Post by ▲ Fabrication on Aug 5, 2019 16:25:07 GMT -5
Hell raising, hair raising I'm ready for the worst
This was the furthest he'd gone away from the LightningClan border. The warrior flicked an ear at the sound of distant deer, bellowing their eerie song into the crisp, warm air. He opened his mouth to taste the wind, the breeze a relief in the arid temperatures of the day. He sniffed the ground nervously, half hoping he would find a familiar scent, half hoping he wouldn't. The urge to take off into the distance and never turn back towards LightningClan's moors shot through him, and when he glanced behind him, he trembled to realise that he couldn't see the moorland through the trees. He shook his head. He could never... No matter how much he felt he no longer belonged there, he couldn't abandon Briartail and Gorsebelly. He couldn't.
He felt like such a traitor to his Clan, wandering like this. But was he wandering? How was searching for a missing clanmate disloyal? He's not missing. A mocking voice snarled in his mind. You know exactly where he went. Shaking the evil voice away, Birchspots took a shuddering breath and continued looking. Denial was the only thing that was helping him hold his sanity. Helping him convince himself to stay near the moorland. That he still had a place there.
A shape wove between the pine trees, making him freeze. He felt so enclosed here among the thick pines. This was no place for a moor cat. He needed the comfort of open spaces, where he could always see what was coming. The shape was dark brown. Fox? Cat? Demon? Birchspots backed away, flattening his ears. Come on, rabbitheart! You're a warrior! Act like it, you worthless piece of haredung... Birchspots cursed himself, unsheathing his claws. "S-show yourself!" His heart thundered in his ears. In his fear, he confused the scent that brushed his tongue with the scent that he had so desperately searched for, and his fur bristled. "Pebblefang? Is... is that you?" He swallowed. What if it was? What if it wasn't? He didn't know if he'd cry or strike his claws across his muzzle if he saw him again.
Pine needles snapped under his weight. Their brittle forms no match for his towering frame. Their only hope of escaping permanent destruction came from his lumbering pace. Unlikely to cover much ground, the needles ahead would be safe. The ones behind crunched into the shape of his paws. Without a direction in mind, the tom-cat become a victim of his emotions. Pulled into an endless lull of them, he failed to see the circle his paws had made. Only the continuously broken needles were proof. Some stepped on to the point they became powder. Dust to be stirred up in the wind. Carried away until they join some other dust and created something new or were lost forever. Stag cared not for the dust or the pine needles. He certainly did not care that he had effectively walked in a circle for some time. His whiskers twitched at the change of wind. Fur grew warmer when the sun got higher. Time went on, unfazed by his inattention.
Each step on the pine needles released their scent. Sharp at first but mellowing out enough to be comforting. This drove his body to circle. To create more of the smell until it burned into his nose. Subconsciously he wanted to etch the odor of the pine forest so deep into his memory there was no mistaking it, make this stretch of land more like home. Impossible to forget, just like Cinderfur.
There was no mistaking the pull the forest had for him. The larger pine forest remained Cinderfur's home, the place stag knew he'd never go again. All he had left of the tom was the slowly fading scent that remained unique to him. Soon the memory of Cinderfur would fade away too, be lost to him as the moons went on and seasons changed.
Stag didn't want that. Cinderfur meant too much to him to be so easily forgotten. So he paced, keeping the scent of pine needles fresh. The memories of Cindfur persisted.
It wasn't easy. The memories started to muddle the more he kept at it. A thorn somehow made its way onto his path. One-step and blood, the scent of pine needles rusted by the tang of it. With each step after the smell grew, reminding him of that day. Of claws digging into flesh and pained yowls filling the sky. Anger and hatred in Gracklestrike's eyes burned him like icy fire, not even the thought of Cinderfur's yellow gaze comforted him.
Angry at himself with how quickly he recalled the events of that day, he stopped. His quest to preserve the good times with Cinderfur lost. He pondered, tail twitching as he thought about leaving behind the tribe's forest and trying again. He'd die this time for sure. Gracklestrike would have his head served up to Cinderfur the moment his brown paws crossed into NightClan's domain.
Stag remained uninterested in joining his ancestors so soon.
Electing to find his way back to the cave and into his nest, stag sought his way back. Pausing before setting off to orientate himself with which way was home. Thankful his sense of direction didn't rely on scent markings, he found the way.
Weaving back and forth to find the sure-footed way home, he stopped abruptly. A new scent strong enough to overpower that of pine. Unable to recognize it, stag turned toward the source, hackles relaxed once he determined it to be feline. Friend or foe, Stag could hold his own long enough to escape.
Both wary and curious of who might be lost in the forest, Stag carefully made his way toward it. Stopping once the cat called out to him. The name uttered by the misplaced tom sounded oddly like a clan-name. Uneasy prickled down Stag's spine. He couldn't hold off a well-trained clan-cat, the deep-set scar by Gracklestrike remained proof of that. Yet, the voice intrigued him. They sounded hurt, afraid maybe. Stag related to them and against his better judgment he changed course. Put himself in their line of sight, posture relaxed to be nonthreatening.
"I'm Stag in Morning Light, " his voice matured like his father's, rich but not as lower, a higher octave compared to Branch. He wondered as the words left his mouth if he sounded sad. Would the lost cat before him be able to tell? Or had his fake smiles and happy chatter with his tribemates finally paid off. Had he become a promising actor? Capable of pretending everything was okay when his entire future had been burned before his eyes. Left in cinders with so little hope of new life that it seemed impossible to try. To further sell the rouse he was okay, Stag forced a smile.
Post by ▲ Fabrication on Aug 9, 2019 5:13:59 GMT -5
Hell raising, hair raising I'm ready for the worst
His heart pulsed like the pounding heart of a rabbit, with the smell of death in its nose and a hunter hard on its paws. He had taken a huge risk in calling out to this strange feline, in assuming that it might be him. Birchspots felt nausea churn in his stomach, the fear and anxiety that had haunted him since kithood heightening to a crescendo of internal panic. But his paws were rooted to the spot, and he did not budge. He did not run, her did not wobble to his knees. He held his ground, like Tawnybelly always told him a warrior should. He tried to recall that drive he had developed as an apprentice, that desperation to prove that he was more than just a trembling coward. That he was a tom, like his mentor wanted him to be. But ever since a part of him had left LightningClan behind, that anxiety had just plummetted into despair, spiralling out of control. What kept his paws rooted in place was not bravery, but complete and utter terror. He truly was a coward.
A tom stepped from between the trees, his dark brown fur making him seem like a shadow among the dark pine needles and towering trunks. Birchspots froze, a paw raised in midair, his eyes wide with uncertainty.
This cat definitely wasn't Pebblefang. Pebblefang was small, and soft, with rounded features and gentle eyes. Pebblefang had a pelt black as a starless sky, with a long white-tipped tail and tiny, dainty white paws. He was slightly smaller than Birchspots himself, who wasn't exactly on the larger side. This cat, however, looked built for strength. He stood on sturdy, wide paws, and his face was sharp, with a long muzzle that tapered out into what appeared to be a friendly smile. The other tom faced him with a relaxed posture, and though he didn't seem threatening, Birchspots found the larger tom somewhat imposing. He swallowed, meeting the other cat's green gaze. There was something searching in the intensity of that brief stare. Birchspots wasn't sure what that meant.
"I'm Stag in Morning Light," The tom said, and Birchspots was surprised by his accent and name. He froze, speechless.A tribe cat. He realised, a blend of fear and relief crawling across his face. Tribe cats were peaceful, or so he had heard. Though Birchspots was glad it wasn't some rogue skulking through the surrounding forests... he couldn't help but feel a deep pang of sorrow. Idiot. You seriously thought Pebblefang was going to just stride out of the woods to come crawling back to you? He forced the sadness from his face, and saw something in Stag's eyes that mirrored his own internal struggle. Birchspots took a step away, ears flattened cautiously. "B-Birchspots." He meowed, yellow eyes skimming the other tom's broad shoulders and firm build. If it came to a fight, this cat could surely shred him, tribe cat or not. "Listen, I didn't mean to tresspass. I was just... I..." He shook his head helplessly.
He noticed the trampled pine needles behind Stag, the pungent scent of their crushed stalks startling him. This cat had been here for awhile. "Are you... patrolling?" He asked dumbly. He hadn't the faintest idea if Tribe cats even had patrols, or anything akin to warriors. He knew nothing about these strange cats at all. A distant flash of movement in the patch of blue sky caught his eye, drawing his attention for a moment. When he looked up and saw nothing, he returned his eyes to... Stag in Morning Light? StarClan, Tribe names were a mouthful. But when Birchspots returned his eyes to Stag, he saw a look of sadness briefly flash across the tom's face. Half-thinking he imagined it, Birchspots felt himself soften with concern for this stranger. He took a quiet step forward, some of his fear draining from his eyes. "Are... you okay?" He meowed quietly, his right ear flicking. The tip of his right ear had been torn off and awkwardly healed, creating a sort of uneven look next to his other ear, which stood straight and tall in comparison.
Careful as if studying the flight pattern of an eagle, Stag watched the strange cat before him. he appeared skittish, a wounded bird. Itching to fly away but unable to move their wings. Pity stirred in Stag's belly. Not only was the strange cat likely lost in the forest, he seemed equally as pained. Conflicted about something. It spiked Stag's natural curosity.
It changed the moment he heard the cat's stuttered name.
Another Clan-cat, another doorway into trouble. He knew he should turn tail and walk away. Leave behind the battle-born cat to find his way home. All curiosity about the Clan had been stolen by Cinderfur. He knew their ways. Had the scar to prove it and judging by the torn ear of Birchspots, the tom-cat had a similar experience. Despite the general dislike for clan cats, Stag couldn't help but wonder why the tom had ventured so far toward the mountain. Had he tired of the tribe life? Perhaps they had more in common.
"You didn't trespass and we aren't really big on patrolling. I was uh..walking" Stag told him, a bit awkward with his reply. He wanted to comfort the tom that seemed distressed. The tribe didn't bother with maintaining territory, the idea remained foreign to Stag. It suited the tribe to have a wide expanse of land they could navigate. No point laying down scent markers. Unlike the Clans they didn't need to fight over land, they simply hunting in a different area. Their skills suited for a prey-type opposed to a land-type. Stag opened his mouth to further calm the tom-cat but it shut abruptly. Birchspots' question the shared look was as if Birchspots stared deep into his heart.
Blinking back his surprise, Stag forced his throat to clear. "I could ask you the same thing, you are pretty far away from home," His words were polite, remarking on the distance that Birchspots must have traveled. "If you need help Skyteller is our healer and I can take you to him," Stag added, avoiding answer the question.
Post by ▲ Fabrication on Aug 28, 2019 14:31:02 GMT -5
Hell raising, hair raising I'm ready for the worst
The silver tom noticed Stag's eyes draw over his torn ear, and he turned his head self-consciously as if to conceal it. It was another mark of his own cowardice, an injury he hadn't earned in the heat of battle but one that had been ungraciously given to him by a rogue cat when he was just an apprentice. The rogue had seemed ill, his mind addled, and his heart bent on bloodshed. Young Birchpaw hadn't been able to properly defend himself, and was very fortunate that a patrol arrived to ward off the strange cat before further harm could be done. It was this experience that made Birchspots so cautious of cats outside the Clans, so quick to assume that they were all bloodthirsty monsters. But he saw none of that in Stag. In fact, Stag seemed as lost and nervous as he was, though what he had to worry about from him Birchspots had no idea. The warrior knew he was about as intimidating as a sparrow.
"You didn't trespass and we aren't really big on patrolling. I was uh..walking." Stag told him, like a scolded apprentice who had been caught doing something wrong. Surprise trickled into Birchspots's eyes. If Tribe cats didn't patrol, how did they make sure their territory was safe? He shook his head. It wasn't his business to question the operations of the Tribe, he wasn't even supposed to be here, this far from home. "I'm sorry that I interrupted your walk." He meowed, a genuine apology in his voice. "I guess I had to do some walking of my own." He shuffled his paws. Now he felt like the scolded apprentice.
He raised his eyes to Stag once again, flicking an ear as the tom seemed to debate replying to what he had said. The Tribe cat's mouth opened briefly, then clamped shut, and Birchspots felt his confusion and worry mounting. Why was he so afraid to answer? Was it because they were strangers? But then, why not just answer dishonestly? This cat was a complete mystery, and for once Birchspots felt as though he didn't want to leave. He wanted to stay, and talk. The prospect of talking to a cat who didn't know him was tempting. He was tired of being viewed by the events of his past, and a cat who knew nothing of his past could only see him as the cat he is, not the cat he was.
"I could ask you the same thing, you are pretty far away from home," Stag said, his voice level. Birchspots frowned. He didn't miss that the other tom had avoided a rather simple question, and his paws itched to know why. He felt like cursing his own kind curiousity, of wanting to help. And somehow, he got the sense that this cat had that same kind curiousity towards him, that he wanted to help, too. It was a strange feeling, like looking into a stream and seeing a warped reflection of himself. He glanced behind him again, in the direction he knew the sweeping moorlands lay. He couldn't see them. "I don't know if I can say for sure if that's my home, Stag... in Morning Light. So I suppose you could say I'm not too far from anywhere." He smiled weakly, a frail attempt at a joke.
His smile faded at those next words. "No, I don't need help. Th-thanks. I..." His eyes drifted back up through that gap in the trees, the distant shape had returned. He saw now that it was a bird, a black silhouette of thick wings against a blue sky. Birchspots froze. A sickening feeling churned in his gut, and the second he saw that bird fold its wings, he knew. It's hunting us. With a sudden surge of energy, he cannoned into Stag. Moving the larger tom was like trying to move solid stone, but Birchspots hoped at least that surprise would at least make the larger tom stagger sideways. He lost his footing and he tumbled clumsily under the shelter of a pine tree, just as a rush of swooping feathers swept past Birchspots's ears. His heart was pounding, much faster than when he'd first noticed Stag. He drew in a shuddering breath, digging his claws into the needle-strewn earth and easing himself shakily to his paws.
Caught staring at Birchspots' torn ear, Stag's own amber gaze shifted downward. A forepaw scraping against the ground, embrassed. If only his adopted brother saw him. He'd get a few stern looks and be told to applogize for making someone self-consicius about something they had no control over. Not that it meant harm by his stare. Just his usual curiosity. A wound like that had a story, even if it was likely covered in anger and blood.
Birchspots' apologize seemed genuine, Stag still tempted to offer his own. Guilt gnawing at his belly knowing he made the fellow tom-cat uncomfortable. "It's nice to get out and walk, espeically before the time of frozen water," His comment came from a place confliction. Being alone never truly suited Stag. He did better with someone around to talk to, someone to pay attention to him. Birchspots had stopped long enough to give him the time of day, even if it ended poorly and they never spoke again. Stag felt compelled to keep the conversation going. Anything to cling to the small hope he meant something to someone. Ignoring the fact that Birchspots remained an almost perfect stranger.
Birchspots' sincere reply about being far from somewhere opposed to being far from home struck him in such a way Stag wanted the connection to deepen. The previous heartache be damned. The kinship found in Birchspots eased his loss and longing. Sorrow from Cinderfur's words still clawed at his heart. The scars still itched. However, realizing he wasn't alone Stag almost willed the hurt to dull.
Part of him wanted to chalk it up to finding an excuse to make a connection. Birchspots' dismissable about needing help had Stag preparing to say goodbye but he noticed Birchspots' attention go upward. Curious what he was looking at. It seemed fate had determined curiosity to be Stag's downfall, from the moment he took his first breath.
The brown tom had little time to prepare for Birchspots to barrel right into him. For a split, second Stag flashed back to Gracklestrike attacking him. The sharp digs of her claws into him. A burning sensation as she raked down his flesh. Stumbling sideways, ready to defend himself. Stag managed to gain his bearings. Realizing something avian was trying to attack them, Stag reorientated himself.
Following after Birchspots, pine needled kicked up as he sprinted. Safe in the shelter, Stag pressed against Birchspots in an attempt to calm the shaking tom. "I'm a cave-guard, I'll keep you safe. If we stay here long enough it will go away. The eagle won't waste its energy waiting for us," His tone changed, moons of training apparently in his stern voice. "Are you okay? I doubt you get many eagles in the valley," He commented on his poor excuse for a joke.
Post by ▲ Fabrication on Sept 13, 2019 16:06:40 GMT -5
Hell raising, hair raising I'm ready for the worst
“It’s nice to get out and walk, especially before the time of frozen water,” Stag murmured, though there was doubt in his eyes. Birchspots gave the tom a blank stare, before realisation dawned across his face. “Is that what the Tribe call, “Leaf-bare"?” He asked, trying to keep his tone polite, but unable to restrain an amused purr. “You Tribe cats seem to like turning every phrase into a song, even your names.” He laughed, but not unkindly. Their ways were long-winded and seemed to burst with the soul of the distant mountains, but Birchspots could respect their right to live and speak as they did. He even appreciated it, somewhat. He wondered what these cats must think of the Clans and their consistent bloodshed. The deaths that had occurred on the borders, fighting over trees. He shook his head. No, they were fighting for survival. There was limited resources in the valley, and not every Clan shared the same interests. It made sense of them to be opposed. Right?
What could have simply been a pleasant conversation quickly shattered into a moment of heart-pounding action. Birchspots only had time to register the look of shock and tension that flashed across his face before he knocked into him and found himself beneath the sheltering arms of a pine tree. The silver tom flattened himself to the ground, realising that he was alone against the thick trunk. Had he abandoned Stag to his death? Before he could calm himself to think clearly enough to construct a proper plan in his head, the brown tom sprinted under the branches only a moment later, looking a lot more level-headed than Birchspots felt. The so-called warrior was struggling to regain his composure, even the brief glimpse of that giant bird would be an image forever seared in his mind. Two voices rose in his thoughts, one belittling him for his weakness, the other whispering apologies. Both voices weren’t his, and both were simply memories, not the murmurings of StarClan cats. If either of them even made it to such a place.
The present came rushing back towards his awareness as the feeling of a pelt pressing against cleared those voices from his thoughts. He did not flinch away, did not make any attempt to move. The gesture was comforting, and Birchspots felt as though he really needed it. He looked at Stag, glad at least that the other tom hadn’t been harmed by the bird. He would never have forgiven himself if he had, stranger or not. “I’m a cave-guard, I’ll keep you safe.” The promise was only somewhat comforting. Birchspots didn’t know if he believed in promises anymore. He turned his eyes downward, to his shaking paws. “If we stay here long enough it will go away. The eagle won't waste its energy waiting for us,” Stag said it with such certainty and seriousness that the spotted tabby couldn’t find it in him to disagree. Stag clearly knew what he was talking about. They must see these birds often in the mountains. He thought. "Are you okay? I doubt you get many eagles in the valley," Miraculously, this drew a short laugh from the startled tom. “You think?” His voice was shaky, but his breathing was slowing. “Great St-StarClan, I’m sorry. My cowardice nearly got you k-killed.” The words were bitter, accompanied with a visible twitch of his whiskers. “A real warrior should s-stand his ground.” He narrowed his eyes in shame, unsheathing his claws to dig into the pine needles. “I should go.” He hesitated. “When th-the b-bird leaves, I’ll go home. If I hadn’t distracted you, you probably would’ve s-seen it. And then I ran, and I didn’t make sure you were with me.” He felt a crushing guilt squeeze the breath from his lungs. What if the other tom had been carried off by that thing? What would he have done? Birchspots had no idea where the Tribe’s home lay in the mountains. Stag’s family might not have found out until the gathering that season. It was a horrible thought, and he couldn’t quiet it or the other barrage of self-critical thoughts that swarmed through his awareness. He plopped his chin on his paws. He half hoped that he would wake again in LightningClan’s nursery and all the past few seasons turned out to simply be the paranoid imagination of his younger self, worrying about the future. Back before Harestrike had made any attempt to tell him the truth about his parentage, against Briartail’s wishes. His tail curled in tight agitated swishes, left from right, left from right.