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I was once where you are now.

Forums ShadowClan ShadowClan Territory The Stream I was once where you are now.


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    “Your big important mother isn’t here to save you now.” Snarled a tortoiseshell tom, the amber flecks in his green eyes gleaming like live embers. He was a rather menacing looking young tom, even on a good day. But riled up as he was now, he was downright terrifying to any who crossed his path.


    “C’’mon Redgrove.” Mumbled a smaller gray-and-white tom. His accomplice, who scuffled his paws regretfully. “We’ve already roughed him up- what else is there to really do?”


    “I want him to bleed, Flutterpaw.” Snapped Redgrove, whirling on him. He turned back to Koipetal, licking his lip as though to recover his train of thought. But just what that was never came to him, for a tall figure pushed its way through the bramble walls lining the tunnel to the dirtplace. It did not come from ahead or behind, but through the wall itself, something that clearly took the bullies by surprise. This gave the interloper a chance to establish himself.


    “Enough blood was spilled at the battle.” Rumbled Oxhead, his face was obscured by shadow by his amber eyes cut through the darkness like a pair of burning coals. “If you leave now, I’ll forget about this and have just a private word with your fathers. Your decision.”

    Redgrove swore angrily, but seemed to heed the warning in the older Warriors voice and loped off. Flutterpaw was not far behind, with a nervous glance back at the pair of them. Oxhead waited until they were far out of sight before he spoke.


    “You shouldn’t take what they say to heart. Redgrove lost his sister in the battle. And there are many cats who are angry that the fighting was only called off when Wisteriastar lost a child.” His voice was gruff but neutral. “They speak from pain. It takes a big cat to carry such hurt, but an even bigger one to carry it and keep from unloading it onto another.”

    He sighed heavily, and looked over the recent newcomer with tired eyes. Much to his relief, only hsi fur was out of place.


    “Loyalty in Shadowclan is hard-won. But you won’t find anything that is worth having in life is easy.” He chuckled. “My apologies, I’m just an old tom who rambles. Why don’t you join me for a hunt? Redgrove will get distracted in time, but until then we’d best not leave you on your own.”


    Orange and white painted fur pressed against the bramble walls surrounding the felines, feeling the anxiety rush through his paws, fur bristling as they cornered him, “Come on dude lay off already.” His voice was quite hushed, not wanting to draw anymore attention to them. Bleed? What is wrong with this guy His eyes widening at Redgroves word. 


    He was grateful for the large black and white tom, Shadowclan wasn’t all bad, though he still averted his eyes as he spoke with the Shadowclan warrior, “It’s not like he was the only one who lost someone. That tom was my brother. It was a pointless way to shed blood, so I guess I do feel for him.” Truthfully Koipetal wasn’t completely over the death of his brother, but he was also silently grateful so long as Pantherstorm wasn’t around Rainysky and his family were that much safer.


    Koipetal nodded slowly at Oxfords word, the large tomcat was rather easy to speak to, though perhaps it could also be he was the first Shadwclanner to actually try and talk to the tom. “I don’t expect Shadowclan to accept me so easily, despite what others think I’ve been working hard to establish myself as a true warrior and not just Wisteriastars perfect son.” Realizing he was rambling on, Koipetal shook his pelt out swiftly, “Yea a hunt sounds great, Thanks.”


    Relief trickled all throughout Oxhead’s old joints as the young tom conceded without issue. Doing his best not to betray these wanton nuisances, he sprang back through the broad hole his body had made and out into the forest. His lungs drew deeper the further from the latrines they got. Out here a cat could really breathe.


    Though it was a sunny mid-afternoon, little daylight penetrated the gloomy ShadowClan pines. Mist curled around the tree trunk like wane fingers that hovered a foot or so off the ground. It rippled and shifted as the two made their way deeper into the heartlands. For the longest time Oxhead was silent, his amber eyes peering into the dark and twisting foliage that made up their home.


    “Yes, I suppose you did lose your brother.” When he spoke his voice was surprisingly soft coming from such a haggard and grumpy looking elder. Amber irises swimming with a potent level of sympathy, and other unsaid feelings which darted just below their honeyed surfaces like minnows.


    “If you meant to leave your grief back in RiverClan, I’m afraid to say you’ve probably found loss does not operate this way.” He went on to muse, tilting his head back to watch a magpie land on her nest in the forked branches of a myrtle tree. Her chicks rose up, pink heads bobbing just out of sight.


    “I must confess like many, I am prone to the same prying curiosities- so do not answer unless you wish to. But what did lead you to us?”


    His nose twitched as the scents of shadowclan invaded his sense,  “Does it always smell so musky?” Koipetal offered a small apologetic smile at the older tom. He didnt mean it as an insult, more of a mere observation of his new surroundings. 


    “It doesnt bother me as much as it bothered that hot head back there. I don’t grieve for the loss of my brother, my family is safer without him. I just grieve for the missed chances I could have tried to help him see a brighter path.” Koipetal simply shrugged as he spoke. 


    “Of course it’s only natural for you to be curious. You did get me out of a sticky situation so I guess i’ll flip the script around for once and tell my senior a story.” 


    “I’m the ‘perfect’ son of Wisteriastar. It was obvious from a young age she favored me over my littermates, which is partly why I feel a sense of responsibility towards what happened, but that’s a story for another time. But as her son things came easy to me honestly, maybe it was good genes for perhaps the extra time she spent with me and making sure my mentor was the best of the best, Heronflght, our old deputy. I guess you could say I was entitled but I never really thought I was, not until I was trying to help a friend. His father was giving him and I a hard time, saying that I was just chasing after his rank, it made me angry. I threw around my heritage, I never did that before. It made me even angier that I did that. I just didn’t want my friend to get the wrong idea. I wasn’t chasing him because of his rank. I was chasing him because…well because I love him..” 


    “I confessed to him recently, he turned me down. He doesn’t like toms. His rejection isnt why I left but I’d be lying if it didn’t solidify my decision to leave. I want to be a better warrior, earn a name for myself on my own terms and not have to question whether it was my own ability or my heritage.” Koipetal could feel the lump of guilt swelling in him, he hated the way he left Rainysky without a word, but Koipetals heart couldn’t handle saying goodbye, he wasn’t strong enough.


    Oxhead let out a wry mrrow at the younger tom’s disparaging of his new surroundings. Somehow he had a feeling that if Koipetal had not gotten used to the musty smell by now it was a sign this was not truly where he was meant to end up. But it was also possible that he, Oxhead, was just an older codger reading too far into things. That was certainly what Bearheart would tell him if she were there.

    They crossed a matrix of small streams no wider than two paws while he listened to the lengthy story of Koipetal’s life. His amber gaze never once wandered.


    “Heritage is a tricky thing.” He surmised, after a moment’s silence between their words. He settled himself on a tall stone upon which a shaft of sunlight fell. The warmth sunk deeply in his tired muscles, and he let his eyelids drop halfway in contentment. For a time they sat in silence. No sounds but the rustling of the wind through the dried-out foliage.


    “My father was a ThunderClan cat. Whoever your parents are, famous or not, it always comes with expectations. But part of growing up and becoming an adult is making your peace with them. Whether you decide that’s what you want to be, or not. I was earmarked as a troublemaker as soon as my tail gave away who’d sired me. But I carved my own path.” The older tom said softly.


    “It’s not easy. We don’t pick who we’re born to, but we do pick who we are going to be.” At this he cracked a weak but weary smile. “You confessed your love. That’s a brave thing, wiser cats than you have held their tongues. And to great regret.” His tone grew wistful at this.


    “I’m not sure what you came here to find, but I hope you find it. I’m rooting for you.” Winked the old black-and-white tomcat.

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