sensitive topics my little dark age [ death ]

Jun 16, 2022

The night is cold and Pumpkins nest is anything but warm. She had finally recovered, the pain ebbing away in to a slight throb- she loathes the eye that had been damaged, hates herself for not doing more. Perhaps if she did then Wolf would be here, then she'd still have her eye, she wouldn't be ugly. Restless she rises to her paws, leaves her nest, pushes out of the apprentice den that has not felt like home in what felt like eons. A sigh, which leaves a billow of smoke trail from her lips. The camp is quiet, theres no familiar rustle or chatter from the other annoying warriors that were just too happy. Eyes slide to her fathers den, her last bastion, her eyes close as the urge to pad towards it grow stronger. She instead turns tail, pushes out of the camp- isolating herself, as usual. She's barely talked to others at this point and she turns her head to the stars once she got far enough out.

Theres a thump against her spine and all of the sudden shes pinned, her breath taken away. "What the fuck is wrong with you?!" a furious screech leaves her mouth as she twists and turns to face her attacker. Her face contorts in to fear once she saw who it was, Spiderfall, the fear is replaced with anger. "I'm gonna fucking kill you, thats what im gonna do!" his face is shrouded in the dark and she barely recognizes him if it weren't for the pale moonlit glow that illuminated his pelt from behind. Claws unsheathe- she'd get her revenge. Paws swing back and forth as she manages to wiggle out, she catches skin and tears, blood spattering her face and her chest. White fur is red once more, and she springs towards him with blind fury.

His claws catch her throat with expert precision. Choked agony gurgles from her lips as the blood sprays from her neck, wounds reopened. Shes slumping to the ground before she knows it, its getting extremely hard to breathe, oh, what has she done this time? Shes vaguely aware of her scruff being grabbed and shes choking again, paws barely move as she tries to bring them to close the wound. Water. Shes submerged in water and shes facing up and the water is all red and shes terrified and all she wants is her dad. All anger had washed away, now replaced with coldblooded terror. Her vision fades in and out as a paw holds on to her throat; Pumpkin can barely struggle, weak paws hitting long legs but to no avail.

Black pricks the edges of her last good eye and all she can think about is how shes not ready to die, how cruel the world was, how bad she wanted to see Cicadastar one last time- Ashpaws gentle face blurs in to Spiderfalls. She opens her mouth to greet her but its met with a rush of water, bloody, she can taste the copper tang that has become so familiar to her. Before she succumbs, her last thought is of her family, of Frostpaw, of Ashpaw, of Cicadastar- the ones who made her miserable life bearable. Theres a crooked smile that grows on her face, the first one in moons. Her body finally stills, her very soul leaves her; Pumpkinpaw is no longer of the world.

Far away, tiny eyes finally open to greet their mother.

// tldr: spiderfall cut open pumpkins throat & finished the job by drowning her - pumpkin is laying half submerged in the river

Elmbreeze can't claim to have known Pumpkin very well. Despite that, she had been a familiar face around the clan, and one he could recall seeing most days. When the seal mink tom walks past the river he is not expecting to find anything unusual. He just wanted to relax...maybe swim out to the sunningrocks that Mudpelt and Icesparkle's daughter had found. When he spots the half-submerged body of a cat in the river he freezes, eyes going wide with shock. For a moment he remains rooted to the ground, unable to say or do anything but stare. And then he's in the water, rushing into rescue the cat, only recognising the form as Pumpkinpaw when he reaches. "Hang on Pumpkinpaw!" He yells, grabbing ahold of her scruff and dragging her out of the water, not realising his efforts are in vain.

Elmbreeze isn't sure what to think when he tastes the familiar copper tang of blood in his mouth. He blames it on himself, believing that he had bit down too hard as he dragged her out, again not realising she was already dead. It is only when he successfully gets her onto the safety of the riverbank that he realises the true horror of the situation. His aqua eyes land on her cut throat and the blood staining her chest - though most was washed away by the water. "P-P-Pumpkinpaw?" He stammers, barely managing to get the words out before he turns away sharply and vomits on the riverbank.

He is once again training hard, running himself ragged outside of camp. He is a blur of brown and white through the river reeds and plants, paying little attention to his surroundings. But a shout of Pumpkinpaw’s name catches his attention, and he changes course immediately. He pushes through the water, crossing the river, and charges in the direction of the other tom’s voice. When the scene comes into view, though, he freezes.

The clan has faced hard times. Clay is no stranger to the struggle of losing friends; whether to age, illness, or war, he has lost a few friends before. But never like this—never a child wounded by some stranger, and left in the current of the uncaring, life-giving river.

"Oh…" He watches the other warrior vomit—he feels the urge to do so himself. He has to look away, gaze dropping to the dirt beneath white forepaws.

"Elmbreeze," he chokes out, takes a couple unsteady steps toward the other warrior. "Elm, I—I don’t think she’s…" The lump in his throat grows impossible to speak around, and the tabby warrior shakes his head. He can’t say it, can’t say that she’s dead.

His mind is racing at a speed that he can’t even hope to keep up with. How am I going to tell Cicadastar? Because of course he’ll put himself in that situation, of course he’ll be the messenger, because no one else deserves to deliver such horrible news. He just hopes that the dappled leader won’t stumble upon the scene before they have a chance to clean the blood from her pelt.

He attempts to settle a gentle paw upon Elmbreeze’s shoulder, the smallest comfort that he can offer in the moment. "We need to find Beesong." He doesn’t think Pumpkinpaw is still alive, but even if she is there’s nothing that either of them can do. The medic will know what to do, though. They have to.

Death. It wasn't something that Crawlingroach had much experience dealing with, but that was more so because of his young age. With time he would become accustomed to its icy linger. That haunting spectre that cast its long cold shadow, that no one could evade forever.

The young tom had hoped to spend his day hunting in the river and recovering some of his pride after his last disastrous outing. Though the sound of someone hurling drew his attention. He meandered away from the route he had been taking and he soon emerged through the reeds, but the scene that greeted him caused his blood to run cold. He was frozen to the spot, his eyes wide and betraying his horror.

He felt nothing but sympathy for Elmbreeze as he saw what sort of state he was in. He swallowed hard before mustering up the strength to approach Pumpkinpaw, a part of him clinging to idea that maybe she wasn't truly gone. The second that his paw touched the apprentice's shoulder he came to accept the bitter truth and his heart sank. "I'm so sorry..." He choked out the words with a shiver, his body fumbling to maintain any semblance of composure. "Wh-what happened....? Why would... why has this happened?" He looked towards Clayfur and searched for guidance from the other warrior. "Is... is there anything I could do?"



Frostpaw had noticed, she noticed her friend had gone out, and yet when Pumpkinpaw had not returned, she had grown worried and found herself slipping out of camp and drifting around, trying to find and return her friend. Yet it would be the yells and calls as well as chatters that drew her attention as she quickly came upon the site. Clayfur, Elmbreeze and Crawlingroach all standing over the limp body of her friend and she felt absolutely numb. ", Clayfur...she..." her gaze looked over at Clayfur first with a horrified look before to Elmbreeze who had found her and Crawlingroach asked what happened and why.

Frostpaw would stumble slightly as she pushed her way between the warriors to come to stand by her friend. "Pumpkinpaw? Please...Please you have to be okay" she expressed weakly before looking at the other with a look of pleading in her eyes. This can't be happening, this had to be a dream. "She's fine, it's fine...She has to be okay...maybe we're not too late maybe we can still safe her" the girl frantically began saying, panic rising in her throat. This was her fault wasn't it? She'd still be alive if she had kept her mouth shut.

"Pumpkinpaw, please...please wake up" the young apprentice can plead, it was moments like this she wish she could help, what if she had been here earlier? Would Pumpkinpaw still be with them? Her tail lashed in frustration as she looked back towards the warriors, tears beginning to bud on the young apprentice's bi-color eyes. "Why would starclan do this?" her voice was almost hushed, her heart sinking, was this punishment? If so, she wanted to apologize to Pumpkinpaw, she wanted to see her again, she did not want to say goodbye to the other apprentice, nor did she want Ashpaw to see this at all.

The shock of finding Pumpkinpaw, and finding her in such a horrific state, leaves Elmbreeze numb to everything else is going on around him until he feels a paw on his shoulder. He blinks, and turns slowly to see who had touched him, and finds Clayfur looking at him comfortingly. He doesn't get to respond before Crawlingroach and Frostpaw appeared. Much like himself, Crawlingroach's initial reaction seemed to one of shock and mute horror. Frostpaw is notably more distressed.

In her frazzled state, she began to speak about how maybe it wasn't too late to save her. Elmbreeze can do nothing but stare back in sympathy. A part of him wants to believe she could be saved, but he had seen how her body had looked in the water, how limp she was beneath his grip, the blood-stained fur, and the gash at her throat. Elmbreeze wasn't the wisest cat around but even he knew it was much too late to save the poor apprentice. "I'll....I'll go find Beesong," He mews softly, swallowing the lump in his throat that forms from witnessing this sad scene. His gaze rests on Pumpkinpaw before looking to Clayfur and Crawlingroach for advice. "What should I say to him? I have no idea how to explain this."

Time is still moving fluidly around him, both slow and too fast at the same time. His pulse is roaring in his ears, tears are pricking at his eyes, and his chest heaves with each ragged breath he takes. He’s beginning to panic. He looks around for a few moments as Crawlingroach speaks, hoping to spot a dark-furred form in the trees. Whether it be Willowroot, Cicadastar, Smoke—any of them would know what to do.

He looks wide-eyed to Crawlingroach, trying to ignore the buzzing in his ears. "Uh, I…" Shit, why is he being asked what the other warrior can do to help? He’s not smart, he’s not helpful, he’s not. He’s not a leader, he’s not a healer, he’s the guy who’s choking back noises of distress and trying to keep it together. He’s the guy who will sit vigil for the she-cat tonight and tomorrow and probably until he’s dragged to his nest by some well-meaning clanmate. Hazel eyes flit between Pumpkin’s body and Crawlingroach, uncertain. "Maybe we can try to… to stop the bleeding?" He racks his brain for any sort of solution. "Maybe if we use leaves it will—it can help?"

He doesn’t know how to tell whether she’s already dead. He doesn’t know how to explain the sinking feeling in his gut that says it’s too late to help her in any way.

And Frostpaw—she shouldn’t have to see this, shouldn’t have to find out this way, firsthand. She should be back in camp when she receives the news, told by Cicadastar in that leaderly tone he uses for meetings. Or perhaps informed by Smokethroat, whose gruffness is reassuring in its own way. She shouldn’t have to see the waterlogged, bloodsoaked state of her fellow apprentice. Clayfur steps closer to the gray apprentice, dropping his head as he attempts to rub his cheek against the top of her head. "I… I don’t know why this happened. It isn’t anyone’s fault, though." He can’t lie and say that it will be okay, but he knows how it feels to carry the weight of guilt, the weight of another’s death when it feels like that fault is his own. Frostpaw doesn’t deserve to bear that weight.

Elmbreeze volunteers to go seek out Beesong, but turns back to glance between the two other warriors. He wants to know what he should say. Clay wishes there were an easy answer. "Tell him that it’s Pumpkinpaw," he takes a deep breath, attempting to still the trembling of his paws, his legs, his everything. He can’t stop shaking. His whole body’s gone cold—just like the apprentice’s. "I don’t think she’s alive."

Where the hell was everyone. Organizing a hunting patrol before it got too dark was impossible when there were no cats present to call on, his orange eyes had swept the camp in quick, sharp glances before finally deciding to head out and see what was keeping his clanmates so preoccupied as to meander about in the territory. Quite a few of them had already gone off on hunts and there was on patrol out already-it was a lot to keep up with and he found himself irritable everytime he had to sit and sort those out in his head. Were it not for Willowroot he doubted anything would get done, he would have gotten frustrated and given up on the task instead were it not for her careful suggestions and nudges.

There are several cats gathered on the river's edge as he finally gets there, his tail lashed in annoyance as his paws carry him over, mouth opening to speak a roughly worded demand to know what was going on but the words catch in his throat at the sudden influx of copper-scent that strikes him as the wind shifts. He does not see the red on the pebbled stones until too late, finds himself freezing midstep and his expression quickly darkened.
Orange fur, dampened crimson and blending into the puddle slowly pooling around her, the unmistakeable form of Pumpkinpaw partially submerged with cats crowding around her motionless form, heads dipped and bowed as if the branches of a willow tree bending to the weight of the world.
Frostpaw looks especially small there, sobbing and crying into her friend like a kitten newly born and screaming into the air for attention; but the attention she so desperately seeks will never come. In silence the shadow pushes himself forward until he is close enough to observe more proper, head lowering and muzzle going into the uncut side of the young cat's throat where he waits for a moment for the fluttering pulse of life only to meet a stillness he is all to painfully familiar with. The dark warrior raises his head back up, gives a quick tactical glance at the cats gathered and decides their next course of action as best he can. He's too busy thinking about how he never got to apologize to her for having upset her, how she will never get to earn her warrior name, how Cicadastar has already had so much blood spill into his clan that he might yet drown in it at this rate...
Elmbreeze is offering to return to camp, asks what to say and he falters before the bard speaks up instead with a bluntness he is not accustomed to the other having.
Smokethroat's mouth opens and closed a few times before he is able to get the words out, "Clayfur...", his orange gaze finds the brown tom's expression softening because he can not find it in him to pull up his usual sharp mask of duty and stoicism. "...thank you. We...she's gone. Can you stay with Frostpaw...?" He wasn't about to force his apprentice away from her slain friend, she needed to be allowed to grieve as much as she wanted but they did need to prepare...somewhat. "Crawlingroach we need....come with me?" A hole. A grave. How many of those had he dug so far? Some far too small at times. Once Beesong had prepared her and the clan had said goodbye, she needed a place to finally rest.


Stop the bleeding? Crawlingroach tightened his jaw as he stared with hardened focus at the open wound, now clogged with thickened crimson. A pointless endeavour now, one he didn't bother to even start. The tom stiffened all the more when Frostpaw fell into anguish, a contrast to her usual merry demeanour. Seeing this side of her... it broke his heart. His regret in that moment was not moving to comfort her, but he remained locked up where he was. Thankfully Clayfur went to her.

The young warrior lifted his gaze when Smokethroat's voice cut through the haze of his grief stricken mind, and on numb paws he rose up and prepared himself to follow the lead warrior. "Y-yes...." He didn't know exactly what the other wanted him to do, but having a purpose in that moment was all he wanted.

Beesong has learned to differentiate between the screams of the injured and the screams of the mourning. It is a skill that he has never wanted, but rather was thrust upon him by a life too cruel. If he thinks too long on it, he realizes that would be the same for every skill he has. So he doesn't think about it much. Some things are better off buried deep.

At least it saves him the effort of gathering up herbs that would end up useless. Beesong's lips quirk into a bitter smile at the thought. When had he become so desperate to cling onto optimism that he tries to find it in the most macabre of places?

The smile doesn't stay for long. They never do, nowadays. Anxiety coils tight within their abdomen; had Spiderfall come back? Had the cruel warrior kept true to his promise? Would they have to prepare Mandrakepaw's body for a burial?

The healer's functional ear has great difficulty with pinpointing the sounds of grief, but after a few heartbeats of fumbling around, there is an NPC who scurries towards them with frantic mutterings. Beesong manages to catch the important tidbits; Pumpkinpaw. Not breathing. Lots of blood. It wasn't Mandrakepaw. The healer indulges in a moment of selfishness, letting out a breath they hadn't realized had been withheld. At least it wasn't Mandrakepaw.

But it was still an innocent cat. A child, no less. The momentary relief passes, and quick to take it's place is a simmering anger. No cat deserves death. Especially not a child. Beesong doesn't know who, or what, they're angry at. StarClan, the world, or whatever had murdered Pumpkinpaw. But with each step closer, the flames burn brighter.

Beesong wishes that he could say that the gruesome scene in front of him shocks him without it being a lie. It scares him to think that this profession is stripping him of his humanity. Pumpkinpaw, her neck slit and half-submerged in water. As if cutting her throat open wasn't enough... Blood stains the water a sickly shade of crimson. Beesong sighs through his nose. Too young... He'd never even properly apologized to her for snapping at her, had he?

With a lump in his throat, Beesong blinks at the warriors gathered. "Help me move her body back to camp, please."