Chapter Two Glowing sunshine rubbed warmth onto Windpaw’s sooty nose as he stood at the mouth of the medicine cat den. Rays beamed into his eyes- rays that hadn’t engulfed him in well over a moon- and he shied away, blinded for a moment. The younger tom blinked rapidly, chuckles echoing from behind him. “You’ve done all this training now to just sit here and let your eyes get used to the sun again,” Mulberrysky added once his gruff laughter died down, “Your eyes will adjust eventually,” It had been a moon since the clans had started their journey, and Mulberrysky’s increasingly difficult training was finally bearing the fruits of its labor. Windpaw could walk and stand for a much longer time after everyday of waddling around further and further. He’d gained his balance back, too, and even though he had to take frequent breaks, at least he was getting somewhere, he figured. “I’m fine,” the apprentice mewed as he turned his face back towards the sun. It was rising slowly, a wave of reds and oranges washing the darker hues out with its pulling tide. Soon, the entire sky would be like a shimmering blue lake, and the ravine overhead his head would expose the entire ruined camp to Lightclan above. His face softened when he could look out over the destroyed camp, seeing for the first time how… desolated the place was. Windpaw’s heart sunk. “We’re leaving today,” Mulberrysky’s voice jolted his son from his thoughts, shock coursing through the younger tom. “What?!” “Thawpaw is deaf. Not you,” he replied shortly, having never been a fan of repeating himself, “The clans are well ahead of us, but you can walk now. Sure, we might have to go slow, but I’m anxious to get there and you’re anxious to get there,” Windpaw relaxed. Mulberrysky was right. “We’ve already eaten, and I know there’s a river outside of camp. We’ll stop there to recalibrate and make sure we’re heading towards the sunrise. We leave now,” the former leader meowed. The apprentice was a kit when his father was leader. He never got to see him in his former glory, albeit the tom never called it a glory. If anything, he hated discussing it. But these comments widened Windpaw’s eyes. Perhaps his father was just being a model warrior, but he swore he felt a sense of commanding presence in the new, reinvigorated atmosphere around them. Windpaw nodded to his father. Mulberrysky brushed passed him, pausing once outside the den to beckon the tom after him with a brief swish of his tail, and Windpaw complied. His eyes gleamed as he ducked out into the full green-leaf sun, which warmed his smoky pelt and bathed the parts of camp he never got to see from his nest in the medicine cat den. Camp was worse than he thought; the earthquake had entirely split their home in half, the only way across from their spot to the tunnel out of camp being slabs of fallen rock in the swirling river at the bottom of the ravine. Several dens were blocked. Ledges and den walls had crumpled to the bottom of camp. Trees from above where the earth had cracked open had toppled down, lying like broken legs in the river, too. Windpaw’s whiskers twitched in apprehension. He was better, but well enough to travel through this? The tom shook his head. The older tom wasn’t waiting, though. He was already on the steep decline down to the water. His paws easily filed down the rock. Less than gracefully, Windpaw started down after Mulberrysky. He had to scrutinize where to put his paws at first, but he gradually got the hang of the harder terrain. “Not tired?” the tabby tom called back to Windpaw, who was still halfway up the rockface by the time Mulberrysky had reached the river. Windpaw merely shook his head. He was panting softly, but his limbs didn’t ache... Not like they had a moon ago. “I’m good!” he shouted back once he mustered up enough spare breath. Several more minutes passed before he neared his father again, who looked him over with a nod. “That was the worst part, I promise,” his father meowed lowly, dark eyes scanning Windpaw’s flushed face. The apprentice only nodded, still out of breath. “We cross this bridge of rock now. It’s slick, so watch your paws,” Windpaw eyed the slabs anxiously. There were two, but they were large enough chunks of the warriors’ den above to be able to clear the water. Half of the first rock dipped into the river, letting it harshly slap at its rough, sharp edge. The apprentice winced, a painful memory coming back to him, but he forced it to the back of his mind as Mulberrysky set across. His movements were calculated and precise, and he was at the end of the first rock in no time. Windpaw hopped up with a little less agility but quickly balanced himself out. His gaze wandered for a second as he stood on at first slab. This would be his last look at home. His kithood home. Mulberrysky seemed to stop, too, but his paws itched with mild impatience. Windpaw started at the top of the ravine, where he could see pine trees and tufts of grass and overturned roots, and his eyes slowly sunk down the hollowed out, broken flanks of camp. Finally, his gaze settled on the river. He blinked at his reflection, which he hadn’t seen in a while. A smile toyed with the tom’s muzzle. He didn’t look half bad. His smile dropped instantly, though, as he looked for his father’s reflection... but it was nowhere to be seen in the river. The apprentice’s eyes snapped up to Mulberrysky, who seemed to notice it, too. His reflection is missing? Windpaw thought, stomach churning the longer he watched his father. The expression on Mulbberysky’s face went from confusion to surprised realization to blank again in a matter of a couple heartbeats. His lips pursed and he nodded. “And off we go again,” the former leader hummed nonchalantly, as if he didn’t just witness a haunting message. He picked up his pace from before, clearing the last slab and landing on the other side of the river with ease. Windpaw jolted- although still confused- and scrambled after him, the image of only his reflection still plastered in his mind. _-_-_-_-_ Thanks for reading!