(Author’s commentary will be here :D. I will not be adding all my old Author’s notes, though. That’s one thing that hasn’t changed - I can’t crontrol how talkative I can be XD.)
(First posted on October 1, 2014)
(Fandom: Doctor Who)
It had been raining. It's almost always raining in Leadworth. The Earth was drenched and the Sky the colour of sorrow.
The Ponds' had been busy, going about their day as usual. They never heard the TARDIS landing, its familiar grating of brakes left on. A younger looking man, whose green eyes showed centuries of the hard life he'd lived, came to the door holding an umbrella. Ringing the doorbell, he proceeded to fiddle with his bowtie while waiting for the door to open.
The door swiftly opened, startling him, as a face shrouded with long red hair greeted him. The woman's eyes lit up as she saw the widely grinning man. "Doctor!" she said in a British accent with a Scottish lilt. She swiftly hugged him then led him inside.
"Rory! The Doctor's here!" she shouted over her shoulder.
"Coming!" the response followed.
"Amelia Pond!" The Doctor crowed arms wide with a grin to match as he proceeded to hug her again as Rory proceeded to come to the living room.
"And Rory the Roman!" He said releasing Amy.
"Doctor!" Rory said and actually smiled. Ever since the Doctor fixed Amy and Rory's marriage, the Leadworth nurse actually looked forward to seeing him. "To what do we owe this pleasure?" he said, a little nervously, expecting aliens to be in the flower vase or something.
The doctor clasped his hand and said, "Actually, I'm looking for River. I was hoping all four of us could go on an adventure together. But, um,...Have you seen her?" He had been looking at the floor while talking, but now he looked up, glancing at Rory and Amelia. They could both tell by the look in his eyes that he was worried.
Amy shook her head. "No we haven't, actually."
"Isn't she still in Stormcage?" Rory inquired.
The Doctor shook his head. "I checked, but as usual she'd gotten out..." he trailed off, looking past his friends, out through the slider door. He'd seen the telltale puff of smoke and zaps of electricity associated with a Vortex Manipulator. When the Ponds had turned to see what he was looking at, he grinned and muttered affectionately, "speak of the devil."
He sauntered over to the slider door, trying to think of something clever to counteract her banter with, when the look on her face made him stop dead.
He pressed his hand to the cool glass. She was looking at him, rain falling and drenching her, with a look in her eyes telling him to come out and talk to her. Her look pierced him to his core.
He said quietly to his companions, "I think you'd better stay inside." They merely nodded.
Closing the door behind him without looking back. He came through the rain to his wife, the woman he loved.
He cupped her face in his hands, searching her tear filled eyes. "What's wrong River?" He asked gently. Whatever it was, it couldn't be good.
Then she began crying, unable to hold back the sobs that wracked her body. With her face in her hands, the Doctor pulled her close, holding her comfortingly.
Eventually her sobs decreased until she was merely shuddering from the rush of emotions. "What's wrong?" he asked again quietly although it hurt him deeply. Here, was River Song. His River Song, the strongest person he knew, so very deeply distraught. It unsettled him and made him want to destroy whoever or whatever caused her this grief.
"Doctor..." she said, her voice raw with emotion and grief. Her next words shocked him to the very core. "I had a miscarriage," she said quietly.
Held her closely, murmuring, "Oh, River. River. My beautiful River." He now understood why she was so deeply grieved. Why she acted like she lost someone.
The pain became his too.
"I...I didn't even know I was pregnant, " she strained to say through fresh tears. "I shouldn't have been able too. As soon as she was able too, Madame Kovarian did something to me. Whatever she did to Amy. I shouldn't be able to have children." She tried to breathe between sobs. "It was a miracle, but I never knew, and now it's too late...Oh, Doctor!" Her grief punctured him in both his hearts. "Our child...yours and mine. Why?" she cried.
He still held her, and as she glanced up at his eyes, now streaming tears too, she saw the same pain in him.
His voice was now raw. "River...River," he sighed and held her closer still. "I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry. It's still a miracle you even got pregnant. If only..." his voice broke off. "The universe takes as well as gives. You know what I've said before about miracles. Tragedy sometimes comes to balance it out." His voice began to choke up. "There's nothing you could have done to change this.
"Please don't tell mum and dad about this. It would only hurt them." River whispered to her husband, who merely nodded, thinking the same thing.
But they didn't know the universe wasn't done with them yet.
(Oof, I don’t even know if I can properly read these; so cheesy. So, It was like a cringey ‘River and The Doctor’s Child somehow exists and is the final Doctor’s companion when he dies on Trenzalore’ - it was before we found out what Trenzalore was.)
(First posted on October 10, 2014)
Footsteps echoed, dying softly on the myriad of decaying literature. A dark figure wove surely through the shadow-dappled shelves, unafraid. A slim, dark metal object buzzed, emitting a soft orchid-purple light.
The miniscule predators of the dark left her alone. Why? They whispered among themselves, with a slight confusion. The swarm proceeded to answer itself.
She is like us.
But not us.
She smells of us and is among us.
But she also smells of prey creatures, and looks of one too.
Ah, but she is like us! And we can Never attack our own.
The same argument with itself, always ending the same way. So they let her be. It didn't hurt that she also brought road kill for the shadowy occupants.
She continued forward, more by sense than sight. She stopped a moment, leaning against a shelf full of large, yellow paged volumes. She opened the metal device by flicking her wrist, then proceeded to scan something on the side. A small, square device with bars like a cell phone charge was attached to the side. Still full, she thought.
She made her way to a circular room that had old, discarded books turning to dust, a mark of His long ago adventure. She spotted a room with glass walls, bearing an etching that read thus: THE GIFTSHOP.
Good, almost there. She smiled to herself.
Hurrying down halls and finally getting to the room she was searching for, she activated a large teleport. The circular panel of the ground dispersed, leaving a gaping opening with energy rising out of it. She gripped the metal device tighter, then went into the teleport.
Landing in a dark cul-de-sac, she quickly ran down the hall and through a secret door. A large room opened, full of electrical devices and computers. She went towards a copu* and saw that the face was awake.
She jumped back and involuntarily gave a little animalistic growl. She didn't really like the face. The girl was pleasant enough, but the nodule disturbed her somewhat.
CAL only smiled softly, unbothered by The Stranger's reaction. She merely blinked, the equivalent of a nod, and said in a slightly automated sounding voice, "go ahead, we've been waiting."
The Stranger nodded back, and went forward, plunging the device into the copu, and CAL closed her eyes, giving a content sigh. The Stranger sat back against a wall, crossing her arms. This was gonna take awhile.
CAL- in a virtualized human form- went running to a lovely woman with curly blond hair and ancient, warm eyes. "Come quickly Professor Song!" she shouted, grabbing the woman's hand and trying to drag her away.
Archaeologist Professor River Song laughed merrily, "I'm coming child! One moment!" looking over her shoulder she hailed one of her friends over, "Look after the other children for a bit, will you Evangelista!" River nodded her head, indicating towards two children- a boy named John and a girl named Melody- playing in some early autumn leaves. Her friend, a very pretty young lady named Miss Evangelista, nodded back happily. She loved the two children dearly.
River followed CAL, thinking she was going to show her some virtual creature or building from a book she recently read.
Instead, the sight that greeted her eyes made her stop dead.
A nice looking in a tweed jacket and ridiculous looking bowtie with brown hair and youthfully ancient green eyes, looked about in a sort of sleepy confusion. Other men were around him in the field, some fading slowly into existence. He swept his eyes quickly and intelligently across their faces, only recognizing eleven of them. His eyes wandered, till they met hers.
She stood there, exactly as he remembered her. It was the same beautiful and magnificent face he had loved, married, and cherished. His mind dimly registered the young girl he recognized behind her. But he only saw her.
Beautiful and deadly. Simple and intricate. Dead and Alive. Real, Unreal, Surreal. His, the love of his hearts. His wife.
He didn't even realize that he had begun running. Didn't remember wrapping his arms around her, holding her close. He only knew her. Here before him, with him, in this moment holding him close to her.
They held each other for and Eternity that was no time at all. Tears streamed down both their faces as the embraced and murmured each others names. He pulled back looking into her tear streaked face, then kissed her forehead and held her close again.
River closed her eyes, enjoying the feel of him here with her. Soon though she opened her eyes. The Doctor felt her stiffen. "Look," She whispered.
So he did.
There were many present on the field, most looking a bit disoriented, all a little confused. Some he knew, and many, many unknown to him. He realized that the Unknown must be future regenerations.
"But...," The Doctor began, brow scrunched in confusion, until it all came back like supernova bursting. Past regeneration memories strong, but hazy. Present regeneration memories hard and clear. Future regeneration memories like elusive dreams, faintly there but distorted.
"I...But I-I died," he said. " I'm dead."
"And so you are."
A tall man with black hair and sad, grey eyes filled with not centuries, but eons, of life, came forward. He sported a black trench coat, like, but unlike, a certain earlier regeneration.
"I-You- I mean, We, died. The Final Battle of Trenzelore." He smiled sadly. "I am sorry for my mistakes in the end, and hope I can forgive my whole self."
With that being said, the darker Doctor nodded once, the began walking away, fading as all the other regenerations-except one- did.
"How?" River's Doctor said in confusion, turning towards his beloved wife.
"You have been saved," CAL said quietly. Both virtual, yet real, beings turned towards her.
"You have been uploaded," the little girl, who was, in fact, hundreds of years old, began to explain.
"Everything you are or were has been uploaded. Every regeneration, every life, every moment. Like the Felmun Lux corporation team. Each one of your regenerations are on a slightly different...wavelength, you could say, in the core. Each can live and do as they please. Relax, create dream worlds to 'travel' in, relive their lives, even see each other if they wish."
"The Stranger ((for that is what CAL called the girl))," here she tilted her head to one side, "says to tell you that this is your reward. The universe is letting you rest."
"Who...?" The Doctor asked, looking from CAL to River.
"Who do you think, sweetie?"
The Doctor scrunched his eyes closed, digging into his future memory, seeing bits of his last, terrible battle. A familiar face, that of a complete stranger that he knew later on, resurfaced into his mind. "I-I sent her ahead, knowing I was going to die soon. But I sent her ahead, to the end of the battle, and she lived. She had argued, pleaded. Begged, even. But I still sent her, needing to save her. Then she must have saved me. But how? How is she alive? She was never even born!"
River, seeing his distressed and confused look, pulled him close. "I don't know sweetie. I just don't know. Let's be glad she is."
He suddenly pulled River even closer, "At least we're together. I have you back. That's what really matters."
She kissed him. "You, me, and some friends. Plus the library is protected by her. Forever."
CAL smiled, happy that another person was saved. Properly. She quietly slinked away so that the TimeLord and his wife could have a few uninterrupted moments. She was glad her real-world friend, The Stranger, could bring him here. She closed her virtual eyes, and opened them in the real world.
The Stranger was still leaning against the wall, arms crossed, waiting for the download to complete. She had been dozing when a noise indicated it was done. She sighed. Finally. Taking the sonic screwdriver, slim like the blue-tipped one, but with an opening mechanism like the green-tipped one with a darker gray metal and a purplish-fuchsia coloured tip, she prepared to leave.
Glancing at the face, she smiled. CAL smiled back and whispered in that semi-automated voice of hers, "Goodbye, friend." The Stranger said the same silently. Goodbye, friend.
Turning towards the empty halls, The Stranger walked comfortably through the swarms. The Last Companion- for that she was- left, via a TARDIS-enhanced Vortex Manipulator. A myriad of miniscule voices confusedly whispered goodbyes.
(This next one is my Redwall OCs, with a way to practice the accents Jacques' uses in his series. Each accent title is a different chapter.)
(Posted from March 19, 2015-December 18, 2015)
…Alaerr walked near the base of the mountain humming an old otter song, something about the summer Hullaballoo. The young otter was so lost in his own thoughts, he didn't hear the sound of running paws, or the yelp of somebeast tripping. He was completely surprised when somebeast cannoned into him, and both creatures were bowled tails over heads. Alaerr and the other beast simultaneously leapt up, the young otter dusting his fur off. The latter spoke, sounding honestly apologetic about the incident.
"Ah'm sae sorry auld lad, Ah dinnae mean tae hit intae ye like that. Yer no' hurt, are ye?"
Alaerr rubbed a bump that had begun to form on his head. "No, I think I'm okay…," he glanced up at the other beast.
A stoat, whose pale sky blue eyes were full of concern and worry, stood before him. He appeared to be about his age and wore a kilt edged with woodpigeon feathers, which had a nice sized sword in his thin belt. When he spoke he obviously had a thick highland accent.
"Well, that's guid then. No' harm done, Ah trust?" Without waiting for an answer he thrust forth a paw and said, "Ah'm the brawny Barrul, an' who might ye be?"
Alaerr's pale, sand coloured eyes were cautious. He'd been told many bad things about vermin. But instinct told him that he could trust Barrul, despite being a stoat. After a brief bit of hesitance, the young otter shook the stoat's paw.
"I'm Alaerr Starrfisher. Pleased to mecheew. Can I ask as to what caused you to slam into me like that?"
The stoat seemed embarrassed, but then looked over his shoulder fearfully. He wrung his paws and chuckled nervously. "He he…er, well ye see mah bonny friend, Ah may 'ave run intae a wee bit o' trouble on yon mountain. An auld fox beastie by the name o' Ethka may be after meh since Ah called 'im a bush-tailed bounder an' a cowardly slawb tae boot! Sae we best be runnin' now, ye ken?"
Alaerr was astounded. "You insulted Ethka the healer?! That fox doesn't leave his enemies alive! C'mon, we better hurry!"
He dragged the stoat after him into the forest, ignoring bushes and tree branches snagging at fur and clothing. Barrul tried to keep up, having no choice since Alaerr had his paw in an iron grip. He shouted to his new friend as the forest blurred around them.
"Ah'm glad ye've taken a shine tae meh, but could ye no' lessen yer grip lest ye pull mah paw off friend?"
…Belth was a middle aged mouse with the twin titles of abbey gardener and beekeeper. Besides being a humorous and joyful beast, he was responsible and took his duties very seriously. He was also fiercely protective of his vegetable patch. At the moment he was worriedly hurrying through the abbey grounds in search of a particular beast, becoming more and more agitated with each growing moment that he didn't find them.
Skipper Torkka was walking among the abbey grounds when he saw Belth anxiously running around. He was a sturdy male otter chieftain approaching his older seasons and knew that something must've been wrong by how Belth frantically ran to and fro. He hailed the gardener.
"Ho! Are ye alright Belth matey? Ye seem more agitated than a bundle o' wasps done up in a sack. Anything I can help ye with?"
Belth went over to the otter, shaking his head, "Not unless you know where Foremole Calger is."
Torkka scratched his head, looking slowly around the abbey grounds and pondering upon Belth's question. "Nay, sorry matey. I don't recall where the foremole went to. Can ye tell me why ye need 'er so urgently?"
Brother Belth sighed and launched into an explanation. "well, ye see, I went ta check on my vegetable patch, since there were those rough winds last night, and what do I find? A large oak limb that had fallen over the walls crushing all my poor vegetables! That's why I need to find Calger, so that I can ask 'er if'n she an' her mole crew'll move it for me!"
"Et bain't be a gurt proberlem, zurr. Moi crew'll taken care of et, us'n's will!"
Brother Belth swung around with a squeak of surprise. Foremole Calger, a young female mole with dark velvet fur, stood behind him. She had walked over after hearing the last bit of Belth and Torkka's conversation. She had no problems helping her friend.
Belth was surprised at the sudden appearance, but overjoyed at the help. He clasped his paws together and exclaimed, "Oh, thank you friend! What a wonderfully kind creature you are!"
Calger shuffled her footpaws awkwardly, as moles are apt to do when faced with such compliments. "Hurr hurr, nay zurr, oi'm only a zimple molefolk, oi am. Us'n's will move ee gurt brancher furr ye, 'cuz you'm a friend, naught 'cuz of yon silverer tongue of yourn." …
(Yes, that's how I used to format line breaks, lol.)
…There was no sight equal to or more beautiful than that of Redwall abbey in late Spring.
Except, perhaps, that of Redwall Abbey in Summer. Or Autumn. Or Winter.
It depended on the beast's personal experience of being at the Abbey during those seasons to choose a favourite. Which even the Abbeydwellers admit is difficult.
Alaerr gazed upwards, straining his neck as he took in full sight of the ancient, red sandstone walls. Beside him, Barrul whistled in appreciation, and Alaerr couldn't help but agree. The sheer size and beauty astounded Alaerr, and he couldn't begin to fathom what the inner grounds must be like. He shook himself out of his pondering, and knocked upon the huge main door. They both waited.
LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK
Zillan Farspark was a sturdy, young adult male otter with nightdark fur. He was one of the two abbey gatekeepers, and was a very sensible and responsible beast. At the moment he was beside the ancient gatehouse scolding a little Dibbun (The traditional name for young abbeybeasts) shrewmaid, who was covered dark inkstains and had a scowl set on her little face. Zillan was speaking to her in a friendly, but no-nonsense tone, and waggled his paw disapprovingly.
"Now miz Tiggan you know better than to be'ave that way during abbeyschool. Sister Pearwin was very upset that ye disrupte' her class, an' wasted all that perfecterly good ink! Why did ye get into a fight with little Thrit anyhoo? I thought 'e was yore friend?"
Her scowl deepened even more as she growled, "S'cause Thrit a-called me nasty-names an' pincha me tail. I gots fruskerated an' dumpa'd ink on 'is stoopa face!"
Zillan tutted. "That still wasn't very nice. T'll talk ta little Thrit, but I want ye to apologize to 'im an' Miz Pearwin, unnerstood?"
Tiggan nodded reluctantly, but knew she was getting off fairly lightly.
Zillan nodded once, satisfied. "Good. Now I'll just 'ave to talk ta young master Thrit an'-"
A strong, solid knock sounded on the gates, cutting the dark otter to pause. He motioned for the little shrewmaid to keep quiet, and then quietly went up to the gates. He put his ear against the large wooden door and listened for the sounds of the other beast. Another few loud knocks sounded, causing Zillan to jump back from the gate.
Then a loud voice hollered out, "Hello, anybeast there? Hellooooooo? We've been waiting for somebeast to let us in!"
"Ah dinnae think they can hear us lad. Mayhaps ye can be a wee bit louder? Mair like this," a second voice bellowed out, "Hallo there friends! Can ye no' open up fer an 'onorable otter an' a starvin' stoat? We would be grateful tae no' be left 'ere all day lang!"
"Barrul, I don't think-"
The large doors swung open, Zillan noting that the first voice was an otter. Indeed, a young male otter stood before him, with eyes the colour of the warm sandy shores. The other beast next to him however…
…The deep waters of the River Moss shone dark, green, and sunlight dappled. Fish swam lazily, all an assortment of dull hues and sizes. Every once in a while, one of them would leap clear of the water to catch a bug, only to land with a loud Clap! sound as they hit the water. Bees, flies, and dragonflies flew 'round amidst the trees of Mossflower woods, the lush forest close to the banks of the river.
If a creature were to glance up, they would see a roof of green foliage with dapples of the blue summer sky. Soft, echo-e birdsong drifted up 'mongst the trees, as though ancient Mossflower wood itself were singing. It was a day that made young hearts rejoice, happy to be alive.
And how happy he was! Alaerr hummed an old ottersong, fast paced and frivolous, skipping and twirling every now and again. He'd just landed after a jump- aided by his fishing pole, when he heard sounds behind him. A chatter of voices- some were laughing gruffly, whilst others argued fiercely- reached his ears. Before he could turn to find out what was causing such a ruckus, a gruff voice hailed him.
" 'Ello there otter! Where are ye travelin' on this fine day, eh?"
Alaerr turned to see a procession of logboats slow almost to a halt, allowing a scruffy shrew to hop up onto the bank. The shrew gave a warm smile and thrust out a paw.
"Bilum Broadbank, Log a Log of the Guosim. That's Guerrilla Union Of Shrews In Mossflower, incase ye aren't educated. An' who are yew?"
Alaerr took in the shrew's appearance before answering. He was a younger beast, not quite middle aged, with scruffy fur and a roguish look. Like most Guosim, he had a small rapier tucked in his broad belt, and wore a headband over his brow. Unlike most Guosim, however, his was a darker jade green rather than a bright colour. Alaerr shook the shrew's outstretched paw, surprised by the small creature's strength.
The otter's yellow eyes flashed kindly as he introduced himself. "Alaerr Starrfisher. Not going anywhere in particular. Jus' Travelling."
The shrew chuckled heartily. " Jus' travellin'? Nobeast I've ever met jus' traverses wi' no aim. Ye talk mighty fancy fer a traveler. Well, come aboard Alaerr Starrfisher. I'm sure ye can res' an' take a bite to eat. We're headed for the water meadows for lunch, ye can join us. Maybe tell us a tale or two of yer travels, hmm?"
The young otter pondered on his offer for a moment, tapping his chin. After a moment, he gave on decisive nod. "Alright Sir Log a Log. I could do with some good food. Plus, I'd like to hear a story too."
Log a Log Bilum grinned, and strode back towards the logboats, calling over his shoulder, "Well c'mon then, don't got all day. An' ye can call me Log a Log, none of that 'Sir' stuff. Makes me feel older than the mossflo'r woods."
Alaerr followed behind him, smiling. "Fair enough. But call me Alaerr, I don't like being referred to by my full name."
Both beasts hopped down onto one of the seven logboats filled to the brim with spikey furred shrews dressed similarly to Bilum. Chattering voices began to pick up like a gale, most shouting questions at Alaerr and Log a Log, others arguing about various matters. The shrew chieftain winked at Alaerr, who had covered his ears to block out the cacophony of voices. Suddenly, Log a Log threw back his head and roared out like thunder.
Every shrew fell dead silent and waited for their chieftain to speak. Seeing that he had every eye on him, Bilum cleared his throat and spoke loudly so all his shrews would hear him.
"This 'ere otter," he began, patting Alaerr's shoulder with a hefty paw, "Calls hisself Alaerr Starrfisher. 'E's gonna be our guest fer lunch, so I wants ye all on yore bes' be'avoir, allright?"
The shrews began muttering in agreement. Suddenly a scuffle broke out in the back of one logboat. Soon, a few more quarrels followed. Alaerr flinched at the increasing noise and spoke loudly to Log a Log, "Are they always like this?"
Bilum laughed. " O' course! You never met a shrew afore, young'un? No matter, first time fer everythin'. We'll be at ther water meadows soon 'nuff. They'll calm down a piece there." He cupped his paws and yelled up to the stern of the logboat, "Skaut! Lead this 'ere rabble to ther water meadows, will ye? I wanna 'ave lunch somewhere peaceful afore we set sail fer Redwall."
Alaerr's gold eyes brightened considerably. "Redwall Abbey? I've never been there before. I've heard tales though. What's it like? Is it really as wonderful as it sounds?"
Log a Log grinned at the eager traveler. "It's a beautiful place Alaerr. I'll tell ye all about it when we gets ter the water meadows. Then ye can decide if ye'd like ta tag along…"
Vermin and Highland-vermin (ch.5)
…The winter winds howled their dirge of death amongst the snow-caked mountains of the Northlands. Nobeast would dare travel in such weather, and Ethlegg knew so. But he wouldn't dare ignore the request of his Lord, Turran the Conqueror.
The weasel stopped for a moment and pulled his squirrel-fur cloak closer. He had to pause for a moment to get his bearings amid the blazing white wind. His hazel eyes roamed the snowy landscape, looking for it…there! The palest gray, barely distinguishable amid the white of the snow. Ethlegg hurried towards it.
In the depths of the cave, the only sound heard was the whisper of the wind, though the bone-chilling cold of the storm was still prevalent. A few glowing lanterns were pegged to the cave walls, illuminating the stalactites and stalagmites framed by soft shadow. A decent-sized pool of water dominated the back of the cave, its dark waters receding in the dark to the back wall. Its silky surface rippled whenever a falling drop struck its surface. A figure stood crouched, kneeling in front of the pool. In the creatures right paw was a small pouch of some sort, which he gripped tightly now and again.
Ethlegg saw the fox and approached cautiously. He had noted the healer's posture, and tried not to startle him. It was bad luck to startle a healer- or so he'd been told. Rather, he was startled when the fox spoke.
"Turran sent ye?"
The fox stood and turned around before he could answer, yellow-amber eyes glowing eerily. He wasn't that tall, but he had a slim build, increasing the appearance of his height. His fur was patched russet-orange and smokey gray-black, a white tip on his tail. He wore a gray-brown tunic and a slim belt with a dagger thrust in it. He still gripped the small black pouch in his right paw.
Ethlegg finally nodded, then said, "Turran sent mah tah ye. 'E wants tah 'ear yer advice, Ethka."
The fox snorted. "Advice? Yew mean 'e wants ta know if'n I've 'ad any signs." He sighed, then spoke again, "Alright, lead me to 'im. I'll speak wid the boss – He'll want ta hear wot I've learned."
Ethlegg shifted nervously, the healer always made him edgy. He started to walk away, calling over his shoulder as he did so, "Guid! Best no' tah keep aer Laird waitin' any langer."
The weasel lead Ethka through the blistering cold snow, keeping the healer in sight, but always staying a bit ahead. Ethka smiled inwardly. This fool, second in command of Turran's forces, was terrified of him. It gave the fox a sense of power, which he gladly held onto. If only the warlord was scared of him. Rather, Ethka couldn't help but be fearful of him. Ah well, he was superstitious enough to listen to the healer's council. He never made a move without consulting his seer.
Soon they made it to the camp, an area sheltered from the worst of the snow. A motley of vermin crouched there, away from the clawing wind, and huddled together around dwindling fires or in poorly constructed tents. One tent was closer to the pillar of stone fending off the biting wind. It was much larger than the others, and nowhere near in as bad condition as the others. Light could be seen shining through the material, and the warm smell of roasted meat drifted from it.
As the commander and healer made their way to the tent, walking among the sea of half-frozen vermin. They all leaned away from the healer, some scrambling away as quickly as they could. The fox had to fight hard to keep his face stoic.
A burly ratguard saluted with his spear as they approached. Swiftly, he drew back the tent fold so that they could enter.
Flickering gold from the torches cascaded across the canvas walls and embedded the atmosphere with the smoldering heat of power. A maroon colored rug laid on the ground, trailing up to a regally carved pine chair (It looked more like a throne to Ethka). At the foot of the chair was a plate with the bones of some sort of bird – recently finished – and a half-empty wine goblet. Ethka took this all in with a glance. His eyes strayed to the figure on the chair. He stayed silent, waiting for the figure to speak.
Turran the Conqueror could be summed up with one word – power. Broad-chested and a head taller than the rest, the stoat was a force to be reckoned with. His green eyes blazed with the reflection of the torch-light, his expression stoic and menacing at the same time. He wore a kilt made from the pelt of some long-forgotten enemy – vermin, Ethlegg noted every time – and broad, steel paw bracelets encircled his wrists. The warlord could take on any enemy in claw-and-tooth combat, but preferred his hefty javelin, which was always close at paw. It leaned against his chair, and impressive weapon that'd take nearly three vermin to wield.
Ethka's pale eyes betrayed no emotion as he waited for the warlord to speak. Behind him he could sense Ethlegg, full of fear inspired awe for his master. Any who had seen what the warlord was capable of felt the same. Gathering his courage, the weasel commander bowed and announced their presence.
"Ah've brought the fox ta ye, mah Laird. Is thair anythin' else ye want, mah Laird?"
Turran said nothing, merely dismissing him with a flick of his paw. Bowing once more, the commander turned and left the tent.
Ethka watched the weasel go, then placing a paw on his chest, bowed low before Turran. "Ye called, my Lord?"
Turran merely growled, "What 'ave ye seen?"
Ethka bowed his head, carefully selecting his words. One must always be careful around a warlord. When he lifted his head, he adopted a distant, wizened look, and spoke in a low, but powerful, tone.
"I have spoken wid the winds from above the mountains, t'the ones below. The spirits 'midst the snow have spoken ta yore servant. Will ye lissen ta them?"
The warlord was off of his small throne so fast, that the claws digging into Ethka's chest weren't felt until blood began to flow along the warlord's claws. He brought his face close to the fox's, roaring, "Tell me mah future! Where shall Ah go an' who shall I conquer? Where shall Ah rule o'er nex'?!"
Ethka's voice rose, becoming higher pitched as he howled, "Blood! I see a buildin' o' blood! A castle ta be conquered! The winds o' the dead 'ave spoken! Turran shall rule the castle o' blood!"
He dropped the fox suddenly, wiping his claws off on his kilt. Staring at the fox expressionlessly, he spoke one word. "Where?"
Quick as a flash, Ethka leapt up, ignoring his wound, and threw something into a nearby torch. It flashed bright green, the flame growing for a moment, then died down and returned to its normal color. Turning back to the Conqueror, he spoke, pointing to the warlord's face.
"Green! Are my Lord's eyes not green? Green eyes shall find what they seek in a green land. Yew must lead yore 'orde t'the land of green an' conquer the castle o' blood. Ye must slaughter its inhabitants, turning the stones even darker beneath 'em. Only when ye feed the stones wid their blood, will ye rule the blood-colored buildin'. This is what they 'ave shared wid me…"
Salamandastron prelude: The Things before (ch.7)
… Alaerr the otter had found himself in a peculiar situation.
He was a young otter, and a wanderer, having had no parents for a considerable amount of time. He couldn't recall exactly what had happened - he had been too young. There was a memory warped in haze of leaving a moss-covered log, where he knew his parents lie dead, somewhere in the south-east woods too far to be considered a part of Mossflower. He had a vague inkling that they had died of some sort of sickness. The only thing he knew with absolute certainty was that he had been alone for as long as he could remember.
So, although a friendly creature in nature, he wasn't the most social of otters.
But now, here he was, in the Badger Lord's personal chambers in Salamandastron with a Hare, one of the most social creatures he had ever met. Though Noma was not nearly as garrulous as most of the hares in the Long Patrol.
She was a Haremaiden with fur the color of thistledown and a smile brighter than the sun itself. She had found him wandering down the shores, provisionless, and a few days too hungry. he had actually been travelling to the hazy shape of the mountain fortress when the bright-eyed hare had found him. He was rugged and clutching a still-wet yellow starfish when she'd found him.
Noma's heart had gone out to him immediately, so she brought him with her home. Ignoring curious glances and boisterous inquiries upon entering the stone anthill, she carried him up to the Lord of Salamandastron's chambers. None questioned her further. They all knew Noma did as she pleased.
As they waited - Alaerr drinking hot mushroom and leek soup - the haremaid tried to make small talk. He could tell she wasn't the most comfortable and practiced at it; as they entered he could tell that she was almost anti-social among the other hares. She was also not as frivolous with words.
"My name's Noma; when his lordship found me as a tiny haremaiden he named me that since I 'ad no name. He's basically my pa. What 'bout you, laddie? Ye have a name?"
He had been staring at his beaker of soup the whole time, where his still-chubby paws (despite the rest of him being thin from hunger) were wrapped around its warmth. He glanced at the starfish on his lap, bright against his worn, simple clothes as he thought of what to say. He had a first name, but not a last. He liked the little five-pointed 'fish' and had a wonderful idea.
His eyes flickered up to Noma shyly, with pale, sand-yellow eyes. They were the oddest eyes she'd ever seen, Noma thought. And young too. He was almost a teen-aged creature, but still too young to be alone for so long.
"I call m'self Alaerr...Starrfisher," he said in a well-educated voice. Where he learned such fine talk she'd never know. She saw a sort of wisdom in his eyes before he flicked them back down to his beaker. "Dunno about my parents; I've been on my own a long time now."
Although there was no bitterness nor pain in his voice, Noma felt sorry for him. But before a sympathetic remark could be made, a deep, booming voice spoke out.
"An' you look to have done well fer yourself despite it. Now, Noma. Bringing strangers into my chambers without permission Again?" The hare's ears dropped halfway and she grinned sheepishly. But then perked up when the Badger Lord continued (for it was he).
"But you did well, daughter." the figure stepped out and spread his large paws in greeting. "I am Lord Silv Winterstripe. Welcome to Salamandastron, young Alaerr; to the mountain of the fire lizard!"
He strode forth from the shadows, and Alaerr couldn't help but gape up at him in awe. Lord Silv Winterstripe, though no bigger than most male badgers of his age, was the most imposing and intimidating creature he had ever encountered. His fur was soft and shiny; Rich, coal black with stripes of the whitest fur that could exist. He wore a dark, brown-red tunic with a brown belt-cord where a great, silver battle axe resided. He was different from the badgers of Alaerr's imagination; Gruff, dusty beasts that held stoic expressions as though they had just returned from battle. But Lord Silv's smiling face was nothing but kind and soft. Alaerr decided not to make such hasty assumptions in the future.
The badger lord's silver eyes (a sharp, pale gray) shone in amusement. He chuckled good-humouredly and said, "I see you've never met a Badger Lord afore, young one. Well now you can say ye have!" When his chuckling had died down (though Noma was still laughing raucously) he asked, "Now; have you had enough to eat?"
He nodded dumbly in response, but Noma - having decided to dial down the cackling a bit - remarked, "Barely ate a beakerful; skinny lad."
Lord Winterstripe shook his head at Noma, "I wouldn't think so; not like 'e can shove away as much as you, Noma!" They both dissolved back into laughter.
The evening went back and forth with laughter and merriment. They had even convinced Alaerr to stay at least a few days (though it would become a few seasons) so that he could learn some survival and fighting tips from the Long Patrol. As evening began its descent, so did Alaerr's pale yellow eyes, until they finally dropped shut like the sun behind the horizon. Taking advantage, Noma asked a hushed question.
"He looks awfully like that otter fellow, what's-his-name. Y'know, the one who visited when I was a leveret. The wanderin' one; perhaps they're related?"
"You mean Rillbrook the Wanderer. Aye, I c'n see what ye mean. But he died many seasons back; General Bluebell brought back a report after finding his body. Perhaps he was an uncle? Or an uncle's uncle?" Silv Winterstripe scratched his muzzle.
Noma shrugged; she wasn't one to make a hazard guess. "Per'aps. But it's late now and I'm on Patrol first thing in th'mornin'. There'll be more time fer gusses and perhapses."
"Ye're right," he sighed. He stood up, stretching and yawning. He watched as Noma scooped up the young otter to take to the barracks. "Goodnight, Noma."
The Shores of Salamandastron stood deserted in the silver moonlight as dark waves heaved across the shore. …
(This next one is a Warriors Super Edition I was going I write. It's pre-AVOS as well canin divergent.)
Prequel to The Starlit Warrior
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join beneath the Highledge for a clan meeting!"
The summons echoed through the Thunderclan camp as cats of various hues, shapes, and ages gathered to the center of the camp. Bramblestar, the powerful dark tabby tom and leader of Thunderclan, stood regally on the Highledge, observing his clanmates settle. He purred. This was definitely one of his favourite duties as leader.
His deputy and mate- the ginger she-cat with a temper as fiery as her coat, Squirrelflight- rested beneath Highledge. Although she wasn't far from kitting, she had insisted on leaving the nursery for this event. One of the cats that she'd raised as her own had kits who were being made into apprentices. It was too important of an event to miss.
A large golden tabby tom with amber eyes stood beside his mate, a beautiful dappled gray she-cat with blue eyes. She was grooming her kits, both toms, who tried to scoot away from her. The golden tabby's giant frame rumbled with laughter. This was their first litter, and they were overjoyed that Thunderclan would have them as apprentices.
A slender gray tabby darted to the front of the crowd, His brilliant blue eyes unfocusing. Please! He yowled in his head. Starclan! Let me see today's ceremony!
He settled next to someone- the elder she-cat, Sandstorm, he realized- as Bramblestar leapt off Highledge to begin the ceremony. The blind cat sent one last plea as his leader began to speak.
"Today we gather to make these two fine kits of Lionblaze and Cinderheart into apprentices. Ashkit, come forward."
The blind cat had a thousand curses ready for the starry cats, until suddenly, like a drop of water hitting a puddle, his vision rippled and he was able to see.
A darker gray tabby, with a similar build to the slender blind cat, bounded forward, his tail shot out in excitement. He had odd eyes, the left being a deep blue and the right an amber-brown. He stopped expectantly in front of his leader.
"Do you wish to train as a loyal Thunderclan apprentice?"
"I do," the kit squeaked.
"Then from this moment on, until you earn your warrior name, you shall be known as Ashpaw. Dovewing," he added, "You are ready for your first apprentice. Train Ashpaw well and show him kindness is an asset, not a weakness."
A soft gray she-cat with blue eyes padded forward and touched noses with her new apprentice. Seeing they had greeted each other, Bramblestar motioned the other kit forward. He was a white tom with the palest gray patches, like an overcast day. His eyes were like his brother's, except that the left eye was an amber-brown and the right a deep blue. He had a broader build, like his father, and would grow to a promising size. He walked like he always thought carefully about his every step. He stopped softly in front of his leader.
"Moonkit," he meowed, "you have chosen a different path from your brother, though no less important or honorable. From this moment on, you shall be known as Moonpaw. May you learn much and become a great medicine cat under Jayfeather's guidance."
The blind tabby went forward to greet his new apprentice. Although Jayfeather would try to deny it, he felt deep affection for his brother's kits. He'd always made time to play with them after they were born, and he was happily astounded when Moonkit had asked to be his apprentice. He sent thanks to Starclan that he was able to experience this day like a vision - with sight.
"Ashpaw! Moonpaw! Ashpaw! Moonpaw!"
The clan yowled their names, Jayfeather's voice one of the loudest.
Thank you, Starclan, for allowing me to see today.
Little did he know that it was the only thing they could do for him. They looked down on the ceremony with sadness. They had seen the blind cat's future- and it did not bode well.
(This next one was a request fic for Lepodolite Mica on FF; species belongs to him. This is one of my only first person POV pieces. It's also from around when I discovered the line break feature.)
(First posted on July 22, 2015)
(Fandom: The Secret Saturdays)
I peeked out from where I was hiding.
I swung back around into my hiding place, heart thudding once again in my ears. My mother would kill me for the muttered curse, but it couldn't be helped. I was so very, in every way, inexplicably, screwed.
I'm not sure when I got here, amongst the tumbled rocks and ruins of some old civilization. I wasn't sure if the rock mass I hid behind was once part of a building, or an actual boulder. That's how weathered this town was. The ruins had to be as ancient as me. Well, Kur. Whatever.
Not that it mattered in this particular instant. That Damn thing – Zak! I could imagine my mother scolding me, face creased in annoyance – was just around the corner, waiting. They were like no cryptid I'd ever seen before.
Grotesque, barely resembling a human (and a severely anorexic one at that), its skin was a mix between pasty dark green and almost black. The body was littered with scars and gouges, some of its wounds fresh enough that dark blood still oozed forth like overflowing molasses. Its frame was tall, its emaciated state building its tall image higher. I took this all in with a glance – Thank ancient Kur they trained me to be a cryptidzoologist – but what terrified me the most was its face.
When we had been attacked, (I hope the others are okay), I had noticed its mouth, a vertical aperture with knife-like teeth, yellow with plaque. It wasn't until it had attacked a local, (I still here his screams, even if they stopped long ago), that I saw it had a second mouth.
The outer vertical one had snapped open with a metallic Clank! To show a second, normal mouth ('Normal' only in the sense that it opened horizontally). Both opened wide, a deep screech resonating from within, terrifyingly like the gates to Hell, empty blackness lined by glowing yellow teeth – and wait, was that an eye? – ready to tear and consume the world.
That's when I ran, too terrified at the moment to even think of connecting. I heard flapping sound haphazardly behind me, (I had failed to notice the wings), and picked up speed, changing direction as often as I could. But eventually I had to stop, resulting in my current predicament.
I checked again to see if the coast was clear, (It still wasn't. Damn it.), noticing that the cryptid wasn't alone. Betwixt its wings, (grotesque, boney appendages sprouting from behind its shoulders), was another sort of creature, its skin deep blue. It was shorter than me, but with knobby joints and boney limbs. It wore a mask (similar to the one covering the other creature's true face). In its hands, (thin, nail-less things, with long, sharp fingers), it had reins of some sort. They trailed towards the winged cryptid's face, connecting somewhere on its jaws, where a mesh of metal kept the hellish mouth snapped shut until further notice. Huh, so that was the metallic clamp I heard earlier.
The handler, (It seemed to control the crytpid), yelled out something in a strange language. Probably shouting for my surrender. Wacko. As if I'd come out.
I wasn't sure if everyone was alive. Or okay. But I couldn't just keep running around and get myself killed. I'd have to try and connect with the cryptid.
I took a deep breath to steady myself, (more out of habit than anything), then reached out with my mind for its presence. I peeked again, seeing its eye through the gap in its now-open jaws, (Jeezes, that's creepy. Why does it even have that? Not like it needs to 'watch its weight', scraggly thing.), and connected. My energy surged, establishing a link between us.
Hungry. That thing was so hungry. For meat, for blood. (For death.) It was like it had a hunger that could never be filled.
No. Like even if it was full, it would never be enough. It would keep going, and eating, and gorging, even if it killed itself. Even after its body became soaked in blood, every inch solid red, it wouldn't stop. It couldn't stop. One word came to my mind then, in perfect clarity.
Breathing heavily, I tried to ignore my own craving for destruction that had been awoken. Tried to ignore my fear, and anger, and aching want to destroy something, especially this demon before me. I focused on control, manipulation. Whispering in its mind to do my will. Its mind was too warped though, too far gone for me to gain an inch of control. I wasn't strong enough.
Of course I wasn't strong enough.
The demon, (for what else could I call it?), lunged at me, a second pair of jet-black wings bursting from its back, glistening in new, dark blood. Its handler cried out in alarm as it lunged unexpectedly. I turned and ran, faster than ever.
Hot white pain engulfed me, and I felt blood seeping from my back on the left. I caught myself as I stumbled, and kept going. The pain was intense, clawing at me further, screaming at me to STOP. But my fear kept me running. Frenzied screeches of a madbeast followed me. I refused to look back.
My lungs began to burn along with my wound, whole body consumed by an imaginary flame. I wasn't sure if the pounding in my head was an oncoming migraine, or just my blood pumping. All I really knew was that if I didn't find a place to hide soon, I was beyond screwed.
There. Two pieces of stone leaned against one another, creating a small hidey space. Too small for the demon. I dove in, opening my wound further in a burst of pain. Futete!
I crawled as far back in as I could, leaving blood on the stone roof. My breathing rang like thunder. The cryptid scratched frantically at the opening, giving forth blood curdling screeches of frustration as it chipped away stone but couldn't reach its prey. From what I could see, it looked like the mesh had broken, one side of its outer jaw bleeding heavily. Its handler was nowhere in sight, having either fallen off and/or been eaten. Probably what gave me enough time to run.
After a time it paused, and then left speedily, probably sensing new prey. I didn't move for awhile, still breathing heavily. When it had been quite for awhile (an eternity), and my heart stopped beating like a jack hammer, I checked my wound.
I barely lifted my arm, when pain ripped through me, enough to make me wince. Well that wouldn't do. I had to check the injury, figure out the damage. I wasn't sure if I was still bleeding, so I brushed over the wound with my other hand.
"Mitue," I muttered. Corpse. My mother would be throwing a fit at all the multi-lingual cursing I'd done today, but that had hurt, damn it! I looked at my fingers and sighed. They were painted red, but it could have been my soaked shirt, rather than the wound. Not that it mattered. I'd lost a lot of blood already.
I dozed in and out of consciousness, unsure if the screams I heard reverberating in my skull were constructs of my hazy imagination or not. Sometimes I heard mom scolding me softly, or felt dad ruffle my hair. Fisk muttered something, coming from my left. I cracked open my eyes – now burning with overtiredness – and glanced, seeing him beside me with a concerned expression. I blinked, then the image wavered and disappeared. Small comforts my mind weaved to help with the pain. Blackness followed.
Eventually I woke up to silence. My back screamed and a migraine took residence in my head. Slowly I dragged myself to the entrance and glanced outside. Nothing in sight. I pulled myself up, using the stone, and wobbly stood on my feet. I started to walk. I wasn't sure where I was going, but I couldn't stay here.
It was evening, meaning I had been asleep for hours, unless it was the next day's evening. Who knew? I glanced at the sky, now a brilliant shade of red. Lovely, I thought sarcastically.
The ground became more difficult as I walked. It took a few minutes for my weary brain to realize what was causing me to stumble. Holy shit.
I took a minute to register the carnage before me. Mangled limbs – mostly human – and corpses of the handlers and their demons, the majority of them ripped apart like chicken in a supermarket. The ground was splashed red, but it wasn't from the lighting of the sky. Judging by how bright the blood still was, this had happened recently. Dark splotches like tar on the beach as coated the area, though not as much as the human blood (Was it because it was thinner, or had more humans been killed than cryptids?) The dark blood seemed to come from half-mangled handlers and demons alike. As far as I could tell, they seemed to have gone into a frenzy and torn one another apart. The only reason no one was…consumed, was because the demons were focused on killing and spilling blood only.
I thanked my parents that they had trained me to think scientifically; it helped me keep emotional thinking in the back of my head, (like how the blood now sticking to my clothing wasn't my own, how I brushed against lifeless masses that were once breathing ,andthebloodandthecorpsesandohmygod,terrorandfearandwhatthehellI'msoscrewed…)
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath, gagging. Even though I craved destruction, that part of me recoiled in horror at such a massacre. That part of me didn't crave the destruction of life. Terror from others? Yes. Death? No.
I opened my eyes and, ignoring the bodies, (what was left of them anyway), tried to get my bearings. After a moment I recognized the way to the airship, and headed that way. My senses were heightened - more so from the adrenalin - the smell of blood, like metal and salt, permeated the air. I could even smell the demons' scent – both species – their scent similar to curdled milk, rotting vegetation, and something sharp (parsley?).
The shift of sand as I walked made me tense. Something told me they weren't all dead. Especially because of what I learned while I (tried) to connect. If they weren't so horrifically evil, I'd maybe feel sympathy for them. Maybe.
I was almost there – the airship was just ahead. I thought I saw some figures, but wasn't sure. A noise made me turn so fast, I nearly fell. But I still wasn't fast enough.
The last thing I heard was mom screaming my name as unconsciousness claimed me. Tiamatu…
(These next few are my main Warriors OCs, in a series of drabbles. Spottedstar is me. Redkit/storm is my cat, Redd. Her siblings are her siblings we couldn't keep. Shadowmist is our old cat, Shadow.)
(First posted October 23, 2015 . October 19, 2016)
LEADER:Spottedstar(Path): gray tabby she-cat with gray-blue eyes OR gray she-cat with cream underbelly and dark spine stripe trailed with white spots.
DEPUTY: Hawkface: Brown she-cat with darker accents and face, brown-green eyes.
MEDICINE CAT: Nightshade: Small, gray, raggedy she-cat with a bobtail and dark, blue eyes.
MEDICINE CAT APPRENTICE:Bluepaw: White she-cat with black tabby markings and blue eyes; Spottedstar's kit.
WARRIORS(APPRENTICES LISTED WITH THEIR MENTORS)
Lionpelt: long-furred gold tom with green eyes.
Darkpool: Dark brown she-cat with deep, blue eyes.
Softleap: white-gray she-cat with green eyes.
Redcoat: Ginger-patched tom with yellow eyes.
Shadowmist: black tom (dark brown) with yellow green eyes; finds the four kits and helps raise them [Havannah brown-Siamese mix]
Apprentice: Viperpaw: Sleek-furred ginger and white tom with blazing gold eyes, pupils rimmed in vivid green. [Turkish Van mix]
Quickleap: slick brown-and-white patched tom with amber eyes.
Sootface: pretty gray she-cat with darker accents, face, and underbelly; yellow eyes.
Sharpeyes: Light brown tom with bright yellow eyes.
Yellowtail: pale ginger tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Thsitlefur: Dark gray long-furred tom with a black leg (back left) and yellow eyes; Leaftwirl's mate.
Longclaw: black tom with long claws and amber eyes.
Leaftwirl: Light brown she-cat with darker paws, tail tip, and chest, with brown eyes. Spottedstar and Rushingriver's daughter.
Firstripe (Previously Wildstripe): Dark brown she-cat with faded stripes and yellow eyes; Leaftwirl's sister.
Speckledleaf (Previously Dottedleaf): torti she-cat with green eyes; Firstripe's sister.
Apprentice: Featherpaw: pale silver tabby she-cat with light blue eyes.
Rushingriver: Solid brown tom with brown eyes; Spottedstar's mate.
Apprentice: Sandpaw: Dusty brown tom with yellow-green eyes.
Daisypelt: Sandy yellow she-cat with blue eyes.
Sparrowfoot: Young brown she-cat with amber eyes. Hind paw (left) is severely mutilated, leaving her to attend patrols more than hunt.
QUEENS (AND THEIR KITS)
Whitemist: white she-cat with yellow eyes. Sharp eyes' mate.
(FOUND KITS [found 3 moons old; now 6]: Redkit: Rich ginger tabby she-cat with short, thick fur, thick neck fur, and green eyes (amber tinted). Heavier in build.
Honeykit: Cream/ pale-ginger tabby she-cat with long, thin, wispy fur, a white tuft of fur on her spine just below the shoulders, and amber-green eyes. Lighter in build.
Marigoldkit: black she-cat with white underbelly/chin and larger ginger patches, one across the left eye, and blue-green eyes.
Skitterkit: mostly black she-cat with white underbelly/chin and paler ginger patches; pretty black markings around the eyes and nose. Blue-green eyes.
ELDERS (Retired Warriors)
Tigerstripe: Brown tabby tom with green eyes; previous leader and Spottedstar's mentor. Was deputy to Fufflestar.
Tangelpath: Brown tabby she-cat with slate-blue eyes; Spottedpath's mother.
LEADER: Bigstar (paws): Large gray tom with brown eyes.
Apprentice: Shroudedpaw: soft gray (almost white) she-cat with orange eyes.
DEPUTY: Startledflight: white she-cat with yellow eyes.
MEDICINE CAT: Warmgaze: Pale gray she-cat with bright amber eyes.
WARRIORS (APPRENTICES LISTED WITH THEIR MENTORS)
Stripetail: Ginger tabby tom with blue eyes.
Apprentice: Leafpaw: mottled gray tom with brown eyes.
Quickbound: Silver ticked-tabby she-cat with blue eyes.
Echofrost: Black tom with white patches and amber eyes.
Sunfur: Yellow soft-furred she-cat with blue eyes.
Flintsong: Gray tabby tom with steely blue eyes.
Apprentice: Snailpaw: Pale brown tom with yellow-green eyes.
Mousefoot: Gray-brown she-cat with darker patches and green eyes. Crowfur's sister.
Crowfur: Dark gray tom with green eyes.
QUEENS (AND THEIR KITS)
Shredclaw: Heavily pregnant ginger she-cat with blue eyes.
LEADER: Tanglestar (stem):brown tom with darker accents and tail stripes;blue eyes
DEPUTY: Gorseheart:Light brown tom with yellow eyes
MEDICINE CAT: Patchheart:Silver, black, and white tom, blue eyes.
MEDICINE CAT APPRENTICE: Cloudsky: white she-cat with blue eyes.
WARRIORS (APPRENTICES LISTED WITH THEIR MENTORS)
Graypelt: Gray she-cat with brown eyes.
Apprentice: Rabbitpaw: brown and white she-cat with amber eyes.
Brackenclaw: ginger she-cat with amber eyes; Brightrye's mate.
Brightrye: light brown tabby tom with yellow eyes.
Apprentice: Screechpaw: black tom with brown eyes.
Longfur: long-furred gray she-cat with green eyes.
Gorsewhisper: pale gray tabby tom with blue eyes.
Apprentice: Bushpaw: fluffy brown tom with amber eyes.
Twigfern: young brown she-cat with green eyes.
Wrenclaw: brown ticked tabby tom with yellow eyes; Twigfern's mate.
ELDERS (Retired Warriors)
Streamsong: Ancient gray she-cat with milky green eyes.
LEADER: Avenderstar (thorn): Dark gray tom with smoky black stripes; green eyes.
DEPUTY: Rosepelt: Ruddy tabby she-cat with brown eyes; Avenderstar's mate.
MEDICINE CAT: Herbheart: Cream colored she-cat with green eyes.
MEDICINE CAT APPRENTICE: Torrentheart: Blue tabby she-cat with dull amber eyes; recently named.
WARRIORS (APPRENTICES LISTED WITH THEIR MENTORS)
Ravenfeather: black she-cat with gray eyes; Doveflight's mate.
Doveflight: Swift white tom with amber-brown eyes.
Darkfrost: Gray, black, and white patched she-cat with gray eyes.
Skyeyes: Brown tabby tom with blue eyes.
Blackpelt: Black she-cat with blue eyes.
Lakeshine: Cream tabby tom with blue eyes.
Apprentice: Toadpaw: Brown tom with amber eyes.
Crowflight: Black and white she-cat with yellow eyes.
Barleyfoot: golden-brown tabby tom with amber eyes.
Apprentice: Lighteningpaw:yellow and white tabby tom with amber eyes.
QUEENS (AND THEIR KITS)
Scarlegs: scarred brown she-cat with green-amber eyes. (KITS: Blackkit: dark colored tom)
Snowfrost: silver she-cat with blue eyes.
ELDERS (Retired Warriors)
Batwing: dark brown and gray tom with yellow eyes.
Owlwhisper: pale tabby tom with a narrow face and bright yellow eyes.
Nosun: Yellow she-cat with amber eyes, clouded with cataracts.
Chapter 2: The Earliest Ceremony
Spottedstar padded out of the leader's den and down the sloping stone on the cliff face. The sky grew darker in the twilight, melding into night. She could feel the starry warriors beginning to show, gleaming on the water and her pelt. She stopped about halfway down, and carefully made her way across the interconnecting damp stone sloping downwards a bit to another den, her gray fur turned dark from the spray. The pass under the waterfall had left her chilled. Whiskers quivering, she leaned her head into the warm den – Earthclan's nursery – and glanced at the four small shapes huddled together.
In the back of the den, a white she-cat looked over her swollen side to her leader. Her yellow eyes bored into her as she whispered, "You don't regret your decision, do you?"
Spottedstar shook her gray head. "Of course not, Whitemist. Kits are a blessing to the clan, wherever they come from. I only worry about how Shadowmist is handling all this."
The dark-colored tom she spoke of had found the kits, the body of their mother torn apart by a dog, and their brother dead from who knows what. Shadowmist had brought the kits back, begging Spottedstar to take them in, offering to care for them himself. Her heart had melted at the site. Of course she wouldn't leave these kits to die.
Whitemist's meow brought her back to reality. "I'm sure he'll be all right. He's a strong cat."
Spottedstar sighed. "I know that. It's just, he was so protective of them. He wouldn't let Nightshade and Bluepaw look at them, for Starclan's sake!"
Whitemist let out a purr. "He's just heartbroken over how he found them. What cat wouldn't after finding a mother killed so brutally? And those poor kits. You know you would have felt the same way, Spottedstar. Besides, you don't have the same condition as him." She pointed out.
Spottedstar let her gray-blue gaze sweep over the four half-starved kits. It was probably true; any cat would have acted the same way, and Shadowmist couldn't have kits. She couldn't help but feel compassion for him.
Leopardheart wouldn't have cared…
She shivered at the thought. The cruel she-cat was long gone, but she still creeped into Spottedstar's thoughts once in a while.
Whitemist had noticed her start, but made no comment to it. Rather, she asked, "What are you doing here anyway? I thought you'd be curled up with Rushingriver by now."
Spottedstar gave a laughing purr. "I would, but I promised Shadowmist that I'd meet him, Hawkface, and Nightshade here. We want to give these kits names."
Whitemist nodded. It was a good thought – Clan leader, deputy, medicine cat, and the one who found the kits gathering to name them. It would make them more a part of the clan. And it would cheer Shadowmist greatly.
Time passed and the sky grew to be that impossible blue-black of night before any arrived. Shadowmist was the first to come; then the brown she-cat and Deputy Hawkface; then lastly the medicine cat – a small, raggedy gray she-cat with a bob for a tail – Nightshade squeezed in.
Seeing they were all there, Spottedstar felt it was time to begin. "You are all aware of why we're meeting here. These kits need names if they're going to be a part of our clan."
Nightshade snorted. "Couldn't this have waited until morning? That daughter of yours chewed me out for not getting some sleep."
Hawkface muttered quietly, "At least somecat is."
"What was that?"
Shadowmist intervened. "Now is not the time. Kits should be named in their first moon, and these are almost three moons old. It's only proper that we name them as soon as possible."
Spottedstar nodded; Shadowmist was right. The kits' eyes were already beginning to turn from their birth blue to their true colors. She looked at the four kits; two ginger she-kits, one a heftier, darker color and the other a paler cream; the other two black-and-white she-kits with ginger patches, one with less ginger and a more defined black. They were all very pretty, and would grow into fine cats.
She was mused out of her thoughts as Whitemist peeked over at the kits and lightly tapped the cream-colored one, saying, "This one is almost honey-colored. What about Honeykit?"
Shadowmist purred. "That's a great name. I think the torti-tabby with less ginger should be Skitterkit; everything made her jump when I brought her here."
The medicine cat snorted again, but Spottedstar ignored her as she stared at the darker ginger she-kit. She was starting to get thick neck-fur that was almost main-like, but Lionkit didn't feel like the right name. "How about Redkit for this one?" She nodded towards the ginger she-kit. "Her fur will get darker and richer as she grows older."
"That's one of the most sensible names I've heard all night," Nightshade muttered as the others gave their consent.
Hawkface looked at the last kit, but turned to Nightshade and said. "You can name her then, since you will probably pick a more sensible name."
Nightshade hissed lightly, but didn't comment as she looked over the last kit. The ginger patches had light tabby markings and blazed palely against her black-and-white fur. "Marigoldkit," she finally said.
"Of course an herb…", Whitemist muttered.
Shadowmist looked pointedly at the pregnant white she-cat and meowed, "Well I think they're all fine names. And they'll become even finer warriors."
Spottedstar looked around. "So that's it? We're agreed?" All the cats nodded. "Then by the granting of Starclan, we have named these stray kits, and may they become as much as clancats as my own."
"Redkit," she tapped the ginger she-kit lightly with her nose.
"Honeykit," she purred lightly in her sleep at the touch.
"Marigoldkit," the patched kit didn't stir.
"And Skitterkit," the dark she-kit mewed in her sleep.
"Now that we've agreed, we can go to bed," Nightshade grumbled and all the cats left, except for Shadowmist and the pregnant queen.
As Spottedstar came out, she slowly followed Hawkface. Her deputy had softly hopped up onto the small branch-like log spanning the small pool in the middle of Earthclan's camp when she called out softly, "Hawkface! Will you talk to me tomorrow about possible mentors?"
Her deputy dipped her head. "Of course – but for now let's get some sleep."
Spottedstar watched until her deputy entered the warriors' den, then went back to her own nest. After all, Rushingriver was waiting, and anything she had to say could be discussed tomorrow.
Chapter 3:The Hidden/Secret Ceremony
Redkit blinked sleepily, yawning, then got up. She stretched as her sister Honeykit mewed blearily beside her. Marigoldkit nudged Skitterkit awake, the later jumping up with her dark tabby-torti fur on end and granite-blue eyes wide. Marigoldkit laughed softly as her sister stood there, her tiny frame quivering. Redkit shook her head at the two of them but made no comment. Marigoldkit could take care of their skittish sister. Besides, it was going to be a sunny day and Shadowmist had promised to take them out of the nursery to see the camp.
The kits were nearing their fourth moon, the two ginger she-kits eyes changing subtly to green (Redkit's more of a green-green, but Honeykit's had an amber-yellow peeking through), and the torti-tabbies leaning towards blue (Marigoldkit's eyes stuck in more of a blue green, and Skitterkit's had stopped at a stony blue). Shadowmist wanted to show them around the camp – as well as show them off. They mayn't have been born to him, but they were his kits.
His dark frame suddenly filled the entrance, green-yellow eyes glowing happily. "Ready to go?" He meowed.
They all squeaked excitedly in response, stumbling over one another to follow Shadowmist out (except Skitterkit, of course).
Redkit pressed herself against the cliff face nervously when she saw the world beyond her den.
The nursery was merely a small cave in a good sized, rocky cliff. The only den close to the Nursery was the elders den almost right below it; they had given their greetings to Tigerstripe and Tanglepath before moving on. Other caves dotted the cliff face, the one furthest from the nursery almost to the top. Next to the Highden was an oak, some sort of den dug among its base roots. Redkit flinched as spray hit her face, then looked at where it came from. A small rivulet tumbled off softly into a pool on the campfloor. A log-like branch (or maybe it was a branch-like log) spanned the small pool, cats crossing it with ease. One cat stopped and attempted to catch a fish. The camp stretched out as a dusty-sandy clearing around the pool, until it spanned out enough to give way to rich soil and lush forest.
The kits carefully followed Shadowmist down, tiny claws gripping the grainy rock. Eventually the made it to the bottom, panting. Shadowmist waited for them to catch their breath, then nodded directly to their left. A den was shaded by the nearby forest, at the base of the cliff.
"That," he began, "is the Medicine cat den. Nightshade and her apprentice Bluepaw sleep there."
"Really?" Honeykit hopped forward and sniffed the entrance. She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "How can any cat sleep in that stink?"
"Hush." Shadowmist cuffed her lightly. "We should be thankful for the Medicine Cats and their herbs. That 'stink' is from plants that could save your life."
"Oh," she mewed softly. Her face was the picture of dejection.
Shadowmist purred. "It's okay; you're young, you didn't know. Let's get on shall we?"
As they followed him, Redkit was amazed at how many cats were in Earthclan. She could small scents drifting into the nursery, but she never imagined so many…
They walked around the small pond (Shadowmist didn't want to fetch soaked kits while crossing the "bridge"), and an orange-and-white tom bounded up them. He had a large patch of orange tabby fur on his back, his ears down the back of his head, and tail. His fur was short and soft, but his eyes were narrow, a burning yellow at the center of a harsh green. He stopped in front of Shadowmist, expression softening when he spoke to him.
"Are we still up for hunting today? I want to make sure I get the gopher-crouch done right."
Shadowmist nodded. "Of course. Well do that after Sunhigh. Would you like to help me tour the kits for now, Viperpaw?"
"Um, maybe another time Shadowmist. Sandpaw wanted to, uh, do a thing. Well, gotta go or he'll leave without me." He whisked away awkwardly.
The four kits were puzzled but Shadowmist purred in laughter. When he could compose himself, he said, "My apprentice, kits. He feels a little awkward around younger cats."
Skitterkit leaned over to her sister and muttered in her ear.
"Why?" Marigoldkit then asked.
"Because he's a silly young apprentice; that's why. Now come on, you go back to the nursery before Sunhigh," with that he started to pad forward again.
They came around to the other side where the mass of dens were. A ledge wasn't too far from the ground, and a long-furred sunny colored tom jumped down from it; next to the sandy cliff was a tree with a den at its roots; and then looking like it was high as the moon, was the Highden.
"That," Shadowmist flicked a tail at the tree-root den. "Is the apprentices' den. You'll move there when you're all apprenticed. That," he then nodded towards the shorter ledge-den, "is where I sleep; the warriors' den. It's actually pretty large in there. If it weren't, we'd be sleeping stacked atop one another!" He rumbled with laughter.
"What about up there?" Redkit directed his attention up to the Moon-high den.
"That's the leaders' den, where Spottedstar and her mate Rushingriver sleep; we call it the Highden."
"W-who's Spot-ttedstah-r?" Skitterkit squeaked nervously (The fact that she spoke to a cat other than her siblings was an amazement in its own; but she had begun to see Shadowmist as a father of sorts. At least that's what Marigoldkit figured.)
Shadowmist rumbled softly, pleased the scared kit had asked. "See that gray she-cat with the gray-blue eyes over there?" he asked her, leaning slightly and pointing with his tail to the she-cat who sat on a lump of rock addressing Viperpaw and his brown-gray tabby friend whom Redkit assumed was Sandpaw.
She nodded mutely.
"That's Spottedstar; leader of Earthclan. Our clan. She's a kind cat. She said you all could stay here, and she even helped name you."
"Re-really?" Skitterkit squeaked, a little more eagerly. "Then-n who's –" she was cut off as a squat gray she-cat bounded into camp with a yowl, followed by a larger (but slim and smaller than the warriors) she-cat. The younger she-cat was white with odd black tabby markings and startling blue eyes that shone with what seemed to be the secrets of the world.
"We're done gathering herbs for the day; we leave for the Mooncave at dusk."
Spottedstar dipped her head to the Medicine cat. "Of course; I hope the half moon meeting goes well, Nightshade."
The squat she-cat snorted. "Of course."
The medicine apprentice's eyes shone brightly. "I'm sure it will. Tonight feels special."
"Well don't let it go to your head, young cat; it's just the half moon meeting," Nightshade snapped. She looked a little bothered by her apprentice's exclamation.
The black-and-white tabby tilted her head. "Is it then? Oh well, at least Warmgaze will be happy to see me. We haven't spoken in awhile, and there's much to say in the Starwall." She whisked off to the medicine den.
Nightshade followed her slowly, shaking her head in exasperation. "Of all the cats your friend had to be, it just had to be a Mistclan cat…"
"Those were our medicine cats; Nightshade and Bluepaw. They heal our clanmates like I said before." Shadowmist meowed.
"But what's a Mooncave and a Starwall?" Honeykit asked, only sounding slightly intrigued.
"It's where the medicine cats from all four clans go to share tongues with Starclan. Tonight's the half moon, so they all join to have a, er, mini gathering. The Mooncave-Starwall is a small underground cavern studded with stones that glow from the moonlight, which shines through a hole in the roof. I went there once when I was an apprentice," he added proudly.
But it was then that Marigold had to ask another never-ending question. "What's a gathering?"
"Uhm," he began. "Well you see, every full moon all the clans gather to…"
BREAK OF LINES THAT LINE THIS BREAK WITH LINE BREAKS
That night, Redkit shifted restlessly in her nest. They had seen the whole (well, most of the) camp and learned much about clan life. It had been a fun day, even when they'd gone back to their nest at Sunhigh. Whitemist had played games with them and they'd laughed all day.
But now in her nest, Redkit had trouble sleeping. Each time she drifted off, she felt like she drifted off. Honeykit had muttered and twitched beside her, but it was only Marigoldkit who seemed to have the same trouble. Eventually, though, sleep claimed her…
She was walking along a tunnel, another cat's pelt ghosting against hers. She heard cats up ahead, their mews echoing dully around the tunnel. Then things flashed forward, talking, voices running around faster, the flash of lights, until nothing but the dark sky dotted with stars and the brush of traveling paws sound. She couldn't look around but saw her paws, ghostly white in the dimness. They were not her own. She could sense another cat – besides the two unaware of her presence – and knew it was her sister. Then darkness swam around her as she fell into a dreamless state.
BREAK OF LINES THAT LINE THIS BREAK WITH LINE BREAKS
The camp was abuzz early that morning as patrols were sorted and duties begun. Bluepaw appeared in the nursery that morning to check over Whitemist, seeming more cheerful that morning.
Redkit and Marigoldkit avoided each other's eyes that morning, out of what had happened that night. It wasn't the first time they'd drifted off; rather, all had done it one time or another besides Skitterkit. The only constant was that it happened to Redkit more often, and the other two had only done it with her as a "partner". So far. Either way, both kits felt like they'd done something bad.
Honeykit glanced, noticing their discomfort, but ignored it. She meowed rather loudly, "So why are you so happy, Bluepaw? Find lots of herbs?"
"Nope." She replied cheerfully. "And it's Bluegaze now; I'm a full time medicine cat!"
Honeykit rolled her eyes at her enthusiasm, but Redkit and Honeykit shared a look. What they drifted into was Bluegaze's medicine ceremony; something precious and secret.
This drifting was going to get them all into trouble.
Chapter 4: Kit Mischief
Redkit just knew this was a bad idea.
A fire had blown out a few days ago; small and weak enough to not cause much damage, thank Starclan. The Warriors had come back describing each gory detail as though a battle with Mistclan had been won. Of course, Shadowmist's adopted were highly intrigued by the stories. But five-moon-old Skitterkit was the least curious, and Marigoldkit would stay if her fur-similar sister was going to. They were as inseparable as their two ginger sisters were.
Honeykit (who was cream really) was the most interested. That gleam was in her eye, and out of the four kits, she was the biggest troublemaker. It wasn't that she sought trouble for trouble's sake, but she shared a curiosity almost as big as Redkit's. The ginger she-kit knew how to control herself though, unlike Honeykit.
Honeykit turned to Redkit, amber-green eyes glowing. "Let's go check it out," she whispered. "Think of the story we can bring back to Marigoldkit and Skitterkit! Even the apprentices haven't been near the burn site!"
"But Nightshade and Bluegaze say it's dangerous. Smoke can kill you know!"
"Tchch, it's been days! The smoke should be clear by now! C'mon Red!"
"You just want to brag to Viperpaw!"
"Well," she said briskly, sweeping her long tail. "I'm just gonna go without you."
With a sigh Redkit followed her out of camp. If she didn't go, who would keep mischievous Honeykit out of serious trouble? Plus, Redkit saw herself as a sort of leader among the four kits, so her cream-furred sister was her responsibility.
They crept away early the next morning, before the dawn patrol rose. Slinking past the medicine den, they padded through the outer woods and swung around in a circle. They stopped a moment, and Redkit picked up the scent she knew very well. Shadowmist. The acrid smell of ash hung around it. He had been on the patrol last night to survey the area, she recalled. With a mew at Honeykit, they followed the trail.
Eventually the land began to get pale and dry, until she felt her paw sink into something soft. She saw that her red paw shone brightly against the mute. gray ash that she had stepped in. Drawing her paw back, she saw her print indented into the powdery surface. Kinda like snow… she thought, tilting her head inquisitively.
"Redkit! Lookit this!"
She turned to see Honeykit leap high into the air, landing in the ash with a woomph! that made miniscule flakes fly up around her. Redkit wrinkled her nose against the freshened smell, but seeing how much fun Honeykit had jumping and twirling in the gray substance, she gave it a go.
Fwoosh! she impacted it, giving a squeak. It was soft and fine, though she didn't like the gritty feeling as it made its way into her thick fur. Honeykit glanced at her, gray-patched with ash, and mrrowed in laughter. Redkit was sooty, darker hues of red fur showing up, and green eyes almost forlorn from the color. Redkit laughed too.
They spent more time jumping and smacking down on the dead fire remnants, when Redkit felt herself be bodily picked up by the scruff. She glanced over and flattened her ears sheepishly when she met Shadowmist's furious gaze. Across the way Honeykit was similarly hauled by Rushingriver. Uh-oh, Redkit thought when she spotted another cat. Hawkface stood there too. We are soooo intouble…
"What do you think you're doing?" The clan deputy asked calmly. When they didn't answer, she shook her tan head and sighed. "You're in a lot of trouble when we get back to camp." She motioned for the two toms to follow her.
As Shadowmist mumbled incoherent irritations around her, Redkit thought seeing the fire site hadn't been worth it.
Chapter 5: The Apprentice Ceremony part 1
Redkit was so full of excitement that the early hour didn't bother her at all. Her sisters and herself had been bustled out of the nursery as soon as dawn began to bloom, Shadowmist pulling them aside one-by-one and vigorously washing them. Redkit took it in silence, feeling as though she was going to explode, Honeykit tried to wiggle out of her father's grasp ("My pelt is fine! Leggo!"), Marigoldkit chattered like a starling ("Who do you think we're gonna get?"), and Skitterkit purred happily at the attention.
So now they stood before the stone slabs - one a little taller than a full grown cat, another smaller in circumference and half as high - where Spottedstar spoke from for meetings. It was just in front of the warrior's den and below the Highledge. She chose that spot since she felt the Highledge was too high up - though she still included her den in the opening yowl.
The gray after-night was fading away as the sun began to crest the horizon; its own dawn-pelt fading to a softer blue, that would turn to the brilliant pre-leaf-bare sky. A warm breeze, all Leaf-fall in itself, swept through, stirring Redkit's ginger fur. A good day for a ceremony, she decided.
Eventually the dawn patrol returned, and cats began to go about their day. The morning hunting patrol soon came back with a good heap of prey - "The squirrels where up early" - and Spottedstar emerged from her den. Effortlessly bounding down the ledges, smooth as a stream, she hopped on top of the slabs and yowled, "All cats old enough to hunt for the clan, gather beneath the Highden for a clan meeting!"
They gathered around thus: Sandpaw chatting to Viperpaw endlessly, the latter giving the kits a nod of approval; Bluegaze excited like it were her own ceremony, and her mentor, Nightshade, commenting so (but much more prickly); Whitemist at the edge of the nursery, meowing encouragement; and various other warriors gathering around.
Three warriors were closer to Spottedstar then the others: Lionpelt, a long-furred gold tom; Daisypelt, a sandy yellow she-cat and one of Spottedstar's closest friends; and Sootface, a younger gray she-cat with pretty darker accents on her face, paws, ear tips, and tail. It was odd, when there were four kits. Marigoldkit noticed this, and asked Shadowmist, "Are you mentoring one of us?" Skitterkit looked up at him hopefully when he stopped grooming her.
He shook his head. "No. Generally, apprentices aren't mentored by kin. But don't worry," he added at Skitterkit's horrified expression, "She'll pick who she thinks is the best mentor for you." His green-yellow eyes shined, as though he knew some great secret.
"But what about-" Redkit was cut off as Spottedstar began speaking. "Today we mark the day that four kits have reached their sixth moon and are ready to train as warriors of Earthclan." She paused when the clan yowled their approval. When it died down, she continued, "After much consideration, and discussion with Nightshade," she dipped her head to her medicine cat, "I have picked and approved mentors for our kits.
Marigoldkit, come forward."
The torti-tabby bounded forward after a nudge from Shadowmist. She stopped in front of the slabs, and watched with wide eyes as Sootface stepped forward. The she-cat's yellow eyes gleamed happily when she saw her soon-to-be apprentice.
"Sootface, you were an excellent apprentice of mine and even taught me at times. Teach Marigoldpaw your loyalty and quick-wittedness. I know you will do well with your first apprentice."
She touched noses with her mentor, then went to the side and sat beside her. Marigoldpaw's sisters congratulated her so loudly that they drowned out the rest of the clan.
Honeykit was next, apparently, since Spottedstar motioned her forward and mewed her name. "Honeykit," she stated. "You have and always will be a handful. And just because you're going to be an apprentice doesn't mean I'm going to forget all the kit-mischief you were up to." Many cats rumbled a laughing purr, while she muttered, "The frogs were definitely not my fault."
The leader of Earthclan then motioned the sandy-yellow she-cat forward. "Daisypelt, you have always been a good friend and obedient clanmate. Teach Honeypaw your kindness and how to listen." They touched noses and went to the side, Marigoldpaw giving her a hefty nudge and meowing something indistinguishable amongst the congratulations.
"Skitterkit." The skittish she-kit whipped her head up at the sound of her name. Trembling, she slunk forward fearfully. She stopped in the center, crouching close to the sandy floor. When the powerful, golden tom strode forward, she flattened her ears, eyes wide in something akin to terror. A lot of things were running through her head, but especially, He's to be my mentor?! Is Spottedstar insane, or cruel?!
But Lionpelt stopped and blinked his green eyes kindly, a light purr rumbling in his throat. "Lionpelt. You are known well for your courage and strength. But you also understand that fear isn't always a bad thing. Teach Skitterpaw to overcome her fear, only listening to it when necessary. I know you will prove a challenge to one another, but I am confident you will meet this challenge well."
Lionpelt stooped forward, letting Skitterpaw hesitantly reach up and touch his nose. He strode back to his spot, watching as she followed him cautiously. They all gave her a special congrats, yowling encouragement and giving her a little more confidence.
Redkit craned her neck forward when the yowls faded away, looking in vain for her mentor. She was getting one, wasn't she? All the trouble she got into as a kit was because she went along with Honeykit - Honeypaw - and she still got a mentor. So where were they.
"Redkit, come forward." The ginger she-cat trotted up to the stone slabs, green eyes looking up at her leader, questioning. Spottedstar came down fluidly off her perch, reaching the bottom in a small cloud of dust. "Redkit, you are a very courageous and inquisitive cat, one who needs a special mentor lest she get into trouble." Spottedstar's eyes gleamed humorously at Redkit's quizzical expression. She didn't understand what was going on until her leader meowed, "That is why I have decided to mentor you myself. I haven't had an apprentice in moons," she mewed to her clan, "and it's about time I took one again. Redpaw," the ginger tabby sat up straighter, the white dash on her chest fluffling up. "I, Spottedstar, of Earthclan , take you as my apprentice. I hope to share my qualities that made me leader."
They touched noses, and the clan broke out, shouting, "Marigoldpaw! Honeypaw! Skitterpaw! Redpaw! Marigoldpaw! Honeypaw! Skitterpaw! Redpaw!"
They broke up to go about their duties, hunting and patrolling, while the new mentors and apprentices gathered together. Shadowmist gave them a quick goodbye and expression of fatherly pride, before going off to train his own apprentice.
Spottedstar made sure to tell Redpaw, "Just because you're the leader's apprentice doesn't mean you will get any slack. But it also won't be harder. Just keep in mind that other cats may expect more from you." Redpaw nodded, narrowing her eyes in determination.
Gathered together, Sootface started. "I was thinking two of us could show our apprentices the territory today, the other two starting with basic hunting techniques, then switch tomarrow. Spottedstar?" She looked anxiously at her leader.
The gray she-cat nodded. "Sounds like an excellent idea. Why don't you and Lionpelt teach them stalking, and Daisypelt and I will give them the tour?"
Daisypelt's blue eyes gleamed. "I'm up for it. Honeypaw?"
Honeypaw nudged Redpaw. "At least this time we're leaving camp without breaking any rules." Her sister purred in agreement.
Lionpelt shrugged. "Okay. I think Skitterpaw would probably like that better than battle moves, right?" He glanced at her, cowering near his flank. She nodded silently.
"Then let's get to it!" Sootface mewed.
They made their way to the camp entrance: Spottedstar with Redpaw and Daisypelt with Honeypaw going one way, and Sootface with Marigoldpaw and Lionpelt with Skitterpaw going the other. The four sisters shared quick looks, knowing it would be a long, but exciting, day.
Chapter 6: Prelude
They had snuck out of camp, as usual, to an area of soft sand and grass where they usually trained. They had needed a moment to get away, and since Marigoldpaw and Skitterpaw were out hunting, it was only Honeypaw and Redpaw.
Honeypaw walked angrily, head low and long, furry tail brushing the ground huffily. Redpaw was more drained than angry, sitting and awkwardly prodding a large pebble with a large paw. Then she dropped it, looking down glumly.
Unsurprisingly, Honeypaw spoke first.
"I can't believe he said that!" She spat, upset and rage burning in her amber-green eyes. "His name should be 'Stupidhead' instead of Viper- !"
Redpaw snorted, but it was so soft that it betrayed her emotional turmoil. She tucked her paws in self-consciously.
"And he was supposed to be our friend!" She continued on, old anger reflaring vehemently. Honeypaw mewed deeply, trying to imitate the ginger-and-white tom's voice, head tilting back and forth arrogantly. " 'It doesn't matter when I become a warrior; us apprentices have to stick together against the senior warriors. Through thick and thin we'll always be friends!' Yeah, right," she snarled.
Redpaw dipped her head, muzzle in her chest, mumbling, " 'e always was arr'g'nt. But th't doesn't mean 'e shoulda said what 'e said . . ."
Honeypaw understood her mumbled words well enough, and her sisters sorrowed tone calmed her down somewhat. With a sigh, she plopped down next to her sister.
Time and season had done them good; they were almost full grown, and very pretty she-cats. Redpaw's fur had grown into a richer shade of red, her mackerel tabby markings not much darker, and it had filled out in thickness. Her eyes were a pretty green with a hinted underlay of amber-gold, highlighted by a stark, almost-white ringed around them. Her chin was whitish, along with a small dashish shape on her chest, and the undertip of her tail. She had grown to be thicker built than her sisters, with a hefty, powerful build and a dense pelt. She still had a thick, almost mane-like set of fur on her neck.
Honeypaw had also grown quite lovely - though her temper not as much. She had a thinner build, and was the same length as Redpaw, though much lighter (her tail was an inch longer too, but Redpaw was that same inch in her spine). Her pelt was still a cream color, the broken mackerel stripes much darker than Redpaw's, though the white around her eyes and on her muzzle was much paler. Her tuft of fur on her back was still white, but not as pronounced or fluffy as it had been in kittenhood. Her tail, though, had gotten more plume-like as of late, and tended to fan out when she was happy, welcoming, or offended. And judging from its current state - along with the fire in her amber, green-tinted eyes - she was very offended.
There was one key feature that they shared; some sort of silver-white fur that grew between their toes and paw-pads.
They had never really noticed it, or thought of it, but obviously Viper- had, since he had oh-so-rudely made fun of it. It was true that Honeypaw had started the argument, but he didn't need to go so far as to insult them. Redpaw hadn't even been part of the argument.
Redpaw knew she had to get Honeypaw's (and her own) mind off of it, so she brought about an old-yet-new game: guessing what their warrior name would be.
" 'Honeyfeather'." She meowed suddenly, glancing down at the long tail. "Or 'Plumetail' - sometimes they change a warrior's first name-part, according to Tanglepath."
Honeypaw wrinkled her nose. "Nah. If that were the case, then you'd be Lion-sumthing or other." She paused thoughtfully, whiskers twitching and an amused smile crossing over her face. Redpaw squinted at her, then stifled a smile as she thought of another one.
Honeypaw stopped, suddenly suspicious."What?" She asked, eyes narrowed.
But Redpaw wasn't intimidated. She said, "You have a black whisker, on your left. Maybe you'll get changed to 'Blackwhisker'." She sniggered.
Honeypaw looked her nose, wriggling her long whiskers, then saw it; a whisker black from base, almost to the tip. It was surprisingly hard to see amongst the white ones.
She grinned her sharp teeth, prepared to get her sister back.
"Well then," she stated casually, "You're prob'ly gonna be called 'Twoleg'."
Redpaw hissed, a little annoyed. She lashed her tail for good measure.
She had picked up the habit who-knows-how-long-ago; whenever she got curious about something high up, wanted to swipe at a butterfly, or look closer at something above her, she tended to sit on her haunches with her forepaws off the ground, either swiping at things with them, or pulling down things, whereas most cats just jumped and/or swiped.
She glared at her sister, shortish red fur ruffled. "I do not walk on two legs, so I can't be Twoleg!"
"Geez," Honeypaw meowed. "No need to get snappish. But you're right - you're more likely to be called 'Boulderbutt'. Hey!"
As she'd been speaking, Redpaw had dropped low and waggled her haunches, then sprang upon her sister. They had tumbled around in a flurry of red-and-cream fur, flashes of minute white and lashing tails amongst the indiscernible mass.
Redpaw used her weight to her advantage, aware of Honeypaw's speed and light-footedness that tended to win her their spars. Her sister caught under her, Redpaw held her down and gnawed on her ear. It wasn't supposed to be painful - just irritating enough to annoy her.
Honeypaw pummeled her with her paws, dangerously close to unsheathing them. She knew how much Honeypaw hated it. With the insistent gnawing noise driving any thought of strategy out of her head, she yowled, "Okay! Okay! You win!"
Redpaw sprang back, trying to hide her amused smile as Honeypaw sat up sullenly, her ear flopping and soaked. She curled her tail around her paws, and without moving her head, shot a sullen glare at her sister. Then her expression softened, and she laughed. Redpaw couldn't help but join in.
When they were finally done - and nearly breathless - Honeypaw said, "Guess not either of those names, huh? You'll probably be 'Redlion' or 'Redheart', an' I'll prob'ly be 'Honeyfur' or 'Honeybee'. Starclan, don't let it be 'Honeybee'." She pulled a face.
Redpaw brushed against her, purring. "I guess we'll have to wait and see, huh? Whatever it is, I'm sure Spottedstar will pick a name that fits us."
Her sister nodded. "You're prob'ly right… " She trailed off, staring into the forest. She sighed. "We need to go back now, don't we?"
Redpaw nodded. "Yeah. They'll be wondering where we went. Let's get going. We can glare at Viper- if you want."
Honeypaw stood, shaking the dust off her pelt. "I'd like that. Let's hurry before he starts to feel bad." She bounded away, Redpaw at her heels.
The training was silent, as dust motes moved in the shafts of light, filtering through the trees. In the dirt, there was a set of paw prints, brushed softly and blurred from their fur.
Chapter 7: The Apprentice Ceremony part 2
Redpaw bonded after Spottedstar, pelt fluffing a little as she brushed past the bushes and into the forest. Even though she had snuck out before with her sister, the new smells and sights bombarded her. Bugs buzzed, birds sang, and the trees had a rhythm of their own as breezes swept through their arboreal roof with a susurrus unlike any she had ever heard. It was all taken in as a jumbled, rushing sound, and the heady plants mixed with prey-scent and that of other cats until she could barely recognize her own. She took a minute to orient herself and noticed Honeypaw do the same, her plume-like tail fanned out behind her.
Daisypelt sniffed, pink nose twitching, then turned to the gray she-cat, asking, "Which route do you want to take? I think we should start one end and go to the other."
Spottedstar nodded. "Let's go west, looping from the Grassclan border and alongside the strip of Mistclan. They'll see the gathering tree and get two clan scents. Maybe even a whiff of Caveclan if the air carries it."
"Will we let them see the dryland?"
"Of course. Then they'll know not to go there; don't want our new apprentices to fall off the cliff. We'll point out the Mooncave too."
"Sounds like a plan. Ready?"
The two she-cats perked up, after not listening (they didn't understand what their mentors were talking about) and followed.
They went at a steady trot, which was hard for the two new kits; Honeypaw's long fur heated her considerably, and her long tail dragged out behind her, but it was no match for Redpaw's heavy bulk and thick pelt. They stumbled often, soft paws unaccustomed to the branches and brambles of their home.
Spottedstar and Daisypelt would glance back every so often, an amused smile on their muzzles. Eventually, they slowed (much to the two sisters' relief) and then stopped. Redpaw and Honeypaw looked back and forth, mouths open to draw in the scent.
Here, the trees were thinner, and soft grass grew around, flowing out more as trees became less. It was a swath of small plants and grasses, gopher holes easy to sight once you spotted one. Redpaw wrinkled her nose as she caught cat-scent, sharp and acidic like the grass. It wasn't too unpleasant, but wasn't very aromatic, either.
Her ears twitched as she heard digging and turning, she saw a black, white, and silver patched tom scrabbling in the dirt. He lunged downwards, then came back up with a gopher hanging limp in his jaws. Upon seeing them, his whole face crinkled around the gopher into a smile. His eyes, she noticed, were a vivid blue, made even more striking by the green grass around them. He bounded over, setting down the vole at his paws as he stood before the scent-line.
"Spottedstar!" He exclaimed. "It's good to see you! How's the prey running?" He then caught sight of the two apprentices, Redpaw's fur fluffing slightly and Honeypaw crouching down low, fur on end, with a menacing hiss that was downright hostile.
Rather than be offended, he purred. "And who's these two fierce kits? Look at them fluff up! Gonna be fierce warriors, aren't they?"
Daisypelt purred and Spottedstar was friendly as she replied. "It's good to see you again Patchheart, the prey's running well - this are two of our new apprentices: Honeypaw, who Daisypelt's training, and Redpaw, who I'm training. Redpaw, Honeypaw, this is Patchheart, the medicine cat of Grassclan. Go on, say hello." Spottedstar nudged Redpaw, and she padded forward reluctantly, her sister slinking behind her.
"H-hello," she meowed. Honeypaw was silent beside her, amber-green eyes narrowed.
The tricolored tom purred, rumbling with laughter. "They must really be new! They look like I'm going to eat them!" He exclaimed to the two full-grown she-cats. Turning towards the kits, he said, "I'm not going to hurt you just because I'm from another clan - I'm a medicine cat, not a warrior. Surely you know that about medicine cats?" He paused, then tilted his head, musing, "Though I suppose with Nightshade you might be a little confused."
Spottedstar gave him a mock growl, startling the apprentices; but it was obviously meant to be friendly, since her eyes twinkled and no hostile-scents came from her.
The two adult she-cats dipped their heads respectfully to the tom. "Good … hunting," Spottedstar meowed, glancing at his gopher. "And I hope herbs grow well in your territory."
He dipped his head back, a forepaw lifted from the ground. "You too," he responded. "Tell Bluegaze greetings from Grassclan." He then nodded at the two sisters.
Awkwardly - because she tried to do it so fast - Redpaw dipped her head, pulling Honeypaw down with her paw to do the same. With an amused nod, he left, carrying his prey with him.
Redpaw looked at her mentor, thrilled to see a little pride sparkle in her blue-gray eyes.
"We should move on," the Earthclan leader meowed. "But first, I want you two to memorize this scent - it's Grassclan's. Knowing it could be essential if we ever need help - or if we meet them in battle."
They nodded, parting their jaws to take it in. They had a sharp, green scent like their named implied. It'd never compare to the honey smell of earth and dust, though.
"You two got it?" Daisy pelt asked. When they both nodded, Spottedstar whisked away again, this time sloping alongside the invisible border.
Soon they stopped, being confronted with another scent - and a patrol of cats. They had a wispy smell around them - hard to pinpoint but a smell all of its own. The cats were wary, one of them - a gray-brown she-cat with angry green eyes - glared at them. There was also a gray tabby tom with steely blue eyes (who seemed disinterested) and a smaller cat (probably an apprentice) who was pale brown and had happily curious yellow-green eyes.
The she-cat growled. "What do you want, Earthclan cats?"
Spottedstar flicked an ear. "Just giving our new apprentices a tour, Mousefoot. Greetings Flintsong," she meowed, dipping her head to the gray tom. "And...Snailpaw, was it?"
The apprentice - a tom, Redpaw realized - nodded happily. He didn't look much older than them, and had probably been made an apprentice recently.
Mousefoot relaxed, but didn't become any friendlier. "Let's move on you two - don't want to catch any of their rank scent." She fluffed her fur for emphasis. "We're always patrolling, Eartclan!" She called over her shoulder, leading the patrol away.
Redpaw and Honeypaw were still growling and hissing after they left. Spottedstar nudged her, and Daisypelt flicked her apprentice's ear. "Calm down you two; they're just defending their borders like we do. Not all of Mistclan is like that."
Daisypelt nodded. "Spottedstar's right. While most of Mistclan can be quite … Distasteful, they're not all that bad. Though," she added, tilting her head thoughtfully, "Bigstar has quite the burr in his pelt, eh Spottedstar?"
Spottedstar glared at her icily. After a moment, her muzzle quirked in a smile, and she dropped the expression. "We shouldn't be so rude to other leaders, but yes, Bigstar can be quite ...cantankerous. Let's move on; you two have Mistclan's scent?"
They both inhaled deeply (and loudly) then nodded. With a twitch and a hop, they moved on.
The woods steadily changed; the trees and bushes became more spindly and ragged. At one point there was a jagged, sharp drop, like some edge had broken off in a mudslide. Spottedstar glanced at it, gaze almost mournful, but quickly looked back to their trail.
Redpaw didn't miss is though.
Soon they can to a sliver of land, that soon tumbled down a hill into a large dip. Redpaw recognized the land as the same one back beyond the broken edge. Here, though, there was a breeze blowing towards them, and a musty, damp scent invaded their noses.
"What's that?" Honeypaw asked, gagging.
Redpaw didn't think it was too bad; the elusive smell of Mistclan bothered her more. But she was curious.
"Caveclan." Spottedstar meowed stiffly.
"Why's she so upset?" Honeypaw whispered.
"Because Avenderstar isn't the friendliest of leaders," Daisypelt told them quietly.
Daisypelt and her leader exchanged looks, and Redpaw knew it wasn't the whole truth.
Spottedstar snorted. "If it was only that. But that's a story for another day. We shouldn't judge a whole clan on the actions of a few. Or else where would we be? Daisypelt, why don't you tell them about Caveclan? I know we didn't talk about the other two yet, but we can explain them later."
Daisypelt nodded. She narrowed her eyes, staring at something. "You see that mountain?"
Both she-cats looked, nodding; it was a huge stone fortress, bigger than Earthclan's cliff and waterfall. "They live there?" Redpaw asked.
Daisypelt looked bemused. "Not exactly. There's an entrance at the base; slopes down into tunnels and caves under the mountain. They probably have the largest territory - their grasslands out here, and a plethora of caves they don't live in. Though there isn't much prey out here for them, and the cave-prey is hard to catch."
"Have you been?" Honeypaw asked, eyes gleaming.
Spottedstar answered for her. "Yes. Sometimes leaders must enter other clans camps, to settle emergencies or warn them off personally. But that only happens on occasion. We usually all speak at gatherings - Shadowmist explained those to you, correct?"
Daisypelt pushed past. "So let's go show them where we meet!"
They bound over to the dip, skirting around it for a bit and stopping at its edge. Redpaw and Honeypaw stretched out their necks, eyes roving past the gentle slope towards the center. It appeared as though a large stump - probably from some old redwood that had passed many moons ago - dominated the center, with a few young saplings and bushes growing around the area. They looked to their mentors for explanation.
Daisypelt looked to Spottedstar, and after receiving the 'ok', launched into an explanation.
"That," she meowed, flicking her tail to the dip, "is where we meet for gatherings. On the night of the full moon, all the clans meet together to relay news, boast about apprentices or warriors, etc. The leaders gather onto the great stump. The next gathering is in five days' time."
"Are we going?" Honeypaw asked, purring excitedly.
Spottedstar gave a rumbling laugh. "We'll see. Now, there's one last thing and we need to go back to camp. We'll do the Mooncave another day; you'll be going there eventually," she paused, glancing at the sky. "It's well past sunhigh anyhow."
Redpaw's stomach growled loudly.
The mentors laughed and Honeypaw nudged her embarrassed sister. After a moment, they started walking again, sloping back around towards camp.
The ground became hard and the grass dry and brittle underpaw. Spottedstar indicated that they look to their left, but also kept walking. They trotted together, looking past where the scent line was, as grass grew sparser and grayer, until it ran out into dry, rocky land. In the distance (quite far away in fact) was a darker strip that was almost gray.
"That," Spottedstar said sternly, "is the dry plains - or the dryland. And that," she tipped her nose towards the dark line. "Is the grandcliff. You must never, never, ever go there." She looked at them, eyes blazing. "Do you understand me? There is an edge that falls into eternity. Cats have died there; I'm sure you'll hear the stupid "Echotale" story, but keep in mind there's some truth in it. Even Starclan only know of one cat who made it to their hunting grounds."
The she-cats nodded solemnly; even Honeypaw knew how serious of a situation this was.
The rest of the way back to camp was peaceful, with the mentors pointing out prey, and plants to avoid; Daisypelt even caught a dove. When they re-entered camp, exhausted, they took some prey and told their sisters about their exciting time outside of camp, with Shadowmist joining them eventually.
The next few days would be a bunch of firsts for the four previously orphaned cats, but they'd also be some of their most solid memories.
(I adore JayMoon to this day.
Yeah I used to write songs. Cringe.
This was around when The Five Giants MAP was announced.)
This Fading Moment: An Echo Of Us
(Originally posted November 26, 2015)
Marigold for infection; Juniper for bellyache; yarrow for… Jayfeather, the blind gray tabby tom and Thunderclan's medicine cat, listed the herbs in his stocks. He was refreshing his memory, he told himself, and checking if his supplies were low. But really, he was trying to forget.
The great battle had been a lifetime ago, it had even been months since Bramblestar's announcement at the gathering. A new part of the code. But it felt like heartbeats ago at the same time; the clash of cats, and claws, and teeth. The rain of blood and hatred that showered them all. The death. But it wasn't just these things. Rock, Midnight, and The Ancients had been there. Half Moon, the first Stoneteller since the Ancients settled in the mountains. His best friend since before he was placed out of time, maybe even more…
He shook his head, trying angrily to dispel the thoughts. It hurt too much. Different destinies, different lives. Different times. They could never have been together, no matter how much they wished it.
Sometimes he could imagine them together; a walk around the lake, tails intertwined; a hunt in the mountains, him falling clumsily into a snow drift, and she meowing in laughter at his mishap. Sometimes he dreamt these things, and sometimes he imagined them when he was awake. He could see them curled together and watching a thick-furred gray she-kit with stoney colored eyes scampering around, with his wits and her kindness, their bravery shown in the assurance of her pawsteps, only to be whisked away as he woke up to the darkness that most would associate with dreamless sleep. It hurt him in a way that couldn't be healed with herbs or even time. It would always cling to him, the never-was.
So he busied himself, going over the stores endlessly, checking cats with ailments more than necessary; and if there were no injured cats, focused his attention on Briarlight. They had grown to a level that Jayfeather wasn't used to with anyone but Rock (although he vehemently denies it), his siblings, or the three (one was in both group); they were friends.
But even Briarlight got tired of his fussing, and had begun to notice something was bothering him. She had begun to asks questions. But Jayfeather didn't feel he could tell her about Half Moon, at least not yet. And if he told her, he at least has to tell Lionblaze also. His brother would want to know.
So he told her he was fine, and most of the time he was. He called Warriors 'kits', messed around with his brother the rare times they were together, argued with Yellowfang at the moonpool, and as grumpy as Mousefur had been.
But those moments that hadn't happen and that shouldn't have clung to him like cobwebs to his fur.
And lately, something new had happened.
He had strange dreams, where he was back in the mountains but could barely breath, the smell of sickness so strong it was like it was coming from himself. Every movement, every breath, even thought was a struggle. It haunted him with a sense of foreboding. Was someone in the clan going to get sick? Was he? Was Crag - the Tribe's latest Healer called Stoneteller - losing a life?
He couldn't figure it out, and it drove him crazy. He had been on edge for two moons over the matter. Eventually, Briarlight suggested he take a walk to clear his head, especially if he wasn't going to tell her anything. He popped in on Ashkit and Moonkit, Lionblaze and Cinderheart's first litter, before leaving. Relieved that they were fine, he went out into the woods.
It was cool and crisp; Leaf-fall had come. He padded through the woods, a hop in his step. Even blind he knew the territory as well as any Warrior of Thunderclan. His heart started to feel lighter, lighter than it had been for a long time.
He heard patrols but avoided them. He needed the alone time. He wasn't plagued by dreams or questions; it was only him, the well-known woods, and his sharp senses.
It was those same, sharp senses that detected the scent. He knew it; stone and cold and loneliness. "Rock?" he meowed.
His vision shimmered into view, as the grotesque cat dipped his head. "Jayfeather."
"What are you doing here?" He tried to keep anger out of his voice, he really did. He was still hurt that Rock had kept all those secrets, even if he understood now. Jayfeather was a cat to hold a grudge when it was personal.
"What? Not happy to see me? I thought you said we were friends." Jayfeather bristled at that. Was he making fun of him?
"I thought you said you had no friends." He spat.
Rock gave a dry, choking laugh. "True; Lighten up Jayfeather. You'll need too - I bring good news and bad news."
"Don't you always?" Jayfeather grumbled, jay-blue eyes narrowing.
Blind eyes met blind eyes. A pair of grotesque eggs and brilliant blue. Rock looked away and sighed.
"I'm taking you back, but only for a moment." Jayfeather tilted his head, puzzled. Rock was behaving ...oddly, which was strange in itself, since he was such an odd cat. Then he understood.
"You're...You're taking me back?"
The ugly creature merely looked at him, continuing, "There's a cat who needs your help. It is -"
"No!" He spat, and Rock actually looked surprise for a moment. "I'm sick of going for your gain! It's not fair! I don't want to 'go back' this time!"
Silenced reigned as they stood there, Rock calm as a rock, and Jayfeather bristling more than an agitated hedgehog. Jayfeather's face was pulled into a silent snarl, his clouded blue eyes gleaming angrily. What Rock said next stunned him, though'
"I'm not doing it for me." His voice was oddly quiet, almost a whisper. "Half Moon is sick and old - your little she-cat is dying. I thought you'd want to be there for her as she passes. A sense of comfort."
Eventually, now calm, Jayfeather said, "Sorry. And...Thanks."
Rock only replied, "So you will go." More of a puzzled statement than a question. Jayfeather nodded.
The Ancient of ancients stood up and motioned for Jayfeather to follow. As he padded after them, the landscape changed, blurring oddly as they walked past. Eventually the padded down a tunnel (Jayfeather suspected it was one of the tunnels in Thunderclan) and into a cave that Jayfeather recognized immediately. The Cave of the Pointed stones.
They made their way through the forest of stones, to an area where two cats stood over another one. One was an old Golden-colored tabby who Jayfeather recognized as Lion's Roar - the ancient counterpart of his brother, Lionblaze. The other was a younger cat; a to-be by the look of it. His slim build suggested a prey-hunter.
He stopped dead when he saw her curled up on a nest of feathers; her white pelt was ruffled and unkempt, hanging on her gaunt frame. Her eyes gleamed fiercely though, the fiery spirit in her refusing to be burnt out. When she saw him though, they widened in wonder.
Lion's Roar was still speaking to the to-be, unaware of Half Moon's change. He meowed, "...we need to find a way to feed her; this vomiting-sickness isn't letting up, and she's starving at this rate. She -"
He broke off as Half Moon feebly mewed, "Jay's Wing!" like a prayer.
The large tom turned, shocked to see him there. It dimly flickered in his mind that his not-yet-brother could see him. What really shocked him was how old he looked; it was like glimpsing into a not-yet-future by seeing and a moment-long-past; it was surreal. He shivered.
He gazed back at the she-cat, then padded over to her, his whiskers brushing hers. Underneath all the sickness her could smell her scent, the cat he had loved. Still loved.
"Jay's Wing…" she breathed again.
"My dear Half Moon," he replied breathlessly. He had never thought he would see her again, nor this way. It was wonderful and awful at the sametime, like bittersweet Leaf-fall being the bridge between wonderful Green-leaf and aching Leaf-bare.
"I had a feeling you needed me," he said, filling the silence. The to-be and Lion's Roar had faded into the background, and Rock could be anywhere, here unseen or gone. He only saw Half Moon, his poor, frail Half Moon, ravaged by sickness and years of leadership. How hard their time apart had been on her. He only hoped he could make it up in these moments, where they were together again.
"My love," she purred, trying to stretch her muzzle up to brush his. He quickly leaned forward, not wanting her to strain herself. His purr matched hers, love and distance and loneliness and togetherness. He could feel her fading, though, like so many moments before. Rock had brought him just in time.
He curled himself around her, and licked the top of her head soothingly. He vaguely wondered how he appeared to the others. A star-flecked cat? Something faded and out of time? Or all too bright, here yet not?
"Half Moon," he purred between licks. "Oh, Half Moon. It's been so long. I'm sorry."
"For what?" she breathed, sounding tired.
"That I couldn't stay, or couldn't come more often. That I left you here, with so much responsibility and so little else."
"You did what you had to do." She turned and blinked her green eyes at him. He saw no anger, or reproach; only the crackling lightning he had felt between them so long ago, when he was made a Sharpclaw. "And I wasn't without nothing. Lion's Roar has been a great help, and Dove's Wing before her passing. I have sent some cats away, and young Gray Wing is doing great things from what I've dreamt. I regret nothing, only that we didn't have more time. Like I said before…" she trailed off, eyes drooping shut.
"Half Moon? Half Moon!" he meowed in alarm, licking her fur to wake her up. "Half Moon!"
"I'm sorry," Lion's Roar meowed, startling Jayfeather. "She's gone. I'm glad you were here though, and that I got to meet you. You made her passing easier."
Jayfeather stood up, gazing forlornly at her body. "Yeah," he mewed finally. "I'm glad I saw her again. At least I know she'll be in the Tribe Of Endless Hunting. I've seen her there before; well, later." He looked into Lion's Roar's amber eyes, and the golden tom knew without a doubt that he was telling the truth. He dipped his head, "Farewell, Jay's Wing. I expect you're going to go back to wherever you came from."
The gray tabby looked ancient, standing there with his fur ruffled and his eyes clouded with grief rather than blindness. "Yeah," he muttered. He glanced at her one more time, then turned back to him. "Bury her in here somewhere, where the ground is soft, would you? She liked this place; called it a 'stone forest'."
"Of course, Jay's Wing." Lion's Roar dipped his head. They watched as Jay's Wing padded away, then he turned back suddenly, asking, "Are you the next Teller of the pointed Stones?"
The young tom nodded, his sleek black fur shining in the moonlight that spilled through the roof. It was a half-moon, ironically enough. "I am Raven Swoop. Stoneteller's been training me for quite a few moons."
Jay's Wing nodded. "I wish you well; it's a hard task for such a young cat. Farewell." Then he padded away, not a single pawprint on the sandy floor.
They barely saw a cat - if it could be called a cat - motion for the other cat to follow him. They heard his voice echo, "Let's go, Jayfeather."
As Rock lead him away onto the ledge beyond the waterfall, where dawn was slowly dispelling the stars, he felt a warm wind wind brush his pelt, and heard a voice murmur, "I'll wait for you forever, Jay's Wing. I promise."
And he knew it would always be true.
We're fading away, spiraling closer,
our moments are passing, too fast.
We grab for each other,
but our hands just barely brush past.
I wait for you here,
as you wait for me,
I wish we were closer but it never will be.
And I wish the same,
though I know we can't reach
and make this dream a reality.
'Cause we're fading away, spiraling closer,
our moments are passing too fast,
we grab for each other,
but our hands just barely brush past.
Our love for each other is stronger than stone,
but we're forced away, and now we're alone.
We're fading away, spiraling closer,
our moments are passing, too fast.
We grab for each other,
but our hands just barely brush past.
'Cause we're fading away, spiraling closer,
our moments are passing too fast,
we grab for each other,
but our hands just barely brush past.
(A phase I regret though not as much as a later one. Both book and movie universe.)
(Originally posted December 4, 2015)
JLo, commonly known as "Oh" among the Boov for his one (almost fatal) mistake and as a nickname to his friend, was sitting on his favourite root, under his favourite oak tree, thinking.
He wasn't far from his (well, the Tucci's) home. He could see the lake stretched out, reflections of small wisp-shredded clouds and chilly blue sky skittering across the lake's surface. A nippy winter wind sprang up, and he wondered briefly in he should turn on his suit's internal heater; but no, the problem at hand was more important than warmth. He shifted colors as he tried to sort his emotions, often phasing into a cool grayish-blue color of uncertainty.
Gratuity "Tip" Tucci, his best-friend-humansgirl had him trying fitfully to puzzle out a situation, though she was not aware of it. She was a high schooler now, at fifteen years of age (making him in his thirties; the Boov age slower than humans). She was still the same, with minimal human friends ('acquaintances', she called them). But he knew it was only time until she made more friends, real friends, or acquired the 'boyfriends'...
He sighed. Then he glanced at the sky. Though it wasn't dark, and he couldn't see them, he knew the boov were on New Boovworld (previously known as 'Titan'), one of Saturn's moons. They'd welcome him back this time, but they'd ask him to be President, and he did not want that. Nor would he leave Earth. He was fond of this planet. And he especially didn't want to leave Gratuity.
But the truth loomed out to him, like a tantalizing Koobish; though not a good sort of looming.
In a few years she would graduate, maybe leave for college. In a few more she would marry, then have offspring in that weird way that humans did, and he would be alone. He was sure she wouldn't want him trampling in her life then. Maybe Gratuitymom would keep him with her. That thought perked him up slightly.
"Hey, Oh." He was startled out of his thought as he saw his best-friend there, her green jacket zipped against the cold and her backpack slung over her right shoulder, hand gripping the strap. She had abandoned the 'Afro-puffs' he'd first seen her have, and known, since the Boov invasion, throughout the Cross-country trip, and further. Her hair rather was a frame of smallish curl-like strands of brown hair. Her grin reached her green eyes.
"I was looking for you everywhere; Pig's missing you at home. Thought we'd go take Slushious for a spin or do something, y'know, fun. But obviously you'd rather be boring today," she said, gesturing with one hand to where he's sitting.
JLo gave her a tight, Boovish grin. But she onviously saw the lackluster in it.
"You 'kay?" she asked.
"I am … healthy, if that is what you mean."
Gratuity raised an eyebrow. "You know what I mean. What's the matter?"
He shook his head, and opened his mouth to answer, but his earlier thoughts rushed back and he couldn't help but look away.
"JLo?" Uh-oh. She only said his real name when she was being serious. Oh turned to see her next to him, concern evident on her face. She searched his eyes a moment (an action that would have unsettled or enraged her back during the Boov invasion), then said, sternly, "Okay. Talk."
"I am fine, Tip," he said, though he evidently was not fine. He smiled again. "It is a fine day, and if you means for us to do the things fun, I suggest we go before it gets dark."
He wasn't surprised (though a little startled) when she plopped down next to him and crossed her arms. Her backpack lay forgotten on the grass. "Uh-uh; We're stayin' here until you talk."
"But, I am fine-" she cut him off with a well-meaning glare. He sighed, glanced around for awhile, the slumped his shoulders. Finally, after an infinitive moment, he gave in. "JLo is afraid that Gratuity will leave him, and he will be alone again."
Tip's face clouded with confusion. "Why would I leave you? I promised I wouldn't. We said-"
"That was before time. But one day Tip get married and move away. Oh -JLo - will only be an extra, not wanted with Gratuityfamily in future."
He avoided looking at her as he let it sink in. But he whipped around to look at her as he heard a strange sound. She had laughed. Laughed!
"Oh,JLo ," she managed out between hysteric giggles. "That's what you were worried about." Oh nodded. "Silly Boov!"
He looked taken aback as she continued. "You're my best friend; No one, and I mean no one can replace you. Sure, I might get married and have kids one day; it'll be a new family. But you'll always be part of it, I promise."
She stood up as he silently digested what she said, brushing dirt off her jeans. Then she held out a hand for him to take, and this time his grin sincerely matched her's as she said, "Now let's go 'cause some mayhem - Just the two of us."
Near You (also entitled Colors)
(O.Posted: December 9, 2015)
"Roses are red, sadness is blue, violet is normal, but I'm pink when near you." –(Random poem by me; Boov-centric)
Gratuity "Tip" Tucci had learned long ago that the Boov were peculiar creatures.
Their English was a broken, fractured thing, how they raised their offspring was (by a human standpoint) almost sad, and their inventions downright strange. But it was how they conveyed emotions that she found the most bazaar.
Humans – if you were neurotypical, at least – could read each other and were easy to tell with. A lilt in the voice, a scrunch of the brow, maybe a particular gleam in the eye – all these fell together to form a specific emotion. The 'purpose of the face' could be found and fit, like words in a sentence.
But Boov conveyed emotions in a broader spectrum that couldn't be narrowed down by expressions. They showed their emotions by – wait for it – color. Color! It was actually pretty cool, but really hard to understand at times.
Now, the basics were pretty easy – but that was mostly because Boov showed emotion in a broader spectrum than humans. Sh'd figured out quite a few during the invasions. First, she'd learned that the Boov turned green when lying (though it wasn't the first emotion she'd encountered; Oh had turned yellow back when they'd surprised each other in the MoPo, which she had learned meant a negative form of surprise and fear). All shades of anger were red; a no-brainer. And sadness with all its associates was blue – only shown rather than felt.
It was the broader ones that confused her. For instance, Orange. It could be excitement, elation, joy, great happiness, and/or a positive form of surprise. Then there were colors and tones for emotions she didn't understand. Namely, pink.
She wanted to say happy or content but she knew that wasn't quite it. It was something deeper that she didn't fully understand, and it frustrated her to no end. But she wasn't one to give up, and she knows she will find it out someday, or her name wasn't Gratuity.
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JLo (known in – originally – disdain by the Boov as "Oh", but called so by his friend in fondness) was having a hard time controlling his emotions.
Now, the Boov were generally known for their openness in emotion – one only didn't comment out of politeness. It was hard for them to not share them since they blared like traffic lights whenever they felt something.
Oh was mostly known for his Orange (for he was a joyful spirit and the wonderfulness of his friends and the humans made each day something to look forward to, in his eyes) and more recently his green. They days he experienced were breathtaking and special; but how could they not be when he had Tip for a best friend, genuine Boov friends in Kyle and Smek (though the latter will protest to that), a family, and best of all, a Home for all these things physically and in his heart? Every day was a breath of fresh air, a new start. Life made him elated. It was a wonder that he wasn't permanently orange.
Now Green was more frequent than before. He wasn't given to lying; Rather, he avoided it. But lately he'd been doing so to avoid embarrassment, though he felt bad about it.
Pink wasn't a common form of emotion among the Boov. It was so uncommon that even Oh wasn't quite sure what it meant; he knew he felt it among the Tuccis, both Tip and Gratuitymom (he didn't always call her 'Mimom' in more recent days, though it did happen). But there was one major difference between the two.
He felt it especially around Tip.
Oh was fairly certain he'd figured out what it was - the thing the Humanspeople called affection. It was the best term he could think of, and the broadest. It was a wide emotion he felt. It was happy, at times angry, sad at or for, and it came in different degrees. At the least, he knew he felt it much stronger for Tip than Mimom.
It had been there since they'd started to work with one another - though grudgingly, since Tip had hated the Boov then - and it had bloomed as they'd bonded after Paris and the troubles they'd shared with one another. They were outsiders, those that 'fit out', lone wolves packed together through their similar oucasteries.
When he'd left Earth that time, seeing the planet, seeing her left behind to the doom of one, despaired Gorg (though he didn't know as much at the time) he'd felt it. All that was left between them anger and hurt, both caring too much for different reasons that pushed them apart. It's why he had turned back. What he'd felt as the ships harvesting blades tore closer, and he knew he would die; that the only hope for her and their people was that Tip would know what to do when he threw her the rock; the right thing like he knew she would. It was what he felt when he thought of her kindness and bravery, her fierceness and things that made her so Tip-like…
He saw his reflection flush bright pink and flow across his body. The mirror showed him the almost fuchsia-color as it stayed, then faded like a cooling anvil. He was in her (technically their) room, in front of the closet-door-mirror (why humanspeople made them like that Oh would forever ponder). He was trying to figure out the Pink color and what exactly it was as best as he could. All he knew was that only certain...contemplations of Tip turned him that color, and he was certain it was affection.
He sat down on the edge of the bed, and the portly calico she-cat named Pig came up and rubbed against his pods. She purred vigorously as he bent down and pet her, murmuring, "Hey, Pigcat."
He then chuckled, thinking, Glad am I that I don't purr like a catsperson - this "affection" is so closely linked with my happiness that it would gives me even more of the embarrassment.
Oh was happy he felt this way though. Even if Tip didn't experience the same type of affection he had for her, she felt some form of affection, and he wouldn't trade it for any world. She was everything to him; his first true friend, his best friend. His family. She represented everything to him - when he was with her he felt like he truly was home.
A door opening jolted him out of his thoughts, along with the exclamation of, "Oh! I'm home from school! Let's get my homework finished - you will not believe what happened today!" He glanced at the mirror and willed the newly resurrected pink to go away. He felt relief, and a little regret when it did. Then he perked up again as Tip entered into the room, exclaiming with bright eyes and a wild smile the travesties and adventures that had occured at school. He listened eagerly, one thought prominent in his mind.
JLo "Oh" cared for Gratuity "Tip" Tucci - and she knew so. It was enough for him.
(Recommended you listen to Johnny Boy by Twenty One Pilots.)
Johnny Boy - Gray Wing (The Wise)
(O. Posted December 15, 2015)
Gray Wing travelled along the mountain paths, Jagged Peak trailing gloomily behind him. Although he was filled with anger and fear, a sense of elation had begun to fill him.
They were following the Sun Trail; this was the beginning of their journey. His only sorrow was that he was leaving their mother and Stoneteller behind. But it was for his brothers.
Fluttering Bird's grave loomed in his memory.
He fought the urge to glance behind, but gave in. He said good-bye to his old home and walked onward.
Bright Stream's fear-filled face never left his mind, the wind from the hawk's wings still stirring the air around him. Clear Sky was still screeching for his mate, and Gray Wing had to look away from his brother. He couldn't fix his pain; and he couldn't handle the grief clouding his brothers sky-blue eyes. He knew they had to go on.
Gray Wing finally looked up at the sky, wind ruffling his fur. They had lost Bright Stream, and it hurt him more than any of them could imagine. But they had to go on. Gray Wing had faith they could make it.
They had made it. They land stretched around them in woods of pine and oak and beech, a river filled with fish, and the moor that would call to his heart forever. The Sun Trail had led them here. Gray Wing tilted his head upwards and closed his eyes, the moor-wind stirring his dark gray pelt. He had never felt such joy, with his feet planted firmly on the gold-grassed ground.
Fire and fear; death and disillusion. A kit shunned. He took Thunder without a glance at the cat he had once called "Brother". He walked away, his dark fur blending with the shadows and his nephew's orange pelt a fading beacon in among the gloom that wasn't only caused by the trees. Never again.
They left the clearing, with its blood and its bodies behind, claimed forever in shame. Clear Sky seemed the most shocked by the events; his nature revealed to himself. Gray Wing fought off a feeling of pity. Then let it reclaim him. Clear Sky had had his share of grief with Storm, Thunder, and Bright Stream long before. They mayn't be brothers any longer, but they needed to work together. For every groups sake. He padded after Wind Runner and Tall Shadow, just as the silver shape of River Ripple left the pale gray cat alone to mourn.
Everything was changing. So many dead, like poor, sweet Turtle Tail. Star Flower's betrayl and Thunder's heartbreak. Gray Wing didn't know who he was anymore. Too sick to be the leader he once was, never truly a father even with four kits raised by him, and no longer a brother. Stoneteller had told him he was important. But how could it be, when he only lead cats to death, and almost himself?
Jagged Peak had left with Tall Shadow's group, strong despite his limp. And Pebble Heart had followed. Thunder was no longer the feeble abandoned kit, a strong leader with wisdom and determination in his amber eyes. He had begun to feel so alone.
Wind Runner had let him join, when he couldn't take the pines any longer. He belonged to the moor, with its wind and rabbits. Even if he could no longer run.
And now he had Slate.
Although he couldn't bear to leave them, he couldn't ignore those calling any longer. He looked at Slate, his true born kits Silver Stripe, Black Ear, and White Tail. Pebble Heart and his siblings were there too. He then glanced at Thunder, whom he had loved as a son, then Clear Sky whom he had forgiven long ago. His heart was full of love, and even a little loss, but he knew it was time. He had done as Stoneteller had asked; even became the cat she had believed him to be. He knew it was raining, and as he faded away, thought dimly of his family, and all that he had done.
"I have traveled so far and loved so much, and yet I am still following the Sun Trail, heading for my new hunting grounds."
Gray wing smiled weakly, then closed his gold eyes forever.
Shadows Of A Memory
(O. Posted December 23, 2015)
Sometimes she came back.
He could feel her presence like he could feel the wind; fleeting and real, yet not really there. The sun shone through his weariness, then disappeared as the chilling rain set in. Loss and remembrance, their balance despised and craved. It hurt him so much.
Jayfeather never knew, nor did he imagine, he would ever find love. He wasn't that kind of cat; he was the cranky cat whose destiny was chosen for him, and that he was forced to endure. He had power that no cat could share with him, except his now-brother and once-sister. Even as Jay's Wing (a life that still didn't come back fully, but what did was distorted and hazy) he had never thought it possible. But it was true, and real, and more wonderful than he had ever imagined.
And it still hurt too much.
The moment he had run out of the tunnels, his vision like the clearest Greenleaf day, he knew things were different. It was all familiar. He had realised his request to understand the ancients had been granted, but not what it really meant. Not at the time. Then he saw her.
Green eyes like the season.
Fur white as the moon.
And the lightning that had surged between them.
He felt as though he were about to be knocked off his paws, the feeling so strong. It had baffled him, intrigued him, and scared him. He hadn't known - couldn't have known - when his life had been so set in stone that he had avoided everything but family. Even friendships.
He thought it had been friendship at first.
But no, later when Rock (even if he denies), Briarlight, Cinderheart, and even Yellowfang to some extent, had become his friends, he realized how wrong he'd been. When he left the first time he knew his first assumption had been wrong. But as he grew older, made some friends, he only realized even more.
She loves me…
...or at least the cat she thinks I am.
But he was Jay's Wing; not an echo, nor a copy. They were the same cat, faded through time. She loved him as Jay's Wing as well as Jayfeather. That made swell with love and warmth, but feel the loss even more.
First, away from the lake. A backward glance as they left the only home they knew; he ached with longing, to go with them because he felt he belonged and the only thing worse was leaving Half Moon. Would it hurt her the same way? And he realized it would - worse, even. She wouldn't know what became of him. And that was a final blow to his heart, making him collapse inside himself. He didn't think anything could hurt worse. But he knew he had to get over it, had to be strong. His brother and sister, other parts of 'The Three' waited for him.
But he had been wrong.
Going back, even though unintentionally, stabbed him deeper. He became attached. They played among stone forests, in their own world where their hearts could belong to one another, carefree as kits. He taught them to hunt, her laugh echoing as he fell into a snowdrift. He grown attached to her and to them. He felt he could live here, even if he missed Lionblaze and Hollyleaf, though they hadn't been born yet. He could live with that knowledge, and though in pain, still happy. Because he had Half Moon.
Then Rock had to ruin it all.
He had to leave her a second time; she had been angry when he tried to explain. When she had begun to understand, knew it couldn't be changed, she had forgiven him. And he didn't deserve that. Not after what he was doing to her. But then she said those words, the thing that kept him going in a place - in a time - without her.
"I will wait for you forever - Jay's Wing."
The gray tabby was startled out of sleep when he heard those words echoed for the first, yet millionth, time. He lifted his head and tasted the air, picking up traces of her scent.
"A dream? Or were you here?" Jayfeather muttered, his blind blue eyes narrowed.
Briarlight lifted her head sleepily, yawning, "Jayfeather? Is something up? Some cat didn't get injured - did they?"
Snapped out of his thoughts, Jayfeather jerked his head towards Briarlight and looked at her with eerie accuracy. He blinked sleepily; it had to be around Moonhigh. "Sorry Briarlight; nothing's up. Just a dream."
The brown she-cat had already started to drift off, grunting something incomprehensible. Jayfeather, too, was beginning to fade into slumber, when he felt a presence beside him, and a voice breathed into his ear.
"Go to sleep, my love. I will always be here; especially when you need me… "
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She was there, when he felt that it was too much or he wouldn't be able to go on.
When a cat was so injured that blood seeped through cobwebs and stained the dirt, a voice would guide nimble paws with encouraging words. When one was lost, soothing condolences and gentle reprimanding when he blamed himself.
"Why couldn't you save her; call yourself a medicine cat?!"
"Half-clan cat; probably killing his clanmates on purpose…"
She helped him think clearly, to realize nothing else could have been done. Her words were added to those of the other medicine cats, but he listened to her more.
Sometimes she would tease a cat he was working on; calling warriors 'kits', pointing out the idiocy of apprentices. She even poked fun at Bramblestar. He would hold back a chuckle, smiling wryly. Sometimes he would repeat something she said, earning looks of false offence from his patients.
"I swear, Moonpaw, your brother thinks he's Lionblaze; get me some comfrey, would you?"
"And Ashheart; just because your father is practically invincible doesn't mean you inherited it. Now, stay off that paw for the next few days…"
He alternated like the seasons; a heart warm and happy like Newleaf and Greenleaf, that soon became dreary and heavy like the clouds and rain of Leaf-fall and Leaf-bare. One day the sun couldn't be brighter, and others nothing could go right. But if she wasn't there, even as a shadow of a memory, he wouldn't be able to be as strong as he was now. He would be leaves withering in frost.
These thoughts came to him as he sat at a gathering; Rowanstar was announcing new kits in his clan. He felt her presence beside him, could imagine her moon-white pelt leaning against his gray tabby. In his mind her green eyes sparkled from the full moon. She shifted slightly, and he breathed out a question that only they could hear.
"Do you still wish we could have had kits?"
"Every day, my love," she whispered back. "Every day. But I wouldn't change a single moment we had together - nor will have."
A comfortable silence blanketed them, Rowanstar's droning in the background. He closed his eyes, and breathed in her scent. He spoke quietly once more, not a trace of regret or pain in his voice. He glanced at her, his jay-blue eyes filled with love, and said:
"Neiter would I."
A memory, subtle memory,
Echoed in my head.
Loved one, never fear,
I'll love you, even dead.
Shadow of a memory,
blanket me in rest;
I want to remember
our time at its best.
Seasons since our memories
Had been laid to rest,
With only one to remember by,
I promise I'll try my best.
Shadow of a memory,
in such waning light,
pain stay in companionship
So the best may stay bright.
(I- I can say nothing except that this is the cringiest thing I have ever written. But I want to show my progress as a writer, and to deny that I wrote this would be wrong. But hey, we all had a cringe phase.)
Three's A Crowd
(O. Posted December 29, 2015)
(Penguins Of Madagascar)
Chapter 1 - That Final Chance: What You Were Trained For
Skipper could easily tell you what each member of his team was to him.
Kowalski was the quick-second and genius. He was a good friend, comrade, and (although he'd never admit it) polka dancer. Needed a weapon? check. Options? His specialty. Device to get them out of an insanely life threatening situation? Huh, like you need ask. He was the year-younger brother to Skipper, and a valuable member of his team.
Rico next. If Kowalski was the super genius, then Rico was the dangerous, maniacal, evil twin. He was just as smart when it came to explosives and such; and that iron stomach that can hold-and-eject anything was absolutely useful. A little strange, but useful. If they needed a quick escape route or a manly living handbag, then Rico was their penguin. He had shown his value as much as Kowalski.
Private? He was the most valuable member of their team.
He was their optimism, sense, kindness; the one to protect and fight for, who lead the leader at times. Hell, even a bit of a mascot. But of all his teammates, Skipper was especially close to young Private.
Private wasn't that much younger than them. A few days, actually. But in human terms that was years; making the others in their 'twenties' and he in his later 'teens'. He was innocent as the moon existed, and Skipper saw him more as a son than as a brother. (Though Kowalski and Rico saw all one another as brothers).
So that was why he was a little more harsh, gave a little more training. The kid had potential, and Skipper knew that despite his innocence, was quite wise for his years. If it came down to it, Private would become a leader.
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He just hadn't thought it would come so soon.
His younger 'brother' was a child, really. But there was that determination in his eyes, that steel of a leader. He had the guts, and the love, and the bravery to do whatever it took for his family to be restored properly.
They had no idea what the machine would do to him; kill him, maim him, or possibly worse (if it could be so). Kowalski wasn't even sure, and that was even worse. But not as bad as seeing Private hook himself up to it, refusing to listen to orders. Skipper - though scared to death - was proud of him. He only hoped with all his own being that Private would live, Kowalski could fix him if there were any side effects.
Skipper watched with mixed fondness and pain as Private did what he believed was right. He was confident the boy would survive; he had to be. And when it was all over he knew Private wouldn't be the naïve child he had always seemed (though his innocence would always be there).
(And he was still going to put parental controls on the TV).
Chapter 2: The Fix And The Intrusion
They were in the North Wind Headquarters, discussing a possible partnership. The penguin leader stood on top of a metal table as he talked with the wolf-malamute hybrid, making it so they were 'eye-to-eye'. Skipper and Agent Classified had agreed that neither team would be under control of the other and they would help each other once in awhile - but only if the happened to be working on the same case or a were willing to put aside their pride and ask for help (Kowalski was the one who mentioned the last part, earning an irritable scowl from Classified and thirty laps around the room from Skipper).
The two leaders were left to finish sorting the terms of the agreement as their other member's went about their buissness: Kowalski 'hanging out' with his girlfriend, Eva, after completing the laps; Corporal was watching Rico fiddle with some dynamite, cooing about how 'cute' the penguins were; and Short Fuse was speaking to Private about his lack of condition.
The youngest member of Skipper's team was back to normal - horns gone and pink mostly faded to a faint, sunburn color that would clear up in a few days. The harp seal had asked Private, "Did you just get better yourself, or did you find a cure?"
"Well," he responded in his british accent. "Skippah got K'walski working on a cure. He figured that if a 'cute supply' couldah been made for the machine, then he could find a way to neutralize its effects. He did, eventually. I got stuck with a lot of needles though," he said the last part while rubbing his shoulder ruefully.
Short Fuse was impressed. "Wow. That musta been pretty hard. I don't even know if Eva could come up with somethin' like that."
Private nodded. "K'walski is pretty smart. But I bet if he and Eva worked together, they could - "
He was interrupted when the door burst open and angry stomping resonated through the room. Classified and Skipper both were bewildered, though for different reasons. The Wolf-malamute strode forward and took an intimidating stance, cooly asking, "Who are you and how did you get into the North Wind headquarters?"
He was startled when she swept past him, marching towards Skipper, who had hopped down to the floor. "Marlene!" he greeted, flippers open wide. "How are y-"
A loud smack! cut off his sentence, and he sat heavily on the ground in shocked silence. The asian otter looked furious, and the slap she gave Skipper shocked the whole room.
"Where have you guys been?" she asked in quiet fury, her voice growing as she went on. "You guys have been gone for months; do you have any idea how worried everyone's been?! The whole zoo's been in uproar! Julian is either moping or uncontrollable, Joey's been letting his temper get the best of him, and don't get me started on the rat king. You guys have a responsibility and you just abandoned it without a word!"
He stayed where he had fallen, but sprang up when she finished venting her anger, ready with an argumentative apology.
"I'm sorry Marlene that we left without warning, but we had a mission to complete! We're not only the Zoo's protectors and saviors! We had a mission in Europe and then we got roped in with that Lion and his friends, not to mention that crazy lady who was after us! And did you not see the whole thing with Dave attacking penguin-kind? My men and I are penguins, don't forget!"
"So it's okay for you guys to pack and leave, not a word to anyone, so that we could live in chaos? That's the stupidest, most idiotic thing I've ever … "
They fought back and forth as the members of NW and Skipper's crew watched, heads bobbing from Skipper to Marlene and vice versa. Eventually Short Fuse broke the silence (without distracting the arguing duo).
"Uh, what's going on? Who's that?"
Kowalski (who had a flipper around Eva) explained. "That's Marlene. She's an asian otter from the Zoo we live at. Apparently, Skipper ignored my advice and didn't tell at least her about our last minute mission, which eventually led us here. So now her female hormones are out of wack and she appears like she wants to murder Skipper in the most brutal fashion she could come up with." He chuckled, then added, "Though this isn't the first time; they get under each other's skin so easily. And not many things do that to Skipper."
"But who is she? She got into HQ like it was no big deal. And why is she so familiar with him?" Classified growled in frustration.
Kowalski started to say, "She's an old frie-"
"She's Skippah's girlfriend."
Kowalski and Rico stared at Private simultaneously, beaks agape, and causing him to shuffle awkwardly. "Well it's technically true," he defended. "I mean, you both think it."
"Where would you get such an absurd notion from?!"
Private shuffled awkwardly again. "I heard you guys arguin' 'bout it one time. You said s'mthin' 'bout a bet…"
Classified raised a nonexistent eyebrow and Eva gave her boyfriend an expressionless look that conveyed more than words. And Short Fuse?
He flapped his stubby flippers and said, "Wai', wai', wai'. What now?"
Rico and Kowalski glared at Private, their look saying 'you better explain and it better be good.'
Private sighed and did just so, as the arguing in the background grew in volume.
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Eventually, Skipper and Marlene calmed down enough to talk it out, and Short Fuse (along with the other North Wind operatives) learned everything the zoo knew on the penguin leader and otter-lady's relationship.
The idea agreed upon was this: the penguins would go back and reside in their base at the Zoo, with a way to communicate with NW in stride with their earlier agreement. If the team is called out on a mission, Skipper (it was made his responsibility) was to leave a note or message with some animal at the zoo, incase of a prolonged mission. Though reluctant to agree, agree Skipper did, lest the wrath of Marlene fall on him. Again.
Satisfied, Agent Classified and his group left to go on a recon mission and Skipper's team (plus Marlene) followed them out. The penguin and otter trailed at the back, watching as Rico and Kowalski reprimanded Private for something or other. Marlene stopped a moment, looking at her paws. "Skipper?" she questioned softly, unsure of what she was about to do.
He stopped and turned, nonexistent eyebrow raised. "What is it Marlene? We haven't got all day."
She gave a small grin. "I just wanted too … I mean, this is for coming back."
She pecked him on the cheek, then bounded forward with a hop skip before he could say anything.
Not that he could, frozen as he was. He snapped out of it when Private called his name, and waddled to catch up.
Chapter 3: Three's A Crowd… But Two Feels Alone
Night. Moonlight washing concrete and plant alike in its silver, knowing glow. Shadows, in Summer's weak moonlight, become menacing as gloom folds thick across the air, but Winter's bright sentinel brings a fresh crispness for the wandering mind. Odd shimmers awash in the false-arctic water bashed playfully against the isle of man-stone. It was an excellent night to ponder.
And ponder was what Skipper did. His team had been back at the zoo for nearly a month, only two check-ins with North Wind (mostly Kowalski calling Eva) and a welcome back party from Julian. (The lemur had returned before the penguins; and so had a she-bear, who became a new exhibit).
They had all settled back into their normal routine, Private's sunburn-pink tone fading within two weeks. It was back to training and obscure missions, made from illusions and grandeur. It was wonderful.
But not as much as it should be, Skipper thought. He was still worried about Private; he wasn't as carefree or innocent as he once was, and for some reason it hurt Skipper when he thought about it. He always knew Private would one day become a leader, because he had it in him, and Skipper had trained him to be one. But he always thought that there'd be more time.
"He's growing up too fast…," he muttered.
"Who is?" A voice said, startling him.
A flipper on his chest, he glared at the otter who'd materialised beside him. Trying to quell his startled heart, he responded, "Marlene! Don't sneak up like that; I could have reacted unfavourably and injured you."
She sat next to him with a snort. "Yeah, right. You're not that careless nor that sharp. I could have smacked you upside the head before you knew I was there."
He turned to her, icy eyes analyzing, then looked away. "I am a trained soldier, Marlene. Don't doubt my abbilities."
He could imagine her rolling her eyes as she responded scathingly. "Sure. You were so zoned out, Skipper, that I thought you were asleep." She continued, ignoring his grunt of disagreement, "So what's up anyhow? You've been… weird since you guys got back. Is it about Private?"
He looked back at her, into wide chocolate eyes begging him to speak. He knew she wasn't going to let this drop. He sighed, then continued, looking into the ever-moving water.
"I'm always worried about Private. He's so … innocent and cheerful; but that's changed since we faced Davin - Darl? Dylan? Dave! - and he's been a little less than his usual self since we got back. Private's not as innocent, he's a little more aware of the harsh realities and the cruel world, understanding that everything isn't like an episode of the Lunicorns. It just … worries me a little."
He paused, gathering his thoughts. Marlene leaned against him, with her head on his shoulder. He stiffened, then relaxed and accepted the comfort.
"We were always brothers; ever since we found one another. But I don't see Private as my little brother - I see him as a son," he confessed, hesitant. "I don't want him to lose himself and become more like us: battle hardened and low on mercy. I don't want him … to become a leader. Not yet."
Silence persisted for a few mere moments, then was shattered by Marlene's quiet chuckling. "Skipper. Private looks up to you, wants to be you. Don't be ashamed of that - you're a great guy. And don't be sad that he's growing up; we all do eventually. You can't protect him forever. Be happy that he's more like you, and not like Kowalski. And Gosh forbid he try to be like Rico!"
He laughed at that, and she joined him. He leaned his head a little on hers, breathing, "Thanks Marlene. I won't stop worrying over night - or ever - but I can worry less now."
She gave a hum of agreement, and they watched the water moving silkily with moonlight and dark shadow on its surface. They stayed there until dawn.
~WARNING: Bad attempt at humor below. You've been warned.~
Skipper and Marlene fell asleep, cuddling, but dawn has arisen with an early awoken Penguin.
"Skipper? Skip~per? Skipper! Where are you? I can't find my ionized - SWEET SADIE AND HEISENBERG! RICO! YOU OWE ME SEVEN POUNDS OF MACKEREL!"
"KOWALSKI, THIS ISN'T WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE! WE WEREN'T -"
"YOU TWO WERE CUDDLING; WHAT ELSE DOES IT LOOK LIKE?!"
"Hey you two-"
"SHUT THE HELL UP OR I WILL!"
Poem Of The Starlit Warrior
(O. Posted January 3, 2016)
(V1) Gray-furred with the echo of time,
A heart-broken cat with a battle never won,
The tides are turning like the vision of no sun.
(V2) Starlit Warrior with the greatest sight,
Brother to the strongest Lion,
The lost Holly shadow;
Neither the the darkest forest nor Starclan to follow.
(V3) Old healer, young Sharpclaw,
He's only an echo with the past like a shadow
Cast out from the Moon;
His heart left behind
For the coming of time
That the battle was to ensue.
(V4) A Dove was found, the sister left behind
To the cat of this and another time.
And the Stars all watched as far below,
The gray cat dreamed with misted sorrow.
(V5) And the half-shone moon saw
That shadows had gathered,
With fear in her heart she raced
To fight with her belov'ed.
(V6) A battle was fought with the Stars that won,
Moon fighting with Feather, Wing, and Blazing sun,
And The Starlit Warrior, though the Moon
Again, had to fade away,
Waits to walk again with her, one day.
(V7) (For eyes of Blue and Green,
like the Jay and the Earth,
Saw into one another;
And a vision of their pelts,
Moon-white and Shadow-gray,
Were seen brushing…
… Side, by side.)
Far From Home Chapter 1
(O. Posted January 5, 2016 - April 7, 2016)
(Home/True Meaning Of Smekday)
… She held on tightly, refusing to let go. The rain slid between them, slickening their hands and causing them to slide apart. It couldn't end this way; she refused to lose him again.
"Tip!" He shouted above the roar of the alien engines. "You must for the letting go!"
"No!" she shouted back stubbornly. She didn't know why they wanted him, and she didn't care. She gripped tighter, more desperately. His face was a bright yellow, reflecting her own fear. "I won't lose you again!" Memory of the Gorg ship and his almost death flashing through her mind.
He saw her green eyes fill with terror. Then Mimom's face flashed in his mind. They couldn't just both disappear. She needed to know what had happened, then maybe, just maybe, they would see each other again one day…
He blue eyes bore into her's suddenly, a determination alight in them. "You cannot be the taken too! Think of Gratuitymom!"
She saw they yellow fade back to a normal violet hue, and he smiled disarmingly at her. His voice dropped lower, but she heard him all the same.
"JLo knows that Gratuity will finds him if she promises. Just gives me the promise, Tip, and I's trust you wills come."
She felt the rain help them fall farther apart, the tractor-beam sucking him back with more force. She didn't want to lose her best friend. Not one of the people she cared about most. He lurched out of her grasp more but held her gaze, his face filled with determination and trust. She didn't want to let go, but she knew it wasn't her choice. Just before they lost their grip, she looked into his eyes and did the only thing she could.
"I promise, Oh. I'll find you. No matter what."
LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK
A few weeks earlier…
Fifteen-year-old Gratuity "Tip" Tucci had just opened her history textbook to study, involuntarily bobbing her head to the music. JLo - or "Oh", as he was commonly called - tapped his pods to the beat while looking over her shoulder. It was a usual affair - he would help her in the subjects that Boov were good at, while learning humansthings of which he did not know. History was especially new to him, and it was Tip's hardest subject. So, in simple terms, they were getting bored.
Oh was having a hard time resisting the pull of the music. He could control himself when music came on now. It was more of an uncontrolled action before since he had resisted it so heatedly, but when he let himself get pulled in by swaying or tapping to the beat, he didn't get the uncontrollable urge to dance. But the boredom of Earth history made it hard. They just had so many wars. It was the same thing over and over again. Pointless. Eventually he couldn't take it anymore and hopped off the bed where they had been sitting.
The thunk! of Oh's pods hitting the floor caught Tip's attention. She watched him curiously as he scuttled over to the radio, and press the switch button a few times. He stopped when he was satisfied with the song that came on. She recognized it instantly, remembering the car ride fondly.
I wanna dance in the dark.
We're gonna light up the night;
She smiled as he concentrated on getting his "Boov" on, doing some sort of shrugging dance and pursing his lips. Then he looked at her and flashed a smile, running over and grabbing Tip's hand, despite her laughing-protests of, "Oh; I've gotta do my homework!"
Oh merely laughed back, exclaiming, "You cans be finishing your work for home later! We haven'st done the dancing in a whiles now!"
Tip finally complied with false reluctance, and both friends laughed and enjoyed themselves as they moved to the music.
I wanna dance in the middle of the night,
Out here with the stars like the creatures of the night.
If you don't dance, make sure you got the r-hy-thm,
Make sure that your heartbeat-beats with the r-hy-thm…
Tip actually had a decent dance style going, swaying and moving to the beat, while Oh did some outrageous moves that wouldn't work on anyone but Oh; and not just because he was a Boov. His blue eyes were twinkling happily, as an idea came to him. Tip smirked, knowing what he had planned.
I wanna dance in the dark
And never stop
We're gonna light up the night
Like shooting stars
They titled towards each other, singing the words, without a care of how well they were singing. Or how loud. Tip grabbed Oh's hand (which he noticed with pleased embarrassment) and pulled him towards her, then slid away. He caught on to the move instantly, copying her. He had begun to stumble on the lyrics, but had corrected himself quickly. (Oh wasn't too bad at singing the lyrics how they were supposed to be structured). He glanced shyly at Tip, glad she hadn't noticed when he did so. She was throwing her head back and singing loudly, her tightly curled hair bouncing as she danced. He was glad to see her so happy. He shook his head and focused on having fun dancing too, the wide smile never leaving his face.
This time he grabbed her hands - both of them - and swung her around. Tip caught on, and using the momentum, spun them faster. He laughed as his "feet" left the ground every once in awhile. The song was nearing and end, so they slowed down, exhausted. They grinned at one another as they sang the last few lines;
I wanna dance in the dark
And never stop
We're gonna light up the night
Like shooting stars
Whenever you hear the sound
Don't be alarmed
Ooh, ooh, ooh, dancing in the dark.
They were still grinning at each other breathlessly, Tip lowered to his level as she rested with her hands on her knees. A sharp burst of clapping startled them both; Tip just grinning when she saw who it was, and Oh briefly trilled stripes of yellow and pink-orange (it was hard to tell).
Lucy Tucci - who Oh called "Mimom" or "Gratuitymom" - stood in her daughter's doorway. She had seen most of their dance, and how happy they'd been. Trying not to smirk at Oh's shy smile, she just said, "I came to tell you two that dinner's ready."
" 'Kay mom!" Tip replied. Then nudging Oh, she whispered loudly, "You have to help me with the essay portion now."
"B-but; Oh is not good with the essays!" He protested in the same stage whisper.
"Too bad!" Tip sat back on the bed and plucked up her hefty textbook. Oh sighed wearily and hopped up next to her.
Lucy smiled and chuckled softly as she left, leaving the door partway closed behind her. As she went to go finish dinner, she thought that Oh was fitting in quite well with their little family.
LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK
The days since the Boov (who had stayed on Earth) and had merged with the Humans was long past. Things were going fairly smoothly, with the two species collaborating. Many Boov 'doctors' trained under human ones and vice versa so that either species could treat the other. For the time being, Boov tried not to treat Humans, just as Humans tried not to treat Boov so that an accident wouldn't occur. It was made clear, though, that if anyone was in danger, a medical professional was to treat whomever was injured, regardless of species. Many agreed, though there were a few who didn't. The merge was never going to go perfectly.
There was, of course, issues on both sides. The Boov who followed Oh as captain had a hard time adapting to the idea of following a Human leader, simply because it wasn't Oh. After a long and tedious explanation on Oh's part, they had finally agreed on one condition: If ever Oh needed them, or he resumed the role of leader for any reason, then they would only follow him. He had let it be so with some reluctance.
So whenever Tip and Oh went out for some fun, any Boov they crossed greeted him enthusiastically, and some acted like he was a celebrity. It could get annoying, but Tip did her best to tolerate it. They usually snuck around to avoid "fans", which they both actually preferred (it was a habit to avoid Boov that they'd picked up during the invasion).
It was one such saturday - meaning Tip didn't have school - that they snuck around the mall. Not all Boov were avoidable - many had jobs, after all. But they had been able to stay undetected for the most part. They had just begun to relax, thinking their fun time was safe, when a voice startled them. Oh actually grabbed Tip's arm in alarm, and she clutched his.
"Hey, Oh! And Humansgirl! Nice to see yous here!"
It was Kyle, in his usual uniform. They both sighed in relief; Kyle had been hired as a security guard of sorts, and he had actually become one of Oh's friends after the invasion. It was nice to see a friendly, non-fan face. Oh let go of Tip rather quickly, though she didn't notice. He fought off stripes of pink and yellow. Kyle raised where an eyebrow would be at him, but made no comment.
"Uh, Hello, um, Kyle?" the Boov nodded happily. "How's the new job goin'?"
"It is not going anywhere, but I am enjoying it. Plus, I gets leisure minutes."
The conversation went on like this for another half hour, all three strolling through the mall and into a few stores as they conversed. It was a large, modern indoor mall, sleek and spacey with escalators, elevators; a few fountain-like structures and a large center fountain. There were various plants in the mall, too, where they saw a gardener-Boov checking their water systems. Tip mostly dominated the conversation (she had a very dominating personality, Oh thought) and Kyle actually had a lot to say. Normally Oh and Tip would talk animatedly for long periods of time (especially if it was just them), neither more than the other, but today Oh was a little more silent.
It was almost the third-year anniversary since they'd stopped the invasion. Since Oh's captain-ry, his almost death, and more importantly since he'd left and come back for Tip. He'd done little things over the years (a party or a meal; the latter a very, very bad idea), but this year he wanted to do something special for Tip. He wanted to get her a gift, but it had to be special. But only special enough to express their friendship.
It had been frustrating him to no end, and when Tip had gone into a clothing store to look for a new outfit (she had saved up some allowance, so she could finally get something new) Kyle finally decided to get to the bottom of things.
"So how's you been doing, Captain Oh?"
Oh had been distracted so it took him a minute to register that Kyle had spoken. He smiled at his friend and simply stated, "I has been doing 'the fine'. And I ams no longer Captain."
Kyle chuckled. "Yous shall always be Captain, Oh. But I was the wondering why you are being so much of the distracting."
"Yes, the distracted."
"It is nothingness," Oh said, twiddling his fingers.
Kyle looked unconvinced. "Ares you sure. Has there been problems with the humansgirl that you are not for the telling to me?"
"No…" Oh immediately turned a brilliant shade of emerald. He briefly flashed red, angry that his emotions had given him away, then sighed. There was no use in hiding it now. Plus, maybe Kyle could help. "I ams having the trouble of finding a gift for bestfriend Tip," he finally explained. Kyle seemed confused, so he elaborated, "The humanscustoms include that of having a party-anniversary for special events. When invasion ended, Tip became my bestest friend. So we gets each others the 'gifts' to express our gratitudes. I am trying to think ofs a good gift for her."
Kyle's eyes widened comically in realization. "Ah… the parties wes all have. I didn't know you did exchanging of gifts then."
Oh saw where Kyle's train of thought was going; he began to waves his hands vigorously, "No! Only me and Tip do the exchanging - and maybes the mimom - it is not of the requirement!"
"Okays, okays! Do of the calming, please. Uhm, what does Gratuity-humansgirl like? The flowers? Theys are a favourite snack of me."
Oh looked uncomfortable with the idea. "Er, nos. But thanking you that I am for the suggestion."
Kyle threw up his hands in exhasperation. "Then I is not the knowing whatfor you to gets! This is greatest difficulty!"
Oh grabbed his arm desperately and attempted 'puppy-dog eyes' (which he was quite good at; at least from a human/Gratuity's viewpoint). "Please!" he begged. "You must be the helping me! Or-or… I no invites you to the party!"
Kyle found the look quite hideous, but the idea of missing the party was even more horrifying. He had to think quickly, he had to -
Ah-ha! he thought. He pulled Oh's hand off his arm, suggesting quickly, "Why nots make a gift for friendGratuity? Dos the humans not love the gifts made-home? Ands you told me once that humansgirl-Gratuity thought your arts were a-mazing; draws a gift!"
"Thats is most true," Oh said slowly, an idea already forming in his mind. "I am no better than the other Boovs at the 'arts'. She calls it, er, the 'comics-arts'. Oh is thanking yous very much, Friend Kyle!" He exclaimed, grabbing the other Boov's hands and hop-twirling around briefly.
By time Tip came out of the store with one modest bag, he was his old self again. Kyle eventually said goodbye and went back to his duties, and Tip along with Oh went home.
The party was in little over a week.
The next few days were a blur as they got ready for the next annual party.
Oh had been diligently working on his gift for Tip, acting anxious and secretive. She had badgered him constantly, wanting to know 'What's up', but he held strong. Even currently, when she had snuck up upon him and asked, "Whatcha drawin'?", he had slid the picture out of sight and under some folders, mumbling incoherencies. She just shrugged them off. Oh was Oh, after all.
After she had slunk away (no doubt headed to the kitchen, where Gratuitymom had called for her to do 'the dishes'), Oh carefully pulled the artistic piece out and continued.
Oh loved to draw. Even though it wasn't considered an art form to the Boov, Oh had always enjoyed it. The stroke of a medium - whether pastels, pencils, or charcoal - and the sound of it brushing against paper always calmed him. Cleared his mind. It was something that required concentration and focus; but where some Boov saw it as a chore or 'ordinary', Oh saw it was a way to relax and have fun.
He remembered when he first drew something and showed it to Tip. It was a little thing; a comic-panel of sorts explaining the origin of the Boov. All their aquatic beginnings and deaths by asphyxiation. Despite the bluntness of the story, Tip had been astounded by the art. It had befuddled him that she was so awestruck by it - after all, it was common among the Boov.
Maybe that's why he couldn't focus as much, couldn't be pulled in by the lines and the curves, the soft shhth as dark pigmentation left coal to dried tree slice, the world composed of nothing more than dark against light …
He did eventually get lost in it (not that he realized so) and it wasn't until he had just set his charcoal stick down, and a yell of "JLo! Dinner!" did he realize how much time had passed.
He left the little desk (more like a glorified coffee-table) and hurried down the stairs to join the Tuccis.
Lucy had made a nice lasagna to an old family recipe that was so good, even Oh appreciated it, despite odd tastes. It was a beautiful layered structure that could rival a good cake: the pasta not undercooked nor overcooked, ricotta melted betwixt the layers, the tomato sauce homemade with basil and other secret spices, and freshly ground beef that gave it a rich, meaty flavor. There was even some sparkling apple cider to drink with it. Ah, how they all loved pay-day.
They dug in with gusto, Tip and Oh having seconds, and then thirds. It wasn't until their fourth serving (and Lucy's second) did they slow down and talk. It was the usual mundane stuff: "How was school?" "Oh, y'know, gave us an assignment in …How was work?" "Good. Rachel told me … How was your day, Oh?" "I fixes the leak in Slushious today. You sees, there was a crack in the …" And so forth.
Eventually they got around to talking about the party. Since it wasn't long after New Years, they could get decorations a little cheaper (the anniversary wasn't recognized as an actual holiday). Tip wanted a 'wild' party: Balloons and streamers, pounding music, dips and chips … maybe even some of her acquaintances from school. Oh was fine with that, as long as he could invite some Boov, and he wanted his and Tip's favourite colors incorporated (Purple and Darker Green). Lucy was fine with whatever, as long as it wasn't too loud or wild - and some of her adult friends would come over.
With this, they decided to go to the store tomorrow.
And, as anyone knows, taking a ("famous") Boov to the store would not end well.
Not one bit.
It was an early 9:00 when they left, Tip and her mom grabbing a piece of toast, and Oh a burnt paper plate. After throwing on some thicker clothing to ward off the cold weather, they hopped into the car and Lucy drove them to a store that was similar to a certain mart with "Wal" in it.
But this place was called Buck-in-hand palace, and was also similar to a certain store of red rings.
Anyways, the Tuccis (and JLo) hopped out of the car and made their way through the half-filled parking lot. A few curious humans (and some that were not-so-nice) glanced at him, but didn't pay much heed. After all, Boov were a little more common these days.
They entered without incident: The doors slid open with a whoosh! and closed with a clatter, the store's cold, artificial air washing over them. Lucy took the lead, nodding to a teen working at the counter (squinting, Oh could see that his nametag read "Andre", and he realized that this was the son of one of Gratuitymom's friends) and striding confidentaly towards the aisle the wanted to go through.
It was one of those aisles at the end, where the shelves were either almost barren (or overfilled) with the leftover stuff no one wanted. Luckily, it was more filled today.
They did manage to get the colors Oh wanted, and lots of streamers for Tip. But, (after Lucy was laden down with the decorations), they realized that they had forgotten a shopping cart. (Again.)
Lucy sent Oh and Tip to go get one, while she struggled not to fall under or drop any of the decorations.
This is where the problems started.
Oh and Tip just strolled through the store, not feeling the need to hurry, despite Tip's Mimom being crushed under the weight of decorative items. They passed through aisles at a leisurely pace, pointing out items in excitement (Oh) and either agreeing with the enthusiasm or pointing out the price tag (Tip). They were almost to the front of the store when the two talking friends bumped into someone.
"Oof!" "Ow-pain!" "Oops." "Sorry … !" "Sorries!"
Oh helped Tip up and she dusted herself off as he went and helped the other person up.
"I am sooo sorry about that! Are you okay?" She asked.
He looked up and her green eyes met dark blue ones.
The boy - Josh, apparently - smiled at her. He was fairly tall, and not too lanky, with soft, chocolate-brown hair and dark blue eyes, wearing a deep red jacket over a white shirt, and darkish-blue jeans. He gave Oh a quick nod, but quickly directed his gaze back to Tip. Oh tried not to grit his teeth in irritance.
He may not know why, but he did know that he did not like this guy at all.
Even if he seemed to be an "acquaintance" of Tip's.
Josh did look sorry that he had bumped into them like that, and hastily apologized. "Look, I'm sorry about tha-"
"No need," Tip cut him off. "It was an accident, so no one's really at fault."
Oh huffed quietly.
He gave her another quick smile, "Okay, fair enough. What are you doing here anyways? I'm shopping with my grandmother."
Tip replied a little too quickly for Oh's liking. "We're getting stuff for the anniversary party - y'know, the one I told you about on Monday."
His eyes lit up. "Oh yeah! You did mention that! I'm looking forward to it, and so is Macy."
Oh noticed that Tip tensed a little, and assumed that she wasn't fond of this "Macy" person. Whatfor, he didn't know. After all, it was humanspeople-relationship … social … stuff. Or something.
He needed to reread that psychology textbook on humans.
Tip nodded and gave a small smile. "I'm glad. It'll be around seven. Expect Boov," she said as a fake warning, which Oh caught on meaning that this "Josh" was okay with Boov.
He nodded once, eyes flickering over to Oh, and he gave him a small smile, which the Boov didn't return. Not that Josh would catch on to Oh's irritance - it wasn't strong enough to change his color, nor did his blank, frog-like face contort with it. But he did return a nod, just to be polite. "I expected so," said Josh. And to JLo's surprise, he added, "Tip talks about you all the time; It's nice to meet you, Oh."
He was even more shocked when Josh stuck out his hand, and he shook it mutely. Flashing Tip one last grin, he said, "See you guys later!"
It was silent after he left - awkwardly so on Oh's part, and a different way on Tip's part that Oh couldn't figure out. It wasn't a bad silence. If anything, she looked … dreamy.
A sudden anger filled him, one that he was unfamiliar with. He quickly shoved it down to avoid becoming a traffic stop, but he couldn't push it away completely. Not with Tip looking so far-off on 'the perfect planet'.
And not when the cause, Josh, was going to their special present-day party.
(Each line was a verse, I think? Song inspiration is Wolves Without Teeth by Of Monsters And Men.)
Wolves Without Teeth
(O. Posted January 14, 2016)
Feet thundered across the frozen land, as he left behind the boat and Boris, for a moment; so that freedom and all the wildness inside him could run. He was the wind and the fierce biting cold. He grit his teeth. Wolf. Ragged breaths filled him, then left in puffs of white. Chest expanding and contracting - he ran and didn't stop.
Wolf, Husky. Hybrid, Mutt. Too dangerous to be among humans, yet too tame and anti-social to be with the wolves. He gave himself to the sky as he pelted across the icy landscape, across shore frozen short and trees cruelly bare. He was both and neither; but in this moment he was only the winter and snow. The sinking sun and rising moon. Twilight and sunset were melding together, and he became a silhouette of something wild and small, yet large and untamed.
He remembered his mother, a large beast with a thick pelt of winter. Nothing fiercer or gentler, but also nothing stranger. A wolf who had taken a dog for a mate, only to birth one living pup, and only to die later. And then he was left behind; lost. The day he was forgotten was the day she began to fade. Too young to remember, his memories were Boris as he grew. A half-breed raised by a grounded goose. He bared his teeth in a grin as he thought of it; what a strange world.
Ice whipped his face, daggers through pelt and flesh. White snow like white pelt; his yellow eyes glowed in the fading light. A hunter could mistake him for a wolf, if he weren't so small.
He dreamt of her; vague flashes of fur and warmth alongside chill. She howled to him, calling to his inner wolf. He answered her back, in that moment, a wolf, as the sun left soft orange against indigo sky, and the stars were lit with the fire of the north. The sound rose with the Borealis, a song both ancient and new alongside the colors of old.
And he hared across the tundra as though a pack were on his heels; invisible wolves and dogs after him.
And the fire ran through him, the chill around him piercing deeper, until he was filled with it; bones and blood of fire and ice. Another ran alongside him, something large and white-pelted. Ragged breaths came from them, in time, and their stride was the same. Huge paws plowed through the snow, their mark left messily. He pulled his limbs closer, muscles straining, and the ground flew out from beneath him.
Tongue lolling and head low, he was a wolf flying across the Alaskan tundra.
He howled again; a sound wrenched from his throat, made of power and the savagery of a wild beast. This time, the echo sang with him. A single song interweaving, twining together.
Wolf and Husky. Determination of the sled breed mingled with his wolfishness.
He saw the malamute's smug hatred, the pack's shadows leaving him. He ran from his past and his present, leaving them behind in a spray of frost. The air sank its fangs into him, no less harsh from the feeling of being unwanted.
He ran from himself.
But he was a wolf. His mother long gone, faded in more ways than memory. And no matter how much he longed to belong, Steel's dogs would never accept him.
Nor would he join a pack - he was too docile, not social enough.
A lone wolf, who wanted to be a dog.
The harsh cry of a crow sounded above him, its shadow his new companion, as the echo-wolf faded away.
But it didn't matter; he realised, as he made the curve back towards home. He had Boris, along with Muk and Luk. A home where he could live, free from antagonistic bullies and uncomprehending kin. Maybe one day something would change. He thought of the sled-runners who changed their techniques and determination. The pull tugged at him, the longing, but not quite as strong as it once was.
The silhouette ran back through the snow, towards an old beached boat; a lone wolfish dog who could almost be seen leading a pack to the hunt.
Or a wild-looking Husky leading a sled team.
(Old OC fanonverse with canon concept.)
(O. Posted January 22, 2016)
Jayfeather hated it when patrols happened to go where he needed to go. They insisted on accompanying him, and then they try to converse; It's like they think he wants the attention. He isn't a very social cat, if they hadn't noticed the last, oh, all the moons of his existence!
But Warriors could be cocky, and arrogant, and prideful, so he tried to let him think it was some big favor. He didn't want any enemies in the clan, nor any undue disputes that could upset Bramblestar. And who knew what Leafpool would say. So he let the patrol 'accompany' him to the Windclan border.
At least it wasn't too bad - Wolfpaw and her mentor, Dovewing, were in the patrol. Dovewing was his sister from another time (not that anyone but he knew) and one of the Three. So she was seen as a friend of sorts. Wolfpaw he was fond of, surprisingly. He found her as a kit abandoned in the forest, not far from the twoleg nest, and ill. So he took her back to the clan and kept her in his den as she slowly recovered, and ended up bonding with her. Bramblestar and the clan welcomed her, unsurprisingly. Jayfeather knew that they had a strong connection for a reason, and he would find out one day. For now he was content to watch (well, hear) her grow and learn; live a happy life in the clan. He was confident she'd find a mate (she was awfully close to Tanglepaw) and raise a family. It comforted him, and not just because it was something he had once wanted, almost had, then lost. He cared for her as much as he did for Lionblaze and had for Hollyleaf.
The patrol was as follows: Dovewing, with Wolfpaw (obviously), Dewnose (a recent warrior, but obnoxious all the same), and led by Mousewhisker (who could be a know-it-all at times). Daisy had even joined them, after Brightheart's coaxing that she needed to get out of camp sometimes.
They made their way confidently to the Windclan border, Jayfeather at a speedy trot that left Mousewhisker a little bewildered (I mean, the blind cat was leading them through the territory like he could see. And it hasn't been that many moons since the flood). As he sniffed the bankside for watermint and sweet-sedge, Mousewhisker and his patrol reset the borders, full of confidence.
They were chatting aimlessly while they waited for Jayfeather, the gray tabby made his way down the gentle slope to the calm water. The stream wasn't that big; not at all. But he was wary all the same. Too many dark memories surrounded the murky depths: Fallen Leaves (and at the time, somewhat Jayfeather's) demise in the tunnels, jumping in the river with the Windclan kits, Flametail's death… they all followed his thoughts, like echoing pawsteps in the night. He would always regret not being able to help the ancient tom and the Shadowclan medicine cat. He would always feel responsible.
His nose hitting a clump of watermint roused him out of his thoughts. He could smell the blooms on them, just arriving with the season. He began to carefully pick the spear-shaped leaves, leaving the smaller ones to go more mature. Fur brushed by him and he scented Wolfpaw, who began to help pile them up. He grunted at her, grateful for help but with a slight annoyance. She butted his shoulder.
"Come on you grumpy ol' badger. You know a little help won't go amiss," she meowed with a pure. "And I won't be able to help as much once you get your apprentice," she pointed out.
He scrunched his nose at her, briefly stopping his work. "You can always help me; besides, who's gonna stop you?" He teased. Then, shifting through the stalks, muttered, "And what apprentice am I gonna get? I didn't know any of the kits were interested."
The she-cat sighed, annoyed. "Jayf'er! Moonkit obviously wants to be a medicine cat. He's been moaning about it since afore I left the nursery. His ceremony's only a few days away."
He narrowed jay-blue eyes in confusion. Moonkit was Lionblaze's son, and only a little less three moons younger than Wolfpaw. "Are you sure. I thought he and Ashkit wanted to train together. They were gonna be leader and deputy, as brothers. Or something," he grumbled, plucking another leaf.
Although he couldn't see it, he knew she was rolling her eyes. "That's Ashkit's idea - or it was. He was happy his brother wanted to be a medicine cat, so he could help him when he's leader." She chuckled. "Ash is gonna have lots of competition though. Who doesn't want to be leader? Tanglepaw even has his boasts now and then."
He turned to her. "And you?"
Her movements told him she was tilting her head. "Well-"
"Lookie here! If it isn't fox-heart warriors and the Half-clan cat?" A voice suddenly spat. They whirled around, Wolfpaw tensing when she saw what Jayfeather scented: Breezepelt.
He seemed to be alone, until Nightcloud crested the ridge with a snarl, an uncertain Gorsetail behind her. Breezepelt's voice oozed cockiness and the attitude of one better than all others, his disdain for his half-brother ever present in his attitude. He could imagine his brother's dark pelt, amber eyes burning with hatred, as he raked his claws -
He pushed the vision of their fight at the moonpool away, growling, "What do you want, Breezepelt?"
The black-furred tom flinched, obviously surprised by the vehemence in Jayfeather's tone. He returned to his previous attitude, however, remarking, "I'm surprised that Thunderclan's still letting a Half-clan cat heal them." He spat the word, half-clan, amber eyes glowing when he saw Jayfeather bristle. "Although, what else could a useless, blind cat like you do? Not like they would trust you in battle, even if you could see," he hissed smugly.
"Breezepelt, I don't think-" Gorsetail interrupted nervously, only to have Nightcloud his at him. "Shut up!"
Breezepelt continued on, as though he'd never been interrupted. "As if such a scrawny scrap of dirt like you could fight another cat. Especially not a Windclan warrior like m-"
Before Jayfeather could growl an insult out, Wolfpaw sprang up, bristling with rage. She hopped across the stream, nose-to-nose with Breezepelt, would took an uncertain pawstep back. Her stonish gray eyes lost all their blue as they burned hotly. Her voice was rumbling thunder, as she said, "The only reason he's scrawny would be because he's half windclan; his wit comes from Thunderclan. If somecat is useless, it's you, stupid fake-warrior!"
It was a comical sight, as Jayfeather found out by seeing through Wolfpaw's eyes; Nightcloud looked sorely offended, Gorsetail's eyes bugged as though she were about to shred all of them, and Breezepelt seemed so flabbergasted (and a bit fearful) that it was like his pelt fell off.
Breezepelt, regaining his tongue with anger, shoved her forward. "Wanna find out who's a real warrior?! I'll shred you-"
Gorsetail grabbed a mouthful of neck fur and pulled him back, regaining his sense of honor. "Breezepelt! Get a hold of yourself! I don't want to have to report this to Onestar! It's just a stupid apprentice!"
"Wolfpaw!" Dovewing's stern meow called the apprentice. "Get over here now!" She dipped her head to Gorsetail. "I apologise that she crossed your border."
Nightcloud's expression was unreadable and Breezepelt glowered, but Gorsetail returned the polite gesture. "No harm done. I apologise that one of our warriors couldn't handle himself."
With that he left; Dovewing giving her apprentice a stern telling-to, while the others snickered and congratulated her on silencing Breezepelt momentarily. Jayfeather gave her a little nuzzle of thanks, father-like pride swelling in him. He was surprised that he was thankful for her help - both with the herbs and his half-brother.
And from that day on, Breezepelt never did insult him whenever Wolfpaw was around.
(Because Wolfpaw always had a better one, he found out).
(O. Posted January 29, 2016)
Dawn washed over the moor, sky gold and dusty rose as the Sun woke. It was a clear day, the overcast that was usually so prominent staying away. Tallpaw followed Dawnstripe, a spring in his steps and the wind in his fur. In his excitement, he tripped on a rabbit hole and smacked nose-first into the scrambled dirt. Shrewpaw gave a mocking laugh. Wormpaw! Tallpaw gave him a half-hearted glare, then pelted past him with a cry of Race you! His denmate shouted indignantly and tried to catch up with him in vain.
Wind in his whiskers, causing his eyes to water, he became a blur. There was a freedom to the moor, something that sang in his heart like the rising sun. He was able to enjoy the openness, let his disdain for the cramped, dark tunnels run free without guilt. He was a moor runner! Fast as the rabbit and free as the birds.
He looked at Reena, her joy reflected in his eyes. They were friends, in a way, both outcasts. She had no problems with his parents being Tunnelers while he himself was a Moor Runner.
He tried not to let Sandgorse's glares or avoidance hurt him; he loved his father too much, but not enough to override his fear of the tunnels. He tried not to let the stinging barbs of Palebird's rebukes harm him. He was a Moor Runner, with the wind in his heart.
He watched Sparrow leave, his orange eyes burning into the tom's brown pelt. Fire burned in his heart. Dreams of dark mud fell around him, and haughty glares that belonged to the rogue watched him. There was only one thing he could do.
He would find Sparrow. Make him pay. He began his journey, to the distant mountains and further places that called him from Outlook rock. He would avenge his father, then travel the wide world. A sense of purpose filled him. He ran to his goal, black-and-white pelt a blur across the moor.
Talltail ran with Jake, the orange kittypet showing hidden skills. The days and nights were a joyful change in his vengeance, and the gain of a friend - a best friend - eased the grief that filled his heart. Clancat, kittypet; it didn't matter. They were best friends, and Talltail wouldn't wish anyone else to be by his side.
He helped Sparrow get back on the trail to camp, an emptiness filling him. He felt cold and numb. All the fire of revenge went out, and inside him was a void. What had he almost done? How could he almost kill an innocent cat, one that his father had died to save?
They left, and a he felt a hollowness at leaving Reena, but she would always stay with Sparrow's rogues. He gave her one last glance, his orange eyes reflecting the same forlorn emotion in hers. Then they left for good.
Jake would leave soon too, but where would he go? After all that he had done?
Then the answer came to him, as he pelted across the moors he once called home. As Jake's farewell faded behind him, and as the housecat's words echoed in his head and heart. His paws knew where to take him. Where he belonged, and would forever belong.
He wasn't a moor runner, or a tunneler. He was a Warrior, and always would be, until his last breath.
In the golden grass and purple heather, a black and white cat sprinted, over networks of tunnels and rabbit warrens, as sunset painted through the overcast sky and became golden orange, like the shining eyes of the cat going home.
(The sequel movie was great, okay?)
(O. Posted on February 8, 2016)
(Lilo & Stitch)
It was the first time the dream had come like this. Before, it had been a lovely dream, one he dreamt of after his creation, when he was nothing more than the destructive monstrosity called 626.
But now, as Stitch, it was a terrible nightmare.
The day was like any other; sunshine after the rainy season, the air hot but not scorching, a sky bluer than his fur would ever be. It was lovely. Picturesque.
Then it wasn't.
A storm would roll in, not that he minded; rain wasn't his favourite, but the boom of thunder and surge of electricity gave him a strange kind of delight, like Lilo when she saw the fireworks.
It was the 'storm' that came before, the one caused by him that ruined the dream.
He was plucked from the comfort of the living room, where the room had begun to grow darker, like the sky, and a hollow chill had sprung up. Kauai didn't get cold rain. What was going on? Looking around frantically, he found the house empty of any presence and menacing. The door swung open violently, smacking back and forth as the wind increased in pitch and fervour. But before he could close the door, or find his O'hana, he was suddenly gone.
Clouds, fluffy, white, and innocent would surround him, and he would find himself at the helm of their hovercar. What was he doing here? He looked down suddenly. His old outfit? The prison-like one? He didn't wear that anymore, it had been destroyed. Where had it come from? The poor little alien's mind clouded with confusion. Then he noticed his arms, the 'extra' set out, and he felt the little spines and antennas, sensitive to the air. Something wasn't right.
This is where the dream got harder to understand.
Especially since it was now a nightmare.
A pain would spring up in him, coiling hotly from the center and out. It was so sharp that he yelped. Then a pounding headache, like electricity surging and frying his brain. The land grew sketchy around him, a green haze tinting things, or a blackness cutting through randomly. He heard a sound like the television spitting on the fritz. He found some control, gripping the wheel and bringing the ship lower, towards the ocean. He didn't like this feeling, and incoherently thought he must get rid of it. What had caused this pain inside him? Underneath it all the instinct to destroy bubbled up. He let it. Why shouldn't he? Something was destroying him from the inside out, burning his very being. He leveled the ship suddenly, before zooming through the crystalline sheen of water, and aimed the ship at the beach. He grit his teeth. His ears had begun to ring shrilly, and he smelt metal.
He saw some people, trying to enjoy the Hawaiian sun. Anger coursed through him, than an insane laugh ripped through his throat, echoing. Why weren't they in pain? Had they caused this? They certainly weren't helping him; enjoying their day and building things. The instinct gripped him again, then the buzzing came louder and he spasmed this time. The pain was worse, yelps ripping through his hysterical cackling. He momentarily lost control of the ship, plowing vertically through sand and overturning a few beach chairs. He heard a thump, but didn't see what happened through the haze.
What was he doing again? Oh, yeah, destroying things. That was nice. Wait - no it wasn't. Why wasn't it? He was made to destroy, right? And he enjoyed it, very much. But why did this strange feeling cut through him? What was it - guilt? fear? Why would it be - oh. Right. Lilo said it's bad to destroy things. People could get hurt. He had to listen to Lilo. Where was she? The answer came through, almost vague and strange. At home.
He turned the ship, mumbling a strangely-pitched 'sorry' when he tore apart a convenience store, effectively scaring the lady who worked there. A small thrill went through him, but the guilt was stronger. He was almost home, anyways. Lilo would know what's going on.
He sped through the woods, until their house came into view. On the porch he saw her, waving her hands, with glossy eyes filled with tears. What was wrong? Why was Lilo sad? He heard her cry out, "Stitch! Stop! Why are you doing this?!"
He was confused, and gasped in pain. Another attack, shredding through him like lightning, the pain so sharp he screamed, then dissolved into laughter not at all happy or delighted. The pain hadn't compared to the one in his heart, after all. He had disappointed Lilo. And now he was about to hit her house. Look at that. Wait. Why didn't he-
There was no time as the ship crashed in a plume of almighty fire, scorching his fur but not making it to his skin. Oh yeah; fireproof. Why was he in this place of fire? He got distracted as he watched things burn to ash, a sort of delight rekindling in him. The pain from the last attack lingered, a dull ache that took a good chunk of his attention. Instinct fought with pain, and out of frustration and the will of both, he began to tear apart the flaming wood, ignoring burning embers that sizzled near his eyes, unaware of splinters cutting through flesh and leaving him bleeding. He hurt, dang it! It must have been the fire! That caused the attack!
So confident was he in his addled conception, he tore even fiercer though wood and burning fabric, the buzzing and static even louder than before. He didn't hear the blaze of fire, nor Lilo's shout for him to 'get out!' Eventually he made it to the porch area - though by no conscious decision - and saw Lilo in the corner of his vision. He gave her a crooked smile (the terror in her eyes only dimly registered. After all, shouldn't she be happy? He was. Look at all the destruction! It was sure to ease his pain.) He ripped a hunk of railing and split it, chomping on one half just to feel his teeth splinter through the weak material.
Lilo rushed up, grabbing his arm away. "Stitch, stop! This is our house! What's wrong with you?!"
Reacting before he could think (not that his thoughts would be that coherent), he shoved her off roughly. She got up again, but when he swung around, his claws grazed her cheek. It was shallow, but the force threw her to the ground. He stopped, seeing the tiniest bit of blood dribble slowly, tears following faster. A different pain coursed through him, worse than the attacks. He got control, suddenly, and leaned forward slowly. "Lilo?"
She scrambled back away from him, opening her mouth. But instead of screaming at him to get away, her voice was calm.
"Stitch. Stitch! C'mon it's time to wake up!"
He sat up suddenly, whimpers and growls absent. The shock of wakefulness sent him shooting up to the bottom of Lilo's bed, hanging on with his impossibly gripping claws. He gazed around wildly, breathing heavily. His eyes settled on Lilo, who tilted her head and looked at him strangely. "... Nightmare?"
She sighed, and smiled, clearly excited and worried at the same time.
"You know what that means."
He gazed blankly at her.
"Time for a therapy session!"
Not Gone Forever
(O. Posted April 5, 2016)
(Kill La Kill)
It had hurt, more than she cared to admit.
Mako - as her best (human) friend, and in a way, sister - had tried to help. Her whole family had. But they could never understand; not completely, at least.
Senketsu and her had been one and the same. They were life fiber, and humanity, but neither. They had been able to speak to each other - and only one another, in the beginning. They had shared blood (literally) and a creator (not quite as literally), but now that that he was gone, she felt so … empty.
Ryuko's … "date" with Mako had been a good distraction (and had taken even longer when they had realized - and discussed at length - that they felt more like best friends and siblings.)
But after that, she felt the ghost-like tug of her life fibers and Senketsu's merging; felt the loss of his weight (for Life Fibers were denser than normal clothing strands.) She remembered the feel of synchronization, the fire in her blood igniting the adrenaline that filled both of them as they burst into battle. She missed his cool wisdom to match her hot-headedness, and their teamwork that bonded them so close and was rarely effortless.
Not even Satsuki's rebuilt academy could distract her, nor the Elite Four's taunts for battle.
So, instead of facing another day with loss and false enthusiasm, she had skipped school in favor of walking through the ruins of her father's 'lab'; letting a finger trail over long-abandoned objects and having the dust rise like her nostalgic memories.
"Ryuko! You need to calm down!You… "
" 'Senketsu'?" "It means 'Fresh Blood'."
"I Don't want to go back to sleep …"
"Are you sure this is a good idea?" "Of course."
Ryuko sighed, eyes half closed, stopping in front of where Senketsu was presumably made. She wished …
But it was impossible. He needed to be made with Life Fibers, and they had all died off. Been destroyed. They were gone, and so was he.
Her blue eyes flew open. She couldn't, … could she? But …, she was made of Life-Fibers, and he was (she couldn't say 'had'. Never would.) a part of her. Maybe … ?
It was worth a shot.
Through determination, and resolve, and pain of all sorts, she worked through the day and night. Early in the next morning she finished, and she stared down at her work, brushing the bangs out of her eyes and leaving a smear of blood from her soaked hand.
Just as dawn began to end, and the sun itself started to light the horizon, she heard it.
Ryuk… o… ?
I thought I told you that you don't need your old sailor outfit anymore.
"And I told you I wanted to make you jealous."
(Recommended that you listen to the Lily Allen version.)
Somewhere Only We Know
Formerly titled: This Time We're Apart (Eloquence #3)
(O. Posted May 6, 2016)
He padded quickly, rock disappearing beneath his paws, his mind mapping out the familiar dips and crevices of the uneven ground. Blind, sighted; it didn't matter to him. His home - but not his home - he knew as well as his own scent. (Even if it was a little different then.)
He stumbled slightly, but was undeterred. Distantly, he heard a rushing sound. It grew louder, swelling with his heart. He dipped his nose up towards the weak sun, briefly smelling its warmth in the air. Soon he'd be out of the sun, and into the chill of the caves.
It was too empty around him, and even in camp; the loneliest place to be was among others, after all.
His brother was busy with a mate, and the not-quite-sister was dozy and moony over who-knows-what, so he backed into himself further, staying in the medicine den with his thoughts.
It was lonely, even with his forever-patient and mentor; no one noticed his reclusiveness, and his loneliness that couldn't be filled with anything or anyone.
Except her. He was never alone with her.
He tripped over some debris, doubt flickering in his mind. He'd come alone; might he get lost? He shook his head, the briefest hint of fear in his eyes replaced by his usual stubbornness. He walked more confidently, aware of the thundering ahead.
He needed her; it was a simple fact. Like air, the feeling of the sun in the sky, she was a necessity in his life.
But he couldn't have her.
At least … not always.
He made it, passing the waterfall. The guard had recognized him, letting him through. He told their Healer that he was there because of his ancestors, and that he wouldn't be long. Of course the Tribe was okay with it, and he left them to pad quickly down the sloping tunnel, cold brushing his whiskers. His paws tingled as he he got further and stepped out into an open space.
Quietly, almost reverently, he walked among the forest of stones, carefully not to fall into the large pool. In his mind he saw it: the two of them playing among the fang-pillars, darting and scuffling like kits. When they looked at the pool and the beauty of the night sky reflected in it.
When she saw the sign and everything changed.
He stopped in front of there, water barely lapping his toes. He had his head bowed, blind eyes seeing nothing. He curled his tail around himself, and let the loneliness and sorrow wash through him. It was bittersweet, though, because he had such happy memories here.
He wondered if she was watching him, and if she felt the same thing.
His fur felt a gentle brush of wind, then someone leaned into him, head brushing his. A familiar feeling, leaving him with another memory, this one a little more sweet than bitter.
Her voice murmured to him that she was always with him, wherever he was, and that if he wanted to see her, he didn't have to go somewhere only they know.
(O. Posted June 27, 2016)
It had been hard when Dovewing had stopped seeing Tigerheart. A distance had spread between them like a river, the other side of the clan boundaries' like far banks, the scent lines an impossible stretch of water to cross. They could, of course, but what was the point? There were no more forbidden night adventures for them to partake in, no more them to think of. Loneliness swamped her like a mist, and pain shot through her every time she turned away from the border of pines.
It wouldn't have been so hard if she and Ivypool hadn't drifted so far apart. Dovewing and her sister had been close when they were born, and even at first they were close during their apprenticeship. But something had changed suddenly, like a newleaf storm rolling in. Sunshine and peace, then suddenly tension and thunder that hadn't been there before. A negative charge had sprung up between them, lashing out like lightning any time she 'stepped on Ivypool's tail'. Lionblaze told her it would pass. Jayfeather was silent then, almost sorry that he had to bring up the prophecy and its importance.
After a while, things got a little better. Bumblestripe became a friend of sorts, always eager to lift her spirits. Blossomfall too was friendly, although it was more to keep an eye on her brother than anything. But then she found out that Bumblestripe was interested in her.
And she tried to love him, she really did. He was her friend, and a great cat. Caring, sweet, and funny. But every time he looked lovingly at her, she broke a little inside, because she did care for him, but not that way. Not the way she cared for a lithe, darker colored tom with eyes as dark as pine needles. It broke her heart the more she realized that she didn't – couldn't – love Bumblestripe the way she had loved Tigerheart. The way she still loved Tigerheart.
(And she felt guilty, and oh, so sorry, because she knew it would break his heart, and sympathy filled her because she knew how that felt.
But she couldn't stay with him; with the lie she carried because of her own guilt at loving a Shadowclan cat. She cared too much to make him live with a lie.
It's just too bad that she can't love him enough to keep his heart from breaking.)
Months on the station
(O. Posted May 19, 2016 - September 23, 2016)
It was another dreary day in the void, the gray walls seeming duller and closer than usual.
It had been fairly subdued the last few days, as they trolled the human-kids and tried to figure out what the hell they were doing. Karkat's plan may have been "stupid", but they would be even more bored without it.
Karkat sat at his station, insulting one of the humans. He tried not to turn around at hearing a soft cackle from Terezi. Damn, stupid, Strider. He grit his teeth when he heard her laugh a little louder, and tried to direct his hate back towards John. But it always looped back to himself.
After all, 'no one hates Karkat more than Karkat'.
At least that's what the other eleven idiots muttered amongst themselves. Bastards.
A different sound cut through, this time a mirthful purr not-quite a giggle. This time he did glance over his shoulder, finding Terezi and Nepeta sharing in some kind of joke. He narrowed his eyes and muttered something under his breath ("Effing, roleplaying…"), then turned back to hunch over his keyboard and 'yell' at John some more.
A future version of himself posted another memo. A past version logged on.
On the other side of the room, Terezi whispered to Nepeta, "So, everything's almost ready?"
Nepeta purred behind her hands, round cat-eyes shining with excitement. "Yep! Everyfangs in place! This'll be so fun!"
Terezi cackled. " 'Purrcisely', as you would say." They shared another laugh before parting to round up the other female trolls.
A few days before hand had found Vriska, Terezi, Feferi, Nepeta, Aradia-bot, and Kanaya together, bored out of their minds. Karkat and co. were too busy trolling, Sollux was doing something on the computer, and Gamzee was, well … being Gamzee. How they ended up together Gog knows, but they were, and were having a … somewhat civil conversation.
At least for their standards.
"If I have to go one more dam cluster* just sitting here trolling the humans, I am going to explode."
"Wouldn't that be a favor? AhahahahaHaHaHaHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Shut it, Pyrope."
"Make me, Serket."
"Both of you be quiet," Kanaya sighed. "Now is not an ideal time to be fighting amongst ourselves. Now, back to our earlier topic: What are we going to do to alleviate our boredom?" She asked, spreading her hands apart in a 'give me suggestions' posture.
"Are … are you sure this is a good idea? Shouldn't we be purrpearing fur our doom?"
Feferi looked at Nepeta, smiling broadly. "There's time for that later~ ! We can fin in some fu~n! Glub!"
"Princess is right," Vriska growled. "We may not even make it to that; I'm ready to kill everyone on board this gog-forsaken meteor because it's so effing boring! Any suggestions?"
"Oh! Ooh, ooh! Pick me! Pick me!" Nepeta squealed, bouncing up and down. An idea had slipped into her head and it was just so purrfect!
"Nepeta," Aradia said in her echo-y voice.
"The Jade-human showed me some of her peoples' music! Maybe we can have a purrty; with dancing!"
Vriska pulled a face. "Next suggestion, pleaaaaaaaase."
"Wait," Terezi held out a hand, then put it to her chin in thought. A smirk crossed her features, following a devious thought. "That may not be a bad idea. No one has to dance. There'll be food, and drink - but none of Gamz's 'Faygo' crap. I'm sure most of the guys'll agree to it. And if not … well, we can change their minds." Her face morphed into a wicked grin and sniggered.
After a few further arguments between Vriska and Terezi, with the occasional comment from the other four trolls, they eventually agreed to have some sort of party. It would be a good distraction from their ever-looming doom, and hey - who doesn't want to have a little fun before they all die?
So Aradia and Nepeta searched music on some human application called YouTube (such a stupid name), while the others worked on food and decorations.
After telling the others their plan with only (minor) objections from most of them, they began to help too. They had found colored scraps of fabric in various chests and used those for streamers; Nepeta standing on Equius' shoulders to hang them around. Gamzee hid some faygo under the snack table, where Kanaya and Eridan put some foodstuffs they had mysteriously conjured. The music was set up with Sollux's reluctant help, made less reluctant when Aradia helped him. Soon everything and everyone was ready to go.
Well, almost everyone.
They had already started up some of the music, simple background stuff they could filter out with conversation so that they could relax and enjoy themselves. So that they could feel normal (as close as they had to normal, anyways). After a bit, Terezi noticed something missing. A sound. A presence. She sniffed around, and right enough, there he was.
Karkat was still at his computer.
She gave a frustrated sigh. She knew this wasn't his thing, but he wasn't going to ruin her fun, dammit. Terezi marched over to him, and - timing being just right - the actual "dance music" started up.
She passed Nepeta, who was laughing as she stole a frustrated Equius away from a smug Sollux, who had asked Aradia to dance. Eridan tried to get Feferi's attention, but she just laughed and grabbed a shy Tavros' hand. He looked imploringly to Vriska, who leaned against a wall with her arms crossed, but the glare she sent him made Eridan drop his gaze and scoot away quickly.
Terezi grabbed one of Karkat's arms, and pulled him out of his swivel chair, saying, "C'mon KK; you're dancing with me."
He tried to hang onto the desk, but it slipped out of his grasp. "Wait - No! Terezi! Like hell!" She ignored him and pulled him to where the others were, some dancing separate but together, and others alone. When she stopped yanking on his arm, the momentum made him lean forward. He caught himself before he could fall and hissed, "Rezi; I don't know how to dance!"
She merely grinned at him. "Then I'll have to teach you."
Terezi grabbed his left hand with her right, twining their fingers so that their hands met palm-to-palm, then she slipped her other hand onto his shoulder. As she started to move, he quickly slipped his free hand onto her hip.
She began swaying and bouncing to the beat, laughing obnoxiously the whole time. Karkat grit his teeth and grimaced, watching their feet the whole time lest he trip.
"Karkat." He looked up, seeing her smile scathingly. "You're too stiff. Loosen up a little. You're not gonna trip, dummy."
He opened his mouth to retort, but snapped it shut and crinkled his brow instead, glancing down one last time before keeping his eyes trained on Terezi's face.
He tried loosening up a little, and they moved more fluidly. Though they were linked like in a human waltz, they moved at a faster pace, and moved a little differently.
Seeing Terezi smiling and laughing, Karkat couldn't stop a little sharp-toothed grin from ghosting his face. And although he wouldn't admit it, not even on pain of death, he was actually enjoying himself.
The words filtered through a little.
I can see the light through the leaves.
But it's all gone.
But it's all gone…
He twirled her as the song came to an end and she laughed as she spun, but on the way back around she stumbled a little. Luckily, she fell towards Karkat and he caught her against his chest. She looked up at him, her grin reflecting his own.
"What was that about not tripping?" He breathed.
She swatted his shoulder. "Oh, shut it."
YOAS: Fear pt.1
His room was dimly lit, as the meteor had just started to shift into 'night mode'. Back on Alternia he'd have called it moons' dawn. On Earth they'd have called such a lighting twilight.
He stood in front of one of those tall, wall-mirrors, hesitant. He didn't really want to see reminders of his past, but it was a compelling need all the same. Some sick, twisted part of him wanted to remember, wanted him to feel bad - even if he didn't really want to. Much like one drawn to the sick or macabre, he had an addiction to remembering his pain or dwelling on his failures, and any efforts to stave it off were almost futile. A human, after much thought and deduction, would suggest that he was depressed - a troll would deem him further as a freak.
Karkat sighed, then gripped the edge of his heavy sweatshirt, yellow claws glowing against the dark fabric. He began to pull it up, hesitated once more when it had passed above his gray abdomen, then continued to take it off with a growled curse ( "- it"), yanking it so his head would slip through the turtleneck. He let it drop to the floor with a soft plop.
He stared at his reflection, and it stared back; on his ribs, angled, were the scars that all trolls had. A total of four, semi-long lines (two on each side) were where his grub-legs had been. These scars had the faintest red coloration to them, rather than the pale slate-white his other scars were. He was sure Terezi's were teal-tinted, Kanaya's jadish, Gamzee's pale purple…
And the stupid humans didn't really go through a grub phase, apparently.
There were a few other scars littering his gray torso, thin, delicate, and almost white. These were courtesy of the game, scrapes indicating narrowly dodged claws and fangs. He wasn't a super fit troll, like Equius, though he did have some muscle. He was built more slender (even if he wasn't that tall) and speed was more his game than brute force, which helped him avoid any more tears in his flesh.
The largest scar from the game was from their (his) Jack Noir. It resided near the bottom of his left set of ribs, "cutting" into one of his grub-marks. Although such a wound was tainted with Bec Noir's betrayal (and that stung far worse than he'd ever admit) it still wasn't the "worst" scar.
There were two that were deeper, more noticeable, than the rest. One's that he'd gotten before Sgrub.
He lightly touched the one on his abdomen, directly below his ribs and almost parallel to Jack's. It was strange to have two stab wounds on the same side of his body, though this one was stretched a little with age. The only real difference was that this one cut deeper than Jack's.
He grimaced, looking down and inhaling with a hiss. Cruel laughter rang in his ears, and he remembered a cerulean symbol. He avoided his reflections eyes, deciding he didn't really want to remember that event today. He didn't think he could deal with the phantom pains, the overwhelming fear.
He glanced up, catching sight of the other scar, almost worse than the other. His first two fingers ghosted gently across his neck, like his sickle slicing softly through worn fabric.
He dropped his arm suddenly, dropping his eyes as well. He stood there a moment, breathing a little heavily, before stooping to pick up his shirt and shrug it back on.
There was more than one reason he wore a turtleneck anyway.
(I do still have an account on Flight Rising but rarely go on. Love the lore.)
The Truth Of Night Of The Nocturne
(O. Posted February 4, 2017)
He slithered over shadowed ground, wandering deeper into the Tangled Wood.
Well, 'wandered' wasn't the best word, as he knew where he was going. Roughly.
He glanced over his shoulder, past the frail wing tucked close to his thin frame, into the eerie silence. Nothing scurried or scuttled in this light-forsaken place. He pulled three of his stick-thin arms closer, the same number of rounded, elliptical objects in his needle-like talons gathered to him in safety. He didn't completely trust The Shadowbinder - well, actually he did trust her, or he wouldn't be doing this. What he didn't trust was the tricks and dark thoughts, heavy and solid in the dark air.
Now was not a good time to be pranked.
He was almost past the Foxfire Bramble, when a voice dripped through the gloom, like oil dripping from trees.
"What are you doing here, Shadespeaker?"
The Arcanist whipped his head around so fast it was a wonder that his fragile neck didn't snap.
The Arcane dragon calmed when he saw her violet eyes glow from the shadows, like a cat's. Soon, the whole dragon materialized from the gloom, almost a full swath from the dark shadows. He barely saw the almost black colored slab of rock she lay upon, almost regally, with her forearms crossed. From her subtle expression he could tell that she was not pleased, despite her using her "fond" nickname for him.
After the fall of the Pillar, the other dragons had avoided him like The Plaguebringer (worse than her, actually). The Earthshaker seemed to have a particular dislike for him, though. As a result he had no friends among his elemental fellows; that is, until The Windsinger had taken it upon himself to be everyone's friend, and The Shadowbinder… well, she had decided for some reason to be his 'acquaintance' or something.
Bottom line is that he didn't have a lot of options, and he trusted her, even more than Windsinger.
So he needed her help.
But he wasn't exactly sure how to go about it.
He shuffled awkwardly, all his spindly limbs shifting. Bright, fuchsia eyes were trained to the ground, missing when her violet ones caught sight of the objects he carried in his paws.
"Err … so I need your help, Shadowbinder. I, um, did a th-thing by accident, and, er-"
"Are those eggs?!" She screeched, sitting up abruptly and wings flaring with a snap! It was actually quite comical.
The Arcanist glanced down at them, then lifted them up for closer inspection, smiling sheepishly.
They were two-shelled - the undershell darker purple and the uppershell only capping it in thick, pale, dust like purple like spattered mud or saliva. Shadowbinder narrowed her eyes, a sly, calculating look, while inside blossomed grotesque wonder.
"What did you do?" She finally whispered, in awed horror.
The Flights already existed, and in them quite a few dragon breeds. Her sister, The Lightweaver, had created The Imperials ('So high and mighty, eh?' She had sneered) and The Pearlcatchers ('Stuck up lightbulb'). The other Elementals had created breeds as well, including herself and her Mirrors (she purred at the thought.)
But the only species The Arcanist had made were the Fae - fast populating, self-maintaining drakes that were more like fireflies than dragons. But these things? Obviously unplanned, going by the fear so clearly etched on his face.
"I was making a new lense," he said, words tumbling as he dove straight into an explanation. "There's - it's - a special astronomy event is coming up and I wanted a specific lense for my telescope but I turned for two seconds and my wing knocked something over and then these appeared and ohdear Idon'tknowwhattodoand-"
"Calm down, coward!" She snapped, using another 'nickname'.
He stopped, breathing a little panicked.
"I'm assuming you want my help?" A nod. She sighed, turning her as she thought about it, almost becoming completely invisible in the murkiness as he couldn't see her eyes.
Truth was, he was the youngest out of all of them. The Eleventh. And who knew how high-maintenance these things would be? It was obvious why he didn't go to Windsinger, and he wasn't good with the unknown himself; but would it be fair to herself? But she also couldn't let the poor things die…
Arcanist bobbed his head worriedly. Would she do it? She wouldn't abandon him, surely? Albeit it was his mess, but still-
"I'll do it," she said at last, without turning to look at him.
He stiffened for a moment. Blinked. "Really?" His voice barely above a whisper.
Shadowbinder finally turned to him, blinking slowly. It was a soft look. "Of course," she grumbled, expression pulling back to annoyance they both knew to be teasing. "Couldn't let you do something stupider, right? So. What are they called?" She hopped off the slab fluidly, standing before him.
He set the eggs down before her, gently. "Er … didn't really think of one. Hmm," he hummed, eyes flickering to her briefly, then up as though he could see the sky. "They'll probably be nocturnal, because of what I was working on … 'Nocturnes', perhaps?" A bony arm reached up, another one lifted slightly by the motion, as he scratched the pale ruff on his neck.
She shrugged, pulling the eggs closer. "Good enough, I guess." She carefully picked up two in her forepaws, intending to carry the third gently in her mouth when she takes off.
Arcanist clasped his two upper pass in gratitude, face lit up and smiling wide. "Oh thank you, Shadow! Thank you so much!"
Shadowbinder growled at the shortened version of her name (only he would dare. And her sister), then huffed, "What was this 'special event' anyways?"
So he smiled, and told her.
LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK
About a week later…
Shadowbinder rested around the nest, watching the eggs intently. They should be hatching any minute now.
She was somewhere in the Forum Of The Obscured Crescent, where the trees still grew thickly and darkly, but one, circle opening through the darkened leaves showed a patch of sky with the stars and (currently crescent) moon that The Arcanist loved so much. Their conversation came back to her, then.
"What was this 'special event' anyways?"
A toothy grin split his features. "The Winter Solstice."
His arms fell limp and he looked away, exasperated.
"Why does everyone ask that?" He muttered, then turned to her and explained. "You know the 'month-of-no-festival', right?"
"That falls during what I call Winter - it's a particular tilt of our planet during the year, along with three others called Spring, Summer, Autumn. These 'Seasons' affect the atmosphere slightly, having some force on the weather. A Solstice is a special day during its Season."
"So they all have a, uh, Solstice?"
He snorted, and she would have laughed at his serious expression. He sure loves his Astronomy thing. "Of course not! Winter and Summer do, but Spring and Autumn have an Equinox."
He crossed all sets of arms, knowing she wouldn't care for an in-depth explanation.
Seeing him pouting, she rolled her eyes. "So what is a Solstice."
His pout morphed back to a grin of draconian proportions.
"Specifically the Winter one? It's the longest night of the year."
She was startled out of a sleep she hadn't been aware she'd dozed into, and quickly glanced up to the sky. Midnight.
Her ear twitched, and she turned back the nest, as the eggs began to shudder, one-by-one. Then there was a sound like a ladybug being cracked between teeth, and the shell began to split apart.
A thrill shot through her as this new species - her new species - was born.
LINE BREAK LINE BREAK LINE BREAK
And on a hill, far away, a dragon sat in his tower, a powerful telescope used to watch stars die, was being used to watch something be born.
A Weathered Sentry
(O. posted March 8, 2017)
He'd been there … a really long time.
An amazing amount of time, honestly.
But he has also been there … longer than that? Because - because he feels like he has heard this all before. That the telltale crunch of footsteps have filled him with curiosity and joy as many times as they have brought forth fear and trepidation.
Right now it is fear.
But they do not turn up the path, not all the way. There is a dull schk-thud, a bellow of pain, and the shffft of dust that somehow covers up the glass-shatter of a soul, and then those steps shuffle away down the path and he is left alone, this time.
(This time? But this has never occurred before, has it . . . ?)
LINE BREAK LINE BREAK
Sometimes that skeleton, Sans, comes by, downing a whole water bottle onto the floor at his base, and he enjoys the feeling of it freezing over. He can only feel so far, after all, and he has no need of food or drink.
He stares into the forest, unsurprised when the monster walks up silently, appearing next to him (surely he didn't walk all this way; roundabout through the forest. But it was not his buissness, even if it was something he observed.) They are silent. Sans has not brought any water.
". . ."
"If you have something you wish to say, kind friend, please, speak your mind."
Sans huffs a laugh, shaking his head. He is just barely in his line of sight, but he can tell that that skeletal grin is strained oddly.
"Eh, heh. I snow that, buddy. It's jus' … Hm. I've got a question for ya."
He says nothing and Sans blinks (how does he do that? And why can I not simply turn my head?) He continues.
"You ever feel …. like, the day repeats? That … It's already happened, a hundred times over, but different each time. Like its never quite the same?"
He waits a moment, then says, "Well, I would not say a hundred times over, but yes, I have observed such a thing of late. When that … Traveller passed by earlier, I felt a mixture of contradicting emotions. Why do you ask?"
Sans is silent, grin directed at the ground. When he looks up he sees the skeleton's eyelights flicker back, as though they were the flame of a candle blown out and then relit. Then he sees the red fabric peeking from the skeleton's pocket, and he understands a little more.
There is something like relief in that grin.
"Thanks Snowman. Be seeing you around, 'kay?"
"Of course; travel safely friend!"
A dry, dull chuckle, and then he's gone, and the observer is left alone once again.
It was a shame. He had liked Papyrus; that loud skeleton came and told good, loud stories.
Like An Expanse Of Stars Spread Across The Sky
(O. Posted March 26, 2017)
It wasn't like he hadn't seen the sky before.
He would press grubby, short little fingers and his face against glass; sleepy, half-closed eyes opened a little wider in wonder at the great, dark expanse of not-quite-black and far away, unfeeling stars.
(. . .He would get yanked back a lot and told to stop being a nuisance.)
But here, if he paused on his winding trail, and really looked to the sky, he saw it wasn't that false-black; the stars weren't unfeeling.
The sky was an expanse of blues and greens, shifting to purples as dark as plum and the most brilliant shade of vermillion Frisk couldn't have even fathomed. The colors mingled, perhaps swirled, but stayed distinct enough they could still be considered each their own-
And the stars.
The stars were twinkling blazes and he could imagine the heat from them. Each star with its own, pale aura, twinkling like faded human souls-
And he dropped his head as his thoughts turned from the brilliant sky to darker things; darker than how he had thought the sky had been, when he was hidden (trapped) on that old space station blinded with artificial light.
. . . He knew what that sky looked like with Stardust shrouding the air; how those lights gleamed through dust-coated lashes, twinkling, twinkling, as Stardust mingled with tears and he cried and laughed, broken and shattered, like shattered Souls and falling Dust. . . !
He shouldn't know.
But he did.
(And wasn't that awful? How could he? How could h e . . .?)
(But it wasn't completely his fault.)
(After all, she had been the one to incite the first blow. The first k i l l.)
He kept staring at the powdery floor of the moon, his path already having been trekked, and waiting to be trekked yet again. He gave a breathy sigh, then straightened, steeling himself. The knife, clean, was clenched in his grip.
"Let's go again," he said, his quiet voice firm.
And he began walking down the path amongst the lonesome city, to reach the king.
(The less said about my Homestuck writing phase, the better.)
The Softest Heart
(O. Posted April 13, 2017)
There was a creak in the metal walls and the meteoric floor outside as they hurtled - hurtled - across this desolate place.
He was prowling through the halls, avoiding Dave for the moment (their shaky friendship was different, but not unwelcome. The fact that Dave was willing to deal with his annoying behind was proof enough that the cool-douche had contracted the disease of 'friendship'. Karkat thinks he did too.) and Gamzee, who he had once thought of as a possible pale-mate.
And he definitely didn't want to run into Kanaya, whose concern was unwanted, or Rose, whose psychoanalysis would be unwarranted.
Instead, he followed obnoxious laughter and sharp giggles, listening but not wanting to see (or be seen by) the Scourge Sisters.
He just wanted one last day to mourn; to accept that Terezi wasn't interested in a red quadrant with him.
Any quadrant with him.
Because although he could respect what she wanted, some part of his blood-pusher would always feel for her.
The Brightest Diamond
It wasn't everyday he went to visit her.
They hadn't exactly announced their Moiraillegence, when they 'met' each other after the game. It was obvious that Karkat and Calliope had at least seen one another, and the mere mention that they 'had met in the dream bubbles' was enough for everyone else to let it go.
(Dave had, in fact, raised an eyebrow once or twice when he caught the two conversing, and Kanaya had given him the strangest look.)
So they had decided to take things slow; little visits here and there, until they decided what to tell the others. And it was hard; they were used to almost nightly visits.
Though, they were in solitude. In the dream bubbles they could sit side by side, shoulders touching; a shoosh-pap to calm the other down; the occasional hug. They had to hold back almost years (sweeps, units) of integrated physical contact, so as not to give anything away.
And perhaps it was the aforementioned solitude that pushed them to hide their Moiraillegence; the fact that it had been theirs and theirs alone. They were used to no one else knowing, simple and plain.
So when the much-needed feels jam came around, he'd go over to the little house built just for Calliope (she, herself, had grown up in isolation, and old habits died hard.) He would glance over his shoulder, then rap his knuckles gently on the door.
Calliope would crack it open, then seeing it was just him, smile brightly and open the door wider to let him in.
All in all, the secrecy was quite fun.
They lay in a pile of tattered scraps leftover from some of Kanaya's projects ("I like the colors," Calliope told him.) And they would talk at length about trivial things, and eventually how they were feeling. And when Calliope's low self-esteem brought her down, he'd wipe the few stray tears and hug her. And when Karkat's own guilt would claw its way through him, and his own eyes watered with frustration, she would shoosh-pap him and gently wrap her own arms around him.
And it was odd, so very odd, because he felt he didn't deserve it; that, once before, he'd been in a situation where he gave and gave, asking nothing in return and not feeling he needed it or deserved it but he did; like some skewed, folded diamond of a time that couldn't have occurred.
(. . . right?)
But he accepted it, so she wouldn't feel bad, and he gave, because he wanted to, and he could basically see their diamond, burning so bright between them.
And he knew it wouldn't shatter.
(I'm actually still fairly pleased with this extremely headcannony piece.)
(O. Posted June 24, 2017)
He glanced back one more time, his muzzle twitching as green eyes gleamed at him. 'You're such a grump, Jay!' 'Nice catch! You're the best night-catcher out of us all; wait until Furled Bracken hears!' 'Are you ready to become a Sharp-claw?'
He passed into the darkness of the tunnel, his friends - no, his family's - voices echoing after him, keeping him comforted.
'Are you ready to become a Sharp-claw?'
Was he? His whiskers twitched, brushing cold stone. He felt like he was. He was a decent hunter, Stone Song respected him. Even his sister thought he was ready. There was no reason to be worried. Was there?
Half Moon's blazing green eyes appeared in his mind. Worry shadowing her gaze.
But there had been determined strength there too.
And that was all he needed.
Gosh he was getting soft.
The tunnel opened out suddenly, and for some reason the sight bothered him. But no, it was something else. The ... fact he could see? He shook his head. It must be because of the dark tunnel - he was expecting the whole way to be pitch black.
('But no.' His mind whispered. 'Otherwise how would the ceremony happen with him.')
He glanced up at the ledge; just as he was told, an ancient, grotesque parody of a cat lay, paws resting on a stripped piece of wood. He heard a 'snick' as claws rasped against the wood, creating new cuts.
He wasn't as nearly as ugly as he'd imagined, Jay's Wing admitted to himself. Uncomfortable? Yes. Unbearable? That was yet to be seen.
"You must be Jay's Wing," the cat rasped, with a voice like old crumbling rocks.
Jay's Wing snorted, his old self rising up like ash overtaking fire.
"No, I'm a she-cat named Dove's Wing, I think you have me mistaken for my brother. What do you think," he said irritably.
The old creature just laughed, a distasteful choking sound. "I've missed your spite. You don't see that much now in days. Now," he looked at Jay's Wing with those sightless, baleful eyes and that made him uncomfortable for reasons he didn't understand. "You will choose one tunnel. You may go wherever it leads, enter any connecting passageways, but know this; you may not return to this cavern at any time. Do you understand?"
Jay's Wing nodded.
"Good," the blind cat nodded once, decisively, running his paw over the newly-made scratches. "Then you may begin."
He passed over to a few of the tunnels, giving them a good sniff, with his mouth open and whiskers quivering. He took his time. There was no rain like poor Fallen Leaves had had. Jay's Wing had never really been close to the tom, nor spoke to him much, but he still felt bad.
He felt a chill suddenly, his fur fluffing up instinctively. Surely it was a draft from one of the tunnels? But it had been warm today, so why was it cold...?
He jumped suddenly, hearing some indistinguishable voice whispering in his ear. He glanced around wildly but saw nothing, as the feeling faded. He breathed a sigh of relief, sitting on his haunches. He shook his head. Silly kit-brain! He'd been thinking about Fallen Leaves, who had died in the tunnels, and freaked himself out.
He got to his paws as Rock mewed impatiently for him to choose already, and after some decisiveness, he chose a tunnel he hoped was the right one.
But before he padded into it, a sibilant voice whispered in his ear, asking for something he could not answer. A cold weight leaned against his shoulder.
He booked it.
He ran, the tunnel winding and the dark closing in. His heart thundered, fear drying his mouth. He wasn't afraid of the dark, he never had been, being the best night hunter in the group. And until today, he had never been afraid of what was in the dark either.
He stumbled, tearing the bottom of his paw pads as he tried to catch himself. Some voice yelled behind him, somecat unaware that he was up ahead, and a tinkling voice followed it; a tinkling voice in the dark he didn't understand at all.
Pawsteps thundered not far behind him, and they spurned him on faster, fear fueling his flight. In that moment he felt like his namesake, cutting through the air in Leaf-bare.
He could feel the blood he was leaving behind, smeared on the stone floor, but he didn't care. He just had to get out of there! And the presence(s?) behind him felt closer, so he ran and ran.
Soon, Jay's Wing squinted as light began to grow in the tunnel. The closer he got, the less he saw, until it was just a mouth of white, lighting the walls and the light seeming solid like fire and water until he entered it and-
-and he wasn't running anymore. He was just safe, and warm, and in the dark once more.
(I don't even know, okay.
But hey, my earlier days of trying darker stuff.)
(O. Posted August 5, 2017)
(Series Of Unfortunate Events books)
He's breathing heavily and clutching a still-too shocked Sunny to his chest, gasps heaving from him and sounding sickly as snot and tears still get in the way of his breathing.
They'd been running forever; V.F.D far behind them and midnight long gone. The flat land had eventually run out, as the direction he had chosen had eventually lead to a small swath of forest.
He couldn't breathe.
… He kept running.
Klaus thought he felt Sunny trembling but he couldn't be sure; adrenalin and fear and horror because oh god why-
He himself could feel his body tremble violently as he remembered. Violet, oh god, Violet-
He immediately shoved the thought out of his mind.
But like hell, of course, it just came back with a vengeance.
The Officer had launched her spear - Ésme, had. Of course it had been Ésmeyou idiot- and with all the Crows in the way no one could s e e . . .
Sunny had luckily had her vision obscured, face too close to the net where tiny hands and teeth had clung, and with what little vision she had obstructed by black feathered crows.
Klaus had not been so lucky.
He had seen (oh god he had seen) as the harpoon ripped through Violet's back; her expression of shock, and how her body flew back as the harpoon retracted and-
The rope had already been severed by then. Klaus had grabbed Sunny and ran; ran the hell away from there. Because he had already seen.
Had already seen that his sister was dead before she hit the ground.
Vaguely he hoped that the Quagmire Triplets would be safe with Hector. That maybe they would meet up again.
But all he could think was to not think, and to run, and to protect Sunny, glad she hadn't seen, but numb with the knowledge that she understood what had to have happened; because Klaus would never, ever, abandon their sister.
So he didn't let himself think, and he just kept on running.
(These next few are all based off of contests and prompts from back when I was on Warriors Amino. Publication date is from when I mass posted them to fanfiction dot net.)
(O. Posted November 5, 2017)
The Drag (CT Writ. Prompt 1)
'You felt sharp, slicing as talons dig deeper into your back; vibrating screeches rumbling in your chest as you will your mother to feel your danger. You're lifted up up up, until ground is gone and only up is left...
Then you are jarred, a THUNK felt as pellet hits talons that go through pelt goes through flesh and you go down down down down...
This is how you wake up, each time.'
Snow stood and stretched, his bell feeling clangy dink, and the smell of warm morning sun washing over him. He sat on his haunches and yawned, wide and wide, until he felt his muscles stretch enough and felt the air escape him. He liked morns.
He decided to move around before eats; after all, kind tall mother might be up. He liked tall father too, but he always thought of the long pellet-thunker that stopped the big bird when he saw him. He was thankful bad big bird had been stopped, but the pellet-thunker still scared him.
(But not as much as the drag; the feeling clung to him in sleep, and ghosted his waking hours too often.)
There! There! There! He rumbled his throat as he saw kind tall mother, sitting on soft boulder and tapping her twigs together. A soft thing was being made with them. Snow liked soft things.
The twigs would tap together, and weave string between them, making a big, soft square to nuzzle and cuddle with. When the snows came, kind tall father would stay more, and they'd all share soft squares, while looking at the bright square or the dancing fire (he remembered a cat of fire). Snow loved those times best.
Not that he knew it in all these words; he only knew some words, garbled thoughts he thought in sounds and lights and colors and smells. He meowed, but it was distorted. He couldn't hear it; only felt the mrrrrerrrr in his throat and chest. He knew something was different about him, because his kind tall parents would move their flat muzzles but he didn't understand them. He had sat close to their chests before and felt the rumble-tumble-rrrrrs they made, and connected that it had to do with their mouths, but he had no sense of their meaning.
What was he missing?
Was it what he was missing when bad bird took him suddenly from mother?
Was there something to tell him that bad bird talons were to dig in his fur? To drag him from one home to this other?
(What could have stopped the drag, the pull, the taking of home home-kind-cats-mother-home?)
He let the thought slide away. It didn't matter anyways; he had new home, where he rumbled-rrrerrrd-rumbled in his throat to chest until his whole body was happy feelings, and he knew he was loved, even if he didn't know it in words.
He glanced around, breathing ragged and pupils shrinking. He just didn't understand . . .
How could this be?
Dark, sentinels seeming to grasp up at the sky, but so colossal that they expanded up tangled, mangled, so dense that they were the sky, and they were made dark shadows, softened by pale mist that wreathed around them. Everything was dark shadow, and not-quite-white mist. Even the ground was a dull muted gray, some sort of dead or dying moss-like grass.
He was in The Place Of No Stars.
He was alone.
But everything was wrong, wrong, wrong because it WASN'T the Dark Forest - he remembered visiting before. It wasn't dark enough, the glowing luminescent fungi and the sludge like river were gone, and the malevolent air had dissipated until there was-
This is what nothingness felt like.
Empty, void. This was a desolation not unlike a grave site, except it was a place that had never been full of life to begin with.
So then where was he . . . ?
Suddenly his breath hitched, a sharp cutting gasp. Then it happened again, repeatedly, until he was laughing sharply and it built and grew, a crescendo of cackling that rang amidst the stillness like a symphony of a murder. After a little while, when the sound petered out, he still heard the sound faintly. He twitched his ears. Maybe there was a murder of crows out here. He snorted.
He still stood there, mind fogging as though woken from a deep sleep. But perhaps he had? After all, they had lost. He must have died, but maybe he didn't? He laughed again, head low and shoulders shaking. But what did it matter? They had failed. He had failed.
This was nothing.
And that was all he had for the rest of eternity.
As if, as if
We hadn't entered the lines,
Our paws fitting perfectly in those forgotten times.
As if, oh as if
We hadn't entered the cave,
Where water rippled and the vision gave way
Until the Moon shattered and all that's left in the dark -
Is your fading echo and my broken heart.
As if; just as if!
Your whisp'rings never came
To support me on the day of my name -
Before the battle, and after the notches that led me to your time -
As if you could ever truly be mine.
"I'll yearn for you forever, Half Moon.
And Even if eternity forbids it; I'll still eagerly await the crackling of Greenleaf lightening, when I see you again.
Because I am yours and you are mine.
Starclan, I hope you're mine."
(Quite a few are AU.)
She was hunting through the forest, alone, nothing but a drifting shadow in the shade. She was a decent way away from Thunderclan territory, but not too far. Moons of hunting (mostly) alone had made her apprehensive to hunt with others.
One of her black ears twitched as she heard something.
"Well hello there."
His voice was as smooth and hypnotic as she remembered it. And just as dangerous.
She paused, no hint of fear or anger in her movements. She turned around gracefully, expression blank as she took in his appearance.
He seemed worse for wear, as far as Hollyleaf could tell; most cat's wouldn't notice past the allure of his voice and eyes, but she could easily look past that and see his pelt wasn't quite as smooth, his posture and expression a little harder, not quite as fluid. His eyes, which most were drawn to like moths to moonlight were seen by her as blindingly bright rings around pits of darkness - like the eclipse itself, so long ago, bleeding the light out from everything around it. She could also see the hinting of emotions past his usual omniscient façade.
Hollyleaf simply asked him, coldly, "What do you want."
It had a bite to it, too flat to be a question. Something flickered in his eyes at the demand, but it was easily dismissed.
"What? Can't visit an old friend?" He purred.
Her muzzle twitched, almost into a sneer, and her fur ever so slightly fluffed up. "You're no one's friend, Sol - and I'm not an idiot. What. Do you. Want?"
He huffed at that, letting his typical demeanor slip away. "I'm surprised that group of idiots took you back in - rude on top of being a murderer. Not their smartest move, granted."
There was no response and her expression didn't change.
His ears flickered, eyes alight with interest. "What? Nothing? No denial or justification? I really am surprised."
Hollyleaf lifted her head slightly. Her eyes shine like hard, green stone. "There is no excuse for what I've done - I already know I'll be judged for it, for eternity. And if my judgement when I die is to walk starless roads and never enter Starclan," she lowered her head and her voice.
"Then so be it."
Sol lashed his long tail. Yellow eyes haughty. "Hff! Why would you even want to be among those witless fools? You should be glad to not have to suffer among them. No matter; I was just passing by and hoped - well, you never know. It's not like you have any power anyhow. Goodbye."
He turned and began to saunter off, though he did quicken his pace a bit when he heard Hollyleaf's parting words.
"I would be honored to be among my ancestors Sol, so I suggest you leave quickly. I'd rather not break the Warrior Code again. If I do see you again, I will kill you. We all have to face judgment some time."
In moments he was gone, and a shadow that could have been a cat had long since slipped off towards clan territory.
(AU Where Jay takes Rock's Place.)
The moon has faded
Sometimes I can't help but feel like all I do i s
l . . .
How did he stand it? Seasons blur,
Until there's nothing but rushing wind that eventually fades to nothingness. Colors become sharp and bright, but all too soon dull and flatten.
Everything. Nothing. Something, something, s-o-m-e-t-h-i-n-g. . .
Until there was nothing.
She was gone a long, long time ago.
How could there be anything after she was gone?
. . . and he would stay that way, forever.
Why didn't she wait?
Rise and fall like ashes to fire
"I'm sorry Rock, but I can't; you know I can't. Half Moon is wai..."
Jayfeather trails off; in this . . . dream/vision world he can see Rock, though the surroundings are little more than a blur of indistinguishable color and texture.
Rock doesn't look angry, or upset, or shocked. . .
His expression is blank, unmoving, like it has always been, in-tune with his namesake. Blind eyes blank, unfeeling.
It unsettles him.
He takes a hesitant step back.
"Jayfeather, I don't think you understand."
He's breathing heavily now, picking up in speed and threatening to turn into hyperventilation.
The atrocious looking cat glances away for a moment, mouth opening a tad and then closing right after. Words, something Jayfeather never expected him to be short of, fail Rock, until faintly, like a dying breeze, he says, "What's done is done, and nothing can change it."
The next words hit him physically, like a bolt of lightning.
"You don't have a choice."
He falls and there's too much, to h, and it's everything that has been from then to now and it just. won't. s t o p. . .
Until it does.
And there is nothing.
But not really; he's merely blind again. When his senses begin to properly return (that's right - he had been on a walk in the woods, searching for comfrey when Rock had stopped him to talk -) and he can smell that he's outside Thunderclan's camp, right in front of the entrance (when did he get here? And why couldn't he at first smell, or feel, or-)
There's something else, too; his pelt pin-prickles and the air is heavy; wet. There is rain on the way and if he could see the sky would be that impossibly bright-dark gray, everything awash in somber tones and chill like mountain breeze.
(He thinks - briefly - of Half Moon, and that he must speak with her before - before-
-whatever it was that Rock did to him.)
(. . . Before it's too late.)
He huffs, head low; hopefully he'll just come across as his annoyed self, rather than the unsettled, terrified kit he feels like.
He enters camp.
He doesn't know where he is,
He doesn't know what has happened.
He could have died - perhaps he disappeared. It wouldn't be the first time.
But now he's gone - - pulled away from what he once knew and loved and now, now-
He can no longer go back.
This he knows, without really knowing.
Rock is gone, though Starclan (ha!) knows where. So is Midnight, he feels. She probably prompted him to leave. Rock was too stubborn to go of his own accord.
But now they were both gone; true death with no thought or feelings. Eternal sleep for them both, and he, oh Thunderstar he-
He was trapped here, in THIS. This hell that he couldn't leave. And Half Moon, oh his dear, sweet Half Moon. . .
He hadn't known he had been screaming, not until it had been choked back by sobs that pulled at his bleeding throat, though not as badly as they wrenched his broken heart.
No one heard him; there was no one to hear him. He was alone.
(. . . though his sobs would haunt the dreams of those connected to time and position like his.)
The clock hadn't stopped but it had stuttered, a gear quickly righting itself, so that time could continue.
Because if the clock ever stopped, well -
It would still be wrong, most of the day.
A Blurr, And Gone
She panted, her paws thundering across the putrid floor, as thunderous, sour yowls rang out behind her.
Tongue lolling, vision fading; it was hard to see - to think, to feel - as what was left of her tried to shut down. She glanced briefly at her paws as she ran, then pulled her gaze back up to look ahead.
Her paws were blurred, faded. Like colored water or elusive smoke - not quite solid. She wasn't here exactly, but she wasn't there either, and-
And her body.
. . . it didn't dwell to think on it now.
Ivypool lay curled in the hollowed base of a rank, rotting tree, finally having outrun the crowd that had been chasing her.
She wasn't worth it, after all.
The fact that she hadn't woken in Starclan unnerved her more than she had thought it would. It was amplified by the fact that the cats of The Place Of No Stars wouldn't 'welcome' her ever again. She had nowhere to go - nowhere to belong.
She wrapped her silver-patched white tail over her muzzle, letting watery blue eyes shut with exhaustion.
Oh Dovewing - why didn't I listen to you?
Ivypool didn't really want to sleep, for she knew she'd see it again.
The details were fuzzy, but she does recall with glazed clarity how she had leapt on his murderer, her own teeth crushing his throat - and then, oh then-!
She had been bodily knocked off by Hawkfrost, who had snarled at her, asking how dare she do such a thing? Why?
He had lifted a clawed paw, as though to strike her. But then thought better of it, backing off and relaxing, muzzle curling as he praised her for the murder, but also stating that she'd need to be punished for such an insolent act.
Ivypool's voice had been weak, but still she managed to croak a pitiful, 'no.'
"No?" Hawkfrost had responded, voice icy and deadly as leaf-bare frost. "No?!" Louder still, like driving hail. Then there had been an icy, unpleasant chuckle from the Ice-blue-eyed tom, as all the others watched on silently.
She hadn't gotten up much way off the ground, so, surprised, he had pinned her down again, breathing in her ear-
'I tried to warn you; but I guess clan cats never learn.'
And then raking hot pain as he dug his claws in to pin her down, slowly, slowly clamping his jaws around her throat. She had fought back, struggled-
But to no avail.
She was much, much weaker than the violent-minded tom, and as she choked on her blood she felt herself falling, falling. . .
And then she was weightless, feeling as though she could float off into the sky-
She gaped in horror as her not-there legs stood through the middle of her body.
She could feel it losing heat beneath her.
They had been leering, waiting for her to return, as though they knew Starclan wouldn't accept her. So, instead of stay with them (or let them kill her again) she did the only thing she could.
She had ran.
Ivypool curled in on herself tighter, trying to block out the violent memories.
It was early morning when the heart-wrenching yowl rang out.
Jayfeather heard the commotion, and, after grabbing a few herbs just in case, ran to join them.
Lionblaze was already there, and Jayfeather could feel that brilliant amber gaze trained on him. He set the herbs down, faintly detecting blood through the strong herb-scent, and asked, "What's going on?"
"It's - it's Ivypool."
Something in the way he said it banished any ideas of scoffing that he well knew it was Ivypool, going by the loud yowl.
He simply waited, letting Lionblaze go on.
"She's - she's-"
"Oh for Starclan's sake," Jayfeather finally snapped. "What is it? If it's that important than I should be shoving these idiots out of the way-"
Lionblaze's emotionless mew cut him off.
It had gone like this:
Dovewing had been awoken from her sleep by Ivypool thrashing around. She had figured that it had been her 'usual' training.
She got up to check on her, as usual when this occurred, but had stopped suddenly, frozen in shock.
In the early morning light it looked almost like blue, thick water. But when the scent hit her nose she knew in an instant.
It was blood.
Ivypool had mostly stopped thrashing at this point, going almost deathly still as she heaved for breath. Dovewing had been frozen, unsure what to do.
And then she had stopped moving.
Dovewing did the only thing she could think of.
Hours later, she along with Jayfeather, Lionblaze, Brackenfur, and a few other senior warriors met with Firestar.
Jayfeather jumped right in. "Suffocation."
Firestar looked at him, then meowed a soft, "go on," for him to continue. Horrified, curious eyes looked to him as he spoke.
"Ivypool was killed by suffocation, not blood loss - though she did lose a lot of it. Something crushed her throat."
"What?" Cloudtail asked, incredulous. "How?"
Jayfeather turned an icy, sightless gaze to the white tom, meowing with a voice like thin stone. "In a dream."
Before Cloudtail could give a scathing meow of outright denial, Brackenfur jumped in with a meditative inquiry of, "Could you please explain further, Jayfeather? I don't think we quite understand what you mean."
The gray tabby fought back the urge to snap 'It's exactly as it sounds!'
Instead, he felt Lionblaze move beside him, no doubt exchanging a look with a distraught Dovewing.
He also felt his leader's burning gaze staring right him.
He heaved a sigh, leaning slightly into his brother. Lionblaze got the message.
"Well," he began almost wearily. "I guess it's time to tell you what we know about The Place Of No Stars. . ."
'Heart' - a JayMoon fanfic
'I'll wait for you forever. . .'
She breathes the words to him, like her last breath all over again. His name, her last words. And his heart shatters like ice on the lake at the sound of it.
'. . . Jay's Wing. . .'
And he whispers back, back into the wind and howling water, his own words flowing from a shattering heart.
'. . . and I'll meet you then, Half Moon.'
He holds on to that; in hopes that her name can be said with his dying breath.
He decided when the air bedecked with stardust leaves his vision, that maybe it's better to return to his world blind.
Because what's the point in seeing, if her can't see her? Can't meet her bright, green gaze; can't see her face contort with expressions that match her tone of voice?
But then is there any point in hearing too for that matter? Smell, touch - taste is the only thing left to value, but prey just tastes like old bones.
At least he feels so in that moment, alone beneath the ledge under the waterfall. But he knows - Stars, he knows - that he will live, and laugh, and enjoy the time he has left. His brother, his sister and sister-not-in-this-time. He'll have an apprentice one day, his siblings - all three of them - will take mates and have kits which will clamber and annoy but he'll adore them because they're kin, and who could not?
This he sees without seeing, hears in the distance and feels in his heart.
And her scent washes over him, and he feels a charge in the air like a Greenleaf storm despite the spray from the water, and he knows.
He knows, that even if she's waiting, she's still watching over him.
And his heart fits back together like it was barely broken in the first place.
(These next few are a story I had started and never developed on Warriors Amino.)
A New Star Fallen
(O. Posted November 13, 2017)
This is the character list for ANSF; there are three clans. They live in an area with lots of Cherry trees near the stream bank. Slateclan is a little upriver, living where the stream bubbles from under a haphazard area of bluish-grey Rock slabs, and birds wheel in the air there. Looking towards Slateclan, on your left would be Bankclan, which rises a little uphill from the stream, and it is muddier with sparse plants, mostly low-growing patches. On the right side of the stream is Meadowclan, where the trees surround an open patch of land with longish grasses and plants.
*MORE CHARACTERS TO BE ADDED*
BANKCLAN (Hunts fish and burrowing animals.)
L: Driftstar(mist) - chocolate brown medium furred tom with gray eyes
D: Mudshade - Brown tom with dark markings (almost black) and amber-green eyes.
MC: Marshwisp - guant, ancient white tom with peculiar soft gray markings and murky, moss-slime green eyes. Developing cataracts.
MCa: Dustpaw - white tom with brown head-to-tail stripe and wide, green eyes.
Troutstrike - large blue-gray tom with green eyes. Oldest warrior.
Robinsnow - reddish brown she-cat with white undersides and bright yellow-green eyes.
Willowleaves - graceful gray she-cat with long, whispy fur. Finchfrost and Reedfang's mother.
Barkstripe - lighter brown tabby tom with amber eyes; Swallowfall's only real friend.
Swallowfall - black and white tom, right eye black spot; right eye sky-blue left eye yellow-green. Generally silent.
Reedfang - long, ragged furred gray tom with yellow eyes.
a: Heatherpaw - gray tom with darker stripes and olive eyes.
Pikeshadow - Gray tom with darker ticked tabby markings and dark green eyes. Mousespots' mate.
Frostwhisker - Black she-cat with white undersides and dark blue eyes.
a: Volepaw - Brown and white short-furred she-cat with yellow-eyes.
Mousespots - Brown she-cat with darker spots, ear tips, and tail rings; brown eyes. (KITS: Stormkit - gray tom with darker blue markings and light blue eyes; Sunkit - White tom with two-toned golden back fur and markings, and dark blue eyes.)
Finchfrost - young Calico she-cat with amber eyes.
Rustfur - reddish brown she-cat with yellow eyes; going blind.
MEADOWCLAN (Hunts rabbits mostly and some fish.)
L: Brownstar(deer) - dark brown, spotted tom with yellow eyes.
D: Flutteringbreeze - Black she-cat with yellow-amber eyes
MC: Sparrowheart - Thick-furred dark brown (almost black) tom with blue eyes.
Fawnfeather - long-furred pale dusty brown she-cat with blue eyes.
a: Pebblepaw - muddy colored tom with pale blue eyes.
Goatfur - Wiry furred, pale gray, grumpy tom with pale green eyes.
Dawnfrost - Cream-colored she-cat with short fur and blue eyes. White fore-toes and tail-tip.
a: Poppypaw - orangey tabby tom with amber eyes.
Smokestream - long-furred gray-white tom with dark stripes. Amber-yellow eyes.
Vixenbud - orange (solid) she-cat with white muzzle and chest, light green eyes, and thicker fur on face, chest, and shoulders.
Grasswing - White she-cat with blue-gray (appears green) markings. Green eyes.
Ebonyflower - Black she-cat with a white jaw and underside of tail; green eyes. Goatfur's daughter. (KITS: Grasskit - wiry furred dark gray tom with gray eyes; Littlekit - Golden she-kit with dark blue, almost indigo-purple, eyes who wants to train as a medicine cat.)
Duskgleam - dusty brownish she-cat with yellow eyes. (KIT: Fireflykit/Shimmerkit - Brown she-kit with lighter colored stripes and red-amber eyes.)
SLATECLAN (A little further upstream; they hunt primarily birds and ground squirrels, but will eat fish. Fairly prestigious clan.)
L: Swiftstar(hawk) - solid gray tom with brown eyes
D: Stormbreeze - dark gray almost black tom with brown eyes; Graycloud's brother.
MC: Graycloud - solid gray she-cat with medium-length fur and dark gray-blue eyes.
Mothfrost - Gray tabby she-cat with thick, swirling stripes (classic tabby) and Amber eyes. Oldest Warrior.
Weaselstripe - light brownish tabby and white tom with yellow eyes.
Frostfall - white tom with pale, icy blue eyes and black whiskers. Formerly Weaselstripe's apprentice.
Featherstrike - Silvery and white cat (solid) with brown-Amber eyes; will be moving to the nursery soon.
a: Stonepaw - darkish Gray tabby tom with green eyes and slightly lighter undersides/toes/muzzle.
Cherryfoot - Brown she-cat with dark brown-reddish paws and blue eyes.
a: Kitepaw - brown and white tom with yellow eyes.
Featherear (Curlfeather?) - Soft grayish-brown tabby she-cat with long fur and fluffy ears curling out. Gray eyes. (KIT: Quickkit - brown and white tom with green-blue eyes.)
Eaglesong - large brown tom with white undersides and yellow eyes.
Cinderfall - orange tabby she-cat with dark gray eyes.
CATS OUTSIDE THE CLANS
Thomas mall - Solid ginger tom with white undersides/muzzle/socks and orange-amber eyes. Loner.
Thistle - Soft pale brown (solid) tom with white underbelly/muzzle and dark blue eyes. Lives as a barncat.
Johnson - young (solid) brown tom with white under markings, yellow eyes.
Clarice - older pale colored calico with soft green eyes. Johnson's mother's sister.
Snow began to pitter out, if only slightly. In the entrance of a rock-cave - going slightly into the ground - sat a white cat with a long brown spinestripe. He had his tail tucked over his paws, and looked with wide eyes into the blizzard.
"Will it always be like this?" He called, seemingly into the storm. Behind him, a ragged almost white shape got up to his forepaws, seemingly with great effort. He had unappealing green eyes, the color of slime from moss. There were full, clouded moons in each of them - the apprentice feared the older cat would die before he got his full name.
A dry, rasping chuckle. "Oh Dustpaw," chortling grew, then dimmed to coughing. After he regained his breath, he gave a rusty purr. "Of course not. You're only, what, eight moons? But even then, you know that the snow will give way to rain, and that in turn to the hot bloom, then to the breezes that'll rattle the cherry blossoms from their perch. Leaf-bare is here, Leaf-bare goes, Leaf-bare returns. This is a bad storm, true, but it will pass." He blinked slowly at his apprentice, comfortingly, then settled his old paws down once again.
His forelegs had just followed his paws, when Dustpaw turned to him with his wide, jade eyes. "But how do we know this isn't a sign, Marshwisp?"
Marshwisp grunted. "You just know. Starclan doesn't change the weather to this magnitude - and usually there'll be a voice, or a starry shape will guide you." His voice dropped, until it was only as loud as the rasp of leaves skittering the ground. "...Unless they've finally spoken to you?"
A single, soft nod, his eyes closing halfway slowly, then shutting as he gave a tiny sigh.
Marshwisp was sympathetic. "Give it time, little one. You heard them at your ceremony, right?"
Dustpaw held back a sarcastic snort; he HAD heard them. A whispering assembly, like a susurrus rising in crescendo. Then silence slamming with darkness. He floated in a void of nothing, then woke up.
And ever since then, he only saw dark, and heard nothing but absolute silence.
Marshwisp set his head down, to sleep, but opened his eyes and stared at Dustpaw when the apprentice turned back to the blizzard.
Dustpaw stared into the white abyss, standing tall and determined; he would get a sign, he felt, and soon.
And he just knew it would be important.
THE FIRST CHAPTER
To say the clans were unprepared for a snowstorm of this magnitude would be a gross understatement.
The clouds had rolled in from the south, which had been strange enough, and seemed to camp there, like a cat hulking over the water for a gleaming fish.
The storm would last for nine sunsets, though it was hard to tell the day from night.
Mousespots was normally an optimistic she-cat. But even these circumstances scared her, and the ever present question of 'will this end?' echoed in her mind like the chatter of starlings.
A snore broke her from her thoughts, and she swiveled her head towards her denmate, Finchfrost. The calico queen was halfway through her pregnancy, and Mousespots didn't understand how she slept so soundly through such weather.
Her eyes flickered down to her own worries; her two kits would be apprenticed when Newleaf came, as long as they survived this weather. Stormkit was well-built, with a sturdy frame and his brother, Sunkit, was lithe and rambunctious. She felt she should have more trust, but, a mother couldn't help but worry. Especially when Sunkit felt so warm beneath her paws...
She saw a white shadow pass by in the blizzard, and she gave a low, sharp cry. The figure stopped, ears twitching, then came into the den.
It was Swallowfall, the black and white odd-eyes tom. He came in silently, quiet for awhile. He was a very quiet cat, not given much to talking.
"Would you mind stopping by the medicine den and asking either Marshwisp or Dustpaw to come by? Sunkit's feeling oddly warm."
There was kindness in his eyes. He dipped his head and meowed velvetly, "of course."
He disappeared back into the white screen, Mousespots settling back around her kits and letting a little sigh of relief out.
Swallowfall left his message with the two medicine cats. Marshwisp tested Dustpaw on which herbs to bring, and getting approval, he gathered what he needed.
Dustpaw had watched Swallowfall recede into the snow. He liked the tom - he was efficient and honest. Although he was quiet, he gave his opinion when it mattered and stuck by what he believed was true.
He remembered a conversation he had with Marshwisp, just after he became his apprentice, almost three moons ago.
'...and yarrow is good for bleeding.'
'Hey Marshwisp,' Dustpaw interrupted. 'What did Reedfang mean when he called Swallowfall a ... Uh, half-breed, erm...'
'A half-breed mongrel mutt?' Marshwisp asked, still sorting the herbs in front of him.
'Yeah.' Dustpaw shuffled his paws, glancing towards the ground. 'That was really mean and uncalled for. What I was wondering was... what does half-clan mean? And is he really half-clan?'
Marshwisp sighed, and Dustpaw glanced up at him, though the older tom didn't meet his eyes. 'Half-clan is when two cats from different clans have kits, then the kits have the blood of both clans - half-clan, you see?' Dustpaw nodded but his mentor continued on without seeing. 'There was a she-cat from Meadowclan, who gave birth to a single kit. Her name was Deersong. After her kit was born, she couldn't stop bleeding, and slowly died. But before she died, she told her brother that the kit's father was from our clan, and she wished him to be brought here. She died, and then her brother, who was deputy, brought the kit here. He wanted to keep his kin, but it was his sister's wish. So he brought the kit here, one day in Greenleaf, when the cherry blossoms were falling in abundance. He left the kit, saying, "This is Swallowkit, my sister's kit, and one of your cat's kits. Take care of him." Then he left without a word. And he grew, and trained, and is a loyal warrior.'
He then turned his murky eyes towards Dustpaw.
'And that's obviously Swallowfall,' he replied.
His mentor nodded once, then turned back to the herbs.
Dustpaw wasn't finished though. 'But who was his father?'
'No one in the clan knows.' He said. But then he stopped suddenly, and the older cat's shoulders slumped. He looked at Dustpaw, capturing his gaze.
'Except for one last, living, silly old cat.'
Dustpaw pricked his ears. 'Who?'
Marshwisp leaned close, and said in a confidential whisper, 'Me.'
Dustpaw blinked. 'You?'
Marshwisp sat back up and worked as he spoke. 'But I won't be around forever and someone needs to know. Swallowfall may ask someday, so I'm going to trust you with this secret, okay Dustpaw.'
Another wide, green-eyes blink. 'Me?'
Marshwisp nodded. 'Yes, you. Now, I had a brother - a much older brother - who coincidentally was my former mentor. He was Swallowfall's father.'
'It's much harder to figure out the father than the mother.'
'Now, of that answers your questions, this is tansy, and we use it for...'
Dustpaw gave Sunkit the herbs, and his fever cleared a few days later. Then, five more days passed, and the snow finally ended. Later, when the camp was shrouded in white, but cats could walk around without freezing to death, they held an apprentice ceremony for Heatherkit - now Heatherpaw. Reedfang was to be his mentor. Clan life seemed to be entering its own personal Newleaf.
That evening, Sunkits fevered came back worse.
And when the moon reached its zenith that night, Dustpaw received his first, and only message from Starclan.
THE SECOND CHAPTER
Heatherkit could barely contain his excitement; at last - he would train to become a warrior! He glanced around with gleaming eyes, wondering which cat was to be his mentor. Bankclan had the tradition of the mentors staying in the crowd with their clan mates until called upon. He wondered if the other clans did the same. Then his mind turned back to the matter of 'who' it would be.
He saw reddish brown fur with a flash of white from the corner of his eye. He turned to see a pretty she-cat, who blinked slowly with yellow-green eyes encouragingly. Perhaps Robinsnow would be his mentor? But she gave no hint of it. Hmm. He glanced at a strong gray tom with much darker tabby markings. Pikeshadow! He was an incredibly brave cat. But he could tell by the twitch of the tom's tail that he was impatient, but not in the 'I can't wait to get my apprentice' way. Heatherkit thunked his tail. Pikeshadow was probably just worrying about Sunkit. He looked around again, for any other candidates, but was interrupted when Driftstar yowled from his perch on the Boulder.
"Cats of Bankclan! Today we hold a ceremony that commemorates a kit is of age to be apprenticed!"
A yowl of approval rang out.
'Fernskip,' he muttered silently. 'I hope you're proud.'
'And whichever one of you are my father, I hope you are too. You stupid son of -'
Driftstar leapt nimbly off of the Boulder, then beckoned Heatherkit forward with a twitch of his tail. Finchfrost (who had taken him when Fernskip had died two moons ago) nudged him forward gently. He purred briefly, then bound over on light paws.
"Reedfang," the dark brown leader called. A ragged, long-furred gray tom cantered forward. "You are a strong-minded and stable-pawed cat. I hope you pass on your strongest skills to Heatherpaw."
He darted forward, tail-streaming, and touched his nose to his new mentor's. He was a little surprised it was Reedfang, but not disappointed. Reedfang was a loyal warrior, after all.
"Heatherpaw! Heatherpaw! Heatherpaw! Heatherpaw!"
A pure rose loudly in his throat as the clan chanted around him, loud as a gale.
Sunkit's fur rippled in delight. An apprentice ceremony! He wiggled around, happily, nudging his brother Stormkit. Soon they'd be apprentices too!
Stormkit nudged him back heftily, and Sunkit tried not to fall over. He gave a mock growl, knocking against his brother once more. But the gray tom was not to be moved.
For some reason the weakness Sunkit had felt with his fever clung. It wasn't as bad as when he HAD the fever, but had felt much . . . heavier the last few hours. It clung to his body, slowing his movements and threatening to drag him. But he felt better, so he was, wasn't he? He continued to play with his brother, confidence running through him. He was better - he had to be. Because his fever was gone. It was just some lingering aftereffects, wasn't it?
"SUNKIT!" A cat screeched.
About an hour and a half before his namesake fell, Sunkit collapsed.
His fever had returned.
Dustpaw finally chewed the last bit to pulp, brushing a tail over Sunkit's flank. He spat the pulp onto a lead and wrapped it, so it could be administered later. He sighed quietly.
"Well?" Mousespots croaked.
He glanced at her, his usually wide eyes half-drooped with fatigue and worry. She didn't look much better; fur ragged and unkempt, though it had only been a few hours since Sunkit had relapsed. Stormkit lay curled next to her, having fallen asleep after the long ordeal. Poor mite had felt that it was his fault, by playing too hard. Dustpaw had explained to him that it wasn't; that sickness had a way of lingering and returning, especially to cats already ill once.
He snapped out of his thoughts, saying in a voice dragged by exhaustion, "It seems to be the same sickness. I can't isolate what's causing it though - he has a fever, chills, spasms, weakness... but the things I'd usually use to cure those symptoms aren't working, only alleviating some of them. We just need to keep him fed, watered, and continue administering herbs." He swished his tail as he stood, growling, "it may go away on its own. I just don't understand why it's not working! I know these are the right herbs, but it's like his body isn't really accepting them! Rreaughhhh!"
He swiped at the ground, ears almost completely flat. He saw Mousespots flinch from the corner of his vision, and he instantly loosened up, ears rising a little.
"Sorry. I'm just frustrated. I'm sure he'll be fine - it's just that he has to fight his own battle now, and ... that's a little hard for a medicine cat to take."
"Don't worry Mousespots; you can trust Dustpaw," Finchfrost said, smiling warmly at him. The queen had stayed up for once, feeling the need to support Mousespots. Dustpaw hoped she'd get some rest tonight - the queen was still heavily pregnant. "Sunkit is strong, just like you. He'll survive. Let's all just try to get some rest now. Goodnight Dustpaw."
"Thank you, Dustpaw - goodnight."
Dustpaw dipped his head. "Goodnight ladies."
He hurried to the refuge of the medicine den, seeing Marshwisp was already asleep. He stretched, then curled up next to his mentor to sleep.
For the first time in his life, Dustpaw didn't dream of a silent void.
The vista was made up of swaths of blue, mostly dark hues and a few 'lighter' shades, the color some of the faraway stars appeared to be. The darkest shade was almost black.
There was, though, this odd texture to everything. It was like wisps of see-through white - like clouds - but in the shape of cracks in a frozen stream, but more uniform. It was scattered across his vision randomly but not like it was on his eyes. It was like ... like ...
Like a barrier of sorts; a drifting wall of mist.
Dustpaw snatched his gaze from where he was looking, turning forward and slightly left. A cat was walking (ever so slightly descending) his fur was more translucent then the strange barrier(s), more like colored water than anything. He was a large tom, far larger than any Dustpaw knew, with what appears to be ... faded brown fur? His pelt was covered in starfrost like mist.
When he looked up to meet the cat's gaze, he openly gasped.
In place of the colors and pupils of the eyes, it was a solid, opaque white.
The tom (the thought came to him, suddenly, for it obviously was) opened his mouth, the words tumbling forth hurried but strung together smoothly.
'When the sun is weak, a storm shall rise, and soon a star shall fall - with another to take its place. Silence is strength, and dark is peace. Do not fear the dark little one.'
Suddenly a noise fell through, like a thousand crows cawing in cacophony. Something like claw shreds ripped through the world around him, and the Starclan cat watched him with worry. He turned to leave.
"Wait!" Dustpaw shouted above the distortion. "What's your name? Please!"
The starry tom looked back once, indecision crossing his face. He shook his head, and yowled back, "I am Moleheart. Remember Dustpaw: Do not fear the dark!"
And then the tom was bounding away, and everything was ripped from before him, until Dustpaw fell . . . fell . . . fell.
And all was dark and silent once more.
The Third Chapter
Dustpaw bolted up, moss flying from beneath him, panting and heart racing.
His muzzle twitched and his ears perked up. His first dream! And one from Starclan, no less!
He had to tell Marshwisp - it was a very important message, after all. And he was only an apprentice.
But when he stepped out of his nest, he immediately saw Marshwisp was already sitting up, wide awake, staring at Dustpaw with an unreadable expression. He ignored the narrowed eyes and skipped up to his mentor, albeit a little timidly. "Marshwisp! You won't believe it! I finally had a-"
"A dream," he cut Dustpaw off, his tone dark. Dustpaw stiffened, feeling as though he had done something wrong.
"Y-yes. And I received a message from Starclan!" His excitement returned. "It started when I woke up-"
"Stop!" His mentor leapt up, fur sticking out and ears flat. His eyes were wide, panicked, his tail curling up beneath him. Dustpaw took a step back, crouching lower to the ground. His mentor's snarl had scared him.
There was a tense moment, the only sound being Marshwisp's labored breathing and Dustpaw's heart beating in his own ears. Eventually Marshwisp relaxed, muscles loosening, though he stayed standing. His ears lifted a little too.
"I'm sorry, young one," he rasped softly. "I didn't mean to frighten you. Come here." He sat and tapped the floor next to him.
Dustpaw slunk over, sitting down a little bit away, and hunched down slightly. His eyes looked large and sad.
Marshwisp drew him closer with his tail and leaned towards him in a comforting gesture. He gave a hefty sigh.
"I'm sorry," he said again. He stared at the wall in front of them, while Dustpaw looked up to him. "You see, I too had a dream - and in that dream they told me that I was not allowed to hear about your dream - that no one is to hear about your dream. The prophecy is for you alone."
He looked down to Dustpaw and caught his gaze like a steal trap. Marshwisp's eyes shone. "Do you understand, Dustpaw? This prophecy is for you to carry - for you alone." His voice hitched, and he looked to the floor. "I'm so sorry you must keep such a burden." His voice fell quieter, almost too quiet for him to hear. "That you must keep so many burdens alone."
Dustpaw leaned into his mentor, suddenly, eyes closed. Marshwisp was shocked, but just as soon drew the apprentice under his chest, leaning his head on top of Dustpaw's.
I wish, if life were different, you wouldn't have to carry such a weight - that I could be your father and care for you as my son; as a kit. But we, as medicine cats, are under the mercy of Starclan, and this is not to be.
He sighed at the thought. Closing his eyes tightly as another came, like a piercing thorn to his heart.
I'm so sorry.
"What do you mean he shouldn't be apprenticed?!"
The voice rang out, a snarl across his usually docile features.
Reedfang seemed taken aback, and glanced to Driftstar. Driftstar just kept staring at Swallowfall, who stood there quivering with rage.
"W-well," Reedfang said, then composing himself, bolder, "He's too sick! Stormkit will be apprenticed in less than two moons, and Sunkit isn't getting any better! I'm just saying it would be more beneficial to move him to the medicine den permanently!"
"You mean more beneficial for you," Swallowfall spat back, ignoring Barkstripe's tail draping calmingly on his back. His black and white tail lashed. "You just don't want the clans to think we're weak because we have a late apprentice - but that's not fair to Sunkit or our clan!"
Reedfang opened and closed his mouth, too indignant to find words to launch back. Before he could speak, though, Driftstar cut in calmly, "Who, then, will train Sunkit? He'll need a patient mentor - he will take moons longer to train."
Swallowfall was huffing. "W-who...? T-then ... I..." He took a shuddering gulp. "I will train Sunkit!"
Barkstripe's eyes widened. Swallowfall always avoided gaining an apprentice. Actually, Driftstar had asked him if he would be interested in training Heatherpaw, but he had declined, unbeknownst to the rest of the clan. In fact, he had even suggested Reedfang would be better suited to the job, though only he and Driftstar knew.
Reedfang had started to protest, but Driftstar ignored him, staring intensely at Swallowfall, who was still shaking. "It's done. When Sunkit becomes well enough Swallowfall will take charge in training him. Reedfang," he looked to the gray tom as he addressed him. "Resume to your duties - I believe Mudshade assigned you to a hunting patrol." Reedfang left with a twitch and a huff, calling angrily for Heatherpaw to follow. The apprentice followed happily, used to the tom's moodiness.
When they had gone, Driftstar dipped his head to Swallowfall and Barkstripe. "Have a pleasant day you two." He then turned and left.
It was silent for a time, then Barkstripe nuzzled his best friend. "I'm proud of you; I know you can do this."
Swallowfall leaned into him but kept silent, his doubts melting until they were small, faded voices disappearing in the wind.
That night, in the void where Dustpaw stood, he saw a gold star fall, and disappear in the nothingness, the brief illuminessence leaving him shadowed and breathless, if only for a moment.
In the nursery a kit dreamed of a golden warmth descending upon their heart, and they twitched their tail and purred, the dream to be forgotten in the morning.
*WARNING*: There is mention of death, and prejudice against half-clan cats.))
The Fourth Chapter
Six sunrises passed in quick succession; Sunkit barely getting better only to succumb to his sickness yet again. He was too weak when conscious, but if he could, he'd describe the numbness that encompassed his mind in those dark moments of 'sleep', pressing and lasting longer and longer. His vision was beginning to become affected, though only a bit.
Dustpaw's tail dragged behind him, forlornly and wearily, as he paced around the medicine den, lost in thought and lost to his original task. Worry weighed upon his mind like heavy storm clouds.
Marshwisp had gotten more frail, tending to sleep a lot, and his eyes didn't focus on anything anymore. Age was rapidly attacking his body with a sudden ferocity, so much so that he didn't have much energy for anything. All he could see was the blurriest tableau of faded color, and taste and smell left nothing but the sense of stale dust. His hearing stayed impeccable, though.
Despite these few (yet great) tragedies, the clan was doing quite well. Prey was flowing back, the chill had begun to dissipate, and Finchfrost would soon have her kits.
That thought finally jarred Dustpaw out of his fog. He shook his head sharply, smacking his ears uncomfortably. He needed to get herbs prepared for Finchfrost and the arriving kits. Anything could go wrong, and this was his first kitting alone.
He quickly began to shuffle through their herb stores, taking out particular ones and setting them aside. "Raspberry and borage, we'll keep some tansy in case she develops a cough after - that's what happened to Fernskip, then some..."
His voice faltered after remembering Fernskip, Heatherpaw's mother. He had just become a new apprentice maybe three weeks before, and as such hadn't been there to help. From what he was told, though, was that she had had a hard time, and had been very ill after.
What Marshwisp had told him, with the only other cat being Driftstar who knew, was that there had been a second kit, too small and mangled to ever take a breath.
(He wondered why Marshwisp felt he could leave such secrets with him.)
(... and if it was worth it for Dustpaw to know such things.)
Fernskip had actually gotten better quickly. So it had been a shock to the whole clan when one day they found her dead, he heart having just given up completely.
Dustpaw noticed his vision blurring so he roughly shook his head, thrusting himself back into reality. He began earnestly getting the herbs set together, muttering as he did so.
" . . . and poppy seeds, just in case."
Reedfang prowled out of camp, with Heatherpaw trailing behind, a little less confident and a little more unsure than he usually was. Reedfang felt concern for his apprentice for a moment but let it pass; a little battle training would do him some good.
He'd had another . . . altercation of sorts with Swallowfall again.
Reedfang was a thoroughbred cat, and as such had high ideals for pure-bloodedness and loyalty. It could probably be traced to stemming back to his great-great-great-grandfather's betrayal when he left Bankclan to be with some wild-hills-She-cat, and then finding out that he had (very) distant cousins from that line in Slateclan. So yes, he was a bit prejudiced in that regard. Not that he would let these feelings loose and disobey his leader. Because loyalty to the clan came before everything - even blood.
He did have a begrudging part of him that respected the half-blood tom-cat, for his devotion and loyalty. But far be it for him to actually LIKE the cat.
Swallowfall was actually pretty easy to deal with: if Reedfang jabbed with words, Swallowfall usually ignored him. The black-and-white tom wasn't given with lashing back to anyone - and if he did it was never near as scathing. He didn't get involved in others' affairs, he obeyed his higher-ups (though only Barkstripe was aware of the fact that he had argued with Marshwisp on more than one occasion about taking certain herbs when he was sick.) Heck the only cat he really hung around was Barkstripe. And Reedfang wasn't a fan of Barkstripe.
It was odd, though, how upset Swallowfall seemed to be. Ever since their argument about Sunkit's apprenticeship, Swallowfall had barely spoken a word to anyone. He merely glowered and lashed his tail whenever he saw Reedfang. He was sure that he had spoken to Barkstripe, but not in camp that he'd heard, anyways. When they had been in the same hunting patrol that morning, Swallowfall had a stiff demeanor, giving a jerky nod when Pikeshadow asked him to go after a squirrel or help with a vole. He had actually gotten really frustrated and tore at the bank when he missed a water rat, hissing venomously at Reedfang when he had tried to make a teasing comment. It puzzled him, really.
But pissed him off more than anything.
Heatherpaw padded after his mentor, almost unsure. Reedfang was particularly hissy about something, and it rubbed Heatherpaw's fur the wrong way.
They eventually made it a little ways from camp, to an area with thin, sparse grass and soft dirt. It was a patch that mentors typically brought their apprentices to train battle moves; it was in the opposite direction of the river.
"Okay," Reedfang's rough voice broke him out of his thoughts. The gray tom turned to face him fully, eyes alight with authority. "Today we're going to start with some basic defensive moves; defense is almost always better than offense. Can you tell me why?"
Heatherpaw had nodded in agreement, then the question caught him off guard. He took a minute to think it over, tilting his head to the right and looking to the sky in thought. "Would it be because as long as you defend yourself good, then you can maybe get a blow or two in even if you aren't fully trained to fight?"
"Well," he corrected him. "As long as you defend yourself well. And yes, essentially." He paused, flicking an ear as he gathered his thoughts. He seemed to dispel them just as quickly, though, and simply said, "We're going to start with some improvisation and then I'll give you pointers from there. I'm going to attack you now, and I want you to defend yourself. And for Starclan's sake, keep your claws sheathed!"
(It wasn't uncommon for apprentices starting out to accidentally use their claws - it was instinct, after all - and it took time and much drilling for cats to get used to keeping their claws sheathed with training, but unsheathing them in battle.)
He met his mentor's yellow eyes and nodded once, preparing himself.
But he wasn't prepared enough when Reedfang bound forward, bowling him over. He stopped to let Heatherpaw up, stating, "When you see me preparing to move you need to try and dodge; reassess the situation. Let's try again."
Heatherpaw steadied himself, then nodded.
He would get this right.
It was definitely more than twenty tries later when he managed to leap completely out of the way without being ran into or clipped and bowled over. But then Reedfang had spun around faster than he thought possible and flipped him over. Somehow.
He lay panting on the ground, and feeling bruised, as Reedfang nodded almost seeming . . . pleased?
"Hmm fairly well," his mentor mused. "In time you'll come along nicely." Then, louder, "You can rest up for a few and then we'll go again."
Attitude-wise, it was times like these that Reedfang seemed like a normal cat.
But then he said things like that.
After the pertaining silence (only broken by Heatherpaw's gasping) Reedfang stood up fluidly.
"Okay, let's go again. This time try-"
"Reedfang! Reedfang!" A large, blue-gray tom named Troutstrike came running up, his eyes wide. His mouth was agape and he was breathing harshly. "It's Finchfrost! She's kitting!"
Heatherpaw was knocked aside once more as Reedfang rushed past him, his mentor's screech still ringing in his ears.
Heatherpaw scrambled to his paws and rushed to catch up, filled with his mentor's worry.
Finchfrost was Reedfang's sister after all.
The Fifth Chapter
Dustpaw was in hell.
Marshwisp had caught a fever and wasn't making much sense, his words muttered and unintelligible in his delirium.
And then when he had gone to check on Sunkit, Finchfrost had started kitting.
He'd had to rush back to the medicine den to get the herbs he'd prepared ahead of time, only to find that mold had somehow got into it and he'd had to take a fresh stock out of his stores that were already running low because he couldn't. leave. camp.
Luckily Swallowfall was keeping others out of the nursery, and his partner in crime, Barkstripe, had asked Troutstrike to go fetch Reedfang while he himself went to go find a stick for the queen to bite when the time came.
So it was a stressful situation.
Finchfrost felt overheated, but not in the way that would suggest fever. He put a paw gently on her stomach only to feel it convulse (he could hear her gritting her teeth.)
"Okay Finch," Dustpaw said, shortening her name in a soothing manner he usually did when dealing with cats in great discomfort or pain. He took the stick Barkstripe had brought and pushed it towards her muzzle. "First of all, grip this in your jaws. When the kits start coming out I want you to bite it, okay?"
Her eyes flashed fearfully as she took the stick, but she went ahead and nodded once.
"Mousespots, I need you to keep your kits out of the way, maybe take them out for a bit? No, never mind; Sunkit isn't up to it. Umm, I guess just stay back there for the moment okay? Now Finchfrost, I need you to keep calm. I know it hurts and. . ."
Time went by, his words mumbled encouragement as he kept watch over her during her kitting. At one point Reedfang had burst in, Swallowfall behind him giving Dustpaw an affirmative nod. Reedfang stayed by his sister, cursing the father of her kits for not being there and soothing her when he could.
Finally, after the sun had gone to rest and the stars came out, so too the last kit was born.
It wouldn't be until early morning and after Dustpaw had diligently tended to Finchfrost and her new kits that he'd go to his den to rest.
And he'd be welcomed by Marshwisp's corpse, his mentor's body cold and long dead.
(Drabbles and AUs same universe.)
You are the current (recently named) leader of Bankclan. There is a kit at your paws (they're taking him to the nursery now) and the deputy of Meadowclan just told you he is a half-clan kit (you believe him, of course). So now you have a mixed blood kit who's going to have a hard time of it, someone in your clan broke the code, and you can't fathom 'who'.
And now you don't know what to do.
Swallowkit was an odd kit, to say the least.
It wasn't his different colored eyes (some were even envious of that, because that didn't happen often, and he has blue AND green, lucky furball) and it wasn't even the fact that he would have the wiry, low build of Meadowclan as well as the prowess and quickness of a Bankclan cat. No, these weren't the things that were odd.
He didn't speak.
Swallowkit wasn't mute, or deaf. He obviously heard things, and he had actually mewed words before, like Rustfur's name (she was a very old she-cat, whose kits had just been apprenticed, so she took Swallowkit in). He'd said he was hungry, or thirsty, or when he desired to be in the sun.
But he didn't try to make conversation. While most cats his age were talkative and loudly questioning things, Swallowkit was silent, passive. He had half-closed sleepy eyes, that didn't widen much when he was curious, but did spark with a dark light.
There were three other kits in the nursery: Willowleaves' kits, Reedkit (a gray tom almost the replica of his mother) and Frostkit (a pretty black she-cat with white undersides), as well as an older she-cat named Shrewsong (a solid brown, beautiful, lithe she-cat with soft yellow eyes) who had a tom named Barkkit.
Frostkit was quite playful, and got along well wit her brother. But Reedkit was a whole other story. He hated Swallowkit with some hidden, unhinged fury. Reedkit spat whenever Swallowkit crossed his path, saying there was something "wrong" with the half-clan cat. His mother reprimanded him about it, but it did nothing to change Reedkit's volatile hatred of Swallowkit.
Barkkit, however, was determined to be Swallowkit's friend. When Reedkit stated he wouldn't play with any kit who hung around Swallowkit, Barkkit loudly meowed that Swallowkit had better games anyway (for he did like to play games, but not normal kit games of pretending warrior duties - he liked to play those games only if they had a real piece of prey, or some warriors or apprentices to be 'enemy cats'. He liked to think about things - how the crouch helped a cat spring, and how bigger cats had the advantage of force and smaller cats where quick - why who could do what.)
And though Barkkit got bored at times, he loyally stayed by Swallowkit's side.
He found Swallowkit to be a great listener. Though silent for the most part, he didn't ignore his friend (for that he was). He would listen, and think, perhaps nod at certain parts, or comment softly on others. That was one thing about Swallowkit his friend noticed; as the moon's passed by, and they grew closer, Swallowkit was always very loud or very quiet. He would one day find a right volume for speaking, but he would have trouble with it.
But Barkkit loved his friend like kin, so it didn't bother him the least bit.
Moons passed, and Barkpaw noticed other things.
Swallowpaw liked to TALK.
But he had only found out after a while.
They had grown close, and were happy with each other's company. Whereas Reedpaw grew boastful and constantly wanted admiration, and Frostpaw constantly flirted with other toms, Barkpaw and Swallowpaw had one another - joking, laughing, and enjoying their apprenticeships and lives to the fullest. Swallowpaw grew to trust Barkpaw (which was amazing in itself, since the only other cat he seemed to trust was Rustfur.) And Barkpaw learned something.
Swallowpaw is one heck of a talker.
He could meow on for hours about ideas and concepts and other such various things. He would tell Barkpaw about how he saw the world, this big ball of color and sound and feeling and taste and smell.
How the scent of badger physically hurt him, like driving sharp sticks through his muzzle, but the smell of fox was simply rank and curdled his stomach. How mouse fur was soft but definite, like how he imagined fresh green haygrass to be, and that the clouds looked like they sounded like a sharp whistle through the wind.
How Reedpaw had a voice like gargling gravel but Barkpaw's was like fresh water burbling, and Rustfur's was soft, shifting sand. He saw, and tasted, and heard, and felt differently and he was well aware of it.
And Barkpaw knew he'd never betray this cat, no matter if his future mate hated his friend.
Because Swallowpaw would always come first.
And Swallowpaw felt the same about Barkpaw.
They were finally going to their first gathering together.
Swallowpaw had been twice, and Barkpaw thrice, but they hadn't gone with one another. Barkpaw always left and returned excited, but Swallowpaw was always silent going, and oddly worried-silent returning.
"Do you not like the gatherings?" Barkpaw had asked.
Swallowpaw had snorted softly, then spoke in his soft, velvety mew, "It's not that - I just don't like other cats."
Barkpaw jostled the black and white tom, who stumbled in surprise. "Oh, that's all! I thought you had picked a fight with the Slateclan deputy or something."
Swallowpaw had laughed awkwardly, but looked a little brighter.
They went downriver, Slateclan following behind them (it was easier for them to follow on Bankclan's side.) They saw Meadowclan begin to gather on the opposite bank.
The route took them down to where it grew marshy, and a pond-like area gave way to marsh. There was a dip, where various logs were fallen, only two passing to the solid ground in the middle. The logs had old moss draping and hanging. Trees, old as the moon, tangled around them, and a massive, jagged opening was enough to reveal sky and moon above. It was late Greenleaf, so fireflies were twinkling and flickering around them.
The cats gathered, with the three leaders meeting and speaking before jumping on top of a heap of old, dark gray blocky boulders with dark green moss growing in their crevices.
The three clans gathering milled about and spoke, greeting and teasing one another. Arrogant young toms and flirtatious young she-cats; Haughty new warriors and wizened older ones; elders still capable of making the journey to share their wisdom of age and foolishness of bygone days. There were tabbies - classic, mackerel, and ticked (who were more smoothpelted than striped) - and blackfurs, and solids, and bicolors. No whitepelts, strangely enough.
Barkpaw found a group of apprentices, a mild-mannered black-fured tom from Meadowclan and a soft blueish tabby she-cat from Slateclan. The tom's yellow eyes glowed when Barkpaw and Swallowpaw approached. "Hi Barkpaw! Who's your friend?"
The she-cat, who had looked uninterested before, now had a curious gleam in her amber eyes. "Yeah, who's this?"
"This," Barkpaw meowed proudly, "is my clan mate and best friend, Swallowpaw."
Swallowpaw flicked his eyes up briefly, but dropped them back towards the floor and quietly mewed, "Hello."
The black tom kindly blinked. "Nice to meet you. I think I've seen you a few times."
A silent shrug.
The she-cat's eyes widened suddenly. She then looked really uncomfortable. "Oh, you're, er, the quiet cat. Um..."
"What's up?" The tom asked, and Barkpaw looked beseechingly at them as to what was going on.
The blue tabby leaned close to her friend and muttered quietly, "He's the cat that gray Bankclan apprentice calls 'Swallowvoice' cause he doesn't talk much."
But not quietly enough because Swallowpaw crouched lower and Barkpaw's fur stood on end. His eyes blazed with amber fire and his teeth clicked menacingly as he growled, "I am going to shred Reedpaw!"
The black tom looked offended on their behalf, muttering darkly, "Give him a clawing or two from me - no one should treat their clanmate that way."
Swallowpaw went to veer and stop Barkpaw, looking at his friend sternly. "You know he's not worth it."
Barkpaw, feeling irrational and upset, was about to snap at him to move, when the gathering started by a loud three-tone yowl.
They'd later get back at Reedpaw.
When the gathering came to a close, and they spoke to a few more scattered groups, that's when Barkpaw noticed it.
Though Swallowpaw never met anyone's eyes, either staring at the floor or flickering past their faces to look beyond them, he was most certainly listening.
But he seemed to struggle with what he was hearing, and as a result almost never interjected or had a hard time answering questions.
Seeing his friend floundering, Barkpaw helped where he could; when an inquiry was aimed his friend's way, Barkpaw would jump in and answer for him. Swallowpaw would give Barkpaw a grateful look, and overtime, meet his eyes. They became closer over the moons, and learned to read one another like a scent on the wind.
On the night of their warrior ceremony, when they sat vigil and a cold breeze zipped through, Swallowfall blinked at Barkstripe reassuringly in the quiet.
It was their first battle.
Normally quiet and cautious in every way, Swallowfall wasn't when fighting.
He roared and growled and hissed and spat like ten clans of cats; quick and burning like fire through dry bracken as he fought, slashing a cat here, and jumping on the back of another there. One could almost say he was reckless, unless they could see into his calculating mind.
Luckily Barkstripe knew him well enough he basically could.
Barkstripe was heftier, slamming down like thunder, especially when he followed Swallowfall's lightning.
They were coordinated, well balanced - the ultimate fighting pair.
Of course, that was their take on it. They were only cats after all, and no cat is perfect.
But they were a good team. Always spending their lazy Greenleaf days laughing and joking; acting like kits when Leaf-fall showed them in name; fighting enemies when Leaf-bare heralded storms and hunger.
And even in Newleaf, when they were almost middle-aged, and Swallowfall demanded the kit for his apprentice, Barkstripe merely met Swallowfall's mismatched eyes with his own shining amber, telling him silently that he'd always support him.
'We're best friends.' He wordlessly said. 'And always will be.'
002: Collapsing Sky
You knew that this wasn't a dream.
This was a vision.
The sky roared with the pressure, the tell-tale blue of just after twilight seeming to bend with the pressure, the stars glittering oddly. There was the shudder of electricity in the air and your whiskers stood on end, fur spiking out. You could feel it.
Then, suddenly, a sound like ice shattering but finer and more high pitched, the stars falling dust-like. They drifted down and dissipated, but the sight filled you with terror.
What was this?
And you saw, amidst fleeing shadows of clan cats, and crying of fallen Starclan warriors who were nowhere to be found, a cat, merely an apprentice, with wide green eyes, gazing at the sky in wonder when it should have been fear.
At his forepaws lay a kit, who was stone still, the only movement being a chilly breeze brushing past his fur. Then behind the two of them, another kit, head tilted and the one eye you can see gleaming, and on the other side, a young apprentice, gazing at you, his face devoid of emotion.
You knew then - you knew - that even if these cats weren't the cause of this terribleness, this horrific atrocity before you, that they were at least involved.
Eventually the sky was devoid of stars or blue, and all the cats gone, until everything turned to black. Each of the four cats before you fading out, one by one, until the first apprentice with the wide green eyes was left, his image like the last star winking out before dawn.
And then there was nothing.
You woke up with a vague sense of unease, but no remembrance of your dream. The only thing you knew was that every time you saw the Bankclan medicine apprentice at gatherings, was that his wide, green eyes filled you with unease.
000: Unknown Entry
"Don't you think, we already knew?"
The voice was punctuated with a lash of a black-furred tail, eyes once as blue as the afternoon sky flashing and their sharp, white teeth bared.
A hefty tom, muted brown in color, lowered his head somberly. His eyes, too, were blank white orbs, though they could still emote easily enough.
Both of their pelts were washed out, like colored water, and shimmered with faint stardust.
"It is . . . rather unfortunate, that events have turned this way. But what are we to do?"
"Unfortunate?! Unfortunate?!" The black tom spat. "I'll give you unfortunate, code-bre-"
"Enough, Beetlestar." A silvery-striped, pale cream she-cat smoothly interjected. Long ago she had amber eyes, but now they were white, but no less fierce. "Let old mistakes be forgotten. What's done is done, as for what comes to pass, we shall see."
Beetlestar stared at her a moment, then pushed past the tom huffily.
"You always were too soft on him, Eaglestar."
Eaglestar merely stated silent.
He turned to her. "I'll never fathom why you made him deputy."
She chuckled humorlessly, her head tilted up and shoulders rolling from it. "And this is coming from you no less! If Beetlestar had not lost all his lives in one go-"
"I am well aware I am a failed medicine cat." He snapped. "I was merely commenting on the fact that besides being a smidgeon of an idiot" - here he emphasized 'smidgeon' as though he meant a word indication much more but dare not offend the estranged she-cat beside him - "he has a temper worse than all of those hotheads in Slateclan."
Her gaze - from which she had been named, Eaglegaze - narrowed, and he could almost see those amber eyes looking at him with irritation.
"Friend," she said, purring in a way that told him to be careful not to push his boundaries. (They weren't much of friends anyways; he highly respected her. Beetlestar, on the other hand, had been a nuisance of a leader and he had only listened as it was his code-bound honor to do so.)
He cleared his throat, and (voice still rasping) quickly changed the subject back to the point on paw.
"So what are your thoughts about the problem on hand?" He asked.
Her gaze slid off of him, turning thoughtful.
"I think . . ." She started, then paused. He tail curled slightly as confusion clouded her thoughts. Her head dropped. "I do not know what to think."
Shock sparked through him. "Then I am the only one?"
Her head snapped up to him. "Then it must be you. You will give the message to this . . . this cat. When the time is right."
Dread trickled through him as she continued.
"You're the only one who can do this, Moleheart. Or everything will end - disastrously."
There's a pattern to things. Not that he usually consciously notices.
Wake up, assigned patrol (usually one discussed the day before), rest and eat, share tongues, restlessly walk around and try to find something to do around camp while waiting if Barkstripe is on a different patrol, eat together, go to bed.
But some days this pattern is messed up; disturbed.
Never enough to be shattered, but enough that it makes him uncomfortable deep inside, and agitated.
(There was a time, when he was but a kit-turned-apprentice, that this change of order would tear him so deep that he couldn't function the rest of the day.)
(But, well, he's past that. For the most part.)
He can handle it if a cat in his patrol got switched out; maybe the cat leading fell ill, or a fellow member got hurt. He'll be irritated, for sure, but not as upset or frustrated as other things.
But if a plan was already make - like patrolling the borders from a sunrise to sunset direction, or they were going to hunt somewhere specific - and then those plans where then /changed/.
Then it really begins to affect his day.
Barkstripe won't say anything about it, but he'll most definitely know, as when he comes into camp and Swallowfall is walking a certain length and then jerking suddenly to retrace his steps in the opposite direction for a specific length and then doing it again.
Or when he won't stop rumbling deep in his throat to feel it in his chest; or lashing his tail furiously despite not being /angry/, exactly.
And then when the bad days (days where this routine is interrupted, and he hadn't slept well the night before, and kept missing the prey or getting distracted by the border - and maybe if there's an unexpected Clan meeting. . . )
Well, on the bad days Barkstripe tries to stay with him as closely as possible, brushing up against him in comfort.
Swallowfall doesn't understand why he this way, or if any other Clan cats had ever had this problem, but he was glad to have the support of a friend.
When he wakes up he knows it's one of those days.
Swallowfall sits up, blinking, then yawning long and wide, before he finally grooms himself; chest, then shoulders, face an eyes and whiskers, then lastly his tail. It's the same pattern, order, and vaguely the same cadence as each and every morning.
But the feeling grows - an agitation under the fur that just won't settle. Barkstripe is already gone on the Dawn Patrol so there's no one to distract him as his thoughts refuse to quiet, and anxiety begins to spark under his patchwork pelt.
Need to get up and start the day but there's no plans and Sunkit is sick again sowhattodo-
There's no patrols for him; he effectively has the day off, but he just doesn't know /what to do./
He immediately notices his breathing tighten so he focuses on that, holding his breath for four moments, letting it out for four, then holding once again for four, and breathing in for another four. He does it in sets of four as he walks back and forth at and unhalting pace from his den and the center of camp, next to the fresh-kill pile.
(Four because he has four paws, and four is a good number, a soft, almost purple-y pink number (today at least it's that color) and it calms him greatly.)
But his tail-tip still twitched in agitation, because he /must/ to find something to do - he /needs/ to be busy and helping the Clan because a day off would mean he's lazy and doesn't care and he starts to fix the stack of the fresh-kill pile and then moves twigs and debris because someone could trip and get hurt, no they /will/ trip and get hurt, unless he fixes it /now/ and-
"Swallowfall?" Amber eyes blink at him warmly, and Barkstripe has caught him trying to drag /rocks/ off to the side so they're out of the way.
And, momentarily, he feels that fear of judgement. The fear that Barkstripe will criticize what he's doing, or think it's too strange.
But his best friend in the whole wide world merely twitches his whisker in amusement and says, "Do you want some help?"
Want, not need; because he would never force Swallowfall to stop or change, but merely offer his assistance if he'd like.
He shrugs. "Sure." But the brown tabby knows that that's as good an admission as any, since the black-and-white tom tends to get his words mixed up.
So in the end they're both rolling stones that are deemed a hazard, as Barkstripe chats and Swallowfall, feeling a little more verbal today, responds with just as much enthusiasm.
(But if he were to have dreams, he'd only have nightmares)
AU: The Crackling Cackle Of A Thousand Down
It wasn't unfamiliar when his paw softly pad on smooth, pale dirt, the color of dry clay in the Greenleaf sun.
It wasn't unusual when he twitched an ear, only to be met with the stifling silence that clamped around him like an old friend.
There was nothing different about the too-pale shadow of trees; their worn, weathered bark as though a million cats had clawed, clawed, clawed at their trunks in agitation.
"Or in fear." That old, wretched voice whispered deep inside him.
He merely sniffed at the thought, whiskers twitching, and eyes half-lidded with indifference and fatigue. It didn't matter to him. This was a dream - yes, a dream that was a harbinger of doom. But nothing different than usual.
He huffed a laugh. Gave a brief shake of his brown and white head.
He pattered on; there was that pale, pale haze similar to smoke wreathed around this place. His eyes flickered around, noting anything unusual.
(There wasn't anything.)
(. . . Yet.)
His eyes were once wide with curiosity; so, so bright and big. It was like he could gaze and see all the secrets of the world.
But not anymore.
Not when he's seen destruction and pain so many times. Doom that would come, maybe not in his time, but eventually.
He stopped, green gaze flickering at movement on one tree's branches. His pupils shrank and vision focused as a shadowy apparition took shape. It was ragged and feathery; face sharp and narrow with beady, soul-stilling eyes gleaming brightly despite their intensely dark coloration.
It was a crow.
Or was it a raven?
. . . no, it was a crow.
(It was a raven.)
(It was irrelevant.)
But all the same it caught his attention. The dream warped until everything was senseless color except for the bird.
He stood still, gazing up and tail swishing instinctively.
(He may have been a medicine cat but he was also still a full-grown cat with hunting instincts like any other.)
The bird opened its beak, seeming to swell slightly as it breathed in, and he watched with bated breath for its call.
But what came forth wasn't a simple caw or trilling click he was expecting.
It was the sound of thousand crows cawing; cackling like some grotesque form of laughter. Like a gleeful caravan who had found a a field of corpses, enough to feed them all.
From one bird, came the sound of a hundred Murders, gleeful for the killed.
And in his mind, within the dream, he saw a bloodied, torn pile of bodies, undistinguishable as their colors all blended into one mass. Tails and paws and heads all askew, with dull, glassy eyes and jaws parted in hapless screams of unending terror.
For the first time in a long while, a dream disturbed him.
And when he woke up, in his nest under dark brambles in the murky forest far, far from the clans he had once called home, he couldn't help but shudder and gulp in air with how fast his heart raced and how much his stomach knotted.
He gazed into the dark and wondered if, not for the first time, it would be better if he couldn't dream at all.
((Old. A/N: Another Dream!Dustpaw AU. Basically it's a "what if Dustpaw from A New Star Fallen /did/ dream?" And basically that would be very, very bad.
I wanted to try something dark because Rithiam keeps posting these glorious things about their RP, so thank you for giving me the guts to do this in a sense XD.
WARNING: There is going to be blood, possible light gore, and violence as well as dark thinking.
Well let's go I guess.))
AU2: As blood runs red
And we all fall down
Scrtch-scratch, scrrritch-scrratch, scrriiitch-scratch. . .
Claws stuck out scratched lightly against gravel, their owner uncaring of their grimy appearance, and to uncaring to sheath them.
The gravel beneath his pawpads isn't as hot as he'd expected; rather it's cool as gray clouds obscure the sky with a mid-Leaf-fall chill. He doesn't really feel the texture, as the pads of his paws are rough from the few moons of tough travel; nothing is left as he walks except for flakes of old blood that chafe between his toes and claws.
"Here," she whispers in his ear, warm breath ghosting the inner fur. He can almost feel her grin curled against it.
The corner of his eye barely flickers as he sees the little tom, eyes so, so sad, bow his head in defeat and morning.
He stays silent and after a moment, moves forward.
The old, wretched voice had died inside him barely days after it emerged, breaking and giving birth to these two apparitions - if that's what they were. The she-cat was a rich, dark and ruddy-red with slightly softer undersides the color of faded wood (you almost couldn't see it unless you looked) and eyes like bright suns in a dark night. She had a soft voice, warm breath. She was the one who spoke, who told him how to rid of the nightmares that plagued him and more lately had begun causing physical pain.
'There's a way to make it hurt less.'
'You don't have to deal with this this way.'
'Don't you want it to stop, Dustpaw?'
He didn't believe her.
. . . But what did he have left?
The other one - the tom - never spoke. He had soft gray fur and an almost white underbelly, a strange red mark on his chest like he'd been hit with one of the Twolegs flying pellet and there was blood dribbling from the wound and staining the fur, but it was just fur. His eyes though we're this bright golden yellow-orange, wide in a way his own hadn't been; instead wide with emotion instead of glee and curiosity. He looked like he was maybe seven moons old.
His eyes really got him though; though this cat never speaks, his eyes say more than the she-cat ever did.
He decided not to meet his eyes, dropping his own now-dulled green ones to the floor.
He calls them Sibilant and Bleeding heart.
She told him to go to the Twoleg place, where the soft cats who knew no pain lived. He knew that that wasn't necessarily true; sure they lived lazier lives, but that didn't mean they had no hardships.
But he'd rather shatter their illusion of safety than solidify the lesson of hardship in some wildcat.
It had taken him a few moments to leave the safe, draping shadow of the surrounding pine forest. He padded out in the mid afternoon, paws and muzzle still a mess from when he had decimated his prey in a hysterical frenzy.
That first, soft pawstep was like a knell finality.
The Wrecking had come.
The first cat he came across was a lithe she-cat, with pale gray fur and sky blue eyes. She turned and chipped happily at him when he first padded up, making no use of his hunter's silence, her expression quickly dropping into something fearful at his disheveled appearance.
She was roughly shoved to the ground, his forepaws pressing on her throat, the claws pricking at the skin.
He almost smiled. Then it dropped away.
His eyes flickered to her frame, which was shivering in fear; then to the narrowed eyes, flattened ears, and partially gaping muzzle were short, jerky breaths came out.
He stepped off of her.
"Go home," he growled in a raspy voice.
He stood there and watched her scrabble away. After a few beats, he turned and left.
'Why did you let her go?'
A pair of eyes watched him. Hopeful.
"Too easy," he muttered after a while.
Those eyes watched him with a different expression.
It wasn't too long until he found a different part of the place where there was a lone cat; this time it was an adult tom, obviously a stray who rooted through garbage and owned this part of twolegplace.
He wasted no time, springing from behind and twisting around to dig his teeth into the pale orange cat's throat, claws also stabbing through flesh and pulling until hot blood welled up beneath them.
"Get off me!" The cat snarled.
But he didn't listen because
The vision, the vision; the dream of a mountain of bodies rotting with their flesh ripped away and their ribs exposed to the open air; a cacophony of the death-song as a murder swarmed around the air; a putrid stink rising up and an unholy buzzing of a myriad of flies and he can't take it! Can't take it! Can't take these dreams that haunt his sleep!
He will no longer wait for these visions.
He'll cause them.
Because all he has left in this pitiful existence is either to end it, or share his pain.
He bit deeper until his mouth ran with red iron and his teeth snagged on taut tendons; and even when the choking sounds had been snuffed out, he reaffirmed his grip and growled as he tore into the now-slack flesh.
He dropped the body, panting. His muzzle felt gross, sticky with blood, and his claws felt slick. He wondered briefly if he should claw at the corpse's chest, so that he could stick his paws in and crack the ribs open to expose it's heart to the sky.
But the eyes continued to watch from the shadows, and as he left the voice crooned that they could return again and do better next time.
So he left the body and cantered back to the forest; followed by a voice and some eyes and a set of bloodied paw prints that were to be left behind.
005: Untitled sneak peek
He'd carefully padded through the grass, ears always alert. He really shouldn't have left camp, in all honesty. But he felt the need to train, to prove himself - to get stronger.
He hadn't exactly planned on going into enemy territory. I mean, he did technically get permission from a Meadowclan cat. But she was also an apprentice like him, in the same moon of training although she was a few moons younger.
Not like he didn't look her age, with his frail body. He had just enough height to convince others he was maybe a moon or two older than he said, rather than three and a half.
She nudged him, eyes bright and breathed, "Almost there."
He looked at her, nodding silently. Heh. Maybe his mentor was rubbing off on him. But the thing was, there's more was to respond than just verbally.
His mentor really was rubbing off on him.
He was about to speak up and complain as to what's taking so long, but then the dark grass opened up slightly and everything behind him became the dark shadow that was cast by contrasting light rather than that of draping night by the sight that greeted them.
As though the very stars themselves had been knocked askew from the sky, a thousand specs of light drifted and danced languidly, like dust motes in sunlight. But the effect was entirely its own - bright, yellow and casting soft illumination, brought out even more by the hushed, dark backdrop of a night-cast world.
"Isn't is beautiful?" She asked quietly, looking at him.
He was gazing at the little lights, completely awestruck, as he barely breathed, "What are they?"
She had turned to look back at the scene, a small smile lighting up. He barely tilted his head, watching her from the corner of his eye.
"They're called fireflies; they're these little glowing bugs that fly at night. But personally, I think they're something Starclan left for us, to guard our dreams," she said with kitten finality.
And though he wasn't sure if he beloved her, he thought, as he glanced back to the myriad of lights, that he'd let her think he did, even just for this moment.
005?: Untitled sneak peek
"...What do you think?" Her voice barely a hushed breath, so soft, but it still carries.
His eyes, orange, slowly look around as he turns his head, trying to miss nothing. "There isn't anything here," he insists.
"Hush," she's softer now, the words almost a faint hiss. "We scared them clambering over here; give it a minute. They'll be back."
'Who . . . ?" He wants to ask.
He doesn't, though. He listens. He's patient.
(Not as much as he likes to think; she glares at him once or twice, give or take, for the inpatient swish of his tail.)
After some time (much more than a minute, he's sure) he's opening his mouth, ready to meow in annoyance, but then-
. . .oh.
He gazes on, eyes wide like an old friend's, an mouth left gaping in astonishment. She watches him with a fond, amused smile, at his awed expression. His orange eyes reflect a green-yellow color, pupils wide and reflecting it all the more. Her own eyes reflect it as she turns back to watch as he does, though her expression is more gleeful than surprised.
The sky above is dark navy velvet, ringed with rough shadows of canopy, but the grasses are a lot in warm yellow-green, neither day-like nor night-similar, as above them float little celestial lights like notes of stardust.
He was right, she supposed; the world could burst into light, despite the dark of night.
Trick (Partners In Crime Challenge)
It wasn't often when Barkpaw had a good idea.
And this really wasn't one of those times.
But the truth was, Swallowpaw knew there weren't any good ideas. True, if he didn't agree, Barkpaw wouldn't follow through with /this/ particular plan. But he'd find something else to do. Solo.
And they certainly couldn't have that.
It had been nearly four moons since they were both apprenticed; both odd and amber eyes gleaming during the ceremony. Swallowpaw had felt the undercurrents of anxiety and doubt, but the air of determination and look of reassurance from his friend helped ease it almost away.
It was a great day.
Until the day ended and they realized that they shared the den with Reedpaw, now.
The gray tom held disdain for Swallowpaw, who was half-blooded. And the fact that Swallowpaw was a pretty cat, despite odd appearances; and Reedpaw, frankly, was not.
He merely disliked the jovial Barkpaw because of his friendship with Swallowpaw.
So Reedpaw had set from that day forward to harass them; criticize their crouches and attacks; spoil their catch if prey was running well; even going so far as to try and correct how they groomed themselves for Starclan's sake!
Barkpaw had had enough. It was time to do something! It wouldn't be hard to get back at Reedpaw with something relatively harmless.
. . . Except that Swallowpaw wasn't so sure.
"I - I dunno, Barkpaw. Do you really think this is a good idea? I mean, uh, it's just, I'm not so good at lying."
He looked at his friend whose brow was furrowed in uncertainty. 'Did Swallowpaw know how his expressions either were enunciated or lacked?' Barkpaw wondered.
He rolled his own bright, amber-yellow eyes. "Of course I'm sure! Reedpaw is just a big bully - 'sides, we're not gonna hurt him. Not really." He paused, scrunching his nose. "Okay I guess his pride might get hurt, but nothing else! And you won't be lying, Swallowpaw; you'll be bluffing. You suck at lying - but not as much as you can't climb trees. Now that you're too clumsy at. Okay?"
Swallowpaw's dual-colored eyes seemed to shine at that. He really didn't like lying. He was told he was too honest at times. "Okay! I'll try my best!"
Barkpaw giggled when his friend puffed out his white and black chest. "Okie dokie; you go deal with Reedpaw; I've got a tree to climb!"
That same black-and-white face fell. "You had it set up already?"
"Of course! Knew you'd say yes; now let's get started."
It was surprisingly easy, despite Swallowpaw's lack of acting skills.
But perhaps his usual awkwardness made it seem not so unusual.
The wiry-furred cat turned in surprise; Swallowpaw rarely spoke to him outright. And never so boldly.
"What do you want two-blood?" He spat.
Swallowpaw seemed to falter internally, and his voice was definitely quieter, but still he went on: "Barkpaw says he wants to train; he's more than half and a half of a half sure he can beat you."
Reedpaw blinked at the estimate; cats didn't have a high concept of numbers and so when by halves of things typically, and Reedpaw was really slow at portions. His haughtiness resumes though and he said, "oh yeah? Well take me to him and I'll kick his little striped tail."
Swallowpaw easily lead the way, glancing to make sure the other apprentice followed. Just as they passed under a tree, Swallowpaw suddenly leapt clear and squeaked 'sorry!'
Reedpaw was confused until he head the 'crack!' ring loud and clear.
He looked up, eyes widening as he realized too late that he should have moved.
Barkpaw's squeaking laughter rang loud and clear as leaves that had been holding rotting leaf much fell on him, splattering his pelt; the smell was offensive, but could easily come out with a wash in the stream. Barkpaw had been right; the only harm had been Reedpaw's ego.
Plus the need for a thorough wash.
Reedpaw gave a snarl of rage and ran to get the rank scent off, Barkpaw chortling after him. "That's what you get for being a big meanie!"
Swallowpaw had been looking at his paws guiltily when he felt Barkpaw lean into him, wrapping a tail around him. "C'mon cheer up; it was funny, wasn't it?"
"Aren't we big meanies now?" He asked bluntly.
Barkpaw blinked. " 'course not! It's not like we used mouse bile, right?"
"Right. . ."
"And he's not injured, is he?"
". . . no. . ."
He nudged him. "So no harm done. Maybe now he will understand why we don't like his bullying. It was only a little trick after all."
Seeing Barkpaw's wide grin (and a quick glance revealed happy eyes), he couldn't help but agree. "Yeah. You're right."
"Good! Now let's get back to camp for mid-meal; I heard some dove got caught today! And that. . ."
Swallowpaw nodded, not all that interested in the going-ons of others, but feeling warm at his friend's happiness. Maybe they could do another one of these tricks in the future.
A Measure Of Stardust
(O. Posted November 13, 2017)
The First Part
Not all cats found here were from Starclan.
Sometimes a form would rise, fill out - a being of stardust, perhaps of the never-was or the could-have-been taking a distinctive feline shape but with impossible colors and illuminatives in its fur.
It was a thing like this from which Constel rose; a small tom not that many moons old in both appearance and physicality (well, what little he had). He was the color of cool stars being born, with a shimmer of distant constellations and eyes the color of Earth's life. He was one of the first younger ones arisen in forever, but he wouldn't be the last.
Racon was the leader of the circle, a swirling storm of brownish-yellow stars fading and a background of deep black, and eyes a dark violet; with Galaxas, an older, thick-furred she-cat like a blue-and-green star nursery and fire eyes, the second highest in the circle. The other members faded in and out, drifting here and there. Constel would never meet them for many millennium.
But Racon and Galaxas stayed in the same general area of the sky, monitoring the others who have arisen and trying to guide those who come later; Starclan and the Tribe Of Endless Hunting, The Trove (loners and Rogues wanting peace), The Eternal Plains, and even The Place Of No Stars.
So without much to do, Constel stuck close to Racon, quiet for the most part but asking things on and off in the first two decades.
"Why don't we have a system or naming ceremony like the clans?" He asked, short legs struggling to pad alongside Racon's.
"Because we are not a clan," Racon answered.
"But we're cats," Constel said, clumsy paws tripping over a rock.
Racon stopped suddenly and Constel stumbled. The violet-eyed storm looked at him, declaring, "we are not cats."
He began walking without further explanation, and Constel hurried to follow. After a time (perhaps a day or a week or a month) he went on, "We look like cats but we are not. We're a measure of stardust in the forms of cats, but nothing more. We are the guardians and administrators of the sky - the last world before death - and although we have an affinity for the clans, we are no part of them. We help lost cats, but no more."
Constel thought on this long after he had departed from Racon, and thought he wanted to really help the lost.
Five hundred moons later, he would do just that.
The Second Part : Flare
After a time (three, four, five hundred?-) Constel did meet a different member of the circle.
You weren't chosen to be on the circle; rather, you chose, and although Ordone said he never wanted it, there he was.
The youngest on the circle.
He was a little more ... free than the rest of them, one could say. He pushed rules to their limit but never broke them. He had even changed his appearance beyond the normal cat one, instead taking on a form that was cat-like, but covered in soft feather-like fur, strange markings, and wings. When Constel got the courage to ask about his appearance mere moons after meeting him, Ordone simply replied that it was a type of bird he'd seen in a Kittypet's dream once, and he liked the yellow and green colors.
(He had heard once, long ago, that Ordone had been different - lithe and handsome, the color of gentle Sunset, and that even longer than that, he had had a different name.)
Overall Ordone was easy-going and easy to get along with, and Constel would probably consider him his only friend. But Ordone was also busy with his duties (he was one of the foremost who took care of Kittypets' journies) and so Constel only saw him oh so often.
He was actually on one of his rare walks with Ordone when (as they were passing through a place with small stars and an atmosphere like that of a grassy plane near a waterfall) there was a sudden burst and tearing in the 'wall' of the plane, flashing green like some sort of solar flare.
Constel glanced at Ordone who had gone stiff. "We need to move now."
"Why?" He mewed, but ran with his friend. Ordone had sounded urgent.
Ordone barely flicked an ear.
"Ordone!" Constel cried. Now he was worried.
But then Ordone glanced over his shoulder, grinning. "Constel."
He tried harder to keep up. "Ordone?"
The bird-cat looked forward once more, his tone happily teasing.
"Constel - are you ready for your first mission as a member of the sky?"