Warrior Cat Clans 2 (WCC2 aka Classic) is a roleplay site inspired by the Warrior series by Erin Hunter. Whether you are a fan of the books or new to the Warrior cats world, WCC2 offers a diverse environment with over a decade’s worth of lore for you - and your characters - to explore. Join us today and become a part of our ongoing story!
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Sagebristle's world had shrunk around her in the blink of an eye, and her newfound paranoia and fear had her in a stranglehold. The ruse of the old Nightclan, of Kier's affection for her, of a safe haven after her memory loss- it had disappeared, replaced by a clan full of cats who were watching her, keeping an eye on her movements and reporting back to Kier. The worst of it was that she had regained enough memories to confuse her, but not enough to discover the truth. All she knew was that she was alone, a pawn in some larger game. She had no idea if Moonblight or her children were missing, or nearby, or even alive.
So until she had discovered the truth and was in a place where she could act without endangering herself, she was playing along. Keeping up the ruse, as it were, and continuing her schedule of training, patrolling, and professing her loyalty for Kier and for Nightclan. Except now she was hyper-aware of the cats who were watching her from the corners of their eyes and the constricting feeling of being in camp, in Kier's embraces. Her migraines were more frequent now, and her sleep was interrupted by dark dreams and quiet noises that startled her awake and set her heart racing.
It was a quiet night for her patrol, and she walked the border slowly, dragging out the minutes until she had to return to camp. Out here she felt that she could think more freely, even if it was possible that someone was watching her from the bushes. Out here she could breathe. And breathe she did, letting the warm night air fill her lungs and steady her jumpy heartbeat, until a scent caught her attention. Sagebristle turned her head to see the apprentice in the shadows of the nearby bushes. "Evening, Duskpaw," she greeted the smaller cat, flicking her ear. Technically, as a Superior, she far outranked the Inferior apprentice, but she'd never been the overly cruel type and still treated the lower ranks in a gentler manner than most other high-ranking cats. "Out for a walk?"
She knew that outing with Brat — Royalkit — had been a bad idea, because when Duskpaw was given the smallest taste of freedom she couldn't help but want more, despite the sour aftertaste. Under the red moon, she had had fun; she wanted more of it. Inferiors like her weren't allowed to leave camp — it would give them too much control, it would fill their heads with dangerous ideas such as autonomy and privilege, but, intentionally or not, Duskpaw was a rule-breaker. Not in the loud sense, not in the wild, uncontrollable sense. She was quietly stubborn, somehow impervious to the ideals of Nightclan yet a pushover, a people-pleaser, all the same. She may detest Kier, but she feared him. For others, the fear kept them in line — for Duskpaw, it made her act irrationally, it made her louder than she usually was, it drew attention. The trial had instilled a reputation upon her, of being insolent and disloyal and somehow lower than those of her class, despite being bottom-of-the-barrel. Nobody wanted to be around her, talk to her, for fear their association with such a pitiful thing would ruin their own reputation. She was only alive due to the conflict between Kier and Snowblister, their pettiness, their need to overrule or one-up each other. She hadn't forgotten.
With the taste of freedom from the night of the blood moon, Duskpaw found herself edging closer towards the camp exit, snooping around for other, more secretive ones, just for some fresh air, because for some reason she couldn't explain, she couldn't follow the rules. She couldn't be better. She'd found one, other than the hole at the bottom of the pool in Kier's den, a tiny tunnel that branched off a normally vacant cavern, a little deeper into the caves. It opened up from the ground a little way from camp, and it was her exit route for when camp got too claustrophobic. Usually, it was always in the early hours of the morning, or the time just before the moon set and the distant horizon was speckled with orange, but it was one of those days where she was left entirely alone, unnoticed and uncared for, so she had gone out earlier than.
The edges of the territory gave a nice space to breathe — just as Royalkit had said, nobody travelled too far from camp; the territory was practically hers, though she still kept to the undergrowth and shadows and edges of trees.
Evening, Duskpaw. From where she half-crouched, ready to slink over the roots of an old pine, she gave a soft gasp and froze. She hadn't noticed Sagebristle. She should have been more careful, she shouldn't have gone out, she should have just listened, because now she was going to tell Kier, and Duskpaw was going to go up on trial again and this time nobody would stand up for her, nobody would die in her place (however involuntary the first time was). Everybody knew that something was off with Sagebristle, even if the full story wasn't available aside from her new memory problems, but still she had resumed duties as a Royal Guard — surely she wouldn't let Duskpaw get away with such disobedience. She didn't sound mad, but sometimes Kier didn't sound mad either, and she knew the extents of his cruelty.
"Sagebristle." Her voice was quiet, quivering, "I — I'm sorry, I needed the air, I — please don't tell anyone, I'll go back, I swear." Perhaps if Duskpaw asked nicely enough, perhaps if she offered to repay Sagebristle, or perhaps her connection to another previous Loyal Guard — Primrosetuft, her mother — would put her in better graces with the she-cat, but it was impossible to say. She still felt her attempts would be useless.
Duskpaw's reaction was surprising to Sagebristle, and it took her a few moments to process why the young she-cat was so nervous. Her mind was half-stuck in her foggy memories of the past, when there were no rankings and apprentices like Sagepaw and Moonpaw were frequently roaming the territory alone. The part of her that focused on the present was removed from a true Royal Guard role- in the first weeks following her arrival, Kier had kept her in the dark about what Nightclan had become, and she still didn't know the extent of it now. She had been absent from both trials of Primrosetuft and her daughter, unaware of the consequences it held for either of them.
"Woah, woah," Sagebristle said, offering the younger she-cat an awkward grin. Sadness, pleading, any negative emotion other than anger unsettled her, as it had since her earliest memories. "Calm down. I won't tell anyone. I snuck out plenty when I was your age." To be fair, it had been a different time, a warmer time when sneaking out didn't mean a possible death sentence. "I went halfway to Summerclan once, way before I was ever named a warrior. A midnight walk is no big deal."
The way she spoke revealed just how naive she was about the real Nightclan. Kier was a master puppeteer, and she'd been shielded from the cruelest knowledge so far. Her suspicions about the tom she'd once hated and had recently taken as a lover were only beginning to grow, and they were focused around her kits and her former mate. Sure, she knew that Nightclan could be a bit... harsh, but the justifications of rehabilitation that Kier had fed her directly upon her return still made sense to her, with her half-memories and sheltered, privileged lifestyle in the clan. "Are you looking for anything in particular?"
Duskpaw's pelt crawled with shame, not only because of the fact she had been caught blatantly breaking the rules, but because of Sagebristle's reaction, the sense of pity in her words. It felt undeserved. I snuck out plenty when I was your age. She knew it had been different, then — Duskpaw only had a glimpse of life before Kier (she was on the older side of the current apprentices, still a kit then, but a kit who knew of a Nightclan without the class system, without such cruel rules), but she let Sagebristle believe it made her feel better anyway. A midnight walk is no big deal. That same crawling feeling returned, tinged with a sense of panic. The issue was that it did matter, that Duskpaw could be propped up on trial again for so much as stepping foot out of camp, let alone trailing the border, and there was the smallest inkling of anger, inexplainable anger, that Sagebristle didn't see that, that she was going on as if it were fine, as if she shouldn't be in trouble. After another tense moment, it faded — to be angry at Sagebristle wasn't fair, she realized, especially since the she-cat had just returned, and the apparent gap in her memories certainly was troublesome.
Tentatively stepping out into the open, Duskpaw slipped out from behind the tree she had froze behind and stopped a few steps away from the she-cat, shoulders still hunched, like she was trying to make herself as small as possible.
"No, I'm not." She answered simply, quietly, looking uncomfortable in her place beside the Royal Guard. "I just needed to think, and the camp was too stuffy, that's all. What about you?" Her paws fidgeted.
"Stop slouching," Sagebristle snipped, bumping her paw lightly against Duskpaw's side. "I'm not going to beat you." Honestly, Sagebristle had never liked when cats were uncomfortable around her, but if she'd done something to warrant the sullenness that would've been one thing. Hell, she'd chewed out or insulted plenty of cats before, to at least be in control of how they felt about her, even if she disliked it. But she'd never even spoken to Duskpaw before, and she couldn't help but take her discomfort a little personally.
Trying to push past that, the Royal Guard nodded. "I know exactly what you mean," she said with a wry grin. "I used to feel more comfortable there, but lately... I don't know, something's off." Duskpaw was a co-conspirator now, and safe to talk to. Since she was breaking the rules by being out, Sagebristle could tell her things she couldn't tell others and Duskpaw couldn't reveal that information without implicating herself as a rule breaker. "I wish I could remember more, so I could figure out what was bothering me in particular." Apart from the fact that Kier was lying to her, of course. But without knowing the full truth, she had no real proof.
Stop slouching. Duskpaw listened, straightening herself out and forcibly untensing her shoulders, stepping away from the light touch that Sagebristle gave, though she nodded. Her face felt warm with embarrassment at her own skittishness — the Duskpaw before the trial, while quiet, hadn't been nearly as fearful, but Duskpaw after the trial couldn't be around anyone without worrying of all the horrible things they could do, without being paranoid and alert and wary. It was exhausting.
Off to the side, she listened with interest and a slight note of understanding — she couldn't relate to the memory problems, of course (a part of her thought she wasn't so lucky to forget, but she willed the idea away, it wasn't fair to Sagebristle), but she could get the 'off' feeling, the itching sensation that something was always wrong.
"Well. . . maybe you can start with what you do remember, and then try to think about the gaps. Maybe it'll stir something." She suggested quietly, tail flicking thoughtfully, and the silence that she let sit after her words suggested she was open to helping, though she didn't ask straight out.