Flickerfrost hated Gatherings. Being surrounded by a bunch of hot-headed warriors, all determined to be the best, isn't what she considered fun. Half-Moon Gatherings, however, are something she can get behind. Being surrounded by those who exist solely to heal, never to harm, the almost consistent smell of herbs - whether it be a characteristic of the Starpool or just residue from medicine cat paws - which calms her. There's a lot to love. None of them are interested in being the best fighter or the best hunter. Though they are a key part of each Clan, it's almost as if they are higher than the Clans themselves. There's a sense of loyalty to each other that cannot be broken. She's most at peace when StarClan is surrounding her.
The night of the Half-Moon Gathering, Flickerfrost finds herself in a good mood for the first time in a while. "Chop, chop, Featherpaw! Or you can explain yourself why we're late!" Her voice, for once, held amusement instead of hostility and despite her words, she waited for her apprentice just outside of their shared den. Coyotecall's death weighted in at the back of her mind, but she refused to allowe her failure to ruin her night. When her apprentice finally revealed herself, she got to her paws and trotted to the entrance and beyond, keeping a quick but easy pace. She wasn't much worried about actually being late, she made sure they would leave in plenty of time that they couldn't be.
The trip through the territory wasn't a long one so at some point, Flickerfrost slowed her pace and beckoned Featherpaw to walk aside her so she could keep an eye on her apprentice. "You can relax, Featherpaw. There's no one here to be cruel to you, now. You've chosen the path of healing and caring for others. No cat can fault you for that, and if they do, they'll have some choice words for me." It was Flickerfrost's decision to take Featherpaw on as an apprentice. She'd stick by her. She didn't follow up her words with anything else, choosing to focus on their Gathering point.
The tunnel to the cave beckoned her like an old friend and she briefly thought about the time she had escaped GorgeClan to stay there until the other medicine cats had found her. She was fond of that memory now, but at the time, she had been more terrified of going back to GorgeClan than the darkness of the tunnel. "If you need to, grab my tail, Featherpaw." She disappeared into the tunnel without another word; if Featherpaw grabbed her tail, she didn't say anything.
Location-wise, CreekClan was slightly closer to the Starpool than GorgeClan, but she wasn't surprised to find them there first. She made herself comfortable at the pool's edge, gesturing for Featherpaw to do the same, as she waited for the others to join her.
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It seemed like they were going to be late. Relative to the other camps, MoorClan was quite far from the Starpool. Skywhisper flicked his tail back and forth impatiently as he waited for his apprentice. He disliked being late, especially in front of his fellow medicine cats. As soon as she appeared, he gave a slightly irked nod and bounded off through MoorClan territory. [break][break]
For the short time that he had trained her, Orchidpaw brought many questions and doubts to his mind. It would be good for her to visit the other medicine cats, he thought to himself, and to visit their ancestors. The short, confrontational attitude she gave some harmless CreekClan and GorgeClan apprentices during the Gathering bothered him. It would not bode well for peace. Skywhisper was all about peace. [break][break]
It was a quiet journey; the half moon glowed above their heads. He stopped briefly to catch his breath at the GorgeClan border. It was no easy journey, and he kept a close eye on Orchidpaw in case they needed to rest. Skywhisper swept his gaze over the thickening trees briefly. They would have to cross through GorgeClan territory to reach the Starpool, and despite the peacetime, Skywhisper's fur prickled. Not long ago, the vicious rule of Bonestar had kept even MoorClan medicine cats away from the Starpool. It still felt like dangerous territory. He motioned for Orchidpaw to lay low. Medicine cats were allowed to travel as they wished, but he would love to avoid the confrontation if possible. [break][break]
As they approached the Starpool, Skywhisper gave little instructions. He knew this place all too well, and was eager to see the others. Unlike Flickerfrost, the quiet tom gave Orchidpaw little instruction. She would need to be brave, and he had no doubt she was, in the darkness of the tunnel. [break][break]
At the sight of Featherpaw and Flickerfrost, he broke into a rare, warm smile. [break][break]
'one of us has to stay with her, you should go.' had been the voice of his mentor in his ears as he was hurried out of the den earlier that morning. he had eaten, gotten ready for the day and was surprised to hear a warrior would be escorting him to the skypool and would be awaiting for him to finish and return with him. the young tom had not expected such a thing to occur - let alone on his first day to the sacred place. if he had been given anything other than a direction he would have been lost.
thankfully the travel was easier for the tom, his leg ached little as he rushed alongside the warrior to get to the sacred starclan place. his mentor had basically called upon starclan in their den over the body of young blizzardpaw, to accept him as her apprentice. he had been then sent on this journey... alone. his whiskers twitched in annoyance, but he kept it mostly to himself. with each step closer to the pool he wondered if perhaps he was not the right fit for this.
however with each pawstep he felt more confident in his choice. he had been introduced at least to the medicine cats at the last gathering, so he wouldn't be a shock to their system. as he neared he realized he was later than the rest - something he blamed his leg for greatly. turning to the warrior - antlerburr - he nodded his head to let him know he could make the next fox-length by himself. with that, the tom made great pace and soon arrived to see the four other medicine cats.
"berrybloom is with a patient... that I can not attend to..." the sound of disgust - mostly in himself for being unable to attend a patient was clear. amber eyes peering up to the other medicine cat's he observed skywhisper, flickerfrost and featherpaw. he nodded to himself for a moment before meowing finally. "i'm kinda new to this... what do we do?"
While Featherpaw was surprised to hear light humor in the tone of her mentor's call, this hardly lessened the apprentice's hurry to join her mentor, not wishing to keep her waiting. Flickerfrost's moods often seemed hard to predict in her view, and with how rare a good mood from the older medicine cat was...well, Featherpaw hardly wanted to spoil it. Though she had to admit it was nice to experience, and the little apprentice seemed far more relaxed as she waved her tail in farewell to her brother and settled into a trot at her mentor's side as they left.
As they went through the territory however, drawing ever closer to the Starpool, Featherpaw could not help the slight tension that insisted on rising within her. Since the last gathering she had officially met all the medicine cats and their apprentices. Really, there was nothing she should not expect, right? Yet what happened with Coyotecall...it still lingered in her mind even after a quarter moon, and she worried what might have been going on in the other clans.
How tense were things? Would the other healers be able to come?
Flickerfrost's words dragged her attention away from her thoughts, however, and Featherpaw allowed the rare pleasant mood of her mentor to soothe her. Nodding softly, the apprentice blinked up at her mentor gratefully and tried to calm herslef a little, willing herself to look forward to the meeting. They were all healers, no one was going to hurt her there. No matter what Orchidpaw boasted about her warrior skills, even she had chosen the path of a medicine cat.
She was safe...right? Flickerfrost was with her, even if Wolfpaw was not.
While the offer to grab her mentor's tail was one that warmed Featherpaw, she did not take it. She had been here once before, and while the dark did make her uneasy, the scents of cats and herbs, and the sound of her mentor's breathing and pawsteps just ahead were enough to keep her own paws moving forward. So, she made it through with little trouble, and though still somewhat tense, she settled herself without complaint by the edge of the pool, gaze flitting around in attempt to build her familiarity with the meeting place once more.
Soon enough more cats arrived, though while Featherpaw offered them a shy smile, she could not help a wash of concern as she glanced toward Spiderpaw, arriving without his mentor. How did he find his way here alone? How bad was the patient if it meant Berrybloom could not attend such an important meeting?
'I hope they don't die like Coyotecall did,' the apprentice mused with a shudder, glancing away as she kept her unasked questions from spilling forth. If it was any of their business, Flickerfrost would be far more likely to get the answers than she was.
It wasn't long before they were joined - Skywhisper and Orchidpaw came next with Spiderpaw trickling in behind. At first, she was confused to why Berrybloom would send an apprentice in their place, but it made sense after the explanation. With how recent Coyotecall had passed, she hoped for the best with the patient Berrybloom had. "I understand, please give Berrybloom our greetings and our good luck wishes. If there's anything I can do to help, please don't hesitate to ask." She finished her little speech, short yet sincere, with a friendly nod. She gestured to the Starpool, getting to her paws and making her way over to it.
"Not to worry! It's pretty simple, mostly we just sleep and let StarClan tell us what we need to know. It's a bit more complicated than that, but that seems like the easiest explanation in the short amount of time we have." Flickerfrost settled back down close to the pool's edge, leaving space on either side of her for Featherpaw and Spiderpaw, if he so wished. "All you need to do is settle yourself down comfortably, and gently touch your nose to the water. Don't shove your whole face in! Just a small touch will do, and then StarClan will walk with you." She shifted herself slightly, kicking a pebble that managed to get trapped under her. "You're not required to share anything after, but if it's something important that affects all the Clans, like that new disease that's going around, it might be a good idea to speak up."
Flickerfrost purred, content in her spot as she neared her nose to the sparkling water. "If you're unsure if you should share, take the information with you back and Berrybloom can decide if it's important enough to share!" With that, she gently tapped the water with her nose, letting sleep cover her.
Skywhisper's ears pricked up at the news of sick cats in CreekClan. He would remember to ask if there were updates on the Spore illness, but glanced sideways and decided he was unsure how he would keep Orchidpaw away from it. Flickerfrost had certainly mentioned it to Featherpaw by the looks of it. Did the other apprentices know? How were they handling the news?[break][break]
His worries almost made him forget why he was here in the first place. Motioning Orchidpaw forward, he pointed at Flickerfrost's movements. He let her do the talking. Unlike the GorgeClan medicine cat, Skywhisper hardly ever gave such precise instructions. It seemed straightforward enough to him and he had done this many times. [break][break]
"When you're ready," he nodded at Orchidpaw before settling himself down alongside the water as well. Their ancestors were waiting, and Skywhisper could hardly wait. He had many questions and hoped desperately for some sort of voice from StarClan. They had been for the past moon relatively silent despite the coming leaf-bare. Perhaps they would give some sort of a sign of what was to come. [break][break]
He watched his apprentice do so first. Then eagerly, Skywhisper touched his nose to the water.
had he expected anything different from the felines around him, possibly a strong desire to help him? or even a chance to bring down his clan. for a moment the black tom wished he had not asked his final question, looking pitiful before the great medicine cats of gorgeclan and moorclan. with the medicine cat, flickerfrost, stating it was no trouble and offering assistance, the young black tom seemed to relax - if only slightly. she seemed to go on about the connection they held with the stars.
'and all i have to do is sleep. odd.' he thought, watching as each medicine cat and apprentice settled together, his black fur fluffed out as he felt awkward standing alone with his mangled leg stretched out beside him. finally, he chose to nestle closer to flickerfrost, his eyes watching her as she spoke of what to do next. to tap his nose to the water and become one with the stars. 'won't breathing through my nose inhale water into my lungs?' he thought worriedly, but for a moment allowed himself to imagine that, that was not the case.
he stared before him, amber eyes dancing into the pool for a moment, a ripple as someone touched their nose to the pool caught his attention and he felt something fill him. he listened as flickerfrost bought up the disease, something new and important that would need to be talked about. he chewed his lip before nodding, taking a moment to collect his own thoughts as he stared at the pool before him. he heard skywhisper's voice as he instructed his apprentice to go when she was ready, following shortly after she did. even flickerfrost seemed to touch her nose to the water.
he turned his amber eyes to seek out featherpaw - whether she was awake still or not, the tom felt a fright run through him as he searched for some reassurance. whether he achieved it or not, the first time apprentice looked back towards the water, with a deep breath, he meowed out loud, "please, starclan, don't let me be useless..." barely loud enough for any of the remaining awake felines to hear him. his nose touched the pool of water, and as he drew back his eyes began to flutter, his forepaw reaching forth to interact with the pool itself still. as his paw touched the water, his closing eyes observed the ripples and at once...
As Flickerfrost settled by the edge of the Starpool, Featherpaw followed suit, checking her spot was clear of stones as well before lying down alongside her mentor, nestled close to her side, yet not quite brushing her fur. it was enough for the warmth radiating from the older molly to provide her comfort, and she found herself relieved as Spiderpaw did the same, whilst Orchidpaw and Skywhisper settled down in turn.
Head tilting slightly, Featherpaw angled her ears to listen to the familiar instructions her mentor gave the younger tom. As her gaze settled on him, she realized he seemed nervous. Part of it made her feel a little calmer, really, to think that she was more at ease here. It would not be long, she supposed, until he became more comfortable than she was. However, for now Starclan served to ease her troubled mind, if only slightly, and she could take that moment to comfort another.
Just as she was about to touch her own nose to the icy water, Featherpaw's gaze caught Spiderpaw's.
The tom looked especially on edge now, and while it sent a chill of nervousness through the young molly in turn, she pushed it aside with a flick of her ear toward her mentor, before giving the tom a reassuring blink. His words reached her ears, and though hers set back slightly, she willed some certainty into her tone as she whispered back to him. "You'll do great," she assured, sounding more confident than she felt.
Before she could back out of her own intent or convince him of something other than her words, Featherpaw lowered her own nose to the pool in turn with his, eyes closing upon the ripple he sent through the water, as she allowed the cool darkness to wrap over her.
THE STARS HAVE COME TO SPEAK WITH YOU TODAY. LISTEN CAREFULLY. APPRENTICES You open your eyes upon a lush field. The air is warm and rich with the scent of prey and fresh herbs. As you look around, you see a river winding calmly past, beneath a stand of trees nearby, and you realize the herbs you can smell surround you. Herbs to cure coughs and fevers, aches and pains...nearly anything you could think from your brief training so far. It seems the perfect place.
However, there is something peculiar among the scents. Something heavier, almost...musty, or stale. As you focus upon the strange smell more, it grows stronger, and a dizziness washes over you, followed by a peculiar chill. Reflexively you head toward the many herbs, yet each one you approach wilts, left dead and useless. In place of each sprouts a single, ominous mushroom.
With the appearance of each mushroom the scent grows stronger, until it is all you can recognize. The dizziness soon overwhelms you, and no longer able to stand, you fall to the ground. The world fades to black, and you soon awaken with more questions than answers.
What could this mean, and what are your mentors not telling you?
MENTORS While you open your eyes upon what appears to be a gathering, cats of each clan spread throughout the Blessed Stumps, a musty scent surrounds you, strong and putrid. It blocks out the smell of the gathered felines, just as a heaviness weighs over you and a ringing in your ears blocks out whatever they might be saying. Perhaps you attempt to find the source of the scent, or try to warn those around you of what it implies. Either way, your efforts are fruitless.
One by one, cats of all clans fall motionless to the ground, some crying out in pain or fear, others completely silent. No one can escape the growing scent, not the youngest apprentice or strongest leader. From their motionless forms sprout mushrooms, the scent growing stronger still in the air. The heaviness upon you grows, and the ringing in your ears gets louder as your vision spins and darkens.
As the darkness looms, however, you see a light in the distance. This light reveals to you the silhouettes of cats, unfamiliar to you, yet undeniably there. They seem to be the only source of hope, and perhaps you feel drawn toward them. The light they emit seeps toward the fallen clans, and as the bodies fade, the mushrooms recede, the scent dissipating to nothing more than a memory.
Could these strange cats be the solution you seek?
SPIDERPAW Much like your mentor would, you awake within the Blessed Stumps - however, there are no cats around you at all. Instead, there are herbs spread out everywhere, ones that would not normally grow there. Despite seeing them, however, you cannot smell them beyond the musty scent in the air, and all you can hear are the cries of many cats you cannot see.
Each herb you approach wilts to nothing, and as you explore, here and there you spot motionless cats, some with mushrooms sprouted from their pelts, and others without. The musty scent grows stronger still, and you begin to feel a strange chill seep into your very bones. Around you the scene flickers between the familiarity of the Stumps and a lush, unknown field. Within the field there are wilted herbs and mushrooms as far as the eye can see, yet within the Stumps, the amount of fallen cats have grown, some from every clan with mushrooms grown from each.
The pace of the flickering increases with the strength of the scent until you feel overwhelmed, your dizziness eventually knocking you off your paws. However, before darkness can fully take over your vision, you see an unknown group of cats silhouetted in the distance. As you stare at them, your vision looses focus, and the world fades to nothing.
Could those strangers be a good omen, or a bad one?
Please react to your respective dreams accordingly. Your character will remember everything they saw when they wake up, but no scents or sounds will linger beyond those of the other medicine cats around them. It is up to them what they will share of their dream, for your character will only have knowledge of their own.
Her dream started out peaceful. She was at the Blessed Stumps, somewhere she was familiar with. It wasn't long before her dream twisted. Normally, if there was an omen, she had time to enjoy the peacefulness of her dream. It seemed StarClan had other plans for her this time. An odor filled her nose almost immediately, musty and strong and wrong. She immediately thinks back to Coyotecall and the smell that circled his corpse and her fur stood on end. No longer could she smell the other cats, her surroundings, the night air - all she could smell was the disease. Flickerfrost flinched as a strong ringing started in her ears until that too was all she could hear. She opened her maw to warn those gathered around, but no words came out, or maybe they did and she just couldn't hear them. 'Get out, run away!'
One by one, cats started to fall, starting with those nearest to her. Fangstar fell, followed by Ferretmask, Featherpaw, the warriors she had grown with. Cats from other Clans fell too - it wasn't just GorgeClan and it didn't seem that any Clan had cats falling faster than another. It was terrifying. The ringing in her ears was almost painful, and her vision began blurring before long. Despite the darkness and blurriness of her vision, she saw light forming in the distance, taking shape of cats. StarClan? She couldn't tell, only that the mushrooms were fading as well as the cats, and she could smell and hear and see again, even as silent as it was. "Who are you?" She tried, though she received no response. "Please! Tell me how to help!"
Flickerfrost awoke with a gasp and a start, body flinging itself away from the Starpool before she realized what she was doing. The effects of her dream where distant in her memory but they lingered her in mind. A quick glance around showed that she was the first awake, so there wasn't much she could do until they awoke as well. She paced until they did, glancing at Featherpaw and watching her fall over and over in her mind's eye. She settled close when her paws began to tire, working on settling her fur back to it's flat form.
Not long later, other cats began to wake and she nodded to them in turn until they were all awake. "Something terrible is coming. Something that doesn't just involve GorgeClan but all the Clans. This strange, terrible disease - we have to find a way to stop it before it's too late." It was no time for secrecy. Flickerfrost let the healer in her take charge. "We've lost one to it so far, a warrior - Coyotecall. He was fine one moment, and the next he was just - just gone, after a series of convulsions. Not long had passed before mushrooms began sprouting from his body. I've never seen anything like this before."
Flickerfrost got to her paws, unable to sit still any longer but still unwilling to part from Featherpaw's side, through she tried to make it look like she wasn't standing guard. "I dreamed all the Clans fell. There was no cat left alive, and there was a terrible smell and a terrible ringing in my ears. Just as darkness settled over me, there was a light - cats, in the distance, and their presence made the disease vanish, along with the dead cats. I thought, maybe they were StarClan, but I didn't recognize any of them." She paused, mulling over whether or not she should directly ask any of the others gathered about their dreams. She'd have to. "I know I don't normally ask, but, have any of you dreamed anything similar tonight? Our Clans will suffer if we don't figure this out."
[attr="class","textieno"] @tagged [break] notes [break] credit ❤[break][break] Skywhisper knew this scent all too well already. He did not yell or yowl. He had learned to wait, in painful anticipation, for the outcome of the Spore as the ringing in his ears grew. This must have been how Cherrybloom felt that made her temporarily lose her hearing. Cats fell around him, but Skywhisper's legs felt rooted. He could not even rush to those around him, and was forced to watch their bodies form what can only be described as an apocalyptic scene. [break][break] Perhaps it was a medicine cat's nightmare, to only be able to watch one's Clan collapse to disease. Mushrooms began to sprout from the bodies of fallen cats faster than was realistically possible. It was undeniably obvious that this was the disease that had taken Mistfeather and Tallstep's lives. Skywhisper felt his own eyes blur. [break][break] It was a terrible way to go, but some cats say you see light before you die. Skywhisper caught a glimpse of light in the distance. Were those cats? Was this StarClan? He could not recognize any of the shapes as cats he knew but he gained a strange sense of hope. [break][break] He awoke with a jerk. The familiarity Starpool flooded back into his senses as he regained his hearing and vision. Had that been an omen of his own death? Or worse, of everyone's death? Slowly, Skywhisper forced his fear-stricken fur to lay flat and his breathing to calm. He stood up and was met with Flickerfrost's concerned gaze. [break][break] "I also had this dream," he meowed simply. There was no hiding or denying it now; the Spore had become prevalent to the other Clans as well. "MoorClan has known about this disease for a moon now. Many have been sick. We call it the Spore."[break][break] Skywhisper was glad StarClan spoke tonight at all. They had been too silent in the past moon as cats succumbed to the disease, which came and went like the wind. Its lethality seemed totally up to chance. Without Spiritstar's approval, he was reluctant to give away information on the death tolls or sickness tolls as eagerly as Flickerfrost did. He looked over at Spiderpaw for news of his dream as well. If the apprentice gave out CreekClan's information, perhaps Skywhisper would be more willing to also report on MoorClan's status. [break][break] "Unfortunately, no herb to my knowledge has alleviated the symptoms. If we all had the same dream tonight, perhaps it is StarClan's wish for the Clans to work together."
his last memory of the waking world slipped further from his mind, the wetness of his paw slipping from him as the darkness overtook him for a few moments. in his slumber no one would know that if it had stayed this way he would have panic upon waking up. however the black seemed to brighten and before him his vision becomes clearer. he is laying before the blessed stumps, surrounded by nothing but silence and the gentle whispers of the wind. his eyes are scanning the clearing, almost seeking out a feline that has long since past when a rustle catches his ears and he turns to see the herbs before him. his jaws part as he seeks to scent them, but no scent comes to him.
until it does.
the musky scent fills his nose, twisting it's way down his throat so he can almost taste the musty scent. he shakes his head as the distant mumbles begin to grow louder into the cries of cats. he swings his head from side to side, his body turning with him now as he tries to find the felines whose cries of panic and pain and fear are calling to him. "where are you!" he tries to the yowl out into the vision but the words die on his lips, as the cries grow louder and louder. he turns to the herbs before him, perhaps thinking they can make the sounds stop but with the first herb he sees wilts as he nears, his eyes fly wide open as he rushes to the next bundle and the next.
the smell grows stronger as he stumbles over the limb that has now become quite clear to him. around him the cries grow, the smell of must strengthens to the point he feels like he has become one with it, and a chill runs through his body. from his legs to his ears he feels it rush as more bodies begin to appear - the cries echoing those who had lived, and the bodies showing those who had fallen. that is when it happens, the stumps flicker out of focus, replaced by a lush field. what might have been beautiful now wilts and looks almost dead and as far as he can see there is nothing but mushrooms. almost as quick as it appeared, the stumps return.
the fallen cats have almost double in size. cats he does not know, cats he knows from the gathering, cats he was friends with. but there are shrooms flickering from their corpse and he shivers in fear, as the stumps fade out the field returns, for only a moment, it's mushrooms growing, the wilting herbs growing - and with that the stumps return with more bodies of loved ones and friends. stumbling back, spiderpaw could feel the overwhelming dizziness that was coming from the flickering of stumps and field. as his paws shake and give out below his body, the silhouette of a group of felines appear on the lush field flicker - and standing upon the stumps flicker - their faces and pelt colors missing, but their silhouettes ever present. he tries to focus but soon his body gives way.
he is one of the last to awake, his gasp of air is seen as he flings himself backwards away from the pool - the presence of his wet paw clear now. his wide eyes display a fear that he quickly shoved down as he noticed the others had already awoken. his black pelt was bristled with worry and concern before he finally managed to allow himself to calm down. he knew there was something akin to a illness - mostly due to the fact that blizzardpaw was currently a victim of it - but now, hearing flickerfrost confirm it... he stared at the gorgeclan medicine cat, seeking to draw in as much knowledge as he could. 'stoatstar would want to know!' he thought, thinking for the first time in a moon that he had proven himself useful.
'a death....' he thought, listening to the followings that came from the dead body, nodding as he took note to pass on to his mentor and to his clan leader. when she asked if anyone had a similar dream it took a moment for young spiderpaw to decide if he wanted to share or not. however he was saved the turn by skywhisper who meowed in his turn. 'they've known about the illness for a moon and said nothing!' he wanted to spit at the other medicine cat for being foolish and stupid to hide such a disease. when both medicine cats turned to look at him for a moment he felt overwhelmed, but his composure soon calmed him and he nodded. 'work together... or die.' he thought.
"i woke at the blessed stumps alone and with herbs before me," he began, closing his eyes as if to envision it once more. he knew death had almost come for him once, he was not going to let the vision take him from this reality and send him sprawling with fear again. "i scented something... musky, it filled my senses by the end of the dream - vision? i don't know what you would call it." he meowed, eyes opening to flick to the two medicine cats and finally to featherpaw. she had offered him comfort before the dive into the dreams, now he sought it again to continue. "i could hear the screams and cries of so many cats but i could not see them, i could not go near the herbs laid before me for they wilted as i neared." he stopped, catching his breath as his eyes fluttered closed once more.
"and then i stumbled over a limb... dead cats began to show, i do not know how many fell before the stumps flickered away into a lush field of wilted herbs and mushrooms... so many mushrooms..." he shook his head at that notion. "and then the stumps reappeared, with more bodies and mushrooms, followed by the field... and i think..." he paused opening his eyes to stare at both medicine cat's with a nervous expression. "i saw them.... or... the shadow of them... they stood before me on the lush field framed by sunlight, but also upon the stumps framed by moonlight." his eyes flickered into the shadows of the cave as he finally meowed.
"berrybloom wouldn't tell me if it was true or not, but i believe one of our apprentices is currently unconscious in the medicine cat den with this... spore?" he paused then and with a soft sigh he added. "what do we do? if herbs do not alleviate the symptoms do we find the source?" he asked, looking to all medicine cats and finally letting his eyes land on featherpaw. "did you have the same dream as us... or well.. as them or as me?"
Featherpaw's dream swelled up from the darkness that she closed her eyes upon. The first thing she noticed was a warmth that cradled her like the middle of green-leaf, the scents of herbs and prey alike reaching her nose and soothing her worries away. Her eyes blinked open upon a lush field, a river flowing nearby beneath a stand of trees. While the unfamiliarity would normally set her on edge, Featherpaw could not help but feel at ease in such a place, surrounded by the scents that often lingered within the den she shared with Flickerfrost.
Was this Starclan, perhaps?
Curious of who might come to speak with her today, for the feline she had met before had been a soothing presence indeed, Featherpaw rose to her paws and padded toward the stream. However, while she sought comfort in the smell of herbs, even as she tried to locate the scent of another cat, a different scent began to cloud her awareness. A familiar one. A scent that spread a spike of dread throughout her, chilling her blood and raising the fur along her spine as she tensed in her sleep.
No. Not again. Could she even get sick in a dream? Could she die in a dream? Not sure what else to do, she made a beeline for the herbs that had seemingly chased away the strange sensations last time the scent hit her, stumbling pace wavering a little in her newfound dizziness. The herb, however, wilted, and in its place sprouted a mushroom that saw her reeling back in alarm.
Behind her, she bumped into something. Another mushroom.
With a yowl of alarm, she made frantically for another herb, and another. Yet each she approached wilted, a muschroom taking its place as the musty scent in the air grew only stronger, clouding every other smell. Around the edges, the world seemed a little darker, hazy, and the apprentice swayed on the spot as she finally stopped to heave panting breathes.
Dizzy, Featherpaw finally falls to the ground, and the last thing she sees is the ominous mushroom just inches before her nose before her world fades to black.
Without warning, the apprentice jolted into reality, eyes shot wide as she scrambled back from the Starpool, breathing heavy and frantic as she tried to get her bearings. When she finally managed to become aware of the situation around her, Flickerfrost was standing over her telling the others about her dream and sickness, with Skywhisper and Spiderpaw going on to give their own piece.
Still panicked, Featherpaw was glad to have the attention off her.
She was barely even aware of Spiderpaw casting his gaze toward her as he spoke, despite the fact that she stared blankly in his direction, barely hearing, barely seeing. Everyone's words buzzed in her ears, and when they finally sought her to speak, it took a moment of everyone staring at her - be it in concern or impatience - before she ducked her head to stare down at her paws.
"I-I....some...some of yours s-sounds familiar..." she murmured haltingly, gaze flicking up briefly to dance across Spiderpaw's. Absently, she sunk a little bit into Flickerfrost's side as she settled her gaze back upon the water before her, letting her dream wash over her again in fragments. "I didn't recognize the field, but it seemed so warm and peaceful until...until every herb started to wilt into mushrooms and the smell...and it was cold then, so cold...like before..."
Words catching, the apprentice shuddered with a slight whimper, closing her eyes. "I did not see the c-cats. There was no one...just me. The herbs all died and it was just the scent a-and dizziness until I blacked out. I-I thought I was going to die, like...like..." Forcing her eyes to flicker open, Featherpaw cast a frightened glance toward Flickerfrost, before glancing across at Spiderpaw. Her dream was scary enough, thinking she was going to never wake up again...yet he had seen so many die, and it was his first time here, alone without his mentor...it must have been terrifying. She already knew seeing it in real life had been horrific, and that was just one cat.
Ears settling back, Featherpaw reluctantly slunk away from her mentor's side to settle down beside Spiderpaw, mimicking the way Wolfpaw would often press against her side and touch his nose to the top of her head in hopes of giving the younger apprentice the same kind of comfort, before returning her attention to the other medicine cats. Knowing she was not the only one here young and afraid, she managed to find her voice again, even if it was soft and shaky.
"I got sick before too...with this illness," she admitted weakly, casting a shy flicker of a glance toward her mentor briefly, before her gaze skittered away to skim across the pool once more. It no longer gave her a sense of comfort as it had before. "I thought it was n-nothing at the time...a weird chill, so cold, I shivered s-so much I could barely walk. I u-used herbs, and I thought I must h-have treated it because it went away b-but....I guess it just faded on its own. I doubt you would not have tried th-those herbs already..." her gaze flickered briefly to Skywhisper as she addressed him specifically at the end, before it fell back to her paws.
"I don't even know if it has really gone away for good..."
The Spore. The name fit, at least. But a disease, especially one with no known cure, wasn't something the Clans needed at the moment, especially so soon after Bonestar's reign. An entire moon? MoorClan knew for a moon and hadn't let anyone else know? How could they? Her lip curled back but she bit back the words that she wanted to let loose. Coyotecall had been the first to her knowledge and she had let the information spill immediately. It was just like MoorClan to keep themselves out of other Clan's business. "The Spore, as you call it, could've affected all the Clans and yet you kept it secret? How could you? If we'd known about this sooner, maybe we'd have a better chance fighting it!" Of course, she couldn't just not say anything. Something had to be said and who better than her?
Her tail lashed but she kept herself quiet as she let Spiderpaw speak. He seemed so young and to have such a terrible dream. She pitied him. No apprentice should have to go through that without a mentor by their side. And she couldn't blame him for not having information. She'd kept information from Fangstar away from Featherpaw before, if only to protect her. Now, it seemed it was an attempt that was ultimately useless, but hindsight, as they say.
"I'm sorry you've had to go through this alone," she said, sympathy laced with her words. "You could be right. If we find the source, we can at least stop others from falling ill as well. That's not to say we should stop looking for the cure, but we can at least divide out attentions." She thought a moment about her dream, the bright cats near the end of it catching her attention. "If not StarClan, perhaps the shining cats are outsiders? Cats who don't belong to any Clan? Loners, rogues, the city cats. Maybe we could search them out for help? Do we even know anything about them?"
Flickerfrost started to press herself towards her frightened apprentice's side just as Featherpaw got up and walked away. She watched her, curious, until she realized her intent and Flickerfrost gave her a nod of approval. Her apprentice was brave, to provide support when she herself needed it. It warmed her. There was hope for her yet. The smile that started to form dissipated the moment Featherpaw next spoke. She had shown symptoms? And Flickerfrost hadn't known? Had she been too scared to tell Flickerfrost in fear of what she would do? What kind of mentor was she? That marked twice that she had failed.
She hardened the look in her eyes, giving another nod to her apprentice. It wasn't the time. They could talk about it later. "Whereas I don't doubt you've tried everything, either of you," she started, gesturing to both Featherpaw and Skywhisper, "in the meantime, perhaps we could try combining herbs that we wouldn't normally, see if that works. We'll try mixing, try finding the source, and set up some sort of meetings with the outlanders." It was about time to leave, but she wouldn't until they all settled on a plan.