Something Wicked This Way Comes

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    There was no season that Nettlenose dreaded more than leaf-bare. Though the snow that settled on the frozen ground had a particularly beautiful shimmer underneath the moonlight, it was deceivingly cold and frigid, its beauty best to be admired but not pursued. That same glistening white powder was the killer of so many important herbs, their numbers dwindling in the low temperatures that fell across their territories, those same temperatures also responsible for making many cats fall ill. Even colds had to be closely watched, in case of any development. 

    Carefully, Windclan’s medicine cat was bundling remaining herb stores between protective folds of thick leaves in an effort to help shield them from the cold. Despite the cold weather, her clan was of course pressing forward in a display of sturdiness, and she was grateful for such an enduring group of companions. It was knowing that she had help and support, especially from those such as her fellow healer Startledcrow, that ignited her own hope and passion to keep moving forward.

    A gentle sigh left the molly’s maw, her breath visible in the fading daylight. The sun was slipping beneath the horizon now, her emerald eyes focusing as her pearly teeth created another neat fold in a leaf serving as an herb wrap. Once finished, she tucked the last bundle into storage, feeling satisfied with ending things for the day there. She had made her rounds with those who were feeling ill, and now the herbs had been attended. Shaking her fluffy cream striped pelt out, the she-cat turned, though found herself frozen almost instantly as she took a step.

    At first Nettlenose believed her eyes were still adjusting to the fading daylight, but the darkness she now found herself in did not leave. Alarmed, she glanced down to her paws, which felt so cold they were almost numb, but were still visible to her gaze. Her heartbeat quickened with alarm, round eyes shooting back upwards. What was this? The molly opened her mouth to call out, however her words were covered by a deafening sound, beating intensely against the air.

    It took a moment for her to realize what the sound was, her fur sticking up in the air as she eventually recognized it to be the sound of bird wings, flapping and fluttering in all directions, the wind from their intense flight brushing back her pelt. The she-cat gasped at this discovery, blinking as their forms began to appear, her head ducking in attempt to miss a strike from one of the sweeping creatures. She took in their inky black forms, like shadows in the darkness as they flew and swirled, a spiraling tornado of blackness. Their wings seemed to beat harder by the second, ominous and loud calls chiming in as if to yell at her, teasing her, screaming at her.

    The numbers of the flying birds seemed to increase every breath she took, intense and growing, expanding in the black nothingness she found herself in, crowding her so terribly until she could drink their scent, feel their feather upon her fur.

    Ravens, a nightmare of them, swarming and swooping, screaming and coordinated yet all over the place. And the coldness she felt….worse than any night she had experienced, worse than any snowfall, a feeling as frigid as…as “Death.” 

    The word solidified on her palate, feeling disgusting and terrible but certain, and she knew then. As she blinked again her world came back into being, her sides heaving from what she had just witnessed, but there was no more noise. It was almost disturbing how silent it was in her ears after the terrible ringing and cawing of the birds, her feet still seeming unable to move as she tried to process what had just occurred. An omen, some sort of terrible and condemning message, something they certainly did not need right now. The medicine cat glanced around her den for a slow moment, as if checking to see if the birds were actually gone, and she then looked to the entrance of the medicine cat den.

    Outside was the snow, glistening still and shimmering, welcoming the pale light of the night sky. However its beauty was gone in her eyes, as the cold reminded her of the unbearable chill she had just felt to her core, and her heartrate refused to slow. She had to tell her father about this, and quickly at that. Whatever she had just seen, the feeling of unfortunate terrors would not leave her being. The medicine cat swallowed and took her first steps forwards, towards the exit of her den to warn of her vision.

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