Jul 18, 2018 21:52:22 GMT
Post by roman on Jul 18, 2018 21:52:22 GMT
name • scorchkit > scorchpaw > scorchflame > scorchstar
age • 43 moons
gender • afab male
sexuality • gay
clan • riverclan
rank • leader
allegiance • a fluffy, mostly dark gray tortoiseshell tom with golden eyes
full • scorchstar is a rather small tom whose long fur makes up for his appearance in size, and large, golden eyes. scorchstar has a long, fluffy tail and large ears, with dainty paws and a soft underbelly, as well as silky fur. though small, scorchstar has powerful muscles thanks to swimming.
+ Observant. Scorchstar is not one to speak so soon. He observes his surroundings and his Clanmates, as well as the other Clans during gatherings, searching for strengths and weaknesses, and all kinds of possible threats. He likes to have the upper paw over other Clans, and be able to help his Clanmates when they need a strong leader.
+ Accepting & understanding. After everything Scorchstar was put through during his kithood and apprenticeship, Scorchstar is very accepting of his Clanmates, so long as they are accepting of him. He treats each Clanmate like his kit, cherishing them and wanting to be able to be there for them. He likes to be someone that they can turn to, not just as a leader, but as a friend.
+ Strategic. Partnered with his observance, Scorchstar is strategic. He is quick-minded and easily comes up with plans, even mid-battle. He feels more confident when he has a plan, and feels right when he has a strategy to things.
- Distant. Due to his father's unkindness, Scorchstar is more distant than other cats. Though he had friends within the Clan, he is not very close to any of them, and struggles to make stronger bonds more than just the line between acquaintances and friends.
- Paranoid. Scorchstar is constantly worrying, and over-exaggerating the things he is worried about. He is always nervous that another Clan is going to attack at any second, and insists that his warriors exercise and practice as often as possible so that they are in tip-top shape and always ready for battle. He has a tendency to accuse other Clans of things at gatherings, especially ThunderClan.
- Short-tempered. Scorchstar is not very patient, and is quick to anger. He does not handle accusations well, despite making several accusations towards other Clans himself, and will be in a bad mood for the rest of the day.
- Merciless. Scorchstar is known to be rather merciless in battle, and tends to let go of the code when it comes to killing.
= Scorchstar's favorite prey are frogs.
= Scorchstar often believes that, had it not been for becoming leader, he would have liked to have joined ShadowClan.
= Scorchstar is a frequent doubter of StarClan.
= Scorchstar has bipolar.
please remove non-applicable family members. if not using this part, delete the entire section.
father • oakstar, tom, deceased
mother • scarletwing, she-cat, deceased
brother • barktail, tom, alive
former apprentice • cranewing, tom, alive (npc)
former mentor • howlstar, tom, deceased
TW for transphobia.
After moons of taking and settling into the place as RiverClan’s second leader, Oakstar was ready to settle down. Scarletwing had been a tortoiseshell she-cat who’d caught his eye since he was deputy, a pretty face with a slender body and an ever so charming personality. She seemed flustered by all of his advances, but his moons spent swaying her, flirting with her, wrapping her up under his words finally paid off. She’d agreed to be his mate, and just a few moons later, her belly was swelling with kits. He was more than delighted to find that he would have two kits to survive his legacy.
And so, at the end of leafbare, when newleaf was just beginning to show its face, his two kits were born, small and whiny and perfectly curled up at Scarletwing’s stomach. A she-cat, Scorchkit, and a tom, Barkkit. Scorchkit was the spitting image of Scarletwing, while Barkkit more resembled himself. Oakstar’s chest could only swell with pride when the two kits hungrily nursed at Scarletwing’s belly, and later fell asleep snuggled up together. They were perfect.
From the moment Scorchkit opened his eyes, he knew a secret that nobody else did. He was a he, he was a tom. This was not spoken to the others, for secrets were meant to be kept, but his nose always wrinkled everytime he heard “she” or “she-kit” used to address him. It left a funny feeling in his stomach, like he’d swallowed a butterfly alive and it was down inside him, fluttering about, looking for escape.
It was clear from the start that Scarletwing was a good mother. She was nurturing and sweet, constantly doting on her kits. Scorchkit played a foil to his brother - while Barkkit was more outgoing and eager to explore outside of camp despite the constant reminder not to, Scorchkit preferred to curl up at Scarletwing’s belly and press into her warmth. Of course, though, he enjoyed playing with Barkkit, too. His brother was the closest thing he had to a friend. Oftentimes Barkkit tried to drag Scorchkit out to peek out of the den and see the camp. They wanted to see their father in action.
Oakstar wasn’t commonly present in the nursery. Being leader, the amount of responsibilities he had meant he had little time to visit his mate and kits. Scorchkit didn’t even meet him (and remember it) until he was just three moons old. Finally, to meet the tom everyone sang praise about, the leader of the Clan himself. How special he had to be, to be his son! Their “first” meeting went swell - Oakstar had furiously laid licks upon both his and Barkkit’s heads, until all their fur lay flat and neat. The large, dark tabby tom seemed to entertain the idea of letting his kits play with his tail, but Scorchkit quickly grew bored and seemed more intent on asking him about leadership. He wasn’t disappointed that his father was never around, just… curious.
Later into his kithood, Scorchkit was growing more and more tired of being referred to as a she-kit. Kitecry had moved into the nursery, and she seemed ever so antsy, much less like Scarletwing. Barkkit seemed ever so excited for new kits in the nursery. Scorchkit figured it would be nice to have others to play with, and not be the only ones in the nursery anymore. All of the attention would turn to the new kits, and he would be out of the spotlight as the newest kits and the leader’s litter.
When Kitecry finally had her kits, Scorchkit was all but four moons old. The new kits were too young to play with, so Barkkit and Scorchkit remained the best of friends, playing together and enjoying each other’s company. They’d grown closer and closer over the past few moons. Barkkit wasn’t necessarily a leader, but everything he did, Scorchkit followed suite. Eventually, Scorchkit had decided that it was time to open up to Barkkit about his secret.
“Barkkit,” he whispered one day, while Scarletwing and Kitecry were fast asleep. “Barkkit, are you awake?”
“Yes, you stupid furball,” Barkkit whispered back, lifting his head from Scarletwing’s tail and peering over at Scorchkit with large, wide eyes.
“You have to promise not to tell anyone what I’m gonna tell you,” Scorchkit said eagerly, his heart racing. He’d never confided in anyone with his secret before. That same butterfly-like feeling had returned. “I’m a tom, Barkkit. I dunno why everyone thinks I’m a she-kit, ‘cause I sure don’t feel like one. I feel like a tom more than anything in the whole wide world.”
Barkkit had cocked his head, but he rolled his shoulders in a shrug, and slipped over to press up against Scorchkit. “Okay, Scorchkit,” he mumbled, pressing his face into his neck. “You’re my brother now.”
The butterfly-like feeling had dissipated from his stomach, and all he felt was a flood of relief, now. Scorchkit curled up next to him and twitched his whiskers, suddenly feeling a lot better about himself. Barkkit understood him. Barkkit didn’t think it was weird. Barkkit was his brother, and he was Barkkit’s brother, too.
For his last two moons in the nursery, Scorchkit felt closer to his brother than ever. But nervousness still edged in his paws about how his parents would handle the news. He wanted to tell them before he became an apprentice. However, either fortunately or unfortunately for him, he and Barkkit fell sick with greencough, putting them in the medicine cat’s den for a full half moon. Their apprenticeship was overdue, but they were weak and tired, the illness chilling their veins.
It wasn’t looking so hot for the two kits. Scorchkit and Barkkit grew weaker and weaker with each passing sunrise, no matter how hard Spottedwing tried. Occasionally some of Kitecry’s kits visited - Leopardkit, most notably, but oftentimes she showed up with her brother, Bitternkit. It came to the point where he could barely lift his head, though.
The following quarter-moon, things started to look up. Barkkit and Scorchkit were now suddenly making a swift recovery. Spottedwing’s treatment was working! One thing was made evident - the two kits were fighters. They clung to their lives desperately, not willing to let go. They had so much more to them than just kithood. Their lives wouldn’t end with greencough.
Oakstar was more present than ever, too. Every day he poked his head into the medicine cat den, and he sat with his kits when they were fast asleep, listening worriedly for their heartbeats - reassured when he found them, thumping steadily.
After a half moon of fighting for their lives, Scorchkit and Barkkit were released from the medicine cat den, and immediately given their apprenticeship ceremonies. Scorchkit hadn’t completed his task in the time window he’d given himself - he still hadn’t told his parents he was a tom, but he figured that could wait. He was eager to begin training. Scorchkit and Barkkit they were no more - now they were Scorchpaw and Barkpaw, ready to take on the world.
Scorchpaw was assigned to Howlstorm, the deputy. He had to admit it to himself - he was nervous. Being the deputy’s apprentice was a big deal, and while he was no doubt excited to begin training with him, he felt as though he had to live up to more than he really could be. That, on top of his secret from the rest of the Clan, the tom felt a lot of pressure. The first day of training was a total bust, too - they’d started with swimming in the frog ponds, to build up Scorchpaw’s muscle and get him in better shape for the eventual battle training that they would go through, but he struggled with getting the movements down, and found himself unable to focus on anything other than floundering about. He was still weak from being so sick for so long, and despite the complete mess of the first day he’d made, Howlstorm was sympathetic. He suggested that they explore a little more of the territory before beginning actual training. Scorchpaw was comforted by this odd display of compassion.
The next two moons were spent with a heavy focus on swimming and hunting more than anything else, as well as bonding with the other apprentices. Flowerpaw and Cloudpaw were a tad older than Scorchpaw and Barkpaw, but they were excited to have other apprentices in the den. Additionally, Scorchpaw found himself trusting them with his secret - that he was a tom! Scorchpaw took a particular liking to Cloudpaw, and was glad every time they got a chance to train together. He found himself a little eager to impress him every now and then, and occasionally shared prey with him, especially since greenleaf provided a flourish of prey, and the fresh-kill pile seemed more full than ever. Scorchpaw was especially proud of himself when he found himself dragging a carp almost as big as himself back to camp. Barkpaw, as well as Flowerpaw and Cloudpaw, admired his skill and praised him. The best of it came from his father, though, who told him he - “she” - was surely to be the best hunter of RiverClan. The pronoun came in with a sinking feeling, a terrible reminder that he’d managed to ignore for long enough, until suddenly, it was lingering over his ahead again, like dark clouds looming over the territory. He had to tell his parents.
So, at just eight moons old, Scorchpaw convinced Barkpaw to sit with him on a conference with their parents, in Oakstar’s den. He’d asked Barkpaw to provide comfort for him, to just silently sit by his side and be his rock to lean on. Barkpaw was more than happy to oblige, and so the two of them sat in Oakstar’s den with both Oakstar and Scarletwing present, tails twitching nervously. What was it that was so important that Scorchpaw had to say to them? The nervous look on his face didn’t help - he seemed as though he were about to confess to murder.
“Mama, papa,” he began shyly, tail curling over his paws and twitching anxiously. Barkpaw pressed into his fur, wrapping his tail around Scorchpaw as a reminder of comfort. “I’m not a she-cat. I’m a tom, and I… I always have been.”
The look on his parents’ faces were mixed. Scarletwing just looked confused, while Oakstar’s was more… unreadable. It was a cross of anger, and confusion. As if Scorchpaw had just disobeyed an important order. He swallowed down the lump in his throat, and continued.
“And I want you to call me your son.”
That seemed to have been the final straw. Oakstar’s reaction was explosive, a side of him that Scorchpaw had never seen before. He never understood why all the warriors seemed so skittish around Oakstar, so quick to act and never doubt him, so afraid of him, until now. The dark tabby had risen to his paws, towering over Scorchpaw, tail lashing.
Scorchpaw had expected a loud, angry fit of yelling and hissing, but Oakstar seemed to have composed his reaction into nothing but outward displays of anger. His spoken voice, though, was controlled fury. It was laced with poison. “Scorchpaw,” he said, “you understand that you were born a she-cat for a reason, right? You understand that you are a she-cat, right? Not a tom?”
His words stung. “I….”
“Do you understand?!” Oakstar barked out. Barkpaw and Scarletwing seemed just as startled by his outburst, but his mother was entirely silent. Scorchpaw found himself meeting his mother’s gaze, only for her to turn away, directing her gaze to the floor. Please, he begged her silently, please don’t reject me too. Please don’t let him do this, mama. But she refused to look back at him, her ears flat against her head.
Scorchpaw hung his head. His chest ached, and his head was pounding. He felt like he’d swallowed mouse bile. “I… I understand,” he whispered. Barkpaw licked his ear affectionately, protectively, and ushered Scorchpaw out of the den.
“You’re not my father,” he heard Barkpaw whisper, before his brother lead him back to the apprentice den. “You’re just a monster.”
It was difficult to resume training. Scorchpaw found this rejection impossible to swallow. Even his own mother, who had nursed him and coddled him and carried him inside her for two moons, had rejected him. He felt more alone than ever. And this depression didn’t go unnoticed - Howlstorm had taken note of the three training sessions Scorchpaw missed. Flowerpaw and Cloudpaw tried their best to cheer Scorchpaw up - Barkpaw had told them what happened. Flowerpaw curled up next to Scorchpaw each night, grooming his fur obsessively. Cloudpaw occasionally brought him prey, and Barkpaw had simple conversation with him. He had to return to training at some point, though, and when he finally left the den, he’d come to a realization. He was going to be the best apprentice he could for his dad. He was going to prove him wrong.
Scorchpaw began to take his training more seriously than ever. Howlstorm was impressed with his efforts, but the experienced tom constantly set the bar up higher and higher, glad to satisfy Scorchpaw’s determination and needs. The young tortoiseshell was suddenly excelling in every corner of training - especially battle. He was winning every practice fight they got in - even Cloudpaw and Flowerpaw couldn’t beat him, and they were drawing closer and closer to their warrior assessment every day. He was astounding.
But Oakstar was not impressed.
The praise from all the older warriors and apprentices wasn’t enough. If Oakstar didn’t think he was good enough, then he wasn’t. He’d have to try harder. Again and again Scorchpaw stressed himself with perfecting everything - his swimming strengths, his battle moves, his hunting. He refused to let any prey escape his grasp. He beat himself up inwardly on the rare days he lost a fight. One day, Barkppaw told him that he was over-stressing, that he was making himself too tense, that he was overworking himself. He told him that he needed to relax, that a good warrior didn’t overburden themselves to the point where they were forgetting their natural habits - eating, sleeping, drinking. Scorchpaw saw his point, but… he just wanted to be good enough.
He settled to rest for a while, and at the next day of training, he was surrounded by the friends he had grown up with - Barkppaw, Flowerpaw, and Cloudpaw. Once again it was a battle session, and Scorchpaw was to lead, to show off the advanced skills he had been picking up from watching the warriors practice their own battle training.
“Watch him,” Howlstorm instructed. The change of pronouns surprised Scorchpaw, caught so off guard that he lost his battle stance, his ears pricked as he swiveled around to turn and look at Howlstorm with a look of confusion. Howlstorm just offered a soft, warm smile, nothing in his gaze but seemingly parental affection. Scorchpaw then directed his attention to Barkpaw, who looked just as confused as he did. Then it fell upon Flowerpaw and Cloudpaw - who had told him? Cloudpaw, too, looked a bit startled, and admittedly a little uncomfortable - but Flowerpaw just looked satisfied. Pleased with herself.
He knew he should have been grateful. But the panic that suddenly seized in his chest, a fear of yet another rejection (despite Howlstorm seeming just fine with it), resulted in him bolting from the training session. It manifested into anger, into hot, blinding white rage, quickly. Why had Flowerpaw violated his trust like that? Why had she told Howlstorm? Why did she think that was okay?
He didn’t return to camp. They were close to the mangrove copse, so he head there instead, weaving himself between the gnarled roots until he was hidden in the shadows, trying to calm his breathing. Everything felt wrong. So he breathed with the rippling of the water, the calmness, the serenity of the waves, allowing it to overtake him. His eyes fluttered shut, and he let himself be calm. When he opened his eyes again, Howlstorm was standing before him.
“I didn’t know it would upset you,” Howlstorm said gently, his gaze kind and apologetic. “I thought that’s what you wanted. To be referred to as a tom? That’s what… that’s what Flowerpaw said.”
“Nevermind what Flowerpaw said,” Scorchpaw snapped weakly. “She went behind my back. It wasn’t her secret to tell.”
“She only had the best for you in mind,” Howlstorm said assuringly. “But I understand now why you’re upset. Do you still want me to call you a tom? Or would you rather me call you a she-cat?” Everything about his voice was delicate. It touched Scorchpaw that he was trying so hard to understand, to do what Scorchpaw thought was best.
“I…” Scorchpaw paused, flattening his ears against his head. “I do want to be referred to as a tom, I just…”
“Oakstar doesn’t approve,” Howlstorm nodded solemnly. “You weren’t alive when Mallowstar was leader, but everyone was surprised when they made him deputy. I don’t think they ever heard a word he said about them. He never approved of… well, anything they did. I think they chose him just because he was a strong warrior and thought he would bring in new ideas.”
“If his new ideas are intolerance,” Scorchpaw scoffed. “…I - I shouldn’t have said that. I just want to make him happy. I want him to be proud of me.”
“Don’t focus so much on him,” Howlstorm murmured, touching his nose to the top of Scorchpaw’s head. “Think about the rest of the Clan. Do you want them to know?”
It was a question he hadn’t been expecting. He stared up at Howlstorm with wide eyes, unsure of what to say. But then, finally, he answered, “Yes.”
Further into his apprenticeship, Scorchpaw was suddenly treated with more respect than he’d ever received in his life. After Howlstorm broke the news to the rest of the Clan - individually, as opposed to as a large group - the other cats were calling Scorchpaw a tom. He’d never expected to feel such love and acceptance from everyone! But it made him stronger, made him more passionate about his duties. Despite the effects of what Flowerpaw had put him through - he would suddenly close himself off from sharing his feelings and emotions with others, only opening up to Barkpaw and Howlstorm at times - he was grateful for the newfound respect he was receiving from his Clanmates.
Now he just needed Oakstar’s approval.
Flowerbreeze and Cloudripple’s warrior ceremony was followed suite by an attack from ShadowClan. Scorchpaw was fairly close to his own warrior ceremony himself, so he was delighted with the opportunity to really put all the skills that he had learned from Howlstorm to use.
The attack happened halfway to the camp. ShadowClan warriors were invading and found by a patrol that Scorchpaw happened to be on. Energy surged through his paws and he found himself eager to throw himself into battle, quickly following Henclaw’s command to attack. They ambushed the ShadowClan warriors with the ferocity of LeopardClan themselves.
Scorchpaw found himself busied with a warrior he recognized - it was a tom he’d seen at the Gathering, large and muscular and fierce. But Scorchpaw was quicker, smarter. Somehow, he’d managed to defeat this offender, but he did not escape unscathed. Wounds adorned his pelt, and although he’d found valiantly, just the one battle had exerted him off all his energy.
He was helped home by Cloudripple, who’d let him lean on him for support. He was treated by Spottedwing for his injuries, and Barkpaw doted on him worriedly, as well as, surprisingly, Scarletwing. His mother, after the whole Clan had accepted him wholeheartedly, had begun to refer to him as a tom, but only when Oakstar wasn’t around, and despite it all she kept her distance from him. He wanted to be angry, but all he could do was melt into her soft fur when she approached him to make sure that he was alright.
Even after his valiant display in battle, Oakstar was unconvinced. He merely scoffed at Scorchpaw as he limped out of the medicine cat den to his own nest. It cut deep, but Howlstorm was quick to join him at his side, clearly impressed with his fight.
And so at fourteen moons, after Barkpaw had passed his full assessment and Scorchpaw his hunting assessment (given, the ferocity he showed at the ambush showed he was clearly skilled in battle), it was time for the two to be named warriors. Scorchpaw sat beside Barkpaw, his tail tip twitching eagerly. His dad would have to recognize him as a warrior, surely? Barkpaw flashed him a similar look of excitement, and pressed into Scorchpaw.
But as Oakstar began the ceremony, something felt off. The look in his eyes was filled with pride as he called Barkpaw, and Barkpaw alone. Barkpaw stepped forward, an expectant look on his face, waiting for Scorchpaw to be called alongside him, but… it never came. Dread sunk into Scorchpaw’s stomach… as well as humiliation. His face burned with shame. He isn’t going to make me a warrior, he realized with astonishment, and it was difficult not to get worked up about it. He tried to swallow away the tightness in his throat as he reminded him, I need to be happy for Barkpaw. This is his moment.
Only, Howlstorm wasn’t having any of it.
“Oakstar, I truly and really do hate to interrupt, but you’ll full of complete and utter foxdung,” he snapped. It was so unusual to see Howlstorm so angry. As a younger warrior, the tom had been flexible with his mood and full of energy, but age had calmed him. Such outbursts surprised the entire Clan. “Scorchpaw fought harder than anyone at the ShadowClan ambush this past moon. He passed his warrior assessment fair and square, just like every other warrior we’ve seen graduate for all of RiverClan’s existence. Mallowstar would never have made you deputy if they’d known this was the way you’d treat your Clanmates, let alone your own son.”
Almost as humiliated as Scorchpaw himself, Oakstar bared his teeth, hissing and growling until Howlstorm backed down. He begrudgingly called Scorchpaw forward and hissed out his words to StarClan, naming him Scorchflame, alongside Barktail.
After that, Scorchflame knew his place in the Clan. He was a warrior. He had friends amongst the ranks. He had both older and younger friends, whose respect he’d earned, fair and square. He didn’t need his father - if he could even call him that. He didn’t need Oakstar. Finally, after all these moons of vying for his attention, desperate for his approval, his love, his affection, Scorchflame had come to the realization that he didn’t need him to be a good warrior. Scorchflame was a skilled hunter. An excellent fighter. Anyone that didn’t respect him just because of how he identified, didn’t matter.
Scorchflame had enjoyed his life as a warrior. He went out on hunts frequently with those he held dear to him - Cloudripple, Barktail, and Howlstorm, whether in patrols or individually. He found himself surrounded by three close friends, and that was all he needed. The rest of the Clan greeted him and treated him well, sure, but that was expected of a Clan.
When ShadowClan tried to launch another ambush, in the middle of leafbare, Scorchflame was one of the warriors selected by Oakstar to go to their camp and teach them a lesson. He found the attack meaningless and futile, but he didn’t exactly mind getting his paws dirty. Alongside Oakstar himself, Scorchflame was joined by Henclaw, Viperfang, Trilliumnose, Ivyclaw, and Leafrain. He really wasn’t sure what Oakstar thought would come from attacking them at the heart of the Clan, but Scorchflame didn’t risk doubting him.
As expected, RiverClan fought hard. Scorchflame had thwarted off two apprentices, pulling one away from Trilliumnose and flinging another away from himself, but when he ended up grappling with another warrior, an awfully familiar scent stung at his nose. It was the same warrior he’d seen moons ago at the Gathering, the same warrior he’d defeated in battle as an apprentice. And this tom was angry - this tom was fighting with more fire than before, hissing out something about Scorchflame being that “pesky apprentice who’d made a fool out of him.” One thing was different about this battle, though - the tom didn’t let up at all. His jaws were constantly snapping at Scorchflame’s neck, his claws constantly digging into his stomach, chest, and throat. It was only when he had Scorchflame pinned that he realized, This tom is trying to kill me!
He’d seen Leopardflight when she’d taken up Duckpaw as her own personal apprentice. He was impressed with her work, and occasionally observed her sessions with the apprentice from afar - and he remembered what she’d shown Duckpaw. Instead of struggling, the tom saved his energy and put it all into driving his claws into the ShadowClan warrior’s throat.
That gave him the upper paw. The warrior staggered back, and he pushed him to the ground, reversing their positions. The heat of the moment was too much - Scorchflame could have been the bigger warrior. He could have left him just like that and busied himself with another cat, but… it all went by so fast. Scorchflame’s jaws sunk down into his throat, squeezing tight, and it only took moments for the tom to go limp beneath him.
He’d killed him.
Oakstar’s head snapped up at the sound of a piercing wail. Suddenly, all the battle had stopped. The dark tabby’s eyes landed on Scorchflame, standing over the fallen warrior’s body, his expression mixed but not horrified like it should have been, as a relative of the tom came rushing forward to see whether or not he was truly dead. Oakstar’s face formed a smirk, and with that, he figured it was the perfect end to the battle.
He threw a look over to Stormstar and hissed out, “This is what you get when you trespass, and try to steal prey! RiverClan, let’s head back! These ShadowClan scum have learned their lesson.” Like a stream, the RiverClan warriors flooded back home, to their own territory and camp.
Something felt weird inside Scorchflame as he rested in his nest that night. It was the first positive reinforcement he’d received from Oakstar since kithood - not direct, but it still counted. He was praised for killing someone. And he… didn’t feel any bit bad about it. At all. If anything, he felt guilty for not feeling guilty.
It was only made worse when Oakstar actually approached him about it.
“Scorchflame,” he began, planting himself at Scorchflame’s side one day when he was curled up in camp, gnawing on a frog leg. “You fought well at ShadowClan. I’m very pro-“
“Stop,” Scorchflame said immediately, rising to his paws. “I don’t want to hear it. I don’t want to hear a word from you other than ceremonies and orders. I don’t owe you anything other than serving as a loyal warrior. You made your decision with me when you refused to acknowledge my existence as soon as I told you I identified as a tom. We are never going to have small talk. We are never going to have full conversations. We are never going to be friends. And we are never going to be family. I am a warrior of RiverClan, serving under your leadership, and that’s all.” Without giving Oakstar a chance to respond, he picked up the remains of his frog and padded to the warriors den, curling up next to Cloudripple and sharing the rest with him.
Not much later, at twenty-two moons, Scorchflame’s name fell from Oakstar’s maw once more. Only this time it was in ceremony, and he was being given an apprentice to train - Cranepaw, and his brother, Logpaw, was given to Cloudripple. Inwardly he was delighted to find that he would train an apprentice with Cloudripple, the tom he’d grown more and more fond of as his life progressed. It was only his own shyness and reserved nature that kept him from ever speaking up about it.
Cranepaw didn’t seem like a difficult apprentice. He struggled with battle training, so Scorchflame worked him extra hard with it, given that it was his most skillful quality. He emphasized how one had to move with the flow of battle similar to the way one had to move with the flow of the river. Rather than fight against it, you had to use it to your advantage, let it carry you. This re-articulation of battle seem to have struck a chord inside Cranepaw, as suddenly the tom was doing better than ever in battle training.
Scorchflame took advantage of the opportunity to have Cranepaw and Logpaw train together as often as possible. Although he enjoyed seeing Cloudripple, time after time after time again, and their time spent together as mentors clearly had brought them closer than before, he knew that training with another apprentice was important to becoming a warrior. Having the two brothers bounce off of each other was detrimental to showing their strengths and revealing their weaknesses. It almost reminded him of himself and Barktail, back when they were apprentices.
He certainly felt more than pleased with him when all of his hard work and dedication paid off. Six moons after being assigned Cranepaw as an apprentice, he saw to it that the young white tom became Cranewing, and Logpaw, Logheart. Cranewing, after his ceremony, approached Scorchflame and thanked him for everything that he had done, for believing in him and pushing him where he thought he would give up. It filled Scorchflame with a strange sense of pride, one he hadn’t felt in a very long time. He smiled and told Cranewing to go sit his vigil, as the sun was starting to set, and padded off to once more curl up in his nest with Cloudripple.
After a border skirmish with ThunderClan, Oakstar and Howlstorm wanted to take action. Howlstorm had suggested confiding in their warriors for what they thought was appropriate, as the attack on ShadowClan was completely inappropriate and they figured the warriors might have some better solutions than just plain out battle.
Scorchflame was one of the first to speak up. He had a voice within the Clan - that much was evident. He truly was respected by his peers. They listened to him. They usually agreed with what he had to say. He was, evidently, Howlstorm’s prodigy.
“We need to double up the border patrols. If ThunderClan is minnowbrained enough to cross the skipping stones to get into our territory, then we need to show them that we aren’t going to ignore the border just because there’s a river supposedly keeping them out. Poplarstar’s warriors have attacked us before for hunting on the opposite side of the river, too, when the sun on our side casts our shadow into the water. If we’re going to get hurt just for hunting, then we need to challenge all warriors that come by. We need them to see that we mean business.”
The Clan liked his ideas. They thought it was well-informed and thought out, and so it was executed. Howlstorm seemed rather pleased that Scorchflame had did so well and withheld the respect of RiverClan.
It was a seemingly calm leaf-fall morning. The air was still, but chilly, and the water was calm. The camp was quiet.
That morning, when Scorchflame was only twenty-nine moons old, Oakstar was found dead by his mother, Scarletwing, in his den. The Clan wasn’t exactly surprised - the tom was old, even when he’d sired Scorchflame and Barktail, and his age had been showing in more ways than one. The tom refused to admit it, but his eyesight was beginning to fail him, and he wasn’t as energetic as the strong leader he once was. His bones were frail and achy, and when his body was left in the center of the camp for the Clan to share tongues with, he looked more old than ever.
Scorchflame shared tongues only out of respect for his leader, and not the cat he was. He even spoke to commemorate him as Scarletwing, Barktail, and Cloudripple helped to lower his body into the ground. The Clan was impressed, especially considering how poorly Oakstar had treated Scorchflame all his life. The maltreatment. The neglect. Everything, and yet Scorchflame kept a straight face as he spoke of him.
Nobody had anything bad to say when Howlstorm named Scorchflame deputy that night. Nobody disagreed. Nobody doubted. The tortoiseshell tom was surprised as ever, but the rest of the Clan wasn’t. “You deserve this role,” Flowerbreeze had told him, while Barktail said, “This is StarClan giving you a chance, Scorchflame. From the beginning you were destined to be great. I knew you were going to make it.”
Truly, he was stunned. But the best reaction was the absolute praise he’d received from Cloudripple in the warriors den while Howlstorm was out with Spottedwing, receiving his nine lives. Cloudripple had furiously groomed Scorchflame, complimenting him for speaking so well at Oakstar’s grave, telling him how much he deserved his new position and how he was going to do so well. It made his heart flutter and swell.
He thought that he was finally working up the courage to talk to Cloudripple about his feelings for him. He didn’t even know if Cloudripple was gay, straight, or what. But surely he had to feel something for him…? He wouldn’t just let Scorchflame curl up with him all the time if it didn’t mean anything, right?
The second time Scorchflame got his heart truly, actually broken was the day he found out Cloudripple was murdered on a ThunderClan patrol. His heart sank when he saw his body being carried into camp, his beautiful, long, flowing white fur stained with red all the way down from his throat to his underbelly, and smeared on his paws. His brilliant green eyes were dulled and lifeless, no longer holding the spirit of the tom he’d grown to love. He felt like his heart had been ripped out of his chest as he watched Flowerbreeze and Henclaw, their mother, lower him into the ground, and bury him in the dirt.
He sat beside the softened ground all night, hurt aching not just in his chest, but everywhere in his body. His bones creaked with discomfort, and his heart wept. One of his closest friends had been torn away from him. By ThunderClan, he noted, a toxic taste left in his throat.
It was the final straw for Scorchflame. He knew now that he couldn’t put his heart in anyone anymore. That it just resulted in hurt. He knew better than to keep handing out pieces of it now - Oakstar had crushed him. Flowerbreeze had abused his trust. He’d never found out whether or not Cloudripple loved him. It was too many times where his trust and opening up to others had gotten him hurt. The only cats he could ever confide in was Barktail and Howlstar, and even then, he found himself reluctant to open up.
All he could think of was how lowly he viewed ThunderClan now. He didn’t care much for the other Clans, but suddenly, ThunderClan was his worst enemy. They’d stripped away the cat he loved most from him. They were going to pay.
News of Poplarstar’s death spread through the forest quickly after the Gathering. Under Harestar’s leadership, Scorchflame found the border skirmishes and struggles with hunting starting to diminish and cease. Nonetheless, his grudge withstood, and he found himself eagerly waiting for ThunderClan’s next slipup.
He regretted that moment the day he found Scarletwing dead in the elder’s den. He had gone to bring her prey - his relationship with his mother was still rocky, but never as bad as with Oakstar, and gradually improving - only to find her body limp and lifeless. Barktail joined him as soon as Scorchflame sent for an apprentice to fetch him, and when his brother sniffed around the den, he found that the prey at her paws had been stuffed with deathberries. The scent of ThunderClan lingered.
He was furious. Rage sparked in his whiskers and made his pelt twitch and prickle. Over the past few moons, ThunderClan had constantly tread onto their territory. Over the last moon, two RiverClan warriors had died because of ThunderClan. A death in a border skirmish was more reasonable, justifiable than straight out planned murder the way planting deathberries in prey was.
Howlstar lead the Clan into battle that night, with a battle-ready Scorchflame at his side. A rush of familiarity waved over him as he remembered his last two battles in ShadowClan. Both times he felt eager to throw himself into it. But it was nothing like this.
Finding the way to ThunderClan camp wasn’t too difficult. He’d engaged in battle with another warrior yet again - with the sole intent to kill. He was blinded by rage, by hatred, by a pure grudge, a vendetta. He didn’t know who had killed his mother, who had killed Cloudripple, but he would pluck off every single ThunderClan warrior one by one if it meant getting to the bottom of it. If it meant avenging them both.
Scorchflame had fought fiercely. He had fought viciously. Battle was in his blood, his bones, his spirit, and he wasn’t going to leave ThunderClan without a death under his paws. He wanted someone, anyone to feel the pain they made him feel, the heartbreak he felt. And he wanted to make sure of it. So when the warrior he was battling collapsed underneath him and struggled for breath under his paws, he took a great amount of pleasure in delivering the final bite. It was cruel. It was wrong. It was against the code. But it felt good.
He’d been so involved in his blatant, absolute murder, that he hadn’t seen what was going on with Howlstar. His leader was getting piled on by warrior after warrior. He saw blood spattering. Fur flying. And when the bodies flocked away, all that was left was Howlstar’s body, seizing as each of his remaining lives were stripped from him, one by one. All Scorchflame could do was watch in horror, pleading StarClan to heal him, to fix him, to stop before his last life left his body. His cries were not heard.
Once again, a love had been stolen from him.
They’d succeeded in showing ThunderClan to stop attacking their warriors, but they’d suffered the greatest casualty of all. Scorchflame felt sick as he helped bring Howlstar back to camp. He was, perhaps, the best leader that RiverClan had seen so far. He’d certainly made up for Oakstar’s own legacy, doing his best to repair the sour reputation that the dark tabby had earned for RiverClan. Howlstar had been fair. He had been kind. He had been smart, quick-witted, materialistic. He had been sympathetic, and protective. How could Scorchflame ever amount to what Howlstar had been? His mentor, his best friend, his family - how could he replace such a versatile tom?
With a heavy heart Scorchflame traveled to the Moonstone with the medicine cat, touching his nose to the stone before falling into a deep slumber immediately.
The dream he’d entered felt light and floaty. He’d only dreamt amongst StarClan once - the birthright ever Clan apprentice had to visit the Moonstone before their warrior ceremony. This was different. Nobody was around this time - he was at the mangrove copse, standing in the water, which gently lapped at him from all sides, like a mother’s tongue. The water seemed to have a slight luminescence to it, rippling with his ever step forward, as the water was shallow enough for him to walk in.
The first mangrove tree he’d came across had cats, gleaming like stars amongst its branches. One by one they came down to greet him. This is my nine lives ceremony.
Familiar faces met his eyes and made his chest ache. Howlstar. Cloudripple. Scarletwing. Spottedwing. Then, unfamiliar ones - but their names came to him, strangely, as though he’d known them all his life. Mallowstar. Viperpaw. Minnowkit. Orchidfrost. Someone was missing.
One by one, the unfamiliar cats introduced themselves, explained why they were there. How they had died. And then they gave him his life, each more powerful, more painful than the last. Then, his beloveds approached, bestowing upon him lives in a similar fashion. He hadn’t been prepared for how painful they would be, garnished under seemingly sweet names, “love,” “patience,” et cetera. He tearfully bid his farewells to Cloudriplle, Scarletwing, and Howlstar before he had to conceal his emotions once more.
Oakstar had approached.
“Scorchflame,” he began, as Scorchflame met him with an emotionless stare. “You should know that… that I’m so proud of how far you’ve come.”
“I’m surprised you were even let into StarClan,” Scorchflame said simply, his ears flat against his head. “I don’t care if you’re proud of me.”
“I’m sorry, you know,” Oakstar added, his voice wavering, becoming more quiet. “For everything I’ve done to you. You deserved none of it. But you’ve become such a strong tom, and I’m glad to have you as my son. I’m sorry that I denied you for such a long time. I… I hope you can forgive me.”
Scorchflame shook his head, his chest burning. “I’m not your son, Oakstar, and I never will be. I am not your kit. I accept your apology, but I will never forgive you. My life was miserable for so long because of you. All I ever wanted was for you to be proud of me. Now, that doesn’t matter. I’ve made the rest of my Clan proud. I didn’t get here because of you. I got here because I fought to be the best warrior I could. I got here because my Clan trusted me and never doubted me. I got here because I deserved it.”
Oakstar sighed, dipping his head. “I understand, Scorchflame.” He stepped forward, touching his nose to Scorchflame’s forehead. It was hard not to flinch away. He didn’t want Oakstar to touch him. “With this life, I give you acceptance. Use it to understand your Clanmates when nobody else will, and allow them to have someone they can turn to in times of need.”
The life surged through him with a familiar pain - the kind that he had felt for so long, the pain that Oakstar had inflicted upon him, the pain that he’d suffered through for so many of his important, developmental years. And yet, as the most painful life he’d received, and the final one, he did not tear up like he had with the others. Oakstar stepped back, giving him a small, sad smile.
“I hail you by your new name, Scorchstar. Your old life is no more. You have now received the nine lives of a leader, and StarClan grants you the guardianship of RiverClan. Defend it well; care for young and old; honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity.”
“Scorchstar! Scorchstar! Scorchstar!”