Chapter 4

          James roared, “How can you say that?”

          The three of them were sitting in the hotel room they had bought earlier that night. The walls were peeling and the floorboards covered in dust, but they did not care. Right now, they were in the middle of a heated argument. James was pacing around the room anxiously, while Oscar sat on one of the beds, and Lewis rocked back and forth in a chair by the window overlooking the street.

          James snarled at his brothers, “I can’t believe you two! Our own mother, at the mercy of that monster, and you’ll do nothing? Oscar, you most of all should be jumping up and down at the opportunity to stop him!”

          Oscar did not meet James’s eyes, as he muttered, “I have no plans to meet Randall face-to-face again. I’d like to keep my remaining body parts, thanks very much!”

          “But he’s got Mother! I understand you being scared to face him after what happened, but to stand by and let him steal our mother for some nefarious purpose…its cowardice!”

          Lewis quietly coughed, and both James and Oscar turned toward him, glaring. He quietly mumbled, “Uh, can I venture an opinion? I just think…well, Randall is obviously working for someone, and I’m not really up for standing up to someone powerful enough to win Randall’s loyalty. The only thing scarier than him is whoever was insane enough to hire him, y’know?”

          James was close to tearing his fur off. “You two are pathetic! She needs our help! We can’t just stay here, scared to act!”

          Lewis squeaked nervously, “Can we keep the yelling down, please?”

          Oscar interrupted, “And in case you forgot, Jim, she doesn’t even deserve our help anyway…”

          James stopped abruptly in his pacing, and slowly turned to face Oscar, whose expression was as dark as the night sky outside. James walked toward him, and unsheathed his sword. Oscar immediately leaped off the bed to his feet, taking out his weapon as well. Lewis yelled, “Oh, come on, guys!”

          James and Oscar’s sword-tips touched, as James hissed, “After all these years…you still blame her?”

          “She abandoned me and Lewis to die! Did you forget that? You helped us escape, but she was perfectly content to see us hang!”

          “That’s not true! It broke her heart, seeing what you two were becoming! She didn’t dare do anything to stop the execution! I was the one that acted! I was the one who sacrificed the honorable life that I could have had, in order to save my siblings! Did you forget that? And now, when I ask you to help me, and help her, you refuse?”

          James threw down his sword, and it clattered loudly on the floor of the room. Oscar stayed in a fighting stance, still primed to battle, but James merely stood there, glaring at his brother with such contempt it would break the spirit of anyone else. He said, his voice filled with emotion, “All these years, the only reason I stayed with you two was to look after you, to keep you safe, to keep you from descending into that place of no return. But no more.”

          He turned toward the door, and Lewis jumped out of the chair, shouting, “Jim, don’t do that! Come on, don’t listen to Oscar! He’s always talking like that, anyway!”

          James looked over his shoulder at Lewis, as one paw touched the door handle. He growled, “Do you agree with him, Lewis? Do you?”

          A long, long silence passed, as Lewis seemed to struggle with his response. Finally, Lewis sadly said, “Yes.”

          James snorted in disgust, as he grunted, “I thought so. Goodbye, brothers. I’ll give Mother your love.” He turned back to the door, and opened it.

          Standing there was the fox from earlier that night at the bar. James scowled, and said, “I’m sorry, ma’am, but I’m still not interested.”

          She gave him a scowl right back, before saying, “I told you, my name is Charlotte. And I was just coming by to give my sympathies.”

          Oscar came up to the door. “Well, thanks so much for caring, but that rabbit meant nothing to us. We never met him before tonight.”

          “Really? From what I heard back there, he knew someone close to you. Someone that was kidnapped by Randall.”

          Lewis appeared next to his brothers. “You’ve heard of him too, huh?”

          “Who hasn’t?” Charlotte stepped into the room, not waiting for permission, and Oscar opened his mouth to chastise her, but James shot a look at him. He then said, “Look, Miss…Charlotte, you might as well tell us why you really came. It wasn’t just to say, ‘sorry for your loss,’ am I right?”

          Charlotte sat in the chair vacated by Lewis, and looked all three of them over. She took a deep breath, and then began:

          “I know someone who can give you the information you need to rescue your mother. He lives here, in Dordol. I can take you to him, and—”

          “Hold on,” interrupted Oscar. “How did you know it was our—?”

          “—I could hear you guys yelling from the bottom of the stairs, let alone next to the door.”

          She sat there, smirking at them, and James face-palmed. Lewis chuckled, “I did warn you to be quiet…”

          Charlotte continued, “I’m not asking for anything in return. I just want to help. I’ve lost loved ones to Randall as well.”

          The three cats stood still, not moving an inch. James thought hard. He needed a lead, and here was this fox, offering one. He walked up to Charlotte, and looked at her intently.

          “Lead the way.”

          He turned to Oscar and Lewis, and said, “This is where we part, I guess.”

          Neither cats said a word. James sighed in disappointment. Charlotte got up, her tail swishing. “Oh, did I mention that I’m only willing to take all three of you there? It’s either all of you or none at all.”

          Oscar looked outraged, and Lewis looked impressed. James shot the fox a surprised look, and she had a confident smile on her face. He looked at his brothers, and Oscar finally growled out, “Fine. We’re coming too. If Jim wants to rescue that woman, whatever. We’ll only come so he can get his info, and then we split, got it?”

          “That’s fine with me,” said Charlotte. She then began walking toward the door, and James followed her. The four exited the hotel room, and began walking down the stairs. James ran ahead, to come up beside Charlotte, and he whispered, “Thank you. I can’t tell you how much—”

          “Don’t worry. Once they’ve listened to my friend, they’ll change their mind…”

The End

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