The Story behind the Chief

After I created Inlé-rah as a character, I eventually wrote up a short story of how she was blessed by Frith, for a post in a roleplaying session. I wouldn't exactly call it fan fiction, since it's only a few paragraphs long, but it does give Inlé a background. She was not always a wild rabbit: she was once in captivity, being raised for her fur and flesh. A young child freed her one day, and this story tells of what happened to her afterward.

This story is (c) to me, although Frith, El-ahrairah, and the Lapine language are copyright to the late Richard Adams.

The Legend of Inlé-rah

After fleeing her human captors, Inlé wandered on, that day and into the night...

Alone, she kept her senses on high alert, prepared to either bolt or fight at the slightest sound. So it was little wonder then, why she leaped high into the air at the sudden screech of a rabbit in distress. Listening intently, she discovered it was actually the voice of a rabbit kitten, crying and pleading for help. Without a second thought, she raced toward the sound, and came upon the unfortunate situation of a tiny buck being cornered by a stoat. The little buck was trying his best to defend himself with his small paws, the miniature claws barely visible. There was something strange about this kitten in the night, but Inlé couldn't quite place what it was.

This was only a fleeting thought on her mind, as she sprang out from the grass and attacked the stoat from behind. As such, she was at an advantage, since the stoat didn't know she had been there. All the same, it fought fiercely, growling and squalling in a most frightening manner. But, Inlé had the odds on her side, since she had an unusually large size, matched perhaps only by a hare. Long, sharp claws also served her well, as she slashed at the relentless elil. A hard kick to the stoat's underside left it disemboweled minutes later, and it sank to the ground to meet its fate. Gasping heavily, Inlé hopped feebly over to the kitten. Feeling quite faint and tired from her battle, she said to the kitten, "It is over. You can go on now. I have done all that I thought was right."

The kitten looked up at her, and in his eyes Inlé saw such wisdom and intelligence that seemed impossible for such a young animal. He said softly, "No. I won't leave you. But we must go from this place now, for the scent of death draws in more elil than before." He hopped slowly away, never going too fast for Inlé in her injured state. After they had wandered a considerable distance from the battle scene, they rested in long grass as the grey dawn began to appear in the eastern sky.  As Inlé watched over the little kitten, he appeared to be looking her over. This seemed understandable, as she was quite large for a rabbit. Then he whispered, "Yes, Inlé, you are the one."

"What?" Inlé asked with a start. It was now that she noticed what had seemed odd about the kitten: the inside lining of his ears seemed to glow with a silver light as pale as the stars: this aspect seemed familiar, as from a story told to her long ago, but in her weariness the doe could not remember. Who was this mysterious kitten? And how had he known her name? The kitten simply smiled in reply. "You should rest now, to regain your strength."

Inlé had so many questions, yet she couldn't argue. The fight had taken its toll on her, and the kitten's voice was so calm, with a soothing quality in the manner he spoke, that he made her feel safe. Closing her eyes, she fell into a peaceful sleep.

"Inlé....Inlé..." The warm morning sun was streaming down upon her, and someone was calling her name: surely not the kitten, as the voice sounded...different. Powerful, yet loving. She opened her eyes slowly, but had to close them and look away, as the sun shone on her with blinding light. When her eyes had adjusted, she looked forward again, and knew the voice could only have come from one place. "Lord Frith..." she began, unable to finish for her overwhelming awe and fear. She crouched low to the ground, trembling, wondering if maybe she was dying, for what other reason would Frith be here, with her?

"Inlé, I've watched you in your life. You've seen things, have you not?"

Inlé answered quietly, "Yes... even when I was captive, I could understand the ways of the wild rabbit. Somehow...I could see it."

Frith replied, "Your foresight has helped you in your journey, and also your extraordinary size and strength, which you have used wisely. For this, I wish to give you a gift of my blessing, so that you may help your people."

She would be a personal messenger of Frith, alike to the legendary El-ahrairah, the Prince with a Thousand Enemies, himself gifted with immortality and starlight ears. All of this seemed impossibly unreal. At last she said, "But, surely I am not worthy of such a gift?"

Frith's response was gentle. "You risked your life to save another, even one who was unknown to you. There can be no questioning, in what has already been answered." At that moment, Inlé had to close her eyes, for the golden light became so bright as to surround her in its warmth. She had a feeling of being lifted into the air, and all weakness and pain ceased, as her wounds disappeared, and she had more of a sense of being alive than ever before in her life.

Once again, Frith spoke softly, as the brilliant light slowly faded. "I have also given you a single ray of moonlight, between your ears. Thus you will be able to guide your people by night, as the moon guides the lost wanderer in the darkness. Run forth, Inlé-rah! Protect, defend, and guide your people forever."

Frith's final words faded away as he drifted higher into the sky, and Inlé felt such exhilaration as to run and leap about. She discovered that she could leap much higher and farther than before, in effect flying in great bounds from place to place. Immortality...this is what it felt like. Yet she never left the little kitten, who watched her with a warm smile.  Inlé sat before him, at last asking him what she longed to know: "Who are you?"

The kitten smiled once more, than changed form gradually, increasing in size until he became a handsome buck, who stood on strong legs that seemed to shake the earth as he thumped the ground. His fur glistened in the sunlight, and his eyes showed the same great wisdom as before. Suddenly, she remembered the story told to her by her marli, of a prince whose inner ears glowed with silver light.

Inlé-rah gasped. "El-ahrairah?" The buck nodded, his kind expression as eternal as his legend. Turning slowly, El-ahrairah made a single great leap, fading away into the mid-morning air. Looking in the direction he had left, she saw a high down in the distance, which would soon become her new home.