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The Parking Lot Cats, a continuing story

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello! I'm Ryan and this is my cat story. I'm pretty much posting it as I'm writing it, so I wouldn't be surprised if you found some grammatical and spelling errors. I tried to create a realistic cat culture; I even devised a language for my cats called Ailurian. If you have any questions about the story or cat culture, or anything else, feel free to ask.

A quick guide to Ailurian pronunciation:


A Pronounced “ay†(way, gray)

E\tPronounced “eh†(sell, pen)

I\tPronounced “ee†(sing, free)

O\tPronounced “ah†(off, clock)\t

U\tPronounced “uh†(up, sun)

\tSo “Meldaiguman†is (mell-DIE-guh-mane)
\t “Tetu†is (Tetta)
\t . . . And “Adugu†is (Ade-uh-guh)

Other Vowel Sounds:

Ai\tPronounced “eyeâ€

Ie\tPronounced separately (Gelmien = gel-mee-en)

Ou\tPronounced “ow†(down, out)

Ia\tPronounced “yay†(Hathia = HAYTH-yay)

Ae\tPronounced “ay-eh†(deity, layer)


R\tIn Ailurian, this letter is pronounced with a soft, purring trill impossible to reproduce in a human throat. For humans, the “R†can be trilled with the tongue as in Spanish, or (preferably) it can be a breathy, glottal scraping in the back of the throat as in French.

Ng Pronounced as in "young." The "G" is almost unvoiced.

The Parking Lot Cats
by Ryan Dawson


The door was open. Roger stood alert, tail swishing, and sniffed curiously at the warm breeze blowing in. The wind carried fragrances he’d never known, fragrances that were at once alarming and alluring. The burning reek of car exhaust, the subtle sweetness of crushed crabapples on the blacktop, the ammoniac tang of tomcat spray; all these smells tugged at Roger’s curiosity. His whiskers danced. He moved forward slowly and stuck his head out the small opening between jamb and door. It was bright out; an azure sky stretched cloudless into the distance.
The door had never been left standing open before. In times past, Roger’s approaching the door while it was open had gotten him hastily swept aside and scolded. Though he had learned to stay inside even while The Caretakers had the door open, Nemelix’s stories about the world outside had kept his curiosity alive. Now there was no one to scold him. It seemed too good to be true. Roger put one paw through the door and onto the patio.
“What’re you doing?†A voice asked from inside the apartment. Roger started up, ears pricked. He turned around wide-eyed to see Austin behind him.
“You’ll catch hell for sure if you go out there.â€
Austin was sitting back on his haunches, his fur shone in the fluorescent glow of the two Gro-Lights which were bolted to the walls on either side of the living room. As usual, Austin’s black and white, non-agouti coat was slicked back meticulously. It almost looked painted on.
“The door’s open,†Roger said, “No one’s here to stop me.â€
Austin looked once over each shoulder. Roger was right. Save for the sleeping Shi-Tzu is his blue sweater, the apartment was empty. The Caretakers hadn’t been there in a long time. When they were around, they seemed distracted.
“The rules still apply,†Austin snipped, “You know the outside is forbidden to us.â€
Roger’s will steeled. He grew tired of Austin’s overcautious ways. Whenever something new came into the apartment, Austin cowed.
“Maybe they left it open for a reason,†Roger said, “Maybe they’re outside waiting for us.â€
Austin’s yellow eyes narrowed.
“It could be a test,†he said.
“They aren’t that smart,†Roger replied, “The door’s open and I’m going out. Ma-Ou has smiled on us.â€
Austin blinked. Roger’s faith in the old Ailurian deity was naïve, albeit well-meaning. Austin knew he could never expect one as young as Roger to fully understand the nature of Ma-Ou.
“Don’t bring Him into this,†Austin said, “His law is the law of The Caretakers.â€
Roger stared at Austin a moment; he knew the futility of debate in this situation. Without another word, Roger turned and slipped outside.
\tAustin sighed, staring after Roger. Things were changing in the apartment. Furniture was being taken away, things were being put into boxes, and a new Caretaker had been coming in and feeding them during the original Caretakers’ long stints of absence. Austin guessed that it was she, the Other Caretaker, who had left the door open. He looked from side to side, sniffing the air. The Other Caretaker had come and gone once already, but she would be back later in the evening. Fixing his gaze again on the open sliding-glass door, Austin made his decision. He would go out. He would find The Caretakers, and he would keep Roger out of trouble.
\tAt this, Nemelix came sliding into the apartment. The Caretakers called him Hershey, but his litter name was Nemelix. Given him by his mother, Rulain, a few weeks after his birth, Nemelix meant “black-crouching.†Nemelix’s forest-cat coat –long in the winter and short in the summer- was deep black on the head and shoulders and faded ever so slightly to a rich caramel color down at the back end. His pipe-brush tail curled around him as he sat down in front of Austin.
\t“It’s safe out there,†Nemelix said, “Roger’s already come out.â€
\t“I know,†Austin replied.
\t“We’re all waiting for you.â€
\tAustin blinked. Looking over Nemelix, he saw Roger staring back at him with curious eyes. To Roger’s right sat Nemelix’s sister Aichel. Austin moved toward the door, keeping his head low. His body was sleek and muscular. When he crouched like this as he walked, the predator in him was plainly visible. Nemelix followed Austin as Austin stepped outside. Nemelix revered Austin, and now he trailed behind like a sycophant.
\t“It’s alright,†said Roger, “Come out into the grass.â€
\tBut Austin would not approach the edge of the patio. He crouched on the concrete, front legs folded beneath him as if in thoughtful repose. The outdoors was certainly louder than the apartment. He heard winter birds chirping, and numerous human-sounds he’d only heard muffled through a window.
\t“Let him stay there,†Aichel said, “He’ll be fine while we eat.†With this, Aichel and Nemelix ran into the apartment to get at Roger and Austin’s food bowls. Roger bounded along behind them, leaving Austin alone in the big outside.
\tA cat’s life is a strange, dichotomous thing. Cats live in curiosity and in fear. Austin crouched now in utter terror, but his curiosity held him on the patio. He moved his head fervently, wide eyes darting toward every sound or movement.
The lawn beyond was thin and wide, stretching all the way to the end of this part of the complex. Tall bushes girded the outside edge of the little lawn. The parking lot was now on the cusp of autumn and winter, and these bushes were almost totally bare; countless spiky branches stretched from half a foot of slick-barked trunk. What few leaves the bushes had were tiny and stained a deep maroon by autumn’s paintbrush.
Austin found that he adored the smell of the earth, that wet and muddy smell which permeated the outside world. He let this aroma soothe him as he stood up slowly and walked to the edge of the patio. He’d not felt grass in ages, and the touch of it was strange and unpleasant. The grass was a little wet and it pricked his sensitive toe pads. For a few feet, Austin walked on the grass like a desert lizard on hot sand, lifting his paws higher than usual before putting them down in the grass again. At last, Austin made it to a large, bare-branched crabapple tree, one of two which grew on this strip of lawn. The trees had big white blooms in the summer but died early in autumn, leaving only gnarled branches while other trees exploded with color. There he crouched again, his front paws folded, and closed his eyes. The warmth from the ground was calming, and he allowed himself to drift into sleep as Roger, Aichel, and Nemelix came once more out into the yard and ran by him as if he had disappeared.
\tAll day long Austin slept like that, getting up only to evacuate his bowels and bladder. Just after dusk, Nemelix brought him a tiny brown mouse, but Austin had seemed confused about what to do with it. He batted it around a bit, tried to bite it, but eventually resigned himself to creeping back inside and eating from his food bowl. As night fell and the stars began to wink in the sky, Austin sat awake and watched them while Roger, Nemelix, and Aichel slept in the grass. Austin stared up at the stars for a long time before he realized that another cat was sitting beside him.
\t“The darker the night, the more beautiful the stars,†the cat said, “It’s a lesson from Ma-Ou we should all take to heart.â€
\tIt was the odd, lilting voice of Meldaiguman, “bird-callsâ€, cousin to Nemelix and Aichel. Meldaiguman was a small, black cat with staring, almost vacant eyes. Much of his fur was matted and oily, and it tended to fall out in small clumps. Sometimes he drooled, thin strings of saliva hung from his face and he seemed not to notice at all. Tonight though, his face was clean. He was crouched beside Austin with his nearly bare, rat-like tail stretched out behind him. His staring, stoic eyes were turned toward the star-specked sky.
\t“We will leave here tonight,†Meldaiguman said, “Gelmien has been walking our borders since the gloaming.
\tAustin knew of Gelmien. Gelmien was a big, yellow tom; all the parking lot cats were afraid of him. His face was angry, his flesh was scarred, and his coat was thick and healthy, the sign of a cat who had not lost a fight in a long time. Austin had never had dealings with Gelmien, but he found himself unafraid at the thought of meeting the bully tom.
\t“Where will we go?†Austin asked, at last. Meldaiguman lowered his head and stared straight forward. He spoke as if he was alone.
\t“Through the woods to Capgaw Mound, and on into the northwest from there,†Meldaiguman replied. He pronounced Capgaw in the bird tongue. Capgaw Mound was a nesting ground for killdeer and crows, and their language had named the place. Austin knew none of these things; he knew only that Capgaw had a foreign sound. He imagined the Mound as someplace far away, and he wondered at the size of the world which had existed so long beyond his sight.

\tLater that night, Austin was awakened by a gentle nudging. It was Rulail, mother of Nemelix and Aichel and matriarch of the parking lot cats.
\t“Wake up, NemMrull,†she was saying, calling Austin by his Ailurian name “Gelmien has come to challenge us.â€
\tAustin sat up and looked around. Meldaiguman was nowhere to be seen, but Nemelix and Roger were crouching fifty feet away, staring at the massive form of Gelmien hunched down on the asphalt between two parked cars. Nemelix’s fur was spiked, his ears were flattened against his head; but Roger was standing calmly with slitted eyes staring at Gelmien, sizing him up. Gelmien was a coiled spring. His muscular body was bunched up and nearly shaking with pent energy. A long, low growl thrummed from deep within him. Austin knew Nemelix would avoid a full on encounter, but feared for Roger’s safety in the clawed paws of this hulking tom.
Austin approached cautiously, ready to bolt if the need arose. He knew Gelmien saw him, but Gelmien reacted minimally to Austin’s presence. Gelmien’s mind worked calmly and quickly, figuring Austin into his precise calculations.
\t“Roger,†Austin said, “This fight is well beyond you. Back down!â€
\tRoger glanced at Austin, then back to Gelmien. He appeared about to hold his ground when another cat materialized from the shadows beneath a car with a cover over it.
It was Adugu, “silver tongue,†a smaller tom than Gelmien but equally loathed as a bully. Silvertongue was spotted black and white with a long, thin, black tail. His eyes were blue and his whiskers were long. He was known to refer to himself as Kenaid, “cut fang.†Only orphaned or runt cats gave themselves their own names. As he approached, Roger began to slink away, his tail rigid as a plank.
\t“Back down,†Silvertongue said, “We are taking this territory for ourselves.â€
\t“We have marked your perimeter,†Gelmien hissed, “Leave now in peace.†His voice had an almost musical quality to it. It flowed and rolled and was actually quite beautiful. In most Ailurian mouths, the language of Ma-Ou, handed down from generation to generation, fell into debasement. But Gelmien’s Ailurian was flawless –a historian’s voice.
\t“We won’t leave,†Nemelix said. There was fear in his tone. At this, Gelmien sprang. His speed and grace were awesome. Hissing and baring his teeth Gelmien lunged forward and swiped at Nemelix. Nemelix dodged, coming dangerously close to losing an eye to Gelmien’s hooking claws. In a flash, Nemelix dashed toward Austin and leapt up into the dogwood tree, climbing frantically to the highest branch to look down at Gelmien and growl. \t
Gelmien’s sudden attack had created confusion and panic among the smaller cats. Silvertongue used this to his advantage, bolting full-bore out of the shadows beneath the covered car and bridging the distance between himself and Roger in three bounding strides. He caught Roger behind the ear with one paw and sent him tumbling. Roger was stunned, but he reacted quickly, striking out in desperation and hooking a claw into Silvertongue’s lower lip. Silvertongue howled in pain and fell back, crouching and spitting. Roger stood up and ran toward Austin and Rulail, not interested in fighting any longer.
Rulail gave him a quick once over.
“You are lucky,†she said to Roger, “Silvertongue once lived in the house of a Caretaker –he is selhan, clawless. You’d have had quite a gash had you been caught by the claws of Gelmien.â€
As Silvertongue began to creep toward the three cats, his shoulders rising and falling beneath his thick coat, Gelmien stood with his two front paws on the dogwood trunk and looked up at Nemelix. Never before had any of the parking lot cats known two toms to work together like this. They could not contend with this new threat.
“Come inside, quickly,†Austin said to Rulail. He took off for the open door and slipped into the apartment. Rulail and Roger followed, and Aichel was not far behind him. During the fight, she had cowered behind the big, grey air conditioner. Now, only Nemelix was left outside to fend for himself.
Still standing at the foot of the dogwood, Gelmien called up to Nemelix.
“Come down, Numeldai! Little bird! Your nestlings have deserted you!â€
“So this is your peace offering, Hunt-eye?†Nemelix called back, “I shudder to imagine your acts of war.â€
“You denied peace when you denied us,†Silvertongue mewed, sauntering up to stand beside Gelmien. Gelmien seemed to take no notice.
Suddenly, there was a loud sound and bright light seemed to flood the world. A car was coming. Gelmien and Silvertongue turned and looked -eyes wide, bodies frozen in horror. The car pulled in and parked and a woman got out. Gelmien and Silvertongue started to flee when the woman saw them and began to yell. She clapped her hands and called out in the human language; Gelmien and Silvertongue raced off into the night and Nemelix sighed relief.
Watching from inside the apartment, Austin, Roger, Rulail, and Aichel heard the woman calling to Nemelix as he clung to the top branches of the dogwood tree. As Nemelix began to claw his way to the ground, Austin heard the woman call him “Hershey.â€
“We have to leave now,†Austin said, “That’s the Other Caretaker come for us!â€
“Those two toms are still out there,†Rulail said, “They’re waiting until she’s gone and then they’ll be on us again.â€
“The Other Caretaker brings food,†Roger said, “why should we run from that?â€
\t“How do you know she hasn’t come to take us away?†Austin replied, “They took Tetu from me before. It’s happening again now.â€
Roger remained silent. Tetu had been Austin’s son. One day, Tetu fell ill. He was put in a cage-box and taken away and never returned. Since that, Austin didn’t trust outsiders. In a situation like this, with The Caretakers gone for long periods and the inside environment being packed into boxes and removed to parts unknown, Roger was inclined to agree with Austin.
“Where will we go?†Aichel asked.
“To Capgaw Mound,†Austin replied. He’d spoken without thinking, as if Meldaiguman had spoken for him.
As if on cue, Meldaiguman appeared in the doorway. He stuck his ruffled face in and said, “We have time. But we must go now. Follow me.â€
With that, Meldaiguman turned and ran. The cats followed him, adrenaline coursing through them and making them act on impulse. Nemelix, now safely down from the tree, fell in line behind Austin as the group of cats darted across the lawn down toward a path that lead into a wood behind the apartments. As they ran, they could hear Silvertongue and Gelmien giving chase. The two toms were fast, but the troupe of parking lot cats plus Austin and Roger were far ahead of them. As the cats disappeared into the wood, Silvertongue and Gelmien gave up and walked back toward the patio. The territory was theirs now.
The wood was a long bar of scrubby underbrush, nettles, and towering birch and hickory trees. Many broken stumps rose out of the ground; this old wood had seen its fair share of battering storms. Most of the trees on the outer edge were bent over as if frozen in some ancient recoil.
Once they were well inside the darkling coppice, the cats stopped to rest. Dawn was coming, and the urge to hunt would soon be upon them.
Lying down beside the tangle roots of a fallen stump, Austin spoke to Meldaiguman.
“Where were you?†He asked.
“Scouting ahead,†Meldaiguman replied, “The way is safe for several days. Capgaw Mound is not far from here.â€
In the silence that followed, Austin cast his curious and frightened gaze around at the shadowed trees which rose like ancient sentinels into the blue night. The wind whispered through the leafless branches and the tops of the trees swayed gently –like praising hands. This place was a hunting ground for the parking lot cats, but Austin had never been in such an environment. The surroundings were alien. He could smell honeysuckle and fragrant forest flowers; but he also smelled danger and death. This was not his home, and he envisioned predators beyond count skulking in the underbrush and watching from the high branches of the trees.
“This is a secure place,†Meldaiguman said. It was almost as if he’d been reading Austin’s mind.
“Few predators hunt so close to the domain of humans.â€
For some reason, the thought was not all together comforting to Austin.
“The two toms are gone,†Meldaiguman continued, “but we will see them again. Warm winds bring killing storms.â€
“Such encouraging talk,†Nemelix said.
“We should try and get some sleep,†Rulail said, “Tomorrow we travel.â€

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

Austin awoke to find himself alone. The little wood was utterly quiet, not even a bird’s chirp broke the silence. The scene felt strange and surreal. Austin found himself unable to move. It seemed as if he were an observer in his own brain, staring out into the darkness amidst the trees through eyes that no long obeyed his commands.

Soundlessly, a figure stepped out of the forest to stand before Austin. It looked like a human female, but she was about Austin’s height. Her black hair fell down her back in fat curls and her teardrop-shaped face displayed such an expression of peace and benignity that Austin couldn’t bring himself to fear her. She was clad in a flowing blue gown, and her bare feet did not stir the leaf litter as she moved. When she opened her mouth to speak, her voice was nothing like a human voice; it was more like wind in saw grass or a mist of rain hissing over summer concrete. And though she had the form of a human, she spoke in perfect Ailurian. Her accent was strange; it was as if she spoke the oldest form of the Cat Tongue.

“You seek to understand Ma-Ou’s purpose.â€

“I seek to understand the workings of fate,†Austin replied.

“Fate and Ma-Ou are one. Find the Eltinan, the World Center. It was there that the Ice first began to recede; it was there that the first Ailuri were born. You will understand Ma-Ou when you reach Eltinan.â€

“Where does my path lead?†Austin asked. The strange woman smiled then, a haunting and wholly moving sight on this fair creature.

“You demand prescience, but you do not understand the future. Your path is what it is. It began and it will end regardless of whether or not you can see that end. No fate can be averted. Ma-Ou is order. His purposes are absolute.â€

The woman’s words echoed in Austin’s head. This was a dream; yet, it was the most vivid dream he had ever experienced.

“Dai dundellu ela fefolou sel,†the woman said. Prescience is a servant’s gift. Although Austin had never heard this ancient aphorism, it struck a chord within him that filled him with a sense of purpose, of responsibility. He understood the meaning of the aphorism: Prescience is most beneficial to those who do not possess it.

“Fulfill your purpose, NemMrull, find the World Center. Ma-Ou is waiting.â€

With this, the woman turned and vanished, swallowed in a dream mist.
Austin awoke with a start and looked around. Night was waning, and his five companions were asleep in their places. He looked over at Meldaiguman curled in a black ball beside Roger. The waxing dawn made Roger’s faint, dark stripes stand out against his blue-gray fur. His eyes were shut tight. Meldaiguman was the picture of peace save for his mouth. A silvery line of drool stretched between his chin and the ground. Though his eyes were closed and his body heaved in the slow breaths of sleep, Meldaiguman’s mouth was moving. As he listened, Austin realized that the sleeping Meldaiguman was whispering words in a tongue that Austin did not understand. A tongue that sounded vaguely human.

post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
Domestic cats do not hunt as a pack. In some cases, two brothers will hunt together, sharing a lifelong bond. In Austin and Roger’s case, Roger decided to go out on his own. The thrill of the hunt consumed him.

Growing up with The Caretakers, Roger had taken great pleasure in skinning or gutting toy mice. But Roger was not yet a year old, and his first attempts at hunting in the wood were frustrating.
Unlike toy mice, the little rodents and insects Roger found in the brush did not hold still and wait for him to attack. His first two attempts at killing–first a cricket, next a brown mouse- ended unsuccessfully. Then, Roger found a mole lolling its fat, fuzzy body out of a hole in the ground. The mole proved to be much less agile prey, and Roger dispatched it with ease, albeit much playful torture.

With the dead mole clamped firmly in his jaws, Roger pranced off to find Austin just finishing the remains of a mouse. The mouse lay eviscerated in the dirt, and Austin was licking his face with his comb-tongue. Roger dropped the mole and began pawing at it.

“So you’ve decided against starvation,†Roger said, “I was beginning to wonder how you would survive without your food bowl.â€

Austin ignored this jibe. Roger began to rip open his kill and eat it; this task was greatly facilitated by his extra claws. Roger was a polydactyl, a rare thing in this part of the country. He had six toes on each front paw, and he had become quite adept at using his extra toes like thumbs for grasping. Roger’s litter name, long forgotten by him, was Tethan –“big-claw.â€

“I heard Meldaiguman talking in his sleep last night,†Austin said.
Roger looked up from his mole and replied with unchewed entrails still in his mouth.

“So did I. He babbled all night, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying.â€

“It sounded like human words,†Austin said.

Roger cocked his head and swallowed. It was a gesture of disbelief.
“That’s ridiculous. No cat knows human language.â€

As Roger began to groom himself after his messy meal, Rulain came out of the brush and looked at the two.

“We’re going,†she said. It was three hours till noon, when the cats would sleep again.
“I want to be far enough away from Gelmien before the sun is high.â€

Austin knew that Gelmien would probably not be looking for them, but he understood Rulain’s caution. He and Roger followed her back to the little footpath where they’d stayed the night. There they rejoined the others and the troupe began to move southwest toward Capgaw Mound.

When the sun was at its zenith, the cats had emerged from the wood and walked along its bushy outskirts until they reached a steep slope which lead down into a wide gully formed partly by humans and partly by water runoff. There, on the grassy slope side, they lay down and slept as the winter sun bathed them in welcome warmth. Austin knew that the heat of the afternoon would give way to cold winter winds once dark fell, and he reveled in the heat as he dozed, finding what comfort he could on the uneven ground.

Roger’s ankles hurt from walking. It seemed that the ground never flattened on this side of the wood; it arched down in a barely perceptible gradation leading all the way down to the back wall of a massive human structure and, beyond that, to the runoff gulley.

Stretching his tired paws, Roger looked out over the vast stretch of what Aichel called thethra, manstone. There were buildings built upon the thethra, and human devices came and went endlessly over it. There was another parking lot in the distance -a much larger one than the one outside what had been Roger's abode; and there, directly ahead a mere 100 yards away, lay Capgaw Mound.

Meldaiguman had suggested that they wait until nightfall to approach the Mound so as not to risk being seen crossing the thethra in broad daylight. Although Roger and Austin had never heard such stories, it was well-known to all the parking lot cats that humans sometimes came and took their kind away. Nobody knew what happened to them then.

“Some come back,†Nemelix had explained, “but they always come back shian.â€

After this, there had been utter silence. Austin and Roger were both shian cats. The word, meaning “ruined,†was applied to cats that could no longer breed. There was no outward disdain or social discrimination against a shian cat, but they could and did easily become pariahs within their territorial communities.

Roger rolled these events over in his mind as he relaxed on the grass. He did not understand the idea of a pariah, and probably never would. Shian or not, Roger was a headstrong and pompous cat –always first to explore things alien, always pressing for control and dominance. Of all the cats there, only Nemelix would openly contend with Roger’s bullying. Even Austin would back down. But, in his heart, Roger felt strongly for all of these cats, and he craved their respect and attention. Thus his self-serving drives were kept in check by the need to be accepted within his communal cell.

This is very often the way with cats that have lived much of their lives with humans. Once thrust into the open, they will form strong bonds with other cats much quicker than a wholly feral cat would. All of the parking lot cats had lived with humans at the dawn of their lives. Rulain, Nemelix, and Aichel were all born in the same home to the same Caretakers. Meldaiguman had been born there, too –his father was Rahelm, brother of Rulain; but Meldaiguman had run away at a very young age. One day, Rulain and her son and daughter were forced out on their own. Rahelm and his brood, along with four of Rulain’s kittens, were taken away. They never saw their Caretakers again, but they rejoined Meldaiguman and came up from the south to start a new life.
And now, they were moving again, following Meldaiguman further into the north.
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

As they lay on the grass with night coming, Meldaiguman turned to Austin.

“Do you know the story of the Raithelm?†He asked. Austin had heard many of the old stories growing up with his mother, but he’d been adopted at a young age. He’d not heard all of the mythology about Ailurian culture.

“I don’t,†Austin replied.

“They are thralls of Ma-Ou, agents of His divine will. They have the forms of humans, but their beauty far surpasses that of any theth.â€
Austin did not reply. He remembered the apparition from the night before, but he chose not to mention it. He wanted to see where Meldaiguman was going with this.
“They are known no only as myth, but they are real. There are some who speak to them.â€
“Who speaks to them?†Austin asked.
“I have seen them, and so have you. What did they say to you?â€
“I saw a figure in a dream. She spoke of dai dundellu.â€
“Prescience,†Meldaiguman, his eyes wide with wonder, “A magnificent blessing.†He spoke as if he were thinking out loud.
“You also speak to the Raithelm,†Austin said, “I saw you that night in the wood.â€
“I speak to them, but they have never replied. I see their visions in my mind’s eye, but they remain mute to me. I am geltheth. I am a tool for them as they are a tool for Ma-Ou –a means to an end.â€
“You seem bitter.â€
“Never! They came to me I am needed.â€
Once again, Meldaiguman seemed lost. His thoughts were with Austin, but he gazed outward at the purple curtain of nightfall. Soon, the cats would be going again.
“Geltheth have no wills of their own,†Austin said, “They are chosen for their capacity to complete a task.â€
This phrase was from an old Ailurian religious rite. The word geltheth, “hunting man,†referred to a human hunting device. The word literally meant “trap.â€

Meldaiguman suppressed a shudder at the context of the word.

“In the wood, I heard you saying words in your sleep. I did not recognize the language.â€

“Many things have been forgotten since the dawn of man,†Meldaiguman replied, “I am a dream speaker. In my sleep, I talk a language that theth and Ailuri once shared, a common tongue. It is long dead, and I speak through movement of will far beyond my own. I know that I speak, but I do not know what I say.â€

At that, the two cats fell silent until the sun sank blood-red below the horizon. The cats kept low to the ground as they ran toward Capgaw Mound. Once they had gone through the gulley and across the thethra to the mound’s edge, a light snow began to fall. The cats paused to stare up into the sky, sniffing. Roger, who’d never seen snow, meowed in befuddlement, his eyes wide. All throughout kittenhood, Roger had possessed an inordinately mature and expressive vocalization. His basso mew rose up out of him in the snowy darkness.

“We’ll need to find shelter,†Aichel said. She and Nemelix were shivering.

Already, the snow was beginning to stick. White flecks dotted Aichel’s mottled black and gold coat. She and her brother had grown thick-furred and fat for the winter, but the chill of the early night had taken even the hardiest cats in the past.

“We need to search the mound for gilchai holes. There was a warren here once. It’ll be cramped, but we’ll be kept dry.â€

The cats slipped into the dense brush which covered the entire mound, sniffing along the ground for traces of gilchai.

Capgaw mound was a massive hump of earth which was overgrown with many different varieties of weeds and grasses which would flower in the summer. Plastic bags, beer bottles, and all sorts of human refuse littered the outer edge of the Mound. Leafless, skeletal trees shot up all around the Mound and on a little ways toward the center. Scrubby bushes and reedy, brown grass grew waist height to a human, and there were places where the grass had been inexplicable flattened. It was near one of these flattened places, beneath one of the many red-skinned, cotton blossomed pricker bushes, that Austin stumbled upon the entrance to an abandoned gilchai warren.
The warren was only big enough for ten gilchai at the most, but it was warm and dry, dug deep into sandy earth and well bolstered by the tangled roots of the plant life above. Unwilling to scour the mound for the warren’s other entrances, the cats chose instead to slide down the hole Austin had discovered. From that entrance, it was a difficult and dirty crawl down into a central chamber that barely contained all six cats comfortably. There would be no hunting this night. The cats curled up and slept, hungry and crowded, but warm, while the snow fell thick on the ground above.

NEXT: Part Three: CAPGAW
Adugu (Silvertongue)--> Nemelix-->
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Roger dreamed of home. He saw the parking lot from the bedroom window, he rattled the bead curtain in the kitchen, and he rolled in luxury on the new, white rug.
He slept fitfully, waking often with someone’s leg stretched over his back or a paw in his face. He ached with longing for warmth and comfort. He had only eaten once that day, and the pangs of hunger added to his misery. He didn’t take kindly to sleeping underground. Restless, Roger crawled out of the hole just before dawn. He had conveniently placed himself just in front of the exit, so no cats were disturbed as he crept out into the pre-dawn gloom.
As he emerged, Roger saw that the snow had stopped falling. It was nearly knee deep on the ground, and he shook his feet to warm them as he stalked off to squat beside a cluster of wild wheat. As he walked back toward the warren’s entrance, he stopped to look at the moonlight’s silver sheen on the blanket of snow. Here and there, an ice crystal’s gleam winked, miming the stars which, now, were fading gradually away as the sun came up. Soon, only the Morningstar burned bright and strong in that distant firmament, an ancient lamp lit by gods who were long forgotten.\t

Casting his gaze over the bushy landscape, Roger saw that Meldaiguman was sitting in the snow a few yards away from the warren entrance. His back was to Roger, and he did not seem to have noticed that Roger had come out of the gilchai hole.
“I’ll not stay another night in that awful pit,†Roger said.
Meldaiguman turned to face him, his eyes lighting up as if he’d just been wrenched from engrossing thought.
“The snow won’t last,†he replied, “We’ll sleep in the open tomorrow.â€
After a silence, Roger asked, “How did you get up here without disturbing the rest of them?â€
Meldaiguman just shrugged.
Roger began to wander off. He scanned the ground to find something that would fill his stomach enough to satiate the incessant cramps of hunger.
“In the beginning, there was only The Ice,†Meldaiguman said, “Ma-Ou caused The Ice to recede and gave the gift of green land to us, his children.â€
“That’s an old story,†Roger replied. He pawed at a leaf. There was a hole underneath where something had burrowed and was probably sleeping.
“I don’t think we can look for such an overt display now,†Meldaiguman mused, “The sun and the warm wind will melt the snow. The soil will be warm again, though not through any miracle for our benefit.â€

“What were you out here thinking about before I showed up?†Roger asked, “Gods and Ice? Things are the way they are. The snow melts and the grass grows back. What miracles are you waiting for?â€
Meldaiguman shook his head. Roger, a dead animal in his teeth, strutted proudly toward the warren’s entrance. He plopped the thing down in the snow and lowered his head to feed.
“Living among Caretakers, the Ailuri gradually forgot the ways of Ma-Ou’s World. Perhaps the simpler and more trusting attitude of the Caretaker’s cat is what Ma-Ou meant for his children all along.â€
“What do you mean?†Roger asked, chewing.
Meldaiguman’s eyes glazed over. He was staring into space.
“We can live out in the world,†he said, “and wait for good fortune –a miracle- when hardships befall us. Or, we can live in the care of theth and want for nothing, understanding only that ‘things are the way they are.’ Food will come, The Caretakers will provide, no miracles are hoped for; the truth is accepted the way it is: Life is a cycle.â€
“Faith comes from knowledge,†Roger replied, swallowing the last of his fat-rich meal, “not from hope.â€
Meldaiguman’s eyes grew soft. He looked at Roger warmly.
“You are wise beyond your years, Relalai,†he said. With that he walked over to nuzzle Roger. Relalai, Roger thought, Stripe-coat. I like the sound of that.

post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
The rest of the morning, Roger curled up in the snow by the hole’s mouth and slept in comfort. It was cold at first, but the snow actually kept Roger quite well insulated against the whipping winter wind. The dead bushes, trees, and grasses were good windbreakers as well. Roger wondered why he hadn’t thought of this in the first place.
Just after dawn, the cats that’d remained in the cramped burrow all night came out to stretch and hunt. The pickings were slim, however, and Nemelix decided that a trash bin raid should be risked. Though they were weary from uncomfortable sleep and nervous at the thought of moving out in the open amidst the theth and their machines, everyone eventually agreed to follow Nemelix to the big green trash bin crouched on the side of the huge thethra structure which towered above the parking lot and dominated the landscape.
Only Roger followed without question, eager at the thought of a full belly.
The parking lot was busy with humans. Cars poured in steadily, and the cats decided that they should go down to the trash bin one at a time. Rulain went first, loping across the thethra and leaping lightly up into the open top. Austin waited a full minute before bolting down after her. His paws made tiny prints in the snow as he ran, showing the length of his powerful stride. Austin was the quite storm: calm and calculating, but hiding great destructive strength. His whiskers sprang white from his black face. His underside and feet were white, but his top coat was torpedo black with a thin finger of white creeping up between his eyes. Reaching the trash bin, Austin sailed effortless into it. Rulain remarked that he didn’t seem the least bit winded; his deft jump had caused him no visible physical strain.
The smell of decaying meat and flesh was thick and enticing as Austin rooted around in the heap of garbage. Rulain had found a bucket of fairly fresh chicken wings and thighs, and Austin sat down and helped himself to some, tearing the tough flesh with his teeth to get at the white meat inside.
Once all the cats had crossed the thethra and jumped into the trash bin to eat their fill, they lay down on the pile of refuse and rested. Noon was coming soon, and their gluttony had made them lethargic.

\t“What are we going to do now?†Aichel asked. She had arrived last and was just finishing the remains of a fish sandwich she’d found still wrapped in blue paper.

\t“We’ll soon leave,†Meldaiguman replied, “We travel northwest now.â€

\t“We need to wait for better weather,†Nemelix argued, “We can’t go on like this –wandering endlessly unsure of where or whether we’ll find the next meal. We should stay here until spring comes.â€

\t“Spring is a long way off,†said Meldaiguman.

\t“What’s in the northwest,†Aichel asked, “and why must we set out that way so soon?â€

\tMeldaiguman didn’t answer.

\tNemelix saw Meldaiguman’s thoughts written all over his scant-
furred face.

\t“You’ve dreamed this, haven’t you,†Nemelix said, his voice accusing, “We’ve been following you’re ridiculous visions this whole

\t“Is that true?†Rulain asked.

\t“I dreamed again last night,†Meldaiguman said, “I saw the northwest. I saw Gelmien and Adugu . . . and I saw Rendugil.â€

\t“You speak nonsense,†Nemelix said, “We all dream. We all see things while we sleep from time to time.â€

\t“These are visions, gifted me by the Raithelm.â€

\t“I won’t go any further at the whim of your sleeping fantasies,†Nemelix spat, “We should go back to the parking lot and win our territory back from those two toms.â€

\t“What did you see in the northwest?†Austin asked.
\tThere was silence in the trash bin. Meldaiguman looked at
Austin with something like gratitude.

\t“Eltinan,†he replied.
\t“Everyone knows the World Center is east of here,†Aichel said, “It’s in the rites.â€

\t“The Raithelm are in the rites, but you refuse to believe in them,†Meldaiguman said.

\t“That’s different,†replied Aichel.

\t“I, too, have seen these Raithelm,†Austin said. Wide eyes turned to stare, “They come to me while I sleep. They speak to me.â€

\t“And what do they say?†Roger asked.

\t“I must find Eltinan to understand Ma-Ou’s Great Purpose. They say The Ice receded from there first –that the first Ailuri were born there. I will not ask any of you to follow me.â€

\t“You’ve been charged with Pilgrimage!†Rulain said, amazed. Meldaiguman bit back anger. They laughed at his visions, but they took Austin’s words as divine truth. It didn’t seem fair, but he felt power in Austin and respected him. He knew Austin had some greater part in Ma-Ou’s purpose.

\t“Pilgrimage?†Austin said, cocking his head quizzically.

\t“In the old days, cats would pilgrimage to Eltinan. They went to walk with Ma-Ou, and to remember the dead at the foot of Rendugil, the Fifth Pillar.

\tThe Four Pillars stand at each corner of the world. The Fifth Pillar is Rendugil, the pillar of the sky. It is haunted, for the souls of the Ailuri dead are drawn there after tira, the departure.â€

\t“No cat has been called to Pilgrimage in countless nights,†Aichel said, “The last cat to do so is dead, along with eighteen generations of his kin.â€

\t“Even so, it is held in all our rites that Eltinan is far to
the east,†Nemelix said, “No cat ever walked northwest in Pilgrimage.â€

\t“Certainly some stories are remembered of Pilgrimages past,†Roger said.

\t“No,†replied Rulain, “The Pilgrimage is a deeply personal experience. Memory of it is only to be preserved in the heart and mind of the Pilgrim.â€

\tAt that moment, Austin felt a powerful weight on his heart. In Rulain’s words, he had been allowed to see beyond the façade of Ailurian faith. A hole had opened in these ancient beliefs, showing him mortal minds at work on immortal and reputedly supernatural truths. He saw Ma-Ou’s will mixed with –or adulterated by- the religious fabrications of mortal cats.

\t“Besides,†explained Meldaiguman, “Many Pilgrims never returned from Eltinan.â€

\t“How can you take any of this seriously?†asked Roger.
\t“Legends and rituals? You have seen the way, you have the truth before you. What does it matter which tradition is right or wrong?â€

\tThere was silence. Blasphemy was frowned upon among the Ailuri, but was seldom punished. To take revenge on a brother for such a simple thing as difference in opinion was not Ma-Ou’s way –that is the way of man.

\t“He’s right,†Rulain said, “Where Ma-Ou leads, we will follow.†Austin heard a hint of doubt in her speech. To some minds, there was nothing beyond adherence to the old rites; Austin knew Rulain would follow, whether she was asked to or not.

\t“We’ll leave when the snow melts,†Austin said. The snow had fallen thicker than Meldaiguman had predicted. While the dense brush had kept the snow cover thinner on Capgaw and in the wood, the snow on the open grass remained as thick as it had been the night before. Now, however, as the sun warmed it, the snow began to melt into slush. Where it was piled in drifts on the edges of the thethra, the snow was dirty and splotched with black.

\t“That may not be for many more nights,†Nemelix said.

\t“We can’t leave yet,†Aichel piped in, “I’ll have kittens ready to be born as the winter wanes. At Capgaw, at least they can be birthed in peace and safety.â€

\tThis news came as no shock; all the cats had noticed Aichel’s pink nipples standing out from beneath her fuzzy coat. As a shian cat, Austin’s maternal instincts were muted. The drive to mate and the thought of young cats was far from most shian cats’ minds. But Austin had fathered kittens, and he had taken care of them when other toms would have paid no heed. Now, he felt for Aichel and the lives she carried inside her.

\t“We will wait for the birth,†Austin said.

\tWith that, the discussion ended.

\tAs the day faded into a burnt-sky sunset, the cats left the trash bin and ran back to Capgaw. They refused to sleep in the cramped burrow for another night, so they stayed outside, snuggled into the insulating snow, and talked of Rendugil, the Raithelm, and the ever-uncertain future.

The ground had warmed during the day, and now some rodents were out of their holes and moving about in the underbrush. The cats, all but Meldaiguman, hunted and fed sparsely that evening before drifting off to sleep with the cold wind moaning sorrowfully through the leafless sapling branches.

coming soon: PLC 4: Spring, The Naming, Geltheth
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
Spring, The Naming, Geltheth

Within a week, the snow was gone. It melted into the earth or was pushed into high heaps by theth devices. Bitter cold gave way to wet weather and sleet. The cats hunted in the nearby wood or caught small animals which were tricked out of hibernation by mild days. The trash bin was a constant source of sustenance for the cats; and one day a bowl of dry cat food was discovered near the back door of the massive human building. Though they slept in the safety of Capgaw, the cats took often to clustering on the thethra where trucks came and went, waiting for the bowl to appear. From time to time, they saw the humans who left the food, but they never dared to enter the building –nor were they ever given the chance. As soon as the bowl was set down, the metal door would slam shut and leave the cats to take advantage of the easy meal unseen.

As the year waned and spring drew ever closer, life began to creep back into Capgaw Mound. Yellow blossoms opened, and the long grass began to grow supple and green again. Gradually, the killdeer returned, flying in from wintering grounds in Long Island and British Columbia. They began to nest in open patches on the Mound and just within the Mound’s perimeter, scraping shallow pits and lining them with grass or pebbles. They kept their distance from the cats, speaking loud and brash in their shrill, piping tongue. All night long, the cats could hear the birds chattering, “Kill-deah, kill-dee.†Though there were only a few of the handsome birds, their calls were incessant and seemed to come from countless individuals.

When the big crows began to nest in the wood, Aichel had her kittens. She gave birth down in the gilchai burrow, and Austin took an active role in protecting and hunting for the helpless, thin-furred young. He had always been unnaturally paternal, and Aichel welcomed his selfless efforts to make sure the newborn kittens remained safe from the keen eyes of the crows and the rumbling machines of humans.
There were four in the litter, and the kittens were born weak and small, more so than is usually considered normal. They had been malnourished in the womb, and Rulain took it upon herself to nurse the young when Aichel was too tired. This was a somber time. Though the kittens got the extra care and nourishment they needed, the smallest one among them never saw 12 days of age. The other three kittens were resilient and bounced back well from their complications in utero. There was one black cat with a tint of orange to its coat; the other two kittens were the color of dried wheat. There was no doubting that this was Gelmien’s litter, though all the cats knew that the bully tom would never know or care. He likely had offspring elsewhere.
At eight weeks, the kittens were up and walking on their own. They slowly began to wean, joining Aichel and the others on short hunting expeditions or crouching nervously on the thethra near the trash bin, awaiting the erstwhile food bowl. When they began to speak, their young tongues stumbling over simple Ailurian but still managing to produce recognizable sounds and sentences, Meldaiguman deemed that the time was right for the Naming.

And so, one warm night in the early spring, the cats gathered at the entrance to the gilchai warren in reverent silence. Killdeer calls rang out in the gloaming, and Meldaiguman took his place as leader of the rite. He knew the rituals better than anyone in the group.

The cats sat in a circle with the kittens in the center. Although they were usually energetic and difficult to keep still unless in deep sleep, the serious tone of this meeting held the three young cats wide-eyed and enthralled. They fidgeted very little as Meldaiguman entered the circle and approached them. His face was clean and his sparse fur was slicked back meticulously.

As he came to the first kitten, he spoke in a deep and powerful voice –a priest’s voice. The other cats had never heard such a sound emanate from this frail individual.

“You will be called Kolilia,†Meldaiguman said, “for the cries of the Capgaw birds.â€

At this, Kolilia gazed in big-eyed wonder at Meldaiguman. He did not know what to say, so he bowed his head low and held his tongue. Meldaiguman smiled –it was a good gesture.

The next kitten was female. She was strong and alert with striking blue eyes facing squarely frontward above her yellow nose. Her whiskers were short and straight like Gelmien’s, and her crouch was the coiled-spring crouch of the big tom.

“You are Gurlain, for the strength of your father.†Meldaiguman pronounced. Miming Kolilia, Gurlain bowed and closed her eyes.

Moving on, Meldaiguman came to the final kitten. This kitten’s black coat was medium length. Save for his color, he looked the most like Gelmien. Though he bore his father’s likeness, this kitten was not pushy or arrogant. In his manner, he greatly resembled Meldaiguman himself.

“You, we will call Kunsa,†Meldaiguman said, “After the trees which grew in our territory before Capgaw was our home. That territory now belongs to your father.â€

Kunsa stared at Meldaiguman; Kunsa’s yellow eyes seemed far away.

This one will be different, Meldaiguman thought to himself. A prophet sprung for Gelmien’s loins?

“What will you call our sister?†Kunsa asked, “She is gone, but she deserves a name.â€

“She is one with Ma-Ou,†Meldaiguman explained, “He alone knows her true name. She will never be nameless.â€

“She will to us,†Kunsa said. Such spirit! Thought Meldaiguman, he has some of Austin’s life in him.

The other cats sat stupefied. There was no ritual for this. The nameless departed fell under Ma-Ou’s care. They were not referred to, nor remembered. A dead kitten was considered unconceived.

“Your sister is Tiren,†Meldaiguman said finally, “For she has passed unto Rendugil.â€

Kunsa seemed satisfied with this. Meldaiguman sat back on his haunches. Now, it was time for the test. To earn the right to bear their names, each kitten had to go off alone and hunt. This part of the Rite had been performed as long as any Ailuri could remember.

Meldaiguman sent the kittens into the wood with orders to bring back as big a kill as they could manage. Austin wanted to follow secretly, escorting them, but Meldaiguman forbade it.

“They must go alone,†Meldaiguman said, “across the thethra and into the haunt of the gilnemang. Then we will see who is fit to bear the burdens of this world . . . and the burdens of the coming journey.â€

Austin was allowed to accompany the kittens to the north edge of the thethra just beyond the woodward side of the Mound, and then they ran off on their own, eager to earn their standing within the group and to prove themselves worthy to survive with their own strength –in their own eyes as much as in the eyes of the others.

Next: PLC 4 continued . . .

This Korat looks almost identical to Roger.
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
Falarin looked down from his lofty perch and saw the three kittens enter the wood. They split up, each taking its own path into the underbrush. Beside him, his sons Oroc and Orax were talking amongst themselves while Osslend, his mate of nearly four years, sat atop their newly laid clutch of eggs, her blue-gray eyes staring into the darkling sky. Falarin knew that Oroc and Orax would be leaving the nest soon. Oroc was two years old now; he had stayed to help raise his siblings, one of which was Orax, who would follow his brother out into the world, leaving the nest behind forever, after the next winter.

Turning his attention back to the three kittens, Falarin considered the prospect of killing them. He knew their fat-rich flesh and bone marrow would provide much-needed nourishment for himself and his family –especially Osslend. The rearing of a new brood of chicks would require all the energy she could manage to store during incubation. But they were much too big, and Falarin could see the predatory strength in them beneath the mask of playfulness; he knew no crow that would risk open battle with such quick and ruthless animals.

“Sons,†Falarin croaked, turning to Oroc and Orax, “there are Ailurian young in the wood.â€

Orax came to his father’s side and looked down at the kittens. They were each about three yards apart, easily within earshot of each other, though Orax knew that the kittens probably had no idea of their proximity to one another. They stalked and pounced, chasing small mammals through the brush with the crashing clumsiness of kittens their age.

“We should frighten them away . . . force them to leave,†Orax said, “We have Osslend and the eggs to protect.â€

“We should kill them while they are unprotected,†croaked Oroc,
perched now on a branch just below his father and brother.

“They are too big,†Orax contested. Oroc made a thrumming sound is his throat.

“Not quite,†he replied, “a fall from 15 feet up would crush their

“We will not fight,†Falarin said, “Ailuri are dangerous. They will eat our kind.â€

The old crow saw Oroc bite back bitter wrath. Oroc had always been impetuous and brash. It could be the death of him once he was out of Falarin’s care.

“What are they doing all alone?†Orax said. He was wary. As he spoke, he hopped about on his branch –a sign of nervousness.

“It is part of the naming ritual,†Falarin replied, “They hunt alone to earn their names.â€

After a silence, Oroc said, “That is foolish.â€

“But it could be worked to our advantage,†Falarin said.

“We’ll go then,†said Orax, “One to each animal. They’ll not trespass here again.â€

With that, the three crows flapped their great, glossy wings and sailed off to make one circling pass before diving.

Falarin was a beautiful crow. Perching, his profile was strong and regal. At five years old, he was nearly 19 inches long, large for his breed, with an impressive, two-foot wingspan. In flight, the unusual, dirty white undersides of his wings were visible. His father had been Steagil, a raven’s son; and his mother had been Kifala –“all white.†Oroc and Orax took after their father; they were both built sturdily and had keen eyes. But they had their mother’s quiet manner. They spoke little and softly, but the things they chose to say were to be taken very seriously.

The three crows circled now, fifty feet in the air, screaming alarm calls which rang for miles in the spring air. Falarin dove first, swooping through the tangles of branches and barely missing one of the yellow kittens. The kitten mewed loudly and bolted into a heap of brush, kicking up dirt as it disappeared.

As he dove, Oroc saw his father standing on the ground looking :censor::censor::censor::censor:-eyed at the dense bush. Oroc changed his tack in mid plunge and angled away from his target kitten; instead, he scooped up a branch the size of a corncob before soaring upward again to take aim from above. By this time, Oroc’s intended victim was cowering with its ears pressed back and its eyes slitted. Its head was tilted upward; its sensitive nose sniffed the air fearfully. It had heard its brother’s call and was now watching the sky for an imminent attack. Oroc knew the limits of feline vision, he knew he couldn’t be clearly seen at this height; he was also well aware that the kitten was panicked, and would bolt at the slightest sound or movement. Positioning himself above the quivering ball of fur, Oroc loosed the branch and watched it fall. Just before the branch hit, the yellow kitten leapt in a random direction. It was fast despite its youth, and Oroc marveled at its agility as the branch bounced in the dirt. But, the kitten was not fully clear; the bouncing branch clipped it on the forehead as it bolted, knocking the kitten on its side. Oroc chuckled to himself as he quickly descended to finish the job. He knew his father would chide him for daring to take on prey this large, but his family was in need of such a nourishing meal. Yesterday, he and Orax had flown twelve miles to find food because the trash bin’s top had been closed and padlocked.

Oroc landed and began to hop toward the dazed kitten. His beak was short, but he reasoned that a hard enough peck and a bite on the back of the neck could open a wound that would cause the kitten to bleed out in a matter of minutes.

Suddenly, Oroc jumped as an emphatic cawing rang out from somewhere in the underbrush. Suddenly, Orax exploded from a thorn bush and sailed into the air to perch high in the nest tree.

Falarin was cautiously poking his black beak into the bush where the yellow kitten had hidden when he heard Orax’s call. Soon after that, he heard Oroc cry out in shock and saw both his sons flee into the nest tree where Osslend was standing nervously, looking down on the action.

Then, from behind a fallen tree to Falarin’s left, the third kitten came striding. Falarin turned and stared at the approaching black kitten, failing to comprehend what was going on. The kitten’s manner was confident and authoritative. He glided toward Falarin on proud feet and with an intense and strangely adult glare.

Without a word, the black kitten stopped and closed its eyes. Falarin felt a pressure in his head, as if his skull were swelling. Then, terrible thoughts filled Falarin’s brain. Through his mind’s eye, Falarin saw flocks of crows dead in fallow fields. Men with guns were blasting Falarin’s kin from the sky and flaying them with curved knives. He saw his father’s long-ago death –poisoned and then nailed to a barn door with wings outstretched as a warning to the local roosting crows. It was a scene Falarin would never forget.
Filled with sheer horror, the big crow fled before he knew what he was doing. He perched beside his terrified sons on the edge of his bulky nest. Even here, in the highest boughs of this old shag-bark hickory, Falarin felt primal fear burning in the back of his brain. It was a full minute before he was able to speak or move again; he just sat and stared down at the black kitten, which was sniffing around for its companions in the leaf litter.

“That kitten,†Orax said. His voice trailed off. Falarin knew both his sons had seen the terrible visions as well.

“It is uklak,†Falarin said, speaking into space, “A cursed thing –born not of any natural womb. There hasn’t been a thing like it among the Ailuri for six-hundred years.â€

More to come!
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Slowly, Kunsa awakened. He found himself standing in the wood with Gurlain and Kolilia staring at him wide-eyed. He remembered nothing save the wicked and bone-chilling cries of the crows as they circled.

“You fought the gilnemang,†Gurlain said, “You protected us.â€

“You’ll be scolded when we return,†said Kolilia, “What you did was stupid and dangerous. They’ll peck your eyes out, you know. The gilnemang eat the dead.â€

Kunsa was silent. He didn’t know how to respond.

Finally, he muttered, “They were trying to frighten us, but I frightened them.â€

Kunsa’s siblings look at him quizzically.

“We should get back,†Gurlain urged, “Those gilnemang will come for us again; my forehead is cut, and they’ll be attracted by the blood.â€

With that, the kittens left the wood. They stayed close together and Kolilia and Gurlain kept looking back over their shoulders. Kunsa ran with his eyes facing forward. He was a steam-roller, a missile with a singular purpose. Some truth impressed itself upon him –something dark and strange. He could not see what it was, but it moved him. It was all Kolilia and Gurlain could do to keep up as Kunsa rocketed blindly forward.

Approaching Capgaw Mound, the kittens saw a strange device set up in the brush. Their mother was standing with the rest of the cats, looking up at the spindly, black thing.

The device was obviously human. It had three stilt-legs and a short tube perched on top. This was the nameless thing which had pushed Kunsa so quickly out of the wood. This thing brought fear with it . . . and change. Kunsa wondered if Meldaiguman sensed this as well.

“Stay down, kittens,†Aichel said as the three stopped next to her, “This is a theth thing.â€

“There were theth here, but they’ve gone,†Roger said.

“They’ll be back,†Nemelix replied.â€

“They are watching us,†Meldaiguman said. He alone was not staring up at the theth thing; he spoke directly to the kittens, “They will find us.â€

“You need to get down in the gilchai hole,†Austin said to the kittens, “Don’t move until we come for you.â€

The kittens agreed. They fled down the hole and huddled together, tiny faces pointed toward the dark opening.

“They won’t come back tonight,†Austin said, “it’s too dark. Whatever they’re doing, they need more light than this to do it.â€

“What will we do?†Roger asked, “We can’t let them find us here.â€
“They didn’t look at us once while they were here,†Austin said, “We’ll be safe if we keep hidden.â€

“They’ll be back!†Aichel whispered a shout, “The Mound isn’t safe any longer.â€

“We’ll be safe,†Austin said, “We have the Mound to protect us. The bush and the grass are our allies.â€

“We’ll be safe while the theth are here with their three legged devices,†Meldaiguman said, “but these devices are harbingers –forerunners of some trap to be sprung.â€

For a while, there was silence. Meldaiguman’s words were chilling. He spoke of Geltheth, the trap of man –dangerous tool of Ma-Ou. None of the cats except for Austin wanted to stay on the Mound any longer.

“My young are now strong,†Aichel said, “we could leave tonight for the northwest. We should flee.â€

“They didn’t bring anything back from the wood,†Roger said, “The [i]gilnemang chased them away.â€

“Kunsa’s valor saved them,†Meldaiguman said, “There is a story there.â€

“So why are we waiting here to be found and carried off?†Nemelix asked, “At least the gilnemang have honor enough to kill you where they best you; theth will spirit you away to parts unknown and torture you.â€

“We’ll wait,†Austin replied, “This is meant to be. All of this is meant to be.â€

At that, silence returned. The cats slept hidden that night –all save Aichel and Austin, who slept outside the gilchai hole.

Next, PLC:5 Meldaiguman
post #10 of 11
OMG!!!! Great minds think alike!!

I draw furry art (mostly cats) .. characters who come from a planet called "Ailuria"..and who speak "Ailurian"

Sherice.. the Ailurophile
Lover of Cats!
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 

And so it went for three long weeks. Every morning, the theth returned and the cats remained hidden, creeping out only to risk a run to the trash bin or to the door where the bowl of food now sometimes failed to appear. The kittens never went to hunt without escort, and their story of the gilnemang attack made the wood off-limits for all the cats. The atmosphere on the Mound became one of fear and worry. Even Austin began to doubt his decision to stay. It seemed as if the theth would never leave.

Then, finally, the theth stopped coming. They took their devices away one night, and the next morning seemed like the most wonderful morning the cats had ever known. Roger romped with Gurlain and Kolilia, Austin and Meldaiguman hunted freely in the long grass on the Mound, and Rulain relaxed with Aichel and Nemelix in the very spot where the theth device had stood the day before. Only Kunsa seemed wary.

When noon came, all the cats napped in the heat except for Roger. Roger was feeling energetic, and he decided to risk a run to the wood for a bite to eat. The kittens’ stories of the gilnemang were terrifying, but Roger also found them incredibly interesting. He wanted to see the crows himself, cawing and circling on their long, black wings.

As he got up to leave, Kunsa approached him.

“Where are you going?†Kunsa asked.

“The wood,†Roger replied, “to hunt.â€

“Why aren’t you asleep? Everyone else is.â€

“I’m hungry.â€

“So am I. I’ll come with you. The gilnemang fear me.â€

“You would escort me?†Roger’s tone was haughty. When Kunsa said nothing Roger sighed.

“Alright,†Roger said, “But we’ll stay on the outskirts.â€

Then, Roger took off across the thethra with Kunsa close behind. Kunsa was amazingly fast. He pulled ahead of Roger with seemingly no effort. Roger saw the muscles of an adult cat pulsing beneath Kunsa’s young flesh. It was unnerving. It was then that Roger began to realize that Kunsa was truly unique. His movements, like his speech of late, were fluid and mature; he seemed to have been born full-grown.

Roger and Kunsa ran up the gravel-bottomed gully and past the long fence on the east side of the great theth building. Behind the fence, plants and trees grew. Chairs and tables were stacked in that enclosure; and, just around the corner, the trash bin rested against the back of the building. Soon, the two cats came to the edge of the wood. There, Roger stopped Kunsa from going any further.

“This is as far as we go,†Roger said, “Or the gilnemang will be alerted.â€

Already, Roger thought could make out three huge, black birds circling low. They glided on wide wings which seldom flapped. One of the birds, the biggest, had dirty white flight feathers.
Looking over at Kunsa, Roger noted that the black kitten hadn’t even looked up to see the crows flying. Kunsa seemed intent on something just beyond the border of the wood.

“We’ll hunt out here,†Roger said, “It’s safer.â€
Suddenly, a voice rose out of the brush, a pained and lisping sound that was unintelligible –but definitely Ailurian. Without a word, Roger and Kunsa ran into the bushes to find the source of the sound.
About a quarter of the way into the gilnemang’s wood, Roger and Kunsa came upon a cat lying sprawled in the dirt. His coat was mottled black and white, his lower lip was scarred from a recent injury, and there was a nasty gash on his neck that was bleeding profusely. Already, the cat had the stench of death.

It was Adugu.
more to come
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