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The stupid flea-pelt.
 
The stupid flea-pelt.
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[[Category:Content (We.Kill.The.Earth.And.Do.Nothing.To.Save.It)]]

Latest revision as of 05:07, 6 January 2021

n  e  v  e  r


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"Never lie to someone

who trusts you,

and never trust

someone who

lies to you."

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notes

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Before I start, I've just got a few quick things I'd like to say.

I really appreciate all constructive criticism you can give me. I love writing, and I'd like to get better at it - I welcome all advice you've got for me with open arms. Please, if there's anything you dislike about the story or think there's something I can do to make it better, leave a comment telling me about it so that I can improve it.

Another note: this story contains gay and trans characters. If that makes you uncomfortable, I suggest you get off this page. And never read another one of my fanfictions again, since gay and trans characters are common in my writing. Thank you.

Oh, I'd also like to say that if you've got a character you'd like to see in this, feel free to submit one down below and I'll try to fit them into the story!

And that concludes the few short notes I thought I'd better add. I hope you enjoy Never!

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prologue
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It was beautiful. Far more beautiful then any cat had the right to lay eyes upon. Yet there the tom was, his eyes wide, both horror and love shining from their amber depths. I fidgeted nervously, painstakingly aware that the tom wasn't supposed to be there. Despite being quite aware of this fact, having been schooled by my... acquaintances on the subject for years, I had brought the tom. And bringing him to the sacred place I was unlucky enough to call my home wasn't the worst breach of the rules I was committing by standing next to him.

I was cursed.

The story, unlike so many, wasn't long or complicated. I'd been born generations ago to a leader of WindClan and her deputy. Born out of necessity. The Clan at the time was weak, having been so recently crippled by sickness. There hadn't been any love shared between my mother and her faithful deputy, but the logic behind their pairing had been understandable; as two of the strongest cats in the Clan, perhaps their kits would be able to nurse the Clan back to health, perhaps their kits would be the saviors the so recently deceased medicine cat had foretold. And so, I had been born.

Their plan had failed. The leader had three kits, two of them born dead, the last, me, born sickly. There hadn't been any hope for me or the Clan. WindClan, which had survived for so many generations, was doomed. I wouldn't of been surprised if my mother had wept - however, instead of being distraught, instead of admitting failure, she refused to accept the end of WindClan.

And so my mother took the burden of caring for the sick cats herself. Despite nursing a kit, despite being already being the leader of the Clan and having a large amount of responsibility already, she became the medicine cat, spending her nine lives, for she had only recently became leader, on caring for her Clanmates. She died from the sickness eight times. I was six moons old when she finally did so for the ninth.

My mother died with me by her side. Her last words to me urged me to save WindClan, like the medicine cat that had died eight moons ago had promised I would. As a young cat, I took her words seriously, and therefore entered my apprenticeship with a determined attitude. Which I needed. I was a smart in some ways, yet so undeniably stupid in others. You see, I became a medicine cat apprentice. Which would be fine - except, of course, for the fact that WindClan's medicine cat was long dead.

It would of been useless if StarClan hadn't stepped in. For six long moons, I was schooled in my sleep and attempted to help my Clanmates during my waking hours. It was futile; WindClan was a dying race. There was no cure for the illness that destroyed us, nothing to lift the death sentence that had been placed on all sick cat's heads. All I could do was postpone the inevitable death of all those sick - and, somehow, avoid contracting the illness myself. That was, of course, until StarClan told me where I could find it.

And so I journeyed from WindClan, knowing that I was dooming more of my Clanmates to death, knowing that without my herb knowledge and determination, WindClan would become weaker still. It took me a moon to find the cure, a moon in which I myself had contracted the sickness. All that kept me going through that long moon was the thought of the cure and the knowledge that my death would mean WindClan's near certain extinction. I couldn't let that happen.

When I laid eyes upon the cure, I almost gave up. The amount was pitiful. I knew in that moment that I wouldn't be able to take any myself; there simply wouldn't be enough. I would die. Yet I still plucked all of the cure I could find and began to stumble back.

It took me two moons to make my way back to WindClan, two long moons of strong fevers and hallucinations, as well as pounding headaches. My head was constantly full of the sound of screaming; I could hear my dead mother, the wail of my dead littermates, the cries of my Clanmates. They drove me made, but they forced me to continue.

The cure was stale and crumbling when I made it back, but, somehow, it worked. I had been right; there was barely enough for the infected. I couldn't take any myself. And so I died mere days later, happy with the knowledge that I had saved WindClan and that I'd get to see my littermates and mother again. Happy that my short yet bitter life filled to the brim with suffering was over, that I'd be able to be free. That I'd be able to run forever in the fields of StarClan.

Oh, I was a fool.

When I opened my eyes next, I hadn't found StarClan. No, I hadn't been that lucky. Instead, I found myself in front of four cats, all of them glowing faintly, all of them possessing eyes that told of infinite wisdom and power. And they had explained the world to me in ways I had never even dreamed to be possible, explained it in such a way that I knew I was hearing the truth.

I was told that I was far more special then I had ever been lead to believe. The prophecy that the long dead medicine cat had received hadn't, in fact, come from StarClan, but from someone far more powerful. Them. According to them, I wasn't a cat at all. I was something far more powerful - which was how it had taken me so long to succumb to the sickness. Apparently, I was a... God.

Godhood was not as wonderful as I had been lead to believe. It was strange and powerful, as well as alarming and frightening. As the God of Wind, I was capable of sending gusts of extreme power anywhere I wished. The very air was mine to command; I was able to rip a cat apart by merely twitching my whiskers, able to part waters without even looking at them, able to tame fires and fill a cat's lungs with air. When I was angry, the world below felt my wrath in the form of whirlpools, tornadoes and storms. My mood swings could kill.

Despite moons and moons of training, I was still viewed as uncontrollable and therefore imprisoned in the realm I had woken in. Apparently being within it limited the amount of damage I could do to the world of the living. The realm seemed endless - however, being the only being in the entire place grew tiresome quickly. I began to explore my prison relentlessly, and discovered many strange things: such as, of course, what I referred to as my own little Moonpool.

Through my Moonpool, I was able to survey the goings-on in the living world and StarClan. I was able to see my dead littermates playing with my mother, all of them happy at last. I could see WindClan as it was now: healthy and thriving. My sacrifice had saved the Clan - and, apparently, earned me Godhood. My most exciting 'discovery', however, was a handsome tom.

I had never before experienced attraction. However, as I watched this young and handsome tom live his life as a noble warrior of WindClan, I felt the first stirrings of my heart, felt a new creature inside me wake. If only I could talk to the tom, to meet him. I felt creepy - what kind of cat just... stares at another through an 'enchanted' pool? I forced myself to stop frequenting the pool and went back to exploring.

Which is, of course, how I found the exit. The way to escape. A path, one that lead out from the enchantingly beautiful realm I had been trapped in and back into the world of the living. It was because of this strange path that I managed to finally communicate with a tom. The tom.

The tom was every bit as lovely as I had always thought. His strong, lithe body seemed to gleam, his sleek fur shine. His tabby patterns were intricate, and his eyes gleamed with humour and grace. He was magnificent. Through moons of slow courtship, the tom eventually seemed to grow to feel the same way about me, finally opened up to me.


I nudge the tom, a smile darting across my face. "Come on - I've got something better to show you!" His amazement is amusing; I briefly consider the possibility that I looked just as awestruck when I arrived, but quickly dismiss the ridiculous idea. Of course I didn't.

He flashes me an awkward smile that quickly fades, almost immediately replaced by a frown. He glances back over the fantastic landscape that lies before us, then back to me. "Mouse, this just, well... I thought you were crazy when you first started to talk about 'Gods' and- well, you know." He gestures to the scenery, and I nod. He continues. "But... it's real. Actually, really real. And I can't deal with it. I can't."

I stiffen slightly; his words don't alarm me - however, something about him seems different suddenly. Less real. His amber eyes aren't as vibrant, his fur not quite so shiny. It's like he's wilting, like the realization that there was something beyond StarClan is causing him to wither. I entwine my tail with his, pressing myself against him. "I know it's shocking," I murmur. "But you'll get through it. We'll get through it. I promise."

He lets out a nervous laugh. "Mouse, I - you're a God. I can't comprehend that. It was so much easier to just love you, to not care that you seemed addled and just accept you. To love you. I can't deal with this."

Something is definitely different; I can see the faint outline of the mountains behind him through his fur. He's somehow fading, becoming transparent. He doesn't seem to notice the differences I can see, merely continuing to stammer out what he wanted to say. "I can't keep this up," he tells me. "I just can't. I'm loyal to WindClan. I can't just... have an affair with someone who's... well... you know. It's against the warrior code to love someone who isn't in your Clan."

"You didn't have a problem with that before," I stammer, trying to keep myself together. He can't be ditching me, not after I exposed myself so much to him, after I told him so much. "And I am from your Clan - I'm a WindClan cat!"

He shakes his head; I can see the mountains through him quite easily now. He's fading from view quicker. "Then why can't I smell the moor on your pelt? Why can't I smell WindClan scent? You're nothing more then a loner, Mouse - see? You have a loner name. You're no warrior, no member of WindClan. Don't lie to me. Don't you lie to me."

My tail slips through his; he's no longer solid. "Galefur!" I cry, suddenly scared. It's hard to see him now and impossible to make contact with him. He still doesn't seem to realize what's happening to me; all I can see in his eyes is anger. Anger directed at me. And then he's gone.

I sit in the warmth of my realm, pushing back the breakdown I'm on the verge of having. What had happened to Galefur? Why had he just... melted from view? Where was he? And why did he hate me, why did I now hate myself?

A sudden blaze of warmth lifts the fur on my back, and I spin on my hindquarters, hoping to see Galefur once more. Hoping that he had returned, hoping that he was safe, and, most of all, hoping that he still loved me. However, instead of Gale, I met the steady, burning eyes of Coru, the God that frequents my prison most often.

"You're not Galefur," I croak, my voice sounding far wearier then I would of thought possible.

Coru surveys me, and I feel a stab of guilt and fury. Coru's eyes are so much like Galefur's; a bright amber in colour and round in shape. How dare the God remind me of him, how dare he. For, in my heart, I knew Galefur was gone.

"No," the tom agreed, approaching me. I shudder slightly; the heat emanating from his fur is intense and rather uncomfortable. "I am not Galefur." There is disapproval in his tone, disapproval I'm not entirely fond of. He was the God who had warned me against bringing cats into the prison, who had warned me against starting relationships with mortals, who had urged me not to frequent the Seeing Pool too often. And I'd broken all his rules.

"As you most likely know," Coru tells me, his amber eyes unblinking and steady, "Galefur is gone. For good."

I glance at him, my voice cracking slightly when I mew, "How? Why? What happened to him?" I sound defeated, something I'm not entirely sure I like. Am I really as hopeless as I sound? Or is there more strength to me?

"He shouldn't of come here," Coru says simply, "it blew his mind. He couldn't comprehend it. So, he... he faded." His voice sounds heavy; it occurs to me that something similar might of once happened to him. However, I can't care less about what might or might not have happened to him. Galefur is dead. And it's my fault. My fault for not following the clear and simple rules that had been set down for me.

"He's... gone," I whisper, numb. The shock is numbing the pain, although the guilt is already unbearable. I'm even more of a murderer then I had already thought. As I sit there in silence, I realize something. It takes me a while for the thought to form in my head, but I get there eventually. I've robbed the world of a wonderful cat. From what Galefur had told me, I knew he had had a promising future. The deputy had promised him that when she eventually became leader, she would appoint him as her second-in-command. I'd snatched a bright future from him for just a few moons of happiness.

I stumbled over to the Seeing Pool, gazing into it. The clear surface transforms, showing me WindClan. A body has appeared in the center of the camp; it's Galefur. It seems in his panic to get out of my prison, he'd somehow managed to teleport himself back to the world of the living. And killed himself doing it. There were already cats mourning him, wailing.

The scene shifted to the other camps in turn, all of them showing happy scenes full of care and love. A mother grooming her kits while lounging in the sunlight. An elder entertaining the younger members of the Clan. Mates enjoying the sunlight side by side. There was so much happiness in the world, considering how miserable I felt.

And within me, I felt the urge to change it. How dare they laugh at other's jokes, how dare they talk of love, how dare they feel content. I was a God; I had the power to change it. I had the power to force the rest of the world to mourn Galefur. And, I thought, turning towards Coru, the first step towards a miserable world was killing those who protected it. It was time to kills the Gods.

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one

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"Remember, kits," the black-and-white elder tells us, "the warrior code is important. It's all the prevents us from becoming rogues, all that gives us purpose. It's the reason the Clans have lasted for so long, and the reason they will last when we are gone. The warrior code is what sets us apart from other cats."

Of the three kits that sit listening to the old cat give her lecture, only one of them seems to be paying her any attention. He sits straight and tall, his eyes fixated on his elder, ears titled forwards in an attempt to catch every single piece of her information. Pikekit does, after all, wish to become leader one day; perhaps the elder's wisdom would improve his chances.

I am not as diligent as he; instead of paying attention to the elder, I bat at my littermate's face. She doesn't seem to mind much; she isn't particularly engaged in the elder's story. Although this is not surprise - my sister is, after all, half deaf, and the elder's lecture isn't interesting enough to catch her attention. Hardly anything is. Despite her disability, I often find myself feeling resentful towards Snowkit. Due to her being half deaf, she often receives special attention from Shellfang, our mother.

"Now, now," the elder says, her whiskers twitching with disapproval. "If you want to drag me out of my sleep, you might as well listen to what I've got to tell you." She sounds rather cross, and I remember that, before she retired to the elders' den, the she-cat had been the deputy of RiverClan. As a reasonably intelligent kit, I am quite aware that crossing a former deputy is foolish, and quickly scramble off Snowkit, attempting to look remorseful. "I'm sorry Troutmuzzle."

She lets out a small huff of disapproval; it seems my quickly faked remorse didn't seem as genuine as I had intended it to. Her annoyance was, of course, quite understandable; I had, after all, dragged Snowkit into the elders' den with me, and, together, we had caused a racket in our attempt to rouse our snoring father. He had retired to the elders' den a few moons after we'd been born, and I enjoyed being able to spend as much time with him as I wanted, asking him to play with Snowkit and me almost every day. He wasn't quite so fond of this arrangement as I. Today, however, I'd managed to wake Troutmuzzle as well.

It seems Snowkit has been paying attention - judging from her vacant expression and fidgeting, I had assumed she had tuned out - and the little white she-cat blinks up at Troutmuzzle with her wide, strange eyes. "We didn't mean any disrespect, of course," she whispers. Snowkit's voice is rather strange; she has a slight lisp that adds a sort of mythical theme to whatever she says. Her wide, mismatched eyes hardly help. "We just wanted to see Swiftflight."

To me, it feels like most of RiverClan harbour a secret soft spot for Snowkit. Her disability makes her seem more vulnerable, and cats generally seem more inclined to believe her word over mine. Instead of hating Snowkit for this however, I do my best to use it to my advantage. As she and I often have similar thoughts and opinions on matters, I use her agreeing with me to sort of confirm my words. Snowkit is good at manipulating cats into agreeing with her, which I find quite useful.

Sure enough, Troutmuzzle's face softens almost immediately. Snowkit's pretense at guilt and innocence is far more impressive them mine, and Troutmuzzle takes it in easily. Elders are so easy to fool when you have an angelic sister. "That's only natural," the elderly she-cat says, leaning forwards to lick the top of Snowkit's head. The white kit purrs convincingly; knowing Snowkit, it's likely she'll attempt to sneak away to the lake later in an attempt to wash the place Troutmuzzle licked her.

Pikekit, who knows full well that Snowkit's sincerity is faked, gives her a cross look. As a real stickler for the rules, Pikekit is undoubtedly only just holding himself back from arguing with Snowkit. However, as a genuinely nice kit, he prevents himself, much to my relief. Pikekit's brand of reasoned logic is good at making both my and Snowkit's stories fall crumbling around our heads. Fully grown cats are much easier to fool.

"What's it like being a warrior?" I ask Troutmuzzle, settling myself beside her and staring into her green eyes. "I mean, you know, what's it like being useful." As a kit of five moons, my role in the Clan's life is more useless then any adult cat can possibly realize. Sure, all cats were once kits, but once a cat reaches apprenticehood, it seems they forget all about the uselessness that a kit feels and instead scorns them. Patchpaw was like that; when he was a kit, the tom often lamented over the fact that he couldn't do anything, often tried to sneak out of camp to the lake so he could try and fish, maybe bring back something for the younger kits to eat. Yet once he became an apprentice, he seemed to laugh at Snowkit and I. What a minnow-brain.

Troutmuzzle considers me for a moment before she says, "It's the most wonderful thing you can imagine, little one, but far harder then you could ever dream of, even with your little kit brain." She flicks my forehead with my tail - I can't help but purr slightly. Despite being rather grumpy, Troutshadow is my favourite elder. That is, of course, after my father.

Snowkit bounds over to Troutshadow's other side before tucking herself into the crook of the elder's tail. Pikekit remains rigid and unmoving, eyes trained on Troutshadow, drinking in every single word she utters. Troutmuzzle glances at each of us in turn before continuing. "Being a warrior means getting up at dawn to go on romps around the territory. Being a warrior means going hungry just to feed the queens, kits and elders. Being a warrior means protecting your Clan, no matter what."

She jabs Pikekit in the chest with a paw; to his credit, he doesn't even flinch. "Being a warrior means to stand tall in the face of the enemy. To know that you're out numbered, to know that you can't hope to win, but still defending your Clan. It means you can't run, it means you can't desert, it means you have to be selfless. Do you kits have the strength to do this?"

Pikekit responds first, his mew clear and sure. "Yes. I can." His face is solemn, and his eyes far older then a kit of five moons. I believe him. If only I was as courageous as my brother; his ambitions to rise to the top of the Clan, to become leader, seem quite reasonable now. I have no doubts that he'll manage it eventually.

Snowkit doesn't seem to have heard Troutmuzzle; the white she-cat is gazing across the camp rather absentmindedly, watching two older warriors exchange words. She's nodding her head slightly from side to side as if to some beat only she can hear. Troutmuzzle seems to excuse her silence and turns to me, waiting expectantly.

I fidget. "I- I don't know," I admit after a pause. "If there isn't any hope, what good does it do to just... to just stand there and die? Isn't it better to live to fight another battle?" As soon as I say the words, I freeze. Troutmuzzle is, after all, the former deputy. It's quite possible, in my opinion, that she could report my words to Duskstar

However, instead of looking horrified by my words, Troutmuzzle lets out a rather delighted laugh. "You're quite right," she informs me, something gleaming in her eyes, "there isn't any point in some circumstances. If, for instance, you're raiding another Clan's territory, there's hardly any point in attacking until you all die. A smart cat needs to know when to retreat. However, retreating isn't always an option. If the enemy is going to destroy the elders, queens and kits still back in camp if you don't fight, the best thing to do is to take down as many of the enemy down with you."

I nod earnestly. "That makes sense!" She doesn't seem to be mad at me, so I try to be as enthusiastic as possible. But she's right; there isn't any point in fighting when you can retreat. Unless, of course, fighting is the only thing stopping the enemy from attacking your loved ones.

Pikekit looks rather disappointed, and Troutmuzzle smiles at him. "Don't look so down, Pikekit - I'm glad to see you're loyal to RiverClan. That's all that matters. Loyalty and selflessness - and you seem to have a good quantity of both."

The grey-and-white tom perks up at once, and I smile to myself. Life is good. I'm warm and comfortable, next to my brother and sister and a Clanmate. What more could I ask for?

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two

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Duskstar stares down at the three of us, his gaze unreadable. I fidget nervously, painstakingly aware that anything could go wrong. For instance, a fox could burst into the camp suddenly, in which case Duskstar would postpone the ceremony. Or maybe a sudden bolt of lightning would strike Snowkit, Pikekit and I just before Sevenstar gave us our apprentice names and rank. The possibility that Sevenstar would change his mind about making us apprentices was rather low, but it was still a possibility.

I shiver slightly; the night is cold. Above me, the stars seem to shine even brighter then usual, like StarClan itself is giving us its blessing. It is a good night to become apprenticed.

Before I can come up with more ways that the apprentice ceremony could go wrong, Duskstar begins. "Snowkit, Pikekit, Spiderkit - you have reached the age of six moons, and the time has come for you be apprenticed. Before the ever watching eyes of our ancestors, I strip you of your title of kit and rename you thus: Snowkit, you are now Snowpaw. Pikekit, your new name is Pikepaw. And Spiderkit, you will now be known as Spiderpaw."

I sit up straighter; no-one can call me a kit any longer. My name is Spiderpaw now - I'm an apprentice. I'm useful at last.

"Snowpaw," Sevenstar booms, leaping from the stump he had been addressing the Clan from and staking around the three of us. His gaze is like fire. "Your mentor will be Reedfur. Reedfur has shown herself to be a patient and considering cat - I hope she passes down all she knows to you."

Snowpaw touches noses with Reedfur, quivering with excitement. Her white fur glows like a beacon in the night; it really does seem like StarClan has chosen her. Like they approve of her. I suddenly feel self-conscious about my darker pelt. Perhaps by giving me a dark brown tabby pelt, StarClan was attempting to tell me I wasn't wanted. That I could and would blend into the darkness easily.

"Pikepaw," Duskstar continues, his eyes darting over RiverClan's members before finally latching onto one. "Your mentor will be Mapleheart. Mapleheart has shown himself to be loyal and true - I hope he passes down all he knows to you."

The tom looks surprised - its clear he didn't think he would be chosen - but he creeps up towards Pikepaw nonetheless. The two touch noses, and I hear Mapleheart whisper, "I'll make sure you end up the best warrior in RiverClan." He seems sincere and filled with a sort of nervous excitement; Pikepaw will be his first apprentice.

I tense with anticipation; who will Duskstar appoint my mentor? I run my eyes over the group of eligible warriors, wondering. Perhaps Bluepelt, the quiet tom with a never ceasing hunger for trout. Or maybe Daisyclaw, the witty and aggressive she-cat who looked far younger then her three leafbares. I cannot help but find myself mentally begging StarClan that Duskstar doesn't appoint Icefall as my mentor; the old snarky tom was hard enough to handle the few times I've interacted with him. I don't need to be treated to Icefall-snark full time.

"Spiderpaw," Duskstar continues. This time, his tone is more definite; it seems he already has a cat in mind. "Your mentor will be Froststep. Froststep has shown themself to be strong and unwavering in the face of danger - I hope they pass down all they know to you."

I blink, rather surprised; Mapleheart and Reedfur were both relatively new warriors. I'd been alive for their warrior ceremonies. Froststep, on the other paw, was a senior warrior and quite respected in the Clan. How had I managed to snag him? I remember the words Duskstar had used to describe Froststep and feel a sudden surge of anger. It seems that Troutmuzzle has told Duskstar about our conversation a long moon ago.

Froststep approaches me, their yellow eyes gleaming in the light, and we touch noses. They smell different to the rest of the Clan - the smell of fish isn't as strong on their pelt. There's a hint of something else, something more refreshing. Sharper.

The ceremony officially over, the Clan begins to yowl their approval. "Spiderpaw! Pikepaw! Snowpaw! Spiderpaw! Pikepaw! Snowpaw!"

Despite my annoyance at receiving a mentor that had been specially selected for me, chosen because Duskstar seems to think I'm a , the cheers of the Clan lift me up. I feel like I am flying; perhaps I am not as disliked by StarClan as I so foolishly previously thought. Pelt colours are just pelt colours, after all.

Looking far happier then I have ever seen her, Snowpaw prances towards me. "We did it!" she says a little too loudly. "We're apprentices now!"

My whiskers twitch slightly as I grin at her. "You know, I think I realized that."

Her own whiskers twitch, and she cuffs me over the head. "I'm an apprentice," she crows, holding her head high, "we don't tolerate sarcasm from little kits!"

I roll my eyes before pouncing, landing squarely on Snowpaw and pinning her to the ground. "You're the kit," I whisper in her ear. She doesn't seem to hear me, instead staring up at me, laughter dancing in her eyes. I frown, then try the other ear, repeating the same thing.

"Yeah, right," she snorts in response before kicking me in the stomach and sending me skidding away. I wince; I hadn't realized Snowpaw's legs were so strong. I glance at my own; they're long and thin, just like those of a spider. My whiskers briefly twitch with amusement - of course I resemble a spider in some way. Why else would my parents name me after one?

I get to my paws, thoughts moving on to my mentor. Shouldn't they have approached me by now, or perhaps scolded me for behaving like a kit? I'd had a few witty comebacks ready. The fact that they hadn't even looked at me since I'd officially entered their tutelage. I scan the clearing for them, my eyes darting over my chattering Clanmates. Froststep stands out among them; although white pelts aren't particularly uncommon in RiverClan, the dark brown spots that dance over the top of their back makes them easy to spot.

To my indignation, Froststep is deeply engrossed in conversation with Reedfur. I frown; Froststep definitely shouldn't be gossiping like a elder. Their duty as a mentor is to teach me how to be a warrior. Which generally means paying attention to their apprentice.

Snowpaw bats me playfully, her head cocked to one side. "Weren't we playing?" There's a slightly wistful note to her voice, something that suggests that she believes I feel like I'm too old to play with her now, or that our lives as we know them are over. What saddens me is that what her voice quietly suggests could very likely be true.

"Reedfur and Froststep have no right to just ignore us," I tell my sister. "There's no time for games. I'm not going to just let Froststep pretend I don't exist - will you come and try to get whatever bees have flown into our mentors' brains out with me?"

The white she-cat blinks, clearly surprised. Something that resembles hurt flashes in her eyes. When she speaks, her words are steely. Cool. Cold. "I don't think I will, thanks," she says to me before marching towards our mother, her plumy tail high in the air.

I grit my teeth. Although I usually get on well with Snowpaw, her 'high and mighty' act gets tiring quite quickly. However, despite the less-then-promising start to my mission, I march over to my mentor and bluntly ask them, "Why are you being such a minnow-brain? Why are you ignoring me?" I regret the words the moment they leave my mouth. It feels like I've already managed to annoy Duskstar - the last thing I need to do is antagonize my mentor.

Froststep seems rather surprised - which, of course, fills me with savage pleasure that I struggle to keep off my face. Although I dread what my mentor's reaction to my rather rude words will be, I do not regret snapping at them. If they hadn't wanted to get hissed at, they shouldn't of ignored their new apprentice. It's likely these kind of thoughts that result in my frequent scoldings from Shellfang.

"I apologize if you feel ignored," the predominantly white cat begins. I'm startled by how smooth their manner is - they have recovered their usual calm and collected air quite fast. "However, ignoring you wasn't my intention."

I blink. His smooth talking is difficult to combat - a normal cat would of backed down. However, I allow the fur on my back to raise slightly, attempting to appear larger then I really am. Being lean and wiry generally makes me seem smaller then I am, and my rather short fur doesn't do much to make me seem more fearsome. But, after all, it's effort that counts.

"Yeah? Then why didn't you go and actually talk to me?" I snap. "Normal mentors offer to show their apprentices around the territory, or tell them to do something minnow-brained, like clean out the elders' den. They actually interact with their apprentices. And what did you do? Go and gossip with Reedfur. Both of you have apprentices, but neither of you are doing anything to help them."

Reedfur looks rather shocked at my accusations. "Uh, actually-" she begins, although Froststep cuts her off before she can attempt to stutter an explanation.

"Actually," Froststep says, giving me an odd look as they did so, "I was helping Reedfur here. It's her first time mentoring and she wanted to ask me a few questions about it. I'm helping her devise a training program that will suit Snowpaw, as well as finding ways to fit ways that you, Spiderpaw, will be able to spend some time with your sister."

I open my mouth to argue, but quickly close it. There's nothing I can say to that, nothing at all. Froststep's explanation sounds perfectly reasonable; perhaps it was unfair of me to label him as a neglectful cat. Eventually, I say, "I'm sorry, Froststep. Reedfur." More embarrased then I have ever been in my life, I withdraw slowly.

Before I can leave the conversation entirely, Froststep calls out, "And if you're so eager to have me get you to clean out the elders' den, how about you spend the rest of the afternoon doing so?"

The stupid flea-pelt.

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