Two wolves stared down at a strange pup in a den. It had two small, furry stubs sticking out of its shoulders. The pup had ginger fur with darker ginger markings, small yellow markings were on its stubs.
The female wolf, presumably the pup's mother, stared down at the pup and looked to the male wolf beside her, obviously her mate and the pup's father. "What do you think those stubs are, Lazer?"
"I don't know, dear. I doubt they'll affect him," Lazer told her reassuringly. He was still worried though and she said nothing more about their pup's features.
In the darkness of the den and night, it was hard to see the ginger pup's markings. But as the moon rose above the trees, it glowed brightly and shone into the den, right on the pup's fur. It glimmered in the moonlight and brightened his colors, almost like a moonlit fire.
"Let's call him Moonblaze," the mother said softly. Her eyes shone with softness and admiration as she stared at the moonlit pup.
Lazer nodded in agreement. "Moonblaze… It suits him."
Moonblaze awoke to find the morning bright and quiet as ever. He gave a large yawn before leaping to his paws and padding over to the mouth of the den. He peered outside: Wolves were just beginning to stir in their long grass nests. Trees surrounded the clearing, but left a tree-length of space open that led into a large meadow. Long Grass Plain is what his mother and father called it.
Moonblaze shook out his fur slightly and shuffled his small wings. The small stubs from birth had grown into small wings as he grew. They were still a bit furry, but feathers were just starting to poke through the dark ginger fur. Two small yellow stubs were also beginning to appear above his eyebrows, though they were barely visible through his ginger fur.
Moonblaze turned back to the inside of the den and saw his mother and father still asleep. He tilted his head slightly upward in thought before he crouched down and began to creep along the den floor toward his parents. When he was close enough, he stopped and lowered his body to the ground. He rocked his shoulders back and forth, lifting his wings up in doing so, before leaping into the air with a quiet yip. Before he could react, a dark ginger paw reached out and pushed on his chest, sending him sprawling away.
Moonblaze got up and shook himself. His father, Lazer, was now yawning and sitting up. His mother lifted her head and looked to Moonblaze.
"Good morning, honey," she said softly.
"Good morning," Moonblaze barked. He padded over to Lazer, "How did you know what I was doing?" His tail wagged softly.
Lazer looked to Moonblaze. "Hm? Oh." He chuckled softly. He bent down and moved his muzzle beside his pup's ear. "It's a secret," he whispered with a smile.
Moonblaze gave a smile before grabbing a hold of his father's ear softly. Lazer laughed before grabbing his son's scruff and lifting the pup off the ground and setting him back down. Moonblaze had let go of his father's ear when he was picked up. Now he giggled and then turned to his mother and father. "May I go outside today, please? It'll be my first day out since… you know…" He lowered his ears.
His mother stood up and walked over to them. She licked the top of her pup's head, "Of course, dear. Just be careful."
Moonblaze lifted his ears and stared up at her with a bright expression. "Thank you!" He then raced out of the den, into the bright sunshine.
Lazer's mate sat down beside him. "Do you think he'll be okay?"
"Of course he will, Laura. I'll even follow him," Lazer replied, nuzzling her cheek.
Laura rubbed her head against his neck before watching Lazer pad after Moonblaze.
Moonblaze padded into the middle of the clearing, rather cautiously. Wolves were getting out of their nests and starting their daily chores. He didn't even notice pawsteps behind him until he heard laughter. He spun around, eyes wide.
Four large pups stood and laughed mockingly at Moonblaze. They were brothers, and they were the most trouble out of the entire pack.
"Well, look what we have here. A poor little lost freak," one barked, obviously the leader of the bunch. His brothers chuckled and smirked.
"Where are your mommy and daddy? Did they abandon you," another asked, talking in a childish voice. "Or better yet, did they throw you out and leave you here for us to take care of!" His voice had changed back to normal.
The four brothers laughed out loud. The leader, seeing Moonblaze shrink down with his tail and ears pressed against his body, nudged his brothers' shoulders. "Aww, are you going to cry? Like the little baby that you are!" They burst out laughing again.
Suddenly, a shadow spread over them and they froze, looking slowly over their shoulders. Lazer stood, towering over the mischievous pups with the most unimpressed glare you've ever seen. "What do you think you're doing?" His voice had the hint of a growl. The pups flattened their ears and lowered their tails. "If you've got somewhere to be then beat it. I don't ever want to see you around my son again! Do I make myself clear," he asked, saying the last question slowly with a growl.
The pups nodded quickly before dashing away with their tails between their legs. They ran over to a she-wolf and hid behind her for protection, making her give them a confused stare.
Lazer snorted and then looked down at Moonblaze, who was now staring at the ground. His gaze softened and he sighed before nuzzling the top of his son's head. "They just don't know when to quit. Why don't you go explore or something? I know you're probably bored from exploring the whole of our den," he chuckled softly.
Moonblaze didn't look that much cheered up but he looked up with a bit of a gleam in his amber eyes. "Really?"
"Sure, son. Just don't go too far," his father told him.
Moonblaze rubbed up against his leg and dashed off, barking a thank you over his shoulder. He skidded to a halt on the far side of the clearing and turned to look back. The pack was still by their nests, stretching. The beta, a beautiful light brown she-wolf, padded over to them and started barking orders. He remembered her name; his father said it once in the den. Her name was Lira. Almost all the males in the pack would stop dead in their tracks and stare at her in awe as she walked by. He then turned and leaped through the bushes.
Moonblaze knew Long Grass Plain was off-limits until he was older. So he just explored the forest areas around it. He found a small trail that smelled of rabbits and began to follow it. He occasionally brushed up against a few bushes every now and then so that he could follow his own scent back home.
Moonblaze leaped out of the den and stretched his limbs as he yawned. His wings had grown bigger. It had more feathers, but a few of them still had fur, which he would probably shed in the next few days. Soon, his wings would have only feathers and he would be able to fly. Once he learned how to at least. He stared across the clearing and saw the four brothers rolling around in the dirt as they play fought, until their mother scolded them and told them they weren't pups anymore but were now old enough to carry out pack duties. Of course, they straightened up, shook out their fur, and puffed out their chests as if to show that they were full-grown adults.
Moonblaze rolled his eyes before stretching out his wings and flapping them once and bringing them back to his sides. The brothers still bothered him sometimes. They wouldn't make contact, but they would glare, talk amongst themselves, and snicker. He turned and began padding across the clearing to the spot where he would always disappear to explore. He would fear the day the brothers would gain confidence, take matters into their own paws, and strike him.
Laura died from a sickness about a moon ago. Lazer didn't say what kind of illness, he just told Moonblaze that she was ill and might not get better. He didn't want to watch her die, but of course he had to. She had called him into the den, wanting to see her only son for the last time before she closed her eyes for a never-ending sleep. He flattened his ears and shook his head, trying to get rid of the memory that clung like web to his mind. Instead, he focused on exploring.
Moonblaze padded down the same rabbit trail and followed his scent from the previous day. He would always follow it ten tree-lengths farther than the last time and then head into the forest to explore. This time, he followed it completely, passing up where he had last entered the trees. He wanted to know where it ended, if it did end. He didn't have to worry about leaving a scent trail because he was now big enough to where he brushed the sides of the trail all the time. He would soon have to make a trail of his own.
It seemed like forever before the trail finally veered off to the right before making another turn to the left. He went on for another few tree-lengths before it ended at a small clearing. He stepped into the open and saw a large cave at the other side. It was larger than his den! It had a small opening and it looked very jagged and rough, like it had never seen wind or water before.
Moonblaze wasn't sure if anything lived there so he turned around, but he didn't leave. His paws just wouldn't let him. Instead, he padded over to a nearby tree. The lowest branch was several tail-lengths above his head. He leaped up and put his paws on the trunk and tried to run up, but instead he just fell on his back, his wings spread out so he wouldn't crush them. He huffed and rolled to his paws. He turned back to the tree, but this time, he put his paws around the trunk and hooked his claws into the bark. He did the same with his back paws. He felt himself sliding down and he managed to pull himself upward and hook his paws above his head. He was actually climbing a tree! Lazer would be so amazed! He might even be able to hunt squirrels if he was able to get up to the branch. He swallowed down his excitement and concentrated on climbing, hooking his paws into the bark every time he moved up the trunk. He got beside the branch and bunched his muscles before leaping over and hooking his claws onto the branch. He used his back paws to claw at the trunk and help him onto the thick branch. He lay panting on the branch and let his wings hang at his sides as he rested from an exhausting climb. That was something he'd have to practice. He had actually made it! He had climbed a tree!
Once Moonblaze caught his breath, he sat up and looked back at the cave. For the first time, he actually noticed something glowing inside the dark cave. He flattened his ears. He hated dark spaces! But he just had to know what that glow was. He snorted in frustration as he fought himself to decide. He then looked down and tried to figure out how he was going to get down. It looked such a long way down from up here. He then remembered that he would have to learn how to fly soon. He slowly raised his wings and took a deep breath. He then bunched his muscles and leaped into the air, stretching his wings out beside him. He thought he would fall but instead his wings had allowed him to glide across the clearing and land, sprawling as he did, a tree-length away from the cave. He got to his paws and brought his wings back to his sides. He actually flew across the clearing! Now he had two things to show Lazer! He made a little yip and bounced up happily before noticing where he stood. He stared at the cave opening in front him. In the darkness, something clearly was glowing inside. Staring at the glow, he summoned the courage and began to slowly and cautiously walk inside.
Moonblaze flattened his ears as he walked into the darkness. The jagged-edged walls scraped against his sides. The dark passage was narrow but after a few tail-lengths in, it began to widen. The tunnel twisted and turned every few steps. It felt like he was getting lost, but there were no side turns or other paths to turn on. The orange glow got brighter and bright every step. Soon, the tunnel opened up into a small cavern. Vines hung down all around from the ceiling, growing from cracks that barely had a crack of light showing through. On the wall, a cluster of vines were tangled together and inside was the source of the glow. He walked over to the vines. The source of glow was a container that held some sort of moving orange stuff that glowed very brightly. Attached to it was a black string that made it a necklace. He tilted his head and wondered why and how it got here. He sniffed the air, but no scent was found in the cave but his own. He shrugged and clawed at the vines to make it easier to grab the "lava lamp" necklace. He snatched it up and put it around his neck before turning and racing along the tunnel, not even caring as the narrow tunnel edges scraped his sides and drew blood. He dashed out into the open and raced along the rabbit trail until he was halfway to the den.
Moonblaze skidded to a halt and panted. He stared down at the necklace as he tried to catch his breath. Now I have three things to show father! He then padded along the trail, back to the pack to find Lazer.
Moonblaze burst into the clearing and looked around. A few wolves looked at him like he had did something wrong. He ignored their stares and glanced over towards the den. Lazer and Lira were talking outside the den. He knew that he wasn't supposed to interrupt their conversations but he dashed over to them anyway, driven by excitement. "Hey, guess what!"
The two wolves stopped talking and stared at him. "Moonblaze, I've told you before"-
"I know but I have three things to show you," Moonblaze barked excitedly, skidding to a halt beside them.
"Son, we're having an important discussion."
"Can't it wait until after I show you?"
"No it can't! Now, go back to the den and wait until I come and get you," Lazer snapped, towering over Moonblaze with his tail raised.
Lira's eyes widened and she got to her paws, "I'm just gonna be over there. Come get me when you're ready to discuss it again…" She then slipped away.
Moonblaze flattened his ears and lowered his tail. "B-b-but I.."
"No buts! Get back to the den now!" Lazer growled, glaring down at Moonblaze with burning green eyes.
Moonblaze gawked at Lazer before his expression hardened. By this time, a crowd had formed. "You're just like all the others! They all see me for what I am and not whoI am! They treat me like I'm some sort of creature that's a prisoner under everyone's claws! I thought you were different, but I guess you've changed since mom died," he snapped back. Tears had started to form and he closed his eyes tight as he turned and raced away, leaving his father to stare in shock after him.
"Wait, Moonblaze! Come back, I'm sorry!"
Moonblaze ignored his father's pleas and disappeared through the bushes. He raced through the trees, clearing bushes as he leaped over them and dodging around trees. He didn't know exactly where he was going, but he found that his paws had taken him to Long Grass Plain. He skidded to a halt and stared across the vast open space. He looked back over his shoulder and then closed his eyes before racing into the tall grass. They're all the same! No one likes me. I hate him! I hate them all!
Moonblaze curled up in a patch of long grass and spent the night in Long Grass Plain. He didn't want to ever go back to that stupid pack. They all hated him, so why not do them a favor and leave while he could? He sighed and dug his face into his tail and paws before falling asleep. When he awoke the next morning, he thought he heard voices in the distance. He slowly got to his paws and shook out his fur, shuffling his wings. He sneezed as a fluffy orange and yellow feather landed on his nose. He stretched out his wings and lifted them slightly to look at them. Two more feathers to lose and he would be able to learn to fly completely. He would enjoy the day he did.
Moonblaze's ears twitched to the sound of more far off voices that were being carried on the wind towards him. Two of the voices he recognized: Lazer and Lira. He flattened his ears and closed his eyes. When their voices reached him again, he opened his eyes. They're actually searching for me… Father must really be worried about me... I at least hope he means it when he says sorry. I bet he forced everyone else to look for me. They probably don't want anything to do with me… He huffed before leaping up into the air. He caught a glimpse of several figures in the tall grass, several tree-lengths away from the den, before landing back on his paws. He sighed before slowly picking his way through the long grass.
Lira was the first one to spot Moonblaze. She immediately raced over to him and sniffed him over, checking him over for any wounds. The ones she found were the old scratches made by the cave where he found the necklace. She then nuzzled his ear before pulling away, "Your father has been worried sick about you!" That's when she noticed his necklace. "Where did you get that?"
"That's what I was going to show him when he nearly bit my ears off…" Moonblaze flattened his ears and looked away.
Lira gave him a sympathetic look before nudging his shoulder softly. "Come along, dear. I'm sure he'll listen now. And don't you worry about everyone else. He gave them a good scolding when he couldn't find you last night."
Moonblaze looked at her, allowing relief to show in his amber eyes. Though, he still doubted he would be left alone. He followed behind Lira as she led the way through the tall grass.
When Lazer spotted them, his face brightened up so much that it looked like he would melt. He bounded over to them and rubbed his neck against Moonblaze's as Lira stepped aside. "I thought I was going to lose you, too," he whispered. Moonblaze flattened his ears, feeling ashamed. "I'm so sorry… I'm so sorry for yelling at you. I had a lot of things on my mind and I shouldn't have yelled at you…"
"It's… It's okay… I should have waited instead of letting my excitement get the best of me…" Moonblaze pulled away and stared at the ground. He jerked his head up when he felt his shoulder get nudged. Lira flicked her gaze to Lazer, signaling for him to continue. He raised his eyebrow. Lira then pointed with her nose to his necklace. He blinked and then gave a slight nod. By now, Lazer was looking from Moonblaze to Lira and back again. He turned back to Lazer. "I was wondering… if you still want to see what I wanted to show you…"
"Of course I do, son. Come on, you can show me once we get back to the den," Lazer told him.
Moonblaze's eyes brightened a bit as he followed his father and then glanced at Lira. Lira only smiled softly and let the two of them lead the way, the rest of the pack who had been out searching behind her.
"Now, what is it you wanted to show me?" Lazer asked once they got to the den. Since Lira had been so nice to him, Moonblaze had asked her to stay and watch.
"Well, I wanted to show you this." Moonblaze pointed with his nose to his "lava lamp" necklace that hung down below his chest. "I found this in a cave in a clearing at the end of a rabbit trail."
"Are you sure it wasn't someone else's," Lazer asked.
"Yes father, I'm sure. There wasn't any scent at all in the cave besides mine when I was in there. And I also wanted to show you two other things!" He then glanced around the clearing. A few wolves were staring in his direction, but when he looked their way, they looked away immediately. He turned back to Lazer and Lira. "Promise you won't fret or tell me to get down?"
"Get down from where," Lazer asked. Lira shoved him with her shoulder. He glanced at her in surprise and then looked back to his son. "Er, I promise."
"As do I," Lira promised.
Moonblaze smiled softly before turning and dashing over to a nearby tree. He stopped and turned to see Lira and Lazer following more slowly. "Wait there," he told them. "And watch." He then turned back to the tree and wrapped his paws around the trunk, like last time, and began to haul himself up the tree. He tried it a little faster this time, which seemed to be a bit easier to do than going up the tree slowly. He hauled himself onto the lowest branch and balanced himself on it.
"Be careful!" Lazer called up to him.
"I learned how to climb trees yesterday as well as this." Moonblaze lifted his wings and leaped off the branch, using his wings to help him glide through the air and land a tail-length behind Lazer and Lira. He managed to stay on his paws this time, but he still lost his balance a bit and had to sit down. "See! Once all my feathers grow into my wings, I'll be able to learn how to fly instead of just gliding," he barked.
"That was amazing," Lira barked, bounding over to him.
"I'm so proud of you, son." Lazer padded after Lira and then nuzzled Moonblaze's ears.
Moonblaze laughed softly and then stopped as four voices he never wanted to hear in his life could be heard nearby. He glanced over his shoulder to see the four troublemaking brothers clustered together and staring at them.
"What a dimwit!" One barked.
"Wolves aren't supposed to fly!"
"He's not even normal!"
"I bet you he was abandoned by his previous parents and was adopted by the alpha," the leader sneered. The four brothers laughed.
Moonblaze flattened his ears and hung his head. A growl rose up from deep within Lira's throat. "I'll handle them this time." She then padded over to them with her tail raised high. "You four better have a good explanation for saying things like that," she growled, showing her gleaming white teeth at them. Moonblaze didn't bother to listen to the rest of her scolding.
Lazer sighed, "Don't let what anyone says bother you."
"How? How am I supposed to do that when they do it constantly, every day?" Moonblaze's amber eyes were glazed with defeat. "I swear, it's not even worth trying to scold them day after day," he muttered under his breath. He turned and began walking towards the den. "I'm going to rest in the den for a while."
"O-Okay… Call me if you need anything," Lazer called after him.
Moonblaze flicked his ear, signaling that he heard. He entered the dark den and curled up in the way back in a corner, his back to the entrance. He would normally be afraid of dark places, but the den gave him a sense of safety, not fear. It was, after all, the place he was born. Why wouldn't he be safe in his own home? He sighed. The only light he could see was his necklace that illuminated the den with its orange glow. He closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep.
That night, Moonblaze stepped out of the den for some fresh air. He breathed in through his nose and let it out as a deep breath. He looked around the dark, moonlit clearing. Four sets of eyes gleamed in the darkness amongst the wolves. Somehow, he knew exactly who they were. He flattened his ears and disappeared into the bushes, wanting to get a drink. He followed a rabbit trail for a few tail-lengths before veering off into the bushes and coming to a small stream. He flicked his ears as the bushes rustled behind him. He gulped, afraid to turn around. He did anyway.
The four brothers stood glaring at him, each with a snicker on their face. They blocked each escape route, the other two blocking across the stream as well. "Well, look who's caught outside the den," the leader sneered.
"I was only getting a drink," Moonblaze told them, flattening his ears and shuffling his wings slightly.
"Then get a drink."
Moonblaze wasn't sure about this whole situation, but he chose to obey anyway. He turned and began to lap up the water. Before he could swallow, his head was shoved into the water and held down by a heavy paw. He struggled under the paw's grasp as he choked on water. After several heartbeats, the paw lifted and he sat up, coughing and spluttering.
"Oh, I'm sorry! I thought I was stepping on a rock. I can't see that well in the dark." The other three brothers laughed.
When Moonblaze was able to catch his breath and stop coughing, he glanced at them through half closed eyes. "Then you should get your eyes checked."
Immediately, the air grew still and the four brothers glared at him. "What did you say?"
"I said that maybe you need to get your eyes checked," Moonblaze repeated. He was instantly slapped and he grunted as he fell on his face in the stream.
"Go ahead. I dare you to say it again!"
Moonblaze slowly sat up and shook the water from his head. He kept quiet.
"I thought so. So, what's all this about being able to fly soon? Are you going to fly away from home?"
"No… I don't know what I'll do when I'm able to fly."
"Well, did the alpha tell you, you were adopted yet? Or is he still trying to hide it," the leader mocked. He flicked his gaze to his brothers.
"Tell us, Brine! Why do you think he's hiding it?"
"I think he's afraid of how you might react, Mooncraze. Or maybe he's just a coward," Brine barked.
Moonblaze turned on Brine. "Father's not a coward! And I'm not adopted. How would you even know anyway? Do stalk him day and night," he shot back, a hint of a growl in his voice. He smiled when he saw the look of shock in the widened eyes of Brine's brothers.
Brine's muzzle wrinkled as he growled, "Don't mock me, freak."
"You'll regret the day you were ever born," Brine barked.
"As if you could do anything to hurt me. Father and Lira are on my side," Moonblaze told him sternly.
"And you think they'll save you tonight?" Brine advanced, taking a few steps toward Moonblaze, making him step back into the stream. "They're asleep, oblivious to what's happening here. And you know what that means?" He flicked his ear to his brothers.
Brine smirked, "I think I'll settle with killing."
Moonblaze's eyes widened and he turned to run across the stream, but Brine bit into his tail and yanked him back. He slid back and yelped as Brine and his brothers attacked him from all sides, biting, scratching, and tearing at his fur and skin. They stepped on his wings until it felt like his bones would break. He could feel blood trickle from the wounds they were giving him. When they saw that he wasn't fighting back, Brine flicked his tail to signal his brothers to move away. This meant Brine was going to finish the job. Before Brine could even move, Moonblaze leaped to his paws and lunged at him, bowling him over and latching onto his ear. He yanked at his ear and heard his ear rip between his teeth. Brine yelped in pain and held a paw over his bleeding ear. Moonblaze spit out the piece of his ear and waited to see if Brine was going to attack.
Brine got to his paws and snarled before lunging for his neck, but Moonblaze knew better. He dodged to the side and slammed his forepaw down onto Brine's neck. Brine hit the ground with a grunt and snarled as Moonblaze stepped onto and over him to move into the stream. Moonblaze stood in the stream and turned to face Brine. Brine had already gotten to his paws and was panting.
"What's the matter? Cat got your tongue," Moonblaze taunted.
Brine snarled and lunged once more. When Brine stepped into the stream, Moonblaze dodged and used his wing to trip Brine. Brine fell on his face in the stream and this time, it was Moonblaze who held his head down into the water. As Brine choked on water, Moonblaze glanced at the three brothers behind him. They didn't make a move, they just watched in horror as Moonblaze tortured their brother. After several heartbeats passed, Moonblaze finally let Brine up and stepped back. Brine sat up and coughed, still panting.
"How does it feel, Brine? To be put in my position?"
Brine turned his head and glared at Moonblaze, "Y-You almost killed me!"
"I could have, but I didn't," Moonblaze snorted.
Brine sneered and then turned and raced through the bushes, running back to the pack with his brothers following close behind.
Moonblaze snorted before turning back to the stream. He stepped into the middle of it and then lay down before rolling around in the water, trying to wash all the blood off of him from his wounds. Once he was sure it was all off, he sat up and lapped up the water before turning and limping through the bushes. When he got to the clearing, he saw Brine and his brothers huddled behind their mother. Lira lifted her head when they had appeared. She glanced at Brine's torn ear and then flicked her gaze to Moonblaze. Moonblaze looked away and limped over to the den, though he did not enter. He lay down beside the rock and curled up, with one wing covering his body. He didn't really want to have Lazer see him like this. He sighed and drifted off to sleep.
Moonblaze awoke in the morning by a nudge in his shoulder, which he winced. He lifted his wing to see Lira staring down at him. He sighed softly and sat up, shuffling his wings nervously.
"What happened to you," Lira asked softly.
"Didn't Brine tell you," Moonblaze asked.
"Yes, but I want to hear your story."
Moonblaze flattened his ears before telling Lira all that had happened that night.
"Oh my! Are you alright, dear? I'm glad you were able to fight back in the end. You could have told someone about it," Lira told him.
"I'm fine." Moonblaze looked away. "If I had told someone about it sooner, then I'd be a coward in their eyes. I thought if I fought back they'd at least leave me alone for awhile…"
Lira gave a small smile before giving a comforting lick to his forehead, which she made an interesting discovery. "You have horns growing on your head, dear. They are small, but they're definitely horns."
"What?" Moonblaze looked confused and surprised.
Lira giggled softly.
Lazer came up behind her and she stepped aside. "What's going on?"
Moonblaze straightened up and tried to look confident. "I fought back."
"What?" Lazer looked confused. Then he noticed Moonblaze's wounds. "What happened to you?"
"I fought back," Moonblaze repeated. "I was beat up, but I fought back."
"What?! Who did this," Lazer demanded.
Lira nudged Lazer's shoulder with her nose. "It's done and over with."
Lazer glanced at her and then sighed. "Alright… Are you alright, son?"
"I'm fine father," Moonblaze assured him.
Lazer dipped his head slightly. "If anything else happens, please let me know."
Moonblaze nodded and watched as Lazer padded away. Lira stayed behind. She turned to him.
"He worries about you, you know," Lira told him. "Day after day. He knows what you're going through and he worries for your safety."
Moonblaze sighed and lowered his ears, "I know… I just hope I'll be left alone for awhile."
Lira nodded, "I hope so, too."
Moonblaze lifted his wings and then studied them. He noticed that the two furry feathers that were left were gone. He could start learning how fly! His amber eyes lit up and he looked to Lira. "I can learn to fly now; my wings have all their feathers! I'm going to go practice!" He turned and was about to race away when he felt his tail being lightly grabbed. He flinched and looked over his shoulder.
"Sorry," Lira apologized before letting go of his tail. "May I watch you practice?"
Moonblaze smiled as excitement boiled inside him. "Of course!"
Lira smiled softly and followed him through the trees. She let him take the lead as they padded on the rabbit trail. When he found a suitable clearing, he had Lira sit in the middle so he wouldn't hit her when he practiced.
"Just be careful, dear," Lira told him.
"I will," Moonblaze barked. He flexed his wings, flapping them slowly once or twice before padding over to a nearby tree and climbing it. He stood on the lowest branch and flexed his wings one more time. He then bunched his muscles and leaped. Instead of holding them straight out, he made his wings flap as he started to fall. It felt weird to use them like that. He landed on his paws and then sprawled a few tail-lengths from where he landed.
Lira padded over to where he had first touched the ground and marked a line in the dirt with her claws. She then padded over to Moonblaze as he was getting to his paws. "Well, I think you did well, considering it was your first try."
"You think so?" Moonblaze held out his wings a bit from his sides. "I just have to work on getting passed that line."
Moonblaze went to that same clearing, day after day. Lira helped him with his practices and even Lazer went along and helped once or twice. Of course, he was left alone since he fought back Brine and his brothers. They never expected him to fight back. It took about two moons of practice before he finally got the hang of flying. He even taught Lira and Lazer how to climb trees. With all the practice, he was able to climb a tree in two bounds without breaking a sweat. All that hard work, paid off.
Moonblaze padded into the morning sunlight and stretched his limbs. He looked around the clearing. Lazer and Lira were talking in the middle of the clearing. He remembered their talk last night. They had told him that Lira was to be Lazer's new mate. He liked Lira, a lot actually, but he didn't like the thought of her replacing Laura. He knew Lira would never replace his true mother.
Instead of waiting for them to notice him up, Moonblaze turned and flew off toward Long Grass Plain. Since he had learned how to fly, he had started to patrol Long Grass Plain. For the pack, and for his own interests: exploring. He soared above the trees and over the long grass. He flew around the border of the plain and he flew over the open area. He saw nothing out of the ordinary, besides scaring a few birds and a hawk. He decided to head back. He landed in the clearing and folded his wings. Almost immediately, he was met by whispers and glares. He twitched his ears and tried to listen in. He couldn't tell what they were saying, but he could tell that they were talking about him. He flattened his ears and sighed before meeting the glares of Brine and his brothers. Brine sneered and shoved passed his brothers and walked the opposite direction as him. He looked away and walked over to the den. He heard pawsteps behind him as he entered.
"How was your flight, son?"
"Fine father," Moonblaze replied, lying down at the back of the den. He had been thinking about leaving the pack, for good.
"What's wrong, dear?" Lira's voice sounded concerned.
"Nothing… I just didn't get enough sleep last night," he lied. He just wanted to be left alone to think.
"We'll let you rest then. Let us know if you need anything," Lazer said softly.
Moonblaze flicked his tail, signaling that he heard. He heard their pawsteps leave and fade as they left the den. He sighed and pawed at the dirt in front of him as he thought. Should he leave? No one wants him, besides Lazer and Lira. What would happen if he left? Lazer would be torn. Would Lira care if he left? He lifted his head and blinked. Would she? Of course she acts nice and sweet around me. But does she really care about me, like father does? He slowly got to his paws and walked over to the den entrance.
Lazer and Lira were walking and talking together in the clearing. Every few steps, they would rub against each other.
Moonblaze lowered his ears slightly and went to the back of the den. He sat down and pawed at the dirt again. When should he leave? Should he leave now? Should he leave in the morning? The morning would be a good time to leave. Should he leave when everyone's awake, or when no one's up? He sighed and hung his head before standing and walking slowly out of the den.
Bright light met him and he had to blink several times to adjust to the light again. He then padded over to the fresh-kill pile and chose a rabbit. He picked it up and brought it back to the den where he ate in silence. He licked the bones clean before shoving them to the wall and curling up with his wing over his body. He sighed and tried to fall asleep.
Surprisingly, he had slept all through to the next morning, early morning. He sat up and saw Lazer sleeping towards the front of the den. He got to his paws and silently crept passed him, trying not to wake him. He then padded outside where the pack was still asleep. He padded over towards Long Grass Plain and lifted his wings for take-off.
Moonblaze flinched at the voice and lowered his wings, hanging them at his side. "Hi, Lira…"
"Where are you going this early in the morning? You're not going on patrol this early are you," she asked.
"No, I'm not… But if you want to call it that then it's a permanent patrol."
"What? What do you mean? You're… You're leaving?"
Moonblaze flattened his ears and nodded his head slightly. "I just… I just want to know… one question…"
"What, dear," Lira asked softly.
"Do… Do you like me? Like, like me like me?"
"What… What brought this on," Lira asked.
"Well… You know how everyone treats me… Brine and the others… I just… wanted to know if you were like them or not," Moonblaze whispered.
"Of course not, dear. You are a very special wolf, no matter how strange others might think you are," Lira replied.
"But… Do you really like me? Or do you just like me because of father?" Moonblaze looked up and met her eyes this time. He wanted to know the truth, no matter what it may be.
Lira took a deep breath and let it out through her nose. "Look, dear. I don't care if you think I'm lying or if you're the only one in the world that looks the way you do. But when I say this, I do mean it. I am not like the others who mistreat you. I admire you for having come this far and dealing with everyone's actions and words. I think you are very brave and have a lot of courage." She took a step forward and set her head on top of his. "Your father has been proud of how far you've come through all of this as well."
Moonblaze stared at her fur for a moment and then rubbed his head under hers. He smiled softly as he rubbed his nose through her warm fur. Ever since Laura died, he hadn't been quite as happy as he had when she was alive. Now that he was in Lira's fur, he actually felt happy, like he was with his mother. If only he could stay, and watch as his half-siblings grew, if it ever came to that between Lira and Lazer. Lira licked his forehead and they drew away. "I'm sorry I can't stay… I would have liked to, but I can't deal with everyone anymore. They'll all probably be happy that I left."
"Don't say that," Lira scolded him softly. She looked over her shoulder as Lazer appeared from the den. "Come on, you should say farewell to your father before you leave. It would be better than leaving without saying anything."
Moonblaze opened his mouth to protest and then closed it, having known she was right. He sighed and flattened his ears before straightening them and padding beside Lira as they met up with Lazer.
Lazer seemed to know something was going on because he looked from Lira to Moonblaze and back again. "What's going on?"
"I…" Moonblaze straightened up and met his father's green gaze. "I'm leaving. And I'm not ever coming back."
"What?! But why," Lazer barked in shock.
"I'm leaving for my own reasons, and I don't think they'll change even if you lectured the pack a few thousand times. It won't change the way they think or see me as," Moonblaze told him.
Lazer sighed and stared into Moonblaze's amber gaze. "Please, don't make me loose both of you… I don't want that to happen…"
Moonblaze flattened his ears and lowered his gaze, feeling ashamed once more. "I-I'm sorry…" He then straightened up. "But this is my decision. Besides, I want to see beyond our territory. I want to see the world."
Lazer forced a smile, "I bet you do, son. I suppose… I can't ever change your mind. And you're old enough to be on your own now. You're not a pup anymore." It sounded like he was trying to convince himself of that. "And I have to let you go sooner or later. Will you at least visit sometime?"
Moonblaze blinked, not having thought of that. "I could… try visiting once in a while. It might only be once in a blue moon though." He forced a smile as well.
"Right," Lazer nodded. He stepped forward and rubbed against Moonblaze. He drew away and stood beside Lira.
"Well… I should probably be off now," Moonblaze sighed softly.
Lira dipped her head, "We'll miss you, dear. Come visit us sometime, maybe to see your new siblings." She smiled softly and winked at him.
Having noticed the wink, Lazer looked from Moonblaze to Lira. "What?"
Lira giggled slightly and then nosed Moonblaze's shoulder. "Off you go then."
Moonblaze sighed and let his shoulders slump before rubbing up against both of them once more. He then drew away and said his goodbye before taking off. He tried not to look back, but he had to circle around the entrance to Long Grass Plain before heading across the vast plain. This was the start of a new journey for him; a journey to see the world and everything in it.