The Shift

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The Shift

A fanfiction by SilverWings

Chapter 9

Tealfeather awoke with her throat on fire. Not literally, but she had seen fire once from a distance - a sweeping wave of orange tendrils turning the landscape to blackened ash - and imagined that it would feel something like this. It had been two days since she'd last drunk anything. It was early in the morning, still dark, and an earsplitting wall was tearing through the camp. Teal opened her eyes and saw a desperate Scarletfeather attempting to hush Indigofeather, who was making a high-pitched keening cry. Amberfeather walked over with Orangefeather limping behind her. "Here." Tealfeather heard her say as she handed Scarlet a leaf with a pitiful splattering of water droplets on it. "Water and narcoberries. She'll be asleep in no time. But... this will be the last time. I've run out if berries *and* water."

Somehow, Bronzefeather had slept through the commotion, and was soundly dozing in an uncomfortable position. Cuts and scabs riddled his pale, pale green skin. Over at his nest, Bloodfeather was watching Indigofeather with a disapproving expression on his face. Not sad, or tired, but disapproving. Teal felt a sudden stab of anger. It was no secret that the clan leader was indulging himself with the limited water and food they had. *How dare he!* Scarletfeather's hatchlings were dying. Silverfeather had already seemingly given up, curled in a trembling ball. The elders were dying. Teal spotted a dangerously thin Limefeather trying to strike up a conversation with another elder. It had been five days since Teal had bought back any prey. It seemed... smarter than the dodos and lystro that were the main source of food back home. *Home.* Oh, how Teal wished she was home. She suddenly felt a wave of tiredness wash over her, and rested her head on her talons.

Tealfeather dreamed. She dreamed of Star, the raptor always in the back of her thoughts. Star, the raptor Bloodfeather had killed in cold blood. She didn't miss him exactly, after all, she didn't know him. But he likely had family and friends and people who would care that he was gone. Teal saw the jaws clamp down on his neck as she had so many times before; in her dreams, and also in the waking world. There was nothing she could do, she already knew that. Without a word, Tealfeather turned away from the scene and let out a sigh, weighed down by the grief for the raptor she hadn't know and could tell no-one about.

A blood-curdling cry split the peacefulness of the silent sunrise. Tealfeather looked up in alarm and saw Tawnyfeather crouched over the sleeping figure of Goldfeather, her mother and Greyfeather's grandmother. "Mom!" She cried, pain and grief clear in her voice.

Tealfeather looked closer. She had felt that something was different, and realised with a stab of sadness that the uneven breathing of the elder had progressed to stillness. Goldfeather was dead.

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