1 Burrowed

In a dark room within the Bluntfoot Burrow, the flames of candles danced to the tune of the grave matter at hand. The wooden goblets and food were hardly touched. Powerful shadows flickered and stretched away from the oaken table. The shadows' prominent long ears extended from their bodies. The tip of their shadows folded at the corners of the stone ceiling.

One shadow differed in form. In place of pointed ears was the silhouette of a top hat. Hats were always a way to separate the image of those of higher status. A hat was a symbol of authority and power. An unkempt Hopsch without a hat was nothing but a rabbit.

The Hopsch with the top hat tapped the side of his cane with his finger. His name was Raloc. He was of grey fur with two prominent white patches on both cheeks. He tried to hide his worry but it showed on his frowned whiskers. With a single shot of his eyes forward to the table before him, he finally made the decision to break the silence. He stood from his chair and the other present Hopsch turned to him.

Raloc's words crept with power. "As I've said, we need to maintain our obligation as Timekeepers of the world. This is the exact moment where our purpose should hold firm."

The other Hopsch seated around the table didn't all wear hats. Some wore bowties with frills, some neckties. These clothing represented the Hopsch's hierarchy within their ranks in a Burrow. Hats one, neck pieces second.

A Hopsch seated at the table called Binsten was taller than most. He used his towering height of five and a half feet well with the added support of a straight back at all times. His dark brown fur wasn't neatly trimmed but in actuality, it was. The fur couldn't contain the muscles within. A second haircut was never in his agenda.

"Are you mad, Raloc?" Binsten's booming voice made little of the dim room. The candlelights, and two Hopsch, quivered. He tucked his beret with force. "Our race is dwindling as our lost brothers and sisters observe these mad men tear each other apart! We're caught in the crossfire of their pride and instinct to kill!"

Before the whispers among the others turned to a cacophony of squeals, Raloc slammed the base of his cane on the ground for order and so that he would not be drowned out by Binsten's voice. He even eyed the servants if they would give the candles a gentle blow.

With the cane, Raloc pointed at each Hopsch present. "How different are these times from the World Wars? Huh? The Crusades? That dumb Trojan War?! A war waged on one lass, a warrior who couldn't be troubled to wear closed shoes, and an empire fooled by a wooden horse! No matter the times, our ancestors did not falter and what gives us the right to succumb to fear now!"

A melancholic Hopsch of pure white fur slouched over the table, hands closed tight. She took a moment to collect herself. She took off her red Christmas hat and clenched it before she spoke. "I am Junjo and I hail- ..hailed from Reshim, a once grand Burrow near Tokyo. Those I've led, those I've taught of our ways, are now one with Caeth, one with Time. You have my deepest respects Burrow Leader, but this is of incomparable magnitude. Don't you understand?! There is no such thing as a safe clearing in this war! They come from the clouds and from under our hind legs!"

Before any response could be given, a fidgety Hopsch cut in. Utro of Tailwug Burrow nervously scratched on the white strips of his hazel fur. He pressed on his yellow polkadot necktie, a reminder of happier times. "T-T-The last Timekeeper I linked to observed the human's population cut down by two-thirds! That's almost half! H-Half! Despite our teachings to the other Timekeepers, a fifth of the Burrows have already been degraded and forgotten as collateral damage! We are just foliage for this fire to burn! I say we skip this forsaken Timeline and only this!"

Binsten grunted as he hopped off his chair. His arms spread wide to those in attendance, even though a Hopsch's wingspan didn't amount to much. "If we don't have refuge, there won't be any Hopsch left to Link to. The purest of unfiltered memories will be lost forever! Even those stubborn humans might not survive this! Their luck can only get them so far Raloc and we should not test ours!"

That was the spark needed for the deafening squeals and bucktooth debating to ensue. The delegated Hopsch in the room argued and spouted their opinions with no delicacy. It was unbecoming of such supposed calm Burrow Leaders under one roof.

Raloc watched the scene with disgust and contempt. He muttered, "To think we too are capable of such downfall…"

Then the whole room shook and bits of rock fell from the ceiling. Utro protected his cup of wine in a corner. The wooden platters and utensils rattled. A few servants held onto the backrest of Raloc's chair. The rest of the Hopsch inside stood still until the quake subsided.

Junjo popped her head out of her velvet Christmas hat and with a curled fist to the ground, shouted, "Damn Fellden! We can dig far better than you lot!"

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