The night pressed in. If you have ever been in the Forest at night you are aware that the dark is very black and that the stars, when you see them are wondrously bright. If you have walked in the woods at night, you may have been touched by dark hands that emerge under the cover of Night, or momentarily trapped by a cobweb, as your recoil to brush it away. You cannot go there without a source of Light. You simply cannot pass safely. The Forest has a feeling. It claims the darkness for its own, as if to carry on a business that intruders may not see. Maybe it just wants a little privacy.
If the shadows were living things they would not have liked the intrusion of The Pie-rats into their Nightly rituals. They would have rustled the leaves into whirlwinds, and blown them high into the tops of the trees. They would have stolen around the branches with cold breath, frosting the tips where the Pie-rats hung, clinging, cold and waiting for a dawn attack. And they would have knitted webs that no Spider ever spun, to blanket the unsuspecting with a creepy coil of mossy threads.
Big Punzee waited in the top of a maple with the one legged leader of the Pie-rats secured to her back. She did not like the woods, the night, or the cold Breath of the Shadowy wind.
There was a whisper, then a cry from a branch below them, as an Owl plucked a Pie-rat from its hold on the limb. It was off, without a sound, the Pie-rat tightly clutched in Talons that seemed too big, too sharp, and deadly.
"Oie, Oie...did you see that?" This from Big Punzee, as she started to shinny backward on the branch. "I am gettin' us out of here before we get snatched," said Big Punzee. Peg-leg, her voice muffled, cried to the others around her, "Get down from the trees, Their are OWLS about!"
Some heard, some did not and some suffered the same fate as the first, Quietly plucked from a branch with only the whisper of a wing, softly, softly bringing the Talons of death.
"We cannot wait until the dawn to attack," said Peg-leg. "We will all be eaten by those nasty Owls. We have to change our plans and attack, or else hide until the dawn."
As the Pie-rats regrouped on the forest floor, there were continued cries overhead from Pie-rats who had not escaped.
"It is dreadful dark in this woods," said Big Punzee.
"There is a wicked feeling here,"acknowledged another rat named Lucky Lucy.
"Quiet that talk," blasted Peg-leg. "Stow IT!" Her nerves were on edge too.
They followed Big Punzee, almost blindly to the forest edge, where the Lights from the windows of the Baggaraggs, were a blur in the cold night.
"There they is , snug as bugs," whispered Lucky Lucy, gesturing towards the Baggaraggs.
"I say we storm them," said another rat named Angus.
"Hush," said Big Punzee, "Give the Peg a Chance to think."
And so they huddled in the shadows, some burrowed in the leaves, as the first snow flakes started to drift down.
"We will have to attack them, we cannot wait until the Morning, we will all be froze to death," ruminated Peg, aloud to Punzee.
"Oie, said Punzee, I think you is right."
"Gather them," said Peg, "And tell them to bring the biggest Leaf they can find, she instructed.
The troop of Pie-rats, regrouped with brown leaves curled upon their backs like cloaks, now camouflaged. They would slip unseen to the very Gate of the Baggaraggs.