|New Generation Series|
|Preceded by: |
|Echoing Truths||Succeded by: |
The greatest promise is made to a friend but it can be broken by the thorns of betrayal...
The cats were in a clearing. Their pelts were matted with blood, so thick their pelts were unseen. They were pacing and growling at each other. Every once in a while, a cat would duck in and give the other a wound but both kept fighting.
Finally, one killed the other. They turned to walk away and were almost away but the other cat had suddenly twitched back to life. The cat stood up and pounced on the other cat. The pinned cat turned to look at the other cat, a look of horror on their face. "I didn't mean-" they began. But the first cat yowled, clawing their throat.
Blood gushed out and the cat leaped off of the dying one. The dying cat looked up, "I...changed...my mind." then they gave a massive shudder and died.
The other cat looked at them in shcok. Then thewy threw their head back and yowled, "NO!!!!!!"
The living cat fell to the ground, sobbing. 4 other cats stepped out of the undergrowth all yowling in shock and pain. A pale outline of a cat was crying and 2 kits were crying.
The images were so real...it was like looking at the future....
Snapping awake, Jayfeather woke up screaming.
Bramblepath was walking with StarClan. She wasn't dead, she was just listening as Firestar ended his lecture on the importance of prey and Feathertail telling him good bye. Finally, it was just her and Feathertail. Feathertail looked very troubled so Bramblepath asked, "Is everything OK?"
Feathertail looked at her, blue eyes wide, "Well.....no. I'm just upset because of this....rumor."
"I can't tell you."
"It's about you."
"Fine! I hate keeping secrets anyways! You and Raincloud fight and-"
Bramblepath let her claws flex, "I hate her! She betrayed us and-"
"....you kill her." Feathertail said sadly.
Bramblepath gasped. Feathertail looked at her worriedly. "It's just a silly rumor! probably not true even!" she told Bramblepath in a fluster. Bramblepath sat breathing in shock. Why was this such a surprise? She had always thought about killing the cocky ShadowClan warrior, hadn't she?
"When?" she finally gasped.
"I don't know. I'm sorry." came the unsatisfactory response. Feathertail stood up and licked her fur, "I have to go. Sorry, will you be alright?" Bramblepath nodded and Feathertail went away. Bramblepath sat still for a while.
In her heart she knew this rumor had to be true. StarClan didn't have rumors, they had phropecies. And she should feel pleased, Raincloud deserved to die! But in her heart she was remebering how as kits her mother had brought her to the 2nd daylight gathering and she had met Rainkit, and they had had fun. And Raincloud wasn't all bad, Bramblepath knew it.
She began to pad towards the Looking Pond when she heard foot falls behind her. She turned and recognized Spottedleaf, the cat Raincloud would have trained other if she had stayed loyal.
"Bramblepath wait!" Spottedleaf puffed. Bramblepath stopped walking and turned around. Spottedleaf caught up to her and they stood in silence while Spottedleaf caught her breath. Finally she said, "Bramblepath, I need to tell you something. Feathertail told me what happened and I knew you would be upset so I came to tell you the truth."
Bramblepath just looked at her so Spottedleaf continued, "This may not happen." Bramblepath brightened as Spottedleaf went on, "The cats concerned are the ones that make a phropecy come true. Raincloud made your phropecy '...the thorns of betrayal.' come true beause she thought she had done the right thing. This rumor could end up differently. Raincloud could die, she could kill you, the fight might not happen." Spottedleaf stopped and Bramblepath licked her.
"Thank you!" she called as she bounded back to the real world.
Bramblepath woke up. The sun was barely over the horizon and many cats were stirring. Bramblepath yawned, stretched, and padded into the clearing. Cinderheart was walking out of the medicine den. Bramblepath rushed over to her, "What's wrong?" she asked.
Cinderheart looked surprised that the deputy was talking to her, "I..Oh!" her eyes widened in understanding and she purred, "Jayfeather had some dream last night and he woke up in a fury! The kits and elders woke up and he still wouldn't calm down! I just fed him half a dozen poppy seeds. He'll be asleep for a while. About four days." Bramblepath began to laugh. She knew it wasn't polite but it was so funny!
Then, remebering her dream, she turned serious. "Cinderheart, I'll be out of camp for the morning with Leopardheart and Brightshadow, can you take over my duties for the day? Thanks."
She ran out the enterence a few minutes later with her sister and her mate following.
She sat down near the WindClan boarder. Leopardheart was half dragging Brightshadow, "I think he's still asleep!" she laughed.
Brightshadow sprang up and attacked her and the 2 fell to the ground laughing.
Oh StarClan! Bramblepath thought. They're so happy! How can I tell them!??
Scarshade could tell they needed to talk. She had been sunning herself when she got the feeling. She could already tell what was going on. Mossnight had the same feeling and was streaking in from WindClan. Bramblepath, Brightshadow, and Leopardheart were waiting.
She got up and lumbered to them. She was the last one there and when she sat down, she could feel the lives inside of her bump and she was worried they would be hurt. Sorry kitlings. I'll be more careful. she thought.
The cats were all around her congradulating her, they had seen immediatly that she was bearing kits. Bramblepath whispered, "Reedwhisker's?"
"Yes." Scarshade answered, a happy warm feeling spreading around her body. Bramblepath nodded, "Congratulations!" but her eyes were sad and her voice sounded deadpan.
Eventually the cats setteled and Bramblepath stood, "I called you here because I have to tell you something."
It seemed like she was about to launch into a long opening speech and Mossnight yowled, "Get on with it!" her eyes bright.
"There is a rumor, not definite, but starClan is saying that," she gulped, "I kill Raincloud."
The cats gasped and the happiness faded from Mossnight's eyes.
Mossnight knew it was real but she hoped it was a dream and she would wake up and Heathertail would comfort her... But all of the other cats were still staring at her. She didn't care. She had only just begun to get over Raincloud's betrayal. The shock of finding out one of her other friends would kill her best friend could hurt her. Badly.
Bramblepath looked pained, "I'm..so sorry Mossnight. So sorry."
Mossnight wanted to wail no one will ever be sorry enough! Images flashed through her head. Breezepelt with another cat, losing to Brightpaw, meeting Raipaw, the prophecy, Raincloud smirking, her heart hurting while her face burned, her emptiness, Breezepelt's body, Heathertail almost dying, Ashstar, Raincloud.
Raincloud, Raincloud, Raincloud.
She came back and saw her friends were looking at her still. Leopardheart cautiously approached, "I know this is hard. It is for all of us. But-"
"No." Mossnight said.
"No what?" asked Brightshadow.
Mossnight just shook her head again, "No." and she ran away before anyone could say anything else.
Leopardheart wanted to run after her friend but Mosnight was already gone. She turned to Bramblepath and snarled, "You could have been more gentle!" she snarled.
Her sister looked shocked, "What?"
"You know what! Mossnight just got over her best friend trying to kill her and now you tell her that you have to kill her best friend! Nice job!" Before Bramblepath could say anything, Leopardheart stalked off.
Bramblepath stared after her, her eyes deeper then StarClan's secrets. Scarshade pressed against her awkwardly. Bramblepath leaned on her. "It's not your fault." Scarshade told her.
"She's right." Brightshadow confirmed. "It's not your fault. Any of it."
Bramblepath sniffed, "OK, so it's not my fault. But I still have a friend who hates me, a sister who is mad at me, and I have to kill one of my friends." her voice rose to a wail, "Why does everyone hate me?!?!"
Brightshadow licked her, "No one hates you." he soothed, "Leopardheart is just shocked and upset and Mossnight....has some issues she needs to deal with."
Bramblepath looked up at her mate and best friend. "Thank you." she told them.
Scarshade looked at her, 'Are you positive this will happen?"
Bramblepath stuttered, "Well, Spottedleaf told me that the cats make a prophecy come true so it might not happen."
Scarshade smiled, "Well there you go! I have to go back to camp but we have to meet again. Ok?" She dashed away and Brightshadow and Bramblepath headed back to camp.
Hawkfrost had finally found Raincloud. She was hiding in the old Twoleg nest. He walked in and her scent hit him. To him it smelled sweet and flowery and he simply sniffed it for a minute before continuing on. He found the gray she-cat sitting in a nest of moss scratching battle plans into the dirt. She looked up and Hawkfrost felt his heart slip away from him and into Raincloud's blue eyes. They were silent and then Raincloud sighed, "What?"
She hasn't tried to kill me yet! So far so good! Hawkfrost thought. He took a step forword, "Raincloud, I know you think I've been a goody goody lately. But I just hate Tigerstar using you! And I've decided that I'd rather do horrible things with you then be a good cat without you." he stopped for a breath and she smiled.
His heart soared and he sat down besides her. Hawkfrost looked at the battle plans she had sketched and pointed a curved claw at one line, "If we go in the other way we could surprise them from behind." he told an astonished Raincloud. She looked at him and smirked.
He was worried she was going to attack him. Again. But she just purred and said, "Miss you Hawkfrost. Now, if you want to stay, you have to follow my lead and stay in line."
Hawkfrost nodded and he said, "But if you're about to get hurt I will kill anyone who dares touch you."
Raincloud's eyes flashed, "Nice. But I can take care of myself!"
Hawkfrost purred as he jumped on her and they rolled around laughing and throwing moss at each other.
Hawkfrost felt his heart soar. He was complete.
Mossnight had wandered for a while and was still in the moor. She could hear a hunting patrol approach and she hid in a shallow dip. She heard the rabbit run past and the warriors pursuing it. She had just begun to get up when a shadow fell on her, "Where have you been? Crowstar has been worried. And Heathertail. You got the leader and deputy mad!" she turned to see a sandy brown tom.
"Oh. It's you Sandstripe." she meowed unhappily. He looked at her, "Are you ok? You're crying! Are you hurt! Did rogues attack! I'll find them and claw their pelts off! No one can attack you! I'll-"
"Oh shut up Sandstripe!" Mossnight hissed. Sandstripe had always liked her but she was sick of him now. "I'm sad, ok? Maybe you should shut up and go away! You could use your time to find another she-cat! One that actually might like you!"
She stopped, breathing hard. Sandstripe looked at her. His eyes sad and glassy with tears. She called, "Sandstripe wait! I'm sorry!"
But he was gone.
Why does everything I love leave me????
Well, she hadn't loved Sandstripe but still!
Enraged, she broke down sobbing again. She hated everything.
Leopardheart stalked through the forest. She found what she was looking for, a clearing by the ShadowClan boarder. She was remembering when there had been a battle here and Raincloud had betrayed her Clan in order to save her friends.
So much has been lost...
She lay down in one of the caves and put her head on her paws, tail tucked tightly to her body. She thought of Raincloud, one of her best friends, and Bramblepath, her sister. How could she let them fight? It wasn't fair.
Bramblepath had been such an idiot! Mossnight was gone now, to dark parts of her mind that tormented her for not being able to save Raincloud from the monster she had become.
Then she remebered the diplomacy contest she had won when she was an apprentice. She had kept calm and solved a problem. When Mossnight had ran away she hadn't kept calm. She erupted.
Have I thought about Bramblepath's feelings at all? She's the one who has to kill her friend!
Struck by this new thought, Leopardheart got up and stretched. She would apologize and they would be fine again. And maybe she could protect Raincloud somehow...
Lost in thought, shge hadn't realized who was with her until someone pinned her down. She heard laughter and then Russetstar's voice, "A ThunderClan cat out on their own? Well, we should take you back to our camp for safe keeping!" and with more laughter, the ShadowClan cats dragged Leopardheart away.
Leopardheart was dragged across ShadowClans territory and by the time they reached camp, she was sure she had collected every burr and puddle in and near the territory. The cats threw her in a cave and posted about 3 cats to stand as guards. Leopardheart thought she heard Tawnypelt ask Russetstar something that sounded like, "What were you thinking?" and then she fell into a deep and fitless sleep.
When she woke up, she noticed blearily that her guards were gone. She felt more awake then she had in days and jumped up, desperate to escape, only to be pulled back down by a weight. She turned around and saw that a large boulder the size of 2 badgers was on her tail, pinning her down. She felt frustrated. Her guards had left suddenly but they weren't so eager to let her escape.
Leopardheart tried to listen to the sounds of camp to calm herself down but she heard nothing but yowls of terror and pleas for help. She wanted to stop listening but the noise was all around her.
And every once in a while, she would here a yowling that would be cut off suddenly as if a cat realized what they were saying and stopped.
Or if they couldn't talk anymore.
She heard voices outside her prison.
"What's in here?"
"Just a ThunderClan prisoner!"
"Sure! I think I'll go see!"
There were 2 sets of footsteps and Leopardheart tried to hide but she couldn't move. Stupid rock. Her heart pounded as 2 cats entered the room.
"YOU!!!" she gasped as she saw the 2 cats who had destroyed ShadowClan.
Raincloud signaled to Hawkfrost. "Destroy the Clan. No kits, elders, or queens are to be harmed though." she was evil, but not merciless. That was one thing Tigerstar wasn't so fond of in her. Hawkfrost nodded and together the pair reeked havoc. Finally, Raincloud spotted a small cat guarding hole. As she approached he squeaked, "I'm only an apprentice! Please don't hurt me!" she nodded and pushed him aside, Hawkfrost falling in line as they entered a cave.
Inside was a cat with muddy fur trapped under a boulder, green eyes staring at them. "YOU!!???"
Raincloud was shcked to see Leopardheart, "What happened to you?" she asked, losing all dignity. Leopardheart wailed, "I got captured by ShadowClan, I didn't cross the border or anything and now my tail hurts!" she paused and looked up as though another thought had struck her, "Raincloud, you have to get away from here! As far away from Thunderclan as possible!"
"We're in ShadowClan silly!" Raincloud teased. "And besides, I live here! In that Twoleg nest near the little Thunderpath! Right near you!"
Leopardheart wailed again, "You don't understand! You aren't safe here anymore! Move away! Far away! Bramblepath won't kill-" she stopped.
Raincloud gasped, "What??"
Leopardheart hunched her back and said nothing. Raincloud sat down and commanded, "Tell me everything. Now."
Hawkfrost had done everything perfectly. But now Raincloud was staring at Leopardheart as if she was her mate, not him. but Hawkfrost realized, as she talked, that Raincloud could be gone, lost forever. And he was scared. Angry too. After Leopardheart had explained everything he said, "I'm going to go find Bramblepath. I don't know what I'll do but Raincloud will never die." Raincloud snorted, "Don't be stupid, I'll die eventually!" but her voice was high, her eyes scared, and her shoulders tense.
"You know, Bramblepath doesn't want to do it eather!" Leopardheart protested. Raincloud looked at her. Her eyes clouded and she seemed to slip into insanity. She yowled and jumped to her feet.
Giving a last look to Leopardheart she spit, "I hope I take you down with me!" and she bounded away. Hawkfrost looked confused but he followed.
A minute later, Leopardheart heard a scraping noise and in a moment a speck of dirt bounced into the cave. Leopardheart looked at it and felt the ground rumble.
Soil slid down the entryway to the cave and poured in. She tried to get up but she couldn't, the rock still heavy on her tail.
She wanted to yowl but she had no air left. The soil kept pouring in and Leopardheart was utterly tapped and alone. How could Raincloud do this?
Well she knew one thing, Bramblepath better hurry up and come get her.
Bramblepath was still listening to Leopardheart go on. She had dug out her sister and cleared her throat. The dappeled she-cat would be fine. But she would not SHUT UP!!!!!! Finally Bramblepath said, "Um....I know, you can stop talking now."
Leopardheart got the message. There was silence and they walked for about a minute before Leopardheart murmered, "Um..so! How is Mossnight?" she asked, anxious about her best friend.
Bramblepath flinched and Leopardheart wondered what she was thinking. Bramblepath muttered someithng and in a clearer voice said, "Well, Mossnight isn't...doing..so great."
She had stopped talking but Leopardheart glared at her until she continued, "Ok, fine! At the last meeting, she was fine. Then we mentioned something and she went ballistic. She said she broke Sandstripe's heart and she wanted to be normal. Then we tried to calm her down and she...she...clawed Brightshadow."
Leopardheart could see where this was going, "You did NOT...."
"Ok! so I accidentally drove her back into insanity! But she should've kept off of my mate!"
Leopardheart yowled, "This is all your fault! We've broken apart and the forest has no hope!!! Why can't you just try to be nicer or at least more considerate?"
"I just saved you from death!" Bramblepath retorted angrily. But Leopardheart was gone.
So much had changed in the last 3 moons for ThunderClan. Maplepaw, Cinderpaw, and Spottedpaw were now warriors, taking the names of Spottedhorse, Mapleleaf, and Cindermask. Mapleleaf was still technically an apprentice but the Clan still honored her as a medicine cat. Cindermask was constantly on patrols and hunting with more energy then the sun. Spottedhorse had taken an interesting path.
3 moons ago, the Clan had discovered 2 8 moon old cats. They were named Sun and Summer. Summer was a brown and white she-cat and Sun was a golden tom with lighter stripes. They took the warrior names of Sundrizzle and Summersong. However, because they had had little training, Summersong was helped by Cimdermask and the 2 were best friends. Spottedhosre and Sundrizzle were together, but there were rumors of mates and kits for those cats.
Bramblepath felt nervous whenever anyone mentioned kits. She wondered if Brightshadow wanted kits with her. Maybe soon, but not now, she always told herself. But Scarshade's kits were due anyday and the ginger she-cat was in RiverClan so Bramblepath could not be with her.
She was scared.
Mossnight was still slightly insane but with Leopardheart's help, she got a bit better. Leopardheart was still not speaking with Bramblepath and the sister's argument had caused wild rumors to spread around camp.
Many things were different but some things were still the same.
Bramblepath was washing herself nervously, she knew the messanger would come at any time.
She knew Scarshade was kitting and she had to see her friend. And her kits. She knew that Mossnight would come when Scarshade mentally called her. Then they would all go visit her. Who cared if they were trespassing? She just needed to make sure Scarshade was ok.
She started pacing and looked around camp. Brightshadow was eating. He always did when he was happy, or upset, or nervous. He liked to eat. Leopardheart was trying to be perfectly still but she kept twitching in frustration.
Bramblepath watched in amusement as Blossomfall's new kits ran up and pounced on Leopardheart. Bramblepath's sister grunted in surprise and fell down. The kits covered her until all that was visable was her head and paws, trying desperatly to get away.
The kits eventually vanished and Bramblepath was still laughing. Leopardheart looked amused to and then she saw her sister laughing at her.
She looked mad and then she turned away. Bramblepath sighed, her laughter evaporating. She was about to walk over to her sister and apologize for the last 3 moons when suddenly the barrier exploded.
Mossnight yowled, "Bramblepath! Brightshadow! Leopardheart! Come quick!"
Bramblepath leaped to her paws and ran to RiverClan to see Scarshade.
Read the sequel: Damaged!