Warrior Clan Cats

The future's in your paws. Shape it well.

Roleplay in a cat Clan of warriors. Based off the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. Takes place in an AU before the cats in the books existed.
 
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The Clans, having faced their various opponents and challenges, fight to maintain the normal lives they have built. What struggles await them as the creeping fingers of leaf-bare grip the forest?
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Leaf-bare has set in, the days bitterly cold. The prey of the territory have taken shelter for the season, making hunting difficult. Herbs are dying in the crisp, cold air. How will the clans fare?
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 The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]

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sumashira
Former Staff
Former Staff
sumashira

Characters : [B]arleytuft | [C]lovertwist | [D]acedream | [E]ggkit
Female
Cancer Pig
Number of posts : 1929
Age : 24
Clan/Rank : [B] WC W[5] | [C] WC W[3] | [D] TC W[2] | [E] SkC Unborn

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PostSubject: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeSun Dec 08, 2019 7:35 pm

The decision to venture into SkyClan land was not one that Marmalade had come to without hesitation and much consideration. Since she had left the Clan over three moons ago, the she-cat had done everything in her power to stay away from the tree-climbing cats' land. She feared that she had devastated her relationship with all the cats she'd grown up with; however, recently she had run into Basilpaw, an apprentice of SkyClan - the daughter of her late, beloved friend Leaftwirl. The lanky she-cat, whose spirit and smile showed off her ancestry, had somewhat soothed Marmalade's fears. So far as Basilpaw had heard, no cat harbored any ill feelings towards her. That fact alone had been enough to convince Marmalade: she needed to say a real, true goodbye. To who, she wasn't certain, but she owed SkyClan a real answer at last.

It had come as a big surprise to learn that Arno wished to join Marmalade to say a final goodbye. After what he had confessed regarding the death of ShadowClan's deputy and his decision to flee SkyClan, she had expected him to avoid setting paw in the forest at all costs. She would never deny him his wish, though, and he was certainly more than well enough to make such a trip (she couldn't keep him in their twolegs' yard anyways), so Marmalade welcomed his company. Whatever happens, I'll make sure no one harms you, she thought determinedly.

The golden-furred kittypet led the way, her pale blue collar with golden charms tinkling delicately in the hush of the snow-blanketed forest. In her mouth, Marmalade carried a peace offering: two sprigs of catmint, fresh from her twolegs' small bunch of indoor plants, and a small stick of thyme. Behind her she could hear Arno following close. It had been so long since Marmalade had been in the forest, but her paws knew every dip and bulge, every rock and sand bed. She kept her tail high and friendly despite her discomfort. She didn't want to try to waltz right into camp, but if she couldn't find a cat to escort her to... someone, she would have to do so.

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The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] JLOT9vN
Dacedream of ThunderClan |
T2 Warrior [45/160]
Barleytuft of WindClan |
T5 Warrior [100/280]
Clovertwist of WindClan |
T3 Warrior [60/200]
Eggkit of SkyClan
Unborn Kit [0/0]

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Grizzly
Site Moderator
Site Moderator
Grizzly

Male
Sagittarius Horse
Number of posts : 1529
Age : 17

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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeThu Dec 12, 2019 6:39 pm

Arno walked slowly, drinking in the forest of his youth. A chill threatened his cream-colored and shiny pelt as the visions of youth floated around him. He felt as though he was in a stupor, too uncomfortably close to the past. He chewed the inside of his cheek, guilt seeping into his chest. He shoved it back. There was only forward. Whether Spottedstar accepted Arno's apology or not, he will have done all that he could do. Marmalade walked with considerably more purpose, and Arno relished in the jingling of his friend's "collar." She seemed to like to enough. He cringed at the idea of her twolegs clipping one to his neck. Still, if he was going to go with them, he would do well to cooperate.

Arno sometimes felt that he was masquerading an escape as a holiday. It was a fleeting thought, since he considered it a blessing that he was still walking in the snow instead of up in the stars. He hoped that one day, the stars would take him. He still believed. He still loved the cats he knew once before. Arno dipped his head and silently prayed for Leaftwirl. He hoped, if nothing else, that he had mattered to her in the brief moment they had in the world. Feeling the trees suffocating him from all sides, he jogged up to Marmalade's side, his fur prickling with anxiety and shame. He did not belong in this forest.

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The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] 3lwPv3M
Ferretnose - ThunderClan Warrior {V} - [95/250]* - #609E5D
Aspenheart - WindClan Medicine Cat {II} - [45/90]* - #503B87
Beekit - ThunderClan Kit - [5/15] - #4C9E8D
Tanglekit - Unborn ShadowClan Kit - [0/0] - #AC6C6C
*disabled stats
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Sun
Former Staff
Former Staff
Sun

Characters : Harefoot / Spottedstar / Dawngaze / Juniperpaw
Male
Sagittarius Tiger
Number of posts : 7544
Age : 21
Clan/Rank : ThunderClan Tier 4 Warrior / SkyClan Leader / ThunderClan Tier 4 Warrior / SkyClan Apprentice

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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeThu Dec 19, 2019 12:38 pm

He could hear the strange tinklng of a collar from a long distance. The sound was grating, an affront that a kittypet should trespass on Spottedstar's land and not even be ashamed of it, and he decided to find the source and send it running by whatever means necessary. Stepping from branch to branch, passing from tree to tree, the leader barely disturbed the snow in the pines as he tracked down the culprit. Recent events had been stressful enough without worrying about a potential prey-thief. Spottedstar had found himself clawing at tree trunks more often than usual, remembering the confusion of battle and the warm blood pooling between his toes. The sound of the collar grew nearer still.

The leader froze as the pair came into view beneath him. Ginger and cream. Two familar pelts accompanied by two different feelings. They were wordless, and while Amberdawn trekked somewhat confidently, Sandblaze's boisterous attitude was thoroughly doused. Spottedstar noticed his new scars easily enough and wondered if ShadowClan's ill-fated patrol had been responsible... or something else. He kept an eye out, expecting his other two half-brothers and their little clique's self-styled leader to appear at any moment, but there were no others. Sandblaze and Amberdawn were quickly getting away from him without even knowing it.

Spottedstar jumped from his perch, landing loudly behind them, and remained still as he stared back and forth between the pair. A rush of fondness warmed his pelt as he met the former medicine cat's gaze, and a sharp stab of pain pierced his chest at the sight of Sandblaze's scarred face. "You... came back..." He meowed, uncharacteristically quiet and on the verge of a burst of unknown emotion.

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Sun // Living Characters // Deceased Characters
The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] NkxjmMp
Harefoot || Tom || T4 Warrior of ThunderClan || x || #006633
Dawngaze || She-cat || T4 Warrior of ThunderClan || x || RosyBrown
Spottedstar || Tom || Leader of SkyClan || x ||  Sienna
Juniperpaw || Tom || Apprentice of SkyClan || #660066

J O I N  M E

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sumashira
Former Staff
Former Staff
sumashira

Characters : [B]arleytuft | [C]lovertwist | [D]acedream | [E]ggkit
Female
Cancer Pig
Number of posts : 1929
Age : 24
Clan/Rank : [B] WC W[5] | [C] WC W[3] | [D] TC W[2] | [E] SkC Unborn

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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeThu Dec 19, 2019 1:47 pm

Marmalade glanced back briefly as she heard Arno's pace pick up, moving swiftly to join her at her side again. She'd barely noticed that he had fallen back a little, distracted as she was with trying to find the scent of a SkyClan patrol through a mouth full of tantalizing herbs. She trusted Arno to keep his senses alert as well and to let her know if he detected something she did not. The golden tabby glanced aside at him questioningly, but upon seeing the discomfort on his face, her dark amber gaze softened. Her golden striped tail laid over his hindquarters in understanding and reassurance, and she offered him a meaningful look to say it would be alright.

Then there was a rustling thud as a heavy weight hit the forest floor behind the pair.

Immediately the former medicine cat let out a sound of alarm through her clenched teeth, and Marmalade whirled around with her heartbeat pounding... only to see Spottedstar, one of her oldest friends from her birth clan, and feel her heart beat faster in a different way. It made her fur warm and uncomfortable in a way she'd never noticed before; thankfully, the rest of the overwhelming emotional tension in the air sufficed to smother it beneath everything else. The golden tabby cat dipped her head as a symbol of respect and peace - but also to set down her small collection of herbs - and when she lifted her head again, her dark amber eyes met Spottedstar's own clouded gaze.

"Spottedstar - it's so, so very good to see you," Marmalade greeted, barely suppressing a purr (though that endeavor was aided by her nerves). He had not been leader when she left SkyClan, but she could see the life of StarClan glistening in the depths of Spottedstar's eyes, and he held the power well. "You look strong... and tired. I hope we haven't come at a bad time."

She could sense the unrest between Arno and Spottedstar, and so Marmalade cast her gaze at the former and nodded slightly with encouragement. They were here to say the truth and to say farewell; only the tom once known as Sandblaze could speak to Spottedstar the words that were needed here. Marmalade would do everything she could to let him make it through this encounter safely.

______________________________________

The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] JLOT9vN
Dacedream of ThunderClan |
T2 Warrior [45/160]
Barleytuft of WindClan |
T5 Warrior [100/280]
Clovertwist of WindClan |
T3 Warrior [60/200]
Eggkit of SkyClan
Unborn Kit [0/0]

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Grizzly
Site Moderator
Site Moderator
Grizzly

Male
Sagittarius Horse
Number of posts : 1529
Age : 17

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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeFri Dec 20, 2019 8:22 pm

A sudden rustling, and Spottedstar dropped down from some unknown tree. He was larger than Arno remembered. It was as if all the weight from Tinystar's shoulders had shifted haphazardly onto his half-brother's own. And then, as expected, all attention was shifted to the terrible jingling of Marmalade's collar and his own mangled face. Arno returned to the rhythmic gnawing of his inner cheek. He was content to let his friend do the talking, but something stirred in him. It seemed as though old habits died hard, and a piece of Sandblaze was clawing its way back up. He stepped forward.

"I heard there was war," he mumbled, grave and uncomfortable as ever. "I heard it was with ShadowClan. Since we scattered. Is it over? I mean... Did you win? Dung. Look, Spottedstar..." Arno shook his head as if it would rearrange his words in a way that made sense. There were no words to be said, were there? He could not right the morbid wrong he had committed. The battle was done. He ran from him own probable execution and drove his home clan to a fight for the honor of a coward. The worst was not the guilt or the shame that now bubbled up like rat bile. No, it was the reckoning he had tried to repress. In truth, Arno did not regret running.

"I should be dead right now," he said bluntly. "That is the finest justice I could give to you and to SkyClan. But I am here. For some reason, StarClan is bent on keeping me alive. My hide should be lining Thornstar's den, because Redwing's death was my fault." A quietness fell upon the trees, and Arno imagined the birds leaning in to listen. "It was an accident, but it was avoidable. I chased her up a tree on that border patrol... I don't know what I was trying to prove. She was yelling at me, and I panicked, and I couldn't catch her. I don't know why I ran. We thought you'd all turn us in. And, well, since I was the one in the tree... I figured it was best if I left alone. If ShadowClan came looking, they'd only find me. The funny thing is, nobody ever found me. I'm sorry I couldn't help you stop this. I'm sorry I ran and didn't look back. I'm sorry I forgot who I was when I was a SkyClanner." Arno felt the stinging of tears on dry blue eyes. He dug his hooked claws into the dirt. He felt pathetic and small. Facing his monsters at last, it was at least worth the catharsis of confession.

"Suffice it to say, I'm not a SkyClanner anymore," he explained. "I wish I could explain to you why it makes me so happy. It's hard to make a clan-cat understand. I feel like I'm seeing every color after seasons of being blind. Even if I wanted to, I couldn't go back. And maybe that's the reason we're here now." Arno looked up at Marmalade with hunched, rounded shoulders, nodding her ahead. He needed a break, so his mind could catch up with the rapid turn of events. Leave it to himself to escalate an encounter. If he didn't know any better, Arno may have laughed.

______________________________________
The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] 3lwPv3M
Ferretnose - ThunderClan Warrior {V} - [95/250]* - #609E5D
Aspenheart - WindClan Medicine Cat {II} - [45/90]* - #503B87
Beekit - ThunderClan Kit - [5/15] - #4C9E8D
Tanglekit - Unborn ShadowClan Kit - [0/0] - #AC6C6C
*disabled stats
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Sun
Former Staff
Former Staff
Sun

Characters : Harefoot / Spottedstar / Dawngaze / Juniperpaw
Male
Sagittarius Tiger
Number of posts : 7544
Age : 21
Clan/Rank : ThunderClan Tier 4 Warrior / SkyClan Leader / ThunderClan Tier 4 Warrior / SkyClan Apprentice

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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeMon Dec 23, 2019 9:25 pm

"There's never a bad time for you to come around, Amberdawn." Spottedstar took a step forward, carefully avoiding the herbs, and unashamedly met Amberdawn's soft cheek with his own. For a moment, his half-brother's presence was entirely forgotten. He had been worried when she disappeared after Tinystar's trial and anxious when no border patrols reported her scent. He realized quickly that she wasn't coming back. It was a lot like Mintwhisker, once so important to him only to become another faint memory of someone who used to be a firm foundation. Now he stood on shaky ground with only his own decisions to guide him. But Amberdawn was worlds different from Mintwhisker - soft in voice and demeanor, kinder in one day than the old bat had ever been in her lifetime, and infinitely more approachable. Spottedstar still remembered the day he'd lost part of his ear. Amberdawn had been there first, both of them just 'paws, to staunch the bleeding and dress his sprained paw. And she'd been there for Foxfire when he broke his leg, just as professional and encouraging as ever. Her presence here after so many moons of being gone was like a warm day in the middle of leafbare. His eyes closed as he let her warmth wash over him, somehow softer than ever before.

Truthfully, her disappearance had been shockingly painful. Amberdawn was her own cat and she had the freedom to make her own decisions, but Spottedstar had constantly wondered since that day what it was that made her leave. The clan was in ruins - how could a medicine cat just choose to leave in the middle of such chaos? Was SkyClan really that worthless to her? Was... was Spottedstar not even a factor in her choice? He'd been nothing but a warrior at the time, but even so, he still thought they were friends. Close friends, even. But maybe his affection for the medicine cat had been one-sided. That's all it had been. Just a friendship. Spottedstar was just as meaningless as all the other cats that Mintwhisker, Burningsun, Lightfang, Swallowflight, and Sandblaze had all left behind, even if he thought he might have personally meant something to most of them.

Oh. Sandblaze.

Spottedstar stepped back, a steely gaze smothering the kind smile that had escaped. Sandblaze and Spottedstar hadn't seen eye to eye while they were warriors, but the loss was still personal. Tinystar's trial had driven a wedge in the family that Spottedstar had wanted to mend for Firflower's sake. The leader was offended on his mother's behalf when their kin abandoned them, then angered in all of SkyClan's name when news of Redwing's death first reached his ears by Thornstar's patrol. Even so, he'd forced Thornstar to swear that there would be no lives taken in retribution. Why Spottedstar continued to advocate for cats who were determined to push him away was beyond the pale tabby. He couldn't deny that he was glad Sandblaze was alive, though. The nightmare would finally end when he brought the other three home with him, and then they could be like they were before. No, that wasn't good enough. They would be so much better than that.

"You both know my name?" He meowed, head tilting to the side. How had word travelled beyond the forest? Sandblaze was moving on. There was definitely something on his mind from the way Amberdawn looked at him, the shiny bits on her collar clanging gently. Spottedstar wondered how he was going to help her get it off; that was obviously what she wanted, right? Sandblaze's blunt attitude drew his attention once more. Spottedstar's intact ear perked as he claimed responsibility for Redwing's death, and finally getting the other side of the conflict didn't bring the clarity or confidence he'd been convinced would accompany it. He didn't speak in the silence, instead gazing off to the side with shoulders rounding under the weight of the conversation.

"Yeah, you're right. No one found you. Or the others. I guess StarClan is so determined to keep you alive they decided to sacrifice Beanheart and Leaftwirl in your place. If you ask me, you weren't worth even one of them." Spottedstar meowed, voice abnormally icy and eyes still averted. He knew better to speak when he was angry, but for the moment, he let his temper control his tongue. "So you've heard of what's happened, but did you hear that I made Thornstar swear not to kill you or the others? That I was sure it wasn't on purpose? Tinystar was leader the day you fled, so I guess it makes sense be afraid, even if what you did was cowardly. I was deputy, though, and I'm not Mistyrain. I wouldn't have sat back and watched. But you and your brothers... always looked at me like I was gonna hurt you..." Amber eyes flicked back to Sandblaze, devoid of the anger that had filled his voice. The repercussions of that single decision had been terrible. He was only saddened by it all at this point. "And you still do. He stepped down that night, you know? Before we even knew you were gone. I'd been deputy for half a moon. Suddenly I'm a leader, and Thornstar's invading our camp, demanding justice for her dead deputy. I'm sorry for what I said, Sandblaze. You didn't cause Leaftwirl or Beanheart to die. Lynxscar did. And they died for SkyClan like warriors are trained to do. We won."

Spottedstar took a step back, head shaking and brows furrowed. "No, no. You're right that I'll never understand." He took another backwards step, distancing himself from the two strangers before him, one a kittypet and the other a rogue. Neither allowed on his territory. "I have a mate now. Kits. My eldest son is a warrior. My daughter has taken an interest in medicine. Murkpelt is the love of my life." Another sideways glance and a quick flick of his tattered ear. His hollowed voice echoed around the quiet clearing, restrained emotion being held back to the best of his abilities. Self-control was far from Spottedstar's strong suit. "I can't even process the thought of leaving them or my brother or my apprentice behind. And, obviously, I'm a leader now. I have a duty to be better than Tinystar. I didn't want it but it's mine now. I doubt I could make an outsider understand." A wry, empty smile graced his muzzle, the scar across his lips stretching. A greeting and a farewell from Thornstar.

"Sandblaze, I understand you leaving for good. In fact, it's best that way. If there's anything you want me to say to our mother, tell me. She deserves that much. I wish your brothers and Burningsun had half the courage to at least talk to me like you did, but since they're beyond the boundaries of the forest by now, I can't expect it from them. It's best if they stay far away, too. I hope you all find the happiness that I guess clan life couldn't give you, I really do. But you..." He looked back at Amberdawn, the only name he knew her by, and the pain glittered in his eyes more freely than ever before. "I see that means you're leaving, too. I couldn't have ever expected this from you." He stared at the collar, feeling disgust rising in his chest, and took in the herbs she'd brought. Twoleg herbs. She'd been so close to him this whole time, and Spottedstar didn't even know it. He felt like a moron. "I don't know, Amberdawn. I'm sorry that I expected something different."

With a hint of guilt, Spottedstar thought of Murkpelt back in camp. If she left camp without warning one day, would it hurt half as much as this confrontation hurt right now?

______________________________________

Sun // Living Characters // Deceased Characters
The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] NkxjmMp
Harefoot || Tom || T4 Warrior of ThunderClan || x || #006633
Dawngaze || She-cat || T4 Warrior of ThunderClan || x || RosyBrown
Spottedstar || Tom || Leader of SkyClan || x ||  Sienna
Juniperpaw || Tom || Apprentice of SkyClan || #660066

J O I N  M E

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sumashira
Former Staff
Former Staff
sumashira

Characters : [B]arleytuft | [C]lovertwist | [D]acedream | [E]ggkit
Female
Cancer Pig
Number of posts : 1929
Age : 24
Clan/Rank : [B] WC W[5] | [C] WC W[3] | [D] TC W[2] | [E] SkC Unborn

The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Empty
PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeTue Dec 24, 2019 6:19 am

The golden tabby cat waited for a moment, feeling her paws prickle with apprehension as she listened for Spottedstar's response; however, Marmalade was relieved and deeply comforted when the tabby tom stepped forward. The way that he said her name sent a light shiver down her back, and coming from his mouth it didn't sound like the wrong name. The space between them closed in an instant, and his warm muzzle was brushing against hers. Now she couldn't hold back a purr, and she immediately took her own step forward, leaning into his short embrace to rub her chin onto his neck affectionately. She wanted to convey how she'd missed SkyClan - how she'd missed him, though she hadn't even known - with the gesture. Her golden fur blended with the pale cream of his own for a moment, just a brief time of serenity the way things once were.

They no longer were that way, though, and as Marmalade and Spottedstar backed away from each other after a moment her heart sank slightly as she saw the gentleness in her friend's face replaced by a hard coldness. The kittypet took in a small breath and took a step back, dipping her head lightly in respect and trepidation as Sandblaze, now Arno, faced the tom who would have been his leader. At Spottedstar's question, Marmalade nodded and answered softly, "I try to find news about the forest." It was time then; Arno spoke up, and Marmalade let her gaze fall to the ground as he began to explain what he had been through and why. She shifted her paws uncomfortably. The former medicine cat could feel the heat and disappointment coming from Spottedstar even though she couldn't see his face. When Arno went quiet at last, the empty space between became deafening.

Marmalade lifted her head then, glancing first at Arno. Her dark amber gaze caught his, his eyes searching hers to signal he had done what they set out to do: he had confessed. Even if he was content to let that be it, Marmalade knew it wasn't, and she turned her gaze on Spottedstar then. Her eyes searched his face, but his eyes were cast down. Still, she could feel the tension from his pelt, the weight of the new knowledge he had and his feelings all like a nearing lightning storm. The kittypet waited with trepidation until at last the SkyClan leader spoke, and his voice was cold. The first words he spoke were bitter enough. The feeling of relief and acceptance she had felt was growing threatened by each passing moment, but the golden tabby cat kept watching and listening, knowing it was much too late to turn away.

The next thing Spottedstar said made Marmalade suck in a soft, squeaking breath: "I guess StarClan is so determined to keep you alive they decided to sacrifice Beanheart and Leaftwirl in your place." She felt her heart crack a little. She had learned that Leaftwirl had passed, but she'd had no idea of the circumstances - and she hadn't known that Beanheart had become a warrior and then been killed, either. The she-cat's eyes were dark and saddened as she realized the deaths of her friends had been related, even if not directly, to Arno's actions. Learning of what transpired during, after, because of her friend's decisions made Marmalade ache. Of course she didn't blame him; she had been the one to nurse him back to health after he fled. She had seen his guilt and remorse and pain, and, as she'd always been made to protect and to heal, she had decided he was punished enough for his crime.

Spottedstar had every right to disagree, so Marmalade listened quietly, but it seemed that eventually he too had come to the conclusion that Arno wasn't responsible for their deaths. They had died as warriors, like they'd been born and raised. The dig wasn't missed by Marmalade, and at last Spottedstar's golden gaze met hers, and there was none of the warmth there anymore. There was hurt... betrayal. Frustration and confusion and bewilderment. Conflict. He took a step back. Even as the leader voiced the good in his life, Marmalade could feel his dissatisfaction. She felt the stirrings of some feeling she didn't recognize to learn he had a mate - kits. He would recover from this betrayal, even if he didn't forgive or forget, but in this moment the fact that his half-brother and his kithood friend both had abandoned him and their Clan was a devastating blow. The leader took another step back, and he spoke coldly again of Marmalade and Sandblaze: outsiders.

He accepted Arno's choice to leave, even if the way he voiced his acceptance was cold. He had the right to be cold; they were intruders on his land, and Spottedstar seemed to have accepted it. When his gaze turned again on her, his attention fully on her, it took everything in Marmalade to tighten her lip and keep her head raised and dark amber eyes meeting his instead of looking shamefully to the ground. She took in a small, shaking breath. "I couldn't have ever expected this from you," Spottedstar said softly as he examined the collar on her neck and, after a moment, the herbs on the ground. "I don't know, Amberdawn. I'm sorry that I expected something different." The coldness in his voice was worse than the iciest night of leaf-bare; he'd never spoken to her that way. He'd never had cause to. Marmalade remembered how often she had heard that in Tinystar's tone, or Mintwhisker's - after they began to grow apart. She had never done anything to earn their mistrust or suspicion until the end of her time in SkyClan.

In the end, though, Amberdawn the medicine cat had betrayed Tinystar. Marmalade was destined to do the same to Spottedstar. The golden tabby medicine cat took a breath, and when she spoke she didn't know how her voice might come out or if it would at all. Fortunately, it was strong enough. "I never expected this, either," Marmalade said. What a useless sentiment, a voice scolded silently, but she continued, "All my life I served SkyClan and StarClan. I thought I would die in this forest surrounded by my Clan and my family. But I... I did something unforgiveable, too, Spottedstar." She felt tears start in her eyes, and she did her best to ignore them. Her ears flattened slightly. "Wh-When Burningsun called for Tinystar's trial. I failed Tinystar. I failed Mintwhisker. I failed as a medicine cat. I became a danger to my Clan when I failed to be the voice of peace and reason."

Marmalade glanced aside at Arno, knowing how he and his brothers had followed and supported Burningsun... She prayed he wouldn't be hurt by how the she-cat had directly influenced the path of Amberdawn's life. She looked back at Spottedstar and continued, "Not only did I allow a cat to take Tinystar's life, but I testified against him and allowed it to happen. My own grandfather. My leader and kin. I testified against Mintwhisker, my mentor who I had thought of as a mother, even. I never tried to learn Mintwhisker's secrets. I didn't stop Tinystar from killing an apprentice so many moons ago, when I could have prevented it. I didn't stop Burningsun from killing Tinystar then. Whatever his failings, he didn't deserve that." A tear fell, and she looked into Spottedstar's eyes and said more quietly, "All the things I could have prevented... and didn't... Spottedstar, I am a danger to SkyClan. I... I could never just say 'no'. I couldn't let that... let me... be its future."

Her dark amber gaze stared imploringly, helplessly into his, and she whispered now, "Please... I had to go."

______________________________________

The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] JLOT9vN
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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeThu Dec 26, 2019 7:44 pm

Arno took every blow without speaking, but each accusation settled into his pelt like thorns. He recoiled with the impact, shrinking back into his pelt as if inverting himself could hide him from the shame. Even so, he could already feel himself drifting farther away. Arno hated it. He wanted to reattach himself to the emotional toll, so he could further feel the repercussions of his actions. He longed for Spottedstar's anger to mean something to him as he dug deep inside. He was already numb. Arno's guilt and shame had run dry under the heat of his own self loathing. Inside was only mourning for little Beanheart and beautiful Leaftwirl. They had done what they set out to do.

Marmalade's pleads brought him back from his place of thinking. He pressed his flank to hers, a comforting swipe of his tail the only solace he could ever dream to give. Her guilt, it seemed, had not yet run its course. She was still plagued... she craved to be forgiven. Though he could support her in all of her ventures, forgiveness was not his gift to give her. Spottedstar had offered him the opportunity for a message, at least. So much he could say... What about Starlord? In the end, he decided, it would only do more harm. They'd all say it was in his blood, when really it was in his head. Besides, he couldn't put Firflower at risk.

"Tell her..." he whispered, "That the sons she really deserves are right in front of her. But the ones that left are safe and provided for." Arno blinked. There was so much more he could have done, but he only had the afternoon. "You have all of SkyClan behind you. Us too. I hope one day we meet in StarClan, brother. If they'll take me... Well, I'll consider it a victory."

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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeThu Jan 09, 2020 9:31 pm

"No, no, no, no -- No!" He'd yelled by accident, raising his voice at Amberdawn. He wanted to be angry, but it had been driven entirely by anguish and desperation. Spottedstar hadn't even expected his own outburst, regretting his raised voice and how he must have startled both of them. They were huddled so close, pushed away from SkyClan because he couldn't make things right. The leader looked away, mouth hanging open with words he wanted to say but didn't know. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry, I didn't mean it. I just think that things don't have to be this way. You didn't fail anyone that day, Amberdawn, you just said what you thought was right. Burningsun and the trial put a lot of stress on all of us, and it was obvious she had his death planned from the start. Justice or whatever." His memories of the trial were shadowed by his own regret and failures. If he had stopped her, would Amberdawn have stayed and Mintwhisker not gone mad? Force would have been necessary, and it would have been ugly. His half-brothers would likely have attacked him in her defense. Some odd sense of paranoia had driven them in those days. Spottedstar didn't want to deal with the implications of trading Firflower's last litter for Amberdawn, and he couldn't go back in time to change things.

Frustrated, the leader shook his head as if to clear away all the crashing emotions and impulses in his mind. Spottedstar looked back at Sandblaze, trying to reign in the confusion that showed clearly in his eyes. "I promise you I'll tell her what you said. I'll take care of her, forever. And I hope our ancestors never lose sight of you, wherever you go. What do I even say, go with my blessing? It sounds so pretentious." He laughed, a bitter reaction to his own status. All of his hostility was turned inwards as he wondered how SkyClan was supposed to survive the next several seasons under his leadership. He needed help.

"I don't think you have to do this, Amberdawn. I don't think you failed until you left. Well, guess what? I let tensions with ShadowClan get out of control. Two of my warriors are dead because I don't know how to lead! I've indebted SkyClan to ThunderClan. I've been leader for a moon and I've already broken our tradition of neutrality. Tinylegs... I can't even look at him in camp. I don't know if it's because I'm worried he doesn't respect me or if it's because I don't want him to. I hate the other leaders, Amberdawn. I hate their stupid politics and their dumb judgement! I hate that I can't compare to them, and I hate myself!" Another shocking outburst. Spottedstar hadn't been this unhinged in... well, ever. His point had gotten far away from him, and he was embarrassed by his secret which he hadn't even admitted to himself. Self-loathing had permeated his very being ever since his appointment as deputy in Mistyrain's place. All he'd ever done was sleep and complain, and those skills didn't translate well into leadership. He sat, slumped, and wrapped his tail tightly around him. He shouldn't have left camp at all today. Spottedstar raised his eyes to look at Amberdawn and Sandblaze. She was hesitant, hurt by his aggression, having difficulty meeting his gaze, and seemed nearly as pained by their exchange as he was. Sandblaze seemed reserved and withdrawn, having confessed his guilt and delivered his message. StarClan, why was he so bad at controlling his emotions? He was lashing out at them and it was unfair. They didn't deserve the weight of all his self-hatred. "I didn't mean that. I meant to say something else... that even though we did dumb things in the past, we can fix them now." 

His voice was quieter than it had been before, devoid of his violent emotions. The leader was tired now. There was only one last thing to ask, and if she denied, there was no sense in speaking anymore. "Some things can't be fixed, and nothing can be undone. We should try to be better than we used to be. I can't do it alone, though, I've tried and I'm a mess. I need you, Amberdawn. I've needed you from the start. You don't have to run away! You can come back to SkyClan! You can be medicine cat again, or warrior, or elder. Anything. Or nothing. You can just come back and not be anything if you don't want to." Spottedstar very desperately wanted her to come back, and he was making promises that he would never make to anyone else. His meow was soft but passionate and his eyes were filled with desperate and pleading as she looked back at him. His eyes stung, his throat felt like it was closing, and it was getting hard to breathe. He'd seen the single tear that fell from her eye and begged for her to put an end to their mutual suffering. Spottedstar hadn't dared move closer, and they were still several steps apart. "Or don't come back. Stay a kittypet and stick around. Just don't leave me again."

______________________________________

Sun // Living Characters // Deceased Characters
The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] NkxjmMp
Harefoot || Tom || T4 Warrior of ThunderClan || x || #006633
Dawngaze || She-cat || T4 Warrior of ThunderClan || x || RosyBrown
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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeSat Jan 11, 2020 12:54 pm

The feeling of comfort from the pressure of Arno's side pressing against hers wasn't enough - nothing could have been enough to prepare Marmalade for the outcry of despair and devastation that burst from Spottedstar. Startled, she took a step back and a breath in, her tail bushing out. Her dark amber eyes were wide with surprise; more tears welled despite her desire to remain strong. Young Spottedleap could be impassioned and bold at times, but this was different. Marmalade had never seen him respond to something like this - even Tinystar's trial had held a more stoic Spottedleap that the former medicine cat had felt too dismal to say goodbye to - and it seemed to dig claws into her heart and tear a hole she had never anticipated. To hurt him, to disappoint him, was like stepping into the floods that had once washed her away. The world felt like it was swimming as she simply stared at the SkyClan leader, her friend, and the distress she had brought into his home.

Spottedstar apologized for his outburst swiftly, and quickly he forgave her - he rationalized. Marmalade simply stared at him with her glistening, distressed gaze as he spoke, explaining that what had happened wasn't her fault. She had spoken the truth, like any medicine cat was called to do, and she had done what she thought was best. What I thought was best got my grandfather executed, Marmalade thought in protest, but she had no argument for Spottedstar's next words. It did seem as though Burningsun had expected that outcome. The golden kittypet glanced nervously aside at Arno, still uncertain of his feelings. They had... done their best to leave what had happened in the forest where it happened. Marmalade watched her paws at Spottedstar addressed him again, promising to deliver his message to his mother.

When Marmalade looked up again, Spottedstar was looking at her again. She sniffed lightly, wishing she could blame the cool air, and met his gaze, listening intently. The golden tabby froze immediately his words, feeling almost pinned in the depths of his eyes as he pleaded. He didn't believe that she had failed - not in the way he believed he was failing. Her face darkened further as he spoke, understanding the feeling of needing to avoid Tinyst--Tinylegs' gaze walking through camp. She sympathized deeply. Her heart ached to help him - to be able to give him some kind of help. Some guidance. As his voice rose in distress, Marmalade felt her resolve waver. The heat of the argument reached a peak as Spottedstar shouted helplessly, "I hate that I can't compare to them, and I hate myself!"

In that moment, all Marmalade wanted to do was go to him - to rush and pull the tall tom's head down against her neck and nuzzle the top of his head and his ears and neck, to reassure him that everything would be okay as she had once done for Leaftwirl and for Mossbloom. Instead, her claws flexed into the cold earth, eyes flashing wide with shock and sorrow. "Spottedstar..." she murmured, shaking her head, but she didn't know what to say. He sank to the ground, sitting in the cold snow. She watched him, but when his gaze rose to meet hers she felt her own flicker away to the ground at his paws. She had no words - or rather, she did, and she realized with a shock how perilously she was positioned now with Spottedstar's request. She... cared for him. The way Moonlight had cared for Tinylegs. Her throat was suddenly dry as Spottedstar tried to backtrack - to change what he said.

Even though what he said meant something different entirely, the offer he gave was enticing: That she could come home, and together they could fix the mistakes they'd made. Claws still flexed into the earth, muscles coiled, Marmalade listened with an aching heart to Spottedstar's hopeful plea. It was tempting - so tempting, to sleep in the medicine den again in the tangle of herb scents. She even sometimes missed the unpleasant tang of infection, or the sound of a chest cold. She constantly feared for her kin and Clan, the family she loved; were they being cared for? Sagelight was a talented tom, and who could know what he had learned now, but what if she could help him even further? What if she could help SkyClan, to make it safe and whole again? Oh, stars, how she wanted to help Spottedstar... she wanted to say yes. She wanted to be a medicine cat again - Spottedstar's medicine cat.

But it just... wasn't her path. Marmalade let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding as Spottedstar finally went silent. Almost inaudibly, she sounded out, "I can't." She felt herself sway as she pulled in a breath, fighting off the darkness that swam at the edge of her vision and the tears that fell from her eyes. "Spot... I can't. I can't stay. SkyClan will never take me back now. StarClan may never take me back now. You... You aren't alone. You have Murkpelt." That sentence felt like gravel and grit in her throat, and she tore her gaze away from him, trying to hide the realization she'd come to while knowing he had come to the same one. They had seen it plainly on each other's faces. Marmalade and Spottedstar couldn't love each other, though, whatever they saw and felt. SkyClan couldn't afford that. She added, hating the bitter taste of the words, "You have all of SkyClan. They support you. They will every step of the way."

She took a shaking breath, and Marmalade took a slow step back, lowering her head as her eyes glittered with the pain she felt to be hurting him this way. The pain she felt, hurting with him. "I had to go, Spottedstar... I have to go. This has to be our path. I'm... I'm sorry." She looked at him sorrowfully, and she waited for the inevitable: the outburst of fury and betrayal. She prayed he wouldn't feel the need to chase them out. Somehow, the kittypet wasn't certain that she had the strength to outrun the anguished vengeance the SkyClan leader might feel... she couldn't handle the thought, but all she could do is wait and watch.

______________________________________

The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] JLOT9vN
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PostSubject: Re: The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun]   The First of the Final Steps [grizzly, sun] Icon_minitimeThu Jan 16, 2020 5:13 pm

Arno watched in awe of what he could only describe as an intense and enthralling declaration of love. Ages of longing were etched on both cats' hearts as they spoke with the passion of mates torn apart by destiny. The tom scuffed his paws in the dirt anxiously, his head bowed respectfully. It was not his place to speak anymore. This meeting, he suddenly realized, was not for him at all. This was for Marmalade. It was to tie up her own loose ends; he had merely come along for the trip. And he was happy for her. A soft smile grew across his muzzle as she finally took her own happiness into her paws. It was a beautiful moment, though bittersweet. Arno wondered if it would have been meant to be if she had gone home to SkyClan. The scandal of it all!

So, if this truly was a trip for Marmalade's benefit, where did his closure lie? It was a shallow comfort to know that he was forgiven by Spottedstar and finally given leave to go. And then, like a monster careening down the thunderpath, it dawned on him. In all of his wandering through Twolegplace, there was a guilt that trumped them all. Regret was not something to be fermented in one's heart, except in this one case. His greatest debt was owed to another. Cardinalpaw.

"We... we're running out of time," he murmured as he padded to Marmalade's side. "Thank you for everything you've done for us, Spottedstar. You'll do just fine. I have one more trip to make. ShadowClan. I need to see my sister." Arno sucked in a deep breath, memorizing the smell of moss on trees. "If one day I share the sky with you, I'll be happy to see these trees again. Be safe... lead them well. All of that."

With one last bow to the SkyClan leader, Arno stepped away. He looked from Marmalade to Spottedstar, nodded, and padded away towards the border. His last chance to say goodbye.

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