Breaking the Ice

Forums RiverClam RiverClan Territory Fishing Stones Breaking the Ice

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  • #5164
    Jetstream
    Participant

    – W I S T E R I A S T A R –

    The day had yet to really begin. The light of the new dawn was just starting to peak out from above the trees that towered above RiverClan camp when the calico feline that slept alone atop of the waterfall woke up. But she didn’t have the luxury of sleeping in anymore and it had been that way for a few moons now. Wisteriastar’s jaws parted in a yawn and her lean body dipped in a stretch before she left her warm nest and hopped down from the waterfall rock. While leaf-bare’s grip on the forest would soon fade, it had yet to completely let go and that was prominent by the chill in the air as it nipped at her pelt. The RiverClan leader gave herself a quick shake, trying to warm herself up and wake up in the same motion. Today, she decided, would be the first day of training with her new apprentice, Sloepaw, whose mentor had passed from the complications of his wounds in the battle with ThunderClan and RiverClan. It was yet another reminder to her that the illness that clung to their medicine cat was a grave situation for them to be in. How could they recover from the battle if they couldn’t even fully treat their wounds? 

    That’s enough of that, she told herself, heading over to the apprentice’s den and giving a holler of, “Sloepaw! Wake up! It’s time for your first session!” And yes, Wisteriastar was well aware that it would awaken the other apprentices in the den as well as perhaps even some of the warriors in the opposite dens, but she didn’t care. The sun would be coming up fully soon anyway, it was time for her Clan to be active for the day. The calico warrior turned and headed back out to the clearing, where she stood patiently– well, impatiently, waiting for her newly appointed apprentice to meet her. 

    #5166
    Rookfall
    Participant

    Sloepaw


    You could have been there. Reeking, scarlet blood flowering across a campsite trampled by dozens of paws. Shrieking kits, caterwauling warriors. The stiffness of silence over RiverClan as they dragged in a limp, alabaster frame. Glazed eyes, still open with determination to make it back to camp, yet unable to keep setting footsteps on the grass. His name had been chanted that night to the stars, and the elders had buried a kit, a friend, a brother…a mentor.

     

    Nightmares came for the young apprentice the last few nights. She had not been allowed to go to the peace talks, and she had not been allowed to follow the reinforcements to ThunderClan camp. Vinepaw went, as well as a few of the older apprentices, but she stayed. She was too young, Whitewhisker told her. She couldn’t fight. Maybe if she had pressed him more for combat training, maybe if she had been a little rougher on herself, she could have gone. She could have protected him. The darkness that settled over the camp weighed on her like a wet blanket. Her amber eyes stared unblinking into the lightless den, her paper-thin ears listening to the deep breathing and occasional snoring of her denmates. As the youngest, she was left to seek warmth from the outside, but she didn’t mind. Tonight felt too stuffy and too warm. She couldn’t sleep. 

     

    Her ears pricked alertly as she heard pawsteps trail closer. She could have heard the voice even if it had been a whisper. Wisteriastar, the leader…her new mentor. Sloepaw listened to the rhythmic gait retreat, then she rolled to a sitting position. She felt sluggish and slow. Whether it was from lack of sleep or a lack of motivation, she could not tell. Her heart ached for Whitewhisker. He should have been here to tell her to get up, but she would not delay Wisteriastar any longer with her glib thoughts. Becoming the leader’s apprentice was an honor. She smoothed down her bedfur with a few swift licks, then carefully picked her way across the other sleeping bodies to wriggle out of the den.

     

    A crisp, cool morning breeze flattened across her whiskers. Fresh morning dew filled her nose and dampened her paw pads as she bounded over to the calico sovereign. She had to crane her neck to meet the taller molly’s eyes. Her voice had been sharp, but her expression allowed no room for objection. She was summoned, not requested. Sloepaw set back her shoulders and lifted her chin as she settled beside her. “Good morning,” the ebony apprentice offered, her voice small. She felt like a kit next to her. Would that change, or was it normal when standing next to a leader? “What are we doing today?” She tried to make her voice larger and more powerful. She hoped it succeeded. 

    • This reply was modified 3 months, 2 weeks ago by Rookfall.

    “Destiny isn't a path any cat follows blindly. It is always a matter of choice, and sometimes the heart speaks loudest. Listen to your heart, because that's where your true destiny lies.”
    - Leafpool

    #5169
    Jetstream
    Participant

    – W I S T E R I A S T A R –

    The exhaustion on Sloepaw’s face was so evident and transparent that even a badger could see it from a mile away, it was clear as day to her that her new apprentice was still grieving over the loss from her former mentor, and she couldn’t blame her in the slightest. Even if they weren’t together for long, a mentor and apprentice’s relationship was sacred and she knew that Sloepaw was upset with herself for not being able to be there for him when he died. But Wisteriastar was known well among her clan for being strict and she wasn’t about to lessen that expectation today, even if she felt that the young feline in front of her deserved a rest. She wouldn’t keep them out late today, she decided. As Sloepaw came to meet her, she found that her attempt to come off confident despite her initial intimidation was actually quite cute, but that didn’t show on the RiverClan leader’s face. 

    “Today, I’m going to teach you how to ice fish. New-leaf may be right around the corner, but I think that while it’s still frostbitten outside and the river is frozen, it’s a good opportunity to teach you a valuable skill you’ll be needing in the future.” She told the apprentice, her amber eyes calm and perhaps somewhat calculating. She was aware of the vocal expressions from her senior warriors that Sloepaw would perhaps prefer to start out with battle training, especially with the weight of the ThunderClan battle on their shoulders, but she wasn’t going to start off quite that strong. Not with the young feline not fully rested. The result would just be catastrophic and she wouldn’t be having any of it. She fully expected her apprentice to be in her best shape if she was going to teach her the more complex parts of warrior training. Wisteriastar turned once more, heading for the camp entrance and not truly giving her new apprentice much of a pull other than an, “Come,” thrown over her shoulder. 

    The two of them had traveled in a relative silence to the fishing stones, at least, Wisteriastar didn’t make much of an effort to chat along the way with her new apprentice. She personally wasn’t a fan of casual chatter– she figured that anything she needed to know about Sloepaw, she would learn it during their training sessions. And she had always been that way, at least while she was out of camp with her apprentices. Upon reaching the stones, the calico warrior stopped and turned to face the black feline. “Now, as you can see, the river is covered in this blanket of ice and snow, correct?” She questioned, motioning with her tail to the river behind them, still, cold and quiet. “What do you suppose the first step of fishing during leaf-bare is?”

    #5170
    Rookfall
    Participant

    Sloepaw


    What could they possibly be doing so early, she wondered. What did her mentor have planned? Sloepaw tried to study Wisteriastar’s gaze, yet whatever emotion the calico molly felt she did not give away easily. Sloepaw wondered if she was such an open book in comparison. Like a kit’s, her face molded involuntarily to whatever emotion filled her breast. She tried to force the grief away, and willed the confidence to come. Still, she was unable to keep the facade for long, and her eyes eventually fell away from Wisteriastar’s. They would be fishing? She knew how to fish…sort of. Burntpaw had taught her a few tricks, but she could hardly say she received any official fishing training. Her claws flexed against the ground below her in anticipation. For once, the murkiness she was so used to feeling now was replaced with excitement. She was looking forward to whatever lesson Wisteriastar had to teach. 

     

    She noticed the leader did not speak much. It wasn’t surprising. Her stony visage held much. It made her appear strong. Sloepaw wanted to be strong like that. The brisk pace Wisteriastar set allowed the apprentice’s bones to warm from a night of laying in the cold. Her blood pumped within her and her mind became sharper. She did as Whitewhisker taught her: she watched the forest. Anything could be prowling in the shadows of the marsh, ready to attack. Predators did not follow the laws of cats; they went where they pleased. Despite her effort to keep an eye out around them, her attention was slowly pulled back to the calico. She studied the way she trotted along, her head high and her movements graceful. Splashes of fire, earth, and shadow rippled across a sea of ivory that crested and fell over thick cords of muscle. She had been trained well. She would do well to follow her example. 

     

    Sloepaw straightened her back and she copied the she-cat’s movements. She found it was a little difficult at first, but once she fell into the groove, she traversed with the power of a sharp tooth. The silhouetted she-cat slowed as Wisteriastar did, coming up beside her to meet her gaze as she spoke. Sloepaw’s ears flicked as she spanned her gaze over the dense layer of snow and ice. The river water was trapped beneath, and as the sun rose, she noticed some of the ice was glossier as it met the shoreline. The middle remained thick and matte, unyielding. After a moment of consideration, she mewed, “Should we look for a spot where the ice is thinnest?” It was a question, not a suggestion. Uncertainty stifled the confidence she faked. She didn’t want to be wrong. She wanted to be clever. 

    “Destiny isn't a path any cat follows blindly. It is always a matter of choice, and sometimes the heart speaks loudest. Listen to your heart, because that's where your true destiny lies.”
    - Leafpool

    #5172
    Jetstream
    Participant

    – W I S T E R I A S T A R – 

    At Sloepaw’s answer, the calico warrior gave a brisk one-nod of her head. “Good answer.” She told her, confirming to the young apprentice that her initial instinct was right. It seemed that she had picked a bright young cat as her third apprentice and she was pleased to note this quietly to herself. “Thinner ice is easier to break so that you can hook your paw in to get a good catch.” Wisteriastar told her, heading toward the frozen waters ahead of them. She picked a spot on a large stone, a relative walking distance from where they were a moment ago. It was certainly large enough to fit the two of them on it and it was a good place to show her apprentice what she wanted from here. “However, you don’t want ice that is too thin either. If it’s too thin, it could collapse more than just the temporary surface but also any rocks that have been weathered to rest upon it and then you’ll fall into freezing water, which is a dangerous situation to be in.” Her ember-colored eyes rested on Sloepaw as she spoke, boring into her the severity of the words she uttered, “If you don’t make it out quickly enough, you can freeze and drown. Young and inexperienced cats should never be out on the ice alone.” 

    “In the meantime, this is how you break the ice.” The RiverClan leader leaned only a portion of her upper body over the rock in which they rested, one of her wide forepaws hovering over the surface of the ice and the other one remaining firmly on the rock, as well as the rest of her lower body. “Keep most of your weight on the surface which you know is already secure, this ensures your safety.” Then, with the one paw she had lifted, she brought it upwards briefly and then slammed it down hard onto the icy waters below, shattering the surface and sending splinters of ice showering out of the way. After the river had successfully been broken into, Wisteriastar glanced back at Sloepaw and added, “It’s less the strength of your blow that breaks the ice as much as it is the momentum of the hit,” she told her, “don’t stress over whether or not you’re strong enough to break the ice. It’ll break, just belief in yourself.”

    #5911
    Rookfall
    Participant

    ~ Sloepaw ~


    She barely felt the bite in the wind or noticed the time pass as she listened to Wisteriastar’s instructions. Her amber eyes were round with awe as she stood back to watch the calico molly follow through with an illustration of what she was explaining to her. She braced herself. Wisteriastar’s face was dark with concentration and her lean frame was taut before she sprung forward like an adder at a piece of prey. Her paw struck the ice. While the jab seemed light, Sloepaw heard the hard crack of the blue ice shattering. Surprise lit her little face and she curiously padded forward to look at her handiwork. Just as Wisteriastar promised, the ice was broken to reveal dark, incredibly cold water. “Oh!” She breathed. The dark she-cat looked up to Wisteriastar excitedly. For a few moments, she broke her character to tap her paws in a dance on the ground. “I want to try!” She purred, then hopped down the bank to another spot with clear, thick ice. “This spot! Watch me!”

    The apprentice crouched beside the water and kinked her tail. She wiggled her haunches and flexed her claws against the ground, then shot forward just as she thought Wisteriastar had. She lightly jabbed her paw against the ice and expected it to fracture just as it had before. Yet, it remained whole. “What the heck?” She murmured under her breath, her eyes narrowing as she crept up to the line again. She peered at the ice and scoured it for…something. Imperfections, hairline cracks, anything that would give her leverage against the thick ice. When she found one – a line just a claw width long – she brightened. “I got it this time,” she promised, then took in a deep breath. Enough messing around, Sloepaw told herself. It’s like hunting. Breathe in, then…out.

    As she released the pent-up breath through her nose, she gave a fast jab down at the fracture she saw in the ice. This time, it worked. CRRRACK! Within seconds, the ice had fractured and a piece the size of her head slid down beneath the water’s surface. It disappeared – caught beneath another piece of ice somewhere. It left her with a fishing hole just like the one her mentor made. Sloepaw did not gloat, but she did face Wisteriastar and puffed out her chest with pride. Practically shining with triumph, she purred, “what’s next?”

    “Destiny isn't a path any cat follows blindly. It is always a matter of choice, and sometimes the heart speaks loudest. Listen to your heart, because that's where your true destiny lies.”
    - Leafpool

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Forums RiverClam RiverClan Territory Fishing Stones Breaking the Ice