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"Zylo, there's something I need to tell you," he heard Dusk's reluctant tone over his shoulder. The information flooded out of Dusk like a river after a rainstorm. The information was critical, and time was of the essence. Zylo could understand why such a thing would be difficult to reveal, and he certainly was not about to place blame on Dusk for not telling him sooner. The fox reached out and patted the coon's shoulder softly.
"I'm just glad you told me," the fox replied, flashing a warm smile as Dusk before quickly turning in the perceived direction of the hidden glade. His heart pounded with anticipation. He didn't know for sure what they would find in the glade, but something in Zylo told him that it was of great importance.
The pair pressed onward, following the river until dusk pointed them away from the edge of the water, into the trees. A small, makeshift, path marked by bright red brush strokes. The path sloped downward, eventually reaching the edge of a small hill. The air became moist as the sound of rushing water filled Zylo's ears. Not before long the pair would come before a clearing, surrounded by tall brush. Zylo pressed his index finger against his lips, motioning for Dusk to be quiet. The fox peered through the brush quietly. On the other side he could see the gleam of the waterwall as it spilled into the base of the pond. No one in sight. The fox turned to Dusk, nodding to proceed.
"It doesn't seem as if anyone is here... Yet," Zylo noted. The glade was breathtaking, nothing but lush greenery surrounding a small body of water. The tees surrounding the clearing seemed to form a small halo, allowing one to gaze up at the sky. "I...can see why you would have loved such a place," Zylo expressed to Dusk softly as he made his way toward the base of the pond.
Even now, he struggled not to become lost in memory as he and Zylo quietly explored the area for any signs that a fur had recently been there. Dusk was quite certain that the pair wouldn’t find the cave he had dreamed about here in the glade. The small grotto behind the waterfall was the closest thing to a cave this place had to offer, but what it did present was an opportunity to find Leo. No matter how much the lion might have changed in the intervening years, Dusk was certain that some small part of him would long to return here.
Dusk knew it would be best to leave the tracking to Zylo. He’d never had a particular talent for seeing the unseen, so he simply followed closely behind the fox and waited for him to find the clues they so desperately needed.
"Get a move on, ya welp! We aint got all night!" A gruff tone bellowed in the distance, a few grunts and grumbles preceeded. The fox closed his eyes, placing his hand on the ground, he could feel a wave being sent out as he focused his energy on the earth surrounding the glade. "Three...Four...Seven in total... Two are struggling to keep up, probably the hostages... being escorted by the other 5... damn..." Zylo shook his head for a moment and turned to dusk, great worry filling his eyes, he signaled for Dusk to follow as he quickly moved behind a tall patch of brush behind a few boulders. "One of the hostages is the boy... I can tell by the weight of the steps... the other I'm not sure," he sighed, pausing for a moment. "They're approaching, and I doubt they know we're here yet... our best chance is to lay low and see what their plan is... once their guard is down-" his words cut short by a louder, now closer, voice. Zylo peered through the greenery, attempting to get a good look at the situation.
"Right here, boys! Tie 'em up to that big tree in the middle!" A large, brutish looking rat commanded his posse of leather-clad brethren. Through demeanor alone, Zylo could tell that the biggest, loudest one was their leader. One of the rats carried a small, bound, hooded fur slung over his shoulder. The other three led the grown hostage to his spot on the tree. The hoods and the distance made it hard to discern who the hostages were but Zylo knew that at least one of them was Krishna's child. He watched as the group of rats prepared their hostages by making them stand against the base of the tree while a thick rope bound them against the trunk.
There wasn't much time to think about the situation, Zylo was struggling to figure out a way to get away with both hostages while causing the least amount of disturbance, even for him it was too much to take on five opponents while preserving his hostages. Then he remembered, he was not alone in this. Zylo turned to Dusk, his gaze was serious and his voice stayed low as to not draw any attention. "Dusk... I need you to crawl around to the backside of the tree and wait for my signal to cut the rope," Zylo uttered as he looked to the raccoon for a response.
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