Welcome to The Eleventh Hour. We are a post-Firestar roleplay set in the new lake territories, and are AU after the end of the main series. Peace has reigned through the Clans for many moons, but now that peace has fractured and split among the mysteries surrounding their home. Cats are dying with only one thing in common: They are all found floating in, or laying wet and muddy around the lake. The Clans have begun to lash out at one another in fear and confusion, and only RiverClan seems to hold the key to preventing an all-out war. With an entirely member-driven (you decide the outcome!) plot, a mere two hundred minimum word count, and a friendly, active user base, we hope that you like what you see and will consider joining us.
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green-leaf: temperatures between 70° and 95°f. rain currently threatens the sky. prey is difficult to find, and skinny.
Want to learn more about our lovely staff members? Check out our bios here!
"I don't give a mouse's tail what anybody else might think of us or whatever difference in rank they might see. There is none to me. You are a dear, dear friend to me, Oakwhisker, and I'm honored you feel the way you do. To tell the truth, there is no one else, there never has been. As long as I was serving ShadowClan, I thought that would be okay. But I was wrong. I do love you, Oakwhisker, and I would be just as honored to walk with you, if that's what you want."
Site concept and skin (When I See You Again) created by Rowan for use on The Eleventh Hour only. We give thanks to Becky at Candyland Couture for the mini-profiles. CFS codes by ree. Images, characters and side plots are copyrighted to their respective owners. The Warriors series belongs to the lovely ladies known as Erin Hunter, and is published by HarperCollins. Thank you for visiting!
AUGUST 25, 2015 Hey, guys! Sorry for the lack of events; between preparing for the new year of uni and trying to get SkyClan in order, there hasn't been much time for brainstorming. The month of September will, however, be chuck-full of stuff for you guys to enjoy to make up for it. That said, the August Activity Check and OTM Nominations have been posted. Please post there as soon as possible if you plan on sticking around.
AUGUST 05, 2015 Hey, guys; don't forget to give this a look-see. We've been seeing quite an unrealistic amount of forbidden relationships (especially regarding the site's medicine cats), so this thread contains some important new information regarding that.
AUGUST 04, 2015 OTM badges are running a little late, because I (Rowan) have to reinstall Photoshop before I can make them. They should start appearing on your mini-profiles within a day or two.
JULY 30, 2015 We have added a board for retroactive threads, titled the Hall of Dreams! This board is for anything that happened in a character's past - including things pre-site or things that never got a chance to be threaded out. All of the usual site rules apply!
JULY 25, 2015 The monthly Activity Check and OTM Nominations have been posted! Please reply to the thread as soon as possible. Also, we're working diligently on SkyClan's site lore, so expect them to make an appearance before Summer's end!
JULY 05, 2015 Ohoho, so soon? Yes! Another FLASH EVENT is taking place over in ShadowClan! Go protect your territory from a desperate fox!
JULY 04, 2015 Happy 4th of July, everyone! In celebration, an adder is attacking the ThunderClan nursery! Hurry and take part in this very fun FLASH EVENT. If you don't have any TC cats, don't worry; we will have stuff for everyone at some point. Stay tuned!
JUNE 25, 2015 We ask that you all please take a look at this post within the activity check thread, as it contains some important information regarding the OTMs.
JUNE 25, 2015 The monthly activity check and otm nominations have been posted! Please reply to the thread by July 1st, or you will risk deletion.
JUNE 21, 2015 Green-leaf has officially started on EH, and with it comes another event! This event will last for about two weeks, so have at it! The deadline has also been chosen for our SkyClan high positions, and it will be on June 28, 2015. However, they will likely not be announced until a few days after that, as we have implemented a new staff voting system for these sorts of decisions.
JUNE 20, 2015 Alright, congrats to our newest moderator, Aspen! All of the applications were beyond fantastic. This has literally been the hardest decision we've ever had to make, and I truly wish we could just wrap you all up in a tiny modlet blanket and keep everyone, but there will be more opportunities in the future, I'm sure.
JUNE 19, 2015 Friendly reminder for everyone to please post in this thread once you've finished your character. Sometimes it's hard for us to be able to tell which apps are done and which are not, which then leads to us taking forever to review and accept them. We don't like to keep people waiting for too long before they're able to play their characters, so this just makes it easier for us. Thanks!
JUNE 16, 2015 Seeing as how we've been seeing a lot of this lately, the rules have been updated.
JUNE 09, 2015 We now have a weather box! It can be found right beneath our welcome message, so please look to it when starting up new threads. This will be updated daily or weekly to keep things fresh, depending on how long the weather pattern holds.
JUNE 05, 2015 Today marks one year since EH's grand opening, and we are celebrating with a brand new skin! Not only that, but be sure to keep your eye out for several goodies throughout this month, including (but not limited to) contests and events. Here's to the future!
JUNE 04, 2015 In light of Tinsel's departure for the time being, Batnose has become the new ShadowClan medicine cat. Now, the reason we didn't hold auditions is simple; because Orchidsong didn't hold the position for long, we felt it to be reasonable that we fall back on someone else who had auditioned at the same time, and therefore we reviewed the old auditions one more time. Congratulations!
MAY 30, 2015 Training Threads and Pregnant Leaders / Deputies will no longer show up as a merit, just to keep things a little bit cleaner, as we're sure a lot of people will purchase training threads. This will prevent merit repeats for items. If your Training Thread or Pregnant Leader / Deputy item is still showing up as a merit, please PM Rowan and she will fix it. In similar news, we've limited the number of a single item permitted to be in your inventory at a time to one. This will hopefully prevent people from hoarding, and allow others to have a chance at snagging the item they need. Only one more day remains in the activity check, so please post if you plan on sticking around!
MAY 29, 2015 Please welcome Brandad to the EH Crew!! He is our newest moderator, so please don't hesitate to ask him questions and offer your congratulations!
MAY 28, 2015 Sadly, Tinsel has decided to step down from her position of staff. We will miss her, however she will definitely be welcomed back to the team if she ever decides she wants to help out again! She is not leaving the site, and will remain a beloved member of our community.
MAY 25, 2015 The monthly activity check and otm nominations have been posted.
MAY 19, 2015 Congratulations to Tyl and her character, Darkstorm, on becoming the new WindClan deputy! Thank you to everyone else who auditioned, too. You made the decision incredibly difficult for all of us (and Bran). We look forward to seeing how WC develops from here.
MAY 18, 2015 Don't forget to drop by our mentor and apprentice pairings thread to let us know when you've got enough posts in a thread. We try to stay on top of it, but some threads still manage to slip past us.
MAY 16, 2015 This is a reminder for everyone to please log into all your accounts daily, even if you don't post. It really helps us out when we recycle things. Also, remember that there is still a prey shortage! I've noticed a lot of threads where the hunting parties have been quite successful, however they should not be. Some prey is fine, of course, but you should not be finding large quantities of prey, and it shouldn't be large and/or plump when it is found. Yes, this applies to RiverClan, too; the fish are at an all-time low, as well, more likely to be found dead.
MAY 13, 2015 Congratulations to Tinsel and her character, Orchidsong, for becoming the new medicine cat of ShadowClan! If you didn't get it, we're sorry; there were a lot of great auditions, and there will surely be more opportunities to audition for another spot in the future. For instance, did you know that WindClan currently needs a deputy? The deadline for that has been set for May 19th, so go audition while you can!
MAY 10, 2015 Syn has chosen to step down from her role as WindClan leader. She is fine, so don't worry; she just doesn't feel like she can be active enough to hold that position. However, she will be keeping Reedwhisker, one of the RiverClan medicine cats, and Acornstar is still alive (now known as Acornbelly); we are still determining his reasons for stepping down. This means that Harenose has been promoted, and that WindClan Deputy auditions are now open!!
MAY 06, 2015 Congratulations to Nocturne and her character, Rooktail, for becoming the new deputy of RiverClan! We will be naming the new ShadowClan Medicine Cat on May 13th, so get your auditions in by then if you're interested!
MAY 01, 2015 The activity check has ended, and any inactive accounts have now been purged from the site. If you have returned, or you were somehow deleted by mistake, we ask that you simply remake your accounts and PM Rowan, so that she can restore your things.
APRIL 30, 2015 The activity check and otm voting will end tomorrow, so please post if you're still active, and haven't yet. If you don't have an active absence thread, you will be deleted if you don't post! There are also meetings going on in ThunderClan, ShadowClan, and WindClan that you guys can feel free to post in if you're looking for something quick to do. c:
APRIL 30, 2015 It's recently been called to my (Rowan's) attention that I may have handled Mericet's leaving quite poorly, and I would like to make it right. This should have been made on the day that she left us (which would have officially been April 27th, 2015), but here it goes, and I hope it's not too late for it to mean anything. Mer has decided that EH is not in her best interests anymore, and has decided to leave. However, I would like to say that she put a lot of time and effort into EH, helping me to make it the fantastic success it has been all this time, and I will forever be grateful to her for that. She drove me to make updates when I was being a bit slow, and when activity was low, she logged in and encouraged others to do so as well. She's the reason we have an automated marketplace now, and that awards system? Thank her for that. She loved the site as much as I do, so please understand that her leaving was through no fault of her own. As for her characters, she has said that they are all dead (except for adopted ones, which may be put back up for adoption), but she has requested that no details about their deaths be given, and I'd like you all to respect that wish. Thank you.
APRIL 29, 2015 Our new RiverClan Deputy will be announced on May 6th, so get those auditions in while you can!
APRIL 25, 2015 As per the usual, our Activity Check and OTM Nominations have been posted for the month of April. Please post, and vote as soon as you are able! From now on, those who don't vote in the OTMs will not be allowed to win in the category that they did not vote in. Any empty spaces will be chosen by our staff.
APRIL 21, 2015 The raid has ended with Stonestar's reveal that it is not the Clans killing off the cats... something is wrong with the lake.
APRIL 18, 2015 We now have a StarClan sub-board available for you all to roleplay the dead kitties that you've kept around! We don't want to see a bunch of freshly made dead cats, however; this is mainly for characters who have died on site. One or two cats from one of your living characters' pasts is alright, just don't go overboard please. Thank you!
APRIL 12, 2015 Due to the amount of people starting up a forbidden romance, which we feel to be quite unrealistic to the way that the warriors world works, it is now required that you purchase this from the marketplace. You will need to do this even if you've already begun your relationship, otherwise it will not be permitted to continue. If you've already given birth to forbidden kits, please PM Rowan or Mericet and they will gift you the forbidden romance, but only if you've already gotten that far. Thank you, and we hope you understand.
APRIL 09, 2015 Congratulations to Tinsel for being selected for biography moderator and to Zebra for becoming our new advertisement moderator! Be sure to give these two warm hugs when you see them. Good job everyone who auditioned, it was hard to choose between all of you!
APRIL 03, 2015 Currently, the staff team is accepting moderator auditions! They're open to members new and old, and we wish all you hopefuls good luck! We would also like to congratulate Bran, with his character Harenose for achieving deputy in WindClan!
MARCH 24, 2015 Congratulations to Golden, and Maplecloud for becoming the newest ThunderClan Deputy! Thank you to everyone who tried out; it was a truly difficult decision to make.
MARCH 22, 2015 The March activity check and OTMs have been posted! Please reply by April first. Thank you!
MARCH 17, 2015 The deadline for the ThunderClan Deputy Auditions has been decided: March 24, 2015. If you are interested in the position, please have your audition in by then. Thank you, and happy St. Patrick's Day!
MARCH 12, 2015 New skin! As always, please let us know if you find anything out of place or awkward, or if any of the colours sear out your eyeballs. Remember to please log into all your accounts daily, even if you don't post; it really helps us out when we recycle things.
MARCH 09, 2015 Due to Fallow's current situation, she has decided to downsize. As a result, sadly, Whitestep will be resigning, and ThunderClan Deputy Auditions are now open! Be sure to get your auditions in asap. WindClan MCA will remain closed until Zebra feels like Owlberry is ready to take on a new apprentice. EDIT Fallow is alright, she just isn't able to be around much and felt that it was unfair for her to have high positions while she's on hiatus. She appreciates your concern and will be doing her best to keep us updated on how she is. <3
FEBRUARY 28, 2015 Friendly reminder for everyone to please log into all your accounts daily! It makes it easier on us when we recycle things. Thank you!
FEBRUARY 24, 2015 The February activity check and OTMs have been posted and end March third. Please post! <3
FEBRUARY 23, 2015 Due to our growing member base (and because of a recent incident on my part), you are now able to reserve names for up to one week at a time to make sure that your prefix does not get snatched up before you are able to finish your bio. Please visit the name claim to do so. On a brighter note, I am pleased by the rate at which the raid is moving! Keep it up!
FEBRUARY 19, 2015 Congratulations, Mothpaw, on becoming the newest member of ThunderClan's medicine team! A big thank you to all who applied for the position — you all definitely succeeded in making this difficult for me with your stunning applications!
FEBRUARY 19, 2015 It's about to get real over in ThunderClan, as the RAID has been started! The character excerpt contest has been closed, too, and the results of that will be posted momentarily. The ThunderClan MCA auditions are closed! Results will be posted by Moonaloo later today.
moderately dangerous, possible envenomation and death.
she stopped to taste the air, her forked tongue flicking out lazily. the sun had just begun to set. generally, the forest teemed with scents at night, but she could detect virtually nothing. with a soft hiss of annoyance, she set forward.
fallen leaves scratched at her skin, further agitating. she had just begun to shed, parts of her skin dull and flaky and some parts a shiny brown. she did not want to be out here, not while she felt so vulnerable, but hunger drove her out of hiding. she had not had a good meal in so long...
her tongue flickered out again. she tasted something-- musty and furry and warm, filled with blood, and she knew immediately there were leg beasts nearby. she rarely meddled with these particular sorts, but hunger sent her slithering forward through a thick patch of brambles. perhaps she could find an unattended hatchling leg beast and be full for a long time... thorns pricked and tugged at her sloughing skin, adding only to her irritation.
she broke through to the other side, their scent overwhelming. she could tell, almost immediately, where the littler ones resided-- their area tasted like fox cubs and badger cubs, a sweeter scent foreign to her. she slithered forward, trying to remain unseen...
to be injured:
PM BRAN TO BE ADDED TO THE LIST
Lionheart was deathly afraid of snakes. It was perhaps his greatest fear, next to failing in his loyalty to the clan. The tom's green eyes could not focus on its body; they could not focus on its head; they could only focus to the general clearing around the snake. Lionheart knew this would not end well. He knew that this would only end up hurting a kit, apprentice, queen or elder and potentially killing them and so he also knew that he would have to set his fear aside to face the danger that lay before him. "Get out of here," The large golden tom growled in a more stern tone than his usual joyful demeanour, "Get out before this gets ugly."
He then turned around to head a little farther back towards the warriors' den where undoubtedly some strong fighters would be able to help the cause. "Quick, warriors! There is a snake in the nursery and not just any snake, but an adder!" His voice was trembling, and he struggled to hide his shaking fear under his strong outward appearance. It was a trying time and the senior warrior could only pray that this snake would leave before it had a change to hurt anyone, especially a kit.
Thistlesong was oft seen in the nursery - she would babysit and advice young new queens, watch over the kits and tell them stories. The nursery was supposed to be a safe place, where the kits could roam happily under the watchful eyes of the many mothers.
So when she heard Lionheart calling for help. A snake in the nursery. And not just any snake. An adder. Her heart froze - Leopardheart was pregnant and if she was bitten it would spell an end not just for her, but for her unborn kits, too. Aspentongue's kits were there as well. Unlike her long furred companion, Thistlesong was not afraid of snakes.
She was out of her nest in an instant, pushing past Lionheart and striding quickly towards the nursery. Her eyes did not find the snake initially - her first concern was getting the kits and mothers out of harms way.
"Leopardheart," she barked at the spotted queen, who flinched. "Get the kits out of here, now." she said. The spotted bengal nodded, rising from her nest, belly swinging as she started to herd Aspen's little ones out of harms way. Thistlesong's tail flicked irritably as her yellow eyes swept around the nursery. She spotted it and her eyes narrowed.
She let out a warning hiss, tail high, fur on end, ears back. Dropping low, she kept her eyes on her opponent, claws unsheathed. A bite from this would kill a kit or an apprentice - it could kill her, but she was strong. She had better chances of surviving than the younger cats.
"Don't just stand there, Lionheart!" Thistlesong growled, not daring to take her eyes off of the adder. "The more of us that stand against it, the better chance we have of killing it and living to tell the tale!"
There was a sudden commotion, and at first, Rowanstar had trouble pinpointing its location. "There is a snake in the nursery," he heard one of his warriors shout. He needed to hear no more; Aspentongue, along with his kits, were in there! The muscular tom bolted down the side of the Highledge, flying as fast as he could to the nursery. Much to his relief, however, he found that Leopardheart had already managed to evacuate the den. His mate and children were nowhere to be seen; he could breathe easier now, turning his attention back on what was necessary — locating the snake and driving it out. Or better yet, killing it.
Finding it wasn't hard. His calico clan-mate had already done so by the time he arrived, and she wouldn't let it out of her sight. Rightly so, too, as snakes were fast and cunning. In the blink of an eye, they could vanish, blending in with their surroundings or disappearing altogether.
Rowanstar lowered himself to the ground, edging his body around towards the snake's tail-end. An adder, he observed, taking note of the weird coincidence. I hate adders..."Lionheart, we could use some reinforcements!" Claws unsheathed, he took a hard swing at his opponent's rear, hoping to distract it long enough for him to get ahead of it. Not it... 'her', judging by her size. He hadn't counted on becoming spooked by his own attempts. He leaped into the air, anticipating a retaliation from the enemy, landing in the entrance to the nursery. He was now face to face with his opponent, assuming she hadn't turned around at the first attack. He flattened his ears to his skull, his rear blocking the only path into the snake's intended target. Rowanstar was at a severe disadvantage now; his fur had become tangled around the thorns that protected the nursery, and he struggled to free himself.
He heard the gasps coming from nursery before he heard the yelling. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up at the sound. Immediately alert, Ivorytail sat straight up in his nest, red eyes wide trying to figure out what was going on. Quickly, the snow white tom raced out of the warriors' den, quickly searching about camp. The majority of the commotion was coming from the nursery, and that couldn't be good.
Ivorytail burst into a sprint, carrying himself across camp in a few, quick bounds. He assessed the situation as quickly as he possibly could, learning that an adder had snuck into the fortified nursery. His heart was still racing from the sudden awakening, but now he was worried for a whole different reason. He couldn't let this creature hurt any of his clanmates.
Several cats were already gathered outside of the nursery, yelling orders. The situation had evolved into complete and utter chaos. Ivorytail pushed through the entrance, around the cats trying to distract the snake, his eyes adjusting to the dimmer light quickly. "C'mon, everybody needs to get out now! There's an adder just outside." he hissed at the queens and kits, trying to instill a sense of authority that he wasn't sure he actually possessed. Some of them had already been cleared out by Thistlesong's order to Leopardheart, but several cats still remained, cowering in fear. Ivorytail grabbed a kit by the nape of the neck and squeezed back out into the clearing of camp. He looked around quickly, and decided that the elders' den would probably be the safest place for now. He trotted over, gingerly place the mewling kit down in Apple-ear's care.
A few other queens and kits had followed, and he waved his tail in order to keep them calm and steady. They were frantically trying to count everyone to see if all of the kits had been grabbed and moved, but they weren't sure where some of the others had hid. Ivorytail took a position near the entrance of the den along with a few other warriors, readying himself in case the adder decided to make it's way over here.
At first, Snakekit had thought nothing of the strange slithering sound, so soft it was barely perceivable. Unfamiliar noises were rarely a threat, after all; not with so much protection in and around the nursery. She’d become used to the younger kits crying about the smallest of things, whether it be a strong gust of wind or their own shadow. It had desensitized her, writing their behaviour off as silly and childish. Even when Mudkit had vanished, leaving her confused and angry, she’d never entertained the thought of a possible threat coming to their den, stealing her away as they had him. So she’d kept napping, too proud to admit that she, too, was having trouble sleeping at night without her brother by her side.
Besides, she had more important things to think about. Like dreams of her upcoming apprentice ceremony, only days away. She’d rehearsed the words she was supposed to say hundreds of times, knowing she needed to make her mother proud. Only StarClan could say who her mentor was to be. Would it be Nut-tail, steady and protective? Or Sloecloud, understanding and charismatic? Maybe she’d even have Rowanstar as her mentor. That would surely convince Snailkit and Goldenkit that she was the best….
So when the commotion had begun, Snakekit, still groggy with sleep, had been more than a little confused. Her first reaction was that it had to be some kind of fire; after all, why else would there be so much running and screaming? But no; more cats were coming to the den, not leaving it. Someone was shouting to get the kits out, and… was that Rowanstar?
But before she could get a second look, a white warrior was already working to escort her and the other kits out of the den. ”C’mon, everybody needs to get out now! There’s an adder just outside.” Who was she to question a warrior? Snakekit followed blindly for a few moments with the others before his words set in. An adder? A snake, just like her namesake?
This she had to see.
Ignoring her sibling’s protests as she broke free of the formation, Snakekit pushed her way back into the nursery, aiming for the far wall. The warriors were too distracted with the long, brown thing on the ground to notice her. She watched the creature dart its tongue, bright red-brown eyes glancing this way and that. She knew that she should be scared, but all she felt was a sort of awe. Snailkit won’t be able to say that he saw this! Besides, the adder wasn’t that big. What damage could it do to someone like her, as big and strong as any apprentice?
Morningkit had been trying to keep out of the way all day, while surreptitiously digging at that impossible-to-reach place between her shoulders whenever no one was looking. She swore she had a tick back there, but she wasn't about to go telling her mom about it, not when she'd picked it up in a rare moment of rebelliousness crawling around in the apprentices' den. I just wanted to see where I'll be sleeping soon! The excuse sounded pathetic even in her head, but it really was the truth. But she had to be strong now, like her siblings when they refused to own up to something bad they had done. The stripey she-kit's idea of mischief didn't really level up to sneaking out of the entire camp, but to her, sneaking out was sneaking out.
She'd just managed to get a back claw under the parasite when a cry rang from outside the nursery. She couldn't make out the words, but there was definite alarm, and fear, in the yowl. Shortly after the call, a rush of pawsteps approached, along with a vicious fighting hiss. Suddenly Ivorytail, an oddly pale warrior, burst into the main nursery area, fur bristling. "C'mon, everybody needs to get out now! There's an adder just outside."
The older cats reacted with varying levels of horror, shock, and terror, but it was lost on Morningkit. She knew the leader of ShadowClan was named Adderstar, of course, but what was an adder, really? Wasn't it a tree? No, wait, that was alder. If it hadn't been in camp before now, she supposed it had to be able to move and was therefore an animal. A dangerous animal? Oh, I guess that's why everyone is scared. Maybe it's a big bird and will take off with a kit like me. But then, why would we have to go outside?
She had just made up her mind to stay right where she was, thank you, when she saw Snakekit slip away from her mother and siblings, dodge past Morningkit's own father, and run out of her line of sight with an expression of awe on her muzzle. "Snakekit, no! Wait!" But there was nothing for it. She knew that even if the other kit heard her, she wouldn't stop just because someone else was worried. Snakekit was braver than that.
So Morningkit would have to be brave, too. The tick on her back completely forgotten, the ginger tabby sprinted as fast as her short legs could carry her, rocketing out of the nursery and careening after Snakekit's path. Her eyes fell upon what must be the adder - a long, writhing snake with beady, dead eyes and patchy skin that held no trace of fur nor feathers. It was bigger than a cat, and looked at even the largest warrior nearby, Lionheart, with hunger on its nasty maw. Snakekit, meanwhile, looked enraptured. Hadn't the elders told a story once, about a snake that could put its prey in a trance so that it walked right into waiting fangs? She couldn't let that happen to her denmate!
But all her senses screamed for Morningkit to run as far away from the hideous creature as she could get, and her kit's mind immediately told her to run for her parents. Rowanstar was here, of course he was here, defending not only his Clanmates but his family, like a brave leader and father should. But he had run at the adder, swiped and jumped away, and now the snake was staring at him too! Where was Aspentongue?! Where was Maplecloud, surely she had realized her daughter was missing?
Morningkit couldn't look away from Snakekit, could almost see the predator she shared a aname with snatching her up in front of everyone. But she just couldn't move, she was sure she would die too. The kit threw herself to the ground, littlep paws over her head, and cried as loud as she could, "Somebody HELP! Somebody get Snakekit before it EATS her!"
Words: 669 For: TC vs snake Notes: such drama very confliction
moderately dangerous, possible envenomation and death.
it didn't take long for the first leg beast to find her. he was lots of shades of red, and not just in his strange scales-- his body radiated heat, and when she flicked her tongue out again, she could taste the hot, bitter fear that rolled off of him in thick waves. he was afraid of her. he rightly should be. his voice cracked the air, his voice sending unsteady, waving vibrations to the ground. he did not have faith in the strange words he spoke with his strange tongue. good.
she dodged him easily enough, and the strange female that shouted at him (barking orders, no doubt, or perhaps chastising him for his fear). she felt a stampede, as a wave of leg beasts stumbled out of the hatchling place, their eyes wide with fear. surely they left one small morsel behind for her, just enough to get her through the next few weeks...
another leg beast blocked her path, one as red in scales as the other, but his temperature less so, and she could taste the panic scent, metallic like blood and smothering her. she did not understand. what was just one hatchling? she lost many siblings when she hatched. she laid a clutch some time ago-- no doubt some of those hatchlings didn't make it. it puzzled her. she did not understand leg beasts.
she reared up, her fangs bared and glistening with venom. if he did not give her a leg beast hatchling, she would bite.
she tasted the air again. she tasted fear and panic and the sweet, gentle scent of youth. a little patch scaled hatchling teetered over on unsteady legs, and she hissed in delight, a low, short sound. she turned away from the large leg beast-- perhaps his intentions were not to harm her, but to lead her to the meal he so kindly gathered for her-- and she slithered toward the patched youngster. a second hatchling appeared, red like the one that blocked her path and red, full of blood and full of life, and smaller than the patchy one. she wanted that one, thank you very much big leg beast. she would take that one.
she raised herself and bared her fangs and aimed at it.
HE WAS ASLEEP. Probably for the first time in the last couple of days. No images of Sorrelpaw dangling in front of him, no nightmares of a mangled body at the side of a border. No disappointed glances from Redheart, no pitied stares from the other warriors in the den. Also, no flashes of aching muscles or sore limbs as effects of the ThunderClan raid. No swarming guilt in his throat when he saw the ashy-pale friend of his, Duststorm, for the loss that was so raw he could nearly feel it himself. He was asleep in the side of the Warrior's Den, his ginger pelt melding in perfectly with those next to him, the darkness of the falling sun casting shadow on the beds in the form of purple-black bruises.
Perhaps StarClan felt sorry for him. Perhaps StarClan was giving him a chance. A pardon, in the face of such terrible things. Maybe a good night's sleep after a long patrol was exactly what he needed. Maybe -
Maybe fate was not so kind.
" ... there is a snake in the nursery, and not just any snake, but an adder! "
.. An adder?! Firestrike jolted awake at the sound of Lionheart's warning, his eyes wide with alarm. The other cats in the den had woken up too, some more groggier than others and in varied states of confusion. The first of them to leave was Ivorytail, and Firestrike was quick to follow. He'd heard the muffled voice of one of his clanmates from the den yelling orders and now, standing in the center of camp, with the setting sun's red and gold spilling across, he could see what the commotion was about.
Right in the center of camp was a snake. A venomous one, from the look of it.
Like Ivorytail, Firestrike went immediately bolting to the source. Scarlet paws pounded against dirt, sprinting as fast as his legs would take him. However, instead of following the white tom's descent into the nursery, Firestrike's direction split like a fork: he skidded in front of the nursery, falling in beside Rowanstar. "Rowanstar, " he breathed, eyes narrowed at their leader's current state - his russet fur was tangled with thorns, trapping him in his spot. The tom's eyes flicked towards to where the adder was slithering towards them, mouth parted and an unpleasant hiss slithering out into the open air. The tom's heart beat frantically in his chest, knowing he was under a tight clock -- if he didn't get Rowanstar out fast enough, there would be more than one life at stake. His head snapped back to his former mentor. "I'll get you out, Rowanstar, " he muttered quickly, faithfully, and ducked his head, baring his teeth to bite through the thorns. But his ear swiveled, and he heard a sound that nearly made his heart stop.
The adder was in front of them, reared up, fangs bared. Green eyes made contact with tiny black ones, and he swore he could see Sorrelpaw's reflection in the adder's pebbled eyes. I'm going to die, he thought, but then he didn't.
Firestrike watched as the predator snaked away, having tasted the air and found something -
"SOMEBODY HELP! SOMEBODY GET SNAKEKIT BEFORE IT EATS HER!"
The world moved too fast for Firestrike to keep track. He ripped himself away from Rowanstar's side without a second thought, sprinting forward and then leaped, claws outstretched. He aimed, not to catch Snakekit or Morningkit. He aimed, not for the adder's tail, to distract her. But her mouth, her eyes. His own flashed fearlessly as he descended upon his "prey", finding no regret no matter what his fate might be.
He was, after all, not called Firestrike for nothing.
Cross walks and crossed hearts
For several heartbeats, it seemed as though only Rowanstar and this snake existed in camp. He stared into her eyes, her large, amber-red eyes, his ears flat against his skull. He parted his maw in a loud hiss, warning her away from there. It didn't work. Suddenly, her attention snapped to something else, and it was clear again that there was a crowd. Thistlesong continued to watch the snake as if waiting for the most opportune time to strike, while one of his former apprentices came to his aide. When he tried to move, he realized that his fur was still painfully snagged on the bramble thorns of the nursery. They dug at his skin, ripping through his fur as he struggled. He had to fight the urge to groan. "Thanks, Firestrike." Then, he paused. What's she staring at? He realized that she could have had him by now; he had been making enough commotion all by himself. But she didn't. She was frozen, her tongue darting in and out in... Satisfaction?
But he hadn't been prepared to find that not only had Snakekit returned to the scene of the danger, his own daughter had, as well! She cowered, screaming for help. "Morningkit!" Rowanstar yowled. The serpent was staring at them. She was going to make a meal out of them, or die trying. What this thing didn't know, though, was that he would save them or die trying. "Morningkit, get up and run. Snakekit, take her and go to the elders' den!" He didn't care which one of them made the first move, he just wanted them to get out of there. He wanted them to be safe.
The snake began to slither towards them; they would never be able to get out of there in time for them both to get away. And neither could Rowanstar expect them to. This was a terrifying situation for a couple of kits, and terror could do devastating things. Clamping up a set of legs, for instance. The leader groaned once more, ripping himself free of the brier. He was much too scared for his daughter to worry about the pain any longer. Without thinking, he dove onto the adder's back, aiming a quick bite to her spine. Snakes were resilient, however, and he hadn't realized that he'd allowed his right paw to land within reach of her mouth.
Rowanstar screeched as her pearly white fangs extended, breaking the skin in his forearm. It took no time at all for the searing pain to flow through his blood. He yowled, tossing himself to the ground in utter agony. It felt like his arm was on fire. The strong, muscular tom flailed on the hard ground in front of his daughter. Not even he could put on a brave face for this sort of pain. His eyes were wide, but the world seemed much too bright. He could feel the spittles of foam frothing around his mouth. He realized that he couldn't control his own limbs; his muscles constricted and released over and over again.
Until finally, moments later, he stopped. Everything stopped. His vision, though his eyes remained as open-wide as ever, grew dark. His body stopped convulsing. Rowanstar was losing another life.
In all the things on the list of things Goldenkit wanted to experience in her life, an adder in her den was not on the list. That was mainly because she had no sweet clue that they actually could even come into the camp, let alone in the area she had spent the past five moons. So when the commotion began, much like her siblings, the young kit was confused at first. It was a blur of fur and action as she was ushered out against her protests, protests quiet compared to the shouting warriors, who ignored her desperate attempts to be let back in, to see the danger that everyone was so worried about.
'I bet the stupid thing is all bark and no bite, like Snakekit.' SHe mused angrily, casting a glare toward her denmate, not verbally throwing any accusations or indicators as to what she was thinking about. 'An adder is just a dumb snake, and it can't be a match for the great Goldenstar!' She was restless, her fantasies she lived in many hours of the day wrapped deeply within her head. She was never just Goldenkit; no, she was Goldenstar, a persona who some claimed had a death wish. And her desperation to get back in her den would only build onto that assumption others had about her.
Thankfully, she appeared not to be alone on the desire to get back in, for Snakekit was off, and Morningkit followed shortly after. For once, Goldenkit felt a sudden flash of worry for her sibling, a faint thought that maybe, just maybe, this thing was more dangerous than she believed. 'I won't let the snake get you, Morningkit.' She thought determinedly, charging after her sister in a rush of golden fur. She wasn't going to be caught, she didn't dare let herself fail so quickly. 'Goldenstar always keeps her Clanmates safe, even the mousebrained ones like Snakekit.'
And then she saw the adder. Long, brown, like a giant fish without fins, piercing eyes that very quickly caught sight of such easy prey. She watched with growing uncertainty as the reptile nearly instantly caught sight of the kits, the tongue flashing faster and faster as their scent and heat reached the beast. Her little eyes round, she felt true fear for the first time in her life, and it took everything she had not to spin around and flee. 'Don't run, save your denmates!' It was hard to fight the instinctive urge to run when danger was present; she had fought it her whole life, as her fantasy world gave her vivid daydreams she found hard to face. And although she had trouble telling the difference between what was real and what was false, she just knew this was true danger; her family never played into a game this much.
"Somebody HELP! Somebody get Snakekit before it EATS her!" Morningkit only added to the commotion, frantic, petrified, and that odd feeling of protectiveness washed upon Goldenkit again. She even felt it for the poor Snakekit who seemed transfixed on her namesake. It made sense, as her namesake was pretty neat, but the flashes of fear in the older warriors told her that it was also super dangerous. 'Snakekit, you mousebrain, move!' She willed her Clanmate, finding herself to be frozen, transfixed as well. At least, that was until the action intensified, and suddenly Firestrike was there, on the adder, Rowanstar lunging within seconds as well, the yell passing completely over Goldenkit's head as she watched her father attempt to hurt the snake.
And then he was down. It happened so fast she had no clue what was going on. One second she was sure they were going to be safe, and the next her father was there, on the ground, bleeding and expressing the most pained look she had ever seen in her life. "Dad!" She screamed, her voice cracking as emotions flooded her. She moved to approach him, but he was shaking, convulsing, and she could do nothing but watch as her father jerked violently. Her siblings, the snake, her Clanmates were all forgotten as she watched her father grew still, and the world crashed down upon the young, ambitious kit.
'StarClan, no, don't take my father away!' She let out a wail, a cry of anguish, eyes misting at the thought of a future without her role model by her side. In the heat of it all, the knowledge of the many lives of a leader was lost, and all she could feel was pain, emotional pain unlike any other. 'I was supposed to save you! What good am I of a leader if I can't save my own family!' She felt like she was drowning, her two worlds colliding, spinning, confusing to no end. She wanted to curl in a ball and just cry, but a sense of duty was also in that depression, and with great effort, she turned from her father - after a quick lick of his cheek, and she faced that dreadful beast.
It had only been seconds since Rowanstar went still, but to the kit it felt like days, the wetness down her cheeks feeling so slow she was sure time was frozen. Her eyes glared daggers at the snake, her claws were out, and for a moment she looked like she was going to pounce. But, to even her own surprise, she refrained from attacking, an instance so rare for the battle-ready kit, and instead she turned to her denmates, eyes flashing wildly. "Run, get out!" She screamed with force, butting Snakekit hard on her rear to try and get her moving. She repeated the same with Morningkit, desperation in her movements, the tears still flooding down her face as she made the attempts. 'Don't let the evil thing take more of my family, or even Snakekit!'
'Come on, stupid furballs! Move! Go! I won't leave you behind, you have to come with me!' She was desperate.
In the nursery, Snakekit and Morningkit were still within harm's reach. The adder bared her fangs and Rowanstar leapt at her, claws extended, ready for the kill. But, in his haste - possibly in the sheer need to keep his kit safe - he made a mistake. The adder sunk her fangs into his leg and Thistlesong felt everything stop. Rowanstar rolled off of the snake, yowling. The kits ran as their leader's body writhed and convulsed.
As he fell still and Goldenkit ran in, as if she believed she could save the day, Thistlesong felt the fire in her belly. One bite would be enough to kill Rowanstar - but he had lives to spare. The adder wouldn't have enough venom for her.
Snarling, Thistlesong threw herself at the snake, a barrage of paws against her slender body, teeth nipping at scaled flesh. If she could hold her concentration, hold her gaze, her fangs, for long enough, the kits would be safe, other warriors would join her, and they could drive the snake away, or, kill her. Thistlesong was content with either outcome.
She stepped in front of the snake, teeth bared, as if daring her to bite. She wasn't afraid - well, she was afraid of dying, but her life for every life that had just been saved - the queens, the kits and the unborn? It was certainly a worthy trade, if she did say so herself.
"Come on then, keep your eyes on me!" she snarled, batting at the snake's head. No one else would get bitten today - not on Thistlesong's StarClan damned watch.
The noise echoed around her; cats yowling and hissing, kits and queens dashing about, all over the sound of a gentle afternoon breeze. She was aware of it all, of course, but paid it no mind. All that mattered was the being in front of her, moving surprisingly fast for its legless body. She heard her name called by another, and then another, but she couldn’t say for the life of her who it had been. Everything was just a wash of sound.
The adder glanced her way as she stood nearby, appearing to measure her up for size. Its tongue scented the air almost happily. Those bright red eyes, the colour of fire, stared deeply into hers. Snakekit was transfixed, frozen to the ground by a feeling that she didn't recognize. Even as the creature came closer, its fangs poised, she couldn’t move. All she could think of was how she had felt when those eyes had met hers, burning her insides with their intensity.
That thought was interrupted no more than a heartbeat later by a flurry of red. First Firestrike, aiming to distract, then Rowanstar, aiming to kill. Her hazel eyes watched as their leader attacked the odd, slithering beast. He’d managed to get his mouth around her scaly body. The adder’s hiss mingled with Rowanstar’s own. This is what it means to defend your clan, she thought, watching the snake squirm in his hold.
And then, just like that, Rowanstar was down. She hadn’t even blinked.
This is all my fault, she thought in horror as she watched Rowanstar convulsing on the ground nearby. Her eyes widened as she saw the foam dribbling from his mouth, listening to his jerky, uneven breathing. In a few moments he would be no more. All because of me. Why had she come in here? Why couldn’t she have followed orders? Her heart was beating so quickly that she thought it was about to escape her chest. She could taste the strong tang of fear, metallic and nauseating. I am afraid. It had taken her this long to realize. How much of an idiot was she?
Enough of an idiot that Goldenkit had seemed to notice, at the very least. Snakekit hadn’t even noticed the other she-cat in the den, too transfixed upon the adder nearby, but she surely noticed when she gave her a mighty smack on the rear to get her to move. She blinked - how long had she been staring? - and turned around, glancing towards the two other kits. The tears on Goldenkit’s face a startling image to young Snakekit; she’d only thought of the other kit as a fierce fighter who was as tough as nails, nothing more. It was warranted, of course; that was their father there, dying. She tried to swallow her jealousy that they’d at least be able to watch their father come back. Deerface hadn’t had multiple lives.
Morningkit was still hiding behind her paws, quivering on the ground. It seemed as if she had missed much of the action, and for that Snakekit was grateful. Maybe she hadn’t even noticed Rowanstar yet? It would be for the best if she didn’t, judging by the lack of guttural breathing behind her. Her leader’s command echoed in her head. ”Snakekit, take her and go to the elder’s den!” She wasn’t about to disobey orders twice. All of her typical arrogance had washed away when the adrenaline had kicked in. Now, all she wanted to do was get out of here and make up for how much of an idiot she had been.
Wordless, Snakekit reached for Morningkit’s slightly smaller frame. While she couldn’t pick her up by the scruff of her neck and carry her like a queen or a warrior could, she could still get a good enough grip to physically drag her away from the scene of the action. She didn’t even glance to Goldenkit to see if she had followed or if she’d tried to help; Snakekit knew that she would, even if it took her a couple moments to react. Please don’t wiggle around, Morningkit, she thought to herself, not sure how she would be able to handle it if she tried to escape her grip. Hopefully the younger she-kit would get the memo to flee so they could all escape. This was best left to the warriors, and for once in Snakekit’s life, she didn’t dare to question it.
Lionheart had been defending various members of the clan from the threat of the snake. He knew that one bite could potentially kill one of them, though whether it would kill more than one remained to be seen. He did not know a lot about snakes (why would he?) but he knew that they most likely only had the potential for one bite, making it crucial for the red tom to prioritise in terms of who to protect. Kits, apprentices and pregnant queens had priority right now, then warriors, elders and senior warriors and then the leader who had more than one life. Though he cared for Rowanstar, there were others who could easily lose their only life with no coming back.
Lionheart watched for a moment as Thistlesong distracted the snake and he looked around for any remaining kits or apprentices but he could see none. "Make sure there are absolutely no kits to be found here. Their lives must be protected at all costs." He turned around and noticed Rowanstar was losing a life. He paused, knowing that while he could not die, he attempted to help the leader for a brief moment to make the transition easier. Losing a life, even if you had others, was a pain no creature should have to bear and yet it was so often so prevalent in their lives. He turned to face the snake with green eyes more intense now. If it was life or death, he would be the one to face it and take the stage. "You've caused more pain than necessary," He growled with incredible rage and fury at the reptile, "This is where it ends.
The large tom lowered his frame to the ground, eyeing the snake's every move. He got closer and closer gradually, his paws treading with surprising agility for his weight. Lionheart's left paw struck out and attempted to hit the snake on the head.
Maplecloud had arrived late, though it was not for a lack of trying exactly. She had heard the yowling from the camp as she returned from a quick hunt, and as she had not been able to decipher exactly what was being said, the deputy had not found herself in any rush to return to the hollow. She had strolled forward a few foxlengths, carrying a freshly killed mouse in her jaws. The kill was surprisingly clean for her hunting skills, a bite to the neck the only sign of injury.
Those few foxlengths had been enough to get her within hearing distance, and what she heard horrified Maplecloud. ...there is a snake in the nursery ... an adder! She immediately picked herself up and ran, hoping to avoid tripping over something on her dash to the nursery. A few thorns pricked her calico pelt as she raced through the barrier into the hollow, but the little feline felt nothing. An adder in the nursery. Snakekit, Snailkit, and Rabbitkit were in the nursery, and so were Thistlesong's children.
Yet as suddenly as she had begun to run, Maplecloud came to an abrupt halt and the sight of Rowanstar's body on the ground, convulsing. How many lives did he have left? Was this the last? No, this could not be. She would know if it was the last, yes? Surely her leader would tell her when he was on her last life. Would he? Oh, StarClan, let Rowanstar rise to his paws once more. From her peripheral vision, Maplecloud could see Snakekit dragging Morningkit across the clearing and hoping that Goldenkit would go as well. What could she do? She could not fight off a snake, and Lionheart was already battling the adder. She would die if she came into contact with the adder, and not simply lose a life as Rowanstar had.
No, she could not put herself at risk, not if Rowanstar was already hurt. Maplecloud padded forward slowly, eyeing the snake and aiming to grab onto her leader's scruff and drag him away from the snake's striking range. At the very least she could try that and prevent another lost life when he awoke, yes? She could try.
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