A flutter of wings and the clicking of talons startled him and turtle found himself next to a raven who seemed to melt into the darkness of the night. It deposited a small white mouse next to turtle and hopped over to sit beside coyote. “I believe the rules stated ‘from your land’, Coyote.” The raven addressed the coyote, who laughed and grinned like a fool.
“We met in the desert, he lives in the desert. He is of this desert, as much as your little friend is of your cold, wet, forests.”
The raven ruffled his feathers but did not respond, eyeing the turtle in silence. The mouse was staring at the turtle too, but remained silent.
The next to arrive was a rabbit, though not the kind the turtle normally saw in the desert. It had short ears and thicker fur, and a small chipmunk struggling to stay on it’s back. The chipmunk joined the group on the rock, sitting in an uneasy silence. The rabbit joined the other group, “Well I’m assuming the turtle is coyote’s.”
Coyote laughed again and turtle could swear his eyes twinkled in the darkness. The turtle looked at his companions on the rock, who seemed as confused as he was.
“Why are we here, anyways?” He asked finally, eliciting more laughter from the coyote.
“We’re waiting from one more, friend-turtle, and then you will see.” The coyote’s tail frizzed with excitement as he spoke. A barking laugh in the distance marshalled in the appearance of the final members of the gathering.
A female fox with a speckled coat and a missing ear hopped into the clearing and a large spider crawled off of her back before she clambered onto the rock and sat with her tail curled around the others. The mouse and the chipmunk both pressed closer to the turtle out of fear, and he sighed. The fox laughed again, setting off the coyote, and it was quite some time before they settled down.
“I think we should begin, it’s already quite late.” The raven said. He kicked a little sand at the fire, which was still steadily burning despite being left untended for so long, “If you would do the honors, rabbit?”
The rabbit stepped forward and stood on his hind legs to speak, “You’ve each been chosen to come here tonight, and do us all a small favor. Before we get to what that favor is, I think it best we explain why you four in particular. I have brought along this chipmunk, who is a cunning and resourceful finder of food and small objects. I believe she will have no trouble with this challenge.” The rabbit stepped back and the raven stepped forward.
“My companion is the most clever mouse I’ve ever known, capable of solving puzzles and mazes in remarkable time. He will surely be done before the sun rises and we can all return to our homes by lunch.” The raven stepped back and the spider crawled on top of the coyote to speak loudly enough for all to hear.
“This lovely fox who accompanied me here has outwitted hunters and hounds for years, and despite her battle scars has lost none of her quick-witted nature.” He crawled back down just in time as the coyote hopped up in excitement and ran up to the rock to pat the turtle on his shell.
“My turtle-friend here found himself lost in the desert, and still managed to get his constantly grumpy self to not only safety, but a new home where he has his own private stream. He may not be as quick as a fox or as clever at mazes as our little mouse. He certainly can’t raid birdfeeders.” The coyote laughed loudly, “But he has the cunning and will to survive, and the stubborn, grumpy nature to not let anything stop him. He will watch and listen, and you’ll see what he can do.”
The turtle couldn’t help feeling his introduction wasn’t the most flattering, but he was eager to be done and back home so he raised no complaint.