SOMETIMES SIBIACLAW WONDERED what was beyond the fields, even further east than where his Clan lived. Beyond there horizon there had to be even more fields, as far as the eye could see. As it was, they seemed to spread out far and wide. The Rockfall Cave was close to the edge of what EastClan considered to be their territory.
HE KNEW HE COULDN'T run away to find out what was beyond everything. He couldn't just leave his Clan like that. Maybe he was somewhat ambitious and selfish, but he couldn't betray Cherrythorn like that. Above all things, he loved his mate. He wasn't about to let him down. Where is he? he thought. He hadn't seen Cherrythorn recently.
DROPPING INTO A hunter's crouch, he scanned ahead, looking for any signs of prey lurking in crevices. Winter was coming soon, and even though EastClan lived in a land of warmer climates, they still had to stockpile as much as they could. He saw a snake slithering, headed for one of the cracks. He leaped forward and snagged it with his claws before it could get any further. With triumph, he pulled it back and bit it's neck until it stopped wriggling.
Ashcloud saw another warrior in the distance, standing nearby the cave. His sleek body rushed through the tall grass until he came upon the other warrior. Sibiaclaw had just caught a snake, and was shaking it back and forth to make sure that it was dead. "Greetings, Sibiaclaw," he meowed.
He knew that Sibiaclaw was a particularly interesting cat; no interest in females, and had a tom in the Clan that he called his mate. It all both baffled and fascinated Ashcloud, who had his cousin Icebriar as his almost-too-loyal mate. "That's a fine snake you caught there. I've been out hunting as well," he mentioned. "Is there a lot of prey around here, in the cave?"
SIBIACLAW WAS SOMEWHAT startled by Ashcloud's sudden approach, but he remained calm as he possibly could. He hoped he wasn't being cornered. Sometimes warriors turned on one another. He knew that Ashcloud was rumoured to be disloyal to the Clan. He didn't want to risk treading on his paws. He swallowed, but forced a smile.
HE PURRED, "It's nice to see you all the way out here, Ashcloud. There's a decent amount of prey out here, if you like catching snakes. I enjoy catching them." He could see them slithering around, still, undeterred by the fact that one of them had been caught just moments ago. He didn't think them to be very intelligent creatures. They mostly crawled around and ate things.
ONE SIDE OF SIBIACLAW was happy for the company, but he was still concerned about who the company was. He was trying to be polite as much, just to make sure that nothing happened to himself. He wished that Cherrythorn were around to help him if things got violent with a traitor within the Clan.
Snakes were fascinating to Ashcloud, but he didn't think that he had ever personally eaten one. Occasionally he saw them on the fresh kill pile, but with their length and scales they didn't interest him. He would much rather eat a nice field mouse or a vole. Still, he liked to try new things, and maybe if he learned to catch snakes he could share his secrets with other Clans in exchange for more prey and immunity.
"Say, Sibiaclaw... would you mind reaching me how to hunt snakes? I don't believe I've ever learned the skill. My mentor trained me out in the fields, mostly," said the warrior. "I would like to know how to catch them." He was fascinated as the snakes slithered around within the cave.
SO FAR THINGS seemed to be civil, and Sibiaclaw was going to make sure that none of it took a turn for the worst. He nodded when Ashcloud requested to be taught how to hunt snakes. He knew it was a skill that not all EastClan cats possessed, but Sibiaclaw's mentor had made sure to teach him how to do it.
HE FLICKED HIS TAIL IN the direction of one of the snakes that was crawling by. He was going to first demonstrate to Ashcloud how to catch one. He got down, crouched close to the ground, and then leaped up, catching the creature by the tail. He pressed his paws against it and bit it on the neck until the head was nearly snapped off. "You can't let them bite you," he said, "It will kill you."
AFTER HE WAS DONE with his example, he offered Ashcloud the chance to do it himself. He pointed out one of the snakes that was slithering by. "Why don't you try to get that one?" he suggested. It was a smaller sized snake, but it would be easy to pounce on and kill. He didn't want to start Ashcloud out with anything he couldn't handle.
Ashcloud let out sort of a scoffing snort at Sibiaclaw's comment. Of course a snake bite would kill me, thanks for the useful information, he thought sarcastically. On the outside, he remained cheerful and smooth despite his thoughts of mild irritation. He saw the snake that Sibiaclaw was referring to, and it's diminutive size. I could do better than that.
He ignored the snake that Sibiaclaw was talking about in favor of a fatter, jucier-looking snake nearby. He did as he was told, and snatched it by the tail. Before he could get close enough to bite its neck, it snapped back at him and latched itself on his foreleg. He cried out in pain, and tried to shake the snake off. "Kill it, kill it!" he yowled.
SIBIACLAW JUMPED BACK in confusion for a moment when the snake latched on to Ashcloud. He pulled it off quickly, and tossed it to the side so that it hit its head and died. It had been a non-venomous snake, but the bite would probably still need tending to. Sibiaclaw looked at it, getting close to Ashcloud to examine the wound.
HE BLINKED AND LOOKED up at Ashcloud. "It's alright, it had no venom. It isn't going to kill you. We probably need to get you some help, though. Let me see if I can find any herbs that could ease the pain." At the moment, EastClan had no medicine cat, so it was up to him to help the wounded, foolish warrior. If he wasn't so arrogant, this wouldn't have happened. He wasn't so keen on helping Ashcloud, but he didn't want Ashcloud blabbering to the Clan about it if he didn't help him.
THE STORMY GRAY warrior looked around for the right herbs. He didn't know much about them, but he knew enough to help a cat who was in pain. He finally found something for it and applied it accordingly. "Calm down, this will help in just a moment. You might want to eat this, too." He brushed another set of herbs towards the gray and white cat.
Ashcloud was relieved to hear that the snake was not venomous, though his leg was still horribly in pain. He looked at the two small fang marks and winced. If only EastClan had a medicine cat, but StarClan, if they were there at all, hadn't seen fit to give them one. He took the herbs from Sibiaclaw with a small bit of skepticism. What does a warrior know about herbs? he thought.
Still, when he ate the bitter plants, they did make him start to feel better, if not a little drowsy. He slumped forward a little bit, brushing Sibiaclaw on the way down. "What do I do now? Should I go back to camp?" he asked. "I need help." He winced again. The pain was less intense now but it still stung.
HE WATCHED ASHCLOUD as the warrior consumed the herbs he'd given him. He heard the question, but he didn't know how to respond. He hadn't anticipated the fact that Ashcloud was stupid enough to attack a large snake who could easily whip around and strike him. He sighed. "I suppose we will have to take you back to the camp."
IT WOULDN'T DO him any good, since the Clan did not currently have a medicine cat, still some rest could help his wounds heal quicker. Sibiaclaw thought in disgust about the medicine cats. Brightstream had left on a noble quest, but left her Clan defenseless. Wintersong stepped down after her return, but no one had stepped up in her place.
THEY HADN'T EVEN had a medicine cat apprentice, and now with tensions between NorthClan and EastClan, they needed a medicine cat more than ever. He shook his head and sighed. He put his shoulder against Ashcloud's shoulder and helped him up. "Come on, Ashcloud," he meowed. "We'll get you back to the camp."
He leaned on the other warrior, mildly uncomfortable at the fact that he had to do so. What if he thinks that I like him? he thought. He didn't mean to be uneasy about the fact that this cat liked members of his same gender, but he couldn't help but feel off about it. He eyed the other cat cautiously.
"Thanks for the help," he meowed, trying to make distracting conversation. "It still really hurts, but it's starting to be a bit better." He started completely avoiding eye contact with Sibiaclaw and looked down to the side with a cough as they walked towards the camp.
SIBIACLAW NOTICED THAT Ashcloud was avoiding looking at him. He could only think thoughts of disgust towards that sort of behavior. Just because he was pressing his body up against the tom shouldn't mean that Ashcloud should shy so much away from him. He glared at the other cat.
WITH A BITING TONE he meowed, "A little nervous, Ashcloud?" He continued to support the cat as they walked on their way back to the camp. "I'm glad you're feeling better, but I'm not going to bite you. Stop acting so strangely." He walked along, his green olive eyes flashing with a certain bitterness. Why am I helping this cat?
IT WASN'T AS THOUGH he felt obligated to help the warrior. He just didn't want to get in trouble for leaving him alone. It wasn't even a poisonous snake bite, but at this point in time, Sibiaclaw was beginning to wish that it had been. He tried to shake his thoughts that were edged with malice, but they persisted in his brain. It's not like I even just like toms, he thought bitterly. I like she-cats, too. Sometimes he didn't know if he could remain with Cherrythorn any longer for all the trouble it brought him.
Ashcloud was slightly flustered that he had been caught acting like a nervous pigeon around Sibiaclaw. He hadn't meant to be so obvious and offend. He tried to keep his uncomfortable feelings down, but he couldn't help but just be a little bit messed up about the whole thing. "Sorry, I'm not nervous, I'm just thinking," he meowed casually.
He clawed at the ground, though when he did it made his injured leg ache a little more. He winced and gritted his teeth. This is almost humiliating. I shouldn't need help. I should have just went after the stupid small snake, he thought bitterly to himself. He tried to keep calm about the whole thing, but on the inside he just felt horrible.
SIBIACLAW DIDN'T QUITE believe Ashcloud when he said that he wasn't nervous. He continued on to the camp anyway. He looked at the white and gray cat and scoffed again. He was still supporting him, but he was growing weary of the other cat leaning on him constant, limping along like a ragcat.
HE COULD ALMOST see the camp in the distance, hidden among the grass. He sniffed the air, and he could smell what he knew to be a tinge of fear. His ears went back and his fur bristled. What has happened in the camp? he thought to himself. It was beginning to rain just a little, and he flicked his ears as the wet drops came down on him.
HE LOOKED TO ASHCLOUD. "Something's not right here," he commented. "I think something might have happened. We need to hurry. Can you go any faster with that leg of yours?" he asked. One thing he hoped was that his mate, Cherrythorn, was alright. If someone had died, he could only pray that it wasn't him. He maybe wasn't the most loyal to his mate at times, but he still cared about the other cat more than anyone else.
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OOC: We can switch to the Morning in the Sun thread, because the cats need to join the battle soon.