Once a powerful chieftain of the Clawguard, Scratchnail's final mistake caused the destruction of his mind, his home, and his master—Grizraz Hearteater. The same rockfall that saved Tailchaser was also that which sheltered the dark beast from the Mound's final collapse. Awake, alive, and bitterly grieving for the life he'd lost, Scratchnail sets off to gain his final revenge on Fritti in the same place that the yellow tomcat searched for happiness-- Hushpad.
A short introduction to the main character of this story:
(also, disclaimer—all of these cats – yes, I consider the Clawguard to be cats, as well as the Toothguard- are not mine. They all belong strictly to Tad Williams. Also, this story can operate independently of Tailchaser's Song, so have no fear to read!)
Name: Scratchnail of the Clawguard
Allegiance: the Clawguard, fool…
Age: Converted to human years, I'd say thirty-five or so.
Appearance: quoted from the book; "Different, not the way the Folk were meant to look. Their faces were snakelike, flat brows and wide cheekbones, and their ears lay well back on their skulls. Fierce yellow eyes stared from these faces, huge and deep-set, burning with unsettling fire. Their muscular bodies were knotted, low-slung and powerful, terminating in wide, spatulate paws with red talons." Also somewhere it notes Scratchnail in particular is coal-dust black, with pale, sickly spots on his underbelly. If you're REALLY interested and are willing to deal with my amateur drawing:
I drew that lol. I'm sadly proud of it xDD
You'll have to replace the (d0ts) with actual periods if you're SO intrigued.
Personality: As far as we know, vicious, bloodthirsty, gruff… and also somewhat intuitive. After all, he's very observant—and he knew there was something about Fritti from the moment he arrived. VERY vicious. Did I say vicious? Quite an angry kitty.
Brief history: Scratchnail was a chieftain of the Clawguard, which was a group of creations that this Satan-Cat made. There's also the Toothguard, which are hairless with big noses, and the Boneguard, which are pretty creepy and I don't want to think about. Scratchnail was doing fine, rounding up prisoners, until he brought in this Tailchaser guy and his friends. Tailchaser escaped the mound and Scratchnail got bashed for it and banished along with his Toothguard friend Skinwretch. Eventually Tailchaser returned and Scratchnail battled him, the fight being drawn short when a rockslide took him away.
HEY! We're done with the intro! Ready for my random rant on disclaimers and stuff?
Good morning, my name is Simpy, and this is my fanfic based on Tailchaser's Song, a story by Tad Williams. It reminds me of Warriors, another book series I read and write about, but I actually like it a little better—will Scratchnail succeed in his revenge? Please read and review, and remember—though Scratchnail and all allusions to Tad's story are his, this story itself is mine, and I will flog you to death and send the Boneguard after you if you steal. Thanks!
Pain. It swirled around him, flooded his world with agony. Pain. A thrumming growl, a scream, began to hum in his throat, until finally he stirred where he lay and let it escape. It was a yowl of death, of flame, and still though he felt like the air in his lungs was his dying breath…a cry of hatred.
He was a creature of hatred, after all—the Fat One hadn't made him to be sweet and cuddly, a creation made merely to find joy and one's self. No, Scratchnail, like all of his type, had been formed of pain—borne of pain—and therefore lived in pain. The Clawguard had been loosely based off of the Folk, it was true, but in the end…
They were nothing alike. Sun-rats, curse them, curse them all… Scratchnail snarled to himself even as he lay, body humming with agony, STARFACE…
Memories began flooding back, and it was only typical that the first face to swim into his head was the little orange tomcat that in the last few days had become his mortal enemy. Tailchaser…
Abruptly it all returned to him, and with it the full terror of the last few days that he'd experienced. Clawguards were strong—Clawguards were not made to feel fear—but the feeling of his own mind's disintegration had not been a pleasant one. From the moment he'd lost his status, the lifetime he'd worked for, all because of a little ginger cat with a star on his forehead…
Only because of Skinwretch, the Toothguard who had been punished equally, had he survived at all. He'd seen Tailchaser flitting in every shadow, seen those curious eyes glinting in those of every cat he'd seen. Though Skinwretch had been once Scratchnail's greatest rival, he'd become the crutch he leaned on, the thing that kept him barely sane…
Perhaps it would have gone on forever. Perhaps always would Fritti's face have haunted the Clawguard's mind, had the mound not begun to tremble and Hearteater destroyed. That much had not mattered to Scratchnail—nothing had mattered, nothing but destroying Tailchaser's friends, and indeed he'd been ripping away the feathery limbs of a fluffy kitten when the real tomcat had showed up.
It had been a battle unlike any Scratchnail had experienced before, a battle where he felt his fur torn and his blood spilling—and at last, something had broken within his mind, and he'd seen the shadow-Tailchaser as who he really was… the real one.
It would have ended there, had the falling walls of the mound not crumpled before them, pushed him in an avalanche of rock and stone into the foaming waters of the black river…
And there, he supposed, he must have died. Must have. I can't have survived a fall into the Flume. I can't have survived when all the others of my kind were crushed—they and the Fat One. But if I was dead, surely there would not be this much pain?
Pain as if an avalanche of rock had fallen on him and he'd been lacerated by the furious claws of a little sun-rat, pain as if he'd sunk battered through the greasy depths of the river and been churned beneath the rapids of the waterfall. Pain as if he was, even now, trapped beneath rubble, alive only because of the way the stones had fallen…
Scratchnail threw back his head and roared, a sound so powerful the low ceiling above him trembled with the force of it. He roared, and roared again, and those wide yellow eyes blazed with his hatred. "TAILCHASER!" he cried to the sky, slamming his high, wide brow against the stony ground with the weight of his pain, "TAAAAAILCHASERRR!"
"How many times have I had to tell you, you fool Clawguard-- Tailchaser ISN'T HERE!"
The voice, shocking as it was to hear, was terribly familiar. "SKINWRETCH?" the liver-spotted beast born of the earth yowled, turning his head. The simple action caused him so much agony he turned and immediately vomited, to which the trapped Toothguard made sounds of utter disgust.
Sputtering, the massive beast finally set his fierce eyes on the bald creature, skinny, with a mass of scar tissue at the nose where once his companion's senses had been so strong. The Toothguard were naturally blind, and it was only their disklike ears and powerful nostrils that allowed them to live the way they did… if they were stronger, it would be they who had to go above ground and face the sunlight, for it did not burn their eyes. Seeing the bald, wormlike feline's wounds the black tom winced automatically—it seemed hard to remember that it was only a temporary measure. It was a temporary punishment, for like all of their type, it would soon heal and regenerate.
If they'd truly wished to punish Skinwretch, they would have just killed him. Or let him go to the Boneguard. Scratchnail thought he'd rather like death better.
"What are YOU doing here?!" Scratchnail came close to screaming.
It had visible effect on the strange beast, whose wide, batlike ears immediately drooped and whose face twisted into a blind, savage mask. "You mean to say, friend, why is it we are alive when the rest of our two races are completely extinct?"
"NO!" Scratchnail growled, "I mean to say, friend, what are you DOING here? I was knocked off the cliff by the rockslide."
The disgust that colored the wrinkled face made the beast scowl, wincing back a little at the expression. "Ah." It was hopelessly bitter. "That is my own doing, friend—I wished for death. My nose… was done as punishment, for I delivered the bad news. I was but the messenger… what, do you think, would have happened, if they'd known this whole… mess… was my fault?"
"What do you mean, Skinwretch?" the dark feline growled, slowly beginning to move, achingly, in the small space he had. "What did you do?"
"You remember, friend, when we wandered the tunnels, that young Clawguard Tunnelwalker offered to guide us?"
"I do, worm. What's your point?"
"He told me he was on a mission—a mission, for our Master!—and I believed him, Scratchnail. Please, say you will not hate me once I've told you… I can hardly live with myself as it is…"
Showing his teeth impatiently, Scratchnail flicked his dappled tail for him to go on. Though the Toothguard surely could not see his action, he understood the charged frustration in the air and continued hurriedly. "I should have listened to you, friend… he was Tailchaser, just like you cried when he first came, and I told him where the prisoners were. I was happy… I thought I was serving my Master! And then I found out the truth… and I threw myself into the river. Better the waters than what the Boneguard would have for me…"
A long silence passed, charged with tension, as Scratchnail bristled at the orange worm's name, fighting with his fury at what the naked cat had let happen and the bond the two shared, much as the dark, pantherlike being hated to admit it.
They did not say anything for some time, and meanwhile, mechanically, the giant stretched, worked through every screaming muscle on his powerful frame until finally, exhausted, he stood. Finally he could turn and fully look at the Toothguard, who was huddled in one corner, unable to see and scent his way out of the crack only feet away.
I could leave him now. I could leave this traitor here, and he would die here. But he's not exactly a traitor, and I was fooled by the same—if I should be angry at anyone, it should be that accursed me'mere Tailchaser…
Scratchnail shook his pelt, caked with the dark flakes of blood, and bared his teeth with the strength of his hatred. "Come then, Skinwretch," the creature growled, lashing his tail and ignoring the pain it brought him. He would heal quickly—he always did. Skinwretch would as well, and then he might be very useful. The bald creature looked up, turning sightless eyes on the massive black creature in unfeeling hope.
The Clawguard cut him off with a snarl. "Come, Skinwretch. We are going to destroy… Tailchaser… and we are going to take everything away from him that he's taken away from me. From us. You have lost your nose and honor, I have lost my position and mind—and both of us have lost everything we have ever known."
A passion flooded into the wrinkled creature and he jumped up, sensitive ears raising into the air like billowing sails. "Revenge? How?"
"We'll figure that out once we reach the surface—yes, you rotten sack of bones, the surface. Never been above ground before?" his mockery was sour. "I'm not leaving you here, not after all that me'mere has done to us. We survived for a reason."
The Toothguard bared his teeth in a smile, abruptly. "Agreed. But I, ah, my nose…"
With a curt nod, Scratchnail growled reluctantly, "I will watch over you, as you watched over me, when my mind was unsound and you knew the earth—at least, until you have recovered."
The two stared at one another, one sightless, one burningly fierce, before softly, together, they both meowed, "Our Master's honor will be avenged…"
The air outside the crack the two slipped soundlessly through was sweet compared to the bitter tang within, but not nearly as sweet as blood. Blood, red as the claws that clicked on the stone bed as Scratchnail moved…
Hey, read and review, please! Half my muse comes from motivation, and I get SO much more motivated if people comment! I hope someone besides me has read the book, and if not, at least read some Warriors to compare it to—I absolutely love Grizraz's creatures, I think they're fantastic. They're also a bit, ah, angry at the moment… poor Fritti. ANYWAY. Yeah. I'll keep writing soon!