I’m once again asking you to put up with my bull shit.

Forums ThunderClan ThunderClan Camp I’m once again asking you to put up with my bull shit.

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  • #6310
    Chris
    Participant

     

         A gentle heat was rising in the ThunderClan forest as Hawkbite patrolled solo. It was just a bit past sunrise, when all was still in the woodland. A bit of fog still lingered though, wreathing between the folds of thick undergrowth making it seem like the foggy trees went on endlessly.

    So much had happened in the past handful of moons. His wounds were now barely a memory, save for one particularly deep three-toned scar scrawled down his back like stripes. The memory of Razor’s claws pulling open his flesh was one that would not fade easily, so it stood to reason neither would the mark it left behind.

    Life had returned to their lands once more, though the harshness of the winter had put it to doubt. The forest had done more than recover. It had thrived. Greenery pouring forth from every crevice in a riot of colors and smells. A veritable treat for the senses. And though spring too was fading now, the promise of greenleaf’s abundance lay before them with all of its sweet promises that none would know hunger nor could for quite some time. 

    The weather, his healing and his new home seemed to all be considering to make things practically heavenly. 

    And yet….

    Happiness- full happiness that was, still eluded him. He’d been sitting on it for some moons now. Trying his best to be in each moment. It was ludicrous, the young tom thought. He had everything, didn’t he? He had a loving mate and the status of a full trusted Warrior of ThunderClan. To be sure, many trials still lay ahead of his youth but…

    It took him some time to finally uncover what had been eating at him, but when he did he felt a fool for not realizing it sooner.

    “Hey Chant.” He purred, flopping down beside his mate with her favorite- red squirrel her little nickname on his lips. Though her full name Chanterellefrost was pretty, it was also a bit of a mouthful not unlike the prey currently muffling his speech. The dappled she-cat herself swore up and down that red squirrels were the superior squirrel, and that no other could compare when it came to taste. Hawkbite thought she was mad, but he delighted in trying to appease her nonetheless. 

     

    “Look, I wanna talk about something.” He began, pushing the meal towards her with a heaviness in his eyes. In the dying light of the eve, his sharp features were obscured and broody.

     

    “I’m just gonna…put it out there. I can’t stop thinking about it.” He murmured. “It’s my mother. I’ve- er, never spoken much about her, I guess. Things were….complicated, as you can imagine I’m sure.” He breathed heavily. Complicated barely even covered it. And it almost let him off too easy.

     

    “My last words to her were horrible. You know how I was- it hurt me when she brought me here. It felt like she was abandoning me, even if I understand why now, she had to do what she did.” Ears pinned back, he forced himself to continue.

     

    “I want to go find her. No, I must find her. I know she’s out there, somewhere. I can’t live another day with bad blood between us. I’ve got such a good life here, and it’s thanks to the sacrifices she made. I…I want to tell her thank you.” His voice broke.

     

    “I know this is unfair. I’ve put you through so much, and now I want to run off? This is my home, that’s never going to change. But this is my family…..well you’re my family too of course so-”

    As the young tom paused to collect his next words in a more organized fashion, the remaining light drained from the skies overhead. A more complete darkness was settling over the camp. Dark treetops lined a deep blue sky, where stars were emerging overhead.

     

    “I’d be happy, no honored if you’d join me on this mission.” He sucked in a quick breath to add one more thing before his mate could rightfully blow up at him for again asking so much of her. “Now I know it seems hopeless, we have little to go on and finding her might well be impossible. If it seems that way, we’ll turn back.” He did not want to think his mother had already departed this world, but he had to acknowledge it was a possibility. Still, even if the trail ended cold he wanted to find its end. He’d beg forgiveness from her bones if he must.

     

    “I can promise nothing, but my love for you outnumbers the stars. And I know I can’t do this alone.”

    • This topic was modified 2 months ago by Chris.
    • This topic was modified 2 months ago by Chris.
    #6319
    Roach
    Participant


    Chanterellefrost ~Thunderclan Warrior

    A blissful sigh escapes her lips at the cool breeze brushing against her thick cherry brown pelt. Her distinctive bengal fur glistening a fiery hue in the spring light, a small smile tugging at her maw as she enjoys the warmth. Snuggling closer to the softness of the grass and daisies that dust the forest floor. Inhaling the sweet scent of the flowers in delight. Spring had to be her favorite season yet! She loved watching the forest come to life with color as well as critters awakening from their wintery slumber.

    Blinking in silent awe as she tilts her cranium upwards. Her piercing turquoise cyan orbs glowing brightly as she watches leaves slowly flutter down to the ground gracefully. Humming a soft tune as she enjoys her relaxation away from camp. Chant had made sure to at least tell her mate of her whereabouts. Rolling her eyes at the thought of her over protective lover. Ever since being kidnapped and held hostage as bait; Hawkbite has been rightfully hesitant to let her wander on her own.

    Course she being her ever so stubbornly self; refused to be coddled. As she had plainly told Hawk that Razor was no longer a threat and no one would be after them anytime soon. Unless— he manages to piss someone else off; which now that she thinks about it…it’s possible that he will anger another feline soon enough. Snorting in a unladylike way before letting her thoughts wander. It felt odd that she was now a warrior, something she had been looking forward to ever since she became an apprentice.

    Yet—now she felt no different. Her younger self had expected some sort of change to occur when becoming a warrior; whether that be a physical or spiritual change, she wasn’t sure. Instead she still felt like nothing had changed, when in reality everything had. Shifting her form slightly as she lays on her side, a quiet purr rumbling through her chest. Closing her eyes as she lets her head rest upon her small paws. Ears twitching as she listens to the calming song of birds chirping above.

    Dozing off for a mere moment before hearing and feeling the ground vibrate and the grass crinkle as an indicator that someone was approaching. Huffing as she lazily opens one eye, easily making out the dark form to be none other than Hawkbite. Smiling softly before lifting her head, though her smile drops briefly as he plops a red squirrel by her paws. Arching an unimpressed brow as she scrutinized him for a moment. Her breathtaking blue eyes flickering over his nervous form.

    “What did you do?” She breaths as she eyes him with a small frown. “I know you well enough to know that you only bring me a squirrel when you either want something or did something” she hums. Her long tail brushing against his side as she coaxes him to spill what was troubling him. Her attention solely on him as the delicious squirrel would have to wait. Brows furrowing as he expresses his want to find his mother, to make amends for his previous ill words. Chant knew that he needed to do this, that he needed closure, but a selfish part of her did not want him to leave her.

    The cherry bengal could sense his conflicted emotions. She knew that he was struggling as on one paw he wants to stay and enjoy the life he had made for himself, but on another paw—the thought of his mother still being out there was constantly on his mind. Feeling her heart swell with love and affection for the rugged black tom as he confesses that he wants her to come with. It made her feel that he truly appreciated her and enjoyed her company so much that he wanted to share such a personal mission. A bell-like laugh escapes her as she leans against him. Letting her cranium settle in the crook of his neck.

    Purring warmly as she licks his chest and neck fur with affection. “You goof! Of course I will come with you! Always and forever right? She smiles before jokingly adding: “Though I am sure you will regret asking me to come along. You will surely get sick of me.” She teases, licking his cheek before pulling away to glance down at the limp red squirrel. “Don’t expect to get any of my squirrel.” She mumbles with a grin before taking a small bite. Chant wasn’t one to share when it came to her favorite meal.

    #6324
    Chris
    Participant

        As her head settled into his nape perfectly he closed his eyes. When she was at his side, he felt complete. Like he’d been wandering this plane the entire time just…searching for something. And he’d finally found it. Even still as they both stood at the precipice of their journey, it was only to be another notch in the belt of victories they’d achieved together. 

     

    If I had only felt how it feels to be yours.

    Well I would have known.

    What I’ve been living for all along.

    PART TWO – BITTER PATHWAYS

         The sun was a sledgehammer beating into the very marrow of their bones as the twosome passed through another ring of human abodes. Summer might have been uncomfortably warm back home in the forest, but it paled in comparison to the immense swelter of the more developed territories. There were patches of greenery scattered in what seemed a haphazard fashion, though even these seemed to offend man whose concrete palaces dominated the landscape. Their dull gray roads and valleys of stone offered no respite from the heat- in fact they seemed to enhance it by tenfold. As time wore on, even the initial snatches of nature faded as Hawkbite and Chanterellefrost found themselves darting here and there among towering buildings and cars that spat exhaust. To be fair, not all parts of human cities were quite so unpalatable. But a stray cat was seldom welcome in the nicer parts. Hungry, haggard, their thin bodies riddled now with pests were quickly rebuffed from any yard. Mothers pulled their kits away, and others used any sort of tool to beat or drive them when they came too near. Each time this happened Hawkbite swore angrily. He lashed out when their blows landed too close to his mate. How dare they! Chant was no common rogue. Though after two weeks on the road, she did look less like the Warrior she’d been. 

     

    Because of interactions like these, food had been hard to come by. Hunting was only sometimes an option, and what they did manage to catch could be trusted to have feasted on the same carrion they themselves had to ingest in order to keep going. Poor Chant had taken ill to almost every part of the city including its meal options. He’d debated turning back, letting the illness pass and retrying their trip when her health was fairer. But she stubbornly refused. They’d gotten a good tip, she insisted, and they needed to follow up on it before his mother moved on again. The she-cat was a wanderlust soul, that he’d always known. This could be their only chance to rendezvous with her.

     

    But just as Hawkbite himself was contemplating how best to frame a suggestion that they should turn back while they still could, a twoleg on one of those infernal two-wheeled devices came hurtling down the narrow path between two structures towards them. 

    It all happened very fast. Pieces of the event came to an abrupt crawl as though time had slowed down only for those involved. The twoleg steered their contraption as if moving to avoid mowing down Chanterellefrost, who lay directly in its path. Hawkbite did not have eyes for that detail however, and darted forward to shoulder his mate out of the way. One forepaw was on her side pushing, the other raised in some half-baked attempt to fend off what was now heading his way. The paw he’d brought up to shield his face became entangled in dozens of perpendicular metallic barbs that the inner wheel was composed of. Still spinning, it took his body with his arm (thankfully) and flung him out sideways. He landed with a hollow whump, among the trash heaps. Everything spinning, his wrist throbbing painfully. 

    And just like that, the perpetrator had vanished leaving only their racing hearts and his new injury as proof it had erroneously dipped into their world.

    Hawkbite bent down to lap at his now swollen joint. It wasn’t broken, he could tell, as he could still move it feebly. But it was indisputably sprained. The pain combined with his desperation and hunger in their situation led something to snap inside him.

     

    “StarClan’s nethers, you’ve got to be more careful, Chant. The city isn’t like home. You won’t always smell trouble first.” Growled the black Warrior crossly, though his tone held a note of relief that she was unharmed. Even if upon closer examination, he might in time come to the conclusion that there’d never been a high chance of that occurring in the first place. Unfortunately, the truth of the matter remained thoroughly subdued by his ego and fowl mood for the time being. (Conversely, his interpretation of the event implied ignorance regarding a baseline autonomy which would’ve enabled his mate to avoid harm of her own accord.)

    • This reply was modified 2 months ago by Chris.
    #6569
    Roach
    Participant

    Chanterellefrost ~Thunderclan Warrior

    The past two weeks had been nothing but constantly on the run. Following endless leads that could bring them closer to finding his mother, but always coming up short. Chant would never voice her doubts as she was sure Hawk could feel her hesitation in waves. The city was big and daunting for the forest she-cat, the smells and architecture of the unnamed city made her very weary of her surroundings. The cherry bengal let Hawkbite take the lead as he had more experience in navigating the chaos of city life. She could feel her short, yet thick fur clinging to her slender form as beads of sweat drenches her from the scorching heat. Everything around her seemed to amplify the sun’s rays—a large contrast to the canopy of trees that once protected her from possible heat stroke. Her once soft pads have become rough from their travels, the solid rocked path showing no mercy to her paws.

    Ears drooping to the side as she tiredly dashes after the darkened tom. Her turquoise gaze flickering downwards every once in a while as she tries to avoid the patches of light reflecting on the obsidian stone, comically hopping in the shadows to avoid the burning sensation that would follow. Traveling outside of Thunderclan has definitely given the young molly a different perspective of how Hawk lived. It surprised her that he could adapt to such a life, seeing all these homeless starving felines with gaunt facial expressions, shriveled bodies with fleas infesting their pelts—it made her shiver in discomfort. Yet, it also taught her that living out here meant having to fight to survive. The strong survive while the weak die, a simple-minded concept that suited their situation so well.

    With the constant heat and lack of food certainly put Chanterellefrost in a bitter mood. Every little thing set her off, barring her fangs threatening at any tom or feline that spared her a glance that looked anything but friendly. Smiling appreciatively at her mate when he would lash at those who got too close to the foreign beauty.  Over the last few days her stamina has been dwindling, nausea a constant discomfort in her stomach at the stench of rotten carcasses and garbage being left in the sun for too long. Her lack of appetite or inability to keep her food down was certainly showing as her form is slimmer and her cheeks more hollow. Stubbornness is what kept her from turning around, always reminding Hawkbite that they have gone too far to just turn away because she felt ill. No she was tougher than that!

    Sighing softly as she licks her cracked lips, a tired look etched onto her feminine features as he leads them both around a curb. Having a hard time concentrating causes the reddish brown spotted molly to drift into her own little world. Loud thunderous roar is what brought her back to the present. Pieces of black stone quakes against the solid ground at the sheer force of the monstrous machine barreling it’s way towards her. ‘Wait what..?’ Her mind sluggishly piecing together that she had accidentally stepped off the safe confinement of the sidewalk and onto the busy road. Cursing under her breath as she was just about to quickly leap onto the sidewalk when her overly chivalrous mate saves the day by roughly shoving her out of the way. Gasping for air as she stumbles sideways, hitting her shoulder roughly against the stone. 

    Blinking away the stupor and pain at the sound of Hawk hissing in pain. Worry filling her as she clumsily climbs to her paws, shoulders sagging in utter relieve as she could tell that he wasn’t badly injured. As fast as that emotion came, anger replaces it. Nostrils flaring as she stalks over to him, her tail lashing in wide sharp arcs. Blue eyes narrowing at his tone, “I had it under control! Don’t you dare scold me about this place not being home. Trust me I know” she hisses with irritation. She wasn’t necessarily angry towards him, just the fact that he seemed to believe that she couldn’t take care of herself. “Now are we going to keep going or what?” Huffing as she sharply turns away from him, not caring when her slim tail smacks against his chest as she pads off. Only slowing down to call over her shoulder; “Oh and I’m hungry. Since you are so well accustomed to the city. Why don’t you find us something to eat” she sassily snips.

    Brows furrowing together and bottom lip pouting as she sulks at the fact he had raised his voice at her. Even though part of her reasoned that he only did so because he was worried. ‘Pfft he didn’t have to snap at me’ she inwardly thinks with a haughty huff. No she would not let her odd fluctuation of emotions make her weaver. Chant was perfectly fine with being petty.

    #6731
    Chris
    Participant

       

     

         What followed the bike incident was several frosty days where the pair did little more than grunt at one another. They rose early, communicated primarily through looks and head jerks, and trekked until the sun had long since fallen behind the skyline. Each day blurred into the next making it hard to judge how long they’d been on the road by this point. At the very least the heat had gotten more bearable, for they were now in a slightly more rural part of the developed lands. The tangles of woodland that kept them company was only occasionally punctuated by man-made dwellings in varying degrees of disrepair. Finding food  however was still proving infuriatingly difficult. And Chanterellefrost’s illness persisted, rendering what little they did manage to scrape together largely ineffective. She was even looking a bit bloated, despite what should have been the  shallow effects of starvation. Hawkbite, who was intensely concerned the carrion they’d eaten had given her some kind of parasite, was keeping an eye peeled for wormwood.

     

    Salvation came to them in the form of their first solid lead since they’d left ThunderClan. A kindly kittypet named Willow had happily said that yes, of course she knew of the she-cat they sought and added that they had better catch her quick as she was often on the move. This made sense to Hawkbite, as his mother would have no way of knowing Razor was dead and therefore no longer a threat. He remembered too, an often distant wanderlust gleam in his mother’s eyes when she would tell stories of the many things she’d seen on her journeys. Deep down, he’d always known the longing she had to return to her vagabond lifestyle. In leaving her he’d at least given her permission to do so, he reflected bitterly.

    When they bedded down that night, he scooted just a little closer to his mate and pressed his muzzle to her ear.

     

    “It’s going to be worth it. Tomorrow, we’ll meet her and then we can go home.” He promised, an ache of longing in his voice.

     

    If only he’d known that nothing in their lives was ever that simple.

     

     

    They got up the following morning with the sun as they always had. Yet this dawn was unlike the others preceding it, tension crackled as the pair set out on what promised to be the final leg of their journey. Hawkbite could scarcely believe it, in fact he wasn’t sure he could, until he beheld their goal with his own eyes. They’d had such poor luck after all. There was still plenty of room for things to go belly up…

    Their tip led them to the outskirts of the human settlement. It was a hilly region densely populated with deciduous trees and thick undergrowth. The roads wound around the landscape instead of cutting through it, so they had to walk on the shoulder to avoid traffic. The higher they escalated, the less intense the heat became. Going uphill was tedious though, many times he slowed worriedly at his mates labored breathing. But each time he was assured by her that they did not need to stop. He chose not to argue despite the clear difficulty she was having. Let her be proud and exhausted, he thought irritably.

    At long last he spotted the bright signage that indicated this was their turnoff. Branching from the main street, they followed a less manicured road for a few kilometers. This road was lined with walls of trees that fell away as they broke out into a  nice clearing that fell away sharply into a lichen-covered cliffside. Hawkbite stood close to the edge, the wind buffering his long black chest fur. Down below obscured by a thick mist of pollution, the town looked like a mosaic with countless insignificant moving pieces.

     

    “StarClan…” Breathed the tom. He had never seen anything to equal it.

     

    “Hawk?”

     

    A voice sounded behind them, it was so achingly familiar that the mere utterance of his name in its timbre was enough to undo him. Hawkbite stood rigid and frozen for a few heartbeats, afraid to move lest he jerk awake in his nest thus proving this had all been a dream. Pinprick sized tears appeared in the corners of his eyes as the young tom forced himself to face the owner of that voice.

     

    She hadn’t aged a day. The tall sable-pointed she-cat was analyzing him with the same crystal blue eyes that had been overflowing when they’d last spoken. The very same gaze he’d peered into in the days of his childhood, searching for the answers to the universe. As she stood among the moss and lichen lightly, her thin wiry figure swayed slightly in the breeze. He barely even noticed that she was not alone, flanked by a large calico she-cat who wore a similar look of puzzle concern. Even as the two cats stared at each other, no one broke the silence. It was real. They’d found her. He wasn’t dreaming, after all.

     

    Mom.”

     

     

    “I-I’m sorr-” He started forward.

     

    “No need.” Stated his mother placidly.

     

    “But mom-”

     

    “Hawk. My son. Do you think I ever believed that you truly hated me?” 

     

    She had him there. What was he to know of her true feelings?

     

    The two cats regarded each other in silence, their eyes exchanging things that superseded the need to even put them into words. As if mere speech could contain the feelings they’d both been carrying for so long in their time apart. As the moment passed, Hawkbite felt a weight lifted from his shoulders the likes of which he’d never known. It had been there for as long as he could remember, even before they had parted. His ugly grudge at how difficult life was, pinned on the cat who stood before him. Who, in fact, was the one champion he’d had from the first day he drew breath. Why? Why had he been so foolish? He suddenly felt as though the youth who’d uttered such unforgivable curses at his mother were a complete stranger. Someone whose motivations he couldn’t fathom. 

    “Now,” She said, after their silent exchange. “Are you going to tell me who this is, Hawk?”

     

    “Well I’m Hawkbite now. And this is Chanterellefrost, my mate.” 

     

    His mother gave a knowing glance. He had a feeling that she knew exactly who Chant was to him, and was merely reveling in the experience of just hearing him say it. Luckily he happened to like nothing more than to introduce the beautiful she-cat to his right as his life partners, so both parties were enjoying the moment.

     

    “Well well.” Her tail curled pleasantly as she fixed Chanterellefrost with a knowing gaze. One might expect her to pull the protective mother card, given the strife their family had endured. But in her blue irises there was only love and warmth. 

     

    “My name is Rhea, and this is my mate Cybele.” With her tail-tip she indicated the large tri-colored she-cat who had, like Chanterellefrost, patiently waited while her lover worked out her emotional baggage with her kin. She was a very large, solidly built calico she-cat with long and thick vibrantly colored fur, topped off with pale amber eyes which were flickering warmly like tiny flames at him. Immediately he could sense this was a good soul, one worthy of his mother affections.

     

    “It’s nice to finally meet the famous Hawk. She never stops talking about you, you know.” Purred Cybele. 

     

    “Cyb!” Looking slightly embarrassed Rhea cuffed her mate playfully and Hawkbite’s heart swelled several sizes. He’d never seen his mother so happy. Even with his father.

     

    “It wasn’t easy finding you two.” He said, shaking his head. “You’re not still on the run from Razor, are you mom? Surely you’ve heard he’s dead since you’ve been back in the area.”

     

    “Unfortunately, Razor isn’t the only cat who might have intended Cybele or I harm. But…let us get comfortable and settled, and speak for a while of lighter things.”

     

     

    “-and he stayed up there all night!”

     

    “I love it when you tell that one. It makes me want little ones of our own.” Purred Cybele.

     

    “Well I don’t.” Hawkbite ducked his head, his long ears burning. “It wasn’t fun being stuck in that tree all night with a foaming dog-”

     

    “As I recall, it was just a chihuahua.” Laughed Rhea. “A very small human dog breed.” She added upon seeing Chanterellefrost’s confusion. “They are no bigger than you or I. Though they can bite.”

     

    “And I was just a kit anyways.” Grumbled the tom in question, feeling outnumbered by the trio of she-cats all enjoying a good laugh at his own expense. Then again, with all the grief he had given his mother growing up he’d probably earned it. Chanterellefrost as well. Though she’d been maintaining a friendly attitude towards Rhea, he got the feeling he wasn’t quite out of the doghouse himself. Yet when it came to the thought of apologizing, he got a little frustrated. What was he saying sorry for? Sorry for loving you and wanting to protect you?

     

    His mother never missed a thing however, and he caught several looks that very clearly implied they’d be discussing the matter later. In a nostalgic sense having his mom butt into his life was almost welcome. 

     

    Storytime and good food procured by their crafty hostesses continued into the night. The place they were staying in was an old abandoned cabin, so deteriorated that the stars above were visible through the rafters casting a silver gilding on the dusty contents of its room. Hawkbite found himself unable to sleep however. Something was still nagging at him, like a grain of salt in his brain rubbing it raw. What had Rhea meant when she’d spoken of other dangers earlier? Were they in danger now?

     

    When he was sure his mate was fast asleep, Hawkbite slid out of the nest with one last lingering look at her peacefully resting face. Already his anger was diminishing. He felt aware that soon it would be gone completely, at which point he might hope to make things right with her. It had just taken some time to realize who was right and wrong wasn’t so important.

     

    To no surprise he found his mother also awake. Sitting peacefully on the porch of the cabin which overlooked a steep rocky slope. For a time she said nothing as he took a seat beside her. The sound of cricketsong filled the air as a cool summer’s breeze sent ripples out over the tall grasses and through the outstretched arms of the trees overhead.

     

    “So, you must’ve done something to make her angry with you.” With a bemused twitch of her whiskers, Rhea broke the silence and fixed him with those piercing eyes. “Care to share what it was?”

     

    Hawkbite could only sigh, searching his mind for a way to answer.

     

    “It was my fault.” He shook his head. “I just want to protect her…I know I’m wrong somehow, she always knows so much more than me, but I can’t say I’m sorry until I know why I am. For so long I’ve pushed others away, now I finally have someone to give a damn about. You know?” He sighed heavily. 

     

    “I understand, and I’m not sure I have any right to judge how you feel.”

     

    “Anyways…there’s something I want to ask you. Something I’ve always wanted to ask really.” He change the subject.

     

    “Anything.”

     

    “Why didn’t you come with me, when you took me to ThunderClan. We would have both been safe there. I know you like your freedom, but was it worth being in danger? I…I want to believe you had your reasons, but you left me. All alone”

     

    “Well, what you need to understand my son. Is that Razor may have been after you, but I had my own ghosts trailing me as well. I sought to protect you from them. And your Clan as well. These were my burdens, why did others need to suffer?”

     

    “Because we loved you!” He fired back without thinking. “I did. At least And the clan would’ve too, whether you stayed forever or not. And part of that love is sticking together, facing dangers together-

     

    “Hush-”

     

    “No! This is important-”

     

    “Hawk. Please, I hear something.”

     

    Reluctantly, Hawkbite ceased his tirade. He’d gotten more worked up than he realized. His heart was hammering in his chest, and his face and ears felt flush with heat. But as the pounding in his chest quieted, he became aware of the distant sound of crunching undergrowth. The pair waited with bated breath until a shadowy form emerged from the brambles. Their features were difficult to distinguish in the dark, but the voice that spoke was unmistakably male.

     

    “You’ve left yourself quite open, Rhea. Surely you knew the Talons were coming for you. Why else would you have lived life on the run?”

     

    “What business do you have with my mother?” Hawkbite growled, stepping in front of her, his hackles rising. From the second this cat had appeared he’d known this wasn’t going to be good. No one with any pleasant business would waste time sneaking about. “Who are the Talons? If they’re friends of Razor’s- he’s dead, you won’t get anything out of-”

     

    “Quiet, brat.” Snapped the dark outline. “This does not concern you, though you’re welcome to die with her.”

     

    “The only one who’s dying tonight-” Hawkbite fell into a crouch, muscles relaxing and then coiling to the fullest degree before he sprang. “Is YOU.” As he slammed into the other tom he got a better look at him. He was cloaked in black fur from head to toe, and he was quite large as well. Pointed tufted ears placed him in one of the heavyweight breeds favored by humans. But Hawkbite had Warrior training on his side. He’d been taught how to take down opponents larger than himself- and surely this brute hadn’t learned half the tactics he knew off in the city. 

     

    Hawkbite- no! We must fetch the others- I’ll-” Distantly he could hear his mother’s voice followed by the sound of retreating footsteps. But he was too busy clawing at every inch of their assailant that he could reach. Tricks and cleverness only got him so far, every blow his enemy landed was backed up by his massive size and so hurt twice as much as the ones Hawkbite was retaliating with.

     

    He grew weary quickly. It was almost as if his lungs were drawing less and less breath each time they emptied, never quite having long enough to replenish before the next strike. This didn’t add up. Whoever this tom was, he’d had some sort of training. Who were the Talons? The question swam hazily in Hawkbite’s mind as his backlegs failed him for the last time, and he peered up half-slumped at the other tom. Surely they’d be here any minute, they could take him together. Oh why hadn’t he waited? Why had he been so quick to leap to the defense of a perfectly capable cat? 

     

    The question was his last conscious thought. He was able to make out the blurred shape of a paw that blotted out the moonlight as it came down atop his head. And the world went quickly asunder a heavy blanket of black.

     

     

         When he woke, he had the distinct feeling many hours had passed. This was not just because sunlight was filtering through the patchwork rafters overhead, that of which blinded him temporarily. It was slowly that his vision returned to normal and was able to take in his new surroundings.The building was old as could be told from the aged wooden walls and rusted metal pipes. Just what kind of building it was, however, was unclear. It held a great many types of machines though just what they were for was a mystery. It was obvious they’d not seen use in some ages, as their true shape and purpose was obscured by rust and overgrown plant life. Where was this place? How far from the others was he? And why? Groggily he lifted his head, though it took great effort as every inch of him felt like it had been pummeled by a truck. He noticed his legs were bound, and struggled furtively against the tangle of thorny vines holding him. But he only succeeded in cutting new gashes into his already-abused ankles. Ugly laughter sounded from somewhere near to him.

     

    “Try all you want little cousin, even if you could escape you wouldn’t get far.”

     

    It was with considerable effort that he turned now to see who this new voice belonged to.

     

    “Wh…who are..” His brain was still feeling as if a strong block had been placed between where thought becomes words. Cousin? Suddenly he couldn’t exactly recall what a cousin was.

     

    “I’m the one who’s going to kill you!” Chirped the young cat in an amicable tone, as if they were simply discussing the weather or plans for a gettogether. 

     

    “Pheme! No speaking to the captive, ” A hoarse voice emanated from below the loft they’d placed him in. But it sounded like it was the same voice that had addressed them the night before. 

     

    The apprentice-aged cat he now knew was called Pheme scowled, but fell silent all the same. It gave him time to really take a good look at this cat who glibly claimed to be his kin. She had a strong case for it he supposed. She was cloaked in the same black fur, though the similarities ended there. If looking into Darkstone’s face had been like gazing into a mirror, then Pheme was a funhouse mirror. They had the same midnight black pelt and amber eyes. But where he was lithe and thin, she was stocky and solid like a tank. Could they be kin? She could always be lying, but why mess with him like that?

     

    “The captive…” He muttered to himself, wishing desperately that he had more information. The adult tom had spoken of killing him before, yet he held him alive (albeit battered) now. It was with dawning horror that his mouth slid open and he stared hollowly at Pheme. There could only be one reason these cats would choose to hold him like this.

     

    “I’m the bait.”

    • This reply was modified 1 month ago by Chris.
    • This reply was modified 3 weeks, 3 days ago by Chris.
    #6893
    Roach
    Participant

    Grass GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

    Chanterellefrost

    Scowling bitterly at the back of Hawk’s head in disdain, she was still pretty moody over the incidient that happened several days prior. She was not sure of these sudden mood swings, but thinking too much on it caused her head to hurt. It was easier to let her stubbornness take control and ignore his glances with a sticking her nose up in the air in a haughty manner. Yes, she was acting like a kit, but so was he.

     

    She just couldn’t comprehend why he had initially gotten so–angry! She had it under control if he had just given her moment to handle herself. Pursing her lips as deep down she knew that she was being irrational, her anger towards him was misplaced. As Chanterelle knew that she was truly upset with herself, letting her attention drift so easily that it could have gotten herself killed. Though she could not bring herself to verbalize her wrong doings.

     

    The heat was no longer scorching on her cherry brown spotted and striped pelt, but her stomach was constantly churning in discomfort. As of lately all she felt was irritable, hungry, or nauseous. The poor she-cat seemed to never be able to cut a break, keeping her obvious discomfort to herself as she knew that there was no time in complaining when they were so close to finding his mother, she could feel the excitement yet hesitation in Hawkbite. Even though she was still irked at Hawkbite for the way he had snapped at her, she was still worried for him. As it would kill her to see him become withdrawn if they did not find his mother soon; as guilt is a powerful drowning emotion.

     

    Panting softly as she stubbornly keeps up with his quick pace, her pads cracking from over use, but the stinging pain only fueled her more to continue onward. Brows furrowing as she could sense that her body was changing, her usual slender yet muscular build was starting to round out around the stomach. Her ankles felt sore and swollen, but she only presumed that such changes had to be with constantly being on the move. Yet, every time she had a turning feeling in her stomach, she couldn’t help but wonder if there was something more that what she wanted to believe.

     

    Settling in a secluded area for the night was a relieve for her. As for a moment she thought Hawk would continue on into the night, moaning in relieve to get off her sore paws as she nuzzles into a makeshift nest that she lazily put together. A soft smile gracing her feminine features for the first time in days as he took the initiative to ease her doubts. Not replying as she gives him a small, but comforting lick to his cheek. No words need be said as her gesture was clear: Of course they will make it home

     

    Foggy Good Morning GIF - Foggy Fog GoodMorning - Discover & Share GIFs

    The next morning was silent as the two felines fell into their normal routine over the last few weeks. Licking her dry and chapped lips as she wordlessly falls in line as she follows her mate. Inwardly she was praying to star clan that their lead would remain true, as she had no idea what they would do if their efforts were in vain.

     

    Gritting her teeth tightly together as she stumbles clumsily up the unsteady terrain, every once in a while she would flash Hawkbite a small smile as if to reassure him every time he threw her a concerned glance. Before either rolling her eyes or sticking her tongue out childishly when he turns away from her. Frowning as her breath taking blue orbs constantly flickers down to her paws as she watches her step, not wanting to tumble down the hill. Just the thought causes her cheeks to burn, such a horrid thought, if she truly fell down the steep slope, she didn’t believe she would be able to make a second trip back up.

     

    Snorting quietly to herself at the image of seeing herself splayed out at the bottom of the hill in utter defeat, very comical in her mind. “Thank star clan” she mutters as the hill finally levels out, shaking her paws for moment, taking in the beautiful view before her with an awe filled smile. The humid weather cooling down with the lovely breeze brushing against her glistening pelt, mindlessly kicking a pebble against the dirt road to occupy her time as they continue into a more rural area. Grinning as she felt more at home with the trees looming over her, appreciating the pine smell as well as the shade they provide.

     

    Grimacing at the sharp cramps in her stomach, brows creasing at the pain but brushes it off at the sudden feminine voice behind them. Stilling as she takes in the hesitation in the older she-cat’s voice, the trembling of emotions as she mutters one word: hawk. Ears perking up as her piercing gaze flickers in Hawkbite’s direction, only the profile of his face was visible to her, squinting her eyes as she tries to gauge his reaction. Huffing silently as it seemed that her mate was stupefied with the sudden appearance of she could only guess was his mother.

     

    Turning around slowly, letting her long tail caress hawk’s side to bring him back to reality. Her gaze landing on the petite looking she-cat, taking in her features, mentally noting the resemblance between the two. Chant does not speak up as she allows son and mother have their moment. It seemed that the two could only stare at one another with so many different emotions flickering in their gazes. Sudden annoyance prickles her pelt as all she wanted to say was; Yes you both are pretty! Now talk! Though she remained quiet and close to Hawk at all times, looking away from Rhea and Hawkbite, raising a brow in silent question towards the large calico Molly not too far away from Rhea. All she got from the calico was a sly smile, nothing more.

     

    Humming softly before sensing a knowing gaze on her, tuning her cranium to allow her blue eyes to clash with the ever knowing stare of his mother. Ears twitching backwards subconsciously as she could only guess how disgusting she looked from weeks of travel. ‘Great…what a good first impression’ she bitterly thinks, but tries to hide her self-consciousness by giving Rhea a bright smile. Though she was irritated with Hawk that he had failed to mention her before now, ‘What am I? Chopped liver?’ inwardly snorting at her inner monologue. Pressing lightly against his side in reassurance as Rhea gives her a warm welcome.

     

    At the mention of the calico, now known as Cybele, Chant gives a small nod. It was obvious that the two she-cat’s loved each other dearly from the small glances they constantly threw each other when they believed no one was looking. Smirking at their relationship before allowing Hawk to drag her along with them to seek shelter. Chanterelle couldn’t help but feel relieved and grateful that their long travels of searching had come to an end for them both.

     

    candle-flicker-gif - The Midnight Society

    Grinning in amusement as she listens to all the embarrassing stories Rhea had of Hawkbite. It brought her great pleasure to watch him squirm in discomfort at reliving those moments, course she knew that his mother was doing this on purpose as that’s what most mother’s do; they love to embarrass their kits.

     

    Eyes twinkling as she listens intently to how Hawkbite had gotten himself stuck in a tree to avoid the wrath of a small dog. Laughing along with Rhea and Cybele at her mates distress, her irrational anger towards him dwindling as she knew that he meant no harm in his constant need to keep her safe and protected, that’s just who he is, no matter how much he would like to stubbornly disagree. Giving him a loving look while he was too busy in trying to defend his honor. Shaking her head, though he technically was not off the hook yet…she would let him enjoy his time with his mother.

     

    Yawning tiredly as she was utterly exhausted from their travels, not having as much energy as she once did. After having her fill she bid goodnight to all three felines with a soft ‘goodnight’. All she could think of was that she wanted to let her overly exerted body rest as for once her stomach stilled, no nausea prickling within her as she curls up peacefully without a care to the world.

     

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Jumping awake with a start, her heart leaping to her throat as she had been awoken to an urgent shove to her shoulder. Wide eyes frantically searching for the source of her sudden and unexpected wakefulness. Arching a brow as she gives Rhea an unimpressed look for having been so rudely awaked as she was enjoying her deep slumber.

     

    Once her sleepy gaze focuses on the sable-pointed Molly and truly taking in her features, panic started to settle in as she took in the wild panic and overwhelming worry in her ocean blue eyes. “Whats wrong? Where’s Hawkbite?” her voice cracking from sleep and dread as she wobbles to her paws. Cursing as her paws felt numb, straightening up as she waits impatiently for Rhea to spit it out. Blinking owlishly as it dawns on her that whatever it was– it would not be good. “I swear if I didn’t have bad luck, I wouldn’t have luck at all” she mutters pitifully to herself.

     

    “Now I need you tell me everything, where is Hawk?” she demands, not caring if her tone was too harsh towards hawk’s mother. Hawkbite was her mate for crying out loud, she deserved to know what was going on and what had happened to him.

     

    ‘I’m gonna kill him when I get my paws on him’

    #7113
    Chris
    Participant

    For a moment, Rhea simply stared at the place where Hawkbite had been just before she’d left. Clearly wrestling with the urge to brush off his mate’s pleas for answers, and instead launch into a single-minded pursuit of his captors. As though sensing this, Cybele moved forward to press lightly on her shoulder, bringing her down to earth. Her slim shoulders sagged and she turned to face Chanterellefrost with tired eyes.

     

    “I should have told him everything long ago. Then we might not be here now.”

     

    “My sister heads a band of rogues known as the Talons of Death, a distinguished group of assassins. Growing up there wasn’t easy. Kin is encouraged to compete with kin, and stabbing someone in the back is more like to earn a reward than a punishment.”

     

    “My sister and I were once close, as kittens. We dreamed of taking over the Talons, leading them to a brave new future. Dreams turned into a plan, a plan to kill the chief himself.” She paused, and then added. “For what it’s worth, he was a wretched cat who deserved death.”

     

    “When the time came, I found she had poisoned not only the chief but the entire royal line. His mate, his siblings, even his very young kits.” A shudder briefly passed over her, but she kept on. “I was horrified. This wasn’t what we planned! But she told me it had to be this way, in order for it to work. That she’d spared me knowing for my own good.” She spat. “She didn’t take my reaction well. When I refused to go along with it and to keep quiet, she tried to have me killed. But I got away….and she’s wanted to kill me ever since. Doesn’t like what she can’t control, I suppose.”

     

    “It’s all my fault. I didn’t see her for what she was then. I kept all of this clutched close to my breast, and now my only son will die for it. Unless we can pull this off.”

     

     

    The sun was just barely cresting the hills when they set out. Just before the dawn a messenger had come with the terms, as expected. As he set off, Rhea remarked darkly that even such a light brush with the Talons would mark that cat forever. But they did not have time to worry about him.

     

    They arrived at the specified location a bit later into the morning. Everything was still freshly laden with dew, though it was steadily evaporating into a light steam that rolled lazily through the trees and down into the small valley.  Before them now was a mill of some sort, its exact function and purpose lost to the sands of time. The sprawling set of wooden buildings lay nestled between the meadow below and a creek, with some external machinery. The steel mechanisms were scarcely visible beneath rust and plant life. Wooden walls, a dull pasty brown flecked with algae. Just beside the mill a tub wheel churned the stream in soft murmurs.

    Apart from that, all was still. Almost too much so.

     

    Rhea departed to scout, and returned half an hour later with the report that they faced three in number on their rescue mission. A blessing, though Rhea noted that the Talons were no army, and seldom moved in larger numbers.

     

    Their plan was simple. Draw them out with the appearance of acquiescing to their terms. The shallows of the stream would hopefully put them on uneven ground. A gamble, as they would be in the same position but it was better than entering into a veritable maze of which the enemy had doubtless more knowledge of. As well as depriving their enemy of the one bargaining chip they had, Hawkbite. If they pounced too early there was nothing stopping the rogues from killing him. And Rhea was certain their threats to do so were no bluff. But they did have their secret weapon…

     

    “We must remember.” She said, blue eyes moving between the other two she-cats. “They will be prepared to kill, and so must we.”

     

    It was with a stony yet resolved silence that the trio glided down into the grassy field. Their paws made the barest of contact with the damp earth and emitted no sound. Ripples of a misty fog from evaporating dewdrops provided an unexpected but appreciated cover, allowing them to draw much closer than originally anticipated without detection. But it could not forestall the moment of truth. Eventually a yowl sounded from within indicating their presence was known to the occupants.

     

    A young cat exited through a gap in the boarded up walls a moment later. He had thick fur and a lynx-point pattern. Instantly Rhea knew without a doubt this cat had to be related to  Hera. A son, perhaps? It was hard to imagine her sister with kits of her own. But then again, she had never seen herself as a mother either. How strange fate could be.

    His face seemed like the sort of face that could be a kind one, but at the moment happened to be clumsily wearing a hardened expression around baby blues eyes. In which shadows of something like fear flickered. Poor thing. He wasn’t even fully grown, if she were any judge of it.

    With features that were still soft around the edges, it was like he’d yet to shed his baby fat completely. A poor dear indeed, but Rhea had to remind herself she and Hera had not been much older when they’d plotted to overthrow the Talons. How long ago it seemed.

    When he spoke, identifying himself as a trainee assassin named Argus, it was fairly calm. Simply informing them of the terms to which they agreed much in the way one might discuss the weather. Rhea for Hawkbite. That was the arrangement, after all.

     

    At last her son was carried through the threshold. Rhea’s heart skipped a beat and she had to double down on her composure to avoid rousing any suspicion. Though she ached to give Chanterellefrost the signal now, they needed to wait just until the right moment….

     

    Hawkbite looked tired. His ankles were bleeding and bound in what looked like thorny vines, but he appeared otherwise unharmed. He’d clearly been putting up a fight. Rhea felt a flare of pride in her son. Instead of laying there like a docile mouse, he’d tried to escape under his own power. In order to carry him, it took the combined efforts of the two remaining assassins. The massive black tom from the night before whom she vaguely recalled from her past. A cruel tom named Zion who was alays padding after Hera, doing her bidding. And what seemed to be a smaller version of him in she-cat form. They were each as vicious as would be expected of their faction. Argus glanced nervously between them.

    With a heavy thud they let Hawkbite fall from their backs and into the mud. He grunted with pain, and Rhea could not help but utter a low growl.

     

    “Now now Rhea.” The older tomcat spoke. “He’ll recover. He’s alive, our end of the bargain. Time to fulfill yours. Hera is merciful, your death will be swift once we arrive.”

     

    As she crossed to stand with the others, Hawkbite stirred and croaked weakly. “Mom….don’t..”

     

    “I’m afraid I haven’t been a very good mother up until now.” She sighed, as she passed by him. “It’s high time I made up for that.”

     

    She now stood close enough to the Zion that she could cout every whisker, every scar.

    He was an ugly bastard alright, but she had the benefit of knowing what a truly revolting soul that rueful visage housed. With each word his breath rolled hotly across her face, perfumed with the wretched abor of the city. If death had a smell, this was it. Behind her, Hawkbite was still begging her to reconsider. Her large ears pinned back to block out his pleas.

     

    Cybele hurriedly pulled Hawkbite back and began to undo his binds. From the corner of her eye even she could see something was wrong with him. He was sluggish, his eyes lolling about in his skull lazily. And he was barely reacting to the situation at hand, merely wailing for her like a confused kit. It took every ounce of resolve not to break and indulge him.

     

    Zion flicked his tail and his smaller compatriot laid a pile of purple leaves before her.

     

    “We’ll need you to eat these.” He instructed. “Don’t worry, it’s not poison. We fed the same to your boy. It’ll just make you a bit less feisty for a bit. Can’t have any mishaps on the journey home.”

     

    Bending her neck downward, Rhea moved deliberately slowly to take in every detail. Measuring in her mind when the best moment for action would prevent itself. Her mouth was filled with a bitter acrid taste as she chewed up the leaves. Swishing them around but closing off her throat to avoid ingesting any. Several tense seconds ticked by. The silence was disturbed only by the weak sounds of protest that still came from Hawkbite. He was still trying to rise, but lacked the strength and cognitive coordination to do so. Just as Zion opened his mouth to speak, when it was obvious his patience had at last expired, Rhea tensed her jaws and spat. She’d been aiming for his eyes, but succeeded more so in hitting her target on the right side than the left. The intended effect was nonetheless still felt as he reared back howling with pain. Her guess that the herbs felt as bad on the eyes as they tasted in the mouth had been a lucky one, but even had they not it still bought them the few precious seconds she needed to hiss in a low tone.

     

    “Now, Chanterellefrost!”

     

    By then the two younger trainees were reacting. The little black she-cat charged at Rhea, going for a tackle. Avoiding her entirely was impossible, but even so a swift sidestep deprived her of a solid hold as they went down in a tangled of claws and snarls. Argus was looking stricken, as if not entirely sure if he should attack or not. No one was paying Chanterellefrost any mind, who had seemingly vanished from view. Rhea knew where she’d gone, however. And she felt a surge of satisfaction upon glimpsing something small and round attached to a rope plummet from the upper corner of the door frame that led into the mill. When it hit the ground before their enemies feet nothing happened for a few seconds. Rhea’s attacker had frozen in surprise, but then began to laugh.

     

    “Was that your big show-stopper? Nice tr-”

     

    Her remaining words were drowned out by a furious buzzing which suddenly filled the air. Rhea took advantage of her stunned silence to aim a swift kick in her ribs and scramble away to help the others with Hawkbite. Just in time too, as the tenants of the beehive they’d set up per Chanterellefrost’s genius trap idea were stirring. Now that they’d been hurled onto the earth so suddenly, their fury had wrest from the smoke originally used to subdue them for this ploy. Barely a heartbeat later a virulent dark swarm burst from within. The chaos was instantaneous. Both Argus and the other youth started wailing and howling as the bees quickly overtook them, driving both back inside where their caterwauls bounced off the walls. Zion however had been quicker and was hot on their heels. His golden eyes red and irritated, his thick coat now riddled with angry bees though he scarcely seemed to notice them even as they plunged their barbs into his body. He was a machine intent on only one thing: their demise. Rhea suddenly knew she had only seconds to determine the outcome of the day.

     

    “Cybele.” She turned with a wretched tone.

     

    “You don’t even need to ask.” Her mate replied evenly. “I’m with you ‘til the last.”

     

    “Chanterellefrost.” Rhea rounded on her. “Cybele and I are going to lead Zion away. You get Hawkbite to safety. Those kits shouldn’t try to pursue you any longer.”

     

    And with that the two she-at pelted across the soggy ground. Their pursuer veered, as if Hawkbite and Chanterellefrost weren’t even there.

     

    Starclan, I know I am not one of your Warriors. She thought desperately, as her paws pounded the earth. She could practically feel his rank breath on her nape.

     

    But I ask for your protection now. Let us all make it through this. Please.

     

     

    When Hawkbite managed to at long last pry open his eyelids, the sun had long since set. A deep inky sky greeted him instead, winking with stars. Making to sit up swiftly, his head swam forcing him to give up any delusions about sitting up, and instead lay down one cheek pressed to the cold earth.

     

    “Easy, easy Hawk.” Came the crooning voice of his mother, who was laying just beside him. Her tongue rasped gingerly over his head, and instinctively he burrowed into her side. Suddenly even the starlight was too bright to him. He was a kit again, nestled beside the pelts of his sisters. Even now he could almost swear he felt them, smelled their scent, ever so faintly…

     

    “That drought they fed you makes you feel like mouse-dung for days. I should know, Hera drugged me when she tried to have me killed.” Remarked Rhea, who continued to wash him. Embarrassing though it would normally be, he was too tired to argue.

     

    “Hera…?” He mumbled sleepily.

     

    It was then that Rhea launched into her story. Detailing just who the cats that had captured him were, were being the operative word at play, as the one named Zion was now apparently dead. They’d let the two kits go, knowing they’d fight to the death if given the option. And none of them wanted kit blood on their paws. Even the blood of cruelly twisted kits from an assassins league. Hawkbite listened with rapt attention, his head laying on her side steadily going up and down with each breath. He noticed from the corner of his eye however that Chanterellefrost was taking all of this without much reaction. A lot must have happened why I was out. He thought, stung he’d missed all the action. Still, it was better than being dead.

     

    “So she really is my cousin.” He muttered when she concluded her tale. It was so much to take in. He couldn’t even tell if his head was swimming from the medicine or the revelation about his mother’s past.

     

    “We cannot choose our blood kin.” She shrugged.

     

    “I wish you’d told me. I would’ve understood.” He closed his eyes.

     

    “I should have told you. Even if you didn’t understand. You were a kitten but you still deserved the truth about why your mother was leaving you.” Rhea shook her head roughly side to side, her teeth gritted so that the end of her sentence came out somewhat muffled.

     

    “I get why you didn’t though. When you love someone, all you wanna do is protect them. So much so that you forget to let them protect you in return.” He was now looking at his mate as he spoke. Regret shimmered in his amber eyes. “I’m really sorry. You all saved my sorry hide today.”

     

    “And we’d do it again.” Cybele added. They all laughed. Later into the night Chanterelelfrost caught them all plump juicy mice for dinner, allowing one by one for the members of their little party to drop off. Bellies full, minds at ease. Their victory had not been a glamorous one, but they basked in it all the same.

     

    “You were wrong, by the way.” Hawkbite broke the silence that had formedwhen the others had at last gone to bed. You’re the best mother a tom could ask for. Not perfect no, but I wasn’t the perfect son either. Somewhere we met in the middle. But I think it’s time we set down our guilt….things turned out okay, didn’t they?”

     

    “They have now.”

     

    ~

     

    “You’re sure you know the way back? Our shortcuts will save you time but-”

     

    “Mom I’m a full-grown tom, we’ve got this.” Muttered Hawkbite dodging a concerned lick from his mother. Though upon seeing the hurt in her face, conceded to re-present his head for the licking. Rhea paused, and then proceeded to pull him in for a loving noogie. When they at last broke apart the tuft of hair on his head was in complete disarray. Cooly, he pawed at it to get that suave swoosh just over his eyes back in place.

     

    “What about you though? Didn’t you say Pheme swore vengeance for Zion? So the Talons will just send someone else.” He pressed.

     

    “We’ve got a plan, actually.” It was Cybele who spoke this time.

     

    “Yes.” Nodded Rhea to her mate. “It’s time I stopped running from my sister. Cybele and I are going to seek out dissidents against the Talons, and form a coalition. They’ve ruined enough lives.”

     

    Hawkbite stared at his mother like he was seeing her for the first time. She was standing taller than he could ever remember when he was growing up. The yoke she’d been carrying all those moons had finally been cast off. This was a new chapter. Each of them felt it in their bones.

     

    “Thanks, by the way.” He addressed his mother’s mate  this time, somewhat awkwardly at first. “You’ve made her so happy.”

     

    “She’s made me happy too.” Purred the huge calico she-cat, leaning on Rhea’s thin fame playfully. “I hope you’ll consider me a cool aunt, of sorts.”

     

    “Aunt? No way. I’ve got two moms now.” Laughed Hawkbite. “Twice the fussing…..urgh..”

     

    “Do be safe.” Rhe said as she gave Cybele a light shove back. Then her gaze shifted to Chanterellefrost. “You too, Chant. Fighting with us when you are expecting kits was a gamble. Take care on your way home.”

     

    “Kits?” Hawkbite’s mouth fell open, and he glanced between his mate and mother as if half-expecting one of them to shout ‘gotcha!’. Only, no one ever did.

     

    “You two have much to discuss.” His mother said coyly, standing back to her paws. “We’ll see eachother soon, my son. I promise.”

     

    And just like that. She was gone again. Hawkbite and Chanterellefrost stood in silence for a few moments after, before departing without any more words.

     

    “Kits. Wow. So….uh…how do you feel about that?” Hawkbite meowed as they reached the edge where the countryside ended and the city began. This was the first leg of their trip home. Though this time around they set out with much better intel and experience under their belts. The pregnancy had done away with his confidence however, as he now eyed his mate with extreme worry. How were they going to get through this? Would their combined willpower be enough?

     

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