Hello there! Anyways sorry for the delay, couldn't publish it yesterday.

Hey!

*Dodges random things people who wanted to read this yesterday throw*

Anyways, Chapter IV! Yay! Thank you Midnite Fox, Lord Vrel and Whisper of Song for reviewing my last chapter! If you want to read my whole list of thanks, you'll have to go to my profile.

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Sultana of North

Chapter IV

As Fast As You Can

Morning sunlight streamed down into the Infirmary, illuminating the small form of Brother Juniper. The messy charcoal writing was spread out on the wall in front of him, and the Brother slowly deciphered it.

Dear friends,

The time has come for me to leave you. I wish to thank you for showing me more hospitality than I have ever known, and offering me a place in your Abbey. However, that cannot be. Fyre hunts me as I write, and will not rest until he has his revenge - revenge for my escaping him, and defying him by doing so. If he finds the Abbey, will you please tell him you know nothing of me.

Now I must leave, and wish you many years of good health and luck. Maybe one day we will meet again.

-Sultana

Juniper read the note again, hardly believing. Sultana, the young fox they had taken in, was gone. Perhaps they would never see her again.

Slowly, he left the Infirmary, and made his way down the old worn sandstone staircase to tell the Abbot.

Visgar Fyre watched the retreating figure in the distance, a vicious glee burning in his black eyes. A mercenary fox asked, "Shall we charge and capture her, chief?"

Fyre shook his head. "No, we will surround her."

Sultana glanced over her shoulder, watching the woodlands for Fyre. The forest was far behind her now, and little was discernable. She climbed onto a large mossy rock and seated herself carefully on its flattish top, a very long, thin piece of wood in her paw. Removing a knife from her belt, the vixen carved away the bark, and began to make her bow.

After a few mistakes, she had whittled the stick to a long, slim piece that could bend slightly, but not break. She leapt lightly from the rock, gripping the half finished bow, and set off.

The sun had risen in the sky, and soft morning light shone down upon the traveling young fox as she made her way across the meadow, each step drawing her closer to the place she was bound for.

Visgar Fyre and Shlavvo watched the small group of mercenaries, chosen for stealth and cunning, as they seated themselves upon the forest floor.

The leader lowered his voice to a whisper, and said to the bedraggled troops now huddled around him,

"We shall surround the vixen, and when I give the signal, we will close in on her. Keep your weapons ready, and if you make the slightest sound-" He broke off threateningly, raising his sword a touch higher. The fighters shifted uneasily, as he began again.

"Now, keep close to the trees, rocks, shadows, anything to conceal you. And do not get close to her, until I give the signal." He threw back his head and gave a bird-like screech in demonstration, and the troops nodded.

"Now, we shall begin."

By the time breakfast was finished, word of Sultana's departure had spread. The abbey dwellers knew about the charcoal note, and everybeast had seen it.

Prudence and Sister Violet weeded the strawberry patch, musing over the fox's leaving.

"Where will she go? To our knowledge, she has no place she calls home." Prudence sighed, as she pulled a weed from the strawberry patch.

Sister Violet replied, "I cannot say, but I wonder where she is now."

Later that morning found Brother Juniper in the comfortable Infirmary tending Mirel. The mouse carefully measured an amount of dried horehound on a worn, wooden scale, and added it to a well-blended mixture of herbs. He absentmindedly crushed a bundle of leaves with a mortar and pestle, thinking. To where was Sultana traveling? How was she faring, now that she had left the safety of the Abbey walls?

He allowed his thoughts to wander, sifting through the possibilities. She had left no clue as to where she was journeying, and the Brother was baffled.

Mirel opened his eyes slowly, taking in all that was around him. Everything was blurred slightly, and the room seemed to spin a little. A pain racked his limbs, and every breath he took hurt him.

He had seen Sultana that morning, as he had been making his way the kitchen in need of a drink of water. The otter remembered the fox, in a tunic and pants, colored like the forest, with a bag she filled with provisions. She had been creeping around the room silently, and she moved about as if she did not want anybeast to hear her. Mirel would have asked her what she was up to, but a cloudy feeling filled his mind, and the last thing he remembered was Sultana slowly stepping out the Abbey.

Later, he awoke feeling a bit dizzy, but otherwise fine. He could not remember how he came to be amongst the bags of flour, and supposed he had come down to the kitchen for something, and fallen asleep.

Soon, it became clear that he was ill. A cloudy mist hung across his vision, and there was a faint ringing is his ears. He was wobbling, and he found himself in odd places, without an idea as to how he came to be there. The otter had left to seek out Brother Juniper, and the mouse had taken a bottle filled with dark amber –colored liquid from a cupboard. Juniper had given him a spoonful, along with another mixture of dark medicine. The latter had sent him to sleep quickly, and he sunk into a dreamless slumber.

When he awoke, the Brother was crushing a bright flower. It had the color of a dandelion, but with wide petals and a black center. For a short time, the scene stayed in focus, and the otter sat upright quickly. Then the room gave a dramatic sweep, and suddenly, he was on his back, completely winded.

He told the Brother about Sultana, and then he was pulled back into unconsciousness.

Now, he was lying in a white sheeted, clean Infirmary bed, feeling terrible. The Brother's face was creased with worry, and he fumbled with the worn wooden spoon.

"How do you feel, Mirel?"

The otter had never before felt so ill, but he did not want to concern the kindly mouse.

"Around the same, Brother."

Even though he was only worse.

Sultana took the knife from her belt, and tossed it into the air, aiming for a small bush far ahead of her. It landed, with a dull thud, into the bush, and was buried half its length into the ground. Pleased, she continued to practice throwing it.

After she was satisfied with her aim, she pulled her knife from the center of a target she had painted with violet-colored berry juice onto the bark of a sycamore, and settled herself down beside a rock to enjoy the wild strawberries she had found on beside the old tree.

Sultana buried the remains of the strawberries in the soft ground, and concealed any evidence of her stay there. She slipped the knife back into its place in her belt and struck off.

She had traveled only a short distance, when she heard the slight sound of a leaf, crackling underpaw. There had been no leaves on the path she had been taking, and she glanced suspiciously at the trees alongside her. After some hesitation she continued onward, supposing the sound had been created by a bird, or just the wind.

But that was when the long grass to her right rippled. Sultana pulled her knife from her belt and murmured softly, "Who goes there."

She received no response, and she said, louder, "Who goes there!"

Still no reply.

The vixen silently laughed at herself. She was yelling at the voiceless wind, which blew the leaves, and made the grass sway. But she gripped her knife tightly, on guard.

Sultana relaxed, as nothing happened.

But she failed to notice that all was completely, unfathomably, silent.

A bird's shriek split the quiet, and everything happened at once.

The fox was surrounded.

By the foes she was fleeing.

Brother Juniper sighed, glancing at the occupied bed across from Mirel's. A young red squirrel, Elmflower, was ill with the same sickness the otter had. It defied the Infirmary Keeper's attempts to reduce the illness, for he had not seen anything like it.

The Brother filled a spoon with the sleep medicine as Elmflower awoke, a dazed look in her eyes. He held the spoonful out to her, and she drank it slowly. When she finished, her lids lowered heavily over her eyes, and she fell asleep.

It was all he could do, give them medicine, and have them rest. He had not yet informed the Abbot about the illness, for Mirel's sleeping drug would wear off any minute now, and the Brother needed to be there when he awoke.

Finally, he pulled a fraying rope attached to a small brass bell, and the sound reverberated around the room. He waited for a bit, and a young mouse entered quietly.

"Yes, Brother?" He asked.

"Please, Trall, will you go to the Abbot and ask him to come to the Infirmary? I have something very important to tell him."

The mouse nodded quickly, and hurried off.

Brother Juniper sighed, nervously weighing the amount of the medicine he had left. He had plenty of the sleep liquid left, for he had given his patients only small doses. In the other bottle, two thirds of the liquid remained, and he decided to use it sparingly.

Presently, the Abbot arrived, a worried frown creasing his forehead. Brother Juniper dismissed young Trall, and motioned the Abbot to an oak chair, that sat on the floor in front of him.

"What is it, Brother Juniper?" The Abbot asked quietly.

The Brother responded, "The two are very ill, Father. I have seen nothing like this sickness."

Abbot Bartholomew's worried frown deepened. "No, surely, Brother-"

Juniper shook his head. "I can look in the Infirmary files again, but I do not have much hope."

Sultana froze for a moment, watching her enemies. Fyre stood in front of her, his sword in his paw. Slowly, they advanced, and the young fox stiffened, poised to strike. The dark tracker, Shlavvo, had an arrow fitted in his bow, and everybeast held a glistening weapon.

As the troops closed in on her, Sultana's paw strayed to her belt, her eyes never leaving them. Every sword, spear, arrow and rapier was pointed in her direction, and she felt cold dread growing inside her.

Somebeast stumbled, and in the second's distraction, Sultana pulled out her knife and lashed out at the nearest mercenary. He fell, and the spear pointed at her neck was taken with him. Everything exploded into screams, curses, and clattering din as Sultana leapt over the fallen creature. She slashed a sword with her knife, knocking it out of her way. A tall, thin weasel raced after her, swinging a rapier .

Sultana ran, not heeding the blades that scraped her, only one thought on her mind. She had to get out. She had to run. The young fox halted suddenly, almost pitching over. Gralvine stood in front of her, pointing a cutlass to her throat, and a wicked smile curled the corners of his mouth.

"You cannot flee, prisoner."

Sultana tried to dodge past him, but he stepped sideways. "Did you hear me, prisoner?"

The vixen nodded slightly, indicating she had heard him.

"Good, now come along, and we shall see our chief." He beckoned, turning slightly, his cutlass still aimed at her neck.

Sultana made a step as if to follow him, then sped past him, crying with a mixture of fear and anger,

"Never!"

She heard Gralvine snarl, and Fyre cursed, enraged. The troops were at her heels, shouting and brandishing weapons.

A swift dark rat had nearly caught up with her, and she turned to face him. The rat swung his rapier, and growled as she dodged out of the weapon's path, catching him in the arm with her knife. Her opponent clenched his teeth as Sultana gripped her knife, preparing for his next attack.

The mercenary slashed his rapier at her, and Sultana managed to leap out the way, but not before he had injured her shoulder. She gritted her teeth in pain as the weapon slid from her, and she turned to run. She could not fight with her shoulder injured. It was the one that had been shot on the night of her escape.

The rat raced after her, taking advantage of the injury that slowed her.

Sultana ran, her heart beating heavily. The wind beat against her face, and pounded in her ears. Everything was blurred, and the fox put on an extra burst of speed to escape the rat behind her. A sword seemed to suddenly materialize from midair, and Sultana fell flat as it flew over her, curving in a graceful arc. The vixen leapt up, and pulled the sword from the ground, taking it with her.

Then she sped onwards, not heeding the direction her paws were taking her. She could not help but think of the day she had fled the clan, running from ones she had known all her life.

Sultana dodged an arrow, and paused a moment to take it from the ground. She would need weapons for the days ahead of her.

Another arrow came whistling through the air, this time taking her in side.


Chapter V

Escape to Freedom, or, Nearly Hopeless

Coming May 15, 2012!


Author's Note: Did you like it? What did you think? Is there any improvements I can make? This was a fun chapter to write, maybe a bit difficult at times, but hey, I think it came out fine! Please review! I REALLY appreciate reviews!