warning: swearing, dark themes

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chap. 1 - stories from noeyes and other little things that matter

"In the ancient Realm of the Stars, cats with no concepts of disease, famine, or war tread endlessly in glorious fields and lush forests. They lived solitary lives, seldom interacting with one another except for small exchanges. They were ruled by two deities — giant, genderless, majestic beings named Lukan and Adiran. Lukan controls the light, the day, and warmth, and Adiran overlooks the darkness, the night, and cold. While the lives of the cats seemed perfect and heavenly, many grew bored with their lives without challenge. Lukan and Adiran scoffed at their complaints. If you do not appreciate the lives we've given you, you can fend for yourselves. They cast the cats down onto the land we call home, where they struggled to survive...." Noeyes the scraggly elder drones on, boring all the kits and apprentices. Everyone in this awful Adiran-cursed land has heard this story a million times. I sneak a glance at my friend Fawnpaw, and we exchange an exasperated look. Her sand colored bushy tail flicks back and forth irritably.

"Fawnpaw," I whisper with a small grin, "Let's get out of here! This is awful." She quickly scans the den to make sure nobody is watching us. Everyone is staring at Noeyes, respecting their elders like the model cats they are. "

"No way," she says, batting me on the head with her paw. "Everyone would be so mad at us." I let out an exaggerated sigh as she makes a point to turn and face Noeyes.

"You're no fun," I mumble, scowling at her. "Nobody wants to be here anyway, who cares?" My brother Pinepaw is listening to the story, lazily sprawled out across the ground. Just the way he's sitting annoys me, he's barely tolerable. The story's just hitting its stride since we've just started talking about the sacred time when a cat loses their milk teeth. Ah, shoot, that's going to be me in a few weeks... Hooray for coming of age! You're going to get a mentor because bones fell out of your mouth! I hate this Clan and our stupid traditions. Nothing makes any sense.  

I try to scoot over to Pinepaw and his friends without making a lot of noise and distracting Noeyes. A sigh of relief passes my lips as I make eye contact with Mothpaw and Skunkpaw. "Please come with me, I can't stand this damn story any longer," I whisper, and the two eagerly get up. Too eagerly, it seems, as Noeyes whips his head around, causing the warriors in the room to glare at us.

"Sprucepaw! Stop talking!" snaps Owlheart the deputy.

 I dart back to my seat with Fawnpaw, who's stifling a laugh next to me. I roll my eyes and make a run for it, pulling her outside with me. Her expression morphs to surprise before she starts laughing louder. 

"You jerk, Sprucepaw!" she yells through her laughter, "We're going to get killed!" Warriors in the camp turn to stare at us as we run by into the forest. I run up the slope leading out of the ravine-esque camp as Fawnpaw chases me. She begins to pass me, and I follow her through the woods.

"Hold up, Fawnpaw. Come on, follow me for a sec." I call, and she gruffly turns. We meander toward the lake, nearing the edge of our territory. I watch the water roll for a moment, then grab a drink. She sits down quietly, staring into space at something that I can't see. "I hate this Clan so much. I just want to run away. I don't believe in Adiran or Lukan or any of the crap that some cat made up one day so that since their name ends in an, they're special. Nothing we do matters at all." I ramble, staring into the water.

 She watches me wistfully for a moment. We're quiet. That's why we're such good friends. We can just be quiet together. "I think a lot of things matter. Little things that you don't forget. Like the way your whiskers curve when you smile. Or the way Antpaw and Skinkpaw look at each other when they say they'll grow up to be mates. Or how Mothpaw and Skunkpaw jumped at the chance to run out and talk to you. I mean, don't really know but that seems lke it matters."

I disagree with her but I'm not going to say it. Maybe it matters now… but in the grand scheme of things, what's one smile in this crowd of cats that are just following what their leader tells them?

We walk back to camp in that comfortable silence of ours.

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