The sun filled today with warmth and joy. Two young wolf pups, Lily and Star, eagerly waited for the guest to arrive. Their father, Aster, invited Ava, the guest, to visit their cave and listen to Aster’s story that took place beyond the foreboding forest. “Aster? Are you home?” Ava called. Lily’s fur ruffled with fear. She hid behind her father and Star jumped forward, baring her teeth. Ava was clearly not another wolf, but a human from the nearby village. “Daddy, human! Human!” cried Lily. The gray wolf hushed his daughter and murmured something in her ear that made her ears perk up. “You’ll have to excuse their behavior, they don’t seem to like being around others.” Ava giggled. “It’s totally alright. My family acts the same way sometimes.” The two pups relaxed and volunteered to show Ava the marshlands. Lily and Star argued on who should do it. Their mother, Marie, scolded the two for making a ruckus, then continued to doze on the sunlit boulder.
“Alright, are you three ready to hear the story?” Aster called. Everyone raced over. Tails wagging and teeth grinning, they plopped down in front of him. “I’ll take that as a yes.” “Come on! Get on with it!” Star nagged. “Hush young one! I’m getting there!” She flicked her tail impatiently. A few seconds passed before Aster had begun to tell the tale “Far, far away – farther than the big city – there was a huge pine forest. In it there were beasts of all kinds.” “Even scarier than bears?” Ava asked. “Yes, and they’re a lot more powerful.” Aster’s audience trembled with fear. “Though, do not worry. The beasts cannot come here.” He reassured them. Everyone relaxed and Aster continued the story.
“The forest was a very peaceful place. No one knew of the troubles they would face.” Aster sat up proudly, tail held high as he told the next part. “I – in fact – had two strong allies with me. Their names were Orus and Sheik.” “Better not be talkin’ smack about us Aster.” The gray wolf jumped. “Sheik! What a nice surprise!” He said, frightened by the black feline’s tone. “Is Orus here with you?” “I’m coming!” A small, clumsy falcon emerged from the undergrowth and landed beside Sheik. “So… what were you talking’ about again?” the She-Cat purred. “Just talking about how awesome you guys are!” Aster gleamed with pride. “Dad! The story!” Star complained. “Oh! R-right! Now where was I?” Aster tried really hard to remember. It wasn’t about three minutes later that he finally spoke.
“I remembered!” Everyone scrambled over in front of him. “As I said earlier, the pine forest was a peaceful place. Alas, nothing stays the same forever…” Aster looked down at his paws. Too heartstricken to speak, Sheik continued to tell the story. “Then those humans came. They tore everything apart. They invaded our homes! They burned the trees and killed our families!” A fierce fire grew as the She-Cat continued to speak. “We were all forced away. Some of us were injured, some killed…” Lily burrowed her muzzle into the guest’s lap. “You won’t force us away, right?” She whimpered. “Of course not! This is your home, and our home too. We can all share.” Ava replied.
Sheik continued when everyone grew silent. “Most of the ones that did survive, went to search for food. Not one came back.” The group shared a moment of silence for the missing. “Left to our own devices, Aster, Sheik and I left the once-filled pine forest to find a new place to call home.” Orus said, half-grieving and half-homesick. “Your father found this cave. He was scared and lost, and it was already growing dark.” Aster chuckled. “I was scared to the tip of my tail! Though, I entered cautiously. Despite it’s empty looks, I knew it was being used. That’s how I met your mother.” The gray wolf looked up at the sky. “Wow! Look at the time! Time for bed kids!” Marie tucked Star and Lily into their beds and gradually fell asleep with them. Ava thanked the wolf and went back home to her village. Left alone in the moonlight, Aster, Sheik and Orus discussed what had happened when they parted ways. A few hours passed and Ava come rushing back to the cave. “Ava? Is everything alright?” Marie asked. “W-what’s the moral?” She said, still partially out of breath. Aster padded up to Ava and responded calmly. “Everyone has their story to share. We must listen carefully.” He padded towards the cliff and added, “We must watch, wait, and listen.”