Warriors doesn't belong to me.
Firepaw sneezed when a snowflake landed on his nose and shook his head. He sat in front of a big clearing where you saw nothing more but earth. Here all the cats ThunderClan had lost in the battle against BloodClan a moon ago had been buried. Despite him trying not to, he did feel guilty about it. He had so much more experience than most of the cats that had died and yet he couldn't save them.
Nightstar had lost a total of three lives in the battle, leaving him with only two left. Three times, they'd managed to technically kill three ThunderClan leaders. Three leaders that all had the experience and body of a great leader. And here he was, trapped in the body of a young tom, almost a warrior already, with the experience of a leader and he'd let it happen.
Firepaw gulped tears back when his eyes strayed to one border of the clearing. A little bit of frozen grass was there again already. It was Sapphirefur's grave. He missed his first mentor very dearly. Sapphirefur had died because she had known. She'd known about him and the others, she'd known about the Dark-Forest, about Tigerstar, Hawkfrost and so many more. She'd known about what had happened in the past.
And that was what had kept the ten of them from confining anyone else.
But now, to see that so many cats had died because they didn't know of the threat BloodClan presented, Firepaw started doubting their decision. Maybe ThunderClan should know, or at least certain cats in the clan should know. For day's he'd been contemplating to either tell Nightstar or not. The ginger tom knew very well that StarClan had guided the black-furred leader since the ten of them had awoken in the nursery. He knew Bramblestar had influenced the apprentice ceremonies, that Thunder had kept Nightstar alerted with occasionally visiting his dreams and so on. So would Nightstar knowing really be that bad?
Their group was torn by the answer.
While Bluepaw, Whitepaw and Spottedpaw shared Firepaw's doubts in keeping everything such a tight secret, the other four were strictly against telling anyone. They were mostly scared, Firepaw knew that, but he couldn't just run over them and do what he believed was right. That right he reserved himself for urgent situations or when he just couldn't do anything else anymore, it had always been like this. Night after night they had discussed whether to confine Nightstar or anyone else and night after night they retreated to their den without any solution. That of course left the atmosphere tense.
He couldn't remember when he'd last had such a long argument going on with Sandpaw. The she-cat thought him mouse-brained for wanting to confine his father. Once she'd told him that, Firepaw had lost it and done something he regretted deeply. He'd insulted her and brought Spiritheart into the argument. The mentioning of her dead father had shut Sandpaw up at once, but she'd spun around and left as well. That argument had taken place mere days after the battle and Firepaw still hadn't been able to fix his mistake.
In the apprentice-den Sandpaw slept as far away from him as she could, always keeping Dustpaw between them. Firepaw, though having felt lonely at first, Greypaw and Ravenpaw weren't too happy with him either, had been joined by Bluepaw and Whitepaw half a moon ago. It was a hard time.
Firepaw knew part of their argument and mood was them growing up. Firepaw didn't know when, but they all should become warriors fairly soon. He shuddered when he remembered the events that had just occurred.
They'd argued over telling Nightstar again, and Bluepaw had pointed out that Tigerstar was still dangerous, that he still could get into cats heads when he tried to. That they needed someone to rely on. Hollypaw had argued back that that would never happen in the first place, which had caused something in Firepaw to snap. With a growl he'd reminded her what had happened near the beginning of their apprenticeship, after the storm. Greypaw had tried to argue that Firepaw was strong and it wouldn't happen again. That had been too much for the ginger tom to handle. He'd leaped up, screamed at them that they had no idea what Tigerstar was capable off, and had run off.
Firepaw had come here for some peace and quiet, to order his thoughts, but it wouldn't work. Talking about what Tigerstar did to him had brought up the memories of it and he couldn't supress them anymore.
"Pathetic kitty-pet. To have yourself falling down so much. A real leader would fight for what he is."
"Kitty-Pet I'm not in your head. I'm in you! Your fear is what gives me strength to survive in here. HA! And with all you fear, I just grow stronger." "
As I said, pathetic. She treats you like a kit. Just show her you aren't one."
"How can you stand this name? It's weak. You became weak Firestar. When you were a leader you were at least a cat that I knew was an enemy. Now you are just weak."
"Typical. You run away kitty-pet. How you managed to become leader is a mystery to me."
"Honestly why aren't you stopping them. You are Firestar for crying out loud. Show them."
And then, he remembered what the words had caused. He'd started doubting. Doubting ThunderClan, doubting StarClan, doubting himself. He'd started believing Tigerstar. "What…what if Tigerstar is right. I was once a leader and I…I could easily beat every cat in the clan…I…" Once again the memory shifted and Tigerstar's voice sounded in his ears again. It had happened so many moons ago, but the pain and fear that was connected with it, kept it clear.
"Oh Firestar what am I gonna do with you?"
"Not so fast! For the first time in my life I'm, trying to help you."
"Simple, I can take advantage of it as well. Accept it Firestar. You are no apprentice and you know that. You are a former leader of ThunderClan and you should be one again."
"Many seasons ago, but now you can become it again, just accept who you are. You are Firestar, not a little defenceless apprentice."
A choked cry escaped Firepaw and he shot to his paws, shaking from head to toe. Stop, groaned the apprentice mentally. He couldn't take it anymore. Those memories, the doubt, it was terrible. Terrible to know how close Tigerstar had already come to controlling him, to have him fall for his trickery.
This was Firepaw's main reason for wanting to confine cats. So they could help each other.
Manipulation was one of Tigerstar's strongest points and the tabby was never hesitant to use it.
Firepaw chocked again when another memory forced its way forward. The same night, the time Tigerstar had invaded his mind, his dreams, and had him going through what he feared most. Losing ThunderClan's trust, losing his family's trust. He remembered clearly how he'd been forced to watch Tigerstar acting as him, forcing ThunderClan through terrible things, things he couldn't prevent because he had nothing left. More and more doubts had started to cloud his thoughts, weakening him more and more with each second.
Had StarClan not interfered when they did, Tigerstar would've managed it. He would've managed to break the ginger tom, to make him his mindless little follower. And the former leader despised himself as much as Tigerstar for this. Onestar, it had been Onestar who'd saved him in the end. His old friend had thought of Sandstorm. That Sandstorm was the one to snap him out of the prison his own doubts presented. And it had worked. His love to Sandstorm was the only thing Tigerstar had never managed to affect and as long as this love existed, Firepaw knew there was always hope.
Now that Sandpaw wouldn't let him apologize. His hope started to dwindle away and Firepaw knew, he knew, it was only a matter of time until Tigerstar would realise this and make another advance. And this time even StarClan won't be able to stop him. Firepaw chocked a sob and lowered his head, pressing it against the cool earth while snowflakes continued to cover him.
He hadn't even realised his legs had given out on him, hadn't realised that he had fallen to the ground, that he'd walked over to Sapphirefur's grave before it happened. Here he lay, shivering because of his memories and the cold, wishing for his life to be easier. Why always him? Why?
"Firepaw!" Firepaw's ears twitched and he glanced around confused. Who would be looking for him? Scratch that, who knew he'd left the camp anyhow aside from Sandpaw, who obviously didn't care anymore. A few bushes rustled and, to his surprise, Sandpaw leaped out, crying his name once more. Before Firepaw could answer she spotted him and her leaf-green eyes went wide.
For a second he wondered what he might look like. His exhaustion, fear and pain had to show on his face and in his eyes, his body was covered in snow. Yet the thought disappeared quickly when Sandpaw rushed over to him. She swatted his ear and cried: "You mouse-brain! Do you have the slightest idea how worried I was?! I thought who knows what happened to you! There we have it again! You are ungrateful! I get that what Greypaw said might upset you, but you didn't have to lash out at him like that! You didn't have to run off! You-"
"Why do you care?"
Firepaw's soft question cut the she-cat off and she blinked. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Why do you care?", repeated Firepaw softly while he stared to the ground, imagining Sapphirefur there. "Why did you come? Why now of all times? Why not a few days ago, half a moon ago or all the other times I tried to apologize for what I said. Why did you have to break my heart like you did, to steal whatever hope I had left? Tigerstar will win. It's over." Sandpaw was silent and he glanced up at her, to find her staring back at him wide-eyed.
"You…you're giving up", whispered the she-cat.
"Just like that? What about all the cats around the lake? What about ThunderClan?"
"They'd do well without me too."
"But…everyone needs you! You are the strong point, our centre!"
"And I'm sick of it!", cried Firepaw out. He shot up and towered over the she-cat. "I am just sick of it Sandpaw. You all expect me to make decisions, to do the right things and I get why. But you don't know what I went through the first time around, you don't know that Duskpaw attacked me before he made his decision, you don't know how similar we are and you. have. Not. The. Slightest. Idea. What. Tigerstar. Put. Me. Through. A. few. Moons. Ago!" With each word he'd stalked closer to her and Sandpaw had backed off.
Her eyes were wide and fearful and she whispered: "W-w-what do you…mean?"
Firepaw gave a snarl and answered: "He almost had me Sandpaw! He almost broke me that night after he invaded my mind. Had StarClan not invaded when they did, had Onestar not realised what the only reason I hadn't broken yet was, I wouldn't be here. I would probably be either dead or following Tigerstar around. And now you had to take that one thing, that one great hope that always kept me going away from me!" By now Sandpaw crouched on the ground, her whole body shook in fear.
With great strength Firepaw forced himself to calm down a little and he turned away, his tail swiping through the soft snow that covered most of the ground by now. "You took your love from Sandpaw. It…when Tigerstar invaded my dreams, he caught me. He caught me and took my form. He made me watch myself abusing my power as ThunderClan's leader. I was forced to watch how each and every cat of ThunderClan started to hate me. Mousefur, Dustpelt, Daisy, Brightheart…even Bramblestar, Squirrelflight, Cloudtail and Leafpool…everyone but you…he couldn't influence how I viewed you…because I never doubted that you love me. I always believed you loved me, no matter what happened. And this love, this love brought me back. Had Onestar not realised that when he did, had he been a second to late, I would've broken under the pressure. And that last hope deep within my heart…it's gone now Sandpaw. I need you to hold on. Not necessary in mind or body…just in the knowledge that you love me as much as I love you …"
Firepaw shook his head and turned around, walking back to camp. "I was mistaken", whispered the ginger tom and walked off slowly, head bowed low and tail dragged along the ground.
He was already halfway back when something suddenly barrelled into him and pinned him down. Firepaw stared wide-eyed when he looked back into tearful leaf-green eyes. "You mouse-brain!", chocked Sandpaw out and buried her head in the crook of his neck and shoulder. "You big mouse-brain", whimpered the she-cat. "Of course I love you. I was hurt when you brought Spiritheart into our argument. I thought you wouldn't understand what I feel at having lost him since you still have both of your parents. But…seeing you now, how you lay there atop Sapphirefur's grave…you lost someone close to you so much sooner. I didn't mean to hurt you like this Firepaw. StarClan I love you!"
Firepaw could do nothing more but stare at the she-cat he loved so much. There she was, admitting she loved him, but a part of him still wouldn't believe it. Finally Sandpaw pulled back and pressed her nose against his. "I came to get you actually", whispered the she-cat. "Because Nightstar decided to make the nine of us warriors today Firepaw." Firepaw felt a pang go through him and he tried to pull away, but Sandpaw just followed his movement and continued: "From tomorrow on we'll be official warriors Firepaw and…and though we both still see each other as such, the others do not. So…please Firepaw, be my mate again. Tomorrow we can make it official. I wouldn't want to spend this life with anyone but you."
She looked at him hopefully, finally pulling away. Firepaw continued to stare up at her, but he felt how his troubled thoughts finally started to settle and a gentle warmth ran through him. Strength, not just bodily, but mentally, returned to him and he felt safer. Tensing his muscles he flipped them over, now being the one who pinned Sandpaw down. She tensed nervously, but Firepaw purred and nuzzled her, before licking her cheek. Sandpaw's eyes were bright with hope and she breathed: "Does that mean…?"
"I wouldn't want to spend my life with anyone else but you either Sandpaw", murmured Firepaw while he gently licked her forehead. "I love you too." Sandpaw was positively beaming at that point and purring both nuzzled each other once more, before Firepaw finally got off of the she-cat and she stood up. Firepaw smiled while he watched Sandpaw shaking snow from her fur and thought; Sometimes I really am a mouse-brain. How could I have ever doubted her?
He snapped out of his thoughts when Sandpaw nuzzled him once more and together the two walked back the rest of the way to camp. Once they walked in, Lionclaw and Mudheart rushed up to both of them, grooming them immediately.
"Mother!", exclaimed Firepaw and tried to struggle away from his mother. Sandpaw nearby tried the same with her mother. After a while the two she-cats finally let go of them and ushered them to where the others and their mentors waited.
Once they arrived Greypaw burst forward and started to apologize profusely for his earlier words. Firepaw placed his tail-tip over his brother's mouth and gave him a soft smile. It was alright. Greypaw gave a relieved sigh and a nod and allowed Firepaw to walk up to Rockheart. The grey she-cat looked down at her apprentice and whispered: "Sapphirefur would be very proud of you." Firepaw smiled up at the she-cat thankfully, then heard it already.
"Let all those cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Highledge for a Clan Meeting!"
Nightstar throned atop the Highledge, his green eyes bright with life. Slowly but surely all cats appeared and Nightstar continued: "Cats of ThunderClan, today is a wonderful day, because we will welcome nine new warriors inside our ranks. Reedheart, you offered to speak for all the mentors. Are the apprentices ready?"
Reedheart straightened and let his gaze wander over the other mentors. Finally he called: "Without a doubt Nightstar. All of them are very skilled hunters and fought bravely in the big battle." Some cats winced at the reminder, but other than that there was luckily no reaction.
Nightstar gave a satisfied nod and called: "Very well. Then I now ask Dustpaw, Sandpaw, Whitepaw, Hollypaw, Bluepaw, Silverpaw, Ravenpaw, Greypaw and Firepaw to come forward."
The nine of them got up and Firepaw caught a glance at Spottedpaw, who smiled brightly at them. It took a little while for all nine apprentices to navigate through the gathered cats, but they sat in front of the Highledge soon enough.
"I, Nightstar, leader of ThunderClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors. All of you, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your lives?" Firepaw took a deep breath, before he answered, along with the others: "I do."
Nightstar nodded and, pride evident in his voice, he continued: "Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior names." He turned to Dustpaw first. "Dustpaw, from this moment you will be known as Dustpelt. StarClan honours your Bravery and Honesty and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." He leaped from the Highledge and placed his nose against Dustpelt's forehead.
Firepaw exchanged a glance with Greypaw. Could it be that…
"Sandpaw, from this moment you will be known as Sandstorm. StarClan honours your Courage and Spirit and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Sandstorm's forehead while she licked his shoulder respectfully.
"Whitepaw, from this moment you will be known as Whitestorm. StarClan honours your Loyalty and Wisdom and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Whitestorm's forehead while he licked his shoulder respectfully.
"Hollypaw, from this moment you will be known as Hollyleaf. StarClan honours your Loyalty and Thoughtfulness and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Hollyleaf's forehead while she licked his shoulder respectfully.
"Bluepaw, from this moment you will be known as Bluefur. StarClan honours your Bravery and Strength and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Bluefur's forehead while she licked his shoulder respectfully.
"Silverpaw, from this moment you will be known as Silverstream. StarClan honours your Speed and Kindness and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Silverstream's forehead while she licked his shoulder respectfully.
"Ravenpaw, from this moment you will be known as Ravenflight. StarClan honours your Intelligence and Enthusiasm and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Ravenflight's forehead while he licked his shoulder respectfully.
"Greypaw, from this moment you will be known as Greystripe. StarClan honours your Bravery and Strength and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Greystripe's forehead while he licked his shoulder respectfully.
Finally he turned to Firepaw and the ginger tom couldn't help but smile at the prideful look he got from his father. In some way, it felt right to sit here again, to wait for his leader to appoint him as warrior. One last time Nightstar repeated the customary words. "Firepaw, from this moment you will be known as Fireheart. StarClan honours your Bravery and Strength and we welcome you as a full warrior of our clan." Nightstar bent down and touched his nose to Fireheart's forehead while he licked his shoulder respectfully.
Then Nightstar stepped back and cheers got loud. "Fireheart! Greystripe! Ravenflight! Bluefur! Silverstream! Hollyleaf! Whitestorm! Sandstorm! Dustpelt!" "Fireheart! Greystripe! Ravenflight! Bluefur! Silverstream! Hollyleaf! Whitestorm! Sandstorm! Dustpelt!"
Fireheart felt a little dazed and pulled back in time to his first warrior ceremony. This one was so different, yet also strangely the same. It was a nice feeling. After a lot of congratulations, Nightstar dismissed the clan and glanced at the darkening sky. "Since you are so many, you will all have to take different guard-posts", explained Nightstar.
"I'll go atop the cliff", offered Ravenflight. "We'll join you", proclaimed Whitestorm, Bluefur and Hollyleaf nodding in agreement. "As long as you spread out a little up there, alright", answered Nightstar. The four nodded and bounded up the cliff.
"Silverstream and I could take the camp-entrance from the outside", offered Greystripe and Dustpelt caught up: "And I'll take the secret exit near the dirtplace."
Nightstar nodded again and finally only Fireheart and Sandstorm were left. "Well, seems like the centre of the camp is left for us", stated the ginger tom. Sandstorm nodded and Nightstar said: "Don't forget, you're not allowed to talk during the guard, but don't be afraid to alert anyone should anything happen." The two warriors nodded and Nightstar retreated to his den, just like most of the other cats did.
Fireheart gave Sandstorm's ear and affectionate lick before he strolled to the centre of the clearing and sat down. Sandstorm followed and sat down as close to him as possible. It got darker and darker and around moonhigh the clouds started to disappear. Fireheart heard Sandstorm's intake of breath and looked at her. She gestured upwards and he smiled.
The Night-Sky was magnificent.
Thousands and thousands of stars blinked on up there and the Silverpelt seemed brighter than ever. The moon cast his gentle light over the ground, causing the snow to glitter slightly. All in all, one could believe they were back in StarClan. The night passed slowly, but Fireheart didn't mind. It felt wonderful to sit next to Sandstorm in the camp. Sharing guard like this.
He remembered clearly that Greystripe and he had overtaken Sandstorm and Dustpelt before, although the latter two had been apprentices longer. It was simply nice to share this experience with the cat he loved. Dawn was already breaking when the first cats awoke from their slumber. The firs to appear on the clearing was Nettlebite. The tabby obviously had planned to scorn them for having to sit guard in the cold, but Fireheart just couldn't mind him. He felt too content in having Sandstorm by his side and Nettlebite saw that. His expression turned sour and he stalked out of the camp. A few heartbeats after he was gone, Greystripe appeared and padded over to Fireheart and Sandstorm. He sent a wary glance to the tunnel, then looked back at his friends. The two shrugged.
Who knew what was up with Nettlebite.
More and more cats started to appear and once it was certain the sun had risen fully and caused the snow to shine in the brightest white, Scarpath trotted over to Fireheart, Greystripe and Sandstorm and said: "Vigil is over, you can talk and rest now."
The three relaxed and Fireheart answered: "Thank you Scarpath."
The elder nodded and advised: "I'd gather the others before you take a rest though."
As they say, said and done. In no time at all the group had gathered again, Spottedpaw joining them. They sat in a circle near the warriors den. They knew they should sleep, but each of them had so much pent up energy to spend. So right now, they just talked. Suddenly Spottedpaw said: "We have to tell at least Nightstar." Everyone turned to look at her and she said: "Our secret, I mean."
"And why?", pressed Dustpelt with narrowed eyes.
Spottedpaw smiled at them and explained: "Fireheart already confirmed that StarClan is frequently visiting Nightstar's dreams and…StarClan help us! You all have the exact same name you used to have! Go ahead and tell me StarClan isn't behind this!" Dustpelt, Hollyleaf and Silverstream opened their mouths, but nothing came out. "Exactly. Sooner or later he'll start wondering what makes us so special. If he hasn't already. Nightstar needs to know." With that she got up and walked back into the medicine cat's den.
"You know that she's right", said Bluefur softly.
Dustpelt sighed and nodded. "I know." Silverstream and Hollyleaf gave the consent as well, as did Ravenflight, Greystripe and Sandstorm. "He should know as soon as possible though", pushed Greystripe then.
"I'll go him now", stated Fireheart and got up. It wasn't an offer, but a statement and no one argued. They all felt Fireheart was the most suited for revealing this to Nightstar, and Fireheart himself knew it too. Sandstorm pressed herself close to him and licked his shoulder, before she stepped away and let him pass. Fireheart looked back at his friends, his family, before the steeled himself and started scaling the cliff. Outside Nightstar's den, he hesitated, but then meowed a greeting.
"Come in." Following Nightstar's request, Fireheart slid into the den, to find the leader sitting in his nest. It seemed he'd just finished grooming his fur. "Fireheart, what may I do for you?", greeted Nightstar warmly. Fireheart took a deep breath.
"Father there is something you need to know…"
Now please don't Freak out. There will be a Sequel. As always, please Review on this last Chapter. Please be honest...but not too mean...and tell me what you think. I promise the Sequel will gome, but it's gonna take a Little while. I still have some other stories to finish too.
But the Sequel will come. I swear to StarClan!
And now, to finally finish this completely, the last Alligances for ThunderClan in this Story.
Nightstar – small black tom with green eyes and a torn ear
Rivertail – slender light-grey tom with dark grey paws and blue eyes
Splashwhisker – thick-furred, dark grey tom with orange eyes – Mentor of Spottedpaw
Reedheart – red-black spotted tom with green eyes
Leopardclaw – dark and light-brown spotted she-cat with yellow eyes
Iceclaw – small black tom with ice-blue eyes and one white paw
Mountainfang – long furred spotted tom with dark-green eyes and huge fangs
Eagleflight – brown tabby tom with white ears and fur around the nose
Dawnfire – dark-grey tom with orange eyes
Weaselflight – white tom with brown stripes
Hawkpath – white tom with greyish-silver stripes and blue eyes
Wolfheart – light grey she-cat with white, belly, throat and leg
Fangtail – brown tom with long fangs, scarred tail and green eyes
Lionclaw – golden she-cat with yellow eyes – Mentor of Cloudpaw
Rockheart – dark grey she-cat with dark-blue eyes
Darkpetal – black she-cat with yellowish-green eyes – Mentor of Stripepaw
Fierceclaw – tortoiseshell spotted she-cat
Songheart - ginger she-cat with blue eyes and an injured paw
Nettlebite – silver-white tabby tom with blue eyes
Frostfur – white she-cat with blue eyes
Fireheart – ginger tom with green eyes
Greystripe – long furred grey tom wit darker stripe over his back and yellow eyes
Ravenflight – black tom with white spot on his chest and tail, amber eyes
Sandstorm – small pale ginger she-cat with green eyes
Dustpelt – dark-brown tabby-tom with amber eyes
Bluefur – blue-grey she cat with silver fur around her nose and icy-blue eyes
Silverstream - pale silver-grey tabby she-cat with a finely shaped head and bright blue eyes
Whitestorm - thick-furred, broad-shouldered, long-bodied, white tom with yellow eyes
Hollyleaf – black she-cat with green eyes
Spottedpaw – tortoiseshell and white she-cat with a dappled coat, small white paws, chest and muzzle
Stripepaw – grey and tortoiseshell tabby tom
Cloudpaw – grey spotted tom with orange eyes
Mudheart – dark-brown she-cat with light-brown ears (no kits)
Morningcloud – golden she-cat with pale-blue eyes (mother of Petalkit, Rosekit and Lilykit, mate of Reedheart)
Lynxfur – dark-yellow and brown spotted she-cat with only half of her tail (expecting Rivertail's kits)
Hopewing – golden she-cat with icy-blue eyes (expecting Weaselflight's kits)
Petalkit – golden she-cat with pale-blue eyes
Rosekit – black, red and golden spotted she-cat
Lilykit – red-golden tabby she-cat
Greeneye – oldest tom in ThunderClan, light-brown tabby-tom with green eyes
Kestrelstrike – dark-golden she-cat with scars over her flank
Scarpath – dark-grey tom with white stripe over his shoulder