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i've died for you

a one-shot by bladeofhope


this isn't me


i'm not worth anything

why am i even here

clan life makes no sense to me

born and raised here

i don't understand

no one notices me

no one cares

and that's fine

-

my name is moonlark

i've been a loyal warrior my whole life

they tell me i learned quickly

but i don't even know why

i exist

patrols

endless

they go out every day

i see the apprentices complain

"why do we have to hunt"

"why can't we patrol"

don't they understand

that it's just the same thing they've done before

-

the neighboring clans

they hate us

and i don't know why

what did we ever do to them

what did we ever do to make them hate us

is it just that we're here

on their borders

threatening them

somehow

there's enough prey to go around

isn't there

-

i decide to go hunting

if i can't do anything good by existing

then i'll put myself to another use

it's a quiet day

the breeze chills my ears

it feels good

songbirds chirp from the branches

they all sing the same songs

but they never tire

never hunger for anything more

they are all content

-

i don't like climbing trees

i really hope this squirrel stays on the ground

how nice that would be

don't give me that convenience

i don't deserve it

i stalk it like i was always told

"paws tucked under"

"tail low"

and "watch the wind"

i do it all perfectly

i catch it quickly

it squirms under my paws

-

why does this prey have to die

just so we can keep living another day

i wonder

what do the squirrels think

when they see us hunting

we always seem to expect them to think

"i'm laying down my life

so that this cat

which is grander than i

might survive"

isn't that stupid of us

we're worse than everyone else

-

we fight

we kill

we hate

does prey ever do the same

i've never seen a vole

gutting open another vole

or a mouse

refusing to share its food

i don't want to be like this

even if all i was were prey

wouldn't that be a better existence

than the one i have now

transience


i return to camp

squirrel swinging from my jaws

i killed it after all

just another murderer in a camp full of them

i lay it down on the pile

and immediately

two apprentices rush up

they fight over it

"i got here first"

"no it's mine"

isn't there another squirrel right beside it

learn to share

it's like teaching kits

-

i watch as the one takes it

and the other complains

loudly

to his mentor

"waterpaw took my prey"

what makes it his

i can't even bring myself to call it my kill

so how does a cat claim

food as his own

there'll be more soon

-

what am i good for here

something

anything at all

i can't think of anything

i hear murmurs of congratulations

as i pass the nursery

"soon silvertail will give us

another litter"

why will these kits be born

so that they can die

in battle

against our fellow cats

fighting to defend a strip of land

that really isn't ours

how foolish we are

-

the deputy arranges patrols

"flowerpelt

won't you take a patrol

along the border

make sure those cats haven't trespassed again"

and off they go

no questions asked

claws sharp

and battle ready

will hungry fangs sink into flesh today

or will it be peaceful

i hear my name

"moonlark

please take a patrol to hunt

down on the grasslands"

i have no choice

i gather a patrol and set off

-

one apprentice

two warriors

follow me

trusting me with their lives

what if there's a fox

would i notice

would we survive

the apprentice is waterpaw

the one who ate my squirrel

she's full of herself

just like all apprentices tend to be

"i smell a mouse"

i beckon for her to catch it

while we hide in the bushes

like cowards

what are we afraid of

-

she stalks it well

i can tell that she's had good training

what less would we expect

from the leader's kit

she keeps low

watchful

scenting the air

every so often

just like a snake

she walks

circumspect

at least she's being cautious

i can tell

this is the moment to strike

and

flash

it's dead

just like the cats from last moon's vicious battle

-

"i caught it"

she exclaims

coming back towards us

where we wait

still hiding

then thornstripe's eyes go wide

"i smell fox

let's get back to camp

here

i'll help you carry the mouse"

he helps bear the weight

waterpaw keeps tripping over it

even though it's less than half her size

we make good time

until

i stop

and scent the air

"there are more than one of them"

then orange fur is everywhere

and claws are unsheathed

sharp and weary

from use in battle

over and over again

we all react quickly

this kind of instinct isn't normal

fight for your lives


we fight hard

but i can tell we're getting tired

there are only four of us

one an apprentice

one weak from the greencough

that struck last moon

the third is me

so unwilling to defend myself

last is brave and strong

but he's the only one

the foxes are young

one looks barely fresh out of its birthing den

but it's savage

and dauntless

they're like a clan of foxes

striking in time

how organized they are

we're the only beasts here

-

claws slice open my throat

rhythmic heartbeat

beats beats beats the blood out of my body

like it's trying to kill me

faster

i watch the cats shuffle around me

"what do we do"

"waterpaw

go back to camp

get help

tell sweetstar"

"we can't leave her like this"

"she'll be okay"

no i won't

-

delirious

i slip in and out of sleep

cobwebs patch my skin

mussing up my fur

but it doesn't matter

the blood keeps pouring anyways

and what's my life even worth

a couple of mouse tails

no

not even that

i hear voices around me

"moonlark

can you hear me"

i'm too weak to respond

"leafpaw

bring me that goldenrod and horsetail

it may already be too late"

please just let me die

"don't let her die"

"i'll do my best

but i only have so many herbs"

don't waste them on me

"she must be in pain"

it's only then that i realize

it doesn't hurt

not really

maybe this is death

if it is

i welcome it

-

the next time i wake up

i'm in a den

it smells like plants

it's the medicine den

i blink

and someone comes to my side

"moonlark

are you awake

can you hear me"

i can only blink

i'm so glad to have this last bit of strength

thank you

starclan

for letting me live this long

now i can give

my last message

i open my mouth to speak

the voice that comes out is not mine

it's weak

and hoarse

but i'll exploit it to the fullest

"don't save me

you've done your best

you've done enough

i'm not worth the effort"

the medicine cat is shocked

i don't let her speak

the blood is still pouring

if only into cobweb

which only serves to make it look as though

i'm no longer losing blood

does that make the others happy

i wonder

thinking that they've done a better job

than they really have

i continue

"i never felt worthy

of this life

clan cats consider the warriors

the highest forms of life

but are we really

what do we mean to this world

it will go on just fine

when i'm gone

don't look so sad

i welcome death

it's not painful

i promise

i only have one request

please tell the clan

these words

that 'i'm sorry i wasn't a better friend

to anyone who tried

to reach out to me

i'm sorry i never tried harder

in battles and battle training

i never wanted to kill

i only ever wanted to die

well

now

i guess i have my wish

may it be known

i've died for you'"

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