Freedom, Love, and Loyalty Part 2

Freedom%2C+Love%2C+and+Loyalty+Part+2

Isabella Banda, editor and writer

It was a clear, sunny  morning. Lily woke up to the sound of human feet  treading below the surface as if they were looking for something. She suddenly realized they were looking for her and her friends. Today was the release day. Lily swam off to find Splash first. She found him snoring softly in his nest, curled up in a tight ball. She swam over and nudged Splash gently. Splash rolled over, ignoring Lily’s nudges as if saying it must not be important. She nudged him harder, finally making him wake up.

“Wake up, sleepy head!” said Lily.

“ Why? It’s not like there’s anything important to do today.” replied Splash, annoyed.

“You don’t remember? It’s release day!”

Splash jolted upwards, “I literally forgot! are the humans already here?”

“Yes, but we need to hurry before they stop searching for us and we’re stuck here for the rest of our lives.”

“Okay. I’m going! Just give me a minute.” Splash hurried around his den, saying goodbye to all his belongings and kissing the walls and floor of the den.

“Are you done yet?”

“Yeah, I’m ready.”

“Okay, let’s quickly find Leap and Reed.” Lily said excitedly.

 

Lily and Splash went off to find Leap and Reed. They swam upon their den and found them appreciating their old den for the last time now.

 

“Hey, guys! You ready to leave?” asked Splash, clearly in a rush to get to the humans.

“Yeah, we’re ready to leave” replied Reed, wistfully.

“Let’s go, then.”

 

The four otters swam off towards the humans, excited for their future. Only, not all of them were looking forward to the change that was occurring. Reed and Leap hung back and followed with a sullen look on their faces. Splash took the lead from Lily and arrived at the humans’ feet. He looked behind his shoulder to make sure everyone was there.

 

“All right guys, you ready?” called Splash.

“Ready!” everyone called back.

 

The humans picked up the otters, one in each arm. They carried them to the lab where they put tags on them to keep track of their whereabouts. One by one, the otters had tags firmly placed on their ears. The humans then placed each otter into a metal cage that would then take them to the location where they would be released. The truck silently drove down the road for a few minutes before coming to an abrupt stop. The humans got out of the car and surveyed the area.

 

The humans then started speaking their own, strange language. A tall, lean man and a short, scrawny, fat one. They were clearly arguing about something and pointing to something in the distance. Then, the tall human lifted the cages and set them to the ground, opening them.

“Alright guys. He took the latches off, so let’s go explore this big world!” called Splash, excitedly. As soon as the otters heard Splash’s call they creeped out of their cages. Reed and Leap hung their heads. Lily and Splash, on the other hand, stepped out of their cages, looking at the big world waiting to be explored. Birds flew over the big pond and frogs hopped on the lily pads traveling from one place to another.

“Wow” breathed Splash “This is a mighty big world.

Reed and Leap stepped out of their cages joining Splash and Lily side by side.

“We need to find a place to sleep for the night until we settle down in a final home”Splash decided. 

“Well I don’t want it to be here” muttered Reed back “I mean look at this place, there are frogs everywhere you look and the water is brown and dirty.”

“Fine, where would you like to sleep.”

“I think we should head a little bit farther down the riverbank and see what’s in store for us there.”

“Okay good idea” said Splash.

 

The otters headed down the riverbank and came upon a nicer pond with cleaner water and no frogs.

“Now this is the life” called Reed excitedly.

“I have to agree with you there” replied Splash.

 

The otters padded all the way down to the bank and surveyed the water. It was clear blue near the bank, but further out the water had a weird sticky substance that clung to the scales or fur of any water animal that happened to pass by.

“I think we should sleep on the bank tonight” said Splash before the others argued.

“Okay, well I’ll go gather some reeds that i might find on the other side of the lake,” said Leap and Lily.

 

They both set off towards the other side of the lake. Halfway there they smelled some putrid smells on one side of a tree. Must be some kind of animal that’s made their home here as well thought Lily. She took the lead and traveled ahead of Leap. She came upon a clump of reeds that were settled down upon the bare ground that happened to be trampled by an animal passing by. Lily noticed the same smell on the reeds that was on the tree. The animal must have passed by earlier, probably gone by now though. Nothing to worry about, I guess, Lily thought in her head. She swam back to Leap.

“I found some reeds for the bedding,” said Lily.

“Really , I haven’t been able to find any over here, you must have a lot of luck.”

“I guess so, anyway follow me.”

 

Leap followed Lily through the thick brushes of grass. They came upon the trampled reeds.

“This is not the best, but it will have to do i guess” sighed Leap.

The two otters grabbed pawfuls of reed and started to head back. Leap abruptly stopped in her tracks.

“What’s wrong” asked Lily.

“Look” replied Leap.

Lily looked and saw a flash of fur behind a tree. She started to tremble and realize Leap had started to slowly back away from the path and disappear into the bushes. Lily followed her starting to realize that her worst nightmares had come true, they were being hunted by a vicious predator, a wolf.

“Lily, i have a plan, but we need to be extra quiet to get past this thing okay.”

“ Okay, tell me the plan.”

“First, we need to disguise ourselves, maybe we can grab a bush and cover ourselves. Second, we need to go one by one across the path or he’ll know something is up. Finally, we race back to the others as quickly as possible.” explained Leap as quickly as she could.

“Great plan, while you were talking I found the bushes we need”

“Great, let’s get started.”

 

Everything was in place, the two otters were ready to go with bushes covering their entire body. Leap gave the signal and she slowly creeped out of their hiding spot making her way across the path, careful not to make a sound for fear of the wolf pouncing on her and never to see Leap again. Finally, she made it across the path, giving an all clear sign for Lily to cross the path. Lily saw Leap’s signal and  crossed the path the same way Leap did. Once she made it they took off at a steady pace towards the others.

 

“Hey guys, what took you so long?” said Reed.

“We just wanted to explore the lake just in case we were going to stay here for a while” lied Leap.

“Oh, well there was no need, me and Splash talked it over while you were gone and decided to move further upwards where we’ll find cleaner water, and better food.”

“ You found food, where?” asked Lily

“Just up the lake, hope you like leaves for dinner, and breakfast” replied Reed.

Leap and Lily spread the reeds among the ground as bedding while Reed and Splash gathered food from the low hanging trees. Leap finished early and hurried over to the others to help. The three finished quickly and headed back to Leap. Splash took all the leaves they gathered and separated them equally upon the four of them. All of them ate at a slow pace trying not to spit the leaves out. They were the worst thing anyone had ever tasted. But they managed to force the leaves down their throats trying not to gag.

 

“Well that was the most challenging thing I have had to face” exclaimed Splash.

I don’t think so, well not until you see the wolf. I hope we don’t ever have to come across that thing again, and if we do well we’ll just see what happens then, thought Lily.

“I’m tired, what about you guys” said Reed yawning.

“Same here” agreed Reed.

“Night everyone” said Splash.

 

The otters set off towards their nests, Reed’s and Leap’s were located at the edge of the bank and Splash’s and Lily’s towards the tall grass. Lily settled down into her nest waiting for sleep to come and take her away. But it never came, she sighed a long deep sigh. She waited another twenty minutes but sleep was far away by then. Lily got up, wandering towards the grassy fields. She came upon a small clearing in  the middle of the field. Dirt was the only thing placed in the clearing along with a few pebbles. This looks like a nice place to settle down for a few minutes Lily thought. She padded over to the middle of the clearing and sat down to a calm wind.

“Couldn’t sleep tonight huh” said Splash out of nowhere.

“What!” said Lily startled by Splash’s appearance “Oh it’s you Splash, you scared me there, and yes, I couldn’t sleep tonight.”

“Mind if I come and join you?” asked Splash.

“Not at all.”

 

Chapter 3

 

Dawn approached, and the two otters were still deeply asleep. A sudden howl filled the air. Lily bolted out of her position, waking Splash in the process. She glanced around, scared and cautious of her surroundings. The eerie howling suddenly stopped, leaving dead silence. She peered up with Splash by her side and saw a huge scraggly shape standing on the mountain. Shivering with fear, Lily nudged Splash to look up. Splash was startled at the sight, the animal had pointed ears, a long snout, long flexible legs, and a huge muscular body. The animal let out a long howl and then slowly fixed its gaze on the two petrified otters. Its eyes were the color of blood. It let out a long howl as if calling for someone, and sure enough, another an animal  with a white pelt appeared beside the other. They ran down the mountain in a few quick bounds. The white one stepped in front of the other and stared down at the otters.

“Well what do we have here? A few quick snacks, I suppose” said the black one.

“I think this is our dinner, actually. All the animals left after we enjoyed quite a bit of them.” replied the white one, laughing hysterically.

“W-what are you, exactly?” asked Lily.

“We’re wolves, sweetheart. Natural predators of this area, and you’re trespassing on our territory” growled the gray one.

“Well, I’m sorry, we’ll just be on our way and leave you be.” said Splash.

“No one leaves without paying the price,” growled the white one.

“We haven’t introduced ourselves. Since these little trespassers are getting a punishment, they should remember who gave them their scars.”

“I’m Alaska, and this is Shadow.”

“Okay, this is getting a bit out of hand. We’ll just be our way and won’t come back again.” said Splash, worriedly.

“That won’t be happening anytime soon. Get them.

The two wolves broke into a sprint, gaining on the otters with lips curled up into a snarl. Alaska and Shadow split up and surrounded the otters. The otters dashed through the grass, desperate to get away. Splash tumbled in the uneven dirt, allowing for Shadow to give him a strong nip on his hind leg. Splash yelped in pain, but he quickly regained his balance and raced toward Lily. Alaska was blocking their only exit. He let out a slow growl that gradually increased into something deadly.

“Look at you. You got some good exercise for your scrawny bones. ” joked Shadow.

Let us go.” growled Splash, shielding Lily.

“Why would we give up a perfectly good meal?” asked Shadow as he leaned in, ready to deliver the killing bite,

“Get away from them!” Snarled Reed, rustling his way out of reeds.

Reed sprang onto the back of Shadow, biting down hard into his spine. With a frightened growl, Shadow tossed Reed off, clamping his long, pointed snout into Reed’s back, finishing him off. Leap raced out of the reeds as well, attacking Alaska’s pure white pelt with her tiny teeth and claws. Alaska was able to throw Leap off with his sharp jaws. Shadow scanned his eyes across the otters, narrowing them at Reed’s motionless body.

“We’ll get them later.” muttered Shadow 

“But we can finish them off right here, right now.” protested Alaska.

We’ll get them later.” growled Shadow.

Alaska rolled his eyes, then bounded off into the reeds. Shadow lingered, glaring at the frightened otters.

“We’ll meet again. I’ll make sure of that.” and with that, Shadow followed Alaska.

 

The otters were scared. They had never experienced anything as frightening as that. A sudden cry echoed from the clearing.

Reed!” cried Leap. Reed lay motionless on the ground, his neck was twisted in a horrid way. 

“Wake up, Reed!” Leap pleaded, sorrow clouding her eyes. Reed didn’t wake up, and he didn’t move at all. Leap  whimpered. She was shaking with fear and grief. “Leap, he’s gone” said Splash calmy.

“No, he can’t be dead, he promised he would stay with me.” replied Leap grief stricken. Lily and Splash made their way towards Leap to comfort her. Reed’s death had deeply placed itself in Leap’s heart, making a permanent scar.

The otters moved upwards, eager to get as far as possible from the wolves. Leap lagged behind every step. Lily and Splash exchanged glances with each other. They kept on going and came upon a small clearing filled with paw prints of animals of the past that crossed this path. Splash took the lead from Lily and made his way across the clearing, placing his own paw prints on the dirt along with the other otters. Leap whimpered, remembering the life drained out of Reed’s eyes. Of course they had given him a proper burial like the Elders did with every dead otters in the Clan. I just remembered, we used to have a Clan. How nice it was to be in one while it lasted. Maybe once we settle in a final place, we can re-make a Clan. Lily thought.
“Hey, Splash?” Lily said.

“Yeah?”

“I was thinking, maybe we could make a Clan like in our old home.”

“I like that idea, but we should try and adapt to our new home first.”

“Okay” agreed Lily with a sullen look on her face.

 

The otters traveled farther on before coming upon a small cave that could at least fill all of them in it. “I am going to find some reeds and you two can find can get some food. The water looks clean enough so try and catch some fish please? “Asked Splash. “Alright, but be careful, the wolves might have followed us here” warned Leap, speaking for the first time since Reed died. “I will.”

 

Splash set off to find reeds leaving Lily and Leap to find food. Leap padded over to the water and dove in with Lily right behind her. Seaweed stuck out of the ground in huge clumps with tiny fish swimming around them. They swam farther ahead and came to a huge underwater clearing packed with big and small fish. Leap burst into the clearing and attempted to snag fish in her mouth. She managed to snag a couple but not enough so Lily came by her side and also started biting fish.

Moments later, Leap and Lily had  mouthfuls of fish and set them down in the small cave. Splash came back with reeds for their nests and was astonished by the sight of the fish.

 

“W-wow, you guys actually found fish and brought back more than enough.” exclaimed Splash.

“Yup, it was pretty hard but we got fish for all of us to last two nights!” said Lily.

“The water was pretty clean and there are plenty of fish to feed on. If we stayed here we would never run out of food and it looks like you found a pretty good supply of bedding.” explained Leap.

“There was a pretty good supply” muttered Splash “I’ll have to think about staying here though. We have to explore around until we decide if we will stay here.”

“Okay, I agree.”

 

Nightfall approached, and the otters feasted on fish. Splash had already laid the reeds down in the caves to make nests. Usually otters used seaweed for their bedding but it would get all dry and crinkly on land, so reeds were there only option. The otters bellies were stuffed with fish Splash volunteered to guard for the first shift. Leap and Lily lay down quietly in their nests.

 

“You know, these reeds reminded me of Reed. He always tried to get me to put reeds in our den for our nests. I remember when he arrived at the den and guess what he had in his jaws, he had reeds. I guess that’s why they called him Reed, he was obsessed!” chuckled Leap.

“You really miss him, don’t you?”asked Lily.

“Yeah, you never really know what it feels like until you lose someone ,until you do” explained Leap sadly.

“I lost my parents long ago, I was just a little pup when it all happened.”

“Oh, I am so sorry.”

“Me to, for Reed.”

 

Leap had drifted off to sleep and Lily lay quietly in her nest before doing the same.