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Howling Winds

on Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:02 am
After seasons of hardship and mistreatment, a young she-cat finds herself desperate for answers about her past, about a life she never knew. She will embark on a journey, one where she will discover not only who she is but also where she truly belongs.

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sat Jan 06, 2018 8:24 am
A cold wind swept its way over the hillside as a tom sat looking out over the horizon in silence. Where is he? He should have been here by now, he thought critically. Not a heartbeat later, his companion crested the rise of the hill and sat down beside him impatiently.

"Well, are we going or not," he asked, looking at the white-and-black tom expectantly. He stood up again and began pacing restlessly in a futile attempt to quell his growing excitement.

"We would have been here a while ago, Beetle, but you just had to go explore that rabbit warren..." He chuckled. "Oh well, I might as well show you the territory while we're looking around here." He stood and padded towards the forest, Beetle following at a leisurely pace behind him. When they were close to the trees, Beetle stopped and fluffed out his fur against the biting night air.

"I-Is it always this cold here?" He shuddered, obviously not on good terms with the wind, or the cold. "I don't know how you all can stand so much wind."

"Sometimes it gets to be absolutely freezing at night. Trust me though, you'll get used to the wind after a while," the tom replied brusquely. "Now quiet down; you'll scare off all the prey on the moor." Turning back in direction of the treeline, he scented the air for signs of prey. He stiffened suddenly and proceeded to quickly usher Beetle into a dip in the terrain that was sheltered by a handful of small, scraggly bushes and other plants. Whatever that scent is, it shouldn't be here. We're too exposed, despite being where we are. We could easily be spotted by a passing cat… or a fox. This isn't looking very good right now, he thought insecurely as panic gripped him. His instincts implored that he run, yet his curiosity rooted him to the spot, making his paws feel as heavy as stone.

Cautiously, he peered through the bushes that lined the top of the hollow; their thin branches and the dismal amount of leaves barely camouflaging the white in his pelt. He watched as a she-cat emerged from the trees with a kit dangling from her jaws sleepily. Her ears pricked. The she-cat's gaze flitted to a gorse bush a ways away from her. Setting the kit down in a pile of leaf litter close to the treeline, she crouched and began creeping towards her quarry. "What is she doing," the tom hissed under his breath. That prey-stealing, featherbrained loner! Thinking she can travel around and take whatever she likes. The tom felt his hackles rise, but he forced himself to keep calm. Perhaps this would be all that the she-cat would catch; maybe she would move along just as swiftly as she had come.

"What's wrong, Moss- " Beetle's fur stood on end as Moss' tail wrapped around his muzzle to silence him. Moss growled, almost beside himself.

Will this cat ever stay quiet for more than a heartbeat? I honestly think he's still a kit sometimes. Moss shot him a look, his eyes alight with frustration. "Yes, everything's fine, Beetle," he said through gritted teeth. "Now please, will you stop fretting over everything?" He hissed under his breath, muttering something unintelligible and turning back to watch the loner. Perhaps he had been a little too loud, because not a moment later, the bushes rustled and the she-cat poked her head out from the gorse bush with a small rabbit in her jaws. Moss watched tensely as her gaze surveyed the area, coming to rest upon his and Beetle's hiding place. For what felt like forever, the two locked eyes, neither daring to move.

"Whoever's there, there's no use hiding now. I know you're watching me," the she-cat called out as she hopped out of the bush.

Fear giving way to wariness, Moss and Beetle rose to their paws and ducked out from behind the cover of the bushes. A white she-cat sat patiently with her tail curled around her paws, her eyes narrowed distrustfully.

"Who are you?" Beetle prompted with a tired yawn.

"Why don't you tell me first," the she-cat snapped impatiently. "You were the ones watching me." Her eyes darted from one cat to the other as she watched them with cold suspicion. Definitely a cat that I would love to spend a moon around, Moss thought sarcastically to himself.

"My name is Moss," the white-and-black tom responded with an indifferent flick of an ear. "And this is Beetle," he meowed with a nod towards his exhausted companion, who dipped his head politely to the she-cat. Stepping closer to her, Moss' whiskers twitched in unspoken fear, his green eyes flashing in the moonlight. "Your turn," he said flatly, silently wishing he could be anywhere else at the moment.

"I am Song," she meowed cordially. Glancing towards her kit, she added, "That over there is my kit, Snow."

"May I ask why you're hunting on our territory?" Moss looked down at her catch, a small rabbit. Its ribs were showing beneath its fur, which had become dull and lifeless from lack of food, which always traveled with the cold. It would barely be enough to sate her, let alone the both of them.

"No," she responded tersely, picking up her prey and padding back to her kit. Stuck up mange-pelt, Moss thought angrily. He dashed in front of Song, blocking her path. Song jumped back in surprise.

An idea formed in his mind and he found himself cringing at what he was thinking. Let's just call it her "payment" for hunting here. "We'll let you keep the prey, but you've got to give us something in return." His eyes moved suggestively towards the place where she said her kit was.

"What would that…" Moss backed up slightly as Song's voice trailed off. She hissed, spat and swatted at them, and it was clear that only the pure instinct to protect her kit was urging her onward. Suddenly she stopped, trembling; Moss left with several deep cuts and a shredded ear, and Beetle with a scratched muzzle. Her small frame quivered as sadness washed over her like a black wave, forcing heaving sobs from her lips. Moss' wounds stung painfully but he clenched his jaw and bore it. Song looked up at each of them pleadingly. "Please, not her! Not my kit! S-She's all I have left after…" Her eyes became clouded with sadness. "I'll give you anything you want; just let me keep my kit." With each passing moment Song's mews became more and more desperate.

Moss opened his jaws to reply, but stopped as Beetle spoke up from behind him. "I don't think that this is a good idea, do you really need to do this," he questioned nervously.

"You've got a lot to learn about our hierarchy, Beetle," Moss snapped. Beetle fell silent, looking down at his paws remorsefully. "As for you, Song, that's what I propose in exchange for the prey you caught here. You can either take my offer or leave it. But I'm sure you wouldn't want to leave here worse off than when you came." Song's eyes moved between the prey at her paws and her kit.

Song sighed, her eyes clouded with a sea of emotion. Moss noticed that she looked quite fearful. What he failed to notice, however, was that she was fearful not for her own life, or the life of her son. Her fear was trained on the future and the hazy uncertainties it bore with it. "I just wanted a better life for us both... one free from the conflicts of our home. Promise me that you will do for her what I could not." Moss nodded his consent. "Good," Song meowed hoarsely, picking up the rabbit. Moss watched as she stopped beside Snow, murmured a few inaudible words in her ear, and left in the direction of the mountains. Their gray shadows hung over her heavily, as though they understood her sorrow.

Gazing after Song with a tinge of regret in his eyes, Moss walked up to stand in front of her kit, a snow-white colored she-kit like her mother was, and light gray stripes lighting her tiny body. Beetle stopped and sat beside him. Moss sighed as looked down at the small, defenseless lump of fur pensively. She looked peaceful, almost as if her mother had never gone. Letting his thoughts about the kit slip further back in his mind, Mosswhisker turned and looked at the young brown tom beside him. "You didn't have to do that; and you know it, Mosswhisker," Beetle said with a chilling glance in his direction. Mosswhiisker stiffened.

It was then that Mosswhisker felt the gravity of his decision pressing down around him. He felt as though a pit were forming in his belly, one that was slowly spreading through his body and filling him with irrepressible guilt. Why do I feel as though I've made a huge mistake? Was I truly wrong? He inhaled deeply, pushing the nagging feeling aside. "I know that, Beetle, but she was hunting on BreezeClan territory."

"For this kit," he replied bluntly with a small nod to Snow. Under his breath, he added, "You were acting just like Jay."

The black-and-white tom flicked his ear but pretended not to have heard. "What's done is done. Now, it's almost sunup and I'm exhausted. Let's just head back to camp," he said blearily, stifling a yawn.

"What about hunting?"

"We'll stop and hunt on the way back." Mosswhisker bent down to pick Snow up by her scruff, and then walked off stiffly in the direction of camp, feeling Beetle's disapproval raking his pelt as they traveled.

______________

"I thought they were patrolling the borders, not hunting for kits!"

"Where did they find that kit? Is it from another Clan?"

"Definitely doesn't smell like a Clan cat."

Out of the corner of her eye, the BreezeClan deputy, Willowfur, a long-furred white she-cat with pale gray paws and green eyes, saw Mosswhisker and Beetle push their way through the throng of cats to stop in front of her. Their pelts were torn and cut, their fur caked with dry blood. Watching with an air of calm seriousness that had been about her lately, she sat patiently, looking on as Mosswhisker set the kit on the ground. "Explain yourselves, please." She noticed their hesitation and narrowed her eyes. If they stole this kit from MossClan or DustClan, we will definitely hear about it at the next Gathering, she thought bitterly. She swished her tail, waiting for one of the two to speak up. "Well?" she encouraged. Mosswhisker cleared his throat, and Willowfur saw him look at some of his Clanmates; his hackles raised in challenge.

"W-We found her along... along the border with DustClan in a pile of leaf litter." He shifted his paws guiltily, sending a small cloud of dust spiraling up into the clearing. A myriad of questions buzzed through Willowfur's mind like bees on a greenleaf day. What would the other Clans say? Who's kit was this? Why were her Clanmates acting so hostile?

Silence fell upon the camp.

The BreezeClan deputy flicked her tail in disbelief. She looked down at the two toms, her gaze as hard and cold as stone. Mosswhisker and Beetle both hung their heads. Looking out at the cloudy sky beyond the camp, she noticed the strange scent of wet stone on the breeze but thought nothing of it, dismissing it as an early leaf-bare storm. The deputy then saw one of the warriors, Rabbitfur, a very light brown tom with yellow eyes, came to stand in the clearing, his face contorted with malice. She was shocked. Never in her life had she seen him this enraged, not even when the apprentices had gone off alone to fight a fox when they were kits.

"Liars! You probably stole this creature from a kittypet," he spat furiously at them, his eyes locked on the little she-kit. "You should have left that mousefodder where you found it!" A shocked gasp rippled throughout the crowd at his words, only growing stronger as time went on. Still, some murmured their agreement.

Have they become blind to the warrior code? Willowfur thought. Surely they knew that it was every Clan's duty to care for kits, no matter where they came from. Willowfur raised her tail for silence, glaring furiously at Rabbitfur.

"What do you have to say about this?" the deputy questioned, turning her gaze to her leader. "What should be done about this?"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 3:48 pm
Oakstar frowned and twitched his tail "What do you mean what should be done?" he padded slowly to Rabbitfur, sighed heavily, then, quick as lightning, he dealt the other cat a blow to the face, scratching him across the muzzle with a hiss, his ears back and teeth bared

"You should be ashamed of yourself, crowheart!" he spat "Berating those that did nothing except follow the Warrior code! 'Should have left that mousefodder where you found it.' Indeed! You have no heart and no pride."

He turned to the two toms that had brought in the kit.

"Mosswisker, Beetle. Even though this kit may belong to another clan, it was the right thing for you to take her in. She looks weak and tired, and we as clancats must nurse her back to health. You may rest assured that Starclan looks on you with favor today."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:04 pm
Willowfur's eyes widened as she watched Oakstar stalk towards Rabbitfur. Never in her life had she seen the BreezeClan leader so worked up before. But it's understandable, she thought as she watched Rabbitfur leap back from the strike the brown tom had given him, his face dripping with blood from his new wound. The warrior looked like he wanted to argue more, but he was smart enough to hold his tongue, stepping down with ears folding against his skull and fur bristling in anger.

Beetle shifted slightly on his paws, looking like he had something else to say, but all he could do was glance down at his paws guiltily. It looked as though there was more to the story than the two were letting on. The deputy made a metal note to speak with them later about it so she could talk to Oakstar. Mooswhisker gave a nod as he looked down at the kit at his paws for a heartbeat before he turned his gaze back to his leader.

"Do we have any nursing she-cats that would be willing to take her in?"

"Vixenfur currently has a couple of kits." Willowfur stepped froward, flicking her tail towards the fox-colored she-cat. "I think she would be more than willing to take her in."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:46 pm
"Let it be so then. Vixenfur, are you willing to nurse this poor kit?" the leader asked, tail twitching "Your help would benefit us greatly here." He went and stood next to the kit, his nose searching for her clanscent. When he couldn't find it, he shrugged "No war will happen this moon. She seems to be a stray. Perhaps a kittypet, perhaps not. I don't sense any twoleg scent or anything related to it on her. She simply smells of fur and earth. Therefore, she is one of our own kits until she decides for herself.

He lifted his head and yeowled "All the clan, hear me! Do you understand?"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:50 pm
The fox-colored queen pushed her way towards the front of the crowd. Her amber gaze rested on the tiny snowball of fur as she gave a nod. "I'll take her Oakstar," she meowed. "I'll treat her like one of my own kits." The cats muttered their agreement to what Oakstar declared, though some looked like they weren't pleased with the idea. Willowfur gave a sigh in relief, though she was still uneasy with how the Clan had reacted to the kit. It didn't sit right with her.

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 4:57 pm
Oakstar was a very understanding leader. He hopped on the highplace and gazed down at those gathered. First, he adressed Vixenfur.

"Thank you. May Starclan bless your family this moon for your kindness."

He turned his attention to the rest of the clan, curiosity lacing his voice as he mewed, lashing his tail and then sitting down. "There are those of you unsatiusfied with my decision. I would like to know why. Speak up, but one at a time, if you please."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:27 pm
Willowfur took her place below Highplace as she gazed out at the rest of the Clan. Vixenfur dipped her head in respect as she padded over to Snow and pulled her closer to her with her tail, her two other kits beside her, looking down at the new arrival. The BreezeClan deputy watched some of the others shift slightly on their paws, dust kicking up around them as they did.

"We shouldn't be letting in strange cats like this, Oakstar!"

"Yeah! What would the other Clans say?"

"You can't just allow strange cats in the Clan, Oakstar. So what if this thing isn't a kittypet? Beetle and Mosswhisker most likely stole it from a loner or rouge! Don't be like Flamestar and start taking in every cat you come across!"

Flamestar was the leader of MossClan many moons ago. He was once a kittypet that had been taken into the Clan by the leader before him, Redstar. He soon became the leader of the Clan after the red-furred she-cat had died and would often take in kittypets, loners, or rouges that were in need of their aid. The news spread quickly to the other Clans and they frowned upon it. It was against the warrior code.

Willowfur bristled as they talked down about the flame-colored tom that had helped their Clan in the past. While he was from MossClan, Flamestar had done many things in the past for BreezeClan. Had they forgotten that? Why were they being so mean to this kit? They couldn't just dump her off in the forest. She would die if she wasn't picked off by a passing fox, badger, or large bird.

Beetle couldn't keep quiet any longer. The former loner stepped forward, a nervous expression on his face as his tail flicked behind him. He dipped his head towards the cat up on Highplace. "Oakstar, may I speak please?"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:36 pm
Oakstar listened to the complaints carefully, tail curling around his front paws.

"The other clans are the other clans." he said simply "I do not see fault with taking in a kit that did not choose to be weak and starving. Does not the Clan Law say it is the duty to admit kits that need help, no matter where they come from? Is it not our duty to do so? The other clans may frown apon us, but I do believe Starclan does not."

When Beetle called attention to himself, the leader smiled at him. "You may speak, Beetle"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:50 pm
"But this cat isn't one of us! The code doesn't apply to those that aren't!"

"StarClan doesn't neither! We should dump her back off at the border with DustClan! Let them deal with it not us!"

Beetle waited for the cats to quiet down once more before he nodded in thanks to the BreezeClan leader. The former loner turned around to face the rest of the Clan raising his voice to be heard to all that was gathered around.

"It's true--Mosswhisker and I, we found Snowkit after we saw a loner come on to the territory. She had her with her."

"You stole Snowkit from a loner!"

"N-No, it's not like that!" Beetle yelped, taking a step back due to his shock. "I tried telling Mosswhisker that it was a bad idea but he wouldn't listen to me."

"That's no excuse!"

Willowfur raised her tail for silence, glaring at the duo of cats that had spoken out against the tom. Once every cat had settled down once more, she nodded. "Continue."

"Song, Snowkit's mother, w-was hunting for prey on our territory. She caught a rabbit. Mosswhisker tried to stop her from taking it back with her. She lashed out and... and I guess Mosswhisker still wanted something from her. He chose her kit. It was strange though, she was sort of reluctant to let her go at first but then agreed, asking that we give her a better life than she could have. That's why we accepted, we knew that BreezeClan could care for her. She left after that. She smelled of milk, so she must have been born only a few days ago."

Now Willowfur was confused. She allowed him to be taken? A mother's instincts to protect their young were stronger than any other and the deputy doubted that the decision would have been easy for her. Having to make a decision like that probably tore her heart in two. She could imagine Song now, her dreams more likely than not filled with images and memories of her kit.

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 5:57 pm
Oakstar also listened to the tom, and his ears lay flat against his skull at one point. Something did not sit right with him about the whole ordeal.

"Mosswhisker, step forward."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:02 pm
The black-and-white tom twitched his ears as he stepped forward to stand beside Beetle. His tail twitched curiously behind him as he gazed up at Oakstar. He was silent, waiting to see what the brown tom had to say.

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:07 pm
"Am I to understand" his voice was a low growl, his tail thrashed back and forth "That instead of bringing the trespasser and the prey to me, to decide what her punishment should be, you decided to take judgement into your own paws and..." his eyes narrowed into slits and he hissed the next words as if they burned him "Rob a she-cat of her kit?!"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:16 pm
Mosswhisker's ears lay flat against his skull at Oakstar's fury. He swallowed as he nodded. "Yes, Oakstar. The rabbit she caught was pitiful. It wouldn't be enough to feed her let alone her kit. She attacked us first when we tried to get her to leave. The Clan needs prey--leaf-bare will be upon us soon. I was only thinking of the Clan. It was the prey or this kit. Beetle's not lying, she did want a better life for her. BreezeClan can do that."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:25 pm
"Willowfur, a word with you please." the leader said lowly. To the black and white tom, he hissed "You will stay there. I'm not done with you yet. The rest of you, I've made my decision about this kit very clear. Starclan has seen fit to place her in our care, and I'm not so proud that I will argue with those that dwell in and beyond Silverpelt."

He narrowed his eyes "We may be rewsponsible for making this poor kit an orphan. I will not send her away like some trash to be fed on by foxes, weasels, and stotes. Any that feel I am being unjust may speak privately with me in my den after I deal with Mosswhisker."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:33 pm
The long-furred white she-cat twitched her ear to show that she had heard her leader. The deputy eyed the rest of the clearing with her green eyes waiting to see if any of them would speak up. No cat said a word as silence fell over the camp once more. Pity clawed at Willowfur's heart as she realized what Oakstar said was true. Are we responsible for making Snowkit an orphan?

After that, the cats in the camp stalked off to do their own things. Vixenfur picked Snowkit up by the scruff and carried her off to the nursery with her two kits following behind her. Willowfur watched them go before she looked back at Oakstar wondering what he wanted to speak with her about.

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:38 pm
"I am at a crossroads here with my decision concerning Moss." the leader said softly to her. "On the obne paw I understand his reasoning. The she-cat was tresspassing. What I can't condone is the demand of a kit for a sorry excuse of a rabbit. We can do without the scrawny creature, but that poor mother will soon die of heartbreak.One of my Warriors has taken the most precious thing to that queen, for a rabbit that can't even feed one of us! Willowfur, what should I do? What are your thoughts on this situation?"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:46 pm
The BreezeClan deputy was silent for a few heartbeats. She understood Mosswhisker's reasoning as much as Oakstar did. She didn't like the idea that he had taken Snowkit from Song anymore than the tom before he did. Willowfur curled her tail around her paws thoughtfully before she spoke up.

"What if we go and find her?" she suggested softly in return. "She couldn't have gotten far. We could bring her to BreezeClan so she wouldn't have to be without her kit."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:51 pm
He twitched his tail. "Yes, that's also what I was thinking."

He cleared his throat and said firmly "Mosswhisker! YOU were responsible for ripping this small family apart. Therefore it'll be you who reunites them."

He pointed outside the camp with his tail "You will go and find the mother you have robbed. You will bring her back here, to me. Only then will I forgive this wrong you have done. You will not return without her, understand?"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 6:56 pm
"I only hope Song hasn't wandered into one of the other Clan's territory by now," Willowfur muttered under her breath. "It'll be impossible to find her then. The other Clans would have chased her off to StarClan knows where."

The black-and-white tom perked his ears at the sound of his name. While he didn't let it show, the deputy could see that he was nervous when Oakstar called for him. The warrior twitched his tail, not looking pleased with his punishment, but he agreed knowing he had to follow his leader's orders.

"Yes, Oakstar. I understand."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:00 pm
"Good. You may take Beetle with you, if you so choose." the leader said, climbing down to go into his den, as he saw many cats lined up to talk with him about their problems

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 7:04 pm
Mosswhisker nodded as he began to pad out of camp through the entrance. He flicked his tail and Beetle rose to his paws to follow the black-and-white tom. It wasn't long before the two disappeared out of sight to find the missing white she-cat. Willowfur hoped they would be able to find her. It wasn't fair that Song was taken from her kit, prey or no prey. The long-furred she-cat hopped down from Highplace to see a line of cats outside of Oakstar's den, wishing to speak to him about their problems no doubt. She was unsure if she would be needed or not, but she stayed close by just in case.

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:52 pm
Oakstar sighed as he admitted a tom into the den "I know what you said out there, Blackspore, but I simply don't think we should care how the other clans view us. As long as we do right by Starclan, I don't see the problem."

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 8:55 pm
"But how do you know this is right by StarClan?" Blackspore questioned, his tail lashing behind him. "We have no idea if this a good idea or not! For all we know, bringing that kit into the Clan will only cause us harm in the future!"

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Re: Howling Winds

on Sun Jan 07, 2018 9:02 pm
"Sometimes, as a leader who earned his nine lives, I just feel these things. Starclan is pleased with us. I know it. Do you really think such a small kit would pose any threat to us in the future? Look at her paws. She won't be very big. Plus, she's physicly weak. Even after cshe recovers from this starvation, there is no way she'll ever reach a strength high enough to threaten our whole clan."

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