Journal Entry: Mon Nov 12, 2012, 8:49 PM
Figures drifted about, murmuring softly to themselves. Their voices rolled through the air with an arcane double-timbre, concern lacing the tone of each word. The calamity that had reaped their peace from them continued on in a new shape, refusing to surrender the death grip it had on their existence. On a silent cue, their eyes - completely whited out - lowered to the invisible ground beneath them. Below, beyond the charcoal wisps of cloud that floated across the sky and the particles that hummed softly through the air, the Spirits gazed towards the cats they looked over. And wondered how to save them.
Dim shadows curled through the water, drifting lazily wherever the breeze kissed the surface. It lingered on the shores, brushing up against dirt and sand and pebbles, but before long it began to follow the flow, spreading through the streams.
Scrunching up his nose, the auburn tom leaned back from the water, staring down at it. For several moments he looked skeptically into the water, brows furrowing. He waited for the clouds to shift away from the sun so he could see through the surface, but when a glint of light caught his eye and made him shy away, he realized there was nothing covering the sun. Lifting his gaze to double-check, he slowly regarded the stream with a twinge of concern.
"What is it?" A black she-cat came up on his side, noticing his hesitation. He gave her a glance and invited her urgently to look into the water. She did, leaning forward and waiting to see whatever had alarmed him. When she saw the murky tendrils swirling through the flow, she leaned back, her own unease surfacing. They shared a look of uncertainty, before the tom shook his head and straightened.
"Let's find somewhere else to drink." The Yellow-Light nodded and they stood, leaving the metallic-tasting water behind.
A light tremor whispered through the ground, undetectable to anyone above the surface. The earth let out a long, drawn-out sigh, exuding a miasmic breath from its bowels. A pressure surged against its confines, more tension singing through its prison than ever before. Each moment that passed with the weight pressing against its cage weakened its natural barrier. Finally, a crack appeared along its walls, and the vapor seeped in. The tiny weakness spread as the stress found an egress, and in moments the ground had succumbed to the gas. With a violent upsurge, the earth burst open and smoke poured out of its wound. The gray fumes spilled off their own spout, crawling along the ground and into the trees. The crust of the Earth had been disturbed, and it would take its compensation.
The earth thrust up underneath red tabby paws, making her scrabble for a grip. The ground shifted, jerking her legs out from under her. Stones began to roll down what had moments ago been flat surface, and now tilted to become a slope. Death yawned up at her, the sharp stones arching up like fangs from the brutal tide that would slam her against the jagged shore again and again. Digging her claws into the ground, she clung desperately to the life that was trying to fling her off.
Where silence roared by the sea, a frantic voice rose from beneath the ground. The caverns were ravaged by nature's vehemence, walls and ceiling caving in, cracks tearing along the ground and opening hellish pits. A pair raced through the volatile environment, dodging the earth's haughty retaliation. In a sudden burst of alarm and desperation, one figure tackled the other - and vanished beneath a roar of thunder and debris.
A low chitter rose from the brush as a mouse poked its nose out of its hiding place. Tentatively, it crept forward, beady eyes flicking from side to side. This area was rich with food and plant. Flowers grew all around, seeds were littered across the grass. The scent of scorched earth was still raw in the mouse's nose, and it breathed in the fresh air around it. Trees were blooming, rather than hanging skeletal over the dead earth. Flora was green, rather than singed and charred and broken. The mouse knew it wasn't the only prey searching further than usual for food; the land it had come from was dead from fire. It must find new pickings or starve.
Twitching its whiskers, the creature raced forward, darting from side to side to confuse aerial predators. Stopping abruptly, it stood on its hind legs and tucked its paws against its chest, lifting his head to sniff the air. Once again it loped forward, this time content with the cover that the bushes brought it.
A scratch dug into its side, making it squeal and take off in panic. Pain meant predators; predators meant death. It fled on pure instinct, unknowingly worsening its predicament. Tiny slashes appeared on its flanks and legs as it pelted through the vines of the flora around it. Before it could stop, the mouse crashed into a wall of thorns and began to struggle. Every movement sent the dangerous plants digging into its body, making the prey animal screech. Helplessly trapped, it writhed in the bed of needles, keening until, finally, the sounds weakened to nothing.
The collective illumination of silver pooled over the clearing, reflecting back in the pupils of all the cats that gazed up at their leaders. It gave their eyes a surreal glow that made them almost seem dead. Not many would remember the events of the meeting before the unknown prophet arrived. Nothing could steal their attention and demand their thoughts on that night more than such an arrival.
"This land... it's not safe anymore!" Concern for the news their leaders had brought began to dissolve as unrest overtook the crowd. "The Spirits are upset at what has happened to this sacred place." There was a stunned silence, from none more so than the chocolate-coloured she-cat as a bright tattoo flared to life on her forehead and chest. Eyes widening with a golden illumination, the unfamiliar Yellow-Light opened her mouth, a dim glow visible there as well. A voice not her own spilled past her lips, each word echoing over itself and ringing clearly throughout the clearing;
“New and old are one again
Changes come and roots find end
In the soil, shifted and sanded
Printed down upon with paws, unbranded
Worthy cats will right the wrong
That we have witnessed for too long
Darkness creeps on the horizon
Do not find absence surprising
New and old are one again
Changes come and roots find end
Different values stain the tree
That will borne new legacies."
The deputies escorted their Tribes home quietly, leaving their Silvers to attend to the debate at hand. Conspicuously, only one leader was absent, that being the one of the new arrival herself. Was it the will of the Spirits that she, of all cats, would miss this event?
"You cannot stay here," the Yellow-Light murmured passionately. "This land is no longer healthy. It will kill you all."
"Who are you to demand we move our Tribes?" the Silver-Fire demanded, eyes narrowing. "Nandryx has been our home for generations. It has never let us down before, and the Spirits wouldn't let it abandon us now."
"No," the Silver-Shadow responded quietly, looking towards the heated leader. "But they would be powerless if it demanded retribution."
"Tylluan is right." The Silver-Earth inclined her head towards the Yellow-Light, but her eyes remained on the Silver-Fire. "We brought this upon ourselves."
"And who are we to doubt her?" the Silver-Air interrupted, his gaze settling on the defiant she-cat. "You see her tattoo. The Spirits chose her for this. What is your name?"
"Jazlyn." The Yellow-Light seemed to flounder for a moment before bowing her head respectfully. "Please," she continued, lifting her eyes to the Silver-tattoed cats before her. "I swear, I'm a friend. You can't survive here for much longer." Then, quietly, she said, "Even if you don't believe me, do you want to risk the lives of your Tribes?"
"How dare you," the Silver-Fire snarled, bristling. The other leaders shared the sentiment, leveling glares on the new arrival.
"You've made your case." The Silver-Air lifted his head, sitting slowly. "Leave us to confer."
Jazlyn seemed reluctant - she had to convince them, how could she do that if she wasn't here? - but conceded, bowing her head before turning and leaving them.
"I won't take that risk." The Silver-Water finally spoke, her voice adamant despite her age. The other leaders looked towards her, and it was their youngest and most inexperienced companion that swayed their minds. Her conviction spoke, not of naivety or fear, but of wholehearted determination and dedication to her Tribe. Even as a new leader, her priority was already to the cats she was now responsible for.
"What can we do?" the Silver-Air sighed, regarding the others solemnly. "I'm not willing to put my Tribe in that kind of danger."
"There is no danger. The Spirits have always called this land home." The Silver-Fire's tail lashed from side to side in aggravation.
"Aiolos is right. The Spirits are telling us it's time to leave, Tzurai," the Silver-Earth replied, fixing a steady gaze on the other she-cat. "We can't stay here."
"Roots find end," Aiolos quoted, to a derisive snort from the Silver-Shadow. "It's time to move on."
"They weren't clear." Tylluan moved his gaze from one cat to the other, his gaze intense. "But we are responsible for our Tribes. We must do what is best for them."
"They've sent us a new prophecy," Vitani murmured, as the other Silvers looked towards her. "We've affronted the Spirits, and they've given us new life." They were all silent as she gathered her courage. "Even if we call this land home... even if we want it to be okay... we can't change what we've done."
"The Spirits will guide us," the Silver-Air said. As he had been led. "I will follow."
"I'll do whatever it takes to keep my Tribe safe." The Silver-Water's eyes glittered with conviction. "I will follow."
"I will follow," the Silver-Shadow agreed quietly.
"We owe the Spirits this. Even if we have doubts, we must have faith that they will always save us." The Silver-Earth bowed her head. "I will follow."
There was a silence, before the Silver-Fire lifted her eyes to the starscape above them. And isn't that faith, she thought, But to go where you see darkness and are promised light? "I will follow," she murmured.
The Silvers returned to what could no longer be considered their territories. Nandryx was taking itself back. Further debate had concluded that they would go with Aiolos to the land where he and the other exiles had called home. The Yellow-Light had shown enthusiasm at the proposition, but no real knowledge as to what the Spirits might think of the idea. When no signs came, they silently agreed and went their own ways.
The morning sun brought with it a monumental announcement. Each Tribe was gathered in his entirety and told of the events of the night prior. Reactions ranged from quiet acceptance to blatant protest, silent confusion and frightened agitation. After the news, the Tribes were left to themselves as the leaders retreated to their dens.
Cats spoke. Rumours spread. Debate and theories rose. Opinions formed. The approach of their departure left all of the Tribes on edge. The home they had always known, that the Tribes had always known, was driving them out. Not for the first time, the consequences of the second war truly stunned the cats of Nandryx.
The night of the half-moon hung on the horizon.