Epilogue : "No one dies until they are forgotten…"
A soft breeze ran through the park, shifting the luxurious red fur of the lone fox. Plucky sat on the hill top, staring out into the distance. He knew he should be amongst those he was now in charge of. And he had been these past few days. He had patrolled the park for any blue foxes bold enough to linger. He had tended to his new mate, Celestial, with young care. He had watched over Charmer's cubs. But now, he needed to be alone. He needed to be the fox he had been before Friendly had invaded. Before Blaze had betrayed his uncle. Before…
Plucky closed his eyes and felt the pain inside burn with the cold flame of grief. Before Fox and Bold had died. He did not regret what he had done to Blaze, much to his own surprise. Rather, it gave him a bitter satisfaction that the murderer of his kin had paid for his evil deeds. But that secret joy was not enough to douse his sorrow. Blaze's death had not brought either of them back.
The young fox turned his muzzle, blinking back the feeling from his eyes.
"Vixen" he responded, trying to smile.
Fox's mate padded up to his side and sat down. Recently, she seemed to have aged a lot faster. But the warm glow had not faded from her eyes. He somehow doubted it ever would.
"How are you, Plucky?"
Her gentle voice was enough to pull all the emotions back into his gaze. He looked away.
"I miss them" was all he said.
It was an understatement. Vixen nuzzled him.
"So do I" she murmured "Is that all?"
Bold's son sighed inaudibly.
"No, it's just…"
"Go on" his grand-mother urged softly.
"It's hard to keep on going…without them" he admitted, his black ears flattening slightly "Without Fox helping me…telling me where to step next…whether I've chosen the right path or not."
Vixen listened understandingly, her muzzle etched with concern.
"And my father… we were just getting to know each other. To make up for all the time we missed out before. I've mourned him once…it hurts so much more a second time."
He turned tear-laden eyes to hers.
"Have you ever had the burden of a legend to live up to, Vixen?" he whispered "Have you ever had to bear that legend alone?"
He fell silent and closed his eyes, memories flashing across his mind. Images of his grand-father. Of him sitting before the surviving Farthing animals, his wise, experienced eyes scanning those surrounding him. Of him looking over his mate with a tenderness brought on by the long, difficult seasons faced together. Of him smiling at Plucky, the pride clear in his expression.
And suddenly, he could see Bold too. His father smiling in his reckless way, the regret and sorrow buried deep in his dark eyes. He had seen his only cub. That had been worth surviving for.
Vixen gazed at the young fox beside her, Fox's kin, Bold's son. She had been proud of him from the very start. And she always would be.
"Plucky…" she said comfortingly "You're not as alone as you believe you are."
He opened his eyes and she smiled through her tears.
"True, I've never had to live up to a legend" her voice was like the summer winds, come to banish the ice of a seemingly endless winter "But I've lived with one. I've loved one. I've grown old at the side of one."
She looked at the horizon, where the sun was setting, touching the trees to crimson.
"I'm the one who can help you, if anyone can…and no one can be more willing than I to do so."
Plucky followed her gaze, feeling her words run across his heart like a star-lit stream.
"And don't forget Plucky…no one dies until they are forgotten. The legend of the Farthing Fox and his son will always be remembered."
She blinked affectionately.
"So they're alive, Plucky" she whispered "And they're with you. They always will be. Not even death will change that."
Her grandson pressed his muzzle against her old, greying one.
"Just like nothing ever changes you" he murmured "Thank you, Vixen"
"No, Plucky, thank life"
The fox and vixen sat on the hill top together, the wind ruffling their red fur. Both remembering loved ones. Both always would.
(And so it ends. Hope you all liked it. I recently added the Epilogue at the request of other readers on another site. Please review and I might just consider putting up my other story, even thought it has nothing to do with Farthing Wood. It involves a n RPG character of mine. He's a fox. Let me know if you're interested. Sayonara...)