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Sckelg followed Dart back down the tunnel, Eva close behind.
It smelled musty and dry, the run well worn and smooth from years of use.
"Stay close." said Dart gruffly, clearly annoyed that his comrade had been got, and even moe so that this new upstart had been allowed an audience with the Sun Hare.
The hare led them down the run, past many side tunnels, a very strange glow beginning to appear, with it came warmth, and the smell of crisp clean snow.
Dart halted at a chamber entrance, the source of the warm light emanating from it lie soft sunlight shining on the surface of water creating dappled patterns across the tunnel. Dart remained where he was but nodded his head to them to enter.
Very slowly and apprehensively, Sckelg pawed into the tunnel, the light shining warm and orange, like the glow of sunset. It appeared to be coming from the creature that sat squashed snugly into the back of the chamber.
It was an extremely elderly hare, its golden eyes white with cataracts, and its once thick and lustrous fur now pitted and threadbare with age. Its ears had started to droop slightly and its long claws withdrew a little as it raked the same patch of earth slowly.
The shocking feature about it, was the blaze of vibrant yellow gold that shot between its ears and down its back to its glowing sunstar tail, from which the light was coming.
Sckelg gawped, it was him! The genuine Sun Hare Demsck!
His little hare heart fluttered and his legs felt weak, bowing his head down as low as he could without falling.
"It's an honour—" he stuttered.
The Sun Hare shifted a little and chewed thoughtfully on a pellet of grass. He rumbled in a geriatric manner and chuckled deeply, halting any other stammers coming from Sckelg’s mouth.
"Rise brother, I know of you." he said.
Sckelg looked confused.
"You are no hare, but Crow, messenger of Death, I can spot one of my brethren, even with these failing eyes. We two are alike, born from the beginning of time, now we both have found our own ways to survive the New Gods."
He munched on some stale grass nearby as if he’d forgotten they were there, Sckelg waiting patiently until he'd finished. The old Hare smacked his lips with a fat tongue and blinked at them again, seemingly noticing they wer still there.
"For may years I have been here, fulfilling my duty as awakener of the Sun King." he said, whiskers twitching. "It does my old heart good to see another of my people."
He sat for a while just enjoying the company, as if he had met an old friend, and Sckelg began to feel sorry for him, it must be very lonely for something as ancient as he to be here with mortal creatures. As an ancient Belief, Demsck had survived when the New Gods pushed away the others.
The Sun Hare coughed gruffly and clawed the ground in an expansive stretch.
"But idle chit chat is not what you are here for, am I right?" he said stretching out his enormous back feet and lying on his belly, now adopting a new position. "Your companion is in dire trouble am I right?"
"Snake bite hmmm?" mused the Sun Hare. He nodded on his own and pushed some of the dried grass towards them. "Feed him that, and I guarantee he will be cured. Any comrade of Crow is worthy of the Sun Hare’s gift."
An old twinkle shone in his eye and for a moment his hare lips seemed to smile.
"Go swiftly brother, and may you again be returned to your proper form, you have the Blessing of the Sun Hare."
With that, he turned away and they were left to their own devices, Dart herding them from the tunnel and buffeting them out with his head, angry that they had tired the Sun Hare.
Ignoring it, Sckelg ran back to the burrow the Todd was in.
"What was all that about?" asked Eva as they entered, lost as to what had happened.
Sckelg shook his head, it wouldn’t do for her to know the truth, he doubted she would understand, that encounter with another like himself had been revitalizing, and it seemed that he'd be human sooner than he thought.
Carrying the grass in his mouth, he edged over to the Todd and with his paws opened his mouth, exposing his sharp teeth.
Undaunted by this he squashed the plants into his muzzle.
"Come on Todd, chew it, it'll do you well, then we'll be off to find your brother, I'm certain of it, the Sun Hare told me."
The Todd did as he was told, chewing the grass with much complaining and disgust, forcing himself to swallow it before lying back down to rest in a deep sleep.
"What now?" asked Eva.
Sckelg curled up near the Todd, now more pleased.
"We wait until nightfall to move."
"But which way?"
"Don't worry, we have the Sun Hare's blessing, He is the only creature that can lead us through complete darkness."
The story and all related artwork is (C) to me