kingdom come & . return

cw for brief gore + disassociation.

− ♱ ABOUT : he awakes.

his death had been indescribable. the bright, white - hot light he'd been thrust into, the one that unspooled his soul and left him gutted, flayed and unsightly . . he'd rested there. there, in that blinding heat. limbo. not god nor devil was he, neither starclan nor the darkness should he go. his suspension — speared, pinned like an insect beneath a watchful eye, pinned and drained. death had been oddly cold ; an inner chill, a draft where one should not reach bringing a hollow whistle between splintered larynx, bubbling with blood. fate was cruel, crueler than him, crueler than the vengeful paw of his mother, of his enemies. he’d been thrusted into starclan after moments of seeping, unable to act beyond watching his clanmates scramble for their lives, to listen to the steady spatter of his insides against the slick ground below. his vision dims only when the last of the patrol dips from sight, clayfur tugging smogbreath along at the tail end. foxpaw, his charge — her eyes haunt him even in his first, conscious moments. clearsight had taken her with him, his touch still singed into his fur. a goodbye.

rebirth had been worse.

the star - laden cat before him had offered him a soft, pitying look as life floods back into him and his eyes blur, the wavering feline before him dissipating into the unfurling fog — clawed his broken pieces together, forced them to stick. a quack surgery it was, like stone shards in his veins, but slowly — slowly — he'd been remade. something solid again, something unlike he'd been before. scars old and new line the soft edges of his fresh physique, the wound that had splintered his throat only hours prior sealed. he thinks of memories drowned in a vase of hyacinth petals, voice spilling dust, how the florets in his chest twine and twine. he relates to the way they choke, strangulation in it's purest form and he, too, is undefined. he, too, is more than this body. the earth doesn’t drink of blood today, only of fresh water — but the same cannot be said for him. he still tastes it ; the viscera that ripped its way up the hollow of his throat, spattered onto smokethroat, clearsight, iciclepaw.

pallid eyes blink open and he is. . somewhere dark and cramped. the walls around him move with the wind, like too - big leaves, shaded the color of damp soil. his heart drops as he realizes, the stench of twoleg too strong. sickening. the man stumbles to his paws, limbs forced to steady and stand, shaking like a newborn upon untrodden paws. their nest. he was in their nest. they brought him back, tucking him in this little hole where the walls smell of death and rot. the heady scent of blood and something deeper, smokey and metallic amongst the reeking stench of an upwalker. as the man’s eyes adjust, he can see the slightest sliver in closed walls, early morning light casting a billowing white glow across the covered ground. an escape. with a quickness he’d rarely exhibited outside of battle, the mottled leader shoved his arched nose through the sliver and shoves through. late greenleaf wafts over him in gusts, maw parting and gasping lungful after lungful of crisp, morning air. he was alive. he was alive again.

the area around him was immediately familiar. towering nests, making odd flapping sounds in the late greenleaf air. the curled fur along his spine bristles, wide, pale eyes skittering over the open land before him. it was a flat clearing, with patches of bare, pale dirt, grass worn thin and broken by overuse. small, strong black sticks jut haphazardly from the ground, pinning nests where they weren’t simply discarded, lying half - overtaken with moss in the undergrowth. in the very middle lie a cluster of splintering, charred wood, the scent of smoky prey wafting heavily from its flickering embers. nervously, cicadastar creeps forward, crouching lower and lower to the ground with each nearing stride. the scent of prey grows stronger yet — calling him forward, beckoning him by his empty, grumbling stomach. just around the charred logs lie a small pile of hare ; skinned red, drained, their pelts lying draped over one of the bigger, toppled trees around the small stick - pit. he blinks : once. twice. a single glance around tells him that the twolegs are not present, and their prey . . was perfectly ripe for the taking. picking one of the hares up by its semi - exposed spine, the tom lifts, striding forward without another glance back.

the walk home is made in near silence ; nothing but the call of birds and snapping of twigs underfoot, pale blue eyes staring forward. unwavering. unblinking. he’d died, just as starclan had said ; they’d gifted him nine lives, and all the excruciating pain that came with it. he felt too light, now. reset. his body no longer aches with exhaustion, with restlessness. he felt youthful, brimming with ceaseless energy. he feels numb. as the tall, dark leader of riverclan pushes through the reed lining the entrance to his home, he slows. he stills. he burns. something violent crawls it’s way up his throat, guttural and horrible. a sob. it never reaches his maw, head lifting high, aquiline muzzle tipping skyward to keep back tears — trauma lines each tense, trembling muscle. for a moment, he seems to stand strong. until his body wavers, visibly — as if shaken by the wind, landing heavily on the opposite paw, seeming dazed. he wanted his children. he wanted clearsight, wanted beesong, even. he wanted to see smokethroat, foxpaw — to see them okay, not hunted as he had been. speared and taken to rot, harvested like the scraps around those charred logs.

the hare falls from his sloped maw, unceremoniously.

the river phantom has returned.

  • he is very visibly in shock
  • 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.

Tears have not stopped since Pumpkin had returned to the medicine den. She had refused to speak, only offering nods or shakes of the head. She could not eat and every single time she tried to it reminded her of what Smokethroat said, skewered on a tree. It was enough to make her vomit, lose any appetite she had for what felt would be the rest of her life. She’d hang her head and sob every single time the thought hit her brain, christ, she had lost two parents. She had lost her dad. The only one who loved her in a way only a parent could, so unlike mother who was callous, claws tearing open cheeks when she had pissed her off.

She needs air again, she feels like shes gonna die herself and so she stumbles out of the medicine den unceremoniously. Theres a figure that resembles Cicadastar too much standing in camp. “Dad?” her voice is barely above a whisper, sunset eyes set wide upon a face of disbelief. Theres a gored rabbit at his paws, his eyes are cloudy and for a second she thinks its a nightmare. Zombies… zombie Cicada, he’d come back for her, he’s gonna kill everyone. She swallows hard and screws her eyes shut to keep the thoughts out.

No matter how uncomfortable the thought was, she decided that even if he was undead, she just… She just wanted her dad. She pads forth and aims to rest her head against his forelegs, tears welling up in her eyes. A miracle. She had no words to speak, nothing would tumble out of her mouth but a choked sob. She had been so scared, she thought he truly died, he didn’t come back at first and she gasps for air, searching for emotion in his face as tears flow freely. “You’re home,” its choked, caught in her throat, shes shaking like a leaf. “You’re okay,” she whispers. Shes not sure how to comfort him. How to bring him back from this. “I’ve got you.” so she says the same thing he had said to her and aims to press herself against him in a large hug. She loved him, loves him so fiercely, so glad to see him back home.
  • Love

the camp was silenced by grief. it hung over them like darkened clouds, and everyone is tender with unknowing and worry. some cats bury themselves in their workload, trying their hardest to fill a void they never thought would appear. others simply try and sleep it away, escaping in their dreamland was a lot better than facing reality. few can't sleep at all. not a single blink, but even then they can't bring themselves to hunt or even do patrols. why would they, when they very possibly could end up becoming of the same fate that their gracious leader had? it's bitter. there is nothing sweet about this loss. he is looked up to. admired. and he was supposed to be protected. he was supposed to be safe. that was the clans job, right? the leader leads and the warriors protect. and that extended to him. so why didn't they? and why did they leave him there? had they no mercy? had they truly not cared for him as they so said they had?

quietpaw has asked themself that over and over. had they been there, would it have been different? unlikely. highly unlikely. quietpaw was useless. what the hell would she have done any differently? she was near enough to the scene to know the gorey details and smell the blood that sprayed their pelts, even if they hadn't known it. again, they've failed. hownmany times has it been now that they've been faced with the cold dead body of someone they loved? why was this the fate the stars chose to give her, and how come she couldn't do anything to stop it? it hurt. more than anything, it hurt that she couldn't do anything? maybe if beesong was there, cicadastar would be okay. maybe. but only the stars knew... and right now they whispered of his horrid, and twisted, murder. the stars were cruel, and the fate strings they tugged at were even crueler.

quietpaw is silent as they drop a fish onto the kill pile. it's not much but quiet hadn't the energy to do much. they can't sleep. not without cicada. not without know that he is resting peacefully, even in the afterlife. that was her papa. and she missed him. it isn't until an unusually familiar scent hits their nose that they lift their gaze, jaws parting as they picked apart every scent that swam through the air. this... had to be some sick joke. they were there, they were all there and they said that he was dead! oddly enough, quietpaw is unsure if he isn't. he walks into camp, sure, but he looks like a ghost. a shell of himself. empty. hollow. like a see through version of himself. there is something wrong. why does he look like that? cicadastar didn't look like that. it's offputting. it's unsettling. it shakes quietpaw to their core, but they need to say something. they have to do something. they need to help him, even if they couldn't help before. be useful, quietpaw. speak up. speak up for once! use your damned words!

she winces at the harsh voice that echos in her head, lifting a paw towards their throat. there were so many cats around. so many chances that speaking up could get them killed, but in a split moment, for the first time since their parents were slain, she speaks in front of many.

"p-papa... y-you need t-to... you're... a-alive.."

she desperately wanted to usher him to beesong, but right now... she isn't sure if her brain would let her speak anymore. that was enough. her papa was home, and she surely would never be upset with him again... as long as he came home.


Frostpaw had been unsure how to truly react, as she wasn't close with their leader but she still had a form of respect for the tom and even looked up to him. She had been in shock when she heard of the events to unfold when the patrol had returned and the deep-rooted fear that the clan had been left...leaderless. Everyone was grieving it felt as if there was a sort of silence that had been not been able to be fulfilled but... here they were. Pumpkinpaw and Quietpaw were the first to usher to the side of their leader, and father but Frostpaw stood there frozen in shock. What could she do in this situation? Their leader was...alive, somehow and she didn't understand anything.

Blinking blankly towards the two while a shocked look stayed on her face "Let's try not to crowd him..." her voice was hushed, perhaps even inaudible. What could she do? This wasn't her place, no- Riverclan wasn't her home, and by the stars how many times had she remind herself this? Spider's shadow, his protege, the one to always be seen by the other warrior but... If, if she did not help would they be suspicious of her? The girl shook her head as she made her approach the others with a heavy hesitant paw. "Let...let me help you guys get him to Beesong" she said, her voice more audible this time but shaky.

What could she do? Frostpaw didn't belong here and she would understand if the crowd pushed her out the way. All she had been causing problems for Cicadastar since the beginning. When the Windclan had come on their patrol, she had shown to be someone who was willing to speak up on matters she did not know. When Foxpaw had lashed out at Ashpaw for...for being a kit Frostpaw did nothing to prevent it, nor when Beesong had broken down and started crying. All she was doing was getting in the way, but for the moment... she was just happy he was alive and she didn't understand why she was glad, perhaps...perhaps Riverclan was...her home? "I...I am so glad you're alive Cicadastar" she stuttered out to the male, forcing a smile on her maw. Everything is going to be okay...right? "Y-you're safe now" she gently placed in as well, even though perhaps these were words he'd like to hear from someone else.


riverclan warrior. 32 moons. tags

He had stared into the growing darkness for hours.

He'd sat at the entrance, guarded, waited. Farewell tears were the cost for a welcome home and Cicadastar would have a welcome home. Because he would come back; Willowroot had assured them all, warrior's voice steady as the river, "he will return to us"-- and so had Clayfur, pressing into his side, "He'll come back, honey, he'll come back."

But the night wore on. The darkness encroached. The sky faded to inky black.

Stars blinked into view, but Clearsight kept his eyes fixed on the forest. Cicadastar was not among them yet, he told himself, heart thundering.

Finally his clanmates had guided him to bed, Ravendusk insisting he get some rest. Clayfur had pulled him away, had ushered him to a den and a nest, spoken gentle words that Clearsight barely heard-- had helped him clean the red stains from his fur, more tender than Clearsight had ever known the man to be. And he'd tried to sleep, exhaustion dragging his bones to the ground, but closing his eyes met visions of a body's worth of blood and icecap eyes empty. Maybe he'd managed a fitful hour or two, but the majority of that night Clearsight had lain awake, dull yellow eyes staring into the dark.

So he is awake when morning comes, cool and quiet but for birdsong.

He hears footsteps-- then soft words exchanged, children's voices choked by tears, and oh stars, that scent. It can't be-- but it has to be. Hope shoots through his chest, his legs, propelling the blue-streaked warrior to his feet-- he stumbles into the open air and stares for a moment, breath caught, flaxen-gold eyes wide as moons.

At the camp entrance stands a smoke-dappled tom, three little ones the first to greet him.

Icecap eyes stare glassy into the distance. The man stands strong, always so strong, but wavers moments later in a way that Clearsight has only seen once. Oh, stars above. Clearsight doesn't realize he is moving until his own snow-tipped paws scrape the sand, scrambling closer.

"Cicada," he rasps, too shot with exhaustion and relief to remember formality, dropping the -star in a shortening that should really be reserved for cats with closer ties than he. He is careful to step around the apprentices, leaves room for Pumpkinpaw's embrace and for Quietpaw and Frostpaw to stand close-- he comes up to Cicadastar's other side and, if the tom will let him, presses his trembling nose into mottled black fur, then ducks to rub his head against the man's shoulder in a tender hello.

"Cicada," he repeats, sounding wrecked, fresh tears forming in sunlight eyes. He steps back on shaking legs, takes a steadying breath-- "try not to crowd him" stammers Frostpaw, and Clearsight's eyes crinkle fondly at how determined these little ones are to take care of their leader. The way he's taken care of them.

The blue tabby trembles as he speaks again, but maintains composure out of necessity if nothing else.

"The little 'paws are right, beloved," he says softly, brimming with barely-contained emotion. He doesn't notice the endearment until it's already slipped out, and he can't bring himself to care. "Let's get you to Beesong." He glances down and murmurs, "You all did so well. Could one of you run to fetch them, so I can help him walk?"

He's not sure the tom will need it-- he did walk all the way here-- but he wavers, now, like the wind might bowl him over. Escaping a twoleg camp, hunted like prey-- adrenaline might've been the only thing Cicadastar was running on, and that comes at the cost of a crash. So Clearsight will stand here, ready to catch and support the mottled tom should he need to.

Stars above. Nine lives.

Heart-rending grief and weak-kneed relief have left him wrung out, and Clearsight can only keep standing, waiting to help, eyes tracing over Cicadastar's form again and again and again. Alive, alive, alive.

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He's a kitten again, standing at the side of a concrete curb and unsure where to go from here.
The mottled RiverClan leader is at the edge of camp with a rabbit at his paws like he'd just gone for a hunt and nothing more, there are kittens clambering around him and Clearsight who wails just as vocally as one.
Smokethroat does not move from where he stands several tail lengths away.

"Cicadastar…" The other tom is alive and he breathes his name out like gospel, like he's just witnessed a miracle before his very eyes and in a sense he had. Smokethroat had seen the sharp claw through the storm-colored leader's neck, how it had only taken seconds for the life to drip and drain from the man onto the forest floor; he truly did have nine lives in this case, or StarClan was playing a cruel joke.
If he was a spirit here to haunt him then it would be rightfully deserved.
The white-spotted warrior does not rush forward as the others do to greet their revived king, does not even move from where he stands stiffly off to the side like a statue carved of obsidian. He's afraid if he blinks the illusion will shatter, the dream will end, Cicadastar will be a bloodied pelt on the ground dragged in by a patrol.
But he's real, his eyes no longer hold that glassy, haunted state of faded echoes and frozen rivers. There’s a fright to that cold-touched gaze now, what it must be like to die was a question he never wanted answered…

He wants to go out and touch, to make sure he was not just seeing things from stress or lack of sleep, that his mind was still intact and not lying to him in his warped sense of guilt and horror.
Smokethroat knows he has to say something, anything, because if he doesn't he might just burst into countless pieces as the words left unsaid finally bubble up to the surface and erupt.
"I'm s.." His voice caught in a hiss, talking had never been his strong suit and he was certainly struggling now, "I'm sorry…I'm sorry…"
Say something else, anything else, he's telling himself now that his apologies were useless and unwanted but he doesn't have the mental fortitude to offer anything else; he's exhausted, "I'm sorry…I'm sorry..I'm s-ss…"
Smokethroat had full control of himself and his emotions at all times, he'd been forged in fire and bent with shadows into a cat who maintained the most stern of expressions, who didn't bat an eye at anything, but he was tired of it. So tired of keeping up this grim display of indifference, it left him nearly catatonic-all he could utter was the broken and formless apology over and over again; it felt like he was in a waking dream or perhaps even a nightmare. None of it felt real. Nine lives. StarClan. He watched this cat die. Despite having washed it away the feeling of dried blood on his face was still there.
'I left you.' He mouthed, but could not force the words to the surface.

the growing commotion is what draws buckgait from her watcher, although she knows he will close the distance. a bit off from the others, but the view is clear. something in buck knew that the towering leader would return, something about how the heavens have blessed him with far more lives than any other. she's heard rumor of it, but seeing it in person is strange. but she supposes that means there's no need to fret or worry over a cat such as he.

the community he built swarms him, bees quick to flood their queen and see to it that she is alive and okay. buckgait does not budge or weep. does not rush to him, but simply watches them all. the hare that lays upon the ground, still and devoid of any life. the leader, still standing after what has happened to him. the immediate relief that floods the camp.

she has nothing to say to him. she does not welcome him back, does not hold him. truly, she didn't even need to see him. cicadastar would have returned, even if the sun fell. he would not leave them be. the emotion drives buckgait out, she feels nothing worthy of noting. she simply heads to beesong, to fulfill the request clearsight had barked out. beesong will have more to do here than she would.

Foxpaw worries at first that this isn't Cicadastar at all - it's some strange phantom, a shade of the leader she'd been apprenticed too, the cat she'd followed blindly and loyally away from all she'd known into the riverlands. He stares almost vacantly, seeming almost to exist on some other realm beneath theirs.

Her fur rises on her neck, but only slightly. He's home. Even if he's not the same, he's home. She can't expect him to be the same, right? No one is the same after they die. He's lucky he can come back instead of get buried under dirt.

Lucky. Maybe that isn't the right word, but Foxpaw isn't sure what would be.

The other apprentices lead him away, peppering him with parental words and reassurances. Foxpaw stares after them, feeling strange but relieved. As long as Beesong can help their leader return to himself, then things will be okay.

Won't they?

( ) just as they had promised their clan only a day ago, struggling to comfort distraught children, cicadastar is home. he slopes into camp, prey, of all things, clutched in his maw, the snowy silver on his pelt crimson hued and dirty. he looks absolutely horrid, and he's also the most welcome sight willowroot has seen. she hurries from the warriors' den, brushing against buckgait as the woman takes in the arrival as well. as her friend turns with little emotion, the smoke will trail their tail along the earthen woman's spine, watching as she sets off to fetch beesong. letting her gaze linger for a moment on her friend, she then pads forth, moving to situate herself beside smokethroat, heart aching as she catches the last of his apologies.

silver tipped fur blends with dark ashen black as the two lead warriors stand side by side, watching their clan greet the king returned. willowroot nudges her fellow softly with her shoulder, blinks comfort even as she knows the man will not find it in her. "welcome home, cicadastar." is all she will say, offering the frosted night hued tom a nod. she's known since the start that he'll return. there will be time to debrief later, time to explain to him everything he missed and to say thank the stars you're home. for now, wil supports her friend and aches with relief.

He's here. Bloodstained, dirtied, but alive.

Beesong stumbles from their den, full-blown aqua eyes meeting glassy icecaps. "Cicada-" They choke out, and then they realize their weakness. A sharp breath is sucked into their lungs, the trembling of their paws forced to slow as muscles tensed uncomfortably tight. Their eyes rake over Cicadastar once more, this time searching, probing. The distance between the leader and healer is closed swiftly, and Beesong circles around him, seeking out any injuries that he sustained. There is none. The cinnamon feline lets out a low hum of confusion, but a sigh of relief pushes it's way from their nose in the same heartbeat.

They do notice the scar tissue that parts frosted fur on Cicadastar's throat, and they presume that is what brought his demise. StarClan has done a good job of patching it. So it's true, then. Beesong's mind wanders for a split second. The leaders do have nine lives.

"Come into my den," It starts out as a demand with the knowledge that, despite his physical wounds being healed, Cicadastar still needs treatment for the trauma that remains. But the words flutter from his lips, and Beesong's heart falters in beating momentarily. He has forgotten who he is speaking to. His superior. His cinnamon head ducks down, a silent plead for forgiveness. Even with Cicadastar's dazed demeanor, Beesong cannot stop the expectancy of a hit for his impudence. "Please, sir."