AUTHOR'S NOTE: This is the first Watership Down fanfiction I wrote, between 24 December 2014 and late February 2015, before I had seen the WD film or TV series. I have made some minor changes since then, but this fanfic remains mostly the same it was when it was first written.
This takes place in the summer following the events of the book. It is inspired by an old Geocities site run by "Christopher Auk", that was brought to my attention by David "Loganberry" Buttery. This fanfic may be called "Big Brother on Watership Down" like the original Geocities site, but I never watched Big Brother, so it will probably be quite different from the BB TV series (and the Geocities site). I hope you will like it, and please review!
COPYRIGHT: All named characters belong to Richard Adams. Do anything you want with this fic except claim it as your own.
CHAPTER 1: ENTRANCE EXAMINATION
"When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait."
-Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym
The warren was cold and dark, and there was nobody around. It was freshly-dug, and it carried no scents.
That morning, seven rabbits arrived slowly near the warren. They had been led there by a large bird, and they had spent the entire night travelling.
-"Now, Kehaar, why did you bring us here?" asked Hazel.
Kehaar turned his head and replied:
-"Dis ranbow guy, 'e say: "Pring Meester Hazel, meester...""
-"You mean Prince Rainbow asked us to come here?" said Bigwig with a gasp.
-"Bigwig, calm down," insisted Hazel, "I know you're tired, but there must be some reason for us being here."
-"I...hope these are not the Marshes of Kelfazin...is it, Hazel?" said a trembling Pipkin.
-"No. That can't be. It is too dry," replied Fiver.
He stared into the distance for a few seconds, then said:
-"This place is not evil. I cannot feel anything wrong with it. But I sense something difficult ahead. A long, difficult challenge."
-"Well, I guess there's nothing else we can do except go inside and hope for the best," added Hyzenthlay. "We might even be able to sleep a little. I've never been so exhausted since we escaped from Efrafa."
-"Silverweed! What are you doing? Where...Embleer hraka, what is all this about?"
Silverweed turned his head and stared blandly at the large rabbit who was following him, struggling to keep up with the young buck.
-"Not far now, Cowslip. Not far now."
-"This better be good! The farmer left hrair heads of lettuce at the warren this morning!"
-"Campion, I TRIED to warn you, but you wouldn't listen. I knew that it wasn't a good idea to visit another warren in this weather."
A young doe was running in the rain with a big strong buck. They had been away from their warren for days, and they were in this strange new country where they had never ventured before. They were lost, and they were getting exhausted with the rain soaking their fur.
They stopped near a river. It was just a small stream, but with the recent rain, it took large and scary proportions to the rabbits. Campion announced:
-"Let's rest here, Nelthilta. We might even be able to silflay a little."
While they were nibbling a patch of dandelions, lightening struck a nearby tree, which fell right into the river. The trunk acted as a dam, causing the water level to rise rapidly. The rabbits were swept away by the current before they could realize what was happening.
The next few minutes were full of terror. The water was very cold, and the rabbits were struggling to stay afloat. Eventually, they blacked out.
When they regained consciousness, they realized that the current had carried them to the riverbank just before they would have fallen down a waterfall. It had stopped raining. They got up and walked away. Neither of them spoke; they were both thinking of the terrible ordeal they had just gone through.
A few minutes later, they came upon a small warren. It seemed deserted, but they didn't care, they just wanted a place to rest. They entered the first burrow they could find and fell asleep almost instantly.
A while later, Campion was suddenly woken up by the sound of another rabbit stamping. He turned and saw the shadow of a large rabbit, much larger than him, blocking the entrance. He charged at and attacked the newcomer, until he saw his face. It was General Woundwort.
-"Campion! What are you doing here?"
Campion stared at Woundwort. All he managed to say was:
-"General! You're...you're alive!"
-"Of course I'm alive, you fool! Did you seriously think that I could die? Well, to say the truth, I did die, but after a while, I was tired of being dead, so I challenged the Black Rabbit of Inlé to single combat. I nearly killed him, and he was forced to send me back to the world of the living so I would leave him alone. I found this warren, and I thought it would be a good place to rest. Now get off me, before I make you!" he replied, as he shoved the captain away.
-"Well, it's a nice warren," said Clover, as she was walking through the runs with her companions. "I just don't understand why it was deserted."
-"No smell of disease, no elil nearby...it just doesn't make sense!" added Vilthuril.
Suddenly, they heard voices. They startled, as the voices were those of other rabbits. While they couldn't hear the entire conversation, they managed to understand a few isolated words:
"much larger than the great burrow"
"why did you"
-"I seem to recognize these voices from somewhere, but I can't remember where..." said Bigwig.
The voice rang out from somewhere ahead of them, resonating throughout the entire warren. Several rabbits immediately recognized it.
-"Bigwig, whatever happens, please don't fight them. We already have enough things to worry about without you starting a fight," warned Hazel.
Bigwig paused for a few seconds, then replied:
-"Fine. I won't fight them. For now. But if they try anything..."
One by one, they entered the central chamber where Cowslip and Silverweed were. It was a very large burrow, much larger than the great burrow at the Warren of Shining Wires, except that, strangely, there didn't seem to be any tree roots, or anything else, holding the roof and preventing it from collapsing.
The rabbits were ill at ease. Nobody had forgotten the events at the Warren of Shining Wires the previous year. Cowslip, remembering how he had nearly been killed by Holly, was afraid that Bigwig might pounce on him at any moment. The does, despite having never visited that warren, knew that it was a dangerous place, from what they had heard.
Everyone stayed silent for a few minutes until they heard someone else approaching. Campion, Nelthilta and Woundwort entered the great burrow.
-"Well, looks like we've got company!" said Nelthilta.
Woundwort scanned the faces of all the other rabbits, until he laid his eyes on...
-"THLAYLI! I told you I was going to kill you, and I don't intend to back out on my promise. Everyone stand back!"
He lunged at Bigwig who, although startled, managed to fight back rather well. The General was still weak from his fight with the Black Rabbit, and could not attack as well as he used to.
Suddenly, a bright light flashed in the centre of the burrow. All stared at it in amazement. There was no hole in the roof for it to come through, so its presence was rather mysterious. It was made of a thousand different colours, most of which the rabbits had never seen before. Even the General stopped fighting to see what was happening.
-"Greetings, everyone! I see you have all come as I requested," said a loud, deep voice coming out of the light. Most of the rabbits were too puzzled to react, until Hazel asked:
-"Fiver, what's that thing?"
-"That's Prince Rainbow."
Suddenly, the General charged at the light, screaming:
-"You're not going to take me down! I fought the Black Rabbit himself, and I won't be defeated by a fool like you! Remember those carrots of yours, how El-ahrairah stole them and got away with it?"
-"I'm not perfect! That was my mistake, and I probably won't make it again anytime soon." He threw a flame at Woundwort, temporarily immobilizing him. "And I won't be tricked by you. Do you realize that I had to spend almost a day healing the wounds you inflicted on the Black Rabbit? You're not the first rabbit to challenge him to a fight, but you're the first one to come out on top."
All gasped in shock: Woundwort was much stronger than they all thought, even managing to defeat the Black Rabbit himself!
-"But you STILL haven't explain what we're all doing here. Or where we are, for that matter," asked Hazel.
-"Now, I don't think anything bad will happen, you know?" said Cowslip in a manner that allowed no response. "And besides, if it's Prince Rainbow's will, so let it be. I'm just surprised to see he actually exists. I was sure he was just an old legend..."
-"Cowslip, I wasn't talking to you, and I can ask where any time I want!" shouted Hazel in frustration.
-"I was going to explain, but you all kept interrupting me," explained Prince Rainbow. "As I was about to say, you have been brought here to complete a challenge, to see which one of you is the strongest." ("That's me!" screamed the General). "There are hrair of you, but in the end only one will remain. You may not leave this warren unless I instruct you to do so."
-"So, essentially, we're prisoners?" asked Bigwig in an angry voice.
-"You may say that. Also, you may not communicate messages with other warrens. I will keep an eye on you, and any disobedience will result in severe punishment."
-"But I can't stay here!" said Clover with tears in her eyes. "I had a litter at the last full moon, and my kittens will die without me taking care of them! When I left for this warren, I thought it was just a short trip, not an lengthy challenge."
-"Well I'm sure Thethuthinnang won't mind taking care of just four kittens for a few days. Anyway, you must all be tired, after such a long journey. You may go to sleep. Most of you have private burrows. However since I wasn't expecting the General so soon, he will have to share a burrow with Bigwig for tonight."
-"Never mind, he can have it all to himself! I'll just dig my own, even if bucks aren't supposed to dig," mumbled Bigwig.
-"You may have mine," decided Fiver, who was snuggling with his mate. "If you don't mind, Prince Rainbow, I will share one with Vilthuril."
-"Your request is granted, Hrair-roo. But remember: mating is strictly forbidden."