A white tiger lay on her side in a small cave. Her name was Summerbreeze; she had just given birth to one cub; a tiny female that she and her mate, Lonestar, had decided to name Moonshadow.
Summerbreeze looked down at her daughter suckling at her stomach. The cub's eyes were still closed as she nursed- they wouldn't open for another week or so. Summerbreeze licked her daughter, gently cleaning her. She said aloud to her cub, "Your name will be Moonshadow. You will be like the shadow of the moon; you will hold peace to all around you, just as the night holds peace to all nature. You will grow up to be a strong and beautiful tiger and will make your father and I proud." My precious daughter.
Summerbreeze lay her head down and quickly fell asleep looking ahead to the days to come when her daughter would first open her eyes.
"Can I go out exploring with Dawn and Snowfoot?"
"Well, it depends. Where do you plan on going?" Summerbreeze asked her daughter.
"We want to go up to the old fox path!" The eight month old white tiger exclaimed.
"You may go…" Summerbreeze began, and was quickly interrupted by her excited offspring.
"But I want you back before sunset. Is that clear?" She finished.
Moonshadow bounced up and down impatiently. "Oh... Alright mama." It was currently late afternoon and the fox path was a good fifteen minutes' trot from their den. To get back in time Moonshadow would have only about half an hour to play with her friends. She sighed. "Don't worry, I'll be back!"
"And don't turn off the old fox path!" Summerbreeze yelled after her.
Moonshadow dashed over to Dawn and Snowfoot, a fawn and snowshoe rabbit respectively. There were no other white tigers in the forest, so she played with other animals.
"Mama said yes, we can go!" She jumped around with excitement. The trio began running, pacing themselves so that they would still have energy when they got there. Ten minutes later, the trio was starting to catch glimpses of the fox trail between the trees and thick undergrowth.
Moonshadow, Dawn and Snowfoot trotted toward the old fox path. When they got there they stopped for a moment, waiting until they had caught their breath.
"Okay, I'll count." Dawn said, excitement making her normally quiet voice louder than usual. All of the animals lined up next to each other and waited for the fawn to count. "One….. Two…..Three!" And then they were off, racing down the path. Dawn tripped early on, with the other two quickly passing her as she struggled to regain her footing. Snowfoot was bounding along in the lead, but Moonshadow easily caught up to her. For a second Snowfoot and Moonshadow were neck and neck with Dawn catching up, but then Moonshadow passed Snowfoot altogether and kept running. Before she realized it, Moonshadow had run off of the old fox path and onto Wolf Howl Path.
Moonshadow ran. She loved the feel of the wind in her fur. She looked over her shoulder to see how far ahead of her friends she was and skidded to a halt. Dawn and Snowfoot were nowhere to be seen.
Moonshadow's mother had told her not to wander off the old fox path, and she had disobeyed. Moonshadow felt terrible. She began to slowly walk back with her tail trailing behind her, her ears laid back against her skull and her steps heavy.
All of a sudden a dark shape appeared from behind a tree. Moonshadow paused and tensed, looking at the other creature.
"Greetings, Moonshadow. It seems we meet again."
"So it seems, Zero." Moonshadow replied to the large black wolf in front of her.
"You seem to have wandered over onto my path. What do you have to say for yourself?" Zero growled and took a step forward.
"When was this path made to be exclusively yours?" Moonshadow asked with a calm voice. Inside, however, she was shaking. Zero took another step forward, long claws shining in the red-gold light from the setting sun. The young white tiger retreated a paw step.
"This path is named after my kind, so it's my path. You shouldn't be here." Zero argued, lowering his head to her level, giving the young white tiger a front row view of his fangs.
Moonshadow was scared but angry at the same time. What an arrogant wolf. She thought. Thinks he's king over all the forest. Moonshadow turned away from Zero and walked away, acting like she didn't have a care in the world. "Good day, Zero." She called over her shoulder. Once she was out of the big wolf's sight, however, she broke immediately into a sprint in her hurry to get away from the annoying yet intimidating and dangerous wolf. Moonshadow calmed down, though, falling quickly into a fast trot, then slowing even further as her pulse slowed. She walked back to the old fox path and found her friends waiting at the end of the path.
"Where were you?" Dawn wondered nervously.
"What happened? Did you get eaten?" Snowfoot asked worriedly, her ears flat against her head.
Moonshadow stared at both of them, responding to Dawn's question first. "I ran onto Wolf Howl path." She turned to Snowfoot, "I ran into Zero on the path on my way back... Snowfoot, let me ask you something now. DO I LOOK LIKE I WAS EATEN?" Moonshadow shrieked. Snowfoot and Dawn took a step back from their friend. The white tiger cub sighed. "Let's just get back to our families. It's almost sunset. If we run we might still make it." Moonshadow finally said after an awkward silence, turning away from her friends and continuing down the path.