Here’s your new chapter! I’m really enjoying giving these chapters to you, and I hope you like them!!
If you haven’t read the previous chapters, they’re at
They were already out of the mountains when Scooter finally broke. She’d been holding back her tears for the sake of the mission, but once they were out of range of the Hive she sat down, buried her face in her paws, and started crying.
Juniper silently padded behind the rest to where Scooter was sitting. She nuzzled the little rabbit and whispered softly in her ear.
“Little was a hero, you know,” she crooned. “She died the best way anyone could have. She saved all our lives, and you can be thankful for her your entire life.”
“But she’s never coming back,” said Scooter in a small voice. “She’s dead, and there’s nothing we can do about it.”
“She walks with Zios and Mira in the Sky Kingdom now,” said Juniper quietly. “But someday you’ll see her again, and when you do, nothing can ever bring you apart again.” With that, Juniper picked Scooter up in one paw, set her on her back, and trotted off to catch up to the others.
Greely stood by the mouth of the Hive, his brow furrowed and his chest puffed out. It had taken him a long time to reach the Hive, but Greely was not a hasty wolf. He took no risks, instead timing his arrival to when the phantoms would switch the dungeon guard. Greely knew everything about the phantoms. Greely knew everything about lots of things, and that was part of the reason the other animals thought he was a bit creepy.
Greely prowled through the cave’s opening, his eyes alight with awareness and caution. Nothing would get past him.
With astonishing silence and gracefulness for a wolf of his size, he wove through the maze of the Hive until he came to the dungeons. It didn’t look like the new guard had come yet, but there was a dark stain on the ground. He crouched down and sniffed it. Phantom blood. He hoped the wolves hadn’t done anything to upset the phantoms. That would just make his job more complicated than it already was.
Wary and attentive, he made to go through the doorway and came face-to-face with a big, burly phantom. No problem. He swatted the phantom with one massive paw and he exploded into a mass of purplish goop.
“Well, you are a strong one,” said a voice behind him. “You came a little earlier than we expected, but we’re right on schedule now.”
Then everything went black.
By nightfall, everyone had settled down in the wolves’ house. Crashing was delighted about having guests, and she and Fauna got along great. Even though Scooter was heartbroken about losing her best friend, she made herself right at home at their small cottage. Juniper made a hearty dinner of thick chicken noodle soup and salad, and at Lucky’s request, they had chocolate cake for dessert.
Before Crashing went to bed, as usual, she asked for a story. Juniper and Lucky were helping Fauna and Scooter get to bed. Scooter was sleeping on the couch, and Fauna was sharing Crashing’s room.
“Do you want to hear the story?” Flora asked Fauna, who was on top of a big pile of pillows at least a foot high.
“I like stories,” said Fauna cheerfully.
“Well, this one’s true,” said Flora. “It’s about two wolf sisters at battle camp.”
“I want to go to battle camp when I’m older,” said Crashing.
“Shh,” said Flora. “Do you want to hear the story or not?”
“Shh,” repeated Crashing to Fauna.
“One wolf was twelve, and the other was eight. It was the younger one’s first year at battle camp, and she was doing very well. The other had been going for a few years, but she didn’t like it very much. She tried her best to be a warrior, but it just wasn’t her thing. Instead, most of her time was spent developing medicines for the warriors.”
Like Juniper, thought Crashing, but she didn’t interrupt the story again.
“One very cold winter night, under the cover of hard snow, a legion of phantoms attacked the camp. The younger wolf wanted to fight, but she wasn’t allowed. The older wolf didn’t want to, but she had to because she was older. She was able to make a compromise and work as a field medic, but the younger one was frustrated because she couldn’t help in the fight.”
Fauna thought the wolf should have been able to fight, even though she wasn’t old enough. She was eight, just like the wolf in the story, and she’d just taken down a Hive full of phantoms.
“So the younger wolf, against orders, ran away from the camp and began to help the soldiers in their fight. She was a very good warrior, but her big sister was very worried for her even when she was safe and sound at camp. When she saw her in the middle of the battle, she stole the sword of one of the animals she was tending and rushed into battle.
“The younger sister was never in any real danger. She was a great fighter, and the trainers of the battle camp had the phantoms covered, but the older sister fought nevertheless to save her sister. But before she could even find her to help her, she was cornered by a huge phantom. She fought as best she could, but the phantom hurt one of her paws very badly. The battle was won by the camp, but they weren’t sure she would survive.”
Crashing’s bedtime stories – especially the true ones – got a little violent sometimes.
“She was saved by one of her own medicines. She was the first to make a solution that would help to heal phantom wounds to that degree, but it wasn’t enough. They – ”
“I thought Juniper invented that,” said Crashing softly.
“Not much longer, honey,” said Flora. “Just let me finish the story.”
“The medicine didn’t help enough. Her paw was too badly hurt, and to this day she has one metal paw.”
It was all silent for a few seconds. Crashing thought she knew who the two wolves in the story were.
Everyone was in bed and nearly asleep when a frantic knocking at the door woke them up.
“Who could it be this late at night?” whispered Juniper.
“I don’t know, but they better have a real good reason,” growled Lucky, who had already fallen asleep.
When they answered the door, they found none other than Liza the Panda Alpha, the most well-known and well-liked of the immortal rulers.
“Liza, ma’am, it’s you,” said Flora, dipping her head. “What is it?”
“It’s Greely,” she said. “He left this morning, and now he’s gone!”
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