EIGHT//ARTIC

Out of the ashes, I'm burning like a fire

Gwyn flattens her ears as she watches Ravenflight go. “I can’t believe I’m letting you do this,” she mutters, “we’re going to get our pelts skinned.”

I shrug. “We’ll figure it out.”

The gray she-cat gives me an exasperated look but she turns back towards the prison stronghold. “What are you going to tell the Upper Raiders?” She begins to walk towards the stronghold, “I can guarantee you that they’ll flay you.” She flicks her tail in a fond way, “you know I’ll have to officially get a new best friend if you let them flay you.”

I let out a low laugh, “I didn’t tell them we caught anyone,” I give her smirk, “we’re safe.”

Gwyn looks relieved at first, but then suspicion slides across her face. “You didn’t tell them…because you planned to help her out already?”

I meet her gaze. We’ve trusted each other with secrets since we were born. Our parents - or my guardians I suppose - had been close friends with one another and we had become well...in a sense, best friends. She told me everything, from her first date to her darkest secrets and I did the same for her.

This is no different.

“Yeah,” I find myself saying, “I’ve been intrigued by her since I met her.”

Gwyn shows no sign of jealousy. “Are you going to join her?” she turns around and stops me, “You told her you’d find a way to get to her, didn’t you? Are you really going to leave the Raiders for a she-cat you’ve only heard from the Upper Raiders. They may have told us a lot of information about them but not of their personalities and perhaps...how deceiving one can be.”

I meet her pale blue eyes. “She’s real,” I murmur.

Gwyn doesn’t look convinced and I continue. “Something’s off about the Raiders,” I admit, “I’ve been seeing signs.”

“What do you mean?”

I give her a solid look. “Why are we fighting this war? What do the Raiders want from IceClan that we would imprison their warriors and torture them?” I wave my tail in the direction of the stronghold. “The Upper Raiders have never given us a real reason to hate IceClan.”

Gwyn grimaces. “My parents died at their paws, Artic,” she whispers, “I have a personal reason to hate them.”

“They told me my mother died from an IceClan paw,” I agree, “but I don’t know how much they say is the truth or a lie.” I try to recall my mother but I don’t remember anything.

The gray she-cat looks hesitant. “You know I’d go anywhere with you,” she murmurs, “even if I don’t agree with you, I’d follow you to IceClan.”

“And I wouldn’t ask you to for no reason,” My eyes soften, “we’re a team.”

Gwyn’s mouth twisted upwards. “Yeah, for some reason we are.”

I laugh and together, we head back towards the stronghold. I’ll figure it out, I tell myself, for my sake, for Gwyn’s sake, for Ravenflight’s sake.

~

I watch as Gwyn fondly greets her parents. A frown has imprinted itself on my face and I continue to scowl as she seemed so happy. I turn to the Upper Raider, Enero. “Am I ever going to meet my mother or my father?” I ask, flicking my tail in impatience. Why couldn’t I ever have reunions with the family I always wanted?

Enero grimaces. “I’m sorry, Artic, but when we found you on IceClan territory, your mother was dead. IceClan had killed her.”

A cold feeling washes over me. Anger rushes through me and I unsheath my claws. “What about my father?”

The huge white tom shakes his head. “Nobody knew who your father was. We knew Shiver but she never mentioned who her mate was.” I feel a pang of grief when I realize that I would never meet my mother and I would probably never meet my father.

I watch Gwyn and her family with envy. “It’s not fair,” I whine to Enero, “We shouldn’t be wasting time here then. It’s not like I have a family that misses me.” Tears sting my eyes but I force them down.

The Upper Raider’s smirk turns into a sneer. “Use that anger against IceClan, Artic. You’ll have to wait a few moons before you get sent on a mission but keep that anger you feel. Get revenge on the IceClan warriors for what they did to you.

I take a deep breath, a cold but guilty feeling settling in my stomach. I wanted to get revenge on whoever killed my mother so badly but at the same time, something was telling that this situation was very wrong.

The scene fades away in a wash of white.

~

“My mother,” I say suddenly.

Gwyn gives me a bemused glance. “Your mother?” she repeats, “What does this have to do with why we’re in trees?”

We are perched in trees and it’s a disastrous plan. “I meant that there was something off about how my mother died. Did she really die from IceClan cats?”

“Of course she did,” Gwyn scoffs, “how do you fake IceClan cats?”

I give her a dark look. “It’s a bit too easy, mind you.”

Gwyn falls silent. She must remember how just a week ago, we had been disguised as IceClan warriors so I could meet the fly warrior team and attempt to lure them into a trap. I carry a few scars from that failure.

“Your parents,” I continue.

The pale she-cat’s scowl deepens and she snaps. “Don’t you say a word about my parents, Artic.” I meet her gaze evenly and she lowers her gaze. “I know you have doubts about how your mother died, but I saw the IceClan warriors. I know who was a spy back then and I can tell you those were real IceClan warriors.” She falls silent for a moment before adding. “Almost like fly warriors.”

I blink in surprise. “You mean Ravenflight might have been responsible for your parents’ deaths?”

“I’m amused that you only pinpoint your girlfriend for this crime,” Gwyn says dryly.

“She’s not my girlfriend,” I frown, “we barely know each other.”

“And yet you’re convinced she’s real.”

When I give her a wounded look, she continues, “But you’re right I suppose. The rest of the fly warrior team had never performed a ‘round’ against a Raider patrol. But my parents were just having a walk. They weren’t looking to do any harm and someone had leaped out from the trees and attacked them.”

Reluctantly, I try to remember what happened.

I remember hearing screams and Gwyn paling in horror when realizing that it was her parents near the border. I remember racing out after her as she bolted for the border, screaming her parents’ names.

The blood staining the ground red and a black blur trying to escape.

“Ravenflight,” I breathe out.

Gwyn’s eyes darken. “Exactly. She had been there, probably trying some stupid stunt and my parents nearly had her. That’s when a patrol came through and slaughtered them instead just to save their precious fly warrior.” Her voice raises in anger. “I would have been fine if they had just been taken prisoner. They would be alive. But no, they decided it wasn’t worth it and killed them.” Her eyes meet mine again and I can see the deep fury churning within them.

“I’m sorry,” I say softly.

A tear falls from her eyes and I catch it with my paw. The drop glistens on my paw before Gwyn smashes it away. “You’ve always been the calm one,” she murmurs as she leans against me, “the impeccable ice. I’ve been the emotional one, the core of a burning flame.”

“That’s what makes us a perfect team,” I continue, “Ice and fire; hot and cold.”

Gwyn smiles slightly and then she shoves me. I stumble and with a yelp, I nearly fall off the tree. My paw grips the branch at the last moment and I gasp for air. “Seriously?” I look up to see Gwyn’s smirk. I swing back up onto the tree while Gwyn just laughs.

“That’s for being the jerk you are,” the pale she-cat gives me a half-smile.

I return it. “For being the jerk you love?”

Gwyn just laughs sharply.

“Why are we really on this tree again?” She asks as I balance carefully on my branch and try to find a good way to leap to the next tree. “You didn’t bring me up here just to talk about your mother or my parents’ deaths.”

“I’m trying to see if we can get near the Upper Raiders in their meeting from up here,” I take a flying leap and hit the next tree hard. I grit my teeth and haul myself back up as Gwyn lands gracefully above me. “They must be harboring some sort of secret.”

The pale she-cat frowns, “You’ve never seen them as suspicious before,” she hops onto the next branch, “Why are you suspecting them now?”

“Because I realized how decent IceClan cats can be. We lived there for a few days, yes, but I interacted with them. They’re just fighting this war because it’s either that or die at our paws.”

Gwyn shakes her head. “You’re just influenced by Ravenflight.”

I spin around, suddenly feeling a flare of anger. “You know how your parents died but I don’t know how my mother died. Did IceClan really kill her? Who is my father?” Shiver. That was my mother’s name according to Enero.

Gwyn doesn’t back down. “Just because I know how those IceClan cats viciously murdered my parents doesn’t mean you have to doubt who really killed your mother.”

I whip back around and leap into the next tree and the next without stopping. Gwyn calls my name half-heartedly and when I don’t respond, she follows reluctantly. I don’t acknowledge her as I finally reach the tree above the Upper Raiders’ headquarters. I hunker down and strain my ears as I hear the Upper Raiders argue.

What I hear makes me pale in horror.

“What of the fly warriors?” the lead Raider, who happens to Enero growls, “Did Artic and Gwyn succeed?”

“No,” another one mutters, “they failed miserably. She’s alive and probably rousing up a revolution.”

Enero scowls. “What?”

A pure black tom stands. “You promised that you would be able to control Artic and force him to do what you want him to do. He’s failed multiple times already and not to mention he’s not obeying your orders anymore.”

Enero casts a dark look in his direction and sighs. “He had been obedient before he met the fly warrior team. I did not anticipate the power the she-cat would have on him.”

“And if he ever found out about his mother-”

Enero bushes out his fur. “I’m not that careless,” he spits out, “Artic will never find about his mother. Gwyn…should be able to cap that secret with her strong beliefs that IceClan is nothing but a CLan of rotten cats who won’t hesitate to slaughter her parents mercilessly.”

I can feel everything shatter slowly and when I turn to Gwyn, her eyes are wide and she has paled drastically.

Suddenly Enero’s eyes travel up towards the sky and I dart backwards, crashing into Gwyn. She catches both of us and I begin to leap through the trees to escape. As we noiselessly hurry away, I can’t help but fear that Enero knew we were there all along.

You can save your apologies, you're nothing but a liar

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.