With the unsurprising exception of his nest beside Dappleshine, there was no better place to watch a sunset than from the highest peak of Outlook Rock. Too many moons had passed since Raventail had gotten to sit up here undisturbed—first the barn, then the beasts, then juggling the responsibilities of a leader and a deputy. Technically speaking, it still wasn’t safe to wander the territory the way he wanted. Only the stars knew where the calico-in-fox-fur had gone after she’d fled WindClan’s camp. Some of his Clanmates would probably be tense about it for moons to come. Others would be tense about it forever. But as much as he craved the company of others, Raventail had always done his best thinking up here. So here he was.
As leaf-bare crept close and the sun eased its way out of view, WindClan’s typical breezes cut deeper. Outlook Rock offered no shelter whatsoever. Raventail’s fur, thick though it was, could only block so much of the cold. The sole mercy was that the Gathering night’s snowfall had more or less melted. That, and, thanks to his numerous memories of beasts lurking under the cover of night, he wasn’t planning on staying out too long. Despite everything that had happened in the last season, only one worry had persisted after Finchstar’s return.
When WindClan had needed a leader, Raventail had tried his best. “His best” had allowed the beasts into an unguarded camp. Were it not for Finchstar, Goldengale, and a series of miracles, “his best” would have killed them.
Through the terror the beasts had inflicted, they’d taught him a subtler lesson: if he waited until circumstance forced him to take responsibility, he would never be able to meet it. One couldn’t throw a kit into the tunnels and ask them to dig. For the first time, he understood what was being asked of him in its entirety. He was more than a small, simple presence meant to chat casually beneath the Great Rock, ready to recede into the crowds and comforts of warriorhood once a better-suited cat appeared. More than a placeholder. When push came to shove, he had two options: step down, or step forward.
He’d always thought of it as some far-off scenario, the few times he’d let himself imagine it at all. Surely Finchstar would appoint someone else—after all, WindClan had plenty of candidates with experience, charisma, and hearts whose loyalty was unassailable. Surely Raventail, with his single, fragile life, would die or retire first. Surely this, surely that, surely he didn’t need to worry about it. Then the war had come. A missed signal. A moon of silence and growing hopelessness and a gnawing fear Raventail had never wanted to name. This was reality: every cat was mortal, with one life or nine. One day, Finchstar’s path would lead him back to Brookclover, and he had made it clear who he wanted to take his place.
Raventail didn’t want leadership. A warrior name had always been enough for him; in fact, back when he’d earned his, he’d only wanted that much for the freedom that came with it. As if that wasn’t enough, leadership meant losing one of his oldest, closest companions. Someone he loved almost the way he’d loved Brookclover, though more as a friend than a mentor—like family, yet different. Someone he, over the course of his deputyship, had come to admire tenfold. But he couldn’t shy away from this anymore. With every day that passed, he chose again and again to accept what Finchstar had entrusted to him; he couldn’t be terrified of its most obvious consequence.
Someday, he would have to lead a broken Clan on paws that neither shook nor faltered. He would need to be strong. He would need to be good. It wasn’t enough to stand and observe. If darkness fell over WindClan again, the sun might not rise to banish it for him.
With a shiver that rattled down to the tip of his tail, Raventail stretched his way to his paws. The forest had already held too many vigils this season. He wouldn’t torment himself with thoughts of friends he had yet to bury—especially friends who had only just proven themselves alive. But the rest…the rest, he couldn’t afford to forget. The tiny holes in his pads stung slightly as he bounded down from the peak, landing amidst the prickly grasses. He set off at a jog, tail held high. With any luck, he’d be home before dark.
- Deputy of WindClan -
[Character Profiles] [Remind Me]
WindClan Deputy V
WindClan Warrior IV