Midair

Fresh, cool air flowed over Xaria. Her eyes shone. Her siblings needed her to live.

Grief

The next few seconds had been so much of a blur, that nothing had been remembered. Blood spilled into a crimson pool around the body of a kit, much too young to die.

The victor examined her paws. They were the same crimson as the ground. She could hear her heartbeat in her ears. 'The same blood that I have spilled from this cat' she thought bitterly.

'How could I have done this? There had to be another way. . .' she racked her brain, but there had been no other way. The realization did not comfort her, but made the sharp spikes resting on her heart turned to a dull squeezing ache.

She walked away with tears in her eyes, crying silently for she would be punished otherwise.

Xaria blinked and sighed as she exited the arena.

All she could think about was the wide-eyed kit that no longer existed because of her.

Venna.

Bittersweet Greeting

Sarmicc praised Xaria as she left the arena.

She walked past him.

"Xaria!" her second smallest sister whimpered.

She greeted them with a glance and continued past them.

She passed the guards at the exit of the arena.

They gave her a questioning glace as she left without a "Parent" but did not follow her when they spotted the blood on her paws.

It was raining.

She wiped the blood off her paws in the mud.

Then she reentered the arena. Her siblings would fight soon.

Talcol

Xaria got back just in time to see Talcol leave the arena. She would be frightened, but she felt numb.

Numb.

Talcol seemed to shrink when he saw Yulte. The cat he was fighting was older than him!

Xaria was outraged. Then she remembered Venna.

Venna was younger and smaller than her.

Venna.

3.

2.

1.

And so the fight began.

Yulte pounced onto Talcol. His massive body completely covered him!

Then, Yulte went limp.

Talcol heaved the massive cat off of him, and was drenched with blood.

He had slit Yulte's throat, and opened his underbelly.

His eyes were wide.

He was scared.

And yet there was only half the guilt Xaria felt.

'And rightly so' she thought 'he was at a disadvantage, he had to defend himself, Venna never could have hurt me.' she thought bitterly.

He exited the arena. He was shaking violently.

Then, as Xaria had, he exited the arena. She followed.

"You were defending yourself; there was nothing you could do." Xaria said softly.

Sithil

She hurried back to see Sithil before she risked her life against her own will.

"I'm scared." Sithil whispered softly, "I'm scared." She started to cry silently. Xaria told her, "Everything will be alright, we were trained well, and you will win."

Sithil left to fight.

A black cat that was nearly twice as large as her entered from the opposite side.

Xaria sighed. It was nearly impossible to be smaller than Sithil.

The match began.

Sithil pounced on top of the large black cat, biting the back of its neck and scratching its eyes. When it was stunned, she opened its throat.

It made Xaria sick that such a scene made her proud of her sister.

Benon

It was her last sister's turn.

She could see Benon felt she had a lot to live up to.

She entered the arena with a sleek white cat on the other side. It had visible layers of rippling muscle.

5.

4.

3.

2.

1.

The white cat pounced. Benon's body went limp. Xaria's blood went cold.

Her sister's body lay there unmoving. Sarmicc swallowed and went out to collect her body, as the losing kit's "Parents" had to do.

Xaria was in a haze. Her sister was dead.

Dead.

Like Venna, she had been killed on the battle field.

Dead.

Death

The rest of the day was a blur of grief. Her sister was dead.

Sarmicc talked about what a great fighter she was, and Xaria realized that they were back at the house.

Her sister was a limp bundle, wrapped in red cloth. To 'symbolize valor' Sarmicc had said.

Xaria knew it was to hide the blood.

They carried her body, with cold tears in their eyes, to the graveyard of warriors. They dug a small, but deep hole, and left her in it. To rest. Forever. Xaria could not feel anything. She did not notice that they were once again back at the house, and she did not remember the trip.

None of them felt anything.

Their sister was dead.