Pirouette

A Fanfic by Lyrics


Prologue

The silver she-cat with the eyes in the shade of a summer sky sat on a mountain edge, staring icily at the rolling sea waves which crashed into the rocky terrain. Although her pelt was pristine and her fur was unruffled, her blue eyes were frothing with pure ire.

A frightened calico shivered beside the cat, her golden-feathered wings curled around her tiny, thin frame. Her shadow was casted onto the silver she-cat, causing the she-cat's fur color to turn into a stormy gray.

'Are we going back now?' The calico broke the chilly silence.

'Rhiannon can wait.'

'But- aren't you afraid that she'll-'

'-no, I'm not.'

'I think it's better to leave-'

'-she'll be with her guards-'

'-but you're strong enough to defeat-'

'Enough!' The silver she-cat snarled. The calico flinched.

'Why should I care about Rhiannon? She's just another one of them, Briar. Why do you care that much about them? What have they done for us?'

'Without her, we wouldn't be The Etoiles! Do you understand?'

'Why should I care? I'd always loathed this job, this so-called honor of being The Etoiles. I had never felt the obligation to pay respects to The Etoiles, Briar! They're always under the Mistresses' control! Now that Rhiannon has her army with her, she can do anything- anything to us!'

'What about The Tribe of Grace? Are you going to leave Floral and Blossom behind?' Briar challenged. 'Argen, can you really do that?'

Argen's blue eyes flared up. 'How dare you mention Floral and Blossom!' The silver she-cat unsheathed her claws, which were stained with splashes of cerulean and lilac.

Briar's eyes, in the shade of heated flames, glared at Argen. 'That's why.'

Argen narrowed her azure orbs. 'Let's leave, then. We need to return to The Tribe.'

'So what about Rhiannon?' Briar cleared her throat.

'I can handle her. She's weak.'

Argen spread her barely noticeable iridescent wings. A powerful flap was made, and Argen soared into the air.

'Are you coming?'

Chapter 1

'No, no, no! Can't you ever get it right?' Eritique hissed frustratedly. 'Etiquette and grace is just as important as survival skills here! The key to being a part of the aristocrats is grace! Don't you want to be one of The Etoiles? Don't you want to be a part of the next Mistresses?'

'Yes, Miss.' Nix mumbled, her shoulders hunched.

'Sit straight! Meet my eyes!' Eritique's exasperation showed in her commanding voice. 'You have the perfect looks! Why can't you just get this right?'

Nix's pure white fur was flawless on her body, her frame was strong, and her golden eyes, seemingly reflections of the Sun, were bright and vibrant.

However much Nix looked like a princess with proper mannerisms, she surely wasn't. Instead of standing tall and straight, Nix prefered slouching. She walked clumsily, in a way that made her appear as a young kit trying to walk. Except for that, she hated taking mandatory classes on mannerisms and dancing.

'Nix! Pay attention!' Eritique snapped. 'When I was mentoring your mother, she was the complete opposite! That's how she was elected as one of the Mistresses! Rhiannon would be extremely disappointed!'

Cinielle spoke up. 'Miss, I think we shall continue with our lesson.' Her pelt, flecked with gray hues and hints of black, looked like a shadow in the Training Caves. Her chartreuse eyes were as sharp as her tongue- Nix could easily see that Cinielle was smug because she was being lectured.

'Oh, yes, we need to continue the lesson.' Eritique casted Nix a callous glare before turning to the other five cats.

~

'Nix!' Rhiannon's dissatisfied voice rang in the white she-cat's den. 'Not again,' Nix grumbled as she pushed herself up to face her mother.

'Eritique complained that you weren't trying your hardest in your lessons! Do you want to be one of the Plebeians? You should be grateful that you are allowed to attend these lessons to bring you up as a successful leader!' Rhiannon sighed. 'I wish you were like Cinielle! Do you know how shameful it is to have a failure like you?'

Nix smirked. 'Are you salty just because you couldn't track Argen and Briar down? Oh well. I guess you aren't the best Mistress after all.'

Rhiannon's eyes blazed. 'What did you say? How dare you say this to your mother! Do you know no respects?'

'Believe it or not, I know where they are.' Nix calmly licked her paw. 'I could fetch them back, but I have a few conditions.'

The Mistress narrowed her eyes. 'Spit it out!'

'Firstly, I won't have to attend classes anymore.'

Rhiannon's white pelt bushed up in anger. 'No way-'

'If you aren't going to listen to all of my conditions, I'm going to take back my offer.'

Rhiannon supressed a snarl.

'Secondly, I won't have to be a part of The Etoiles or The Mistresses. And also, I have the right to be a part of the Warriors.'

Her mother widened her eyes in disbelief.

'At last-' Nix cleared her throat, '-I can choose my own mate.'

Rhiannon hissed. 'Deal. But if you can't bring The Etoiles back by the next moon, your conditions will void and you will be punished.'

Nix lashed her tail. 'I need to bring Raven and Feather with me.'

'Then bring them. Leave now, and come back as soon as possible.'

Chapter 2

Snow drifted onto Artemis' black tabby pelt. Her eyes, in a shade of viridian, were obscure. Her strong body was no more. She was now in a state where she was famished and she didn't have the strength to hunt for herself.

'Artemis!' Her sister, Azaelyx, mewed. Azaelyx was a beautiful black tabby with steely blue eyes like glaciers. In her jaws was a bird- a wounded bird, not to mention that it was even thinner than Artemis. She placed it down on the pitiful fresh-kill pile.

'The Tribe Of Grace isn't fair,' Artemis heard a familiar voice grumble, 'The Royals and Warriors get to take all of the food supply! Look at us!'

'Stop, Heira. You know as well as I do that the Mistresses don't care about us.' Artemis muttered.

'And they still pick off pieces of food and trash them!' Lily's outraged snarl came from the stone cave. 'How could they?'

'Where is Arylide?' Ivory mumbled. 'Where is she?'

'I'm here!' The golden she-cat called out. 'I think I discovered something!'

Artemis quickly went to Arylide. She saw a nest of baby birds. They're barely even a moon old, Artemis thought.

'Food!' Lily cried, her aureolin eyes glowing euphorically. 'Finally!'

Artemis sat there. 'I'm not going to eat any.'

'What? You haven't eaten in days! You have to eat!' Azaelyx gasped. 'You can't just starve yourself!'

'They're just innocent fledglings!' Artemis protested.

'A wolf doesn't care if it's a kit or a grown cat, Artemis.' Caprice sighed. 'You can't be that soft.'

Artemis stared at the tiny fledgling which could hardly squeak. She picked a feeble bird up in her jaws and placed it next to her nest.

'Here, here, I'll make sure you're safe, okay?' The black tabby curled her tail around the fledgling, carefully licking its head. Arylide padded in, in her jaws was a slithering maggot.

'The bird needs this.' The golden she-cat mumbled. 'Don't let anyone know, I swear. They're so hungry they'll take anything, even bugs and beetles.'

Artemis gave the maggot to the bird, then ate half herself. The bird gladly chowed down the worm. The black tabby wrinkled up her face when she tasted the sour maggot.

'What do you think I should name it?' Artemis questioned.

'Hope is a good name,' Arylide suggested. 'Or maybe Alphiex?'

'Emme,' Artemis mewed, 'Emme.'

The fledgling chirped in reply.

'She knows our language.' Arylide purred lightly.

Artemis' ears pricked when she heard Azaelyx's mumble.

'Artemis's going to starve to death if she still refuses to eat...'

'Hurry, hide Emme!' Arylide hissed. The black tabby swiftly covered the fledgling with moss, right before Azaelyx and Lily came in.

'Artemis, if you aren't going to eat that fledgling, give it.' Lily spat.

'No! I've already refused to!' Artemis protested.

'How many times have I told you to-' Lily's snarl was cut off by a huge wave of fire, sweeping across their den-

'-What in the name of-'

The fire disappeared as quick as it appeared.

'I told you to leave me alone!' Artemis shrieked. 'Don't you understand? Ever since Raven ran off-'

'Raven what?' Caprice gasped. 'You lied to us, didn't you?'

Chapter 3

'We need to visit Artemis right now!' Nix hissed.

Raven shook her head frantically. 'No, no, no- I can't go!'

'It's important! Only Artemis knows where they are!'

'Still! I can't!'

Nix sighed. Wings like flame burst out from her back, her golden eyes burning like fire raging through forests. 'You don't have a choice- you must!'

Feather casted a glance at Raven. 'She doesn't have...' her voice trailed off as she stared pointedly at Nix's wings.

Nix whipped around to face the black she-cat, her head hung in embarrassment.

'But how?' Nix whispered. 'How did she manage to catch a huge eagle without wings?'

Raven gulped.

'You didn't.' Nix glared at Raven. 'You didn't, did you?'

Feather narrowed her eyes. 'She did. She caught it- I saw it with my very own eyes.'

Nix spat. 'Fox dung! We need to get to Artemis as soon as we can, and Raven doesn't have wings!'

'I can run.' Raven mewed softly. 'I know the way...'

'Then go!' Nix mewed, dismissing Raven quickly. 'Feather, do you know where's the Plebeian Camp?'

Feather shrugged.

'Follow me, if the both of you don't know the way.' Raven turned to stare at the two she-cats. 'And keep both of your wings in.'

'Wouldn't it be quicker if we fly?' Nix questioned.

'Well, the entrance is secluded- unlike our camp, there's only one entrance to the camp- but many, many exits.' Raven mewed, her voice hushed. 'And flying won't get you anywhere, since the camp is enclosed by brambles, and cliffs.'

'But don't they have wings? Briar was from the Plebeians, and she has wings.' Nix mewed.

Raven turned silent.

'A cat has to be a Royal descendant to have wings. Either that, or the cat has to be blessed by one of the Mistresses.' Feather mewed. 'Nix, didn't you know that?'

'And a cat has to be blessed to become a true Warrior. Do you mean that Raven isn't-'

'Hush! We're here,' Raven hissed. 'They're always wary of the Ro- us, so they'll definitely attack if they see us.'

'I hear rustling...'

'That's Artemis!' Nix gasped.

'I'm going to go check.'

The black tabby loomed into sight, surprise burst from her viridian eyes as she saw Raven. 'You better come in.'

The three cats carefully padded in, aware that mutters and snarls were coursing through the cats.

'Royals, aren't they?'

'What do they want?'

'They're nothing but murderers!'

'Seems like Rhiannon.'

'Looks like the next Mistresses...'

'Silence!' A calico that reminded Nix of Briar sat up. Her pale yellow eyes were hostile, her chilling gaze sweeping through the Plebeians.

'What brought you here?' The she-cat mewed.

'I want to find Artemis.' Nix's voice was defiant, as if picking a fight with the calico.

'Very well.' The calico cleared her throat. 'Artemis, go.'

Gazes of suspicion trailed after the cats as the awfully skinny black tabby hurried out of the entrance. 'What in the name of the Stars do you want?' Artemis hissed. 'And Raven! I've already told you that you couldn't turn back-'

'We need your help!' Feather cut Artemis off. 'We have to track Argen and Briar down, and if we don't bring them back to Rhiannon by next moon-' she gulped, '-we'll be punished and Nix will face the fate of being the next Mistress...'

Artemis scoffed. 'Getting yourselves into trouble like that, I thought you'd known better after last time!'

'Please!' Feather pleaded. 'You've got to help us!'

'Argen.' Artemis faced Feather. 'You are Argen.'

'But how? Argen was made Etoile before I was even born!'

'Right... Sorry, I meant that you look like Argen.' Artemis cleared her throat. 'Nix, how do you expect me to help you?'

'Just tell us where Argen and Briar are, the exact location, and what are they currently doing.'

The black tabby she-cat seemed to get lost in her vivid imagination, her complicated thoughts, until Raven shifted uncomfortably.

'Argen and Briar, Cliffs of Death, currently traveling in our direction. They're talking about going back to the Royals.'

Nix widened her eyes.

'That's it.' Artemis opened her viridian green eyes, orbs glowing. 'If you wait for precisely 8 days, you will be able to meet them here. They will take a break here.'

'Thank you!' Nix's bright golden eyes glistened. 'But where could we stay?'

'Wait...' Artemis hurried into her den, and padded out with a frail bird, its flank barely rising.

'Care for her. Please.'

Chapter 4

The black tabby staggered back into camp, as if she had lost her most beloved one. The dull agonized gleam in her viridian eyes were unmistakable.

Once again, Raven had gone. Artemis had failed to make her stay.

'Who are they?' Azaelyx hissed. 'You know that you can't leak secrets to anyone-'

'Would you please shut up?' Artemis snarled at Azaelyx. The tabby was obviously taken aback, shock settling in her royal blue eyes. After a few moments Azaelyx opened her jaws to growl a retort but Artemis was already scrambling up the cliff wall, slipping into the herb stores, where a tom, whose pelt was like raging storm coulds, rested. His eyes, in an unsettling teal, scanned Artemis curiously.

'You are here. Is there anything that I can help, dear sister?'

'I need goatweed and thyme, Amable,' Artemis panted. The tom easily pushed himself up. 'Skinny, skinny. The whole Tribe's starving, weak, defenseless.' He eyed Artemis. 'The last thing you had was half a maggot, no?'

The black tabby nodded, catching her breath, bracing for a scolding about how maggots weren't clean, and how she'll catch a disease by consuming one.

'Right, right, how many times have I told Caprice to stop feeding the Tribe on maggots? Starvation is better than plague,' he grumbled as he fumbled for goatweed and thyme, with sorrel and chamomile. 'Goatweed and thyme for anxiety and grief... You've been having too much lately...' Artemis watched the tom take those two herbs away, unable to protest. 'Sorrel and chamomile for strength. You need strength for hunting for the Tribe, Artemis, and not feeding them on maggots!'

A small, feeble mouse scrambled from the herb store, but Artemis was too quick for it. In a heartbeat she had swiftly broke its neck and she laid it down.

'If you don't give me goatweed and thyme, I'm not bringing this back to the Tribe.

Amable shook his head. 'Then I'd rather have this mouse rot in here.'

'Fine!' The black tabby snatched the mouse hotly, shooting a glare at Amable.

'You forgot your dosage.' The tom mewed calmly. 'Take a rest here, before you go back.'

Artemis couldn't turn down the temptation. In a few moments she had already swallowed the herbs, feeling strength and power restore in her paws, her body, slowly filling up.

'Can I go now?' She mewed.

The tom nodded and laid on the cool stone again. 'Come back if you need herbs,' he called out before Artemis nimbly landed on the ground.

~

'A mouse!' Caprice's eyes widened. 'What a surprise, Artemis!' The calico purred silkily.

'For the kits.' The black tabby quicly ducked into the nursery, taking in the sight of a ragged silver pelt over a heap of bones, and two blue bundles of barely breathing lumps.

'Plata, food.' Artemis dropped the mouse in front of Plata's muzzle.

'Thanks,' she croaked. 'You would be a great mother, Artemis, why won't you find a mate?'

The black tabby closed her eyes.

'It's- it's not really a great time to find a mate right now,' Artemis stammered.

'Sit, sit, dear.' the silver she-cat swept her plumy tail, purring gently. 'I know, my dear, but you have to think of your future! Plan ahead, dear.' Plata looked up and stared into Artemis' green eyes.

'You've always reminded me of your mother,' Plata purred. 'Your mother could've been leader, she had the spirit.'

Artemis nodded, her mind numb with doubt and shock. No cat has talked about her deceased mother after she had been found on the shore, claw marks on her throat, blood flowing like a neverending stream. She was still a small kit, she had no recollection of her mother, she could only remember the pitiful cries and woeful moans in camp. Chilling as they were, they made a song, a hymn, as to Artemis, and lulled her to sleep.

To the Camp Artemis was an outcast, she was the cause of the downfall of all powers, of all chances of battle, of equality, of their survival. To Artemis the Camp was the barriers of her mind, of her freedom, of her own life that she had never rightfully led.

No wonder Caprice had loathed Artemis. Every word the leader had said was either piercing or hurtful, scarring Artemis. Little did she know that Artemis had a heart made of steel, barriers made of the hardest stones, and a mind that spins as fast as a hummingbird's wings flap. Artemis was the exact copy of her mother.

Plata sighed. 'Artemis, you should go on. Leave this old set of bones in peace, if you will.'

Artemis nodded as she slid out of the nursery. The voices hushed.

'You very well know that Plata and her kits aren't purebloods!' That was Caprice.

'How dare you?' That was Lily.

'She is no use to us! Just let her and her kits pass!' That was Azaelyx.

'What about me?' That was Artemis.

Caprice was outraged.

The black tabby could comprehend the mix of fury and confusion in Caprice's bright amber eyes. If you look closely, she looked like Briar, pattern-wise. They seemed like they were from the same litter.

I am an outcast. Artemis declared in her mind. She straightened up her shoulders and glowered at her sister defiantly, as if challenging her to a fight, a one-way pass to evanescence, to her demise. Artemis' glare was so intense that it sent shivers down her sister's spine.

'You are wrong.'

She turned to hold Caprice's stare.

' I am a circle. My thoughts surround me like a perfect aura, my emotions caressing my heart, and yet you are too blind to see it.'

'A circle has no end.' Caprice's lips curled back, revealing sharp golden fangs.

'Each circle, when drawn, has a meeting point. Before one reaches that point, however,' Artemis' gaze darkened, 'it means that the one is still alive. Once I perish, a circle will meet and I will live out a life of immortality, of pain, of opportunities that I never had the chance to explore haunting my every step. It fills out the circle until it is not a line, but a face. And a face is solid. Once the face is filled, I become a solid form, and I live out another wretched life once again.'

Caprice narrowed her eyes. 'What are you trying to tell me?'

'What I'm trying to tell you, is that each circle's end cannot be forced, as we all have our own pace. You forced the stop of my mother's circle. Now,' Artemis snarled, with a crazed glint in her eyes, 'I have to force yours!'

Jolt.

Blood.

Shock.

Wails.

The reminiscent ring of a mournful hymn.

The only way to mourn her mother's demise, was to enjoy the hymns that was played once again.

Chapter 5

Nix had never realized the beauty of the Plebeians' Camp. It was well hidden and also cozy. Even though it was mainly constructed out of brambles, bracken and stone, it was easily warm, even during winter. Nix had noticed red staining splotches of the ground. She decided to ignore them.

Before they had left the territories, they heard a bloodcurdling screech of agony, and immediately rushed back. They were blocked out by the wall of thick briar and brambles.

They could faintly see a black tabby towering over a fallen calico's body, blood streaking the ground. The glint in the cat's eyes were unmistakably, a shade of green.

Artemis...?

Horror shook Raven. 'No, no, Artemis... you can't...'

'Should we go back?'

Before Feather had finished her sentence, Raven had already plunged back into the camouflaged entrance.

The two cats did the same. They saw Artemis and her bloodied right paw, Caprice and her drained corpse, Azaelyx and her horrified expression, the rest of the cats and their saddened songs.

~ Raven's POV ~

Artemis. Her Artemis. The one and only Artemis that she would ever learn to care for.

She had gone mad.

The glimmer of hysteria in her eyes had chilled Raven. Her blood seemed to freeze, her heart seemed to stop.

This is not Artemis.

'Artemis!' Raven gasped, her periwinkle eyes widening as she noticed the dying gleam in the pair of viridian eyes.

All life seemed to be depleted from the black tabby.

She was reliving her mother's death.

It was common when it came to Artemis, but every time it seemed to get worse. Raven was petrified. For once, she face that she had loved seemed unnerving. Triangular structures, huge eyes, sunken cheeks and insanity did not go well together.

Every time Artemis had relived her mother's death, Raven was beside her. Every time, she would say words that did not make sense to some, sentences that a normal cat would not be able to comprehend, but when Raven put enough thought into it, they made perfect sense. Every time, she would not lash out at every cat who was trying to confront her.

Except for this one time.

With Emme in Feather's jaws, Raven dashed forward and shrieked, 'Artemis! Wake up!'

No response.

'Artemis! Artemis!'

Utter silence.

Cats were staring at Raven.

Is that Raven?

Is it really her?

Traitor!

Who is she?

Only a golden she-cat stared at Raven with an expression that was so desolate, so hopeless, so eerie.

Arylide.

Raven gulped at the sight of the she-cat. Out of all of them, Arylide was the only cat who could succeed in daunting Raven. The golden she-cat's eyes were in a blaring shade of harlequin, pleading was the dominant emotion in her orbs. She was young, and sensible. Another cat that would have potential in being the successors of the current Etoiles.

Please, Arylide mouthed, Save Artemis.

The black tabby was slowly collapsing.

Falling, falling, falling. A vortex of flames engulfed the cats.

She only had a few moments. The most crucial moments to rescue the she-cat.

Breathing, breathing, breathing. A whole mob of cats were shrieking.

She ran. Fearless, brave, torrential, even, as she tore away from her companions.

Running, running, running. The only chance was right there.

She grabbed wildly, consternation and dread and angst filling her.

Rushing, rushing, rushing. Waves of red substance, presumably blood, rushed out and flowed freely, from the fallen body laying on the ground.

Pull. Away from the world of torment, away from the world of destruction, away, away, away.

The flames ceased.

Artemis choked, spluttered, gasped for air, her viridian eyes trailing up to meet Raven's blue gaze.

'Why? Why?' she mumbled, 'I... should've perished.'

Chapter 6

Artemis, her lungs struggled to get enough oxygen, the source of life, and yet it was right in front of her.

But she had stopped taking in her life long ago. It was a drug, an addiction, that she could never get enough of.

She was too greedy.

After a few moments, she shook her pelt and stood up, turning to see Caprice's corpse.

'What...what have I done?' she whispered, her green eyes wide in shock.

Azaelyx was staring, her cold blue eyes glistening with emotions- so many emotions, one that Artemis had never seen before- was it melancholy?

Artemis swiveled to stare at her littermate. 'How could you? You monster!' The black she-cat pounded on Artemis, claws unsheathed, fangs flashing.

'You know the penalty for murdering the Plebeian Leader- your own leader- and you have to suffer!'

'I killed her-' She struck quicker than lightning, easily defending herself from Azaelyx, 'because I witnessed, with my very own eyes, that she killed Sombra! Yes, our own mother!'

Azaelyx didn't stop. 'And what proof do you have?'

Artemis slashed Azaelyx's nose bridge before going back to defending herself, 'Not only do I have proof, I have witnesses. It's on you now, Raven.'

Cats gasped and growled, hostile, the tension growing even more thick and heavy, before the black she-cat spoke up.

'Yes. Indeed, I did witness her mother's demise.' the she-cat, as dark as the night, mewed crisply.

'We cannot trust her! She betrayed us!' Lily shrieked, but Azaelyx silenced her with a flick of her tail. 'Go on.'

'We were hunting. We thought there'd be seagulls near the shores, since it was a warm night.'

'I remember them both, still young, and they caught a huge seagull that fed us for a few days.' Heira mewed.

'Along the shore, we caught the seagull, but heard shuffling. We hid in the Observing Caves, and we saw a tortoiseshell, accompanied by a black tabby. The tortoiseshell was at least twice the size of the tabby.'

'They were quarrelling. Even from the Observing Caves we could hear sentences, like 'we need a new leader', 'you're weak'... and one of them, one of them snarled, 'If you become leader, Artemis would be the next!' then an inelegant snarl, an agonized shriek, and a cat running away. We went and saw Sombra on the ground. Blood was pooling, she was faintly breathing and then she croaked, 'You have to save them...' before dying.'

Heira nodded. 'That is logical. Caprice and Sombra were always rivals, from the split second they met. Caprice was ambitious and fought for the successor occupation hard, but Sombra got it. The past leader, Storm, had always favored the both of them, and they've been fighting for his attention constantly, until Sombra got the successor role. Caprice was bitter, and was more than happy to take the role of the next successor.'

Azaelyx narrowed her eyes. 'Lies. All lies! Caprice helped us survive! She did not want us to die, did she? Cats, kill Artemis!'

Lily gladly tore over to Artemis, ready to feast on her throat when Artemis pelted away. 'You can't win me when it comes to cunningness, Lily!'

The black tabby lashed her throat when nearly the whole Plebeian camp's cats surrounded her. Arylide stood aside.

Azaelyx faced Artemis, in the middle of the circle. 'You can't escape anymore... attack.'

The cats all hurtled themselves to the so-called liar, shredding and biting and ripping; veins snapping, blood flowing.

Fire raged, from Artemis to cats and other cats until flames engulfed them whole. It seemed to be hours, days, until the flames subsided.

Cats were all lying on the floor, bleeding or charred or burning alive, except for a black and a golden cat and the other three spectators. They were dying.

A massacre.

The black tabby, claws unsheathed, viridian eyes burning, her flank rising and falling rapidly, glared at her littermate with such intensity, such coldness that it seemed like the world has chilled.

Arylide stared at Artemis in pure shock.

Azaelyx bared her teeth, yet her voice was no more than a whisper of shock and fear. 'You wiped out a whole Tribe.'

'And you quenched the passionate glow of life.' Artemis hissed.

'What is life compared to death?' Azaelyx retorted.

'The manifesto on how to survive.' Artemis spat. Seeing a scorched body, Artemis kicked it over. It was Lily.

'Go, Azaelyx, the Royals will accept you. You are not one of us. Unlike me, you are pristine and unscarred.'

After that, Artemis and the other three ran, leaving Arylide chasing after them.

Chapter 7

'How do you live like this?' Nix asked, her white pelt still untouched. Raven blinked slightly innocently, shrugging.

'We just do.' Artemis mewed. 'Once you find the meaning of living, you'll be able to go forward.'

'But do you even have one?' Nix mewed.

The black tabby seemed devoid of liveliness, of hope.

'Yes.' She continued, 'until Raven left.'

'Raven?' Nix's eyes widened. 'She's a Plebeian?'

'Was.' The black she-cat uneasily corrected Nix. 'Artemis helped me escape.'

Looking at Raven, Artemis mewed, 'I'm glad you found your place.'

Raven looked away, slightly embarrassed.

'Where are we going now?' Feather asked, her blue eyes sparking.

'To find Briar and Argen.' Artemis mewed.

'Artemis!' A golden she-cat galloped over to her while panting, her orbs wild. 'I'm coming.'

Artemis looked at the she-cat as if she had gone mad.

'No.'

Calmly, she denied Arylide.

'Artemis! Please,' Arylide pleaded. 'You know that Azaelyx hates me.'

'Do you know where we're going? We're going to the Royals.'

'What?' Nix gasped in horror. 'Argen and Briar aren't back yet, are they?'

'We will meet them in a sunrise, near the Stone Glacier.' Artemis declared. 'And it is already dusk.'

'We should hurry, shouldn't we?' Nix continued.

Without speaking Artemis turned tails and started to walk. Raven followed suit.

'Wings?' Nix suggested.

Raven shot the white she-cat a sharp glare before continuing on.

'I have to disguise my scent,' Artemis whispered to Raven. 'And are you sure that they'll accept me?'

'Argen knows you. She'll think of a way.' Nix said confidently.

Artemis' viridian eyes flared up,

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