THE WRECK AND RISE OF WHITSON MARINER ARE AHEAD; CAUTION IS ADVISED.
|“||Being a ruler is, contrary to popular notions, a calling of self-sacrifice; that is, if one wants to be a good ruler.||”|
Whitson was born the son of Lord Whit on Golden Coast, apparently some time before the region was invaded by an unknown menace. Whitson hit upon the idea of fleeing Golden Coast to find a new home, and doing so by building ships and sailing away. His first ship met with ridicule from a crowd led by a Rabbit named Rangel, an incident that left Whitson feeling resentful. However, he found support from other Rabbits, including Seddle.
King Gerard appointed Whitson to be his heir, and gave him several artifacts including the Crown of Flames and the Ruling Stone. Whitson led the evacuation from Golden Coast, and named the new land upon which the rabbits landed Natalia. When their camp grew into a true settlement, Whitson named it Seddleton in honor of Seddle. He married Lillie, daughter of Lord Grant, and the two were blessed with a son whom they named Lander.
Whitson finds his community trouble a time after his son is born. His community is distraught with winter coming. There is no wood to burn other than the trees, but Whitson worries that chopping the trees down for wood will only make them more vulnerable.
Whitson meets Fleck, a rabbit from the coal mines of Golden Coast. Fleck proposes to him the idea build ships and sail over Ayman Lake to the Low Bleaks in search of coal for the coming winter. Whitson agrees and appoints Fleck as Captain Blackstar.
The ship is named Vanguard. In the meantime, two more ships are being built for Whitson to explore the new land of Natalia.
Trouble comes. Whitson finds old fears once again, the raptors, the Lord of Prey. The Battle of Ayman Lake ensues, where Whitson is to fight for his and his son’s life during the battle. Fleck saves him from when he blows up the ships to beat back the Lords of Prey.
The aftermath is tough on Whitson. So many have died in the Battle of Ayman Lake. He can see Fleck as a leader, however, after Fleck’s heroics in the battle. Whitson take a bold move to sail farther inland for rabbitkind’s true home. He appoints Fleck as Lord Blackstar and charged him to expand the mine Fleck has founded and build a warren nearby.
On the day of sailing, King Whitson Mariner stands on Vanguard to face Fleck. Fleck is kneeled on the shore. Whitson calls to Fleck, then speaks Blackstar’s Oath.
Aboard the Vanguard, King Whitson Mariner welcomes his lords and captains into his cabin for a toast. Whitson engages in a heated exchange with Lord Grimble and his son, Captain Grimble, prompting Queen Lillie to quell the rising storm by calling for a toast. Grimble toasts to "a new kingdom", which so riles Whitson that Lillie is forced to take him out of the room before his temper can further elevate.
Whitson soon returns and calls for a toast with all of his captains, during which he recalls the bloody events of Golden Coast and expresses his good wishes for their future home, to which they are currently sailing.
As Lander arrives and all the captains return to their ships, Whitson expresses his concern over provoking the Grimbles to Massie.
Steadfast remains an extra day at Halfway Harbor, but the other two ships continue on. As the river grows steadily more perilous, Burnley is sent before Vanguard. Fog surrounds both ships, and Massie becomes nervous. He sends Hayes to wake Whitson, and attempts to hail Burnley, but, too late, Vanguard collides with some unseen rocks. As procedures to abandon ship begin, Whitson orders that Queen Lillie be fetched, but she is nowhere to be found. Lander realizes with horror that the queen has been kidnapped by the Grimbles.
Whitson remains onboard as the rest of the rabbits flee to shore, resolved to look for Lillie. He searches every waterlogged corner of the sinking ship. Trapped in the wreckage, he almost drowns before he is rescued by Brindle Cove.
On shore, Whitson learns of those who were murdered, including Commander Tagg, when Lillie was taken, and he laments the loss of the cargo the Desolation was carrying, such as the Whitson Stone. Whitson impatiently awaits the arrival of Steadfast. Just then, he is hailed to a tree at the edge of the wood, where a masked Galt is hiding. Galt shows Whitson the Green Ember as proof of having seen Lander, and requests a private audience with Whitson, to which the king agrees.
Soon, Steadfast arrives on shore. Whitson orders Captain Walters to bring the ship in, then turns his attention back to Galt, who tells him everything he told Massie and Lander. Whitson pardons Galt, who then takes his leave of the king to find Massie and Lander. Whitson addresses the community, telling them of the Grimbles' betrayal. The king then resolves to take a skeleton crew aboard Steadfast and attempt to catch up with Desolation.
Aboard Steadfast, Whitson keeps a sharp eye for Desolation as they approach rapids. Just as Steadfast is about to collide with a massive rock, Whitson calls for Hamp, but the buck is no longer at helm.
Just as Steadfast is about to collide with the rock, Brindle Cove reaches the helm. The ship careens out of danger, and the crew hurries to make things shipshape as they continue sailing. As they approach a cliff, Whitson spots Lillie, Massie, and Lander running along its top, chased by dragons. The king orders the crew to drop anchor, and catches his wife as she and the other two jump down onto Steadfast's deck. On their way away from the cliff, Whitson sees Lander on his way towards them, pursued by dragons. Lander leaps onto the deck, bringing two dragons with him. One is dead, but the other lunges for Lillie; it is slain by Galt.
Whitson learns of Lillie's and Lander's ordeals, then hurries back to the bow. As Steadfast continues downriver, the king promotes Massie to captain for his service.
As evening approaches, Massie spots movement on the edge of the island. Whitson orders Brindle to take them closer to shore. Massie recognizes the creatures as the supposed dead of Vanguard's wreck, Mother Saramack included among them. Whitson quickly holds a hurried conference with his captains, during which he explains his plan. Just then, Desolation emerges out of the river beyond.
Lillie and Lander, followed by a few others, swim for shore as the rest prepare for battle. The crew of Steadfast feign continuous mistakes, allowing Desolation to quickly gain on them. Whitson orders Brindle to pull hard to port, then back to starboard so that the ship is now aimed squarely at Desolation; the bow of Steadfast crashes right into the bigger ship's side. Though momentarily stunned, Grimble soon regains control and sends his bucks onto the decks of Steadfast, but they find the deck empty.
Just then, a buck spots a group of actively burning blastpowder barrels in the corner of the deck, and most of Grimble's crew abandons ship in their panic. Grimble, however, breaks open the barrels to find them all empty. Suddenly, Whitson and his crew surge on deck, and a fierce battle ensues. Just as Grimble is about to bring the final blow, he stops when finding himself surrounded by Whitson's supporters. Jimmi Docker brings an oar around into Grimble's face, successfully knocking the younger rabbit out cold.
On shore, the survivors and soldiers reunite. Whitson is approached by Mother Saramack, who tells him that one of Grimble's bucks brought a message from the dragons. The message stated that the dragons intend to report to their king of the trouble, and that they will return to finish the rest of the rabbits. Whitson is depressed by this news, but he is soon cheered when Mother Saramack directs him, Lillie, and Lander to the wreckage of Vanguard, where a crate that had been found with King Gerrard's seal on it. Inside, much to their awe and relief, they find the Stone Sword of Flint.
Whitson is mentioned by Louise when she informs Picket Longtreader that they are imprisoned under First Warren. Heyna Blackstar also mentions that he and Lillie had a daughter, Lucianne, who married Fleck Blackstar's son.