The interrogation chamber was large and open. This was by design; it allowed the echoes of what was going on inside to resonate through all of Efrafa; every tunnel and burrow, reaching every ear, allowing all present to know what was happening and vicariously experience the punishment of others misdeeds. And, as the General often said, such thing shouldn't be hidden away in some dark corner as if they were objectionable or disgraceful. No, they should be out in the open for all to see. “All” currently consisted of a half-dozen owsla officers, two captains, and the General himself. The targets of their attentions were two captured does: a rabbit and a mouse. Recently, their friends had attempted—and successfully pulled off—a rescue raid that had liberated quite a large number of does from the larger, more powerful warren. The pair had been captured in return, but getting any information from them would be difficult. They bore the defiant stares of the stubborn, especially the smallest of the two, the brown mouse called Hannah. The General decided one last time to be reasonable and turned to the gray rabbit doe, Blackberry, who was the other captive. "I don't suppose you'd be willing to tell me the location of your warren?" "When weasels fly!" "A no then? Be assured there will be no rescue for you, and no escape. Not this time." That at least was true; the two were restrained in what was some of the most advanced technology rabbits had ever possessed. Each was kept in a sitting position, fore and hind paws restrained by two pieces of wood that had been tightly tied together with twine. Four holes had been nibbled through each board so that a struggling rabbit could be placed in front of them and the device closed, binding them helpless in place. Stocks. "We'll just see about that!" "We will. It seems I have no choice then but to turn matters over to Captain Vervain." One of the rabbits present, a thin and devious looking dark-gray buck, looked exceptionally pleased. Another, a larger brown buck looked shocked. "General, are you sure-" "Of course, Captain Campion. He has a...talent for this sort of thing. We've no need to involve ourselves in this." "Sir, we want them to live." "Of course. And I am sure that will be the case. This is...encouragement, not torture. Isn't that right Captain Vervain?" "Of course, Sire!" "You think this will be effective sir?" "Yes. They will tell us the location of their warren sooner or later. And if not, well, Hazel has a mystic; he will learn of what's going on one way or another. And he will act. He is not the sort to allow others to suffer on his behalf." With those parting words, General Woundwort, the largest and most powerfully built rabbit present, turned and hopped away. The atmosphere in the burrow somehow became more chilled and foreboding. The two remaining captains stared at one another with unveiled hatred. If looks could kill then both would have been turned to ashes where they stood. Finally, Campion spoke, his voice level but filled with menace. "This will be an interrogation. And both WILL be fine afterwards. I will check. If you disobey the General's orders in this, even slightly, I'll kill you where you stand, you have my word." There was no reply, bar a look of shock, from the other buck. It was well known the pair had a rivalry and that Campion disapproved of some of the...less-than-noble things that occurred in Efrafa. But even so, his reaction was surprising to those around him. They stared as he stormed off after the General, finally leaving the prisoners at the mercy of their captors. "I... well... Right then... I suppose brute force is out of the question. Pity. No matter, we have other tools at our disposal. Indeed, perhaps we should be as gentle as possible with the Captain's oh-so-highly-valued prisoners? It would be a shame if any harm came to them now wouldn't it? Bramble, Toadflax, fetch the brushes. This will be... interesting." Somehow his tone and words were not reassuring to the two captives. Two bucks bounded away, while the others remained still and staring, not uttering a word, as guards were not to do. When they returned, they were carrying an assortment of...well, brushes. Some were broad and flat, the kind that might paint a house, while others were narrow and pointed, to paint a picture. More concerning there were a pair of metal...things as well. They had little spiked wheels at the ends that looked like their only function was the infliction of pain. "Alright then, who's first?" "It won't ma’er! Neither of us will tell you a thing!" It was difficult to look defiant while being locked into a sitting position in a stockade, but Hannah managed to do so, glaring at her captors with disdain. This only seemed to encourage the captain, who smiled in a worrying way as he deftly picked up a small paintbrush, running the bristles through his paw to accentuate the fine point on it. Once it had been sufficiently “sharpened” he gripped it around the middle and flicked it a few times against the mouse's left foot. Hannah gasped in surprise and stifled a snort; of laughter or contempt, it was impossible to tell. "Is tha’ your plan? You're gonna tickle us into submission?" "Oh yes, it's surprisingly effective and results in absolutely no injury whatsoever. Do feel free to make some noise, you're going to sooner or later, so there's no point in fighting it." "Hmph. As if." The smaller brown doe would have crossed her arms in a huff had they not been locked in position. As it was, she tried to snatch the brush away from the dark gray buck who was holding it as it once again approached her left hind paw. The captain had been ready for this however and deftly twitched it away, taking advantage of the moment to brush it right along her paw, from heel to toe. Hannah twitched in response, her body going rigid, but she made no sound. This slow start was followed by a gradual escalation—the captain flicking the brush up and down the brown rodent's sensitive sole in short, sharp motions. That was enough to make Hannah's toes curl as she bit her lip, trying to hold back from giggling as the tickling sensations seemed to spark and dance along her nerves. It was an unusual assault; until that moment, the mouse hadn't given much consideration to how sensitive her feet were, only being alerted when she stood on a misplaced pebble or prickle. But now it seemed that the paintbrush tip was subjecting her to a whole new series of sensations as it brushed and flicked lightly over the underside of her foot. "Pbbnnikkt!" There was a sound somewhat like a stifled sneeze, the mouse's body beginning to twitch as she struggled to keep her breathing steady against the attack. She knew that were she to begin laughing that would only make it harder to keep her composure: to start would be to never stop. At the same time, she was increasingly annoyed; it was one stupid brush on one stupid paw, why was she having such a hard time controlling herself? It wasn't painful, or even necessarily unpleasant, yet she could feel her resistance crumbling as she was held there. "As I said earlier, feel free to let loose, you'll find it makes it easier to...endure the interrogation." "Aww go bite a rott’n apple!" "Really now? Such language! You really should try to be more cheerful, it's working for me." The mouse would be dammed if she let the Efrafan captain see her do anything he suggested, yet at the same time it was becoming nearly impossible not to give in. He started attacking both her hind paws now, darting left and right as they struggled to curl up or twist out of the way of the probing brush tip, unsuccessfully attempting to shield themselves from its influence. That was enough to make the smaller doe titter through grit teeth. Her sides began to shake as the first few whisper-quiet sounds of mirth escaped from her mouth. The captain grinned in triumph as he watched her facade begin to crack, her eyes squeezing shut in concentration even as it became increasingly obvious she was losing control. "Come now, no need to be so shy! Just let it out... let everything out and tell us where your warren is, that's a good girl." "Y-yh-yhoohoohoo... you're... hah... crahahahaaazy!" Blackberry could do nothing but watch as her friend was being so unusually interrogated, squirming slightly in sympathy as she watched the brushing assault. Was this really happening? Did they really intend to tickle information out of them? Hannah was giggling constantly now, unwilling to continue but unable to stop, as if she'd heard the most amusing joke and now couldn't stop thinking about it. Her peals of laughter grew slowly in volume and intensity as the captain picked up another brush, now able to take care of two paws at once. It wasn't long before the small doe's voice was echoing out in the large, empty chamber and down the tunnels of the rabbit colony. The mouse struggled against her bonds, her paws balling into fists as she strained to somehow break free. Even as her breath grew short and chortle after chuckle burst free from her throat she strove to maintain some semblance of respectability, some iota of fighting spirit. The rodent was not one to be so humiliated or toyed with, but she couldn't resist the convulsions of her own body forever as, bit-by-bit, she began to give in to the hilarity. It was only by chance that the captain tired of tickling before her composure completely broke down. He withdrew, and Hannah nearly collapsed with relief. Her body went limp at the removal of stimulation, her laughter slowly dying down as phantom brushes still danced across her nerves. A minute or so later she was trying to blink the tears out of her eyes, unable to prevent the occasional quiet giggle escaping her lips. "Maybe we should have saved some feathers from that hawk... No matter. Bramble, see to the other doe, perhaps she will be more compliant." One of the bucks—the same that had fetched the brushes—stepped forward, picking up a larger brush than had been used on Hannah. It took him a few moments to properly grip it in his paw, but once he had managed to do so he boldly stepped forward. It didn't look like he enjoyed this sort of thing quite as much as the captain, but there was a very menacing grin across his face as he raised the broad brush and began to stroke it across the gray doe's right hind paw. "Hey... no! You- Ahahahaa?! Wait sto- Hahahaaa!" Hannah had been stubborn and had tried to hold back, but Blackberry had no such compunctions, or perhaps was merely more ticklish, and immediately burst out into raucous laughter. She threw her head back as her entire body went stiff, toes splayed and clawing at the air as she unconsciously attempted to roll about on the floor laughing. All this served to do in her current bound state however was leave her wide open for further attacks. Even so, her wriggling, kicking paws made it difficult for just one brush to adequately stroke and poke her soles and another buck quickly stepped up to help, this time holding one of the strange, spiked wheel things neither doe had been able to identify. "Bwahahahahaahaaa! N-n-nohohohohohooohoohoo! Whahahahahaaaaat is-" Blackberry's attempted exclamation was cut short as the metal device was pressed into her hind paw and rolled up and down its underside. She had expected to feel needlelike pain, but instead felt something more electric, a hundred tiny pokes that were too soft to cause pain but instead left coruscating sparks of sensation in their wake, a further tickling in a manner she hadn't imagined was possible before, and more intense than anything she could've imagined. Her eyes widened as she into a fresh round of hooting convulsions; her body shook hard enough to almost overturn her stockade. Her exhalations far exceeded the volume and duration of the mouse's, easily filling the echoing confines of the interrogation chamber. Beside the bunny, the recovering mouse vented her own indignation at the situation. "Hahaha! Haahaaahaaahaaa! AHAAAHAAAHAAA-HOO-HOO-HOOOO!!! NAHAHAAHAHA TOOHOOHOO MUHUHUCH!!" "Stop it! Stop it you bunch of crazy bullies! Stop it now!" "Alright, you heard her. Bracken, Bramble, that's enough, for now." The two rabbits withdrew and Blackberry copied her fellow prisoner's earlier recovery, still laughing even after the brush and wheel had been withdrawn, hooting and gasping as she caught her breath and regained control of her body. It also took her a minute or two to fully regain her composure, her vision still blurred with tears and her body twitching at odd moments. Both does' nerves were on fire, expecting a return of the tickling, teasing scintillations that has just recently coursed through them. Even as they attempted to act defiant, they were acutely aware of their paws now, still bound and exposed for further assaults. They squirmed in their restraints, aware that they were completely at the mercy of the Efrafan bucks, but still unwilling to cave under what had been such a cursory effort. Captain Vervain, however, was well aware of their surprise and shock at being so easily overcome. He bore a wide grin as he sat back, still holding a brush that he flicked back in forth in the air, enjoying seeing the does' eyes follow its tip and every movement. This was a situation he'd been in many times before and he could only hope they'd be stubborn enough to hold out a bit longer. He always enjoyed these sort of things and it was so disappointing when people gave up too easily. "So... perhaps now you're ready to answer a few questions?" "If they're about your sanity, then yes!" Hannah snapped. "Is that a no?" "Are y' deaf?" Aaah, perfect. Exactly what he'd been hoping to hear; more or less. "Very well then. Let's get serious. Everyone grab a brush and get to work. I'm going to get some flayrah, you lot can stop when I get back. Not if they beg, not if they admit anything, only when I get back, understood?" There was a collective grunt of assent from the assembled rabbits. They knew the drill well and didn't really need to be told what to do. As the captain turned they all picked up one thing or another, brushes of all size and two of the odd metal wheels. They closed in on the pair of does without a word, instruments raised, and began to tickle them anew. All the brushes struck at once, and two of the strange toothed wheels as well. This time there was no buildup, no sense at all that those doing the brushing and rubbing and tickling were taking their time, enjoying themselves or even trying to extract information. They were simply following orders. With practiced expertise six different brushes began to attack the exposed and vulnerable paws, both hind and fore. The sudden spark of sensation burst over the two captive does like an electric firework, sparkling along their nerves as the first frisky feelings danced up their spines and made their fur stand on end. There was a duo of loud, deep laughs at the unexpectedness of it all and the pair almost fell backwards with shock, being held upright only by their bindings. Their voices rang out in the large empty space, going from nothing to full-throated hilarity in mere seconds as they were completely overwhelmed by the scintillations brushing and whisking over their paws. Hannah tried desperately to snatch at a brush or two, but was unable to concentrate long enough to get a proper grip and was soon reduced to a shuddering, snickering heap as the relentless tickling continued. Now the entire chamber was filled with the pair's laughter, booming and echoing off of the walls, coming back at them in waves, shattering and mixing with their next gasping guffaw. And only now did another effect become apparent to the pair of captives. It was nearly impossible to breathe with their chests heaving and their throats full of mirth. Each cacophonous chortle made their entire body shake, forcing air from their lungs in thunderous exhalations as they struggled and gasped for breath between fits of uncontrolled laughter. Tears filled their eyes and blurred their vision as the sensations overwhelmed them, giving them not a second to pause, recover or relax as they were driven on and on by every tickling brushstroke, poke, and prod. It wasn't long before both were pleading for a reprieve. "AHAHAHAHA! NOHOHOHO! PLEAHEAHEAHEASE STOHOHOP!" "NOHOHO! YAHAHA BIHIHIG BUHUHULIES! LEHEHET MEEHEEHEE AHAHAHOUT!" Whether their tormentors could understand them or not, or were even listening, they didn't comply; not letting up for a second as they continued the tickling interrogation without a moment's pause. The stockades rocked as legs tried to kick and arms tried to wave, the pair of does rendered utterly helpless as they jerked and twisted and struggled in their bonds, their laughter ever more extreme and desperate. Captain Vervain waited for a while outside the main chamber, smiling as the sounds of mirth boomed and danced along the tunnels, alerting everyone in the warren as to what was currently occurring. There was a particular pleasure in being able to just walk away from such a thing. To know that wherever he was, whatever he was doing, there were two does somewhere that were utterly helpless, locked in place tickled and teased and tormented more than they could bear. Unable to do anything but express their mirth and fruitlessly demand a cease, at least for as long as they'd be able to speak before degenerating into nothing but deafening peals of laughter. He didn't have to rush, he didn't have to worry. His inferiors would do their jobs. For hours or days if necessary, though he might occasionally have to change them out if they got tired. In the meantime, there was a special satisfaction in knowing that the two were utterly at his mercy, even if he wasn't physically present, giggling and guffawing, tormented and tickled, pleading for even a moment's rest. He could return at his leisure assured of what he'd find. Maybe in a few hours, around sunset. He snickered at the thought, making his way up a run to the surface. He found a nice clump of clovers and thistle to feed in. And soon he was fast asleep in the shade.
A large figure stood before Vervain, blocking the sun that seeped through his eyelids. He roused slightly at the sudden change. "Enjoying the day, are we? Captain Vervain?" Eyes closed, he nodded. "These clovers make for great cover and- AH! General!" He suddenly realized who he was talking to and scrambled to attention. Woundwort chuckled. He actually chuckled…and smiled. Vervain wasn't sure if he should be happy about these never-before-seen emotions, or terrified. "Sire...you- you're smiling?" "Today has been a good day. I've got two of that damned Bigwig's rabbits in my interrogation chamber and am about to get the location of their warren. Isn’t that right? Vervain wasn't quite sure how to respond. Surely the general knew he had heard nothing. After all he'd been sleeping for, judging by the sun, over six hours. “Y-yes Sire. I’ll head down now to see if they’re ready.” He definitely should be terrified. General Woundwort nodded. "And don't let me catch you lollygagging about when you are to extract information from prisoners." Vervain nodded and disappeared into a well concealed hole, coming upon the interrogation room quickly. He sat just outside with an evil grin plastered on his face. If he walked in, the two captive does would believe they'd only be mere moments away from a much needed rest. But he had a new idea. Originally, he had planned to question them again once the torture had been stopped. But he knew how desperately they must want a break, so instead he would deprive them of the rest they might think they were about to receive and question them while the tickling continued. If they still resisted, he'd simply replace the owsla bucks he had on the job, step up the intensity, and leave again. Or perhaps he'd stay and watch. Who could say? After fifteen or so minutes of debating, he finally hopped in. The two does looked incredibly relieved to see him. Bramble spotted Vervain and turned to him while he continued his work. "Vervain, Sir. You've returned. Shall we stop then?" He hopped up to the two guffawing girls. "I suppose you'd like a break, hm?" Blackberry and Hannah nodded in unison. "PLEAHEASE! IHIHIT'S TOOHOO MUHUHUCH TO BEAHEAR!" Blackberry managed through her incredible hysterics. They were perhaps even more desperate than he though. "Hm..." Vervain thought for a moment, rubbing his chin like a human might in deep thought. "How about this. You tell me where your warren is, and I let you rest." The two does looked at each other, seeing the other's wet, tear-filled face and hysterical smile. Hannah worked muster up the strength to speak, which proved near impossible due to her exhaustion. "IHIHIF AHAHAHA IF WE TAHAHAHALK- AHAHAHAHA YOUHOUHOU'LL DEEHEEHEE- DEHEHEHESTRAHAHAHAHA DESTROY IT! AHAHAHAHAHA!" Vervain smiled. "So, that's a no then?" He couldn't have been happier. Now he could have even more fun! Hannah and Blackberry shook their heads. "PLEAHEAHEASE!" Blackberry begged. "LEHEHET UHUHUS REHEHEHEST!" Vervain ignored her completely and turned to Bramble. "Bramble, hand me your brush and find the night guards from the empty dens that the does occupied and send them here. This group needs a break, and I've got plans!" Bramble nodded and ran off while Vervain took his place on Blackberry's paws. Blackberry shook her head. "PLEAHEAHEASE! IHIHI'M BEHEHEGIHIHING YOUHOUHOU!" Vervain grinned. "Oh, I know you are. Perhaps if you'd cooperated... Oh, but now it's too late for that. Don't worry my dear, you'll have other chances...in a few days" “DAHAHAHAYS!?” Blackberry hollered, flabbergasted. “NAHAHAHAHAHAHA PLEAHEAHEASE! NOHOHOH! IHIHI’LL DOHOHOHO AHAHAHANYTHING!” “Anything?” “AHAHAHA YEHEHEHES!” “Even…telling me where your warren is?” “AHAHAHA!! AHAHANYTHING BUHUHUT THAHAHAT! PLEAHEAHEASE! YOUHOUHOU”RE KIHIHILLING UHUHUS!” “Killing you? I’m merely sliding a brush over your paw. That’s hardly going to kill you.” Vervain was just toying with her at this point. And while they “conversed”, one by one, other owsla bucks came in and replaced the current group. Once each buck had been replaced, Vervain handed his brush to another buck to take over so he could explore more instruments of tickling. He stepped back to get a good view of the two prisoners. "Alright. These two have once again refused to give any information. It’s time to bring out the roller.” Blackberry and Hannah glanced at each other. Roller? What the heck is a roller? Were they not forced to smile and laugh, they'd have shared confused, horrified expressions. Vervain hopped out of the chamber and came back a minute later with an even stranger device than the metal wheels. It was much larger than anything else that had been used too. It had two pieces of wood that had been nibbled flat, with a whole nibbled out in the center. Two thick sticks were positioned inside of each space. At the top of the sticks, holes had been created. Through each hole, the a much larger bar-stick thing had been placed. At the end of one side was some sort of handle-thing that looked like it might rotate. The suspended bar was the strangest part. It was covered in what looked like horizontally positioned cattails, sewn together with grass. Looking closely, hundreds of the pointy metal teeth could be seen between and poking through the cattails. Vervain positioned it a short distance from the two does and grinned. “You see this?” The two does nodded, still laughing hysterically. “Every creature that has felt this device has been broken by it in less than half an afternoon.” He leaned in close to them and grinned. "This is your worst nightmare." He turned to the other bucks, struggling to contain his excitement. "Each of you, line up here at the crank. You will each take turns turning it until I tell you to stop. To reiterate from the first group, do not stop no matter how much they beg or what they admit or agree to, understood?" The others nodded then faced the front of the line while Vervain pressed the horizontal stick against the paws of the two unfortunate does. The first buck rested his forepaws on the handle and began pushing on the handle as soon as it was ready, rolling the bar that was pressed against the paws of Blackberry and Hannah. The titillations created by this new machine were beyond their comprehension. It was as if the brushes and strange metal wheels had been combined into one, tickling the same place at once. But there were dozens more of the metal spikes and the cattails delivered a much rougher tickle than the brushes had. The two shook their heads like mad and tried with every bit of their remaining strength to get away from the evil machine. No matter which way they twisted their helpless paws, there was no escape. No matter what they did, every single centimeter of their hind paws were covered by the bar. Their laughter was so forceful the walls of the chamber shook, causing bits of dirt to fall on them. Some of the bucks in the line had to break off and further secure the stockades so they wouldn’t overturn in the struggle. The two struggling does could hardly get a word out, though Hannah was the only one even trying at this point. “YAHAHAHAHAHA!! BAHAHAHAHA AHAHAHAHAHA EEHEEHEEHVAHAHAHAAHAHA NAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!” Whatever she said, no one could understand it. Vervain grinned and called to the bucks at work over the booming laughter before heading out. "I’ll return with replacements after moonrise.” No natural light actually reached the chamber, only the artificial light produced by a flashlight a man must have dropped, so Blackberry and Hannah had no idea what time of day it was. For all they knew, it could’ve been morning with twelve hours to go before a replacement would come. And even then, Vervain didn’t say anything about stopping the torture or questioning them when he did so. For seven hours they had already been tickled nonstop, though before they had been given hope that they might receive a break. All they had to do was hold out longer than Vervain had been away. But of course, he had lied. And now there was no foreseeable end to the torment…even if they were ready to talk
Life in Efrafa went on mostly as normal for the next few days. Shifts of four to six owsla bucks switched off places in the interrogation chamber, and not for a second did their laughter stop. On occasion, a rabbit that had broken the rules would be brought to the chamber and forced to watch their torment and hear their almost unintelligible begging for a break. It served as a powerful reminder of what would happen should they break the rules again. In three and a half days, Vervain hadn’t bothered questioning again. When he returned in the third day’s evening, the two prisoners looked more pained and defeated than ever. The forced laughter had long before made their throats soar and hoarse. On top of that, they had gone those three days without food or water. Vervain knew if their torment went on much longer, the Black Rabbit of Inlé might show up and take them before he could get what he wanted. Plus, Woundwort was becoming impatient. As before, he questioned the does before signaling for the buck at the crank to stop. Once again, Blackberry and Hannah looked at each other. Each could see the exhaustion and desperation on the face of the other. They nodded together at Vervain. Neither could bear another second of the torture. "Out with it then!" Vervain ordered. "AHAHAHAH OUR CAPTAHAHAHAHAIN IHIS BIGWIG!" Blackberry lied. Hannah got the hint and finished for Blackberry who was too exhausted to speak again. "THAHAHAHA WAHAHAHARREHEHEN IS ON CLOHOHOVER DOWN!" “Very good. Very good indeed. I think you’ve earned a nice reward.” He turned to the buck at the crank. “You may stop the torture now. You all may return to your posts.” The bucks looked quite relieved as they ran off. When at last they could rest, Hannah and Blackberry both collapsed from exhaustion. Vervain ran off to report to General Woundwort. When the captive does finally returned to consciousness a day later, Captain Campion was waiting with food and water. He fed them and sat beside them. After a good long rest, Hannah had regained her composure, She glared at Campion. "Are ya bullyin' bucks gonna let us out yet?" He shook his head. "I can’t. Woundwort has sent out a patrol to verify the information you’ve given. My orders are to stay here and keep watch. The patrol will be returning soon with their findings. I hope for your sakes you told the truth.” The two imprisoned does shared a look of terror. “W-what if we didn’t?” Blackberry asked. Campion glared at them. “You may never leave this place…” Blackberry and Hannah looked at each other and gulped. Campion sighed. “You lied didn’t you…” They slowly nodded. “Then your fate is in the hands of that psychopath Vervain.” Blackberry looked like she was about to cry. “P-please! You’ve got to help us!” “I’m sorry. I have my orders.” Campion made sure his voice was loud and clear in case anyone overheard Blackberry’s plea. Then he leaned in close and whispered. “I cannot get you out myself. Woundwort will have my head. But because of my ranking, I can easily go beyond the boundaries of the wide patrol. If you tell me where your warren is, I can go and find Bigwig. I can help them form a plan to break in and get you out.” “Why should we trust you with that?” Hannah snapped. “Would you rather die laughing while you are tortured beyond what you can bear by this thing?” Hannah was silent. “Our warren…it’s on Watership Down…and Bigwig isn’t our chief rabbit. It’s Hazel.” Campion nodded and stepped back and took up a more guard-like façade. “It may take a few days. But I promise you’ll be free.” Just after he finished, Vervain hopped back in, trailed by a team of owlsa bucks. “So, think you can get away with playing us for fools, hm?” Vervain looked more angry than even Woundwort. “The General nearly had my ears for your lies. So here this: you two shall not leave this chamber. Not now, not ever. Not until the Black Rabbit of Inlé comes for you. You shall have a short break to eat and time to sleep once every three days. At all other times you shall be punished. Once this wheel starts, it will not stop for anything.” Vervain signaled to the buck at the crank and he began without question. Not a second later, the torture began anew. Through the corner of her eye, she spotted Campion hopping out of the chamber. Their only chance for escape. She just hoped he had told the truth. Vervain grinned as he hopped out of the interrogation chamber. He always loved interrogations like this. Tickling such unwilling victims was perhaps his favorite part of the job. And now he actually held the fate of two fine does permanently in his paws. No matter how much they begged for rest, no matter how desperate they were to be free, no such luxuries would come their way. They were trapped and tortured, tickled and tormented, and he, Vervain, was the only thing in the world that could end it. But he had no plans to do that. The fact that he had to stop the torment every few days was disappointing, but he did want his toys to stay alive.
En route to his favorite burrow, Vervain spotted Campion heading toward the surface. But why, at such a time of night? Elil were out hunting for sure. A smirk slowly crept onto his lips and he turned to follow. If his hunch was right, he might just have the fate of an owsla captain in his paws too.