Hey, everyone! I know it has been some time since I have posted the first part of Wildrulers. Hopefully you have waited in great anticipation for Chapter 3, and here it is! Brace yourselves….
Here’s the last post in case you missed it.
As Sunsetcub reached the familiarity of the treetops, she checked to see if Glimmercub was behind her. Sure enough, he was hot on her heels, winding through the tree trunks that stood in various random places. Sunsetcub followed him breathlessly, and they both stopped, panting, when they found themselves deep into the forest.
“Let’s make a den and sleep for the night.” Sunsetcub darted nimbly over to a tree. “This looks just about right. See, this tiny gap at the ground level must be the top of an underground hollow. We can use that, if we can dig all of the dirt out.”
They set to work, wedging curved bark pieces into the ground and pulling up the dirt it held. They dumped it into a neat pile, every once in a while stopping to pack the dirt together and make sure it didn’t cascade into the hole they had worked so hard on. As it steadily grew darker with the approaching half-high (the time between sunset and midnight), the two foxes worked side by side to scrape out the last traces of dark brown soil. They had settled down to sleep in the scraps of unkempt moss they had gathered by the time the moon was high in the sky.
Sunsetcub glanced at the moon. “Do you think that Skykit, Shimmerleaf, and Stealthfeather are looking at the moon right now and thinking about us?” she asked Glimmercub.
“Maybe,” he replied sleepily, and Sunsetcub realized guiltily that she had disturbed him when he was on the brink of giving in to sleep’s lazy pull. In other words, he was about to fall asleep.
Sunsetcub closed her eyes, and it dawned on her the burden of responsibility that now resided on her shoulders. Her decisions could either save their lives or condemn them to death. She waited for sleep to drag her into its dark waters and free her of everything that had ruined her life.
The next morning, Sunsetcub woke up to a face full of sunlight. She shook Glimmercub awake and padded up the slope to greet the beautiful day. She waited as Glimmercub trudged up the dirt pile. “Bet I can get to that patch of clovers before you,” she challenged her brother.
Sunsetcub bounded down the mini hill and across the endless green ocean of grass. She finished with a leap into the midst of the patch. Glimmercub skidded to a halt beside her. “Let’s race back!” Glimmercub shot over his shoulder as he ran away.
“Hey! You got a head start,” Sunsetcub ran after him, but lost anyway.
Playfully, she tossed a pile of leaves in his face. Glimmercub jumped on his sister, and they wrestled in a mock fight. They stopped, panting, and sat down.
“I’m hungry,” Glimmercub complained. “Let’s hunt.”
The rest of the day, they prowled around in search of prey to catch. A couple of times, they stopped to play a game. At the end of the day, they retired to their den to settle down and sleep.
This routine went on every day, and the foxes liked it. They thought it was quite peaceful, and they were right. That is, they were right until their lives took a huge, unexpected turn.
They woke up the next morning, sensing nothing out of the ordinary. They played a bit, and then set out to hunt. Sunsetcub started stalking a mouse, but Glimmercub shot out of the bushes and grabbed it with his dark brown paws. Wait! Dark brown paws? That’s not Glimmercub!
Sunsetcub raced after him, and soon realized that her brother was trailing her. Together, the two fox cubs chased the prey thief. Suddenly, they stopped. They were blocked by a barricade of thorn bushes.
Another fox, this time with white paws, came up to them from behind. She seemed smaller than a full grown one, but bigger than a cub. “What do you want, little foxlings?” she inquired.
The cubs whirled around. “The fox that just went in stole our mouse!” Sunsetcub bristled angrily. “And we don’t know how to get through this to get it back!”
“Oh, my,” the fox shook her head. “Brackenfoxie can’t seem to get off the habit. I’ll go and get it back for you.”
The kind fox darted swiftly in through a tiny, almost invisible gap. A few moments later, she emerged from the thorns unscathed. “Here you go,” she smiled in apology.
As they headed back to the hollow, Sunsetcub marveled at how resourceful these other foxes were. They would use their surroundings to build a good defense for the home they found, and make sure that the environment was perfect for them.
That night, Sunsetcub dreamed that she and Glimmercub were with this new fox society. They would care for each other, and be friendly to the others. She would hunt and train with the rest of the foxies, and defend her home to her last breath.
In the morning, instead of playing with Glimmercub, Sunsetcub headed towards the fox camp. She wanted to find out what exactly happened in this group. If it was good enough, she and Glimmercub could join. And, Sunsetcub thought guiltily, I won’t have to take care of Glimmercub anymore.
For most of the day, Sunsetcub spied on the foxes. Many times, she spotted with her keen eyes that many foxes were going out in groups at certain times of day: sunrise, half-sun, midday, low-sun, sunset, etc.
Sunsetcub finally allowed Glimmercub to hunt with her after the sunset group left from their home, but she kept losing her prey because her mind was elsewhere. When she went to sleep, content with the fat and lazy mouse she had managed to kill, she thought about what she had observed. She could surely gather more information with a closer look….
The next day, at dawn, Sunsetcub woke up to the pitter-patter of rain. It thumped on the hard, rocky ground outside, like a repeated thunderclap. A boom echoed throughout the plain, blotting out the sound of the rain against the solid ground and making Sunsetcub jump. Glimmercub snorted but did not wake up.
Sunsetcub tried to venture outside. The moment she stepped out, she had to fight the driving winds. She felt the freezing rain hit her red pelt. It felt as if the sky was chucking stones at her; small, sharp pieces. She slid back into the den, soaked to the bone. With a wet paw, she brushed a strand of fur out of her eyes. It was stuck to her cheek with moisture.
A bolt of lightning illuminated the mini tree cavern for a split second, and showed Sunsetcub was sitting and watching his sister with amusement. “You really are crazy,” he nudged her. “Only a crazy fox would go out in that weather.”
Sunsetcub nudged him back a little too hard. He fell over.
Later on, the ominous dark clouds parted to reveal a shining sun. Sunsetcub groaned when she realized it was midday; they had lost precious little time to look at the foxes’ lifestyle.
Quickly, Sunsetcub raced to her hiding place and waited a couple of moments. She saw what she was looking for; the half-sun patrol was returning while the midday patrol was leaving. Sunsetcub prodded a leaf impatiently as she waited for the patrol to become a dot on the horizon. Finally, they disappeared. Sunsetcub checked for other foxes, but the coast was clear. Her heart thumped louder than the noise of rain as she and Glimmercub darted over to the entrance, and could tell that Glimmercub was scared as well.
The two cubs stuck their heads into the opening, but were unable to get a clear view thanks to the wall of bracken before them. Just then, they heard footsteps. They pulled their heads back, but it was too late. A deep growl reached their ears. “Who are you and what are you doing here?”