It was night. A dull sound echoed in the atmosphere as a shadowy figure climbed the stairs of a large compound up to a pair of large, ornately carved, double doors. They opened as the figure approached, and for just a brief moment the figure entered the moonlight and his full form was seen. Then he passed back into the shadows, his ears trailing behind him and a tuft of white tail the only parts visible from the back of his black tunic and assassin’s hood.
He traversed the floor of a large room and stopped in the center, bowing his head and kneeling. On the far side of the room, two massive eyes appeared and a low resounding gong rang out. The sound of stone scraping filled the room as an enormous throne was moved into view and the shape of a figure dressed in regal attire seated, to whom the massive eyes belonged. The kneeling warrior kept his barely visible eyes lowered as he rose before the emperor, his nose twitching beneath his mask.
He kept his disgust for the fat, rancid smelling toad-emperor hidden as he awaited instruction. A frog leapt forward from the darkness behind the throne and gave the young warrior a piece of parchment with a single word on it and the emperor’s seal. The fat toad didn’t hide his disdain at all as he kept his eyes trained, unblinking, on the rabbit at he received his orders, bowed low and backed into the shadows. Outside the palace, a figure could be seen leaping from the wall near the throne room, the moonlight catching a faint glimpse of long white ears and a tuft of tail as the young warrior disappeared into the night. In the throne room the emperor and his from remained motionless. Dozens of eyes slowly appeared in the darkness behind the throne. The emperor let out a low chuckle and foul smelling breath rose like a cloud and filled the room as a chorus of voices laughed evilly all around him.
Two nights later, the young bunny stood hidden in the branches at the edge of a forest. From where he stood, he could see a large compound, silent and still but previous intel indicated that it was well guarded and would be difficult to infiltrate. Suddenly, a shadow moved across the moon and he managed to duck just fast enough to avoid an arrow that whizzed by his head, cutting the tip of his right ear. Two thoughts raced through his mind in an instant: Either he had been discovered (highly unlikely based on his level of skill, he thought to himself) or they’d been warned. Quickly, he decided a frontal assault was the only way to complete his objective, and he leapt from the safety of the trees into the open, drawing a katana from the red sash tied around his dark breeches.
The compound walls came alive with large rat bowmen, littering the sky with arrows. Dodging, parrying and leaping, the rabbit cleared out a space on the first wall and ran across the top of it, leaving death in his wake. Springing up, he narrowly avoided one arrow as it whizzed beneath him, swinging his sword and blocking three more he swiftly beheaded the closest rat in one deft motion. He began running up a strand of lights connecting the first and second tier, blocking and dodging arrows as he went.
As he arrived on the next level, the long-eared warrior found himself face to face with hordes of attackers of the highest calibre, with skills rivalling his own, and from training schools that were legendary in the Pentarchy. Badgers, bobcats, hawks, squirrels, wolves, raccoons, and wolverines among the scores of mice rats and ferrets rushed at him, swinging all manners of weapons in varying disciplines. 4, 5, sometimes 8 at a time he took them on, his speed and agility pushed to the brink as he acrobatically engaged and dispatched his enemies in droves. Enduring bruises and wounds, the diversity of styles and weapons forced our hero to adapt his abilities moment by moment, sometimes using his own katana as a projectile and fighting empty handed or with improvised weapons until he could retrieve his own.
Still fighting, he began climbing the wall, at this point more to create space and save his own life than to fulfill his objective. Even so, the tide of attackers thinned. He finally reached the third and final tier, looking as if he’d been to hell and back, and now our cotton-tailed assassin found himself face to face with the deadliest opponents he’d ever seen: two jaguars, a leopard and a panther, but his eyes narrowed when they focused on the one they were protecting. There behind them all stood a fully grown, heavily muscled, surprisingly agile Siberian tiger wearing 9-inch metal claws, his foot resting on a small quivering hostage. For what seemed like an eternity they stood facing each other, 5 deadly felines and a rabbit covered in mostly not his own blood. The only sounds in the room were the muffled sobs of the battered hostage and the steady drip-drip of the young bunny’s blood-soaked katana.
The two jaguars pounced, dying bravely. The first falling to the ground in two pieces as legs and torso and the other losing each of his arms in turn finding himself impaled on the first jaguar’s pike. His own pike, now in our hero’s hand, was the last thing he saw as it swung around and lopped off his head. Still holding the pike, the bunny and the leopard now circled each other slowly, his spotted adversary swinging twin short swords. The leopard attacked first, the rabbit barely able to defend against the feline speed, the pike now in pieces on the floor. The assassin ducked and rolled out of the way, lifting his sword and crumping to one knee against the power of a downward, two-bladed strike, then found himself struggling against a vicious assault. He ducked low, then winced as his tail was sliced off and flopped to the floor, but recovered quickly spinning and severing his opponent’s right leg at the knee. The young warrior pressed the attack now, but almost found himself on the defensive again as the leopard mounted a ferocious retreat. With a few well-timed parries and a decisive thrust, the bunny prevailed. Suddenly he felt his ribs breaking as he flew sideways after a direct blow from the panther’s mace.
He hit the wall and slid to the floor, and just barely moved in time to avoid the follow up strike that went crashing through the bamboo wall. The bunny stood slowly, breathing weakly and holding his side. He stripped off his tunic and flung it to the ground, a mess of sweat and blood as it flopped with a wet slap. Then, he rushed forward with a shout engaging the panther directly despite his superior size and strength. Just able to out speed the panther because of the weight of his mace, the young rabbit could feel himself beginning to slow down and his injuries slowly took their toll. He dropped to his knees in the center of the floor and looked up as the panther raised his weapon to end it with a decisive blow. The panther this time found himself careening through the air, slamming into the wall with a bloody rabbit-foot imprint on his chest, which was where a flying katana buried itself to the hilt a moment later. The panther’s life faded from his eyes and his mace dropped to the floor with a thud. Retrieving his sword, our hero turned to face his final opponent.
The tiger strolled forward with confidence, his steps causing vibrations in the wooden floor. He looked at his opponent with disgust, a hopelessly injured rodent that dared to defy him. Glaring at the rabbit, he licked one of his nine-inch claws and spat on the floor. With low booming laughter he dared his opponent to attack. The rabbit wasted no time returning the taunt by displaying the tattoo on his chest, the logo of his training school which fiercely rivaled the tiger’s own. The tiger roared and pounced, and the fight was over. He held the assassin by the throat against a wall, his claws digging into the wood.
Our young warrior struggled futilely against the tiger’s strength, slowly losing consciousness. It was all over… but then he remember something. Weakly, he reached up to his face and plucked one of his whiskers out, then jabbed it into the tiger’s neck. The tiger howled in surprise and staggered backward. He pulled out the whisker and started to lunge at the rabbit but fell to his knees instead. He was getting dizzy, and looked at the whisker in disbelief. The tip was black, and sharp: poisoned. Then the great cat lurched forward and died, as the barely-alive assassin watched.
He stood up slowly, and with great care for his injuries. Picking up his sword, he walked over to the hostage huddled up in a ball and raised his sword to strike but stopped suddenly. He took the veil from the hostage’s face and jumped back in surprise. Another rabbit, female, looked back at him with pleading eyes. Familiar eyes. Then he felt the spear plunge into his back and watched it pierce his chest in front. Turning, he attacked the 4 Komodo dragons that had somehow snick in. With the ferocity of 10 warriors he fought, barely managing to kill one, and then another and a third. The fourth hurled his spear and it hit the rabbit dead in his heart. The rabbit slumped down to his knees, and flung his katana as his last act. The katana cut deep in the Komodo dragon’s side and forced him to retreat. The last thing the bunny saw as he fell forward and died was the emperor’s seal on the back of the dragon’s tunic as he fled.