The Moonlit Path

by Nora Tsai, age 10
The Moonlit Path Nora Tsai, a fifth grader at Sidwell Friends, was born in Eugene, Oregon. She has one lovable golden-doodle, a brother, and two parents. When she is not writing, she is reading or drawing. She loves to read fiction, fantasy, and animal stories. She would love to become an author when she is older.

“We ran through the pine woods and towards the creek. Finally, I cornered her between me and a rock. I didn’t take one moment to hesitate. I crouched down and pounced on my sister, pinning her to the leafy ground. I let go of her, and we rolled onto our backs, looking at the sky, letting darkness surround us.”

“I bet you can’t catch me!” Lilly, my sister, yelled to me.

“Oh yeah?” I said, shooting off after her.

We ran through the pine woods and towards the creek. Finally, I cornered her between me and a rock. I didn’t take one moment to hesitate. I crouched down and pounced on my sister, pinning her to the leafy ground. I let go of her, and we rolled onto our backs, looking at the sky, letting darkness surround us. The sounds of nature filled our ears, like a sweet lullaby singing us to sleep.

I awoke to the sounds of birds tweeting and my sister snoring softly. I got up carefully, padded over to a rock, and leapt up onto it, watching the sun rise up. I stared out into the trees. Suddenly, I heard leaves rustling. I whipped around. Seeing that it was only my sister, I leapt off the rock and greeted her.

“Did you sleep well?”

She nodded, letting the sun hit her gray fur.

“We should probably be heading back to our pack,” Lilly suggested.

“Yeah, okay,” I responded, then started running.

“Do we have to run? My legs hurt,” she complained.

“You’re a wolf. We’re built to run. Come on!” I called back to her.

Lilly sighed and ran with me, mumbling as we went. We leaped over rocks and roots. The wind in our fur felt like we were flying. As we entered towards our pack, I heard lots of mumbling and whispering. Before I could open my snout, Tidal Wave, our mother, snagged us by the scruff and yanked us behind the crowd of wolves. Her white and silver fur was splattered with mud. I tried to say something, but she hushed me.

“Wha-what’s happening?” Lilly asked, anxious to know. She looked as confused as me, if not more. We both wanted to know what was going on.

Before our mom could tell us anything, Arrowhead, our pack leader, jumped up onto a rock and howled for all the wolves to gather beneath him. Arrowhead was a sleek, black and silver wolf. He was very muscular, and a young springy wolf who had lots of personality.  

“For the past few days, I’ve been getting reports of wildcats on the other side of the void,” Arrowhead said.

Wildcats have always had a nasty past with us wolves. It all just started with fighting over territory and prey but, over the years, things have launched off from there.

We were always fighting. There was never a moment of peace between us. The feud ripped friendships apart and tore lives in half. I looked around and heard gasps and frightened whispers. As soon as Arrowhead started talking again, a hush fell over everyone.

“Tidal Wave, Rockslide, Lotus Petal, Lilly, Icewing, and Mud Leaf. You six will be scouting out what those mysterious wildcats want. Try not to fight with them, but if you have to do it…”

Arrowhead said the last two words with such force that it sent a chill running down my spine. I shivered, and Lilly seemed to do the same.

“Icewing, come here,” my mother said briskly.

I turned around and saw my mother eyeing me, her eyes staring as if she were trying to burn holes in my head. I quickly ended our staring competition and bounded over, curious of why she had summoned my appearance. As soon as I got close to her, she was already speaking.

“I know this is your first mission, your sister’s too, but try not to get excited, okay?”

“Okay, I won’t,” I said, smiling as I turned and headed back to Lilly.

“Oh, and one more thing. We should get to sleep in a few minutes,” she added.

“Okay,” I said, turning back to Lilly. “Mom said we have to get to bed extra early, like now,” I said to her.

“Okay, that’s fine with me,” Lilly said, yawning and curling herself up against me.

I sighed and did the same. Sleep washed over me in almost an instant.

A tall, sleek, black wolf with silver tinted ears approached me in my dream. For some odd reason, I faintly recognized her. She was slowly making her way over to me. When she was face to face with me, she spoke.

“The Moonlight will guide you.” She kept repeating the sentence over and over. Finally, she whispered in my ear, “Icewing, be alert. There is danger in your future.”

I turned, finding the mysterious wolf walking away and, with every step, she faded deeper into the darkness.

“Wait!” I called after her, but she was already gone.

I got up and stretched. As I got up, I bumped my head on a tree hanging low, and rain drops fell on top of me like a shattering vase smashed on the ground. I shook the delicate droplets off myself and slowly headed towards Arrowhead, eager to tell him of my strange vision. As I approached Arrowhead, I moved carefully and swiftly, prodding him till he awoke with frightened eyes.

“What are you doing?” he snapped.

“Sorry, I just had to tell you…” I stammered.

He interrupted me before I could finish.

“Tell me what?” he looked at me unimpressed.

I told him about the dream, and he got up and walked back and forth in front of me. Finally, after a few moments of pacing, he broke out of it and began moving towards the entrance of our pack. Instead of following, I sat there, looking as dumb as ever.

“Don’t just stand there. Follow me!” he snapped.

He was obviously still grouchy. I caught up to him almost instantly.

“Where are we going?” I asked, curious to know.

“You are going to hunt with me,” he responded.

“Really?!” I said.

“Yep. Come on, let’s see who can catch the biggest rabbit!” he said, shooting off into the woods.

“You’re on!” I called, running after him.

We both went our own way, avoiding each other as much as possible. I crouched down, my belly to the ground. The smell of rabbit was near. I heard rustling near a bush, I jumped into my hunting position, stomach low to the ground, tail swaying, creeping along the leafy ground. I waited till the right moment, then leaped up at the rabbit, biting down hard on its neck. The taste of pine and flesh filled my mouth, making it water.

I nimbly carried my rabbit over to Arrowhead, who was fishing out a trout from the river.

“Hey, no fair! You said rabbit!” I mumbled with the plump piece of prey in my mouth.

“Sorry, guess I forgot. Well, on the bright side, we both caught something,” he said.

He didn’t look sorry at all. He looked at me, and his gaze softened.

“Come with me,” he said. “I need to show you something.”  

I followed him to a pitch black cave, but something was glowing a sheer, ice blue and was lighting up the whole cave. I turned, but only found darkness.

“What’s that strange glowing light?” I asked quietly.

“That’s what I wanted to show you,” he responded, mimicking my quietness. “Look at your fur.”

I looked down and saw the exact same sheer ice blue glow, except surrounding my silver and gray fur. I opened my snout to say something, but nothing came out.

He smiled and spoke softly, “I was there when you were born. It was dark inside the cave.” He paused, looking at me. “When you came into the world, your fur glowed a strong, icy blue, lighting up the whole cave. Your fur only glows in this very cave.”  

Finally, I was able to talk, “But… but why?”

“But, why what?” he asked, obviously concerned.

“Why me?”

“Our ancestors chose you. They saw something special in you,” he sighed and closed his eyes.

When he opened them, his fur was glowing just like mine, except his was a scarlet red. I gasped in astonishment, and he laughed.

“All of us pack leaders have a glow,” he explained.

What if my friends see me like this and don’t like me anymore? I worried.

As if he had read my mind, he added, “But don’t worry, your fur will only glow in this very cave.”

I sighed with relief and kept talking, “But, I’m not a leader,” I protested.

“You will be,” he responded.

I looked at him, confused. Finally, I realized what he was saying. I would be the next leader.

“Let’s head back now. We don’t want the other wolves getting worried,” Arrowhead said, breaking the silence.

I nodded, and followed him out of the cave, into the bright sunlight. As we made our way back, we picked up our prey. When I got back to our pack, Lilly pulled me to the side and  whispered in my ear.

“Where were you?”

I smiled and said, “Oh, nowhere.”

Lilly looked at me, opened her mouth, then closed it again. I went over to Lotus Petal, who was talking to Mud Leaf and Rockslide. Lotus Petal was an unusual, white and gray wolf. She was tall and fierce, and had a birthmark on her neck in the shape of a lotus.

 

“We should get going before any other wolves wake up,” said a voice so sudden that it rattled my bones.

We all turned, only to see my mother.

“Tidal Wave’s right. We should head out. That way, we can get an early start on getting to the void,” Rockslide added gruffly.

We all nodded and followed him out of the pack territory, wary of what was to happen. We walked for hours and hours, leaping over roots, fallen logs, and rocks. Finally, we made it to the void. I looked down and saw a small river coming out of the void, forming into a larger one. The void had always protected us by separating our territories.

“How are we going to cross?” I asked, determined to help.

“The log. It’s the only way,” Tidal Wave said.

I was shocked, but eagerly followed. As we reached the other side, we were greeted by a huge clearing. The sun poured in through a crack in the trees, like a waterfall of light. We entered cautiously, looking around the clearing. I heard crunching and jerked my head around, surprised to see Arrowhead, who had unexpectedly followed us.

“What are you doing here?” I asked, curious.

He didn’t respond. He just smiled.

“I see you’ve made it safely,” a deep voice said, suggesting danger.

We all whipped around fiercely, seeing four huge tan wildcats. They all had different shaped scars and were crouched down. They looked as if they had just come out of a war.

How did he know we were coming? They couldn’t have been hiding in the…

Before I could finish my thoughts, one lashed out and struck Arrowhead’s ear, sending scarlet drops everywhere. I growled, baring my teeth. I leaped at the nearest cat, scratching his neck. Blood bubbled up from the gash, causing him to cry in agony. Another wildcat charged at me, knocking me off my paws. As I got up, a sharp pain shot through my back leg. I clenched my teeth in pain.

I turned and saw Arrowhead battling what looked to be the leader and rushed to his side to help him. Just as I reached his side, the wildcat flung him into the vast river.

“No!” I screamed and jumped off the ledge, into the open river with him.

The currents were carrying him farther and farther away. When I was within a foreleg’s  length, I reached out to him, but he ignored it and shook his head. I was trying so hard not to cry.  

“We will meet again, I will promise you that,” he said quietly.

Will we? I wondered.

I watched the current sweep him out and let out a long, soulful howl. I used the rest of my strength and dragged myself onto the dusty land. My leg was throbbing. Right then and there, I fell asleep.

A blurry figure lay next to me. I turned, and my vision became clear. Rockslide was laying beside me, his sleek gray and silver fur caked in dry blood and minor cuts. His stone cold eyes looked at me. Suddenly, his gaze softened, and he began grooming my ruffled, battered fur. I returned the favor, giving his fur swift, thorough licks before I gave up and lay back down. Rockslide curled himself around me. I closed my eyes, letting the heat surround my cold, frigid body. Sleep came to me in a fierce fury. My eyelids grew heavy and, soon, I fell fast asleep curled up next to Rockslide.

“Someone’s here to see you,” Rockslide said, looking at me, smiling.

I looked up to find myself eye to eye with a sleek, muscular, black and silver wolf. He reminded me of Arrowhead. The strange wolf approached me. I limped up to him, and realized I was staring straight at Arrowhead. Tears filled my eyes. I smiled, but he only let out a grim smile that vanished quickly.

He spoke in a warning tone, “We are in great danger!”

I awoke with a jolt. Rockslide comforted me, but I could sense it. Something was coming. Something big.

 

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