Terrouge E-zine Archives
Hares: An In-Depth Look
A hare, according to Egbert's Encyclopedia, is a long-eared mammal with powerful hind legs, a short, fluffy tail, and usually little manners. Egbert has been known to be a bit prejudiced in his writings from time to time, but his general description is right. Hares are a tall species, standing higher than mice, hedgehogs, and most moles. They are very good at running, and subterfuge, but they are not cowards. Most hares are trained from birth in the warrior ways, and even those who choose other professions usually have some skill with weapons. Hares are also notorious for their large appetites, one's ability at "scoffing" being a badge of honor among them.
Hares are born in litters, the young hares known as leverets. The proud parents are usually mated in spring. Hares' courtship dances are a thing to see, consisting of wild spinning and turning in the air. The term "mad as a March hare" comes from this. There are usually around five in a litter, though larger litters, such as those recorded in Redwall Abbey records as the children of Hon Rosie, are possible. The leverets are born covered with fur and with their eyes open. Tales of overly active leverets abound, though these are not much different from those of the young of other peoples.
Hares tend to be open and rather talkative people. Even the most peaceful are brave and daring, and their loyalty shows no bounds. Hares tend to be jovial, even in the midst of battle; many a hare has died with a smile and a joke upon their lips. Most hares are wanderers by nature, which is useful in the Long Patrol, where they are periodically sent on long missions to search for signs of sea vermin activity. As mentioned, "scoffing" is something of a friendly contest between hares, and it is a well known fact that hares are the best at it. Hares also tend to speak in a thick, clipped accent, which may seem to make them sound like harmless idiot, but, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.
A word about rabbits, if I may. Rabbits and hares are closely related, and it is believed that they both came from tribe who originated much farther east than Mossflower. However, they are very different in personality. Rabbits tend to be rather flighty, and most will hide when something dangerous comes along. However, they will be unfailingly polite, if slightly pretenious, and if there is housework to be done, they will do it. Their cooking is rather good too, and because they are not as well made for fighting, their cowardice, or prudence as some say, is understandable. Hares, however, possess a certain distain for rabbits, though it is noted they won't turn down a rabbit's offer of food. Don't refer to a hare as a rabbit, unless they ask for it, as sometimes, in covert conditions, they will pass themselves off as their less dangerous cousins to throw enemies off guard. Don't refer to rabbits as hares, especially when other hares are about, rabbits take it as an insult to be confused with their "barbarian" cousins, and hares take it as an insult to their bravery.
A Brief History
Hares are an old and established people in Mossflower, but there is evidence that they did not come from here. The earliest mention of hares in Mossflower comes from the records of Brockhall, and even those are copies of a much earlier text, known as the Red Book of Moss, complied by a small group of hedgehog and otter scholars.
"..Ande lo, inn The Wynter of the Cloudeless Skye, frome the Easte came a Multitude of "Hares". Righte, honurable people they have proven Themselves to be. Fore in The Sprynge of Earlie Strawberrys, a vermine horde did come frome the Weste, ande the Hares dide Take it upone themselves to drive oute the vermyn..." (Ref. Red Book of Moss, Sc. 3, Prgh. 4)
This script dates back
older than Brockhall, more than six hundred seasons before the founding
of Redwall. It goes on further to praise the martial prowess of the hares,
and list the number of dead and wounded. The hares were invited to stay,
and given a place of honor. When Artus the Undying, a Badger Lord who is
recorded to have been from the far southeastern kingdom of Nuestra came
to Mossflower, it is reported that the hares bowed down to him and pledged
their eternal allegiance.
"Overe the Horizon came A great shaddow, a montain againste the Sun. A Badger Lorde he was, great and Powerfull. In one hand He carried a Great blade, which would take a three full growne Otters to lyft. Inn the othere he carried a Shield, emblazoned withe a redd fyre-lyzard rampante onn a Golde fielde. Upone the syghte of Him, the Hares bowed, and lett oute a greate cry, which echoed throughe Mossflower. One bye one, the Hares wente to the Badger Lorde and pledged theyr enternal Fealty..." (Ref. Red Book of Moss, Sc. 5, Prgh. 2)
This relationship between hares and badger goes back a long way, even before this, but the firm oaths given on that day have proven to be one of the longest lasting alliances in the history of Mossflower. Artus the Undying was an ancestor to many of the Badger Lords of Salamandastron, and eventually, BrockHall. The descendants of the Hares spread out, and eventually lived all over Mossflower, but most of them stayed with the Badger Lords, eventually becoming the Long Patrol.
A second group of hares, the Fur and Freedom Fighters, was formed from a few Long Patrol hares to keep watch over Mossflower after the fall of Kotir.
The band eventually melted away, perhaps simply joining back with the Long Patrol at some point when one of the two groups numbers were too low to support themselves. However, during the years following the fall of Kotir, a number of smaller vermin skimishes occured, on the edges of Mossflower. It is supposed that these happened because the vermin had heard the "protection" of Kotir was gone now, and though Mossflower would be an easy target. Whatever the reason, the Fur and Freedom fighters were essential in driving back these attacks, as well as a number of Flitchaye raids that occured at that time too.
Weapons, Armor, and Battle
Hares, as I have stated before, are a warrior race. From pikes, to swords, to lances, to slings, to longbows, hares have used them, and killed with them. Hares are also good at jury-rigging, those in the Long Patrol put this to good use, having to face pirate vermin with few supplies and little back-up. Anything you put in a hare's paw can become a weapon. In fact, according to the records of Saxtus, the Father Abbot of Redwall long ago, one Tarquin L. Woodsorrel used a musical instrument as both his weapon, and his entertainment.
Though hares are not above ambushes, and other tactics declared by critics as "ungallant", noting that those self-same critics have no problem when the hares are using such tactics in their own defense, the main strength of hare martial prowess is in the charge. Long, strong legs, a certain skill with pole-arms, and boundless endurance, hares are made for the charge. The usual charge consists of a pincer movement, followed by a sweep down the center of the trapped opponents.
This is advantagous in many ways, since hares have no problem sneaking and taking their position, and they are excellent at working in groups.
Battle cries are another important part of a hare's weaponry. A hare battlecry is long and bellowing, and raises fear in the mind of those who face it. "Eulalia" is how it is best written, a word that both the hare and badger languages have in common. It means, as best as can be found,"victory", and comes from a tongue far older than any records.
A word on hand to hand combat, a skill many hares excell at. Massive leg muscles and power to kicks, and quick reflexes, and sharp claws make getting within punching distance of a mad hare a rather foolish idea. Though there is no organized art for hare boxing, a similarity of styles is found throughout Mossflower. Impromptu boxing tournaments are common sport in Salamandastron, along with fencing and jousting.
There are many notable hares, recorded in hare oral history, or Redwall records. Here are a few of them. Starbuck & Breeze were two hares of the Long Patrol, stationed in Salamandastron during the time of Boar the Fighter. They were two of a family of four hares left to defend Salamandastron while small army that fought off the Bloodwake, a pirate ship commanded by Ripfang, the arch-enemy of Boar the Fighter. They survived, and lived on to see Sunflash the Mace installed as the new Badger Lord. They died soon after, but are still in Long Patrol tales. The brother and sister are believed to have been the longest living hares on record.
Tarquin L. Woodsorrel & Hon Rosie were two hares who lived at Redwall abbey during the leadership of Abbot Saxtus. Tarquin was recorded as a well-meaning lack-about, but he was also recorded as being rather brave in battle, showing general hare personality. Hon Rosie was a member of the Long Patrol, Woodsorrel's membership is questionable. Hon, also known as "Hawk-Eye", was a rather out-going hare female, who was recorded as having a grating laugh. She and Tarquin were mated and nurtured many young leverets. Hon Rosie was also on the voyage to Southward, and was present at the battle against the Foxwolf, to save Southsward.
Basil Stag Hare was a hare who lived off and in at Redwall Abbey during the reign of Abbots Mortimer and Mordalfus. He was most notable for his contributions to Redwall's defense during the Summer of the Late Rose, when Cluny the Scourge attacked Redwall. He was a good friend to Matthias, and was foster father to an otter. He was a member of the Long Patrol, though rather lax in reporting in, patrolling, as he was, the eastern boundaries of the "official" Long Patrol protectorate. He travelled with Matthias to the ruins of Loamhedge Abbey, renamed Malkariss, and helped free the slaves held there. Records of the events that transpired in Malkariss are curiously absent, and any mention of the name in records is rather simple.
Hares, as you can see, are a great race. Rich in history, great in legend, and brave in battles, hares are a honored people wherever they go. As long as there is food, there will be scoffers. As long as there are vermin, there will be long-eared protectors. As long as there is need, there will be hares.