Artemis glanced around hastily to make sure everyone was still asleep, then darted into the wood, her black-streaked-purple hair streaming behind her. She could sense Winter fluttering above her, the Spectre girl’s soft blue aura falling upon the hybrid cat as she leapt.

Before long, Winter called down below. “I see him.”

Artemis slowed, while Winter landed. A black raven landed in front of them, ruffling his feathers with a soft caw, then shifted into a human.

“Any news about Cadmea?” Artemis asked him anxiously.

“She is nowhere to be found,” Obsidian reported grimly. “It is as if she disappeared. Everyone says they last saw her at the meeting. I tried to confer with Lycaon, because he is her closest confidant, but his hole is empty, and appears to have been for many days now. I could detect a faint trace of her inside, but it was even older and almost gone.”

“Where could she be?” Winter wondered worriedly.

“I don’t know.” Obsidian’s dark eyes glinted in the silvery moonlight. “But something tells me she knows what she’s doing.”

“She does.”

All three of them turned to regard Cara-delle, who sat in the shadows with her russet tail wrapped neatly around her paws. “She knows exactly what she is doing,” Cara-delle murmured mysteriously.

“And how do you know this?” Artemis challenged.

Cara-delle’s amber eyes glowed. “I have spoken with her. She wishes for her whereabouts to be kept secret, but she wants you to know she is trying to keep herself under control. She regrets not being able to join you on the mission, but she knew you’d continue without her because it is your duty.”

“I wish it weren’t,” Artemis whispered resignedly, hanging her head in despair. “Tell her, if you can, that we want her back, no matter what s wrong.”

“She knew you would say that.” Cara-delle seemed to smile bitterly. “She refuses to come until she has successfully controlled herself. Until then, she will remain hidden. I am her only contact.”

Obsidian stared at Cara-delle. “You have a similar power to that of I, but not quite the same. Are you a shifter, Cara-delle?”

“Maybe,” she replied mysteriously. “Maybe not.”

He took a step forward. “Why do you seem hazy? Like you are melting into the shadows.”

It was true; the elegant fox was fading fast. Already the glow of her amber eyes had dimmed, and now she gave one last comment before disappearing.

“Maybe I was never even here.”