"A Lark's Song"

a fan fiction by Hollyleafisawesome

. prologue

Moonlight illuminated a long-furrred shecat as she sat upon one of the many hills of WindClan's moors, her green eyes absorbed and contemplative as she stared out across the expanse.

Stars glimmered in the sky above her, and the moon, a crescent, hung alongside them. The sky was clear, and it could easily be described as a perfect night.

The she cat looked content just sitting there, the light breeze ruffling her fur but not proving to be worrisome. 

A large, burly tom ascended the hill, standing next to her. He looked rather conflicted, though it was rather subtle. He flicked his tail back and forth, his eyes not on the sky, but rather on the she cat as she watched the sky.

"What's bothering you?" The shecat's voice was smooth and silky, and as she spoke, she turned to look at him. Her green eyes were bright and inquisitive, and a purr rumbled in her throat.

The tom looked rather alarmed, as though he hadn't realized that she would notice him. Flustered, he meowed, "I just wanted to check on you."

The she cat's eyes sparkled, amused, "You wanted to check on me? That's the only reason you hiked all the way up here?"

"Oh, well," he looked away, sheepish, "The others want to discuss the prophecy."

"The prophecy?" She rolled her eyes, "You know that I don't want to be involved in any of these prophecies that the others are fawning over. Tell them that I'm sick."

The other tom laughed, "You know, if we weren't already dead, maybe that would work. But alas, I'm afraid that they won't buy it."

"Then just tell them that I'm not interested," she meowed with a shrug, curling her tail around her paws. "They can deliver it themselves. They don't need me to help them."

"You know why they want you involved," he meowed softly, his eyes pleading.

A flash of pain ran through her eyes, but she quickly shook it away, "Tell them I said no."

He looked as though he was about to protest, but she interrupted him, "Just tell them, Hemlockfang."

He opened his mouth, about to say something, but instead shook his head. Turning away, he raced back down the hill, leaving her alone.

"No," she whispered, closing her eyes. "No."

. chapter 1

Sunlight poured through the hollowed out entrance to the small hole of a nursery. Nests, consisting of moss and bracken, were littered at random across the dirt and rock floor. The sounds of soft snoring hung in the air like smoke; the comforting nature of them choking to the young she cat.

Larkkit was curled up alongside her siblings and mother, her amber eyes wide as she stared longingly at the world outside of the den. Her pale fawn tabby fur was fluffed up and as soft as the down of a young bird, and her white paws were tucked under her as her tail lashed back and forth. 

She had no idea how Sparrowkit and Oatkit could sleep when the sun was out, beckoning them all to come out and play. She had no idea how they could snore and look so blissful despite the fact that they were missing a prime opportunity to frolic about outside. She often questioned their actions, now being one such occurrence. 

Deciding that there was absolutely nothing for her to gain from just lazing about while fun could be had, she carefully rose to her paws, trying her best not to disturb her siblings or her mother. She had to go outside, and waking them up would do nothing but impede upon her stealth mission. That was the last thing she needed right now.

As she picked her way across the den, she let her gaze linger on the now-empty nest that used to belong to Brightstep and her kits. They were apprentices now, and their absence left the den feeling different, less natural. Soon, however, that wouldn't be a problem. Soon, Larkkit and her siblings would be apprentices as well. Soon, their old nest would be just as empty and they would be in new ones in the apprentice den. 

The thought of their upcoming apprenticeship put a spring in the she kit's step as she bounded out of the den and into the beautiful daylight of the camp. She had to blink a few times to let her eyes adjust to the light, but she quickly found herself purring and delighted to be freed of the stuffiness of the den.

Her short, fluffy tail held high, she strolled through camp, wondering what she had ought to do as she dipped her head respectfully to the warriors eating and sharing tongues.

If her siblings had actually gotten out of the nest, maybe she could have played moss ball or a game with them. But alas, playing a game all by herself didn't hold the same appeal as playing one with Sparrowkit and Oatkit. 

She could always go to the elders den and beg for a story, but that would involve leaving behind the magnificent warmth of the sun on her fluffy fur. Besides, the elders could be a bit overwhelming when they were talked to without the support of siblings; their bombardment of questions about how she was doing was often rather hard for her to face. Talking about herself in general proved to be hard.

Brightstep's kits, despite the fact that they had always been formal playmates of hers, always had an air of maturity to them these days. They didn't pay her much mind any more, and she was certain that that would be the case until she was an apprentice like them. Until she had the chance to prove that she wasn't just an immature kit.

That really just left her with occupying herself with something. Before she could come up with an idea, however, it happened.

The yowling.

One moment, everything was blissful and pleasant, and the next, the sound of frightened cats, yowling and running and crying out, filled the air. The acrid tang of blood filled her nose, blocking out any other scent, filled her senses, making her want to vomit. Cats were everywhere, flooding her field of vision and making her breath hitch in her throat.

They were fighting.

She had never really seen other cats fight before. Of course, she had participated in and watched play fights, but never had she seen the carnage that was in front of her now. So many cats, their claws unsheathed and shining with scarlet blood, filled the clearing, all lashing out at one another with their claws and teeth. Ripping. Shredding. Bleeding.

She watched as the leader of her clan, Sootstar, leapt at an enemy cat that she had never seen before, blood spraying across his dark gray fur, his amber eyes shining with fury. The other cat ducked below the leader, and the she kit watched in horror as it raked its claws down his flank, drawing blood and clawing out chunks of his thick fur.

She had to look away from the carnage as her leader fought with the cat, her gaze falling instead on another tom: Rushfoot.

Her father.

He was in front of the nursery now, fighting while reared up on his hind legs, his enemy a white-furred she cat. Her legs were numb as she watched the she cat slash her claws across Rushfoot's throat, everything appearing to happen in slow-motion. Those terrible claws, already glistening with her father's blood, digging into his neck and ripping it into shreds. His blood gushing out of the wound and staining her fur red. Him falling to the ground with a thump that managed to reach Larkkit's ears despite all of the noise.

She got over her momentary numbness as she pelted across the camp toward him, her paws digging into the dirt as they propelled her towards him. 

"Dad!" The kit yowled, not even paying attention to the she cat as she disappearing into the fray once more. "Dad, wake up!"

She pressed her nose to the tom's fur, trying to get over the overwhelming scent of his blood and the cold that seemed to be slinking through him, "This isn't funny, Dad! Wake up!"

She looked up, her eyes wide, as her mother and siblings, their eyes fearful, approached the body as well, "Mom! Do something! Wake him up! Tell him to stop kidding around!"

Her mother, however, didn't pay her any mind or even glance at her as she forced the other kits back into the den. Her mother looked haggard, her usually beautiful and clean paws stained with the blood that was pooling around the tom. There was something in her eyes that Larkkit had never seen there before: fear.

"Mom!" Larkkit yowled at her mother. Why wouldn't she look at her? 

Wrencloud still didn't look at her; instead, she turned around and walked right back into the den.

Larkkit moved to follow her, but as she once again looked down at her father she felt sick. Turning away, she retched.

And suddenly, everything was quiet.

She blinked open her eyes, alarmed to see that there were significantly less cats in the camp, now, and that the sharp tang of blood was completely gone. She stumbled backwards. She was back in the center of camp, and cats were looking at her. 

Still trying to make sense of what was going on, she turned around, coming face to face with Cedarleaf, the clan medicine cat. His deep green eyes were fixed on her, and she couldn't help but shrink away from his intense gaze.

"You need to come to my den," he meowed softly, his sleek, dark brown fur glistening in the sunlight. His voice was soothing, and before she could protest, he gestured to the ground, where there was vomit. Even if the rest of the battle seemed far off and distant, that was real?

Before she could say anything, he gently guided her towards his den. Shame sparked through her pelt as she felt the curious, burning gazes of her clan mates on her as she was led along like the kit she was.

She glanced backward, her heart soaring momentarily despite her feelings of shame.

Rushfoot was by the nursery talking with Wrencloud in a hushed tone, their gazes worried as they looked at her, her siblings tussling about in front of them. 

He was alive.

It hadn't been real.

What was it?

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