The Monster In The Dark

For a moment, for a brief and wonderful moment, she was flying. There was wind in her fur, feeble lights glowing above her head, her large shambling target set in front of her outstretched claws.

And then instead of flying she was falling, falling towards the tabby tom, who had turned with surprising swiftness towards her, and waited for her with an open mouth filled with jagged teeth.

Sablepaw landed on the tom's back, and sank in her claws. Her aim had been off, but that was all right; if she'd landed where she'd planned, it would've been into the tabby's waiting jaws. He staggered, but her blance was better than she gave herself credit for.

Without waiting for the tom to move- he was going to drop and roll over, she could tell, simply because of the subtle tensing of his muscles- Sablepaw leapt off and flicked a piece of fur from her claws as she landed. She shook the rain out of her fur impatiently and sank into a crouch. The Tainted looked momentarily confused; who was his mysterious attacker, and where had she gone? Then his wide eyes swung and focused on her.

"What's the matter, pretty kitty?" she asked, tauntingly, feinting a dart to the left and then striking a blow to his thickly padded right. In the corner of her vision, she could see Morningstar, grinning smugly in the shadows. She, at least, seemed pleased. The apprentice, however, was daunted by the tabby's sheer size and the blubber on his bones.

"Who are you-" the Tainted began to growl, before Sablepaw's claws nicked his throat. It was only a shallow nick on the the lump of lard he had for a neck, but at least it seemed to distract him and the blood beginning to seep onto his fur added a nice contrast to his dull pelt.

Sablepaw considered a reply- something grand yet vague, like no one of consequence or a crusader against the tide of poison- but she had no time for snippy remarks. The tom was barreling towards her. Each step elicited a grunt out of the fat alley cat, but he could cover ground fast.

Sablepaw sprang nimbly out of his path, but she had become too confident. The tom whirled and flung out a meaty paw, tripping her back legs and knocking her to the wet and gritty ground. She yowled in rage, but the Tainted hadn't finished with her yet. With a speed belied by his bulk, he pounced on her and raked his long talons down in ribs. Flesh and fur parted beneath their thorn-sharp touch and blood began to well in the wounds.

He began to smirk but Sablepaw, ignoring the pain in her side, twisted out of his grip and rolled to her paws.

StarClan help me, she thought, dodging a heavy blow, he's a beast!

The tom leapt at her, and Sablepaw took the opportunity to slide beneath him and swept her claws down his belly. She tugged her paw free just short of his hindlegs. He let out an angry, guttural roar as he landed, and stumbled.

Sablepaw performed her leap-and-hold maneuver again, only this time she hung grimly on for longer and sunk her teeth into one of his large ears. She held onto until she felt his legs begin to buckle, but only jumped vertically into the air. She landed on his belly as he rolled and plunged her claws into the layers of fat that lay beneath his mangy pelt.

The tom gasped, and his breath rushed out of his mouth in a pungent cloud that reeked of rotten fish and crowfood. Sablepaw wrinkled her nose, raked her claws across his pink nose and sprang away.

"Little she-cat got 'er some claws," he snarled, lumbering to her paws. "She got 'er some fight. But what's she got against me?"

Sablepaw backed off a small grey ledge and onto a darker, rougher surface. She waved her tail in the air above her head and snapped in a cold voice, "Let's see, then."

The tom grimaced and took a step. Sablepaw was pleased to see the blood the dripped from his wounds, and backed up a few more paces to give the tom more false confidence.

He leapt for her then, or tried to; he missed and crashed heavily to the ground beside her. Sablepaw rammed her chest into him and latched her fangs into his shoulder. The Tainted hissed, rolled, and trapped her beneath his bulk. There was no gradual increase in pressure; all the air was crushed out of her small body in one painful exhale.

Sablepaw couldn't see Morningstar, or even Smokepaw. There were black spots beginning to dot her vision, and she knew she was going to die.

Without strategy or plan, Sablepaw began to flail and squirm her way out of his grip. The water on her sleek pelt helped, and she was nearly free when a pair of bright yellow lights started to roar towards them.

The Tainted froze, but she, not understanding, only knowing that the lights hurt her eyes and she needed to get away, continued to struggle. Maybe if she'd known, she too would have froze and stared into the bright blind eyes of her rapidly approaching doom. Maybe it was her ignorance that had saved her; maybe it was the fear scent the frozen tom emitted that fuelled her own inner panic.

As it was, the silver monster only clipped her, and threw her against the side of the Thunderpath. Yet even that hurt; the smallest, slightest of its touches had caused a haze of pain. She was immobilized; the agony had seized her muscles and turned her to stone. She lay on the black surface, twitching, gasping, trying to breathe, trying to escape the pain that blossomed in her chest, her leg, her ribs, her head. But she had been lucky.

The Tainted tom lay still too, but this was a deathly still. He did not stirr, and his flanks did not twitch with laboured breath. In fact, the force of impact had nearly cleaved him in half. Sablepaw found herself looking at the grisly scene, taking in the blurred details with a detached curiosity, simply because she could not turn her head away. The rain continued to fall; it felt nice, soothing, on her burning feverish pelt. Was she burning? Or was it a stinging cold? She couldn't remember; couldn't care. The pain mattered- only the pain, and trying not to scream.

"-but we can't just leave her there!"

Voices? Go away, voices. Leave me alone. Do I deserve at least that?

"She'll just die anyway. There's no point, Smokepaw. Why do you care?"

"Because no one deserves to die like that! We can help her."

There was a low growl, the sound of a scuffle. A dark voice, snarling, "Did I hear compassion in your voice? Are you using the weapons of a Tainted? Are you weak?"

"No!" Smokepaw snapped. "But listen to this; if she dies, if we leave her here, she'll mess up your perfect plans. Who will you pair to who, now? Why leave a warrior of PureClan behind- if she survives, won't she be another tool for you to use, another cat to raise the next generation of crusaders?"

Shut up, Sablepaw grumbled inwardly.

"Yes," Morningstar said shortly. "I see your point."

And then, she felt teeth bite down on her scruff. In a burst of agony, she was lifted off the cool ground onto the strong shoulders of another cat where it was impossible to hold back her shrieks.


Time. She knew that it passed, down in her tiny dark painless pit, but she also knew that she did not care. Time was an ageless, eternal creature, and she had forever to wallow in her dark oblivion. As her memories drifted languidly back, she knew other things; she knew pain, she knew the misty touch of rain on her pelt, she knew that she moved, carried on the back of another sleek-furred cat. She knew her forever was over; she had to return to the agonising reality.

Sablepaw cracked open a bleary eye. She couldn't see much; a dark sky, looming rows of dark buildings, the yellow blur of harnessed light, a glimpse of golden fur.

Involuntarily, she groaned. Her whole body was an aching bruise, but her head was a maelström that howled and thumped and hissed, and her right front leg screamed with pain. Over top of that, the cuts and scratches stung, and a bite mark on her chest refused to stop its irritating itch. The scent of blood covered her fur.

"Shhh," a voice snarled, and a thick tail whipped against her head. The body of the cat beneath her tensed, and the muscles hummed with a silent growl.

Smokepaw, she realized, sighting his sodden grey pelt out of the corner of her eyes. Later she'd be embarrassed of her direct contact with a cat of the opposite sex, of course, in front of her leader- but now, she felt nothing but her pain and an icy emotional numbness. She closed her eyes again.

Then there were voices. Shocked voices, curious voices, voices voices voices. They were all around her, echoing her ears, making her head erupt with pain at their mere loud proximity.

"Back off," a new voice snapped. It was a soft voice, and not used to giving harsh commands, but it worked. The other voices retreated, and she felt herself sliding off Smokepaw's back onto the wet ground. She gasped as her leg struck the pavement, and her head made a ringing contact with a thunk.

"Sorry," Smokepaw muttered.

"I didn't bring any helpful herbs with me. We'll have to get her back to camp; now." This was the soft voice, and it did not sound confident or authoritative in the least.

"Of course. As soon as Thornstreak and Sedgewing return, we will leave. We've collected enough Tainted anyway and I dare say we'll find some on the way back. Now, leave us. I'll stay with her and make sure she remains...alive." That was Morningstar speaking, in her favourite regal tone.

With an audible scuff of paws, the two toms retreated. Morningstar took a seat in front of Sablepaw.

Maybe moments, maybe minutes later, another cat approached Morningstar. He brought with him a mingled scent of blood and fear.

"Thornstreak," the golden she-cat murmured. "Is it done?"

Her father's sullen dark voice replied, "I did what you asked; of course it is."

Morningstar sighed; a long, relieved sound. Then she climbed to her paws and cried hoarsely, "Sedgewing! Sedgewing is dead!"

Lololol. I'm so evil, aren't I? Well...at least she's not dead (yet).

Yes, Sedgewing has a reason for being dead.

And yes! I changed TPappy's font using a site called mallubar or something.

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