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Hlessil

By Revever

Romance / Drama

Chapter 1

Lapine language translations (copied from book and Watership Down wikia):

El-ahrairah - The rabbit folk hero. The name (Elil-hrair-rah) means “Enemies-Thousand-Prince”, the Prince with a Thousand Enemies.

Elil – a term that refers to the natural enemies of rabbits (foxes, stoats, badgers, etc) and also to humans, who are regarded as one of the Thousand Enemies. Its use is similar to use of the word “evil” in the English language. The rabbits also know their enemies as “u embleer hrair”, Lapine for “the stinking thousand”.

Frith – The sun, personified as a god by rabbits. Frithrah! is used as an exclamation and translates to “the lord Sun”.

Hlessi – A rabbit living above ground, without a regular hole or warren. A wandering rabbit, living in the open. (plural: hlessil).

Hrududu – An onomatopoeic term that refers to any motor vehicle. (plural: hrududil)

Inlé – The moon; also the idea of darkness, fear or death (as in the “Black Rabbit of Inlé“).

Silflay – A term used for both grass used for grazing and the act of grazing itself.

Zorn – Destruction or murder; can also denote catastrophe.


‘Papa! Papa! Look!’

His young one was excitedly hopping forward in the direction of that other rabbit. Rumple followed as quick as he could, trying to force his injured paw to work. Another rabbit might mean that there is a warren nearby. Oh, Frith, please let it be so. They wouldn’t survive much longer as homeless hlessil. The one encounter with the dog was stretching their luck anyway.

And Rumple wasn’t about to surrender his only surviving kit to the Black Rabbit of Inle.

‘Bae, wait for me!’ he rasped. The stranger spotted them by then and hopped through high, wet grass in their direction. Bae stopped, but the stranger was too close to him for Rumple’s liking anyway.

’Hello’ called the stranger. Rumple painfully hopped closer. It was a young doe, surely not older than one year. Still, his Bae was only ten weeks old and she could hurt him. He stopped between them, to shield his kit.

‘Hello’ piped up Bae from behind him. ‘I’m Bae, that’s short for Barley, and that’s my papa, Rumple!’

‘It’s Goldenrod actually,’ he corrected. ‘But everybody calls... called me Rumple.’

The doe hopped even closer.

‘I’m Belle. Well, it’s Bluebell in fact, but we have another Bluebell in the warren, called Blue for short. It’s nice to meet you. I’ve never seen you around, are you coming from very far? If so, I’d love to hear about it, I know only our hill, the Avonlea warren, my papa doesn’t allow me to wander too far away. Well, I know it is dangerous, but still...’ She paused, taking in his no doubt lost expression. ‘I’m talking too much, right? I’m sorry, I don’t really have too many friends that... er, that would make an interesting conversationalists. Aw, that sounded rude...’

She paused for a moment and Rumple managed to say:

‘We’re from the Sandleford warren...’

Bae was staring at Belle transfixed, but hearing their old warren’s name made him press himself into Rumple’s fur.

’Sandleford?′ Belle asked, sensing deep emotions tied to the name, but not understanding.

‘It was... destroyed... Zorn, o zorn...’ Rumple almost whimpered, then closed his eyes for a moment, disappointed by how pathetically that sounded. Belle must not think them unworthy of taking to her warren. They wouldn’t survive on their own. They’d be just an easy prey for any elil they meet.

‘How could a warren be destroyed?’ Belle looked at him with wide eyes. Rumple steeled himself to tell their story.

‘Humans came with many hrududil. They ripped the earth and made the trees fall. Most of the rabbits from our warren died because the first thing humans did was to make the air in our burrows bad. Rabbits were disoriented, panicking, some were trying to escape but humans blocked most of the runs. The does wanted to stay, protect their kittens. We were soon fighting with each others, so many died... Those few who survived bad air was killed when hrududil started to physically destroy the warren. I still hope though that we’re not the only ones that survived...’

‘My mom died too,’ Bae squeaked pressing himself even harder into Rumple’s fur. “And my brothers and sisters. Papa carried me outside. I felt like dreaming all the time.′

‘I’m so sorry...’ whispered Belle. ’I had no idea... I had no idea that such things are even possible. Come with me to my warren. You must be exhausted. How long are you...′

‘It happened three days ago,’ Rumple said quietly. ‘We’re traveling ever since.’

’And a dog almost caught us, but we hid and he got hurt on these thorns that papa made us hid behind!′

’Then the human called the dog away,′ Rumple supplied, shuddering at the very memory. ‘Will you really take us to your warren?’

‘Yes, of course!’

Belle started hopping in the direction she appeared from, but stopped seeing that Rumple follows her at a very much slower pace.

’You’re hurt, aren‘t you?’ she asked quietly.

‘The branch from falling tree caught my leg. I got trapped, but finally I managed to squeeze out. It still hurt, though.’

And it didn’t felt quite right, as if his bones were now somehow shifted, even more after that horrible encounter with the dog. He’d be dead if he hadn’t been able to hide in a thorn bush next to them.

′We’ll go slowly,′ Belle promised. ‘Tell me if you need to stop for a moment.’

Slowly, they hopped towards the nearby hill with oak trees on top.


‘Belle, what’s the meaning of that?!’

Belle was so disappointed. Even more than her father and everybody else seemed to be disappointed by her. Beside her, Rumple cowered, trying to be invisible. Little Bae was looking around with big eyes, frightened.

Members of owsla and other curious rabbits from her warren were looking at them whispering.

Belle was angry.

‘You’re saying that I shouldn’t help a wounded rabbit? And shouldn’t help this little kit? What, are we now leaving everybody who didn’t happen to live here for u embleer hrair, The Stinking Thousand, to attack and eat as they please?’

Some rabbits seemed embarrassed, but not her father and not Blue. How on earth could they be sharing the same name?

’Belle, we are only concerned about our safety. Your safety too,′ Blue said in that sweetly concerned and absolutely infuriating way of her. ‘What he’s saying is crazy and impossible.’

Belle, exasperated, turned to her.

‘Alright, and even if we say that what he’s saying is crazy, or rather, as I think you’ve meant it, that he’s crazy, what of it? He’s hurt, he obviously went through more than you did in your whole lifetime. So I’m taking him to my burrow right now, because he needs rest and not your judging and interrogation!’

Her father scowled.

’What if he’s a bad omen?′ he said. And because he was the chief rabbit, everybody listened to him.

’A bad...′ Belle couldn’t even finish it. ‘Last time I’ve checked we didn’t have anyone with precognition power. Not after mum died. So I don’t think you can talk about omens.’

She turned to Rumple and Bae to take them to her burrow. Then another voice joined the discussion.

‘I have precognition powers!’ said Witch’s Broom, a nasty doe with vaguely ginger hair and greenish eyes. Belle was on the verge of protesting, but Witch’s Broom surprised her, calling: ‘I think he’s safe and should stay!’

Belle wasn’t about to question that. Witch’s Broom might be an awful, spiteful creature who thought he had talents she didn’t have, but Belle wasn’t above taking her help. She supposed that Witch’s Broom would cause them some troubles later, and Frithrah, it probably would be something bad. But for now Belle quickly herded Rumple and Bae to her burrow, somewhat assured that no one would make them leave.


‘I’m sorry for all these troubles,’ Rumple said meekly. He collapsed in the deepest part of burrow, completely worn out, and stretched his right hind leg awkwardly. Bae fell asleep curled up to him. ‘I would leave, honestly, but Bae needs to be safe.’

‘Don’t be silly,’ Belle nuzzled him carefully. ‘You both need to be safe. And you’re no trouble. It’s them that are wrong and selfish. Absolutely don’t think that you’re making troubles for them. In fact, it’s about time someone does, they grew too comfortable and uncaring.’

Rumple looked at her with wide eyes.

’But I don’t want you to have any troubles,′ he clarified.

′You don’t have to worry about that. I like troubles. I like doing something.′

She lied down beside him and he felt her warmth.

‘Tomorrow,’ she murmured ′ when we go silflay, I will show you my special place where the most delicious dandelions grow.′

And for the first time since the zorn, Rumple felt calm and even hopeful.′


The next day at dawn he slowly hopped after Belle, becoming increasingly anxious when more rabbits appeared. But for now they left him in peace, grazing on the sunny side of the hill.

‘They are not that terrible,’ Belle said, nibbling at dandelion leaves and looking at other rabbits. ‘I’m sure that they’ll warm up to you. My dad and Blue tends to be narrow-minded, but don’t worry, not everybody is like them.’

Rumple wasn’t convinced, but after some time two rabbits came to them, with several kits trailing along.

‘We wanted to say hi,’ the doe said warmly. She had exceptionally light fur with black ear tips. ‘I’m Snowberry and this is Charlock. And these are our little ones.’ The buck looked a little sheepishly, but greeted Rumple and Bae with equal warmth as Snowberry did. One of the kits, a doe with yellowish fur called Buttercup, immediately started to play with Bae and other young ones followed suit. Another old doe came, the one with silvery fur, whom everyone called Granny. In a few, sharp words she told him that he’s welcome by the rabbits whose opinion really matter, so he shouldn’t have to worry about anything. By the end of the day Rumple and Bae met most of this warren’s rabbits, including reddish colored siblings Redshank and Hop, and even the proudly looking, almost black colored doe, Apple, and her friend, Snapdragon. Belle asked another rabbit, Stitchwort, to look at Rumple’s hurt leg, explaining that he knows a lot about healing. They even managed to spot the elusive pair Water Soldier and Harebell, who usually preferred to disappear and practice amorous activities all day round as it seemed. That made Rumple wonder about Belle.

But the bigger miracles happened already. They were safe after what seemed to be the world’s end. Given a little time, Rumple might be able to woe Belle, not with his good looks or physical strength (as that silly buck Gallant Soldier tried), but rather by being the best conversationalist among her friends.

And he was pretty sure that he knew a few tales about El-ahrairah and Prince Rainbow that she didn’t know yet.

The End

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