Well... yea I'll be submitting my story here too. I figured that if I want ppl from my guild to audition for voices they might have to know a lot of the story and characters and dialogues.
So I'll be submitting my story here if it's okay. If not, I'll simply remove it and let you guys know whenever its posted on DA. Anyway I hope you guys will enjoy.
Special thanks to Kiltin and Shade
For correction *loves on*
The stars were glittering with all their beauty above the moorlands. The night was silent with only the sounds of cheeping frogs, chirping crickets and the wind blowing across the grass. The atmosphere was peaceful near the twolegplace. A white kitten was seated behind a semi-closed window, the stars glimmering in her deep blue eyes. She inhaled deeply as she stood there, waiting for several minutes before finally standing up from her seat. Turning around she allowed her gaze to travel throughout the forest that stretched beyond her garden. The forest seemed motionless, as if time had stopped passing. But a rustle in the bushes slightly caught her attention. Her ears pricked as she looked with anticipation for the cause of the sudden noise. But as soon as the noise started, it ended. Disappointed, the white kit slowly jumped down, padding away from the light that shone through the glass.
Deep breathing was heard as a black shadow appeared from within a bush. Deep green eyes shifted around its entourage before leaping onto the fence. The creature carefully looked around with its eyes wide open, opening his mouth to taste the air. Lightly, the cat trotted along the fence before swiftly leaping onto the border of the semi-closed window. The small cat slowly dropped its frame, resting its weight on the border of the window before squeezing its head inside the opening.
"Duchess, are you there?"
The small cat awaited an answer, but in vain. Inhaling nervously, it meowed "Duchess…it's me."
"Ravenpaw?" answered a soft mew.
A moment later, the white kitten reappeared in the other side of the window. Her blue eyes shone like diamonds. Dropping down while tucking her paw under her frame, the kit allowed her tongue to gently rasp her friend's nose. Ravenpaw purred with content.
"I thought you'd never come. How are things now? Has Bluestar made you a warrior yet?" Ravenpaw slowly shook his head.
"Oh…don't give up; I know you can do it. How're Firepaw and Graypaw?" Ravenpaw sighed softly, unable to bring himself to answer her question. He was visibly on his guard, and would often spare a moment to look at his surroundings. Every sound made were captured. Not a single sound went unnoticed.
"Ravenpaw, is there something wrong?" Duchess asked him, then guessed "It's Tigerclaw, isn't it?"
The small cat lightly bristled, taken by surpise as she pronounced the name of the warrior. His eyes shifting from his surroundings back to the she-kit. Duchess pushed her nose against his muzzle as she tried to calm him down.
"Tigerclaw is aware that I've been gone a lot these days…" A gasp escaped the white kit's throat, her eyes widened and her fur slowly bristled on end as he spoke. But Ravenpaw sensed her fear and lightly pressed his muzzle against hers as he meowed "Don't worry; I'm pretty sure he has no idea of my presence here. He is deputy now and has no time to be wasting spying on me."
At his words, Duchess allowed her fur to lay flat on her back. She stayed quiet, licking the fur on her chest as he kept on speaking.
"But he has been using my absence to make rumors about me. And now, my Clan-mates are persuaded that I was sent by Shadowclan to spy on them." Duchess listened intently to what he had to say and as he spoke, her eyes were clouded with sadness. She couldn't believe that his own Clan would even consider Tigerclaw's lies.
"That's absurd, how can they believe him without proof?" Duchess sighed sadly.
"He's their deputy. Everyone looks up to him. Why would they even question him?" A long silence followed his words. If what he was saying was true, then he was in much danger. Duchess was aware of Tigerclaw's treachery. Ravenpaw went often to visit her and whenever he came, he would share his stories of his accomplishments with her. He told her a lot about the Clan and about his mentor. She knew how dangerous Tigerclaw was and how much a threat he was to his Clan.. to Ravenpaw.
"I think you should stop coming here, then…" her voice was soft but revealed much sadness in her words.
"But..." Ravenpaw green eyes were settled on her beautiful white coat. She was a good friend of his and he had grown fond of her. He hoped that one day he could present her to his close friends and…to maybe even join his Clan. But deep inside, he knew how fragile she was and feared for her safety. Clan life was tough for even Clan born cats. But still…
"It will be safer this way, imagine one day he found out the true reason for your absence. How do you think he'll react if he catches you sneaking in my garden...I mean, into Twolegplace?" Ravenpaw stared down at his front paws. The fur on his neck bristled even more as he realized that he was risking his life on coming here…and Duchess' life too.
"You're right…It's too dangerous." Duchess looked into his green eyes. He looked so vulnerable at that very moment. He looked frightened like a small kit but deep inside she knew it couldn't be helped. She closed her eyes and pressed her nose against his for the last time, and whispered "Have faith in Starclan, things will turn out right in the end..."
Ravenpaw's gaze rested on her, he was caught by surprise when she mentioned Starclan. He slightly wondered how she knew about them, but he assumed that he might have told her about his ancestors, warriors of Silverpelt. Nodding his thanks, Ravenpaw pushed up to stand on his four legs and meowed with confidence "I'll come back for you, I promise."
Duchess couldn't help but smile. She bowed in response and watched her friend leap back onto the fence. He gestured a goodbye with a flick of his tail and trotted away. Her blue gaze followed him until his figure disappeared from behind the fence as he jumped down. She pushed up to straighten her posture. Her eyes were lifted skywards as she allowed her voice to trail out in a soft whisper;
"Starclan, I beg of you… Send them that fire, so they may be saved..."
The forest that was once lush green was now hidden under a thick white coat. Newleaf was coming, but still the icy wind swept through the lifeless branches of the trees, hurling snow into Fireheart's eyes. Fireheart stopped to shake the snow off his deep ginger fur as a loud meow sounded in front of him "Not used to the cold, kittypet?"
A bulky dark brown tabby tom trotted across the snow, his massive paws lifting off snow as he padded forward. This warrior was known as Tigerclaw, Thunderclan's deputy. Following close behind was a pale tabby tom named Longtail, a follower of Tigerclaw, who couldn't hold a mrrow of laughter at Fireheart's pathetic look. The handsome ginger tom was soaked wet with spiky ice formed on the tip of his tail. Just moments earlier, Fireheart had fallen into the icy current of a river that was flowing around the border of Thunderclan's territory. But the true reason for his fall into the river was that, due to the floods happening around the forest lately, the three cats went on a mission to see if they could make it to the Gathering. And under Tigerclaw's orders, Fireheart almost drowned as he tested an unstable log in the river. Luckily he was saved by Longtail, who knew better that a warrior in need was to be helped no matter what.
"I'll survive..." Fireheart was almost sure that the reason for Tigerclaw's order was to get him killed in an "accident". But Fireheart was determined to reveal Tigerclaw's treachery to the Clan. Tigerclaw was the one who killed Redtail, Thunderclan's former deputy in order to become deputy himself.
"I've survived worse than that, so don't worry about me." Tigerclaw swung around to glare at the ginger warrior, his amber eyes burning with hatred. But just then, Longtail whirled around with ears pricked.
"Did you hear that?"
Tigerclaw remained plastered to the ground, still glaring at Fireheart. Longtail lifted his head and took in the cold breeze of the forest.
"I can smell cats... They are not of our clan."
Tigerclaw suddenly swung around and trotted rapidly towards Longtail who slowly dropped into a crouch "In our territory?!" Tigerclaw exclaimed.
"Yes, it's quite fresh. I think we may have just missed them," Replied Longtail with a whisper. Fireheart crouched lower, aware that his coat would be glowing among such blank scenery. Opening his mouth to taste the air, Fireheart could make out two different smells that the cats carried; the forest scent and Thunderpath' scent.
"I can smell them too."
Fireheart and Longtail lay low while Tigerclaw seemed more thoughtful than cautious. Longtail lashed his tail uneasily as he awaited his deputy's order. After a moment of reflection, Tigerclaw straightened up his posture and meowed in a low tone, "Well, let's find out. Longtail…lead the way."
At first, Longtail hesitated a little, but eventually he regained his posture and carefully followed the trail.
Everything was quiet around them except for the sound of running water. The scent grew stronger as they reached the frozen bushes. Longtail suddenly came to a halt. Fireheart crept beneath the bush behind Longtail, who remained plastered in his spot. Tigerclaw flexed his muscles impatiently before speaking.
"What's the matter, Longtail?"
Longtail glanced back at Tigerclaw. "There's something over there," he meowed quietly. Shouldering his way beside Longtail, Tigerclaw's amber gaze peered out of their hiding spot. Fireheart struggled his way beside the two other toms. Though he tried to focus his eyes for the slightest sign of a cat, Fireheart couldn't see anything but the white landscape. But after shaking the snow off his face, Fireheart was able to make out a slender silhouette of a cat twisting its head as it licked its shoulders. It was a long-haired white she-cat grooming her bright pelage. She was visibly unaware of their presence.
"A rogue cat?" asked Fireheart.
"Doesn't seem like it, her coat is pretty clean and well cared, for a rogue cat," Longtail murmured. Tigerclaw emitted a low growl and spat "Rogue cat or not, she has no right to be trespassing!"
Tigerclaw emerged from the bushes, nape and shoulders bristling. The white she cat slowly turned around to look at the three cats before her very position. But at the sight of Tigerclaw's approach, the she-cat immediately shrunk down. She peeled back in submission as she desperately tried to show them she was no threat to them.
"What are you doing trespassing in our territory?" demanded Tigerclaw in a hiss. The beautiful she-cat backed up a little before answering him; she was clearly taken by surprise.
"I am no threat to your Clan..." her voice was soft as she mewed her words. But Fireheart was intrigued by her presence here; if what she said was true then why would she risk her life coming all the way here? It just made no sense to him. She must be hiding something, Fireheart reasoned.
"Is there a reason for your coming here?" Fireheart meowed. The beautiful she-cat blinked at Fireheart. She sat down, curled her tail neatly around her delicate frame and prepared her words wisely.
"I was sent to speak with the leader of each Clan."
As she pronounced her words, Tigerclaw cut her off by throwing himself forward, the fur on his shoulders rippling as his muscles tensed underneath his coat. The she-cat lightly dropped back into submission at Tigerclaw's brutal manners. Tigerclaw drew his lips back at the she-cat, demanding more detailed explanations. But at that very moment, a second scent wafted towards Fireheart on the cold breeze. As he opened his mouth, he drew the scent into his throat to identify it. The scent of Thunderpath, he concluded, tipping his head to one side. Suddenly, he remembered the early smells detected by Longtail. Two different smells: the forest scent and Thunderpath' scent. The white coat she-cat carried the forest's scent so, who carried the Thunderpath' scent? Dropping down into a crouch, with all senses alert, he looked around agitatedly for another intruder. But as soon as he tried to spot the other trespasser, Longtail's sharp yowl made him jump. As he regained his initial posture, Fireheart caught a glimpse of dark fur disappear from his sight and a second later, he was pushed off his paws and tumbled down onto the snow. Shaken up by the slight pain on his flank, Fireheart found himself witnessing a battle. Tigerclaw was wrestling with another cat almost as big and bulky as himself. Both fought fiercely, massive frames smacking into one another while powerful claws tore patches of fur onto the snowy ground. Confused, Fireheart whirled around as he anticipated an attack but instead, he found himself facing Longtail who seemed as confused as he was. Unable to help, Fireheart had to constantly jump out of the way of the two wrestling cats, who'd charge at each other, spitting and clawing while kicking blood stained snow off the ground. Just as Fireheart was beginning to think this battle would never end, the dark massive cat thrust himself with great power at Tigerclaw, who hit the ground with all his weight. As Tigerclaw tried to stand up, the dark cat landed onto him while pushing his unsheathed claws against Tigerclaw's throat thus pinning him down. Both cats were panting deeply, their flanks heaving with every gasp. Tigerclaw struggled to stand but was pushed deeper into the snow by the massive cat. Tigerclaw was visibly drained out of strength. Fireheart hesitated to help his deputy; Tigerclaw had watched Fireheart near death several times without helping him out. He remembered his fight with the deputy of Riverclan, Leopardfur. Tigerclaw watched him being shreds to pieces by the angered deputy. Either way, Fireheart couldn't stand there doing nothing. He wasn't a traitor; he would not resort to Tigerclaw's level.
Fireheart tensed his muscles and sprang forward at the trespasser. He raked his claws against the massive cat's spine, and then firmly gripped himself against the dark cat's back. The intruder yowled in pain. As he released Tigerclaw from his large weight, the dark cat spun around, throwing Fireheart off his back. The movement was so sudden that Fireheart felt his breath being knocked out from his lungs after hitting the ground. He was astonished to see the amount of strength that cat still possessed even after his fight with Tigerclaw.
"You better stay out of this Fireheart! This is my battle. I don't need the help of a kittypet. I can fight my own battles!" hissed Tigerclaw after staggering to his paws. A soft mew was then heard "Fireheart?" As Fireheart turned to look at the dark intruder, his eyes caught sight of the white coated she-cat, who slowly emerged from behind the dark cat's frame.
"You are Fireheart from Thunderclan, is that right?" she asked.
Fireheart hesitated, but replied "Y-Yes?" He flicked his tail uneasily.
"My name is Silverpelt. I was sent by Starclan to share dreams with the leader of Thunderclan, Bluestar."
A long silence followed her words. Fireheart watched the massive cat, the one that had attacked Tigerclaw so fiercely, dip his head in a respectful gesture to the beautiful white she-cat. He slightly felt his fur on his neck beginning to prickle in disbelief.
"Can we really trust them?" asked Longtail, who was still on his guard despite the tension having died down.
"Of course not!" snapped Tigerclaw, his amber eyes glaring at the she-cat. Fireheart turned to face Tigerclaw. His deputy clearly seemed angered by his defeat and was determined to chase those two out of ThunderClan's territory. Fireheart cleared his throat before adressing his deputy.
"Tigerclaw, maybe we should consider her request. If she wishes to speak with Bluestar then perhaps you should-"
"Don't tell me what I should do kittypet!" spat Tigerclaw. Fireheart felt a flash of annoyance at his deputy's words. "I'm not going to let some rogue cats penetrate into camp. You're a mouse-brained idiot for even thinking of considering her request."
Fireheart lashed his tail in frustration, his fur bristling with anger at Tigerclaw, but he knew it was fear that made his deputy so furious. Fireheart remembered the time when he went on the journey for highstones, a journey that every apprentice had to make before they could be made warriors. Bluestar had asked him to accompany her in the depths of the tunnel. Tigerclaw had followed them all the way to the moonstone but was frightened by the gleam of light that had descended from the sky to reflect off the stone. Tigerclaw fled, leaving Fireheart to witness the glorious event alone with their leader. Tigerclaw's afraid of StarClan's power, concluded Fireheart.
"But, there's something that intrigues me quite a bit…" added Tigerclaw with a growl. "How come you know so much about us? Have you been spying on us all this time?"
Tigerclaw shifted his gaze towards the massive cat seated beside Silverpelt. Fireheart saw the muscles in the massive tom's shoulders tense and he felt a chill shudder through his pelt. Of course they're not going to scrap each others furs again, thought Fireheart as he watched both cats glaring at each other intently. Flicking her tail at the dark cat beside her, Silverpelt refused to spur forth another pointless battle.
"We are not going to achieve anything by fighting among ourselves," she meowed.
"You don't have to explain yourself to this brute," the dark tom murmured. "This is none of their business. This only concerns you and the leaders, not this fool!"
Silverpelt slowly looked down at her front paws. Since the beginning of this argument, she had shown respect and humility towards the deputy, even though Tigerclaw insisted on their departure. Silverpelt inhaled deeply before speaking. "Sorry for the trouble we have caused," she murmured quietly. Dipping her head at Tigerclaw, the she-cat slowly started to pad in the opposite direction from where she had come from.
"What?!" exclaimed the massive tom as he slightly turned around to look at Silverpelt.
"That is enough, Sharkface. This must be a sign from StarClan," she added in a soft tone.
"A sign?" shouted Sharkface in disbelief. "But..." his voice trailed off as he glanced towards the forest cats.
"Come," ordered Silverpelt over her shoulder. A twinge of guilt shot through Fireheart as he watched the massive cat pad obediently after the white coated she-cat.
But suddenly, Sharkface stopped dead on his track. Fireheart's spine tingled as he saw the massive frame of the tom turn around to confront Tigerclaw. Fireheart couldn't help but hold his breath as the dark tom trotted back in their direction. Tigerclaw faced Sharkface as he approached him.
"What now?" growled Tigerclaw impatiently. Sharkface held Tigerclaw's gaze for a moment. Fireheart felt his heart lurch as he watched the massive cat lower his frame before Tigerclaw. Tigerclaw was taken by surprise at the noble gesture done by the tom.
"Please..." Sharkface's voice trailed off momentarily as he slowly looked back at Silverpelt, who halted her pace at the very moment he had spoken. He went on- "I am begging you; reconsider her wish to speak with your leader." As Fireheart hesitated, Tigerclaw growled menacingly from his side.
"And why should I even bother reconsidering?" Tigerclaw spat as he arched his back aggressively.
"Because," Sharkface murmured quietly. "She will most likely starve to death if she doesn't fulfill StarClan's command."
All three cats froze after listening to his words. Fireheart's mind whirled in confusion. If that wasn't enough to convince Tigerclaw, then what could?
"Sharkface..." Silverpelt couldn't bear to see her friend in such state. It touched her deeply to see how much their bond had grown. Silverpelt sprang to Sharkface's side, leaning her delicate frame on top of his.
"For StarClan's sake, please let us through," she begged. Longtail watched Silverpelt breathing heavily as she awaited their answer. Her ribs were visible underneath her white coat. Longtail nodded sharply.
"We'll have to trust them," Longtail meowed lightly. The deputy swung his head around and stared at him.
"Let Bluestar take care of this, she'll know if they are worth our trust or not," Longtail insisted.
Fireheart twitched with relief as Tigerclaw retracted his claws and allowed the fur on his shoulders to relax.
"Fine," he snorted.
"Thank you!" exhaled Silverpelt in relief. Tigerclaw turned away.
Longtail slowly approached the two cats and meowed "we'll escort you to camp."
The beautiful white she-cat glanced up at him, her eyes glistening with gratitude. Longtail blinked and turned away, walking after his deputy.
* * *
As they reached the top of the ravine where the camp lay, Tigerclaw paused to taste the air. At a distance followed Longtail and Silverpelt, with Sharkface and Fireheart close by. Below them, the ThunderClan camp was well hidden by thick frozen brambles. Bounding down the steep slope, Tigerclaw shot a glance towards the others before entering the camp. Longtail jumped down after Tigerclaw, pausing to look up at Silverpelt who started to look very tired. With a weak leap, she landed heavily beside Longtail while a slight grunt escaped her throat.
"Are you alright?" asked Longtail as he supported her weight by pressing his frame against hers. Silverpelt blinked at him and murmured a few words before pushing her way through the tunnel. Longtail followed close behind. Sharkface hesitated some before pushing his way into camp. Fireheart emerged from the tunnel, and from the surprised murmurs, he could guess that Tigerclaw had already spoken about the intruders. Sharkface faced the hostility of Dustpelt and Darkstripe while Silverpelt lowered her eyes to stare at her front paws. Fireheart gritted his teeth at both cats.
"Stop this at once," hissed Fireheart. The silver tabby turned a cold gaze on Fireheart, another follower of Tigerclaw.
"They are trespassers, and trespassers don't deserve any respect!" spat Darkstripe. At this moment, Fireheart caught a glimpse of dark fur pushing its way into Bluestar's den and a moment later, Tigerclaw emerged followed by Bluestar. Fireheart felt hot under his fur, in spite of the cold blowing breeze. He was slightly reassured to see Yellowfang coming out of her den, followed by Cinderpaw, his former apprentice, close by. Bluestar trotted rapidly towards the intruders, narrowing her eyes at Sharkface.
"What is the reason of your presence here? Rogue cats do not belong in the forest," she meowed firmly.
"We are not rogue cats. My name is Sharkface and this here," Sharkface signaled with the tip of his head to the white coat she-cat beside him, "is Silverpelt. She was sent-"
"Silverpelt?!" interrupted Bluestar. Her blue eyes settled on the she-cat and stared in disbelief.
"Yes, Bluestar…" Silverpelt slowly moved closer to the leader, her eyes glimmering with anticipation.
"StarClan granted me the honor to share dreams with you."
Surprised gasps and murmurs broke the silence that followed her words. Fireheart's heart lurched as he watched his leader standing wide-eyed, looking silently at the two cats.
"Please, Bluestar," pleaded Silverpelt. Bluestar remained quiet for several minutes and exchanged an indecisive look with Yellowfang, ThunderClan's medicine cat. Fireheart felt a slight shudder run along his spine; the tension was almost unbearable. Finally, Bluestar spoke.
"I will give you my answer at moonhigh. Until then, you may shelter yourself here and rest for the moment being."
"But-" exclaimed Sharkface.
"Not before moonhigh and if my answer is no, then you must leave our territory before sunhigh, and never come back," Bluestar growled.
All heads turned to look at the outsiders. They began to whisper quietly, but the whispers soon turned into a chorus of murmurs, their tails flicking as they exchanged anxious glances. Bluestar's authoritative yowl silenced the questions and the silence that followed seemed to pound in Fireheart's ears. Sharkface stiffened while Silverpelt stared blankly at her surroundings. But there was nothing else to be said, they had no choice but to wait 'till moonhigh. Yellowfang approached Bluestar, who straightened her posture, ready to pad back into her den. With a respectful gesture, Yellowfang addressed her leader, "Bluestar?" but before she could say more, Bluestar swung her head around and stared at the old medicine cat.
"Yellowfang, I must speak with you," the leader spoke firmly.
"Of course, but…" Yellowfang turned to look at the two cats, "what about them?"
Bluestar turned her head to glance towards Sharkface and Silverpelt, who remained plastered to their spot.
"Shall I ask Cinderpaw to take them to my den?" asked Yellowfang. Bluestar remained quiet. She observed Longtail and Fireheart, who were still close to the entrance. Both cats exchanged an uncertain glance as to whether they should stay there or continue with clan duties.
"So," Yellowfang meowed, "should I?"
Bluestar lifted her head and nodded her agreement. Yellowfang flicked her tail at Cinderpaw, who limped rapidly to her side.
"Yes, Yellowfang?" asked Cinderpaw, her eyes filled with alarm. She was obviously intrigued by the two unknown cats among them. Yellowfang lowered her head and whispered, "Take those two cats to my den and see to the dark one's injuries. You remember the herbs right?" Cinderpaw's eyes sparkled at Yellowfang's words. She lightly jumped to her paws and began to number the herbs.
"Cobwebs to stop bleeding, poppy seeds to soothe pain and help sleep, goldenrod for-"
"Alright, you remember," Yellowfang interrupted, "so get going then!
Cinderpaw blinked and turned around, limping away. But as she went, Bluestar slightly shot upward and raised her voice, "take Longtail and Fireheart with you, and make sure that they stay awake until my decision is made!"
Cinderpaw stopped to bow her head to her leader before limping back towards the two outsiders' direction. Bluestar and Yellowfang watched Cinderpaw as she addressed the four cats. Sharkface nodded, the fur on his shoulders laying flat against his skin as he calmed down. Silverpelt rose to her paws and mewed her thanks. The two cats followed Cinderpaw to the medicine cat's den while the two warriors stalked close behind. Fireheart seemed more enthusiastic than Longtail, who was still on his guard. But he kept up his pace; this was an order from his leader afterall.
Bluestar leaped to her paws, the setting sun creating ripples of light among the clouds and lifeless tress that swung with the passing breeze. It was almost night time. As she reached for the top of the Highrock, where she usually addressed the clan for a meeting, Bluestar started to pace around restlessly, lost in thought. The old medicine cat was sitting calmly to her side, watching her leader with a concerned frown.
"What is worrying you so much, Bluestar? I've seen you deal with worse than that," remarked Yellowfang.
"You know better than me that StarClan only share dreams with leaders through the moonstone," retorted Bluestar. The moonstone was a glittering rock that lay deep underground beyond Windclan territory, where the sun set.
"StarClan is full of mystery. They know what they're doing," replied Yellowfang with narrowed eyes. Bluestar glanced towards Yellowfang; she had stopped pacing and was flicking her tail impatiently.
"I have faith in StarClan," snapped Bluestar. "It's them I don't trust," she jerked her head towards the medicine cat's den. Yellowfang sighed and heaved herself to her paws.
"They wouldn't have made it this far if it wasn't for StarClan's sake," she went over to the foot of the rock but halted as she looked up at her leader. Bluestar had begun to pace again, her paws echoing in the clearing.
"Should I trust her words then?" Bluestar rasped in a low whisper. Yellowfang could understand her behavior; StarClan had never worked in such a manner as this before. She had to admit that she too doubted the white one's words, but if it was truly StarClan's command, then it couldn't be helped. Bluestar had to trust them.
"It's with you they wish to speak, Bluestar. But I will support your decision in the end," Yellowfang promised solemnly. Her words seemed to have reassured Bluestar, who sat down onto the rock.
"Very well," she mewed while staring up at the sky. The sun had already disappeared into the horizon, leaving the sky empty so the night could prepare its appearance.
"Does it hurt?" Cinderpaw whispered into the massive tom's ragged ear.
"Only when you touch them," rasped Sharkface in a gravelly voice. Cinderpaw snorted as she watched the massive frame of Sharkface shift to the opposite direction. Silverpelt shot a look of sympathy at Cinderpaw as she murmured in a soft tone, "don't mind his manners, he's just tired. You'll find him less intimidating once you get to know him." Her thick pelt gleamed in the moonlight that penetrated through the den's entrance. Cinderpaw slowly moved her head towards Silverpelt, her enormous blue eyes settled onto the white she-cat's frame. Her coat was brightly white, like winter itself. Each hair on her delicate frame danced rhythmically with the blowing breeze.
"You sure look beautiful. It's like if your fur was protected from dirt and ticks. A pelage very well kempt for a rogue cat," Cinderpaw remarked. At that very moment, Longtail slipped into the den with a ball of wet moss clamped neatly between his teeth. Some of the drops had frozen on the way back to camp, but the moisture would be enough to soothe the white she-cat's thirst. He placed the moss gently beside Silverpelt, who purred her gratitude.
"Thank you, Longtail," mewed Silverpelt as she slowly began to lick the drops of water from the frozen clump of moss.
"I figured that you must've been very thirsty. If you're not allowed to eat then you should at least be allowed to quench your thirst," Longtail meowed quietly. Fireheart turned his head in surprise and stared with wide open eyes at Longtail. Ever since he was accepted into Thunderclan, Fireheart had always seen the pale tabby warrior as a quick tempered cat. Longtail was always taunting him by reminding him of his kittypet roots. Never had he imagined witnessing the soft side of this warrior. Longtail's pupils moved lightly towards Fireheart's direction, his icy blue eyes glaring at Fireheart as if he had done something horrible.
"What are you looking at, kittypet?" snapped Longtail with a hiss in his voice.
"Well, nothing," stammered Fireheart.
"He is just surprised to see you so kind, Longtail," remarked Cinderpaw, her eyes glinting with amusement. Longtail slowly rolled his eyes and trotted rapidly towards the entrance.
"This was an order from Bluestar," snorted Longtail as he squeezed himself out of the den.
"Bluestar never asked him to fetch water for the rogue cats," Cinderpaw teased as she slowly shifted her gaze back towards Silverpelt. The white she-cat licked the last drops of water before turning her attention back onto Cinderpaw.
"Like Sharkface once said, we are not rogue cats," mewed Silverpelt with a glint of laughter in her soft voice. "Sharkface is a forest cat, like you all. He was to become deputy of his own clan." Fireheart blinked in surprise. He never thought that there were more clans elsewhere. She went on- "Sharkface told me that the former deputy had retired from his rank. The leader had chosen him to become the clan's next deputy..." Silverpelt looked down, her eyes clouded as she continued on saying, "but it wasn't meant to be."
Fireheart emitted a slight grunt, tipping his head to one side as he asked, "What do you mean?" Silverpelt blinked her thoughts away.
"Before being named the new deputy, Sharkface received a message from StarClan in a dream," she explained, "They chose him for something much greater. Sharkface never doubted StarClan's words and he accepted his new fate proudly. He was then gifted the strength of the ancestors for the long journey ahead." The two cats stared silently at Silverpelt. Her words seemed so unreal that it made the hair on Fireheart's body prickle in disbelief. He then remembered with how much strength the dark warrior had fought. Tigerclaw was one of the strongest cats in the forest, but even with all this power, the dark warrior had successfully pinned Tigerclaw down and defeated him. A chill shudder ran through Fireheart's spine as he carried his green gaze towards the sleeping warrior. Just from the tom's build, Fireheart didn't doubt it. Sharkface truly possessed the strength and power of their ancestral warriors.
Fireheart's thoughts were lightly interrupted by the high tone of Cinderpaw's voice.
"So you two were from the same clan?" Silverpelt blinked and slowly shook her head from side to side.
"No, I'm not a forest cat," meowed Silverpelt with a glint of amusement in her voice. Cinderpaw exchanged a puzzled look with Fireheart, who clearly didn't expect that answer.
"Where are you from?" asked Cinderpaw.
"I used to live next to your clan's territory. Near the tallpines," answered Silverpelt as she gazed blankly away.
"Tallpines... But that's near the Twolegplace," remarked Fireheart with a confused look.
"Yes, I lived there with my humans," Silverpelt affirmed simply. Cinderpaw gasped lightly and heaved herself up. She exclaimed "but, that makes you a-"
"A kittypet?" interrupted Silverpelt with a raised brow. "Well, yes. I was once a kittypet." Fireheart jerked his head up, he was caught off guard by her sudden confession. But he felt a wave of relief swept through his fur. He was somewhat glad to hear that StarClan had chosen none other than a kittypet to deliver their message.
"What a coincidence," boasted Cinderpaw, "Fireheart was once a kittypet too!" Fireheart winced as he felt the white coated she-cat's attention turn towards him. She blinked at him silently. Fireheart slowly started to feel hot under his fur and pawed at the earth timidly. Silverpelt smiled as her blue eyes softened.
"Oh, I already knew that," she murmured.
"You knew?" mewed Cinderpaw in surprise.
Silverpelt closed her eyes and inhaled the cold breeze of the night, "StarClan granted me knowledge."
"StarClan..." Cinderpaw slowly turned her blue gaze towards the entrance of the den. The stars were reflected into her eyes. She swung her head to look at Silverpelt, her eyes shining with admiration. Fireheart was confused, his mind whirling with many questions.
"Kittypets don't usually know about StarClan," remarked Fireheart, "how come you knew so much?"
Silverpelt slowly glanced towards the night sky before addressing Fireheart, "when I was still a kit, I often dreamt of StarClan, running in a field bathed by the gleam of the stars and drinking from a pool glistening with the moonlight. I never understood the true meaning of my dreams, until one night." She paused as she looked at the two cats, Cinderpaw's eyes glittered with anticipation while Fireheart remained focused, listening to the she-cat's words intently. She smiled and continued on saying, "a warrior ancestor came to visit me. He said to have descended from the stars to deliver me a message. I was to begin a long journey to highstones, so I could receive my mission from StarClan. He also told me that a warrior would arrive shortly to escort me to that place," she shifted her gaze towards Sharkface, who was still sleeping beside her form.
"Sharkface had his doubts about me and refused to escort me to highstones."
"Why?" asked Fireheart.
"Because, he thought that StarClan had made a mistake by choosing a kittypet instead of a clan born cat," replied Silverpelt. Fireheart narrowed his eyes in annoyance, but he was reassured to see Silverpelt smile despite what she had just said.
"He was relunctant at first, but he quickly grew to trust me," Silverpelt mewed while flicking her tail at Sharkface. Cinderpaw blinked and exclaimed "so that's why you can't eat, because your mission is to share dreams with Bluestar!" Silverpelt emitted a soft mrrow of laughter, "yes, and with the leaders of each clan."
"Really, with each of them?" gasped Cinderpaw, her voice thick with excitement.
The sudden noise of pawsteps emerging into the den startled all three cats, who turned their heads towards the entrance. It was Yellowfang. She padded heavily towards Cinderpaw and lowered her frame to sit beside the young cat.
"Have you been questioning her all this time?" rasped Yellowfang.
"She didn't mind answering them," argued Cinderpaw. Silverpelt purred loudly, her blue eyes settled onto the medicine cat as she nodded agreement. Yellowfang glanced at the white coated she-cat before turning her attention back to Cinderpaw.
"Good," grunted Yellowfang. Cinderpaw moved to face the elderly she-cat. She sat up straight and wrapped her tail neatly around her paws.
"I did what you told me Yellowfang. I applied the herbs deep into Sharkface's wounds. I think he's going to be alright now," reported Cinderpaw.
Yellowfang letted out a throaty purr and meowed "alright, thank you for taking care of this for me."
Cinderpaw flicked her ears in surprised, "you're not going to check him as well? I'm not sure if I did it right..." stammered Cinderpaw as she pawed the earth uneasily.
The old she-cat stretched, arching her back as she replied "I'm sure you did well," she then relaxed.
"You know, I'm getting old and I've been meaning to find an apprentice." Cinderpaw leaped to her paws, her eyes sparkling with excitement. "You've learned quickly," Yellowfang smiled and went on- "and you've proved to be good with injured cats."
"Do you really mean it?" Cinderpaw burst out, her eyes round with surprise at Yellowfang's praise.
"Of course I mean it," growled Yellowfang, "and be quiet, I haven't finished." Yellowfang straightened her form before continuing on saying, "Cinderpaw, are you interested in becoming Thunderclan's next medicine cat?"
"Yes," murmured Cinderpaw as she lifted her chin with dignity, "I'd love to, More than anything in the world!" Fireheart's heart began to beat faster with joy. Because of Cinderpaw's injured leg, she had to bear the thought of maybe never becoming a warrior. He was glad to see his former apprentice so excited and eager about her new future. It was more than Fireheart had ever hoped for. But his thoughts were slightly interrupted as he heard Longtail's voice.
"It's moonhigh, Bluestar has just called a meeting." Fireheart staggered to his feet, his fur pricking with anticipation. Silverpelt slowly rose while Sharkface roused from his sleep and stood up, shaking the lifeless brambles off his dull coat before squeezing his massive frame out of the den. When Fireheart padded out, he could already see Bluestar standing on top of the Highrock.
"She finally made up her mind," rasped Yellowfang before joining her leader on the Highrock. Tigerclaw was standing beside Bluestar and when all the cats were assembled, it was Tigerclaw who addressed the clan first.
"Cats of Thunderclan, Bluestar is about to speak her decision." Fireheart listened to the murmurs in the crowd and realized that most of the cats were against Silverpelt's request. Fireheart exchanged an uneasy glance with Longtail, who lightly padded closer of the rock. Bluestar stepped forward, waiting until the noise from below had died down before speaking.
"I have made my decision, Silverpelt," Silverpelt looked up, her deep blue eyes settled on Bluestar as she went on, "I don't trust you."
A chorus of satisfied meows broke out. Fireheart sprang to his paws and stared in disbelief at his leader.
"But," Bluestar mewed as she suppressed a sigh, "I trust StarClan. Therefore, I will share dreams with you." The chorus faded almost instantly as she pronunced her last words. Silverpelt dipped her head and mrrowed her gratitude. Bluestar leaped down off the Highrock and signaled to Silverpelt and the two others to follow. Silverpelt and Sharkface followed Bluestar close behind while Yellowfang half jumped, half slithered down from the Highrock to squeeze inside Bluestar's den. For several long minutes, the clearing remained silent with glittering eyes focused on the entrance of the den. Some of them were pacing in circles while other whispered words amoung themselves. Fireheart felt like the minutes had turned into long hours, a never ending wait. Until, after a moment, Yellowfang's head poked out of the leader's den situated under the Highrock. She mewed a few words to Tigerclaw, who rushed inside the den. The tension was at its highest, no cat dared to emit a single noise. But as soon as Tigerclaw entered, he emerged out and leaped onto the Highrock. The fur on his neck and shoulders were standing on end. His amber eyes flashed as he yowled his words.
"Cats of Thunderclan, listen to me!" Fireheart winced and stared up at him, Tigerclaw's silhouette black against the sky.
"I knew it all along, tresspassers are not worthy of our trust. We shouldn't have brought them here," Tigerclaw's voice rose to a shriek, "Bluestar is dead!"
Shocked and angry caterwauls rose up from the cats surrounding the Highrock. Every muscle in Fireheart gripped. He sprang forward and urged himself inside the gap underneath the rock. As he entered, Fireheart was shouldered by Yellowfang, who spat her words out before slipping out of the den.
"Mouse-brained idiot!" Fireheart pushed onward and sprang to his leader's side. Bluestar seemed dull and skinny as she lay motionless on her mossy bedding. Fireheart watched in horror as her flank remained still, flattened against her bed. He bent his head to press his nose into Bluestar's side. For a long heartbeat, Fireheart froze. His eyes widened as he realized that she wasn't breathing nor could he hear her heart beating. His biggest fear was made real. Bluestar was dead.
"She's in StarClan now," meowed Sharkface in his usual gravelly tone. Fireheart jerked his head up, startled by the sudden voice. At the sight of the massive tom, rage surged through Fireheart's veins. He glared with deep hatred at the tom. Tigerclaw was right, they shouldn't have trusted them. Guilt slightly spread into his heart. If it wasn't for him, Bluestar would have still been alive. What was to become of Thunderclan now? Were they doomed for destruction? But another thought flashed in Fireheart's mind, sending a chill shudder into his spine. Tigerclaw was Thunderclan's deputy, so he was to take over as their new leader; Bluestar's successor. Was Tigerclaw's treachery never to be revealed? Oh StarClan, why did you allow this to happen...
"Relax, young warrior," Sharkface murmured with narrowed eyes. Fireheart had not realized, but his body was shaking like a leaf in a tree during a storm. But his trembling was due to a mixture of two different feelings; fear and anger. His pupils locked themselves onto the dark warrior and he spoke with deep hatred.
"How dare you speak to me like that. We trusted you. I really thought you were truly sent by StarClan. How could you destroy our clan like that, after all the things we've fought for. All for none..." Fireheart's voice cracked with sorrow. He wanted to mewl his grief like a small kit, but he swallowed hard and choked with sadness. A long silence followed his words. But that silence was not well placed. Fireheart slowly remembered the angry yowls that followed Tigerclaw's announcement. What happened? Why had everyone gone quiet? Did they leave the camp? Fireheart's mind whirled with unanswered questions. Sharkface flicked his tail uneasily, his eyes revealed some doubts. For a short heartbeat, the dark warrior's gaze flickered with fear. But he blinked it away and spoke.
"We... We must be patient, young warrior." His voice was thick with faith.
After his words, Sharkface bent his head down and rasped his tongue over some white ears. Fireheart was about to interrupt the tom but his breath missed. His eyes widened in disbelief. Sharkface was grooming the motionless body of Silverpelt, who looked dull and skinny. Just like Bluestar.
"Y-you... Killed them both?!" this time, Fireheart's voice cracked with emotion.
"Of course not!" snapped Yellowfang.
Fireheart jumped in surprise and swung his head around to stare at the medicine cat. The elderly she-cat padded heavily his way. Her eyes softened with relief, but the fur on her shoulders still stood on end.
Fireheart mumbled softly "B-but Tigerclaw said that-"
"Tigerclaw spoke wrong," hissed Yellowfang as she interrupted him.
"But..." Fireheart slowly carried his gaze towards the motionless body of his leader. Yellowfang followed his gaze and sighed as she saw Bluestar's limp body.
"Tigerclaw didn't even wait for my explanations. Bluestar is only partially dead," meowed Yellowfang as she slowly dropped down into a crouch beside Fireheart's frame. Fireheart blinked and glanced at her, his eyes round in surprise. She tucked her paws underneath her form before she went on, "don't jump to conclusions by the things you only see with your eyes. You must look beyond that," her voice was soft and calm.
Fireheart allowed the fur on his shoulders to relax, he felt reassured by Yellowfang's words. "Where is she now?" he asked. His eyes settled back onto Bluestar.
Yellowfang's voice echoed in the den as she spoke, "she's on her journey to receive the message from StarClan..."
* * *
All was cold and dark around Bluestar. The wind blew harshly into her ears and fur. Hardly able to breathe, Bluestar kept her eyes shut tightly as she felt herself falling down an endless hole. She started to panic upon losing all sense of orientation. She batted her paws aimlessly in the air.
"We are almost there. Keep your eyes closed, for this journey is forbidden for the eyes of the living. You can relax," the voice belonged to Silverpelt. Bluestar then felt her fur being brushed against Silverpelt's, calming her almost instantly.
"I've... never made the journey awake," murmured Bluestar. It was true, even though she had gone to StarClan to receive her nine lives. She had always been awake in the hollow at Fourtrees but never during the journey.
"You shared dreams only after touching the moonstone. The journey you made then, was while being asleep. You only appeared there, as in a dream. When you share dreams with me, it is while being awake."
A warm breeze ruffled their fur. The night scent flooded over them as if they had never left the forest. But something felt different. Bluestar could finally feel the earth under her form. Blades of grass tickled her pads while her ears captured the faint rustle of trees in full leaf, over her head. Have we arrived? she wondered.
Bluestar slowly opened her eyes, her pupils turning into narrow slits. She was in Fourtrees, near the base of the Great Rock. Silverpelt was standing just beside her, her eyes lifted skywards. Bluestar followed her gaze. Silverpelt was glittering beyond them in the night sky, clearer than it had ever been seen before. Slowly, stars began to move above their heads. They swirled, spiraling downward towards Fourtrees. Suddenly, the stars settled themselves into the clearing. Each star taking the appearance of a cat. They were ghostly; hazy bodies with shimmering outlines, and eyes that sparkled with the moonlight. Bluestar bowed her head in their glory. After a moment, all cats of Starclan had joined their side. Bluestar began to recognize some of them. They were all standing close to her. There was Redtail, her former deputy that was killed during a battle with Riverclan cats, and all the cats that were dear to her. Lionheart was also among them. She smiled at the sight of this tom. He was killed while protecting his clan from Shadowclan cats. The whole forest was surrounded by starry cats that appeared like an endless carpet of dust, stretching into the distance.
"Welcome back," the voice belonged to two cats but sounded like one clear voice.
Bluestar looked up to see Pinestar and Sunstar sitting before her. Pinestar was known as Thunderclan's leader when she was still a kit. Sunstar was his successor. Both cats had given Bluestar one of her nine lives. Bluestar sat down and stared wide-eyed at the two toms. Sunstar was the first one to speak.
"Thank you for coming," his voice echoed as he spoke, "we have chosen a cat with a pure soul to deliver our message. Silverpelt, was the perfect choice." Silverpelt felt overwhelmed by the tom's praise and dipped her head in acknowledge. Pinestar straightened some before speaking.
"But this message doesn't only regard Thunderclan. It concerns each clan, the whole forest. Are you ready to receive it?" Bluestar glanced towards Silverpelt, who nodded in an attempt to reassure Bluestar with her approval.
"Yes," Bluestar replied with her head held high. Sunstar smiled and rose to his paws. He strode towards her, his footsteps were soft and silent.
"It is the first time that we have shared dreams in such a way," he meowed as he came to a stop in front of her.
"But we couldn't wait, for the new prophecy has already begun." Pinestar spoke as he joined Sunstar's side. Both cats sat down at the same time, their frames meeting.
"I will partake in this new prophecy until it is completed," murmured Bluestar as she struggled to not flinch before their mighty spirits.
After a moment that has lasted for a long heartbeat, the two frames of Thunderclan's former leaders now appeared like frozen statues. Pinestar lightly turned into a white cat that glowed brightly with the moonlight. White flames spread through its frame, causing Bluestar's eyes to dart. Its eyes blazed as it spoke.
"There will be a moment of hesitation..." the voice echoed throughout the land like an etnic sound. Then, Sunstar's frame lightly changed as well, turning into a black cat that glowed with a dark aura. But its eyes blazed with the same intensity as the white one. It spoke.
"Followed with endless sadness..." the voice echoed. Bluestar bristled at the sight of this cat. The wind suddenly intensified, slapping Bluestar's face like a storm. She had to grip herself to the ground so she wouldn't be blown away.
"The time has come for Regrets and Sorrow," they spoke as one. Suddenly, everything disappeared from sight. Bluestar was floating in nothingness. Even Silverpelt was gone. But the last words of the new prophecy still echoed in Bluestar's head. There was nothing else left, only darkness. Bluestar drifted aimlessly into the emptiness... before being swallowed into blackness
A chilling breeze roused Fireheart from his sleep. As he forced open his eyes, he was suddenly blinded by the beams of light that shined through the entrance of Bluestar's den. The patch of lichen that hung from the entrance of the den swayed with the passing breeze. Then a shadow stretched onto the den's floor, and heavy pawsteps echoed against the walls as Yellowfang emerged inside. The lichen still swishing behind her, her eyes shot slightly towards Fireheart.
"You're finally awake," rasped the elderly she-cat.
"I was just closing my eyes," meowed Fireheart, hot with embarrassment.
"You were?" Yellowfang raised a brow, not really convinced. "To me, you appeared more like in a deep slumber."
"I guess I must have dozed off," admitted Fireheart. Was it already morning? With a tick of his head, Fireheart tried to peer beyond the lichen that decorated the entrance of his leader's den. From what he could see, the clan seemed restless.
"You know, you don't have to stay here all day."
Fireheart blinked and twisted his head to stare at Yellowfang. She was leaning down next to Sharkface's form and placed a patch of shredded leaves in front of him. The dark warrior's muzzle wrinkled as though a bad smell offended him. Yellowfang shot him a stern glare.
"Eat these," she ordered as she shoved the herbs closer.
Fireheart wasn't interested in leaving the den. Bluestar was still motionless, not yet back from receiving StarClan's message. But he was curious to see how the others had reacted to Tigerclaw's misunderstood announcement. Were they even aware of what was going on to their leader at that very moment?
"Who's in charge?" Fireheart swallowed his words. He already knew the answer, but would they have accepted Tigerclaw to take charge even after announcing to them the false news? Yellowfang straightened back up, curling her tail neatly around her paws.
"Tigerclaw is," she rasped. "And while you're out, can you fetch something to eat? It's for Bluestar."
Fireheart carried his gaze towards his leader. The wind made her fur dance rhythmically as it blew.
"Okay." He nodded and heaved himself up.
"What are you doing?" snapped Yellowfang. "You're supposed to eat those."
Fireheart twitched his whiskers, watching the scene with the corner of his eyes. Sharkface was pawing at the herbs, his nose wrinkling with disgust.
"The stench is horrible, there's no way I'm going to swallow that." Sharkface tossed the patch away. Yellowfang stared at him with round eyes, clearly not expecting that.
"But... they'll give you strength," Yellowfang pointed out.
"No need," Sharkface retorted. "A warrior came in earlier and brought me a very plump squirrel. I'm not hungry and I'm not going to eat that," he jerked his head towards the patch of herbs.
"And I'm grateful he did. We could hear your stomach gurgling from outside the den, you know," she snapped. "Plus, it will help you strengthen your muscles for your next destination." Yellowfang flung the herbs back at him.
"Are you deaf or what?"
Yellowfang bristled slightly.
"I said I wasn't going to eat that! I'm already bloated," hissed Sharkface.
Fireheart sighed and slipped out of the den. But still, he could hear them arguing even from outside.
"...doesn't matter! You're already fat. What difference would it make?" chided Yellowfang.
"Look who's talking," snarled Sharkface.
Fireheart halted abruptly in his tracks. His forepaws slid on the icy ground, almost bumping into Dustpelt. The dark brown tabby tom swung around crossly, lashing his tail.
"Watch it!" he hissed. "You almost knocked me over."
Fireheart jerked his head up in surprise.
"S-sorry," he stammered. "I was just going to-"
"Take your share of the fresh-kill pile?" interrupted Dustpelt. "Let me remind you that you haven't gone hunting this morning. You have to feed the clan before you can feast yourself, kittypet. Or you can always go to RiverClan and ask them to share some of their fish. After all, you've been giving them some of our preys," grumbled Dustpelt.
Fireheart bristled. Dustpelt was challenging his loyalty towards ThunderClan. Fireheart flattened his ears, forcing himself to not swipe a paw at the tom.
"We were already punished for that," retorted Fireheart with narrowed eyes.
"And I hope you've learned your lesson," snapped Dustpelt as he stalked away.
Fireheart gritted his teeth and fixed his glare onto the dark tabby warrior. A growl rumbling in his throat.
Fireheart flinched. He blinked and looked around for the owner of this voice. His gaze finally met Longtail's. The pale tabby warrior was sitting close to Highrock. His eyes round with concern.
"Is Bluestar awake yet?" asked Longtail.
"Not yet," growled Fireheart, anger still pricking on his fur. "Yellowfang told me to fetch something from the fresh-kill pile, for Bluestar."
Longtail nodded sharply and swiftly bounded towards the fresh-kill pile. He picked a vole from it and flung it to Fireheart.
"Take it then," urged Longtail.
Fireheart murmured his thanks and carried the prey back into Bluestar's den.
Fireheart's mind was lost in thoughts. Even after padding back inside the den. He sighed and closed his eyes, he had to calm down. He couldn't let Dustpelt's words haunt him like that. Fireheart knew better than anyone else where his loyalty truly lie, and that was with ThunderClan. He inhaled deeply and opened his eyes to find Bluestar already awake, tucked neatly onto her nest. Fireheart flinched and his jowls parted in a surprised gasp.
"Bluestar, you're finally awake!" he exclaimed.
"The vole..." rasped Yellowfang.
"R-right," stammered Fireheart as he rapidly picked the vole and placed it in front of his leader. Bluestar snatched it and finished the rodent within a few bites. But, she seemed distant, her eyes were staring absently at the walls of her den.
"I don't understand..." she murmured. Her voice was so quiet that Fireheart had lean closer so he could make them out.
"Something so important, that it couldn't wait..."
Fireheart's unease grew. Was she referring to StarClan's message?
"Don't worry about the new prophecy."
Fireheart tipped his ears towards Yellowfang. The new prophecy? The thought made the fur on his spine stand.
"StarClan will send us some hints. For now, you need to concentrate on other things."
"But it has already begun," insisted Bluestar. Yellowfang held her leader's gaze steadily.
"Trust me, they won't desert you."
Bluestar sighed, her voice softened as she spoke.
"I know." She heaved herself up and shook the lifeless brambles off her coat. Joy spread through Fireheart's heart. His leader was back to her usual self; her coat was bright and gleaming with health. But a sudden movement caught Fireheart's attention. Silverpelt was slowly waking up. Inhaling deeply as she pushed herself back onto her haunches. Fireheart's eyes widened, astonished to see her already full of energy. She wasn't that weak and hungry she-cat that they met in the forest. Just like Bluestar, her coat was bright and gleaming with health. Had StarClan recovered her life for the next journey ahead?
"Are you okay?" asked Sharkface with a concerned frown.
"Yes, I'll be alright," breathed Silverpelt.
"Have they told you our next destination?"
Silverpelt nodded. "Tallstar, from WindClan," she answered.
Bluestar nodded sharply. "I will see to an escort." She swung around and pushed her way out of the den, beckoning Fireheart with her tail as she went.
When Fireheart emerged into the clearing, he was surprised to see the clan already gathered around Bluestar. They all seemed worried but relieved to see their leader back onto her paws. Murmurs echoed through the clearing, but Bluestar silenced them with a flick of her tail and began to speak.
"Silverpelt needs to share dreams with Tallstar now. I need an escort to take her to Fourtrees; because it's the easiest way to get spotted by a patrol."
Anxious whispers rippled through the clan. Paws shifted and tails flicked with unease.
"There," Bluestar continued, "you shall explain to them the truth. That Silverpelt was sent by StarClan to share dreams with the leader of each clan."
Bluestar paused to glance at her clanmates. "Who shall I appoint?"
All cats were staring at Bluestar with round eyes, yet a long silence had fallen over the camp. Fireheart stiffened. Were they still reluctant?
"They made it here," snapped Darkstripe. The dark gray tabby tom was flanking Tigerclaw, with Dustpelt on the other side. "So I don't see why they'd need an escort to Fourtrees," he continued.
"If it wasn't for Fireheart, Tigerclaw and Longtail, we wouldn't have made it here in the first place." Silverpelt's mew was soft, but still rang throughout the clearing. She had just emerged from Bluestar's den, followed closely by Sharkface and Yellowfang.
"I was only sent to escort her to Highstones and to ensure her protection. The forest holds too many different smells. It'll be impossible for me to guide her through unknown lands," admitted Sharkface.
"That is why I need an escort," meowed Bluestar. Her gaze darting around her clan.
"I'll go!" boasted Cloudkit, puffing out his chest.
"No, Cloudkit," urged Brindleface as she folded her tail around him. "You can't leave camp."
But Cloudkit wriggled free and padded boldly forward.
"But no one else will," he complained.
"I will," meowed Longtail as he stepped forward. Fireheart felt a wave of relief sweep through his pelt. Bluestar blinked her gratitude and turned to look at her clanmates.
"Anyone else?" she demanded.
Fireheart's heart quickened. "I'll go too," he meowed as he nosed himself beside Longtail.
Silverpelt's eyes lit up. She smiled and dipped her head at them.
"Thank you," she murmured.
"Very well." Bluestar turned to face them before she went on. "But hurry, it's nearly Sunhigh."
* * *
Fireheart's paws ached with cold as they reached the edge of the hollow. He paused to warm his paws with a few licks. Silverpelt, who was following close by, brushed past him and managed a swift leap onto a rock. She peered beyond the boulder, her blue gaze roaming the horizon. Longtail lightly joined her side and stared down the slope.
"This is Fourtrees, where all the clans meets during the Gathering. We will be meeting here tonight," explained Longtail.
Silverpelt nodded, her ears pricked.
"I've detected a new smell," rasped Sharkface as he joined them.
Fireheart tasted the air. "WindClan." Their scent was sharp on his tongue.
"Must be a patrol," guessed Longtail. "Let's go."
They charged down the slope.
The wind suddenly intensified as they reached WindClan borders. Fireheart took a deep breath and felt cold air sear his lungs, WindClan scent hitting him hard like a stone.
"Who goes there?" demanded a sharp voice.
Fireheart spun around, startled. Four WindClan cats hurried towards them, their pelt bristling.
"Fireheart?" the voice belonged to Onewhisker, a young brown tabby tom that had befriended him during their journey back to the forest. Fireheart felt reassured with the tom's presence.
"We were sent here by Bluestar," answered Longtail steadily.
"What does she want?" growled Mudclaw, but he was silenced by Deadfoot, WindClan's deputy.
"What is it?" he demanded.
Silverpelt slowly padded forward, her white coat glowing with the sunlight.
"My name is Silverpelt. I was sent by StarClan to share dreams with the leader of WindClan, Tallstar." She dipped her head in a polite gesture.
All four WindClan cats backed away in disbelief. Their eyes round and ears pricked.
"It's true," meowed Longtail, his shoulders stiffened.
Fireheart stepped forward. "She was sent to speak with all four leaders. Bluestar shared dreams with her last night. It's Tallstar's turn now," he added.
Deadfoot exchanged a doubtful glance with Mudclaw. Fireheart stiffened, he could feel the tension rising.
"Alright, I will take her to Tallstar," meowed Deadfoot.
Fireheart jerked his head back, speechless. He was surprised too see them agree without arguing.
"Thank you," breathed Silverpelt, her blue eyes glittering.
"Well," Longtail began. "I guess this is farewell."
Silverpelt purred, her eyes softened as she turned her gaze on the pale tabby warrior.
"Thank you for everything. I owe you so much," she mewed.
"It was an honor. May StarClan light your path," meowed Longtail as he backed away. Slowly retreating his steps back towards ThunderClan's territory. Fireheart sighed, a little disappointed to be parting ways already. But before he could pad away, Silverpelt gasped.
Fireheart blinked and turned his gaze back to her.
"Could you... do me a favor?" she mewed.
"S-sure," stammered Fireheart, a little surprised.
"Was there a warrior by the name of Ravenpaw in your clan?"
Longtail halted his steps abruptly. Fireheart's heart twisted in pain. She went on.
"Sadly, I hadn't got the chance to see him. But, could you send him my gratitude?" she added with a purr.
Fireheart opened his maw to speak but found himself gasping instead. Silverpelt smiled and tilted her head some. Fireheart swallowed hard and forced words to slip out of his maw.
"Ravenpaw is dead," Longtail cut him off.
Fireheart swung his head around to stare at the pale tabby tom. Longtail was standing straight, his icy blue eyes narrowed.
"Haven't you seen him in StarClan?" grunted Longtail.
Fireheart gulped, slowly daring to look back at Silverpelt. Her eyes were wide open, narrowed into thin slits. They were staring blankly ahead, hollow with grief.
"No... I haven't," she answered flatly. Her voice distant.
"Humph," snorted Longtail as he turned to stalk away. "Guess he was a spy after all..."
Fireheart dug his claws in the snow. No, he's alive...
"I see," muttered Silverpelt as she backed away. "Thank you and farewell."
Fireheart's heart lurched as he watched the white she-cat turned around, her gaze still distant. She slowly padded after the others, her tail dragging and head hung low. Mudclaw wrinkled his nose as he watched Sharkface's massive frame shift towards their position.
"Who's he?" asked Mudclaw crossly.
"He's with me," murmured Silverpelt.
Fireheart sighed, she was back to be the weak and frail she-cat that he had first seen in the forest. But he wondered how she was aware of Ravenpaw's identity. Had she heard of him somewhere? Perhaps in StarClan? Or maybe Yellowfang told her about the lost warrior, and if so, why? Fireheart watched them leave with a heavy heart, their figures blurring until they disappeared from sight.
"He's alive, Silverpelt," whispered Fireheart, hoping that the breeze could carry his voice to her.
to be continued....