Nightshade, your typical SkyClan warrior, had a hard time watching his loved clan starve. Leafbare was at its toughest point, and there didn’t seem to be any light at the tunnel for them. Never melting snow covered the forest floor. Even in ShadowClan territory, with their thick tree formations, it had reached the forest floor and covered in a paw-deep layer of snow. It wasn’t good. Not at all. Prey was hiding, stocking up all the food they could find. There seemed to never be any prey out and about, and the clans were on the edge of actually cooperating and agreeing to share the lakes and rivers, since the fish couldn’t exactly move or hide much other than in whatever underwater plants there may be down there.
Nightshade had a mate and kits to look after, and the runt of his very first litter was getting weaker and weaker by the hour. He hated to see her lie in the nursery like a ragdoll and not have the strength to crawl to her mother’s belly for refreshments. And to make it even worse, his mate didn’t even have that much more milk to offer. Ebonypaw was doing their best to provide the nursing queen with herbs that would make their milk flow, but even the herbs were hard to find at times like this. Nightshade knew he had to try something, whatever it took, to at least bring back one piece of prey. But his pitch black pelt didn’t exactly help him in his attempts. Whatever prey may be sticking out their heads; they would spot him a mile away and scurry off before he could be in fox lengths from them. He stood no chance.
SkyClan was dying out. So were the other clans. But SkyClan especially. They weren’t used to this forest, this area, this air. They had only recently arrived here, and were still settling in. And if they tried to go to a river or lake, their ears would be clawed off still. A gathering was coming up soon, but it didn’t seem like many warriors would be able to make the travel. Grousestar himself seemed weak, although he looked as if he could make the trip to the seastones.
Nightshade was weak too. He was skinny to the bone by now, and it took him strength to walk. If he had to hunt like this, he would certainly have to do something big.
Pushing every pain aside, he took one last look at his starving clan, before running at all the speed he could, out of camp. He needed to hunt. He needed to feed his clan. He needed to make his kit strong again. He couldn’t bear to see them all so weak anymore.
The sky was clear and blue, and the wind was almost none existing. Yet it was cold as ice outside. It was as if the forest had been swapped with that of an ice forest. Trees were covered in snow, and ice was creeping up the bark. It looked like a fairy tale. But Nightshade wasn’t here for the looks.
Rushing a few meters out into the territory, he hissed to himself. It hurt to run. Like a thousand claws being pushed into his skinny body and ripping his bones to shreds. It hurt like dying. But he wasn’t ready to do so. First, he needed to prove that he would make the ultimate sacrifice for the sake of his clan’s health.
Finally coming to a halt, he crouched into his best hunter position, and started to stealth in the snow. He could see no prey, sense no movement, and hear no sounds. It was too quiet for there to be prey. Nightshade felt helpless. This was never going to be successful... But he had to try, even if it meant freezing to death in the attempt.
After many runs and stealth’s across the territory, Nightshade finally began to hear a sound. Buzzing. The buzzing sound of tiny, flapping wings. He knew what that meant. Most likely bees. It could be another kind, but he was hoping it was bees. He had a tiny idea growing in his head. Sacrifices.
Following the buzzing sound, he soon began to see the little creatures fly towards a hive, high up in a tree. Nightshade gave StarClan a blessing that SkyClan cats were trained to climb trees. He knew that the bees had probably already seen him and were aware of the danger approaching, but he put all his feelings of dread and worry away, and thought of his starving clan. That made his decision.
Giving a weak jump, he clawed at the bark, and let his claws dig in. Jumping again and again, he finally made it to a branch near the hive. The bees were already starting to swarm around him.
Leaping out, he gave out the bravest battle cry he could, mostly to make himself just a little bit calmer, considering what he was doing.
With his claws, he broke off the material of the hive, and with his falling body, dragged the whole bee filled home with him down onto the ground. Readying himself for the hit, he prayed to StarClan he would be safe, shielded by the many chambers inside the hive. Bees were swarming around him already, coming from outside and within the hive. Time went into slow-motion as he crashed into the ground with the hive underneath him. He saw how the silky thin yet strong material broke at the impact, and how the chambers came into view. He saw how the hive exploded from a hive into a mass of bees that swarmed him and surrounded him in a cloud of angry, stinging insects. He saw his goal flow out of the hive. Liquid hold in his eyes at this very moment. Honey.
Then time sped up again, and a thousand of bees attacked him. He felt the stings instantly. Felt their little needle or whatever that devilish thing at the end of their bodies was called; break through his fur and skin, and the harmless poison entering him from all sides. He however knew that the amount of bees that stung him would be that amount less to fight off. Bees dropped dead after stinging you, right? He hoped he was right.
It hurt. It hurt more than running with a starved body. He couldn’t hold back the screams of fury and irritation as he flung around his claws, whilst doing his best to roll around in the honey. His plan was slowly starting to look like it could work for him. His tail lashed out and shot a few beasts to the ground, dead, and his paws surely did a good job too. Soon, he was covered in bee stings, and thousands of their dead bodies were lying everywhere around him. But he had what he wanted.
That’s when he made a run for it. There were still a few thousand bees left, angry and pissed off, and he knew that if they stung him, he wouldn’t be much good. He already had enough.
It hurt even more than before to run. But he had to do it. His legs were swollen from the stings. His whole body was, when he thought about it. Not much skin was left un-stinged. But enough to make him capable of running, jumping and hunting.
The bees were almost as fast as he was. He headed straight for his next destination, with the swarm of bees following him right by the tail.
Crashing into his destination, the bees finally lost track of the honey-covered tom. He had crashed into a bush filled with snow-covered leaves as well as a big pile of snow. He felt the cold like a salve against his many stings, and gave a big sigh as the honey covered parts of him became covered in white leaves and the snow mixed with the half frozen honey. For a short moment, he wondered how the bees had kept the honey flowing in this cold. But that wasn’t what he was supposed to be thinking of right now. He had gotten his goal: A white pelt. By the help of the sticky honey and the frozen leaves and snow, he was now a walking bush.
Weaker than ever, he started to prowl. He could just imagine how silly he must have looked. A prowling bush. But for the weakly minded prey, it should look like wind was whirling up leaves, and they should not be scared of him anymore. Oh, the sacrifices one makes for their clan.
He finally caught the scent of something. Mice. Two, when he sensed properly. Hope started to bubble inside Nightshade’s chest, and he started prowling slower towards the smell.
Soon, he saw the mice. They were skinny, granted, but they were prey. Food for his clan.
He made sure he was down wind before moving one inch by a time, closer to his prey. He was surprised at how close he could come to them. When he was less than a fox length away, he pounced. The mice had clearly not seen it coming. They were killed instantly.
It didn’t take him long to gather two more mice, and decided to head back to camp, the four pieces of prey dangling by the tail from his mouth.
Just outside the entrance of camp, he stopped and thought about how he looked. Then he started to roll around and claw at his own fur. He didn’t want to be embarrassed. He wanted to be appreciated.
It took him some time to get the leaves off, but the slightly frozen honey and snow shards wouldn’t go off just yet. He decided it did not matter that much in the long run, and picked up the mice and entered camp, looking defeated and full of stings.
His mate instantly rushed to him, and many cats followed along. Soon, almost all the cats capable of moving were surrounding him in a half circle. Four mice weren’t enough, but one bite was more than what most of the cats had had in days, and they welcomed him back like a hero. A wide, happy and satisfied grin spread across the young tom’s face. He was battered, hurt and on the edge of fainting, but he had brought back prey for his clan. The prey was quickly divided. One mouse for the nursery, one for the warrior den, one for the apprentices, and one for the elders. The leader shared the warrior’s. There were less than a mouthful for each cat, but they were still grateful. Hunters were out at this moment, hunters with white fur. They would bring back prey, but the cats around him assured him that they wouldn’t be able to bring back as much as he had. He nodded, and had to be supported by his mate not to fall. She looked at him worriedly and asked if he were fine. He answered that he was feeling a little dizzy and sleepy. He heard someone call for Ebonypaw before the world went dark for him. Oh, the sacrifices made for the Clan.