Moon woke up in a daze. She was cold, and everything around her was a blur. She just sighed and laid her head onto her nest until the blur cleared.
This morning, there was no food brought to her. Good riddance, she thought to herself bitterly. She truly believed that Raven was guilty of the kidnap. Moon blinked and looked down at Hunin and Adoette, her two remaining pups. Hunin was still sleeping, his small snores almost as soft as the pawsteps that sounded by the entrance to the nursery.
Raven was looking into the small, comfy den, blinking at the two pups that snuggled into Moon's belly. He blinked before turning around and taking a rabbit back to his nest.
Moon sighed as hunger made its presence clear in her stomach. It disturbed Hunin and Adoette's sleep. They both woke with a squeak and, practically tripping over themselves in eagerness, scrambled towards her open belly.
Thankfully, Sand had walked in with breakfast for all of the queens. She went around and dropped a large, plump shrew, freshly caught by the morning hunting patrol. Moon blinked at it, then took an unenthusiastic bite out of the brown body. She quickly devoured it when she realized how hungry she actually was.
Moon sighed and laid her head on her paws, feeling low-spirited. She missed Onei the most as she had cherished the pup because of how she looked like a twin of Turmoe.
Suddenly, Raven walked in and came up to her. "I'm leading a patrol to find the pup." He said quietly. Moon, fueled by anger from his betrayal and how she said 'the pup', snapped her teeth at him harshly and bared them in his face before he just narrowed his eyes at her and turned away.
Moon glared after him, ignoring the surprised gazes from the other queens. Raven was surrounded by a patrols-worth of wolves at the entrance. He began calling out names, and, to Moon, seemed to be the majority of the best scenters.
Who does he think he's fooling? Well, apparently the entire pack. No better than a rogue. She thought angrily to herself.
She turned her mind away from the disgrace with the name of Raven and tried to think of happy times with Turmoe, but she just wasn't inspired. Everything seemed to be crashing to the ground around her, and now that her closest friend had betrayed her, she had no one but herself once more. She made a promise to the pups, to herself, to Turmoe, that she would protect the pups to her last fighting breath and even further in time, and yet she just sat here in her own misery while Onei probably was sitting there helplessly, crying out for the food that would never come and surrounded by the cold darkness of on-coming leaf fall.
Moon's thoughts were making her feel as if everything was being controlled by Forest of Shadows (A/N: think of it like the Dark Forest). She shook herself, but ever so gently as not to disturb her pups, then rewarded herself with a good, well needed stretch. Moon began to feel better as the thoughts of Onei, the poor helpless newborn sitting innocently, waiting for food, began to clear from her mind.
Suddenly, the patrol, led by Raven, rushing in through the entrance. Excited barks sounded, causing Moon to jump and the pups as well. The queens looked towards the entrance with bewildered expressions, while Moon, with her pups no longer suckling, stood and walked after the patrol.
They exploded into Rain's den and began all talking at once. Moon pushed through them and reached Rain. She howled a loud, sharp howl to get them to all stop talking. Then, she nodded to Rain. He spoke as a command: "Everyone without the name of Raven leave my den!" the patrol didn't hesitate to follow his orders. Moon felt rather disgusted by how they all were controlled like robots. It made her shiver.
Rain sat down and smoothed his fur while he waited for Raven to gather his thoughts. Moon, however, just sat two fox lengths away from Rain and glared at Raven as he began to speak to his leader. "Rain, we've found the pup." Moon scoffed, but Rain silenced her with a flick of his tail and nodded to Raven. "Continue." He nodded respectfully before continuing.
"The pup was taken by a group of coyotes and they're fostering the pup. We couldn't reach her since the coyotes were very protective of the small pup." Moon just sat there, glaring with all of her hate at the dark gray wolf that stood in front of her.
Rain nodded. "I will announce this to the pack, then we can discuss a plan to get the pup back." He nodded and followed Rain out of the cave. Moon followed the two males but did not come to the meeting. Instead, she returned to her two pups.
While Rain explained to the pack everything she already knew, she thought of any certain strategies to use to retrieve her precious pup. That is, if he's even telling the truth, She thought coldly to herself.
While she was thinking of the strategies, she realized that she needed to know where the coyotes were keeping Onei and how large the area was. As soon as the meeting was over and the queens returned to the nursery, Moon stood up and traveled over to Rain's den.
Raven was already there. She ignored him as she strode past him and sat down next to Rain. Raven blinked at her with an indifferent expression before saying what he was about to say.
"They're in a clearing, about twice the size of the cave." Moon looked at the area of the cave and imagined the size of the clearing. Raven continued. "They keep the pup at the heart of the clearing, which should make it an easier trip. She's in an above-ground den that only allows up to two wolves in it at a time. There are at least two coyotes guarding it daily and nightly. It would be easy to get past them." Moon listened to the information intently, forming an image in her mind.
"The clearing is surrounded by thickets, but it's basically bare ground about 100 fox lengths around it. We should be able to reach it quickly if we follow the river and cross on the tree bridge." Moon blinked. This is easier than I imagined, she thought. Raven continued with the information. "About four coyotes guard the entrance, which is too small for a wolf. We might have to jump the barrier, if it's short enough, or break through it."
Rain nodded. "Is there anything else that might interfere with our strategy?" he asked. When Raven shook his head, Rain nodded. "Right. We need a patrol of about 6 warriors. One will lure the coyotes away from the entrance by running straight in front of them and acting like they're about to attack. Then, the rest of the patrol will split up into two groups, one with three warriors and one with two warriors. The larger group will draw the attention away from Onei, while one warrior will grab Onei and the other will guard the den from any stragglers." Raven nodded in agreement. Moon even agreed this was a reasonable plan.
"Moon, I want you to join the patrol. The queens can share the care of Hunin and Adoette." Moon hesitated before nodding eagerly. "Raven, you will also be on the patrol, along with Tiger, Wind, Star, and Cinder." He nodded and went to retrieve the four warriors.
They arrived in a matter of heartbeats. Rain began to explain the plan to them, then assigned roles to each wolf. "Star will lure the two coyotes away from the entrance. Tiger, Cinder, and Raven will be the group to draw attention from the den, while Cinder will guard the den and Moon grabs the pup." Moon was delighted to hear that she would be the one to see her pup for the first time in at least a day.
Rain seemed satisfied, along with the rest of the patrol. They filed out of the den and gathered by the entrance. Raven was leading the patrol to the clearing where Onei was. Just before they were about to take off, Rain strode up to the patrol and announced, "No wolf nor coyote is to be hurt during this mission." They nodded solemnly then took off after Raven when he bolted from the entrance.
Moon was light on her feet, sprinting next to Cinder as they raced along the bank of the river. The sun was setting and the air was becoming colder, but they raced on with seemingly unending energy.
They slowed to a trot as they reached the tree bridge. Raven signaled for them to wait as he tested the log. He put his two front paws on it, using his weight to make sure it was stable. Then, he lifted himself up and walked across slowly, making sure it was safe. He turned his head towards the impatient patrol and nodded.
When the patrol had gotten across quickly, they took off again. The clearing was almost immediately in sight, although Raven began to slow as they reached the camp.
The patrol huddled closely together in stray bushes, waiting for Raven's signal. With a flick of Raven's tail, Star emerged from the bushes and snarled at the coyotes. They stared at the wolf, then, finding him as a threat, their hackles raised and they stood and bared their teeth at the brown wolf. He snarled and backed into the surrounding layer of bushes, making sure to keep the coyotes occupied.
When the coyotes left, Raven nodded and led the group silently out of the bushes and to the entrance. They split into the groups. Thankfully, the barrier could be jumped without drawing attention. The Lure group jumped first and crept silently towards the opposite side of the camp where the other group waited. They began barking under Raven's signal and snarling at the nearest coyotes. The coyotes immediately became defensive and drew all of their camp towards the trio.
Moon followed Cinder over the barrier and crept along the barrier on the inside of the camp, scanning for the den. Moon spotted it and, making sure Cinder saw where it was too, crept quietly towards it.
The den was, thankfully, unguarded. Moon poked her head in and stared at the little pup that sat in a moss nest.