i hate the distance | box patrol

His memories of the city were faded, shredded filaments of important things and unimportant things scattered about in his mind with no real direction. To sort through them would be a waste of time, he didn’t recall much of his time there to be of any real help with dealing with the strange two-legs now roaming about their territory. The only benefit was he recognized the scent of the contraptions, the things the messy upwalkers were leaving around and holing up in that had a smell to them were very distinct and he found it stomach churning when compared to the usual scent of the surrounding wood and river. The sooner they left the better, but how would you really find a way to expedite their removal? It wasn’t possible so they had to wait and he was annoyed by it. If Smokethroat had his way he’d go find the two-legs and start clawing them to bits, but they had these…things that made horrific noises and smelled like a fire spreading that put him off the idea fully. Whatever they were up to was dangerous.

While Mudpelt’s patrol had located their den of sorts, he had been asked to survey the area around the territory in full to see if they had made others and so it was with a sigh and raise of his voice that he stood at the camp exit to set out, calling together a patrol of his own.
“Clayfur, Smogbreath, Clearsight, come with me for a patrol... Cicadastar wants us to double check those two-legs haven’t made any further dens or messes on our land…”
And Cicadastar himself, well, if he wanted to come that was up to him; the dark warrior glanced across the camp where the mottled leader was currently at with a curt nod before looking for the fire-branded pelt of his new little charge.

“Iciclepaw, you can come with us if you want but you stay by me the entire time, do you understand?” He couldn’t train his apprentice while handling this, but it was a learning experience nonetheless. Still, he couldn’t shake his unease. Being in charge of a young and inexperienced cat was still new to him and he dreaded anything going wrong and the tortie she-cat getting harmed because of his mistakes. He had half a mind to tell her to stay here and never leave the damn camp but…that was no way to go about it. She needed to know the world was unsafe and how to handle herself.
“The rest of you can bring your apprentices as well, it might be good for them to know the warning signs of a two-leg.”

Ooc; The White Stag Plot Info. Takes place after the meeting and the initial patrol linked above lead by Mudpelt, it's open if you'd like to pop in but tagging those who signed-up:
Apprentices (optional): @iciclekit & @Foxpaw


The presence of twolegs in their territory is a point of stress for the brown and white tabby. He has nothing against cats who associate themselves with twolegs, or live with them; no, despite RiverClan’s outlook on them, Clay can’t bring himself to speak badly about kittypets. He just doesn’t understand how they do it, how any cat can stand to be around these big, loud, frankly terrified creatures.

He isn’t expecting to be called upon to go on a patrol, especially given his scorned land-based status, but the dark-furred lead warrior surprises him. Clay trots over to stand before Smokethroat with a wave of his white-capped tail. "Clayfur, reporting for duty," he quips, a wry smile twisting onto his face.

Smogbreath, Smokethroat, and Clearsight are all cats who Clay considers his friends. At least if anything goes wrong, he trusts the cats around him to have his back. But to bring Iciclepaw with them… he wants to speak out, to tell his niece to remain in camp, but he doesn’t have the right. Smokethroat is a strong and capable warrior, and intelligent. He knows what’s best for his own apprentice, Clayfur tells himself.

He gives a characteristic tilt of his head. "What are we gonna do if they’ve, like, actually made more dens?" His voice is more curious than anything, though it’s with uncertainty. He isn’t nervous, he thinks. Just unsure. What if they find something they don’t want to find? What can they do against creatures so much larger than themselves? It’s a hopeless enough thought to tug the corners of his mouth down along with his spirits.


riverclan warrior. 32 moons. tags

Clearsight is next to join, a nod of respect for Smokethroat and a friendly greeting purred toward Clayfur. Other than that, keeps to himself as the patrol is assembled and questions addressed. The earthen tom in particular has a knack for pulling Clear out of his own mind, but not today; he's tense, thoughtful. The danger these twolegs bring to their territory... the vicious thunder that they still don't fully understand. The stress has weighed on him. On all of them, probably.

He's just not in a social mood.

When the others have joined and Smokethroat leads the patrol out of camp, he'll follow quietly, bringing up the rear if he can—intent to watch their backs, should things go wrong.



− ♱ ABOUT : the mottled tom had long - since made the decision to attend ; since the return of mudpelt's patrol, he'd found himself staring towards the sky more often than not, wasting his time. waiting. the thunder looms closer now it seemed, as if the heavens were closing in on them inch by excruciating inch. the man couldn’t help but wonder if it were sent by starclan ; he wondered if their snarls could turn to booming sound in righteous anger, a lightning flash of teeth across the star - studded sky. when he was young, his mother had woven stories of ancestors long past — had lamented the heavens sorrow during rainfall, cowered in fear at its thundering rage. he’s watching from the mouth of his den as smokethroat takes his position, calling out over the sea of bustling riverclanners, stating his claim as lead warrior. he was a fine choice — the mottled felidae has no issue standing, stretching forelimbs out just slightly before righting himself, looking as he ventures closer towards the patrol. sharp - knuckled paws bring him up alongside clearsight, brushing his curled coat lightly against his silver - blue own in an attempt at brief comfort.

he could only offer what comfort his presence brought, and even that did little to ease the situation. what they would find out there was beyond him ; the tall felidae hated to admit his knowledge ended with the rest of his warriors. his connection to the stars did not grant him vision into the horror that lurked now behind the willows, but he was no stranger to what chaos twolegs could bring. with a sigh, the man would nod towards smoke, allowing him to take the lead. should they come across nothing, the man would have a front - row seat to evaluate regardless. as he makes his presence know, his ears perk -- clayfur. what if they've made more dens? he'd considered it, of course . . and in truth, he didn't have much in the way of battle strategy. should they have taken up further residence on their land . . " we'll cross that bridge when we get there, yeah?" the man offers a small smile, though it doesn't reach too - blue eyes, " whenever you're ready, smokethroat. " cicadastar speaks, dipping his muzzle and letting pallid eyes rest finally, fully, on the white - splotched tom. they shine, encouraging despite their current situation. he would do well, he was sure of it.

  • CICADASTAR ; he / him. roughly thirty seven months old, riverclan leader
    − handsome, lanky black smoke tortie chimera with curly fur and icy blue eyes
    − gay. speaks with a thick german accent, former marsh cat, penned by antlers

  • none.

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She'd been on her father's patrol, and she thinks it's only natural she should accompany her mentor as he leads the next foray as well. The little tortoiseshell bounds toward the older cats on determined white paws, face a blank mask. "I'm ready." Her tail curls inward, and she gives the warriors present a curt nod. Except Clayfur - she gives him a small, secretive smile.

Cicadastar himself emerges from his den and tells Smokethroat to lead the way. Iciclepaw gives him a cautious, curious look - why is he letting the black-furred warrior lead when he's the leader? Maybe he's testing him, she thinks before flicking the thought away like a flea. It doesn't matter. They have a job to do.

Foxpaw hadn't intended on going on the patrol. The reports of Twolegs so near their camp has caused her anxiety; she's never seen one of the beasts before, and she isn't sure she wants to. The smell of them is on the air, and while it isn't the scent the beast that had killed Dewdrop had left behind, it's pungent and sends her nerves rippling and burning like wildfire.

She watches the patrol prepare from a distance. Smokethroat is a lead warrior, and Clayfur she knows and trusts, but the other two cats are stern warriors she isn't overly familiar with. There's even an apprentice with them, a kit of only three moons. Foxpaw is about to dismiss them all and wish them well in her head when Cicadastar pads over to them and announces he'll go.

Their leader, her mentor. She frowns and attempts to quell the surge of anxiety that rises like a high tide within her chest and belly. If he's going, she should go, shouldn't she?

Tentatively, the small calico approaches the others and bows her head to them. Nervously, she murmurs, "I'll... go with you, too. If that's alright." Maybe she shouldn't, maybe it's foolish, but... Icesparkle's kit is here, and she's much younger than Foxpaw. She is holding herself together much better, too. She takes a deep breath and waits for Smokethroat to give the signal to move out.​


Everyone seemed tense and he could not really fault them for that. Clayfur brought up a good point and he was honestly on the same track as Cicadastar in how to handle it for now; that being to approach it once they had an idea of what was even out there, it would be a waste of time to idly guess actions for made-up scenarios and he shook his head once to shake the feeling of trepidation that had begun to settle on his pelt like heavy rain. Foxpaw and Iciclepaw's eagerness to come along had him want to say something about being cautious or staying with the group but both were sensible apprentices and he felt the warning would have just been dismissed regardless. With hope this would be an uneventful patrol gathering information, at worse they were fast and could get away far easier than the larger cats present. A curt nod was given at the leader's push and he turned with a sharp pivot to take the lead off into the surrounding brush with the party hopefully not too far behind.

The two-legs had not been delicate with their traisping about on RiverClan territory, bits and pieces of their presence was scattered about from the scores of strange marks on trees to the smell of copper-tinted smoke and tiny white sticks that looked singed muddled among the forest floor. The further into the heart of the territory they moved the more apparent the signs, as if the group of strange creatures were moving back and forth from different areas; possibly on their own patrols of sorts? He hadn't an inkling how a two-leg thought and Smokethroat wasn't too enthralled by the idea of learning either despite its usefulness. With hope they would not have to deal with this kind of mess again anytime soon, but for now they took small steps to discover how to address it. He was leaning on ruining their camp himself, it would certainly make them think twice of building nests in woods they did not own. Did two-legs know how to smell scent markers? Or were they too stupid to see a border at all? Who knew.

Smokethroat stopped suddenly without warning, giving an apologetic grimace as he glanced back to anyone who might've walked into him or stumbled from his sudden halting, tail flicking out to gesture for silence.
"What is that?" His head tilted, nodded in the direction ahead of them where there was something in the trees. It was hard to describe what he was looking at. Some sort of square-shaped structure that had not been there before with an odd array of sticks stacked next to it, he assumed to help the two-leg get up to where the sharp-cornered nest was? If it even was a nest. It could have been a trap of some kind? The dark tom had only just noticed it, the shift of wind had pushed an edge of some odd hide stretched across it to reveal the less natural looking underside; it had been covered in...something...to help it blend into the forest. It was pure luck he saw it before they walked right under the damned thing.


The response from the leader is much less than Clayfur expects. There’s no plan for a potential invasion of twolegs into their territory—and Cicada doesn’t sound keen on coming up with a plan before they leave camp. He frowns, tilts his head. He knows he isn’t smart, has been told as much multiple times in his life. Some cats are meant for strategy, and the space between himself and those cats couldn’t be greater. But he thinks this is a bad idea. Cicadastar was chosen by the stars or whatever, but that doesn’t make him correct all the time. Clay respects him enough not to challenge his authority, though. Clay trusts him.

He returns his niece’s smile, and hardly resists the urge to lean down and bump his forehead to hers. She’s growing so quickly—it’s almost unbearable to watch, even if he’s happy that she’s progressing in her life. He just feels so… old. He hopes he’s being a good uncle to her. Is he a worse uncle for not protesting against her inclusion in this patrol? Or would he be a worse uncle if he firmly denied her coming with them? He isn’t her mentor. He knows Smokethroat won’t let anything happen to her, he trusts the lead warrior, but he steps a bit closer to Iciclepaw anyway.

Foxpaw confirms that she’s joining their little patrol as well, and damn, Clayfur’s nerves are shot. He cares about all the young cats of the clan, and watching them all becoming apprentices, starting on their paths to adulthood and warriorship, it’s hard for him. Foxpaw isn’t even related to him, but the need to protect her is just as powerful. He makes note of where she is when they gather, keeping close track of both the young she-cats who are coming with the patrol.

He takes a spot just behind Smoke when they set out, trying to calm his nerves. As they walk, he can’t fight the twist of his stomach, the cold dread that’s settling in his gut. He’s never felt this anxious before—except maybe when Icesparkle was due to have her first kit. That had been anxiety like no other. This is different, though. This is walking straight into dangerous territory without a plan.

The feeling in his stomach turns downright icy when Smokethroat stops short, and Clay has to dig his paws in so he doesn’t crash unceremoniously into his superior. He spares a moment to be lost, confused, before following the dark-furred warrior’s gaze to the tree. "Some kind of nest?" He murmurs, voice low as he squints up at the… whatever it is.


riverclan warrior. 32 moons. tags

Cicadastar's brush against his side doesn't quell his nerves, but it does provide a comfort. Still, he's silent behind the rest of the patrol as they head out.

Every hackle raised, ears twitching, golden eyes alert, Clearsight follows. This is a kind of danger they have not faced before, and though no cat has yet come to serious harm-- has met the other end of the thunder-sticks and paid consequence-- he dreads that it's only a matter of time. The thought of losing a clanmate to these twolegs is unbearable, and that anxiety swells in his chest as sunlight eyes flick across each patrol member-- Clayfur and Cicadastar, two cats who've stolen his heart of late, whose loss would be devastating in either case-- Smokethroat, respectable lead warrior and trusted companion on any patrol-- and then the children, StarClan's sake, one barely out of the nursery.

And then Smokethroat stops-- the massive box looms before them, some kind of nest? asks Clayfur, and Clearsight's blood runs cold because fucking StarClan the thought that there might be twolegs up there--

"If it is, and they're in there, they have the high ground," says Clearsight, voice tight with fear. Who knows what they'll do with that, what they can do; he does not want to find out.

Streaks of anxiety leak through him as he follows the patrol. When his name had been called to come along he was shocked. Surprised. He isn't sure what Smokethroat is thinking and for a moment the thought to protest arises before it shrivels up into nothing. It's best just that he does as he is told so he says nothing and instead he tags along after the rest of the group. Even Cicadastar is with then and he isn't sure if that is a good thing or a bad one. What if it means more danger. The torn faced tom keeps his ears pulled back as he trails after Clayfur and Clearsight. His only thoughts just to make it back in one piece. The sighting of twolegs makes it worse and he sighs before he glances across the blades of grass. He can't help but to look over his shoulder every now and then. A habit formed after he had been attacked.

Yet there is nothing and he almost bumps into Clayfur as the patrol has stopped. Widening eyes look at the nest so high up and a heavy sense of unease spreads through the chocolate tom. "M-maybe we should get away from it. Leave the area, we...don't know what they are up to." And he doesn't want his clanmates to see him be a coward. It makes him almost sick the fear sitting heavy in his stomach and he takes a step back.

The little tortoiseshell pads stoically beside Smokethroat. Her steps are measured, expression cool as her demeanor. There's tension in the air as they part the reeds like water, but Iciclepaw is only energized by it. She'd seen the Twolegs herself with her father's patrol, but there's something different now - her mentor is staring up, into the trees, at some sort of boxy structure nestled among the branches.

Clayfur remarks that it might be a nest, of some sort. Iciclepaw's eyes go round. "Do they live in trees like birds?" How odd. She'd never considered where Twolegs might live. Perhaps only their special RiverClan variety lived like flying creatures among branches. "Wow. Twolegs can't fly, though, right? How do they get up there?"

She pads out in front of the older adults, her curiosity powerful. Clearsight and Smogbreath speak reasonably, state the nest could be dangerous, but Iciclepaw doesn't see how. "The nest itself can't hurt us, right? Only if the Twolegs come out of it." She's ahead of the patrol now, scrutinizing the thing with sparkling blue eyes. "Should we get closer? Can we climb the trees to see what's in it?"


tw for brief gore in second to last paragraph!

− ♱ ABOUT : foxpaw approached, and for a split moment, his mind screams for him to turn her back. it was a standard patrol, however − a quick scout of the territory and back. he flicks her flank with the tip of his thick tail, offering her a short nod and a small, encouraging smile, " keep close. " he murmurs, dipping his head to speak directly against her ear rather than aloud. it was frightening. starclan knew he was afraid, the pinpricks of dread pulsing deep within his pawpads with each move. shortly, smokethroat begins to lead them out − he does well, charging them with a solemn tact. they traverse the lands and as the tower comes into sight, the stench of them gets stronger . . like smog, heady and thick on his barbed tongue. the man frowns, stretching his neck to peer at the looming object. is it a nest? clayfur speaks, voice brimming with nervous energy. if it was, it was unlike any he'd ever encountered ; though he could hardly remember his time on the twolegplace streets, he remembered them being much bigger, and not so high off the ground.

just across the way from the tower, something clings to a tree. a shadow, something he cant quite see from the distance but swaying, full and heavy," what is that?" the man inquires aloud, gesturing with his sloped muzzle. " stay here . . let me take a look." " the tortoiseshell murmurs, voice quiet and tail leveling to alert the rest of the patrol to lie low. the tall feline crouches, slowly creeping towards the hanging object, pupils narrow and eyes wide. his vision darts about him once more, trying to keep himself low as he nears the twoleg object. before him, hanging low from a branch of willow tree, there a net − filled to the brim with apples and what looked like wheat, poking thin from the open splits. he furrows his brow, looking back towards the tower that lie directly across from it. nothing moves. nothing makes a sound. carefully, slowly, his head lifts, tasting the air and cringing at the sharp smell of twoleg ; something deep, smokey and bitter. if it was a nest, perhaps it was abandoned, as the ones during mudpelts patrol had been. he glances towards the box and, still neither seeing or hearing any direct danger, he lifts just a bit more attempting to get a better look at what lie inside, " it seems full of . . prey food? "

iciclepaw speaks then and he finds himself wondering as well − how did they get up there? twolegs came in all shapes and sizes, but he'd never seen one that was able to fly. he's peering at the box, realizing almost too late that the apprentice had wandered in front of them and, the moment he realizes, leaps from the undergrowth to keep her away, skittering over and a paw attempts to jut out in front of her, frantic," iciclepaw, get bac− "

swt . . CRACK.

silver splinters wood. splinters flesh, bone and tissue giving way. an arrow − long, gleaming at the ends where they are balanced by two long, artificial wings − sticks gruesomely from where it now pierces through leader's slim throat and into the thick bark behind. from the small slit in the nest, there is finally movement, a gruff sound from within and . . there is a twoleg in there. there is a moment in which he does not understand ; tugging slightly against the tree before a snowy paw lifts to touch weakly at the open wound still trapping him firm against the willow trunk, blood pouring from a now severed jugular coating it honey - thick in crimson in seconds. his throat is beginning to mat, pallid eyes darting wildly towards the patrol and he feels blood pooling in his mouth, dribbling down the side of his rubber black lips, " guh − GOH . . GO " it's garbled, to some it would be only a mix of wild, bubbling consonants. spatters of blood puddle now beneath him, glistening like dew underfoot and he can no longer hold himself up. he's too dizzy, suddenly . . too cold. nauseous. trembling. his warriors will have to watch his death and he can do nothing about it but stare frantically back, spitting what blood he could in rivulets of crimson spittle.

when cicadastar finally dies, his body hangs slouched from the arrow spearing his throat, blood still draining into the pool beneath.

  • cicada is officially down one life! he will be taken back to the campsite by the twoleg and will escape & return once he awakes the next day.
  • CICADASTAR ; he / him. roughly thirty seven months old, riverclan leader
    − handsome, lanky black smoke tortie chimera with curly fur and icy blue eyes
    − gay. speaks with a thick german accent, former marsh cat, penned by antlers

  • none.


A nest? Perhaps, but what an odd thing to build when you had no skill to climb a tree and needed to make a means to get up to it otherwise. Two-legs were certainly stupid in that regard, but perhaps the vantage point acted as a perch a bird of prey might use; a means to look down and easily see what loitered about the forest floor. Clearsight and Smogbreath rose the point out loud and he nodded slowly without turning to look in either of the other tom's directions. "...fair point. Remember this spot, we shouldn't let anyone hunt here until-"
A brief shift of movement, tortie fur catches the corner of his eye as he watches his apprentice wander ahead and he sighs.

His tone is mildly annoyed as he goes to speak, his apprentice inching forward in vested interest but without the proper caution, "Iciclepaw-" He's barely said her name when Cicadastar cuts him off with a sharper and more panicked insistence the young tortie move and in a blur of motion the mottled gray leader is suddenly in front of them all. Smokethroat instinctively lunges forward to try and grab the flame and ash colored apprentice by her scruff, to pull her away from the danger that blinked into existence with immediate and horrifying results. Something had soared from that box with the speed of a dashing hare but the brutality of a hawk's talons, a slender stick of an instrument skewered their leader's neck and for a moment the dark tom does not move.

Time froze briefly, he felt each hair along his spine individually rise up into a bristling point; cascading into small spikes from the back of his neck to the base of his tail. It was so fast, he had blinked and the blood on the ground and the spray of it that burst into brightly colored flecks from Cicadastar's throat had showered them in the faintest mist of it before it fully registered to him what happened.
The shadow of a tom moves forward in a brief moment of sheer panic as if to sink his teeth into the object pinning the gray tom but it is the gurgling and almost incoherent demand to 'go' that halts his steps. Fiery orange eyes briefly met the gently fading blues of the wounded RiverClan leader before he snaps back into action on pure instinct, "GO!" His use of the word is more forceful than the dying gasp of the other, filled with a righteous outrage he had not felt since he was a young cat abandoned by both fate and care, left to roam the streets alone.
There was not a word in existence to fully ecompass how angry he was to be forced into abandoning Cicadastar, but with the rustling and movement from the box if they lingered it was sure to end in more bodies than just one; Smokethroat made the choice he had hoped he never would have had to otherwise.
"RUN! NOW! THAT'S AN ORDER!" His head would lower to push and shove without much care for being delicate to any cat that lingered a moment longer, the wind had shifted just enough the now overpowering scent of the two-legs holed up in their high nest was present and at any second another of those lightning quick darts might be sent their way.

The tension he feels is jagged and he can feel his legs starting to tremble. Really he thinks it was a bad idea to allow him to come on this patrol. With the twolegs possibly up there they could see everything and even see then which does not bode well. Snapping his eyes away from the box for a short moment he gasps in horror as Iciclepaw starts to get closer, bubbly and asking questions. Cicada scrambled to get her to come back and then suddenly there is a sound. A sound he has never heard before, it's so sudden and quick that he blinks and almost thinks that it isn't real. But it's so real because as soon as reality sets in he sees their leader impaled. His body hanging from the drunk of the willow tree because of the force of whatever that deadly slibee thing is.

The tom only stands there in pure horror as Cicada garbles words, blood pouring effortlessly like a flowing river from the wound in his neck. Smog is frozen, he can't seem to wrap his head around just what happened. His chest is heaving for breathes, eyes wide and seeing but not at the same time. Their leader is dying, their leader has been killed. No. No. No. No. He feels like his world is shifting and even Smokethroat's shout to run doesn't pierce his haze. Move, he needs to move but he can't feel his legs. He can't take his eyes off of Cicadastar. The blood pooling from his mouth, the way he slumps around the thing that pierces his throat. It's all like a bad dream and yet he can't breath.



riverclan warrior. 32 moons. tags

It's so quick.

The scream that rips from Clearsight's throat is guttural, wordless, piercing the air and filling Smokethroat's frozen silence.

He staggers toward Cicadastar, skewered now like prey against the tree. Waves of grief, of disbelief crash hard and heavy like the river, and as Cicadastar's eyes flutter wild with final agony, trying to pull away-- as one soft white-capped paw comes up to touch the wound, last heartbreaking confusion-- Clearsight stumbles close as he dares, sunlight eyes darting across the destroyed tortoiseshell body. Crying.

"No," he'll rasp, "StarClan, no, please-"

His begging does nothing.

Light fades and muscles slacken, and Cicadastar is gone, the man once their leader now a lifeless matted body, wet and spilling blood and viscera.

Smokethroat's order rings out-- a call that echoes Cicadastar's own, Go, and how can he go? How can he leave-- Clearsight will hesitate-- half a second, if that, to press a dusty pink nose into red-soaked fur, an attempt at goodbye, eyes shut tightly, hot tears trickling out--

Before he turns, terror thundering in his chest, to the rest of the patrol, the mottled tom's blood sprayed across his flank and now his muzzle. Smokethroat aims to tear his own apprentice away-- Foxpaw, Clearsight thinks, the realization almost crushing.

He can't save Cicadastar, but this he can do. "I've got her, Cica," he whispers, because he knows the dead listen.

Clearsight will attempt to push @Foxpaw away from the scene, shouldering her toward camp, his tail coming around behind her in his best attempt at passing comfort. "Run," he echoes the lead warrior's order, "Follow Smokethroat, I'm behind you-- go! Go!"


There’s no warning. There’s only silence, and then all hell breaks loose upon their patrol.

One second, their leader stands, tall and elegant like he always is no matter the circumstances. The next, Cicada is pinned against a tree, pierced through the neck and bleeding and dying and-

Smokethroat is yelling. He’s roaring, more like, for them to run. The patrol has begun to turn, each of them scrambling to get away, to safety. For a moment, his paws move faster than his mind. He whirls to face Iciclepaw, only to see that Smokethroat’s is already corralling her, trying to guide her away. Then Foxpaw—Clearsight is shouting at her, trying to push her in the opposite direction of the scene, and he feels the coil of dread in his stomach unfurl the tiniest bit. The apprentices will be safe, he hopes.

He turns to run himself, to break away from the others and circle back to the camp. He can’t run the same direction—they’re too large a group to go unnoticed, he thinks. If there are more twolegs after them, it’s better to split off from the group. He can serve as a distraction, if nothing else. Better him than Icicle, than Fox, than Clear, than Smoke.

But there’s one other member of their patrol who hasn’t moved. The scarred-up tom stands seemingly frozen in horror, and Clay can’t blame him. It’s a truly gruesome scene to witness, one that they’re all sure to have nightmares about.

"Smog! We gotta get the hell outta here, come on!" He can’t watch someone else die. Cicada has nine lives, the rest of them only have one. So Clayfur attempts to shove at Smogbreath’s shoulder, hoping to at least get the other tom’s paws moving. They can’t hang around like Cicada is—dangling, choking on words and his own blood and a strange twoleg weapon that shouldn’t be lodged into the throat of their leader. "C’mon, dude, please…" He can’t lose a clanmate. Cicadastar will come back, he’s sure of it. But if Smog doesn’t get a move on, one of them might be next, and they don’t get second chances.
The calico bristles at the patrol's observation, the nest hidden within the trees. She immediately agrees with the warriors - that something seems off about the structure, about the quietness that blankets the woods. She moves to stand beside Smogbreath, her own heart hammering beneath her snowy white chest fur.

Iciclepaw dares to sneak before the lead warrior and the experienced members of the patrol, and Foxpaw bites her tongue. Young kits! It seems they're always causing trouble, not listening. She wants to scold the younger apprentice, but Cicadastar begins to speak, contemplative. Prey food inside? So, food for the creatures they hunt? Foxpaw blinks, doubtful. Mice get in there?

Their leader seems to lurch, then, just as he frantically flings himself from the undergrowth to shove the younger apprentice away. Where before nothing existed in her mentor's throat, there is a sharp, spindly piece of wood piercing the flesh and fur. Blood streams from the wound, and Cicadastar's eyes flicker with dying fire. He commands them all to GO, but his body heaves, still and broken, with that last instruction.

"Cicadastar!" Foxpaw's cry rings into the air. Shock makes her limbs stiff. The patrol is silent, and then it's chaos, movement -- Smokethroat grabs his apprentice by the scruff to haul her to safety; Clearsight uses his body to shove her away from the danger, and though she won't think to thank him in the moment, she'll do so later, as without his force, she would not have remembered to move. Clayfur helps Smogbreath, frigid with his fear, so that they can all escape to safety.

She can't think about what's going to happen - how can they leave with Cicadastar? Are the nine lives real? Will he come back? Can he come back if he's pinned there like that?

Foxpaw tumbles weakly between her Clanmates, tears falling and her body racked with silent cries.