Tim: He's got huge, sharp- eh- he can leap about- look at the bones! - from the Killer Rabbit scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Lan QiRen didn't learn about the rabbits until three days after Lan WangJi had left with the Yin Iron.

"Copy the rules fifty times," he said to Lan FeiHong in passing. While it was true that discussion was allowed in the courtyard, the pitch of the lad's voice and the fast pace of his speech suggested he'd been gossiping, and if he hadn't been, well, the lad was always doing something wrong.

Lan QiRen took two more steps before his mind registered what the boy had been saying. "What was that about rabbits?"

"R … r … rabbits?" the boy stuttered.

"You mentioned petting rabbits. What rabbits?"

"I … uh …"

He could see that Lan FeiHong was planning to lie. That could not stand. "Copy the rules out one hundred times."

"One hundred? Uh, that's instead of the fifty, right?"

"In addition to," Lan QiRen replied. You'd think in fifteen years the boy would have learned to not ask such stupid questions. "What rabbits? Where?"

Lan FeiHong glanced at Lan FengMian. The two were inseparable. Lan QiRen had never understood why. Lan FengMian was a model disciple, the best of the best, while Lan FeiHong was … well, what he was. Lan FengMian bowed and answered for his friend. "They do no harm."

Lan FeiHong looked betrayed, as if he'd been expecting his friend to lie.

"I will be the judge of that," Lan QiRen replied. "Where are they?"

The boys glanced at each other and in a silent debate than ran on far too long decided they couldn't lie to an Elder. "In the high meadow above the bathing pools."

Lan QiRen found the rabbits easily enough although he'd had to glare fiercely at the disciples who'd tried to follow him to the meadow. He saw dozens of rabbits, more then he'd expected. He also found Lan XiChen sitting in the grass, surrounded by rabbits and even holding one. "Uncle, look how adorable."

He glared down at his nephew who smiled blandly back. "Rabbits are against the rules. They must be removed."

"There are no rules against animals living in Gusu," Lan XiChen replied.

Lan QiRen folded his arms against his chest. "No pets." He could have added that the younger disciples had been petting them, but that comment could have turned awkward as Lan XiChen was petting one.

"Before he left, Lan WangJi told me of them. He said they're a gift from Lan Yi. We certainly can't disrespect our Elder by rejecting her gift to us."

Lan QiRen turned and walked off. While he couldn't get rid of the rabbits, or at least not yet, he could track how they were disrupting the Lan disciples who couldn't stop talking of them (gossip was against the rules), who even mentioned them at dinner (when speaking was against the rules) and who played with them (pets were against the rules). But when the Wen Sect took Lan WangJi, as well as the sons of the other Sects, for indoctrination, concerns about the rabbits fell by the wayside.

Conflict seemed more and more inevitable but it came sooner than they'd anticipated, and they were not prepared. He convinced Lan XiChen to leave and secure the ancient scrolls somewhere safe, if there was such a place, and said that he would to get the disciples to safety. Unfortunately they found an army between themselves and the caves. He briefly wondered how the Wens knew about the barrier that allowed only Lan disciples through but that wasn't important at the moment. He had to get the disciples out. Drawing his sword, Lan QiRen leaped into the fray.

He nearly died under the sword of his first attacker. While Lan QiRen had been on many Night Hunts, he'd never killed a person before that day. He only survived because Lan ZhangYong, one of the most promising disciples of his generation, leaped in to take the blow. After looking down long enough to know that Lan ZhangYong was beyond saving, Lan QiRen thrust his sword through the attacker, killing him.

Two more Lan disciples died by his side before Lan QiRen found himself facing Wen ZhuLiu. The younger man had a deadly reputation. Lan QiRen knew he was facing his death. He raised his sword to attack. Before either of them could strike, something small and white leaped from the ground, projecting itself straight at Wen ZhuLiu's throat. The man clawed at his neck as blood spurted high into the air and then Wen ZhuLiu fell, dead.

No one was near enough to attack, for the moment at least. Lan QiRen glanced around. The rabbits were attacking people, no, not all people, on the Wen invaders. And the small fluff-balls were surprisingly effective. Before he could wonder how this had come about, Lan QiRen came under attack again. The battle raged on.

In the end, far too many of the Lan were injured or dead but none of the Wen attackers survived. Just as the Lan had rushed to comfort and heal the injured, the rabbits gathered around their own wounded and dead. Two nudged their noses against a third as if trying to revive him.

He found Lan FeiHong hunched over and crying. When Lan QiRen squatted down next to him, the boy looked up with tear-blind eyes. "He saved me and I can't help him."

"Hand him over, lad."

Lan FeiHong turned as if to hide the rabbit. "Please don't kill him."

"Lad, these rabbits defended Gusu. I want to help." When the boy didn't look convinced he added, "They're Lan rabbits." He hadn't meant it but, as he said the words, Lan QiRen found they were true.

The boy handed over the rabbit reluctantly. Lan QiRen stared, shocked at what he saw, and glanced around the courtyard. When had the all rabbits gotten tiny headbands? He shook his head as if to dismiss the thought and looked down at the rabbit in his hands. The tiny fellow's heart was beating far too fast. He fed it qi and could feel its pain ease as its heart slowed to a normal speed. When he grinned down at it, he heard Lan FeiHong gasp as if in surprise. Silly lad.

As he smiled at the rabbit, he found himself petting it. Well, so what? Touch was known to be healing and wasn't healing what the rabbit needed? And if he had decided to take the rabbit home, what of it? He wasn't making a pet of the rabbit. He was merely ensuring that a warrior who'd defended his home was properly cared for. These rabbits had defended Gusu. They all deserved proper places to live as they healed.