A/N: What's this? Wildy updated A Curious Twist of Fate? WHAT IS THIS SORCERY?!
Anywho! School's nearly over, which means I'll be having a wee bit more time to do some writing - which, in turn, means more updates on other stories as well :)
But in the meantime, enjoy this filler-ish chapter that my brain decided to spew!
Disclaimer: Neither Warriors nor the Phantom of the Opera belong to me. Yet.
Pawsteps echoed through the darkness, and the large tortoiseshell tom flicked an ear as a droplet of moisture dripped down onto his head from the ceiling of the tunnel above him. His lip curled slightly as he looked around himself, unable to stop the disdain for this place rising up in him again. It was so dark, so cold, so wet...nothing comforting about this place at all.
I would pity any cat who would have to live in such conditions, Sol thought disdainfully to himself. These tunnels are even more miserable than what the Clans force themselves through!
Sol's mood soured further at the mere thought of them. His muzzle twisted with disgust once more as their faces swam before his eyes. Even here, he could still picture their sneering faces, the looks of smug superiority as they turned their noses up at him, the savage snarls of rage as SkyClan drove him out with sharp claws and vicious words...
The mottled tom immediately shook his head, trying to dispel such thoughts. No, no. He musn't think of such things now.
But as he walked on through the blackness, feeling his way through the dark, the anger kept boiling away in the pit of his stomach. "Arrogant fools," he spat to himself. Hadn't he tried to do everything they'd asked him to do? He'd toiled and worked himself just as much - no, twice as much as all the other warriors had! Harder than even those fat kittypet daylight warriors! And not only that, but he'd used his mind to come up with clever ideas! Ideas that could have helped them grow stronger! But they'd turned him away, time and time again. All they'd cared about was brute strength and fighting.
A low growl rumbled in Sol's throat, and he came to a halt without realizing it, digging his claws into the rock. Those stupid Clanners were too dense to see it...too obsessed with their warrior code and their oh-so-precious StarClan to see the flaw in their own design.
But he did. He saw to the very heart of their supposedly-honorable way of life. He saw it for what it really was.
And he was going to exploit it. He would show them that no warrior code could keep them from squabbling for long. Soon, the great warrior cats would be tearing each other to pieces over their petty disputes. And so, the mighty Clans would fall.
He would show them. He would show all of them -
Sol blinked, lifting his head again with surprise. His ears pricked, and he looked around. He could have sworn he'd heard something...but he could see nothing but the blackness before him. He sniffed at the dank air, jaws parting slightly as he tried to detect any trace of anything out of the ordinary.
Nothing but dank, stale tunnel air.
He stood there for a few more moments. The fur on the back of his neck prickled slightly, and he couldn't help but look around again. He still couldn't see, hear, or smell anything...and yet, he couldn't shake the unsettling feeling that, somehow, he was being watched.
A few more heartbeats passed, and, when nothing came to strike at him from the darkness, Sol relaxed. He even chuckled softly to himself, shaking his head slightly. Foolish him, thinking that he would be attacked down here. ThunderClan had no idea he was down in the tunnels, and the only WindClan cats who did were on his side. He turned away again, ready to continue his trek through the darkness with a smile on his face...and when he shivered involuntarily, he blamed it on the chill of the tunnels. The last that could be seen of the thick-furred tortoiseshell was his bushy, tufted tail as he vanished around the next corner, plots of revenge forming once more in his mind.
Sol hadn't noticed the shadow, lurking just out of sight, that had been watching his every move.
The dark shape remained where it was, silent and still as a statue, and its cold yellow eyes were fixed intently on the spot where Sol had vanished. Then, without a single sound, it melted back into the darkness.
Fallen Leaves waited in anxious silence, green gaze trained on the crack in the cave wall. He shifted nervously on his paws, every so often shifting his weight and looking over his shoulder. Lying at his paws were a few small, slimy fish from the river.
It hadn't taken long after Hollyleaf had left to track the strange tom back to his tiny den in an offshoot of the woods-tunnel. He'd tried looking for him off elsewhere, searching through the tunnels for any other signs of the cat, but thus far he'd had no luck. The mysterious newcomer had refused to show.
So Fallen Leaves had reasoned that, eventually, he would have had to make his way back to wherever he had chosen to make his den. And so he waited there, tail twitching uneasily as he waited. As he did, the questions he'd had since he'd first discovered the tom's existence began buzzing through his mind...who was he? What was he doing down here? What was it that he wanted?
The ginger-and-white tom was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn't notice the thin shape that was rounding the corner behind him, head lowered. It wasn't until he heard the sound of pawsteps halt suddenly that he whirled around to blink into a pair of shocked yellow eyes a few whisker-lengths from his own.
For a few heartbeats the two cats stared at each other in surprised silence. Then the dark tom began to bristle, inching backwards slowly.
Fallen Leaves found his words once more. "Wait," he said, taking a tentative step forward. "Don't be alarmed. I mean you no harm." When the other cat paused in his retreat, he took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I startled you," he continued, watching him for a reaction. "I noticed your coming a few days ago." He chanced another step forward. "I live down here, too."
The tom didn't answer him. In fact, he hadn't made a single sound since he'd appeared. Fallen Leaves couldn't quite make out his face, but his eyes had grown strangely cold. He simply stared at Fallen Leaves in silence, as if waiting for him to continue.
After a moment, Fallen Leaves lifted one paw and pushed his meager catch of fish towards him. "I've brought you some food," he offered helpfully. "I wasn't sure if you'd eaten or not, so I thought I'd catch something just in case."
The dark cat had drawn away slightly from the fish, eyes narrowing suspiciously. Fallen Leaves remembered how Hollyleaf had reacted to the fish, so he added, "They might not look too appetizing, but they're actually not bad." He smiled warmly.
Finally, the cat leaned forward again. One white paw reached forward, scooping the minnows up and swiping them towards himself quietly.
"There's water down here, too," the younger tom added. "I could show you where, if you like."
But he was ignored. Still silent, the cat had abruptly turned and made to go back the way he came. Fallen Leaves blinked, making to follow. "Where are you going?" he asked quizzically, trotting after the departing tom. "Aren't you going to eat?" The other cat just picked up his pace, and Fallen Leaves jogged after. "Wait!"
The stranger finally paused in his step, turning his head to fix Fallen Leaves with one cold yellow eye; he couldn't help but suppress a shiver. After a moment, though, he opened his jaws again. "My...my name is Fallen Leaves," he greeted hesitantly. "What is yours?"
For a moment, the dark stranger seemed to pause, as if it were considering an answer. Then, before he could give one, he turned away and vanished into the tunnels, leaving a confused Fallen Leaves behind alone.
Jayfeather's eyes snapped open to the sound of clattering pebbles, and he looked around confusedly. But the only sight that greeted his eyes was blackness. His ears twitched, and his head continued to swivel back and forth as he struggled to make sense of his surroundings. Where am I? he thought to himself. Why am I still blind? His fur began to prickle. I thought I was supposed to be able to see in my dreams!
"You are seeing," a familiar voice rasped from besides him. "Use your eyes, kit!"
The gray tabby blinked. "Yellowfang?" he called tentatively. He turned towards the sound of the old she-cat's voice, but he still couldn't see her.
"Right here," she replied.
"Where?" he snapped. "I can't see a thing!"
But that wasn't true. As he looked around, he began to make out rock walls around him and ahead of him, and he began to hear the dripping of water somewhere behind him.
The tunnels? What am I doing here? What are you trying to tell me?
In the next instant he felt as if an ice-cold claw had just scraped down his spine. The fur on his hackles lifted, and he whirled about wildly as he tried to pinpoint the source of his sudden discomfort. And as he did so, he heard the faintest sound behind him and realization chilled him once more.
He was not alone.
Jayfeather whirled around, his heart thudding in his chest, but he was faced only with stale dirt and pebbles. But he could still hear the sound of something moving in the dark. And he could feel it. Though he couldn't tell what, he could sense its mind in the shadows beside him. Something angry, something malevolent...and he could feel the desire to kill radiating off of it in waves.
"Listen to me, Jayfeather," came Yellowfang's voice again. Jayfeather felt a pang of fear run through him involuntarily as he heard that she sounded farther away. "You need to be on your guard. Something has happened."
"What's happened?" he hissed to the darkness, his fear only growing stronger. "Yellowfang, what's going on?"
"Something happened, Jayfeather. Something that has never happened before...something not even StarClan had predicted."
There was a sudden hiss of air behind him, and Jayfeather whirled about to see a shadow bearing down on him. He barely had time to wail "Yellowfang!" before darkness began descending on him once more.
"Be careful, Jayfeather. There are more than ghosts waiting in the dark."