SnowLeopardsHead of SnowLeopards was Ana Redwood. She trained young by having John Arces fight them. For years, WaterOnes had been poisoning water, ClawBirds dropping stones on the Territory, and SandScorpions stinging while they were asleep. And SnowLeopards had not fought back. They were preparing, gathering their strength, training their young. Not enough SnowLeopards had survived last year's attack, when the ClawBirds and the SandScorpions had joined forces. One of the Healers, Andrea Benston, had so much work to do she had to hire Felicity Green, Mike and Kim Redstone, Ashley Spyder, and Reagan Avery. The Head, Jonathan Horner, had died. Andrea Benston had tried to heal him, but failed and returned to Ana Redwood with the news that he had appointed her Head. Ana suffered stress and frustration throughout every day and was only completely happy when she could lie down on her part of the Territory and sleep. But she had a goal: To take off from Jonathan Horner's work to teach her people and bring down the ClawBirds, SandScorpions, and WaterOnes.
One bright cold morning Ana let out her wake-up roar. Her daughters and son, Riley, Elizabeth and Michael were up first, and they came sprinting toward her.
They were bruised and Elizabeth, the oldest, had a swollen eye and a deep cut to the bone under it. “Are we fighting John again?” asked Michael, a twin with Riley. “I don't think I can, I think I've dislocated my shoulder.....” “No, I have to make an announcement, get to the Rock,” Ana replied. She shouted it louder again and the whole Army heard. At the Rock Ana said, “I think the battle's going to come sooner than I thought, perhaps in two months, four at the latest.” A particularly annoying young boy of the name Jake Johnston shouted out, “What makes you think that?” And Ana continued about a story where she was going out to get water and saw a SandScorpion following a trail of WaterOne water. She had followed it secretly, using the Army's sacred Power of Invisibility. When she got to a little pond, or rather, a large puddle, she found WaterOnes along with a ClawBird. She dashed back to tell someone but nobody was awake so she waited until morning.
Ana continued, “So I am just letting you know that we should all train harder and longer. If we beat the other Armies, we'll have more food, more land, and possibly no more enemies. Our goal is to defeat them. And don't forget what happened last year. Jule Rose got tricked into joining the WaterOnes. I don't know if that means that it is safe to cross their Territory –“
“But what about when the WaterOne you saw went in Neutral Ground?” asked a young SnowLeopard.
“It was Neutral Ground, which means that all the Armies can go there, but they are forbidden to fight.”
Throughout the day, the SnowLeopards talked of battle plans, they fought each other, they younger ones hunted to get Invisibility Power, and they all worried about the upcoming Battle of Pax, and they didn't know but it would last four years. And the more Ana tried to reassure them, the more they worried, until one SnowLeopard ran off into the forest. All the others had stared after him, and soon after he came back they heard a stretching, breaking sound, a thud, and looked at the forest. For some strange reason, a tall tree near the Big Tree was no longer there.
One evening, there was the sound of footsteps. Ana and her friend Ruby left the fire to see what it was. What they saw paralyzed them with fear. When
they didn't come back from that place, Elizabeth came, followed by Michael, Riley, John Arces, Andrea Benston, Felicity Green, Mike and Kim Redstone, Ashley Spyder, Reagan Avery, Jake Johnston, and a number of other SnowLeopards.
What they saw didn't paralyze them, but made a few scream in terror. Right in front of their eyes was a mixture of SandScorpions and ClawBirds. Finally, Ana seemed to get her wits back and growled, “How dare you come into our Territory!” The Head of the ClawBirds, Jessie Brown, landed in front of Ana. She was a cardinal and she was the exact same height as Ana. “Well,” said Jessie Brown in a sweet voice, “We just thought we should get our revenge on you from when you KILLED RANI BELL AND OLIVER DEN!” On the word 'kill', Jessie Brown started attacking Ana, who fought back; she ripped the cardinal's feathers, she tore into her flesh, she roared a roar of pain as the bird pecked a huge hole into her skin right to the bone on her shoulder. The SnowLeopards seemed to take this as a cue to fight; same with the SandScorpions, because they had all been standing there watching this one-on-one battle.
It was chaos, especially the giant SandScorpions. They didn't fight, but they stung, and it greatly weakened the SnowLeopards, but they kept on fighting, one SnowLeopard even lost a foot and a second later, strangely, the four ClawBirds nearest her were dead. They thought they were fighting well, until they saw what the SandScorpions could do.
After three hours of nonstop fighting, there was the SnowLeopards' first death. It was Felicity Green, and Michael Redwood and Mike Redstone lifted her body and took it to the Tent, where all the bodies of the dead were stored, until one SnowLeopard was left, and it was their duty to burn the bodies and step into the fire themselves.
As dawn approached, the Armies got too tired out to fight and the SandScorpions and ClawBirds retreated. As Ana and Felicity's sister Emeralda Green scanned the battlefield for anyone they needed to heal, they saw a familiar body lying down and not moving at all lying in the middle. Ana rushed forward. To her horror, it was Elizabeth. Elizabeth had fought well, but the ClawBirds she fought had done better. There was such a deep cut on her that all the blood she was losing was making her die. “Quick, get—get anybody!” Ana called to Emeralda desperately. Andrea Benston came running down the field to
When Andrea got to them, she put the snow cloth over Elizabeth's wound. It healed instantly but left a scar. Elizabeth groaned. Then Andrea inserted the needle into Elizabeth's hip and pressed down, injecting the blood to replace her huge blood loss. When she took it out, she put the snow cloth where the needle had been. The bleeding stopped and the fur grew back. “She'll be all right, just out for a couple days,” Andrea whispered to Ana. “Thank you, Andrea, and thanks, Emeralda. Do you think we could build a new Tent and put the injured in there?” Ana asked. “Possibly,” Andrea and Emeralda replied together.
Elizabeth was restless. She had been in bed for almost a month, and because of all the blood she lost Ana and Andrea wouldn't let her out of the Tent. Ana, Emeralda, Andrea, Mike and Kim Redstone, Bethany White, and Ashley Spyder had built it and taken days out of the time they could have been training. Elizabeth was grateful. Three times a day, after breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Michael and Riley came to visit. Six times a day, Andrea would come to give Elizabeth injections of blood, and twelve times a day Ana came to visit to check on her and make sure everything was all right. If anyone deserves to know what happens to her, Ana thought, I do.
One morning, after eating leftover rabbit from last night, Michael came in and reported to Elizabeth that Riley was sick with fever. Fall was ending and the coldness and wetness of winter were approaching. It was the end of November, and the SnowLeopards had increased their speed, strength, wisdom, and flexibility. If only they could find a weakness in the other Armies........
“I found it, Michael, I found it!” Elizabeth exclaimed one rainy, cold day. She
was in the injured Tent reading books on the back shelf that helped the Healers and entertained the patients. Only Riley was in there, fast asleep with a pile of
large books on the white shelf Bethany White had made. Elizabeth was feeling better and was allowed out of the Tent. Riley's fever had come down a couple of degrees, but she said she still didn't feel well. Elizabeth, Michael, Ana, and all the other SnowLeopards wanted her to feel perfect for the upcoming battle.
In the book Elizabeth had been reading, Pax and Other Islands in North Ager, it had explained about the SnowLeopards, WaterOnes, SandScorpions, and ClawBirds. The book read:
Pax and the Armies
The island called Pax, in North Ager, has different animal races called Armies on it. These Armies are a type of animals that rule their special Territory. The Armies are ClawBirds, SnowLeopards, WaterOnes, and SandScorpions. Each Army has a Head, or animal in that Army who rules the rest. Currently, the Head of ClawBirds is Jessie Brown, the Head of SnowLeopards is Ana Redwood, the Head of WaterOnes is Kennedy Blue, and the Head of SandScorpions is Van Meyers. All the Armies are enemies, but recently, the SandScorpions and ClawBirds joined forces. The WaterOnes and SnowLeopards must unite, also, to defeat the others. I am not sure, but I have heard, that a ClawBird's weakness is the hoot of an owl. The sound will appear so loud to them that when they hear it they will die. SnowLeopards' weaknesses are fire. WaterOnes hate sand, and SandScorpions are afraid of water.
“See! Listen, Michael!” Elizabeth demanded. “I'm listening,” replied Michael. “'I am not sure, but I have heard, that a ClawBird's weakness is the hoot of an owl,'” Elizabeth read from the book. “'The sound will appear so loud to them that when they hear it they will die.' Michael, we just found out the ClawBirds' weakness. We have to tell Mom!” They dashed out of the tent and to Ana. “Mom!” Elizabeth yelled. “The ClawBirds' weakness is the hoot of an owl!”