• Previous Chapters:
    Chapter One - 'Thoughts'
    Chapter Two - 'Rebirth'
    Chapter Three - 'Flying Nightmares'
    Chapter Four - 'A Rogue Echo'
    Chapter Five - 'The Medical Roost'
    Chapter Six - 'A Chance to Think'
    Chapter Seven - 'Interrupted Dream'
    Chapter Eight - 'Condolences'

    ‘A Pleasant Distraction’


    For a moment, Noxx stood on his roost in dazed disbelief, did Mist really just do that? His mother’s muffled laugh told him that she had awoken long enough to see it happen; it wasn’t just an illusion his mind came up with, it wasn’t some hidden desire his subconscious decided to show his mind’s eye, it really happened. His only friend just showed him something beyond friendship. But, he wandered, could he trust it to be real? If he decided to bring it up, would she just laugh at him and claim that she was vulnerable at the time, that she was his friend and would be nothing more? Even with all his visions and dreams, he had never been more confused in his short life than right now. Strange emotions swarmed inside him like a beehive. They started in his stomach and worked their way up to the back of his skull. It was a rather uncomfortable burning sensation…but this time, he liked it.

    Still confused by the odd feeling, he shook his head, waving off the sensation until it was nothing more than a slight tingle. He spread his wings and jumped from his roost, lazily gliding down to the knothole Mist went through. As he exited the knothole, Mist immediately tackled him in mid-air, laughing as she did. She had caught him off guard for a moment, but he managed to break free and tackle her back.

    For a few moments, they both tumbled and tackled each other through the air, laughing hysterically at the random game they began to play. It would have gone on much longer, anyone could see the two were having quite a bit of fun; but Noxx’s stomach roared loudly, he had forgotten it had been some time since he last ate. Instinct, and his stomach, told him to go hunt while the night was young, but the little newborn couldn’t leave the fun he was having. He beat his wings harder to rise and lunge for her again, but she swiftly dodged him and shook her head.

    As if to answer the puzzled look he was giving her, Mist flew closer to him and said, “I just heard your stomach growl over all of that, Smallwing. You haven’t been eating again!”

    He opened his mouth to protest that he couldn’t eat while sleeping, but she interrupted him, “I swear, you ‘d starve if I wasn’t around to remind you!” she banked to the left and yelled “C’mon, Hero!” again, she laughed loudly as she flew. Her echoes of laughter painted the image of two playful newborns all over the forest.

    Noxx smiled and followed after her quickly, he didn’t seem to mind that she was calling him every nickname he didn’t like, he was just glad to provide some distraction for from what was going on around her for a while. He finally felt useful to her as a friend.

    The promise of fires in the northern forests had every moth in an excited frenzy. The gathered near trees where the light seemed promising; even the moths were unaware of the locations of the owl’s hidden fire keeps, they merely flew clumsily in search of the light and warmth of the flames that no one could see, which made this night an exceptional hunting experience. Hungrily, Noxx separated from Mist and snapped up several small moths; the powdery scales on their wings dusted his snout, giving him an odd appearance which only made Mist laugh more each time she saw him.

    Through the sound of many small moth wings beating quickly, the deep hum of a Tiger Moth reached his ears. His heart quickened; no newborn had yet to catch one of these flying delicacies. If he could be the first to snatch one from the air, and Mist saw him, he might have a new nickname that he actually liked. He decided ‘Hunter’ would suit him well.

    His ears swiveled to pinpoint the direction of the deep humming but he didn’t use his echoes, he knew from stories and another odd sense of déjà vu, that echoes wouldn’t help him here. All he needed was the light of the moon and his eyes. There it was, to his left, the moth was slightly larger than the others around it. It looked so juicy that his mouth had already begun to water. He beat his wings as hard as he could and locked onto the moth with his eyes. As she shot through the cloud of smaller moths, he sniffed and sneezed as their wings beat powder into his nose and mouth. It stung his eyes as well, but he refused to blink it away, he was going to catch this moth no matter what.

    He felt like he was flying as fast as he ever had, whether it was hunger or pride driving him, he did not know, nor did he care. All he knew was that he seemed to know the moth’s flight pattern before even encountering one. As it closed it’s wings and dipped, he closed his wings and dipped. As it climbed higher, he climbed with it. Finally, with one last stroke of his wings, he overpowered the crafty moth and clamped it in his jaws.

    For a moment, he looked around for Mist, hoping to show her his catch before he devoured it. Though, after a while, the moth’s frantic beating of wings against the sides of his face in a sad attempt to escape began to give him a headache. He crunched down on the insect’s body just enough to end it’s life; even though she was no where to be seen, he still wanted to show Mist.

    He almost couldn’t wait, when he bit down on the moth, just a little juice drizzled out of it and into his mouth. It really was a juicy as it looked! He nearly began chewing on it before he had the change to roost and savor it, but Mist called out to him, obviously impressed.

    “I saw the whole thing, Noxx!” she flew past him and landed on a nearby branch, “That was amazing! It’s like you knew every move it was going to make! How did you do that?!”

    He quickly roosted beside her, “Mnvi mvust…” he took the moth out of his mouth and held it between his wings, “I just did, I don’t know how I did it…I just…did…” he couldn’t think of any other way to explain it, there really was no other way to explain it.

    She smiled, “I’ve never seen anyone hunt like that! Just wait until we get back to Tree Haven! I’ll--…” she paused as she remembered everything that awaited her back at their summer roost; a funeral, a neglectful mother, and hundreds of other bats who were going to say “I’m sorry” and never really mean it.

    Noxx didn’t like how she quieted down so quickly, the Mist he didn’t know had shown up again and he didn’t like it. Slowly, he looked from his saddened friend to the moth in his claws and he remembered what she had told him about Corona, ‘…she always let me have the best bugs…’

    He sighed softly as he nudged Mist slightly, “…Mist…here…” he awkwardly shifted the moth to just one wing and held it out to her, “…I want you to have it…”

    As she looked over at him, tears shined in her eyes, “…Noxx…it…it was your catch…you should enjoy it. Not every newborn can get those…especially when you’re as small as you are…”

    He was going to let her have that insult, she seemed too upset to be snapped at about something that was probably just a joke. He continued to hold the moth out to her, “…please, I really want you to have it….I think I ate too much already…”

    She was crying now, tears began to soak her fur as she inched close to him and took the moth in her teeth. As she chewed what had to be the most delicious moth in the northern forests, she began to sob, “…I miss her so much already, Noxx…she was better to me than my own mother…what am I going to do now?…”

    He knew immediately that it was the worst time to ask this, but he though he might be able to come up with something that would help her in the process, “…Mist…I know this is a bad time…but maybe it will help…” he smiled softly as she looked at him, “…I need you to take me to your grandmother’s roost…Katarra, your aunt, is still alive…please, we need to go see her…”

    Mist nodded, she trusted Noxx’s decision, “…alright…follow me…” with that, she let go of the branch and began to fly back to Tree Haven.

    With full bellies and heavy hearts, the two newborns flew silently back to their home in silence. Hoping to get answers and comfort from someone the Elder’s claimed to be dead. Noxx hoped, with every ounce of hope he possibly had, that he was right; that Katarra was still alive and well in her roost.

    As the two newborns flew towards Tree Haven, Noxx did his best to keep his eyes from the top of the great oak. He knew Aria, Lyre, and Muse were up there, and he had no intention of paying attention to them. Mostly because he hated all three of them more than any bat should hate another because of what they did…but he also didn’t want to look at them because he knew Mist would look too, and he didn’t want to remind her of things anymore than he already had.

    Despite all his efforts, his eyes wandered up to the topmost branches as they neared the tree. He scowled as he looked at them; Muse and Lyre were roosting upright on opposite sides of Aria, using all the strength they had into their old claws to stand up straight on the slightly lower branches the chose. They both had smug, yet senseless looks on their faces, blindly doing whatever it was their High Elder demanded of them.

    Aria roosted between them on the highest branch, standing as upright as her lackeys, but she carried a sense of pride about her…like this was her moment to shine. The elder bat had set the scene and she performed well, now it was time for her final act. Her leathery wings creaked as she slowly spread them to their full length, her fangs showed in a wicked smile as she saw Lyre and Muse mimic her actions.

    With their wings spread, it showed they weren’t very far apart at all, their wingtips brushed against each other slightly. Slowly, Aria began to flap her wings; as she brought her wings forward, Muse ad Lyre opened theirs. As she opened hers, they brought theirs forward. Together, their wings opened and closed in a slow, eerie rhythmic pattern. It was almost hypnotic to look at.

    As Noxx observed them, without drawing Mist’s attention, he realized what they were doing. They were not planning to fly, they wouldn’t have hooked so tightly to the branch if they planned to fly…no, this was a signal. This was only a means of signaling the Torch Carriers.

    …the owls would be there soon…