shadowclan apprentice | torbie | dsh | tags
Now, with an audience, expected to speak, Tansypaw has doubts in her story. She has said it’s good, it feels good, but she has never spoken it out loud. She has never told it to anyone but herself. It could be terrible, and Tansypaw could look like a self-centered mousebrain for calling it good! She’s silent for a time, mustering up the courage to begin.
A deep, centering breath, eyes closed, she speaks: “The story begins with a warrior named Campionfang. She isn’t a good warrior, but she tries very hard to make her clan happy. No matter what she does, there is something wrong with the way that she does it. When she gathers moss, the queens complain that it’s shredded and not nearly soft enough. When she hunts, she misses more than she catches, and the other apprentices— other warriors on the patrol complain that she scares all the prey away. When she pulls fleas and ticks from the elders, they complain that she is too rough and that she is too messy with the bile.”
After having begun speaking, it becomes easier. Shyly, she opens her eyes, “One day, Campionfang meets someone named… Dandelion. He isn’t from ShadowClan, or any clan as far as Campionfang is aware. He is older than she is, and when she meets him, Dandelion is sitting on a fence post, his head lifted towards the sun. When he notices Campionfang, he introduces himself, and Campionfang introduces herself. Dandelion takes one look at her and says, ‘Well, I see someone who needs my help,’
Campionfang says back, ‘I cannot ask for your help,’
And Dandelion replies, ‘You are not asking me, I am offering,’
Campionfang is… she’s curious and she’s skeptical. Dandelion is older than she is, and so he knows more than her, and so she can probably trust his word. Dandelion says, ‘My friend, what troubles you is that you cannot gather moss well enough. I know this simply by the way you stand. If you want to fix this, take these three herbs and circle your nest three times immediately before you sleep.’
Dandelion gives Campionfang the three herbs, and while she wonders if they are poisonous, she knows that if she dies she can strike Dandelion with lightning from StarClan. So she does as he says even though the herbs are bitter, and the next day she wakes up, and she is so good at gathering moss that she gathers all the moss in ShadowClan! It is the softest, plushest moss, and all the queens thank Campionfang. But then, Campionfang goes to hunt, and she is still bad at it.
She goes to Dandelion again, to thank him for his help and ask if he can offer her anything else. She finds him on the same fencepost, and when he sees her he says, ‘My friend, something still troubles you. You are a terrible huntress, I can see it in how you walk. Here, take three licks from this honey, and stretch your back three times before you sleep.’
Campionfang does as he says even though the honey is sticky, and when she wakes she hunts so good that the freshkill pile is taller than the clanrock! The other warriors thank Campionfang and tell her that she did a good job. Still, when she goes to aid the elders, they complain that she is too rough and she makes all the ticks pull at their skin when she yanks them off.
So once more, she goes to Dandelion, and to her he says, ‘My friend, there is one last thing that troubles you. You are a terrible caregiver, I can see it in the way you move. Here, pluck a feather from these three birds, and before you sleep, lash your tail three times.’ Campionfang is very thankful to Dandelion for giving her so much good advice, and she follows it, even though the three birds he asked her to pluck a feather from were all still alive…”
Here, Tansypaw’s nose wrinkles, showing how distasteful she finds the idea. Remembering her audience, her face smooths and she continues, “When she wakes, she plucks every flea, tick, and bit of burr from the pelts of the elders, until their fur is as clean as a newborn kitten’s! They thank her, and at last not one of her clanmates has a complaint about her! Tan-Campionfang is happy!
Or… or she thinks she is. She is very grateful for Dandelion’s help, but she doesn’t like that she had to hurt those, uh, those birds, and she wonders if the bees are okay without their honey, and she wonders if those herbs she ate were for something important. But, Campionfang also has a mother who doesn’t really have time for her, and she hoped that maybe if she was a good warrior, her mother would make time for her- but what if her mother doesn’t? And Campionfang, even a very skilled Campionfang, just isn’t enough?
And she also has a mentor, a, uh, a former mentor that is, who liked to teach Campionfang things, and who Campionfang liked to spend time with, and now that Campionfang knew everything she didn’t… her mentor didn’t need to spend time with her anymore, and Campionfang was scared that, that now that Campionfang didn’t need the help, that her mentor wouldn’t spend time with her anymore. That the only reason they spent time with each other was because Campionfang needed to be taught.”
Tansypaw’s ears fold, the first sign of her nervousness since she has started the story, “And she also wonders if Dandelion is a good cat. Maybe she trusted someone she shouldn’t have, and maybe… um. Well, anyway, she goes to see Dandelion, and she tells him that she’s thankful for all of his help, but that she doesn’t think she needs him anymore, and it makes him angry, and he tells her that she wouldn’t be- she wouldn’t be anything without him helping her.
He taught her all the good things about her, and so Campionfang doesn’t know what to do, because Dandelion helped her with all that stuff! That’s, this is the end of the story.” Tansypaw doesn’t like the ending very much. Out loud, she doesn’t like the story very much.