I woke up early for once, and immediately, in that moment when you just wake up, and every problem you have is gone, I thought, 'Great, my day off and I wake up before any other cat.' But of course, it lasts only a moment, and it comes rushing into your mind.
'I have to choose today.'
That made me stop. What would I choose? If I chose Tracking, what if later on I got bored with it? It didn't involve protecting anything or feeding any one, what if I felt useless? If I chose Fighting, I might get hurt, or what if I killed a cat, that would be really depressing. If I chose Hunting, then I would probably be overworked to death, and the Hunters are very bitter.
I carefully stepped over Flamepaw, who was sprawled out, and jumped over Snowpaw who was running in her sleep, her paws twitching, and I exited the den.
I hadn't been right, but I hadn't been wrong either, the only cat awake was Vinetail, her long tail whipped the air agitatedly as she paced, she turned and almost ran into me, her eyes blazed for a second, until she recognized me.
"Ah, Luckpaw, today is Choosing Day, no?" She inquired, her head tilted, I nodded. "Wonderful, that means you are free to do me a tiny favor, really, it's nothing, I just need you to collect cat mint, it grows in gardens of the No fur dens, it smells really good, but don't waste it, now it would be best to get it soon, if you don't, it could go awry, the bell-necks are really territorial about that kind of stuff, so you should hurry." She smiled as I nodded. I then padded out of camp, glad to be useful, and I raced the rest of the way.
I started at the far side of the No fur den rows. Inside there was nothing, not even grass, I padded along the fences, the next yard would have been promising, if there hadn't been a medium sized dog laying in the center, the next yard was even more promising, and I hopped inside, and inspected the garden, I had been introduced to cat mint before, Icepaw had shown me some, and I remembered what it felt like, what it looked like, and what it smelled like.
I sniffed the garden, and I found some, it was only one or two leaves, so I moved to the next garden, and the next, every other garden having one, and rarely were they empty, but every now and then I found some, and when I was done, I had a mouthful of the nice smelling leaves, I was about to leave when a voice called out.
"Lucky?" Curly's mew sounded, confused, and thick with disbelief. I stopped in my tracks, my tail lowered until it brushed the ground, and my ears stood straight and angled towards his voice. I waited to see what I should do, I could just disappear into the brush, and act like it never happened, or I could ease his mind, and some of my own, put the cat mint down for a couple moments, and speak with him.
I chose the second option.
I carefully placed the leaves at my feet, and turned around making sure the leaves were still at my feet, I faced him. He was standing on the fence, his head bobbed once, as if to make sure it was me, and then jumped down, but instead of greeting me friendlily, he took a single cautious step and stretched his neck forward, peering closely at me.
"Is it really you Lucky, you don't look at all like yourself." He tilted his head to the side.
"Yeah, it's me. It's really nice to see you, it's been a while." I mewed, looking at my paws.
"Yeah, it has been, we, I mean, Bobby, thought he saw you the other day, but we couldn't tell for sure."
"Yeah, I, uh, I was hunting, and I saw you, both of you too."
"What have you been doing?" He asked his eyes curious."
"I've been learning how to live like a Tribe Cat, I've learned how to Track, and Fight, and Hunt, today I get to choose which one I would like to do for the rest of my life."
He nodded thoughtfully.
"I wish I could see it." He said wistfully. "But, what brings you here?" his forehead furrowed deeply and he tilted his head.
"I'm, collecting cat mint, for the medicine cat, we need it for coughs and colds, I think."
"I guess you guys don't have a vet… it's really nice seeing you though, you probably have to go now, with your Tribe, if you're ever in the neighborhood, come visit." He shrugged, I nodded, picked up the leaves and left, when the bushes swallowed me whole, I looked back to see him let his head down and sigh before jumping onto his fence, and disappearing over the edge.
I stopped, but nodded to myself and raced back to camp.
I gave the leaves to Vinetail, but I still had plenty of time left before the ceremony, so I quickly excused myself and went back into the forest.
My paws begged me to walk back to the No fur dens, and greet my old friends, but I knew I couldn't do that.
I walked for a while until I came upon a river. I looked at it, and jumped when I saw that it had little fish in it. I looked at them, and watched them swim around, and then I focused on the calm surface of the water, my reflection stared back at me. Before I had seen my reflection in small rain puddles, my fur had been long and luxurious with a clean sheen to it, my face had been round, and my build had been thin, sometimes but not too thin, more of a moderate weight. Now my face was sharper, and my violet eyes had a wildness about them, though they were not wide, or frightened, it was just buried beneath the surface, my fur was still long, but it looked more, lived in, it wasn't too shiny or perfect, but more of a clean but not too clean look, and my weight was thin, but with a wiry strength to it.
"A very pretty face to admire isn't it?" a cream she-cat with golden eyes mewed.
"Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-
"Don't worry, you stole no fish, as if it would matter, if you managed to catch one, we still have plenty. I'm Dryfoot, Drip Tribe's Deputy, and you're Luckpaw, have you decided your path yet?"
"No, uh, that's today." I shuffled my paws.
"Hmm, well, don't worry dear, just follow your heart, I can sense it's a very sensitive topic, as she asks the question, clear your mind, and the first path that comes to your mind, say it." She smiled and gently reached over and placed her paw on the surface of the water, the ripples waved and made my reflection shatter. "Who are you, Luckpaw?" She asked, but instead of waiting for an answer, she left.
By then, it was time for the ceremony. I raced back to camp the cats were gathering, I quickly groomed my fur straight and sat down near the tree.
"Ah, Luckpaw, please stand under my branch, you have been thinking of your Path all day, please, now, before all our Tribe mates and Ancestors," she paused and looked up at the stars, "and tell us which Path lies in your future." She yowled, and looked down at me.
I sat up straight, and nodded, taking in a deep breath, "Lilyspirit, I'm ready. I choose-
"Attack!!" a loud yowl interrupted me, and the clearing was filled with sleek, fast moving cats, and the cats around me exploded into a fierce battle.