This chapter is dedicated to my patient and long suffering reviewers.

K.A Applegate is the owner of the Animorphs series and its characters.

To be amongst Friends:

Surely to be amongst our friends is the greatest thing there is: Nyranai, Azuntair and I went on a long trip right down to Gareeb Beach. With the Budho Foresti just to the east, perhaps it was a little silly.

But to canter all the way through the fields, the wind blowing through our fur, absorbing the best grasses of the season, talking and laughing with one's friends is surely one of the best things Spring has to offer. As we drew within sight of Gareeb Beach, we stopped.

Budho Forest, with its scrubby, thin, Vildaser trees, stood solemn and most mysterious. We trotted along the sand, daring one another to enter the Forest. Eventually Azuntair ventured her hoof a step within the trees and was immediately frightened by a strange noise, (probably no more than a Garo beetle). Terrified she whinnied and we all galloped far away from the forest in a false terror, giggling in excitement.

We approached the ocean carefully. There are lots of frightening stories about the Ocean. So at first we only trotted along the sand, sampling the rather strange Vim grasses that grew nearby.

On this day the waves lapped gently against the shoreline so that it was absolutely irresistible. We could not stop ourselves, cantering along in the water. Perhaps we had been thought-speaking rather too loudly, for we had only been doing this for half an hour when who should arrive but our unstable female associate, Rohuzehan.

When I saw her standing on the sand clearly irritated by our somewhat juvenile behaviour, my hearts sank to my stomach. I realised with horror that her family's paltry grazing lands were only just next to Budho beach and that she may have even heard our thought-speaking from the far edge of her grazing lands.

«You are on Elemaki grazing lands» was the first thing she said. «Don't you realise how dangerous that is? Would you like to be assaulted by a whole herd of Elemaki males? »

We stood silently, too aghast to reply.

«My father is a border guard. I should tell him, so that he might tell your parents how dangerously you have behaved.»

My breathing seemed to stop: Father would be furious if he ever found out that I had been here. Nyranai was the first to speak.

«If you don't tell anyone, we will let you associate with us again.»

I was rather surprised: of all of us Nyranai had been the most critical of Rohuzahen's behaviour.

Rohuzahen looked rather taken aback by this to. She considered Nyranai's offer for a good few minutes and then finally replied:

«All right, but you mustn't ever be unkind to me again, otherwise I will tell my Father.»

By this time we had struggled out of the water. Our fur was dripping wet and we shivered in the sun.

«Of course, «answered Nyranai smoothly. «That goes without saying.»

«So what should we do now?» I asked.

«I don't think we should stay here any more. When I went into the Forest, I swear I heard an unusual noise,» declared Azuntair.

«Where do you think we should go, Rohuzahen? After all you know best the local geography,» inquired Nyranai.

«Well, Lake Kshamisu is especially beautiful at this time of year.»

So that is where we proceeded to go. Rohuzahen allowed us to take a shortcut through her family's land; it really wasn't as dreadful as I expected, though of all of us Nyranai's family owns the best grazing land. We trekked over the hills, admiring the song of Kafit birds on the way. At one point we walked through a thicket of shyak thorns. Whilst this was unpleasant, Rohuzahen pointed out an especially endearing nest of Sib Kits, which we all admired most enthusiastically.

When we emerged from the thicket and onto the bank of Lake Kshamisu, sighting our reflections in the water's still surface evoked great amusement: we looked as if we had just been trampled by a herd of angry Hawjabrans! Rohuzahen was right: the lake was beautiful. Between the dense Orilay flowers, water-grasses, and other water plants and the tranquil water shining in the afternoon sun, the scene was delightful.

«This is indeed marvellous,» I informed Rohuzahen.

Rohuzahen remained silent.

It was Azuntair who first spoke. ‹I have heard that in the far North, the water may even freeze over?»

«But this is far more lovely,» retorted Nyranai.

«Indeed,» rejoiced Rohuzahen, who had probably never even seen snow. «This is truly entrancing.»

We could have stayed there until nightfall contemplating the serene, sparkling water of the lake, but we were disturbed by none other than Nerefir-Winwall-Ukendor. We were very surprised to see him. By now he should be back at the Military Academy, where classes start in two days! But apparently he was risking being late.

«Ladies,» he called out rather pompously, ‹What are you doing out here so late? It will be getting dark soon, you should go home.» We all giggled at Nerefir's new found confidence; last year he had barely been able to look Azuntair in the eye and now here he was ordering us about as if he were terribly important!

«It is not so late that we should return home, Aristh Nerefir!» argued Azuntair.

«You should do as you are told, young ladies!"

He was terribly portentous, but we were forced to go. We could not risk him telling our parents how disrespectfully we had been behaving! As we were leaving Rohuzahen told us, snickering in private thought-speak:

«All males become overconfident after their first trip to the Veshya Mountains. I suppose it has only gone to his head! »

At first we were silent, such was the vulgarity of her comment, but then we broke out into hysterical laughter.

It is indeed marvellous to be amongst friends.

i Both Gareeb Beach and Budho Forest were Elemaki lands.