YOU MUSTN’T be caught.
Toka chanted the words in his head, his heart beating wildly as he attempted to ease his ragged breaths. The rustling of leaves sent him diving behind an enormous tree, and he flattened himself against the trunk as he crouched. For a moment he feared he’d been seen.
A fiery orange leaf floated down and tickled his nose as it made its descent, making Toka smile. Autumn in the Soldati Realm was Toka’s favorite time of year, next to winter. What foxling didn’t love pouncing into a tantalizing mound of crisp autumn leaves or freshly fallen snow? Unfortunately leaves crackled underfoot, giving away his position—well, nearly. He worried his bottom lip with his teeth, wondering if he should risk changing into his fox form. If he did, and his pursuer was near, he would catch Toka’s heady scent. But in his fox form, Toka was quicker, more agile, and smaller. He could easily squeeze into a rabbit burrow. His pursuer would be lucky to fit a paw in there.
Blasted! Stop being such a coward!
Breaking into a run, Toka leaped and landed on his paws, his transformation complete in the blink of an eye. His clothes were like a second skin, becoming one with his body when he shifted. He couldn’t imagine having to remove clothes…