June 8, 2019 at 7:02 am #791
It was a cold, clear night. A mid new-leaf rain had fallen during the day, leaving the ground damp, and the air cool from the thick, lazy clouds that had drifted overhead. Now the stars shone bright, the moon nearly full in the sky as it slowly made its nightly journey. Butterflypaw looked up at the inky black void overhead, a constant in her tricky life. Most days she felt like she was stepping on eggshells around her clanmates, fighting to prove her worth. It was a rather exhausting life to live, but on this particular night, the young RiverClan apprentice was feeling pretty proud of herself.
Satisfactory, would certainly be a word for it. You see, it wasn’t easy sneaking out of a cave, when most of your clanmates slept out of their dens and hidey holes. It wasn’t their fault, that the warmth of new-leaf had brought about the perfect climate for sleeping out. But boy did it sure make stunts like these hard. For tonight, Butterflypaw had taken it upon herself to leave her camp and explore. She’d only been an apprentice for roughly a moon, and because of her background, Rainstar had decided to keep her training to more of a group effort.
Which meant, that Butterfly only went out if she asked, and she was often told no. Sniffing, she turned her head back to the path before her. Or rather, the path she was now carving out in the thick of the RiverClan territory. She had taken great care to stay away from the main paths that criss-crossed the land. No cat could find her if she was well enough at hiding herself, right? For now, she was following the winding of the main river, her paws itching to jump in and swim downstream, but she kept her cool and waited for just the right moment.
Right as she hit the rapids, a cool breeze swept across the plains. She stood for a while, basking in the moonlight. The peace of night sent a chill down her spine, something about tonight seemed special.
The apprentice couldn’t help the grin that spread across her cheeks as she plunged, paws first, into the raging storm of a river. She closed her eyes as the water churned around her, pushing her this way and that. When she surfaced, she coughed and wheezed, gasping for air. But worry wasn’t on her mind, instead she threw her head back with a hearty laugh before the waves overtook her again. Grinning, she found her footing and swam with the current, pulling herself up as the water raced past her. A thick, sturdy board bobbed to the surface near her left, but her needle-like claws quickly grasped the tail end of it, and she began clambering to get atop.
Once stead, rather, as steady as one could be on a log in the middle of rough rapids, she giggled and watched the world whirl past her. It was hard not to let a roar of giddy laughter bubble out from her maw, but she had to remain some sort of quiet, lest a moonhigh patrol catch her.
It was the sudden jerking forward from whence her night out began to take a turn downhill. Her little paws were unable to cling any longer to the log as it crashed with a stone jutting from the riverbed. Lurching forwards, she managed to swing her body towards the shore, but took a frightening tumble down a grassy hill. Suddenly she was falling, and for a youngster in immediate danger, it felt like a long fall. Something of the sorts you only feel in nightmares where you can’t move your limbs, but the wind whipping past your face gives way to the sinking feeling in your belly.
The loud THUNK as she landed echoed across walls of dirt and stone around her. Once her head stopped spinning, she opened her eyes to find herself no longer where the moon shone bright, but somewhere dark and damp. She began blinking rapidly, frantic to find light and climb her way out. Groaning, she began scrambling to her paws, the side she landed on feeling rather sore about now. Perhaps this wasn’t a good idea, after all.
Wheezing for a moment, she squeezed her eyes shut and began praying to whatever deity out there would listen. ‘Please let me go back to camp, please, please, I’ll do whatever you say from now on, I’ll even listen to-’ But her prayers were interrupted by the soft sounds of pawsteps inching closer. A panic rose within her belly, and she reflexively dug her claws into the soft soil ground. Her head whipped around this way and that, but there was nowhere to hide. She was a goner.
A soft humming filled her ears, as Butterfly crouched down in the darkness, hoping whoever or whatever was about to find her, didn’t. The humming grew louder and louder, her ears perked forwards as she trembled in her crouched position.
“You’re not supposed to be here.”
Butterfly’s heart filled her throat as she looked up. The pawsteps had stopped, and a dark shadow loomed over her. A cat, she guessed about her age, stood in front of her. Their white markings were distinct in the moonlight, almost glowing. Butterfly tried, and failed, to give a small, cheeky smile. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and wake up back in her nest, her stupid dumb idea only a dream. But something told her that no matter how much she wanted to wake up, she wouldn’t.
“It’s okay, I haven’t told Teller. Have you hurt yourself?”
Something about this cat’s voice was too calm, too collected. It was as if they knew this was going to happen, as if they had come here for a reason. Butterfly wasn’t sure whether to feel relieved or even more worried.
The cat blinked, unmoving. Butterfly’s senses finally began to kick in, this cat didn’t have a scent she recognized. They could not have been a clan cat, so.. a rogue? “I-I don’t– I didn’t mean to, I-” Butterfly found herself struggling with her words for the first time in her life. Sputtering and chattering, unable to find the right thing to say.
“I won’t hurt you. My name is Pale Moon in Storming Sky, I’m from the Tribe of Rising Tides, and you’re in our caves.”
Their words were.. Daunting. Pale Moon? What an odd name, and so long too. “I’m–” But she was cut off as the stranger spoke again,
“Yes, Butterflypaw. I know. Come on, I’ll show you the way out.”
–June 8, 2019 at 7:03 am #792
“I know you have a lot of questions, but we only have time for a few before they realize I’m in the tunnels.”
Butterflypaw’s heart still beat rapidly in her chest, and she could swear the stranger could hear it, by the way they kept their distance. Her mind raced, so many questions, concerns. “How.. how are we getting out? You said you’re from the Tribe of Rising Tides? What is that? And what’s a Teller?”
Pale Moon gave Butterfly a side-eye, as if contemplating which question to answer first. And there were a lot. More than they could cover in a night’s journey.
“A-and your name is.. So long, is that normal? Are there Warriors where you live? How come I’ve never heard of a tribe before? And..” Butterflypaw trailed off, her eyes growing wide as she came the realization that she hadn’t told Pale Moon her name. Yet. They had known it, somehow.
Butterfly swallowed, hard. The apprentice kept her head low, her gaze trained on the dirt-floor of the tunnel, still bathed in darkness. How was this ‘tribe’ cat navigating so well? Butterfly could barely see her own paws!
A silence filled the gaps in their conversation, but it rang loud in the pitch black of the uncharted territory that these tunnels hid. Butterflypaw took a shaky breath, listening to the soft echo of paw-steps as they hit the dirt and bounced off the cave walls. How could any cat reasonably live here?
“Why don’t we start with the question you really want answered?”
Pale was the first to break the silence, and Butterfly could already tell what kind of cat they were. Straightforward, very business-structured. Nearly the opposite of Butterfly herself. The apprentice could feel an awkward and uncomfortable feeling rise in her belly, filling the air with tension.
“How did you know my name?”
Pale winced. Although they had hinted at knowing Butterfly’s true inquiry, they now seemed to be blindsided by the question. Pale paused for the first time since they had begun walking, and they had been for a small while now. They closed their eyes, tilted their head down. Butterfly could see how easily they had gone from somewhat relaxed, to now tense and trembling slightly. The apprentice squinted, trying to get a better look at the cat before her.
“I’m a Seer.”
Pale exhaled, relaxing as they slowly unwound their body from the invisible pain they seemed to have endured. “I see small bits of the future in flashes. It used to just be dreams. I’d forget about them until it actually happened right before my eyes. Now I see them frequently and they’re..” Pale turned the thought over in their mind, trying to find the right words, “painful.”
Butterfly shuddered. “A Seer? Is it a gift, from StarClan? Like.. you’re a Medicine Cat?” Our beloved protagonist, still too naive to understand anything outside of her own life’s scope.
Pale snorted and the pair began walking again. “No. Not a … what did you say?” “Medicine Cat.” Pale shook their head, “Not a Medicine Cat.” Butterfly turned her gaze to the side, pursing her lips. This answer only seemed to crop up more questions, but for now the apprentice was trying her best to comprehend that Pale could have ‘visions’ but not be a medicine cat. Wild.
“Okay so, what’s a Teller?” Pale took their time trying to decipher these words as well, and Butterflypaw began to notice a trend.
“A Teller is like a Leader and a Healer. You said you have a ‘Medicine Cat’ right? I can only assume they mend the wounds of your clanmates?” Butterfly gave a quick, affirming nod. “Thought so.” Blinking, Pale paused and pressed a forepaw to the side of the cave wall.
“A Teller is our guiding light. They decipher the cryptic messages the Tribe of Endless Hunting leaves us. When they become Teller, they retreat into the cave tunnels to learn all that they can about how to heal, and the hints and meanings that our ancestors leave behind- Ah.” Pale uncovered a passage and squeezed through. “Come on, then. We’ll have to take some.. Unconventional routes. We can’t get caught.”
Butterfly blinked, exhaling. This wasn’t the weirdest thing she’d encountered tonight, so why not shove herself into a small space with a stranger for a bit?
The two crawled at a snail’s pace for a while, Pale’s silence was louder than anything Butterfly had ever heard. She wanted to know more about this Teller, and why they became a hermit. As the duo came to a fork in the tunnel, Pale turned left and the walls began to widen.
“Once they return from their journey, we start calling them Teller of Pointed Stones. Or Teller for short.” Butterfly had gotten so used to the silence that Pale’s voice rang in her ears.
Well now she had even more questions!
“You didn’t call them Teller before?” “No. That’s not the name they were born with.”
“Well then what name?” Pale snorted, shaking their head. “It’s not that simple. You weren’t born Butterflypaw, were you?” Butterfly squinted, wondering if Pale had known Butterfly wasn’t born with that name, but the unsure look on their face told the apprentice that the tribe cat was probably guessing. “No. I was born as Butterfly. No ‘paw included. Except on my legs.” The molly lifted a foreleg and waved her paw.
“Right. Not every cat is born into the role they’re destined for.”
A draft filled the cave, and a small breeze blew. If she squinted long enough, Butterfly could swear she saw a faint light in the distance.
“One more, that’s all we have time for.”
For once in her life, and today was apparently full of ‘first times’ for her, Butterfly thought hard about her words, churning them over as Pale had done. The light was visible now, and Butterfly could tell it was just past sunrise. The first patrols of the day would be leaving about now. It wouldn’t be long before some cat noticed she was gone. The apprentice bit the inside of her cheek, feeling anxious. She wanted to know more, yearned to ask more questions, but time wasn’t with her. Instead she asked the first thing that came to mind;
“Why have I never heard of your Tribe before?”June 8, 2019 at 7:04 am #793
“That one is difficult to explain.” Pale Moon had taken a deep breath, shutting their eyes for a small while. This time was different, there was a sort of.. Anxious pain behind their eyes, nothing like the physical pain they had experienced last time. “Long ago, when your clans left their ancestral home, a part of the Tribe broke off and journeyed with you. We did so in silence, always nearby, but never crossing paths.”
Pale licked their lips. The sun was well over the horizon, breaking through the leaves and bushes that the landscape had to offer. The river wound across the dip in the land, weaving between the soil and grass. It was a bend Butterfly, luckily, knew. It was a straight-shot to RiverClan from here.
“When we arrived, the Teller at the time was worried that if we settled too close, and began interacting with you clan folk, that the Tribe of Endless Hunting would merge with your StarClan, causing chaos and disruption. We stayed hidden, a secret so that your world and ours could remain safe.” Pale bit their lip, the entrance was close now. They would be departing soon.
Butterfly squinted, thinking for a moment, of the repercussions of her late night tumble. Now that she knew of the Tribe’s existence, would something bad happen? Shaking her head, she put the thought out of her mind. “Butterflypaw,” they had paused now, “you have to promise me you will not tell any of your clanmates about our visit. Do you understand me? Butterflypaw? Butterfly?”
Suddenly her view of the world began shifting, warping around her, she meowed “Of course,” to Pale Moon but her mouth made no sound, her heart began beating rapidly in her chest,
The molly snapped to attention, her ears perking up and her head swiveling to catch the stern gaze Rainstar was giving her. Oops.
“You’ve been half asleep this whole trip, yet it’s barely sun-high.” Their words were poignant, foreword. Butterfly was positive Rainstar had never said more in their life. The apprentice pursed her lips and ducked her head, staring back at the choppy waters. “Sorry.” She mumbled, her gaze drifting downriver, where salmon were playing.
There was a silence between them, awkward, as Rainstar figured out how to proceed their little training session. After a while they gave a deep sigh and turned back to the Apprentice. “I’ve tried all that I can to help you in your training, but I can’t seem to get through to you. I’m at a crossroads, Butterflypaw. What can I do to help you?” Rain’s eyes were pleading, as though they had never been in a similar situation before. And they hadn’t, Butterflypaw was a rare case. Stubborn, incompatible with any of the mentors, aggressive when confronted. Rain struggled trying to find out what would work best for her, and who would be able to tame her.
Butterfly gave a shrug, her gaze anywhere but on theirs. Rainstar gave an exasperated sigh and tilted their head back with a groan. Butterfly thought she must really have been a pain to make Rainstar, stoic leader of RiverClan, emote more than patience or neutrality.
“We tried having you train under the Medicine Cat, but you felt like you didn’t have enough of a connection to StarClan to be much help. I tried group training, but you ignored the others. Butterflypaw, I am trying so very hard to do what I can for you. I want to see you succeed, why don’t you want to flourish?”
Butterfly shrugged again, growing angry with this conversation. She focused her attention now on her mind, and the conversation she had had with Pale Moon. Now that was far more exciting. “I’m just trying to help you, please at least try to pretend you care, that’s all I ask!”
Butterfly rolled her eyes, though part of her really did feel bad. Rainstar was just doing their job, trying to keep the clan cohesive. But Rain didn’t really care about her, so why should she listen? Her tail began lashing behind her, as she grew more and more angry about her situation. It wasn’t any of Rainstar’s business, so why should they care?
“I just want to-”
“Stop pretending you care! I’ve had enough of it! You’re the only one who pretends, just act like everyone else! Just tell me you hate me already!”
Huffing, the apprentice got to her paws and stalked off, leaving Rainstar behind.
It was rude, sure, and now that she thought about it, she kinda felt bad, but what was done was done. Her anger had spilled over into her training, and every session she felt more and more like a sideshow, someone that others could mock or belittle. Growing bitter, she clenched her jaw and began racing through the underbrush, following the river on the path she took the night before.
Her mind began swirling with thoughts and feelings she couldn’t understand, let alone control. Her stomach churned from the frustration and guilt. Breathing heavily, she came to a skidding halt, wheezing as she hunched over the edge of the river. She stared at her own face, staring back up at her, for a while, watching as her gaze avoided her, as her cheeks puffed and emotion caught in her throat.
Butterfly closed her eyes, crouching as low as she could, and touched the tip of her nose to the water.
Hundreds of them all calling out her name in droves, some screaming wildly, some through a haze of anger.
They all said different things; “How could you?” “Do you know what you’ve done?” “It’s all blurred!” “You have to undo it! Undo it!”
Gasping for air, she lifted her head, eyes wildly scanning the banks of the river, and finding nothing. They had sounded so close yet so far away… had it been another daydream?
Her body grew stiff and alert as the bushes on the other side of the water rustled. “Who-Who’s there?” She stood, baring pearly white fangs as her hackles raised.
Pale Moon’s calm voice called across the water, they stepped forward. Butterfly’s eyes grew wide in shock, their mouth agape.
“They can’t see you here! I’ll get in trouble!”
Panic set in and Butterfly glanced behind her shoulder, anxiety building in her belly.
Her head swiveled back to Pale, as they slowly sat, unperturbed by the situation.
“Did you hear the voices?”
Butterfly, still tense, finally sat back down, worried but feeling a little better with this particular company.
Her gaze drifted across the choppy waters, not unlike earlier. Her training session with Rainstar felt like so long ago, but the sun was still above the horizon and beating down on her back.
Pale thought for a long while on this answer, churning over the thoughts in their head. When they broke the silence, their voice was stiff and almost cold.
“I need to tell you more about what being a Seer means.”
There was a finality in their voice now, and they immediately launched into the details, explaining quickly, but simply enough for Butterfly to understand.
“The True Seer is a cat who receives prophetic visions or dreams, like I told you. But there’s more to it than that. There are three main ranks in our Tribe; Teller, Watcher, and Seer. The Teller is our healer and spiritual guide. They tend to our wounds, read signs from our ancestors, and lead us into battle. The Watcher keeps our training and progress in check. They oversee the best places to hunt, and when to send out patrols. The Seer. Their job is to help interpret prophecies and to follow in the pawsteps of the Teller, one day becoming Teller themselves.”
Butterfly soaked up Pale’s drabbles like a sponge, eyes growing wide again as she realized what this meant. “So that means.. One day, you’ll-”
“But that’s not all.” Pale lifted their tail, signaling for silence.
“ The Seer must be a strong-willed cat. They must overcome the pain that comes with prophecies. To make sure the right cat is put in the position, the Tribe of Endless Hunting, our ancestors, will trial a couple of cats for the spot. They give them prophecies, and whoever is able to handle these the best, becomes the next Seer.”
Butterfly, still completely blown away, stared at Pale and then down at her own paws. A breeze fluttered across their paths, ruffling fur and rustling the nearby bushes and trees.
“Do you think.., you’ll become the next Seer?” The molly looked up, uncertain.
Pale blinked, turning their head to stare off into the wilderness.
- This reply was modified 10 months ago by Butterfly.
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