Darkness came early across White Deer Park on this cold winter day and though allot of animals crawl into their nests and holes to sleep for the night, others come out of their hiding to hunt in the silence night grants them.
Plucky, Brisk and Ember had left their familiar Farthing Land early at dusk to seek out Ranger and Charmer as was planned during the earlier meeting; something fishy was going on among the blue foxes and to grand everyone's safety, something has to be discussed.
The notice of certain blue foxes snooping around on their land has become alarming, certainly for the smaller creatures which have grown quite used to the peace and calm upon Farthing Land.
Before the three foxes took their leave, it was Owl who pressed the matters harder down upon Plucky's heart; she is very open about the fact she does not trust the blue furred vixen she was able to have a little chat with and though she respects the order of staying put Plucky gave to everyone, she truly wouldn't have mind to tag along. Who else gives better advice than her? Luckily, Hollow managed to talk her into not doing anything rash and to go hunting with him instead of sneaking after the three red foxes.
"Have to admit I wish Fox was with us…"
The siblings look a bit surprised to their leader which walks between them and then throw a quick gaze towards each other; they have heard about the legendary Fox and his adventurous journey to White Deer Park. It was an honour to meet him when the fences of the Park were broken down to melt together with the other new Park where Plucky was taken once perhaps a year ago. Plucky had taught them allot about the Oath during his time of captivity in the other Park and it made the siblings join him on Farthing Land. But yet, these two still have allot to learn about the true value of the Oath and the memories of that glorious past they were never a part of.
"You are the true leader now, Plucky and I am certain that whom ever we speak to will acknowledge that," Brisk says and sways a little with his head from side to side, a pleasant smile across his orange muzzle," it is obvious that Fox's blood runs through your veins. We all have faith in you doing the right thing."
"This winter is a big test... The previous one was softer compared to this one and it is still far from over. I didn't get the change to experience that what my grandfather went through during his first winter in White Dear Park. The smaller creatures are growing skinnier and their numbers are already decreasing."
"That isn't your fault, Plucky. Nobody should rely on only one being and certainly not such a large group," Ember says softly, watching her paws sink away in the cold snow as she keeps her head down, thoughtful as always," the white deers leave hay for the little ones as they have done for a few winters now. You can't help it that it is so cold for their little bodies… This is out of your league."
"Out of my league, yes… but the burden and the thoughts are heavy."
"Aaah, don't get that fluffy tail of yours in a knot now, Plucky. Let us deal with other problems first like a certain blue vixen. Stowing too much trouble in that little head of yours surely aint going to help. One problem at the time."
Plucky smiles slightly to Brisk, a good friend for him as Dash has been quite busy with taking care of her litter she gave birth to earlier in the year. Brisk mostly manages to cheer him up while his sister Ember is the one who gives him calm advice.
Meanwhile, two other foxes are sneaking through the early darkness of the night, but this time not with the intensions of killing.
Shade has been very quiet ever since she crawled out of the den she visited during the day to have a little chat with the one who lives in there and it troubles Ashes a little. What has happened in there…?
He wasn't allowed to enter as Shade told him it was personal and though he tried to eavesdrop, he could hardly hear what was said deep inside that dark hole as he stood outside by the entrance. It made him curious, but also a little worried as he knew exactly to whom this den belongs to.
"So how is she doing…?" Ashes asks to break the uncomfortable silence which hangs between them and looks at Shade walking ahead of him, only to see one of her ears turn into his direction.
"She won't last long."
Ashes pulls a face as he notices the cold tone in Shade's voice and lets out a soft sigh, now becoming very curious about what has happened in that den. Yet he remains quiet and follows Shade through the cold snow; the night is clear and crisp as new frost is slowly ascending from the star filled night sky.
In Shade's mind, thoughts rush as she recalls the moment she spend in the den where Ashes had to wait outside for her. Her visit had an important purpose and she almost managed to fulfil it, but it didn't go as smooth as she hoped for. The old vixen was chasing memories of old and having her concentrate on the now took a moment, but Shade was patient and eventually managed to have the old vixen listen and speak with her.
"What has brought you in my den, my dear…?" the sneering undertone in the speaking voice didn't stir Shade a single bit, but she gazed with respect upon the creature which once possessed grace and beauty.
Now, the old vixen was like a heap of light blue fur and sticking out bones; grown skinny because age caught up with her and because life had been hard. Her full, but sleek fur had lost its shine and even the spark of life dimmed out in her yellow eyes. The vixen who was once Shade's role model was now nothing more than shadow in her mind.
"I have came to talk," Shade answered, her eyes looking straight into those which are almost blind, milky and teary," I wish to revive that what was lost…"
"Many things have been lost, my dear. Be more specific."
"That which the red ones have taken from us."
The old vixen slowly raised her head from her skinny paws, her pointy ears, though one torn perking up a little more after hearing the much younger vixen's words. A coughing and rasping laugh escaped from her and with a wheezing inhale of breath, she spoke," you can not revive the dead, my dear."
"Dead ones should be honoured, not be revived... unless it is within someone else," shade said softly, but serious causing the old vixen to frown at her," you were once the greatest among all vixens in this Park. That title was taken from you without mercy. I wish… to revive that as well; I wish to follow your footsteps."
"And end up like me…? You silly girl, are you blind?"
"I see clear enough," Shade said, narrowing her eyes a little as she became aware that this old being is too slow to grasp that what Shade spoke of," do you not wish for revenge?"
"Revenge…?" the old one repeated with an uncertain expression across her face and lowered her head back down upon her paws," revenge is a meal served cold, my dear and it was a meal I never was able to get. Things became complicated… they began to mix with one and another. My own blood began to socialize with them. That what we fought for was so quickly forgotten after… after…"
The old vixen fell silent and closed her eyes, not wanting to be reminded of that day she fell from her grace and lost that which most of her life evolved around.
Shade clenches her teeth together as she waits for the vixen to continue, but the seconds crawl by and flow over into minutes. Eventually, she decided to break the silence.
"Lady Blue…" she said a bit harsh, causing the weeping old vixen to cringe at the hearing of her own name," time has come to set right what had gone wrong in the past. There are those willing to follow that what you and your mate tried to achieve years ago. We shall avenge your great loss and sooth your grief. I promise you that…"
The old vixen, once known as the loyal mate of the dangerous and mad Scarface, didn't not respond, but Shade knew a spoken answer was not needed. She was able to see a spark in the vixen's almost blind eyes when revenge was mentioned and that was all Shade needed.
She now has Lady Blue's support in her plan of re-claiming White Deer Park for the blue foxes and though this victory should taste sweet, the young vixen isn't as pleased as she should be. Allot of things still have to be done and she still has a problem; the gossips about her among the Farthing Land animals…
The male fox looks up as finally Shade speaks to him, unaware of her replaying the whole scene which took place in Lady Blue's den in her head. He smiles softly and picks up the pace a little to walk along side her, asking," yes, love?"
"What do you think about red foxes?"
"They seem all right."
"Don't you think it is odd that they have sought sanctuary here in this Park? Aren't red foxes supposed to be wild and free?"
"They are free here, aren't they?"
"More stuck on their own land as we are on ours is more like it," Shade says with her usual cold voice and heaves her head a little up to show her minor objection to the stay of red foxes in the Park," we blue foxes have the right to be here; we are a special species. Red foxes are ordinary and can be found anywhere among the countryside."
"I heard that the countryside is quite a dangerous place, even for foxes. Stepping outside this Park is a great risk for any of us."
"That should be their way of life. Now they are feasting upon that which is supposed to be ours. I am surprised the Warden hasn't eliminated them yet."
Ashes suppresses a snort, not really wanting to listen to Shade's point of view on red foxes, simply because he indeed heard it more from other blue foxes. The typical 'blue foxes were here first' is becoming a tiring thing though he can understand the reason why they think like this.
The blue fox group is growing too large and spaces to live and places to hunt are becoming less. Yet, with the merging of the other park a year ago, new pieces of land became available and the complaining has become a bit less, but allot of blue foxes especially from older generation refuse to wander far from their familiar land. It is getting overpopulated.
"I am sure it will turn out well eventually. Besides, it is winter now. Everyone is having a hard time, even us," Ashes says softly to stay on Shade's good side," I know. Why don't we just go back to your den and get some warmth before we go out hunting, hmm? I bet you are hungry after all the talking you have done today."
"It was satisfying," Shade says a little absently, her thoughts not even close to food or the warmth of her den. She thinks about the future and how glorious it will become if everything is planned just right.
It doesn't take long for the three red foxes to reach the border of Farthing Land and that of the blue foxes. This is where they will find Charmer's den which she picked together with her mate Ranger when the feud between Fox and Scarface was over several years ago.
Plucky sniffs the air as they come closer to the couple's den, trying to figure out if they are at home or out hunting. But his luck peeks around the corner as a dark shape can be seen standing upon the snow covered hill in which the very old den has been dug out. The shape seems alert when the trio comes closer, but eases up as Plucky says," good evening, Ranger."
"Well well, aint you a sight for sore eyes. Ello Plucky, Ember… Brisk."
Brisk doesn't seem all to annoyed by the held back tone of Ranger's voice as he greets him and simply wags his tail to show he is not offended with what ever the blue fox thinks of him.
"Out for hunting?"
"No Ranger, we came here for you and Charmer. We need help in finding a blue vixen; she has been on our land twice now and the others are getting a bit jumpy because of it," Plucky explains and looks over his shoulder to the siblings who stare up to Ranger to await if he will lend a paw or not.
"A blue vixen, ey? Well, I guess I can help you out a little on this one. Best option is to have a little chat with Boulder, the leader. I can take you to him."
"That would be great," Plucky smiles and then frowns a little looking towards the dark entrance of Ranger's den," what about aunt Charmer? Won't she come?"
"Winter had a tough beginning, Plucky. Food has been little for us predators here on Farthing Land and now that Charmer is expecting cubs, she needs all the rest and food she can get."
"Aah yes… the cubs."
Ranger nods slightly and makes his way down the hill to get to the foot of it, skidding a little through the powdery yet slippery snow and into the warm hole to tell Charmer he will be gone for a little while to help out their young leader.
Plucky quickly follows after him, saying towards his two companions before he disappears inside," wait here. I'll explain the situation to Ranger and Charmer before we go and look for Boulder. It won't take long."
As his fluffy tail disappears within the entrance, Ember wrinkles her nose a little as Brisk sniffs the cold air in an overdone way, padding about a little in circles and she asks as she gives him a glare," what are you doing…?"
Brisk looks up from inhaling the air swiftly and smiles lazily to his sister, saying as he motions with his head towards a few bare bushes close by them," I smell something… odd. You know? Like something which should not be here."
Ember arches both her furry brows as her brother is being a little mysterious, which she should have grown used to by now, and follows his gaze towards the leafless bushes where the 'odd' scent comes from. The scent is familiar to her and she gives Brisk a quick look before slowly moving over towards those bushes which are now in full attention. Closer and closer she gets until her wet nose almost touches one of the dark twigs which spouts out from the bush like a skinny dark finger.
Suddenly a few twigs shake and then move away from the bushes Ember was staring so intensely at, causing her to set a few startled steps back; it is like the bush came to life and walks away from her. But this isn't the case for as soon as the 'walking' twigs move out from behind the bushes; it appears to be a fast creature which had a strange way of hiding himself.
Brisk chuckles as the creature with the twigs dives in between his long legs and raises one paw up as he looks underneath him where it remains," hey, you little rascal."
Ember quickly sprints over to Brisk's side to see what it was which ran away from her and sees a very familiar face peering out from between Brisk's front legs," Fido…?"
The young weasel slowly lowers the twigs he uses as camouflage and looks up to Ember with a trembling lower lip, his eyes big and almost begging. He doesn't come out from underneath Brisk who seems to find this quite amusing.
"Fido, what are you doing here? If your mother finds out, she will be furious… Plucky told you to not come with us. Why didn't you listen?"
The weasel drops the twigs down upon the snow as his cover is fully blown now and rubs over the back of his head, saying very softly," but I really wanted to come along. I want to help you with finding that vixen and bring her back to Farthing Land to live with us."
"Ho, wait! What…?"
Fido cringes a little at the surprised reaction of the female red fox and quickly grabs a hold on one of Brisk's legs to take cover behind it.
"Bring her here? Oh Fido… that is her own choice and even if she would decide for it, there is the Oath she has to agree with and also be loyal to. It isn't as simple as it sounds like…" Ember sighs and lowers her head a little so she can look the almost fully grown weasel in the eye," it is dangerous for you to go into the blue fox land; they might see you as game."
"Not if I stay with you."
"That is… not the point at the moment, Fido."
Brisk shrugs his shoulders and mutters loud enough for everyone to hear,' I don't see why Fido can't come along with us."
"Brisk, shush," Ember quickly hisses at him as she could see Fido's face clear up at the young fox's words," we will be worried sick about him if something happens. It is too dangerous. Please don't make this more difficult than it already is."
"Make what more difficult?"
Both the siblings and Fido look up when they hear Plucky's voice and see him come their way with Ranger crawling out of his den. Ember and Fido swallow, one trying to find the right words while the other wonders if he should run and hide. Luckily it is Brisk who takes it upon him to speak first.
"Look what found us," he says with a playful grin as he side steps a little, revealing an almost curled up ball of weasel, trembling as his black eyes gaze up to Plucky with fright," can we keep him?"
"Oh Fido!" Plucky huffs as he recognizes him and watches the young weasel dive back behind one of Brisk's legs to try and hide himself even though he has already been seen," didn't I and especially your mom tell you to stay home?"
Fido lowers his head and doesn't answer.
"He can come with us, Plucky, can he? I am sure he won't be any trouble."
All eyes are now turned to Brisk, the always optimistic one, the joker and the one who is very easy with rules and laid back. It wasn't very unexpected that he would come up for the young weasel, though it is still a surprise.
"I'll watch over the rascal while you do all the official and civilized talking with the blue ones. Can't be that bad, right?"
"He will be your responsibility then, brother," Ember quickly adds before Plucky can agree or disagree. Though she is glad that her brother is willing to watch over the little one, it worries her as well.
Plucky looks up from Fido to Brisk and back down again, trying to decide of what to do; send Fido home or let him come along. It is a hard decision for who knows what may happen if something goes wrong, but then this is White Deer Park and they are Farthing Land creatures; not much can happen to them.
"Just keep a very close eye on him, Brisk. I'll leave his punishment over to his mother when we are back home," Plucky sighs and stands up a bit taller upon his legs," lets go to find Boulder. Ranger will lead the way."
The siblings and Fido nod to Plucky and begin to follow their leader and his blue furred uncle to cross the boundary and into the blue fox land.
Brisk winks to Fido to try and ease the shaken up weasel a bit down, letting the slender creature walk close beside him. He can see he is a little excited to be with them; guess that vixen has made a very good impression upon him. Brisk smiles at this thought and looks back up ahead to set his very first step upon the land he is normally not allowed to come without a very good reason.
-To be Continued-