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Peer Work

Home  >  Peer Work
Lost
By Autumn Blodgett

 To Mrs. White, who helped and encouraged me.

"Ha!" A white female cat let out a triumphant yowl as she kicked fluffy white snow at a bigger cats face. Her green eyes were sparkling with mischief.

"Oh you'll pay for that one!" The other cat purred, shaking the cool snow off his fur.  He was a young brown tabby with one white paw and blue eyes.

 The pure white cat began to run towards the ice," Catch me if you can!" She meowed back, kicking up swirls of snow.

The two cats playing in the cold outdoors were Owl and Snow.  They lived together in a reasonably sized house with their owner whom they cared about deeply.  Right now they were playing in their owner's backyard. Snow had just run carelessly onto the lake with Owl chasing close behind.  Owl was around 3 seasons old so he was young and full of energy.   As he half ran half slid on the ice, he heard an odd cracking noise.  Not thinking much of it, he continued to run after his friend. He was gaining closer to her. Owl put on a burst of speed, being careful not to slide on the ice and snow. He was less than a foot away when he tackled Snow to the ground letting out a smooth purr, "Told you, you would pay." He chuckled.

"Get off!" Snow giggled and pushed him off lightly.

Owl took a step back," Race you to the house? "He asked and Snow nodded, a split second later the white cat had gotten up and was bolting to the house. Owl laughed before chasing after her, unaware that the cracking noise was growing louder.

And then he felt it; the ground sloped beneath him, and he let out a terrified yowl.  The ice... It was breaking!  He tried to run but it was too late.  Water engulfed him as he slipped into the dark water. The icy water was so murky Owl couldn't see a thing.  Snow's worried yowl sounded from above. Owl kicked vigorously with his feet in an attempt to get back to the dry surface.  Panic raced through the young tomcat's body as he hit solid ice, he was running out of air. Darkness was edging his view, and any moment now he would black out. His body was rapidly getting weaker. With every stroke of his legs, he had to gather up all of his energy.  Snow's voice slowly faded, and Owl's vision was gone completely.

 

Words echoed all around him not making any sense. They were all bunched together.  Everything was strangely warm... almost like summer.  Was... was he dead? No, he didn't think so. He felt an aching pain on his head, and as far as he knew; when you die you can't feel anything. Owl started to make sense of the bunched up confusing voices.  It sounded like a conversation... About him? No, it couldn't be, these words had nothing to do with him -right?

"Is he from the Moon Kingdom?" A feminine voice asked, sounding around his age.

"Don't be dumb. Does he smell like them?" A stronger, annoyed voice answered, probably belonging to a tom.

"N-no but he might have covered his scent with something else."

            Moon Kingdom? Why in the world would he cover his scent? Where was he? Owl opened his eyes and the two cats gasped at the same time. Owl ignored them and looked around, was it summer time? Maybe it was a dream? It was an awfully realistic dream. But why would he have a dream while drowning?  Owl looked at the two cats. The younger one's mouth was hanging open.  She was a brown tabby with a white patch over her eye. The older black tom's fur was sticking up aggressively in every direction as he growled," Who are you? You have no business on Sun Kingdom's land." His dark blue eyes bored into Owls.

The younger one let out a shocked, barely audible whisper," His eyes... He's a shape-shifter!"                

Owls glared at the black cat," What? I didn't mean to trespass. Where am I?" He asked, not hearing the younger cats' words.

The jet black cat let out an exasperated sigh, "Like I said, you are on Sun Kingdom's land... We have to take you to our queen." The cat growled, obviously disgusted in Owls cluelessness. The scornful cat looked him carefully in the eye, still holding that same unhidden venom.

Owl's face showed unmistakable confusion as the cats began to stride away, but he followed behind them. There was no noise except for the soft thud of the cat's paws. Owl wasn't use to it being so quiet so he asked casually to break the silence, "What are your names?"

"Shade," the unfriendly black cat replied.

"Petal," the brown female cat answered.

An awkward silence lapsed over the cats once again. The only noise was the sound of the cat's paws. Owl's ears pricked as he listened. Shade's steps were heavier and more confident. Petals were timid and light.

            Owl could be occupied with such simple things when he wanted to. Like the way a butterfly flapped its wings, or how the water rippled in such a pleasant way when he touched his paw to it. When it came to appreciating the small things in life, Owl didn't hesitate.

 After walking in complete silence for what seemed like ages, they neared a large oak with a cat sitting underneath it eating a plump shrew.  Shade cleared his throat importantly and stated to the calico cat sitting underneath the tree," We found this cat trespassing."

She looked at him closely and Owl tried not to gape. The cat's eyes were a dark purple and seemed to be staring past his eyes, into his soul. "You two are dismissed. Thank you." She meowed in a soothing voice. Shade and Petal left them alone. "Sit." She meowed and Owl sat down, every muscle in his body was tense to run away, the cat's piercing purple eyes gave him the chills, ‘Who is this cat?' he wondered.

"I am Daisy, queen and ruler of the Sun Kingdom. Who are you, and why are you here?"

"M-my name is O-owl. "He stammered, fear beginning to edge his tone," I d-don't know how I got here. I don't remember."

"Interesting... What was the last thing you remember?"

Owl wasn't sure he should answer, ‘What choice do you have?' A voice whispered in his mind. "I fell through ice and drowned."

"But there won't be ice for 2 seasons." Daisy seemed to be thinking very hard. After a moment, her expression changed into something that looked like surprise. Owl could swear he saw another emotion deep within her mystic purple eyes, "What color are your eyes?"

An easy enough question, why ask it? "Blue."

 "Your eyes are not blue, take a look." She meowed calmly, as if she expected this. Daisy flicked her tail towards a small pool of water next to her.  Owl got out of his sitting position and rushed to the water. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion. When he got to the water he drew in a sharp breath. Instead of the normal blue, his eyes were two different colors. His right eye was green and his left was amber.

He spun around to face Daisy, "What is this place?" He demanded.

Daisy stared steadily at him, "What I think is very complicated, but I will explain. I think a cat opened up a portal to a different world. Why? I don't know. When you fell through the ice, you must've got sucked into the portal." She meowed; she seemed to know that he would have questions to ask because she paused.

"What is a portal? Why are my eyes different?" Owl took a step forward. He was barely an inch away from Daisy, "When can I get home?"

Daisy still kept that same amiable expression, "Do you know nothing of magic? A portal is a transporter. If a cat makes a portal and steps into it, then he or she will appear in a chosen destination. Your eyes are different because... well, I can't answer that because I don't know how they turned that color when they used to be blue. What gets me is how you survived. Only cats with magic blood could've survived the journey through the portal. You probably have ancestors here."

"Magic? Like... Magic magic?  It doesn't exist. I-it's a myth, a fairytale." Owl stammered. His voice was completely swallowed in fear now, "When can I get home?" he repeated, although he was afraid what the answer may be. But the thought of him being magic intrigued him. Could a normal cat really do all of those things?

Daisy's face became so solemn that Owl took a step back, "I can't make a portal, Owl. The only cat that could make a portal in Sun Kingdom is old and unable to make any anymore. He's just too weak."

 "S-so..." Dullness came into Owls mismatched gaze," I'm stuck here forever." He whispered. His paws shook; he would never see Snow or his owner again? She had treated him good; he didn't want to abandon her.  Owl looked at Daisy with misty eyes.

"Yes... But you shouldn't worry, I will take you into the Kingdom, and you could be great- better than any cat before.  We could find you a master; this could be your home." She pressed.

"I already have a home!" Owl snapped. Sharp claws brought up grass as the uneasy tom tore at the ground with them. All fear and dullness he had felt had disappeared without a trace, replaced with genuine anger. He didn't want another home; he already had one. He didn't want to lose it, and he didn't want to live in this messed up world!

"No. You don't have a home, not any more. But think about it Owl, I know you could be useful to Sun Kingdom. I know it." Daisy ignored Owl's fury, and Owl hated her for it. She sounded so calm when she shouldn't be. He wanted her to be angry too. He wanted this all to be a dream.

 "I don't want to stay here," he insisted. "I want to go home with Snow and my family. I want to go to the place where everything makes sense." Owls eyes bored into hers, "I want to go to my own world."

Daisy curled her lip, "Don't you think I would send you back if I could? I don't enjoy kitnapping cats from their homes, and I have nothing to do with you appearing here. Now will you stay here, or do I have to order my knights to attack you?" She snarled. There was no trace of the calm cat now.

"I'll think about it." He muttered seeing as he had no choice. He still had fight in him though, and he wanted to argue.  Owl turned around and stepped out of the oaks shade.  He looked at a bush and padded next to it. He lay down and rested his head on his paws, ‘Should I accept the offer? What else can I do? ‘Owl thought for a moment,' and what did she say? Shape shifter? Meaning... Change into other animals? ‘Tiredness swept over Owl like a wave. ,'I need to sleep...' Whether this was real or not, he would know in the morning.  He slowly drifted into a deep silent rest.

Owl's dreams were empty that evening. He dreamt he was being followed, but every time he tried to run, his paws wouldn't budge. Green and amber eyes fluttered open to see that this world was indeed very real. Owl groaned. What he would give for his life to be back normal again.  As he got up and stretched his muscular legs, energy and warmth began to fill his young body though his mind was still buzzing with loss. The large, brown tomcat now got a good look at the place. It was a barren place with few trees but lots of lots of bushes and long grass. Cats came out of tunnels in the ground. Some carried prey into them.  He turned around as movement caught his vision.  Owl strained his eyes to see two cats in a field. One bigger cat would make a movement; then the other would copy.  He stared for a moment and gasped when one of the cats turned into a jet black raven.  Owl stared for a few minutes in utter silence. His eyes became as round as a full moon. The raven stayed still for a moment longer before changing back to his normal self. Owl let out a sigh of relief. What was with this place?

"Wonderful, isn't it?" A voice said behind him.

Owl jumped, and then recognized the voice. It was Daisy. He turned around and coughed," Yeah, it was. How did he do that?" he asked, still slightly in shock from seeing a cat turn into a raven.

"First, tell me; do you accept my offer to join Sun Kingdom? " She questioned lightly, her tail flicking gently to and fro.

Owl paused before he answered. If he said ‘yes' then his other world would be lost to him forever. And if he said ‘no' he would probably starve to death and he wouldn't get to go to his home. Both options seemed to end with him not going to his family, and at lead with one of them he would be well fed. Owl nodded, "Yes." He said, when his voice didn't come out as loud as he would like, he repeated more firmly, "Yes Daisy, I would be honored if you would accept me here."

Daisy seemed happy. "Good, oh and how he did that? In good time, you too will be able to change into an animal. It will take practice though."

            "How does a cat get a power?" Owl questioned. If he was going to live here, he might as well learn its strange ways.

            "After kits eyes mature, they are sometimes a special color. This is called  maturing and is a big deal to the cat's family. We have scrolls on eyes; I'm sure someone would lend or trade you one for some food. Do you know how to read, Owl?" Owl shook his head,"Hm. That may be a problem. I'm sure you will learn in time though -no big deal."

            Excitement began to sprint through Owls thoughts now, "What's your power?"

Daisy grinned proudly at this," I can do magic like no other cat in the Kingdom. That is why I am queen." She meowed and looked around, "Now..." she began, "Let's find Lark." She began to pad quickly towards a tunnel and stopped at the entrance. She looked back at Owl who was still standing outside, "Come on, I don't have all day." she urged. Owl shook his head as if to clear it and bounded to her.  She began to pad down the tunnel. 

Owl looked up at the roof of the tunnel. It was strangely roomier in the inside than it looked.  He tilted his head sideways. At the roof of the cave was a bright orange fire was hovering. It lit up that part of the cave.  Owl looked back at Daisy and continued walking behind her, ‘Must be magic.' He thought remembering what the cat had said. It was still unnatural, but he was slowly becoming more use to the idea. "What if the tunnel collapses?" he asked, suddenly nervous.

"Don't worry. We have charms on the tunnel so it won't collapse." she meowed honestly, but Owl still felt nervous.

They went through many twists and turns, and for a while Owl even thought they were lost.  Daisy's gentle call broke the silence, "Lark! Come here!"

A few moments passed. Every so often Owl heard soft scuffling from inside the room. Then the wooden door shifted and a cat stepped out. He had a long scar across his eye going to the tip of his muzzle. His fur was completely white except for his brown tail. The thing that struck Owl the most was his eyes. They were the same as his. "What is it Daisy?" Lark asked, and then his odd gaze caught hold of Owl, who was looking curiously at him from behind Daisy. Lark must've caught on to what was happening because he answered before Daisy could," Oh... But Daisy, do you think he has what it takes? I won't take in just any cat. I need a cat that can learn!" Lark protested, "Not this -this kit!"

Neither cat gave Daisy a chance to speak, "I'm not a kit! And I will learn, better than any other cat!" Owl argued, his claws slowly sliding out. Lark opened his mouth to come back with something but Daisy spoke before him.

"Silence!" She hissed, fiercer then Owl had ever expected from the normally calm cat                               . Both of the cats flinched," Lark, you will take him in. And Owl" She spun around to where she was eye to eye with Owl, "You will obey your master." Growling, she took a step away from both of them.  Daisy glared at them but her voice was now calm, "I'll leave you two to get to know each other. "She disappeared beneath one of the tunnel's many pathways.

An uncomfortable silence filled the tunnel until Lark muttered, "Let's go, I'll show you around."

Excitement filled the young cat's body as he followed after Lark, ‘My master...' The word ‘master' still sounded so different to Owl. But he liked it. It sounded... right.  As he followed behind Lark, his thoughts couldn't help but drift off to elsewhere, back to his home, ‘This is my home now.' He thought strictly. If he was going to live here, he had to stop thinking about his old home. But once again he thought of Snow and his owner.  He shook his furry brown head and realized he had fallen behind.  Using his nose to scent where Lark was, he bounded behind him once again. When they reached the outside, it took Owl a moment to adjust to the harsh sunlight.  He looked to Lark after his eyes adjusted, "What are you going to teach me to turn into? A deer? A wolf? What about a tiger?" He flooded his master with questions.

"No. You must know our land.  If you manage to get onto Moon Kingdom's land they will kill you." Lark meowed simply. He sniffed, "Come on. Let's go. "He started to run through the dry land. Owl hurried after him. Was he joking when he said the Moon Kingdom would kill him? Something told Owl that he was being entirely honest.  Owl skidded to a sudden stop when Lark did.  The white cat didn't look at him as he meowed, "Smell, use your nose."  Lark ordered.

Owl raised his head and sniffed. The first time he only smelled Lark. The second time, he scented a strange metallic smell," I smell something...  But I don't know what it is."

Lark nodded in approval, "Good. Now, watch this." He meowed. He picked up a rock in his mouth and threw it in front of him with a shake of his head. In mid-air, the rock fell into pieces. The fragments of the rock fell to the ground with a soft thud.

Owl watched in astonishment, "Magic?" Lark nodded, "So if a cat crossed there..." He couldn't bring himself to say what he thought.

 "He would die," Lark finished for Owl. His eyes narrowed, "But somehow Moon Kingdoms managed to get past it."  A silence lapsed over the pair for what seemed like an eternity.  Cool wind ruffled Owl's brown pelt as a quietness settled over the pair.

"What have they been doing?" he murmured quietly. He tried to catch his master's eyes, but they were staring across the invisible fence, as if attempting to spot one of the devious cats lurking on the other side.

Lark managed to keep his voice calm, but his eyes showed much more venom, "Those idiots go here at night and kill our cats.  It doesn't matter if it's a kitten to one of Sun Kingdom's oldest and wisest cat. They have no heart."

            Owl felt he had poked around a sensitive subject for the cat. He looked down at his paws, "I'm sorry."

"Don't be." Lark muttered and took off again, this time running towards what looked like a pool of fresh water.  Owl followed behind; this time going a little bit faster. When Lark reached the pond, he slowed to a stop.  He sat down next to the water and curled his brown tail around his paws, "Here you will catch your food. Every cat catches their own food. That is, unless they are unwell or too busy caring for kittens.  Sometimes another cat will catch food for a friend." Lark took a breath, "The Kingdom is split into quite a few parts. There are many jobs. Some cats get to choose their job. Others get their jobs chosen as soon as their eyes mature. Every cat has a duty to serve within the Kingdom, some better than others." He paused, "You for instance. After you are trained, you will be able to have a job. But, since you are a shape shifter, your job has been already decided. You are a knight. You have an important job Kit."

Owl took note of every word Lark spoke, except the last one, "I have a name you know. Stop calling me kit!" He snarled.

"I will when you earn it." Lark meowed easily while getting up, "Do you know how to hunt?"

Owl took a moment then nodded. He got into his best crouch and stalked through the dry grass, "Wrong, wrong, and wrong!" Lark scowled, "Tail down.  You need to even your weight! Any mouse would sense you coming in a second!" Owl shifted his weight, lowered his tail and looked hopefully at Lark who was now nodding," Good." He meowed.  Owl sniffed the air, he scented something... Mouse? Owl had smelled them every once in a while in his owners home. He looked in the direction it was coming from; it was a vole.  It was nibbling gently on a small seed unaware of its upcoming doom. Owl wouldn't lie. He had never tasted anything besides cat food. When he was close enough, Owl jumped and his claws slid out.  He killed the vole with a bite to the neck.  He picked up his catch and turned around to Lark," Good. Now, let's get back to the Kingdom. We have a tough day tomorrow, Kit." He meowed.

This time Owl kept pace with Lark. Owl looked at Lark curiously as he ran. What was that strange behavior earlier? At the very mention of Moon Kingdom, Lark had snapped. Owl blinked. However much the he wanted to know, he wouldn't press Lark for answers that he wouldn't want to reveal. Owl brought his eyes back to the direction of the Kingdom. When he reached the tunnel entrance, he let Lark go in front of him. Owl still wasn't comfortable in the caves.

Lark led him through the tunnels, and then stopped when the tunnel split into two directions. "That's where the trainees sleep." He meowed and flicked his tail towards a tunnel that opened up into a rather large den.

"Thanks Lark." Owl meowed as Lark just padded away.

Owl stepped into the den and saw it was also well lit with the fires glowing at the roof. Owl looked around at the cats. There were around 3 of them. He noticed the one he had seen turn into a raven. The grey tom was too busy talking to a red girl cat to notice him though.  Owl also noticed Petal eating a shrew and padded next to her. He sat down across from her. She looked up sharply, "Oh, hi! You're that cat I saw earlier." She exclaimed, but talked quieter when she saw she was drawing attention from the other two. "Sorry I couldn't talk much at all when we took you back to Daisy. Shade hates talking." She meowed, "What's your name, anyways?" She asked, "I heard you were staying here."

Owl nodded, "My name's Owl.  You heard right."

"Who's your master?"

"Lark." He meowed and began to eat his vole.

Petal laughed, "And you survived? Lark is really harsh. He must really like you if you came back alive."

Owl swallowed, "What? He was nice enough to me." He meowed tilting his head to the side.

"Oh, it's just... He's always been a little tough."

"A little?" The grey piped up, "He's the toughest master on the face of the two Kingdoms!" He meowed and the red orange cat nodded in agreement.

"Yeah, he would try to make you master every battle move in one day." She purred.

"He wasn't that tough." Owl meowed as he finished his vole, "He just showed me around then we left." Owl recalled what Lark said earlier, "But he did say we had a tough day tomorrow."

"Uh oh." The grey cat chuckled, "Who knows what ‘tough' is for Lark!"

"Oh Storm, don't make him worry." Petal meowed. Storm chuckled quietly while padding to a comfy looking nest made of grass and leaves. 

"Yeah, like Pine is easy on you." said the red-orange cat.

"Yeah, I'll admit it, Red." Storm meowed to her. Owl assumed the red cat was Red, "But your master is a piece of vole!" He meowed, "Sweet Honey, always easy on her poor little Red." He teased.

Owl suddenly felt tired. His eyes were heavy as he meowed to Petal, "I think I better get to sleep."  Petal nodded and flicked her tail towards another nest.  Owl walked to it and lay down. His eyelids slowly drooped, and he drifted into a deep slumber.

            What he saw surprised him.  Snow drifted slowly down around him as he watched...  It was himself and Snow.  He saw the ice break and himself fall into its cold depths. He looked at Snow's terrified face.  She ran back to the shore and let out a long scared yowl.  Owl tried to run to her, to tell her he was alright but the ice broke beneath him. He fell and fell...  Darkness was all around him now. Owl looked around. He was in a dark place. A pure black cat came to him with blood dripping from his long claws. His muzzle was drenched red. Owl let out a scream of terror.

Owl's eyes burst open. His pelt was heaving and everything was dark, but he wasn't having a nightmare anymore. Petals amber eyes looked at him from across the den, worried, "Are you okay? You've been talking in your sleep." She meowed quietly so she wouldn't wake the others. Owl got up into a sitting position and nodded shakily.

"I- I'm okay." He whispered. 

Petal looked at him closely, "Go back to sleep." She meowed gently before burying her nose under her paws and falling asleep.

Owl waited for the gentle rise and fall of her chest before he stood up and snuck out of the den.  The cool tunnel air greeted him as he stepped out and took a breath.  He began to walk down the dimly lit tunnels, taking the same route he had taken last evening. When he reached the outside, he sat next to the tunnel entrance. Owl gazed at the stars for a while, just looking. For a while, he thought about Snow. Then his thoughts came to this place and its mysteries. Soon his mind settled on his new life here.  Everything would be different now. Everything would be new, and he was an outsider. He didn't belong here... Did he? Daisy said he had ancestors here. Owl had never known his father, only his mother who had stayed with him his first season. His mother's owner had sold him and his siblings. Owl closed his eyes. Maybe his father was here. Maybe his father was in the Sun Kingdom. Owl pondered the option for a long while, and then a voice spoke behind him.

"Couldn't sleep well?" Lark asked from the tunnels.

Owl didn't flinch at the voice. Instead he meowed, "No." He paused, "Lark? Can I ask you a question?" Owl opened his eyes.

"You just did, but you can ask another one if I can provide an answer."

"Do you believe you're wasting your time training me?" Owl shot at Lark.

"I cannot decide that yet. I will tell you after training today." He meowed simply, "Let's go, kit." Owl didn't have a chance to say another word before Lark bolted off. Owl followed eagerly behind him, this must be a special training session because no other cats were up this late at night.  Owl slowed to a stop beside Lark. He looked at the area they were in.  It was a rather large space with no rocks, trees or bushes anywhere near it. Owl looked at Lark with excitement showing clearly. "Are you ready to have your first lesson?" He meowed. Owl nodded excitedly, "Well then, let's gets started." Lark looked over Owl, "Stretch."  He ordered. Owl looked ready to argue so Lark growled, "Just do it."  Owl stretched his legs then his neck. Lark looked him over again, "Copy my moves exactly as I do them." He meowed.  Lark stood, his body looked relatively relaxed. Owl did the same thing. "Good. Now concentrate on me. I want you to see every little detail, every single hair." Owls eyes narrowed as he concentrated, soon he began to get a headache; but he continued with that same concentration.  And then he felt it, an odd warm feeling in his paws. He broke his connection with Lark and looked down at his them, they were whi-!

Owl's thoughts were broken off as the fur quickly began turning back to its normal brown. He looked at Lark with expectant eyes.

"Good.  You managed to transform into me, well your paws anyways. But you need to keep thinking about me if you want to hold the transformation.  To change into another animal is much, much harder." Lark took a step farther away from Owl, "Try again, this time look at all of me, not just my paws." He ordered.

Owl concentrated, it seemed to take much longer this round and the head ache grew more intense. But in good time, he had made the transformation. Owl looked at Lark for a moment longer before looking away, still keeping an image in his mind. Owl looked at Lark, "I think I have it..."

Lark walked around Owl once, twice, three times. Owl began to wonder what his master was doing. Then Lark ran into Owl's side. Owl let out a muffled,"Oof!" and then lay on his side, dazed. His fur had turned back into its genuine brown and he was his normal size.

When he opened his eyes, he saw Lark standing in his original spot, "You have to concentrate the entire time, Kit. It'll take a long time to be able to hold that concentration. Maybe you will be able to do it as quick as I can." He meowed. A moment later, Owl was looking at a perfect replica of himself.

Owl scrambled to his feet. He looked at Lark, "Again." This time Owl spoke the words.

Owl looked up at the sky, which was slowly becoming orange. The stars were becoming less and less visible. He moved his attention to Lark and began to concentrate. He felt the tingling in his paws again, creeping up his legs and consuming his whole body. He stared at Lark until the feeling disappeared. He knew he had made the transformation. Lark immediately tackled Owl when he broke contact. Owl tried to fight back, but this body was new to him. His blows were off and he was lucky if he could hit Lark's fur. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of fighting, Owl lost his connection.

He collapsed as Larks weight removed. He lay on the cool grass for a bit. His head throbbed from exhaustion; he had never known such intense exercise. Once his headache dulled, Owl got up and began to concentrate.

 

Throughout the morning they had practiced -the same exercise after exercise.  Every once in a while, Owl would be able to hold the image while ‘fighting' with Lark. Other times Owl wouldn't be able to keep the transformation without breaking eye contact. At around midafternoon, Owl was laying on the ground, heaving. His head felt as if it had exploded and his feet felt as if they had been ripped off then reattached. Every muscle screamed when he got up and meowed, "A-again."  Pure determination drove Owl now. Determination to uncover this place's secrets.

Lark shook his head no, "That's enough for today. You've done well, Kit. Hunt and then go do what you want." He meowed and began turned. A few moments later he was far out of sight.

Owl sighed shakily. He was exhausted. He had completely forgotten about Lark's promise to tell him if he was worth training or not.

 The sun was now lowering itself to the horizon, casting rays of orange, purple and yellow. Owl rushed to the pond of water. Every lift of his paw felt like there was a weight attached to it. As he leaned over to lap up the fresh, clear water, a noise made his ear twitch. Owl looked up... Someone was watching him from the other side of the magic wall. He looked more closely at the blood red eyes; but the bushes it hid behind made it impossible to see whom they belonged to. Not that he would recognize them if he could see the cat. But none the less, they made Owl shiver.

"Do you need help hunting?" Petal meowed from behind him. The red eyes vanished almost as quickly as they had come. 

Owl jumped and spun around. "It seems like every cat here wants to scare me to death, sneaking around like that." he joked when he saw who it was.

Petal laughed, "What a strong and valuable cat in the Kingdom you will be -the mighty Owl, scared of his own tail!" She finished. But as soon as she stopped her claws slid out. Her eyes focused on something behind Owl, and then she pounced.

Well, to Owl, it looked as if Petal was lunging at him. He was still on edge from seeing scarlet eyes from across the wall and instinctively rolled to the side. He had acted with such suddenness that he hadn't paid attention to where he was rolling to. He found out immediately. Owl splashed around in the pond of water. When he finally scrambled onto land, he was dripping wet. He shook droplets of water off his now damp fur and met eyes with Petal.  She stood there, a mouse held firmly in her jaws. A few moments of uncomfortable silence lapsed until Owl saw her drop the mouse and start to giggle. Owl smiled good naturedly. He knew how he must look to her right now, dripping wet, standing at the edge of the pond like a fool. He had completely overreacted to her and felt mildly guilty for thinking that she had been going for him.  Owl flicked his tail. "Okay, okay. Maybe I'm a little jumpy." he admitted. But he didn't voice his thoughts on the eyes. He instead moved onto a different, probably more private subject. "Why does Lark hate the Moon Kingdom so much? And what exactly have they been doing?" he fired.

            Petal winced as if stung. But she answered, "I'll start with from the beginning, now that you are part of the Kingdom." She took a deep breath then began," It all started last winter. The two Kingdoms have always been allies.  Their old leader, Soar, was a kind hearted cat. He put his Kingdom first but would never turn his back to a cat in need, even if the cat was in a separate Kingdom. He and Daisy were friends, great ones at that. Soar was a Portal opener, and therefore, a very powerful cat. But then he..."His voice becomes cold, "Then he made Thorn his successor. After that everything changed... Soar died of pneumonia, and Thorn became King. He made cats go through even more vigorous training, and he somehow found a way to get past the barrier. He started sending cats to the Sun Kingdom at night to kill.  Every cat here thinks he's trying to kill off the entire population of Sun Kingdom so he can have more land to himself. And his greatest weapon... is Haunt." Petal shivered, even though it was warm out, "Haunt. He has evil magic. Evil magic is the worst kind. It is meant to kill other cats, not defend or help. And that's the perfect thing for Thorn. It's his ultimate weapon against us. His eyes are red."

Owl drew in a sharp breath. He had been eye to eye, with a killer. He licked the fur sticking up on his shoulder and meowed, "But... do they all hate them as much as Lark does? Sun Kingdom I mean."

            "No. Lark has a special reason. They murdered his partner. He has sworn revenge ever since."

            Petal shifted her paws uncomfortably. Obviously all of these questions were unnerving, so Owl decided to move onto a kinder subject, "Do you have a power?"

            Petal shook her head, "No, the closest thing to magic in me is my healing abilities. I'm pretty knowledgeable with herbs and plants."

            "I think that's way better than any magic." Owl meowed earnestly when he saw that she was becoming disappointed.

            Petal brightened," Thanks! Well, I better go." She rolled the mouse to him with a paw, "You should come with me.  And I'm sure you want to get to know Storm and Red a little more, right?"

Owl picked up the mouse, "Sure, Lark was so hard on me. I could use a chance to relax." He meowed between fur.

 

A few days passed. Owl became great friends with Storm and Red. The two were like siblings and never got separated. Red was a mind reader, so talking to her was slightly difficult. None the less, she was a good friend. Storm was a shape-shifter too, Lark never let the two train together though.

            Owl soon became aware of newer things in this new world. Mythical creatures were real; and dragons were the most common. The normally stayed away from the cats, but a few times they would pick off a dying cat.  He learned about demons, but luckily had never seen one, or at least, not that he knew of.

            Owl was chatting with his three friends happily. They got a break from training today; their masters said it was because they had been working so hard. But honestly, Owl didn't buy it. He seemed to have gotten worse from the first day. He could transform into Lark easily now, but couldn't fight with him and hold the transformation. Lark said that it took practice, and that he was doing great already.  Owl thought he was just trying to keep him from giving up.

            A loud scream snapped Owl out of his daze. He jumped up onto all fours, and looked around wildly. He looked at his companion's confused faces. Without another word, they all bolted out of the den with Owl in the lead.  It was night time; the cold tunnel air greeted him as he looked around, attempting to determine where the scream came from. Then it happened again. Owl didn't have a chance to be afraid of the tunnel collapsing. He ran to the source of the sound.

            Owl burst into the den. The smell of metallic blood drifted around his nose. Owl gaped at the scene before him. He wasn't the first one at the site, there was another cat hunched over the small body. Owl didn't give the cat the chance to say anything. He launched himself at the cat's shoulders, baring his teeth and snarling.

            The mysterious cat let out a startled yelp before puffing out his fur. It took less than a few moments before the cat had Owl pinned. He raised a paw that Owl assumed would be landing on his skull any moment, Red, Petal, Storm... They would all be lost to -

            His friends! They would be here any moment! And now, that was probably them, the rapid paw steps coming down the tunnel. The other cat must've heard also, because he paused.

            "What is this?" It wasn't Red's voice, not Storm's, or even Petal's. No, it was Daisy's. 

            A dim light flickered on inside the cave, and Owl felt the pressure release and the cat was standing up. Owl had a good look at him now, he looked oddly familiar though.  He had ruffled short grey fur, light blue eyes and a white paw, like Owls.  The young brown tomcat had scrambled up onto his legs, ready to fight with if needed. Owl took a side-glance at the cat's eyes, which were a bright soothing gold. Owl brought his attention back to Daisy, why hadn't she attacked this cat yet? "He attacked me, I assume he was with the cat that did" He motioned with his head towards the mangled body of the cat, who was breathing in short breathes, "This."

            Owl snarled he looked ready to lunge at the cat's throat, "No, you did! I saw you, next to her. Her blood's on your paws!" He hissed.

            "I was helping her!  I got here to late though, it wasn't me, you worthless kit!

            "Now Elm, Owl couldn't have done that. These three say he was with them until they heard her scream. "Daisy meowed knowingly. Owl watched as Red, Petal and Storm marched in, tails hanging down the in shame of missing a good fight.

            "Well if he didn't do it... It must've been Moon Kingdom and Haunt. These wounds are the ones of evil magic."  Elm meowed.  He was looking at Owl oddly for some strange reason. There was a new emotion in his eyes.

Evil magic? Owl noticed his friends flinch, but got no information on what this was. It was probably exactly what it sounded like, evil.

            "Yes. That has to be it." Daisy looked at the dead cat sorrowfully, "She will be missed in the Kingdom. I will inform her friends and family." And with that, she left.

            Elm turned to Owl now. The other three had left, probably going to the trainers den.  Owls fur pricked in case the cat would challenge him even now, but that wasn't what Elm was looking for, "I just want to say I'm sorry about what I said. I shouldn't have accused you of that, and I want to make it up to you. How about if I let you borrow a scroll? Do you like reading?"

            Owl, who was surprised by this sudden change of attitude, meowed, "Wait- What?"

            "I'm sorry. I just want to make it up to you. Do you want to borrow a scroll? I have a lot."

            Owl shifted his paws, "I don't know how to read." He meowed shamefully.

            Elm nodded once, "Okay. I could teach you, but only after you practice shape-shifting."

            "Err. Ok?" Owl meowed. What was with the change of personalities? Why did this cat care suddenly so much about him? ‘Cats are weird.' He thought

            "Good." And with that final meow, Elm left the den, his tail trailing in the dirt as he left.

            Owl found himself leaving the den, and before he knew it, he was back inside his own den with the others. The hum of cats chatting started again, this time more noisily. Owl replied with ‘ums' and ‘yeahs'. His head couldn't keep thinking about what just happened, and why everyone seemed so calm about it. A cat died for crying out loud. How could they act like that?

Owl clawed at the ground, till the point where Storm looked over at him quizzically.  He got up and meowed, "I'm getting hungry, let's all go hunting." Storm looked at Owl for a moment longer before looking at everyone else, "Really guys, I'm starving. How about Red and Petal hunt together and me and Owl?"

            Owl knew something was up, and Red did too. Even if she wasn't a mind reader, she knew Storm well enough. The two always hunted together, they did everything together. Owl didn't question him but instead got up. He blinked as the other two got up, Red meowed jokingly, "Yeah, like you need any more prey." Still, they all left the den.

            A tense silence settled over the group once more, making small conversation as they left the den, "Alright then." Storm meowed as they moved away from the main part of the Kingdom, "Red, Petal, you two go over there." He flicked his grey tabby tail towards where the grass was longest, "Owl and I will hunt over there." He nodded towards the opposite direction.

            "Okay, mom." Petal laughed, "Come on Red."

            When the two were out of sight, Storm turned to Owl, "It's not your fault you know."

            "What?" Owl meowed as he shuffled his paws uncomfortably, "I don't know what you're talking about." He lied.

            Storm didn't buy it. He shook his head, "Stop blaming yourself. It's not your fault she died. You couldn't help it."

            Owl met Storms mismatched gaze, and he knew he was right. He was mad at everyone else for just shaking off the death, but he was even more furious that he hadn't made it in time, "It's not fair though. Why are they killing everyone?" He shook his head, "And why does no one seem to care?"

            "They do care Owl.  But why should we stop and grieve over a death, when there have already been so many? Cats are just too overwhelmed to care anymore."

Owl looked at him carefully. Storm always knew the right thing to say, he was so good with words and cats. Honestly, Owl envied him. "I know... But..." But he didn't finish his sentence. He just turned away, "Let's go hunt." He mumbled.

            So the two cats hunted for an hour or so, occasionally saying a quiet good job when the other made a catch. When the sun was low in the sky, Owl looked to Storm, "I'm done, are you?"

            Storms eyes flickered to his small pile of food then back to Owl, "Yeah."

            "Alright then. Let's go." Owl picked up his shrew and mouse by the tail, and then began to run towards the tunnels. Storm didn't talk to Owl and Owl didn't talk to Storm. It was just too weird to talk to each other after their earlier conversation.

 When Owl reached the trainee's den, he turned the opposite direction.

He wasn't hungry, and Lark might want to have a mouse to eat. He came to his masters den and nudged the wooden makeshift door with his nose, "Lark? Are you there?" he called quietly in case there were any sleeping cats next door.

            The door flew open silently at the touch of his nose. Owl stepped inside; he had never been in Lark's home before. "Lark?" he meowed after putting his prey down. A flickering light could be seen, coming from one of the rooms. Owl couldn't help gazing around Lark's den. There were a few open scrolls, Owl padded towards a particular interesting one with red swirls on it. He was just about to flip it over so he could read it...

            "Did I let you in here?" Lark growled. Owl froze on the spot. He didn't get a moment to say a word before Lark was rushing him out the door, "Out Kit. And don't let me catch you here again, you hear me?"

            Owl nodded confusingly and hustled out of Lark's den. He heard a hard slam behind him and picked up his prey.

            What was that all about? Why did Lark seem so mad to see him in there? Did he do something wrong? These questions raced through Owls mind as he padded towards the trainer den.

            He was so ruffled by Larks behavior it wouldn't be surprising if he ran into another cat, right? Because he did. As he walked through the dimly lit tunnels, he ran straight into a grey figure. Owl took a step back,"S-sorry!" But he wasn't sorry for long. Because then, he saw who the cat was.

            Elm! Owl barely suppressed a snarl, "My bad." Elm meowed. But then his golden eyes caught hold of Owls, "Owl! Good to see you. Do you want to go to my den?" Owl frowned, "Oh, of course you don't. You're probably busy." Elm looked so embarrassed Owl almost laughed, but then he remembered he hated this cat.

            But he looked so... so nice. It was terribly hard not to give such a kind hearted cat a second chance. After all, if this cat did tell the truth, Owl was being unfair, "I'm not busy, here, you want a mouse?" He asked between fur.

            Elm's eyes glittered with warmth and he nodded eagerly, "Sure! I'm starving. Come on!"

            Owl followed after Elm as he began to walk down the tunnel. When Elm stopped at a tunnel, Owl was eager to see what kind of house he lived in. When the grey cat pushed open the door however, He was more than surprised.

            Scrolls upon scrolls lay scattered across the den. Some tucked neatly in shelves made with dirt, others scattered across the ground. Owl side-glanced at Elm to see that he was looking around, embarrassed, "Uh... Sorry about the mess."

            Owl looked back at the scrolls, suddenly curious. He took a step inside, "It's alright... I'm just surprised."

            Elm tilted his head, "Why?"

            Owl's fur turned hot with embarrassment, "I didn't see you as the reading type."

            "History is fascinating." Elm replied. He prodded some scrolls aside at an attempt to make an area to sit at, "You can sit anywhere."

            "Thanks." He meowed, dropping the mouse and sitting down.

            Suddenly, the door burst open. Owl and Elm turned their heads to see a muscular dark brown tom. His eyes were the same as his, indicating that he was also a shape shifter. There was a look of emergency in them that made Owls spine shiver. "Daisy has called an emergency meeting.  Level one point six."

            Elm swallowed, "I'll be there in a second. Thanks Pine" He meowed strongly, despite the scared look in his eyes.

            Owl turned his head towards Elm, "What's going on?"

            Elm shook his head, "Something bad. Go to the trainee den and stay there. Your friends will be there," he meowed as he was getting up. A moment later, Owl was alone.

            But he had no intention of going to his den. In fact, he was going to do the exact opposite. He wanted to know what was going on.  Owl left the den and looked both ways. He saw the disappearing of a cats shadow around a corner and followed after it.  He looked around the edge and saw the two shapes belonging to Elm and the other cat.  But something was wrong... The cat had blocked Elm's path. Elm took a step forward, "Hurry up Pine. We need to go to the meeting."

            "Aw. You didn't really think there was a meeting, did you?" Pines voice seemed darker now. Owl's feet were frozen to the ground as pines fur changed color to an even darker shade of brown.

            Elm snarled, "Who are you?" His ears were pressed flat against his head and his eyes were narrowed.

            "As if you don't know." The other cat spat. He called, "Haunt! Come here!"

            The biggest cat Owl had ever seen walked out of the shadows. His eyes shone blood red even in the dark light, "But Mud, why kill him?" He asked.

            Haunt! This was the cat... The cat who had murdered all of those cats! This was the cat that Petal had told him about! He was about to launch himself at Haunt, but he had to stop. He had to think about what he would do.

            "You" Elm's voice was enveloped in genuine fury, "- you monster."

            Haunt looked at his paws as Mud urged, "Kill him! Kill him now!"

            Owl couldn't hold it any longer, ‘I would rather die than walk away.' He stepped out of his hiding place.  Elm and Mud glared at him, but Haunt just looked at him over and over as if he couldn't believe what he was seeing.

            Owl immediately lunged at Haunt.  He tried to pin him down, and found it was amazingly easy.  It seemed as if... he wasn't even trying.

            When Owl had finally pinned the large cat down, he glared at his eyes. The eyes... That were familiar, and not because he had seen the color before. The faces shape was so much like his own.

            "I'm not a monster." Haunt spoke, his voice was choked as if he was about to cry. Owl saw that even his eyes were misty.

            "You killed so many cats." Owl meowed; he wouldn't let himself feel pity now.

            "No I didn't! Thorn and Mud. They did, not me. Owl, believe me."

            "H-how do you know my name?" Owl stammered. His grip was loosening, but Haunt made no attempt to get up.

            "Because Owl. I'm your brother."

            Shock, fear and disbelief shot through him. He wouldn't, no, he couldn't believe him. Owl backed up, "You're lying. You're a liar!" He yowled. Then he saw it.

            Elm.  He was lying on the ground, his fur matted with blood. While he was so caught up with Haunt, he must've not heard anything else. Owl lifted eyes to Mud, "You." his voice growled.

            "Oh, it was too bad you couldn't have seen him. He was begging for me to spare you. But you two kits were too caught up in your drama," he smirked. "Oh. It's too bad. He really wanted to tell you something."

            Owl lifted his lip, his voice was so choked with fury he couldn't say anything. He needed... He needed to change into something, something big.

He remembered it.  In the winter he had seen a grey wolf. He tried to remember it... Its long fur, its sharp claws, its vicious bite and its size. He closed his eyes as nothing was happening. He could hear Mud's taunting, but didn't pay attention. Remember the wolf. Fur, claws, eyes, size, remember every detail. Everything.

            Not tingling. No, that was much too soft of a word to describe what he was feeling. More like burning. Yes, that was it. He was burning. His eyes opened and now, he was looking down on Mud.  He snapped at Mud's neck before you could say ‘wolf'.  And then... He blacked out.

 

            It was much like the feeling he had felt long ago when he first got to this place. But the pain was more intense. He opened his eyes and winced.  A small party of cats was gathered around him. He was lying down in a bright room on a nest. A ripple of comments came when he opened his eyes, all of them relieved.

Owl recognized the faces and sighed. He wasn't dead.

"You're alive." Petal sighed along with his other two friends.

"Idiot." Lark muttered.

"You could've killed yourself!" Red scowled.

Storm shook his head, "Wow."

Owl looked around for one face in particular, "Where's Elm?" He asked. His head throbbed and his whole body was sore. But he had to know. Was Elm dead?

The cats parted to reveal, in a bed next to him, Elm lay. There was something like cotton on top of his wounds; which there seemed to be a lot of. But honestly, Owl was just glad he was alive.

Owl's first attempt to get up was pathetic. He had collapsed instantly. Lark said that's what he got for transforming into a wolf so young. When he finally got into a sitting position, he got the whole story. It went something like this:

Right before Owl blacked out, he had snapped Mud's neck. It killed him instantly. Owl had collapsed on top of Mud in wolf form. He was still in wolf form when a civilian passed by. He had then told the infirmary. Then they took him there. It had taken two mind readers to soothe his mind to changing back to normal (Red was one of them).

Owl kept his mouth shut about Haunt. Obviously he had left b


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