October 17, 2021, 12:51:41 am

Author Topic: Fern Springs Up! A sorta-essay about Slash's spy [Spoilers for AFD/DotC No. 5]  (Read 1876 times)

Offline Ivypool

Despite the warning above, I'll continue to give spoiler headings, just in case. Also going to note here that these quotations all lack page numbers because I am using a page numberless version of the book with me at the moment. At some point later on, I'll update with page numbers.


Anyways, when I had found out that
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I was deeply upset. Most of my favorite characters had died at that point in time, and with this character dead, I was left with few characters to be interesting in. A Forest Divided, the newest Dawn of the Clans book, introduces new antagonist Slash - as well as his spy, Fern, who later on
(click to show/hide)

Now, I quickly grew to like Fern. Her story seems very relatable, with her being shittily by Slash and all. Even better, she's most likely going to have an important role in Path of Stars, given her connections with Slash. But why do I like her so much? As in, what scenes made me have my opinion become positive on this character? Let's delve into the very scenes where she appears in to get a closer look.


1) Chapter 4 - The Order

2) Chapter 6 - The Spy

3) Chapter 7 - Confrontation and Decision

4) Chapter 16 - Assumed Success? Or False Hope?

5) Chapter 17 - Acceptance

6) Chapter 20 - Sneaky Kits, Trix are for Kids!!

1) Chapter 4 - The Order
Fern's first appearance in the book is a bit early on in the story.

So, the groups have split up, and Gray Wing is looking for scents. He recognizes those from River's group, Clear Sky's group, and most importantly, a foreign scent. Out of curiosity, Gray Wing decides to follow the trail. He ends up finding two rogues, and although he doesn't want to face them, he does it to quench his thirst for knowledge and out of his concern for Wind Runner's kits.

We then get the beginning of a long exchange:

“I don’t have time.” There was a snarl in the tom’s voice.

An anxious mew answered it. “But I don’t want to go by myself.”

A shriek of pain sliced through the heather. Gray Wing froze.

“You’re not a kit anymore!” the first voice snapped.

Since he wants to get a better look at this ruckus, Gray Wing gets a bit closer. The two cats, however, seem to somewhat get the feeling that something's approaching them.

Now, right here, even though it's only the beginning, doesn't give off good signs. It's shown here that Slash has no concerns for Fern's comfort or safety whatsoever, preferring to carry on with his own plans. What a watermelon.

“What’s that?” He heard the stiff mew of one of the cats and froze.

“Probably a pheasant or a rabbit.”

“Prey?” Excitement edged the she-cat’s hiss.

“We’ll eat later,” snapped the tom. “You need to follow those cats.”

This also shows that Slash doesn't care about Fern's health, either; he's selfish in achieving his goals, only caring about himself rather than the wellbeing of others. If he even did care, he would let her eat instead of spying, no?

Intrigued, Gray Wing can make out the two cats; a scarred brown tabby tom with slashes of white on his legs, and the other. The one who we will focus on today, Fern: a scarred black she-cat with nicked ear tips, crisscrossing scars, and has a short, square-ended tail. Gray Wing happens to mention that it seemed as if she had lost it in an accident. The poor thing, if that is the case. We all know what happened with Berrynose in Sunset; experiencing Fern's pain wouldn't be a fun time, not at all.

Gray Wing wonders how she balances with half of a tail, and makes note that she has taut muscles and appears young. Oh, dear, like that's going to make things better for me. Slash is described as old, and Fern is young. Nope, not pleasant at all.

We then get more of that discourse:

The tabby went on. “I want you to follow them. Find out where they settle. I knew they’d leave this barren piece of land eventually. I need to know where they make camp, where they hunt, their habits, their weaknesses, everything!”

“But why, Slash?” The black cat’s mew quavered.

“Don’t be such a mouse-brain, Fern!” The tabby lashed out with a paw and caught her across the ear. Fern ducked away, a low whine in her throat.

“Just do as I tell you!” Slash hissed. “Watch and wait and report back to me.”

“Why can’t you come with me?”

Gray Wing wondered why Fern wasn’t happy to be away from her vicious companion.

To sum it up: Slash, fed up with Fern, tries to hit her in order to get her to listen to him. Jeeze, that's definitely not reminding me of an abusive relationship!! Also, I gotta agree with Gray Wing here: Fern is getting belittled by this cat, yet she's not complaining? The poor thing.

On with some more conversation:

“I’ve got other fish to catch.” There was menace in Slash’s tone. “Don’t let me down, Fern. Star Flower betrayed me, and she’s lucky I let her live. I won’t be so soft with you.”

“I won’t let you down,” Fern promised quickly, pressing her belly to the ground like a frightened kit.

“And don’t let them see you!” Slash showed his teeth. “When the time comes, I want to see the surprise on their soft, kitty-loving faces for myself.”

“I’ll be like a shadow,” Fern mewed.

“You’d better be, or you know what I’ll do to you.”

Gray Wing saw Fern tremble as terror shone in her gaze. “I—I know, Slash.”

“Good.” Slash straightened, then stalked away across the grass.

Fern watched him leave, the terror in her eyes hardening to hate.

Despite treating her like crap, Slash still expects Fern to be reliable, and do her job. She agrees to, although it's clear she's terrified of Slash. Slash's line of "You’d better be, or you know what I’ll do to you." makes matters even worse: What is Slash implying her? Is he planning to kill her - which I wouldn't be surprised at, or is he planning to do even more inhuman things to her?

It's somewhat obvious that Fern hates Slash, too, with that last line in that selection. It seems like she doesn't want to be working for Slash, but puts up with his treatment, anyway. Now, I am interested in knowing more Fern's backstory [more on that, later] and learning why she decided to tag along with Slash.

Then, with this one last quotation for this chapter, we get Gray Wing's thoughts on the whole scene:

Gray Wing’s tail-tip twitched uneasily. These rogues were going to be trouble, and yet their alliance was based on fear. That is their weakness. [...] How long had Slash been roaming their territory? He talked as though he’d been watching the cats for a while. And he knew Star Flower. He must have known her father, One Eye. Gray Wing’s paws pricked. These rogues were like poisonous weeds. One Eye had been killed, but Slash had grown in his place. Frustration flashed beneath Gray Wing’s pelt. Will we never find peace?

Gray Wing figures out that the rogues are relying on fear based loyalty. No doubt about it. Which makes it more disturbing in Fern's case. She's afraid of her boss, is scolded physically, is denied of her comfort and wellbeing, and doesn't want to do her job. Hmm, what does this remind me of...? Can you guess?

Also, not gonna lie, Gray Wing, but since you're in Warrior Cats, you'll never find peace, ahahaha!

Gray Wing then leaves after witnessing the scene, trying to catch up without crashing into Fern. A good idea, considering that you witnessed her getting treated like garbage by her boss. I don't think she'd like to see a mountain cat come in her way all of a sudden, after that. Throughout the chapter he keeps on thinking about what Slash told Fern, and wonders if she was already at her destination.

He considers warning the group about Fern and Slash... only to decide against it. His reason? He didn't want to 'spoil the moment'. Oh, Gray Wing, you fool. You'll pay for this in the later chapters, for sure.

He does, however, consider talking to Fern, and believes that she's not a bad cat; rather, she's just scared of Slash. Not going to lie, I agree with this sentiment. The line explaining that she looks bitter after the conversation only makes it blatantly obvious that this was something she necessarily didn't want to do.

From this one chapter alone, we get to learn a lot about Fern. We learn that she's rather passive, is terrified of Slash, is denied food unless she completes her jobs, does not have her comfort level respected, and in general, seems to be taken advantage of. I'm pretty sure some people can relate to Fern's situation, one where the abuser denies their victim any rights whatsoever. The fact that Slash was going physical on Fern only seems to prove my point further; Slash is abusive, and does not care about his cats as people. He only sees them as pawns. And with that in mind, I can only do nothing but pray for Fern.

(the other chapters will be in the posts below)

Offline Ivypool

chapters 6 and 7, two in one
« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2015, 07:52:32 pm »
2) Chapter 6 - The Spy
Throughout the chapter, prior to the actual event, Gray Wing contemplates on telling the others, and even considers that Fern had not followed orders, and decided to escape Slash, running 'far away from here'. Not gonna lie, but considering what happens later, I so wish she did.

Then, while Gray Wing's arguing with Tall Shadow, he notices Fern's nearby. Wanting to prove himself to the others, he goes after her. Interesting to point out that he calls her 'mouse-hearted', and, well... that's not wrong. She is somewhat cowardly, as she doesn't seem to be completely loyal to any cat, really. The events continue on in the next chapter.

3) Chapter 7 - Confrontation and Decision
Gray Wing begins his wild goose chase in bringing down Fern. I like how when she's about to cross the Thunderpath, Gray Wing's concerned that she might get hit by a monster. Aww, that's kind of cute.

After he crosses the Thunderpath, Gray Wing finds out that Fern's hiding where she and Slash were talking. He wonders if Slash would meet her there, and to be honest that's not too off of a guess. I mean, she was told to spy on the groups to gain intel - she's just doing her job, even if it's one she doesn't want to do. A bit more stalking and he ends up finding Fern near a quarry, which happens to have none of Slash's scent on it. It appears as if she's about to hunt.

And of course, Gray Wing gets the wise idea to talk to her. While she's doing that. Good job, mate. /sarcasm


The black rogue spun with a hiss. Fear flashed in her eyes and she reared, unsheathing her claws.

“I’m not here to fight.” Gray Wing stopped a tail-length away. He could smell her fear-scent.

“What do you want?” Fern eyed him warily.

“Don’t you recognize me?” Gray Wing circled her, giving her a wide berth. Fern dropped onto all fours and turned, keeping her gaze fixed on him. “Why should I?”

Fern's obviously afraid of Gray Wing, which is understandable, given that he's a cat she hasn't seen before. Also possible that she doesn't want to be attacked by another cat, not after Slash's attempt three chapters ago.

“You’ve been spying on us for the past half-moon,” Gray Wing told her.

Fern’s eyes widened with horror. “You’re one of the cats from the forest!”

Gray Wing rolled his eyes. She wasn’t much of a spy. “Haven’t you even learned our scent yet?”

The fur lifted along Fern’s spine. “All I can smell in that place is sap and stagnant water.”

Even though she's spying on them, from this discourse we learn that she's not... exactly... great at it. Perhaps she's doing such a lousy job because of the fact that she's unwilling to? It's easy to see, if that's the case; it's hard to put a lot of effort into something you don't want to do.

Also, it should be noted that Fern only knows that he's a forest cat, and can't recognize individual scents in there. Slash, you need to pick better choices for your spies, next time.

Anyway, onto some more dialogue:

Up close, her pelt looked dull, so thin that ribs showed beneath. She’s half-starved. “It must be hard to find prey in such a stench,” he commented.

She backed away. “I’m just not used to hunting alone. And prey is scarce since the sickness.”

“Did Slash usually hunt for you?” Gray Wing watched her gaze, seeing fear flash sharper as he mentioned Slash’s name.

“He helped,” she said defensively. “So what?”

“But now he’s left you alone,” Gray Wing pressed. “You look pretty hungry.”

Her eyes glittered. “I wouldn’t if you hadn’t interrupted me. I was about to make a kill!” She glanced ruefully at the grass. “My mouse has probably gone by now.”

Gray Wing notices that Fern's starving, and it's revealed that she's more accustomed to hunting with others. When you consider that Slash made her go alone to spy, too... geeze, that's pretty telling about her, isn't it? In addition, when the line 'fear flash sharper' comes, acknowledge that it was at Gray Wing's mention of Slash, and remember that Slash has treated Fern horribly.

It's not hard to see why, really. Fern's outright terrified of him. The part where she acts defensive when remembering his contributions adds to this, too. Her abuser may have helped her sometimes, but that didn't mean she had to like him at all. Although, I will agree, Gray Wing, that was bad timing. C'mon....

Back to the show with more of the exchange:

Gray Wing flicked his gaze along her skinny flanks. “You look like you need more than a mouse.”

Fern lifted her chin. “I can take care of myself!”

“I can help you hunt,” Gray Wing offered. “Like Slash used to.”

Fern narrowed her eyes. “Why would you do that?”

“Because you’re starving.”

Fern stared at him.

“Slash is a bully,” Gray Wing went on. “He’s no better than One Eye.”

“How do you know Slash?” Fern asked suspiciously.

“I saw him talking to you, on the moor.”

Fern seemed to shrink beneath her pelt.

“You shouldn’t let him push you around,” Gray Wing told her.

“What else am I supposed to do?” she wailed. “If I don’t do as he says, he’ll kill me.”

Despite preferring to not hunt alone, Fern's reluctant to take help from others. Or, it could be perhaps because Gray Wing's a stranger she happened to meet, so of course she'd be a bit wary when accepting help from him. The poor thing's starving, after all; she should get some help soon, at the very least.

Then, the next part is very informing. Gray Wing tells her that Slash is just as bad as One Eye, who he worked with before. Fern's outright shocked that he knows him, and when he adds that he saw them on the moor, she shrinks.
That's a relatable feeling; imagine if the plan with your very aggressive boss was so well-thought out, only to have been seen by an outsider. That'd be pretty frightening, eh?

And then, we get the most important part, as of yet: Fern's bound to Slash's word. If she doesn't do as ordered, she'll be killed. This was said above, so I'm not lying. That's right, she won't be kicked out! Nope, she'll be busted if she doesn't do her job. At that moment I have to give Fern some credit; she's basically in life-or-death situations like this a lot, it seems. Unwillingly.

Gray Wing padded slowly closer. “It doesn’t seem fair. He’s left you to starve.” He jerked his muzzle toward the empty clearing. “I don’t see him looking out for you. What if I was a dangerous cat? You look too weak to fight. And you’re lucky you made it through Clear Sky’s territory unnoticed —my brother doesn’t think much of spies.”

“I didn’t have any choice!” she snapped. Her gaze darkened suddenly. “You won’t tell Slash you’ve seen me, will you?”

After last time
(click to show/hide)
  Gray Wing manages to pick up that Slash has been abusing Fern by starving her and not being concerned for her safety. At last, Gray Wing has realized, ahaha. Not gonna lie though, but I agree with him. At this point, Fern seems like four sticks attached to a small coal block. She's barely able to fend for herself.

And here's the biggie: According to her, she has no choice. There we go folks, that proves what I said. Fern does not do this willingly; she's forced into her job to aid Slash or else she'll pay with her life. Yep, that's not sounding like a completely crappy life in the slightest!!

Fern begs for him not to tell Slash, only for him to tell her that he wouldn't have any reason to speak with him. Fair, since Slash is essentially a continuation of One Eye's work.

Fern backed away, trembling.

“I’m not going to hurt you!” Did this cat believe all toms were as bad as Slash and One Eye?

“Then leave me alone!” Hissing, she batted a weak paw toward him.

Gray Wing easily ducked out of the way. “You need food. You’re as weak as a newborn kit. Wait here while I hunt.” He hurried across the clearing and dived into the long grass at the far side.

Fern's very... erm, shy, to say the least. In other words, she doesn't like it when cats get too close to her [since Gray Wing's previous line had him lean toward her], possibly because Slash has done a lot of physical punishment on Fern. She's just backing up so that she can not be hit, and as her next line adds, be left away.

Gray Wing delivers the best 'thoughts' line in the entire book, that being what can be summed up as 'Not all toms,' which is relevant because it sounds like a variation of the meme 'Not all men.' Well, that IS a meme, isn't it? He then decides to go hunt for her, and catches her a mouse. Surprisingly, she doesn't try to escape - she must be terribly ill.

After Fern eats her mouse, Gray Wing introduces himself, and she then thanks him.

Then, we get to Gray Wing's plan:

Gray Wing shrugged. “I need you to do something for me in return.”

Her eyes flashed with fear. “What?”

“Try to persuade Slash he’s wasting his time with us,” he told her.

“How?” she frowned.

“I don’t know.” Frustration itched beneath his pelt. “Tell him that we’ve made a strong camp. That we’re dangerous. That he’d never win a fight with us.” Gray Wing gazed at her. “Just convince him.”

Gray Wing has the 'bright' idea of messing with Slash, by telling him to brush off.

However, as these next lines show, that's not easy, so Fern thinks of an alternative:

Fern tipped her head. “Slash would never believe there are cats he couldn’t beat,” she muttered bitterly. Her eyes suddenly lit up. “But I might be able to distract him.”

Gray Wing leaned closer. “Distract him?”

“I could tell him you’ve been hunting beyond the pines. Once he hears you’ve found a fresh, new source of prey, he’ll want to see it for himself—he’s always been greedy.”

“How will that help?” Gray Wing narrowed his eyes.

“It’ll give you time to prepare,” Fern told him. “He’s going to make his attack soon. You need to make your camp as strong as you can, and practice fighting. When Slash comes, he won’t come alone.”

Gray Wing shivered, dread hollowing his belly. Slash sounded just like One Eye. “What about you?” This scrawny rogue could hardly hunt for herself.

“I’ll be okay,” she promised.

“You should stay here for a day or two,” Gray Wing suggested. “You don’t need to spy on us anymore, and there’s prey here. Catch as much as you can and grow strong.”

Fern nodded. “I will.”

Gray Wing searched her gaze. Could he trust this she-cat to keep her word? Did she have the courage to lie to Slash and send him searching beyond the pines for prey that didn’t exist?

She stared back at him, hope glistening in her gaze.

He realized he had no choice but to trust her. “Good luck.”

The plan is to trick Slash into avoiding the forest cats by telling him of a new prey source. With the benefit of doubt, Gray Wing decides to trust Fern's word, and leaves her be, after she agrees to stick around to catch more prey so she will get better.

In general, from just two chapters so far, we've learned a lot more about Fern. She's rather resourceful, cowardly, determined, and, dare I say this, strong.

She's strong enough to put up with a boss who treats her like crap and expects her to give back ten times as much. She's strong to live off of little while having to do her jobs without complaints. She's strong to do everything by herself, even if it means she has a lack of company. And she's strong in the sense that she's willing to risk her own life in order to manipulate Slash, the boss of the rogues. Talk about some guts, there.

Gray Wing often thinks about Fern's plan, and assumes that it worked. We do learn more in the next chapter, however.

[ominous music playing]

Offline Ivypool

(okay actually scratch that, feel free to post while i come up with these)

Offline Ivypool

js but..... after seeing a certain SOMETHING expect a lot more to be added to this!