Post by Fawntastic on Aug 25, 2016 18:56:10 GMT -5
“I did not know what my mother was capable of.
Not until she revealed the depths of her hatred and her jealousy during what should have been one of the happiest days of my life.”
Nightkit no longer wondered why their often silent, silver-furred half-brother neglected to show any emotion whatsoever, even on the night they were to be apprenticed. Perhaps that was just his way? Baffling at first, the black-and-white kitten saw no other choice but to accept it.
She could scarcely contain her own excitement, though not as expressive as Pantherkit, it was clear in the glitter of her pale, pale blue-silver eyes that Nightkit recognized an important milestone when it was staring her in the face.
At last, they could leave the sanctity of the camp! The camp meant safety, it meant a warm nest and warm food brought to you. But the territory meant novelty, catching your own prey and sleeping beside your fellow warriors.
Such a day was a while off yet, but Nightkit looked brightly into the future, ready to advance to the next stage of her life.
”I’m ready, mama,” she mewed to Fogwisp, her voice a little quiet for fear of interrupting her mother. The white-furred queen was often lost in thought; more and more these days, Fogwisp went to places Nightkit wasn’t so sure she would come back from… Oh, StarClan, how her lip would curl whenever Silverfur so much as breathed the same air as her. The other queen seemed to trigger such negative reactions from Fogwisp, for as long as Nightkit could remember.
Black and white pelt freshly groomed, the kitten shuffled on eager paws, kneading the cavern floor.
”Your whiskers are still dirty, Nightkit!” Her brother teased, swatting playfully at her muzzle as though to incite another game.
He was just as nervously excited as she was—and was looking for any excuse to move around.
”No they’re not, mama he’s lying!” Nightkit ducked away from his paws, squealing with excitement as he gave chase.
The fresh moss Gracklefire and Boneshadow had brought them this morning made for poor traction, however, and Nightkit tumbled as a clump of moss slipped out from underneath her. Up became down and down became up as she all but careened into a silver-furred kitten her own age.
Silverfur hissed like a serpent, her tail wrapping protectively around their half-brother.
Nightkit, dizzy and alarmed (Silverfur rarely snapped at her like that), hastily righted herself and scooted back towards her mother, tail fuzzy as a wheat-stalk in the wind.
That brief, sing-worded warning jolted Fogwisp from her dark reverie, and Nightkit watched with growing dismay as her mother stepped forward to hiss right back, blue eyes narrowed into sharp slivers of ice. Why has things become so tense between them lately? Was it something to do with Sleetfang?
”It was just an accident!” Mewed Pantherkit, coming to her defense. Nightkit froze, uncertainty filling up her heart like water down a rabbit hole.
”Ravenstar is ready,” mewed a deep voice from the doorway, and Nightkit felt her paws go numb with relief, hurrying over to nuzzle Sleetfang’s legs. Ignorant of the complex relationships between her parents and Dimkit’s, she could greet him with an open, unknowing heart. Besides, he had a calming effect on the two she-cats; though calming was not the right word.
He had a chilling effect, like an icy wind in leafbare.
Sleetfang smiled, ignoring the tension and licked each of his kits between the ears. ”Come along, you three. You must be excited to meet your mentors.”
Nightkit glanced back at Fogwisp, two paws already out of the nursery. Her tail-fur was slowly settling back down.
Fogwisp nodded, and she smiled. For a moment, their mother seemed back to normal.
”Go on, I’ll be right with you.”
With permission granted, Nightkit bounded into the center of camp, instinctively slowing as NightClan’s leader—a large black-and-white she-cat with golden eyes that seemed to size up every cat they landed on—climbed onto the boulder marking the entrance.
”Let all cats able to stand on their own four paws gather beneath the boulder ledge for a Clan meeting!”
Their matriarch’s yowl rent the air, and the Clan quickly assembled. Pantherkit and Nightkit threw excited glances at each other, wriggling past warriors and older apprentices so that they could sit near the front. This proved to be a somewhat poor decision, as the closer they were, the less Nightkit could see Ravenstar.
She had always liked their leader; Ravenstar’s coloring was similar to hers (come to think of it, so was her size), and to a kit who was just starting to dream about her future in the Clan, it filled her with a building warmth at the notion that maybe I’ll be up there some day, helping some kits become apprentices too.
Rather than sit beside her like she had hoped he would, Sleetfang sat with a few other warriors, but he smiled when he saw her looking at him. I wish he’d sit with mother… Fogwisp was most like herself when Sleetfang was talking to her and her alone.
Dimkit went first, and Nightkit watched with inquisitive eyes as Ratscar stepped up and touched noses with the newly named Dimpaw. I’m glad he’s not my mentor, Nightkit couldn’t look away from the warrior tom’s face, both mortified and fascinated by the remnants of battles past. He’s scary!
”Nightkit, from this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Nightpaw. Your mentor will be Waspflight. I trust Waspflight to teach you NightClan’s ways and raise you to be a proper warrior.”
Waspflight. Nightpaw turned, whiskers twitching with inquiry as a black-and-gold tabby she-cat she had never seen before stepped through the crowd. Relieved to see that her mentor had no notable disfigurements, she touched noses, her eyes shining. Waspflight purred, the sound softening as Pantherkit eagerly got his new name and mentor (Deadtail) just seconds after his other siblings.
Nightpaw turned around, shyly smiling at the crowd as they began to chant their new names.
”Dimpaw! Nightpaw! Pantherpaw! Dimpaw, Nightp—”
Fogwisp descended upon Silverfur in a heartbeat, twisting savagely over the queen’s shoulder to sink her fangs into Silverfur’s throat. Dimpaw’s mother didn’t even cry out, merely went very very still a few seconds later as their mother, blood staining the normally pristine fur on her muzzle, stepped back with a look of utter triumph.
Nightpaw gasped, dropped into cold waters of horror as the Clan was stunned into a terrible, heavy silence.
And then every cat sprang into action. The Clan deputy and a jet black warrior with a large scar on his chest flung themselves at Fogwisp, pinning her down hard enough to make her hiss. Sleetfang stood protectively in front of Dimpaw—but it wasn’t necessary.
Nightpaw shook, feeling herself tremble but unable to concentrate on what was happening to her body, her thoughts emptying themselves, her ears feeling as if they were stuffed full of cotton as Ravenstar snarled from the boulder ledge.
Exile. Murder. Never come back.
”Mother—” The word died on her tongue, Nightpaw unable to wrench her eyes away from the sight of two warriors escorting Fogwisp out of camp.
The apprentice glanced to the still, silver-furred body in the center of the cavern. The trembling increased, and then it stopped, her heart freezing in her chest as she briefly locked eyes with Dimpaw. But there was… emptiness, in his gaze.
Unable to comprehend so much in such a short span of time, Nightpaw felt herself being whisked away to Smokefur’s den, where the silver tabby would give her something for the shock. Pantherpaw stood beside her, anxious and looking just as appalled as she.
The rest of the night became a blur. What felt like days later but was really only hours, Nightpaw found herself staring out of the apprentices’ cavern, gaping through the moss into the gloom at the lone gray figure keeping vigil over his mother’s body until the new night came. This isn’t right. This was supposed to be a good day. Her heart tightened in her chest, picturing Fogwisp’s teeth sinking into Silverfur’s delicate throat.
Not a sound… She hadn’t made a sound…
She flashed back to the brief squabble in the nursery. What if this is my fault?
Nightpaw squeezed her eyes shut and buried her head against her brother’s soft flank, staying like that until the exhaustion eventually won the battle against guilt, misery and the remnants of a happy memory gone terribly, irrevocably wrong.
Word Count: 1467 Words