Note: A short story based of of the Warrior Cats book series written by Erin Hunter.
The Warden and The Prisoner
Laws keep order;
They create safety;
A foundation to lay
Our faith in.
Laws blind us;
Stifle our thoughts.
They chain us;
Imprison our true selves.
A coffin to bury
our hearts in.
The code is in my blood,
Tradition in my soul.
Leader's word is law
And Laws keep us
Their rules boil under my skin,
Smothering my soul.
The Puppeteer's lies empower him
Enslaving my family,
All of us.
I protect my family, my clanmates.
I don't cause trouble; I stop it.
I'm diligent and thorough.
We need balance. Breaking rules,
And I hate not knowing.
I tried to free them; my clanmates.
I fought for the truth; I killed him.
I cut the strings and declared
his black secrets. Imprisoning us
With a facade
Of safety in exchange for control.
Stone and mud colored stripes
Broken by white smears on his chest
Ragged and unkempt fur covers his scars.
It can't cover his deeds.
Fire and Sleet fur blend in a graceful patchwork
Unbroken by dirt or any blood.
Is open and clear to my mind
And its tragic to see her soul:
He is the Law Breaker;
The worst kind.
Breaking them to break them,
Murderer of the Law.
He's endangered my friends and family;
Broken my tranquility into a tempest.
She's the Soulful Follower;
The worst kind.
Following them to follow,
Embodiment of Law
She enjoys her imprisonment as well as ours
Ensnared by what her soul thinks it knows.
I stand guard over his hole.
They knew I wouldn't kill him if I was ordered not to
I won't fail them
My clanmates want to break the code
And kill him
But I won't let the code be further shamed
She's standing outside my cell
Like a obedient dog. Not even my destruction of her ideals
Lets her fail in following
Our clanmates have the passion to break the mold
And kill me
But she won't seek revenge unless law demands it
He just sits there.
His angular face set with deep green eyes
He doesn't move,
But his eyes are alive
They have energy
She watches me always
Her flat round face with those consuming brown eyes
But so full of thought
Her eyes burn with life
And a hidden energy
And unspoken thoughts
I'd like to say I hate him
My sisters do and my father
My clanmates were hurt and betrayed by him
They hate him
They fear him
They're disgusted by him
There's no doubt she hates me
They all do
The anger and fear at my actions
I freed them
But they scurried back to their cage
where she was waiting
I felt the hate too, but it wasn't as it was
Meant to be felt. Passionately.
I felt it the way one feels pain from stepping on a
Thorn. By the law of nature
It was safe to hate, it was expected
---Its meal time
She was waiting there in the cage she never left
Not even when her icon of order was returned to dust
Did she step from law's cell to mindless passion
I don't want to hate her
But I kind of do
---It's meal time
I carry in a vole
One prey a day
A prisoner's ration
I enter and his eyes are filled with disgust
I mirror him silently and for a moment we share
The disgust for what we represent to each other,
It's a vole, but it may as well be ash
My meal is just another rule she cherishes
I narrow my eyes at her as a bitter taste fills my mouth
she's what I truly tried to destroy: the code
I killed the puppeteer, but here stood the strings unharmed
There's this disjointed emptiness between us that
None but us could understand
I can't comprehend his mind and it frustrates me more than the murder
I know it shouldn't, but it does
Who could want to tear safety and comfort into a mangled bloody mess?
I hate the crevice of nothingness that divides her mind from mine
I want to claw out the cobwebs that have ensnared her being
I can't comprehend how she trusts and fastens her heart to strings of empty words
She's the cleverest and the bravest
Her skills at the hunt and in battle flatten my own, yet by her own free will
She's the blindest
He's mad, but his eyes are watching me as I leave
To guard his cell once more
And they are not the eyes of a mad cat
They have thought, feeling
The ability to reason
Yet he'd murder refuge's promise and invite danger into our home
“You're blind.” I reach out my vain hopes
Over the chasm that separates chaos from order
“You are blind to your chains.”
If I die a prisoner
If they banish me or sentence me to death
I want to leave my mark
“You're blind.” his hoarse voice drifts from
Behind me. I know what he means and he's wrong.
I choose to follow the safe road to happiness
The road does not bind me like a snake and
Force me to follow. They are ideas alone and I am action.
“You're blind to your chains” he whispers his mad thoughts
I thought ending our power-hungry leader's reign would
Upset the code's noose on my clanmate's necks
It was nothing
Merely a stone in a stream
For a moment there's a splash of freedom in all directions, but then
The current channels us all back along the code's inescapable bank
I am blind. I cannot see
Into his broken mind. He's a terrible danger
The laws no longer protect him in their shattered state
I can see their sharp edged fragments filling his eyes
Threatening to spill out from his mouth and slice us all
To scarlet ribbons
The puppeteer wasn't enough. I'll burn the
String. I will save my clan once more
From their own blindness, lift the blindfold and reveal their chains
Starting with her
Such a noble spirit shouldn't be bound by
He's moving. The gargoyle comes to life
The green energy in his eyes and soul filling his immovable fame
I block the way and glower at him as he approaches
His poisoned mind will not leave this cell
to wreck havoc on my clanmates once more
“What do you think you're doing, Murderer?”
“What do you think you're doing, Murderer?”
I knew she hated me
I stand before her false glory and summon the words forward
“Please, see reason.” my voice rasps
“The code is not my master nor should it be yours.
“See reason” he begins
and I listen to the mad tom try to
explain his twisted dangerous world to me
He's so blind. I wish I could show him the glittering
haven that the code has given our clan
but our minds are worlds apart, too far for either of us to see
My words can't reach her
she's too far from my soul. While hers somehow
inexplicably thrives in the chains of oppression, my soul
dances over uncharted lands far from the iron clasps of the code
my blood is hot with red frustration
I only want to help her see
He looks so distressed, I feel almost
sorry for him
under law's caring wing he'd be safe and need not to worry
instead he broke his chances and now the talons of justice
were position to strike over his head
and all his broken mind continues to see are the imaginary chains on the rest of us
It's too hard. Why couldn't my leader's death been
enough? Why did his suffocating grasp on us continue through the code?
Why was there this horrid emptiness of understanding between her and I?
My breath comes in fast and raw
like it did before I struck my claws into his throat
but blood doesn't spray on my stripes
He is breathing hard and closes his eyes
as if expecting something to hit him. It's tragic
to see someone who once was a fellow clanmate caught in
this strange madness I cannot comprehend
It burns my soul to see a perfectly able and smart tom
floundering in his attempt to cross the divide between his thoughts and mine
“Why can't you see? How can you enjoy this kind of chained life?”
my shoulders tremble and my head hangs as I implore of her
what in her soul is okay with the narrow road
the code has forced me to walk for far too long.
This life was empty
when lived like a puppet.
Why can't I see? How can I enjoy my chains
he asks as his beaten body sags before me
“There are no chains” the beginning of my response is soft
and a lie. My words are about to spill out like the hate,
explaining in the nature of law. Give it shape. But then I stop them
from coming. He's outside the law. My shape for law was a lie in his mind.
My words cannot penetrate that brilliant chained mind
She'll never see the choking grip the code has around our necks
Surely she can hear the emptiness that her words echo with
I look up
She's not just blind she's mad
But then her brown eyes lock with mine
“no,” I relent and push through what my instincts said to
the core of my self, “I fear the unknown.”
“I'm lost without guidance. The code is my father
leading me safely home to starclan.
The rewards for following their laws are all I need
family, security, comfort, happiness.”
She's afraid. She wants to be happy and safe.
She wants to know what to do.
I think for a moment I see a bridge between us because
I see her shackles transform into a star pointing her forward
showing her the way
My moment is her eternity
My center is opened up for him to see
if he can take off his blindfold and see the code carved into each part of my soul
I show myself to him the best I can from across the divide
his deep green eyes seem to lighten with a moment of clarity
I know he's doomed, his future is already forfeit to the code despite not being a cat of law
But I wish it wasn't so; He saw through the nothingness
She is the code
and she doesn't hate me. She'd opened up
more than her eyes, but her mind and her brilliant heart
I was the unknown to her, she feared me, but she broke her code
to let me in and see her beauty and vision even after
I tried to kill her guide to happiness
There's a wildness in straying from the path
you think you'll be safe, just for a little while
after all you haven't gone far
but in a moment, the black desires of your heart have you
and your tumbling in the mad fancies of another cat's world.
I could see the chains now, in his eyes
I can feel the untamed energy flowing between us now. Without
even a word from me, her eyes can suddenly see and the
emptiness between us is gone.
It's filled with our minds mixing with one another
I can see her haven
she can see my suffocation
“Why didn't you just leave?” the question
is a waste of words. I know the answer.
He saw us all in chains and wanted to set us free
and now the broken laws would flay him
for his well meant murder
My code has been blackened by him.
“Why didn't you just leave?” her soul
already knows the answer. Her soul knows my soul
I meant to set them free just as she means to protect them
from me. She knows me and I hate
what I've done to her. Her clear eyes are now frustrated with the grays
my black blood covered claws have brought into her clean mind
My shoulders tremble with frustration
my breath is quick and uneven.
Then his forehead touches mine and we're connected
his understanding of his crime flows about me and mine with his
the code is part of my very being and I drowned him with it
the code is the sIave-master to his spirit so he murdered my savior
She's floundering in her expanded view
only because of her bleeding heart
that I cut open with the edge of my broken law. Her eyes close.
I lean forward and touch my forehead to hers.
We're connected and her thoughts as thick as our leader's spilled blood
swims with my own. We both know each others' happiness and pains
“Foxshine,” a brown tom padded over to the den that had been turned into a makeshift prison for Slatepelt. “Dovestar has returned from the MoonPit. She asked me to relieve you from your watch.”
Barkclaw stopped short at the sight of Foxshine and Slatepelt sitting close together by the den's entrance looking into each others' eyes with placid expressions. “Foxshine?”
The ginger and white patched she-cat tore herself away from her prisoner's gaze to look at her fellow clanmate with the most lost and sorrowful expression he'd ever seen on her before, “What is it, Barkclaw?”
Barkclaw shot a venomous glance at Slatepelt. What had the murderer done now? Foxshine was one of Mistclan's most capable warriors and now she looked as confused as newborn kit opening their eyes for the first time. “I said I'm here to take your watch. Dovestar wants to speak with you.”
“Erm, yes, thank you.” Foxshine seemed to drag herself to her feet and eventually padded off toward the new leader's den.
Slatepelt watched her go for only a moment before closing his eyes and receding back into his prison.