I wish I could figure out who I am.
Oh, sure, I know my name. It's With. I'm an Openlander, one of the many cats who choose to run around freely instead of bothering with Clan life. So, I guess that means we're all Clanborn. So yes, I do know a lot about myself.
But I don't know the things that matter. And I mean really matter.
Like, will I ever make a friend? Where'd I come from? Does anyone want me? Is my family still alive? Do I...
Do I have a second name?
The other cats run around announcing their names. I've heard... hm... Airbent Power, Secondly First, Wholly Entirely True... the list just goes on and on.
See, in the Openland, names signify status. Each cat is born with one name. Then, as they grow up and aspire to do greater and greater things, they will acquire more names. Take my example from earlier, Wholly Entirely True. Most likely that one was born under the name True or Truth or something, and then managed to prove their honesty and loyalty, gaining two more names. That's a cat with a lot of friends, I guarantee you.
I am almost seventeen moons old, and I have never earned another name.
Oh, sure, cats have tried to give me another name. I've heard With Strength, With Dignity, With Satisfaction. But none of them stuck. Immediately after a name is suggested, I'll do something that directly contradicts the name the others just gave me, like trip over a stray branch or lose a fight. Most everyone has given up at giving me other names. They know it won't work.
My name is still just With.
In one respect, it's kind of nice, because I think it would be weird being born as, say, Snow, and then having to get used to answering to some obnoxiously long name like Graceful Snowflake Gently Dancing, or whatever. I've always been With, and while it would be nice to get a second name, it would be hard to adjust to.
I want that name.
It feels like somewhere, deep inside of me, there is a second or fifth or ninth name just waiting to be revealed. It waits patiently, hoping that maybe someday I'll be able to earn it, and that it can echo through the air and be called out with respect.
I doubt it'll ever be able to come out of my empty shell of a past.
The only way I can see that I might be able to earn a second name is if I prove myself, like, really prove myself. Obviously just having good traits isn't enough for me; I'm not perfect. But if I died...
If I died to save the Openland, I can only imagine what kind of names the other Openlanders would give me. They'd cry over my grave, apologizing for all the times that they underestimated me, listing name after name to honor my memory.
In fact, I've been thinking about it a lot lately. Why? Well, the Inner Circle is convinced that the Outerworlders are plotting something. Everyone knows they're angry about only having one representative; it makes sense. I'd be mad, too, if my only representative came back from every circle meeting with loads of new scars and bleeding wounds.
But still, if they really become a threat, I will volunteer to fight them, no matter how dangerous it is. I want to risk my life. I want to prove myself.
There's something weird, though... I could swear that I've done this before.
I want to go visit the Outerworlders.
It's treasonous, I know - no Innerworlder should ever associate with any part of the Outerworld. But I don't care. If I'm going to fight them, I want to know what they're like. How they work. Although it would also be good to figure out whether or not they're going to attack. It wouldn't be the first time the Inner Circle was wrong.
So I'll cross the border.
The border between the Inner and Outer worlds is heavily guarded; Innerworld fighters line the line like it's life or death. I guess it might come down to that eventually, but there's not a whole lot of activity along the border, so I highly doubt such tight security is really necessary.
There is, however, one space that no one guards. It'll be my means of escape.
The Spirit Woods.
No one in their right mind would willingly go into the Spirit Woods. It's kind of a neutral ground between worlds, and yet it's not really a part of either world. It's the place that the spirits of the dead go after, well, after they die. Most everyone is terrified of it, and no cat will step paw anywhere near it if they want to keep their sanity intact.
But I have a mission, a purpose, and so the spirits will have to deal with a live cat tramping back and forth through their forest. And who knows? Maybe it isn't true. I mean, the Clan cats have their StarClan, or whatever. So maybe the Spirit Woods are just a way to scare everyone out of that part of the forest for some reason.
Here it is. This is it. The first pawstep into my future. My life.
And... it's okay.
Alright, so I'll admit it - these woods are creepy. There's some sort of greenish light somewhere that reflects across a low-clinging fog, and the sunlight doesn't reach down here at all. But otherwise, it's completely fine. No creepy spirits floating around here.
This isn't some spirit heaven. It's just a dark, fog-filled forest with old, gnarled trees and thick undergrowth. So much for the legend of the spirits.
Spirit Woods. Ha.
But wait... strange, twisted shadows keep flickering across the edges of my vision, but there's nothing there when I look. This is getting creepier, but I'm sure it's just an illusion. The fear that they want us to feel is just holding me back. I have to keep going. I have to - have to -
I have to run!