Tall grass strands fluttered in the warm breeze. The sun had set and all was quite as sandy dust swirled around the rocks. The sky held an orange glow on the horizon as the sun had slipped below it just moments ago. A flock of birds glided through the sky, high above the ground. Their distant hushed calls were the only sounds that penetrated the strange silence.
A shadow slipped out from behind a dark grey rock. It was an animal, large yet quiet as it slithered between the outcropping stones, its feet padding softly against the red soil. It panted slowly as it moved, its long pink tongue hanging from its gaping mouth. It was golden coloured and its powdery short fur was stretched thin over its heavily swollen belly. It stopped next to a small withering shrub and sniffed at its oversized body.
The animal turned and stared with large amber eyes as a second figure slid from behind the rocks. Its head was lined with a small mane and its eyes were sparkling green.
"Hacata?" it called softly into the air, pushing its head forward and sniffing.
"I'm here Garin" the first animal, now known to be a female, called back to him. The male trotted up to her side and licked her ear.
"You have to take the kits back with you to GoldenStorm, they can't stay with me" the male opened his mouth in a wide yawn, showing all his pearly white teeth. His eyes darted from the shadowed face of Hacata to the swollen belly that hung below her.
"Are you ready?" he asked tentatively. She nodded and flopped to her side under and old crooked tree. Garin moved to her side and laid his head on the dusty floor next to her large paws
"Promise me something Garin" she said with a tone of sorrow in her voice "when these cubs are born, take them with you. Give them a good life, something which I cannot do". Garin stared at her and then looked into the sky. The birds that had flocked in the air had since disappeared and the air was a deep pink. Garin nodded his head and then bent his neck so he could comfortingly lick her paw.
Hacata closed her eyes and slowly placed her head on the floor.
"They are coming now" she said weakly. Garin moved forwards and licked her forehead.
"I will be here with you" he said quietly into her ear.