TEN//ARTIC

I'm a survivor

A few days later, I get cleared to roam free around the camp with one of the fly warriors in tow. Ravenflight is constantly my companion.

“Gwyn woke up today,” she says nonchalantly.

“Did she?” My ears perk up, “Let’s go see her.”

Ravenflight looks worried. “I don’t know if Pineshadow will allow visitors,” she admits. She shifts her paws, looking distinctly uncomfortable.

“Then why were you there?” I raise an eyebrow.

She returns the stare. “I was visiting Whiteflame.”

There’s some sort of unspoken accusation there and I look away. I shrug and continue to pad towards the medicine cat. “I have to get some herbs for my wounds anyways,” I call over my shoulder as Ravenflight trots behind me.

I push my way in and stop short at the sight of Gwyn. Pineshadow is dabbing some ointment on the gaping wound but her eyes are alert. “Gwyn,” I breathe out. The pale she-cat jerks her head up and her eyes light up with joy when she sees me.

“Artic!”

Ravenflight scowls but I weave my way over. “Hey,” I say softly, “I’m glad you’re alright. I was so certain Enero killed her.”

“I’m stronger than that,” she jokes weakly. Her gaze travels past me and it darkens when it lands on Ravenflight. I glance behind me and the black she-cat has a bemused expression at Gwyn’s murderous gaze.

Before I can say anything, Pineshadow pushes me back. “She needs her space,” he grunts, “and you need your herbs.”

Gwyn and I lock gazes and I mouth: See you later. She smiles sadly and when Pineshadow is done plastering what I need on my wounds, he shoves me out the entrance. Ravenflight follows mutely.

“Guess you guys are really close,” she murmurs.

I stare down at her. “What do you mean?”

“You’re probably the only cat who she doesn’t try to kill with her eyes. She’s especially venomous with me.” Ravenflight shrugs, but I could tell she was bothered by it.

“Well first of all, Gwyn and I only knew each other so we were best friends. Second of all, she has...reasons to hate you I suppose.”

“Reasons?” the black she-cat laughs sharply, “Just like I should have every reason to hate you both?”

“Not like that,” I rub my paw against the ground, frustrated, “It’s more than some petty rivalry. It’s about her parents.”

Ravenflight bites her lip. I recall what I’ve heard about Ravenflight’s past, how she hadn’t really known her father and her mother had let her go to train as a fly warrior. She never saw her mother again.

“Don’t take it personally,” I find myself saying as I pad towards the den I sleep in, “It’s a lot more complicated than just some simple hatred against you.”

Ravenflight doesn’t follow me as I disappear into my den.

“Wait,” she says softly. I pause and she walks in. “What did I do?”

I hesitate. “Please,” she whispers, “I know I’ve been stupid in the past. Did I...involuntarily do something that ruined Gwyn’s life?”

More or less.

“Ruin is a vague version of how it affected Gwyn,” I snort. Ravenflight’s expression sours but I just continue. “It was one of your stunts that really set it off. You attacked two lone cats on the border one day and they had retaliated, nearly killing you. A patrol swept by and slaughtered the two cats.”

I pause and watch as Ravenflight processes this. “I remember that,” she murmurs.

“Those cats were Gwyn’s parents,” I continue.

Ravenflight’s eyes widen. Her brow furrows in concentration and I can tell she’s thinking about either her own parents or Gwyn’s parents. “I-” Before she can say any more, Aspenpelt shoulders past me in front of Ravenflight. I stumble back in surprise but he just snaps.

“Fly warrior meeting, Ravenflight, we have to go. Put him back in his den and let’s go.” Aspenpelt prods me back. I narrow my eyes but the brown tom’s eyes are cold and I turn away from the pair and walk in without another words.

I don’t glance back as the fly warriors leave and just settle into my nest.

I’m starting to wonder if this was a good idea.

~

Ravenflight pops back in just as I start to drift off. I snap my head up and she looks sheepishly away. “Sorry to disturb you,” she murmurs, “Just wondering if you wanted to see something.”

“Where?” I ask, stretching slightly to shake off the drowsiness.

The black she-cat looks mischievous, “It’s outside of camp,” she admits, “but I know a way out so that nobody will see us.”

I laugh, “I can see why you’re the Reckless Raven.”

She blushes and beckons to me, “So are you coming or not?” Before I can respond, she turns and exits the den. I slip out after her and she leads me towards the southern section of the camp. She slips behind a wall of fern and I don’t hesitate to plunge in after her. We emerge to a cliff wall and she waves her tail. “This is one of the side walls that border the Pit, which is the safest way out as a fly warrior - not counting the tunnels of course.”

I examine the wall. “You do realize that I’m not exactly the most experienced cat in climbing right? I can barely climb a tree.”

Ravenflight looks amused. “You trained to oppose fly warriors yet you can’t climb?”

I take a shuddering breath while I continue to stare at the wall of stone. “You sure you don’t know another way out of camp?”

“Don’t be a scaredy-cat,” Ravenflight snickers as she easily leaps up onto the first ledge, “It’s not that hard, you just need to know how to leap and react in dangerous situations.” She flicks her tail, “Come on!”

I lash my tail at that challenge, but I leap up all the same. I land on the first ledge with ease but as we keep climbing, I realize that my breath is coming in gasps and the ledges are harder to reach. Ravenflight uses her strength to pull herself up which leaves me to where I am right now.

“Ravenflight,” I gasp out, “I’m going to kill you.”

The black she-cat looks thoroughly amused. “It’s interesting to know that if I had found out you couldn’t climb earlier, I would have won most of our battles.”

“What made you think I could climb in the first place?” I wheeze out as I dangle from the ledge. I had miscalculated my jump and didn’t have the strength to pull myself up.

Ravenflight shrugs. “I don’t know, it just never occurred to me.”

“Stars, Ravenflight, are you going to pull me up or what?”

She purrs and grabs my scruff before deftly yanking me up. Energy flows through me as she comes in contact with me and I notice immediately she leaps onto the next ledge. I take a deep breath before following her, my muscles burning by the time we reach the top.

“How are we going to get back down?” I mutter as we collapse on the top of the cliff.

“We don’t,” Ravenflight snorts, “First of all you can’t climb down a wall if you can’t even climb up it. Plus, the only cliff that’s safe enough to climb down is the Pit.”

She gives me a meaningful look and I bury my head into my paws. “That’s not the Pit, is it?” I groan, “and we’re not even going to go down the Pit. We’re going to go through the tunnels where everyone will know we went out.”

“You’re a smart one,” the black she-cat laughs.

I cast her a withering glare but she just prances off into the forest, leaving me no choice but to follow.

After walking for several minutes, we emerge in a hidden clearing that has a small canopy of leaves, covering up the sky. Sunlight filters in through the openings and it creates a sort of mysterious glow in the dim clearing.

“How do you like it?” Ravenflight beams, “I found it once while searching for a nice place for a round.”

“It’s gorgeous,” I admit, twisting in a circle to examine to area. Then I meet her gaze. “But you’re breathtaking.”

Ravenflight doesn’t look away. She draws closer, her eyes soft. “What are we, Artic?”

I can’t help but feeling a shiver at being so close to her. “I don’t know,” I confess, “I just know that my whole life changed meeting you. It was so...refreshing, considering the life I had.” I push away all the dark memories.

Ravenflight seats herself next to me and I take in a deep breath. She’s so close.

“Tell me about your old life,” she says softly, “I want to know more.”

I gaze down at her, a blossom of relief blooming in my chest. She is something solid, something I can hold onto when I need it. “I didn’t know my parents,” I tell her, “Gwyn was literally the only friend I had. We did everything together and we were only allowed to interact with one another.”

Ravenflight’s clear, glowing eyes help calm me down.

Breathing in again, I let myself fall into the memories.

“The Raider who was teaching me told me my mother was dead. Nobody knew who my father was. I still don’t know to this day. Gwyn had her own loving and caring family to reunite with whenever we had breaks. I always watched with envy but Enero - my instructor - kept reminding me that IceClan had killed my mother.

“As the moons went on, we trained and learned about the fly warriors. I, myself, got to go into IceClan many times to see you in training. Gwyn and I would learn our maneuvers from you and learn to mimic you so in time, we could avoid your moves and defeat you.

“Then I actually met you. It was actually a stroke of luck that I was in that patrol. I saw your black pelt and familiar sense of speed and I knew exactly who you were. I wanted to experience fighting with you, or even just talking with you. You were like pulling on my heartstrings, mentally asking me to come.

“After that encounter, I was sent to replace your fly warrior. When I failed to lure you into the trap...well let’s just say the Raiders don’t play nice.”

I meet her gaze. She hasn’t moved and her eyes remain calm and clear. “Go on,” she murmurs, “what made you change your mind about IceClan?”

I tense up but Ravenflight’s paw rests on mine. I relax immediately. “My mother,” I find myself saying, “I figured out how the Raiders pretended to be IceClan cats and killed her.” I surprise myself with tears that well in my eyes. They threaten to spill out and I wipe them away.

The black she-cat draws closer and I take a shaking breath as she presses her pelt to mine. I’m reminded that she too has suffered loss.

“You’re a survivor,” I hear her whisper.

“A warrior.”

In more ways than you know

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