Prologue - Obscure
A leaf brushed Cobrakit's nose as she crept forward, practicing her hunting skills. She was going to be the best Warrior in VineClan, ever! She giggled softly as her tabby pelt swept the ground lightly, her small paws being set down lightly. She peered out into the clearing, eyeing the feather that lay on the ground. It was a scarlet one, probably from that bird Rosethorn had called a 'robin'. And a weird bird it was too!
She snuck a glance back into the nursery, seeing her mother curled up with Leopardkit and Oakkit in their shared nest. Cobrakit yawned, half wishing she was back there. No! She would do this! She crept forward again, her waving tail disturbing leaves. That was when she heard the first murmurs of thoughts...
Father shouldn't get me to do this for him, Someone's mind growled irritably.
Cobrakit blinked expectantly, glaring out into the grass. She didn't, as she had thought she would, see a warrior. Instead, it was Gravelkit! She gasped softly, wriggling closer to the beginning of the lush grass that fringed the clearing.
Spying isn't my strong suit, anyway, Gravelkit's mind grumbled as the striped tom made his way across the area.
Cobrakit blinked in fear, hearing the word 'spying'. She didn't exactly know what it meant, only being a two moon old kit, but it sounded like a Bad Word. Bad Word! Like mouse-brain. The word spy left a bad taste in her mouth, her face turning sour.
Gravelkit sighed and began scrabbling at a hole near the corner of the clearing, his eyes screwed up in concentration. Cobrakit watched in trepidation, despite the looming thought that whatever was happening was very, very bad.
Where are the stupid things? Gravelkit snarled in his own mind, a firey wall of anger suddenly thrown up, temporarily shoving Cobrakit out of the six moon old kit's mind. Cobrakit yelped silently, shrinking back. She'd never felt anger that strong before. Sure, she'd seen many walls thrown up against her mind-reading. Sure, most cats tended to shy away from her in fear of her powers. Sure, some cats adored her because she was 'special'. But never had anything like this ever happened, so much anger. So much violent rage. She shuddered.
This is bad. I need to go!
Then, Cobrakit's mind-reading opened up again. Gravelkit triumphantly flung his head up, his paws gingerly cradling two dark red berries.
Who deserves these, father? the kit thought angrily, All these Clan cats! I hate you, father. You put me here!
Cobrakit shivered, her tabby paws drawn back against her stomach. She glanced out at the Nursery again, desperate to leave.
But something drew her to stay... something... inside of her.
She stared, fixated on the cat that was Gravelkit, and began, again, listening.
One day, father, one day.
At that moment, Cobrakit tumbled out into the grass, hitting her head on the ground. She squeaked in fear and pain, her eyes going wide. Gravelkit's head snapped towards her.
The mind-reader kit! His mind hissed, anger erupting again, "How long have you been here?!"
Cobrakit quivered, her eyes cast down. Gravelkit is bad! Bad! I need the remember that!
But she didn't. She forgot it over the course of her kit days, the memory only a stirring in the back of her mind when she really tried to remember.
Chapter One - Stone
“Cobrapaw, please make an effort to have friends.” Her mother spoke harshly, but she was sympathetic nonetheless. She understood that Cobrapaw’s power made her hard to like, but she always had to have her guard up, as every cat was learning to do.
Cobrapaw strolled, determinedly, into the clearing. She would make more friends today. But, of course Pebblepaw was there to ruin her mood as always.
Ugh, here the special cat comes again. Go back to your mother’s nest. It’s where you, and the rest of this arrogant clan belong.
Cobrapaw didn’t want to seem like a mean cat, so she had taught herself to never reply to thoughts angrily.
“Why can’t we just be friends? You must understand that this power is not a blessing, but a curse.” When Pebblepaw just glared back as an answer, Cobrapaw looked up at her sadly, shook her head, and went to join the patrol.
When she arrived at the stump where the cats were gathering, all conversation halted. The cats put up guards, wether they be sadness, anger or ignorance. What they didn’t realize is that Cobrapaw was still a cat. She had feelings, too. The only ones she felt comfortable opening up to were her brothers, Oakpaw and Leopardpaw. They understood her power, and they did not feel threatened by it. They were always supportive and were never jealous.
In the forest that day, she opened up her mind even wider. It was like her own personal training exercise. She could hear and feel the thoughts of not only the living, breathing things, but the trees and clouds, too.
Squirrel! She instinctively dropped into the hunting crouch, just like any other cat.
What she did differently, was that she knew when the animal had felt her paw steps or heard her tail. She knew where the animal was going to hide or what route it was planning. Her power certainly had great potential, but that was all the other cats saw.
She arrived back at camp with yet another good catch, a vole, and two squirrels.
After an uneventful evening, she lay down in her nest, next to Oakpaw, and they groomed each other until dusk faded into night. Cobrapaw enjoyed listening to the dreams of other cats before she slept herself.
Tonight, the sounds of the birds and the peacefulness in the night put her to sleep quickly.
Chapter Two - Obscure
Cobrapaw wished her Clan was a little more understanding. It wasn't like she wanted to read their minds. It wasn't like she tried to keep cats away. It wasn't fair. She often felt most at home in the woods, alone. Wandering among the tall trunks, painting worlds with her imagination. Talking to the trees, leaving so many words unspoken. Too many.
As of the next morning, Cobrapaw was doing just that. She brushed her pelt along the bark, her eyes gleaming. Her power could be terrible, but it was beautiful too. She could open up worlds unknown to the rest of the cats, and feel the feelings that they never could.
Cobrapaw, A tree flickered. It wasn't so much that Cobrapaw could hear the tree's thoughts, more she could feel them.
Cobrapaw smiled, "Hello."
The grove rusted around her, calling various exclamations of greeting. The trees were lonely, Cobrapaw knew. She always tried to make friends with them, but it was hard considering their lack of intelligence. But in some ways, they were smarter than any cat she knew. A deep-rooted knowledge lurked within them.
Snake in the woods, one murmured, Beware of grit.
Cobrapaw wrinkled her nose, "Right. What might that mean?"
Snake, the tree repeated.
Cobrapw rolled her eyes slightly, dismissing it as mere nonsense. But something rang true in those words. Something she needed.
She knew camp was where she needed to be right now, so she began tracking her way back, catching three mice and a vole on the way back. She hated it, sometimes, how the prey's tiny minds screamed with fear, making her halt and hesitate. The Clan is fed first, she told herself firmly. She padded back with her catches. Exclamations of delight followed her as she strolled into camp, but at the same time those cats slammed up walls. Some were effective, and some were weak. Most cats were trained at a young age to put up walls against her, making Cobrapaw picture herself as more of a problem that a gift.
Pebblepaw scowled at her from across the clearing, a deep frown reaching her eyes. Pebblepaw lay a small, scrawny squirrel on the pile and sat back.
On the other paw, Eaglepaw, one of the handsome apprentices, came swaggering up to her. He smirked, "Nice catch, Cobrapaw, " he teased out his words with a grin.
She scowled, turning away. His wall was strong today.
Eaglepaw was the flirt of the Clan. He was everything a she-cat could want. Apart from the fact that he didn't actually care.
Cobrapaw sighed, "Bye, Eaglepaw."
She padded back to her den, eyes weary with self-doubt, and sat down. She cast her eyes to the sky, face hopeful, and whispered,
"StarClan, help me. Make my power go away. Let me be accepted."
And she pleaded for her wish to come true.
Chapter Three - Stone
Cobrapaw went to see the only cat she could really talk to. She strolled nervously to the medicine den. “Blossomwing? Are you here?” She could hear the medicine cat’s thoughts.
Marigold here, thyme here, waterm- hm?
She didn’t put up any wall. That was why she liked Blossomwing. “I think I’ve received a prophecy. I was talking to the trees, and one of them said ‘Snake in the woods, beware of grit.’” Snake in the woods, beware of grit, she repeated to herself. There would always be snakes in the jungle, hence her name, so it had to mean a sly cat. As for grit, she knew that meant dirt, or rough rock.
She headed out of camp, wanting to hunt and talk to trees again. When she came upon the epiphyte she’d spoken to yesterday, she asked,
What did you mean by grit? Tell me more.
Hello cat, how you? It responded.
Cobrapaw scowled. It was obvious she wasn’t going to get anything else out of that dumb tree. She hunted on her way back to camp, greeted by what felt like a thousand walls slamming into her. She dropped the fresh-kill on the pile, and went straight to her nest.
Waking up from a dream, she had a sudden realization. Grit. Gravel. She remembered back to a very important moment in her life she’d completely forgotten about.
“Gravelkit is bad! Bad! I need the remember that!”
She nearly gasped. She looked long and hard at Gravelstripe, trying to see his sub-conscious thinking. It was difficult to do so, but she picked up on two very strong emotions. Fear and anger. She needed to think about something else. She needed to sleep well. Tomorrow she had a long day of - she shuddered - spying.
The next morning, in a panic, she didn’t realize what she was doing. She scampered to the medicine den, and let all of her thoughts out at once. When she regained control of herself, Blossomwing was just about finished talking.
“...Just because Gravelstripe was made a warrior earlier doesn’t mean you can make accusations against him.”
Cobrapaw’s mind burned with rage as Blossomwing skipped over to Gravelstripe. She didn’t hear their conversation, but she didn’t need to, after receiving a hard glare from him.
I hate you and the rest of this dumb clan. If you say anything to any other cat, I will kill you. Watch your back from now on. Wherever you are, i’ll be watching you.
A threat no doubt, but how much could she keep? For the first time in a while, Cobrapaw didn’t know.
Chapter Four - Obscure
A chill ran down Cobrapaw's spine. She was high on adrenaline. Maybe, after all, her plan hadn't been so well thought out in the first place. Maybe spying on Gravelstripe wasn't such a great idea. As her muscles tensed, ready to run at a moments notice, she spied Gravelstripe padding out from the medicine cats den.
What? Was Blossomwing talking to him after all? she thought.
I'm glad she managed to get that thorn out, his mind grumbled, Maybe I shouldn't kill her off to soon. She's helpful. Useful...
Cobrapaw stared. He was going to kill Blossomwing?
Shaken, she watched still. The moonlight cast long shadows across the ground, stretching Gravelstripe's shadow towards her. Her own shadow fell behind her, which was lucky. If he saw her... A shiver disrupted her fairly calm exterior.
Gravelstripe's gaze beamed around the clearing, scorching the bushes. Cobrapaw stilled. She knew this tactic. Gravelstripe seemed to relax, and stroll on. Cobrapaw kept in the same position. Gravelstripe whipped around, eyes wide, scouring the clearing. He was checking for any sign of movement after the cat watching him would assume it was okay to relax.
Cobrapaw let her shoulders relax as he turned away, for real now. She crept out of the bushes, eyes bright and ears pricked. She was alert.
I need to tell Blossomwing! she thought urgently, But... will she believe me? I doubt it.
Cobrapaw quickly snuck back to her den, a yawn issuing from her jaws. She lay beside Eaglepaw and began to dream.
Chapter Five- Stone
Cobrapaw woke up, still excited. She mashed her paws into the ground trying to remember what she was doing.
Tell Blossomwing...that Gravelstripe is going to kill her!
Cobrapaw half-sprinted half-strolled over time the Medicine Cat‘s den. Luckily, Blossomwing was already up and working. She got Blossomwing’s attention when she caught her breath.
“What is it now, Cobrapaw?” She asked it with kindness, but wanted Cobrapaw just to leave.
“Okay-Blossomwing. Do you trust me?”
“Of course,” she responded politely.
“Do you trust me...with your life?”
“Depends.” Her voice was cold now.
“Okay, Blossomwing. I am telling the truth. Gravelstripe is an evil cat that plans to kill you, and probably the rest of us.”
“How did you come across this information?” She smirked.
“Same way I know you have a secret mate. Mind reading.” Blossomwing started sputtering.
“Wait...Wha-? How - how did you know?”
Cobrapaw stared at her.
Yesss! That was a complete guess, but apparently I struck a nerve.
Cobrapaw strolled our of her den, Blossomwing still freaking out inside. She wanted to get on with her day. The deputy strolled over. He told her that there was a border fight going on near the border with Sandclan. She took a few cats and ran to the border.
The fighting was nearly over when she arrived, but she could see an apprentice that looked her age. She hadn’t met him before, but he looked familiar. She couldn’t figure out why. All she had to do in the fight was leap on a cat and bat his ears until he ran away screeching. Why can’t I figure out who that cat is? He looks so familiar.