Chapter Three

The next morning was just like last night - raining.  
Water was pouring out of the clouds just as it was last night, which Sparrow was not that surprised about.  As soon as he exited his den, he saw Rain, Dawn, Sapphire, Storm, and three of the training wolves waiting for him.
"Morning," Sapphire greeted him, her fur completely soaked like the others.  The hunters-in-training looked rather worried about today's hunting trip, considering that their first actual hunt would be in the pouring rain.  
"Hello," Sparrow said to the others, who nodded at him.  
"Now, I assume that you all should know that you are the wolves who have been chosen to hunt today," Dawn said to them all.  "Rain can explain everything to you, considering that I'm leaving now.  I hope that you kill something today... food is becoming scarce, as you know."
Nodding, the other wolves turned their attention to Rain as Dawn left.

"Alright, everyone," Rain said cheerfully, despite the pouring rain.  "We need to go hunting today because Dawn says that food is becoming scarce, and there are less and less animals to hunt now.  You already knew that, of course, but I was just telling you again to make sure that you understood.  Although it's raining, the rain will probably stop soon.  Anyway..."

Sparrow stopped listening to Rain after that, although she continued speaking.  He was a little weirded out by this, considering that he had never hunted in the rain before, especially rain that was falling out of the clouds as hard as this.  Today's hunt would be a challenge. 

"Everyone understand?" Rain asked the wolves firmly, who all barked out a response.

"Good," she replied, leading the wolves quickly to a river.

Rain suddenly stopped as she got to the edge of the river and looked closely at an animal track by the water.  "This is a moose track," she said.  "A moose was here..." She paused and sniffed the air.  "Hmm.  Not long ago, actually.  The scent is still very strong."

Finally spotting the moose as the wolves ran along the river, Rain stopped abruptly and sniffed the air.  "It's right up there," she whispered, pointing her muzzle towards the top of a hill.  The antlers of a moose were sticking out, making the wolves realize that the moose was behind the hill.  "We need to quietly sneak up on it," Rain told the other wolves, watching the three younger ones closely.  "Be silent."

The wolves slowly got closer, until Rain ordered them to stop.  "Sapphire and Storm - you two shall distract the wolf as Sparrow and I go around the other side of the hill and attack it from behind.  That should corner the moose well enough," she said confidently.  "Understood?"

The wolves all nodded, and the younger wolves hid themselves behind a bush close to the hill to observe the older wolves as they hunted a moose."

Charging at the moose, Sapphire and Storm growled fiercely.  Sparrow could hear the moose's protests and the yelps of the other hunters as he prepared to sneak around the other side of the hill with Rain.  "Let's go," Rain whispered firmly," and she and Sparrow began to creep around the hill. 

Grabbing onto the snout of the moose, Rain held on as the moose kicked and tried to throw her off.  Leaping up as far as he could, Sparrow lashed out at the moose and missed, falling back down.  Picking himself up, Sparrow snarled and got a hold of the moose's left flank.  Looking at Rain, Sparrow's eyes widened as she fell and the moose began to run. 

"Don't chase it," Rain said, dazed, as she struggled to get back up.  "It's not that badly injured and is still strong... we'd never be able to take it down.  She suddenly turned her attention to Storm, who was unconcious on the forest floor, Rain sat beside him and said, "I think that he was kicked by the moose."

Knowing that Storm was Rain's mate, Sparrow wondered how she would react to this.  "Is he alright?" he asked worridly, and Rain sighed.  "Only time will tell," she whispered, and got up. 

Sparrow took this time to assess everyone's injuries.  His left leg was a bit swollen from him falling, Rain's front paw looked oddly twisted, Sapphire had a gash in her chest, and Storm's chest looked bruised.  The three wolves in the bush seemed like they were alive but shaken as they crawled out of the bush, surprised by what they had seen.

The rain had nearly stopped within the time that they arrived at the river till now.  Sparrow shook the water from his fur, and the others did so as well... all besides Storm, of course. 

Peering down at Storm, Sapphire looked worried.  "He's not... dead, is he?" she asked, sounding concerned.  Rain shook her head.  "I think that he's breathing," she said, doubting this. 

But suddenly, Rain began to snarl furiously.  Her eyes were focused on something else in the distance, and the other wolves turned quickly to see what it was.  Nothing.  "What -" Sparrow began, but Rain growled again.  "Listen," she said, fuming. 

They heard the growl of a bear, sounding dangerously close. 

They heard the frightened grunts of a moose.

The last sound that the moose ever made.

"Run," Rain whispered.

Turning quickly, Sparrow began to run, following Sapphire, Rain, and the others.  But suddenly, Rain stopped and turned, running back.

"What are you doing?" one of the younger wolves snarled.  "Are you trying to get killed?"

"What about Storm?!" Rain yelped.  "I'm not leaving him here - just go!  Save yourselves from the bear... it's coming... I smell it..." Rain turned away from the wolves and ran into the trees, growling and trying to make the bear run away.

Ducking behind a large rock, all wolves with the exception of Rain and Storm were expecting the worst.  No wolves from the pack had ever defeated a bear - it was nearly impossible.  Rain wasn't the strongest wolf in the pack, although she was an exceptional hunter. 

Less than a minute passed before they heard the bear charging away, but it felt like hours.  Sparrow quieted the other wolves and began to limp over to the area where they had struggled to catch the moose.  He immediately saw Storm, who was still lying down unconscious but looked alive and untouched by the bear.  But Rain was no where to be found.

"Rain is gone," Sparrow shouted back to the others, who quickly were at his side.  "Where could she be?" Sapphire yelped, looking around the trees.  "Well, the bear is gone," Sparrow said.  "But Rain is too.  I'm not sure where she is, and I doubt that she'd be alive anyway."

"Wait... Ice is missing too," Sapphire suddenly said, speaking of a white she-wolf who was one of the hunters in training. 

They found Ice within minutes of searching.  She was unscathed yet shaken.  Explaining what happened to Rain, she said in a shaky voice, "I saw her charge at the bear, running into the trees.  A few seconds later, the bear gave her a gash across her head.  She probably knew by now that she was going to die if she kept fighting, so she ran away.  The bear stayed for a minute, then walked off the other direction.  It sniffed at Storm, but didn't do anything to him - it just ran south."

"How are we going to find her?" Sparrow asked.  "There is a chance that she's still alive."

"Yes, but she ran, so she probably is far away by now."

"Um, well... Sapphire and I are going to go see if we can find her.  You three, please take Storm back to our pack and see if Moon can help him.  Just go away from here."

"Alright," Ice replied, and her and the other two rushed to Storm's side and began to drag him home.  Sparrow and Sapphire immediately ran in the direction of where Rain was spotted running.  After less than three minutes of running, they found her.

But she wasn't in good condition.

Rain was nearly dead.  Her side was ripped open completely, spilling blood everywhere.  She was literally lying in  a pool of... herself.  The single gash on her head was now much larger and ran from her left ear to her chin, down the side of her head.  Her twisted paw was now even badlier twisted, most likely from running.  It was horrible to look at -- even Sparrow had turn away for a moment.  And even worse, Rain had the scent of another animal all over her, but it was mixed with hers, the moose, and the grizzly bear, so it was unrecognizable.  Her eyes flickering open, she took a shaky breath, and closed her eyes abruptly. 

"Rain, don't move," Sapphire whispered gently.  Looking at Sparrow, she sighed as Sparrow shook his head.  There was nothing they could do to help her.  Rain's legs began to shake violently, and then... she was dead.

Staring at her in shock, Sapphire was the first to break the long silence, sniffing the air.  "I smell..." She narrowed her eyes and sniffed harder, trying to figure out what animal it was.  "I don't know, but it's very unfamiliar and strong.  My point is, the bear definetly didn't do this to her."

"If the moose didn't kill her..." Sparrow said, still staring at the fallen she-wolf.

"And the bear didn't kill her..." Sapphire said.

"....Who did?"


The End

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