’Eh? And I thought I was acting weird.’ Holding back a small spurt of laughter at her patched companion’s less-than-informative remark, Ameena bent her head, licking her chest as she spoke again. “Fine, cover up all the compliments the she-cats have given you,” she mused calmly, sitting up again and turning her questioning gaze on the tom. He still seemed preoccupied, which made her tilt her head a small amount, silently asking the question that was threatening to spill from her parted jaws- What’s on your mind? Deciding it was best to keep her mouth shut, the tortoiseshell mentally shook herself, twitching her ears forward as he thought about how to properly answer her question. Was his backstory really so bad?
As the Green-Air began speaking, the young she-cat instantly felt bad for asking something so personal. Of course, she hadn’t necessarily inquired about his entire history, just where he’d been born… but she didn’t quite mind being entrusted with this little story as much as she should, considering the circumstances. It felt somewhat honorary, almost. But that wasn’t important—Sylvester didn’t seem too satisfied with the snippet of information he’d given her, and, out of habit, the Pink-Orange-Light decided to do something about that.
Slowly stepping forward, the tortoiseshell lightly pressed her nose to the tom’s fluffy cheek, heat rushing to her own face as she did so. “Being born outside the Tribe isn’t such a bad thing,” Ameena meowed quietly, finally forcing herself to take a miniscule step away from the other. Her sea-green gaze lifted to his handsome face, the tortoiseshell swallowed back the nervousness she’d adapted after having voluntarily getting so close to her companion. “Obviously someone like myself would say that, but.. it’s true. Think about it, Sylvester- even though you were brought into Air-Tribe from your life outside the Tribes, you’re sincerely respected here. You’ve been trusted enough to not only become a guard, the protector of a Tribe, but you were given your very own apprentice.” Pausing for just a brief moment, Ameena flashed the tom a smile. “History isn’t what matters so long as you’re willing to make the future better with the time you’ve got in the present, right?”
He was okay to tell her, she was from the same Tribe no? Why should he hide this from her? But, the second he had stopped talking, his whiskers dropped. He regretted telling her this because now, he couldn’t help but remember that his parents had done so much for him.. and in return, he had caused their disappearance.. their ‘death’. Sylvester had never liked the idea of thinking that his parents had passed away since no one had found their body after the earthquake. But, why should he remain hopeful when he clearly knew that hope was unattainable any more. Not for that. And, as the his pale gaze began to cloud, a touch on his cheek caused the tom to quiver. His eyes fluttered for a moment as he felt hot breath ruffle his whiskers, before focusing his pupils on her. Had she sensed his sudden grief? ‘Oh, how careless of me,’ he thought, not used to being so down in front of a lady. He blinked gratefully at her, silently thanking her for the concern. Her words were full of truth and he deeply understood her. He had been lucky enough to remain focus on his job, training Warrun and even making friends with other tribe cats. He could still remember how nervous he was with the idea of leaving Air Tribe’s territory. How foolish he was, to waste all his adolescent life isolated from the world outside of their borders. He cracked a smile, licking flat the fur on his shoulder.
“Thank you, Ameena,” he began with, then paused as he continued to flatten his pelt. And after a few strokes, the tom elevated his eyes and met with the tortoiseshell she-cat’s. “And I could say the same thing to you. No matter what you’ve gone through, no matter how hard it is, you will always have your tribemates to help you. You’ve been sent to Air tribe for a reason, don’t forget that. And it’s alright to keep fond memories close to us. They keep us going,” he winked at her, signalling her to follow him still.
“What do you say we head back to camp and find something to eat? Hm--uh?!” and as he was about to say more, the ground beneath them trembled, shaking both cats vigorously as though they were standing on unstable grounds.
Sylvester did seem rather upset- so much so that even the “always-looking-on-the-bright-side” Ameena was disheartened. This tom didn’t seem too confident in his backstory, or maybe it was something else. Whatever it was, the brown-and-white cat was down, and the female didn’t like that at all. ’I don’t understand what he’s remembering that’s so bad, or maybe he just regrets telling me in general, but I’m not going to let him feel bad.’ His acknowledging blinking made her smile just a tad, making her feel at least slightly better. She only hoped he did, too- and that wish was backed by the smile the tom-cat gave her.
“You’re welcome,” she purred, thankful that he seemed better now. The young she-cat silently watched her companion groom his pelt, thinking about how ridiculous she must look. Not only had Sylvester originally found her trapped up a tree, but her fur was probably all ruffled from that experience… shaking her pelt in embarrassment, the tortoiseshell pawed at the ground, looking up just as the tom did. He had beautiful eyes- even if she hadn’t already found herself completely attracted to him, Ameena wouldn’t have been able to deny how unique his eyes were. ’I’ve never seen eyes as unique as his,’ she silently commented to herself, finding the heat returning to her face once more. She tried to understand the emotion behind his gaze, then decided that was prying- something Ameena probably shouldn’t do any more of.
The tom’s next words made the Pink-Orange-Light grin once more, and she bowed her head as she began following him again. “I am thankful to have been welcomed into the Tribes, after having dreamed of doing so all of my kithood. I just hope I can fit in as well as you seem to have.” At the mention of food, the tortoiseshell could feel her stomach nearly clawing at her from the inside. Letting out a short giggle, Ameena nodded at the offer. “Yes, I think food sounds pretty good right now,” she laughed, the action quickly being cut short as the ground began to quake. The she-cat felt her eyes involuntarily widen at the sudden movement, and found herself rooted to the unstable earth, too paralyzed to speak or act.
Everything was going great, he had even started to grow calm again when the quake suddenly shook that feeling off. The brown and white tabby dug his claws down, his head swinging in all the directions. What was going on? The seconds turned to minutes as his mind whirled in confusion. Lightly, he looked at Ameena, the she-cat was rooted to the ground, fright clearly drawn upon her face, her body.
“Ameena!” he gasped, dashing to stand over her. He pressed his frame close to hers, instincts wanting him to protect her from harm. But as soon as he braced himself for whatever could fall on him, the trembles ebbed away, letting a long silence to roam undisturbed over the land. It took a moment for the tom to registered what had occurred and when he did, he couldn’t believe that it happened.
“Are you okay?” he finally said, straightening himself up and giving her enough space to stand as well. He couldn’t believe it. The earth had shaken once more.. just like before. Though, it wasn’t as brutal as it once did. Did anyone else felt the quake? His ears flicked back, the hair on his spine standing on end.
The pretty she-cat tried with all her might just to shut her eyes and drown everything out. It was all going to end now anyway, wasn’t it? Why couldn’t she just shut her eyes and die peacefully, instead of watching it all crumble before her? Would she die slowly? Great spirits, she certainly hoped not. Thoughts began to whirl around in her head now—images and voices, little scenes playing out. She could see her own paws, minuscule though they were, reaching up at the pretty face of a blue-eyed calico she-cat. “Suraa!” she purred, for once happy to see her mother. The she-cat gave her a tired smile, then was replaced by a young-looking black-and-white she-cat. Her eyes, too, were as blue as the sky, and held a gleam of mischief. “I’m gonna get you, furball!” she hissed, pouncing at the then-kitten-aged Ameena. All too soon that figure grew tremendously, transforming into a darker, heavily-scarred tom, laying beside his younger daughter with a playful look on his aged face. His eyes matched hers in color, but held more love and wisdom than Ameena had ever recognized in any cat before. “I love you, Papa,” the young she-cat mewed, nuzzling into her father.
Just as soon as the memories came, they were gone, and the healer found herself blankly staring at the ground below her. Everything was dead silent, and she realized the earth had stopped shaking. ’I’m…. alive?’ The thought that came to her was quickly replaced by the acknowledgement of some presence rather close to her. Finally able to move, the she-cat looked up, blinking at the patched figure beside her. “S-Sylvester?” she choked out, noticing for the first time how badly she was shaking when the tom moved away from her. He said something, but she couldn’t really register it. Unable to understand anything about what had just happened, Ameena quickly moved to stand beside him again, not even caring about personal space as she nuzzled into the tabby-and-white tom-cat’s chest.
He noticed how shaky she was. He couldn’t imagine at what point this event could have affected the young pretty she-sat. Actually.. yes, he could. He had experienced that same threat when he was still a young apprentice.. Unfortunately for him, he had to go through it alone. He was so scared at that time that he couldn’t even bring himself to pad back into the borders. He had to wait a whole night, alone, before being able to travel back to Air Tribe’s territory. At least he had survived. His parents in the other hand, had not. Did his father experienced the same fright, the same feeling of helplessness? Had he died while protecting his mate, just like Sylvester tried to protect Ameena? His eyes flickered with fear as the questions tumbled in his mind. This was terrible. Will another tremor strike? His heart was beating rapidly inside his chest, threatening to burst out at any moment.
“Ameena we have to--!!” his words were cut off as he felt her frame press against his. His breath got caught up in his throat, his eyes now focused on her. The she-cat looked terrorized. He felt guilty somehow, powerless to mother nature’s wrath.
“Ameena,” he whispered, his eyes softening as he blinked down at her. “It’s okay. I’m here. Everything will be alright, I promise,” he murmured, pressing his muzzle to her cheek, running it over her own muzzle before letting it rest on her forehead.
“I’m here,” he repeated quietly, closing his eyes as he allowed her to press closer. The least he could do was to reassure her, let her know that the worst had passed.
Sylvester’s soft fur was more than comforting to the adolescent-aged she-cat, who was still trembling a little despite the warmth her companion was offering. Just his presence was enough to calm her down for the most part, though she didn’t exactly know why. Sure, the tom was attractive and all, but that didn’t explain why she felt so protected by him. Maybe it was just his position as a guard? That could be it.
Slowly but surely Ameena began to regain her senses; She could hear Sylvester’s soft murmurings as he tried to soothe her and smell his wonderful scent as the side of her face was pressed against his strong chest. The touch of his muzzle against her cheek and maw was more than enough to make her regain the feeling of heat in her face- yes, this tom was doing a wonderful job at easing her mind. As the Green-Air rested his muzzle on her head, the young she-cat nuzzled under his chin a little, shutting her eyes to the world once more and letting him reassure her with smooth words.
“Thank you,” she purred quietly, seemingly forgetting that this tom was practically a stranger to her. Though, as she thought about it, she could help but dismiss that label- she’d known Sylvester less than a day, yet already he had saved her twice, had he not? He was no stranger at all, in that sense, no. This Green-Air was a friend, and was already proving to be a good one at that. The thought eased the rest of Ameena’s nerves, and she quickly licked the tom’s muzzle before taking a hesitant step away from him. Her sea-green eyes travelled up to his face, holding his gaze in an attempt to say everything she wanted to. Instead she let her gaze fall again, dropping it to her paws as she shuffled them on the ground in embarrassment. “I’m sorry,” she mewed, flattening her ears against her skull.
As a guard, the tom had devoted most of his life to keep his tribemates safe from harm. He would do anything to save a life. He had trained for that, it was like instinct for him. Even now, his body pushed him to protect the young adolescent, even though a part of him wanted to save himself. Natural instinct would have normally forced him to run, but that wasn’t what a guard was trained to do. The guard inside of him was stronger than instinct, and therefore, he needed to stay, make sure that she was all right. Her trembling body slowly began to stop, her flank heaving more slowly as well. She was calming down, that was a good thing. He smiled, letting his muzzle pressed on her head, waiting for her to completely calm down. Internally, he hoped with all his heart that nothing would appear to interrupt this moment. The last thing they needed was more chaos. He felt her nuzzle make its way under his chin, her actions bringing butterflies in the tom’s stomach. Once more, his eyes fluttered slightly, his gaze staring absently on the path ahead. Rarely had he felt this before.. This strong desire to keep someone safe, no matter what. Her scent invaded him, like dawn’s sweet fragrance. He breathed it in, taking comfort in her presence. He was probably the one trying to calm her, but he couldn’t deny being nervous himself, and this was all he needed to relax; the presence of a she-cat close by. Not any kind of she-cat, a she-cat from Air-Tribe, a healer at that. Boy was he lucky~ As he was about to speak again, a movement quieted him down. The she-cat was pushing away, but licked him before she did. The silence went once more undisturbed as he gazed down at her, his pale yellow and green eyes drawn into hers until she broke eye contact. ‘Sorry?’ He tilted his head.
“Heh,” he chuckled softly, brushing his muzzle lightly over her shoulder.
“No need to apologize, unless you were the one causing this tremor,” he teased lightheartedly. He got to his paws and swept his entourage with narrowed eyes. Nothing seemed to have changed. Perhaps the earthquake wasn’t of a high enough magnitude to cause any damage. He hoped it was the case.
The fact that the semi-fluffy tom had yet to reject her actions sparked an almost-chaotic sense of confusion in the younger feline. Was Sylvester just being overly nice and not saying anything because he knew she was frightened? Was he himself too scared to risk moving again? Or was there something more meaningful behind his lack of action? Whatever it was, Ameena couldn’t help but feel grateful, relieved, and… well, a number of things. The Green-Air was being so kind to a cat he’d just met that same day, and that fact made the Pink-Orange-Light rejoice a little on the inside.
All giddy thoughts aside, though, the tortoiseshell was still pretty embarrassed by her most recent actions. Nuzzling, licking, and snuggling up to a cat she’d just met? That was rude of her, wasn’t it? Of course, those actions weren’t symbolic of things she wasn’t trying to imply. Her attraction to the tom was more than obvious, and it was beginning to become about more than just his good looks. But, for all she knew, this tom could have a mate or something. If he did he would tell her, wouldn’t he? Or maybe it wasn’t any of her business. She’d never seen him with a she-cat before, though, so maybe he was romantically available.
’What are you thinking? You just had a near-death experience and all you can think about is how gushy you’re allowed to be with a guard?’
Mentally slapping herself, Ameena shook her pelt again and looked up at Sylvester as her friend softly touched her shoulder, striking up another rumbling purr in the she-cat as he brought her away from her ridiculous thoughts and back to earth. His words made her giggle a little, and she couldn’t help but roll her eyes at the handsome tom. “Of course not,” she mused, following his lead by glancing around the neutral land. Was another disaster going to strike them soon? She sure hoped not… the last thing the female needed was Sylvester saving her butt yet again. “Do you think it’s safe now?” she inquired cautiously, glancing back at the patched tabby tom. She hadn’t the slightest doubt that he was going to try and reassure her, but she was curious as to how he really felt about that matter.
The white tabby tomcat padded forward then sideways, analyzing their surroundings with eyes peeled. Nothing yet to be reported, though it struck him as odd. What could have provoked the earth to quake? Had any other cat noticed? His ears swivelled back to Ameena, the pretty tortoiseshell she-cat had spoke to him. With a comforting smile, the tom answered, his voice tranquil.
“Well, nothing seems out of the ordinary. So far so good. I suggest we head back to camp now, to make sure no one’s hurt. Maybe our leader will inform us of further information about the matter. Yes, I should report back to him,” he meowed, a little hesitant to do so. He would be far more comfortable letting know Ordelis rather than Aiolos. Not that he didn’t trust the tom, but simply because the dark tabby deputy was around longer than their newly appointed-- well.. self appointed leader. With a little shake of his head, Sylvester gestured the pink-orange healer to follow.
“Stay close in case we get another ‘surprise’,” he murmured, chuckling lightly with amusement. The green-air followed the worn path back towards Air tribe, his head high and ears alert. He couldn’t hide still being wary of their surroundings, not trusting the calmness that had settled down on the forest. But, surely he wasn’t expected what he was now witnessing. Halting abruptly in his tracks, Sylvester froze in shock as he stared down at the ground, a clean fissure stretching towards the vast blue. Something felt wrong, out of place. Following the cracks with unblinking eyes, Sylvester gazed straight towards the end of their land, the point where the water met the earth. It was an easy sight for they were exiting the forest to enter the meadow leading to their territory.
“Ameena.. look at that. This fissure leads to the ocean. Something seems off.. The Watch Point... it’s gone.” He gasped in disbelief. “It’s really gone..”
Ameena silently nodded as the tom gave her slightly reassuring words. It wouldn’t be possible for anyone to completely comfort her as far as this matter went, but Sylvester was right—things did seem to be quite alright at the moment. She’d never experienced an earthquake before, assuming that was what had just happened (what else could it possibly be?), and now that she had, the tortoiseshell was positive she never wanted to relive that experience. It was nearly as frightening as watching her father get mauled to death by a hungry fox—and she had been rather young then. Now nearing adult age, Ameena couldn’t believe she had been terrified like that once again. I thought that was just something kits did- being completely paralyzed with fear… how embarrassing.
Shaking past her more-or-less narcissistic thoughts, the young she-cat continued to closely follow her tabby-striped companion. He’s just as nervous as I am, she realized quietly, noticing the way he continuously looked around, as if something was going to jump out at them at any moment. For all they knew, maybe something would. To be completely honest, it wouldn’t have surprised her one bit, after the two events that had already occurred that day. Sylvester laughed her thoughts aloud as they trekked on, confirming her suspicion about the tom being just as nervous as herself. “Maybe you should stick close to me,” she laughed, twitching one of her ears. “I think it’s about time I saved your tail today, eh?”
Her bemusement quickly subsided as the Green-Air stopped dead in his tracks, and she paused beside him, following his yellow-green gaze as he discovered the surprise end of the peninsula they called home. This part of Nandryx was a lot longer… did the earthquake do this? Flattening her ears, the Pink-Orange-Light pressed closer to her friend, hoping to at least slightly comfort him. This had been his home much longer than it had been hers, and perhaps the Watch Point had been a sentimental landmark to him. “This is bad,” she meowed, voicing the first, most obvious thought that came to her mind. Her sea-green eyes studied the fissure, and her heart skipped a beat at the next thought that arose-- One of the Tribe’s territories or camps could meet this fate at any moment.
Sylvester was at a loss; empty of words, empty of thoughts. He didn’t know how to react to this discovery. Was this fissure done by the recent earthquake they just experienced? Or was it done during the first big one where they discovered the underground home to Shadow tribe, the forgotten power? He couldn’t tell. It was beyond him. Either way, it had probably resulted to the Watch Point’s destruction. Well then.. it couldn’t possibly be the results of the first earthquake. That one had occurred many months ago, before the war even started. He turned to look at Ameena, her expression revealing his exact thoughts; ‘what was happening to Nandryx?!’ Quickly, he shoved his bewilderment away and recovered a steady stare.
“It’s really bad,” he agreed, pausing as he thought of his next chosen words. “I don’t know what could have happened.. but many cats enjoyed that part of the land. It was a nice place. Free for all to visit. I really hope it didn’t collapsed just now. If so, I pray that no cat was hurt.” He sighed, shaking his head sadly. Yes. This place was special for him. That was where he had taken Lily to, the black-water who lived closer to the Moonfish Lake along with her sister. He feared for her safety. He hoped she was alright. Though right now, he needed to report this to Ordelis.
“Come now, we need to hurry!” he urged.
Silence wrapped around the pair of cats like ivy tendrils on a tree. It wasn’t too unwelcome, really—Ameena was too focused on the matter at hand to really care. This was the first time today she’d found herself not even acknowledging the cat beside her, but Sylvester’s charm had to be set aside so they could try to figure out something to do… even if there wasn’t much, if anything, they could do. We need to tell Aiolos.. or, well, any cat who’s got some sort of power. The Yellow-Light was right. The Tribes need to leave as soon as possible.
Sylvester’s words brought her out of her thoughts once again, and the dark she-cat frowned at them. “I sure hope nobody was here… I know this was a popular spot, albeit one I never got the opportunity to visit. But I don’t want to think about some cats… falling to their deaths after that earthquake.” The tortoiseshell shook her head, shuddering at the thought, and was glad when the Green-Air made it clear that they had to leave. Without hesitation, Ameena turned and took off towards Air-Tribe’s camp, her fluffy tail streaming behind her and her star-shaped necklace bouncing against her chest with each stride.