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Tunnelers

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Tunnelers are cats who clear the tunnels and memorize the tunneled path[1] so that they can use them to travel.


Description

Tunnelers are usually the smallest cats of the Clan[1], who spend most of their time in the tunnels underneath Clan territories. The role of a tunneler is considered special among WindClan, and is usually fought over.[2] Tunnneling was a skill most highly prized among the Clan, because it was easy to get lost in the darkness and vanish forever down a bottomless hole.[2] The dark, secretive abilities were feared and respected by the tunnelers' Clanmates as much as by other Clans.[2]

Tasks

Tunnelers are often the smallest cats, and they were trained to clearing the secret passageways and memorizing the cobweb of paths that led underground.[1] Some passageways memorized were ones that led into other Clans' territories, giving a secret means of access into (or escape from) other Clan's land.[1] The exit was always carefully concealed with bracken and branches, and any traces of the scent of the tunnelers were wiped away with the pelt of a freshly killed rabbit.[3]
Often, the tunnelers grew so accustomed to working in blackness that they lost any daylight vision and were clumsy and nervous above the ground.[2] But once inside their tunnels, they could run as fast as any WindClan warrior, using scent and touch and sound to navigate their way beneath the entire forest.[2] They learned to leave a clear scent trail, marked like a border, so they could find a way out. [2] When the warrior Clans settled by the lake, the tunneling skill was abandoned.[4] The senior warriors declared that there were no tunnels there, and all cats must be trained to hunt and fight above ground from now on.[4]

Education

Training to become a tunneler took twice as long as it did becoming a warrior,[2] and the training brought injuries and deaths.[2] A few hard-learned rules kept the experienced tunnelers alive, and allowed apprentices to survive the first few moons of training underground. [2]
Training as a tunneler would let apprentices learn how to leave a clear scent trail, much like marking a border, so they could find their way out of the tunnels.[2] Tunnelers learned to recognize the feel of wind on their muzzles, and they knew that it did not necessarily mean that they were reaching the surface, [2] because, shafts that struck far underground would let fresh air in, though, it's not possible to climb out of them. [2] Even the least experienced tunneler was sure to stay alert for the sound of dripping water, because, whether the river is above or underground, they're no place for WindClan cats. [2]
Tunnelers also learned to recognize the scent of underground animals,[1] and not to hunt them, as, no cat wants to end up in a den of foxes, and cornered rabbits can often break ribs with their hind legs. [2]
After moons of training, tunnelers were able to imagine the route above ground,[2] so that they could keep track of where they were in the dark. [2] This skill was probably the most highly prized,[2] as, it was easy to get lost in the darkness of the tunnels and vanish into a bottomless hole.[2] The skills learned underground were feared as well as respected by the Clanmates of tunnelers and other Clans. [2]

History

In the Super Edition Arc

Tallstar's Revenge

While Sandgorse is teaching Tallkit how to dig, he explains that tunnelers do not just dig tunnels, but also patrol them and hunt in them. He reminds Tallkit about Shattered Ice, who first began to hunt in the tunnels during a cold leaf-bare when food was scarce.
Coming Soon

In the Field Guide Arc

Battles of the Clans

Webfoot tells a story of a WindClan warrior named Rabbittail, who got lost in the tunnels during a battle, not being able to find his way out. He discovers dead rabbits - a tempting treat for a hungry dog. But when a dog approaches him he thinks Rabbittail is the treat, and chases Rabbittail, who runs back to camp in a hurry to get away.
Heathertail explains the lost skill of tunneling in the section "Heathertail Speaks: The Lost Skill of Tunneling".
When the cats settled beside the lake, WindClan's tunneling skills were abandoned, as the senior warriors declared that there were no tunnels in their new territory and all cats must be trained to hunt and fight above ground. Some cats in the Clan knew differently, though, as some of the cats had played and battled for their lives in the tunnels below their new territory. Some cats from the other Clans - Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf - knew about the tunnels.

Notable Tunnelers

List of Known Tunnelers


Trivia

  • Despite tunnelling having said to have been abandoned when the Clans moved to the Lake,[4] in Tallstar's Revenge, tunnelling was stopped by Heatherstar, when they were still back in the forest.[15]

See Also

References and Citations

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Revealed in Battles of the Clans, page 66
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 Revealed in Battles of the Clans, page 67
  3. Revealed in Battles of the Clans, pages 66-67
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Revealed in Battles of the Clans, page 68
  5. Revealed in Battles of the Clans, page 62
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, allegiances
  7. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 12
  8. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 30
  9. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 13
  10. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, pages 37-38
  11. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 48
  12. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 38
  13. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 16
  14. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 211
  15. Revealed in Tallstar's Revenge, page 219

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