Author's Note Edit
They Named The Plague Memory Edit
Remnants of the corpses they forgot to bury can be found in the woods. Memories of the moons that went awry. You might trip over shards of a skull, but you can't say anything about it. Bite down. Keep walking.
Ivypool spends the moons after the Dark Forest trying to be softer. She eats only leaves and honey, refusing to slaughter something that breathes. She memorizes birdsong. She pries her claws off. She mutates. Becomes less awake.
She murdered the ones that made her a murderer. Ivypool remembers how the Dark Forest grinded her, stripping her to the bones. They pushed until she pushed back. They wanted callous, hard soldiers, and hard was what Ivypool was and what she strived to be. She aches for love that is not shadows gripping her throat or slicing her stomach. She aches for happier times, when the world was nothing but balls of moss and a blinding flash of brilliance.
Ivypool will catch the others at Gatherings. Members of their own secret clan. There's Hollowflight. He is a kit in Ivypool's mind, and she's never seen anyone so young with eyes that have seen so many corpses. Breezepelt is silent and unforgiving. Minnowtail maintains a constant look of nausea. Ivypool wonders if they realized how much power they held, back in those bitter days. The power to end a life. Do they regret it as much as she does? Does it even matter?
None of them sleep anymore. Sleep has become something to fear. It's a funny concept, fearing a basic need. With enough stress, someone could learn to fear themselves.
Ivypool catches Blossomfall cresting the lakeshore at midnight. Moonlight illuminates her hollow face, and Ivypool begins to map it out. There is space for a cicada between her eyes. Her collarbone juts out and her jaw rocks back and forth with the tide. They don't say anything, but they listen to their mutual breathing, because sometimes they forget how to breathe. Sometimes, they will blink and find themselves in a dark, rushing river, praying someone cannot die in their dreams, even if Ivypool already has.