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Rank: leader
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Played By: mikki
Custom Title: i'ma say all the words inside my head
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ravenstar

ShadowClan

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Apr 17 2018, 04:23 PM
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<div class="mikkipost">Judging from the low-hanging position of the sun in the sky, it had been roughly half a day since he'd stormed out of camp in the wake of Walnutcrown's horrifying admission. He'd found shelter in the hollow of an ancient fallen log, an old haunt of his that he hadn't visited in moons. The interior smelled of rotting wood, an earthy scent that wasn't quiet unpleasant to the nose and had the added benefit of disguising his own scent.
<p>
Ravenstar hadn't budged after curling up inside, ignoring the gentle thrum of Chainsaw's presence just outside the log. She'd tried to climb right in after him - once. She hadn't tried again after he shoved her back out and threatened to chew off her wings, painful as it would be for him notwithstanding.
<p>
He ignored the other bonds that wrapped around him, the two distinct threads that linked him to Lightpaw and Burnbright. After sending silent signals down both to ensure both she-cats he was okay he'd locked them down, shutting out whatever they might have sent in return.
<p>
By that point his stomach was rumbling with hunger, but the effort it would take to climb out of the log and hunt was exhausting to even think about. It was less that, though, that the possibility of running into a clanmate that kept Ravenstar right where he was.
<p>
He would just have to suffer through it until nightfall, when the risk was less high.
<p>
@Lightpaw, @burnbright</div>[/dohtml]
Apr 12 2018, 05:11 PM
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<div class="mikkipost">He didn't blink when his eyes opened on darkness. Nor when he rolled to his feet, yawned and stretched out his legs, and blinked at the dark forest surrounding him. He lay in a small patch of dried grass, the forest pressing in close from all sides. It was almost suffocating how close they were, almost like they were leaning in close - their branches hands ending in spindly fingers, the shadowy gaps in the branches looking like eyes and mouths with bared fangs.
<p>
He didn't even notice, as he pushed to his feet and shouldered his way through a tangle of bracken that blocked his path, the utter quiet of the wood. So still and loud in its silence it was like a being in its own right.
<p>
It wasn't until he stumbled upon the first spirit, its body a patchwork mess of rotting, seeping wounds, that Ravenstar realized this was no normal dream - but it wasn't until the fourth spirit that he realized this was no dream at all. This was a place.
<p>
A dark, horrible place where no living cat ought to walk.
<p>
He reared back onto his hind legs and spun, only to find a wall of gruff spirits blocking his path. They grinned at him with yellowed, chipped teeth, chins drenched in old, crusted blood. One of them didn't have eyes, and gaped at him with empty sockets.
<p>
"Shiiiiiit."</div>[/dohtml]
Mar 16 2018, 04:15 PM
dread dragged at ravenstar's legs as he padded up to the highrock. it was almost an effort to make the jump onto the uneven surface that flattened at the top. he had to dig his claws into the ice-slicked rock, hauling himself up one leg at a time, until he stood at the top towering over the camp. from this high up ravenstar could see all of shadowclan's camp and some of the territory that lay beyond its walls, too. stretches of thin forest and marshy ground where dead trees leaned crookedly, as if pulled by some unseen force from beneath the frozen water. the rest was blocked by the thick forest, the close-growing pines hemming in the camp from all sides.

he looked, and hesitated, and waited; buying himself time against the inevitable. ravenstar knew, though, that he couldn't put it off forever. not with walnutpaw waiting below.

"all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the highrock for a clan meeting!" ravenstar dreaded saying the words to come, but at least this was something he could feasibly give walnutpaw. he would give her her warrior name and make her an official warrior if he thought she would let him get away with it. but walnutpaw, like lightpaw, was too stubborn for such things. too proud. it meant nothing if she didn't earn it herself through hard work.

the ebony tom glanced around at the crowd of gathering cats, then at walnutpaw where she waited beneath the rock. sighing, ravenstar smiled grimly at her.
Mar 11 2018, 07:38 PM
ravenstar's legs were burning with exhaustion by the time he made it back to shadowclan camp. the tom's sides heaved with every labored breath as he tore through the thorn tunnel, but he didn't pause. ignoring the strange looks his clanmates were giving him as they slipped from dens and trailed closer, wondering aloud how his nine lives ceremony had gone, the newly-named ravenstar bolted straight for the nursery and disappeared inside.

he didn't know if rookcall or midnighttheater were right behind him, or if they'd chosen to take a slower approach to their return home. ravenstar only had one thought, and that was to see his newborn children.

~

he padded out of the nursery some time later at a much slower pace, looking calmer but no less grim. ravenstar paused outside the den to gaze across camp at the highrock, swallowing against the mounting panic clawing its way up his throat as he stared at the perch shadowclan leaders had always used to make announcements.

it was his perch now.

ravenstar slowly walked across camp, trying to ignore the prickling sensation just underneath his fur. eyes were peering at him from every corner of camp, staring with unbridled expectation that made his stomach twist sharply with nausea. ravenstar tried not to let the apprehension shine through as he climbed the uneven side of the rock, carefully putting his feet down where he thought he remembered winterstar climbing. it was almost like he could feel the shadowclan leaders of old as he ascended, his paws touching the same cold stone theirs had moons and years and eons ago.

once he'd climbed to the very top of the massive stone ravenstar gazed out across the clearing. "all cats who can catch their own prey gather beneath the high rock for a clan meeting!" he blinked slowly, swallowing again against the panic making his chest tight. ravenstar had always been a master at disguising his feelings, but this was... something else entirely.

everything felt wrong, flipped upside down.
Mar 4 2018, 01:17 PM
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<div class="mikkipost">everything happens for a reason, ravenpaw.
<p>
so you're saying my parents had to die. that starclan let them die?
<p>
i'm saying they determined their own fates. starclan can't interfere.
<p>
what the hell is starclan good for, then? i thought starclan was supposed to protect us from shit like this.
<p>
starclan guides us, but they don't control us. all they can do is watch over us and provide guidance -
the rest is up to us. everything happens for a reason - but it's up to you to find that reason.

<p>
staring up at the moonstone, its surface glittering in the faint light that shone in through the roof,
raventhorn fought to find reason in any of it. the past several hours had passed in a timeless blur,
his thoughts too caught up in the rush of what was happening to notice where his paws took him.
raventhorn's body moved automatically, guided onward by rookcall and midnighttheater's presence at his side.
<p>
it had been moons since he'd thought of nightleap, but now his mentor's voice echoed unending in his thoughts. raventhorn's faith had been brought to life by his father, but it had been nightleap who nurtured and tended to its growth after his grisly murder; she who broke through to raventhorn in the end, and drew him up from the deep dregs of his lasting despair.
<p>
raventhorn had hated nightleap most days, had despised her for pushing him when everyone else moved on. he appreciated it now. funny how it always came too late; nightleap had been dead for moons.
<p>
the warrior swallowed thickly as the stone erupted in a blaze of silvery light. middy had already gone over what he needed to do in the brief moments of respite they managed to catch before moonhigh,
but with the moment finally upon them raventhorn realized he would never be ready. it was hard to imagine that anyone would be ready for leadership of a clan, but raventhorn was particularly ill-equipped to handle such responsibilities.
<p>
but starclan had picked him above everyone else in shadowclan. there were so few capable warriors left, their numbers depleted over the moons since winterstar's departure, but there were enough left that starclan had a choice.
<p>
and they had chosen him.
<p>
everything happens for a reason, ravenpaw. but it's up to you to find that reason.
<p>
he leaned forward to touch his nose to the glowing stone and was immediately plunged into a world of darkness. the world pitched around him, heaving left and right. it felt like he was falling head over tail, again and again until he was dizzy with the motion. it stopped abruptly, without warning, and raventhorn opened his eyes to see a familiar world bleeding into view around him.
<p>
used to waking in the realm of spirits, it didn't take the tom long to find his legs. he rose steady and gazed around at his surroundings. shadowclan camp was much the same as it was in the living world, although here the forest was in the lush throes of what looked like greenleaf. the trees were free of snow, their branches bearing fresh needles that smelled strongly of sharp pine. the ground was spongy but dry underfoot - a feeling raventhorn had missed with a passion. he was ready for leafbare to be over, to welcome the new growth that would come with newleaf. even if that meant putting up with snow melt and mud for a couple moons.
<p>
turning in a full circle, raventhorn started with undisguised surprise when he suddenly came face to face with a growing group of cats. the camp was suddenly alive with eyes that watched him from every shadow. cats stepped from the dens, peered out from the drooping branches of the evergreens and pines, all watching him with expectant eyes that never seemed to blink for a moment.
<p>
"welcome, raventhorn."
<p>
his head snapped in the direction of the voice automatically. yellow eyes wide, raventhorn could only stare in open-mouthed disbelief at the cat who stepped forward the greet him.
<p>
it had been twenty-four moons since raventhorn last laid eyes on his father, and that final time had been... traumatizing. now, seeing him again for the first time, a dozen different memories came flooding back. memories of crowtalon telling stories, laughing with raventhorn's mother; of playing tag with him and rookfeather when they were younger, and introducing them to goldenpaw for the first time with awe-stricken eyes. his father was whole again, none of the injuries that his body had borne in his final moments visible.
<p>
"dad..."'
<p>
crowtalon stepped forward in time to catch raventhorn before he fell, his shaking legs no longer able to support to weight. for a long moment raventhorn couldn't move. face buried in his father's scruff,
he blinked rapidly to keep the welling tears at bay. he inhaled deeply with every breath, as if trying to memorize the exact smell that clung to crowtalon's fur. starclan, he even smelled the same.
<p>
raventhorn fought to maintain his composure when crowtalon finally pulled away to look his son square in the eye. "i've never stopped watching over you for a single moment, and i've never stopped being proud. even when things got tough, you persevered. you fought tooth and nail to stay standing, and there's courage in that."
<p>
"but now you fight for more than yourself." there was a deeper pride in crowtalon's voice then.
he nodded slowly, a small smile curling at the corners of his mouth as he drank in raventhorn. "not just for your unborn children, but your entire clan. starclan sees your determination - it is why you were chosen. with this life i give you bravery. no cat can deny you are already a courageous cat,
raventhorn, but it takes a different sort of courage for a leader to lead his clan. your confidence will be tested in the moons to come - but you cannot let it break. shadowclan needs you, just as much as you need it. believe in yourself, always."
he touched his nose to raventhorn's forehead, and it was instantly different from their embrace a moment before.
<p>
the life raged through raventhorn with the intensity of a wildfire. if his legs weren't weak before, they were now. yet he managed to find the strength to remain standing, teeth gritting against the agony that set his ebony fur on edge. he was near to panting by the time crowtalon pulled away, but the absence of the physical pain only made way for a hollow sort of emotional heartache. he almost followed crowtalon when his father took a step away, pulling back to stand with the others that had gathered. raventhorn had taken a single step when another cat slid into the place crowtalon had just vacated, and any whim to chase his father disappeared in a flash.
<p>
morningfrost smiled warmly at her son and stepped forward to brush her cheek against his. raventhorn stiffened at the contact as grief welled in his aching heart; losing both of his parents in such a short time had been painful, but there was something more poignant about losing his mother. she should have been there to help her sons make it through the murder of crowtalon, but instead she'd followed her mate into death only a few short weeks later. just when the sharp sting of the pain had begun to fade, death struck again and swept the world right out from raventhorn's feet a second time.
<p>
his mother didn't waste any time in delivering his second life. swift agony cut deep when she touched her nose to his, like fire burning through his veins. "with this life i give you hope. shadowclan has endured dark days, but you must never stop believing for a moment that things will get better. cling to your hope, and it will never fail you."
<p>
every part of raventhorn yearned for more time when morningfrost stepped back to her mate's side.
seeing them together, pressed flank to flank, made the warrior's heart twist painfully in his chest. knowing his parents were together, that they were happy, did little to soothe the twinge of regret in his chest at the lost chances he could see unfolding before his eyes.
<p>
but there was no time to dwell on what could or couldn't have been. another cat stepped forward, then another, and the rest of his ceremony passed in a blur. nightleap bestowed a life of faith, and with a sensation like lightning crackling throughout his body it was all raventhorn could do to remain standing. his old mentor was stoic as she gifted her life, wordless but for the ceremonial words she uttered in her familiar, clear voice. but there was a bright gleam of approval to her green eyes when she pulled away, and as she turned aside she offered raventhorn a single short nod of approval.
<p>
there was a life for confidence and compassion, for duty and friendship, and when the eighth life for patience was finished raventhorn squared his shoulders to face off against the final cat.
<p>
he expected an old leader of shadowclan, someone strong and imposing, but the cat that padded forward from the group was none of those things. tears sprang to raventhorn's eyes as he faced off against goldenpaw.
<p>
his little brother, like their father, bore none of the wounds that his body had at the end. the raw grief struck raventhorn like a blow; every time he blinked he couldn't just see goldenpaw as he was in that moment. he saw his brother's mangled body laying in a puddle of his cooling blood, missing his eyes and teeth and whiskers, his body a canvas for their uncle's gruesome work.
<p>
as if he could hear the frantic thoughts racing through raventhorn's head, goldenpaw smiled and nudged him with a shoulder. "you couldn't have saved me. it happened for a reason."
<p>
raventhorn recoiled at the familiar words, flashing a look to nightleap. her face was impassive, but still her eyes shone with that glow of pride. "you're saying you had to die." it was an echo of a long-ago conversation, back when raventhorn had found a different body in the same way.
<p>
goldenpaw nodded slowly. "my death put you on this path. i was angry, at first, but now i understand. i had to die so you would see reason." again that word - reason. as if raventhorn could ever accept his brother had died so that he could become leader of shadowclan. the very notion of it made raventhorn's swim with nausea. goldenpaw flashed him a secretive look, lips curving into a knowing smile that made raventhorn uneasy. "besides, this isn't the end for me."
<p>
before raventhorn could ask what that meant, goldenpaw pulled away to press his nose to raventhorn's forehead. "with this life i give you forgiveness - not just for your clan, but for yourself." his voice dropped to a low whisper, so that only raventhorn was privy to what he had to say. "you have to learn to let go, raven. i died, you avenged me. at some point you have to let it go, or it's going to eat you alive."
<p>
the weight of the final life hit him unlike any had before. raventhorn staggered bodily as all his grief, all his shame, renewed with violent fervor. a dozen different memories assaulted his mind, battering him with reminders of every single time he'd failed a loved one. his father, his mother, his brother; waspheart, lightpaw, walnutpaw.
<p>
then, miraculously, the weight of those feelings began to lessen. it was a long road ahead before he could ever let go of those painful memories, but... it was a start. goldenpaw was right; he had to let go. for himself, if no one else.
<p>
goldenpaw lifted his chin, regarding raventhorn with a mischievous stare. when he spoke again it was in a loud, booming voice that echoed across the clearing like thunder. "i hail you by your new name, ravenstar! your old life is no more. you have received the nine lives of a leader, and starclan grants to you the guardianship of shadowclan. defend it well; care for young and old, honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity."
<p>
as a chant of his new name was taken up by the eight other cats who had given him lives, then by the rest of starclan who had gathered in shadowclan's camp, ravenstar smiled down at his brother. "i'm so happy for you, raven-"
<p>
goldenpaw's words were cut short as, all of a sudden, his brother disappeared in a flash of brilliant light. ravenstar froze, eyes wide with shock, staring at the spot where his youngest sibling had been standing only a moment before.
<p>
he whirled to face morningwisp and crowtalon when the stepped forward. his mother rasped a soothing tongue over his flattened ears, a soft purr rumbling in her throat. disturbed by the lack of concern from either parent, ravenstar jerked aside to stare at them with disbelief. "what just happened?" he demanded, casting a desperate look at the nearest spirits. "what happened to him?"
<p>
ravenstar's plea went ignored. crowtalon touched his nose to his shoulder, drawing his attention away from the rest of the now-silent crowd. "it's time for you to wake." crowtalon murmured quietly. "you'll understand everything soon."
<p>
heart racing, ravenstar shook his head sharply. "no, i need to-" but already the world was fading away at the edges, the far reaches of shadowclan camp dissolving into shadow. between blinks whole snatches of the starclan warriors disappeared, until all that remained in camp was ravenstar and his parents. he looked at them desperately, but when he tried to open his mouth to demand one last time he found his voice was lost.
<p>
and then his world faded into black once again.
<p>
he woke beside the moonstone, now cold and grey. ravenstar pushed immediately to his feet and, ignoring his protesting muscles, raced back up the dark tunnel and out into the night air beyond.
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