Kehaar. Remember he is still a kitten," interrupted a voice from the grass. Pipkin jumped, but Kehaar's smile crept back up to his lips.
"Hanja! You still here! Kehaar plenty happy 'e see you again!"
"I'm glad you're back, you big lug," welcomed Hannah as she approached Kehaar, who was jumping in excitement. "It was getting a little boring not having only Scree to talk to.
"Scree? Hawk dat I teach fly?"
"The very one. He'll be glad you're back."
"But… Scree ees back?" asked Kehaar, confused.
"Who Scree, daddy?" asked Claudia, jumping up and down to get attention.
Hannah was on Kehaar's back now. "Hug now. Talk later."
Bigwig seemed distracted as he crept through the underbrush, but that didn't keep him from giving orders. "Ears up, now, lads. An enemy could pop out at any time, any place." He kept low to the ground and on the alert.
Hawkbit and Dandelion, though, were trotting behind him at a leisurely pace, carefree as they browsed through the selections of grass. "Really, Bigwig. I think we've gone to war with everything evil, deceiving, or mildly annoying within a hundred miles. No need to make yourself look foolish like that."
"Don't get bigheaded, now," snapped Bigwig. "We're not invincible, and you should know. Remember how you were underground during the last battle?"
Something to the right caught Dandelion's eyes. He turned his head for a moment before going into a full gawk. "Umm… Guys?"
"And you were unconscious," countered Hawkbit, leaning forward.
"At least I went down with a fight! You were prepared to let Hazel go to combat with an army," Bigwig snarled.
"I was protecting the burrow," replied Hawkbit, narrowing his eyes.
"WHAT?" both Hawkbit and Bigwig shouted, snapping their head toward Dandelion.
Dandelion was silent a moment before lifting a paw and pointing to the clearing. "That."
Bigwig and Hawkbit followed Dandelion's point, and rested there eyes on a rabbit. It was small with wide, green eyes and reddish-brown fur. It was a kitten, no older than Pipkin by the looks, and it had gone completely tharn.
"What in Frith's name?" asked Bigwig. The kitten tried to make a noise, but it came out as a whimper. "Is it lost?"
The reply slammed into all of them and pinned Dandelion to the ground with claws curls at his throat. Dandelion was awestruck, but became even more so when he looked up and saw, pinning him down, a doe.
Bigwig was ready. He spoke in a low, calm voice. "Who are you?"
"I'll ask the questions," snapped the doe. "This is my territory."
"This is your warren?" asked Hawkbit, who's heart was pounding in his chest as he saw his best mate about to get mauled.
"For tonight it is. I'll be gone by tomorrow."
"That's lovely," said Bigwig, his voice still contained. "But, if you could be so kind, would you do me the favor of removing yourself from my owsla?"
WHEW! This our second WSD story, and I'm really psyched about it. Please review, because I really think this is a cool story I'm writing (although I know there are some other versions of season four…) Sorry about the incredibly annoying length of this, but the TV show left us with so many unanswered questions that it was hard to touch on all of them without writing a lot. BUT… at least I got to Kehaar's kids, Vervain and Granite… and that's about it for this chapter (well, there's more, but I don't want to spoil anything). Well, thanks for reading, and please keep in mind that I haven't even gotten to a lot of the unanswered questions (like remember Fiver's vision of Hawkbit getting buried, and later in the show he told Silverweed that his visions were never wrong? Oooh, -insert anxiety attack here-). Alright, I'm gonna go now, but I just want to ask you to please review, it would make me so happy to know that I'm acknowledged in this section of FF.