Acorn woke up with a start to find himself slumped over a rock in his den.
What had he gotten up to last night? He collected himself and tried to get a read on the situation.
Herbs were strewn across the ground. He rolled his paws over the dirt, trying to identify them. Poppy seeds? What the hell? Where was his actual medicine? Why was his den a mess? Where was his apprentice?
“Hello?” Acorn cried out, but he already had a feeling that he was alone. Did something happen? Had the rest of his denmates left without him? He steeled himself and tried to get to his feet, but his back legs were nearly limp, and the effort made him stumble and slip back onto the ground.
He laid his face against the cold dirt and closed his eyes.
“Hello?” He hoped, somewhere in his heart, that someone would take pity on him and help him up. Surely some of the Leaves were on patrol?
Still, no one was there.
“Ugh. Fine.” He slowly coordinated all of his legs together and stood up. Every joint in his body cracked and he cried out in pain. It felt like his limbs were wrapped in thorns.
He had to drink water, he knew. Which meant going outside. But, what was outside? What was keeping everyone from coming to his aid?
One foot… two foot…
He limped, slowly, into the communal room.
It was empty. Even worse, there wasn’t any traces of a fight or even a struggle.
He plopped his face onto the ground and started walking around each edge, sniffing. There were no signs that a predator had been here, nor could he smell any fear. As far as he could tell, everyone had just left, completely unceremoniously. Had they just abandoned him?
Bark’s chamber was empty, not even the bedding left. So was the Leafpile! How did Bark convince even the Leaves to clean up after themselves?
Dumbstruck, he finally dragged himself to the entrance of the den… only to realize that it was completely sealed.
“Wait, what?” he mewled to himself incredulously. He placed his paw on the wall – it was, in fact, a large boulder.
What had happened? Why did they leave? Why did they go without him?
Well, there was only one thing left to do. He summoned all of his strength and started digging.