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Sabith stretched and yawned luxuriously, widening her mouth to reveal dozens of sharp, white teeth. Sabith was an average housecat, who lead a particularly unexciting life filled with an annoying little dog, an obnoxious parakeet, and her fretful Human. She was a brown tabby with distinctive white paws, muzzle, and eye areas, her blue eyes flashed in the sunlight. As she lay curled up in the warmth of the sun, she realized how tired she was, and closed her eyes to go to sleep. While she slept, she seemed to swim through darkness until she found herself inside of a dream.
In her dream she paced through the wilderness, as if looking for something. Two other unknown cats padded faithfully beside her, a look of desperation in their wide eyes. One was a bright, ginger color with small paler spots, while the other was a large white tortoiseshell. The trio neared a fence, and just as the cats were about to jump over it, Sabith’s eyes blinked open.
“That was a strange dream,” Sabith thought to herself, feeling slightly puzzled. Who were those other cats she was with and what was she trying desperately to find? Shaking her head to clear away the emotions of the dream, she decided to pay a short visit to her neighboring friend, Lila. Lila was a friendly female cat with black fur and white paws along with glowing yellow eyes, and was great friends with Sabith, and Sabith longed for her comforting wisdom and advice. Quietly strolling out of her Shelter, she bunched up her muscles and leapt onto the white, nearly blinding, fence.
“Lila! Are you there?” mewed Sabith shyly, feeling suddenly as if talking to her friend about her dream wasn’t a good idea.
“You can count on it,” purred Lila as she joined Sabith on the fence.
“How are things?” Sabith paused, forcing herself to tell Lila about what had just occurred.
“I was taking a nap in my Shelter when I experienced a…a…an interesting dream,” she replied finally.
“Go on,” Lila nodded.
“I was out…out there, in the wilderness with two other strange cats that I didn’t know…it was as if we were looking for something important…” Sabith began, and started telling Lila about her confusing dream. A look of slight uncertainty clouded Lila’s eyes, as she began to think. Finally, she spoke.
“I’m not sure what it means, but I know that its important; not at the moment though…I suppose the best thing to do about it is try to forget, or at least not focus on it all the time, though it will be something to ponder in the future.”
“I suppose you’re right.” Sabith agreed, nodding her head and casually giving her chest a small lick.
“Anything else happen?” asked Lila again, cocking her head. Sabith gave out a small laugh and purred.
“You look like Swan!” She was referring to the parakeet she lived with, his name was Swan. He was a blue and white budgie, and his favorite hobby was letting out curled screeches and cries, none of which sounded musical. Most of all, he liked the small mirror that was hung up in his cage. Like most obnoxious creatures, he highly enjoyed admiring himself.
“Really?” mewed Lila, humorously giving Sabith a small cuff on her ear. Sabith let out another laugh, then meowed again,
“Midee? Lazy!” exclaimed Lila, “That’s next to impossible!”
“Its true though, which means a good, long break for me!” purred Sabith. Suddenly, Lila’s Human called out in a loud, almost crowing voice, and shook her food dish, the little flavored pellets rapidly clunking around in the metal container.
“Oh yum!” sighed Lila with relief, as she swiped her tongue across her lips. “I’m starving! I’ll gossip with you later, Sabith!” she joked as she hopped neatly off of the fence and into her Shelter, her black pelt gleaming in the setting sunlight.
“Later!” meowed Sabith; she could hear her Human calling from inside her Shelter already. Jumping off the boundary between her Shelter and Lila’s, she slipped through the small cat flap. Her Human smiled warmly at her and set down her food dish; it was different from Lila’s. Sabith’s was a bright color, while Lila’s was a tinged, dull, silver color. Bending her head down to begin eating, Sabith could feel her Human gently stroking her, and began to purr, though it was difficult because she was swallowing and chewing pellets at the same time. After eating, she curled up in her Human’s lap and fell asleep.
It was a few weeks after Sabith’s dream, and the Time of Warmth was drawing nearer out of the Time of Rebirth; Sabith’s fur prickled in excitement. The Time of Warmth was her favorite time, for it was when she was born. Her Human always rewarded her with something, normally cat nip, a new mauling toy, or an occasional cat bed. Sabith’s Human was clearly excited too, it had been said by Snuff, an old, gray tom that had died just recently, that her Human was also born in the Time of Warmth.
“It’s ironic, isn’t it?” she meowed one day as she looked up into her Human’s bright face. Of course her Human couldn’t understand her, but only crouched down and scratched her under her chin. Jerking her head away, Sabith yowled in frustration,
“Wait! I didn’t mean it! Oh, come back!” Sabith called after it, but the Human was to far away to answer or even hear her plea. Feeling angry with herself, Sabith miserably began to wash. Gently licking her paws and stroking them across her ears, she thought about the dream again, and what it meant. She hadn’t had the dream any more, but she had a feeling she would be reminded of it soon.
Finishing her wash, she could hear Lila’s call from the fence, and padded through the cat flap to join her friend.
“Wow, you look grumpy today,” Lila remarked as Sabith jumped up next to her.
“I wasn’t grumpy to start with,” Sabith meowed bitterly.
“Anyway,” continued the black cat, changing the subject, “You know how Snuff died, right? Of course you do, and so do I. Well, Snuff’s Human’s have already gotten two cats as a replacement. All I know is that one’s a bright orange color with small light orange spots, and the other is a really big tortoiseshell. And that they’re rude creatures.” Lila spat the last words out. Sabith’s eyes widened at this remark; these two cats must have been the ones from her dream! She brightened, and of course, Lila caught it.
“See? I can cheer you up in a minute, Ms. Grumpy Stripes!” Sabith shrugged and meowed,
“I wouldn’t go there if I were you,” she warned, “Those two new cats are rude savages.” Flicking her tail dismissively, Sabith gave her a slightly heated glare and meowed solemnly,
“Be that way,” Sabith grumbled, and hopped down the other side of the fence. Snuff’s old Shelter wasn’t far from Sabith’s, and she knew the way there well, for she used to be very fond of the friendly old cat. Jumping out of her marked territory, Sabith padded silently towards Snuff’s old home, hoping to pay the news cats a short visit. When she reached Snuff’s Shelter, the gray tom’s scent was scarcely there, instead, the scent of the new cats lingered in the air; she could tell they were in the yard. Slowly hopping upon their fence, Sabith saw them huddled in a small corner whispering to each other. They were the exact cats from her dream, Sabith knew for sure; Lila said that these cats were rude, she prayed that only meant territorial.
“Hello there!” Sabith called softly, hoping not to startle them. Both cats slowly turned their heads, their ears flat on their heads and their eyes narrowed into slits with anger. When they saw her, their eyes were no longer glittering with anger, but now they were clouded with shock, and both cat’s ears popped up immediately. The large white tortoiseshell was the first to speak.
“Who are you and what are you doing on our land?” it demanded. The ginger cat meowed coolly, “We know perfectly well who that is, we only don’t know their name.”
“I don’t mean to intrude purposely,” Sabith meowed. “But I heard about your arrival and I wanted to come and say hello.” The white tortoiseshell sniffed hesitantly.
“It’s a she-cat.” It announced.
“I’m surprised you didn’t figure that out already,” The ginger cat meowed sarcastically. Turning to Sabith, it mewed sharply,
“Female,” replied Sabith coolly, trying to match the elderly female cat’s tone.
“I would normally call it she-cat, but other wise, yes, I am a female. I praise you. You’re smarter than he is.” The ginger she-cat pointed with her tail towards the tortoiseshell tom.
“Excuse her, she’s been having that attitude since we got here,” apologized the tom. Sabith nodded, and mewed,
“Just call me Vern, my actual name is hard to pronounce,” the tom replied, then, nodding towards the cat beside him, he meowed, “This is Dusk.”
“Pleased, I’m sure,” Dusk spoke dully.
“Cut it out Dusk!” Vern snapped, his eyes flashed angrily.
“Like father like son, eh, Vern?” taunted Dusk.
“Please,” begged Sabith, “Don’t argue on my account. I must confess, I’ve had a dream about you two, of course I didn’t know you then. We were looking for something, I think.”
“Do you know what it meant?” Sabith asked. Both cats shook their heads.
“I don’t either,” she admitted.
“Don’t worry,” purred Dusk, “You’re not stupid. If I can’t figure it out and you can’t either, then you’re as dumb as me.” Sabith blinked in thanks, then mewed,“I have to leave, but I’ll visit again. Maybe we can talk about the dream more,” When Sabith had clawed her way up their ragged fence; Dusk stared at her, as if thinking, then meowed quietly.
“Perhaps,” Vern flicked his tail in annoyance, and called after Sabith,
It was the middle of the Time of Warmth, and as the day of her birth drew closer, Sabith became more and more excited, not to mention restless. She had apologized to Lila, and they were best friends once again, but occasionally, Lila would complain that Sabith spent too much time with Dusk and Vern. It was true though, in the three cats a stronger bond grew every day, though Sabith spent the day with Lila, she spent the rest of the time she was allowed outside with the two cats.
Vern was born at a farm, and had one sister. They were close, but eventually, they were separated when they were given to Humans. Vern escaped his first Human, then when he was captured and was given to a second, he met Dusk, and they both escaped, but only to be recaptured and given to their present Humans. When Dusk had taunted Vern about his father, it was because he had told her that though his mother was gentle, his father was stern. Dusk simply said that her mother and father were born and raised at what her Human’s called a “Pet Shop”, and so was she. She had two other brothers, but they were also separated when her brothers were “bought” by Humans. Vern told her secretly that Dusk didn’t like telling others about her past.
“It’s her business, not mine,” Sabith had shrugged.
One day, Sabith was busy gossiping with Lila when she heard a Human call her, earlier than usual. Sabith flashed her friend an apologetic look and Lila nodded, though her eyes narrowed in annoyance. When she slipped gracefully through the cat flap, she expected to see her Human bending down with a food dish so that she could eat. But the Human that was in her Shelter was not hers! The strange new Human reached for her with huge, strong and pinching hands. It lunged, and let out a wail of triumph as it grabbed for her. Swan let out a deafening screech as the commotion occurred, and even the lazy Midee let out a bark. Dodging out of the way, Sabith raced through the cat flap and leapt out of her territory, tearing down the rows and rows of endless white fences. Finally she stopped at Vern and Dusk’s Shelter and yowled,
“Vern! Dusk! Its time we escaped!” The two cats immediately sprang over the fence and joined her in the race for safety. Soon they found themselves in a forest, none of the three cats having any knowledge of its surroundings. As the instinct to run drifted out of Sabith’s mind, she regretted running away. She had never said good bye to any of her friends, and even though her Human wasn’t in her Shelter, what would happen when it came back? It would probably be frantic, and try to look for her, and only end up hurting itself, all over her. Her Human had been kind, and always tried to understand her, even though it couldn’t, and Sabith felt a feeling of sorrow wash over her. Vern sensed her depression and reassured her,
“Your Human went out today, we saw it leave, it will come back and look for you. You and I both know how slow Humans are; we’ll be there before it comes back,”
“You’re looking at false hope!” Sabith wailed, “When my Human comes back, it will be so worried over me, I know that they aren’t very smart, but I could tell that it loved me! They will probably start looking for me, and they may hurt themselves! And…after this, Lila will never forgive me,” she added somberly.
“You mustn’t think that way!” meowed Dusk sharply. More softly, she added, “We’ll follow our scents and we’ll be back in no time.”
“You’re right,” sighed Sabith.
“Of course I am, now let’s move! Our scents won’t last forever!” snapped Dusk, already turning around to go back the way they came.
“We’ll get through this, alright? Don’t be scared,” meowed Vern, a sympathetic look in his eyes.
“I’m not scared!” mewed Sabith defiantly. Vern shrugged and followed Dusk, leaving Sabith with no choice but to join them. Soon they became tired, and Dusk suggested a quick rest. Everyone agreed and immediately fell asleep, only to wake up later, drenched in rain and mud.
“We’ll never be able to find our scents now!” cried Sabith. Vern sighed and nodded, and even the once optimistic Dusk gave in. Sabith couldn’t help but let out a wail of despair, and began clawing at the earth, hoping that she could bury herself away from the nightmare she faced.
“Sabith!” yowled Vern, leaping onto her and fastening his teeth in her scruff. Desperately trying to pull her into the shelter Dusk had found, he found himself feeling sorry for her. He had always enjoyed being free from Humans, but Sabith had been with Humans her entire life, and didn’t know a lot about instinct. Sabith finally went limp, and let him drag her through the mud into a root cave, where Sabith was hardly aware of him grooming her. The trio huddled close together, trying to keep warm, with Sabith in the center. After the two she-cats had fallen asleep, Vern finally let himself curl up next to Sabith, the warm feeling of security spreading over him. Giving Sabith a lick on the head, he finally went to sleep.
While the three cats slept, they shared a dream in which a mysterious event occurred. Sabith, with Vern and Dusk behind her, were standing in front of a brilliant light. The light was harsh and blinding, causing the cats to narrow their eyes to see clearly. Out of the light stepped a godly looking cat, his pelt gleaming silver.
“Who are you?” meowed Sabith shakily.
“I am Turnleen,” replied the cat. Both Dusk and Vern dipped their heads in respect, but Sabith was still confused. His gaze flitting over to Sabith, he gave out a small chuckle and meowed heartily,
“You may know me as Snuff,” Sabith’s eyes widened.
“Snuff! Oh Snuff! I’ve missed you so! I need your guidance!” Sabith pleaded, racing forward and burying her muzzle into his familiar scent. Turnleen gave her a gentle lick on the ear and meowed,
“Mission?” This time it was Dusk who spoke.
“The Prince of Darcast has been kidnapped by the evil Fang, and I’m sending you three to return him to his palace and to destroy Fang. I will use my powers to then return all of you home.”
“The Prince of Darcast? Fang? Those were supposed to be only stories!” protested Sabith.
“They are real,” meowed the old cat. “I will help you on your journey and make it easier for you. When you wake up, you will be in the lands of Darcast, the occupants will tell you where to go. If they think you are mad, tell them you were sent by the command of Turnleen.” Dusk and Sabith nodded in agreement, but Vern’s eyes were cast in a shadow, so his expression was unreadable.
“What is troubling you, my son?” asked Turnleen.
“It’s just that I can’t believe we would be chosen for this! I mean, can’t the arms of Darcast handle this?”
“They lack the self control. They will tear apart living areas looking for shelter and food, three cats alone will not devastate entire living areas. The arms have no mercy, and will kill anyone they come across. All of you have sensible minds. And there are many more reasons, but we are wasting time,” he told him.
“You must be out of this dream now, for you have a long journey a head of you. And Sabith,” he added, “Before you awaken, I would like to part on a few words.” Obediently padding towards the old cat, she felt Vern and Dusk disappear behind her.
“They are already gone,” Turnleen assured her, “But Sabith, I want to let you know, you may receive a bit of, oh, we’ll call it praise on your journey.” A mischievous twinkle appeared in Turnleen’s eyes, but it disappeared as soon as it came.
Sabith’s eyes slowly opened. The trio was in a meadow, though it was dark, the sun was slowly rising. Struggling to her feet, Sabith peered at the coming dawn, and she could see the faint outline of a living area. Nudging the others awake, Sabith quickly answered the grumbled questions, and pointed with her nose towards the living area of the cats of Darcast.
“Let’s wait until the sun is higher. The citizens of Darcast are far less likely to think we are enemies if we arrive in mid day,” suggested Vern. Sabith agreed, though Dusk gave a harrumph of impatience, but she gave in anyway. Vern offered to go hunting, so Sabith and Dusk sat together waiting for him to return.
“We need to come up with a kind of plan,” meowed Sabith. Dusk nodded.
“Perhaps when we arrive, we will meet with their govence, and ask for help for the down fall of Fang.”
“Well, as long as they don’t think we sound weak. The citizens listen to anything their govence tells them. And if the govence told them that we were weak and should be taken as prisoners, we’d be in big trouble,” Dusk pointed out.
“But if they are merciful and friendly, they might help us,” argued Sabith. She respected the elderly cat’s advice, but she didn’t totally agree with it.
“These cats have to be friendly!” she thought to herself; she wouldn’t know what to do if they weren’t.
“There is still no guarantee! We have to know what kind of cats they are,” Dusk hissed, her tail lashing in annoyance. Sabith let a small growl escape her throat, but said nothing more and turned away from the ginger female cat. Later, Vern returned with a large supply of freshly caught prey. He and Dusk both ate greedily, but Sabith felt nauseated from the sight of her food. The small mouse in front of her looked mangy and dirty, and dried blood was spattered around its neck. Vern noticed and pushed the mouse closer to her with his front paw.
“You must be starving! This mouse if fine, see? No maggots!” and bit a chunk off of the mouse to prove it. Now Sabith could see its bones and inner organs, only to become even more disgusted. Daintily shifting the mouse back towards Vern and shaking her head, she curled up tightly to rest, her stomach growling with hunger. Giving Sabith a worried gaze, Vern shifted back to his place next to Dusk and finished a large squirrel. After the two cats had finished, Sabith still hadn’t eaten her prey, even though she was starving. Dusk shrugged and buried the half-eaten mouse, then turning to Vern she meowed,
“Can we go now?” Vern nodded, and looked at Sabith in her poor state.
“Are you going to be okay?” he mewed. Sabith slowly rose to her paws and replied shakily,
“I-I’ll be fine, r-really,” Silently, the trio ventured towards the living area, attracting the gaze of many cats, most gazes resting on Sabith. Finally, a big black cat with a white mark on his forehead stepped forward.
“Who are you can why are you in our territorial grounds?”
Two other cats appeared next to him, one a mottled brown tom, and the other, a pale gray she-cat.
“Call me Vern, my actual name is Verniatious, but it would be easier if you called me Vern,” he meowed warmly. “This old she-cat,” he nudged Dusk, “Is Dusk, while the other one,” this time he pointed with his nose towards Sabith, “Is Sabith.” The black tom’s eyes widened at the mention of Sabith’s name and his gaze quickly shifted to her.
“You? You are the Sabith?” he asked, looking slightly puzzled. Sabith managed a nod. Shaking his head, the tom replied,
“You have been told who you are, now, why are you here?” As Vern explained their situation, with the black cat nodding and gazing intently at Sabith, the two she-cats stood pressed closely together against the stares of the gathering cats. When Vern finished, the black cat introduced himself as Onestar, his colleagues Earth and Stone. Flicking his tail, Onestar ordered for the new cats to be taken and cared for in gentle hospitality; the orders hastily obeyed. Vern was escorted by three toms into a near-by briar patch, while Dusk was surrounded by other cats around her age into a small cave in a large rock. Sabith meanwhile, was lead into Onestars’s own living quarters. Signaling with his tail, Sabith was presented with another mouse, and this time she was too hungry to protest. Ripping a chunk off, Sabith found it delicious, and in less than minute, it was gone. When she had finished, she swiped away the last remains with her tongue and raised her head to face Onestar.
“So,” he meowed, “What is your plan of action? My living area can supply you with many soldiers,”
“Um, I, uh,” stammered Sabith, “Well, err, we will probably need some soldiers, I guess,” Onestar nodded thoughtfully.
“Suppose we gather troops and supplies today, and set off for Fang’s Fortress tomorrow at dawn?”
“Well, it depends on how many troops we have tomorrow,” Earth pointed out, his eyes drifting around the cats in the den.
“Yes,” mewed Stone, “The journey to the fortress is two days with five cats alone,”
“Not to mention that we have to put up with Humans,” spat Onestar in disgust. Shifting uncomfortably, Sabith meowed,
“I agree,” added Stone. Onestar looked at his paws for a moment, then spoke.
“It will be dangerous, but with only six cats, it will be much easier to get around, and there are less mouths to feed,” Earth was the last to respond.
“I heavily disagree, but I must learn to accept ideas that are not my own,” he meowed finally.
“Good,” confirmed Onestar, in a business-like tone. Stone nodded in agreement and gestured for Sabith to leave. As soon as she stepped out of the den, two queens were waiting outside and escorted her to a roomy space under a boulder that was covered with dangling lichen, and a bed of moss and a freshly caught mouse was waiting for her. Pushing through the curtain of lichen, Sabith curled up in the soft moss and quickly dosed off.
The following morning came quickly. Before she knew it, Sabith was being roused by Dusk and was commanded to eat a quick meal. Devouring the waiting mouse in a matter of minutes, she padded outside to join the already waiting others.
“We haven’t a moment to loose,” meowed Onestar. Turning to a white tom behind him, he muttered,
“Blizzard, you’re in charge of the living area during my absence,” The tom nodded and strutted off. The six cats quickly departed the living area and soon found themselves in grassy meadows, flowers springing up everywhere.
“Be careful,” warned Earth, “There are bees here,” Making their way through the tall blades of grass, Sabith couldn’t help but feel cheered at the bright day, and began bouncing along in merriment.
“Stop!” hissed Stone, “There are enemies only a little ways off, if they see you, we’re crowfood,” Sabith didn’t know what crowfood was, but she knew it was defiantly something she didn’t want to be, so she forced herself to be mature and quiet. Coming to an old badger set, Vern suggested resting for a little while, and it was about to rain. Everyone huddled closely in the deep, dark badger set, and remained absolutely silent as a storm clashed over their heads. Sabith found herself pressing closer to Vern for comfort, and his gentle purring soon lulled her back to sleep. A while later, she woke up from a small prodding from Dusk who rasped,
“Its time we got moving,” One by one the cats stepped out of the temporary shelter, each one hungry, for the sun was high above the tree tops in the distance. Vern, Stone, and Earth volunteered to hunt, so Dusk, Onestar, and Sabith sat washing themselves.
Finishing their wash, the three cats waited in aluminous silence for the hunting cats to return. A few birds crowed over head, and there was the muffled barking of a dog in the distance. Minutes later, the others joined them with freshly caught prey dangling from their mouths. Vern settled down next to Sabith, placing a small squirrel in front of her, and a rabbit for himself. At first, Sabith only picked wearily at it, and only after encouragement from Vern did she begin to eat it regularly. Soon Sabith found that the squirrel had disappeared, and the remains lay piled up in front of her. Suddenly, she heard a scrabbling sound from behind her, and curiously turned her head. Earth was digging a shallow hole in the ground, and it grew until a piece of prey could fit inside. Earth then pushed the remains of a bird he had eaten earlier into the hole, and covered it up with the loose soil he had dug up. Pressing on it, Earth stood poised for a moment, then padded away when he thought it had been made stable. Copying his movements, Sabith did the same with her finished meal, and turned to look proudly at Vern.
“Very good,” he complimented, letting out a hoarse purr. Onestar, who was watching near by, gave a small nod of satisfaction, and turned to speak with his comrades.
“You’re learning fast, youngster,” came a rasp from behind. Twisting her neck, Sabith found herself facing a cheerful looking Dusk.
“Thank you,” Sabith meowed warmly. Dusk nodded and sighed, her gaze leaving Sabith and rising towards the darkening sky.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Dusk breathed. Sabith followed her eyes to the blazing orange, pink, yellow and red colors above. The sky looked as if it were on fire, the growing night was like water demolishing it.
“Yes it is,” she agreed, feeling at peace for a moment.
“We’ll need to get moving soon,” announced Onestar, breaking the silence.
“Yes,” Vern answered, “We’ll leave right as the sun sets on the horizon,”
“Good, very good,” replied Stone, the others nodded. The sun was falling quickly, and Sabith knew that they would have to journey to Fang’s fortress under the cover of night, and storm it, destroying Fang and rescuing the Prince of Darcast. Sabith had been told many tales about the Prince and his entire kingdom of powerful and loyal cats, and she wondered what he would be like. Of course, when she had been told the tales, she had laughed and believed it was entirely a fairy tale. Following the sun’s path with her eyes, Sabith let out a sigh as it disappeared beyond her seeing.
“Alright, lets get on with it,” grunted Dusk, already turning to leave. The others quickly followed suit, all except for Vern.
“Vern?” mewed Sabith, “Is everything alright?” Vern blinked, and replied,
“Are you two coming or what?” Earth yowled, the group was obviously getting farther ahead. Vern looked at Sabith fondly, and plunged after the band of cats, Sabith close on his tail. They quickly caught up with the others, and everyone quietly weaved through the long grass.
After a while, Sabith’s pads became sore and blistered, and she grew very tired.
“How much longer?” she whispered hoarsely to Stone. Stone looked at her with sympathy in her eyes and replied,
“Not much longer, it’s just a little ways up ahead,”
“Thanks,” mewed Sabith, her fur bristling in the cold of the night. Vern noticed her chills and pressed his flank comfortingly against hers, reassuring her slightly. As the cats trekked on for what seemed seasons, Onestar finally gave the order to stop, and hissed to the other five cats,
“This is it, everyone. Fang’s fortress, dead ahead,” Sabith peered over the tall grass to see a gloomy looking cliff jutting out from the moor land, a forbidding mist surrounding it.
“Now, he’s bound to have patrols around it, so we have to do what ever it takes to avoid them. Thankfully, the mist is enough to disguise our scents, but it will be hard to see and smell others,” continued the black tom. “So we must always stick close. Everyone got it?” all of the other cats flicked their tails in a positive answer. Looking satisfied, Onestar beckoned for Sabith to lead the group.
“Why me?” she squeaked, her eyes wide with horror. A wise looked overcame Onestar as he answered,
“Your destiny is to do this, not mine. Your destiny is to save the Prince of Darcast, and his kingdom, while mine is simply to lead my living area in his ways,” prodding her forward with his paw, he stepped behind her. Vern came up on her right side, whispering in her ear,
“I will help you when ever you need help Sabith, never doubt that,” Sabith touched noses with him in gratitude, and turned to begin the journey into what could be the next chapter of all of the cat’s lives.
As the six cats trekked on, Dusk’s age began to appear; she was falling rapidly behind, jumping and climbing much slower than the others.
“I can go assist her,” volunteered Onestar, already padding back in the direction they had come, before any cat could speak. So they had to agree, and left the pair behind. Soon, everyone’s paws became sore from the jagged rocks and thin ridges they had to walk on, when Sabith raised her head and caught sight of the camp.
“Hurry everyone!” she whispered excitedly, “It’s just above us!” Upon this news, the group began to travel with renewed speed, excited at the prospect of their destination. When they reached the top, they found the living area eerily silent, almost as if nothing lived there. Earth parted his jaws to scent the air, then closed them abruptly, reporting,
“I smell a patrol coming, we need to find a place to hide,” Sabith twitched her ear in agreement, and vainly tried to scan their surroundings for any type of hiding place, and as she expected, couldn’t see anything. Looking helplessly at the others, Sabith was startled when she heard Vern hiss,
“Quickly! In there!” He pointed with his tail towards an enormous yet shadowed hole in a near by boulder; the others all quickly bounding toward it, but it was too late.
“Halt!” ordered a gruff voice. The cats whipped around to face a massive brown tabby tom with piercing green eyes, accompanied by a smaller blondish white cat, gray-brown she-cat and a dark ginger tom with unnaturally yellow eyes.
“Who are you?” the tabby demanded, glaring at the intruders.
“Think you know every cat here?” Earth challenged defiantly, though his voice trembled in fear.
“I make it a point to be able to identify every living resident here, thank you very much,” the tabby spat, causing Earth to flinch. The blonde tom sniffed hesitantly at the cats then sneered,
“These are enemy cats, Thorn,”
“I know that, you stupid piece of crowfood!” snapped Thorn, his glare turning to his comrade. The tom shrank back in fear as he realized that the tabby’s anger had turned on him. “Ghost,” Thorn continued more softly, “Go tell Fang that he will be having visitors momentarily.” The tom nodded eagerly and sped off towards a hollowed out boulder that was covered with ivy. Thorn flicked his tail and he and the two other cats surrounded the group, closing in on them and bunching them together. Amusement flickered through Thorn’s eyes as he imagined something, then shouldered Sabith forward, causing her to trip and land violently on the hard stone surface. As she struggled to stand up again, blood trickled from the corner of her mouth, the next time, the gray-brown she-cat pushed her forwards, causing her to clatter dangerously near to the edge of the cliff. Sabith’s breathing grew jagged as she feebly crawled away from the edge, desperately trying to regain her balance on her feet. Vern leapt to her aid, snarling menacingly at Thorn and his comrades as he nosed her gently up.
“Thanks,” she rasped, leaning on him for support. Her tripping onto the rock had bruised her badly, and she found herself limping.
“Get a move on!” meowed Thorn gruffly, giving Sabith another push. Vern hissed and lunged at the dark tabby, leaping on to his back and biting hard into his neck fur. Thorn rolled instinctively onto the stone ground, crushing Vern’s body beneath him. He then quickly tossed his head, causing Vern to lose his grip, and soon Vern found himself lying under the tabby’s massive paws, one pinned on his neck.
“Let me up you brute!” he spat. Thorn did so and gave Vern a shove towards the others; Vern was now as tattered as Sabith.
“Are you two thistle-brained?” hissed Stone, “We can’t take them on! They’re in much better shape then we are!” Sabith had to agree with Stone, for she had a point. Her tail dragged limply behind her in defeat as they padded silently towards the forbidding looking boulder.
Approaching it, the fowl stenches of rotted prey, fear and blood filled their nostrils, all of it coming from inside of the hollowed rock. Earth wrinkled his nose in disgust and spat at Thorn,
“I’m not going in there! It’s a disgusting place!” Thorn glared at him coldly and pushed him with his body, sending him toppling towards the entrance in the boulder. Earth peered inside and gasped in horror, racing back to join the others. The ginger cat, who had been called Flame, bared his teeth at the frightened brown tom and hissed,
“Why don’t you go first?” Earth hesitated for a moment, staring blankly at the strong cat in front of him.
“That was an order, not a suggestion, you piece of filth,” the gray-brown she-cat growled. Her name had never been called out, so she seemed more mysterious than the other captors. Earth’s eyes widened in realization, and he backed away slowly, his tail between his legs.
“Get in there!” Thorn yowled impatiently. The mottled brown cat jumped and raced towards the opening, the others watching in dread as his pelt disappeared and a shriek echoed from the inside. Thorn glared evilly at his prisoners and meowed,
“You next, little lady,” The she-cat gave Stone a small shove, who yelped in surprise as she found herself facing into the shadowy boulder. Shakily she stood up and slunk obediently into it, and a few heart beats later, a gasp sounded from inside, then silence.
“Now,” ordered Thorn, “You two will escort our little love birds in after the others, and I will call upon Fang.” He pointed with his tail towards the looming rock, and swiftly turned and stalked off toward a bush full of nettles.
“Come on you two,” meowed Flame, his gaze sweeping over the two cowering cats. “Into old Fang’s den…he won’t hurt you…much.” Pressing close together, Sabith and Vern made their way cautiously into the hollow boulder, their eyes adjusting to the darkness that seemed to haunt it. They found Stone whimpering slightly and gazing out into the distance, as if she could see invisible tormenters surrounding her. She was crouched next to Earth’s body, he had obviously fainted from the fear he felt, they could smell it perfectly.
“What happened?” whispered Sabith, feeling sympathy for the terrified she-cat.
“I don’t know,” Stone admitted, “I came in here and I found Earth’s body, and I was so scared that he was dead, but of course, he isn’t. That’s when I realized…how horrifying this place was…is,” she corrected herself. Vern’s expression hardened as he gazed around the stuffy, shadowed place. Suddenly, his attention snapped back to the two she-cats.
“I can smell Fang! He’s coming, quickly, hide!” The three cats dove into a near by corner, behind a large rock, and hardly dared to breathe or move. Sabith peaked out from behind the hiding place to see a huge black and white tom stride comfortably into the den, as if he didn’t notice the dark shadows around him, or the revolting stench. A huge scar ran across the bridge of his nose, and his eyes glittered with hostility and evil.
“Come out, little kits,” he cackled, “I can smell your fear scent, don’t try to hide,” Sabith wanted to let out a wail of desperation, but knew how important it was to keep silent.
“I know you’re there…” the voice sounded closer now, and the faint clicking of claws could be heard. Vern narrowed his eyes, as if concentrating; finally, he meowed urgently,
“Sabith! Duck!” Sabith obediently lowered herself, just as huge claws struck the place on her neck had been a split second before. Fang rounded the rock and clawed at his prisoners with his other claws, only to drive them into the rock too. Grunting, he desperately tried to pull them out, with no success. Taking advantage of this moment, the three cats raced out into the open, breathing in the fresh, cool air for a moment, then speeding down the jagged cliff, just as Onestar and Dusk had climbed up.
“What happened? Where’s Earth?” asked Onestar, confusion in his glassy eyes. Stone gasped in sudden remembrance and opened her mouth in a silent wail.
“We forgot all about him!” she cried. Onestar stared disbelievingly into the she-cats eyes, then ordered,
“Vern, come with me, you too, Stone. We’re going back for Earth. Sabith and Dusk, go back down as fast as you can.” So Onestar, Vern and Stone speed back to the living area, Stone quickly explaining what had happened.
“There’s no way I can climb back down,” growled Dusk, as if Sabith had suggested the idea. Sabith’s gaze flittered over to the edge of the cliff, and she looked down. The cliff was defiantly rugged, but it curved down smoothly into the ground, and if they were careful, they would be down in a matter of minutes instead of hours.
“Quick! Down here!” meowed Sabith, waving Dusk over with her tail. Dusk quickly stepped next to Sabith and peered down.
“Are you sure?” she mewed nervously.
“It’ll be plenty faster, plus, it will be much easier to get down!” persuaded Sabith; she knew there was not much time for them left. Dusk looked doubtfully down the steep slope, but finally nodded her head in agreement.
“Then lets go!” exclaimed Sabith, and she started running down the cliff, her agility increasing as she ran faster. Dusk was just a tail length behind her, her muscles bunching powerfully as she summoned enough energy to run up at Sabith’s side. Soon they were off and panting, plus they were in the moor lands, hidden by the tall grass.
“Hopefully the others will use that way down too,” Dusk meowed wistfully, then, turning to Sabith, she added,
“For now, I would like to know what happened.” Sabith quickly explained the events that had occurred, though she didn’t include her own feelings, for fear that Dusk would tell Vern about it, if he ever got back. After a few hours with no sign of the other cats, Sabith and Dusk became very worried as the sun decended towards the reddening horizon.
“Something must have happened to them!” announced Sabith, standing abruptly.
“I agree,” nodded Dusk, lifting herself a little shakily off her paws.
“Will you be okay?” Sabith meowed; she knew the she-cat had a difficult time climbing up the steep cliff.
“I’ll be fine,” she confirmed. “We can go back the way we came,”
“But it’s very steep,” Sabith pointed out.
“I know that!” The elderly female cat snapped, “Now stop whining and let’s get moving!” Sabith admired the ginger cat’s courage, but she knew that she would still have great difficulties in climbing back up. Obediently racing after Dusk, they soon found themselves at the foot of the edge, peering up instead of down.
“Fang’s bound to have a lot more guards than usual, now that he knows we’re here,” whispered Sabith, “So we have to be absolutely silent,” Dusk gave her a glare as if she didn’t like being told what to do, but said nothing, and began to climb. Sabith sighed quietly and joined her, flinching every time a rock clattered down below, and wondering if some one had heard.
Clawing their way up, they were quickly approaching the top, and now moved more slowly and quietly, praying that they would not be discovered. Heaving herself over onto the top of the cliff, Sabith reached down and embedded her teeth into the scruff of Dusk’s neck, pulling her up to join her. Turning her head, she found that they were right behind Fang’s ‘den’, if that’s what he wanted to call it. The boulder looked as gloomy as it ever had, and a small breeze flapped at their fur, an eerie silence filling the living area. Slinking around the boulder, they cautiously crept inside of the opening. Fang was sleeping quietly in a nest made up of fur and feathers, and a few twigs and leaves as well, but that wasn’t what made Sabith notice it. She could have sworn that the fur in the nest was cat fur! Shaking her head to clear the thought away, a sudden movement caught her eye. In a ditch in a corner was a huge dangling root growing out from under the boulder; it looked nearly impossible to break through, and she thought she saw a couple bristling pelts inside. Flicking her ear in a signal for Dusk to follow, she padded hesitantly towards it, picking up the fear-scents of Onestar, Stone and Vern, though Earth’s was still fresh, strangely he hadn’t been scared by the surrounding darkness.
“Guys,” she rasped, hardly daring to raise her voice, “It’s me, Sabith. Dusk is with me, we’re going to get you out of here,” Vern’s head appeared through the dangling roots, and an expression of relief washed over him. Sabith’s gaze left him as she looked for a possible place she could help the others get out. Dusk narrowed her eyes and nodded towards the stem of the root, it seemed just thin enough for cat teeth to break through it. Sabith blinked in thanks and hopped onto a rock that was relatively close to the stem of the root, and frantically began to chew. She was about three quarters of the way there when Fang’s eyes opened and fluttered lazily around the den, hardening as he came to Sabith and Dusk.
“You’ve returned, kit?” he taunted. Sabith shot him a glare full of hate and spite, but kept chewing; she knew that the others depended on her to get them out. Dusk hissed with fury and sprang at Fang, and the cats quickly became a yowling, screeching fight. Sabith knew that Dusk could not hold him off for long, and chewed harder and faster hoping it would be enough.
“Stop!” ordered Onestar, “I’ll finish! You fight Fang off while I help the others escape…and Dusk,” his expression softened as he spoke the name of the ginger she-cat. Quickly flicking his ear in annoyance, he stood on his hind paws and began to chew the remains of the root.
“Why me?” she squeaked, her fear and anguish returning. Onestar stopped, a wise look appearing in his eyes again as he meowed,
“It is your destiny…now go!” he was snapped back into real life and continued his job. Her flanks heaving, Sabith swallowed and padded closer to the battling cats. Dusk was growing weaker by the second, and her breathing became more ragged. Not thinking, Sabith yowled,
“Hey, kit! Pick on some one your age, or are you still too wimpy to fight actually fit cats?” Fang’s eyes widened in shock as he heard the words escape Sabith’s mouth, and he was paralyzed in surprise. Taking this as a moment to attack, Sabith lunged at the tom, bowling him over and clawing mercilessly at his belly. At first, Fang did not resist, but he seemed to regain his senses and began fighting back. Fang raked his claws painfully down her sides, a hiss of triumph escaping his lips. Snarling furiously, Sabith’s claws seared down his face and she scratched at his eyes. Though he was blinking away blood, he could still see. The pair tussled together, twisting and rolling out of the den and behind it, until Sabith had been pinned down and they were at the edge of the cliff. Fang bared his teeth and grinned,
“Are you ready to go, little missy?”
“Try me!” challenged Sabith.
“Feisty, aren’t we?” he taunted.
“Let me up you worthless scrap; and I’ll show you a real fight!” she hissed in return. Sabith herself couldn’t believe she was actually saying this, but something inside told her that she had opened up her inner cat. Thrusting herself up, Sabith lunged and missed the black and white tom, skidding awkwardly sideways until she was dangling dangerously near the side of the cliff. Heaving up, she wasn’t prepared for Fang’s next move. He bowled her clear over, and stood next to her, panting hard, giving Sabith enough time to notice that the boulder was balanced on a small and easily moved rock. Edging closer, she dodged a deadly bite from Fang as she kicked at the stone furiously with her hind leg, until she heard a crack, and the rock had moved. Fang looked up in fear as he saw the boulder rolling slowly towards him. Everyone inside the boulder had gotten out safely, and Onestar just noticed that Sabith wasn’t moving as the huge boulder tumbled straight into her path.
“Sabith, move!” he yowled. Sabith jerked her head to gaze longingly at Vern, and made up her mind of escaping the rock. She rolled her body over the edge of the cliff, tumbling blindly all the way down until she found herself in soft soil. Feeling defeated and tired, she curled up and slept.
“Sabith! Sabith!” meowed a voice. Blinking her eyes open, Sabith found herself facing Vern and her other friends, all worried expressions on their faces.
“Oh, you’re alright!” Vern sighed with relief, and buried his muzzle in her fur.
“I told you she would be alright,” growled Dusk gently, pressing herself against Onestar. Sabith blinked warmly at her, she knew perfectly well that Dusk had been just as worried as the rest.
“Thanks for getting us out, Sabith,” mewed Stone shyly. Earth stepped forward quickly touching noses with Sabith and meowing,
“I owe you a lot too, Sabith, you destroyed Fang, the boulder crushed him,”
“Thank you,” purred Sabith. Onestar sighed and replied,
“I believe we should rest now,” The others twitched their tails in agreement, and all quickly went to sleep.
They shared another dream, Turnleen standing in front of them, gazing at the six cats proudly.
“Snu-I mean, Turnleen! Its so good to see you!” meowed Sabith in welcome, touching her nose to the sparkling gray cat’s fur.
“And to you, Sabith, I have never been so proud of you,” Eying the others, he added,
“You all did it wonderfully, you destroyed Fang and saved the Prince of Darcast!”
“No, Turnleen, we didn’t,” mewed Sabith sadly, “We never saw a Prince,” Turnleen chuckled.
“The Prince of Darcast has been with you all the time,”
“Sabith,” Turnleen meowed, “You are the Prince of Darcast.”
“But…I…but…but Turnleen! Even if I was, that’s a male role!” she stammered, looking at her paws in embarrassment.
“Your parents were the king and queen, when your mother had you, they were greatly disappointed because they were expecting a son, and gave you away to another nursing queen. They said that you were actually a male, and you had drowned in a near by stream.”
“Wha? But…” Sabith trailed off in disbelief. Vern pressed his flank against hers for comfort.
“They titled you the Prince of Darcast, as if to keep your memory alive, although your parents were truly ashamed. So the king and queen ruled for many, many years, but eventually, they died. No one was left to rule the kingdom, and they fell into their present state,” Turnleen went on, nodding towards Onestar, “When I sent you to defeat Fang, Sabith, you released your inner self into the world of Darcast, and you are ruling it now.” Stone, Earth and Onestar dipped their heads at Sabith in new respect, and stood silent.
“It has now come for you all to return to your homes. I will give you a minute to say good bye, and then you will be gone,”
“Good bye Stone, Earth, Onestar,” meowed Sabith, “I’ll never forget you,”
“Nor will I,” replied Onestar, his gaze meeting Dusk, and hers meeting him. Together they talked in hushed voices, their tails entwining.
“Good bye Sabith,” mewed Stone, giving her a friendly lick on the ear. Earth meowed a good bye, then turned away to speak quietly with Stone.
“Are you all done?” interrupted Turnleen. The cats nodded.
“Alright, I am now returning you to your worlds, good bye, for now…” Sabith felt herself being hurled through pitch blackness, ending in her eyes blinking open to the sound of Lila’s regular calling from the fence.
“I’ll never tell,” Sabith vowed, and stood up to join her old friend.