SHED SKIN — joining


who lurks shadows
Jul 30, 2022
🕸️ She'd died and sunk to an underworld. Or her blood was roiling with venoms, spider or scorpion or snake, and his last glimpse of chitin or scale-mottle reflected a mirage off his shriveled nerves like heat on shimmering hills.

How else would all this come to be: slithering dark and damp, fleshy earth clumping where dry blood once crackled off and sand once flecked. Thumping wind and wing-beats became a low croon of crawlers unknown. Branches snarled taller than rock and sky, vermin skittering their thistles and thorns and roots bright as breathing stars. Yet she couldn't catch their scent in the sheer thickness—only their ghosts, though her nose had toughed scraping gales. Ghosts, slinking every hackle, trickles and grazes and gleams snaking into skin, bones, teeming and warm but in a way he'd never endured.

A twisted mirror of all her dune-bound moons. Trite as a kit's nightmare, she snorts.

But the thought snarled into a smile, as it had with every begrudging-step-turned-determined-trudge. Trite, but infuriatingly thrilling. Like tales that long ago enchanted him—hounds and serpents sprouting feathers, taking to flight, conquering both land and sky. Unchained terror. Worlds in their claws. Her claws. Trite, but real.

Perhaps this was what he needed all along. What he was made for—the far-travelled awe of a myth. So when the ghosts coalesce, and unmistakably, a cat is on her trail—all too close for her liking, but no matter for now—she gnarls around with her biggest grin, prized bone swiveled to the scarred corner of her maw, stare hunting for eyes to skewer.

"Hey. I wanna live 'ere." A bark like a mutt, low but light. Strength but no strain. Shoulders rolled, toes digging, teeth glittering atop her pose like a hawk looking down from its jag. Sharp as you can. Show 'em who you are before your words even tick through their heads. No matter how far filthy twolegs tossed her from home, she'd make it work. "Who'd I needa swap claws with to get a nest?"
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"Swap claws with?" The infernal woman whose pelt blended with ease within the sparse foliage of the marsh steps forth like a viper ready to strike. Her burning gaze snapped upon the stranger who has invaded this space, her home. She does not enjoy the idea of strangers but her sister welcomes them, says they are to be accepted for a time before they close down what they consider as their own. She flexes her claws against the ground then, tail swaying back and forth before a soft snort finally leaves the tall figure of shade and light. "You'll be dragged across this marsh twice before you can do anything at all." The molly does not sugarcoat anything, never has been able to and the scars on her body give truth to her words. The fight she's endured and much more. Still she looks upon the other with a calmness before she allows her gaze to look away from the other and a soft sigh leaves her muzzle. This time, this time she will not bear her claws or snap her teeth.

"If you are so keen on staying here then follow me. I'll talk to my leader, see her thoughts. You can meet her I suppose." With that said the molly beckons the other to follow her, silently stepping along the driest parts of the ground, silent as the grave. If they do follow it doesn't take as much time to find her home, her gaze looming over her shoulder to watch the feline before she finally calls out to her sister. "Briar, we have someone who wishes to join. I know what you said but I think your approval is necessary."

Steadily, their numbers were beginning to grow again. Briar still felt the pang of betrayal from those who had left the marshes even though she promised not to hold a grudge against them. It was hard getting used to new faces, but she would manage. With time, they would become family too.

The familiar voice of her sister drew her from a light nap. After discovering her pregnancy, she had grown tired and it was hard for her to perform her duties with her swelling belly. She raised her head and padded out of her den to greet her sister and the newcomer. Her tail flicked as she studied the feline with curious yet dull eyes. "I'm Briar. Who're you?" she asked the molly. She didn't see any reason to turn this one away, so she kept her tone light.
🕸️ Her shouts are snared by a tall slink from the shadows, claws and tail rattling fans to the flame of snake-eyes' glare in poisonous grace. Well, shit. Off his ground, already outmatched in the menacing composure category—in hidden scorn she gnaws her trinket before twisting her act around. A playful curl wiggles her ears, slithering down smoothed hackles and a tip-twirling tail, though her stare still narrowed. Obnoxious nonchalance would have to do (though that snipe at dragging him around begged his temper for obnoxious savagery).

"I'd like to see you try," she jabs back from jowls slack with a doggish smile. A taunt brews on his tongue, a paw twitches to kindle a circling gait ... but the stranger snuffs the threat to a sheathed invitation to the leader of these lands. Huh. All bark and no bite, he almost leaps to sneer, but smothers it to a snort. Best not to poke any sleeping snakes yet. Tense, she instead lurks along, mind whirring with notes of waterlogged traps and dry paths, should an ambush snap from the shade with teeth at her skin.

But there is no ambush, not even another word until ghosts of scents and steps coalesce to the source—a camp of sorts. And there, the leader, while the lackey spouts something about joining. Joy. Ranks to get tangled up with before they split by hiss and battle, worn out from inside or out. Bonds, by blood or will, tended to do that. He meets this Briar's query with a grin uncommitted to any emotion.

"Burrow." A pause tails her grunt, little rib swaying on her tongue, as she measures precious words to unveil. "I wanna live in these 'ere lands." That was enough. An ear swats a pest, dwells, then flattens in unease at the mix of serenity and being surrounded. "... so, what's the catch?"
Briar's ears flicked as the feline introduced herself. She spends another moment studying here as she explains that she would like to join ShadowClan and asks what the catch is. Briar lets out a soft sigh. Too many catches to name, she wants to say but she pushes the thought out of her mind. "You would swear loyalty to ShadowClan, give your life for us if need be," she says. "Frankly, we need more members to hunt and fight for us. I can't promise it'll be easy but you look like you've been on your own long enough, so I'm sure you know that."

She knows she does not make an inviting case, but she hopes that strength in numbers is enough of a pull to get this feline to join them. The comradery, the sense of security within a well-guarded camp, nothing could quite beat that. "You'd hunt and fight for us. You'll follow our rules. In return, you will have ShadowClan's loyalty and friends always at your side."
☠️ Loyalty—he kills a hatchling scowl with a tongue-swipe of snaggleteeth, a claw's flick of an imaginary fleck from eyes. There was no word he savored more in his own oaths. There was no word she hated more in the maws of others, this hellspawn of the flippancy of swearing luck by the stars' paths and the gravity of reality. Swearing, that was all it was—treated like a spirit to slave away for its summoner. Test loyalty, and if it didn't work for them, it was tossed like any other myth. Broken, traded, frailly redefined.

True loyalty was a second heart and they'd all gouge it out to sleep easy, only to bleed out from the wound of their own weakness. Their loss, she'd laugh, had they not so often torn down those of true potential with them.

"Hm," he sounds, swatting off the feeding fly-swarm of mind's bitter monologue. The slipped-in rules made this deal more maggots than meat. But.

"Fine. Call me a ... clanner." She'd loan them tooth and nail, hungers for prey and war. And when they crumbled to the winds like any determined print in the sands, she'd slink off, scarred by keeping her promises until their bonds' last breath but alive. Alone until it happens all over again. Some things never changed, no matter the lands. But at the end of it all, he'd be the one standing stronger.

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    ── They've had a few interesting people flock to ShadowClan for one reason or another, and in all honesty, Roseal wishes there were even fewer. Not for any malicious or vindictive reasons, despite his many, many reservations about the entirety of the creeper vine business; more hunters, as Briar said, are definitely useful to keep eking out an existence in this marsh, harsh as it is for anyone who doesn't ribbit or fly. He won't say whether he completely agrees with the fighting aspect, though. There are other dangers than those posed by fellow cats, true, but after the battle, he simply hopes everyone has had their fill enough of bloodshed to know better than to return for seconds and thirds.

    "The enthusiasm's refreshing," he says dryly, flinging mud from his pale paws and listening to its impact against nearby undergrowth. "I'm Roseal." He glances at Briar and Bone before looking back to Burrow, smiling pleasantly. "How do you feel about frogs?"

  • n/a​
  • ──── surr'oseal'isme (roseal & soon-to-be rosemire). he/him. shadowclan.
    ──── approximately thirty-eight months old; not entirely certain of his own age.
    ──── single & uninterested in any romantic attachments; possibly open for flings.
    ──── very tall, scarred albino with sharply-peaked ears and a bobbed, scruffy tail.​

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