Cressheart yawned and stretched in the High Court den. Welcome back, morning, she thought, annoyed as she started grooming her fur. Today was any ordinary day and she desperately hoped for something, anything to happen. Maybe it was a daring escape, or a devastating injury. She'd rather the former as it was purely disgusting to watch a cat writhe and twist and wail as foam shielded their muzzle. The High Court she-cat stepped out of the den, welcoming the morning sunlight.
Lightningheart was lying in a patch of warm sunlight, the rays bouncing over his fur. The camp and its inhabitants were boring him. Nothing interesting had happened yet, and he was itching for some poor, insane fool to attack some other poor, insane fool. There would be blood, pain, terror, perhaps even death. And maybe an exile or punishment or two, at the very least.
But now, he would have to settle for winking at the she-cats as they passed, watching them appreciatively as they sashayed past, doing whatever complex creatures such as themselves did.
Hollyfrost, quite the opposite of Lightningheart, was huddled in her nest, writhing as her stomach twisted. It must have been that mouse she was offered last night. She knew it must've been a trick if she was offered something to fill her rumbling, cavernous stomach.
Flamestar emerged from his den, his sleek ginger fur gleaming under the sunlight. He languidly slunk through the clearing, ignoring the terror sparking through the air. He enjoyed the Clan's uneasy attention, basking in the sincerity of their fear.
Lightningheart gazed at Flamestar through the corner of his eye as the fiery tom passed. "Flamestar." He drawled, giving a wry smile. "Plans for the day."
Hollyfrost staggered into the clearing, her pregnant - very pregnant, mind - belly swaying. Her pain had lessened to a manageable cramp rather than a burning, searing flash of hot metal slicing through her flesh and bones.
Flamestar glanced briefly at Lightningheart and nodded, a menacing smile curving his muzzle. His long, bushy tail swished as he continued through the clearing.
Cloudheart contemplated the Clan while hurriedly finishing a plump rabbit. His gaze settled on Flamestar as the Clan leader paused to nod at Lightningheart. Cloudheart's stomach churned uneasily as he wondered what the malicious tom had planned for today.
Frogkit peeked out of the nursery, narrowing her eyes. She blinked and her eyes refocused on Flamestar speaking to Lightningheart. What are they planning, she wondered. The tiny she-kit stepped out, hoping she wouldn't be stopped from just wandering.
Featherkit tucked her tail around her paws with a sigh. She was hungry and exhausted; she hadn't managed to snatch a morsel of prey from the fresh-kill pile the previous night, despite her efforts to stage a disruption. Her stomach rumbled in complaint.
Hollyfrost shuddered and let her head fall onto her paws. With her pregnancy, the sour feeling rising in her throat due to pain, and her daily fear, she was exhausted.
Pinepaw skunk into camp, a mouse and two voles dangling from her jaws by their thin, hairless tails. She glanced at Flamestar and Lightningheart, wondering if she should approach one of them and present them with her kill, as was the proper thing to do, or simply deposit them on the prey-pile.
Fennelkit squirmed uncomfortably in his sleep. After a few minutes, he decided that it would be best to get up. My mother may have abandoned me in this somewhat cruel world already, and Furzekit is gone forever, he thought, but I still need to follow the rules. Loyalty is important.
Flareheart's eyes shot open. She had that dream again, the one where Sunpaw never stopped asking and she never stopped answering that no, she wouldn't forget her no matter what happens. But it was just a dream and nothing more.
At least, she hoped so.
Forcing her legs to stretch out, the she-cat rose out of her nest, disgruntled and fur ruffled from a fitful sleep. Blinking tiredly, she started the groom her fur.
Skyrose padded out of the High Court den, stretching luxuriously in the early morning sun. With a flash of interest, she noticed Lightningheart and Flamestar talking. "The Camp is quieter than usual today. Any plans?" she inquired, padding over to the pair. She began to stare at Lightningheart's splayed-out form appreciatively, then caught herself. She wasn't a starstruck apprentice.
"Those wretches haven't even bothered to fill up the fresh-kill pile," Skyrose remarked, eyeing the meager pickings with distaste.
Lightningheart looked at Skyrose, shrugging carelessly. He wore a friendly, carefree grin. It made him all the more handsome. "My day is as wide open as the plains."
Hollyfrost dipped her head to Skyrose, evidently drawing the attention of Lightningheart, who pricked his ears.
Lightningheart blinked at Hollyfrost in a slow, mischievous way. "Good morning, angel." He rumbled slowly, his voice low and smoother than the finest silk.
Hollyfrost clenched her teeth. "Good morning, Lightningheart." She meowed respectfully, turning her head to look at the sky - and look away from him.
"Perhaps you would enjoy taking a stroll with me this evening? I know I would greatly enjoy it." Lightningheart rose to his paws and began circling around Hollyfrost, the tip of his long tail brushing her back every time.
Hollyfrost's heart began to race. "I'm afraid I have a prior commitment, Lightningheart, and it would be rude of me to cancel on such short notice."
Lightningheart pushed his muzzle closer to hers. "But even ruder to object to me." He replied. His tone was light, but the warning behind the words was clear.
Ambersky noticed cats padding around the clearing but she refused to join them. She closed her eyes and gasped as a spasm shook her stomach. It won't be longer. It won't be much long until the time of my retaliation arrives. Maybe if she was strong enough, she could pull through and abandon her kits. But what if she loved them the moment she saw them and got killed for trying to keep them. Stay in there, my kits. Just a little longer...
Grassfrost walked out of the High Court den. She glanced at the fresh-kill pile, noticing that it was low in fresh prey. "We should send some warriors to hunt." she mused, not talking to any cat in particular.
Cressheart glanced over to where Lightningheart was with Hollyfrost and Flamestar. Must be preying on a new victim, she guessed. If only I had a good-looking tom who noticed me. She lurked closer, hoping to speak with Flamestar and watch the scene too. She hoped the queen would refuse, and suffer punishment.
Pinepaw padded up to Skyrose and Lightningheart, her tail drooping timidly. Ducking her head, she dropped the mouse and the voles at their feet as a silent offering. Her tongue stuck to the roof of her mouth, making it difficult to even attempt to speak.
"Well, Hollyfrost?" Lightningheart purred, his velvety growl hiding a threat. His honey eyes roamed over her face.
Hollyfrost fought for words. "I-I'm sorry, Lightningheart, I'm just. . . Just so worried about the kits." She meowed. "I think they're coming soon. What if it happens while we're out of camp? Or what if something happens and they're injured? Less strong warriors to fight alongside you, and more liabilities."
Lightningheart nodded, although disappointment played at his chiseled features. "You're smart. Logical. I see why Slatestorm took a liking to you."
Hollyfrost winced at the mention of her former mate's name.
Skyrose huffed impatiently as Lightningheart ignored her question in his pursuit of Hollyheart. She turned, strolling purposefully across the camp, and poked her head inside the warriors' den.
"The fresh-kill pile hasn't been filled, and the High Court is hungry. We wouldn't want that now, would we?" Skyrose laughed, a high, tinkling sound with no humour. "To compensate for your disobedience, I expect all of you to have caught 10 pieces of prey by sunhigh. Any failure to comply will result in a day trip to the torture chambers. Do I make myself clear?" She paused, savouring the effect her words had on the cats around her, and turned abruptly out of the den.
Whitepaw caught what Grassfrost murmured and her tail flicked up straight. She knew what this meant - she would have to skip training and hunt. The she-cat inwardly groaned, and clenched the hard stone beneath her, wishing it was grass that she could shred into bits. At least she could make the better of it by hunting with the other apprentices. Of course, the High Court or Lightningheart might ruin it with a contradictory command. So really, there was no point in getting excited.
Whitepaw turned to inspect Flamestar, his position, his stance, how he held himself. She was also aware of a High Court member approaching him, her eyes on Lightningheart, who seemed to be flirting with Hollyfrost. The latter looked panicked and pained and a flash surged up Whitepaw's heart. She willed Lightningheart to leave the poor queen let alone punish her. She dared a step forward, a hint of indignance crossing her eyes.
(Psst I edited my post a bit farther up and he answered to her :P)
Pinepaw bit her lip, fear clawing at her throat. "S-Skyrose?" She whispered. "I c-caught some prey. Three pieces." Her green eyes were filled with a scared sort of hope.
Lightningheart turned his sleek head to gaze levelly at Whitepaw. "Do you have something to say, Whitepaw? Perhaps you don't find Skyrose's order fair? If so, you should take it up with her, I think. If not, why haven't you done what you've been told?" He meowed, his gone strong and authoritative. Gone were the velvety-soft purrs and hushed, flirty whispers. He had gone from flirtatious to ferocious in a matter of seconds.
"Yes, Skyrose." meowed Goosewing. Though she was a rebel, Goosewing tried to hide it all with "loyalty"- she always tried to bring in some extra prey, and she never disobeyed. If you were to look at Goosewing's memories, you could see some secret actions of betrayal, and why she became a rebel.
Cressheart stepped forward to where Skyrose was. She stood a few feet behind her fellow High Court member, angling her ears forward to overhear. Ah! More prey. Now this will be delightful. I am starving! Cressheart waited for Skyrose to turn so she could speak to her.
Goosewing bolted out of the camp. When she got to a tree, exhausted, she sniffed around for prey. There's a wagtail on a branch..., Goosewing thought. She stared up at the branch, deciding whether it was worth her time.
Looks pretty well-fed to me. Let's see if I can catch it.
Goosewing began to carefully climb the tree, hoping that the bird wouldn't fly away.
Shellfoot padded into the forest, limping. He was truly upset. Why hadn't he left alone that bird and her eggs last sunset? If he had not been so mouse-hearted, nobody would have to suffer. He crawled up a beech, slowly and silently, peering over to see if any tree creatures were around. There! A squirrel. The tom warrior surged upwards and hooked the squirrel in his claw. It shuddered, and fell limp. Only nine more to go, he thought wistfully.
Skyrose stared at the young apprentice. "I believe I asked for ten pieces of prey, not three," she said, her voice containing a hint of contempt. "Come to me when you've completed my task in full. For now, you can drop your prey off in the High Court fresh-kill pile." Skyrose turned away, annoyed. She had better things to do than tend to mewling kits
She noticed Cressheart looking at her hopefully, and padded over to see what she had to say.
"Nothing ever happens anymore!" Cressheart hissed, once she finally got Skyrose's attention. "I've been noticing...Shellfoot's limp. Haven't you?" Cressheart hoped Skyrose would understand what she was implying.
Flareheart noted that some of her clanmates - more like prisonmates, really - had already left by the time she reached the forest. She veered away in a different direction from their scent trails, ears pricked and mouth slightly open to taste the air.
Goosewing watched as the wagtail looked the opposite direction. The she-cat prepared to strike, watching as the little bird seemed to not notice that it was about to die. Goosewing got as close to the wagtail as she could, and nipped its neck. The bird chirped softly before becoming cold. The temperatue of death.
Ashsnow raced across the moor, scenting a mother hare and her babies. If I can kill all of them, maybe my hunt will be over quicker.
By ten minutes, Shellfoot had caught only three pieces, his usual catching amount. Today, he was frisky and he jumped about, knowing he was scaring most of the prey. There! A mouse was nibbling on a seed. He immediately went into a hunting crouch.
Ashsnow stalked the mother hare. When she was busy glancing at a seed to eat, the tom cat pounced on the hare, biting the neck. As she died, Ashsnow was lucky enough to kill one baby hare. He looked around for more prey.
Cressheart's face fell. "No. He does well enough for a warrior. But still...." The she-cat felt a sense that this was wrong but she didn't care. She just had to get someone else to agree with her and that was all.
"Hmm, yes, I suppose he does. If he's managed to survive this long, there really isn't a point in killing him," Skyrose mused. She looked at Cressheart curiously. What was the point in mentioning it if she didn't want to do anything about it? "What are you trying to say?"
Stormfeather lashed his tail rhythmically. His life wasn't one of the most exciting ones, though he liked it that way. Being a member of the High Court, he was mostly safe from toil and execution by Flamestar. He didn't really care for the Clan, but life was decent and he wanted to keep it that way. An act of rebellion could make his life better, sure, but there was a far greater chance of making it far, far worse. So Stormfeather stayed in a sort of eternal stasis, not quite happy with his life but not unhappy enough to change it.
Ashsnow followed the scent trail of the fleeing young hares, hoping to catch them too. A family of hares! Now that would feed the High Court! The trail seemed to stop in a patch of flowers. Ashsnow looked around for the hares, but did not see them.
Ashsnow sighed as he realized that the hares had run off far away, the scent trail fading. Maybe there's a mouse somewhere... hopefully...
Goosewing had caught two water voles. She buried them with the wagtail she'd hunted, and set off to find a wood mouse that, according to its scent trail, was a few tail-lengths away. Let's see if I can make this my fourth catch of the day. Maybe it has a family nearby. If so, that means more prey.
Pansykit washed her paws, very bored. Life is so... boring. Nothing fun goes on!, the young she-kit thought. Brightwind's no fun, and the law is that all mothers must abandon kits when they are one moon. That's okay, I can live without Brightwind.
Goosewing quietly observed a juvenille wood mouse nibble at a seed. This mouse isn't well-fed, but not skinny, either. I guess this mouse will go to the warriors. The High Court wouldn't want a mouse like this.
Ashsnow scented a wood mouse far away, but cat-scent seemed to dance around it. Better not disturb another hunter, he decided. Shrew scent, however, was teeming by a log. Well, here's some prey. I wonder how many shrews there are, and how many I can catch.
The wind ruffled Stormfeather's fur, tickling him all over. He stood up, shook out his fur, and padded down into the main part of camp. Flamestar expected him to keep an eye on the warriors, so that's what he did. His gaze swept across the clearing, looking for any cats loitering around.
Gorsefang snapped out of his thoughts. Most warriors were out hunting, by the looks of it. I should be hunting... for my mate, my kits, my future, my life. he thought. He walked out of camp and into a shaded area of the forest, full of trees and animals for prey, beginning to scent for prey-creatures.
Stormfeather was satisfied by what he saw. Fear of Flamestar was the greatest motivator here, and it was his job to uphold that fear. Obedience gave him an easy life, after all. Living on his own would be perilous, and Flamestar would constantly be at his tail. No, it was better to stay where he was safe. Supporting a tyrant, but safe.
Gorsefang watched a starling flutter elegantly land on the ground and peck at some seeds. Catch number one, hopefully. The tom changed his posture to the hunter's crouch, and began to creep up on the bird.
Featherkit gazed at the fresh-kill pile, observing her choices: voles, shrews, mice, squirrels, rabbits, and birds littered the earth. The prey was plentiful, yet she would not be allowed to snatch the scrawniest piece. Kits above the age of one moon were abandoned to fend for themselves.
Gorsefang leapt and snapped the starling's neck. All signs of grace and elegance faded with the bird's life. Catch one was sucessful. Now I need nine more hunts like this to live another day, see another sunrise, meet my kits.
Flamestar's gaze scorched the clearing and finally rested on Featherkit. The gray tabby she-kit was huddled fox-lengths away, her sky-blue eyes flickering over the fresh-kill pile. This one is a troublemaker, but I've noticed her intelligence, and I can't poison a potentially fine warrior. Strong she-cats and toms are what FlameClan needs.
Brightwind sighed, uninterested in life. Who cares if a cat dies, unless if it's my kin or the High Court. I don't really like my kits, anyways. Just a bit more than a half-moon until I can be a loyal warrior again.
Goosewing pounced on the ground. The mouse scurried away, squeaking in terror. I've ruined this hunt! I'll be discovered a rebel and sent to the torture chambers! Or worse, poisoned...
The warrior glanced at a somewhat plumper wood mouse a few tail-lengths away. I must catch this one...
Grassfrost glared at the fresh-kill pile with anger and hunger, even though as a High Court member, she was nourished daily with offerings of prey. The High Court's fresh-kill pile had died down a bit, though, and the catches of many warriors would make it fresh and savory again.
Ashsnow watched the shrews carefully, observing their group. He crouched down and prepared to kill one of the plumpest shrews. He waited until they were distracted and bit the neck of a rather fat shrew, staring at the prey-creature as it shrieking in agony, and dying. Maybe I could catch some more of these.
Goosewing stalked fowards the wood mouse, observing patiently as it scurried around the grass, looking for small seeds to eat. The she-cat unsheathed her claws, preparing to deliver a killing blow, waiting for the perfect moment to strike.
Two squirrels and a barely caught sparrow later, Flareheart sat back near her buried prey. She was exhausted from the lack of proper nutrition and overexertion of her body.
Flarepaw, wanna hunt with me? It's not breaking the rules! Just tell them that we'll get double the prey!
The warrior's head snapped up, then drooped in dismay. Again, she was having hallucinations. She could've sworn that she was an apprentice again, with Sunpaw at her side, laughing n the forest as their prey catch count grew ever larger.
But those days were gone and there were 4 pieces of prey left to be caught. And with that, Flareheart dejectingly tasted the air.
The wood mouse quivered as Goosewing cast an ominous shadow over it. Goosewing pinned down the rodent and nipped its neck. After the mouse had been silenced for good, the warrior went to bury her prey near her other catchings. Halfway there to the required limit., she thought happily, as she followed a faint trail left behind by a squirrel.
Grassfrost padded towards the warriors den. Most of the warriors were hunting their ten pieces of prey, but there were the slackers, sleepers, and daydreamers, too. Let's see who might need some extra... reminding today.
Snowshadow strode out of her den, her long tail flicking behind her. Her muzzle tilted up in the air with a slight aura of superiority, though not enough to be considered rude. She padded toward the exit to the camp, ready to catch her daily prey for the pieces of fox dung called the High Court.
Grassfrost watched Snowshadow for two seconds, but then returned to finding and punishing any cats not doing their duties. The more prey, the better. Our prey-pile is running low and losing its typical savory taste. We need fresh prey to live. That goes for all, but mainly the High Court. We help run the Clan, so we get more food.
Goosewing, who was now exhausted from running everywhere, finally made it to the squirrel. It was scrawny, but it was prey.She settled into the hunter's crouch and began to sneak up on the little forest creature.
Ashsnow had caught three shrews now, counting his first one. He was tired now, so he retraced his steps, dug up his prey, and began to count it.
"Let's see." he mumbled. "Two hares, three shrews- that's five. I think I'll go to the forest now."
The tom began his journey deep into the forests of FlameClan to catch prey.
Skyrose waited, aware of the fresh-kill pile getting larger as more warriors added their prey. She knew Cressheart was implying something, she just didn't know what. She stared, her gaze curious yet friendly.
(Hey, Steppy, you gonna reply? :P )
Ferneyes was peacefully dreaming in his nest when Grassfrost started snapping orders and threats.
"Alright, listen up! You warriors know the drill- ten pieces of prey a day. Unless you've got a pile of leaves for a brain,, which none of you have, you'd know to start hunting now, unless you'd like to suffer." hissed the irate she-cat.
"I apologize." meowed Ferneyes, and he bolted out of his nest, into the woods.
Grassfrost snorted and padded off to join the other members of the High Court.
Ashsnow, now exhausted, buried his prey by a pine tree and began to climb it to hunt for squirrels and birds.
"Hey, Grassfrost, don't forget- today they have to catch their ten pieces by sunhigh, not sundown," Skyrose called. She glanced at the sky. The sun was half of the way up, slowly ascending to its peak position. Not long now.
Ashsnow padded up to a magpie on the same branch that he was on. He hooked a claw into the bird's wing and dragged it closer, biting its neck. It chirped, then fell still. The tom leapt down and buried the bird, and began to sniff for land creatures.
"Let's speak to Flamestar about it," Cressheart purred, lashing her tail. "He'll probably agree. Even Lightningheart would. We need something to happen, very soon." Now that she had convinced at least someone, Cressheart was near satisfied. Oh how fun it was to be part of the High Court.
Shellfoot cursed. He had caught six pieces so far and had just missed an enormous robin. He reflected on the meager mice and thrushes plus squirrels he had caught and they were all small. At this rate, I'll probably be tortured, he worried and decided to push these thoughts away and focus on his hunting.
Frogkit padded over to the near center of the camp. She dared inspect the High Court, her wishes of joining them one day engulfing her. Cressheart and Skyrose were whispering, excited yet serious expressions on their face. This sparked Frogkit's interest. And when something caught her interest, she would not stop until she found out what exactly was amusing her.
The young kit found herself edging closer and closer to the High Court she-cats. She dared not go too close to avoid punishment but just enough that if she swiveled her ears, she might catch snippets.
Flamestar stalked back to his den after finishing an inspection of the camp. He was both surprised and annoyed to find Mistyspark standing at the mouth of the fallen log. "What do you want?" the dark ginger tom grumbled as he swept past the High Court she-cat.
Ebonyheart hopefully sniffed the air, but deflated in annoyance when she detected only the stale scents of wind-blown earth and her Clanmates. She pricked her ears, expecting to catch the rustle of a mouse beneath leaves, or a bird warbling in the trees. To her disappointment, she heard nothing.
Goosewing pounced on the squirrel, and held the little prey-creature down with her paw, barely noticing it struggle. She bit its neck and it fell limp. The warrior buried her catch, and set off to find more animals.
Yes. Finally. This was what Skyrose had been waiting for. She looked into Crressheart's eager face, impressed that she'd managed to spot such a small injury. Sometimes she really loved Cressheart's keen eyes.
"Well?" she asked, excitement bubbling beneath her skin. "What are we waiting for?" Skyrose stood and began padding toward Flamestar's den, almost tripping over a small kit on her way.
What had a kit been doing so close to the High Court den?
"What are you doing?" she inquired, peering at the small creature. It opened its mouth to speak, but Skyrose cut it off with a wave of her tail. "For a second, it almost looked like you were eavesdropping on our conversation! How silly, right?" she laughed, her honey-smooth tone doing nothing to hide the menace in her words.
Suddenly, a flash of flame-colored fur caught Skyrose's attention from across camp. She turned to see Flamestar padding into his den, Mistyspark in tow. "Wait here," she hissed at the kit, then ran off to follow them.
Ebonyheart bounded deeper into the forest, her paws crackling on withered leaves. I still need ten catches, she thought, her eyes probing the trees, bushes, and undergrowth surrounding her.
Featherkit slunk closer to the fresh-kill pile, her mouth watering at the mere scent of the abundant prey. Her stomach growled as she regarded the warriors circling the heap of mice, holes, shrews, squirrels, rabbits, and birds. How can I distract them long enough to snatch a morsel? she questioned herself.
Puddlekit's jaws gaped in a wide yawn as she stretched, arching her back. She had wandered from Brightwind and her littermates to enjoy a rare moment of solitude.
Mousepaw opened her eyes slowly, squinting as light poked through the holes in the log that she slept in. She slowly drew herself up, yawning. Another day in this horrible camp. She sighed quietly, padding out of the den.
She saw Cressheart by Frogkit, and saw Skyrose running after Flamestar, and knew something was up by the way Cressheart stood by her, keeping her there. She padded into the nursery, and then padded back out, going over to Cressheart and Frogkit, dipping her head. "May I take Frogkit to the nursery, her mother is looking for her."
Flareheart ended up by a large river. She had snagged to water voles and was staring into the depths of the water as fish flitted her and there. Her law flashed into the water and skimmed past a fish, disturbing the waters and scattering the creatures. Letting out a few choice words, the warrior waited impatiently for the fish to return as the sun climbed ever higher in the sky.
Goosewing had caught two frogs as she watched the sun glide into its normal position at sunhigh, minute by minute. She sniffed around in fear and anxiety to get in her tenth piece of prey. The warrior tasted the air, scenting a pair of ravens fluttering about in a nearby ash tree. Eleven pieces of prey would be extraordinary, but that's just wishful thinking. Let's see if I can catch one.
By the time he passed a few trees before the entrance to FlameClan camp, Ashsnow had caught two average-sized rats and three scrawny thrushes. The tom had dug up all his previously-caught prey from earlier, and he felt akward carrying it into his mouth. He padded up to Grassfrost.
Grassfrost noticed Ashsnow walk up to her. "Yes?" she snapped. "Oh, I see, you have prey. Let me divide your catches up into what the High Court will keep and what goes to the others." The she-cat set aside the mother hare and her child for the High Court, along with the plumpest shrew, the most well-nourished of the rats, two thrushes, and the magpie. "You can bring your other catches to the other pile." meowed Grassfrost. Our pile is filling up again. Hooray!
(Not sure exactly how much prey Ashsnow caught- I'll probably count later- but he usually catches one or two extra pieces to show his loyalty.)
Goosewing waited for the ravens to land on a branch of the ash tree, then began to summit the tree.The warrior creeped closer, until she snagged one with her claw and bit its neck. The other raven soared away in fear of getting killed. Goosewing leapt down the tree and started to unbury her prey to deliver.
Snowshadow huffed, padding out of camp along the well-trodden trails. She darted through the trees to the less-hunted territory near the border, her pawsteps faint. She spotted a flash of movement out of the corner of her eye and quickly dropped into a crouch. The robin landed on the ground, hopping across the carpet of dead leaves coating the forest floor. As soon as it started pecking at the ground hunting for its prey of worms, Snowshadow struck, killing with a quick bite.
Snowshadow continued her hunt, stumbling across a mouse nest in the process. She nipped the necks of six mice. They were small, but young, and their meat was tender and soft. She stored away her cache and tipped her nose in the air, checking for scents.
"Hello, Goosewing. Let's divide your catches." Grassfrost huffed. The she-cat observed the ten pieces of prey, and began to select the five to be devoured by Flamestar, Lightningheart, and the High Court.
"The wagtail... hmmmm...." began Grassfrost. "It's quite feathery, but it is well-fed. The High Court will claim this wagtail." The cat put the bird to one side.
"Give me the water voles." commanded Grassfrost.
Goosewing nodded, and surrendered the creatures.
Grassfrost eyed the prey for some time, and decided to give one water vole to the High Court, and the other to the non-High Court cats.
Gorsefang had killed five puny, but well-nourished, mice. He stalked what seemed to be a family of finches nearby. The sun is rising. I must be quick, or I will never see the sun rise again.
Ferneyes sniffed out a juvenille squirrel and began to follow its path, careful about his shadow and pawsteps. When a fallen berry tantalized the little squirrel, Ferneyes drew closer, and closer, and struck. The squirrel collapsed right next to the berry. Another prey for another day will eat that berry.
Conepaw snuck up on a cardinal that had flown to the ground to find food. The apprentice was pleased to see that the bird was well-fed, and she wouldn't be punished for a hunt of scrawny mice. She creeped up on the bird and nipped its neck. The bird chirped softly, then fell down.
Mistyspark crept closer and settled into a sitting position, her tail neatly draped over her paws. She gazed evenly into Flamestar's unforgiving glare. "I would like to ask if you want to hear my daily report."
Goosewing and Grassfrost finished sorting out the prey. The wagtail, a water vole, the squirrel, a frog, and the raven went to the High Court, while the rest was delivered to the warriors by Goosewing.
Grassfrost smiled at the now-growing pile of food for the fresh-kill. With a sun-high deadline instead of a sun-down deadline, these warriors are really working.
Gorsefang had killed two finches, and he tasted the air after burying his prey. I could get a cardinal... oh wait, it seems like an apprentice- Conepaw or one of her sisters- caught that already. Oh! A blue-jay is descending to the grass, I'll catch that!
Skyrose stepped into Flamestar's den, meowing a greeting. She ignored Flamestar's glare and sat down next to Mistyspark, wishing the she-cat would just get her report over with. They were wasting precious time.
Cressheart huffed, happy to get the nosy kit away from her. "Of course! She's not even supposed to be out here," the she-cat's eyes narrowed. "And once you are done with that, go out and hunt with the others." I want lots to enjoy while the fun is going on.
Frogkit heard Brightwind call her and sighed. It didn't matter. Mousepaw would take her back anyways.
Brightwind rose from her nest and stormed over to Frogkit, finding the kit near Mousepaw and Cressheart. Why must she wander off everywhere?
Gorsefang padded closer to the blue-jay, creeping up on it, until the bird noticed the cat looming over it. Gorsefang nipped its neck before it could escape being a meal. That was a close one!
Ferneyes crouched by a little stream, where three minnows were swimming. He reached a claw into the water, hoping to catch a fish. Sure enough, a minnow was caught by the claw and Ferneyes put the fish on water, then bit it. He repeated this twice, and thus caught all the minnows after a few minutes of patience. Just two more pieces...
"Hurry, then," Flamestar growled at Mistyspark, lashing his tail. When Skyrose stepped into the fallen log, meowing a quick greeting as she did, Flamestar acknowledged her with a stiff nod.
Featherkit slithered nearer to the fresh-kill pile, her blue eyes trained on the warriors surrounding it. Clever disruptions were racing throughout her head, yet she was certain Flamestar's supporters wouldn't be fooled today; before, they had been tricked many times into abandoning their prey.
Mistyspark sent a scorching warning look at Skyrose, and began to speak. "As of now, everyone is behaving. We've had a few... cases, but they have been dealt with. That is it."
Pinebreeze wandered through the forest, her pricked ears and sharp eyes hoping to pick up any signs of prey. There was none. She growled in frustration and continued to pad on, her unsheathed claws sinking into the soft earth.
Suddenly, she heard a splash. Maybe it's a fish, she thought, creeping toward the nearby stream. As she was emerging out of the trees, she collided with fur. Surprised, she stepped back and bared her teeth. "What are you doing here?" She snapped, a hostile note to her voice.
Unable to contain herself any longer, Skyrose spoke. "Flamestar, I believe I have an update on Mistyspark's report. Cressheart noticed that Shellfoot has been limping. As per the rules, any injured cat has to be properly dealt with. I'd love to have the honor of poisoning him, sir," she said, the words tumbling out in her eagerness.
Sunpaw blinked blearily, sleep in her eyes. What time is it?
A quick glance at the sky jolted her awake. It was nearly sunhigh, and she hadn't caught anything! Why, oh why had she fallen asleep? A whimper rose in her throat at the thought of facing the dreaded torture chambers.
With a flash of fear, she spotted Mousepaw across camp, herding Frogkit towards the nursery. Had she not heard the news? "Mousepaw!" Sunpaw shouted, her long legs a blur as she ran to her fellow apprentice. "Have you caught anything? We're supposed to have caught ten pieces of prey by sunhigh, and I completely forgot! What am I supposed to do?" Sunpaw sank to the floor in dismay, a strangled noise coming out of her throat.
Meanwhile, Lilacfrost had caught seven pieces, and was about to catch her eighth when a rambunctious cry scared the mouse away. Mouse dung, she cursed, turning toward the source. A crow jeered at her from atop a tree, still cawing, and she groaned. There was no way she'd be able to climb that high, and that little piece of fox-dung had probably scared away all the prey in the forest. With a sigh, Lilacfrost headed towards the moor, hoping it hadn't already been picked clean by her clanmates.
Grassfrost flicked her tail impatiently, waiting for some warrior to come with prey. She'd already sent ten pieces of prey to the High Court pile, and was waiting for five more.
Moonpaw had killed three fat rats, a shrew, and two baby doves. He stalked around, looking for more prey. The sun was rising quicker than he could say "mouse".
As Grassfrost grew impatient and Moonpaw looked for food, Gorsefang scaled a tree, hunting down a pidgeon. He padded closer, slowly, and then he bit the bird's neck. It cooed, then fell quiet. Gorsefang cheered in his head. I did it! Ten catches! The tom went to unbury his prey, hoping there was time to get back to camp as the sun got closer to its sun-high position.
(totally didn't forget about moonpaw by mistake :P)
Flamestar's searing amber gaze sharpened as Skyrose spoke. "Limping?" the dark ginger tom drawled, tilting his head curiously. "If you're sure of this...bring him to me." He dismissed the High Court she-cats with a careless flick of his tail.
Cressheart flicked her tail in satisfaction as Frogkit was dragged away and she decided to make her way down to Flamestar's den, and noticed Mistyspark and Skyrose speaking to Flamestar. What is Mistyspark there for?
Whitepaw turned around with a flash and delivered a well-aimed blow to the shrew's throat. She had caught five pieces so far, which had taken her at least fifteen minutes. Whitepaw scanned the sky. There was no way she'd make it in time.
Emberflame was stalking a plump gray squirrel nibbling a cob nut at the roots of an oak tree. Silently, he crept forward, his eyes never leaving the squirrel. He tensed as the squirrel paused, then darted for the nearest tree, the cob nut forgotten. Foxdung! Emberflame launched himself forward, his paws scrabbling on the leaves, and hurled himself up the tree, his jaws snapping mouse-lengths away from the squirrel's dangling tail.
Batpaw perched at the side of camp, having completed his hunting for the day. He made sure to wake up early to get it done, but now it left him tired and aching. Some days were easier than others, but today he had only encountered birds and mice. Both required stalking and jumping, so he was more tired than usual. At least he wasn't going out into the forest late like some fellow apprentices that had just left camp. He thought of the two she-cats with a snicker.
Paws tucked under him, he scanned the camp clearing, eyes landing on Featherkit as she slowly snaked her way to the fresh-kill pile. His eyes narrowed as he realized that she was seemingly trying to be stealthy, presumably trying to get a piece of fresh-kill for herself. He remembered having to do that at that age, but the difficulty the young kit was having made it amusing to watch from afar. At least he succeeded.
Snowshadow grew tired of scenting for prey. Sniffing around, she detected some cat's cache. She grabbed three shrews from it and quickly kicked dirt back over the prey-hole. She padded away with the prey held lightly in her mouth, adding it to her pile. Four of the mice were babies, with little meat, but it was soft and tender. She managed to stuff her prey in her mouth or under her chin and awkwardly walked back toward the camp.
Sunpaw crept through the forest, all senses on high alert. They didn't have much time till sunhigh, but if she and Mousepaw worked together, they might just catch enough.
She halted, parting her jaws as a scent caught her nose. Mousepaw was looking intently in the opposite direction, and Sunpaw knew she must've caught a scent as well. "Listen," Sunpaw breathed. "Maybe it's better if we split up. Should we rendezvous back here once we've caught all we can?"
Skyrose practically bounced out of Flamestar's den, almost colliding with Cressheart on her way out. "He said we could go find him," she chanted, a smug look on her face. "Oooh, I can't wait!"
Lilacfrost sighed, exhausted. She had finally caught all her prey after coming across a mother hare and her five babies. She'd decided to leave two of them for a clanmate to find. As she made her way back to camp, she let her mind wander. Unaware of her surroundings, Lilacfrost didn't notice the small shrew in front of her. It stared at her with wide eyes, then ran off.
"Hey!" an indignant voice sounded behind her, jolting her into reality. "That was my prey!"
Lilacfrost turned, startled, to see a pair of glaring yellow eyes staring back at her. Sunpaw.
"I'm so sorry-" she began.
"I don't need apologies, I need prey!" Sunpaw wailed, on the edge of hysterics. "I've barely caught anything, and you decided to scare off the one piece I could find in this wretched forest."
Lilacfrost blinked. "Look, I really am sorry about scaring off your prey. If it's any help, I left two baby rabbits on the moor. They're most likely still there." She gave the apprentice directions, earning a thank you as she ran off in search of the rabbits.
Shellfoot was on his ninth prey now. It was a small robin but it should be just enough if he was accurate on the theory that this was a female, a mother robin. He might even get more then ten at this rate!
Cressheart nodded. "I was thinking you could invite him to eat with you as an honor for catching such fine prey and the piece you offer him will be drugged. Just to...change things up a little bit."
Ambersky sighed, starving. But it was no use, the High Court would probably fatten themselves up with more than half if not all of it. She hoped Gorsefang would sneak some to her to save their kits.
Frogkit groaned as Brightwind ushered her back inside the nursery. "But why?" She whined.
Tinyraven had 9 prey: 3 mice, 3 squirrels and 3 voles. "one more." She meowed. She caught sight of two fat mice nibbling at crumbs. She stalked up silently and pounced on one of the mice. Then she quickly killed it. She ran back to the brush. Just as she thought the mousebrain of a mouse came back to the crumbs. She then pounced and killed that one too. She carried her prey with a stoic face back to camp. She hid the 11th in case another cat had trouble hunting. She padded into camp and placed it where she was supposed to and waited for Flamestar's response with a stoic face.
"Good idea," Skyrose purred. "You are a true evil genius." She flicked Cressheart on the ear with her tail, then turned and walked away.
"Skyrose!" Lilacfrost called. "I've caught my prey!"
Skyrose looked over the she-cat's catches dismissively, then gestured toward the prey pile. "You know the drill."
Sunpaw panted, looking down at the small fresh-kill pile she'd accumulated. Her belly growled, and for the first time, she realized how hungry she was. She had caught five pieces of prey so far, including the two baby rabbits Lilacfrost had shown her. Five more to go. Her legs were shaking with exhaustion, and she sank to the ground. A small rest wouldn't do her any harm, right?
Sunpaw remembered the last time she'd asked herself that question, and decided that a small rest would definitely do her harm. With a sigh, she stood and continued deeper into the forest.
Mousepaw's ears pricked and she heard a rustling in the bushes. She slowly stalked up to the bushes, catching the scent of crow. She leapt into the bushes, feeling her claws hit feather. A squawk split the air and she dug her claws deeper into the crow. "Mousedung, now I may have scared away all the prey." She spat, pulling the crow out to inspect it. It was a messy catch, and feathers were everywhere. The high court wouldn't appreciate this. She made her way over to Sunpaw, dropping her crow at the apprentice's paws.
"I've only caught one piece of prey, and it's a messy catch!" Her voice rose in fear.
"Don't worry, I'm sure there'll be more," Sunpaw soothed, trying to stop her own voice from rising in fear. Oh, the High Court would have their heads, that was for sure. "Why don't we look somewhere else? I know a great beech copse somewhere." She began to lead Mousepaw away, absentmindedly stroking her tail across her flank. Sunpaw was acting calm for the sake of her friend, but her throat was beginning to close up in fear. What if there was no prey? What if they went back to the camp with only six pieces of prey between them?
StarClan must've heard Sumpaw's turbulent thoughts, because right at that moment, the pair came across a fat mouse, freshly killed. "Oh, thank StarClan," Sunpaw breathed. "Here, Mousepaw, take this."
Snowshadow padded over toward the nearest High Court cat to have her prey counted and sorted. This cat happened to be Stormfeather, who was standing by the prey pile scanning the camp and its cats. Snowshadow dropped her prey on the ground and looked up at the High Court cat.
Snapping out of his daze, Stormfeather looked down at the prey underneath him. "Next time, catch bigger pieces," he meowed tartly. He surveyed the prey at his paws, picking out three of the baby mice, the thrush, and a larger mouse. "Take the rest to the prey pile."
Snowshadow obeyed and watched as Stormfeather dropped his chosen pieces off by where the High Court's prey lay. She waited until he came back, then gazed at him steadily.
StarClan, we need a miracle, Sunpaw prayed. "Well, let's hunt a bit more. Hopefully we'll find something. I have five pieces, remember? Catch three more, and we'll have ten between us. I could give them all to you, if you like? The torture chambers can't be that bad. Besides, Skyrose said it was only for a day." Even as she said those words, Sunpaw shuddered.
A scrawny shrew lying a tail-length from the fresh-kill pile caught Featherkit's eye. Her whiskers twitched as she realized none of the warriors seemed to have noticed this shrew. Quickly, she darted forward and snatched the shrew up in her jaws. She then retreated to crouch behind a clump of ferns, where she hurriedly finished her prey.
Emberflame managed to clamp his teeth around the squirrel's tail. Grunting, he dragged it down while it struggled, squeaking frantically. My first catch, he thought as he killed it with a quick, swift bite.
Snowshadow padded toward the barrier of camp, clearly appearing to be attempting to be stealthy, but not doing so. Stormfeather followed her, his gaze piercing. The tomcat followed Snowshadow out of camp and beside a large oak, where Snowshadow waited.
"Why did you leave camp?" Stormfeather hissed.
"You know you're unhappy with Flamestar," the white she-cat began.
Stormfeather hated to admit it was true. The arrogant she-cat was insufferable.
"There is a rebellion," she continued.
"Listen. I'm not joining. You're free to do what you want, but I'm not going to be a part of it," Stormfeather said flatly.
Snowshadow glared at Stormfeather, showing her teeth with a hiss. "If you don't help us," she meowed threateningly, "I'll report to Flamestar that you brought food to the kits last night."
It was true. Stormfeather had taken pity on the weak kittens and brought them a vole when he thought nobody was looking. It wasn't a big deal, though a normal cat might be executed for that. He might be demoted from his High Court rank or maybe even sentenced to the torture chambers if Flamestar was in a bad mood.
"You are not going to the torture chambers. I will if it comes to it, after all, I'm the one who has barely caught any prey. I'll try for the forest, you try for the moor?" Mousepaw picked up the crow and mouse. "Here, you take these, I'll find something else, I won't let them put you in the torture chambers."
"No. I'm not taking your prey." Sunpaw resolutely turned her back, then stomped off toward the moor. She left her prey with Mousepaw.
Sunpaw couldn't believe her luck. There she was, lamenting about the lack of prey, when she'd come across a pheasant. A pheasant, of all things. That had to count for ten pieces of prey in itself. Sunpaw abandoned the scent she'd been tracking, haring after the creature, practically flying over the peaty ground. It let out a loud squawk, then turned and ran. It was surprisingly fast for such a large creature, but Sunpaw knew she was faster.
The pheasant was barely a mouse-length away when Sunpaw tripped. Sunpaw was back on her feet almost immediately, but it was already too far. "No!" she wailed, all her frustration outing itself in a single word. Sunpaw sat down, blinking tears from her eyes. She had been so close.
Mousepaw stalked through the forest, she had buried the prey where her and Sunpaw had split up. She heard something above her and pricked her ears, looking up at the tree. A squirrel sat in a low branch. This'll take luck. She slowly stalked up to the tree, the squirrel unaware of her. She ran up the tree as fast as possible and grabbed the squirrel's tail in her jaws, jumping out of the tree and killing it.
She went to the place where the rest of the prey was buried and dropped it in the hole, covering it up with leaves.
She made her way to the moor, maybe her and Sunpaw could work together, where she found Sunpaw sitting on the ground and sat next to her. "Wanna work together? I feel like we could catch more prey that way. I caught a squirrel in the forest, and buried it with the rest of the prey."
She looked up at the sky. The sun was so close to sunhigh.
Featherkit settled down, curling her tail around her paws, as she began gulping down the shrew. Although it was rather small, it satisfied Featherkit's overwhelming hunger for the time being. She turned her head and noticed Batpaw watching her.
Skyrose spotted one of the warriors waiting with a stack of prey. "You, take your prey to the fresh-kill pile," she dismissed. She sat, her tail wrapped around her paws, as more and more warriors filed in through the camp entrance. Skyrose shuffled impatiently. None of them were Shellfoot.
"Good idea," Sunpaw mewed. "I tried to get a pheasant just now, but it got away. If we work together, we might be able to catch it. That is, if it hasn't already run too far away." Sunpaw swallowed her ever-rising panic a the thought of not making the deadline.
Thankfully, the pheasent was still inside the territory. When the apprentices had gotten into their positions, Sunpaw gave a quick nod. She charged towards it, driving it to where Mousepaw lay in wait. "Catch it!" she screamed.
Sunpaw leaped for the pheasent's neck, her claws slipping on its feathers. After a quick tussle, she ended up splayed on its back, her paws wrapped around its plump body. Mousepaw was aiming blow after blow onto the pheasent, causing it to struggle and squawk and generally make a huge scene. With a cry of alarm, Sunpaw began to slip, hitting the ground with a thud that knocked the wind out of her. She scrambled to her paws, and immediately got scratched on the ear by a stray talon. "Ouch!" she yelped.
Slugpaw was in a good mood. She padded around the fresh-kill pile, tail flicking and head high.
She'd caught one more than her quota. There was no way she was going to go to the torture chamber today. Her eyes met Skyrose's. Her ears flicked up, and Slugpaw bounded over. She landed with a thump next to her.
"Who're you looking for?" she mewed. Slugpaw tilted her head.
Whitepaw heaved a sigh. She had nine already. Just one more...one more. There was no way she'd be able to exceed the minimum at this rate. The apprentice turned seventy-five degrees, and spotted a squirrel. She sighed in relief.
Frogkit huffed as she paced in the nursery. This was so not fair. Brightwind never let her stray and her littermates were far too boring to do anything intelligent with. None of them seemed to have any interest in the inner workings of the Clan. If they did, she would like to know very much. I need a plan, one to get out of here.
Ambersky lay back down from where she was sitting for at least an hour. She wondered if she should go outside and wondered at the same time when Gorsefang would be back. Maybe he was already. Maybe she should go check.
Cressheart departed from where she was sitting with Skyrose to grab some prey. She pondered over whether she should choose a vole or a mouse. She ended up choosing the mouse as she needed more room for bigger things later on.
Shellfoot threw back his head in relief as he caught his final prey - a rabbit. He gathered all his prey and started heading back to camp, unaware of the surprise that would be meeting him.
Tinyraven nodded and obediently dropped the prey at the pile. "I hope the others meet the quota. I could have hunted more to help but I didn't want to be late." She thought. As she padded away she glanced at the nursery and saw Frogkit pacing. She peaked her head in the nursery and meowed "May I come in?"
"I'm fine," Sunpaw panted, a joyous feeling beginning to bloom in her chest. "Look, we caught a pheasant!" Sunpaw couldn't believe their luck. This had to be more than enough prey for the High Court, right? "Let's take our prey back to camp."
Skyrose sat at the camp entrance, wearily directing warrior after warrior to the fresh-kill pile. She had begun to expect every single kind of prey: from fish to thrush to families of mice. What she did not expect, however, was a pheasant. The two bedraggled apprentices dragged it in just before sunhigh. They were battered and bloodied, but their faces shone with relief and happiness. One of them, the gray one, looked as if she was about to fall over. Skyrose's eyes bugged out slightly, and she wordlessly pointed to the fresh-kill pile.
(idk catching a pheasant seems a bit unrealistic but everyone caught 10 pieces of prey so that's unrealistic too?? whoops)
Batpaw kept his gaze on the small kit as she managed to nick something from the fresh-kill pile. "You made that look so hard," he called to Featherkit, tail twitching. "That could have gone a lot better if you actually started learning to contribute instead of stealing." While it wasn't exactly possible for a kit so young to start hunting, and goading her certainly wouldn't help, it at least provided him with something to do while he sat around in camp. Who knew, maybe rough encouragement would get her on the track to hunting faster. His eyes drifted over to the three apprentices gathered around the bird, eyes tinged with disinterest at the catch.
Ambersky heard Tinyraven's voice. "Of course," she answered, feeling too weak to even do so. She wondered if the warrior had brought prey for the nursery, and hoped her stomach wouldn't rumble. Expecting kits was the worst, especially the tension that came with it especially under Flamestar's rule.
Mousepaw dropped the pheasant onto the fresh-kill pile. "There's more in the forest." She panted, before flopping over. She waved her tail in greeting when Slugpaw came over, resting her head on her paws.
She relized she needed to sneak some prey as she saw the ragged bunch. "Hold on, I'll get something." She grabbed a prey that no one would notice was gone while everyone was busy. Then she snuck back inconspicously and dropped the meager prey. "Don't any of you say a word about this. I want to live just a little longer" she meowed to the kits and queens cautiously looking back making sure no one saw this..
Mousepaw got up. "I'm gonna go get the rest of the prey." She meowed, padding out into the forest and getting the prey. She padded back into camp with the prey on her back and in her mouth, dropping it on the prey pile and laying down.
"Flareheart. Come here, we must count your catches." meowed Grassfrost.
"Frogkit, you were eavesdropping. That is quite rude and a disturbance to private matters of the High Court." snapped Brightwind. "If this continues, Frogkit, your demise shall follow." the queen warned.
Frogkit stiffened. "Well, I was just nearby." The she-kit turned away now, not wanted anymore to do with this conversation. She wondered for a moment if she should share her intentions but decided against it, because her mother would most likely freak.
Skyrose's lips curved into a wicked smile as she flounced over to the gray tom. "Shellfoot! I'll count your prey," she called, her honey-smooth voice laden with flattery. She made a show of trailing her eyes over his catches, leaning forward to sniff a piece every now and then. "My, my. These are some impressive catches," Skyrose purred. The cream she-cat blinked her baby-blue eyes up at him, letting her face fall into a perfectly crafted mask of admiration. "What do you say we eat together tonight? Just the two of us," Skyrose murmured, adding just the right amount of innocence into her words and trailing her feathery tail under his chin. She winked, then turned to go back to the camp entrance. "Think about my offer."
Tinyraven felt a sense of dread come over her like something bad was going to happen. She turned her head out the nursery and say Skyrose acting unusual with Shellfoot. "I have a bad feeling..." she thought narrowing her eyes briefly and sighed. She turned her head back. "I won't be able to do anything sadly." (Would it be an idea to have Tinyraven be a mentor for one of the kits when they are old enough? especially a rebel kit?)
Shellfoot blinked in surprise. He hadn't had a chance to answer Skyrose but even if she stayed, he probably still would've been speechless. Had his meager catches been that surprising? Did Skyrose like him? His head was swimming with questions so he decided to step inside the warriors' den and just think. Prey tonight...with Skyrose. What would she do to him if he refused?
(also whitepaw needs someone to count her prey XDDD)
Grassfrost sorted through Flareheart's catches, and selected the plumper offerings. "Thank you, Flareheart. You may deposit your other catches on the warriors pile and rest briefly." meowed Grassfrost.
(i'd make it longer but i forgot what flareheart caught sorry :()
After she had finished with Shellfoot, Skyrose padded over to Whitepaw, barely sparing a glance at her catches before telling her to deposit them on the fresh-kill pile. She looked back at Shellfoot. He looked dumbfounded, and she hid a snicker as she walked away.
Ambersky shook her head. It wasn't fine. And she hadn't yet told Gorsefang about her plans to stay with her kit. And she wouldn't. He might try to stop her, but if some cat didn't speak up, no one would.
Sunpaw glanced across the den at Mousepaw. "Yeah, why wouldn't I be? You think I'm that lazy?" she teased, her eyes glimmering with amusement in the half-light. The warm glow of the setting sun framed Mousepaw's face, illuminating every single strand of fur so that it stood out perfectly.
Skyrose looked at Shellfoot expectantly. Would he show up?
It would be a shame to let this go to waste, Skyrose mused, looking down at the mouse beneath her forepaws. She had chosen the fattest mouse on the fresh-kill pile to stuff with deathberries, so as to be sure that Shellfoot wouldn't refuse it.
"Are you coming?" she called, deliberately making her voice playfully flirty.
(Okay so I haven't been here, and I'm super tired so I'm not reading all of the posts. If anyone interacted with my characters and I missed it, I'm sorry. ^^)
Pinepaw breathed a sigh of relief. She had barely skipped by with a few more mice, a scrawny blackbird, and two shrews. Her hide would be safe for the rest of the week if she was lucky, a few days if she wasn't.
Hollyfrost lay on the ground, her stomach pulsing with pain in a rhythmic pattern. The kits kicking, no doubt. She just couldn't wait for them to arrive. But she wished she could keep them safe inside of her stomach forever.
Lightningheart chose a plump robin from the pile, padding over to Skyrose. With a lazy flick of his tail, he sat down beside her. "Want to share?" He suggested, spitting out a feather. He gazed at her face with a mild sort of interest while he waited for her answer.
Hollyfrost shrugged, her eyes worried. "A few days, maybe. Maybe less." She mewed anxiously. "I'm nervous." Her tail flicked behind her and she tore a lump of flesh from her vole, chewing absentmindedly.
(I'll fill you in, Icy: basically Shellheart's going to be poisoned via death mouse because of his limp, two apprentices caught a pheasent (also those same two are gay for each other *wink wink*), and mostly everyone got their prey in. It's also evening right now)
"I'm sorry, I'm 'sharing prey' with Shellheart today." Skyrose put extra emphasis on those two words, hoping Lightningheart would understand. "I'm sure you've heard of the plan?" She winked, then turned away.
"Shellheart! I saved a mouse for you." Skyrose purred, watching his face morph from confused to eager in the half-light as he stared at the plump creature. "Here." She pushed the mouse towards him, hoping he'd take the bait.
(I'm just going to go ahead and write the death scene, Steppy. You said I could in live chat, so I'm assuming it's okay and wouldn't be considered godmodding or anything. :P If it is, you can just tell me and I'll edit)
To her satisfaction, he did.
Skyrose watched intently, her eyes glinting, as the tom's face went slack. He began foaming at the mouth, letting out a strangled, guttural sound from the back of his throat. Shellheart dropped to the ground, convulsing once, twice, three times.
Then it was over.
Shellheart lay still, stone-cold on the rocky ground. Skyrose looked down at him with satisfaction. Her work here was done.
"Hollyfrost? Ambersky? I brought you some prey." Lilacfrost walked into the nursery, dropping two voles at the queens' feet. Today's hunt had brought back plenty of prey; the clan would be well-fed tonight.
"Sure," Sunpaw purred. A night excursion would be fun, especially when she was with Mousepaw.
As Tinyraven padded out of the nursery her sense of dread increased and she then saw Shellheart on the ground. It took all her effort to hide the shock. "I need to do something before they kill someone else but who would help me?' she thought. She glanced around but was unsure who to trust.
"Thank you, Lilacfrost," Ambersky reached for a vole. Sometimes she was sure everything would be okay when she and her clanmates helped each other through thick and thin. Still, it didn't have to take all her kitting worries away.
Noting that the apprentices were picking from the fresh-kill pile, Batpaw rose from his spot and waddled over stiffly with a yawn. He picked out a chaffinch and, with it in his mouth, glanced around to see who he could sit with. He spotted the group of Moonpaw, Pinepaw, and Whitepaw, making his way over. He nodded to all of them before he began to pull off the feathers of his prey.
Pinepaw nodded to Batpaw, chewing at a skinny shrew halfheartedly. Her entire body ached with the effort of hunting for so long, and her stomach felt hollow, altough she didn't care to eat another bite.
Hollyfrost looked up. "Thank you, Lilacfrost." She meowed, nosing through the prey until she found a juicy-looking finch. She smiled up at Lilacfrost in gratitude, her heart warmed by the she-cat's kind actions.
Lightningheart smirked. "Ah, yes. I see. Another time, then." He meowed, his purr rough with barely hidden excitement. He gazed at Skyrose, tail flicking. "How villainous."
Hollyfrost barely stifled a gasp as a wave of pain washed over her like lake water lapping at pebbles. Her pain faded to shock and a bearable ache. She narrowed her blue eyes, bracing herself for more pain.
Pinepaw kept her gaze on the ground, her stomach threatening to empty itself of her latest meal. "I'm trying not to." She whispered, choking on her words. Even now, the scent of death hung heavy around her, like an ominous cloud of fog.
Hollyfrost swallowed, throat tight. "I don't know." She croaked. "I-I-It's still early. I didn't think they were supposed to arrive for another quarter moon." She stammered as her stomach clenched again.
Sunpaw walked out of the den, then gasped. Shellfoot lay stock-still at the edge of camp. Dead.
"I- I don't think it would be a good idea to go for a walk right now," she meowed nervously.
"I'll get you some water," Lilacfrost meowed, a tremor in her voice. StarClan knew that kitting had caused all too many deaths in this place.
Without another word, Lilacfrost sprinted out of the den, hardly taking notice of Shellheart's body. She was used to finding various camp members dead by now. Although it was a shame. Shellheart had so much to offer. Regret flooded over the she-cat as she sprinted out of camp, barrelling through the forest in search of a stream.
Stormfeather padded over to the High Court's den, glancing around nervously. He may have been a High Court member, but Snowshadow was hardened by moons of catching prey and fighting. If she caught him alone, he was dead. If he agreed to her ridiculous demands for too long, he was dead. If he disagreed, he was dead. Death surrounded him on all sides.
(Where is the body located? In the middle of camp, or?)
Batpaw'a amber gaze shifted to the body that Whitepaw pointed out. He then scanned the faces of his fellow apprentices, tilting his head. Wasn't that a normal part of how they lived? Dead cats weren't exactly a rare sight here. For this reason, their reactions confused him. "It's not out of the ordinary..." he meowed. "He was just weak and had to go. I don't see how anything is wrong with that." Indeed, to him, the sole law of the forest was survival of the fittest.
Snowshadow watched Stormfeather's expression for the rest of the day. To the passing glance, he seemed normal, but Snowshadow relished the hints of terror that she picked up. She was powerful, no longer a disposable warrior to be discarded as soon as she got injured. No longer a prisoner content to be tortured and starved and forced to hunt all morning.
She controlled one of the most powerful cats in the Clan, and it would soon be more.
Pinepaw looked up, her eyes troubled. "Batpaw!" She whispered, shocked. "He was our Clanmate! He did nothing to deserve death! It wasn't his fault he had a limp. If he had to go, couldn't he at least have been granted some mercy? Life in exile, at the very least? He was our Clanmate." A sob threatened to rise up in her throat.
Hollyfrost let her head fall back into her nest, her pain level rising to a scream-inducing knot in her stomach. Clenching her jaw so hard she thought her teeth would break, she barely dared to breathe until the pain passed again.
Hollyfrost let out a breath as the knot in her stomach loosened and she felt capable of moving her legs again. Kitting was terrifying. "I think they're coming early." She mewed quietly, her voice weak with pain and fear.
"Hollyfrost! I'm back!" Lilacfrost barged into the den, skidding to a halt in front of the queen. She lay down a dripping piece of moss, hoping it would help. "I'll be here if you need anything."
Quickly and urgently, she whispered to the other queens what had happened, keeping her voice low so Hollyfrost wouldn't hear.
Skyrose sighed as she spotted the gaggle of apprentices hovering over Shellfoot's body. Hefting herself up from her position next to the prey-pile, she made her way toward them.
"I suggest you find something better to do with your time," Skyrose mewed icily. The apprentices hadn't seen her stalk up to them, and she was met with more than a few startled glances. "Burying Shellfoot's body wouldn't do you any harm. At least then you could do something a little more productive than staring." Without another word, she turned and stalked off
Pinepaw jumped, her fur bristling. "Yes, Skyrose." She murmured quietly, her heart pounding due to Skyrose's sudden appearance. She grabbed Shellfoot by the scruff and waited for the others to join in.
Hollyfrost looked up. "Thank you." She whispered, her gratitude quickly overruled by yet another wave of pain. This time, however, it didn't go away, and she was left helpless and scared, feeling like she was a mild away from her Clanmates.
She felt like crying out, but she locked her jaw and forced the screech back. She had mostly raised herself, and one thing she had taught herself was to never show weakness or pain. She would pay for it if she did.
Eventually, however, the pain won the battle and a weak wail escaped her, sounding haunted and hollow, like the lonely cry of an abandoned kit. But the pain in her voice was apparent. There was no mistaking it.
Bored, Lightningheart pricked his ears as a soft wail reached them. How interesting. "Did you hear that?" He said to nobody in particular, his curiosity growing by the second.
Ambersky forced herself up. "I'll get you a stick to bite on!" The ginger she-cat scanned the camp and saw a huge stick...right next to Flamestar's den. "Mouse dung!" she cursed. It would do no good to anyone if she was caught and questioned, especially since Hollyfrost needed her. The queen would just have to go without it. She turned back and trotted inside the nursery and walked over to Hollyfrost and explained.
Whitepaw looked wearily at her friends. "I suppose we'd better get started." She bent her head and lifted Shellfoot's flank and was near crushed. "Help," she choked out.
Frogkit peered over at Hollyfrost. What would it be like to have more denmates? Would Brightwind help? Was Flamestar okay with this? If so, why did Ambersky and Hollyfrost look so panicked?
Cressheart padded over to Skyrose, and nodded towards the apprentices swarming Shellfoot's corpse. "What in the fox-dung have you put them up to?"
"Where's the stick?" Hollyfrost panted, scanning the nursery but finding no stick. Not even a hint of a twig. She let out another high-pitched whine, penetrating the nursery walls.
"Definitely inside." Lightningheart smirked. "I think I know where it's coming from." He stood and sauntered toward the nursery, his pawsteps barely making a sound on the dusty soil. Peering through a crack in the protective nursery walls, he narrowed his eyes and turned back to Skyrose. "My suspicions are correct." He whispered.
Pinepaw began hauling Shellfoot's body, not making much progress. With her lithe frame and only Whitepaw to help, it was a tough task to carry out.
"Her kits are coming," Ambersky replied. "Here, have this water." Gorsefang had brought it to her that morning but she had only lapped a few droplets. Thank the skies and beyond. "Just drink some and calm down. How much longer do you think before the kits arrive?"
"Don't get yourself into trouble. I'll be okay." Hollyfrost meowed half-heartedly. Really, she felt like death was stalking her, but she wouldn't let anyone know. She lapped at the water, feeling more and more parched the more she drank. "I don't know." She rasped. "It hurts."
"I think so." Lightningheart said, his tail flicking. "More kits, more hunters, but more mouths to feed too." He stretched out, bored once more. Perhaps he would investigate more thoroughly when the queen's screams grew louder.
"Hmm. Well, I'll just leave her to it, I suppose." For a fleeting moment, Skyrose wondered what having kits would be like. Did it hurt? Judging by the queen's screams, it obviously did. She immediately pushed the thought away, embarrassed. She wasn't going to be having kits anytime soon; the nuisances would probably get in the way of everything. Shaking her head, Skyrose padded away from the nursery.
Lilacfrost shuffled her paws, feeling hot and itchy under her fur. "I'll go get a stick from the forest," she meowed, bolting out of the den once more.
From his den in the hollowed log, Flamestar watched Shellfoot's body being dragged away. It isn't such a waste, after all, with that limp of his Skyrose mentioned, he thought, whisking his tail lazily. He was only another mouth to feed.
Hollyfrost didn't say anything, her throat dry. She felt like she'd eaten a mouthful of sand. She was grateful for Ambersky staying with her, but what she really wanted was for everything to be over.
"You know," Lightningheart said, following Skyrose. His smirk seemed permanently etched on his sleek muzzle. "I do wonder who the father is. She never seemed particularly attached to anyone. At least, not in public. . ." He trailed off, leaving things unsaid but implied. "Whoever it is, he's a very lucky cat. I've tried to get on her good side. She isn't interested, it seems." He sighed dramatically.
(is it bad I kinda ship Skyrose/Lightningheart :P)
"Back!" Lilacfrost panted, breathless. She held a sturdy stick in her jaws, and dropped it next to Hollyfrost. "Bite this. It should help."
"Flirting with the queens now, are you?" Skyrose remarked dryly. "I tend not to get myself involved in other cats' relationships. Or any of my own, for that matter." She kept her gaze fixed ahead, padding towards the High Court den.
(omg I kind of ship them too now that I think about it :P )
Hollyfrost sank her teeth into the stick as a shudder passed through her body, leaving her with a feeling of cold dread. "Thank you." She hissed through the stick.
Lightningheart pranced in front of Skyrose. "You deserve happiness, you know. Maybe a mate, if you found the right cat. Even kits one day, if you wanted. Just haven't found the right cat yet? Neither have I. But I will. She's out there, I know she is. She's probably right under my nose and I don't even know it yet."
Flamestar trotted into the clearing with an unhurried yawn. He settled down at the entrance to his den and began grooming himself. As he watched Lightningheart and Skyrose through narrowed, searing amber eyes, he licked his forepaw and drew it over his ear.
(Skylight. Mistle is there preferably a rebel apprentice Tinyraven can have?)
Tinyraven heard Hollyfrost wail. She narrowed her eyes as the high court Cat kept glancing in the direction of the noise and talking. She had a slight worry about Hollyfrost so she padded to the entrance of the nursery and sat there like she was on guard. "It's the least I can do." She thought.
Skyrose paused, confused. "I suppose," she said simply, then ducked inside the High Court den.
Skyrose mulled over the conversation she'd had, shifting slightly in her nest. She had never really given much thought to having a mate of her own, but Lightningheart's words left her with a feeling of uneasiness she couldn't quite place. She'd always thought the Heir flirted with she-cats for the fun of it, not because he was looking for a relationship. Skyrose's thoughts became muddled as she went over their conversation once more, replaying it again and again through her mind. A nighttime hunt would help clear her head. Skyrose quietly stood up and shook herself off, padding out of the den into camp.
"Relax, Hollyfrost," Lilacfrost soothed. "It'll be over soon."
Stormfeather lay in his nest. As a High Court member, he probably wouldn't be punished for his laziness, and he needed to think. He had known there must be some kind of rebellion, but ignored it for the most part. He didn't really care. Now he was being dragged into it by that fox of a cat, Snowshadow. He would pay with his life if he helped, he would pay with his life if he didn't help. The choices swam around his head, fogging up his mind and spiraling him into stress and panic.
She stepped back, reeling. Eyes wide, mouth open, Sunpaw looked almost comical in her disbelief.
"Um, uh, I'll get back to you on that!" she stammered loudly.
Then she ran.
Sunpaw didn't know where she was going, but she kept running, barrelling through the forest at top speed. She finally skidded to a halt in front of a border stream. The steady rushing of the water calmed her down enough to actually process her thoughts.
Mousepaw had confessed her feelings to her, and she had run.
Sunpaw had never really known much about love, but running away? That was an all time low.
With a sigh, she dropped her head down on her paws. She'd sort herself out in the morning. For now, all she wanted to do was sleep.
(Sorry erp I thought Mistyspark was Lightning's mate but I wasn't very active sorry)
Startled, Briarkit shot up in the nest. A keening wail from Hollyfrost captured his attention and his neck snapped towards the queen. She had the most painful expression on her face and Briarkit couldn't bear to watch. He turned his head away to stare uncomfortably at his paws.
Shadowcloud padded over to Snowshadow. "What are you looking at?" He questioned curiously, following her gaze to Stormfeather.
Cloudheart was curled in his nest, his tail fluttering over the tip of his nose. He twitched restlessly, caught in a terrifying nightmare. Flamestar was bearing down upon him, ordering him to be poisoned, while his fellow High Court warriors watched mockingly, gazing at him and ignoring his pleas for help.
(I feel like Lightning isn't really the type to have a mate. I agree with Icy; his personality is more like that of a single heartthrob than a mate :P But then again, you asked for your character to be his mate, and it's not really my place to judge that or tell you otherwise :P Idk. You can choose <3)
(Eep, sorry! I didn't see your earlier message. I still really ship Lightningsky, but I guess it was never meant to be :'( Having an affair would be fine, or forgetting about it. We couuullld just forget about it. Idc either way. I'm terrible at making decisions)
Mousepaw's head drooped, and she went to her den, going to a nest far away from Sunpaw's. Sunpaw probably wouldn't want to have a nest next to her anymore. I'm such an idiot.She'll never be my friend again.
(Stormfeather's in his den but let's say she was watching the den)
"Nothing," she meowed, flicking her tail. "I should sleep soon. The sun is going down and I've caught my daily prey." Snowshadow padded away to her den, hoping to escape the conversation. Keeping a hold on Stormfeather would be difficult with so many cats around. She hadn't quite remembered that other cats could catch them.
(I'd kind of want to do the Skylightning thing in secret, since I'd created him to be single and wasn't aware of Mistyspark when I did, so if everybody is fine with that, that would be the way I'm leaning towards.)
Puddlekit pretended to doze in her nest, curled mouse-lengths away from her littermates. I wish I could become an apprentice, she thought. I wonder who my mentor will be. She hadn't heard of Shellfoot's death yet. And she was determined to ignore Hollyfrost.
(eh, okay. Sky isn't really the type to have an affair with someone, but I guess it could work. :P Plus, the whole Mistylightning think probably wouldn't work anyway, since to my knowledge, Misty ends up a rebel)
(Umm maybe forget about Mistylightning and make Misty a normal High Court cat)
Mistyspark trudged out of her den and watched the blood-red sunset spill across the tree-dotted horizon. Shivering, she backed away and suddenly- wait, was she hearing a cat crying?
Determined to pinpoint where the incessant noise was coming from, she padded around the whole camp. Stopping, she poked her head into the apprentices' den. There! Mousepaw was crying, but... why? Feeling her heart ache for the young apprentice, she scooted in until she was next to Mousepaw's quivering form. Mistyspark knew she could get into huge trouble if she was caught showing kindness to a lowly apprentice, but it was too hard to resist.
"What happened?" She whispered, her tail lightly touching Mousepaw's flank.
Shadowcloud shrugged, but somehow he realized that Snowshadow wasn't telling the truth (or at least the entire truth.) "If you insist," he mumbled, unable to shake off the feeling that something fishy was going on.
Sunpaw lay her head down between her paws, feeling miserable.
Mousepaw loved her.
She didn't know what to do with that information. It was as if someone had handed her a fox and told her to keep it safe. One wrong move and she'd be dead.
It wasn't the fact that Mousepaw was a she-cat that made her uncomfortable. It was that she was her closest and dearest friend. They'd been together since kithood, and now this.
Sunpaw knew she loved her back; it wasn't a question. For so long, she had dismissed her feelings as those of friendship. Admiring Mousepaw's beauty when she wasn't looking? Friendship. Having half-romantic daydreams about her? Friendship.
With a sigh, Sunpaw hefted herself up from her spot beside the river. She had to go back to camp, otherwise some High Court cat would accuse her of leaving.
"Of course not!" Sunpaw exclaimed, shocked. "I was just a bit surprised." Sunpaw hesitated before asking her next question. "Uh, do you want to come over?" She gestured awkwardly to the empty nest beside her, the one Mousepaw usually slept in. Her fur heated in embarrassment.
Mousepaw sighed in relief, padding over to the nest beside her. "I-I'm sorry, I know you probably don't like me like that and I don't want things to be awkward between us..." She said really really fast.
"It's fine. Don't apologize," Sunpaw murmured sleepily. "We're going to wake up and everything will be fine. Just the way it always was..." Sunpaw's voice trailed off in a yawn, and she pushed her nose into Mousepaw's fur.
Skyrose padded into camp, two mice dangling from her jaws. With a slight yawn, she ducked into the High Court den, nodding to Mistyspark as she curled up in her nest.
Conepaw nodded and unsheathed her claws. The apprentice began to dig into the earth, making the hole large enough for Shellfoot's body. After a few minutes, she looked up at Whitepaw. "The hole is ready." she mewed, sadness dancing around in her tone.
Whitepaw grabbed onto his hindlegs, signaling for Conepaw to grab his scruff. It was time to haul him inside. The white she-cat felt the grieving tang of this burial, not even his family was here to see him. Just stranger apprentices. What a life.
With a flash of alarm, Lilacfrost noticed Frogkit spectating Hollyfrost's kitting. "How about you come explore the camp with me?" she meowed gently. "Hollyfrost needs her privacy." She began to usher the kit out of the den, glancing back worriedly.
Conepaw pushed the last clumps of soil onto Shellfoot's body. The apprentice ran around, looking for flower petals to place near Shellfoot's burial ground. She found some asters, and neatly removed the petals. She scattered them around the final resting place of Shellfoot. If he died tortured, he will be remembered with peace.
Hollyfrost let out another high wail, biting down on her stick. Her scream rose into a crescendo howl, her pain and misery reverberating off of the thick nursery walls. Within seconds, her voice faded into silence as a tiny she-kit took over, mewling weakly.
Ambersky immediately started licking the newborn kit, immediately trying to get the kit to breathe. Hollyfrost's yowls frightened her, if she was to be honest but she had to help the miserable queen. My kitting isn't that far away...
Hollyfrost clenched her teeth, panting and feeling hot in the miserably stuffy den. She felt crowded. Claustrophobic. With another wail and a lot of silent cursing, a little tomkit, with slicked-back dark grey fur, immediately begain twitching among the mossy nest.
(Do kits stay in the nursery without their mums even after they're 1 moon?)
Lilykit yawned and opened her eyes. She had just had a nap and was hungry. She could try hunting, thought she still wasn't very good. She missed her mother Flowerstripe, but this was how it was, in her home, FlameClan.
Shadeshadow huffed as he dropped his final piece of prey in the pile. That was ten. Another day in the clan he didn't feel any loyalty to was another tegular day, but one day that would change. He heard miserable hisses from the nursery and guessed Hollyfrost was kitting. Poor kits. Brought into the world to suffer.
"I'm sorry, Frogkit, the High Court den is off-limits," Lilacfrost mewed regretfully. "Do you want to see the warriors' den instead? Or the apprentices'? You're going to be living in those soon enough."
"That's what I dream of every night," Whitepaw murmured, opening her eyes. "What we'd be like as a normal Clan." The pale gray she-cat sighed. "I don't know, Conepaw. The memory of a proper Clan has been lost for many generations. Which is why I hope to live it some day."
Hollyfrost panted, blackness pulling at the edge of her vision. She could vaguely hear Ambersky's voice and the other kits and queens mulling around. She was just so tired. . . Her chest heaved as another wave of agony washed over her body, and like snow melting in the sunlight, it was gone.
Meadowkit lay still in the nest, feeling cold and rather disturbed at the sudden change of events.
"Someday, maybe the memories of true Clan life will come back to us. Maybe FlameClan can be a real Clan." mewed Conepaw. The apprentice finished scattering the petals. "Let's go back to FakeClan camp now."