Author's Note : This is a clean fanfiction story written in the Watership Down universe. There are some scenes of natural violence, ie. predators hunting prey. Watership Down is copyrighted to Richard Adams. All world, references etc is copyrighted to Richard Adams.
This story was written during Nanowrimo 2005 and comprises of twenty chapters, however for the time being I'm only uploading the first chapter to see whether or not there is any interest for a clean fanfiction story posted on here by readers and of course this will be quite different to my usual written works on here.
A dark shape moved gracefully through the water, twisting and turning as it continued on it's task. A bit further ahead was a smaller shape moving just as gracefully through the water as it fled the larger shape. Shining brightly silver, it came near to the surface and leapt out, the salmon turning it's body in the air as water droplets. A larger splash came from behind as a large brown form twirled in the air before slamming into the smaller fish, a flash of white teeth and with another splash a small trickle of blood moved with the river current.
Swimming slowly to the edge of the river, a large male otter pulled himself out with dead fish held in his jaws. With water running off his back, the otter sniffed the air and gently placed the fish down onto the grass, several blades glistening with water droplets now. Keeping it's small ears erect as it looked about. His nose twitched again before grabbing hold of the fish roughly as it turned around and slipped back into the water again.
Along the path slightly up the slope of the bank, three men with heavy boots trundled by, shaking the pebbles as thin lines of smoke came from their white sticks. One of them pulled his white stick from his mouth and blew out a fine mist of grey mist as he spoke. "Ben, you're sure that's the warren that is causing me to have my crops tainted?"
Ben nodded his head. "Aye, that's the one. Little vermin they are, keep on popping out young ones so that they can eat and then they will pop out new young ones. I tell you mate, it's a good thing we spotted where they are. I'll have to call up a mate of mine to bring some help. It's a big warren, but we get this problem sorted out for you. Besides, rabbits attract foxes and we don't want to start losing chickens as well as vegetables now, do we? It will take a few days however to arrange it." Jack on the other side, coughed. "Speaking of which, did you read about that cucumber in the church fair last weekend." The conversation continued on as the men walked past and slowly headed out of the way. Slowly the otter came back out of the water again carefully. Sniffing the air as it dropped the fish down on the grass once more, he wrinkled his nose, sneezed to the smell that the men had left behind and began to eat his meal, grasping the fish within his front webbed paws.
Book One - Copse Warren
Chapter One - Bobstone Contest
Author's Note : This tale takes place before Sandlefort Warren gets destroyed, seen by Fiver's vision. Copse Warren is situated to the South East of Efrafa and North to another warren, simply known as Darkclaw Warren. Copse Warren is situated within a copse near to a farm and a river, named Test. This tale also takes place a few days before the prologue...
Deep under the ground in the safe confines of a burrow within Copse Warren, two rabbits cheerfully chatted to each other as they chuckled from time to time. The discussion changed from what had happened a few days back, mating and also what was happening up on the ground right now. One of the rabbits, named Birch was a middle aged buck, light brown fur, with several scratches on his face and ears from previous mate fighting with another buck. He was with a doe, his mate at the time, named Snowdrop who was a bit smaller than Birch, well formed body.
"Well, I've heard that the chief wants the owsla to go on another one of those farm raids again. You know, what with the new kits of his, they're really into the solid food now, unstoppable eating machines that they are." Birch said while nibbling on one of his pellets. "He and the Captains have gone through the last stuff they got. You think that eating grass would be enough."
Snowdrop shook her head. "You wouldn't say that if you tried some of it." He looked away from his friends glare as Birch swallowed what he was chewing. "You liar, when did you ever try flayrah?"
Snowdrop pulled down one of her ears and began to lick it as she pondered for a moment, then felt a paw poke her on the side as she let go, watching her ear move back up again. "Oh now don't be like that. Anyways it was during the last raid, one of the owsla officers left a bit of lettuce in the run. I didn't think they miss a single leaf so I took it."
Birch grumbled. "And you couldn't find me to at least share it. I mean we've been mates for ages." Going quiet he sighed and shook his head and nuzzled her. "I am sorry, it doesn't matter. How could I miss anything if I haven't even tried it. So do you know what else is happening?" He gently began to groom the side of her shoulder as he listned to her reply.
Snowdrop replied back. "Well, there was a discussion with the other does this morning silflay, something to do about another challenge with bobstones again. I think it's that young buck, Blueberry had challenged the Captain of Owsla again. Oh yes, Riza-Rah's kits were up and about at silflay this morning. I think him and his mate are going to try and get them to like grass. You can't have flayrah every day now."
Birch stopped grooming and turned his head to the exit of the burrow and sniffed the air gently. "Hmmm, looks like someone is coming down here." He looked at the opening of the burrow and smiled as he saw another buck skid to a halt just outside their burrow, panting heavily. Snowdrop smiled. "Oh it's only Carbi. What's the rushing for, dear?" She said softly.
Carbi swallowed and tried to speak, he was a young buck, only just barely out of being a kit amongst the other rabbits point of view but he tried again but found nothing was coming out of his mouth.
Birch smiled as he looked at the young buck and said softly. "Alright, calm down and take a few breaths in and out first before you try to tell us what you want to say, okay?" He looked at Carbi who nodded his head and began to calm down, though his body was still shaking from excitement.
Eventually, Carbi calmed down and began to speak to the two rabbits. "Did you hear, there's a bobstone contest going on up above?" He paused and looked at them both. "Aren't you two coming up to watch?" Meanwhile as he was saying this. His back legs twitched slightly wanting to get going again.
Both Birch and Snowdrop turned to face each other with the look of confusion on Carbi's face before they turned their heads back again to face him and laughed. "We know, we were just discussing it before you came in."
Carbi blinked a few times before spluttering out. "Oh, okay then. So are you two coming up to see the match, I mean, it's not every day you see a young recruit challenge Captain Sando.
Birch rolled his eyes up and pondered for a moment. "Oh I don't know, we're quite comfortable here at the moment, are we Snowdrop?" Snowdrop smiled and nodded her head. "Yes, nice and snug in here. But I suppose this is something that doesn't happen all the time so I don't know?" They both looked at Carbi again who looked down fallen. "Aw, come on..." He moaned. "You know I can't get a good seat without you two about?"
Snowdrop got up and nodded. "Okay, then, let's go make our way up there. Come on Birch, let's not keep Carbi waiting." Watching Carbi run off again, she turned around to face Birch and smiled. "He's growing up well isn't he? Not long since he was in this burrow."
Birch followed Snowdrop out as he replied back to her. "I know, but he really does need to stand up for himself. It's stopped him being accepted for owsla duty and all." He blinked at Snowdrop and carried on quickly. "Yes, I've had a word with Captain Sando but he says Carbi isn't the right material. Not sure what to do with him really but he's happy enough anyways, right?"
Snowdrop sighed as she turned around a corner, nodded her head and spoke softly. "I suppose so." She felt herself dipping slightly before feeling the run heading upwards as the soft cool breeze and bright light of day began to filter through. Coming to the end of the tunnel, she ended up squinting her eyes for a moment, sniffing the air outside that was full of the sweet scents of grass, leaves and rabbits. But most importantly there wasn't a smell of elil in the air.
Cautiously and slowly she headed out with Birch behind her, she could feel the breath on her tail and back as eh carefully hopped outside and took a few steps into the open. Birch was quickly to her side as he sniffed the air himself and smiled. "You know, it is too much of a good day to waste underground. So where are they?" Looking around for a moment and hearing cries to the left of him. "Ah, they're over there by the tree line. Come on, let's go." Hopping over to the small group of rabbits all huddling around just three rabbits, Birch and Snowdrop eventually saw Carbi trying to get some room to see what was happening with the match. In the middle of the group was Riza-Rah, Captain Sando and the young buck Blueberry.
Riza-Rah was an old rabbit, most of his fur was greyed out now, having lost it's brown colour a season or two ago. He was quite a large rabbit but now frail with deep meaningful eyes that looked out at the two younger rabbits sitting down facing each other in front of him. To the left of him was his trusted close friend, Captain Sando. A large strong rabbit with a lot of combat experience gained throughout his life. He was the best cunning rabbit second to only Riza-Rah himself.
Captain Sando stared unblinkingly at Blueberry as he spoke. "Are you sure you want to challenge me with bobstones?" Blueberry nodded his head and turned to face Riza-Rah. "I have that right, don't I?"
Riza-Rah nodded his head as he looked at Captain Sando. "He does have the right, old friend." He shook his head as Captain Sando grunted slightly. "Fine, but he's not getting out on his owsla training though." Blueberry's ears flopped down the sides of his head as the rest laughed. Biting his lip, Blueberry grinned as he looked back up again. "Fine but if I win I can go on the next farm raid."
Captain Sando blinked and turned to face Riza-Rah. "He's not ready and..." He stopped as he saw the chief looking at him and bowed his head before turning back to face Blueberry again. "Okay, only if you win but you will do what I say on that raid." He paused for a moment and carried on. "Only if you win this match, okay?"
Blueberry nodded his head. "I agree to the terms, Captain." He felt his heart lift as he heard the rest of the rabbits about him, cheering.
Coughing, Riza-Rah gently held up a paw and spoke. "Welcome my friends. What a beautiful day that Frith has granted us today. Two of our friends have decided to have a game of bobstones and have asked me to make sure that no cheating is done." Looking around he continued on. "I would be most appreciated that no one helped these two during the match."
All of the rabbits around the three nodded their heads in agreement as Riza-Rah continued to speak. "Right, as you know the rules, I am going to go through them again just to be sure. This is a standard bobstone match." Looking down to where two pebbles were lying on the ground he looked back up again. "The object of the game is to guess correctly until one guesses incorrectly. This is when the match will end." Looking from one to the other he continued. "Will both of you turn around so that you're not facing me so that I can set up for you to guess. The one to guess correctly will win the decision on choosing or hiding the pebble first."
Both looked at Riza-Rah for a moment and then turned around to face away from their chief rabbit. Captain Sando spoke quietly from the corner of his mouth. "Well, good luck, you need it." Blueberry just replied back. "Well, if it makes me beat you, then I'll take the luck kindly, sir."
Meanwhile, Riza-Rah looked down and chose what he wanted and then called out, having moved a paw step closer to the two. "Right, I have chosen. Who will pick one and who will pick two?"
Blueberry looked at Captain Sando as they began to whisper to each other and then nodded. Captain Sando spoke out. "I shall pick two." Blueberry spoke. "And I will take the other one."
Nodding his head, Riza-Rah paused before slowly lifting a paw to show one. The group of rabbits that had decided to support Blueberry cheered while the others that supported Captain Sando, muttered and said that it would get better. All were forced to go quiet as Riza-Rah moved his other paw away to reveal two pebbles. Speaking aloud, the chief rabbit stepped back. "Captain Sando has won the right to choose if he will guess first or not?"
Carbi muttered as he looked at the beaming Captain and looked at Blueberry who was waiting the response of the Captain's decision on the matter. Carbi muttered to Blueberry. "It's okay, you can still beat him." He turned to face his marli, Snowdrop. "Isn't that right?" Snowdrop smiled and nodded. "Just do your best, dear." She said to Blueberry who nodded back as he turned to face Captain Sando again.
The Captain came to a decision and spoke out. "I will choose first." The large paw of the Captain rolled the two pebbles towards Blueberry. "Good luck." He turned around so that he wasn't facing Blueberry.
The whole crowd went silent as all eyes were on him now as he looked down at the two pebbles and moved his paw down to move them about. Pausing for a moment as he decided, he chose what he wanted to do and after placing the pebbles in the right position called out. "I am ready."
Captain Sando slowly moved around as he looked directly into Blueberry's eyes and then down to where Blueberry's paws were. "Hmm." He went quietly to himself before looking around slightly and then back to Blueberry's paws. "Bobstone guess..?" He paused again as he could hear everyone holding their breath. "One."
Pulling back slightly with a gasp, Blueberry saw Captain Sando smile as he spoke. "Need to practise that look of yours." He watched as Blueberry lifted his paws to show that there was one pebble there and turned around. Most of the rabbits where cheering for Captain Sando while Carbi muttered, yelling above the cheering to Blueberry. "Come on, it's only a small set back, you can come back into this."
Giving Carbi a re-assuring nod, Blueberry turned around to let Captain Sando sort out his move in the game. Blueberry stared out past the rabbits looking at him as he closed his eyes in thought and listened. Breathing slowly he nodded his head as he heard Captain Sando speak out. "Ready when you are, young one."
Turning around slowly, Blueberry didn't waste anytime and spoke out loud and firm. "Bobstone guess, one." He watched as Captain Sando looked crestfallen as he moved his paws away. Carbi was jumping up and down as he shouted. "Yes! Go on Blueberry, now you have him." The others were either congratulating Blueberry or offering advice to Captain Sando.
Turning around, Captain Sando was waiting for Blueberry to sort out his next move. "Ready." Blueberry said as he watched Captain Sando turn around, full in thought. "Bobstone guess is, two." Blueberry smiled as he lifted up his paws to show that there was only one pebble there.
Birch had to put his paw in front Carbi to stop him from leaping right into the middle of the match area. "Please calm down Carbi." He said quietly. The whole lot of rabbits watched as Blueberry turned around again so that Captain Sando could sort out his next move. Picking one option, the Captain stopped and looked at the back of Blueberry for a moment and changed his mind, moving his paws down as he called out. "I am ready."
Blueberry turned around and nodded his head, looking into the eyes of Captain Sando as he thought of his guess. The whole group of rabbits waited to see if the young buck would guess right and win against the Captain or if the game would continue for yet another round. Speaking slowly, Blueberry made his guess. "Bobstone guess is two."
Captain Sando lifted up his paws and there lying on the ground were two pebbles, Carbi hopped about as he ran around the group of rabbits. "Yay, Bluberry won!" Captain Sando nodded his head and smiled. "Well, looks like you won fair and square. You're on the next farm raid, as long as you practise beforehand that is?"
Blueberry smiled and nodded his head back. "Yes sir, that I will." Turning around, he headed out of the group that was now starting to break away, leaving just Captain Sando with Riza-Rah who was watching Blueberry get buzzed about by Carbi.
"Well, you took that well." Riza-Rah said softly to Sando as he laid down to nibble on a long blade of grass. Sando nodded his head as he looked at Blueberry giving Carbi a playful swat with his paw. "Well, he is eager; I like that in the young ones. They be a fine replacement for the warren." Sitting down, he looked about for a moment. "So when do you want me to arrange the next farm raid anyways?"
Riza-Rah replied back with bits of grass falling from his mouth as he chewed. "Well, tonight if it is at all possible. Besides it's mostly for you lot this time around than me." He looked at Captain Sando and smiled. "Well, you have been working hard in getting the flayrah for my mate and the kits. Speaking of which, where is Cloverleaf?" Riza-Rah looked about and spotted her chatting to some does in the distance. "Anyways, where was I? Oh, yes." He turned his head back again. "It would help if you did take Blueberry anyways, there's mothering and there's mothering. He has to learn by experience and who better than you to be with him at the time."
Captain Sando nodded. "Have you met him properly sir? I know he's seen you around and that he's been close to you just now but you know. Give him words of wisdom or such?"
Riza-Rah looked to where Blueberry had managed to get away from Carbi and was now silflaying on his own. Getting up, he nodded. "You're right. I'll go and do that now. Thanks friend." Without saying anything else he headed towards Blueberry slowly. Captain Sando watched for a moment and then hopped off himself as something else had caught his eye and went to meet other rabbits within the owsla.
"Blueberry? It is Blueberry isn't it?" Riza-Rah came up alongside Blueberry who jumped slightly.
"Yes Riza-Rah sir." Blueberry stuttered, not expecting the chief of the warren to just come up to him for a friendly chat or any chat. He looked worried which made Riza-Rah smile. "Don't worry." He began. "I only want to talk."
Relaxing a bit, Blueberry nodded his head, listening to what Riza-Rah had to say. "Anyways, you've grown up nicely, since the erm..." He stopped and looked about. "With the incident that involved your mother a few seasons back."
Blueberry nodded his head again and looked down to the ground. "Sir, it's what must of us face everyday with elil all around us. It's what Frith intended, but I like to hope that I am making her proud of me in what I do achieve in my life."
Riza-Rah smiled. "Oh I think that she would, I mean, you're about to go on your first farm raid. You're really showing how grown up you are, but." Blueberry blinked and turned to face Riza-Rah and tilted his head slightly to the side. "But? Have I don't something wrong sir?"
Shaking his head, Riza-Rah replied back. "No, no. Nothing like that at all so don't worry. I don't want you to mess up tonight that's all. Listen, please take notice to whatever Captain Sando has to say. The farm is a very dangerous place to go to, what with cats and dogs and of ocurse, man. You really don't want to mess with man, so just be careful okay?"
Blueberry nodded his head. "I will do my best sir." He turned to face Riza-Rah and nodded once again. "I'll really try my best sir. Don't you worry about that." Seeing that made the chief relax a bit he added. "Thank you sir."
Nodding his head, Riza-Rah got up onto his feet and turned to go. "Well, I best be going, you get some rest, you'll need all the energy tonight." Without another word Riza-Rah was heading in the direction of his mate.
Blueberry lowered his head to take another bite of grass and pulled one of the stems apart as he began to chew. Swallowing what he had in his mouth, he muttered to himself. "I wonder what it will be like." Twitching an ear, he could hear Captain Sando calling him. Taking a deep breath, he got up, stretched and then ran to where he was waiting with the others.
Captain Sando was sitting there with Hawk and Bracken. "Right, I want you all to go down below and get some shut eye. No staying awake either, I'll need you all to be on full alertness when we head out after Frith goes down, is that understood?" All three rabbits nodded their heads as they followed Captain Sando back down into the ground.
Blueberry eventually got into his burrow and started to settle down on the soft earth and began to wonder what it would be like. He hadn't seen a farm before, only heard from the tales of the older rabbits in the owsla that were alive, some had passed on. Without another thought, he smiled thinking about the bobstone contest and slowly slipped into sleep.
Author's Note : As I said I'm unsure if this will stay up or if the remaining 19 chapters will be posted. I'm just not sure how well received clean fan fiction is on this website. :) Comments are welcome.