Leaf-fall Day Fourteen: The sky is still bleak and gray, heavy clouds hang low all day and a cold breeze blows in through the night. Distant sounds of thunder grow closer throughout the day.
"I see things no one else sees."
It was a day of heavy clouds and thunder and cool winds. Sheltered within the tree, Adderpool was curled in her nest, surrounded by mounds of moss and content. A hunt earlier had helped fill her belly and she'd brought something back just in case the storm broke during the night. And now she was relaxing, enjoying a small nap, hardly expecting any sort of intrusion.
The first hint of it was the sound of paws against the rough bark of the old tree, and then the rattle of bone against bone and the somewhat higher clack of teeth jostled. It couldn't be Hemlock, she knew, because he was as gentle among the piles of bones, teeth, and claws of various creatures as if they were newborn kits. Besides, the scent was different. Opening her eyes, Adderpool lifted her head and squinted through the darkness, spotting the black-and-white pelt of the cat standing there and recognizing it, and the scent, a moment later.
"Tumble." Her voice was just loud enough to attempt to alert him to her presence, as she rose to her paws. "What are you doing here? You're far from your own den." She padded closer, reaching out to gently nudge what she thought was a rabbit's bone to the side, and then lifted her gaze back to his.
It had been another lazy day. Ashpaw and Flash, the two much better hunters than Tumble, had already caught the day's worth of prey. Tumble, being the generous tom he was, even let them take first pick of their meals. After chatting with the two toms and eating, the three cats had settled down to take a nap. It was peaceful.
However, there was one thing keeping Tumble from sleeping. Or, rather, one she-cat.
Ever since he had met the slightly-odd yet incredibly compelling Adderpool, Tumble had not been able to take his mind off of her. She appeared to him in odd ways: he would catch a whiff of her while walking about, would see some multicolored earth that reminded him of her fur, and would even think of her whenever he came across a snake or pool of water. Her existence pervaded throughout the mountains in an almost transcendent manner. Even the wind seemed to whisper her name into the chubby tom's ears, sending shivers down his spine. He needed to see her again.
On this day, particularly, Adderpool could not escape Tumble's mind. He wanted to see her. No. He needed to see her.
Lifting himself ever-so-gently from the sides of his napping brother and friend, Tumble began to walk in the direction of the areas where he had most often picked up the elusive she-cat's scent.
And then he caught it.
Tumble's entire body perked up, especially knowing that this scent was a fresh one. The excited tom chased after the scent, smiling wider and wider as the smell became stronger and stronger until --
Tumble stopped by an old and rather strange-looking tree. It looked as if it shouldn't even have been alive anymore, black and twisted. It was pretty scary, but Tumble shook it off. Adderpool had mentioned she lived in a tree, and she was rather quirky. It only made sense that she lived in a special and distinguished tree.
With a bounce in his step, Tumble made his way into the tree, only to feel his paws come in contact with something strange. Bones! In shock, the tom jumped ever so slightly and caused the bones to clatter about. Oh no, he thought. What if these bones are Adderpool??
His fear was quickly dismantled by the sound of her voice.
Tumble felt his nerves about Adderpool being dead ease, but now new nerves rose and took their place. "Ah, Adderpool! I was just, you know, taking a stroll around when I happened upon this tree. Not looking for you. Definitely just walking around."
An awkward moment passed, and the tom added, "I thought these bones were you for a moment. Even though you're definitely alive!"