The sun was setting. The lake was filled with glistening water and shimmering fish. The light breeze felt good on the cats' pelts. It made the trees whisper. The sun disappeared as the claw-moon rose up into the sky.
There were 7 cats all huddled around a puddle. They bent over to lap the water. The water smoothly trickled into their mouths, refreshingly. One elderly tom's flank shuddered as he struggled to keep the water down. One silvery she-cat nudged the tom to his paws and let him lean on her shoulders.
When the cats got home, 1 cat went to fetch moss while 3 went out to hunt. 1 she-cat sat with the elderly tom with 2 cats guarding them. There were 3 kits at their home as well.
"Lilac, Lark, Light, come here." said the she-cat that sat next to the tom.
"Yes, mother?" the kits chirped.
"Go tell Pebble and Coarse that one of them need to go and get some tansy and catmint.. Tell them that yansy has a very strong scent and is bright yellow. Oh, and they know what catmint looks like." she mewed gently to her kits.
The kits scrambled off to the entrance to the cave, leaving their mother behind to watch the tom. "The herbs will be her soon." whispered the she-cat to the tom. The tom was unable to say anything, gasping for breath. "Don't worry Fang, the tansy will be here shortly." the she-cat soothed. A spasm hit the elderly tom and he coughed. His breath was still coming in gasps, and now his eyes were half-closed. His breathing was slowing.
The kits stumbled back into the cave, tripping each other to see who could get to their mother first. "Did they set out to find any yet?" their mother asked. The kits nodded. Lark stepped up. "Lake, Lake! I found one right by the cave!" Lark said. "Well done darling." Lake said approvingly. "Look mommy! Pebble is back! Pebble is back!" Light exclaimed.
A gray tom with dark gray streaks on his muzzle was slowly, but surely, walking over to the group of cats, with a mouthful of tansy. Light ran up to him, and snatched the tansy from his jaws. The tom blinked in surprise.
"You know how old some of us are Light! He may be slow put he has served us for many moons now. Just because he's old, doesn't mean you're aloud to snatch things for his jaws when he's a little slow!" Lake scolded.
"Thank you. Mind you, I think it's about time the youngsters had a lesson of respect!" rasped the tom in amusement. Before the tom could leave, Lake spoke. ''Shouldn't you be resting? You know, Fang isn't the only elder here!" Lake meowed.
Pebble flicked his tail. "Nonsense! I can carry on with my duties for a long time yet!" he argued.
Lake purred. "Whatever you say Pebble." she said. "Whatever you say."
Chapter 1: New Members Edit
It was now morning. The cats woke up. Pebble scrambled to his feet first. "How is my brother?" he asked. "Fang is doing fine. I was up earlier to check his breathing and it's getting steadier." Lake assured him. Pebble nodded. Coarse flicked his tail. "This is all very heartwarming, but don't we need to get some food?" he said impatiently. "Indeed we will. Now, can I take Fade, and Dark to go hunting?" Pebble responded. Coarse nodded a stiff nod.
Now, 3 of the cats in this rogue band were growing old. The band was going to need to recruit some new members soon.
After all the cats left, it was only Lake, Fang, and the kits left. The kits were crying for milk. Lake shook her head. "I'm sorry kits. Unless this patrol brings back prey, then there's no milk." Lake said. Light wailed the loudest of all. "Shh. Fang is trying to sleep." Lake hushed them. Fang was still sleeping, and his breathing was steadying thanks to the tansy.
Finally, after what seemed like moons, the hunting party came back. Lake rose to her feet. "Any prey?' she asked desperately. Her kits were starving. The hunting party dropped 1 puny shrew and a whole pile of plump mice. "I haven't seen this much prey in moons." Lake breathed.
"We found a whole nest of them!" Fade said proudly, puffing out her chest.
The kits stopped wailing. Their ears were pricked. "Food?" they squeaked. They ran up to the pile. "Can we eat mouse?" Lark asked curiously.
Lake slowly nodded her head. "I guess so." she said.
"Eek!!!!!" the kits squealed. "I'm get the first bite!" Light said as she pulled a mouse out of the pile.
"No you don't." Lilac said. She snatched the mouse from her sister's jaws. "You're always first. Let me and Lark have a chance for once." she mewed.
Light glared at her. "Fine." she said.
"Thanks." Lilac said as she pushed the mouse to Lark for first bite. Lark nodded her thanks and ripped a piece of flesh out of the mouse with her teeth. She chewed slowly, her mouth full.
"So, what does it taste like?" Light demanded. "Good." Lark said, her voice thick with mouse. Light snatched the rest of the mouse. "
Now, it's my turn." she said.
Lake padded up to her kits. She took the mouse from Light and gave it to the runt of the litter, Lilac, who rarely stood up for herself. Light glared up at her mother.
"Don't you look at me like that. You and me are going to share a mouse so that there is no arguing." Lake said in a very 'final' sort of way. Light shot a glare at her mother and her sisters and finally left to find a different place to eat in the cave.
Finally, all the patrols came back. Nobody was guarding, for all of the cats were enjoying the mice. Suddenly, there were shadows upon them. The cats turned their heads and saw a huge, brown badger, towering over them. The kits squealed.
"Take the kits and Fang with you!" Coarse roared to Lake as he flung himself into battle.
Lake slowly nudged Fang and the kits were already making their way to the secret room of the cave. "Come on Fang, take it slow and easy now." Lake said as they slowly followed the kits into the next room closest to them.
Coarse crouched down and unsheathed his claws, then, he sprang. He jumped up to the badgers head and he stayed there, trying to claw the badgers eyes. In confusion, the badger flung around, and at the same time, flung Coarse off. Coarse's body thumped as he hit the cave's rock solid walls.
Out of rage, Fade screeched and clawed the badger even harder, trying to avenge her mate. She ripped out pieces of flesh.
Then, the badger turned around and fled, revealing 2 cats behind the badger, covered with blood.
Fade's lip curled into a snarl. ''Who are you?" she asked them.
"We came to help. And, we need help.'' the black tom said, gesturing to his mates large belly. "My mate is expecting and we were wondering if we could join your band. We have seen you around these lands for many moons and we decided to join. And we heard you all screeching so we knew you needed help, so, we came." the tom meowed.
All the cats came out to greet the visitors.
"Will they join us?"
"Do they even know how to hunt?"
"Are we just going to let them in?"
"Enough!" Pebble silenced them. We need new members more then ever, now, we will introduce ourselves later. First, we must check our wounded." Pebble growled.
Lake nodded, and she sent the new members to go out and fetch some herbs. "I want cobwebs, which are silky little webs, marigold, which is a yellow to orange flower, and that's about all. The rest should be in the herb store." the milky queen finished.
When the black tom came back, he said, "You know, for rogues, you do sound a lot like clan cats." he said.
"We are not savages. We care for our weak and our old. Some of us lived in the clans for a short amount of time, and during that time, I learned a lot about herbs. That is all." Lake replied simply as she put some cobwebs and a marigold poultice on the deep gash on her shoulder.
The tom narrowed his eyes but did nothing.
"What's you name?" Lake asked in a friendly tone. "My name is Shadow. And my mate's name is Swan." he replied as he dropped more cobwebs at her paws.
Lake nodded. She took out a poppy seed from her stores. "Eat this. Have a good, long, sleep and you'll feel better soon." Lake told Fade.
"No, I want to bury Coarse." she insisted.
"Well, do you want to deal with that pain until night comes?''
"If it means that I can honor my fallen clanmate." Fade retorted.
The 2 she-cats glared at each other.
"Fine." Lake sighed. "You've won, but don't wear yourself out to much. If it's too much for your shoulder, just go back to your nest, okay?''
Fade nodded her head solemnly. She was taking the death of her mate hard.
The kits and came out. "Is the badger gone?" Lilac asked, her voice shaking and her body trembling with fear.
"Go watch Fang my dears, oh, and don't worry, the badger's gone and you're safe now." Lake assured her.
Lilac nodded briefly, and followed her littermates back into the other room in the cave. Suddenly, the kits screeched. Lake and the rest of the band ran over to see what was going on.
"Is there another badger?" Fade demanded.
Lark sniffed. "No, but, but,-" Lark began. "Fang is dead!" wailed Lilac. Pebble and Lake ran up to his body. Though Lake was not his littermate, she had cared for him. "How did this happen?" Pebble whispered. "We came back and we saw him laying on the ground." Light mewed quietly. Murmurs filled the air.
"He must have died of old age."
"Maybe the greencough was too much for him."
"I wonder how many clan cats lost their clanmates to greencough."
"Hush! We don't speak about them anymore!"
After the whispers finally died down, Pebble spoke. "I wish to retire to the elders." he whispered.