Redthorn prowled through the undergrowth. He could smell the scents of prey, but he still hadn't come across any of it. He thought he spotted a squirrel high in the trees above, but it scattered before he could climb to get to it. He growled in defeat. He kept walking, but now he thought he could smell something different.
It was the stench of decay. It was hitting his nostrils and nearly made him vomit in disgust. He choked and shook his head. "I need some help!" he called out, just in case there were any warriors around. Whatever was rotting, he didn't want to investigate it alone, just in case.
Rushlight ran up. He heard the calls while he was out hunting. He saw Redthorn. "What's going on?" he asked. He hoped that the other cat was not hurt but he couldn't see any signs of anything like that happening. He did smell something that did not smell good though. "Is that a body?"
He looked forward and noticed bones within a mass of rotting goo. He pulled his head backwards. "Gross! Did we stumble into the graveyard?" he asked.
Hearing cries of distress, Nightstrike, who was hunting somewhere nearby, came running as fast as he could. He stopped when he saw two of his fellow warriors standing around, looking at something.
"Redthorn? Rushlight? What is it?" he asked.
It looked like bones, but not like prey bones. It looked like the bones of a cat. He knew that this wasn't where they buried the cats of the Clan who had died, so this had to be something different. He hoped that this wasn't a sign that something bad had happened to one of their Clan members. As far as he knew, everyone was safe.
Redthorn turned to the two other warriors as they arrived. His body was shivering as he stared at the bones. He knew that they were cat bones, and they were not supposed to be here. "What do you think is going on here?" he asked. "These are the bones of some cat, maybe even a warrior. Is anyone missing from the Clan?"
Maybe they are the bones of a loner or a rogue, he thought to try to comfort himself. But there were no scents but the scents of decay. He could not tell whether or not this cat had Clan scent.
Rushlight blinked. The other two warriors were treating this as something serious. I thought maybe we'd just found the graveyard, he thought. "Must it be a warrior of our Clan? There might have been other cats passing through here." He thought about it more, and realized that there were a few SouthClan cats that hadn't been seen. Lots of them were thought to have been taken by Raiders.
"What are we going to do? Should we tell Raggedstar?" he asked.
Nightstrike stepped back with his eyes narrowed. There have been a few cats we haven't seen around, but they might have run off to the mountains, he thought. Many cats seemed to be abandoning their Clan lifestyle in favor of going off to live alone or whatever they did when they ran off into the middle of nowhere.
He held his breath as he approached the rotting carnage. It was horrible to look at, with flesh peeling off and dripping onto the ground. He gagged a little, almost biting his tongue. "Maybe it is just a loner or rogue?" he meowed. "We should tell Raggedstar nonetheless."
Redthorn nodded. "Yes, we should tell Raggedstar. Who volunteers to do so?" he asked. He looked around at all of them. I don't want to have anything to do with this, he thought. His dark ruddy red fur was still fluffed and prickled from the initial encounter with the remains. He wasn't a coward, but he knew something was off about this.
His ears flicked as he watched Nightstrike and Rushlight both. He then took another look at the disgusting pile of remains and rolled his yellow eyes. The smell alone was enough to make him gag, but the sight was about to make him vomit.
"I could go and fetch him," meowed Rushlight. He could be seen as very important if he was the one to go back and fetch Raggedstar. He looked off into the distance towards the camp. It wasn't too far away from where he was standing. Unless Nightstrike volunteered, he was prepared to go and get the clan leader.
He followed Redthorn's gaze to the remains again, and shook his head. The stench was completely pungent. He would be glad to get away from the smell, if anything. He didn't want to hang along here much longer, lest it get all over his fur and cause him to stink up the entire forest.
Nightstrike nodded to Rushlight. "Good, you go and get Raggedstar. Redthorn and I will stay around here to see if we can uncover any clues," he meowed. He got down in a crouch and looked into the undergrowth. "Help me out here, Redthorn." He scanned, looking for any traces of blood trails or clumps of fur.
He thought he spied something in the bushes so he crawled forward to take a look. He picked up what he identified to be a claw of some kind. "This could be important," he meowed.
He nodded when Rushlight agreed to be the one to go off and get Raggedstar. Redthorn wasn't so thrilled when Nightstrike asked him to help out with finding clues. He sighed and got down on the ground, watching as the other cat searched around. "What are we looking for?" he asked.
Redthorn saw Nightstrike pick up what looked to be a claw that had come off some unfortunate cat, and he winced. "I don't see how that would be important at all," he meowed. "Unless we want to save it to stick back on the paw of some poor feline who lost it."
Raggedstar heard about the disturbance from Rushlight and came running to the scene of the crime. The bulky tabby tom towered over the other warriors as he approaching them, fit and muscular. There was dark concern shining in his amber eyes, because of what Rushlight had told him. He greeted Redthorn and Nightstrike. "What is going on here?" he asked.
He could already smell the pungent stench of decay, and he turned away from it. Something had died here and had been rotting for quite some time. He didn't like the looks, the smell, or any part of the situation so far. He could only hope that it wasn't murder, as had been suggested to him.
Rushlight came back with Raggedstar, interested to see what the leader would think of the whole affair. He had already suggested to him that it was murder of some kind. They just had to figure out who was murdered, who the murderer was, and what to do about the whole thing. He watched intently.
"Redthorn found the body out here," he meowed. "He called for help and I showed up and so did Nightstrike." He looked at the pile of bones and rotten flesh and cringed. "It smells repulsive. Have any of the cats in our Clan gone missing?"
Nightstrike looked up at Raggedstar and presented the claw he had found, one of the pieces of evidence. "This might be of help," he meowed. Even though Rushlight had doubted the usefulness, he thought that it just might help them identify some cat. If there was a cat with a lost claw, perhaps he or she could provide them with useful information about the murder.
"We wouldn't have called you out here if we didn't think that this was urgent, Raggedstar," he meowed, dipping his head to his leader.
Redthorn made a tch noise. "Again with the claw?" he sneered. He had been hoping a little bit more to be thanked for going to get Raggedstar, but it seemed like the other cats were more focused on the formless pile of goo that had once been a cat. He just knew they were probably only going to find out that it was a rogue of some kind.
"We should go back to camp and ask around to see if anyone has noticed any cat gone missing," he meowed. "At least then we can be sure if it was one of us or if we're just wasting our time."
Raggedstar examined the claw that Nightstrike had given him. He narrowed his eyes. So it was certainly the dead body of a cat, but he did not know which cat it could be. "We'll ask around the camp, and see if anyone has vanished," he meowed. "This is very severe. I thank you for showing this to me."
"Do me a favor and head back to the camp, so that we can start our inquisition," he meowed. The massive tabby started stalking away, his mind racing with thoughts of murder. This kind of thing can't happen here in SouthClan, can it?