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Flawed Utopia - Printable Version

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Flawed Utopia - Quailstone - 04-11-2021

Quailstone
Quailstone had never been among those that thought this new clan would be their respite. Perhaps in morals, but never from hardship. As was their only option, they had taken to the barren hellscape they had once called home, the firemountain looming over their camp in an ever present threat. Yet as much as Quailstone refused false hopes, she just as strongly refused to give in. Doubt would not corrupt her reason. Fear would not sway her away from serving her clan. Nor would pride.

The prey she carried in her jaws was proof of that.

While initially the cats she had lead had been intended as a border patrol, tracking across both to minimize the number of cats needed to defend the territory when they could be hunting or rebuilding the camp, it had not been the final result of her trek. Upon the border, the trio had encountered a Stormclan patrol. One that offered them prey. Now, the molly lead her clanmates back toward their ashen, ramshackle camp with tails held high and prey-scent wafting around them. It was time to make her report.

With a flick of her tail as she stepped into camp, Quailstone gestured the patrol to disperse as she made her way toward where her leader took rest. She paused on the way to drop some of Stormclan's gift upon the pile, continuing only with a vole. A surprisingly plump one, in truth. One she was sorely tempted to devour herself. However, as their leader, it was Emberstar who ought to receive the prey before her. The rest of her patrol would ensure those who could not hunt for themselves would be cared for.

In truth, Quailstone had not expected Emberstar to be in her den. Truly, she anticipated to find it empty, her leader out and about in their ashen forest, perhaps fishing or training her apprentice. Even so, Quailstone offered a slight mmrow of greeting, placing the vole at her paws as she halted respectfully outside the den. "Emberstar? I have come to report."

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RE: Flawed Utopia - Emberstar - 04-11-2021

The gaping mouth of the short tunnel that was the entrance to the Leaders' Den of the Emberclan Camp laid bare and open before Quailstone as she miaowed to enter. It leads first into the side of Fire Mountain in the Emberclan Camp to then open up into a cavern large enough for a few cats to comfortably stand side-by-side; at least six tail-lengths across.

As Quailstone's eyes got used to the shift from light into darkness, she would find herself in the aforementioned Den, the cavern walls rocky but comfortable. It was ever so slightly warmer within, evidence of the mountain into which it was set. Luckily, she found that her trek within had not been in vain: in the corner, in her nest, the molly would see the large tortoiseshell form of Emberstar: her clan leader, dozing softly before awoken by the Warrior's entrance. She stretched out, a comfortable purr leaving the tortoiseshell as she rose from her nest to offer Quailstone a nod of acknowledgement.

"So you have, Quailstone," Emberstar greeted the Warrior, her eyes closing momentarily: she bore her no ill will, her thick, fluffy tail curling about her form as the Leader was seated there, although no other emotion could easily be picked up - not outwardly, at least.
"Vole?" Emberstar wondered, an ear lazily flicking forward. "Thank you." Were the two, simple words offered in reply as she clearly indicated the vole.

And still, she remained near her nest, apparently waiting for Quailstone to make the first move; her aura stoic, waiting, and above all, patient. So it seemed, however: internally, Emberstar was tired. The events of the Gathering had left her exhausted; Quailstone might notice that her Leader's fur seemed faintly matted as if she had not properly been taking care of herself. Which, honestly, was not rare for the Leader, considering she had not appointed a Deputy, nor taken the time to slow down in her constant efforts to rebuild Emberclan. She was diligent, but surely she was going to break down eventually? Emberstar did not seem to think so.

"She speaks."
"She thinks."



RE: Flawed Utopia - Quailstone - 04-12-2021

Quailstone
Making home within the mountain that caused such death had never truly been a comforting thought to Quailstone. However, she would be loath to deny the practicality of it. The cavernous depths radiated a gentle warmth, one that lessened the need for trekking beyond their ashen borders in search of suitable bedding, and there was certainly plenty of shelter. Besides, was not the saying to keep one's enemies closest? Perhaps they would be safer in the belly of the beast.

As Quailstone's eyes adjusted to the gloom, it was clear she was not alone.

Before her, curled upon her nest, was her leader. The molly was large and long-furred, much like her, though it seemed that was where their physical similarities would end. Emberstar truly was a sight to behold, her dappled pelt sporting a clear division between splotched tortoiseshell and inky black, eyes shining different colors on each half as though she were two cats melded into one. It was something she was unsurprisingly teased for in her youth, though only a moon's difference between them, Quailstone had never partaken in this.

Now, however, as her leader rose to a sit, it was hard to ignore how disheveled she was. The natural assumption was that Quailstone had merely roused her from a nap - an assumption that truly Quailstone had little doubt in. However, there was something more to it. Emberstar's fur appeared matted in places, and truly, she looked drained. Had her leader been neglecting her own care?

Seeking to keep any concern clear from her expression, wary that perhaps it might be undesired or mistaken as pity, Quailstone padded closer. The indicated vole was placed at her leader's paws. A single step back and the molly sat calmly, regarding her former den mate of many moons for a moment before she spoke.

"The Fireclan border is quiet, for the moment. No scents have crossed," she informed her leader, feathered tail drifting smoothly to settle at her flank. "A Stormclan patrol delivered some more prey as we were marking," she continued, giving a nod toward the vole as to include it in the mentioned delivery. It was certainly a welcome sight among a prey pile consisting primarily of fish.

While the question to ask after Emberstar's health danced upon her tongue, Quailstone silenced it. Now was not the moment.

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RE: Flawed Utopia - Emberstar - 04-12-2021

"Silence? From Fireclan. Unusual." Emberstar considered, her eyes narrowing faintly in thought. The she-cat considered several options before she settled on one. Quailstone had clearly already noticed her... State, so it would not hurt to be open, would it?

"Excellent," She then purred, picking up the vole and moving it aside for later - likely after the meeting - putting it in another corner of the Den, where small remnants of prey were located: Emberstar liked to eat in seclusion. "I admit, She resumed, joining the Warrior again. "The news of Fireclan's silence worries me as much as it eases. Pinefire-" The large, dappled and chimeric molly spat out the name like it was poison. In her mind it was, that much was clear. "-never liked to sit idle; I wonder what he is up to that requires silence..." Her two-toned eyes narrowed in concern before she relaxed again. Or tried to, at least.

"As for Stormclan... Remind me to send a cat to give thanks to Valerianstar soon. I'll be in the Place of No Stars before I let such a gesture of generosity go unthanked." She purred comfortably before an awkward silence filled the warm Den - unless Quailstone did anything to prevent it from settling. The Leader did not truly appear to know what to say, or how to keep this conversation flowing. But then, she'd never been the most social cat, so this was not unusual. Awkward, sure, but not unusual for the chimeric molly.

"She speaks."
"She thinks."



RE: Flawed Utopia - Quailstone - 04-12-2021

Quailstone
Quailstone watched as her leader took the vole, placing it aside with scraps from former meals, undoubtedly intending to eat it once she was alone. However, even after Quailstone had given her peace and a purr echoed in the ashen molly's ears, the chimera made no move to dismiss her. She sounded pleased by the news, but Quailstone could not help but wonder if Emberstar was as unnerved by the silence as she was. First their outburst at the gathering, then Poppydawn's strange disappearance, and now this uncanny silence...?

'They must be up to something.'

Quailstone kept the thought to herself, instead flicking her ears forward to listen as her leader spoke. However, it would seem the molly was indeed thinking along the same path. Whiskers twitching, she nodded calmly. "It can't be anything good...and I will be honest, I have my suspicions."

At Emberstar's request, Quailstone dipped her head. "Of course," she agreed, blinking thoughtfully as she recalled the night the new Stormclan leader had made her offer. "We may have a strong ally in Valerianstar, and she seems wise enough to help us become the same." Part of her wanted to mention how they should look to the future - with leafbare coming, Stormclan's offer certainly would not last forever - however, she kept her words to herself. She was not normally the reserved type, but she had a tendency to think things through, and she was still learning who her leader was.

At the very least, she seemed a far better cat than Pinefire.

It would seem that neither cat was particularly sociable. With no words left to say, a silence lapsed between them, and Quailstone hesitated slightly. This was normal for her, and from what she had seen, perhaps normal for Emberstar as well. Normally after such a report, Quailstone would return to her duty, leaving her busy deputy to continue theirs. However, Emberstar was no deputy, and it seemed almost wrong to leave so soon after waking the molly for a meager report. Besides, Emberstar looked like she could do with the company. Had she even shared tongues with anyone since her sister's disappearance?

'You are no replacement for Poppydawn,' she reminded herself firmly. With that thought, the molly stood, dipping her head respectfully. "Shall I take my leave?" It was not her place to console her leader. It was her place to serve her clan.

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RE: Flawed Utopia - Emberstar - 04-12-2021

Emberstar seemed to lapse into a thoughtful - if awkward - silence even faster than Quailstone did; but she was a rather perceptive cat, so it would likely come as no surprise when she uttered, with a mrrow of attention after Quailstone's 'Of course':

"You have something on your mind. Speak: I would hear your thoughts if it helps the Clan." And faintly dipped her head, as if to say 'go ahead'. "It seems I'm not the only anti-social cat in the Clan. Delightful." She hummed internally, her ears flicking forward as if expecting Quailstone to indeed begin speaking.

-Rolling for Perception.-

It appeared, however, that the Emberclan leader did not pick up on the doubt and hesitation clearly written across the other molly, and merely replied with a polite shake of her head. Her shoulders rolled as she settled in, beginning the knead the hard rock beneath her as she laid down, comfortable in the warmth of the den and - it surprised herself - the other cat's large presence.

"She speaks."
"She thinks."



RE: Flawed Utopia - Quailstone - 04-12-2021

Quailstone
While the silence may not have been entirely comfortable, at least it did not last long. Dismissing her question of leaving, Emberstar ushered her on to speak her mind. Quailstone took note of this, before collecting her thoughts on what she had to say. She needed to word this carefully, at least until she knew the leader well. Far be it for her to come across as questioning Emberstar's judgement.

"We need to find a new source of prey before leaf-fall ends," she offered smoothly, never one to beat around the bush. "Leafbare is coming, and I don't believe Stormclan will support us through it, even if they want to. The forest will take many seasons to recover, and once the fish retreat to the lake and the divide, we will be very low on options."

Whiskers twitching thoughtfully, Quailstone went on, not wanting to leave her leader much room to think she was giving all problems and no solutions. "I believe it would be in our best interest to send a patrol north - if we can find unclaimed land that may host the prey we need through leafbare, it would be worth the trek. The Beyond across the Silverpath looks promising, so long as we can figure out the thundersnake's patrol pattern."

As she spoke, Quailstone watched Emberstar settle in her nest.

For a moment, once she fell silent, the warrior found her thoughts wondering over her leader's current state. She was never a particularly maternal feline. However, part of her felt she ought to offer her aid to her leader. She had learned from her apprentice days being careless in the mud that long fur got easily matted, and such matts were not easy to tease out alone. Certainly, they could be painful. However, while Quailstone had allowed herself a step closer when she sat down once again, she did not approach her leader further. If Emberstar wished her help, she would surely ask.

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RE: Flawed Utopia - Emberstar - 04-12-2021

Emberstar settled down, her paws folding under her body as she laid there, settled once more in her nest. "Stormclan may not..." She ventured, thinking out loud. "But maybe Valerianstar will," Her whiskers twitched in thought before she made a decision. "Never mind about sending a cat. Once a deputy has been chosen, I will go to Stormclan myself."

There. Decision made. And still, the Leader continued, apparently on a roll today. "As for the Thundersnake, if you want to organise that, be my guest, Quailstone. The more I can delegate, the better. Mark the territory you come across; if it happens before I leave for a pilgrimage to Stormclan, I'll inform Valerianstar of the new acquisitions."

Almost as if inviting Quailstone in, the female Leader - once done with her 'speech' - began picking, stiffly, at the matted sections of her long fur, beginning to slowly work her way through the matt; she pulled at the done pieces, silently cursing herself for not doing this before. But then, she'd not shared tongues with anyone important to her since... It did not even need to be said. Emberstar's ears folded backwards faintly and for the first time, she slowed down, her body tensing up. Poppy was missing, and she couldn't do anything about it. The she-cat's purr dissolved; she looked up at Quailstone, and down again, continuing to half-heartedly pick at her matted fur. Trying to wash it, yes, but that was difficult alone.

"She speaks."
"She thinks."



RE: Flawed Utopia - Quailstone - 04-12-2021

Quailstone
As Emberstar countered her prediction, Quailstone gave a nod, ascenting to the possibility. It still seemed unlikely to her, however, considering how sparse prey got for everyone come leafbare. As much as she hoped Valerianstar would keep up her kind offer through the colder moons, even if not now, the sharing would have to come to an end eventually. To think she would keep up the offer for the generations it took for the forest of ash to recover seemed far too hopeful. Besides, Stormclan may have the most prey, but they also had the most mouths to feed.

No matter. Quailstone was not here to argue.

Nothing more than an agreeable blink was offered to Emberstar's decision to go to Stormclan, Quailstone seeing no point in offering any more words to the matter. As her leader suggested for her to head a patrol, however, the molly straightened. She had already taken it upon herself in collecting cats to hunt or patrol with her, but this would be far greater responsibility.

"Yes, Emberstar," she agreed promptly, mind slipping briefly to who she might take before she waved away the distraction. She could choose tonight. "I shall collect a patrol and leave early tomorrow. The sooner we can find safe land, the better." Relieved that a solution had been reached, or at least a plan to move forward with, Quailstone relaxed.

The relaxing did not seem to fall both ways, however. Quailstone observed her leader as she began to painstakingly tug at the matting of her fur. Perhaps she really ought to help. As though to answer her internal questioning, the tortoiseshell leader's ears flattened, and sorrow seemed to cloud her gaze as she slowed her grooming. The glance she cast toward Quailstone was enough to hint that perhaps she missed the company she once had in her sister.

Loosening a few knots was the least the warrior could do.

Standing, Quailstone padded closer and, with a brief hesitation, settled herself beside her leader. The pair had surely groomed each other as denmates before, being only one moon apart, even if the ashen molly could not recall it. Back then her focus had been entirely single-minded. "Here, let me help," Quailstone offered, blinking at the molly, before leaning to work on a matt upon her companion's shoulder.

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RE: Flawed Utopia - Emberstar - 04-12-2021

Emberstar continued, unabated, tugging at the matted sections of her fur with a strange intensity as Quailstone joined in: Emberstar seemed to straighten up as the molly began sharing tongues with her, though it was a relaxed straightening up; not one of fright.

-Rolling for Perception-

"I admit," She noted in-between pulling at matted pieces of fur. "It'll take some time to pick a correct cat for the position of Deputy, but I am certain I can do it. Need the clan to rest in the right paws whenever I cannot do it myself, though..." She trailed off, apparently not having noticed the quick response from Quailstone. "How would you tackle the position?" She enquired, her ears angling forward as her fluffy tail came round to fold around the other molly as well. Emberstar was, for the first time, it seemed, comfortable. And yet, she aimed to speak comfortably and carefully, taking the time to think about her words while maintaining her calm demeanour.

"Quailstone or Moosebellow, I think," The Leader mused internally, thoughts wandering to consider either possibility. "I'll need to speak with him eventually, but I'm sure that can be handled." Emberstar's tugging slowed as she thought, before she fully focused on her fur again, and on the reply of the Warrior - should there be one.

"She speaks."
"She thinks."