First blood drawn.
Winter has come to White Deer Park.
The ground is covered under a blanket of cold snow, glistering in the light of the stars as the night has fallen. Though it is early in the winter, this was the first snowfall and it was seen as a bad omen. A harsh winter it would become, or so say the wise old creatures. Some leaves have not even let go of their twigs, dried and brown as they were.
A lone figure can be seen across the plains of white, among the black silhouettes of skinny birch trees. It walks with a steady pace through the snow, the thick fluffy tail dragging over the coldness. The canine ears are perked up, flicking from time to time when they catch a faint sound… any sound. The lone figure is looking, tracking for anything that can be devoured. It may be early winter, but the frost has been harsh and many creatures have gone in either hibernation or simply in hiding to keep warm for tonight.
The vixen comes to a slow stop and lifts her head up to the night sky, seeing how the stars are slowly disappearing behind thick tuffs of clouds; it will snow again soon enough; surely before dawn. This thought troubles her as she has not found anything to eat yet and she preferably be in her den before the first snowflake falls. With a soft snort of discontent, the vixen continues with crossing the empty looking space, the low vegetation almost tucked away under the snow. She should reach the stream soon, so she can drink something while pondering over where to hunt.
The stream, not frozen over thanks to the speed of the water flow glisters in the dim light of the night, welcoming the vixen and beckoning her to get closer. It surely looks inviting.
Once at the small shore which is now more ice and snow than mud and sand, the vixen leans a bit forward to lap up some of the icy cold water, but stops half-way when her keen ears pick up a sound. Closing her muzzle and lifting her head up to respond to the sound, the yellow eyes scan the other side of the stream for any sign of movement. Instinctively, she lowers herself a bit, feeling the cold snow press against her belly and chest as she keeps her eyes pinned upon what is before her.
Nature is thicker at the other side of the stream, a small hill which is steeps up into a small patch of forest with pine trees and also birches; it is like the stream of water is like a border which has split thick from less dense… but then it is an actual border.
That what the vixen is looking at belongs to those animals which crossed the country side to be at peace here, in White Deer Park. Those animals with their Oath of care and protection.
It has been a few years since they have come and brought more offspring into the Park during the springs after their arrival. It has been a curse ever since, though the vixen was not even there when the animals of Farthing Wood were greeted by the Great White Stag and taken into the Park; she wasn't even born yet.
But she heard the stories and those stories made her opinion about those animals as it is now; she dislikes them as do many of the blue foxes who reside here in the Park. They were here first, so the ancestors say and it was their right to hunt here freely, until the red foxes came with their bunch of odd friends. Grounds became divided, even the wildlife as you weren't allowed to eat those who were upon the lands of Farthing Wood.
The vixen turns her head quickly as she hears the sound again, now further away from where it originally came from; the sound of something rustling through the snow. She narrows her yellow eyes, not liking the idea that what ever it is is moving away from her and with forgetting she came here to drink in the first place, she leaps gracefully across the stream, her hind paws and tail dipping into the cold water.
The soft splashing of the water apparently alerted what ever was moving about as the previous sounds can be heard again, now faster and slowly getting softer.
The vixen clenches her teeth together as she realises that she lost her stealth anymore and begins the pursuit, quickly chasing after that what is trying to get away from her. She is well aware she is on Farthing land now, but she is hungry and she never really cared about that Oath they made. The Park has grown bigger now; more red foxes and other predators have come in, so the Oath is simply bound to break one day. She wouldn't care less.
Soon enough, a slender figure can be seen before her; small, skinny and long. The vixen can already feel the water run in her mouth at the idea that this is a prey she can eat and she picks up the pace to gain on the creature, kicking up some snow.
The mink runs for its life, zigzagging to try and get the vixen it saw drinking from the stream off its tail, but… its tail wasn't safe enough.
The sharp teeth of the blue vixen snap down upon the long tail with the black end and yank the mink back, causing it to fly a little through the air. Truly caught by surprise, the mink lands in the snow and squeaks of terror as the vixen dives upon it and attacks it.
Hissing, growling and more squeaking can be heard as both the animals struggle to survive, one to eat and one to escape, but only one can come as victor out of this natural habit of life and death… and it isn't the mink.
Dangling limp from between the light blue jaws, the mink shows no signs of life, its warm blood dripping upon the snow below. The vixen can't help to grin over this fortunate catch and turns around to return to the lands at the other side of the stream when another sound is heard. More alert now that she is at 'enemy' territory, the vixen narrows her yellow eyes and quickly spins around towards the cause of the sound, seeing the red outlines of a fox against the black and white night scenery. Not in the mood to wait for the other fox to come closer and throw a lecture her way, the blue vixen decides to run while she still can… with the dead mink. Sprinting off without any given excuse, she runs back the way she came, beside the stream, crossing of it and back among the birch trees to follow the trail back to her den.
No red fox would dare to follow her into lands which belong to the blue foxes.
"Did you see that?"
The soft squeaky voice comes from behind a tree and a vole's head peeks up to where a blue fox stood not that long ago.
"Did you see that?"
The vole repeats his question and looks up to the large creature beside him to await an answer while his mate and another fellow vole finally dare to also look to where the short killing took place. Only kicked around snow and a few dark stains is all that is left; the blue fox is nowhere in sight anymore.
The red furred creature nods her head just slightly and slowly begins to advance forward to where the other fox got the mink. The vole quickly scurries up the thick root of the tree he was hiding behind and continues with speaking," that fox saved our lives. That mink was about to eat us, yes he almost did. Isn't that right, love?"
The vole looks over his shoulder down to his mate which is still trying to recover from the scare the mink gave them earlier and sits there trembling like a leaf.
"Luckily for us that fox was there to stop him. My mate couldn't run that fast anymore."
"Yes… Luckily," the red fox repeats and sniffs the spot where the mink was caught. She wrinkles her snout slightly and looks towards the stream which is close by, wondering why one of the blue foxes came upon Farthing Land to hunt. The voles just made clear that the mink was on this side of the stream, so that simply means that the vixen crossed the water to get here.
"You going after that fox, Ember?"
The red vixen snaps out of her wondering and looks back towards the vole, smiling slightly and shaking her head," there is no reason for that. After all, you just admitted she saved you; she has done nothing wrong. Come, I'll walk along to your holes so you will safely arrive home. It will start to snow soon."
Walking upon her long legs passed the tree where the voles are hiding, Ember still can't help but to be curious about that blue furred vixen. What was she up to in the first place?
The voles quickly follow after the fox, one who is bound by the Oath to protect all those who are connected to the Farthing Wood animals, surely not wanting to lose the opportunity to have a bodyguard by their side. As they silently follow Ember, both the males supporting the female vole that is still a bit shaky about what happened, the first few snowflakes begin to ascend from the dark night sky to declare more will fall.
Almost by her den, the blue vixen kept up a good fast pace to return home with her hunting trophy. She slows down a little when she smells the familiar scents of herself and other blue foxes, knowing she is safe now. With the mink still held tight between her jaws, she can feel the cold flakes of snow trying to cling to her fur as they come down from above; it began to snow.
"My, that does smell tasty."
The voice makes the vixen drop dead in her tracks and she stares towards the figure up ahead among the white swirling dots, refusing to say anything. The dark figure comes closer, his body language making clear he does not fear her as he keeps his head and shoulders up.
"What did you catch tonight, Shade?" the approaching fox asks, his wide smile showing his teeth and his dark blue fur almost looking black against the bright white of the snow.
The vixen does not take her yellow eyes of the fox she knows all to well and drops the mink down upon the ground, growling," don't even expect to get a sniff of it, Snapper. It is mine; I worked for it."
The male blue fox called Snapper tilts his head a little to the side, his grinning expression turning into that of mocking disappointment and he sets another step closer, causing Shade to quickly bring her head down to the dead mink; ready to take it back between her teeth if Snapper gets the idea of taking it from her.
"Not caring to share with your own brother?"
"You can get your own food, Snapper. I am not your delivery service."
Snapper lets out a snort about his sister's words, but smiles none the less, asking as he sits down upon the cold snow," why did you seem in a hurry when you returned? Got into trouble?"
Shade slowly lowers herself down upon the ground, keeping the mink between her almost black paws and looks upon her dinner for a moment before saying with a wicked grin across her muzzle," this mink here… was one of those Farthing Wood animals."
The male fox perks his black ears more up, looking slightly confused by what Shade said and parts his lips to ask her to clarify… but doesn't get the opportunity for it.
"I dared to go upon Farthing Land and I killed it. It didn't stand a chance! Thanks to that crazy Oath, it grown so stupid that it was an easy catch. Even that fox was too slow to rea—"
"You were seen?!"
Snapper's angry voice cuts off Shade's proud talking and she looks at up to him in a dumbfounded way, slightly frustrated by the fact that her brother interrupted her.
"So what if I was seen?" she asks with a gruffly tone," I am certain that disgusting red fox doesn't even know who I am."
"You killed one we are not allowed to kill and you just act as if it's a run around the pond? Do you have any idea of what you may have caused? What if your action gives anyone the idea to start a war again? You heard the stories!"
For a moment it is quiet. The two foxes look at each other among the falling snow, the tension very clear between them. It is Shade who finally breaks the silence by placing a paw upon the mink and setting her teeth in the dead creature to begin eating. Snapper's yellow eyes grow a little wider as he sees Shade's uninterested reaction to the whole situation and quickly slams his own paw upon the mink, causing Shade to almost leap up and bare her fangs at him. Both the foxes growl at each other, one standing up straight upon four legs and the other crouched and with the hair of her neck risen up to show her offence.
"Did you even listen?" Snapper cries out," don't you care?"
Shade shoves the mink away from under Snapper's paw and slowly rises up to look her brother in the eye, saying with a soft and low voice which sounds almost as cold as the snow all around them," I am going back tomorrow night… and I will kill again."
A clear enough answer.
Snapped clenches his teeth together, not certain of how to react to his sister's intentions or what to do about it; she is his only sister after all.
Shade picks up the mink and brushes passed Snapper to return to her den and eat there in peace… and alone. It is obviously she does not care about how the Farthing animals will react to what she did and what may come out of it. She doesn't like those red foxes; she surely wouldn't mind to see them all gone from the Park where she was born.
"Reconsider this, Shade. You don't know what you are doing…"
The concerned voice of her brother causes Shade to stand still for a moment and look back at him… but he never gets an answer. Quietly, Shade continues her walk to her warm dry den under the ground, leaving Snapper behind in the cold winter snow and alone with his worries.
-To Be Continued-