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GODS EARS ARE STITCHES

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   Here's our official GEAS world map, added late because I forgot that it existed.

   The four territories are found in a side by side taiga and tundra, along the seaside and near a small village. It's normally quite cold, though not always. 

   Pictured: 

   Seerclan Territory

   Earthclan Territory

   Fakeclan Territory

   Lostclan Territory

   The Twoleg Territory

   The Gathering Spire

   The Exiles Mountains

   The Ravine

   To read more on these locations, and the clans, please check out https://godsears.carrd.co/ !

to see this art in greater detail, please see here!

  GODS EARS ARE STITCHES cover art

Seerclan

LEADER

ᴏᴡʟsᴛᴀʀ ⎯ speckled brown tom with golden eyes, eye touch mark (elias)

DEPUTY

ᴅʀɪғᴛᴡᴇᴇᴅ ⎯ large gray clouded tom, cloud touch mark (peter)
      ᴀᴘᴘʀᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴇ, sᴀɢᴇᴘᴀᴡ


MEDICINE CAT

ᴘᴀᴘᴇʀғʟɪɢʜᴛ ⎯ tawny she-cat worn with age (gertrude)
      ᴀᴘᴘʀᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴡᴇᴀᴠᴇʀᴘᴀᴡ


WARRIORS

ʟɪʟʟʏsᴛᴏʀᴍ ⎯ ginger-and-cream tom, fire touch mark (tim)

ɢʟᴀssʙᴀʀᴋ ⎯ blueish-gray she-cat (basira)
      ᴀᴘᴘʀᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴡʜɪᴛᴇᴘᴀᴡ

ᴅᴀɪsʏsᴄᴀʀ ⎯ pale-yellow she-cat with a daisy shaped scar on her back (daisy)

sᴜɢᴀʀʙᴇᴇ ⎯ fluffy golden she-cat, cat-like face touch mark (sasha)

ᴇɴᴅɪɴɢғʟɪɢʜᴛ ⎯ black tom with skeleton-like markings (oliver)
      ᴀᴘᴘʀᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴇ, ᴛᴀᴛᴛᴇʀᴇᴅᴘᴀᴡ

ɢᴏʟᴅᴇɴғᴇᴀᴛʜᴇʀ ⎯ golden tom with long fur (oc)

ʟᴏsᴛᴘᴜᴅᴅʟᴇ ⎯ silver tabby she-cat (oc)
      ᴀᴘᴘʀᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴇ, ʀᴀᴘɪᴅᴘᴀᴡ

ғᴇʀɴsᴛᴏʀᴍ ⎯ tortoiseshell she-cat (oc)

ᴏ̨ᴜᴀɪʟsᴘʟᴀsʜ ⎯ brown tabby tom (oc)

ᴀsᴘᴇɴᴘᴀᴅ ⎯ gray speckled tom (oc)

ʙᴇᴇʜᴇᴀʀᴛ ⎯ black she-can (oc)

APPRENTICES

ᴡᴇᴀᴠᴇʀᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ scrawny brown tom, spider touch mark (jon)

sᴀɢᴇᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ large fawn tom with one floppy ear and bright blue eyes (martin)

ᴡʜɪᴛᴇᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ solid white she-cat, cloud touch mark (oc)

ᴛᴀᴛᴛᴇʀᴇᴅᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ tortoiseshell she cat with torn ears (oc)

ʀᴀᴘɪᴅᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ gray tom, skull touch mark (oc)

sɴᴀᴋᴇᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ orange she-cat (oc)

ғᴇɴɴᴇʟᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ blue tom with a missing back leg (oc)

ғᴇʀʀᴇᴛᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ brown she-cat (oc)

 

Fakeclan

LEADER

ᴅᴏʟʟsᴛᴀʀ ⎯ she-cat, upside-down cat touch mark. (nikola)

DEPUTY

ᴅᴜᴇʟʜᴏᴘᴇ ⎯ two headed russian blue tom, bug touch mark. (breekon & hope)

MEDICINE CAT

ᴛʀᴇᴇsᴄᴀʀ ⎯ russian blue tom with leopard spots and a large tree shaped scar. horizon touch mark. (mike)

WARRIORS

ғɪsʜʀɪʙs ⎯ ??? (the anglerfish)

ᴇᴛᴇʀɴᴀʟғʟɪɢʜᴛ ⎯ old cream tom missing patches of fur. (simon)

ғᴀʟsᴇғᴀᴄᴇ ⎯ a tall, ginger tom. (tom)

ʙᴇᴇʜᴇᴀʀᴛ ⎯ golden and black she-cat. (oc)

ᴘʟᴜᴍᴄʟᴏᴜᴅ ⎯ black tom with scars all over. (oc)

ғʟᴏᴡᴇʀᴛᴀɪʟ ⎯ siamese tomcat with a cloud touch mark. (oc)

sᴇᴀᴍsᴘᴏᴛs ⎯ calico she-cat with yellow and brown eyes. (oc)

ʜᴏɴᴋᴡɪɴɢ ⎯ deer coloured she-cat. (oc)

ᴘᴀɪɴᴛsᴏᴜʟ ⎯ white tom stained multicolour by paints. (oc)

ғʟɪɴᴛᴍɪsᴛ ⎯ tabby cat(?) with black spots(?). (oc)

APPRENTICES

ᴘʀᴏᴘᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ have you ever... looked at a cat and said "no, that's not a cat." (oc)

ʙᴜᴛᴛᴏɴᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ maybe it's their eyes. or the fringes of their fur. (oc)

ᴘʟᴀsᴛɪᴄᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ but... (oc)

ᴡᴏᴏᴅᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ whatever it is, it's just not right. (oc)

ᴄʟᴏᴛʜᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ and you know it. (oc)

 

Lostclan

LEADER

ᴀɢᴏɴʏsᴛᴀʀ ⎯ cream coloured cat made entirely of wax. (jude)

DEPUTY

ᴛᴏʀᴄʜᴛᴏᴜᴄʜ ⎯ ginger she-cat with vibrant green eyes. (agnes)

MEDICINE CAT

ᴇᴄʟɪᴘsᴇʟᴇᴀғ ⎯ black she-cat with ice blue eyes. (manuela)

WARRIORS


ᴡᴀxᴍᴇʟᴛ ⎯ sphynx cat with bright red eyes. (diego)

ʙʟᴀᴢᴇᴄʟᴀᴡs ⎯ grumpy tom with wiry white fur.

ᴅᴇᴇᴘsʜᴀᴅᴏᴡ ⎯ deep gray tabby with white eyes. (maxwell)
ᴀᴘᴘʀᴇɴᴛɪᴄᴇ, sʜᴀᴅᴏᴡᴘᴀᴡ

sᴏᴏᴛᴡɪɴᴅ ⎯ spotty gray tom. (oc)

ᴀsʜʙʟᴀᴢᴇ ⎯ red and white she-cat. (oc)

sʜᴀᴅᴇғᴀʟʟ ⎯ calico tom. (oc)

ᴅᴜsᴋᴇᴄʜᴏ ⎯ black she-cat with red flecks. (oc)

APPRENTICES

sʜᴀᴅᴏᴡᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ deep gray tabby with blue eyes. (callum)

sɪɴɢᴇᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ russian blue she-cat. (oc)

ɴɪɢʜᴛᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ black tuxedo tom. (oc)

 

Earthclan

LEADER

ʜᴇᴀᴠʏsᴛᴀʀ ⎯ gray scarred tom. (trevor)

DEPUTY

ᴅᴏɢᴄʜᴀsᴇ ⎯ beige scarred she-cat. (julia)

MEDICINE CAT

ᴀɴᴛᴡɪɴɢs ⎯ brown tom with black spots. (jordan)

WARRIORS

ᴡᴏʀᴍᴡʀɪᴛʜᴇ ⎯ brown and gray she-cat. (jane)

ʙᴏɴᴇᴛᴜʀɴᴇʀ ⎯ ??? (jared)

ʙᴇᴇʜᴇᴀʀᴛ ⎯ golden tabby tom. (oc)

ʜᴇᴀᴛʜᴇʀᴄʟᴀᴡ ⎯ black she-cat. (oc)

ᴏᴀᴋsᴘᴏᴛs ⎯ white tom with brown flecks. (oc)

ʙᴜɢғʟɪɢʜᴛ ⎯ blue she-cat with white markings. (oc)

ɪᴛᴄʜᴘᴀᴅs ⎯ brown tabby with deformed feet. (oc)

APPRENTICES

ᴇᴀʀᴛʜᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ deep brown she-cat. (oc)

sᴏɪʟᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ russet tom. (oc)

ғᴇʀɴᴘᴀᴡ ⎯ siamese she-cat. (oc)

Chapter Text

Chapter 1


Paws beat heavy against the stone. Against the rubble he has created. The tom feels the wind against his whiskers and tastes it, thick and heavy with fear and death. Around him lie the corpses of the cats he knows so well, and beside him run cats he does not recognize, cats he cannot get a good look at. It’s too dark and too bright all at once, and he can only feel the terror of pursuit. The ravine rides next to him, a place where life used to be, now wiped clean. He knows that’s where Earthclan lives, deep inside its rocky cliffs and slopes. He could never understand how they managed to climb through that.

Not far off he could spot the hill marking the stage of Fakeclan, denoted by tall rocks that arced into the sky, painted red with the blood of cats who were too young and innocent to die. The bustling and decorated camp was barren. He can smell the scent of decay and somehow he knows he’s drawing closer to The Gathering Spire. The intricate shining webbing that held it tall was hard to miss, and the flashing light of The Beyond could be seen in even the darkest of nights from the furthest reaches of the clans. Now, it was his only beacon in the swirling winds that surrounded him. He has to reach the Spire. He has to.

Mouth falling agape to take in a breath, he’s met with hot and sticky blood that seems to be hovering in the air. Choking, the tom catches his breath as he reaches the spire, the very edges of the clearing touching his paws as the edges of his lungs coat with blood and infection and disgust and fear and everything and he won’t make it he’s going to die he’s going to fail it’s all over he’s all alone it’s all his fault it’s- 

“Weaverpaw!”

Two paws beat down into his side, startling the apprentice awake with a grunt of annoyance. The same nightmare again. Two-toned eyes crack open as his senses adjust, whiskers twitching. Around him is the medicine cat den, a divot in the rocks of the mountain that towered above them, the mouth covered by thick vines. The ground is soft with pressed pine needles and it smells of sweetgrass and cats. 

It’s a nice break from the hell he was just in, at least. Even so, he can’t shake the disgusted feeling from his throat. 

Paperflights twitching tail gave his processing mind the idea that she was annoyed. She always looked at him a certain way, full of resentment and anxiety, like he was going to do something awful one of these days and she was just waiting for it to happen.

“Sleeping in wasn’t in the job description. What were you even dreaming about?” Paperflight nagged, not even caring that he was trying his damned best to let his senses adjust from a hell world. “You flailed about like some kind of fish. I didn’t ask for a fish as an apprentice.” Her claw jabs into his shoulder, prompting Weaverpaw to scramble to his feet. Paperflight was always hard on him, always exact in how she did things. It didn’t make sense how firm she was because she would always end up just tossing things around like they didn’t matter anyways, strutting about like she knew more than she let on.

Paperflight would get into heated arguments with Owlstar many times; about the territories, her herbs, some of the policies she had to follow that weren’t up to her code. It was always complaints with Paperflight, but no one could deny that she was a damn good medicine cat. Even now, as she complained, she wrapped cobwebs around a wounded cat. 

Quailsplash breathes heavily and winces as the poultice is pressed into his wounds. Weaverpaw felt like he had to help somehow. He was an up and coming medicine cat after all. So, he grabbed a few berries off of one of the rocky scrapes of the little den. Paperflight looks up and sneers. He doesn’t need words to tell him that he’s grabbed the wrong herb. Instead, he drops it back and pushes his way out of the little cave, deciding that if she didn’t respect his time, he wouldn’t give it to her.

Weaverpaw looks over his camp. The camp was scorched and torn up, leaves scattered everywhere as cats tried to repair their dens and walls. Lostclan came in from the South, the open ended part of the camp. Seerclan was very well guarded, with rocky cliff faces on almost all sides from the towering mountain it pressed tight up against and tightly packed trees defending what wasn’t hidden by inaccessibility. However, one part was only covered by brush, something that the cats tried desperately to keep nice and patched up. After Agonypebble torched through it like a comet,  it lay in brittle ruin. He still remembers how she looked, wreathed in flame like some kind of comet. He wonders if all cats are like that in Lostclan, given the power to move like a terror through the forest. In seconds, they could wipe out Seerclan and everything that it is, bury the thought.

He slides down the slope, trying not to get his paws caught on the climbing vines. Landing in the clearing with a huff, he is almost immediately cut off by Lillystorm. The tom laughs alongside his mate, a she-cat named Sugarbee. They had both been appointed warriors after showing promise in the fight against Lostclan, though they were only a few moons older than Weaverpaw. The moment they notice the little apprentice, they turn to face him with smug expressions. 

“Soooooo…“ Lillystorm says, the tip of his tail twitching in anticipation. He doesn’t have time to finish before Weaverpaws ears drop, his tail swishing back and forth in annoyance as he valiantly attempts to interrupt.

Don’t even start, Lillystorm-“ But it’s too late, he has in fact started.

“How does it feel to be a little baby ? Just a little kit, aren't cha? Perhaps I should start calling you Weaverkit . That would be so cool. It would really show how much better I am than you.” Lillystorm says teasingly.

“You’re childish, you’re 7 moons older than me and I’m more mature than you.” Weaverpaw interjects.

Eight moons, actually.” Sugarbee says.

“That’s right, Weaverkit, eight moons. I might as well be an elder, and you are just a newborn.” Lillystorm lifts a paw to poke Weaverpaw in the nose gently. “So small, so tiny. Can you even speak?”

“That’s enough , Lillystorm-“

“Ooh, he can talk! He can talk so young, too!” Sugarbee chimes along, tail curling around Lillystorms.

“Sugarbee-“

“Indeed it is a medical marvel. Oh my Beyond, I get to witness history . First newborn to speak right out of the womb. This is such a magical night. I want to write in the prophecy, ‘ Lillystorm was here ’.” His tail waves back and forth playfully.

“The great and magical Lillystorm got a newborn kit to say his first words seconds after his birth. They’ll talk about it for years ! Wow, wooooww. You’re famous, darling.” Sugarbee bumps up against him, and Weaverpaw has to stop himself from gagging. Amusement tickles at the corners of his lips, but he remains unimpressed.

“Even The Infinite will be marveled by this. They will be like, ‘gasp, this random tom got a kit to speak before he even drank milk. Let’s trap all the bad cats forever to show how grateful we are.’ I will have thousands of she-cats and toms to love and I will be leader of a clan, the clan will be Lillyclan – named after myself, of course – and will be for only the sexiest of cats.” He keeps rambling, and Weaverpaw takes the opportunity to sneak away from them as Lillystorm continues to prose and soapbox about his life as the leader of Lillyclan, while Sugarbee listens fondly.

Idiots .

Breathing slowly, Weaverpaw slips through the brush and past the guards standing proudly at the gate. Daisyscar and Glassbark, he knew them well. Old warriors who knew what they were doing. He never trusted them, though; they had a strange air about them and a violent way of dealing with things. Oftentimes he would see situations that could be resolved with kindness and words, only to be met with tooth and claw. 

He steps out into the forest, pine needles digging into his paw pads and prey scurrying about the underbrush. He would hunt, maybe, but as his nose rises towards the air he realizes how his muscles ache. Hunting would be futile, he would only fumble and hurt himself more. Weaverpaw feels useless.

He wonders where Sagepaw is. Annoying little apprentice, but he fills the silence well enough. For now, it was just him and the forest and his thoughts. He walks, south, and all he can smell is char. It’s strangely dark here, too. The forest canopy seems to cover the sun more than it normally does. That isn’t normal, the aura around it is awful and he swears he can see cats moving around. Probably just hunting cats, he concludes, and moves somewhere more comfortable.

His paws take him along a path that is familiar, until he comes across where the trees part for plains. Oh, right. He was here in his dream, running along the edges of the deep ravine beside him. From within, he can smell the sticky rotting smell of Earthclan. Something was very wrong with them. On the horizon, he can see The Gathering Spire, a tower that had been there since the Old Cats. The only direct connection the clans had to The Beyond. The red light blinked above. All was in order.

Even further down the horizon, the beginnings of Lostclan territory can be seen. Smoke plumes in the air and rises in thin towers, vanishing in the clouds. They always had a habit for setting fires. Weaverpaw was never sure what reasoning they had for setting so many fires and so randomly. 

They were probably all born from fire, that’s how they got their demonic warriors. Perhaps they tapped into The Infinite, dragging hellish cats out from underneath The Fourteen's noses. The Infinite was there to keep them safe from the cruel dead, but it wasn’t unlikely that other clans were using the great and terrifying warriors there to aid them with incomprehensible power. 

A Cowbird roars ahead, its hover disc cutting through the sky. It was coloured like all the others, bright red. He’s seen so many, but he’s never sure where they’re going or why they’re flying over. Daisyscar says she’s caught a Cowbird before, but he’s pretty sure that’s a lie. Cowbirds were made by two-legs, right? So they can’t be caught. Weaverpaw wonders how he knows that, but chalks it up to just a theory. The Cowbird flying away and shining in the light with a material more unnatural than even the shiniest of rocks shows that it’s not, but he ignores it.

What does Weaverpaw know, anyways? He’s just a dumb apprentice with a reoccurring nightmare. He can’t be anything special. He’s just going to practice medicine all his life, and then he’s going to die. Like everyone else.

A commotion has arisen at nightfall.

Seerclan camp is bustling, and Weaverpaw doesn’t know why. He can’t hear from outside the camp, but it’s enough to drive away the vole he was about to land. Frustrated with the loss of his kill, he storms into the camp to demand what’s going on. 

That’s when he sees it. He realizes he’s never really seen a corpse mangled like this before.

Paperflight. In the center of camp, stomach torn open with three deep slashes, throat slit, paws burnt, a smear of blood left on the dirt and vines. He concludes that she was killed and pushed out of the den. It doesn’t make the sight any less horrifying. The only medicine cat is dead, and a stone of dread lands heavy in his stomach. 

Tentatively, Weaverpaw walks up to the corpse. He sniffs, hesitant to even approach it. He plops down, hanging his head. As awful as she was, he had to admit that she was… one of the best medicine cats they’ve ever had. She didn’t deserve to die. She didn’t deserve to be murdered .

The group of cats gathered around mourn, sharing tongues one final time with the stern medicine cat that now lay exposed and torn apart on the dirt. Usually, she was the one dealing with cats torn to shreds like this. 

But seeing her on the receiving end felt… wrong. He wasn’t supposed to be seeing this. Why was she here? Who killed her? Why in the middle of camp when cats were still awake? Questions soared through Weavermoth’s head. 

The cold golden gaze makes itself known to him before he even registers that Owlstar is there, leaning over his shoulder to peer at him.

“What a tragedy that Paperflight has been slaughtered. No day is sadder than the days that we lose such valuable cats.” Owlstar speaks to the entire clan, by his tone, but Weaverpaw feels directly addressed. “However, death is something inevitable in life. The Fourteen have spoken to me, and their paws point at Weaverpaw for the next medicine cat.”

Sorry what?

“Weaverpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life? Do you promise to use the skills given to you from your mentor to save the cats of your clan?” Owlstar begins, looking down onto the scrawny tom. His eyes are dark, and he swears that he’s never seen Owlstar blink before. 

“I- uh- you- yes?” He isn’t sure what he’s agreeing to. He isn’t sure what’s going on. 

“Perfect. Bestowed upon you by Eye, one of the Great Fourteen, I grant you the title Weavermoth, for your… curiosity. You’ll do great .” Owlstar dips his nose and nuzzles him behind the ear and then on his forehead. Regardless of tradition, it feels violating, and the look shining in his eyes feels almost cruel.

Backtrack, backtrack, backtrack. Weaverpaw- moth is definitely too young for this. He can’t even wrap a wound right, let alone be the medicine cat for an entire clan. He’s terrified, beyond terrified. The stares of his fellow clanmates torn between pride and mourning don’t help.

 Everything is too much and it’s hard to process, he finds himself feeling sick and dizzy and stumbling beside the corpse to hold vigil, but he’s not sane enough to do it properly. He’s not steady enough. Weavermoth feels like he’s about to throw up, ears pinned back and stars flashing in his vision. 

Weavermoth doesn’t speak for the rest of the night, head hanging. He feels alone, and vulnerable. This wasn’t what he wanted, this wasn’t what he expected. He was supposed to train, right? Become stronger, smarter, and then when he was ready he could fill the massive shoes Paperflight left behind. But now, he feels lost, tangled in a storm of confusion and fear.

Head tilting up to the sky, he begs The Beyond, The Fourteen, anyone out there for help, for anything

The stars look back. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2


 

Dealing with the aftereffects of Paperflights sudden murder wasn’t something Weavermoth wanted to deal with on his first days of being a medicine cat. There are many factors currently driving him up the wall. 

 

For one, Sagepaw wouldn’t stop annoying him. After seeing the stress he was under, of course the little tom would want to help out. It was in his nature to be helpful, of course. It doesn't make him feel any better when all he wants is to be alone with his mourning. 

 

Next, he has to deal with the rumours. Weavermoth probably killed Paperflight for the rank. Obviously. Because this nothing of a cat would ever do that. He’s pretty sure it was just a Lostclan exile or assassin coming to break their hearts again. They always were so focused on needless destruction, and Weavermoth always hated them for it. What kind of cat enjoys watching their enemies suffer? Teach and scare, perhaps, but suffer? What good were suffering cats? 

 

Finally, the absolute disaster Paperflight left behind. The den was a wreck, medicine scattered every which way with no sign of thought or organization. Why make shelves and bundles if you’re just going to leave them on the floor? Between dealing with sick and recovering cats and trying to make sense of everything, the medicine cat has made close to no progress on keeping things clean. This was going to be great .

 

He sighs and pushes the yew berries into a little crevice. One that was difficult to reach but it at least kept curious kits out of it. He remembers listening to one of Paperflights lectures. 

 

The young apprentice had only been there for half a moon, and yet he was already tired of his mentor's endless ramblings.

“Do you know what these are?” she doesn’t even wait for him to answer, “Yew berries, Weaverpaw. These are terrifying. These little berries can kill a fully grown warrior one minute after they eat them. This is why we keep them here. Remember, yew berries go in this crevice and nowhere else. If they aren’t, maybe a couple kits running through here will see a shiny red berry and eat it, and then you have a dead kit. You don’t want to deal with a dead kit. Trust me. “

 

He tried to listen and focus, but his mind kept wandering. Why did he need to learn this? It was pointless. He already knew what a yew berry was, he wasn’t a mousebrain. 

 

The lectures… yeah, he missed those. It filled the thick silence of the den between visits. He sighs quietly and tucks his flank against one of the scrapes, bracing against it as he lost himself in thought. He doesn’t even notice the figure pushing past the heavy vines at the entrance. 

 

“Aha- Weaverpaw-moth, sorry, I just wanted to pop in, say hi.” Of course Sagepaw is here. “Brought you a rabbit. From the edges of the border. We aren’t used to seeing them around, it was really weird. Yeah, they, uh. Put me on border patrol!” Sagepaw drops the rabbit on the pine floor of the den, and Weavermoth realizes how hungry he actually is. He didn’t even notice. With a resigned sigh, he steps forward, keeping his head low and his gaze accusing. Sagepaw shrinks in on himself a little, and laughs. 

 

“Oh, come on, is it really that bad? It’s freshly killed, you know. The best way to eat it. Sort of freshly killed. Okay, okay, I may have killed it a while ago. But the walk is very far! You can’t blame me, I-” Sagepaw is cut off by the sharp glare received from the medicine cat as he picks up the prey. “ Oh- ” 

 

“Sagepaw, please , I don’t have time to deal with your jabbering.” Weavermoth says around the rabbit. 

 

“Jabbering? I just wanted to talk , Weavermoth. No need to be so rude. You’re lucky I’m not just leaving you for the dirt!” The big apprentice huffs and stomps his feet, tail swishing back and forth. “Just because you’re a medicine cat now doesn’t change the fact that we’re the same age. You aren’t suddenly smarter or more important than me.” 

 

“I know that, I just don't want to deal with more mewling kits in my den when I have bigger things to worry about.” Weavermoth says.

 

“Mewling-!” Sagepaw gasps, and grumbles quietly. “I mean- you aren’t… wrong. Ugh! You’re a real foxheart sometimes, you know that?”

 

“Yes.” Weavermoth says.

 

Sagepaw fluffs up and trots further in, grabbing a mouthful of lavender. Before Weavermoth can ask what he’s doing, Sagepaw puts it on a shelf. The den is quiet as he organizes, letting the medicine cat eat quietly. It’s somewhat peaceful. Without any further word (but a really angry huff) Sagepaw storms out of the den, tail flicking Weavermoth in the nose. What a confusing little cat, he thinks. 

 

He’s never been sure what to make of Sagepaw. The tom was always so happy, kind, and positive, but there was a strange air about him. Like he was seconds from slaughtering his mentor and taking his place. It made sense, considering Sagepaw was fortunate enough to have his mentor be the deputy of the clan. They both had their own luxuries, it seems. 

 

Weavermoth just lost earlier than Sagepaw.

The night is cold and dark, the half moon high in the sky and the path of stars in the sky shining brightly. The Beyond looked down on them, cats walking amongst that path to watch the events unfold that night.

 

Weavermoth was trying to sleep when Lillystorm limped into his den, bleeding from all over and torn up. He laughs and falls onto one of the soft beds, scent mingling with the strong tang of pine and cedar. 

 

“Damned be The Infinite, Lillystorm-” 

 

It’s hard stirring yourself from sleep, sometimes, especially when you have to wake up to such an unpleasant sight like your childhood friend being torn to bits. He thinks back to what Paperflight has taught him, but his mind goes blank. 

 

A tear in the ear, a rip right down his hind leg, his flank sliced open, blood everywhere. Cobwebs, right? No, that can’t be right. He paces back and forth for a moment.

 

“Ah- Weavermoth, it’s, uh. comfrey, goldenrod, cobweb.” Lillystorm chimes in, shifting positions so that his wounds were exposed. Weavermoth knew that. Right. He gathers everything, and begins his work. Chewing the Goldenrod and Comfrey into a paste, unravelling the sticks that the cobwebs were wrapped with. The disgusted look on Lillystorms' face as he spits onto the wounds isn’t something he wants to see, but he seems grateful for it. It’s nice being this close to him again, they’ve been distant ever since he became a warrior.

 

He almost forgot his scent, his kindness, the particular way his chest rises and falls. It was irregular and regular all at once. He smells like fire and milk, and it’s not something that Weavermoth thought he would enjoy. Quietly, after wrapping the wounds up tight, the tom sits next to Lillystorm. 

 

“Hm? Weavermoth? What are you doing?” Lillystorm asks, and receives no sort of response from him as the medicine cat snuggles up against him. It’s the first time he’s had any sort of comfortable contact in some time, so it’s welcome. The young cats sit quietly, before Lillystorm tries to speak up again.

 

“So… uh. How’s the job, Weavermoth?” He’s surprisingly quiet, surprisingly calm. Lillystorm was always high energy, so seeing him so still was strange and jarring to the medicine cat. It’s peaceful. Weavermoth entangles his tail with Lillystorms' subconsciously. 

 

“It’s fine.” Weavermoth says bluntly.

 

“Just fine, eh?” Lillystorm looks over, tilting his head. “Mmmh.” 

 

Would this be considered cheating? Maybe. Weavermoth always knew Lillystorm swung both ways, and often spoke about having multiple mates. Part of him wasn't sure if Sugarbee counted as a mate, he's never spoken about her that way. He sighs quietly, and decides to leave his complicated feelings behind. This was just comfort, of course it was. It makes sense too, considering all the stress that Weavermoth has been under. He nuzzles into Lillystorm's neck and doesn’t think about the implications. 

 

“Weavermoth.” Lillystorm says, and he knows the smaller cat responds because his ears perk up. “You aren’t looking for love, are you?” It’s framed as a rhetorical question. “I know it’s stressful, but you… you can’t turn to love to be your saviour like in those stories we were told as kits.” 

 

Weavermoth doesn’t reply, so Lillystorm continues. 

 

“You know the story of the cat who fell in love with the moon, right? She would stare at it every night, speak to it and talk to it. It was her only friend. But the moon is so far away and so far out of her claws, and it never responded. Despite it all, she put her entire faith into it. But it never replied, and she died alone, with nothing to her name. We thought it was terrifying, right? Yeah. But by The Beyond, is it true.” Lillystorm says.

 

“What point are you trying to make?” Weavermoth asks. 

 

“The point is; you can’t chase things you can’t reach. You need to know your limits, you’re one cat, Weavermoth, and so am I. I don’t think I’m for you, especially right now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be here to blanket you in moonlight and keep paths at night clear. If that makes any sense.”

 

“I thought Sagepaw was the poet, not you.” 

 

“That’s- ugh. You know what I mean, Weavermoth!” Lillystorm gently bats at Weavermoth, grumbling quietly. Maybe he’s purring, it’s not entirely clear. “Listen. I can’t help you, and love can’t help you. Only you can help you. Love is simply a treat you get along the way. You can’t just love and have everything turn better, and you have to learn to love even when things are tough.”

 

Okay, this is getting boring and repetitive. All the tom wants to do right now is fall asleep. He’s never been one for love, and he’s not sure what Lillystorm is even talking about. No, he’s not looking for love. He’s just being rash, yes. His mind darts back to the old love stories, about true love, love at first sight, and he mourns that he will never experience such a thing.

 

 So he rests, tucking his nose into his paws and shutting his eyes. It’s quiet, and it smells like poultice and Lillystorm and crisp night air. For once, Weavermoth finds himself falling asleep easily.

 


 

He stands at the top of his camp, claws digging into soft dirt and clouds swirling above. On the meeting stone stands a shadowed cat, covered in gleaming golden eyes that make him want to vomit. It opens its mouth, and says something that he doesn’t understand past the eyes that tumble off of its tongue.

 

He runs anyway, skidding down the side of his camp, rocks tearing open his paw pads and his claws wrench as he tries to grab a hold. He makes it to the clearing and lands in water. Except - it's sticky, red. Weavermoth stands up to his ankles in cat blood, and shivers. It’s vile. He can’t think. The blood looks at him, floating eyes turning to face him and watch. He looks up to The Beyond, but the path they walk is only filled with more eyes. 

 

There’s a sharp pang on his forehead that draws a wail from his mouth. When he looks back down at the blood, to pull his paws out and start running, Weavermoth pauses. The thousand-eyed cat on the meeting stone looks back at him from the pool, eyes green and bright.

 

He’s the monstrosity now. The one who can see everything around him. His mouth opens to scream in agony, but he can’t. All he can do is see and know and think. Images flash in his mind, images of cats being torn apart by other cats, cats falling to their deaths and being buried underneath landslides. He runs even if he doesn’t know where to go. He can’t trust his paws. Familiar paths are muddied when with every step, he feels eyes pop and crush and regrow. It’s an awful sensation, and it feels so real. He can’t help but cry like a little kit as thorns rain down from the sky, piercing his skin. Why me , he begs, why

 

There’s no response from his surroundings, none from the sky, nothing. All he sees are the silhouettes of four cats. One barely visible behind fog, one covered in scratches and strange looking eyes, one that looked more spider than cat, and one wrapped tightly in black roots. They don’t speak, simply taking in Weavermoths suffering. He wants to beg them for help, for mercy, as his body folds in on itself, but nothing comes out. Nothing that can help him, anyways. 

 

“I am yours.” Weavermoth says, but he doesn’t say. It feels wrong, like another voice being pulled out of his lungs by a string. They lunge, and tear him to pieces.

 


 

Lillystorm is looking at the medicine cat when he wakes up, face etched with concern and worry. Sagepaw sits right across from them, a bundle of thyme underneath his paw. He adjusts again, going from the smell of blood and death and fear to the calming scent of cats and medicine. He’s done this every night at this point, after the visions are done flashing past his mind he simply ignores it. The bundle is pushed gently over, none of them sharing a single word with one another. He picks off a couple leaves and pushes it into the back of his mouth, gnawing on the plant slowly. 

 

His head clears up a little, enough for him to get to his feet and glare at them both like they were enemy clan cats. His ears are pinned back, shoulders high and head hunched over. Lillystorm and Sagepaw exchange glances with each other while Weavermoth chews on the thyme, and watch him hobble off further into the den. His tail twitches, and there’s only dead silence as he pushes a few berries into one of the smaller scrapes of the cave. 

 

“You know what would take your mind off of things?” Lillystorm says, trying to break the tension, “Painting. You should paint.” 

 

“Lillystorm. We both know that Fakeclan are the only ones who participate in such… kittypet-ish actions. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re just wayward kittypets, either.” Weavermoth says. 

 

“Who ruffled his fur?” Lillystorm ends up whispering to Sagepaw. 

 

“We both know why he’s so grumpy, don’t be rude !” Sagepaw says. 

 

“I can hear you, you know.” Weavermoth half-shouts. The two cats chuckle to themselves quietly. 

 

“Well, switching gears, uh… how's the border patrol going, Lillystorm?” Sagepaw asks, tucking his paws underneath his fur. 

 

“Pretty well. We caught a couple Earthclan warriors on the border. Two tabbies covered in dirt - I don’t have the smallest clue of how they enjoy that - and a strange cat that we couldn’t quite see. She was wrapped in plants or something? It wasn’t quite clear. Have you ever seen a silver vine before? I haven’t. Anyways, she told us we didn’t have long before ‘it’, whatever that means.” Lillystorm says.

 

“Silver vines? No, those… don’t exist. Not that I know of. Do you know why they were on the border?” Weavermoth asks. 

 

“Uhh, nope! They didn’t say much. Just looked at us and ran away. We tried to follow their scent but it went too far into their territory, so we didn’t bother. Hopefully Driftweed takes you out on the doubled patrols, Sagepaw. We could use an extra hand out there, especially with this confusing threat. I could use all the help I could get, but, ah, you two seem busy. It’ll be fine . I’ll be fine! See you.”

 

Lillystorm finally stands, grunting past the wounds and pain. It was nothing he couldn’t walk off. Sagepaw watches him chuckle as he walks out, and it’s just the two of them in more silence as Weavermoth cleans up.

 

“I didn’t know who to tell this to, but… I know you won’t, like, tell anyone.” Sagepaw begins, and Weavermoth knows there’s no opting out of this now that he’s started. So he listens, keeping himself busy with organization.

 

“Owlstar and Driftweed sent me on a… recon, of sorts. Like just to patrol the edges of the Earthclan ravine to see if there was some kind of avatar army they were building. You know avatars, right? It’s something they’ve taught me. They’re cats with powers, like the Lostclan cats that burned through our border.”

 

Sagepaw pauses to scratch himself behind the ear reflexively. 

 

“Sorry, that’s… whenever I think about it, I get all itchy. There was a cat there, it was- they were the cat that Lillystorm was talking about. All dressed in silver vines and things. But uh, she just approached me.”

 

Weavermoth can’t stop listening. He’s stopped organizing in favour of just staring blankly. He feels watched. 

 

“Hah, she asked what I was doing here. I said I didn’t know, and that I was lost. Then she said… something. I don’t know what it meant, she just said the word “Sian”. Is that even a word? I can’t stop thinking about it. But she lunged at me before I could question it. Before I could even think about running, I-”

 

He winces, and swallows hard. Weavermoth snaps out of his trance, and blinks a few times. For once, he feels sympathy for the apprentice. Tentatively, he approaches Sagepaw, tail flicking back and forth. 

 

“You don’t have to continue.” Weavermoth says assuredly. 

 

“I don’t want to.”

 

Sagepaw stands on shaking feet, and grabs a leaf of thyme without asking. Weavermoth  doesn’t stop him, he knows the tomcat needs it. The fluffy cat slips out without another word, skidding down the rock and vine catches with ease. He pokes his head out past the den and follows, though doesn’t turn left like Sagepaw does. He moves forward, head bobbing up and down as he steps over to the prey pile. There’s something strange in it.

 

Gently, he nuzzles past the pile of mice and voles to find....

 

Silver vines. Wrenched into the dirt and the lower half of the prey, eating it up and leaving it full of rotting holes. A shiver roles through him and he bristles, Those aren’t vines, they can’t be. Vines don’t writhe and twitch like these do. Weavermoth hisses and yowls, drawing the attention of nearby cats. One by one, they step over, questioning what the shout was for before they see it too. 

 

Some smack away prey, some throw up the contents of their stomach, others just stare in horror. “What in The Beyond? What in The Infinite? Was this related to that weird Earthclan cat from before?” One by one, the warriors get to work. The less squeamish ones, anyways. They toss away prey from the pile, pull out worms from the dirt, and stomp them all down into a scrape before burying it. 

 

“Who put those there?”

 

“What kind of bug is that?”

 

“What do we do with the clean prey?” 

 

“Why are there worms here?” 

 

Questions are thrown about every which way until finally being directed towards the giant silver cat that’s slipped into the clearing. Driftweed, the deputy, rarely seen by anyone that wasn’t Sagepaw or Owlstar. No one really knows where or what he gets up to when he’s not around, but it seems that people always get commands some way or another from him. He steps through the hustle and bustle to get a good look at the prey pile vilified by the worms. It was mostly cleaned now, with only a few cats left crushing and picking when it was emptied. 

 

A quiet sigh leaves him, and he doesn’t speak or respond to the cats leaning in. Asking questions, demanding answers, anything. All Driftwood does is stare for a long moment, and dig his claws into the dirt. The ground grows cold and frosty, and the air becomes still. 

 

“What- Driftweed? What are you-” Before Weavermoth gets his answer, Driftweed is… gone. Yup, just vanished. Not out of thin air in the slightest, but it just seems that one moment he’s there, and the next he’s not. “Driftweed? Driftweed, hey-” 

 

He whips around a couple times, and sighs dejectedly. No, this was nothing new. Driftweed was always appearing and disappearing. Something about being sneaky. He sees a fluffy gray tail whisk into a den.



What a strange cat , Weavermoth thinks. Driftweed was always so aloof, Owlstar must be a fool for picking him. An absolute idiot. A total buffoon. Weavermoth lets his mind wander a bit. Owldumb. Owlbrain. Owlstupid. 

 

“That was a great initiative you showed, Weavermoth.” A voice says on cue, Owlstar curling around the small tomcat with a smile that looked a bit too wide. His tail flicks Weavermoth’s flank and his paws move carefully, every step more than calculated as if he could see pebbles thousands of feet below the dirt and was avoiding stepping upon them. “You could have just saved many lives. That’s exactly what the job is about. Now, did you save any of the worms?”

 

There’s a moment of staggered silence where Weavermoth questions if he actually summoned Owlstar through his mind, but he chalks that up to, no. That’s not possible like at all. In fact, that’s a dumb thing to think of. He straightens up, and lets his fur smooth down.

 

“No, I made sure they were all killed and buried where no one could get them and where they would suffocate without food.” He seems proud of himself, head held higher than normal.

 

“Should you not have saved one for study, Weavermoth?” 

 

He feels like his heart just stopped, like ice cracking as realization strikes across him. Yes, he should have done that. Weaverdumb. Weaverbrain. Weaverstupid. He lowers his head, and sighs. 

 

“Yes, Owlstar, it was foolish of me to forget that. I apologize.” He feels small and known underneath his leader's gaze. 

 

“Don’t apologize to me. Apologize to the cats you just doomed. The kits who will be full of worms. Now, what’s your next course of action?”

 

“Fixing my mistakes?” Weavermoth asks.

 

“Get to it.”

 

Quickly, Weavermoth scuttles over to the pile with Owlstar watching him closely, digging up the fresh dirt and… finding only black blood and clumps. It smells vile, like rot, but it seems like in that short amount of time they ate three mice and a vole without leaving anything behind.

 

If they could do that to such small animals in barely an hour, what could they do to cats? He dread the idea as awful images of infected cats flashed around in the back of his mind when he shut his eyes. Did they eat each other, too? Where did they go? Weavermoth feels ill, head spinning and fur stood high.

 

“Hey-” a voice calls out from beside him, and it takes him a little too long to notice he’s braced against a cat. He fainted. It takes him even longer to realize that it’s Sagepaw, which makes him annoyed, to say the least. He grumbles and decides to push off, stand back up on his paws. His mouth tastes like bile. 

 

“You, uh, you-” Sagepaw begins, but he doesn’t end.

 

“Lost consciousness, yes. I know. It’s none of your business.” Weavermoth snaps. His head pounds and he really doesn’t want to deal with Sagepaw right now. Him and his worrying and his voice and his constant mishaps. It makes him feel ill.

 

“No, not that. Your paw.” Sagepaw looks down for added effect. 

 

Weaverpaw does in fact turn to look down and lifts his paw. It’s… horrifying.

 

His dew claw is gone. Replaced only by a vacant hole where a worm had been. He can’t exactly feel it, but there’s a bloody stick on the ground. 

 

“You- you were out for a while. Not just a second. You were just laying here and there were worms and you-” Sagepaw pauses to take a breath. “I had to think fast. I thought back to my encounter with the thing with all these worms, right? A thorn bush, of course! It’s a bit messy, but it’s easier to get them out. You just… thread it through.” 

 

Weavermoth feels sick, unable to look away from the vile wound. Thread it through ?

 

“They kind of just… dissolve after they die. They’re really weak too. Slow. But they have a nasty bite. Or at least I think it’s a bite? I’m not sure… they don’t look like they have mouths.” Sagepaw headbutts Weavermoth, trying to give him some kind of support or crutch. “We should probably get you to the den. More herbs there, we can uh… fix you. And stock up on thorn bushes. Haha!” 

 

Weavermoth literally doesn’t want to talk to anyone right now. He wants to curl up and vanish and not have to deal with strange flesh eating worms. It’s nothing that he’s dealt with before. Nothing that Paperflight was able to teach him. Caught in shock, though, he can’t do anything except be escorted into the den again. 

 

Once again, Sagepaw is doing work. He seems to have a better understanding of what to grab, over Weavermoth who has to spend a minute or two just sniffing and looking for the right herb for the job, and even then he’s never sure. 

 

He feels his paw be lifted, but he doesn’t bother to look over. Instead, Weavermoth just sits idly as he’s treated. The poultice is applied, the cobwebs are wrapped, and the bleeding is stopped. Sagepaw looks proud of himself when it’s done, tail twitching back and forth and eyes glowing with pride. 

 

“I was thinking, as a payment for basically saving your life, I could grab a couple of those yew berries? Just for something small.” Sagepaw asks innocently, as if they aren’t one of the most toxic berries out there. Weavermoth glares daggers. “What? I can tell you what it’s for. I want to throw it at Driftweed. He will smell so bad that I can track him anywhere. Yew is particularly smelly and easy to track.” 

 

Weavermoth keeps staring, mostly baffled at the idea, but he can’t come up with another herb that has a strong smell. Not on the spot, anyways. He never was good at on the spot tests. Hesitantly, he nods, and the look on Sagepaws face is a telltale sign that he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. 

 

“You won’t regret this!” Yes he will. Sagepaw digs his paw into the crevice and grabs some cobwebs, wrapping them around the berries like a little makeshift bag. Sagepaw picks it up, nods at Weavermoth, and rushes out of the den. 

 

Weavermoth is alone again, and he realizes that now he wants to chase after Sagepaw and talk. Why does he always want the exact opposite of what’s given to him? Irritation boils in his veins and he can do nothing about it. Instead, he sets his head down, shifts his wounded paw, and shuts his eyes. At least, for now.    

Chapter Text

Chapter 3


 

“I’m not feeling too well.” 

 

Aspenpad had entered the medicine cat den twenty minutes ago. He said he was sick. A stomachache, he said. Weavermoth has been tending to him for some time, providing the right herbs for his symptoms, but all he can see is his degrading condition. This would be so much easier with Paperflight. Weavermoth darts about his den, tail twitching, heart hammering, and ears pinned back, muscles growing more and more tense with every passing second as Aspenpads time starts to come to a close. 

 

“It hurts! It hurts !” He cries, stretching out and curling back up again over and over. He’s wailing at this point, and Weavermoth has exhausted his supply of things to do. In some sort of desperate final act to solve the issue, he pushes his paws against Aspenpads underbelly to induce some sort of vomiting, or something, or anything , really. What he feels instead is writhing underneath his paw pads, motion where it shouldn’t be. He bristles and steps back, tail moving between his legs and eyes widening. Aspenpad keeps wailing and crying out in pain, to the point where Weavermoth is sure that his little den of hell has gathered a crowd. 

 

“It hurts! Make it stop! MAKE IT STOP!” He yowls, and claws at the dirt below him. There’s an awful squelching sound, and the sound of a cat gagging. Weavermoth watches him roll over, and go completely limp. It’s dead silent without the sobbing, the wailing of a suffering cat. He finds himself unable to move, caught in a state of shock. It only worsens when the corpse twitches, and suddenly Weavermoths fight or flight activates. 

 

He grabs the corpse by the tail and runs . He runs as fast as he can down the slope of the mountain, up the side, past the questioning guards who try to stop him to no avail, and into the forest. He can feel the corpse twitching even through all the jostling, and he can hear a strange crawling noise. When his camp is invisible past all the trees, he finally stops, dropping the corpse at the roots of one of the larger trees. Weavermoth continues to stare, watching the corpse twitch and jerk around more and more fervently.

 

Until it bursts. 

 

The stomach of Aspenpad tears open, giving way to a tidal wave of writhing, hungry worms. They curl back to consume the rest of Aspenpad, eating away at flesh and fur and bone almost too fast.

 

Weavermoth screams, taking a few steps back and curling in on himself. He doesn’t have much time to take in the sight before he flees the opposite direction, getting as far away from the writhing silver worms as possible. Terror pulses through his veins, his heart moves a mile a minute, and he’s never felt this sick in his life. He runs and he runs and he runs, moving further and further even when his body demands him to stop. It’s overwhelming and the fear seems to be the only thing carrying him along. 

 

The sun had started to set when Weavermoth finally flops over and sits, collapsing next to the small lake. Silverpaw Lake, as Paperflight often called it. 

 

“Do you know why we call it Silverpaw Lake, Weaverpaw?” She asks, and doesn’t give him a second to respond. “There was a very brave apprentice that died here. We were about to be attacked by Lostclan, and she hid the lake with leaves. When they approached through Silverpaw Lake, they walked upon the leaves until they collapsed, and couldn’t resurface.” 

 

“How did she do that? Leaves cant support a cat.” Weaverpaw says.

 

“No one knows. Some people think it’s because she was touched. Like you are. When she was setting it up, though, she used herself as bait for the cats to chase, and died too. So we named this lake in her honour.” 

 

art: demonic-kitkats

 

Weavermoth jumps into a shallow part of the lake, hating how the water felt but unable to curb the itching feeling of worms. Was this what Sagepaw was talking about? He shudders at the idea. His claws dig into the mud and sand at the bottom and he strays further from shore, feeling it lap at his stomach and flank with every motion. He shivers and dips his head underneath, bringing it up a moment later and shaking off. It feels awful and his fur is heavy, but it’s clean. 

 

Weavermoth clambers out and shakes off, rubbing against the grass to hopefully dry off a little more. Still trembling from the awful sight, he climbs onto one of the rocks at the shore. Imagine that, hiding an entire lake from sight. Touched cats must be powerful. Weavermoth’s tail curls around his paws and he makes himself small, watching the setting sun and basking in whatever rays were left.



The next day is rather uneventful. He doesn’t speak to anyone, opting to stay holed up in his den and hope to not see any more cats complaining about stomach problems. Sagepaw is the very final cat he wants to see right now. Regardless, the tomcat pushes through the door, allowing them to make awkward eye contact. Weavermoth squints, before tilting his head in query. Get on with it.

 

Sagepaw finally breaks the silence.

 

“S-so… Owlstar ordered us- no, sorry, ordered me to take you out. We have to get some more herbs.” Sagepaw says. “Boss’s orders. Haha. Sssooo. We should go, right?” 

 

Weavermoth glares for a long moment, before resigning to the fluffy apprentice. Without much of a fuss - or anything really - he dejectedly walks over to Sagepaw. 

 

“Ah- alright, then.” Sagepaw says as Weavermoth pushes past, jumping down and into the clearing. He really, really doesn’t want to leave the camp right now. Or his den. He just wants to curl up and be away from all of this fear. 

 

Weavermoth didn’t sign up for this. Glassbark and Daisyscar are once again watching them as they leave, though this time it’s a little less passive. 

 

“Weavermoth.” Glassbark stands and blocks his path. She looks down on him, and sizes him up. “What were you doing with Aspenpad?” 

 

“You know- I haven’t seen Aspenpad since yesterday, I wanted to ask-” Sagepaw interjects, only to get told off.

 

Shut up! ” Daisyscar and Glassbark say in half unison. Weavermoth looks between them, and laughs nervously. 

 

“I don’t- I don’t know what you’re talking about-” Weavermoth says. 

 

“You know full well what you’re talking about. Don’t play dumb with us. We saw everything .” Daisyscar steps forward, claws already out. He laughs nervously. Everything? Everything? They saw the worms and they didn’t do anything? No, they have to be lying. They’re lying to him, right? Sagepaw cowers back, getting out of their way. It was a smart move, as Glassbark and Daisyscar were giant cats and senior warriors, and could steamroll an apprentice and an untrained medicine cat without much of a second thought.

 

“Then you should know that I didn’t have Aspenpad.” Weavermoth says. Daisyscar takes a few more steps forward, until he can feel her breath on his face. She lifts one paw, and pushes her claws against his throat. A gasp escapes Weavermoth, and he has no choice but to sit back and try and lean away from the pressure. 

 

“Daisyscar-!” Sagepaw tries, but is cut off by Glassback stepping in his way. She glares at her friend, brown eyes drawn tight into slits. 

 

“There is no purpose in drawing clan blood, especially a medicine cat.” Glassbark says simply, her tail thrashing and head held high. She stood her ground. Daisyscar hisses, curling her claws even more into the trembling medicine cat and drawing blood. He whimpers and tries to step back, shooting Sagepaw a terrified look. He can’t do anything except stand and watch. Weavermoth can do nothing but sit and cower. 

 

“He obviously killed Aspenpad. Did you not see him? Did you not smell him?” Daisyscar snarls and turns back to Weavermoth. “He broke clan code.” 

 

“Maybe he was just carrying out a cat that died in his den, Daisyscar. Just because you don’t trust someone doesn’t make them a murderer. Let him go.” Glassbark says firmly. Her golden eyes narrow and dart between the three cats, before pulling her paw back. Weavermoth immediately staggers back and to his feet, moving at a hurried pace as far away as possible. 

 

“You shouldn’t just threaten everyone that comes by.” Glassbark says. 

 

“You could smell that. It wasn’t normal. He probably used his touch for that.” Daisyscar responds. Weavermoth can’t catch the rest of the conversation as he draws further and further away, and Sagepaw starts to cover up what he could hear. 

 

“Beyond, you-” He pauses, and swallows. “What… did happen to Aspenpad?” Sagepaw looks up innocently, blue eyes wide and face almost kitten-like. Weavermoth almost didn’t want to break it to him, shatter the fragile innocence that Sagepaw probably still held. He pauses and looks down in stunned bewilderment for a long moment, before deciding to simply cut to it. 

 

“Worms. A lot of them. They ate him from the inside, and I didn’t want them spreading any further.” Weavermoth says, and Sagepaws face twists into confusion, followed by horror. He says a few things under his breath that Weavermoth can’t catch, and drags his eyes through the air like he’s thinking. “What are you doing?”

 

“Oh! Nothing. Just thinking. Hahaha! Hopefully we don’t see any. Let’s gather some thorns, too. For the worms.” Sagepaw stammers, and smiles. He still looks as soft and fluffy and innocent as before, and Weavermoth isn’t sure if that’s his default state or he really didn’t strike a chord in this fluffhead. 

 

They keep walking through the underbrush, only sharing a few words. Smalltalk. Weavermoth was never the best with interaction, he was better at sitting and listening to lectures. This left him completely out of his element. The walk was trapped in a stagnant silence, something Weavermoth wasn’t too keen on getting out of. 

 

“What kind of plants are we looking for?” Sagepaw asks, trying once again to break the silence. Finally, a good question. 

 

“Anything useful, as well as Yew, Holly, Nightshade, Foxglove, and Hemlock. So no stray kit comes across them and eats it. You know how they are.” Weavermoth says. Sagepaw nods, and brings his nose to the ground. 

 

“I can smell some mint.” He says, and takes one direction. Weavermoth follows. 

 

“I wanted to ask, Sagepaw. What do you think about touched cats, and- and avatars?” Weavermoth leans over his shoulder, watching the apprentice pick at a mint plant. He looks up and turns his head around to look at Weavermoth, tilting it a bit.

 

“Well, I don’t really care. I don’t think it’s their fault. It’s certainly nothing to flip about. I don’t think it's your fault if the blood of the Fourteen is in you. You didn’t choose it. Unless you did. But avatars? Those guys choose it. I think.” Sagepaw turns back, grabbing some more mint in his jaws. “But- Driftweed said that to know your enemy you have to become your enemy. He says he’s going to train me under Lonely. So long as I don’t lose myself to it.”

 

Weavermoth bristles a bit. Training under Lonely? Are the fourteen mentors? He grimaces and pretends like this is completely normal. 

 

“What happens if you do…. ‘lose yourself to it’ ?” Weavermoth dreads the idea, and thinks about the other avatar cats. Agonystar with her fiery claws, leaving strange drippings whenever she went, body melting but never losing itself. Or maybe Dollstar, he’s never seen her but the rumours of a bone thin cat wearing the face of your loved ones isn’t something that he particularly enjoys thinking about. 

 

“Oh well, I don’t actually know. But I think if I turn my nose to Lonely, I can get like… really strong and tough. Maybe even tougher than Driftweed.” 

 

Sagepaw laughs, even if what he said sounds like the beginnings of a villain uprising. Weavermoth can’t help but cringe at the thought, but it’s none of his business. Sagepaw was probably just using it to protect his clan. Totally. 

 

“So, hm. I’m just asking because… didn’t they exile a cat for being an avatar a while back? What was her name…” Weavermoth pauses to think. 

 

“Puppetclaws, you mean? No, she was just touched. But she gave herself to Web, and lost herself to it. She turned to the Infinite instead of the Beyond. Ignored the call of the stars in favour of the spiders. That’s why she was exiled. I think she’s still alive.” Sagepaw says. “Web can be very dangerous, it’s easy to lose yourself to the maniacal desire for control.”

 

“I’m right here , you know.” Weavermoth says.

 

“Oh! No, I’m not talking about you. I’m just saying in general. Don’t trust avatars who have given themselves to Web.” 

 

At least Web avatars tell the truth .”

 

Both of them immediately tense, the mint forgotten in favour of forming a defensive position. Back to back, claws out. They don’t see the source of the strange voice anywhere, all they can hear is laughter. All around them. 

 

Seerclan warriors are always so jumpy! ” It says again. It’s as if it’s coming from every direction. There’s more laughter, it’s a headache. 

 

“Come out!” Sagepaw mewls, sounding less terrifying and more terrified. The strange echo giggles, and suddenly a cat stands beside them. It’s too tall, too long. It has claws that are twice as long as its paws, and curly golden fur. Its eyes are two different colours, always shifting and too bright. Finally, its smile. Too wide and untrustworthy. Judging by the touch mark, Weavermoth concludes that this cat is probably from Fakeclan. He doesn’t know which of the fourteen it belongs to, but he can make an educated guess that it’s touched - no, an avatar of Spiral.

 

I was just passing through! You two seemed interesting to talk to and I couldn’t help but eavesdrop. ” 

 

art: talking4the1

 

Weavermoth and Sagepaw stare in horror at the twisted cat. It moves, and it deconstructs completely. It keeps laughing, the sound swirling around all of them in a musical cacophony unlike anything heard before. 

 

“What-” Sagepaw swallows. “What are you?” 

 

It cackles this time, mocking and cruel. One of its long claws reaches up and curls to tap Sagepaw under the chin, tilting it up so they can make eye contact. Its arm twists and contorts disgustingly. Sagepaw stares deep into the spiralling eyes, changing shape and rolling around in their sockets. He whimpers and cowers, tail curling between his hind legs. The strange cat giggles and looks to Weavermoth, stalking forward with its head held low. 

 

Micheal .” It says. “ What I am is Micheal!

 

“That’s not-” Sagepaw somehow manages to choke out, a feat considering how Weavermoth is frozen in terror. Micheal cuts him off before he can finish his sentence.

 

It is. You are a cat named Sagepaw, and I’m Micheal. ” It giggles, billion tails thrashing and twisting and contorting. It’s hard to look at. Weavermoth shuts his eyes against the colours and strangeness, but only sees the shapes beyond his eyelids like floaters. He doesn’t care that Micheal knows Sagepaws name, only that this cat is a monster. Twitching and writhing and distorting with too many teeth and too many mouths. 

 

“What do you want?” Weavermoth demands, opening his eyes only to avert his gaze. He can see the shoots of colour and strangeness in his peripherals. Always in his peripherals. He wants nothing more than normalcy right now. Micheal curls around him, body lengthening and twisting into a coil. Yet it doesn’t move an inch. 

 

A nice conversation! I rarely get up to this sort of thing anymore. It’s always trapping cats or torturing prey, never a nice chat. You two are the lucky couple! ” It says. “ You need protection from the spirits in these woods, don’t you? ” 

 

“Haha. I’m sorry, Micheal, but… spirits? Do you expect us to believe in ghosts? Cats die and they go to the Beyond up above or the Infinite under the Fourteens claws. They don’t become ghosts. It’s an old kits tale.” Sagepaw puffs up his chest, kicked out of his shock and now in defense mode. Weavermoth guessed that his line of thinking was something along the lines of ‘ if it doesn’t want to hurt me I am going to scare it off ’. 

 

Yes, spirits! Always wandering, always talking. ” It snaps back into shape, trotting over to a large boulder and sitting atop it without even jumping up. “ Quite annoying, really. How do you never notice them? Blah, blah, blah. One calls itself G- ” 

 

“Okay, okay, okay, we don’t need your whole life story. If you want to monologue like some evil villain, go talk to some other cat.” Sagepaw hisses, fluffy fur bristling. He looks like a little burr. Sageburr has a nice ring to it. Weavermoth continues to watch, unable to move his paws, barely able to form a word. Micheal doesn’t seem to care, in fact it seems to want to keep him there. 

 

Ohhh, you’re right. I really need to work on my conversationalism. Thank you, Sagepaw! ” It laughs, gently booping Sagepaw on the nose. A bead of blood rises from the tiny cut. 

 

“Was that a threat ? It was a bad attempt.”

 

Sagepaw, you’d know if I was threatening you. I just want to be friends!

 

“I don’t .” Sagepaw stamps his foot, pupils narrowing. For such a tiny little apprentice, he really was tougher and braver than he tended to let on. Here he stood, staring down what looked like a headache and still bristling, while the supposed older and more mature one cowered in paralyzing terror. 

 

You’re so feisty! Even when speaking to the curvature of a spiral! ” Micheal giggles again, and Weavermoth can see little mouths floating in the air, along with pink and blue sparkles. It’s strange, and he wants nothing more than for this to end. Please god, just go away

 

“You say that like I’m supposed to know what it means.”

 

I say it like you’re supposed to be confused, little kit! ” 

 

Kit ?! Phfff-!” Sagepaw sits in offended silence, and Weavermoth isn’t sure how much is dramatics. Considering the nature of it, it’s probably dramatic. Maybe to get on its good side. Weavermoth wants nothing more than to crack open his head and know exactly what he’s thinking. In a less gory, violent way than that sounds. Weavermoth retracts the thought before his mind can go to dark places. 

 

You share a similar stature. 5 moons in training, hm? You’re getting close to being a warrior. Are you nervous? ” Micheal says.

 

“Okay, I’d ask how you know everything but I know you’re not going to tell me.” Sagepaw says.

 

And why wouldn’t I? ” It asks.

 

“Because- because you’re evil ! You’re clearly a villain! Like in the stories!” Sagepaw exclaims. Micheal laughs, head falling back in uproarious laughter. He’s wheezing by the end of it. 

 

I’m as evil as you are, Sagepaw! I know everything because I just do. I walk through your clan often. I watch, though not as effectively as that cat who follows Eye. Makes things so difficult. ” 

 

“Whoa, whoa whoa-” Sagepaw shakes his head.

 

“What do you mean, follows Eye? ” Weavermoth manages to ask, slowly regaining his composure. Gradually, he takes a step or two forward, letting his muscles relax. 

 

Oopsie doopsie, I think I said too much, hm? Don’t want to ruin my fun too early. ” Micheal says, giggling. Its tail sways back and forth, head bobbing gently. “ You two have been very fun, but I have to go. I have things to do, cats to steal, prey to hunt, problems to cause. Just normal Micheal things.

 

“No- HEY DON’T G O- stop right there! No !” Weavermoth spits. 

 

“Don’t, no no no no, you can’t just say that-” Sagepaw begs in unison. 

 

Their protests go ignored, Micheal no longer upon the boulder without getting off and then no longer there without leaving. Deep claw marks are raked deep into the rock, in the dirt, and in the grass. They’re left standing, baffled and confused, and with killer migraines. Weavermoth glances over at Sagepaw, who looks frustrated. 

 

“It just left ! Why did it even come up to us if it was just going to leave ? Ugh!” He huffed and puffed, making strange noises of frustration as if he was trying to draw attention and sympathy to himself. Weavermoth watches, half annoyed and half amused by the apprentices' strange grab for compassion. 

 

“Were we not out here for herbs and not for Micheal?” Weavermoth comments absently, head wiggling side to side as he turns away and to a distant tree. Sagepaw makes a puffed out noise.

 

“You-!” Sagepaw exclaims. “You’re such a herb-muddler!” Sagepaw stamps his paws, storming in front of Weavermoth to cut him off. The taller cat looks down at the little apprentice, and feigns offense.

 

“No, how dare you call me that.” Weavermoth says flatly. “My life has been ruined by a feisty furball.” He could not sound more unenthused. His tail sways playfully back and forth, and he’s expecting-

 

Yeah, Sagepaw tackles him, throwing him to the ground and pinning him down relatively quickly. It makes sense considering Weavermoths little warrior training. Paperflight was more focused on her medicine over actual warrior duties, and wanted to make Weavermoth the same. It shows when Sagepaw bats him a couple times in the ears and only receives a half-effort slap with a paw. The injured paw. He winces through his teeth and tenses up, the pain radiating in hot waves before slowly calming down. Sagepaw sits and watches for a moment, before climbing off and sitting to groom his paws.

 

“We should head back to camp, report to Owlstar what we saw. Micheal isn’t exactly something we can’t report, you know?” Sagepaw sighs and gets to his feet. “It’s also going to explain why we didn’t get any herbs. Unless we grab some on the way back.” 

 

Weavermoth thinks for a long moment, blinking slowly, before looking back up. His ear flicks and rotates a few times, looking for some sort of sign of Micheal. He’s not sure why he’s looking. He can’t even sniff him out, his scent smells like every scent at once, and at the same time nothing at all. It makes his head heavy and his stomach feel sick. 

 

“That sounds like a plan. We can tell the patrol to watch out for him, too. Just in case.” Weavermoth sniffs the ground and looks up, following the scent back to camp. He starts down the forest, looking at every tree and bush and recognizing each one. He rarely leaves camp, if at all, but he’s damned well going to remember his own territory. 

 

They walk in silence, barely sharing a word aside from pointing out herbs and pausing to pick them. It’s nearly sundown by the time they notice it.

 

“Hey- hey- hey, Weavermoth. Do you smell that?” Sagepaw stops, and Weavermoth just wants to grind him into dust. All he wants to do is go back to his den and never get back up again. Regardless, he sniffs the air, and then the ground. It’s earthy, thick, and natural. It’s not a cat or Seerclan scent. He pauses in his tracks, looking around them. Where’s it coming from? 

 

Dread dawns upon him. 

 

This is where Aspenpad was. 

 

The tree he died under is full of holes, rotting away at the stump and seconds from collapsing judging by the gaping hole in the side. He watches Sagepaw go up to sniff at it.

 

“Sagepaw, don’t- !” He exclaims, catching Sagepaw a few footsteps away from it. Thank god. A breath of relief that he didn’t know he was holding leaves his nose. There’s a responding squelching sound, the same squishing and squelching Weavermoth heard inside of Aspenpad. A few worms fall from the trees above them, landing in front of their paws and burrowing into the earth. Both of them bristle in disgust, frozen for barely one second before taking off in the direction of their clan. 

 

Their paws beat desperately on the dirt, darting through the slowly tightening trees that mark them getting closer and closer to camp, silver worms glinting in the dim light between blades of grass, their paws kick up clumps of earth, all before-

 

They burst through the regrowing entrance, shaking and trembling and holding herbs. Of course, they receive some nervous stares, less worried about them and more weirded out about how they look. Sagepaw stands there like he’s been drenched in water, and then a second later he’s puffed back up, still trembling from fear and adrenaline. 

 

“Holy-” Sagepaw gasps for breath. “That was- were we taken to the Infinite? What-... Worms, I don’t- oh no.” He freezes, and something dawns over him. Dropping the herbs, Sagepaw rushes off, slipping into the leader's den as if he owned the place. Weavermoth trusted Sagepaw to handle this with Driftweed and Owlstar. Of course he could, after all, Weavermoth was just a lowly medicine cat. 

 

He scoops up the rest of the herbs into his jaw and sighs quietly, clambering up to his little medicine den and pushing past the cover. It was empty, thank god, and it smelled normal. Something normal. 

 

His eyes purposefully avoid the deep claw marks along the sides of the den, and he opts to place the herbs in a messy pile on one of the little scrapes before collapsing onto a soft pile of pressed pine. It feels nice to rest, his sore paws and tense muscles from the terror of today relaxing and pressing against soft bedding. Nothing beat this, but Weavermoth couldn’t help but wonder about kittypet life. Imagine this, but three hundred times better. He could really go for some of that right now. 

 

He ponders the kittypet names he’s heard. What would his kittypet name even be? Jon? Weavermoth thinks about it for a bit, before quickly dismissing it. No, that name’s stupid. Who would ever be named Jon? It’s so short and bland. Weavermoths name tells a story, and he enjoys that better than any three letter name out there.

 

His eyes drift shut as his thoughts wander, finally settling on the soft pine. When his eyes open again, they fly open in terror. Everything around him is spongy and thick, tiny little particles dancing in the air. It looks like someone’s kicked through the den. He blinks and gets a good look around.

 

There are worms everywhere

 

art: talking4the1

 

For some reason, they seem to be frozen, unmoving. They’re crawling around in the herbs, through the pine bedding, into a wailing cat that he recognizes as Sugarbee. Nothing moves. It’s as if she’s frozen in time. Her claws are out and batting at something in the air, large holes driven through her and deep claw marks raked across her face. There’s blood everywhere.

 

Tentatively, Weavermoth leaves his den. There’s worms crawling through the walls, into cats and kits alike, innocent lives being torn apart by worms. He sees Sagepaw holding a thorn branch covered in blood, he sees Lillystorm slashing at a wave of worms desperately, and he sees… 

 

Micheal. Standing at the center of all of it like nothing is happening. In his jaws, there's a deadly nightshade berry. Held carefully as if presenting it. Weavermoth wrinkles his nose and looks for any sign of his leader. Nothing. Then, he looks to the camp entrance. Draped across the dirt is a strange cat, dark mottled fur and filled with holes. 

 

Taking in the scene before him, he steps back, paws landing on one of the worms. Like clockwork, it comes to life. Sugarbee slashes at the air and screams, Sagepaw darts for an injured cat, Lillystorm gets buried under worms, the strange intruder drags herself forward, and Micheal is… gone. 

 

The berry drops to the ground, and everything disappears. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 4


 

Eyes fly open. Weavermoth gasps for air. A split second of time in a few hours. His tail twitches back and forth and he looks around, confirming the sheer lack of worms. Either they cleaned up really fast, or… he had a vision. He draws knowledge from experience. What did Paperflight do?

 

Well, she complained about a migraine and stormed off to the leaders den. Weavermoth thinks that he shouldn’t waste time doing the first part to the air. He pauses, and his tail curls between his legs. But routine helps, doesn’t it? Being sure of what you’re doing. He feels beyond awkward, and resigns to the urge.

 

“...Oh no, I have a headache.” He feels stupid. Weavermoth curses himself out under his breath and rushes to Owlstars den. He tries to forget the idiotic stunt he just pulled, but he can’t get it out of his mind. It felt like the entire clan knew about it. When he pushes into Owlstars den right below the gathering rock, he has a strange feeling that the leader knew as well. The look in his eyes as Weavermoth enters makes him feel small and on the spot. Immediately, he’s bristling and backing away a little. The squinty eyed golden stare is unrelenting and unfeeling as the tomcat mrrps, tilting his head.

 

“Weavermoth. It’s been some time since we’ve been able to chat directly. A few days now, hm?” He stands and stretches. Despite his small stature, Owlstar is more than formidable. Comparing the way the two of them hold themselves, the cowering and lanky Weavermoth looks smaller than the upright and confident Owlstar. “What brings you here, then?” 

 

“I think I-” Weavermoth tries, and has to swallow down his suspicions. “I think I had a vision. From The Beyond. I don’t know. Me and Sagepaw saw this… cat. Yesterday, we met it and it told us… mostly riddles, really. I couldn’t really hear it properly. All shapes and colours and-”

 

“Yes, yes, get to the point , Weavermoth.” Owlstar says.

 

“Well, my point is, we’re all in danger. I saw worms attacking the camp. Everyone was full of these- these holes. It was vile. I saw Sagepaw with thorns, Lillystorm buried under worms, Sugarbee fighting off worms beside me. All frozen in time. And that cat I was talking about, his name is Micheal. He was there with a deathberry, the nightshade ones. He dropped it into the worms and they all started moving again. Then I woke up.” Weavermoth rambles, tail swishing anxiously back and forth. His whiskers are upright. Owlstars expression morphs from quiet listening to understanding. 

 

“Thankfully it isn’t spiders.” Owlstar comments. 

 

“What?” Weavermoth says. 

 

“What is it, Weavermoth? I was thinking.” Owlstar looks up innocently, barely having changed. Weavermoth probably just imagined that. Haha, yeah. 

 

“Nothing. Just… What do we do? What do I make of this message from The Beyond?” Weavermoth says. 

 

Owlstar struts past Weavermoth and out into his camp, surveying the area. He glances over in one direction, only to watch Lillystorm and Sugarbee rush out and begin walking to the outside of the camp. Owlstar smiles and puts on his kindest expression, the one that means ‘ do something for me ’. 

 

“Sugarbee, hey!” He pauses, watching the two chatting warriors pause. Lillystorm laughs and bumps Sugarbee, who ends up bristling and looking away. “I need you to go out and collect some nightshade. I believe there are quite a few bushes on the Fakeclan border.” 

 

“Got it, Owlstar. Nightshade. No gossiping on the border again. Promise!” Sugarbee says, and begins to take off with Lillystorm. Owlstar blinks, and speaks up again.

 

“Ah-ah-ah. Lillystorm, I need your aid back at the camp. We are preparing for an attack.” He says. Lillystorm bristles a bit and lets his ears fold back in a half wince. He nods at Sugarbee, the two exchanging a quick nose-kiss and a few licks before parting ways. Lillystorm trots over. 

 

“Hey boss, what do you need?” He smiles and looks down at Weavermoth, tilting his head and practically radiating sunshine. Weavermoth squashes down the small kit in his chest that begins to flip and run around frantically in circles, chasing a moss ball in his heart as if he’s supposed to be feeling this way. 

 

“Wrong boss, Lillystorm. Weavermoth has had a vision. We need you to round up all the cats you can and do anything you can to seal off entrances into the camp.” Owlstar says firmly, still standing tall. He looks so professional compared to the other two cats, who are slouching and relaxed.

 

"Ohhh. Yup! Gotcha, Owlstar. I'll get sch-moovin." Lillystorm puffs up and gently bats at Weavermoths nose, giggling a bit before turning around and walking off. Weavermoth tilts his head, turning to look at Owlstar.

 

"What does 'sch-mooving' even mean?" He questions, earning no answer from the leader. He just stares ahead, tail twitching.

 

"I know a lot of us are touched, but we are touched by those we look to. He is touched by Desolation." Owlstar looks over, an indiscernible expression on his face. "He's going to end up just like the rest of the Lostclan warriors. Feral and melting into kittypet life. You can't have a paw in both worlds, and yet they do." 

 

"I thought they lived in an old twoleg nest?" Weavermoth wants nothing more than to leave and get to work. 

 

"They have a roof over their heads provided by twolegs. They live in luxury. All Lostclan cats want to see the forest burn." Owlstar blinks, and Weavermoth feels hot magma below his paws. He can't move. Flames surround him, arcing inwards and consuming him whole. It's gone in just a second. 

 

"Yeah, yes, well-" Weavermoth stammers, looking side to side. "I should get going. I really should." 

 

"Of course. Good luck. Thank you." Owlstar smiles, and there's a look in his eyes that makes Weavermoth think that maybe someone already told him. Stupid, stupid, stupid

 

He stalks out of the den, and comes to the sight of cats scrambling out of the camp. He spots Sagepaw across the camp, speaking to Lillystorm, and approaches subtly. 

 

"...So yes, I've dealt with them. You need some thorn branches. Just dig them into the holes they leave and it'll hook them out. Of course it hurts! But it's better than worms." Sagepaw rambles to a listening Lillystorm, who's watching the apprentice with some sense of pride and a twitching tail. "I've had a lot of time on my own to think about this, y'know?"

 

"Of course. Perhaps we can go together? Get a bunch from the sharp bushes by Silverpaw Lake." Lillystorm says. 

 

"Sounds good! I'll always need backup. Thanks a ton, Lillystorm." Sagepaw laughs and stands, and Weavermoth watches the two rush out. 

 

Weavermoth exhales slowly, and leaves the camp to gather and prepare.

 


 

"...Earthclan on the border…"

 

Weavermoth has a cobweb loaded with berries, gripping the twigs between his jaws. Inches away from piercing one, inches away from death. Gathering these was a dangerous game. Regardless, it was what had to be done. 

 

The chatter from the returned patrol makes his ears swivel around, to take in the conversation. 

 

"They were terrifying! I don't even know what they were talking about." One says. 

 

"It was creepy. 'The feast draws near' or whatever." The other responds.

 

"Just hoping it has nothing to do with the order Owlstar gave." 

 

Weavermoth knows better. It does. He immediately bristles, looking back and forth and backing away to climb back up to his den. Judging by the scents, it's been a bit of a hot spot as of recent. He pushes past the vines to a few piles of deathberries stacked in one of the many nooks, overflowing. 

 

He drops his twigs on an empty shelf and sighs quietly, not particularly enjoying the acidic smell that permeated the smell of his clanmates. Weavermoth plops down, heavy body enjoying the soft pine below. 

 

" Bring the thorns, bring the thorns, don't prick your tongue and you put them in a pile. " Lillystorm hums from outside flatly. The interruption isn’t too welcome as the tomcat pushes his way in and reveals way too many thorn branches. Many of them have tufts of fur caught on them, likely from getting them and accidentally catching himself. “ Keep them in a stack, keep them in a stack, don’t stab your medicine cat and make sure they’re not… wack. ” 

 

Weavermoth lets out the tiniest of chuckles, which is more or less a little exhale and a shake of his head. Lillystorm turns over, fake pouting and letting his ears fall back.

 

“Hey! What’s so funny, little guy?” He stalks up to Weavermoth, batting his ears like a kit. “Don’t laugh at my suffering! What, do you find it funny? Hmmmm?” He keeps batting, laughing happily. Weavermoth can sense a hint of worry at the edges of his voice, but he doesn’t bother thinking about it too hard. Instead, he keeps ignoring Lillystorm, tucking his nose into his paws and curling up.


“Don’t give me the cold shoulder, mousebrain. Cough it up, what’s so hopelessly entertaining? Is it my beautiful, sexy charm? You can say it is.” 

 

Weavermoth can only watch Lillystorm as he walks around in front of Weavermoth and poses, puffing his chest out. The warrior struts around like a chicken, tail lashing to accentuate each action. It’s unfortunate that Sagepaw has to walk in on this embarrassing display, almost choking on the thorn branches he’s carrying at the sight of Lillystorm.

 

“Well hellooooo there. Welcome to my performance!” He exclaims, taking the thorns from Sagepaw and placing them with the others. “It’s a shame Sugarbees isn’t here right now. She’s really missing out!” Lillystorm meows out around the thorns, though it’s rather muffled. 

 

“Missing out on what? To be honest, I just got here and I have no idea what you’re doing.” Sagepaw responds. 

 

“Stop dancing, we have an attack to worry about, you know.” Weavermoth points. 

 

“Can’t I have a little fun in the face of imminent death?” Lillystorm says. 

 

No .” Weavermoth says bluntly. “You need to go out there and do patrol. Find Sugarbees, too, she should be back by now.” 

 

Go patrol, find Sugarbees. Go patrol, find Sugarbees. ” Lillystorm hums to himself and hops out of the den, tail twitching and paws tapping. There’s a long point of silence between the apprentice and medicine cat.

 

“...Sooo. How… are you?” Sagepaw tries. 

 

“Is he normally this… musical?” Weavermoth asks, finally sitting up. It aches. 

 

“Oh! I think it’s just a nervous thing, y’know? Like how you tend to lower your body when you’re nervous. Or- No I don’t know that. Haha. I’m going to go.” Sagepaw trips over his words, then over his feet as he backs out of the den. Weavermoth is left alone again. At least, as alone as he can get with cats walking in and out of the den. 

 

A few hours pass, of Weavermoth resting as best as he can with constant visitors, and the den filling up. Very few disturb him beyond a “ hello ” or a “ good afternoon ” which is very, very welcome. Until Lillystorm and Sugarbees enter. Yup, this is what he needs, and it’s what he wants too! 

 

“Hellooooooo mister Weaver of Moths!” Lillystorm announces, pressed flush up against the ginger cat. Sugarbees smiles down at Weavermoth, eyes dilated with joy. It smells like blood and paint. 

 

“Haha! Weaver of Moths! You’re so funny, Lillystorm!” Sugarbees reassures. Weavermoth gets up slowly, stretching out and letting his claws flex. He’s definitely not used to that sensation, usually keeping his claws to himself. He leans forward and sniffs Sugarbees, shivering a bit. 

 

“Sugarbees, have you been romping around Fakeclan territory again? I mean, you were gathering things there, after all. You smell a little weird.” Weavermoth says. “Are you alright?” 

 

“Me? Just fine! Don’t worry too much, Weavermoth.” She smiles, ear flicking. Lillystorm smiles too, but not as wide. 

 

“God, you’ve always been such a scaredy-mouse.” Lillystorm comments, yawning. “ Annnyyyywayyys , we came here for a reason. Owlstar wanted us to tell you that we have seen no Earthclan warriors here, however we have seen some worms. By some we mean a lot. Like a lot a lot. Have you gotten anything else?” 

 

“I mean- I guess I can try… speaking to Micheal? Wherever it is.” Weavermoth dips his head, shoulders rising as an anxious habit. “I don’t know what it’d have to say, or if it even knows that I dreamt about it.” 

 

“Ooh. Let me tell you. I did see Micheal when I was out, you know.” Sugarbees says. “We had a nice conversation, as nice as Micheal can be. It told me that it was happy to have visited because it wants to see us live! For whatever reason that might be. Probably to just kill us later.” 

 

Deep in thought for a moment, Weavermoth devises a plan. His tail twitches back and forth, turning around to face the two piles. 

 

“Arm everyone with some nightshade. Each cat gets two or three to sleep with. Queens should be watched over by warriors to be sure the kits don’t eat them. The thorns, too… give them to the senior warriors, so the other cats don’t ruin them or something. I don’t know! This isn’t really my job.” 

 

“Actually, it is. You’re supposed to help our wellbeing, no?” Lillystorm comments, making his way towards the pile. Sugarbees stands stagnant for a moment, staring with wide pupils before following. They gather some up, chatting quietly around them, careful not to burst the dangerous berries in their mouths. 

 

Weavermoth sighs, and supposes they are right. He’s supposed to help the clan, he’s supposed to heal the clan. He’s supposed to be there for them. So why is he so bad at it? He’s done his job relatively well enough, but without Paperflight the path there has been full of stress and panic attacks. In the stern silence, he turns his nose upwards, speaking through the den scrape roof.

 

“Fourteen, great Eye, Web, End, and Lonely. Please place your paws upon my heart, and send it beating in the right path.” Weavermoth begins.

 

His nose tickles, and he knows he’s been answered. Time slows around him, smelling like sulfur. 

 

“Please, please deliver me some aid. Anything. I need to know what to do. I cannot keep flailing around blindly. I am not fit for this, why did you let them make me your medicine cat? I am a failure. I should be culled.” Weavermoth prays, not bothering to look down at the shapes before him. A hallucination, probably, but it’s still annoying to see in his peripherals. He can’t sever the connection just yet. “I need to know .” 

 

A headache scrapes and claws at the back of his eyes, and he decides to finish off his prayer.

 

“Guide my paws along your paths, and witness my rise. I look down.” 

 

It’s always felt strange to pray to someone you didn’t entirely believe in. Weavermoth had grown up in the beliefs like everyone else, and he had seen miracles before his eyes around him. It didn’t make the idea of magical all knowing cats in the sky any more believable, and he was a very suspicious cat. That must be why they never came to his aid, because of all of his mental scrutiny and the fact that he felt embarrassed for something that came too easily to other cats.

 

He wonders what the other cats say when they pray. Who lies awake right now in the dying sun to try and earn the chance to enter the rotating ears of their Three or Four. What wishes they are granting or what goals they are fulfilling. He wonders all of it, and there’s a pull of knowledge. Weavermoth stands, and leaves his den to gaze over the dawn-lit camp. There are cats moving to and fro, dropping off berries and thorns and making sure everything was safe according to his vision. 

 

No, it was a dream. Weavermoth didn’t have visions. Weavermoth didn’t believe in visions. 

 

He watches Goldenfeather sprint across the camp with thorns in his jaw, bump into Owlstar with a hurried apology, and rush past. He looked flustered. 

 

Endingflight seems to be handing out the deathberries, the skeleton marked cat pushing them over gently with a paw or putting them on a stick carefully. His precision is baffling. 

 

Glassbark and Daisyscar are fortifying every crevasse and nook they can find, packing it tight with mud as if that was going to help burrowing worms. It was the thought that counts. 

 

Lillystorm and Sugarbees are chatting happily, despite the dread, sitting on the Gathering Stone as if it wasn’t restricted. Weavermoth watches Driftweed strut up to them and usher them off. 

 

Sagepaw is… he enters the camp, moving along the edges of the canyon and clearly coming up to Weavermoth. He looks exhausted, and plops right beside the medicine cat. 

 

“What do you want?” Weavermoth asks. 

 

“Oh, nothing, just… comfort? I don’t know. I had to deal with these guys before, I’m a little more than nervous.” Sagepaw bristles at the thought and curls in on himself. He looks small and fluffy and fragile. 

 

“You never told me about that.” 

 

“I didn’t? Oh, well, I mean- I can tell you, if you want.” Sagepaw suggests, looking up. 

 

“Please, enlighten me.” Weavermoth wants to at least know one thing. At least one thing in this god forsaken timeline. 

 

“Okay, uh, where do I start.” Sagepaw thinks for a moment, getting comfortable and loafing himself down. “I was just… doing normal things. Patrolling the border, doing some training on my own. Driftweed says I should train alone, you know? Says it’s better for me… anyways. I got off track. I was training to hunt and stalk to finalize things and just make sure I know how to do it - which I do - and I saw a little shiny thing. I pounced on it and bam. There was this… silver worm. It exploded in black blood and guts when I jumped on it.”

 

“You told me you were in the ravine. I remember that conversation. You were in a ravine in Earthclan, right by their camp.” Weavermoth points out. Sagepaw stiffens, before forfeiting to the truth.

 

“Yeah, I was… it was a recon mission. You know about avatars, right? I think you do. Yeah. Okay. I was moving along the edges of the ravine, sort of climbing down a bit without putting myself in immediate danger, just scouting the place. I ended up slipping regardless, and I fell right onto one of the little bridges Earthclan has set up. They’re made of rock and built right into the ravine, so I don’t think they made them, Earthclan warriors can’t bend rock-” 

 

“Make your point.”

 

“Sorry. Uh. I was on a bridge, hurt, and I heard the word “ Sian ” from a distance. I don’t know what it means, don’t ask. I look up and there’s this cat. Staring at me. She asked me in a… in a strange voice. She asked what I was doing here. I said I didn’t know. I felt wriggling against my paws and I saw a worm. A silver… worm. Black tip. I automatically smushed it, of course. She leaned in, and I’ll… I’ll never forget it.``

 

He’s shivering at this point, fur standing on edge and pupils tight slits. He probably doesn’t even realize his claws are out. 

 

“You don’t have to continue.” Weavermoth says.

 

“I need to.” Sagepaw says, 

 

“Okay.” Weavermoth says. 

 

“Her jaw cracked open, and all I could see were… holes. I could see right through in some places, and in others I could see her insides twitching and writhing. I couldn’t tell where the worms began and she ended. I could barely move. She leaned into my ear and she said… uh.” Sagepaw pauses, shivering and speaking with a low, raspy voice. “ Can… you… hear…. their… song…? Become… Sian. ” He’s sure to pause between each word, though his imitation is dripping with fear. 

 

“Do you know who she was?” Weavermoth asks, trying to give Sagepaw a break from the story.

 

“W-wormwrithe. Wormwrithe from Earthclan. But, uh. Wormwrithe was… I don’t know. I ran right after that. I remember one of the worms got into my shoulder, so I had to act quickly. I just grabbed a stick and tried to put it in, didn’t work, so instead I jumped into a thorn bush, and forced one of the thorns in the wound. Somehow, it caught the worm and it came out. I’m thankful for that, at least.” 

 

Weavermoth cringes at the idea of that, even though he’d been through it not too long before. 

 

“Did you tell anyone?” He asks, trying to provide at least some sense of comfort by resting his tail on the apprentice. 

 

“No, no I didn’t. Who would believe me? At least… before all of this. They’d believe me now.” Sagepaw grumbles quietly. “No one would believe a stupid little apprentice.” 

 

“I-” Weavermoth tries, but gets quickly interrupted.

 

“You don’t have to lie. You can call me annoying.”

 

“You are… cool.” Weavermoth says awkwardly. 

 

Hmph .” Sagepaw says in reply. 

 

They remain in silence once more, watching the sun slowly set on the camp and the preparations take way. 

 

“I should get going.” Sagepaw says. “Wouldn’t want to keep you any longer.” 

 

“Yup. Stay safe. Good luck.” Weavermoth responds, and watches the apprentice stand on shaky legs and trot off to his den. He’s sure to watch Sagepaw until he’s gone, until he’s safe in the den with everyone else and the deathberries and thorns they’ve collected. 

 

Now, Weavermoth turns to his den, kicks over a couple berries, and curls up around them. 

 

The idea that Wormwrithe was going to be here very, very soon was terrifying. It made him sick to his stomach and he really didn’t want to deal with it. But it was nothing that he could do anything about, was it? The good news is that they had some form of preventative measure. One that probably wouldn’t work against worms. It was so dumb, but maybe it was dumb enough to work. He swallows his doubt and tries to sleep. 

 

It doesn’t work. 

 


 

He spirals in his thoughts. 

 

Spirals in real life. Two very long claws make themselves known in front of him. 

 

Well hellooooooo little medicine cat! Fancy seeing you here! ” 

 

It smiles and laughs, laying in front of Weavermoth.

 

“It’s my den.” Weavermoth says blankly, trying not to let the too bright, too dizzying thing in front of him confuse him. It giggles, grabbing one of the deathberries with surprising grace. Stars and phosphenes and floaters fly past his vision, spiraling and exploding like little fireworks and sparkles. He hates this. 

 

It’s still nice to see you! I’m glad you took my advice! You’d be dead without me, y’know. C’mon, say thanks. I hate Corruption as much as the next guy! ” Micheal says cheerfully, flexing its claws once more like the weapon they were. Weavermoth looks up, and its thousand trillion smiles are stretched beyond the edges of the earth. He looks back down again. “ Now I know why Sugarbees called you such a spoilsport. ” 

 

Spoilsport- that’s besides the point, why are you here?” Weavermoth demands.

 

Whoa, whoa, getting ahead of yourself there. Not nearly far enough for that! ” It giggles, wiggling its head back and forth tauntingly. The outlines and edges fuzz and blur. 

 

Please just tell me one thing.” Weavermoth half begs, wrinkling his nose. 

 

I will tell you that I’m here to say hi and check up on you! Hopefully you aren’t dead tomorrow. You’ve been one of the most fun so far! Paperflight was always so boring, you know? You haven’t heard half of-

 

“Yes. Yes I get it. Mysterious cryptic things I can’t know now. Please come back when I can know. Thanks .” Weavermoth spits, standing up only to turn his back to it and curl up again around his berries. 

 

Well I-! ...Fine! ” 

 

It was there, it exists, and now it doesn’t. Or maybe it does, Weavermoth isn’t sure. What he is sure about, however, is the floaters have stopped and the glow has left. He exhales slowly and lets in the quiet silence of the forest, listening to the leaves rustle and the crickets chirp. The wind blows by outside, and even that’s wrong.

 

He shuts his eyes, and finally drifts into nothing. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 5


 

Waking up to a dark den in the morning isn't exactly something a lot of cats expect. Usually the sun would be peering through the vines by now in thin rays, right into his eyes and painting a bright picture. Now? It was dark and damp. Perhaps this was another dream. He stands to stretch, but pauses. His paws grace something soft and wet. That's when he hears it. The writhing of small bodies around him, excluding his bed. 

 

The nightshade worked.

 

Weavermoth gently pushes them to the side, watching the darkness approach on one side and retreat on the other. They had… encased him. The thought sends shivers down his spine, and he has to hold back a scream.

 

Tentatively, the cat rolls the berries to the entrance, moving alongside them so he wouldn't be consumed. The walls part, worms pulling back into massive piles to the rest of the camp. They fill every nook and cranny, clumping into the dens. The apprentice and kit dens at the base of the canyon are almost completely hidden, though the dens higher up where the elders, leader, warriors, and medicine cats rest seem to be a lot less full, acting as little waterfalls of twisting creatures.

 

The entire camp is covered in a thick layer of worms, silver glinting in the sunshine. He's going to be sick. He can't see anyone. 

 

At the center of it all is Wormwrithe. A mottled brown she-cat covered in deep, bloodless holes. One of her eyes rolls around in its socket, deep gray and directionless. 

 

"LILLYSTORM!" A voice cries, and Weavermoth can only watch the tom pounce onto her. His paws move before his mind, skidding across the dirt and kicking one of the berries over, following its path as he jumps down the side of the camp, sliding and trying desperately to avoid the worms. 

 

He screams as he tumbles into the both of them, feeling the worms wriggle their way through his fur and into his flesh. It hurts as they burrow, but his only focus right now is hauling Lillystorm to safety and getting rid of Wormwrithe. The worms seem to part away from them, curling upwards and arching over them like a wave. All at once, the layer on the camp reacts, twitching like a sea and curling, beginning their proper assault. Weavermoth can barely hear the screams.

 

Warriors and apprentices come sprinting out of their dens, charging for the exit while they still can. Sugarbees among them, charges for the medicine cat den and tumbles in. Sagepaw makes a hard turn, a thorn branch gripped in his jaws as he approaches them. Too late.

 

They're staring down the wave, growing and writhing around Wormwrithe. The layer thins, and Lillystorm lunges at the amalgamation, claws out. It responds by slamming against all of them. 

 

The weight is crushing. Weavermoth can barely breathe through the writhing bodies and tiny wriggling mouths trying their damned hardest to eat him alive. He whimpers, sealing any orifice he may have as much as possible. As quick as they crashed in, like water they recede. He can't even stand, his muscles aching from the impact.

 

Weavermoth hears screaming from around him and he barely has time to register the way the dirt leaves from under his paws, the way the ground gives in and the light that poked in from between the worms above growing dimmer and dimmer as he falls. 

 

Rolling down the pile of dirt, he remains mostly limp, grunting with each tumble and spin and scratch from stray rocks and clumps littering the pile. He hits the ground hard, head spinning. Weavermoth tries to push himself up, legs shaking with each effort. He falls back to the ground, tired already from this fruitless effort.

 

Are you alright? Hello?! ” Sagepaw shouts in the distance. It echoes.

 

Arrgh- just dandy, Sagepaw!” Lillystorm replies, closer than Sagepaw. 

 

Mmrrrmmggh .” Weavermoth grumbles. 

 

His head hurts, his flank is torn, and he can feel the worms wriggling deep inside of him. He really doesn’t want to move, body too heavy and blood draining fast. He hears the quiet pitter patter of paws on stone before a sharp burn digs its way into one of his wounds. Weavermoth feels Sagepaw lace the thorns through each wound, tearing out worm after worm. Blood and gore drip out in thick globules, staining his fur a dark red.

 

A long moment passes before Weavermoth hauls himself up, coming face to face with Sagepaw doing the same surgery on a sitting, wincing Lillystorm. He’s so happy he can barely make out Lillystorms figure. 

 

“The entrance,” he begins, “Is it blocked up? C-can they get in?” 

 

“Uh, well! From what I can seeee… the dirt all fell in a nice little pile. Soooo… yes!” Sagepaw replies, chipper as ever despite the situation. 

 

“You’re happy.” Weavermoth spits out. 

 

“Uhhh, well, I would rather a depressed cat not operate on me.” Lillystorm barks back. “It’s like, damn, what are they going to do? They’re so focused on being sad that they don’t even realize-”

 

“Yes, yes, I get it. I get it. ” Weavermoth hisses, bristling up before relaxing. He’s too exhausted to be angry right now. 

 

“Uh- Well-” Sagepaw stammers. 

 

“Listen, if it’ll make you a little happier, I can go take a walk to find the exit. Okay?” Lillystorm offers, standing up despite his wounds. Sagepaw yelps a little bit as he marches off to one of the curling exits. “It’s hard to see, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. If I die down here, be sure they tell my story of how epic and cool I was.”

 

His words are lighthearted, but have a tinge of exhaustion to it. It makes sense, they were all just drowned by worms and then fell in a sinkhole. None of them were happy. Lillystorm vanishes into a tunnel Weavermoth can barely see. There’s stagnant silence and the sound of footsteps around him, probably Sagepaw. 

 

He takes the moment to investigate his options. 

 

There are a few passages he can make out only by the darkness increasing from dark to complete black. He can see the smooth walls of the cave around him, arcing upwards and jutting downwards with massive stalactites like a hungry dogs jaw. The ground is covered in dirt and rock, disturbed only by the cats and the fall. 

 

“Pssst!” Sagepaw says, which startles Weavermoth half to death.

 

“What is it?” He says, though it's snappier than he’d like. 

 

“I can just barely see a little beam of light there. Maybe we can dig out or something?” Sagepaw leads Weavermoth, pressing his flank against him. They walk in unison for a moment, and Weavermoth can see it. The thinnest glow of light at the end of the tunnel. With no other choices, they slowly move forward. It’s quiet and still. 

 

The silence is almost suffocating, especially with them moving so slowly and pressed so close as to not slip and fall or get lost in the darkness around them. He can’t breathe. Sagepaw thankfully drums up conversation.

 

“Uh, so, what got you into wanting to be a medicine cat in the first place?” Sagepaw asks, and Weavermoth is forced to think.

 

He recalls when he was a kit, slipping into the medicine cat den and playing warriors with his littermates. Batting paws and tackling invisible enemies. He remembers… 

 

art: popenips

 

Paperflight laughed as the bright orange kit and the brown and gray kit chased each other around her feet, unable to hold back her smile as she spoke to a fellow warrior. What was her name… Hollyfur? Hollyfur, yes. They were speaking about something he didn’t care to understand at the time. Until it began to be more toxic, and the kits had slowed down and stood quietly underneath Paperflight to listen.

 

“I should be the medicine cat, I think. I’m so close to Eye...  and having a fine kit like Weaverkit who’s connected to one of our greats… we would be an unstoppable duo. Sadly, my son Skullspirit is a failure. He is nothing, not even touched.” Hollyfur said. 

 

“He is still your kit, you can’t just… replace him.” Paperflight said back. 

 

“Well, you know, he was so brave. Always getting me gifts from the Fourteen, and leaving behind offerings, but lately he’s been… destroying them. Is that your influence? Are you influencing my baby?” 

 

“You’ve influenced him enough, with that… thing!” Paperflight gestures, and Weaverkits eyes land on a little bag on her side. He can’t see inside. “I can smell the sick on him. This is all your fault, with your irrational worship and gifts. I’ve told you the truth! Countless times-” 

 

“I don’t want the truth. I want to be close and close forever.” Hollyfur cackles, and Paperflight finally seems to notice the kits. She ushers them out and blocks the entrance. He can’t hear another word clearly, but judging by how she was exiled shortly before he became an apprentice… it wasn’t good. 

 

He snaps back to reality, blinking a couple times. That memory was strange to get now of all times. 

 

“I think I was just… put into it.” He finally responds after an uncomfortably long pause. Sagepaw doesn’t seem to notice.

 

“Do… do you like it?” Sagepaw queries. 

 

“It’s alright. Though without a mentor to finish my training I’m a little bit dead in the water here.” Weavermoth says, laughing nervously to clear the tension. They draw closer and closer to the light ahead finding it difficult to move in the winding and curling caves. It’s a tight squeeze, and the only way they can tell they’re moving forward in the near darkness is by the rock sliding against his flank. He can see stalagmites and stalactites reaching in like a hungry maw illuminated by the light behind them. 

 

"Well, I used to talk to Paperflight a lot about this. I wanted to be a medicine cat, actually. So, uh, if you need any help, don't… be afraid to ask? Yeah." Sagepaw offers, and presses close.

 

A shadow dances in the low light, and the both of them freeze, sinking in on themselves. 

 

"What's-" Sagepaw gasps, barely above a whisper. Weavermoth hushes him, and moves forward. Keeping himself low, his pawpads silent. An aged voice echoes through the cave walls.

 

"I know you're there."

 

They both freeze, until realizing… there's a second cat.

 

"Alright, alright, I come in peace, or whatever." Lillystorm says in the distance, supposedly walking out. The two approach, staying to the darkness and any cover they can reach.

 

"How did you get here? Clan cats don't often climb the mountains."

 

"Well, uh, ysee, I fell in a hole. I just wanna get out and go."

 

"Please. Go. It's too early for you all to be here, and tell your friends to leave too."

 

Okay, now that was Sagepaw and Weavermoth. They couldn't even see the elder cat, but he stood beside a cave opening. They see Lillystorm, illuminated in the morning light in beams that breach into the dark rocky cave systems. He peeks around a rock, spots them, and lights up.

 

"Oh thank god. I thought I'd never find you two. I found the exit!" Lillystorm says proudly, offering up a big smile.

 

"Yes, so have we." Weavermoth spits out in a low tone, turning to the strange cat. His outline was vague, but he was mostly hairless and sickly, covered in patches of sparse and mottled fur. He was pressed against the wall defensively, and Weavermoth can see his overgrown claws digging into the rock below.  

 

A long, still moment passes, and all three of them step out. Bleeding and injured and enjoying the sunlight while they can. 

 

Overlooking their camp from above on the slope of the mountain, they stand on the ledge of a cave maw, thankfully not too high up. They see the worms writhing, consuming their camp in a silvery blanket, and then they see a clearing by Silverpaw Lake, where there's movement.

 

There.

 

Taking off into a sprint, Weavermoth darts down the rocky slope and doesn't even check to see if the others follow. Thankfully, they do. He can hear the pitter patter of their footsteps from behind. It takes a few minutes to reach the group, and by the time they do they're panting and exhausted, wounds red raw and irritated. 

 

"Owlstar!" Weavermoth cries out, spotting the tom amongst the others, tending to himself and others. He looks up, expression tired and in pain. 

 

"Where have you gone? We all thought you three were dead." Owlstar asks, tilting his head. "Come. We need to get you cleaned up."

 

"We fell. In a hole? I suppose. Ended up in some tunnels, found a weird looking cat in there, too. Like a hidden elder." Weavermoth shakes his head, and walks into the cool water of the lake. It feels like heaven against his wounds, the soothing ripples lapping away at the excess blood.

 

He sighs in contentment, dipping his face into the water and enjoying it. Weavermoth didn't like water at the best of times, but after the dry caves and getting attacked by worms, he enjoyed the clean feeling. He looks beside him, and sees Sagepaw climbing out of the river and shaking off. He had a lot more fur, and was dripping.

 

This was a vile, dirty feeling. He can’t help but shake the crawling feeling across his skin, the itching that came from the potential of worms wriggling through him. He remembers Aspenpad, remembers the worms wriggling and curling under his skin and bursting from his stomach and throat. He will never be able to forget, and prays to the Fourteen that he won’t suffer the same fate.

 

Finally, when he feels at least somewhat decent, he climbs out of the river, and moves to the cats who were supposed to be guarding the front entrance.

 

"What in the Beyond is wrong with you? Why did you let them in?" He spits at Glassbark, watching her uneasy expression float away and to the side anxiously.

 

"They didn't come through the front, they fell from the canopy. Like a big blanket. Nearly crushed a lot of us, caught the rest of us way off guard. We had to run." Glassbark hangs her head, sighing quietly. "Not everyone made it."

 

Weavermoth feels dread build up, only minorly halted by the gray tomcat that strides up beside him.

 

"Oh, Sagepaw. Thanks for the thorns, by the way. I think we'd all be dead if it weren't for you. They were very effective in helping injured cats." She dips down, and nuzzles Sagepaw on the forehead. He blinks slowly, looking up at Glassbark. They're quiet, and Weavermoth takes this interaction as a sign to leave. Where was Lillystorm and Sugarbees? He hears yelling to his left, and oh. There they are. Lillystorm is arguing against Rosetail, while Sugarbees is… staring directly at Weavermoth. 

 

When caught, she smiles, and looks back to the others concernedly. 

 

"... That's not Sugarbees! I've known her since she was a kit, and she was smaller, not that deep of a ginger, and wasn't-" Rosetail begged desperately.

 

"What are you talking about? That's Sugarbees! Who else would it be?!" Lillystorm snaps back.

 

"I don't know! She's just- just a- just a stranger!" Rosetail pauses, and a look flashes across her face. Suddenly, she's storming off to Owlstar. 

 

Lillystorm sighs quietly, gives a cold look to Sugarbees, and walks over.

 

"I told Rosetail that, uh, me and Sugarbees… broke up. Then she started yelling about that not being Sugarbees either way. It was… Strange." Lillystorm shuffles his paws and leans in a bit. "We were also arguing about, ah… I spotted Sugarbees with Fernstorm. They were getting… cuddly, I suppose."

 

Weavermoth spots something he's rarely seen in Lillystorms eyes. Sadness. A deep sadness rooted in jealousy and betrayal. He exhales and resigns, pushing his face into the taller tom's neck. It's a stunted attempt at comfort, but an attempt. 

 

"It'll be alright. I guess, uh, things don't always last. You should let her go." Weavermoth suggests, voice flat and uncertain. Is Lillystorm getting warmer?

 

"Yeah." He spits, full of fire. "Heard loud and clear." He's jealous and upset, Weavermoth thinks. He decides to step back, and give Lillystorm his space. 

 

He stands awkwardly, sopping wet in the gathering of panicked cats, and watches Owlstar leap to his feet, sharing a few words with Driftweed before climbing up the maw. 

 

"Cats of Seerclan! Turn your noses to the lakes maw!" Owlstar shouts, standing upon the maw. The maw was a small archway of rocks, a pseudo leaders rock, a place for prayer, or a nice place to sunbathe on a chilly day. He seems dwarfed by the massive thing, leaning forward.

 

Everyone gathers at the base, shaking and trying to assemble their shattered clan. At least it's a common interest in them all to listen to their leader. Owlstar begins speaking, golden eyes glinting in the light.

 

"There is one cat here whose bravery and quick thinking pushed our clan to safety. In recognition of your initiative, Sagepaw, the Great Fourteen have chosen you to step up and join our warriors. Please come forward."

 

Sagepaw finds himself under the spotlight, shrinking anxiously as Owlstars gaze falls upon him. 

 

"Sagepaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your clan, even at the cost of your life? Do you promise to use your bravery and initiative to lead your fellow cats along?" Owlstar takes a step forward, tail swaying in anticipation.

 

"I-I do. Yes. Of course!" Sagepaw laughs anxiously, but steps forward regardless. Trying to hold himself tall.

 

"Good. Then bestowed upon you by Lonely, one of our Great Fourteen, I grant you the title of Sageleaf. For your tenacity." Owlstar grins, but it never reaches his eyes. He glances to his side. Driftweed steps out from underneath the maw, nuzzling him gently. 

 

"Sageleaf! Sageleaf! Sageleaf!" The clan erupts in cheers, though much weaker than they should be. A few cats bump against Sageleaf, cheering him on and comforting him. No one truly celebrates, especially not today. Especially not right now. 

 

"U-um, excuse me? Hello? Hi. Yes?" Sageleaf leans forward, speaking over the shouting. The way Owlstar looks down upon him, annoyed and curious, shuts the crowd up quite quickly. "I'd- uh, oh, fox dung, I'd like to keep working under Driftweed. Please. He has much to teach me."

 

The wave of satisfaction that falls over Driftweed, and the smug expression he shoots up to Owlstar only seems to piss off the leader further. He sighs, and nods, waving a paw in the air dismissively.

 

"Yes, fine, fine." He grumbles, hopping off the maw with careful precision. Owlstar vanishes behind the maw, gesturing with his tail for Driftweed and Sageleaf to follow. The two hop off, and Weavermoth feels a tug. To listen and follow and snoop. Obviously, he doesn't. That's his leader. Doesn't make the urge go away. He busies himself by moving around the group. 

 

"Weavermoth!" Someone shouts from behind him. Turning to see, Weavermoth comes face to face with Lillystorm. He seems tired, tail twitching. "I just… I don't want to be alone right now. You know?" 

 

Weavermoth stares incredulously for a moment, before shaking his head and gesturing for Lillystorm to follow.

 

"Listen. I was thinking. We need to find this thing. The… Wormwrithe. Whatever her name is." Weavermoth says. 

 

"I think her name is Sian. She kept saying it. Siaaannnn. Siaaaaaaaaaannnn . You know?" Lillystorm laughs dryly, staring up ahead and starting into the forest. Each repetition of the strange word makes Weavermoths fur stand on end, each letter rippling like electricity through his body.

 

"...okay." Weavermoth turns his head away, but follows regardless. He feels something prickle in the air, like a charge of energy. "Listen. Lillystorm. This is serious, and it's going to be very dangerous. We need to find Wormwrithe and shove some nightshade down her throat. Should kill her."

 

"God. I know what being serious is. You don't need to be a porcupine about it. Yes, yes, dangerous mission. Can I not at least be a little lighthearted in the face of a worm infested walking fucking hive?" Lillystorm bristles, shaking his head. "Sorry for my… language. I know the Great Fourteen look down upon that sort of wording. For kittypets only, I suppose." 

 

Weavermoth looks over sympathetically, and sees how tense Lillystorm really is. Shoulders raised, fur standing on edge, tail flat and low to the ground. His heart pangs at the sight, and he resigns with a huff. 

 

“It’s justified, honestly. Let’s go stop this… worm thing.” Weavermoth says. Lillystorm stares at him tiredly, and smiles.

 

“That’s the spirit. C’mon.” 

 

The two take off, sprinting through the trees they’ve known their entire life, cringing at the flesh and worms in vile gorish piles everywhere. He can’t help but look as he passes by, shivers crawling up and down his back like ants. One particular thing he notes? He can’t recognize any creature. All he can see are blood and worms and he can’t distinguish from cat or squirrel. 

 

The horror of the situation settles gently in his bones. They were about to feed a living hive of murder worms deathberries. This was the stupidest thing he’s ever done in his life. He feels like an audience is watching him on a stage, laughing at his poor decisions as he ran alongside Lillystorm. 

 

There’s a pause in their adventure, of course. One where they stop by a bush filled with nightshade. It remains untouched by the worms, the bright green leaves shining in the dull atmosphere. Weavermoth scoops some up with his mouth, being extra careful not to break it or swallow it. 

 

The duo reaches the camp after some time, ducking through the regrown entrance and standing on the edge of the canyon they called their camp. It’s full of worms, with not a soul in sight. 

 

The home they’ve grown up in, loved so much, that’s carried generations. 

 

And it’s full of writhing, squealing worms. 

 

Weavermoth can’t move, unable to stop shock from locking his joints right up. His breathing comes up short, body tense as a bowstring. Lillystorm instead backs up, shaking his head and growling. He bats at Weavermoth a couple times, hissing at him. 

 

“Hey, HEY! Snap out of it!”

 

Something lands on the dirt in front of them. One large paw with claws that are too long, flesh filled with holes and fur melting off. She rises up from the sea, and they get a good look at her. 

 

Shaggy black fur that may have once been long, ugly bloody holes scattered in clusters around her body, worms crawling in and out of where her eyes would be. Her jaw hangs agape, tongue solid and dry and lolling around it. The muscles of her throat and mouth twitch, and they can see the veins pulse through the wounds in her throat. 

 

Theeeeeeey loooooooove yoooooooooooou. ” 

 

Her claws dig into the dirt as she drags herself up, each breath coming out as a raspy moan. Weavermoth and Lillystorm keep taking steps back, tails caught between their legs as they begin to flee.

 

Soooo maaany heeeaaaaarttts.... fuuuuullll of looooooove. ” 

 

The second paw hauling up this monster manages to snap Lillystorm out of his trance. In one quick movement, he slams a paw down on her head, pinning her to the ground. Wormwrithe shrieks, and the rest of the worms join in. Weavermoth doesn’t need a shout or a sign to scoop up the deathberries, stuffing them down her throat. She thrashes and pulls back, getting to her feet.

 

The cat breathes slowly, deadly nightshade lodged into her insides and dripping slowly. The flesh around it burns and bubbles, worms falling from the living hive and shrieking as they burn up into nothing. She gasps, drool and blood dripping from around her teeth and burning the grass below her feet. 

 

A long, painful moment passes as she steps forward once, twice, and topples over. The two cats are left catching their breath, chests heaving. She twitches one final time, and Lillystorm screams, stomping her head over and over again. It takes a few steps before it cracks and crushes into nothing completely, and they’re glad for it. 

 

The worms squeal and squeal and squeal, twitching and writhing before collapsing into nothing but ash. Slowly blowing away in the wind. The little drizzle that began was sure to wash the rest of it away.

 

Weavermoth and Lillystorm stand in silent shock for about a minute, unable to move, before Weavermoth cracks. He snorts, gasps, and bursts into laughter. Terrified, relieved laughter. Lillystorm giggles upon noticing, and can’t help how he joins in. 

 

The two laugh in triumph, Lillystorm devolving into cheers and whoops. It takes a couple minutes before they can catch their breath, sighing quietly. Weavermoth feels the adrenaline drip off of him like the rainwater, his muscles relaxing one by one, and everything falls back into place.

 

Lillystorm is standing in front of him, still chuckling quietly. He’s a beacon of sunshine in this hell, warmth beating off of him. Weavermoth stares incredulously at the tomcat, taking in his features. Maybe it's the terror thrumming under his fur, but he feels like he sees more.

 

His wide smile, toothy and bright. His laugh, a melody of joy. His posture, shoulders relaxed and head held high. Even in a situation where they're both covered in worm blood and mud and sand. They just saved the camp. 

 

The two cats bump against each other, Weavermoth's head burying into Lillystorm's neck as they try to calm down. 

 

"Uh, Weave-" He pauses to swallow. "Weavermoth?"

 

"Hahaha- yes? What is it?"

 

"Look."

 

They gaze over the camp, and the joy fades. 

 

Ten cat bodies filled with holes and worms scattered over the floor. Kits and apprentices who couldn't get away in an eternal state of pain and horror, faces twisted and mangled. 

 

They can't move. 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6


 

 

“I spy with my little eye … something that is green.” 

 

“The leaves, Lillystorm.”

 

“Oohoo! Right again! You’re a smart one!”

 

The two cats sit in the medicine cat den, pressed close to each other and focusing as hard as they can to pray to The Fourteen for a swift recovery. Their bones ached and flesh felt pulled, but they were here, and they were alive. That’s all that matters.

 

Weavermoth rises to his feet slowly, ignoring the stabs of pain rushing up his body. He turns to face Lillystorm, and then glances around the rest of his den. Mostly kits and apprentices, those who weren’t holding vigil for the dead or simply were barely able to survive their wounds. On top of the ten deaths, most kits had also died, their wounds simply too immense for cats of their size and age. He’d seen enough in the week or so of recovery, and prayed into every leaf and berry and cobweb for help. 

 

He was never religious, never one to turn to The Fourteen in peril. He relied enough on himself. But after the sights and terrors he was forced to behold however many days ago, and the countless deaths as the result he felt he was left with little choice. 

 

“...How are you feeling?” he asks Endingflight. The black tom glances up, sighs quietly, and offers up only a shrug. 

 

“As best as I can. Thank you.” He says.

 

“Do you need anything? Anything at all. Really.” Weavermoth replies hurriedly. 

 

“No. Please, don’t overwork yourself.” 

 

Weavermoth’s tail sways back and forth, but he backs off, going to sit back down next to Lillystorm. Most of the others were sleeping or tended to, anyways. He was tired, and Endingflight was right. He should stop overworking himself. He flops down and puts his head in his paws, glancing up and spotting Lillystorm staring right down at him. 

 

“What?” Weavermoth spits, straightening up a little bit. 

 

“Oh! Nothing, nothing. I’m just… worried.” Lillystorm huffs. “You know… this whole situation has left me itching for more.” 

 

He laughs, but Weavermoth shoots him a dark glare. Lillystorm blinks a few times, before immediately going into protest.

 

“Oh- no, no, you don’t need to worry at all, I’m not actually itching- not beyond the normal amount at least- Weavermoooootth-”

 

But Weavermoth is already standing, marching over to Lillystorm and routinely checking every wound, every crevice a worm could be hiding. Ears, tongue, nose, eyes, mouth. All while Lillystorm grumbles and complains, but reluctantly works with the medicine cat while he checks. When he’s satisfied, Weavermoth sits back down, offering Lillystorm a haughty smile. 

 

“What was that, Lillystorm?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeeeeah.” 

 

“You know, I want to hear it from your mouth. What was it like? While I was still sleeping, at least. And… how are you feeling?” 

 

“Me? Feeling great! Dandy. Aside from the holes , and the pain, and the blood , and the nightmares . Could have been worse though!” Lillystorm laughs, though it’s not whole. “Me and Sugarbees were talking, just a normal chat. I think it was about border patrol. The sun was barely visible and it was still cold, most cats were asleep. We were all prepped and ready for the attack. But I think the thing we least expected was to see her, Wormwrithe, just… in our camp like any other cat. Wandering around, looking like a gross zombie thing. Eeu-uuhh-uuuggghh. Sugarbees immediately ran off to point her out to Owlstar, and I started quietly evacuating cats.”

 

Lillystorm shuffles his paws, closing in on himself like he somehow indirectly caused this entire debacle.

 

“That’s when the leaves above us just started shaking. And we realized that, uh, it wasn’t nighttime. It was actually morning, and the canopy above our camp was just… all worms. Like it started raining worms, all over all of us and we just started running. Searching for safety. Me and Sagepaw- or Sageleaf now? Whatever. Me and Sageleaf got the brunt of it, and we got cut off from the rest of the group. That’s when you woke up.” 

 

Weavermoth blinks slowly after Lillystorm is done, and nudges a bit closer so their flanks are flush. 

 

“I’m sorry. It’s not your fault, Lillystorm.” Weavermoth tries, looking up at Lillystorm.

 

“I know, I know, I know. It’s just… aarrrgggh. You know?” Lillystorm says, chuckling a bit. 

 

“Oh, I know. I know.” 

 

The two take a moment to sit in calm silence, enjoying the company and peace after almost endless stress. It’s easy enough to doze off, too. It’s warm next to Lillystorm, almost too warm, but Weavermoth finds himself falling asleep in no time. Finally, some good fucking rest.

 


 

He’s standing in a forest, the grass below him soft and the trees dark. 

 

“Lillystorm!” A voice calls distantly. “Lillystorm, where are you?” 

 

The trees arc around him like a cage, enclosing him in shadow. He knows these trees, the evergreen that grew in his territory and has grown to recognize. How could he ever get lost here? But these trees are unfamiliar, a strange mockery of pine. The needles are too bright, bark too smooth. A face pokes through the trees, a little ginger and gray cat covered in white spots. He turns to face Weavermoth, and sighs in relief.

 

“Oh thank god, some life!” He exclaims, and runs forward. The first thing Weavermoth notices for sure, the thing that stands out in all of this?

 

Pupils. They’re blown wider than the colour in his eyes, making his eyes seem almost black. His body seems to be melting, too. He runs forward, and runs right into Weavermoth. The moment they make contact, he’s spinning and the ground beneath him dissolves, grass folding over into smooth stone and vanishing entirely. He stands in what appears to be a void, black stretching out on all edges. It's cold and his paws are wet. Water? Weavermoth steps forward slowly, step by step he presses forward in this oppressive darkness towards absolutely nothing.  Something glints, the faintest of lights, and he pauses.

 

Stretching all around him in massive nets are webs, pulled taut against something unknown, tied to each other. A great amalgamation of webbing. Spiders hurry quickly over them, scattering here and there. He can’t make heads or tails; there is only the darkness and this faint light and the webs and nothing else. It’s only him. He looks up, to find the point of light, the point of where this glow is coming from. The point is nothing but more void, and he sees nothing here. It’s hard to breathe, and the light fades as he focuses on nothing.

 

Unsure, he spends an eternity standing there. Frozen. It takes a ton of courage to press forward, and the web catches. It tightens around his throat, his ankles, and his flank. It unspools, and it doesn’t take long for him to realize he’s being pulled apart like thread. Silvery strands that made up who he is vanishing into the void. He screams, but his vocal cords only seem to come out in thin wire.

 

He is nothing, and yet he feels every inch, pulled and stretched and turned into a web. Tiny legs scuttling across his infinite form, catching invisible flies. He is everything.

 

Lillystorm is next to him when he wakes up with a start, settling back into his body. These are his paws, yes. Scarred and bloody, but his nonetheless. The ground below him is soft and padded, and he remembers he’s in a nest. Next to Lillystorm. It’s warm here, is his first thought on the situation.

 

But why is that his first thought? The cat sighs quietly, and he stands. Whatever the hell that meant, he wasn't enjoying it. The sleeping cats around him fill the den with peace, moonlight breaking through the vines of the door. He slinks out, careful not to disturb or bother the others. He treads down the edge of the camp, and up towards the leader's den.

 

"And what do you think you're doing?" a rumbling voice asks, and Weavermoth comes face to face with the gray fur of Driftweed. Finally getting a good look at him for the first time in many moons, he seems grayer than usual, towering over him, small flecks of wiry gray giving his muzzle a small halo. He's gigantic and fluffy, and smells of salt and fish. 

 

"Oh, I need to see Owlstar. I keep having these… strange dreams. I don't know. I feel like it meant something." He doesn't straighten up, spine still flat and head hung low. This only makes Driftweed even taller.

 

"Are you sure you simply did not have a nightmare?" Driftweed leans back on his haunches and sits, gently batting at Weavermoths nose and allowing his claws to show for a moment. They're gigantic, just like him. Weavermoth is convinced he has some wildcat blood. "You have always gotten many of those."

 

"No! No. This one felt real. Very… very real. I need to see Owlstar- let me past." He shoves past Driftweed, who watches. Almost knowingly. His tired eyes track Weavermoth as he ascends.

 

"...M'okay." Weavermoth hears from Driftweed, and glances back to look. He's gone. Again. For one gigantic cat, he's quiet as a mouse.

 

He shakes it off and slips inside, looking at the tiny cat. His leader watches him with squinting golden eyes, and smiles as he enters.

 

"Weavermoth! It's lovely to see you. I hope things are well? Cats recovering?" He crosses his paws and straightens up, large ears pointed forward. Weavermoth feels miniscule. 

 

"Yes- Owlstar. Uh… I've been having these strange dreams-" he can't even get that out before Owlstar juts in.

 

"Are you sure that's not a byproduct of your touch mark?" Owlstar speaks like a warrior to a kit. "Often having such a direct connection to the Great Fourteen leads to this. Though that's never always good."

 

Weavermoths ears flatten against his head, and he can't formulate a response. No, he's just overreacting. There's nothing to be worried about. Why would there be? He's silly. 

 

"Cats with touch marks are born with bad blood, and it's up to you to let it drain," he points at himself with one claw, "or fester." He points at Weavermoth. "You will be nothing if you do the latter, and probably end up the same monster as Wormwrithe." 

 

Weavermoth breathes out slowly, and nods.

 

"What do I need to do?"

 

Owlstar seems pleased, standing and striding over. He sizes Weavermoth up, looking him up and down carefully as if measuring him for some sort of plan. He’s not entirely sure, just watching his leader cycle around him, before plopping right down. 

 

“We worship the Fourteen, devote our lives to them. But that touch mark… it means you’re using their powers. Use it too much, or incorrectly, and they will see you as greedy, as vile. Other cats will see you the same, only the greedy are blessed to show the innocent how to behave. But us? You? You can learn to be an outlier, to learn to protect and serve your clan.” Owlstar speaks carefully, slowly, each word setting in Weavermoths brain, engraving into it. He points at his forehead. “These touch marks are the end and the beginning of our lives. When you die once more, will you lean towards greed or heroism? If you wish to get the latter, I’d suggest listening to me in the future.”

 

Weavermoth sits and listens, exhaling quietly. This made sense, yes. The dream was probably something he’s just made up in his muddled mind. He needs to be better, do better. He nods in agreement, tilting his head just a bit. 

 

“You are dismissed. And that dream of yours? Do not worry. That was probably that Lillystorm friend of yours. He’s touched, too. Or maybe Sugarbee?” Owlstar antagonizes.

 

“Sugarbees.” Weavermoth corrects, not allowing it to get to him. 

 

“Yes, yes. Yes.” Owlstar rolls his eyes and flops back into his bed, turning away from Weavermoth. He had to go. 

 

He can’t help but feel the anxious prickle of every word running across his pelt, was he really that bad of a person? It hurt him, to some extent. The Fourteen were kind, generous, they weren’t supposed to hurt anyone.

 

Every gift comes with a price, something in his head says.

 

He swallows down his grief and tentatively agrees. 

 


 

Paperflight is clearing some herbs, when two kits walk in. A fluffy orange poof ball and a scrawny tom. Weaverkit hops after a mossball that Lillystorm bats in, grappling it and tumbling to the ground. Lillykit mewls, bouncing after the other and tackling him to the ground. They fight for a bit, before Paperflight’s voice breaks the battle up. 

 

“You know, fighting like that draws the eyes of some ghosts who want to play too.” Paperflight nudges the kits gently, smiling and allowing the features of her face to soften for once. “They say that ragged old cat who ran off not too long ago, Hollyfur, died out in the woods without her clan. Now she haunts these woods.” Paperflight crouches beside them, watching them gasp and return to respectful positions. Their little paws scramble so they can look professional, holding their heads high like warriors. 

 

“Well, I don’t believe that tale. I think there's something much, much worse out there. A cat black as night itself, with hollow eyes. Something Hollyfur left behind after leaving Seerclan. It’s told that kits who roughhouse too much will meet that creature at night, and it will steal your fur!”



She hops forward a bit, laughing and watching the two of the kits scramble off with promises to be better and tiny mewls of fear. 

 

“Why tease them like that?” 

 

“Ah, well, they were annoying me. Get back to it, Yellowcurls.” 

 


 

Weavermoth thinks to himself as he cleans up the den, trying to gently get the healing kits to lay down and relax as he limps on injured paws himself. He’s trying to coax Foxkit to bed, though it isn’t going too well. The kit is struggling and whining about wanting to go play with the others, disregarding their own wounds and blood and scars. 

 

“Please, just rest, Foxkit. Please.” Weavermoth tries to coax. 

 

“I wanna go out! Meet friends! Momma!” They mewl, earning the annoyed groans of the other cats in the den. 

 

“Please just lay down.” 

 

“No! No no no no no!” 

 

“Foxkit-”

 

“That’s enough now,” Lillystorm interjects, “If you don’t lay down, the Skull Spirit will get you and take your fur. You don’t want that, do you?” 

 

“Nooo- no no, I like my fur! Mmmm- fine!” Foxkit finally resigns, stomping back to their nest and plopping back down. Weavermoth turns around to see the fluffy body of Lillystorm, mostly healed up.

 

He stands in the entrance, smiling softly at Weavermoth and nuzzling him gently.

 

“We gotta go to share tongues, Weavermoth. Are you joining the others?” Lillystorm takes one look at the disaster of a cat; thin, wounded, underfed, exhausted, and sore. He shakes his head and ushers Weavermoth outside. “Nah, you need a break. Come outside for once, please. I am begging you, Weaverkit.” 

 

“I am not a kit, I can handle myself-”

 

“Clearly not. Look at yourself. You’re a mess!” 

 

Weavermoth looks Lillystorm up and down, eyes flicking and constricting. His ears flip back, body growing tenser than before. He’s touched by Desolation, why would he ever want to help you if he didn’t want to hurt you? 

 

“I can handle myself just fine, and I was doing just fine before you showed up.” Weavermoth spits, watching the warrior bristle. He’s dangerous.

 

“Ex- cuse me?” Lillystorm spits back.

 

“Yes. I was doing just fine. I don’t need you. I bet- I-I-I bet you’re working for Lostclan, aren’t you? You’re just another one of their spies!”

 

“What has gotten into you, Weavermoth? You were nice and happy earlier, not spouting this bullshit-”

 

“Look at you, saying kittypet words, just like a Lostclan warrior!”

 

“Stop avoiding the q-”

 

“Maybe because I realized that you foreign touched avatars have bad blood! ” Weavermoth finalizes, hissing and spitting each word. “I bet Desolation speaks to you, too.” 

 

“You-you are maniacal, Weavermoth! Listen to yourself! Seriously!” 

 

Weavermoth snarls, right in the face of a relatively cool Lillystorm. He scoffs and storms off, past Glassbark and Daisyscar and deeper into the woods. He thinks about how they were before, close friends, and he’s just begun tearing that down.

 

Good, a voice in his head says, let him die. 

 


 

“He’s been such a freak recently, I don’t know what’s gotten into him!” 

 

Lillystorm is sitting on the maw by Silverpaw Lake, watching the time pass by and wasting it by speaking with Sageleaf. The fresh warrior kicks around some rocks, quietly listening and occasionally providing some less than helpful input. It’s still nice to vent. 

 

“He seems so accusatory, that I’m touched by Desolation. Firstly, it’s not like I chose it. Secondly, he’s also touched! What the hell!” Lillystorm feels his claws dig into the stone below.

 

“It’s a bit of a sudden change to be natural, he might just be stressed about Wormwrithe. I am too. Just… a bit less so, I guess?” Sageleaf looks up, wide blue doe eyes boring into Lillystorm. “I mean, I’ve changed a lot suddenly too. I’m just hoping my idea works out.”

 

“Idea?” Lillystorm interrupts, but is quickly overrun. Right, don’t comment on that. 

 

“Just give him time, okay? In the meanwhile, we can start rebuilding.” 

 

Lillystorm bristles a bit, but eventually gives up. He wants some time to breathe and cry and scream. He wants to drown himself in the ice cold water and he wants to run away. Sageleaf does have a point, though, he’s not going to get anywhere with anger. Yet he cannot ignore the heat in his paws. 

 

He hops down from the maw, approaching Sageleaf carefully. Those bright blue eyes seem a little less bright up close. 

 

“I’m just tired of losing cats,” Lillystorm confesses. 

 

“Soon, you’ll never lose anyone again.” Sageleaf responds, chipper as ever. Ominous. 

 

“Hah. Thanks, little dude.” Lillystorm licks Sageleaf on the forehead, drawing a little purr from the fluffy gray tom. “It’s… all going to be okay, I hope. I’ll just focus on rebuilding, and distract myself from all of this.” 

 

Lillystorm sets off back into the pine forest, feeling the needles soft against his pawpads and watching Sageleaf vanish over his shoulder. The world around him is tall as he zones out, moving only forward. 

 

Maybe this would all be better if Sorrowpaw wasn’t so gullible, or if he was more gullible. Maybe they wouldn’t have taken him. The thought burns in his mind and in his gut, especially with the scent of paint that swirls around him. It’s followed by a strange, unknown smell, and a yowl. 

 

He runs ahead, tail lashing back and forth as he presses beyond the trees and comes out to a strange sight. 

 

Sugarbees, tackling a strange brown she-cat. There are claws, only stopped as Sugarbees pins the rogue to the ground and looks up.

 

“I caught her in our territory, catching our prey. What shall we do with her?” Sugarbees demands, bristling and bleeding. Lillystorm scoffs, stepping back.

 

“Backpedal, please, what’s going on?” He responds, shaking his head. 

 

“I was just- please it’s been a half-moon- I’m so hungry-” The rogue cries out as sharp claws dig into her back. 

 

Lillystorm, tired of this shit, pushes between them, hefting Sugarbees off. He stands over the rogue, looking no more than mildly annoyed. 

 

“Listen, you, I still have the upper hand here. Just tell me who you are, and why you’re hunting here.” 

 

The rogue shifts to a more comfortable position, and allows her head to rise. 

 

“My name is… Helen. I was a kittypet… before all this. Hah. I met a strange cat, I couldn’t look at it, not very well at least. It was like a whirlwind. Then- then it asked me if I wanted to go somewhere cool. I agreed, and…”

 

They’re caught in tense silence for a moment, before Sugarbees breaks it with a small “a-hem” .

 

“Ah. I was trapped in a forest with no prey. Only strange, colourful trees. Solid grass, all of it like a kittypet den trying to look like a forest. I was there for half a moon, but I found a turn and… ended up here. Please, just one morsel. I don’t- I don’t want to die.” 

 

Lillystorm thinks for a long moment, watching Sugarbees rear up and circle around Helen. She’s bristling, she’s pissed as all hell. He’s never seen her this pissed before. 

 

“We need that food for the clan-” Helen offers Lillystorm a pitiful look, “-but, we will give you one mouse, and then you must leave.”

 

“Oh please, anything. Please. Thank you so much. Thank you.” Helen crawls to her feet, shaking and weak. 

 

Sugarbees storms over, snarling and shooting Helen death glares.

 

She pulls Lillystorm aside, pressing up against him. It almost reminds him of before all this, when she was softer and sweeter.

 

“You can’t just let a rogue eat our food! We need that!” Sugarbees argues.

 

“She needs it more. I can starve for a day. I’ll be fine.” Lillystorm says back.

 

“You’re going directly against code. She will be okay! You don’t need to worry about her!”

 

“I just want to help another cat, is that too much to ask?”

 

“Yes! If it’s a foreign cat! I don’t want to be-”

 

“Go get a mouse. Now. Or else.” Lillystorm shoves Sugarbees away roughly, trudging over to where Helen stood awkwardly. She looked so… meek. She didn’t even have her collar. He glances once behind him, finding Sugarbees gone from her post. Most likely ran off. Good , he thinks. 

 

 “Thank you, I- really. It was… scary, In there. In that place. Nice to see a friendly face.” Helen shuffles her paws, tucking her tail in close. As Lillystorm gets a better look at her, he can see her a little clearer up close. She’s a brown tabby with curled fur, plump and soft despite her clear starvation. She’s covered in little white spots and speckles, her muzzle white as if she dipped it into snow. Lillystorm estimates around 100 moons. Her eyes are a brilliant yellow, but seem to have a pink swirl through them. On her forehead, which is most odd, is a Spiral touch mark. 

 

“I don’t like to leave cats for dead. May I ask, how are you touched by Spiral if you are not from the clans?” Lillystorm inquires, leaning forward to sniff her. She smells like sweet milk and comfort. 

 

“A what? I’m not sure.. what you’re talking about. I know about the clans, I’ve heard neighbor cats speak of you. I didn’t have anywhere else to turn, I’m afraid.” 

 

“A touch mark, a symbol on your forehead.” 

 

“Oh! That old thing. I didn’t have it before, no. But when I entered that place, that terrible terrible place, a cat called Micheal came to me. Told me its name, and I felt cold from head to toe. It lunged at me, claws out, and drove them into my forehead. Yet… there was no blood, only a sense of true connection. As if I needed it all my life. Every time I close my eyes, now, I can see that place.”

 

“As if you have a paw in both worlds.” 

 

“Indeed. I’m not sure why it did that, but I can’t help but thank it. I’ve never felt like this before. So utterly whole and complete. Regardless, I never, ever want to return.” 

 

“Aaaand why not, Helen?” A voice rings out from all around them. She bristles, and fear overtakes her expression. “It’s a lovely place.” 

 

“Please- please please, don’t hurt me-” She begs, and Lillystorm jumps to his feet.

 

“Who are you?! Where are you?!” He demands, whipping around frantically.

 

Lillystorm makes the stupid mistake of turning his back to the she-cat. The moment he does, he can hear a scream echo out from behind him. Turning back around, he sees… nothing. Nothing but a strange slab in the ground, pressed into the soft dirt. He doesn’t recognize it, but standing atop it is what he can only describe as a headache.

 

It’s a normal cat at first glance, but it rips and tears as it moves. Turns into a thousand more. It smiles at Lillystorm from all around him, laughing. 

 

“I’m glad I could have a meal! It’s been quite a while! Ah, well! I’m sure this is some sort of punishment for you, too. You broke clan code!”

 

“To save a cat!”

 

“You still broke your precious rules. The Fourteen must be so mad with you right now…”

 

FUCK THE FOURTEEN! What the hell are you?! Give her BACK !” Lillystorm swipes at the amalgam, and feels his claws move through the air like hot putty. 

 

“Quite cruel words, Lillystorm! Or, perhaps shall I say-”

 

Don’t . Don’t you DARE ! How-” he swallows, his fur spiked up and rippling. He takes a few steps back. “Sugarbees! SUGARBEES!” 

 

The thing laughs, and leans inwards. For the first time, it seems whole, its head one thing instead of a thousand. It’s smiling. 

 

“She doesn’t care. Have you already forgotten? A shame… Stranger must have done a number on you.” 

 

Lillystorm looks around at the plastic trees.

 

“SUGARBEES!”