for sharkpool's clanmates, who knew him as a serious and fiercely loyal riverclan warrior, it might be hard to imagine a time when he didn't give a rat's tail about the clan at all. as an apprentice, he'd lounge around neglecting responsibilities, looking down on anyone who took their duties seriously. what's the point? he'd say. putting your life on the line for the sake of other cats is just about the most mouse-brained thing a cat could do. if a cat can't take care of themself, that's their own problem. the whole concept of clan life was stupid to sharkpaw. his parents and older brother all died fighting for riverclan, and for what? for their clanmates to mourn them at the vigil and then forget all about them? stupid.
moons later, he had been starting to think that way again. he was a senior warrior, he was dating the girl of his dreams, he was learning to let go of things he couldn't control... life should have been perfect. it was perfect. but somehow he wasn't satisfied. the bitter attitude towards clan life he'd held as an apprentice had never really gone away; it was just shoved somewhere deeper within himself, as were most feelings that were inconvenient for him to confront directly. when these feelings finally resurfaced on a crisp leafbare morning, as he was taking a stroll and passed by his favorite spot to hide from his mentor as an apprentice, he felt that familiar prickle of frustration in his stomach when he couldn't reconcile the contradictions in himself. "what am i doing?"
clan loyalty. what a joke! how could he have let himself fall for such a farce? his apprentice self was right--nothing good could really come from clan life. all warriors did was fight over meaningless borders and get ugly scars from cats who hate them just because they live in a different part of the forest and maybe they even died and that was supposed to be something honorable and admirable, dying over meaningless borders. when i’m strong enough to survive on my own i’m leaving this dump! he’d said at eight moons old. but he was more than twice that age now and he was still sticking around! they really must have brainwashed him good to put up with this for so long. he’d been so easily assuaged by the illusion of clan bonds, the intoxicating contentment of romance, and a stupid title. senior warrior... more like #1 gladestar tail-kisser!
well, not anymore. sharkpool was a man of action, and it didn’t take much to convince himself to do something reckless. without giving it another thought, the albino disappeared from riverclan for what he thought would be forever.
"are you the cat who killed oreo?!" there was a strain in the ruddy-colored tom's hiss that made him sound like he was on the verge of tears. it made sharkpool smirk.
"who? i don’t remember who i’ve killed,” the albino responded cheekily. they were at the edge of the twolegplace and the forest, where the prey was as abundant as it could be without entering the clans' territory. sharkpool was in the middle of stalking a skinny mouse when he was surrounded by a trio of angry-looking rogues. cats being angry at him was nothing new; he'd made a lot of enemies in the moons following his defection. that was how life was as a rogue. everyone was out for themselves, and only the most selfish of cats survived. it gave him a sadistic thrill knowing he could survive like this on his own. no, not only survive--he was thriving like this. he'd made a name for himself in the twolegplace as someone not to be messed with; anyone who got in his way was crowfood. even now, in a three-on-one face-off, sharkpool kept his head high, a glint of bloodlust in his pale eyes. "maybe i did kill her, or him, or whatever. so what if i did?"
"you fox-hearted--i'll kill you!" the ruddy tom hissed, barreling towards sharkpool with claws outstretched. sharkpool dodged the emotionally charged attack easily, rearing up and using his body weight to slam the smaller tom to the ground.
"nice try. eh, not really, that was pathetic," said sharkpool, ripping a gash in the stranger's throat while he was down. "now you can go join ore-ow!"
the other two cats, who didn't seem to want to fight him as much as their fallen companion, had seemed to find their motivation. one of them had jumped onto his back, scratching him with her back paws. he hissed, trying to shake her off, but before he could, the other one, a tabby tom, was lunging for his throat. eyes wild, sharkpool managed to swerve out of the way just in time. the tabby was back on his paws in seconds, and with the weight of the she-cat still holding him down, sharkpool wasn't able to dodge his next attack. a single claw caught him in the cheek and he screeched as it dragged all the way down his throat. drops of his own blood spattered the ground, and his heart pounded in terror he hadn't felt in a long time. his legs buckled under the weight on his back and the blood loss from his neck was making him lightheaded.
forget winning, he didn't need to win this fight, he was fighting to survive now. the river.. if he could just get to the river... blood gurgled in his mouth as he crawled towards it, paws shaking. the weight on his back had since been lifted, and the two rogues were watching him struggle with a mix of contempt and dark amusement.
"he's done for, no one can survive wounds like that... where does he think he's going now?"
home. with the last of his strength, sharkpool flopped over the edge of the gorge, knowing the current would carry him there. his vision was going dark and all his body wanted was to give into the waves and stop fighting, but he forced himself to stay conscious and keep his head above water. the riverbank was in sight soon and he strained his neck to grab onto a branch and pull himself toward it. he only managed to pull his upper body onto shore before his legs gave in and he collapsed, sand spraying up and sticking to his wet fur and the open wound in his throat. i'm... still too weak...
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