Ratha
BY ' RATHA '

One
f  
RATHA STEPPED on the edge of the slippery bank. Her paw almost slipped,
yet she kept a firm grip on it with her claws. Her hind foot did slip, and
the maneuver sent her sprawling into the river.
      She desperately tried to climb back up the bank, but the current of
the water slipped her away faster and faster. She attempted then to keep her
nose above the water.
      Ratha was being pulled further by the river. A few more miles, she
thought, and I
will no longer be on Clan Ground.
Suddenly, and without warning, a rip tide
grabbed her hindquarters and pulled her under.
      Frightened, Ratha desperately  moved her legs in a halfhearted attempt
to free herself from the rip tide. It was but no avail.
      She opened her eyes. It was hard to see through the mud in the blue
waters. She suddenly saw a tornado shaped spout underneath the water's
surface. A whirlpool!
      Her eyes widened. Her breath was getting short. The whirlpool was
huge. It grabbed her tail and pulled her into its whirl. She shut her eyes as
the pool began to spin
her body round and round. She was getting increasingly nauseated, not to
mention her breath was pretty much gone.
      As quickly as she was into the whirlpool, she was out again. It threw
her clear out. But only then did she notice her lack of breath.
      Her lungs screaming for air, Ratha paddled as hard as she could manage
under water. She exhaled, giving herself more time.
      She got closer to the surface. Here I come, air! She thought.
      Something snagged her tail.
      Looking down, she saw an underwater fern had curled about her tail,
trapping her.
      She thrashed around in despair. Her ears were closed to noise now. Her
head was getting lighter. Her vision blurred. Deciding that this was the end,
this, this was certainly her fate, she stopped her panic. She let herself
drift to the sandy bottom. It was over to her. She shut her eyes.
      Just then sharp teeth fastened into her ruff. A tugging was felt.
Ratha opened her
eyes. Something splashed into the water. There was another form under there
with her.
      It swam down to the bottom. Seeing her tail, it chewed the plant off.
Then it grabbed Ratha and ascended to the surface.
      Bursting to the top, Ratha took in an enormous breath. Breathing had
never felt so good. Her rescuer dragged her to shore, his copper coat
waterlogged.
      Ratha drew in a breath. This time, her body reacted. Her stomach
cramped and convulsed, driving the sour content up her throat.
      She opened her mouth and let it all out. She sat there, throwing up
all of her supper from last night's kill.
      Her rescuer sat until she was done. Then he wiped her mouth off with
his paw. Only then did Ratha recognise him.
      " Thakur!" She yowled in surprise.
      " Ratha." He said coolly.
      " Why did you - how- how did you know I was down there?" She
spluttered.
      " Was watchin you. I saw you fall in, and when you didn't come up, I
got worried.
So  I ran to the bank and there was your tawny pelt., stuck to a fern. So I
went down to
get you. " He pricked up his ears.
      " But why?"
      " I don't know why. Perhaps to do you a favor. Perhaps to be a friend.
And maybe-
just maybe- to be something else." He got up, shook off, and sauntered away,
his tail swinging as he went.
      " What do you mean, 'something else'? Thakur! Thakur!" She rushed
after him.
      She was alarmed by his new attitude. He had never acted that way
before.
      Something else, his words echoed in her mind as she plunged after him,
her heart slamming at her breastbone.