(Summer Hiatus) Follow Kio on his perilious quest for answers as he meet new friends and new enemies. He must lay his fears aside if he wishes to change his fate, and save the others. But why did it even happen to him in the first place?


8. Chapter Eight

The night whispered faintly to those who cared to listen. Familiar melodies of songs sung by the creatures of the night. The slow hum of the forest in the distance, the cry of two birds singing a duet. The gentle swish of the long grass as the wind caressed the green blades.


Kio drew in a long breath. It felt like it had been months since he had had the opportunity of listening to the song of the night. The cries and screeches of the city had drowned out the beautiful sound of nature.


The rat directed his line of sight to the large disc that shone with an illuminating light in the star filled sky. A smile graced his features and a star twinkled as if to acknowledge his gesture.


Fur brushed his shoulder as Aome drew ahead of him. The pelt of the dark she-cat turned a pale blue in the light of the night. They were currently heading towards the forest where Jack had seen the dog scurry off.


Kio flinched as a particularly cold breeze ruffled a patch of his fur where some herbs had been needed to stop one of wounds from opening. The green slab was cold as they moved through the dead of the night.


Jack had suggested they went to the forest in the cover of night. Reasoning that there would be fewer animals on the street of the city. Both Kio and Aome had frowned, but Jack told them that there would be asked questions if a rat was seen with two cats, seeing that it was an uncommon thing for rats to associate with cats in the city.


Aome had agreed for the both of them, and they had set out as soon as Jack deemed Kio fit for the journey.


Kio grew more aware of his surroundings as he felt the grass under his paws grow coarser and he looked up to be greeted by dense foliage of the dark forest. Aome had come to a stop by the tree line, her eyes fixed on something behind the rat. Kio looked over his shoulder to see Jack trotting steadily a few feet behind him.


The Siamese had insisted on following them to the edge of the forest, ensuring that they reached the starting point of their pursuit. Aome had declined at first, only wanting to let him go to the edge of the city, but Jack had been reluctant in letting them go on their own.


In the end, they had agreed to let the tom come with them to the edge of the forest.


Aome was staring blankly with her tail tucked over her paws as the tom and the rat caught up. Kio noted that Jack sounded out of breath even though the dark forest was only a short distance from the glowing and noisy city.


“Thank you for coming with us this far, but this is where we part ways.” Aome meowed as soon as the boys were close enough, her voice strangely eerie and absent. Jack was breathing hard by the time he could sit himself down beside the she-cat.


“Then make sure you both stay safe and out of trouble,” the tom panted and gave a weak smile. Aome shot him a glare and Kio mentally agreed that it was the wrong thing to say. After all, they were literally entering the lion’s den. “Well, as much out of trouble as you can.” Jack quickly said and gave a small laugh.


Kio nodded, but his eyes and thoughts were on the dark forest that loomed just a few steps ahead of them, with its tangled branches that seemed to grow into each other as if they were hands desperate to let go of their hold. The bushes were full of fresh green leaves and the trees stood proudly, reaching for the stars in the moon lit sky.


“And remember to find some water for your fur in two days’ time; you wouldn't want to lick that stuff off by yourself.” Jack laughed and looked at Kio. It took the rat a few moments before he realized that the Siamese was talking about the blobs of herbs that covered his pelt, ensuring that his wounds wouldn't open.


Kio nodded, his pink tail swishing. Aome remained as still as a cat cut out of wood, waiting for Jack to say his farewells, but Kio knew that under her dark fur, she was seething with impatience.


Well I guess this is goodbye then...” Jack said a little hesitant, his brown tail tip twitching as though he had more to say but the sad smile on his face said otherwise. Aome gave a brief nod, got up and was practically already in the forest before she realized that Kio wasn't following. The she-cat gave a grunt, before she shot the rat a glare that clearly stated a come on!


Kio looked between the two cats. Aome tripping with impatience and Jack with that sad smile on his triangular face. “Do you want to come with us?” Kio asked suddenly, his black eyes fixed on Jack's shocked face. The tom's mouth hung slightly open, as though he was taken by surprise, before he quickly composed himself.


“I... I...” The tom stammered, his confused eyes shifting from the innocent face of Kio to the fuming she-cat behind. He could only guess that the rat hadn't discussed this offer with the dark coloured cat.


Indeed the tom was right. Aome wasn't mad, she was furious! Not only did Kio just ask something that the two of them should have approved before he even uttered a word of it to the tom, but he wasn't even looking for her reaction.


Her fur bristled and she bit down on her tongue to stop herself from hissing at the rat. Aome's eyes burned into the back of the white rat, but the she-cat looked up when she felt a pair of eyes on her.


Jack was looking torn, his piercing blue eyes fixed on Aome's mismatched ones. The tom continued blabbering while measuring Aome's reaction to the offer. Kio was oblivious, his innocent nature shining through once again.


The tom mentally berated himself for not being able to form a coherent sentence, and took a deep breath before speaking again. “I'm sorry Kio, but I'm not into such adventures. Not to mention I can't fight even if my life depended on it,” the Siamese meowed.


Kio pouted, obviously lost in thought. “Why not? Aome could always teach you how to fight?” The rat whined, not sensing the tense atmosphere. Courtesy of the silent she-cat.


“I am sure Aome is an excellent teacher, but my body is simply not built for such purpose,” Jack explained, his voice strained. “I'm not built like Aome, and I would much rather use my knowledge to heal animals like you. Also, my life is in the city, no matter how weird it must seem to you.” The brown cat finished, not leaving any room for argument. Jack felt a twinge of guilt as he saw the disappointment in Kio's face.


“This is your quest, not mine. But I wish the two of you the best of luck.” The cat meowed wisely, his eyes once again squinting as he smiled at the disappointed rat. “Now, you better get going before the moon disappears and you can't see where you put your paws.” Jack meowed, dipping his head.


Both Kio and Aome dipped their head in response, Kio silently accepting Jacks refusal. The brown tom gave a last knowing smile before he turned around and trotted back towards the noisy city that he called home.


The rat and cat sat in silence at the edge of the dark forest, watching the tom streak back to his home. Aome kept her gaze fixed on the retreating form of Jack, but her voice was emotionless when she spoke. “Don't do that again.” She said.


Kio turned his head towards her. “Why?” He asked, just as emotionless as the other. They both had different reasons for their reactions, they knew because of their background, it couldn't be avoided, but the conversation taking place was not one of friends. It was cold, distant, as if they were both lost in memories from long ago.


“Jack can't fight, not with his build, no matter how much I could have taught him. He would have become a liability to us, or he could be killed when we finally caught up with that stupid mutt of a dog.” Aome told the rat.


Kio gave an absent nod. He didn't agree, everyone could be taught if they had the right teacher, no matter who or what they were.


The she-cat let out a sigh as she saw the dot that was jack disappear completely from their view. “Let's get going,” she murmured, turning around to face the forest before trotting off, not checking if Kio followed.


The rat didn't answer her, but he fell into step beside the dark cat, trusting her to lead them safely through the dark woodland.


The tree tops swayed in the cold summer night, creaking and groaning as the wind beat the branches mercilessly. The forest was silent apart from the swishing of the summer breeze as it ruffled the trees and bushes.


Kio was lost in thought, his mind straying back to the fight in the alley. What was it the two rats had said? That someone had mentioned him?


“Aome?” He asked, letting his paws fall as soundlessly as possible on the debris of the forest floor. She flicked her ear.


“When I was fighting those two rats in the alley, they said there were some animals looking for me?” The rat went on, his eyes fixed on the ground as he struggled to see a path, despite the moonlight the leafy crowns of the trees blocked out most of the light.




A twig had snapped as Aome had carelessly put down her paw on some debris. The she-cat was frozen for a moment before she continued padding on, seemingly unaffected by the question.


“They must have been mistaken. There are many rats in the city; they must have overheard someone talking about another rat.” Aome meowed dismissively, her tail gliding over a couple of leaves, resulting in a low hissing sound of fur against nature.


“Oh,” Kio answered, his shoulders suddenly dropping as he felt himself relax, letting go of tension he didn't know had built up. Walking on in comforting silence the two companions noted the waning moon through a gap in the dense leaves.


A high pitched scream suddenly filled the air.


Kio jumped as the scream made his ears hurt, the high squeal unnatural to him. The rat quickly fell into step beside Aome, their fur brushing as Kio felt his heart throb in fear. “What was that?” He cried out, the tension in his shoulders coming back in an instant.


Aome gave a sigh as she felt the rat cuddled closer to her in fear. “Bats, don't worry they eat fruit so they won't harm us,” The she-cat meowed in exasperation. She felt Kio relax a bit, but when the cries continued screeching above their heads, the dark cat could smell his fear.


She laid a gentle tail over his shoulder and drew him closer, after all, the rat was still fairly young. “It's okay, Kio. They are harmless,” Aome reasoned, letting Kio process the information.


Kio seemed to brighten up a bit at this and Aome drew back her tail when she couldn't smell his fear scent. Though the she-cat knew something was wrong when she felt razor sharp teeth graze the skin on her back and a small tongue lapping up scarlet drops of blood.


With a leap she bounded backwards and toppled to the ground, hissing in rage as she let herself fall backwards landing on her back and efficiently squashing the creature that had latched itself onto her back.


When she felt the creature let go, Aome reeled back to the frightened rat. His eyes were wide with fear, his eyes fixed on something in the tree tops. The sight that greeted her was disturbing.


Bats. Hundreds of them, screeching and crying in the night as they eyed their prey like a tasty piece of meat. Their eyes glinted and danced in the waning moonlight, hidden amongst the leafy crowns of the dense foliage.


Aome felt her neck fur bristle in panic. A few bats she could take, but a whole colony of nasty bloodsuckers? They would need a smaller army to take them down, not just a wounded rat and a she-cat.


“Run!” She cried, pelting off with Kio hard on her heels. Her tail streamed out behind her as the dark cat ran as fast as her legs could carry. She vaguely noted Kio taking up position right behind her tail so he wouldn't lose track of the panicking she-cat, his paws pounding against the debris strewn forest floor.


The screams and cries followed the running duo as they pelted through the dense woodland, signalling that they had yet to lose their pursuers.


Aome winced as she felt sharp teeth nib at her ear tip. She hissed and spat as she felt the blood trickle down her face. The bite had stung, but the pain was soon drowned by other nibs and bites. She could hear Kio let out a cry, as he too was assaulted by the bats.


Feeling numb with little bites and small wounds, the she-cat felt her eyes droop as the tiredness started to work its way into her limbs. “We need to find shelter!” She heard Kio yell above the noise of their attackers. Apparently she wasn't the only one about to drop dead.


Aome was squinting her eyes together and grunted as she felt the morning sun arrive. The warm reflective light shone brightly as the sun had barely grazed the horizon. She growled in annoyance as the light was reflected by the night dew on a stone cavern.


Wait, a cavern?


“In here!” She yelled out and veered to the left. Kio looked surprised but followed nonetheless, his paws skidding as they took a sharp turn. They pelted inside the grotto, knowing the bats would give up their pursuit if their prey disappeared.


The cat and the rat huffed and panted as they pressed themselves close to the cave wall furthest to the back of the, surprisingly, large cave. “How did you know they wouldn't try to follow us in here?” Kio rasped out, his small body hyperventilating because of their sprint.


“Bats are nocturnal, not mention they wouldn't dare to try and enter a cave they don't know the layout of,” she breathed out in response. She let out a breath of relief when the bats didn't try to follow them inside.


Kio gave the she-cat a sceptic look. “You didn't know if this was their cave did you?” The rat grunted. The silence that followed only proved him right. Aome had let them into a cave, not knowing if this was the cave where the bats lived.


Aome casually flicked an ear and took deep gulps of air. “Didn't you notice how the cave floor is clean? If there really was bats in here, the floor would have been an ugly mess of fruit.” She reasoned, but the fleeting action of her avoiding the rat's eye merely spoke of a lie.


Kio decided not to push any further, heck, he had panicked as well!


They both let out a breath, as they let calm settle. They would have to continue soon though, as not to catch the nocturnal creatures again.


The duo started laughing as they realized they had gotten away with only minor injuries. A few scratches and bites, some dried blood here and there but nothing a good lick couldn't fix.


“Things can't get worse, can they?” Kio laughed while Aome nodded agreement.


That was when the throaty growling started, resounding from the mouth of the cave. That dry sound of rage that speaks of nothing but pain and hurt.

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